Saturday 31 May 2014


. . . and I woke up to sunshine.  Not hazy, watery, it's-going-to-rain-soon sunshine but authentic, blue-skies-all-day sunshine.  Excellent.  A bit of warmth would do the garden the world of good.

Not that I'm complaining.  I posted these photos on Facebook so apologies if you've already seen them but  really, what a difference a day makes!

Thursday afternoon

. . . and yesterday, early evening.

I feel a little dessert coming on soon!

In other news, the dwarf beans have definitely decided that they are staying around now.  With a bit of warmth and sunshine they should grow like crazy.  It's going to be quite a beany summer what with them and the runners but I love beans and if there's enough to feed family and neighbours too, well, so much the better!  Sadly, though, the cucumber has definitely had its chips and will be going in the brown bin.  Such a shame, I wish I knew why.

I've been thinning out the crocosmia.  Goodness, that plant is invasive.  Some of the thinnings are going into a pot for Beth, some into a pot for me so I can add some green and flame to a darkish corner and some - well, what's a brown bin for?

I've been umming and ahing about some bamboo.  Not in the bed as I know it can be incredibly invasive too and one invasive plant is enough, but also in a pot for moveable decoration.  I don't know if they do particularly well in pots but some green height would be lovely.  I am very glad the Leylandii 'hedge' has gone, but I do miss the greeness of it.  I must research bamboo and see what I can learn.

It's odd: when I had the garden made over a long time ago now - must be about fifteen years ago - my idea was lots of pots of stuff.  That never really worked out and I ended up concentrating on the beds, but now, with the beds looking not bad at all in their various ways, I'm heading towards pots again.

It was a busy day yesterday.  First of all I went a-shopping for bits and bobs connected with something at school (must remember to organise the receipts) followed by several hours in school where I got plenty of stuff done including what I need for the staff meeting next Wednesday.  Then it was back home for a bit of garden pottering followed by the usual evening telly - Pointless, Eggheads, a celebrity antiques programme and the Great British Menu.  Wall to wall gentle entertainment.  Lovely!

And today?  Well, I've been putting it off all week but I now do HAVE to go into town for just one thing from Lakeland after which it is home again to make bread and wait for my delivery of bedside chests from Next.  Once they have arrived (should be between ten and two) it's back into school for some tidying up and general getting-things-ready work.  Once that's done and the planning is tweaked and printed out, I reckon I will be just about ready and tomorrow really can be a day of rest!

Well, breakfast won't make itself so I'd better get going!  May the sun shine on us all today, whatever we have to do.

Friday 30 May 2014


Lots of good things and one two bad things.

Good things:
It was sunny yesterday.  Really and truly sunny with real sun and a blue sky and cheerful warmth.  Fantastic!
Another grafted tomato arrived.  I bought this purely from curiosity - it was expensive and I don't need it but then how many of the things I buy do I actually really need?  Not many.  It intrigued me as it's a black tomato.  Photo borrowed from the internet!  I will pot it on today and we shall see.
Unusual: The jet-black variety is said to be healthier than its red cousin as it has more anti-oxidants

I went out with friend Liz who took me to Freeport Designer Village as I've never been there.  We mooched around some lovely kitchen shops (buying nothing) and then into the Hotter shop where I paid more that I ever have done before for a handbag that was actually more than half price off.  I look at it and thing 'what makes you so expensive?' because it's nothing fancy, just a nicely designed little bag.
Seth turned up and now my tayberry is in the ground.  I mentioned this in my extra blog yesterday but it's a Good Thing so it's on the list.  Now I have my fingers crossed that it is happy there.
I have a little passion fruit plant that has been in a mini pot for much longer than it should have been.  I'm surprised it is still alive, to be quite honest.  Yesterday I finally managed to get my act together and plant it!  Again, my fingers are crossed for it.
The dwarf beans have finally germinated.  Again, I mentioned this yesterday!

RIP little cucumber plant.  I don't know what has happened but yesterday afternoon when I looked at the little cucumber plant that Dad brought over several weeks ago it had just collapsed.  It's gone floppy and if it wasn't tied up against a cane it would be lying flat on the soil.  It was fine yesterday and I have absolutely no idea what's happened but I'm sad because it was doing so well.  I wonder if it is worth going to Wyvale to see if they have a replacement (preferably a grafted one) - I was so looking forward to fresh cucumber this summer.  No, I've just remembered, I have two gherkin style plants in little pots that can also be eaten fresh (the fruit, not the pots).  Maybe I should give them a go and see.

Just discovered another bad thing - greenfly on the lupin.  Where are the ladybirds when you need them?

Today?  Well, several bits and bobs on a list of Things To Do and then into school. Then reports.  That's the day planned out really.  Must remember to take the laptop and the security fob!

Thursday 29 May 2014


Just a few photos - and yes, it is sunny here.  Three cheers!

Evidence of sun!  Taken 20 minutes ago.
The tayberry is finally in its last resting place.  Fingers crossed it likes it..

YES!!!  The drawf beans have finally germinated.  Three cheers.
The baby redloves are looking cute.

. . . and the strawberries are ripening.  Just a few but where one goes, can the others be far behind?
And, did I mention, the sun is shining?


I've woken to yet another damt, dark, dismal morning.  To be fair, it doesn't appear to have been raining but some sun would be really nice, if you please.

I didn't do what I planned to do after all yesterday.  After Sharon had sorted out my hair (shorter and, I think, very nice)and Beth's, B and I decided we would go to Argos together to get some stuff and then we went into Next to order those bedside chests that I should have bought last year.  Luckily the price as the same and even better, they will deliver them on Saturday.  I also managed to get enough hearing aid batteries to last me until Christmas, I should think, so that's a bit of a niggle off my mind.  I get through about one a week on average.  They last for around a fortnight but I have two aids, and my dread is that I totally run out so I try not to cut it too fine.

Then we trundled into Pizza Hut for one of their buffet lunches and had a delicious time.  By the time we got home again I was in no mood for school so I didn't.  However, I did check the diary first and I can go in on Friday so that's OK.

Well, better check my mailbox and do the usual internet rounds.  I'm going out at ten so need to have done everything before then.  Have a good and, hopefully, dry day!

Wednesday 28 May 2014


Yesterday was, if anything, lazier than Monday.  I still felt very sleepy and kept nodding off so I cancelled my plans for working in school and went with the flow.  As a results, although I didn't sleep all that well through the night, now I feel a whole bundle better and ready to start work again.

Apart from that, there's not a lot to say about yesterday.  It was dull, dismal and wet and today seems to be more of the same.  Where's this heatwave we were promised, I want to know!  The poor plants are looking cold and bewildered but at least they are getting enough water!

It's been nearly a fortnight since I planted the second lot of dwarf beans and there's still no sign of germination: maybe it has just been too cold, but if they're not growing they must be rotting so I will plant some more from a different packet and hope it's third time lucky here.  If not, I give up!

I'm expecting Sharon, my hairdresser, at nine so I've been bustling around to repair the damage done by being at home.  It looks a bit neater now, thank goodness.

After that it really has to be into school as I don't think I will get another opportunity.  Then it's home again for more report writing!  No peace for the wicked.

I hope that, wherever you are, this wet weather hasn't spoilt things too much for you and that you hare enjoying life.

A cheering picture from this time two years ago.  This year it hasn't even started flowering yet.  Maybe I need to repot it.

Tuesday 27 May 2014


Oh, my, yesterday was such a lazy day in some ways and in others it wasn't.

For a start I had a PJ day (actually a nightie day) as I just couldn't be bothered to get dressed.  I lounged about all day hoping that no-one would come to call.  I didn't even put in my hearing aids until I turned the telly on.  Now that's lazy.

On the other hand I made two loaves of bread, two and a half pots of red onion marmalade and eleven delicious little meringues from egg while left over from the weekend.

I did more reports.

I sorted out the fridge


I had several snoozes; it must have been the 'catch-uo on sleep' day I always seem to have at the start of a break but delayed a bit.

I watched rubbish telly (and fell asleep).

I - er - used some red wine in the onion marmalade and, as eny fule kno red wine goes off quickly so I didn't give it the opportunity!

Today is a busy day - into town and then into school.  I've slept well all night and could do with a bit more sleep now so maybe I will pop back upstairs in a little while seeing as it is quite early.

Monday 26 May 2014


The corn at the front is Beth's
It's the Whitsun Bank Holiday so, of course, it is raining and looks as if it has been for some time.  Everything is dripping and it feels quite cold too.  Great for those families planning a day out, I don't think.

Yesterday was quite the opposite.  It was a delightful day, not too hot, a fresh breeze a-blowing and lots of sunshine.  I sat out and potted on the tomato plants and a few other bits and bobs and it was lovely.

The reports are going . . . that's all I'm saying.  Tomorrow I intend to spend most of the day in school.  I've been asked to lead a staff meeting and want to get all the stuff ready for that as well as gathering together some books for the report info.  So it's personal statements today.

I decided not to make bread on Saturday, totally forgetting that I now make it for Beth, sorry, Beth.  So there's now dough rising in Thermione.  I need to sort out the fridge as there's some oldish stuff in there that needs either using or (sorry) discarding.  The whole thing needs a wipe over anyway.  If the weather cheers up, there's some stuff in the shed that really would do better being moved into the garage so that's the other task for today.

Last Friday, when I had lunch with Beth, I had a brie and bacon toasted sarnie with onion marmalade and the marmalade was so delicious I've decided to make some myself. It's the first time since I got Thermione that I am sorry I handed on my processor as it was grand for slicing.  Never mind, the knives are sharp so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle, just a bit eye-watering.  Beth has already put in a claim for one of the jars so no excuses!

Aren't half terms exciting?  :-)

My breakfast bacon is smelling done so I must go.  Have a good day.

Sunday 25 May 2014


Yup - the day in which I normally think ahead to Monday, work, planning, resources, etc.  Smiling happily as I type!

Yesterday really was a dull and dismal day a lot of the time although, to be fair, there were some lovely, sunny intervals too.  No need to water the pots yesterday!  However, I MUST start feeding the tomatoes as a couple of other plants are also now showing babies too.  On the flip side, the second sowing of dwarf beans is not yet making an appearance and I'm starting to wonder if the whole packet is dud.

In between raindrops I did some clearing, weeding, sowing and so on and treated myself to a kebab for dinner.  That's it now - no more takeaways for ages and ages.  They're ridiculously expensive!

Today?  Well, in a short time I intend to spend a couple of hours on those reports before getting dressed and then a bit longer after getting dressed.  Beth's coming round and Alex will arrive for lunch.  Then it is more report work after they have gone.  See - I live in such exciting times!!

Also I need to pot on some tomato seedlings.  I seem to be going a bit over the top with tomatoes this year but they are so delicious and after all I am growing for three, not just me!  This lot are gifts or grown from freebie seed so it's not that bad really.

The sun is shining, the back door is open and the house is airing.  And no school tomorrow.  Ain't life grand!

The lupin is lovely this year, the best it's ever been.  If I had more space I'd grow more, they are gorgeous flowers.

Friday 23 May 2014

Saturday (I nearly wrote 'Sunday' here)

A trio of mints.  From left to right, chocolate mint, bog standard mint, apple mint.  All delicious.

And oh, what a splendid day I had yesterday.

Waking in my own time (early), a leisurely get up, time to tidy the house before Lenka arrived without getting hot and bothered, then off to Wyvale to have lunch with my best friend (aka Beth).  After a scrummy lunch and a great chat, Beth went off to pick Alex up from school and I meandered around Wyvale, picking up some bits and bobs as I did so.

Then it was home, James (does anyone say that nowadays?), to a lovely clean (and tidy, for a change) house, a potter around the garden planting out some geraniums and getting the thyme out of a pot and into its final growing place (long overdue), pulling out weeds that dared to show their  faces and generally sorting things out.

While doing this I had an idea I really should have had ages ago.  My middle bed has stuff that comes up at different times and I can never remember what or when so it's all getting rather ragged..  So once a fortnight I intend to take a photo of each side as a record of exactly what (and where) plants are in that particular bed.  to help me remember to do this I have put a reminder in my diary!

Then I opened a bottle of sparkly white stuff and enjoyed the remains of the take away Chinese from Thursday.

Sheer bliss.

Less satisfactory was writing part of three reports and then completely losing them.  Grrrrr.  At least I tried!

Today it is raining - not the violent, lashing and crashing storms we were predicted earlier in the week which never came but a steady dowenpour with no rain which is declarting its intention to hang around for a while.  That'll be no George then.  Fortunately, the garden is in reasonable order so there would nopt be an awful lot for him to do and a steady downpour is just what is needed, especially round the front where I never water.

Better go and pour my coffee from my Saturday pot of caffeine!

Friday . . .

. . . and half term has started!  So why am I up so early?  Because I don't HAVE to be!  I know that doesn't make entire sense but when has that ever bothered me?  :-)

Yesterday was, again, a lovely day, not as hot as previous days but still loads of sunshine and any rain we had was sensible and avoided playtimes.  Apart from a few drizzly moments, the main rain was after school when it really did pour mightily for a short time, soaking the garden nicely, before it eased off and the sun emerged.  By the time I came out of school it was glorious again.

So - today.  First day of the half term break.  Ten glorious days and if I stick to my resolution of doing three reports each day, they will be virtually finished by the time I go back.  That would be a first for me.  You never know.

Apart from that I want to go to Wyvale/B&Q to get stuff including grow bags.  I don't normally use growbags but I bought some plant pots that go in growbags on my father's recommendation and intend to plant extra tomatoes - the ones I raised from seed.  I thought I could have a jolly good nosey around while I was there and I doubt it will be that busy on a Friday.

And then I shall spend some time in the garden!
A rather scruffy picture!

Thursday 22 May 2014


Getting bigger!
Isn't it weird how the little things can cause so much happiness?  For example, we didn't have a staff meeting yesterday because we (those of us who could) were expected to attend a something at the local grammar school after school this evening.  I think it is called Teachfest, or something similar.  I've learnt over the years that events with that sort of title are usually not anything like as interesting (or helpful) as the name indicates but, dear me, never mind, we were expected to go so go we would!

However, when we (collective 'we') phoned to let the organisers know, thery said that it was a secondary based event so guess what - we don't have to go!  I am ridiculously happy out of all proportion to the reason.

I think it is mostly because it's the last day of the half term today (I haven't mentioned that before, have I?) and on the last day one tends to crash as the children walk out of the door into their parents' care.  However, one cannot crash if then one has to go to a Teachfest!!!  Now we don't!

Looking out of the window, I can see that it has obviously been raining overnight.  No hail as far as I can tell from the condition of the plants so maybe it was a waste of time moving all the seedlings under shelter yesterday evening.  Better safe than sorry though!  It feels colder though and there's quite a breeze blowing which should keep things fresh.

Yesterday was warm but not unpleasantly so although it did keep coming over all humid.  It was another good day and I am expecting today will be too.  Everything has been planned and is ready and we have a PE lesson after playtime which always goes down well.

And then the report writing starts.  Ho hum!

Wednesday 21 May 2014


The chives are beautiful this year.

We had wall-to-wall sun shine most of the day yesterday with just a little worry first thing when it looked very threatening.  However, the juniors got their walk down to the stadium, sports day and walk back in glorious sunshine.  At home time it started raining again and got very humid but again it all disappeared.  We're very lucky as I gather other parts have had massive storms and torrential rain.

Despite the change in routine yesterday, the day went really well although the children were singularly unimpressed at having to do maths in the afternoon.  However, they brightened up when I took them out for five minutes on the adventure playground before settling for more work.  As we went out we met the other Y1 class coming in after doing the same thing.  Great minds and all that stuff.

Because the day was all muddled up, I found myself doing two extra playground duties but it was just infants and the weather was so good that it was a pleasure.   And tomorrow will be my last morning duty of the year as next half term is my time off.  Excellent.

Today is a straight teaching day now that my student has gone back to his school so no mentor time needed.  It's lovely being back in and teaching again as I think I might have mentioned once or twice in the last few days.  

The sun has got his hat on and I'd better go and have my bath and get ready for another day.  Two more to go before half term (and reports!).  Days, that is . . .

Tuesday 20 May 2014


Looky look - I have chilli peppers!

. . . and here's the baby cucumber plant - no baby cucumbers yet though!

Yesterday was so lovely!  Wall to wall sunshine, warm and not at all humid.  Afternoon playground duty was a joy.  And to cap it all, I slept like a log.  Can't do better than that!

Today started off beautifully too.  More sun and it looked so promising.  I popped out into the garden to take a few photos and it started raining!  Where did that come from (no need to answer!)?  I'm hoping it's very temporary as the juniors are walking to our local stadium for their sports day this morning.

Today is a bit topsy turvey as PPA is this morning, not this afternoon.  When something as routine as that changes it's a bit disorienting, but I'm sure we will survive.  :-)

Come back, sun.  All is forgiven!

And it just has!

Monday 19 May 2014


What a gorgeous weekend, weather wise, it has been.  Warm, sunny and bright.  I would prefer it to stay just like that, no warmer, thank you, but I bet that it will all get roasting hot until a storm brings relief.
We will see.

As I mentioned, I was very busy yesterday morning, perhaps too busy, as later on my tum went on me a bit.  It was a nuisance, because I'd been hoping to pop next door for a while but I decided it would be best not to.  I feel fine now and I know I hadn't eaten anything dodgy (it wasn't that kind of - er - blip) so just one of those things.  Or maybe it was the cider, but I don't see why . . . it doesn't usually.

I got round to replanting the dwarf beans and they'd better do something or I shall be taking the packet back to the shop to whinge.  It's a bit of a coincidence that none of the last lot germinated isn't it?

Back to school for yet another four day week.  Friday is report writing day, always very much appreciated (I mean to have that day for them, not writing the reports themselves).  And I have my class back.  They are mine again.  So looking forward to today!  Apart from the class photos, that is.  I intensely dislike having my photo taken and avoid it whenever possible but at times like this it is unavoidable.  Ho hum!

Sunday 18 May 2014


I have made:
two loaves of bread
a cross my fingers and hope soup (in other words, will it or won't it be nice?)

And for lunch:
some pasta
some chickpea and cheese not-meatballs
some very tasty tomato and veg sauce (for the chickpea balls and pasta)

. . . only to be reminded that Beth and Al won't be round for lunch today.  Ah, well, never mind.  None of it will be wasted, that's for sure!  I just feel a  bit of a prune - but I have had fun!


Yesterday started off a bit gloomy and cool but soon warmed up and the afternoon was hot; hot enough to get the fan out and turn it on after a session of gardening!   The skies weren't particularly blue and it looks as if today will be similar.

I set to and did what I ought to have done last weekend but was too lazy to get round to (what terrible sentence construction!) and that is to get the tomatoes into their big pots and the runner beans into the raised beds where they will grow up the archways as they did last year.  I' ve had the archways (very cheap and not all that lovely) going from bed to bed for a few years now and last year I grew runners up them for the first time.  It was most successful so, after feeding the soil, I'm doing the same this year.

Very sadly, the dwarf beans that I planted in paper pots several weeks ago, have not germinated.,  Not one of them.  I have no idea why not but there you go.  I will sow some more but into their final growing place as the soil is warmer now and they should be OK.  Fingers crossed.

The tomatoes and the chilli are safely ensconced in the growhouse in the hopes that I can shut it off when blight warnings come around.  There's room for more which is good because I have some seedlings coming on and a couple of sweet peppers to plant on if I can find big pots.  If I can't, I will have to buy a couple which I don't really want to do - they are expensive.

I was going to plant the cucumbers in the veg bed and have them growing up a sort of wigwam, but as I have wires along the fence and nothing to train up one side until next year, I will train the cucumbers along the fence, one one way and the other starting at the other side and growing along a lower (or higher) wire which should work very well.  I have two plants.  One is a gherkin type so small (but nice to eat unpickled) and the other is a burpless that Dad has given me.

And I MUST sow some carrots today.  Must, must, must!

If all these plans come to eventual fruition, I shall be a very happy person indeed, not to mention well fed!

And talking of well fed, I'm trying out a butterbean patty recipe for lunch today only I will make the mixture into balls instead of patties and bake them in the oven.  I'm going to use some of my  passata, carefully stored from last Autumn, to make a nice tomato/veg sauce to have with them over pasta.  The omnivore teenager will have some chicken with his sauce!

Saturday 17 May 2014

Economy Gastronomy

I treated myself to a cookery book I have wanted for a long time, ever since the TV series of the same name.  I loved the series and can't understand why there hasn't been a second series, but I didn't buy the book although I considered it several times.

But two weeks ago I took a deep breath and clicked the relevant buttons on Amazon . . . and last week it arrived.  I think I have found my next favourite cookery book that will take its place alongside Delia's books, Jack Monroe's book and the one book by Nigel Slater that I have.  It's full of wise, sensible advice, rather delicious looking (and achievable) recipes and helpful information.  There's one bit I particularly love, in the section about waste and the issue of offness, written by Allegra McEvedy which says:

'Just to clear it up, there are two dates you will see on products: the Sell By and the Use By.  Sell by is when it must leave the shop.  Use By is when it should leave your life.  For legal reasons I can't say much here, but in my experience the Use By date has a bit of built in flexibility.'

Such wise words at a time when there is an obscene amount of waste because of these perishing (no pun intended) dates!

Go on, treat yourself!
Borrowed from Google Images


Oh, dear!  It is always the way - the days I can sleep for longer are the days I wake the earliest.  Teacher's Law, it's called!  Still, I am starting to yawn again now and am thankful that I can go back up and snooze a bit longer.  As long as I am up and ready when George comes round . . .

Yesterday really was great.  I got loads of stuff done and ticked off my long list.  The meeting was great, no big issues, everything going well.  I got the two lots of paperwork done plus a fair bit more too.  Dates for meetings in the next couple of months got sorted out.  Folders were started off containing paperwork for those meetings.  I may have been very weary by the end of the day but I was very satisfied too.

One sad thing though - we had to say goodbye to our student.  It's been an absolute pleasure having him on the team for the last four weeks and I know we will miss him.  All the very best, Tom, and enjoy your life as a teacher!

I took a few more photos last night as the few irises have flowered and are looking rather lovely.  I'd love to be able to draw or paint them.

Aquilegia - I think they are so beautiful.
I might get a few tayberries this year - there are flowers.  Not many, just a few, but it's a start.
And now I'm off back upstairs in the hope that I will get back to sleep.

Edited later:
And I did!

Friday 16 May 2014


Yes - Friday today.  Excellent.  The planning is all done and even printed off and while I know I have to do some work on the school reports, it feels good to think that there are two days of freedom and the sun will shine (I sincerely hope).

I forgot a photo in yesterday's garden update.  It seem ridiculous that I have a couple of tomatoes already.  I bet they won't ripen until the others though!  It looks all bluey-green because it was taken in the grow house.

Yesterday I went in expecting to teach my class for an hour and I ended up teaching them all day except for the time before play.  It was lovely to be in front of the class again and I think I will enjoy next week very much indeed.  It's been great having my student and he's done extremely well, but it is my class and I have missed them!

Today, being Friday, is SEN day and I have two lots of paperwork to write up in the morning followed by a meeting in the afternoon.  Then - FREEDOM!

Thursday 15 May 2014

Garden update

The artificial insemination seems to have worked - there are quite a lot of apples starting to develop on the redlove.

A goodliness of strawberries . . .

Not enough for jam though.  Not this year.  Just enough for delicious desserts.

The irises will be looking lovely soon . . .

As will the lupin.

And this is just beautiful.


Good morning, everyone.  Wasn't yesterday lovely?  It was here, anyway.  Warm and sunny with a gentle breeze.  Gorgeous.  If only it is similar today (playground duties day) but while the sun was shining a short while ago, it has now gone in and is more gloomy.  The clouds are very high so here's hoping!

Yesterday was absolutely manic.  For someone who wasn't teaching much, I didn't seem to stop all day.  It started off with our weekly mentor meeting and as my student goes back to his main placement school next week the main thing on our agenda was looking at the teaching standards to see what progress he has made in the last four weeks.  Then I had to write his end of placement report.  After that I was able to relax in family assembly but then it was observing phonics (good), getting files and so on ready for a meeting in the afternoon and then a rush to speak to the speech therapist at lunchtime with the result that I whizzed off to the afternoon meeting without any lunch.  Fortunately there were biscuits, tea, coffee, water, etc.

The meeting was great and I was able to have a one on one chat with someone about something that has been a huge worry to the point of which I was losing sleep over it.  I came away relieved and reassured and I slept like a log last night.  A friend is staying for a few days between OUSA meetings and she arrived in the evening so we had a good natter together which also calmed and settled me.  Thanks, Al!

I woke up this morning feeling happy and ready to bounce into the new day.  I'm now waiting for the pinger to go because there's two loaves of soda bread in the oven and I will need to turn the temperature down soon.  There's no need to review my lesson plans as my student is taking most of them and I have to be out of class while the head is doing her observation so that's an opportunity to get some important paperwork ready for tomorrow.

The oven is now at 200 and the soda bread looks wonderful.  I shall have some with butter for breakfast and my guest can have the leavings!!  And yes, she will read this, won't you, Cider Lass?
Soda bread has such happy memories for me of wonderful holidays staying at farms in Southern Ireland as a teenager when the long suffering and patient lady of the house produced loaf after loaf of warm soda bread, fresh butter and tasty cheese which we devoured as if we had been facing starvation.  The soda bread I bake may not be as authentic but it is delicious and makes me feel happy.

Not my bread but borrowed from Google from here.

Wednesday 14 May 2014


It's a nice, sunny morning today.  The word is out that we're in for some warm weather.  I do hope so, it's been so terribly chilly recently.

Yesterday was a bit of a muddle one way and another but we got through it OK.  I just wish life wasn't quite so busy at times.

Have a great day!

Tuesday 13 May 2014


Busy, busy, busy.  I'll be back tomorrow.

Monday 12 May 2014


It is with a sense of relief that I look out of the window to see that the wind has died down somewhat.  It still looks dull and cloudy but things might brighten up later.  Let's hope so, anyway!

It's been a really super weekend.  Hard work at times, but most enjoyable.  Everyone's gone now, John back to Scotland and my parents  hopped back to the next county.

For Sunday lunch I slow roasted some brisket that was so tender that it was impossible to carve so we all made the best of it and ate chunks that melted in the mouth, mixed with a most flavoursome gravy.  With it I served Yorkshires, roasted potatoes, carrots, sweet potato and parsnips (the last of Beth's allotment parsnips), purple sprouting broccoli and sweet corn.  It was all very tasty!  The Yorkshires were huge though and I think next time I must reduce the quantity of batter.

So it's back to school for another Monday made different because there's no violins.  I'm so used to starting the week off with violins that it feels odd, as will Wednesday when it IS violins.  It adds some sort of variation to life, I guess!

Hope the day goes well for you all.

Sunday 11 May 2014


Good morning, gentle readers!  It's very blustery here still and yesterday was a right mixture of weathers.  Sunny one minute, lashing with rain the next.  I guess the garden is getting a thorough soaking which is good because it seemed quite dry before.

Yesterday was busy but lovely (mostly).  the one not-lovely thing was that George, the lovely young man who gives me one hour a week of gardening, will be having to work on Saturdays soon so can't continue beyond the next two months.  George started helping me out when he was 13 so I've had a good long time of help from him but I knew he's be off at some point.  I need to look around for someone else now.

The good things were that it was Alex's family party and, bless him, he wanted a Chinese takeaway which we all enjoyed very much.  I'm amazed how much food we managed to work our way through.  I thought there would be loads left but there wasn't.  He organised a few games too, one of which was Book Reviews which was very funny in places.

During the day he and Beth went to Lakeside (his treat!) and came back with a box of doughnuts in lieu of a birthday cake.  Oh, my, they were lovely.  I had ordered some cookies from Honeycat Cookies which is a small business run by an OU friend who is a very talented artist.  Her iced cookies are true works of art.  If you click on this link, it will take you to her site.  I took some photos but they don't do the cookies justice so I will wait until hers come onto Facebook and ask if I can borrow a few.

They tasted as good as they looked!
Right now I have a load of bread dough proving, coffee making, a very nice piece of brisket slow roasting and a family still asleep upstairs.  Breakfast is toast and fruit but I will do a roast dinner with the beef, Yorkshires, roasted veg and some broccoli from the garden.  Hopefully that will be enough!  Better have a think about the vegetarian option, but first I need to grab the bathroom before the rest of the family gets there!

Have a lovely day.

Saturday 10 May 2014


Looking out into the rapidly lightening day, it looks as if last night was a blustery one.  Raindrops on the windows and the trees and bushes are tossing their heads!

I slept well after the first alcohol for over a week but the slightly muggy head this morning makes me wonder if it's worth it.  This could be down to the rather over large dinner I had last night too.  I did finish off the beany mixture but added to it some cooking bacon, some mushrooms, some yellow pepper and some chicken, all favourites that I haven't been able to have on LBTL.  I then added some heat and eat noodles (half price in Morrison's) and scoffed the lot.  It was so delicious with the added veg and meat without any added seasoning whatsoever.

I got loads of work done yesterday.  It was one of those days where the words just flowed.  It was my SEN day and, with lots of paperwork on the list, I was thankful to get so much done.  After a very wet start it brightened up considerably which was good.  The sun shone and the children were happy.  It was very windy though, which always affects them.  Hopefully it will all calm down by Monday.

Today is a busy day.  Family round and a birthday meal to sort out.  The Birthday Boy has decided he wants a take away Chinese, which I love him for.  So much easier for me!  The house isn't too messy, thank goodness, and Lenka was here yesterday so everything is clean.

I do have bread to make though so, kitchen, here I come!

Friday 9 May 2014


I've done it!  Five days living below the line.  About £450 raised for ActionAid (with Beth, of course, we were a team).  Three cheers!

Breakfast was the ubiquitous porridge.  It's just as well I really like porridge.

Lunch was - interesting.  I left it at home.  After thinking fast I decided it would be quicker to pop over to Morrison's to get some value baked beans than to walk home (and it was raining anyway) so I did.  When I got back to school, do you think I could find the flipping tin opener anywhere?  I could have wept, I really could.  And then Beth came riding to the rescue.  She'd popped round to mine to drop off some stuff for Alex's party on Saturday, saw the lunch and brought it to school, bless her.  So the baked beans don't count towards the £5.00, I can eat them another time.  Lunch was, therefore, some bean and veg stew from the pie the night before, toast and soft cheese and three oatcakes with soft cheese and jam.

Dinner was Accidental Soup (so called because it was not planned but made from leftover bit) with some nice, crunchy, home made croutons to finish off my bread for the week.  Just what I wanted

There's some food left (that has already been costed in).  Loads of rice and oats, some soft cheese, a bit of jam and lots of lemon curd, half a litre of yoghurt, two portions of leek and potato soup, half a carrot and some purple sprouting broccoli.

I've spent in total < checks food list > a halfpenny less than £4.60.  Big smiles all round.

And here's where you can sponsor me and support ActionAid.  Last chance!  :-)   Many, many thanks.

Oh - and breakfast today is bacon and eggs with coffee.  Real coffee.  It sounds so, so delicious, I can't wait!  I'm very, very lucky - we almost all are in this country.

Thursday 8 May 2014


Good morning, all.  This morning it isn't actually raining which makes a change from the last few days.  It's really been April Shower weather recently which, as the weather is all topsy turvey anyway, doesn't really surprise me at all.  I just wish it would warm up a bit!

Here's yesterday's delights:

Porridge and yoghurt as usual but with pineapple instead of jam.  I love pineapple on my porridge!  Then it was beans on toast.  Dinner was bean and vegetable pie with roasted parsnips and it was absolutely delicious.  I do seem to have eaten quite a lot of beans but, luckily, haven't suffered any of the < cough > side effects!  Yet.

It's the last day  of LBTL today and my last chance to beg, urge, encourage, etc, you to support ActionAid by sponsoring me via this page.  Please do; it's a great cause.

Thursday today so it is playground duty day.  As the weather is so unpredictable I think I will wear tights and my 'proper' shoes rather than sandals.  I bet it will be glorious sunshine but better that than cold and damp feet all day!

And now I had better go and get on with things.  Have a great day whatever you are doing.

Wednesday 7 May 2014


Day four.  Nearly there now. Six more meals to go.  It really hasn't been all that terrible, thanks to careful planning and a supply of garden veg but I am missing things like my morning coffee.  Not the caffeine, just the flavour and the aroma.  It's habit, of course.

So here's yesterday's delights.

It was:
Breakfast: porridge made with mostly water and just a little milk to start off the creamy texture with a dollop of yoghurt and home made jam.

Lunch:  the second half of the ginger stir fry rice (no egg) with mixed vegetables and chicken bits (from a carcass the butcher gave me ages ago now)

Dinner:  A carrot, cumin and kidney bean burger in a roll which was toasted and spread with soft cheese plus some fries made in Handy Andy.  I cut them fine so it looked as if I had more than I really did.  I meant to grate some carrot as well but forgot.

I didn't have room for desserts although they had been planned.  Somehow yesterday's meals were all very filling.

After a damp start everything cleared up and it really was a lovely day.  When I got home I saw that the growhouse had blown over (I should have tied it down on Sunday!) so I sorted that out and then did the usual evening things.  Seth came round to look at some work I plan to have done so he can quote me on it.  Then an early night meant that I was awake ridiculously early this morning but I did manage to doze for a while before getting up.

Today should be a full day teaching but it isn't because of my student so it's a full day observing and commenting.  Then it is staff meeting.

Just a normal day really!

Tuesday 6 May 2014


It is most unusual to have such lovely weather over a bank holiday weekend and even more unusual to have rain when it is over.  Usually it's the other way round.  No complaints though, yesterday was lovely.

I managed to do all the kitchen stuff but I'm afraid the garden is much the same as it was - I had a lovely long kip in the afternoon instead.

And now I'm ready for school and it's back to normal again.   LBTL should be easier as I'm kept busy and have to work to a timetable.

Better go and have breakfast, I suppose.  Have a good day, everyone.

Monday evening

Second day of LBTL and some playing around with Photoshop!  Note to self - check typing CAREFULLY!  Ooops.

Breakfast:  Porridge with yoghurt and lemon curd, water
Lunch:  Vegetable chilli and rice (same as dinner on day 1), two oatcakes with soft cheese and lemon curd
Dinner:  Ginger rice with assorted veg and chicken bits, yoghurt and lemon curd
Snack:  a hot drink made with lemon curd and boiling water.  It was surprisingly acceptable and made a change from hot/cold water and mint tea.

On reflection, it was a very lemon curdy day and it's not even very nice lemon curd.  Next weekend I am going to make some of the genuine stuff as an antidote!  And be very grateful that I can.

Monday 5 May 2014


Phlox candy stripe, looking very lovely at the moment.

Holiday Monday!  Normally we don't 'get' bank holidays, this is the only one really.  The others are incorporated into the usual breaks from school (not complaining, just saying) and therefore today feels more joyous, more festive and more special than it has any right to feel!

I'm up stupidly early and am sure that I will crash in a little while, go back to bed and complete my sleep but for now I'm wide awake and enjoying my first cup of hot . . . water, thankful that there's none of the caffeine withdrawal symptoms that made last year's five days on LBTL harder than it ought to have been.

Wasn't the weather lovely yesterday?  Bright and sunny and with a gentle breeze.  Beth came round in the morning, bringing with her a tray of sweetcorn seedlings to pot on.  I speedily folded and twisted up some newspaper pots and the job was done.  They're staying here now until ready for the allotment because there's nothing her cat, Theo, likes better than a good nibble of sweetcorn seedlings as she discovered in previous years.  He isn't being given the chance this year!

She then helped me to put together the tomato growhouse.  These have really caught on and now you can see them all over the place costing an awful lot less than I paid for mine just last year.  They're also better designed with a roof that won't allow the rain to puddle on it and shelves either side that can be taken off if not needed.  I keep thinking I might get one to complement the big one that's now up.

Once it was up, I put into it the runner beans that are growing far too fast for my liking.  It's not really safe to plant them out yet, to which the frost of the last two nights can testify, but they should be OK in the closed growhouse overnight and it might check their growth just a little bit.

Today is going to be shared between kitchen and garden (weather permitting, of course).  I need to move a heuchera that is being crowded, I have some bedding plants to get out and some seeds to sow.  I am also going to pot on the tomatoes because they're getting huge, ought to be out but won't be, and must be so overcrowded in their little pots.  One of them even has a mini tomato, for goodness sakes!!

In the kitchen I will be making as much as I can for the rest of the week which means making the ricey mixture for this evening, a Jack-burger for tomorrow night and the vegetable and bean casserole for the pie on  Wednesday evening.  Apart from the fact that it will save me time once back at work, it also allows the flavours to develop, even in the freezer.

And I might, just might, take a trip to Wyvale to look at those growhouses again!  I know the bank balance can stand it!  If I get there at ten it won't be too crowded!
Now, where could it go?

Sunday 4 May 2014

Sunday evening

I'm finally working out how to use the Create function in Photoshop Elements and, as I have no planning outstanding and no school tomorrow, I've been playing.  A shame the PC is so slow!

This is what my LBTL food was today.  It looks OK presented like this, doesn't it?

Saturday 3 May 2014


A montage of some of the stuff for the next five days!

. . . and off we go.  Five days of eating for a maximum of £1.00.  Quite a lot of fun (because I like cooking), I won't go all that hungry really, I realise it is a totally artificial situation but, big but, Beth and I will hopefully have raised around £400 (plus gift aid) for our chosen charity, ActionAid as well as reminding ourselves how amazingly, incredibly lucky we are.

Yesterday was spent either preparing or snoozing.  I will let you guess which took more time!  I made my one loaf and one roll, I made my oatcakes, I had a go at rice crackers and we will say no more about it, OK?  I made an absolutely scrummy potato topped pie from vegetables that will need using up - spring onions, red pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes - plus some scraps of beef and a sauce made of the stock from boiling up the rib, some philly light, some beef granules and some thickening granules.  Oh - and I used instant mash and I don't care - it tastes jolly nice if you use sea salt and butter too.  Sorry, Diane!

Today's culinary delights are as follows:  Porridge with yoghurt and jam, then baked beans on toast and oatcakes with soft cheese and jam and then dinner is vegetable chilly and rice followed by tinned pineapple and yoghurt.  I will miss my coffee but it won't be a cold turkey miss as I've been on decaf ever since last year's LBTL.  Headaches should be few.

I know my lovely readers are tired of seeing this but - please do sponsor me.  Here's the link.

Finally, because I almost always mention it, brrr, it's very cold again today with another frost.  Thankl goodness (yet again) for good strong walls, a roof over my head and radiators that work.
And now I am off to make my breakfast!  And Beth's bread.


Three cheers.  It's a long weekend and it does feel ridiculously good.  That one extra day makes all the difference and I reckon we should have long weekends every week!  It's still dark so I have no idea of the weather bit it doesn't feel particularly cold.

My kitchen is smelling wonderful.  Not only have I had some chicken bnes simmering in the slow cooker for the last couple of days, last night I had a rib of beef (cooked before I bought it from Mr Chapman's, a whacking great big lump of meat for just one rib) and not only do I have plenty of meat for tonight (or lunch), I also have the fatty and boney remains simmering in a roastingdish in the oven, making a tasty stock.  So the house smells wonderful!

Today is a busy day.  No, not busy exactly, more like full.  I shall be clearing the fridge as much as possible and cooking/baking as much as I can before LBTL starts tomorrow.  I do like to feel prepared!  Today's meals will likely all be leftovers because I'm not going to waste any more than I can help!

So it's bread and oatcakes, a new batch of yoghurt and some leek and potato soup and then I'm having a go at using some of the manky value rice to make rice crackers.  I have absolutely no idea whatsoever how it will work out, it is all invention and pot luck so fingers crossed, please!

I won't reproduce my menu plans here as you will read enough about them over the next five days and anyway they are here  (scroll down to find the relevant entry).

If there's any time left over from the most important work of chilling out and relaxing, and weather permitting, I might do a bit of garden pottering too.  That would be nice.

Edited later to add:  I was wrong - it's bloomin' cold outside with frost on the cars.  Brrrrrr . . .