Saturday, 31 October 2015


Well, after a highly self satisfied entry yesterday you will, I am sure, be delighted to know that I now know exactly what I have in both my freezers, one of which has been defrosted and looks shiny new (inside) while the other has had a good scrape down with a plastic spatula.  I have food enough to last me until next summer and that is only a very slight exaggeration.  All I have to do now is decide what I want to go in each freezer and then I'm well set.

That isn't stopping me from doing a shop at Aldi this morning.  Yesterday I went to check over a new B&M that has opened in town (not all that impressed, sadly) and went a bit further on to Aldi but after going slowly around the car park three times I gave up and came home.  It will be fine this morning at eight!

I do have a list and am starting to get in Christmas stuff that will keep.  A bit at a time and it's not so bad in the last few weeks.  I already have the (free) turkey on order, I found a large gammon ham that I got very reduced after last Christmas, the pigs in blankets are done, there's two wodges of spiced red cabbage and two packs of smoked salmon.  And that's just for starters.  I'm so very glad I did a freezer clear out and inventory!

Yesterday morning was lovely, despite the teeming rain.  A friend came round and we had a really good chat about all sorts of things.  She likes cooking, baking and other homey things too.  Half way through, the sun came out and it was lovely for a while, bright and cheerful.

Today, being Saturday, is bread day and I now have room to freeze my bread.  I think I shall start building up my Christmas supplies as I shall have a houseful for a couple of days.  I need to dig out my larger loaf tins I think, if I can remember where I put them.

Today's food (all stuff I had to thaw out)
Breakfast:  sourdough crumpets with marmalade
Lunch: chili con carne
Dinner:  steak pie, peas, another veg

Friday, 30 October 2015


Probably quite boring today so if you read on, You Have Been Warned!  OK?

Yesterday morning was a chilly affair.  By that I mean I was hovering half in and half out of the larger chest freezer, sorting it all out and recording what I had.

There were several good things

1.  I didn't have to discard (sounds better than 'throw out', more organised, somehow) nearly as much as I thought I might have to.  I was relieved as I hate wasting food.  OK, so I have some pretty old stuff in there but it won't have gone off in terms of being unsafe to eat and I can cope with slight changes in texture and, perhaps, taste.  It was all well wrapped (three cheers for Lakeland poly bags) and there were no nasty little bits like single chips or a scattering of peas down at the bottom.  I was quite chuffed about that!

2.  I now know I have several foody things for Christmas that I won't have to buy AND I know where they are too.  Three cheers.

3.  I also have very little need to shop for much for - ooooh, quite a long time!  That should have a major impact on my spending

4.  My drive to use up the frozen home cooked 'single portions' has been successful as there's not an awful lot of them left now.  I'm pleased about that as some were quite old and did need using up..

5.  There's very little that needs a crowd of people.  Nearly everything is individually wrapped.

6.  I now have enough room in the chest freezer to put all the stuff in the upright freezer in so I can defrost the latter.  It needs it - see the one bad thing below!

7.  I have an up to date inventory of what's out there.  Long overdue and very necessary.

And one bad thing:
When I defrost the upright freezer, I cannot get the top shelf out; it is frozen in.  I know it is full of things which might just have to be chucked unless I can cook and re-freeze.  We will have to see because I cannot remember what is there.

When I had finished I came in and wrapped myself around a rather delicious vegetable stew with chunks of home made bread that I had saved from the freezer.  It was good!

Today's food:
Breakfast: cheese on toast (I have to use up some cheese - that's my excise)
Lunch:  tuna burgers and salad
Dinne:  Sausages in bbq sauce, fries, peas, corn on the cob

Thursday, 29 October 2015


Good morning to you all.
Hyde Hall 27-10-15

Despite the rain, yesterday ended up rather pleasant with sun most of the afternoon.  Today it has started off dull and dry but rain is forecast.  We will see.

I managed to get together the motivation to sort out the smaller freezer at last.  Oh, it was such a mess.  I'm afraid I needed to discard some extremely old and battered stuff, an act which made me feel both guilty and relieved at the same time.  This morning I need to tackle the chest freezer which will take considerable more time and effort but once that's done I am hoping I can move the stuff from the other freezer into the chest freezer and then defrost it.  Then perhaps I can bring back some organisation, not to mention making a list of what's in the chest freezer.

I'm not sure if I have already mentioned it, but a short while ago I bought a flute.  Not a new flute, just a second hand one, but from a reliable source.  I dug out a fingering chart from Google and started making peculiar sounds!  Maybe that was because I am in a peculiar situation - I'm pretty well versed in theory of music, can read stave notation (although I shall have a few problems with the leger line notes when I get to them) and basically have all the background knowledge.

I studied recorder for quite a while, taking graded exams in both descant and treble as well as teaching up to grade 5.  And that's proving to be a frustration as the fingering is so similar but not exactly the same and I keep forgetting.  Aaaarrrgghhhhh!  I think my muscle memory is getting old!
I'm practising scales like billy-oh and also playing familiar tunes rather badly from memory so I can learn the fingerings.  I'm even occasionally managing to get the higher G without hearing the lower octave at the same time.  I gather, from a friend, that having given birth will help me to support those higher notes because the 'push' is quite similar!  She said . . .
However, I have decided I need something more so I've just bought a tuition book on Amazon that was highly rated and which people said was great for adult learners.
In the meanwhile until it arrives I will continue with jingle bells, twinkle twinkle, Annie's song and the like!!
Poor neighbours!

Today I need to do some housework which shouldn't take too long but is necessary.  I need to bake too as a friend is coming over for coffee tomorrow morning.  There's also carrying on with the freezer.

I keep getting these strange urges.  I've mentioned it before but because it is half term I MUST catch up with everything - sort the freezer, tidy the shed, sort out all the cupboards, deal with the garden, etc, etc, etc.  It's been the same for years and years but really it is only now that I fully realise quite how much of a rush and a panic half terms were.  I still feel the panic and have to keep telling myself I can do it next week or the week after or whatever.
I guess it will get better in time!

Have a good day!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Welcome to Wednesday.  Wet, dark (well, it would be at this time of day) Wednesday.  It's obviously been raining for a while and still is.  What a change from the last two days.
Borrowed from Google Images
Yesterday was a glorious Autumn day filled with sun (once he decided to put his hat on, come out and play) and drifting leaves.  I love this time of year when, for no reason, a shower of leaves flutter down around you, like snowflakes but warmer, leaving behind them on their twig a promise for next spring.

I did mean to get dressed early but ended up lazy with the justification that it would normally be my working day so I was entitled to take things easy.  Ha!!!  I managed to get the pigs in blankets made and into the freezer and I nicked a few slices of bacon for my breakfast.  It was going to have a bacon sandwich but there was some quiche mixture left over from Monday so I added some flour to it and fried dollops in the bacon fat to make mini pancakes - very nice they were too!

I have long promised myself a day at Hyde Hall on a sunny Autumn day but, somehow, all half terms so far have been packed with Things I Had To Do or raining!  That's the nature of half terms - they are called holidays but, in reality, you work harder than usual, just on different things.  Assessments and planning take a fair chunk of the time, plus all the usual 'must do' things, family visits and a goodly chunk of Christmas planning.

So yesterday was the day my long held wish was fulfilled and I was delighted to have a friend with me to share.  Nicer than going by oneself.

When we got there I was surprised that the car park was chockablock full and the overflow park was open - not that it affected us as we were able to park in the disability parking area (legally!!!) which is close to the cafe and shop.  We had lunch first and the soup was sweet potato and red pepper.  Absolutely delicious.  You also get a hunk of beautifully fresh bread, white or something else, and yesterday the something else was walnut bread.  MUST make some, it was wonderful.

After that we headed off up the hill and started exploring.  J is as bad as I am at continually taking photos so it was stop, start, stop, start which suits me down to the ground!  It was glorious.  The sun set the autumnal leaves ablaze with rich, glorious colour and I am hoping I will have a few good photographs from the rather-a-lot I snapped.  We chatted, explored and admired, visited the vegetable garden which had an amazing squash, gourd and pumpkin display (and which has been changed somewhat which is why it was closed last time I visited, I guess), meandered down to the lake and then headed back to the car in order to get past the Army and Navy roundabout before the rush hour started.  And all the while the sun smiled on us apart from one very short spell when he sulked behind a cloud.

I slept well last night!

By the way, it was very busy because they had specials for children all through the week.  Art sessions, woodland walks, the pumpkin patch, etc.  Good for them.  The children were all, without exception, great.  They politely made way for J's wheelchair when necessary and noticed when we were taking photos so stopped so as to keep out of the way, they were noisy but not raucous, they were friendly and were quite obviously having the time of their lives.  Fantastic.

Today, amazingly, I have absolutely nothing on my calendar.  I might have gone down to the allotment for a short while but not in the rain, being a fair weather gardener!  I will probably do some Christmas meal and shopping list planning, sort out the freezers (long overdue), make some bread and - er - well, whatever grabs me at the time.  How lovely!

Yesterday I asked for advice on quiche ratios - meaning what ratio of eggs to milk/cream is the best.  Different recipes have different suggestions/instructions and, assuming they all work, I am starting to conclude that actually, withing a fairly broad framework, it probably doesn't matter all that much.  However, I want something that I can remember easily.  One recipe suggested 3 eggs to half a pint while another said 2 eggs to 300 mls.  Another suggested a 1:2 ratio in weight but neglected to say whether the eggs were shelled or unshelled and what size they were and that does make a difference!  I shall continue exploring and see if I can come to a general sort of conclusion.

I find my bread recipe so easy to remember and the all in one cake recipe I use is great - weigh the eggs in their shells and add the same weight of flour, sugar and butter/marg.  Easy peasy!  Something like that's what I was wanting really.  Any ideas?

Today's food:
Breakfast:  toast and marmalade
Lunch:  corn chowder, bread and butter
Dinner:  Jacket potato with cheese, salad, ham, apple

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Help, please.

Borrowed from Google Images.

I'm trying to discover the ratio of eggs to milk for a quiche filling.  There doesn't seem to be a standard expectation as there is for, say a victoria sponge.

One site says 3 eggs to half a pint (or 185mls, I think) of milk while another says 2 eggs to 300 mls milk.

I suspect there is no standard answer but what do my readers use (if you make quiche)?


Good morning, gentle readers.  Wasn't it lovely weather yesterday?  Wall to wall sunshine apart from one half hour when it turned black and threatening and we could see the rain in the distance, falling like a black shadow from the clouds.  However, somehow, it never reached us and  the sun returned to brighten up the rest of the day.

It was a shame that I was too busy to fuss about hanging out washing because it was a perfect drying day.  By the time everything had settled down again there was no point - it would never have dried in the time.  By just after five I was drawing the curtains to shut out the approaching dusk.

The morning was a busy time.  I made the bread and popped round to school to deliver it.  I made the pastry case for the quiche and it looked OK.  I made seven mince pies with what was left from the pastry, two of which have gone the way of all mince pies and five of which are now safely in the freezer!  I made salad, baked jacket potatoes and finished off the quiche which, sadly, had a leak.  Luckily it was somewhere near the top so we ended up with a perfectly acceptable quiche which actually tasted really good.

As I said to Beth, I must do more pastry things.  It is perfectly ridiculous that I'm so nervous of the stuff and practise might make perfect.  Therefore, I feel that another quiche may be heading this way soon.  As long as I have a few veg to add to it, it's a meal in itself really.

All in all, it was a very tasty dinner.  There was stuff left over but not loads.  Beth took much of it with her to feed the teenager so it all worked out really well.

Today I have to tidy the kitchen a bit more and then Julia and I are off to see an autumnal Hyde Hall as the weather looks to be lovely again.  Must remember to take my camera with me!

Food today:
Breakfast:  Bacon sandwich - definitely bacon!  Has to be bacon today!.
Lunch:  Soup at Hyde Hall
Dinner:  steak with a mushroom sauce, fries and tomatoes

But first - coffee.

Monday, 26 October 2015


. . . and the proper start of half term, given that weekends happen every week, school break or no school break.

And a very special day it is too.  Beth's birthday.  Born at 6:20 a.m. after an 'interesting' night.  Happy birthday, my dear.  I won't let my blogging world know your age!
Happy Birthday, Beth!

Yesterday Alex was here and I made pizza for lunch.  I have to say it was very good indeed.  I still have some pizza dough in the fridge so I may make another, smaller one for tea tonight or, perhaps, freeze it, given that there's likely to be leftovers from lunch.

Yesterday was the kind of day that had a lot of content but in bits and bobs so I was upping and downing, inning and outing quite a lot.  The sun shone so washing went on the line!   I was jolly tired come late afternoon because of the very early start, I suppose, so I had a snooze which helped a lot.

Because it is Beth's birthday, I am doing a birthday lunch.  I'm doing things I know she loves so it's quiche, jacket potatoes, a small salad and coleslaw with ham for Alex followed by Autumnal spiced plums which are really gorgeous.  I have the recipe in my other blog so here's a link
As well, I am making bread for one of my customers over half term week.  That's rising nicely and will soon be ready for shaping and proving.  The other customer is deferring this week as there's no way to get in touch, it being half term.

So, right now, the pastry for the quiche is blind baking and the bread dough is rising.  When the pastry is done I will do the plums.  Then there's the rest to prepare ahead of time - make the salad, prep the spuds, etc.  Nothing hard, it just takes time.

Later on I will pop down to the local party shop to get a few pretties to liven up the table.
Ah, well, there's nothing like keeping busy, is there?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  Much as I love cooking and baking, as you can tell from this blog, I am useless at pastry, I really am.  Always have been.  I dread it and avoid it whenever possible.  I know it is supposed to be easy but . . .
I am trialling my newly acquired perforated quiche dish which is supposed to stop soggy bottoms.  I hope so!
Anyway, Thermione has been used and at least it's not the star of the dish, the eggs and cream are the stars!  There's some trimmings left over so, in my frugal mind I am thinking cheese straws, mince pies, jam tarts, whatever.  For now it will go in the fridge!

Have a good day, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.  May your sun shine for you!

Sunday, 25 October 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  The most annoying thing about the start of winter hours is that morning people like me just wake an hour earlier!  So I have been up for hours now.  However, the good thing is that it is still very early morning and I am starting to think of a snooze!

When I woke and just after three o'clock (new time), there was a horrible smell all over the house.  Nothing dangerous like smoke, just not nice.  When I checked, the lid to the bin was open and I remembered I had sorted out some old stuff from the fridge yesterday.  Oh, dear.

One visit to the outside bin and several open windows later things are much more fragrant again.  Mind you, it is bloomin' cold out there and I was glad to close the windows again once the pong had subsided.

I have Alex staying overnight and for part of tomorrow.  I planned all the meals, got out my pizza recipe and prepared the ham.  When he arrived, however, he had plans for Chinese takeaway and he even put his money where his tum was so who was I to refuse?  It was jolly tasty too.  The pizza will be fine for lunch today: fortunately I hadn't started the dough for the base.  The ham won't get eaten today but Al and Beth will be over again tomorrow so he will make inroads into it then and anyway it is half term and I will be home a lot so a bit of ham in the fridge is always useful.

I also made Diane's sweetcorn chowder and it was very tasty.  It will give me several lunches this week so in the freezer it goes!  You can find the recipe here:

For a while I have wanted to try ham in cola.  Everyone seems to rave about it.  However, I have never had cola in at the appropriate time.  Yesterday I did and I also had the oven on for muffins and then bread so I bunged the smallish ham (from Aldi) into my pyrex dish, poured in some very flat cola I have kept in the fridge and bunged it in the oven.  A couple of hours later out it came smelling rather good.  I also now have a sort of sweet/savoury/hammy tasting stock that, I think, will make a great base for a smoky barbecue sauce.

Getting the ham was a bit of an impulse buy when I went to Aldi early yesterday morning.  As I pushed my trolley past them, I saw that they were looking good.  Sometimes they can be very fatty and I don't like too much fatty ham - it's a waste because I don't eat it.  I also bought some chipolatas and streaky bacon and one of the morning's tasks is to make the pigs in blankets and get them frozen.  That will be one Christmas task done and dusted!

Today's menu is toast, pizza and salad and sweetcorn chowder with bread and butter.  Sounds scrummy!  But now - back up to bed to catch any snoozes that happen to be passing.  I hope you haven't woken too early on this, the longest day of the year!

Saturday, 24 October 2015


So here we are at the beginning of half term!  I have no idea about the weather and can't be bothered to open a window or door to look, but it feels a bit chilly in here as it is too early for the heating to click on.  Not so chilly that I am bolting back upstairs for extra covering though!

Oh, I was so tired yesterday evening.  On Thursday evening, as already mentioned, I was helping out at the school and by the time I got home my brain was a-fizzin' and it was well past midnight before I got to sleep.  Not terribly wise when there's a day's teaching ahead.  By the time I got home yesterday I was only fit to crash, which I did.  I slept most of the evening on and off, went to bed just before eight, went to sleep straight away and slept solidly until half past three.  I didn't even wake for the usual trip down the landing!  It may be an easly start to today but I feel great!

School was super.  Lovely class, lots of good planning left for me, what's not to like?  There was a bit of a muddle at one point and I did one thing at playtime when I should have been doing another but it was OK.  I did make a bit of a goof up with the dinner register though!

Each day there are at least two options, one of which is vegetarian, and on three of the five days they can also choose a jacket potato with a topping.  The choices are on a three week rotation.  So I looked at the menu and told them their choices which were ham and cheese pizza or cheese and tomato pizza.  A lot of children went for the cheese and tomato option.  I put this all on the electronic register and saved it.

About half an hour or so later along came someone in a great hurry to check that there really were so many vegetarian requests.  The kitchen staff were getting into a right panic because they didn't have enough spicy beanburgers for all my children who wanted them.

Spicy bean burgers?


You can guess what I did, can't you?  I only looked at the wrong week on the menu, that's all.  So I re-called the lunch menu and they all wanted fish fingers!  Sighs of relief all round and an embarassed supply teacher!  If I was in every day I'd never make that mistake.  I went to apologise to the kitchen staff at lunchtime and they laughed at me!  Ah, well . . .

It reminded me of last year when I gave the children in my class the options and had a little rave about the vegetarian option which was lentil and sweet potato curry.  As a result many more children asked for the vegetarian option that day and someone came to check.  On that occasion it was genuine and not a problem as they could just add a little bit more to the ingredients to accommodate.  It was so nice, in fact, that I asked for a copy of the recipe!

Today is mine.  Well, sort of.  Alex is staying overnight tonight so I must get some food in, Al being a typical bottomless teenager who can eat one out of house and home!  This morning the boys are coming to garden and as it is half term I think I will make muffins for them!  They'll like that!

As for Al, I guess I will make pizza so I need to get some toppings.  For tomorrow I was going to buy a chicken but I think I might have a rummage in the freezer first to see if there's anything I can use.  I bet there is!

Bread is also on the List Of Things To Do because I am right out of it - not even a loaf in the freezer.  That's what comes of having a busy life.  I will have to re-stock this week!

Better get started I suppose.  I want to be at Aldi at eight and I have a list to make before then, I have hair to wash and dough to make, washing to put in and a whole load of social media with which to catch up.  And I MUST renew my library books online!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, 23 October 2015


The dull and boring didn't last too long yesterday.  The sun came out, the parcel was the shears after all, the present arrived later on in the day and life got very busy.

In the end, after I had boiled up the chicken bones and skin, I decided to make a risotto in Thermione and jolly tasty it was too.  There was enough to make a very filling dinner yesterday and a school lunch today.  Not bad at all.

I went into school to do my nanny helper thing, chatted to the teacher whose class I am taking today and found out what the planning was, then came home and did my bit of private tuition (loved it again this week - MUST lok out for more, somehow, somewhere).  After gobbling down the risotto (scrummy) I was back in school to help FONS with the Christmas cards and there I stayed until well after nine.  At that point I left because there was nothing else I could do but the others were still hard at it, adding up amounts with calculators.  With my dyscalculia, I politely turned down any request to help with that!  I think I'd cause more problems than I solved.

I think it is safe to say that by the end of the day I was no longer feeling dull or boring!

Today, Friday, seems to be dry ad not all that chilly and I am zonked after a late night.

I'm doing supply cover all day.  Year 1 (brilliant) teaching a curriculum I know quite well and with which I feel at home.  What more could a teacher ask, eh?   I am really looking forward to it.

So no swimming, which is a shame, but next week I could go every day, should I want to (which I won't!).

Today's food (I keep forgetting to do this!)
Breakfast:  Toast and things on
Lunch: chicken risotto
Dinner:  Steak (yes, my favourite flat iron steak) with fried onions, maybe in a roll.  I'll see how I feel about that one.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Thursday - later on

I was wrong.  The parcel WAS the shears AND the sun has come out.  I can't go to the allotment now though.  No time!

Another day . . .


Today I woke feeling dull and boring.  Maybe it's the weather which is also somewhat dull and boring and seems to be staying so through the day, according to the BBC.  Everything is damp and dismal and I doubt I will want to go to the allotment today, despite my good intentions (sorry, Beth).  Maybe I just need a good kick up the backside!  Maybe we need a good frost or even, as some of the less reliable papers are predicting, a good fall of snow.  That'd brighten me up!

Yesterday was busy.  After swimming I came home and did a bit of clearing up (not enough) before going off to school where I finally, at long, long last, got the tracker assessments finished.  It's taken ages but it's off my mind at last, thank goodness.  When school finished I whizzed off to the hall to help with the Christmas cards thing during parents evening and then to the other hall for a presentation on the new curriculum and assessments.  It was jolly good too so a pity it was poorly attended.  I hope more go tonight.

During the day a parcel arrived.  It was Beth's birthday present which we are actually going to share and I'm glad it has arrived well before the event.  The other garden shears haven't come and, as they are fairly necessary for the allotment work, I am very much hoping they will arrive today while I am in.

After the presentation had finished, I popped over to Morrisons and they had some cooked chicken pieces reduced, as they often do in the evenings.  I bought a bag of two for just over £3.00, thinking it was a bit naughty but easy.  I rarely get cooked chicken and didn't realise how much meat there was on each one.  I reckon those two chicken pieces will give me four meals plus boiling up the bones and skin to get the last ounce of flavour for a soup stock.  That's really not bad at all, is it?

Apart from waiting in today I have washing and house tidying as the cleaners come tomorrow.  This afternoon I'm in school as a nanny helper, hearing readers, and this evening I have offered to help with the cards again.  It is really nice to be able to support the work of the parents' association.  When my two were at school, I was working, so couldn't get involved as much as I would have done otherwise.  I guess it is catch-up time now.

While swimming yesterday, I chatted to Beth about preparing for Christmas.  I notice that they have King Edwards in Morrisons at the moment and they do make very tasty roasties, so I shall get a couple of bags next week and prepare them for the freezer.  I was also thinking about the pigs in blankets, the cranberry sauce, etc, and we realised that I always do these things over half term.  I may not be working full time any more but half term still holds its own in my life, it seems.

Well, it is past half past seven and time, as Diane says, to get the show on the road.  I will start with a bath and get dressed - I always work better in day clothes than in night clothes.  Then I shall attack the kitchen, get the meat off the other chicken piece and sort it all out.  The fridge needs a tidy and, of course, there is the washing.  I also need to get a bread dough started.

I can't afford to be lazy today, there isn't the time!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


It's wet out there for the first time in a long while.  I dodged the raindrops to the shed and back again!  I have washing to do . . .  Oh, well . . .

Yesterday, being teaching day, was bound by time but not space!  It all went OK, I love the two hours in year 1 and the Foundation Stagies are just finding their feet!  Afternoon play was cool and sunny.  All nice and satisfying.

Today is swimming (may as well get more wet!), then I have a home to sort out, clothes to wash (and dry inside) and then I'm off to school to do some more assessment stuff followed by helping the parents association to sell Christmas cards at consultation evening.  Then I'm going to a parents' training thing wearing my governor's hat.

That's about it.  How about you?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


Good morning again, everyone, and welcome to a dry, chilly, dark October morning - just as it has been for the last week or so!  I gather the weather is due to turn soon and that Autumnal storms may be gathering in the Atlantic, which should make life interesting!  As I always say, we get what we will get and there's not a lot you or I can do about it.

Yesterday was nice.  We started off, Beth and I by going swimming together for the first time in a fortnight.  No, I tell a lie - I started off by discovering that if I wake at half past four I can make four fresh loaves by eight.  So that sorted the biggest problem of the day!

Swimming was lovely although I was late.  As I trundled along in the car, the fuel warning light came on.  Not only did it come on but a warning also flashed on the display thingy.  I've not let the petrol get that low in this car before and didn't know how much fuel I had left so I diverted to the filling station to discover.  It turns out that I still had about 12 litres in the tank, judging by how much I managed to get in, which is around a quarter of the capacity.  Weird!  It certainly wasn't showing as a quarter full.

After swimming I delivered the bread to school and found out what I'm doing first thing today (phonics and maths) before we headed off to the Hare for lunch with Julia, Linda and Carolyn.  A very good time was had by us all too.

Then it was late afternoon, I sat down and - yup, you've guessed it - I fell asleep!  Nice.

And that was yesterday!

Today is my teaching day so there's not really a lot to add.

Maybe your day will be more exciting.  Do you have plans?

Monday, 19 October 2015


Good morning, gentle readers and welcome to the start of a new week.  I might be retired but weekends still feel different from weekdays.  Odd, but it is helpful to have some definition to the days and weeks, I think.  It's the last week before half term and I have two days of teaching this week which is rather nice.

What else is rather nice is that there's a whole new generation of littlies who say, shyly or noisily, 'hello, Mrs Clark' when they see me in Morrisons.  When I do the cover teaching, most of the day is with Foundation Stage and so a whole new cohort is getting to know me and I am getting to know them.  Sweet.

Yesterday Beth and I decided to do some more work on the allotment.  We didn't spend as long as Saturday but we still got plenty done although there's plenty more that still needs doing.  One problem is  finding a way of cutting the grass edges and pathways.  In the past, Beth has tried petrol mowers, electric mowers using a generator and push alongs but none have worked all that well and transporting them is a big issue.  As the pathways and edges seriously need doing, yesterday we invested in some long handled lawn trimmers and some edge trimmers.  It's not ideal but should keep the worst down while we work out what to do in the longer term.

When we got back we had a boot full of 'garden waste'.  While we are quite happy to put the vegetable stuff in the compost bin at the allotment, the many weeds are another matter so we bought some really strong rubble bags and the contents have gone into my brown bin (and the brown bins of my lovely, friendly neighbours too, bless them).  The bags will be used again and again and again, I hope; they weren't cheap!

We also had a fair old pile of spuds too.  I took some and Beth has the rest.  They are delicious and I need to ensure I use them soon.

It was just as well we had an early lunch (soup and I will post the recipe because it was nice) and went straight after that because later on it got very chilly and rained.  By that time we were both safely home and I was actually snuggled under the fleece and snoozing (surprise, surprise).  I did dodge the raindrops to pick the tomatoes - yes, I'm still getting tomatoes and the vision of countless pots of green tomato chutney has receded significantly.  I now have to decide when to pull up the tomato plants but while the fruit is still ripening it seems rather sad to do this.   Also my brown bin is full right now, of course!

Today is going to be busy.  I have to get the bread made before swimming and getting everything fitted into the rest of the day will be a bit of a challenge but, dear me, we will get there one way or another!  The dough is rising merrily and I am glad for the radiator in front of which it is currently sitting.  I have another two and a quarter hours so it should be OK.  I've done a tri-flour mix today - white, wholemeal and grain flours.  It makes for a lovely dough.

No allotment today!  No time.  Shame but there you go!

Breakfast:  toast, etc
Lunch:  not sure yet
Dinner:  more of that chicken with cashews and rice.  Last lot today!  It's been so tasty I haven't minded having it three days in a row.

Goodness, I don't half ramble on sometimes.  Thank you for bearing with me and coming back day after day for more!

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  This morning it is calm, clear, cold and dry (and still dark).  I'm hoping for another day like yesterday which was perfect for digging dowen the allotment.

Yes, we finally managed to get to the allotment and put in a few hours of good, solid clearing.  The bit we worked on, Beth, Alex and I, looked so much better when we had finished, although I felt distinctly the worse for wear and had a long hot bath with paracetamol when I got home. I'm a bit ouchy now but nothing that will stop me going again today to carry on.  I'm afraid it was all a bit of a mess but it won't be, when we have done the necessary and then the long cold winter that they say we are going to have can break up the clods and generally make the soil much more manageable!

I had an idea to which Beth has not replied!  Maybe I don't blame her.  Anyway, come the spring I want to make some bunting that can hang on the shed down there are make the place look cheerful and welcoming.  Sorry, Beth!

The other main thing I did yesterday was use a recipe I found on Facebook to make in my slow cooker and it was a great success.  As it was so delicious, I have blogged about it on the other blog - please take a look and see.  As I'm still on a mission to reduce the amount of stuff in my freezer, using up some chicken was great!  There's leftovers but they will be eaten this week.

I went shopping in Morrisons and they had pumpkins at 50p so I got one thinking 'roasted pumpkin soup for Sunday'.  I then discovered Beth doesn't like pumpkin, darn it.  Maybe I won't either, but I shall try it anyway and see.  In the meanwhile I will have to make something else for today.  Roasted tomato and lentil, perhaps.  I have some rolls in the freezer and we don't want anything too heavy before going to the allotment again.

Before then I need to rootle in the garden shed for more tools!  I'm sure I have shears of some kind and a rake would have been very useful yesterday.

Today's food:
Breakfast:  not a lot
Early lunch:  soup and roll
Dinner:  chicken and cashews with rice (yum)

Saturday, 17 October 2015


Yesterday I tried a bit of reverse weather magic.  I said, in hopes of the opposite, which usually happens . . .
So today it's going to pour all day, then snow overnight with hurricane force winds and thick fog! 

Did it work?  Did it heck!  Drizzle all day and we really didn't fancy going to the allotment - so we didn't.  Mind you, the snow and the hurricane gave us a miss so maybe I just need to refine the technique a bit!
Now it's chilly but dry and way too dark to see much else!

Yesterday I popped down to the library because I tried to renew my library books online and couldn't.  It seems they are transferring everything over to a new server and while that's happening no fines will be issued, so that was a relief - I just have to remember to check every couple of days to see if it's up and working again, which is no hardship, is it, not online?.  

I also had a word with Jenny who runs the book club.  Regular readers may remember that I have joined the library's book club, brought home this month's book a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The meeting is next Friday but, sadly (sort of sadly, anyway) I have asked to do supply that day so that's that up the spout!
I will collect the next book after school that day and return the current one - which I will re-read before then because it was a jolly good read.

Sharon worked her usual magic on my hair and on Beth's too in the morning.  I feel a lot better now.  It's short again, the fringe is not stopping me from seeing and it just feels right.  Sharon is very good and we are lucky to have her.

Regular readers may also remember that I have been doing a little bit of research into lesser known steaks ever since it was a subject on Eat Well For Less.
I have now tried bullet steak, denver steak and flat iron steak, all of which is sold in Morrisons, my nearest supermarket, at around half the price (or less) of the more popular steaks.
I won't get denver steak again, it was OK but nothing special and a bit 'chewy' (which I don't like much).  It might be better braised rather than fried and I may try it that way some time.
 Bullet steak was very nice indeed but was a little bit tough when fully cooked with no pink. 
However, flat iron steak was something else.  I've now tried it rare, medium and very well done and each way has produced a delicious, tender, almost melt in the mouth steak with a superb flavour.  Move over, fillet and sirloin, flat iron steak is the way to go from now on!  It almost fits into a frugal lifestyle - almost!

Now, if I was a 'Famous Blogger' I could start a frugal steak trend but I'm not and glad I'm not because the price would go up.  At the moment I can get two decent sized steaks for between three and four pounds and I'd really like it to stay that way, please.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a famous blogger and earn money (or in kind) from my ramblings.  I follow some of them, people like the A Girl Called Jack, Frugal Girl, the Frugal Family, My Tiny Plot and Enjoying the Small Things and really do enjoy their entries.  One of my favourites is Thrifty Lesley who comes over as such a very pleasant and down to earth lady.  However, I just as much enjoy the 'small' bloggers like Diane's Good Morning Early Readers - in fact I think I enjoy them more as they are packed with the so-called 'smaller' and familiar things of life with no consideration for making money or attracting thousands of readers and they are just so down to earth, personal and filled with common sense and good ideas.  Thanks, Diane (and Chrissie, Rachel and many others), you give a lot of pleasure.

Anyway, on to today.  Weather permitting we will be allotmenting.  Beth has asked and I can have a key to the allotment area on payment of a deposit, so I have given her the necessary and soon I will be able to pop down and put in some work without us needing to synchronise our watches, so to speak.  That will be much better.

And, of course, it is Saturday so I will have Strictly, Pointless and Doctor Who to look forward to this evening.  Excellent!

I hope all my gentle readers have as good a day as I am hoping to have.

Friday, 16 October 2015


You know, I really should stop the weather prediction thing.  Yesterday I said:
"It is dark, dull, very cloudy and looks as if it is going to start raining any minute now.  Not nice after the many days of sunshine and a cool breeze!  And I have a pile of washing to do, mostly sheets.  I doubt they will get out on the line today"
. . . so what happened?  The sun came out and it was dry for long enough to dry two loads of washing!

So today it's going to pour all day, then snow overnight with hurricane force winds and thick fog!  There you go!  That guarantees a very pleasant day.

Actually, I gather from a post on Facebook that we had a thunderstorm overnight, not that I heard it!

After a long, long day on Wednesday I was super-tired yesterday but managed to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime.  Just as well too because yesterday < fanfare of trumpets > I did my first bit of private tuition - and very enjoyable it was too.  I used my experience, skills and knowledge but without needing to stressabout 'outstanding progress', WALTs, WILFs, ongoing provision, appropriate differentiation and an appropriate learning environment!  Thank goodness!  Here's to next week.  Oh - and I got paid too which was the icing on the cake.
Now I am all enthused about planning the next session!

Before that I went into school and did my 'nanny helper' thing.  Just as above, lovely to work with the children without any of the normal anxieties.

Today is hair day.  Lovely Sharon is over this morning to work her usual magic and then Beth and I will wreck it by putting some hours on the allotment.  I'm hoping a few hours in the fresh air will be just the ticket for my chesty cough - or, rather, to sort it out!

And then it is the weekend!  Yay.

Thursday, 15 October 2015


I'm writing this a bit later than usual which means that I can see very clearly what the weather will be although I wish I couldn't.  It is dark, dull, very cloudy and looks as if it is going to start raining any minute now.  Not nice after the many days of sunshine and a cool breeze!  And I have a pile of washing to do, mostly sheets.  I doubt they will get out on the line today so, as I am refusing to use the tumble dryer except in the direst emergency, they will have to drape all around the house!

Yesterday was fantastic!

I bustled around and got everywhere clean and tidy and even managed to throw away some 'stuff' that was not seriously valuable, useful or sentimental (must do more of that!).  I got dinner ready for go.  I even managed to grab about an hour's sleep in the afternoon which was very welcome after such an early start.  When Jackie came we had a light dinner and set off out to the Civic Theatre for our evening with Russell Watson.

The car park was packed and we were lucky to find a gap.  The theatre was packed and there was a real buzz, if you know what I mean.  And the concert was brilliant!

He had a pianist, a guitarist and a string quartet, all of whom were extremely good, and in the second half there was a choir as well.  It turned out that he uses a local choir for these evenings and they rehearse together just on that day.

There was more singing and less talking than last week's Lesley Garrett evening, not so many big laughs but plenty of chuckles, some items from the musicians and a good mix of classics and modern 'popular'.  I could quite cheerfully have sat through the same again, it was wonderfully entertaining with several favourites and a few I didn't know, plus my all time fave to finish off - 'You raise me up'.

After the concert, warned by last week when it took us nearly half an hour to get out of the car park, we whizzed back to the car ahead of the main throng and managed to get out straight away.  I think the god of concert goers was smiling on us because just about all the traffic lights turned to green as we approached them too.

Once home I got out supper, we opened a bottle (no, not lemonade!) and we sat in comfort and talked . . . and talked . . . and talked . . . and talked . . . and finally went to our respective rooms after one o'clock.

I'm tired now!  Thank goodness for no school and not a lot that HAS to be done this morning.

Jackie and I both agreed that we must do this more often.  It was such fun and so good to have time to talk.

Now I am loading the washing machine and then I'm sitting down with a book and my magic sleep-sparkle owly fleece and I should nod off fairly pronto!

Breakfast:  toast and things
Lunch:  something light.  Maybe some fruit as I have a lot of apples and also grapes left over from last night.
Dinner:  Left over normandy chicken from yesterday.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Brrrr - it's really chilly this morning.  BBC weather doesn't make it all that cold but I know better!  There was an icy nip when I opened the window, hurriedly closed again, to check.

I've been looking at Autumn poems and this one jumped out.  It's so true when I sit here, look sideways out of the small window at the back and see day breaking.  I drew the curtain last night so can't do it this morning.

A Letter In October - Ted Kooser

Dawn comes later and later now,
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning
watching the light walk down the hill
to the edge of the pond and place
a doe there, shyly drinking,

then see the light step out upon
the water, sowing reflections
to either side—a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic—
now see no more than my face,
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,

startled by time. While I slept,
night in its thick winter jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned

the water garden under. I woke,
and at the waiting window found
the curtains open to my open face;
beyond me, darkness. And I,
who only wished to keep looking out,
must now keep looking in. 

I survived yesterday but I was wiped out come the evening.  My voice did survive but I'm glad I don't have to use it much today.  As it was chilly in the evening I snuggled under my owly fleece and, true to its magic, fell asleep and slept for over an hour.  I swear Beth must have sprinkled it with magic sleepy sparkles before she gave it to me!
When I woke I staggered upstairs and promptly fell asleep again, hence being wide awake at three this morning.  It's a bit annoying because I shall have a late night tonight but maybe I can sleep early afternoon.  Hoping so, anyway, because I'm still a bit zonked out really.

Today is going to be good.  Well, maybe not at first because I have a home to tidy and clean.  It always amazes me how quickly it can get so messy when just one person lives here.  Anyway, the reason is that I have a friend coming round for dinner and then staying overnight.  Thankfully, the spare room is just about ready and I just need to make the bed up.  Downstairs is another story.

Then I need to make bread and decide on a dinner - just a light dinner because we will have supper later with a good chat.  Decisions, decisions!  Supper is easy - I shall have a selection of cheese with my home made baguette, some chutney and nibbly stuff with fruit on the side and plenty of chilled white stuff to wash it all down.  I was just wondering about some pasta bolognaise or I do have that chicken thing I made last week which was rather good and would be nice with rice or pasta.  Think, think!  Chicken might be better as I don't want it to be too heavy.  What do you think?

I'm feeling quite tired now and, as I don't have to be up early, I think I will see if I can get some more sleep.  See you later!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Good morning, everyone.  It's dark and cold outside and inside the cold is progressing as any properly constituted cold does - with coughs and splutters and general anti-sociability!

I popped into school yesterday with the bread and to carry on with the assessment (nearly finished now) and someone said 'you sound terrible'.  I hadn't realised because I've not spoken for a couple of days!  Anyway, you know colds - they often sound a lot worse than they really are!

I managed to get the washing done and dried yesterday but, by then I was feeling worn out so I am afraid the ironing still sits in the basket.  This evening, maybe!

The slow cooker chutney simmered away in the slow cooker (surprise!) all day and it worked quite well.  I did need to take off the lid for the last hour to thicken a bit more but it was remarkably hassle free and tastes fantastic, albeit a little 'immature'.  It should be good by Christmas.  I remembered to fill two mini-pots as well as the normal ones and they will be for the two ladies for whom I bake bread.

Today, being Tuesday, is teaching day.  I have to admit that with this cold turning disgusting I could do without it but it is just one day and I am grateful that I'm not having to push myself in every day and ending up feeling a lot worse and having to have time off with all the guilt and awkwardness that entails.  It's not because anyone is difficult about it - they are most definitely not - it's other things.

Well, I had better stir my stumps and get moving.  Coffee first and then breakfast.

Today's food:
Breakfast:   Toast and marmalade
Lunch:  Cheese sarnie, apple, yogurt
Dinner:  Spag bol, fruit

Monday, 12 October 2015


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome back.  It's dark, chilly and dry outside, warm and onion-y inside.  Normal service is resuming chez-Diary-of-a-Teacher!

Well, so sorry about the moaning yesterday.  It's odd how something as common as a cold can really drag one down, isn't it?  Still, I had a quiet day (missing something I'd have loved to attend but never mind, I would have spread germs right, left and centre) and, between tablets, had a little go at making fabric gift bags.  In the end I didn't use the method in the clip I posted but another on just as easy because the bags I wanted to make were titchy, just the size for 'showcasing' my jams and chutneys that I give as gifts as well as showing off pretty, cellophane wrapped home made biscotti, etc.
I think they are rather nice and at some point will show them off in a photo.

I didn't get bread made and I didn't make the slow cooker chutney I wrote about on Saturday so when I woke this morning I set to and now have a batch of dough rising and a slow cooker full of chutney ingredients.

The bread is for my two friends for whom I bake and I will be delivering that round to school this afternoon when I pop in to see what the work is for tomorrow.  In Aldi they had a few bags of what looks like a sort of granary flour equivalent only a lot better value, so I got a couple and am making half and half loaves today.  I hope they like them.

The chutney is an adapted version of one picked up on Facebook, cooked in a slow cooker.  I've never done that before but - well, there's always a first time and if we didn't ever try to do things differently we'd never move on, would we.  If it doesn't thicken, I can always do the conventional thing in my maslin pan!  I must try to remember to keep the kitchen door closed as it will be smelly enough without encouraging it to spread around the house!

I'm hoping Beth will be around today, although I must be careful not to breathe germs all over her as she's only just recovered from her own virus!  We will be working on a commission (sounds posh, that) for a friend.

I'm very glad I don't have to go to work today!

Oh, nearly forgot to say - yesterday evening I tried another of those more frugal steaks (hence needing to eat the other one in the pack today).  It was called flat iron steak and yup, it was lovely.  Flavoursome and tender and even my inexpert cooking didn't spoil it - and I am useless with steaks.  I cooked it to just a tinge of pink in the middle and had it with Dijon mustard.  Yum.
I think I enjoyed it all the more because I hadn't eaten much the rest of the day.

Advert time - don't forget to visit Kitty Stitches on Facebook . . .

Breakfast:  fruit and yogurt
Lunch:  Beans on toast (comfort food)
Dinner:  More steak (needs using up, oh, the hardship) with salad and oven chips

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Hyde Hall, October 2015

It was a glorious day!

From troubles of the world
I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comical things

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

Well up to its usual beauty!  We had a lovely couple of hours.


Whinge alert.  Feel free to stop reading now!

At some point last week (can't remember which day) I developed a very uncomfortable throat.  Uh-oh, thought I, here we go . . . but it didn't develop into anything, it just went.  Phew.

Well, it seems it was just spying out the land because yesterday back it came with several little friends to set up temporary home!

Temperature, tight chest (no rude comments from the back, thank you), sore throat and a rather nasty unproductive cough plus, to add insult to injury, an upset tum with associated cramps.  Grrrrrrr . . .

Yesterday sort of went downhill afternoon and evening so today I'm opting out and having a pj day.  It's a nuisance because I had stuff planned (really so sorry, Beth) but never mind, it's good that I can.

Breakfast:  not a lot except for maybe coffee.
Rest of day:  no idea - it depends . . .

See - I advised you to stop reading, didn't I?  I'll be back to irritating normality soon, I am sure.

Saturday, 10 October 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.
It's way too early to see what sort of a day it is likely to turn into but I can see that it is dry and feel that it is cold and BBC weather thinks it is going to be beautifully sunny albeit not terribly warm.  I can live with that!

Yesterday turned into quite a different day than planned.  First of all, Beth tirned up as we were having breakfast.  She packed some of our Kitty Stitches things for posting.  Yes, gentle readers, we have sold some stuff.  Good, isn't it?  Please do take a look at our Facebook page at
and let us know if you would like to buy anything.

Once she had gone, I pootled off to Hobbycraft and got some fabric on special.  Not great fabric but at £3.00 a metre it isn't going to be.  This is to make mini carrier bags for my pots of jam.  I also got some iron on interfacing because I want to start making them and need something to stiffen the fabric a bit..

Then I went to Aldi which is quite close by.  As well as the usual shop I bought a snall turkey crown because Sonja and Milli will be coming here at some point before Christmas for their Christmas dinner.  It's hard to have celebratory meals when you haven't got a home-base so I will be doing one for them.  We did the same last year and it was lovely!
I'm just a bit worried that there won't be enough turkey but I can do extra pigs in blankets and/or get a turkey thigh joint from Morrisons as well so I'm sure there will be no problems.  They also had carrots on special so I got a bag and will get them prepared for the freezer.  So useful, when you want roasted vegetables, to have them ready prepped.

Then it was home to put shopping away and gloat over the fabric.  I made one little bag and can see hot to improve it.  It was neither difficult nor particularly fiddly so that's great.  Once used as a present bag, it can hold pot pourri, keys, wrapped sweets, whatever.

Come the evening I watched the Great British Menu banquet, even though I missed the previous two episodes this week so I know who got through and was very pleased.  I will catch up on iPlayer later on today.

That was about it for the day.  So much for plans to wash and iron!
Today is more of the same really, although I do want to get that washing done and out of the way!

Breakfast:  toast and marmalade
Lunch:  soup
Dinner: steak, salad and a few oven chips

Friday, 9 October 2015


The sun is shining, it is crisp and autumnal; it's going to be a really lovely day!

Yesterday was also a wonderful day.  We went to Lakeland as we had a list of things we needed - I needed some baggies and some loaf tin liners.  I had just three baggies left and I cannot manage without them, I really can't.  We had a lovely slow trawl around the place, looking, commenting and generally wishing we could buy up the shop.  I did get one extravagance - we bought a perforated quiche tin each because it was buy one get one half price.  They are small tins, just right for small families!

When we got home we set straight off for Hyde Hall, arriving just in time for lunch.  Curried parsnip soup and a delicious hunk of brown bread filled all the corners.  Then we caught the 'taxi' up to the top and meandered round happily for a couple of hours.  There were enough people there to make it sociable but not crowded in any way and there were quite a lot of little children so enjoying the space, the sun and a sit-on mower that was doing its duty with the broad swathes of lawn.  I took several photos but haven't uploaded them yet.

After an easy journey home, we had a cuppa and a rest before I made dinner.  Well, I say 'made' but, in fact, it was a lasagne that I had taken out of the freezer (home made earlier), a very simple salad and some garlic bread, followed by cheese and cracker (not that we had any of the latter).  I was really pleased that my new (first time of use, anyway) lasagne dish did the three of us very nicely.

We all slept very well!!

Today my guests are going home very soon - by the time most of you read this they will be there - and I have baked some bread.  I have some beds to sort out, some washing, drying and ironing, some tidying up and I want to enjoy the sunshine.  I think a friend is coming over for coffee.  I might take a trip over to Hobbycraft!  This afternoon the cleaners come so by this evening I will have a lovely clean, fresh home.

Because of having friends here, I missed the Bake Off final on Wednesday so I caught up with it on iPlayer early this morning.  Wasn't it lovely?  I think it was the nicest one yet and I am so glad Nadiya won.  She was my favourite from the word go.  I love her method for fondant icing and want to give it a go sometime.  Did you see it?  She just melted marshmallows in the microwave and added some icing sugar.

Also someone posted a recipe for slow cooker onion chutney and I want to have a go at that.  It looks dead easy, sounds delicious and I am thinking ahead to Christmas presents now.  Looking at what's in it, it can't taste bad and if the worse comes to the worst and it doesn't thicken, I can pour it into a pan and finish it off the old fashioned way!

I found, on Facebook (how did I manage without Facebook?) a 'method' for making gift bags.  It looks fantastic, dead simple and very clever.  I shall have a go (but maybe not today) and if it works as well as I think it will, I will make some to put my Christmas present preserves in.  A gift in another gift!

I've tried to post the video clip here.  Fingers crossed it works.  It's out in the public domain so, hopefully, having it here is OK.
Just in case it doesn't work, here's the URL.

Breakfast:  toast and things
Lunch:  tomato soup and a titchy bit of lasagne that was left over from last night.  Not even enough for one proper portion but we were so full it didn't get finished.  There's also a bit of garlic bread to dunk in the soup.
Dinner: steak and salad, yogurt

Thursday, 8 October 2015


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to Thursday.  It seems to be a dressing gown but no slippers morning here in mid-Essex and, obviously, it's too dark to see exactly what the weather is doing.  A peep out tells me it is dry and there's a real nip in the air which wasn't there yesterday evening.  The heating has clicked on and I have clicked it off again!  If I don't need slippers on, I don't need heating on either!

Yesterday was a fantastic day, one way and another.

I was doing supply cover at school in the morning.  Year 2 until playtime, doing music and RE and then year 3 (my old class) after playtime which was just amazingly brilliant!  They seemed pleased to see me again and were just as responsive as they were last year.  I had a lovely time all morning.

Then it was home, James, to get the place tidied up a little bit before my guests arrived.  I noticed that there were ripe tomatoes but when I looked more closely, every single ripening tomato had split.  I suppose I have been a bit lax in watering them and, after the rain this week, that was the result.  I brought them in, added some onion, half a sweet potato, some garlic and some oil and roasted the lot, then added stock and so on and finished it off in Thermione and it made the best soup ever.  I will never be able to reproduce it, of course, these ad hoc soups are one offs.  We had it for dinner with fresh bread to dunk and mmmmmmmmmm.

I also made another batch of Rachel's ginger nuts which were very well received indeed and I may just be forced to make some more soon!

After that I had to whizz off to school to attend the full governing body meeting and left early because we (my guests and I) went into town to the Civic Theatre to see 'An Evening with Lesly Garrett.  This is a show that she's been doing around the country for a while now (according to Google) and was fantastic entertainment.  Songs, chat, a vote for songs, a question and answer session - it all combined to create a magical evening.  My goodness, not only can that lady sing, she can keep an audience in fits of laughter.  A big voice and a big personality and she came over as a thoroughly nice person.  We had a great time.

This morning we are off into town to attack Lakeland and then off to Hyde Hall for lunch and a stroll around the autumn gardens.  I'd put a note on my calendar about going to HH this month so was very pleased when they suggested it!  The forecast is good so what's to stop us?

I now have a stable table again!  A couple of weeks ago I leaned on the table and was astonished to find that the top almost came off.  Yesterday we had a closer look at it, worked out what was wrong (I had a few screws loose - wouldn't you know!) and got going with a screw driver and now it it rock solid steady again.  A great relief.  I wouldn't have been able to tackle it on my own - too heavy and awkward (no, not me, the table).  Now I know that every time I extend or shorten the table I must just check that the screws are tight enough and that will never happen again.

Breakfast: toast and things
Lunch:  soup and bread
Dinner:  lasagne (must get it out of the freezer), a simple salad and garlic bread, followed by cheese and apples.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


Do you like the change of colour?  I tried an Autumnal theme but the orange and brown just didn't work with the cyclamen photo which was taken on Sunday and is what I can see in my middle raised bed, the flower bed (the others are herb and foliage and vegetable/fruit).  I decided to go for a colder colour because, after all, it is getting colder, isn't it?  Blue has always been my favourite colour and I rather like the effect.

It is a mild morning and seems to be dry too.  It's still quite dark although it is coming up for six-thirty.  Yesterday evening was gloomy too - cloud cover makes such a difference.

I read on a weather page in Facebook that the nights, mornings and evenings are due to turn significantly colder soon.  I really don't mind that as I very much enjoy snuggling under my owl quilt which seems to have the magical power to induce sleep!
Being very selfish here, and knowing that my feelings will make no difference whatsoever in the real world out there, I say 'bring it on'.  Colder suits me fine.

Yesterday was a really lovely day.  The rain came but missed playtimes.  I enjoyed the teaching.  I am getting to know the children in the classes I cover.  All good.

Changing the subject totally, Morrisons had some more of those 'new' cuts of beef so yesterday evening I sampled a Denver steak.  Again, it was really very good.  Tender and tasty.  I googled it, fried it 'black and blue' which I understand means in a hot pan for about six minutes each side, so the outside is very well cooked and the inside is a bit rare.  It was really delicious - and this comes from someone who usually asks for her steaks 'incinerated'!  I now have another Denver steak and also some 'flat iron' steak to devour in the next few weeks!  six steaks for about £9.   Oh, the hardship!

This morning I am doing supply cover.. I start with year 2 (which was my year last year) and then, after playtime, I have the class I taught last year in Y2.  I am teaching music, RE and PSHE.  What more could I ask for, eh?  Then it is home for lunch and a quick tidy up before my visitors arrive.  It is all working out remarkably well really.

Have a good day, whatever the weather!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's a mild-ish, damp and still early morning here, not actually raining at the moment but it has been and it probably will again according to the BBC weather site.  Specific spells of rain include morning and afternoon playtimes which is typical timing!  I'm hoping they are wrong.

I enjoyed yesterday!  Nice class, fun things happening.  The weather held for our harvest festival in the morning and we were able to do the fifteen or so minutes' walk to the church and then back again without getting damp.  Then it started to rain so the afternoon service (for the other half of the school) was held at school instead.  After all, it is all very well to say a bit of rain never hurt anyone but getting wet, gently steaming in a church (or anywhere) then getting wetter on the way home isn't the most popular thing with either children or adults!

It was also violins in the other half of the morning plus swimming in the afternoon so all-in-all a lively day.

I won't, after all, be taking that class today or the rest of the week as plans have changed.  So I am back to being me today, doing my PPA cover and then, on Wednesday morning, I have a half day of cover, just the morning.

Someone who knows me well came up to me to say how well I was looking, in fact I now look at least ten years younger!  I know I was looking a lot better than the stressed and drawn creature I was by the end of July but I didn't realise it was that dramatic!  Nice to know though!
I wonder how I will look by tomorrow lunchtime though!

So today I am back in school doing what I am contracted to do.  Should be fun and I am looking forward to it.

Breakfast:  marmite on toast
Lunch:  I am indulging in a school dinner because it is All Day Breakfast which is very delicious indeed.
Dinner:  Something light, not sure what yet.
And playtime fruit!

Monday, 5 October 2015


Good morning and welcome to an earlier morning than I have seen in recent times.  It's dark, very dark out there but not particularly cold - no slippers or dressing gown this morning.

I'm up for two reasons.  The first is, obviously, that I'm working today so got the usual early start and slightly restless night.

The other is that I tried the 'frozen dough' thing overnight.  At around eight yesterday evening I got out a solid lump of dough that had been frozen in a loaf tin so it was the right shape, bunged it back in a tin, covered it with oiled cling film and left it to slowly thaw.  This morning it was nicely risen so into the hot oven it went but - well, unfortunately it flopped back a bit so instead of a nice domed top, it is flatter than I expected.  I'm not sure how it tastes and how it looks inside as it's still too hot to cut but initially I am disappointed.  I was so hoping this would work better.  I have a second dough loaf frozen so will try giving it a shorter time before baking and see if that helps

Yesterday ended up sunny again but not that warm out of the sun.  Beth came round and we worked on organisational stuff for our little Facebook shop which - fanfare of trumpets - is now open!  It's just things we have made but if you use Facebook and would like to go and see, here's the link.

I also made two lots of bread, one lot for Beth in the morning and one lot for my customersin the afternoon/evening!  I wouldn't mind a few more local people ordering now I've got into the swing of it!  I do enjoy making bread.

So - back to school today and we start by going straight out again, walking to the church for harvest festival.  Fingers crossed it stays dry, please.  Apart from getting to know the children a bit better that I do now, I should be OK with most of it as I have done Y1 for decades and recognise the lessons in the planning, some of which is mine from days gone by!

I'm looking forward to today!  :-)

Fresh, still warm bread and butter with cheese (oooh, naughty but nice)
Lunch:  Spanish omelette with salad (left overs)
Dinner:  Normandy chicken (from freezer), yogurt
And . . . playtime fruit - yay!

And I have just cut into the loaf - it looks great inside, good crumb and it tastes excellent.  It's just the wonky dome that's a problem - and looks do matter when you are selling it!
Must just check again, in case I was wrong with the first slice!  Maybe with coffee this time.

Sunday, 4 October 2015


Brrrr - it is jolly cold this morning.  A definite dressing gown and slippers morning.  From what I can see (which isn't much) it hasn't rained and the skies are clear so here's to another lovely sunny day today.

To my great shame I left the washing out overnight.  The drying times are getting a lot shorter and the second load wasn't really done in time so I though 'why not'.  My mum would be horrified!  They should be ready to bring in by lunch time, I would imagine and then I can iron them ready for school tomorrow.

Yes, I have four days of work at school this coming week.  It was actually five days but I can't do one of the days.  I have planning to consider and am getting all the old 'too much to do and no time' feelings which isn't at all true.  Of course I have plenty of time and the teacher has done all the work for me, bless her, but the reactions are ingrained, I guess.

As predicted, yesterday ended up fine, sunny and for a while it was reasonably warm too.  J came over and did some weeding for me.  He also said nice things about my home baking so I must try not to fob him off with shop biscuits in future!  I sorted out the Normandy Chicken and have three substantial portions in the freezer.  I made some bread which I froze at the start of the proving stage.  This evening I will get one loaf 's worth out to thaw overnight and see how it ends up in the morning.  I'm hoping it will have thawed and be at room temp so I can bung it straight in the oven when I get up which means it will be baked, cooled and ready to take to my customers.  As it is an experiment, I am not relying on it and will bake the necessary four loaves in the afternoon/evening so they are within a day when I hand them over.  This morning it is bread for Beth!

I managed to get my first load of washing in and ironed which was good.  I shall be short of time this week so need to keep up with things somewhat.

I cooked the bullet steak and, you know, it was really delicious.  In the end I rubber oil on the steak and cooked it for a short time on both sides so it was still a bit pink in the middle.  While it was resting I made a sauce by deglazing the pan with a bit of dry white wine with a knob of butter, then adding two sliced chestnut mushrooms, a little garlic puree, some creme fraiche and some Dijon mustard with salt and pepper to season.  Finally I sliced the steak thinly and popped it back in the pan with the sauce and any juices that has come out to heat to piping hot again.  Eaten with chips, it was very tasty.  The bullet steak was tender and have a great flavour so I will be buying more of that.

In Eat Well for Less, they also talked about 'pope's eye' or 'spider' steak which they descriptively also called 'cow's bum' (because of its position).  I have emailed Chapmans, the best butcher in the region, to ask if they have it and how much for as I have never, ever seen it and in the programme they said it tends not to be on sale.  I am looking forward to their response.
Diane - have you ever come across it?

Today is quite full.  I have the aforementioned bread to make and bake, washing to iron, some photos to put into a facebook page (must do that straight after coffee) and Beth is coming round for lunch.  I have potatoes to use up and also eggs so I think some sort of Spanish omelette thingy as I also have onion, peas and peppers.  That, with a simple salad, should fill a few gaps very nicely.

Now I am off to start the first lot of dough.  But first, coffee.  Real coffee, I think, seeing as it is Sunday.  I shall make a big pot and reheat mugfuls when wanted.
How do you mark your weekends?

Breakfast:  scrambled eggs with bacon bits, yogurt
Lunch: Spanish omelette with lettuce, tomato and peppers.  Might concoct a dressing too with mayo, vinegar, honey and mustard..
Dinner:  The other bullet steak but this time I will have it plain, or maybe peppered, with chutney or my home made spicy ketchup and a side salad.  Alternatively, I might get a roll out of the freezer and have a hot steak roll where the salad can be part of the filling.  Mmmm - that sounds nice, doesn't it?