Monday 31 August 2015


. . . and what a dark, damp, dismal Bank Holiday morning it is too.  Such a shame.  Beth and I had planned a day at the allotment but not with wall-to-wall rain like this.  Boo.

Yesterday was also very dull but with no rain.  I had the curtains drawn by half past seven which seemed remarkably early but shutting out the dark was necessary by then.  Of course, tomorrow is September and we are nearly into Autumn.  It doesn't feel like that - my runner beans have only just got started and there are loads of tomatoes still on the plants.  I'm hoping for a warmer, dry September with a glut of veg.  Next year I shall get started earlier (I say this each year, don't I?) as I should have more time for the important things like growing my own produce.

At least I won't have to water my patch of turf today!

Swimming went very well.  Getting there at seven is clearly the way to go as the pool was virtually deserted so I could get going at a good (good for me, not really that good) pace.  After half an hour there were several more people in the slow lane so everything slowed up rather.  Still I managed 40 lengths and did 80 minutes of swimming.  I hope it doesn't sound obsessive but I am logging times and lengths in a little diary.  Hopefully, over time, I will be able to do longer in the time.

After getting home, I mde a white dough without milk powder to see if I could get a more crusty baguette-shapes loaf and it worked.  I have to say the results tasted absolutely delicious and I ate one out of the four I made for tea and nibbles after tea - one went to Beth and I hurriedly put the other two in the freezer.
It's just as well I did that swim in the morning - hopefully the calories will balance out a little bit.

Today I want to try the same but as shorter rolls.  Apart from packed lunches next week when my visitors and I go out, Beth and I intend to have lunch at the allotment (it would have been cheese baguettes today) so to have some in the freezer would be good.

I don't need to get going quite so fast today as the pool doesn't open until nine.  I'm going because I won't get another opportunity until Saturday and I shall miss it: because the allotment plans are cancelled so there will be time.

Hoping the rain doesn't spoil any of your plans - do you have anything special planned for this Bank Holiday?

Breakfast:  Toast and jam, apple
Lunch:  soup, yogurt
Dinner:  cottage pie, runner beans, cauliflower (maybe with a cheese sauce), apple or yogurt.

Sunday 30 August 2015


I shall have runner beans coming out of my ears at this rate!

Good morning!  Yesterday was quite a good day.

I cooked the mince at last and it was really very tasty.  It's currently chilling in the freezer in single portions with one larger portion for a lasagne next week.

I had found some frozen cherries in a bag that had been opened in the freezer so I thawed them and made cherry and apple jam.  The apple adds a bit of a texture but the flavour is lovely.  I'm finding all sorts of things as I slowly work my way deeper and deeper into the frozen depths so there may be more flavour mixes to come..

After seeing them on Bake off, I ordered a baguette tray and it came yesterday so, of course, I had to give it a whirl.  I used my usual recipe (granary/wholemeal) so not authentic and not terribly crusty either but the shape was great!
They look OK, don't they?
As the day went on and the weather stayed fine, I remembered that I have to water the new turf at the front every day (unless it rains) so I set up the new hose and gave it a good soaking.  Then I fed and watered the tomatoes and watered the runner beans whereupon it started raining!  Typical.  It didn't really stop raining after that and it was a very dark and gloomy evening indeed.  Chilly too.  This morning seems to be dry at the moment although it has obviously rained at some point overnight.

When I went to bed I set the alarm the alarm because I want an early swim - that's the first time I've set the alarm since the end of last term.  However, as usual, I woke a short time before it was due to go off.
I also want to have another go at baguettes, using white flour and adapting the recipe a bit.  Then I really will have more than enough bread for next week!!!
I've also realised I can use the tray to make hot dog shaped rolls.  I never seem to manage the shape usually, getting almost round ones, but the tray should keep them nicely in shape.  Worth a go anyway.  So that's a job for today.

Better go and get ready for swimming now.  Cossie, then skirt and top and remember to take undies with me in my swimming bag.  I love my swimming bag.  I had some 'love shopping' vouchers so I popped into Matalan to see what they had and found what is really a 'cabin bag' for plane journeys but which does perfectly for swimming.  It was a bit dearer than I had hoped but free really with the voucher.  It fits perfectly inside the locker and holds loads!

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast, apple
Lunch:  Leftover take away Chinese with Beth (her leftovers, not mine!)
Tea:  soup, apple, yogurt

Saturday 29 August 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  And what a lovely morning it is too.  Sunny and bright and quite still at the moment.  Yesterday was more breezy but still very lively with more or less wall-to-wall sunshine all day.  The mornings and evenings are not so warm now but that suits me fine.

Yesterday turned out to be quite hectic one way and another.  After my hour of swimming (40 lengths) I came home and soon after that Beth and Alex turned up, having done some 'bus education' by busing over rather than using the car.  Al's never used a bus before and it's about time he knew how to.  He had a day ticket and off he went to carry on exploring buses and their routes with a map and his ticket to freedom.  I gather he had a good time and by the time I had taken Beth home (as she had bussed over) he was also home.  He can teach me now and I will get my free bus pass.

I made some soup for lunch which turned out fine.  I found butter beans in the freezer and boiled them up with some mixed root veg and some stock before zizzing it.  It really was very nice indeed and I am glad I have more for lunch today.

In the afternoon, first of all the turf man came to lay the turf in the rest of my front bit which now looks very nice indeed.  I just have to remember to water it every single day for months and months (OK, slight exaggeration!).  Turf man was also quite positive about helping us to sort out the edges in the allotment because it's a bit beyond us, so that was a good thing too.

While he was doing that the lovely Sharon turned up and now Beth and I both have neat and tidy heads again!  She always does such an amazing job!

AND, while all of that was going on the cleaners arrived.  Now I know this sounds like very bad management but it isn't really.  I have a day for the cleaners and they come when they can.  Normally that hasn't been much of a problem but this time it all happened at the same time.  Turf man should have come earlier in the week but the torrential rain made that one a no-hoper.
Ah, well, it got it all over and done with.

I popped next door to ask my lovely neighbours to tell their lads to keep off the turf for a while and, bless them, they had already done it.  No footballs, no bicycles, no feet, don't even LOOK at it!!!

Today I won't be going swimming.  My young gardeners come this morning and the front much needs their attention!  I must bake more bread and then I will be well set for next week' visitors.  I must get that mince done.  I must iron.  I really must sort out the fridge!

The runner beans have suddenly decided that it's all go and I have loads.  So some picking is in order.  I need to feed the tomatoes and do a bit of sweeping the patio.

So all that should keep me out of trouble.

I belong to a facebook group that is for KS1 teachers.  There are a lot of young teachers on it and recently it's been all about getting your classrooms ready.  I've been somewhat amazed at the lengths some have gone to.  Every square inch of wall and display space has been covered with learning or inspirational stuff.  No spaces anywhere.  Maybe that's the done deal nowadays but I know I have always put up enough to make the bay look welcoming, the theme title and some needed stuff but with plenty of inviting spaces for their own work to go up too in the first few weeks.  I think I'm out of date!
Having said that, the photos of the classrooms look amazing!

Today's food:
Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast, fruit
Lunch:  soup and bread, yogurt
Dinner:  spag bol and runner beans (weird but tasty!), fruit, yogurt

I changed yesterday's dinner plan.  Whilst rootling in the freezer I found half a bag of oven chips and some sliced ham so I had ham and chips.  I was going to have ham, egg and chips but decided I wasn't hungry enough!

Friday 28 August 2015


Late again, so sorry.  That's because I was up late (comparatively), sort of decided not to go swimming, then decided I wanted to so I did!  I'm trying to train myself to stay up later of an evening (and succeeding) but it means those very early starts are not happening and I'm not ready to arrive at the pool for a half past six start.

Still, it was worth going.  I had an hour's swim and did 40 lengths.

It's gorgeously sunny here with lovely fluffy little clouds in the sky.  Fingers crossed it stays like that - I hope so anyway!  Yesterday was a rather dismal day with yet more rain and although it cleared up later, it didn't feel particularly warm, even so.

I finally managed to pop round to a friend's to give her the pressies I have knitted and, thank goodness, she liked them.  That was a relief - it is always a bit of a risk and it's not as if she could take them back to the shop, is it?

Today is hair day.  Lovely Sharon is round this afternoon to chop and dry my hair into submission so I shall ignore the slightly choriney pong wafting around and wash my hair just before she arrives!  before then I have bread to make and minced beef to cook, not to mention a lunchtime soup to create.  Butter bean and veg, I think.

Better stop yattering and get going then, hadn't I?

Breakfast.  Yogurt and apple
Lunch:  soup and bread.
Dinner:  Not sure but it will be based on the savoury mince, probably with pasta.  Simple and delicious

Thursday 27 August 2015


Good morning, everyone.  Sorry this is a bit later than usual - I had rather a slow start to the day and then remembered I needed to get all the rubbish out for the bin men, so I had to bath and dress - well, I didn't HAVE to but I wanted to.  All done now!

Yesterday was another wet day, as I am sure you don't need telling.  Chilly too, for August, definitely a night under the quilt.  I gather things are due to cheer up and that Bank Holiday Monday will be lovely.  I do hope so: these last few weeks haven't been wonderful for the children who have been stuck inside due to the teeming rain.  Even in the olden days, when I were a lass, Mum wouldn't let us go out in rain like that.  Too much hassle with wet clothes and footwear afterwards!

We went swimming again yesterday, as planned, and I managed 26 lengths.  I'm jolly weary today so won't be swimming but tomorrow I will and, hopefully, Saturday and Sunday.  Next week I have guests so might not be able to fit much else in.  After that it is term time again and I can go gleefully!

What else did I do yesterday?  Er - well, I knitted.  I made pots of what I thought were raspberry and apple jam before I sniffed, tasted and checked the label on the pot in which the berries were frozen.  Blackberries, not raspberries!  So I now have some pots of blackberry and apple jam.  Not loads, just some.
I know it sounds as if I am building up a supply of loads of preserves and yes, I am, but some of them will be presents for friends and family so not really too many at all.

Today is a day to myself and I shall seize the opportunity to continue with some clearing out.  Once the bin man has been I will have an empty bin for the real rubbish that cannot be reused in any way.  Hopefully, some of the stuff can be given to the local charity shop and I might have a go at selling some on the local selling page.

I'm also going to make several batches of bread, some for me, some for Beth and some for next week, to be frozen until needed.  Again, I don't think I will have all that much time next week as we are hoping to go a-visiting (weather permitting) from time to time.  I also need to plan meals so there's no almighty rush.

I have very optimistically hung yesterdays swimming stuff (cossie and two towels) out on the washing line.  We will see, won't we.  Fingers crossed.

And finally, I'm off out to Aldi at some point  to get some stuff in for next week.  I'm not so impressed with their super six this time - or rather, to be fair, it's not all what I want to buy this time.  However, I do need some more wholemeal flour and their medium eggs are larger than Morrison's medium eggs and often cheaper too so I may as well make the journey and do my main shop there.

Today's food
Breakfast:  Toast and jam, fruit
Lunch:  Tomato and veg soup, bread, fruit or yogurt
Dinner:  Two mini beefburgers (from Aldi) with something I found on Facebook, an old recipe called carrot and cheese bake.  I will let you know if it's OK and will post the recipe.

Do any of my gentle readers remember this recipe/dish?  Interestingly, it is all written in imperial and I am now so used to metric that I couldn't visualise how much it would make.  I had to convert to metric (thanking my stars for Google) to get a sense of whether I needed to halve or quarter the ingredients.
Thank goodness for the Internet!

Wednesday 26 August 2015


A very good morning to you all.
I was right about the weather for once yesterday.  It was dry and bright, the sun did come out and I got two loads of washing out and dried before the rain started.  After that it was a dead loss and I was glad I didn't have to go out.

Right now it is wet and windy and cold - so cold that my heating has clicked on.  I turned it down as soon as I realised but really - in August!  I'm back to being very glad to snuggle under my quilt again.

No swimming yesterday and I was glad of the rest.  Today I'm hoping to go but when depends of Beth really.  I have found a site that tells you roughly how many calories you are burning.  You input the minutes and up pops an encouraging number!  I reckon a bit of a pinch of salt is required because it seems an awful lot, but every little helps, as the ad tells us.

A dear friend come round for coffee in the morning.  It was lovely to see her again and to catch up on things.  When she had gone I gathered two pots of preserves and two loaves, fresh made, and took them round to V in thanks for the plums.  The last of them have now been de-stoned and frozen separately before bagging so I can take out however many I want.

I'm still umming and ahing about what to make with the apples of which I bought too many.  However, when I was bagging the plums in the freezer, I noticed a container of unsweetened raspberry puree that ought to be used up so it is now thawing and I think I will add the same amount of stewed apple puree and make raspberry and apple jam.  That would use up probably two of them anyway.  I'll probably stew the lot in fact and what I don't use for the jam I will sweeten and freeze for a crumble - plum and apple, maybe - that sounds nice, doesn't it?  I have visitors next week and it will make a good dessert, especially if it stays cold.

Well, I need to get started or I will waste time.  Kitchen, apples, breakfast, bath and get dressed, in that order.  By then I should know when swimming is going to happen and can organise the rest of my day!

Breakfast:  Toast and jam, fruit
Lunch:  Soup, bread, apple or pear
Dinner:  Summer chicken, runner beans (I think there's enough to pick), fruit

Tuesday 25 August 2015


. . . and wasn't it a terrible day yesterday.  I haven't seen rain like that for quite a long time.  When I went into the sports centre to swim it had just started and by the time I came out, my goodness, the whole car park was totally awash.  It was almost like getting into the pool again to splash my way to the car.  OK, slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.
It carried on, on and off, all day and, while we don't flood around here, I am sure that parts of town had problems.

Today looks as if it might be better but there's some rain forecast, even so.  Right now it is dry and clear and I am sure the sun will be shining soon.

Swimming was good.  Beth and I ploughed up and down, up and down, and eventually reached thirty length which was our target.  We decided to carry on a bit more and made forty which we were pretty happy about.  We were both very tired afterwards though!
I worked it out and 30 lengths is just about 1K, if you count the sideways swim to change lanes
40 lengths is 1.32K.   Not bad when you've only just restarted.
It should help the weight loss too.
I looked up some more numbers.  A mile is 1.61K and would take 50 lengths - that would be what we used to call an 'old fashioned mile'.   I guess that is something to aim for but maybe not quite yet!

Once home I got on with dealing with more of those plums and now have some jars of plum chutney to add to all the others.  I have no idea how that's going to taste as it needs to mature for about six months or so but it can't be bad, not with all that goodness in it.  I needed to buy some apples for the chutney but Morrison's doesn't have scales and I got way too many so now I have apples to use up.  I could just stew and freeze them and I might do that but there's a lot of jams with apple.  Apple and rhubarb or apple and cranberry sounds nice and I have all the ingredients.  I shall have to think.

As for the remaining plums, for now I will halve and stone them and open freeze them.  Then they will be there for desserts as and when needed.

That's about it for yesterday.  Today I have a dear friend coming for a good chat and am so looking forward to it.  No swimming, there won't be time.  However, there's a fair old lot of tidying up to do to make the living room fit to be seen so I need to get going!

Breakfast:  Toast and jam, melon
Lunch:  soup and bread, fruit
Dinner:  As I am making some bread today, I think I might attempt to calzonify some of that savoury mince and have it with salad.

Monday 24 August 2015


Good morning to you all.  I am surprised to find that it is dry here at the moment and it doesn't look as if it has rained during the night but the forecast is absolutely horrible for today with torrential rain (but no storms).  It seems likely to go on for several days too.  That being so, I have just given the tomato plants their next anti-blight spray.  It's a few days early but I wanted to get it done before the rain starts.  It's a wonderful crop this year and I really don't want to lose it to that nasty fungussy thing < spit >!

Yesterday ended up quite busy.

First of all it was swimming, of course.  When I got there the pool was almost deserted.  It got a bit busier but not in any way disrupting and I managed my 1K (and a bit more) in the hour without any hassle.  I'd like to be a bit faster, but maybe that will come in time.

When Beth and Alex arrived we went to the Flyer for a celebration lunch.  Alex likes the Flyer and we managed to have what amounted to three course meals without too much difficulty.  I had a chicken tikka salad which was really very tasty and two scoops of frozen strawberry yogurt for dessert which was also very nice.  I shared a few onion rings to start with - and it was a few, I promise.

Just before we left home I caught a message on a friend's page asking who wanted plums as they had loads more than they could use if we wanted to come and pick.  Well, you know me - I never say no to an offer like that if I can possibly help it.  Unfortunately, when we had finished our meal it was tipping it down so instead Beth and I took a trip down to her allotment to see what needed harvesting.  It wasn't as overgrown as she thought it would be and we came back with some lovely courgettes to eat and none for the compost heap.  There's loads of potatoes that need lifting and the sweet corn also looks promising.  The pear tree is loaded (Beth thinks it is a comice, which is great) and there are also some apples coming along.  When we got home we worked out a plan of action which should start a good sort out and tidy up.  We've decided to meet there at least once a week to start with which should be great exercise!

Then it stopped raining so I popped over to my friend's with a bag and some scissors and got thoroughly damp helping them pick the plums.  My hair finished up looking as if I had been electricuted but I'd already washed it once and will be swimming this morning so it just had to stay messy.  The plums were lovely, really sound and pounds of them too.  I washed and sorted them and then had some fun looking through a couple of preserving books to decide what to make.

Then I set to with maslin pan and wooden spoon and now I have seven and a half pots of gorgeous looking and tasting Victoria plum jam.  Some for me, some for my friend, some for Beth and Alex and some for Dave and Anna.  In return as a thank you I will also give my friend some plum chutney (when it is made) and some nice, home made granary bread.  I love bartering!

So today - making plum chutney for a start and, luckily, I have all the ingredients apart from some apples.  While that's going on I will also make some granary bread.  Then it can be taken over as a heartfelt 'thank you'.

There's swimming, of course.

And that's about it.

Breakfast: toast and jam/marmlade, apple, plums
Lunch:  tomato soup, bread, melon
Dinner:  pasta bolognaise, side salad, yogurt

Sunday 23 August 2015


Good morning, everyone.  How did you sleep last night?  It was hot and humid here but it wasn't too bad for me because of a floor fan, a ceiling fan and a quiltless cover.  I hadn't remade my bed after stripping the sheets for washing so I didn't put the quilt in the cover and it was just right.  I do like the feeling of being under a cover when I sleep but a quilt would have been wa-a-ay too hot.  The sun has just started shining as I type and, after quickly checking the BBC weather forecast, I see that the rain has been pushed back and it is predicting gorgeous sunshine for most of the day!

It may have been very hot yesterday but I still spent some time in the kitchen, which tends to be cooler anyway, being more or less north facing.  I made two batches of bread and got that mince cooked.  I had a mixture of turkey and pork mince, not as flavoursome as beef mince but I reckoned it would be OK with my usual additions and it was.  The thing about mince is that I always give it long, slow cooking to make it really soft and 'unctious' (as the Hairy Bikers are so fond of saying) and to thicken the sauce.  I also add some oats and some lentils.  It worked well and two trays of mince plus three cans of chopped tomatoes and assorted frozen veg bits and bobs has given me eleven portions, one of which I had last night under a nice cheesy crumble topping with the first of the runner beans (and it was all splendid!).

I didn't go swimming yesterday and missed it so as soon as I've finished this I'm off for an early morning swim.  I read that swimming in the morning is best from the point of view of weight loss/calories, etc.  It said that because you haven't eaten all night, your body starts to use fat resources and also it ups your metabolism for much of the rest of the day.  I have no idea how true that is but I certainly do like an early morning swim and if there are other specific advantages to that time, good!

It was certainly a good drying day yesterday.  It wasn't just the sun, there was also a fresh breeze and as I pegged one load out, the lot before was ready to bring in.  I was very virtuous and ironed the lot so the basket is empty and I am all up to date.

As for today, well, there's swimming and Beth, Al and I are having lunch together.  I have to do some tidying up and putting away and then . . . who knows.  Maybe some knitting, maybe some sewing, more than likely some snoozing.

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast (I just picked about fifteen tomatoes), fruit
Lunch:  Not sure right now - probably something a bit naughty.
Tea:  I think probably an egg and tomato salad followed by yogurt.

Saturday 22 August 2015


Good morning, everyone.  It's a bit hard to tell what the weather is like where I am sitting but it's increasingly obvious how much the nights are drawing in and the mornings are later to start.  It always catches me unawares and I think that's because, as a teacher, I always think of August being the height of summer but, of course, it isn't.  That's June and July.  We're getting closer and closer to the start of autumn, aren't we?

I've just checked the BBC weather page and it looks as if we are in for a scorcher today followed by rain on Sunday.  I'd better whip the sheets off my bed in that case and make the most of the good drying weather.

Yesterday was a gorgeous summer day - warm, sunny and with a refreshing breeze.  Beth and I went swimming late morning and managed to do 30 lengths (with breaks, not continuous) so we were both very pleased with ourselves as it means we had done about 1km.  Then I rushed home, had my bath and hair wash, ate a quick lunch (instant soup, apple and peach) before going over to my friend, C's home to see her little lads and then to go out together for an early evening meal at the Hare.  We had a lovely time, didn't stop talking at all, catching up on all sorts of news.  C and I will be working more or less together in the new term as she will cover the other half of the year group from me - year 1 in the morning and Foundation Stage in the afternoon.  Can't be bad!
I did mention, didn't I, that next term I will be doing PPA cover at school?  Just one day for half of the year.  I'm also hoping to be asked to do some supply teaching.

In the end I decided to go for the mini cheeseburger which I have had before and, as before, the waitress warned me that it was quite small.  So it was and that was just what I wanted.  It was as high as it was tall with all the fillings and just the right amount for a satisfying meal with coleslaw and a few chips.  Very delicious!

Because it was so nice we sat outside.  The wasps were a bit of a pain but it was worth it - sunny with a breeze blowing over the fields is perfect for eating outside, isn't it, especially when someone else has done the cooking and will do the clearing up and washing up afterwards.  No complaints there!

As for today, I already have a batch of granary bread dough in the bowl, rising well.  I will also make a second batch later - I think Beth will want some more this coming week as Alex will be at home during the day and takes a whole lot of feeding!  I've also got some pork mince and turkey mince out of the freezer and will be making a batch of savoury mince to be portioned out and re frozen.  Pork and turkey is what I had to hand so that's what I will use!  Lots of seasonings should give it a good flavour.  It will also be fugal because the meat was all on special!

I won't be going swimming today.  Three days in a row is enough, my hair is beginning to feel the effects of so much washing.  Part of me would like to go but I will go again tomorrow, probably for an early bird swim.

Today's food:
Breakfast:  Fried tomatoes on toast, yogurt
Lunch:  Sandwich, soup, fruit
Dinner:  Something with some of the cooked mince - probably a savoury crumble - and - AND - the first picking of runner beans.  Then strawberries and yogurt, probably.

There's enough there for a meal for one, isn't there?

Well, I have some washing to peg out and breakfast to make.  Have a wonderful day, gentle readers and enjoy the fine weather if you have some.

Friday 21 August 2015


Good morning, everyone.  It's another slightly dull but starting to brighten morning, not so early today as I was very lazy and read in bed for a while before getting up and very nice it was too.

The biggies from yesterday is, of course, Al's GCSE results.  He did great.  He got all grades A* to C, no grades below that and he is set fair for 6th form and A levels.
The amazing thing is that this time three years ago he had done none of the national curriculum for most of the subjects he studied.  In fact, he went down a year when he started mainstream so that he could do a year's study before having to decide on his GCSEs.
The biggest worry was English.  It's a crucial one to get (alongside maths) and as he has a communication disorder (he was virtually non-verbal when he started school) it was never going to be easy.  He was predicted an E which then went up to a D.  A D would have been amazing.  The put him in for both English exams, the general one and Literature (which surprised us a bit but there you go . . .).and he not only got B for English, he also went and got C for literature.  Fantastic!

I went to the Early Bird swimming which was more crowded than I expected.  As Beth had said, there were three lanes and I was pleased that I wasn't the slowest in the slow lane although neither was I the fastest!  I just trundled up and back, up and back for an hour and felt marvellous afterwards!

Just after I got back, Beth and Al came round with Al's results which was lovely of them because they couldn't stay for long.

The rest of the day was spent in ironing, snoozing, reading and generally being extremely lazy.  Outside, the builders were much more hard working, getting on with the work at the front which is almost finished now.

Today is swimming again (I need to get value out of this membership!) and then I'm meeting up with a friend for a good chat and an early dinner.

Today's food
Tricky because of the dinner but I think it will pan out like this.
Breakfast:  Toast and jam/marmalade, strawberries and yogurt
Lunch:  apple and peach
Dinner:  not sure but it will be a smaller plate meal, as always.  There's a huge choice now but I think it will be something chickeny or maybe the mini cheeseburger which was delicious last time I had it.

Thursday 20 August 2015


It's a biggie today, gentle readers.  Today the GCSE results are out and Alex will be going into school to pick them up.  I'm really very nervous for him.  It's been a considerable journey from special school to mainstream and he has worked his socks off and more.  As Beth says, we are totally proud of him anyway but it would be great if his hard work was rewarded with some A - C grades.

So, given that, if I write anything silly, you will please forgive me.  Normal service will be resumed . . . etc.

Yesterday was good.  Beth and I used our membership for the first time and went swimming.  We were hoping to go early but when we got there we found that all the inflatables were out and it was kids only.  Good start!
We went home and went back later.

It's been a while since I went swimming.  When I was a member of Cannons I went several times a week and it was great.  Swimming is fantastic exercise, very supportive and safe.  Now I'm no speed swimmer, quite the opposite, but I used to be able to keep going for a while so I was very pleased to manage 20 lengths yesterday, chugging up and down in the swimming lane with others who, fortunately, were just as slow as Beth and I were.

I intend to go again in a little while, to the Early Bird session which is just lanes.  Beth says there are three lanes for different speeds and I know which one I will be in!

Yesterday morning I made a tomato soup which was really very tasty.  With sandwiches, it was just what we needed when we came home feeling hungry.  And what's good is that there's some left over for today.  Swimming does make one feel so hungry afterwards, doesn't it?

Normally when I make bread, I use little 1lb loaf tins which are just the right size for me.  Today I want to try making some 'freeform' round loaves, the kind you can cut into wedges to have with soup.  I think the dough will hold its shape OK.  Fingers crossed anyway.

Today's food:
Breakfast: tomatoes on toast
Lunch:  tomato soup with bread, yogurt or apple
Dinner:  lasagne, side salad, yogurt or fruit

Very tomato-ey but I do have plenty of them!

Wednesday 19 August 2015


To start with, here's the knitting I have been working on.  Not perfect but they look OK and, I am sure, will be an acceptable gift for a very special little person.  They're all wrapped up now, ready to deliver. and I have started son something for another friend but not for a new arrival this time..

Well, good morning!  What a horrible, wet day it was yesterday.  It started raining in the morning and didn't stop until late afternoon.  Not good for blight but actually very good for giving the bed a good watering.  Today looks more promising - for a start the clouds are high and broken so fingers crossed for a nicer day.

I've just pootled out to look at the garden, as one does (!) and counted four runner beans that could be picked now but I think I will schedule them in for Saturday's dinner, maybe with some fish.  Delicious!

My culinary-ego took a bashing yesterday.  I was going out to coffee with a friend and said I would bring cake.  So I set to and made something I have made without any problems many, many times, a basic sponge cake.  I don't know what happened but it was a bit of a disaster.  It did rise, but then the middle fell a bit, it was hard to get out of the tin, it was rough around the edges and some of the middle stayed in the tin!  Oh, dear.  However, with a bit of slicing bits off and some canny placement of butter icing, use of a jar of home made raspberry jam asnd a good sprinkling of icing sugar over the top, it was OK, looking a bit ragged but, thankfully, tasting good.  Everyone ate their slice with relish anyway!

When I got home I really didn't want any lunch as the cake had filled the corners, so I made cheese on toast for Beth and just had a coffee.  And then I went to sleep for a while which compensated for the early awakening!

I'm rather hoping we are going swimming this morning but am waiting to get confirmation from Beth.  I need to fill my time well as I'm getting more than a bit nervous about tomorrow when Al's GCSE results come out.  I don't remember feeling at all nervous when my GCE results were due although I suspect Mum and Dad did all the worrying for me, bless them.  I wasn't even worried about A levels as I only had to get one pass to get into Southlands College of Education and I knew I'd passed music quite well.  I was very edgy for Beth and Dave and this is another real biggie.  Fingers crossed (not that that will do any good, will it?).

I'd better get going then.  Breakfast and coffee and then the kitchen needs a bit of a sort out.  I hope your day goes well, wherever you are.

Today's food
Breakfast:  Toast and marmalade, apple
Lunch:  Must use up the corned beef, so corned beef sandwich and some soup (probably tomato, certainly home made), yogurt
Dinner:  Corned beef hash (then it will all be finished off) with peas.  Fruit or yogurt

For corned beef hash, I am doing more or less what this says.  Fry onion, add cooked potato and chopped corned beef and fry, dash of savoury sauce and Bob's your uncle!  Traditionally it is served with baked beans but I think I prefer peas today.  Quick, reasonably frugal and dead easy!  It's a bit of a comfort food for me as Mum used to make it fairly regularly and it was a favourite with us children.
I guess you could use other left over veg too, not just potato.

Tuesday 18 August 2015


Runner bean flowers are very attractive.  One can see why the Elizabethans used them as flowers rather than vegetables.

I'm feeling a bit bleary eyed this morning.  For a while I have been waking up later than usual.  Yesterday was just before seven which is a real lie in for me.  Today - four thirty, which is a pain.  Wide awake with no chance of getting back to sleep.  Now it's hitting me but I'm not sure about going back up for another kip.

Anyway - yesterday.  Beth came round, I turned all culinary and made a batch of loaves for her and also some French onion marmalade for myself.  It smelt lovely as it was cooking although the house smelt less fragrant for the rest of the day but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and it said leave it at least two weeks, even better, two months.  I will let you know!

In the afternoon we did something we have been planning to do for ages and that was to join our local leisure centre.  We've both gone for the swimming membership.  You see, for ages Beth and I have looked forward to being able to go swimming together again.  We both love the water and it was such a delight when I belonged to a health club and used their pool several times a week.  This is really good - membership comes with free parking and use of the classes, if I want.  Beth says that during the term the pool is lovely and empty earlier in the morning and we plan to meet and swim twice a week for sure, perhaps more.

I could have got use of the pool free (my age, you know!) but that wouldn't come with free parking and I suspect that it would end up costing more, depending on how often I go and how long I stay.  I shall monitor it for six months and see.

Anyway, that was yesterday's biggie.  Now we have to make use of it!

Today I am seeing a friend and taking cake!  That means I have to make one - maybe that's why I woke early.  Apart from that, the day's my own.  Lovely!

Breakfast:  toast and jam/marmalade
Lunch: corned beef and salad
Dinner:  pork and apple burger with salad.

Rather a lot of salad and rather a lot of corned beef at the moment.  Thats one of the problems with feeding just oneself - things have to be used up!

Monday 17 August 2015


Good morning, gentle readers and brrrrr, because it feels chilly outside.  The sun is shining though so fingers crossed for a beautiful day!

The tomato plants are now a delightful speckledy blue and, one hopes, blight-protected.  However, to my dismay, when I looked to find Bordeaux mixture for info for someone else, it seems it is no longer made.  Dismay!  So I emailed my resident expert, aka Dad, who emailed some expert help line thingy that he belongs to, to find out what can be used instead.

While 'chatting' on Facebook in an allotment group, someone mentioned that there was an item on the invention of Bordeaux mixture in Edwardian Farm, which I missed. It's on iPlayer so I watched it and yes, it appears that it was invented by a grape farmer (living in Bordeaux) who wanted to spray his grapes alongside the road to make them taste bad so that they would stop picking and eating them as they walked past.  It worked but at the end of the season he realised that they were the only grapes that did not suffer from a vine disease.  And so the mixture was discovered.
You couldn't do that nowadays!!!

That's about it for yesterday, I think.  I knitted, did a bit of housework, a bit of gardening . . . just a quiet, peaceful day.

Today Beth is round so I guess it will be harder work, but still very enjoyable.  Should be good!

Breakfast:  toast and jam
Lunch:  Corned beef (or egg) salad, fruit
Dinner:  Chicken kiev, salad

Sunday 16 August 2015


See the little runner beans - they should be dinner by Friday!

Good morning, everyone!  As yesterday, it's cool and a bit dull this morning but maybe it will warm up as it did yesterday when we had some lovely, warm, sunny spells throughout the whole day.  It looks OK but who knows!

The main event of yesterday was E coming round to start building up my new PC.  It takes for ever when one is an awkward type who wants all ones old stuff put onto the new machine.  So E spent the time getting some of the hardware set up and running (for example, I am now looking as a lovely large screen) and making a file for transfer.  It did take ages so we agreed to stop at a convenient point and continue another day.  Before he went, he showed me some stuff on the new laptop and we got Photoshop installed: a very old version now but it is the one I am used to working with and I was relieved to find it in the cupboard I was tidying up!

Yes, I did do a bit of sorting out as I wanted to create a clear area for E as well as finding any relevant software.  As a result, I spent the next half hour or so thoroughly destroying some floppy disks with school info, long out of date now but nonetheless confidential.  It was sad thinking of the months of work some of those disks represented, now obsolete and useless, years and years of long, medium and short term planning, resources, etc.  It was hard to get rid of them but necessary.  I didn't feel any sense of release when they were gone, just sadness at the futility of it all really, not necessarily at the time, but now.

So now I have Photoshop on my laptop!  Once My Cloud is all set up, my laptop and my PC should be able to talk to each other!

After all the wet weather I was confidently expecting an alert from Blightwatch and, sure enough, one pinged into my mailbox yesterday.  So today the main job is to spray, spray, spray!  Must remember the accidental hundreds and thousands plant at the bottom of the garden.  It's doing very well, plenty of flowers but no fruit yet - and that reminds me, I forgot to feed it.  Another job on the list.
The accidental tomato plant looking extremely healthy and happy in its run-down shack!  It should have all been chucked out earlier in the year but once the shoot emerged it was given a reprieve!

Dinner was nice and, I think, pretty healthy too.  I defrosted a chicken leg portion.  While that was thawing, I halved some mini tomatoes including some from the garden, chunked half a red pepper and some mushrooms and cut an onion into wedges.  These I mixed in a bowl with some oregano and thyme from the garden, some olive oil and some lemon zest.  I covered the mix and just let it all flavour-mingle together.  In the evening I tipped the lot into a roasting dish, added some salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar, topped it with the chicken joint, covered it with foil and baked it all in the oven for an hour, taking the foil off for the last 15 minutes.  I did mean to add some olives but I forgot until I was halfway through eating it and I would have used garlic but, would you believe, I am right out of it - how did that happen?
Anyway, it was jolly nice and very filling..

Today I need to continue with the cupboard and them move some stuff over from the other cupboard so that there is more room for all our sewing things.  I have a bit of washing to do and then I think I will do some sewing.  Sounds nice, doesn't it?  No Beth and Alex today as they are otherwise engaged

Breakfast:  tomatoes on toast, melon slices
Lunch:  some kind of salad, maybe with corned beef.  Then yogurt or fruit
Dinner:  steamed salmon, new potatoes, salad, fruit or yogurt

Saturday 15 August 2015


Good morning!  Again, it is cool, damp, a bit windy but not raining - yet.  You know, I'd be useless as a weather prophet.  Yesterday I said there's be no sun and guess what - the clouds started clearing and out came the sun later on.  Not for long, I admit, but definitely shining for a while.  So I'm saying nothing about today but am thankful that the furthest I have to go out is into the garden.

Talking of the garden, I'm picking tomatoes every day now and there are loads of baby runner beans that I reckon I will start picking next Thursday or Friday.  The kind I have is self pollinating so I don't need to worry about any lack of pollinating insects - well, I do, but not in a personal way!

Yesterday ended up sort of busy in a not busy way.  At last work has started on the front bit I am having done so there was a lot of digging and pounding and banging and general noise.  Also it was cleaning day and the 'girls' (who aren't girls at all at the moment) turned up bang on 1:00 to get going and work their magic.  I decided to make myself scarce and get out of their way so I popped out to B&Q to get a few bits and bobs including that tomato food!  While there, as always, I had a wee look around the flowers.  They had some much reduced and somewhat bedraggled plants so I took a look and came away with a sad looking penstemon that I think I can nurse back to health.  It's sitting in the kitchen as I type, looking a fair bit happier and sending out a flower to say 'thank you'.  They die right back each year, it says on the label, and I reckon if I can keep it going until it does back, it should come up fit and well come spring time.

So now I think I have everything I need to replace the crocosmia when I dig them out.  Four medium heighted, pastelly coloured perennials for the middle of what really is a small flower bed.  The crocosmia will go to Beth and some will go into a pot for a bit of corner colour.

On the way back from B&Q I popped into Aldi for a few bits and bobs.  It was pretty packed but people seem to keep moving quite well and the comparatively small car park (I was very lucky to get a space) keeps the numbers reasonable.  Anyway, I went to see what their super six was and I was delighted to see that it was all salad veg and really great value - iceberg lettuce, cucumber, mini tomatoes, radishes, beetroot and spring onions, all at 29p.  Can't complain at that!.  Salads are now on the menu all week.  I got a couple of bags of onions too because I want to make some more onion marmalade.  Yummy onion marmalade!

By the time I got home the cleaners and the workman had finished and gone and peace had been restored.  I put things away and then sat down in my clean home to do some knitting, having finished the ironing in the morning.  And that was the day really.

Today I am hoping Eddie will come over to start setting up the new PC with all the trimmings.  Fingers crossed.  There should be no problems but I don't trust modern technology so if I disappear in a puff of smoke you will know why!  This means that I really do have to sort out the top shelf of the cupboard so that I have all the discs ready for him, if they are needed.

That, alongside the washing, etc, and making a batch of bread and a batch of yogurt should keep me going for most of the day one way and another.

Breakfast:  toast and jam/marmalade, melon slices, a yogurt
Lunch:  egg salad, fruit or yogurt
Dinner:  roast chicken leg, new potatoes, salad, fruit or yogurt

Friday 14 August 2015


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to a mild, damp and misty-moisty morning after a fairly wet yesterday and overnight.  We had a bit of thunder, etc, yesterday but if we had any overnight it didn't bother me!  On the BBC weather page, the little storm symbols have gone as have many of the rain symbols so today looks a bit better than it did yesterday but - well, we will see!  The flower beds are nicely soaked and it's all looking healthy except that the tomatoes would ripen faster if the sun started shining and that's something I don't really expect to see today.  Did you have storms where you are?

Beth was round yesterday and we had a much easier day making Christmas bunting.  No challenge really but we needed it easy after the struggles of the day before.  We're very lucky as now we have two sewing machines.  A friend of Beth's has very kindly handed on her machine that she no longer wants.  I understood that it wasn't particularly good so was expecting a bit of a wreck but, actually, it's a jolly nice little basic machine.  I gather it doesn't take too kindly to much thickness but it stitched through four layers of fabric without any trouble.
This means that Beth and I don't have to wait for each other when we are sewing together so we're extremely grateful for this generosity.  I doubt the person concerns reads this but, just in case, THANK YOU!

The weather was so miserable leading up to lunch time yesterday that I changed my plans and made a quick soup, one of those bung-it-all-in-together-and-see soups.  This one had onion, mixed root veg (from the freezer) chopped tomato, lentils, stock, seasoning, a bit of sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar and it was delicious and just the ticket!  There's a bit left over for today which is helpful.  I suppose we're not so far away from Autumn now but it felt a bit odd having hot soup and feeling that it was the right thing to have!  It's been a funny old summer on and off, hasn't it?

The soup was nice and frugal.  A while ago, I found a soup pack reduced to 19p in Morrisons.  Not needing it there and then, I peeled and chopped it all up, open froze it and then bagged it.  Well, I used some of that which dropped the cost considerably.  It can't have been more than 50p for the whole lot which made three portions.
It's nice to be thinking frugal again.

I have a new drink of choice and it's very simple.  Just mix some diet lemonade (17p per bottle in Aldi) with a good splash of lime or lemon juice (from a bottle) and add some ice.  Very refreshing and very delicious although we will forget about the additives, OK?

No Beth today.  Alex has been away all week, camping with some sort of young people's challenge thingy and we both felt very sorry for him yesterday as the rain came down so hard.  He's home today and I am sure he will appreciate motherly fussing and home comforts all the more for having roughed it for a few days which can't be bad.

Well, I'm not totally sure what I will be doing today which is not so good.  Maybe some more clearing and tidying as I haven't done much this week.  I have a little quilt to finish off that I am making for a friend and I have the fabric for the backing now so I could do that or I am making some doll's bedding which also needs quilting, wadding and finishing off.  There's a bit of washing and ironing too

But before I start any of that, it is breakfast time!

Breakfast:  toast and jam/marmalade, melon slices
Lunch:  soup (left over from yesterday) and a ham sarnie, fruit or yogurt
Dinner:  Savoury mince with a crumble topping, some sort of veg, fruit or yogurt

Thursday 13 August 2015


. . . and welcome to a very dull and gloomy early morning.  It's not raining (yet) and I don't think we had any storms overnight but the forecast is not very promising.  Not, I suspect, a day for drying washing on the line!
I read that it was supposed to be a very humid night.  Not here it wasn't - under the quilt all night long, I was, and very cosy it was too.

Beth and I had quite a frustrating day yesterday.  There were fitting problems with what  we are making and we learnt a few lessons as we battled our way through.  Nevertheless we got there, even though we were mentally quite tired by the end of the session.

Today it is more of the same and, as Beth said, it's good that we're doing this together, to share knowledge and skill.
Apart from that I have to do some clearing/tidying as its the cleaning girls tomorrow and I want to give them a clear run at things.

But first I need to load up Thermione with ingredients for granary bread as Beth needs some for the weekend.  And I think the coffee is ready as well - the aroma is calling to me.

Enjoy your day, whatever the weather.

Breakfast:  Toast and jam, apple
Lunch:  Strawberries and yogurt, melon
Dinner:  Bolognaise pasta bake, yogurt and apricot sauce

This pair is often to be seen - er - frolicking away together on my garden fence.  I have more explicit evidence . . .

Wednesday 12 August 2015


Good morning!  It's a gloomy, dull, wet morning here in not-so-sunny Essex with the promise of more to come.  I've got the windows open to freshen things but I don't think they will stay open for long.  The last thing I want is the heating clicking on.  And I think I will be checking out the Blightwatch site, just in case.  The bordeaux solution is ready and waiting! I think the gloom has as much to do with the fact that the nights are now getting noticeably longer and the days shorter as it is to do with cloud cover.  It is, after all, nearly the middle of August!

(I've just checked Blightwatch and there's not been any Smith periods (when temperature and humidity are such as to make blight likely) so no spraying today.  It'd probably get washed off anyway!)

Yesterday was lovely.  Beth and I did some quilting and then we set off for some self indulgence in And Sew On, the wonderful place we have discovered that is about half an hour's drive away, less when the traffic is light.  We did have a purpose:  Beth has a commission to make a table runner for someone and we needed the fabric.  It was such fun getting out the bolts of fabric and laying them over each other until we had just the perfect combination of colours.  We also got various other bits and pieces.  I needed some buttons for my knitting and so on (or do I mean sew on?).

We also had lunch there too.  I was sorely tempted by the toasted sandwiches but instead went for a cheese, onion and thyme scone.  It was jolly nice but there was not enough cheese and it was too big.  Too much scone for butter, in other words.  The thyme flavour was just right!  I'm going to have a go at making some myself.  Not today but maybe tomorrow.

Once home, we set to, quilting and constructing more Christmas (sorry) stockings.  They are coming out really well and will look great when they are finished.  At the Craft Centre we got a few more ideas of little things to make that use up really, so we will have a go at them too.  All jolly good fun.

In the evening I carried on with the knitting and the front is now done.  It's taking more time than usual but is equally more interesting, even though I keep losing the cable needle!

It has been so nice these last few weeks being all needleworky together with Beth.  She's so very creative it's a delight to sit and chat together and get ideas from her.  Long may it continue!

Today is more of the same except that I think we intend to focus more on little decorations and bunting.  I think!

Today's food:
Breakfast:  Toast (sorry, Chrissie) and jam, melon
Lunch:  Vegetable frittata with a salad, yogurt and apricot sauce
Dinner:  I think I shall make a sauce with chopped tomatoes, vegetables and some shredded ham and have it on pasta, then fruit.

Tuesday 11 August 2015


Taken in Dad's garden last week
Good morning!  I don't know what it's like round your way but here it is dull and quite cool this morning and I've just shut the French windows.  Checking with the Beeb, it doesn't predict rain so fingers crossed.  Mind you, as always, the garden could do with a good downpour so either way it's a win.

Well, I am proud to announce that the washing/ironing remains up to date.  I can't remember the last time it was like this for more than just a few days!  It should stay like this too from now on with just the occasional blip.

I did pick the first tomatoes yesterday, as expected, and had them with a salad for lunch.  They were delicious!  It is always lovely, picking the first fruit and I have enough for this evening (not loads but enough) and also to give a few to Beth too.  There are still red ones to use up - not a patch on the others but nice enough and certainly not for wasting!

I started the next knitting project and yes, it's definitely more of a challenge.  It's double knitting but the stitch is Aran so until I 'got' the pattern it was slow work but now I know what it's all about it is moving faster.  I think it will be very nice and certainly good and warm although I am concerned about the sleeves which I think might be too 'chunky' for a little one.  I might do plain sleeves or just have the central pattern running up the middle - I will think about it anyway!

Regular readers might remember that last week I had a go as making apricot jam in Thermione.  It wasn't a total success in that the set was very, very soft although the flavour was wonderful.  Yesterday I had some with home made yogurt and you know what - it was absolutely gorgeous.  So that's desserts sorted for a while!

Today Beth is round and we're doing crafty things.  Looking forward to it.

And finally - food.
Breakfast:  toast and jam, apple.
Lunch:  not sure
Dinner:  ham salad, fruit, yogurt

Monday 10 August 2015

Wrest Park

Woo hoo - managed to get the photos off the camera.

Here's a few I took at Wrest Park.

The formal gardens are lovely.  All managed by volunteers, I gather.

Thee are some splendidly old trees in the park.

Might put this one at the top for a little while.

The Royals at Wrest.  Proof!

I'd love a big walled garden like this one.  I think old walls are beautiful.


Good morning, Gentle Readers.  After another lovely night's sleep it's another bright, sunny morning, very calm and gentle.  I'm hoping for another lovely day like yesterday.

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs.  I started off by taking a trip to Wyvale and decided that I would stop off at Aldi, which is on the way.  When I got to Aldi the car park was full so, after driving round in vain, I came out and went on to Wyvale.  There I got some things but, stupid me, forgot to get the tomato food which was one of the main reasons for going.  A bit of a pain really as the tomatoes are behaving wonderfully and could do with a good feed.

On the way back I tried Aldi again and this time found a space.  I didn't have a long list but it included things like washing powder and washing up liquid so quite important!  I'm now nicely stocked up!

Once home, I put the ham on to boil (and very tasty it was too; those small joints from Aldi are delicious) and then tried to burn the kitchen down!  I accidentally turned on a hob that had a wooden tray over it and it was the smell of burning that took me back into the kitchen.  It was just starting to smoke so the smoke alarm hadn't sounded.  All was well except for some jam jar lids and the tray itself.  I'm not happy as it was my favourite tray but part of it is really scorched and has turned brittle.  Serves me right for putting it on the hob really!  I ought to get out of that habit before there's a real fire!

After lunch I went out into the garden and contemplated the tomatoes for a while and realised that they must be an orange variety, not a red variety as I had thought.  I picked one and tried it and it was beautifully sweet and warm from the sun.  You see, I didn't grow them, my dad gave me the plants, so I don't know what they are.  They could be sungold as he has grown them in the past and likes them very much but when I asked he couldn't remember which packet of seeds he used.
Photo borrowed from Google with thanks.  Guess what I'm having for lunch today!

On the knitting front, I finished the little waistcoat and made a cute little hat.  I will show some photos once I can get the PC to recognise the camera.  I looked in my old patterns and found a likely looking jumper, so I think that's the next one to do.  It's nice to have something to occupy the old hands when I am sitting down and my wrist has been much better since I started knitting - gentle exercise, I suppose.  Shame I can't knit with my toe!!

I don't have any definite plans for today yet so I'd better think of some or the day will have gone before I realise it.  I will do a bit of gardening (weeds coming up between the slabs) and I think Seth is coming to get on with the changes to the front.  There's still a cupboard to finish sorting out and I want to do some rearranging in the kitchen too.  Better get going then!  Coffee and breakfast first though!

What are your plans for the day?

Breakfast:  toast and jam, melon, apple juice
Lunch:  corn on the cob, ham and tomato salad.
Dinner:  same as yesterday, a sort of stir fry (which ended up with a sweet and sour sauce) with orzo.  I know it's a cross culture mix but, you know, pasta - noodles - they come almost from the same stable really.  Anyway, it was delicious yesterday and I was glad there are leftovers for today.  Then fruit or yogurt.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Sunday more

All my blogs seem to have vanished.  Can anyone else see them?

Edited:  Phew, they're back again.


 . . . at least I think it is Sunday - I've rather lost count of the days this week.  Yes, it's Sunday!  A bright, sunny, cool start to the day which bodes well for later on.  I've been out to give the plants their morning drink and it's actually pretty cool which I should have guessed at because I snuggled under the quilt all night.

Thanks for all the concern about the toe.  No, it isn't broken and, after some meds, it was a whole lot better yesterday and remains so today.  I can feel it and I wouldn't like to bash it again but it's OK.

As I anticipated, yesterday was a quiet day.  All the usual things - washing and ironing (my washing and ironing baskets have never been so empty), bread and then, mostly, knitting or snoozing.  I've nearly finished the little something and am looking around for something else to knit now.  I have shedloads of yarn so that's not a problem.

Today looks like being more of the same.  After all, it IS the weekend!  I've already done a bit of garden pottering after I watered the plants which included admiring the ever more orange tomatoes and counting the baby runner beans, cutting off some dead heads and pulling a few weeds.  I swear those weeds grow overnight!  The crocosmias have finished flowering now but the leaves are still green and provide a nice fill in for the middle bed.  I will need to find at least one more non-spreading, higher-growing something that flowers nicely to fill the gaps when I dig them out.  I've got a Japanese anemone (which is looking wonderful now) and I've got a delphinium and a whatever-you-call-it thing (I forget) that I bought last week at Bickerdikes.  I wish there were pink crocosmias.  Might take a look and see!

Apart from that, my list says kitchen, cupboard, bedroom, knitting in that order . . . oh, and I need to boil a ham!

It's a bit frustrating - I have loads of photos on my camera but my PC isn't recognising it so I'm a bit stuck right now.  Ah. well, it won't be long before I have the new one up and running.  Then I can get colourful in here again!  I haven't got Photoshop on my laptop yet and I don't trust my techno knowledge enough to try on a new machine!

Well, it is nearly seven o'clock and if I don't get going fairly soon I will have wasted away most of the day.  Have a good 'un!

Edited to add this because I forgot!
Breakfast:  toast and jam - today it was pear and cinnamon on one slice and strawberry on the other.  Both delish!  Yogurt, fruit
Lunch:  ham salad, yogurt, fruit
Dinner:  a stir fry of some kind because I have veg to use up and I will probably make the sauce with honey, lemon or lime, mustard and maybe some garlic and ginger as well. Might add some shreds of ham too as I will have a freshly boiled joint.   I have some orzo that needs using up so I'll probably have it with that.  A right mix and goodness knows how it will turn out but it's good to use up and not throw out, isn't it?  Yogurt, fruit.

Saturday 8 August 2015


Good morning, welcome to Saturday.  It's not so sunny right now which probably means that later the sun will shine merrily and it will be a gorgeous day.  We can't really complain about yesterday though - it was sunny on and off, not too hot, not cool, a very pleasant summer day.

Yesterday passed very pleasantly.  Lunch and dinner were absolutely delicious although the house and I both reeked of garlic and we might still be fairly fragrant, in fact!  You can't tell with garlic.  I made the apricot jam and got a good set so I think I can say it was second time lucky.  I pootled a bit in the garden, weeding, tidying up and generally getting the old hands a bit mucky without having to make too much effort.  The tomato plants are now upright again and several tomatoes are getting the message and starting to ripen at long last.  Should be picking next week, I reckon, fingers crossed!

I then sorted out more of the cupboard and discovered a whole lot of old recorder stuff.
In the Good Old Days when I had time, I taught recorder to some of the children at school - properly taught, I mean, to exam standard as well as having several clubs at different levels.  What I found was all the copies of the examiners comments and gradings and, boastful as it might sounds, I obviously didn't do a bad job at all.  Some of my pupils got to grade 5 (for primary pupils, that's pretty good) and more than 50% of the marks totals were distinction level.  I'd forgotten that.  I shall be all nostalgic and keep it all because it's quite special and I doubt I will ever do anything quite like that again.

In the afternoon I got out fabric, thread and all the necessaries and made myself a peg bag.  It didn't take too long and it's just what I wanted so I'm pleased.  We will forget the pinkness of the fabric, OK?  Today I have washing so it will be used!

Today I was going to pop to the market yet again as we have run out of white polycotton.  Then I want to go to Wyvale because I didn't get there yesterday.  However, yesterday evening I did something really stupid!  You may remember that last week I had an ouch toe.  Well, I had put all the lights out and drawn the curtains and was making my way in darkness to the front door to put the chain on when I banged my toes hard on some furniture.  Ouch, ouch, ouch!  Of course, the toe I banged hardest was the one I damaged last week and now it's very sore again.  The trouble is, I do like to go around bare footed whenever I can, a throw back to my teenage years, and I guess that's asking for bangs and knocks.
So I am all of a hobble again and won't be going anywhere in particular until it all calms down.  So sorry, Beth.  Maybe we/I/you can go next week at some point?

I have plenty to do, mind you.  Yesterday I had some good news from a friend so it was out with the knitting needles, into the yarn cupboard and I've started making a little something!  That'll keep me out of trouble.  There's also bread to make, washing, drying and ironing to do, a bedroom to tidy (isn't there always?) and a cupboard to carry on sorting.

But for now it's breakfast and then bath and get dressed.  Have a great day, everyone.

Breakfast:  toast and jam, fruit, yogurt
Lunch:  turkey salad, fruit or yogurt
Dinner:  when I got some chicken breasts from Chapman's last week, I bought supremes and he cut off the bone bit there and then.  I have four of them that do have a fair bit of meat on them so I think I will roast them in a honey and mustard sauce.  I think a salad and oven fries will go well with them.  Then fruit or yogurt.

Friday 7 August 2015


Good morning and welcome to Friday!  The end of the third week of the holidays.  At this point I usually start feeling a sense of mild panic that increases as the days start to flash past and the things that still need doing start to assume huge proportion in my mind.  Not this year though.  It feels wonderful!

It's nice and sunny again.  Us early risers really have seen the best of the week's weather round here, I think.  Usually, within a  few hours, the clouds have appeared and the rest of the day is dull.  I wonder if today will be the same.  While it would be nice to have more sun, I infinitely prefer what we have been having to a 'heatwave'.  The nights have been cool, perfect for snuggling under the quilt, and the days have been comfortable with the windows open to let in the fresh air.  No complaints from me.

Beth wasn't going to come round yesterday but plans changed and we spend some time together.  We were both tired after bad nights' sleeps so didn't fancy doing any sewing work but Beth helped me to tidy/sort out some shelves in the other cupboard.  There was stuff there that was around fifteen years old.  It's all in the bin now and I'm on my way to having two tidy cupboards!  There's something very 'releasing' about having a good sort out, isn't there?

Before she arrived I prepared the rest of the apricots I bought from Aldi, simmering them up with some apple juice.  Today I will add the sugar and jam them, using the maslin pan this time, not Thermione.  That should work better.  Beth brought a bag full of jam jars with her so I don't need to go the the garage for any more!  In fact, quite the opposite.  In return, she left with a pot of the greengage jam!
I know it sounds as if I am making a lot of jam but the batches aren't large and Beth and Alex account for at least half of what I make, so it's not as bad as it sounds!  Come the winter they will provide me with great breakfasts spread over my delicious home made toast!

I didn't make bread yesterday as I remembered I had a loaf in the freezer, so that will be a pleasant task for today or tomorrow.

The replacement laundry basket arrived and it works perfecly.  Good old Lakeland, their customer service can't be faulted as far as I am concerned.  So now I have two, one of which has to stand up on its legs all the time because they don't retract properly and one that works fine.  I'm sure I will have a use for the former, there's no way I am throwing away a perfectly usable laundry basket.  I did try to repair it but no luck; I suppose that's why Lakeland doesn't want it back, it's not worth trying to repair.

The painter has now finished the fencing and it all looks really nice.  He will pop back today to just finish off any patches that need it and to collect his trestles, etc.  As I was looking round I noticed that one of my tomatoes is ripening.  Yay!  Once one gets the idea, the others are quick to follow.  Excellent!  And that reminds me - I need some more tomato food so that's a good excuse to pop over to Wyvale or another garden centre (we have several not too far away) to pick some up and maybe spend a bit more of my garden voucher gift from my lovely class and parents.

Actually, I need to pamper my tomatoes a bit.  Earlier in the week they got a bit of a clonk as the painter was trying to take off a fence panel and hit them with it.  I've picked up the fruits that were knocked off the plant and they are ripening on the kitchen window ledge, but the support canes were all knocked squiffy and it is bugging me.  I've tried straightening them and it hasn't worked, so I will put in some more canes and tie the plants with their existing wobbly canes to the upright ones.  That should do the trick, fingers crossed.

So today it is finishing off the cupboard, finishing off the jam, getting on with some washing and ironing and maybe making bread.  In the sewing line, I want to make myself a peg bag, an old fashioned peg bag just like the one I remember Mum having from my childhood, with a strap that goes over my head and sits across my body so the pegs are in reach all the time as I hang out the clothes.  I shall quilt it to give it some substance and it should work well!

So - quite a busy day and I'd better get started!  Have a good one yourself.

Breakfast:  toast and jams, apple, maybe a yogurt
Lunch:  I have quite a lot of vegetables - onion, red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes and courgettes so I think I will make a roasted vegetable - er - thing .  I suppose I mean a vegetable stew really.  Maybe I will crack an egg over the top.
Dinner:  I know it sounds a bit samey but I have a couple of rolls that need using up so I think I will slice them in half, rub over some garlic and top them with the veg mixture (must remember to reserve some and not eat it all at lunch time) and some bacon bits, sprinkle over some cheese and pop in the oven or under the grill for a short time to make sort of pizza type thing.

I seem to be eating a lot of 'thing' today!

Thursday 6 August 2015


A very good morning to you all.  I hope you're all sleeping sweetly because it is stupidly early and I am sure that in a while I will be too.  It has been quite a while since I woke quite so early but after tossing and turning for what seemed like hours I decided to get up and do something, knowing that the tiredness will return.  At least I don't have to worry about staying awake at work.

It was a funny old day, weather wise, yesterday.  What I call a nothing day.  Not sunny, not wet, not hot, not cold.  Just - well, dull, bland and boring all day.  There was some rain in the later evening but I'm not sure how much.  Hopefully it's been enough to give the soil a good soaking.

I got going good and quick yesterday morning, making some bread and the greengage jam, which set easily.  I didn't make a lot, just two little pots, one for me and one for Beth, but I will keep my eyes open for more greengages to make more.  I made three little granary loaves but one got used during the day (Beth was here) and the other two she took home with her to feed the teenager over the weekend!  I've really taken to the half and half granary loaf: it is truly delicious and I shall post the recipe on t'other blog.  Morrisons has Granary flour on special so I have stocked up as it's not cheap usually.

When Beth got here we set to and worked hard on our projects.  It went better today - or rather, we started seeing some tangible outcomes.  Sometimes you can work and work and nothing seems to have been achieved and then, suddenly, it all comes together!  We start again next Tuesday so that's five days when I can potter around doing my own bits and pieces, which is nice.

What was also nice is that we spent the last half hour having a good tidy up.  I appreciated this as the place had got into a right mess - why does creativity always create mess as well?  We decided that this is what we need to do every time we work together so that it never gets on top of us.  I have to say, it is nice to have a dining table to eat off again!

While we were working indoors, the painter was working outside.  The fencing is now almost finished with just the side gate to paint.  I wish I could say the same about the front but, dear me, sometimes things take a while to get sorted, don't they?

And then, finally, in the evening I heard some fantastic news.  I can't say what because it's not my news to tell, but it cheered me up no end!  And to cap it all, it was Bake Off on the telly!

So the weather may have been 'nothing' but the day certainly wasn't!

Today I have to make more bread, for me this time.  There's more clearing and tidying to do and I am thankful that it is bin collection day because the bin is full at the moment.  I also want to do more sewing and also some knitting and there's the usual houseworky things.  It should be a full day!

Today's food:
Breakfast:  Toast and jams, yogurt, fruit
Lunch:  boiled eggs and toasty soldiers, fruit
Dinner:  Chicken portion baked in a honey, lemon and mustard sauce with a salad and maybe some oven chips.  I keep planning oven chips but haven't actually cooked any yet!

I can feel the sleepiness returning now so maybe I will try to get back to sleep soon.  I don't mind being up in the dark in the winter but not in the summer!   Are you making or baking anything today?  Have a lovely day, whatever your plans!

Wednesday 5 August 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  Today I am up before the sun and it's all a bit dull but maybe it will turn out OK.  Yesterday ended up a bit like Monday but without the little shower of rain.  A great drying day and, because there was no fence painting, I was able to take advantage of it.

Beth and I went out shopping and bought all sorts of bits and bobs - fabric and the like.  Then we set to and worked, getting quite a lot done through the afternoon.

While we were at the market I had a look at the fruit and veg stall and there were some greengages so I bought some for jam.  That's my first task for today.  I also ought to make some more bread.

But first - breakfast and then a bath and get dressed as the painter is coming for a 7:30 start.  Suits me!

Edited to add (because I forgot)
Breakfast:  yogurt and fruit
Lunch:  scrambled eggs on toast
Dinner:  Something from the freezer - haven't looked yet!

Tuesday 4 August 2015


Good morning and welcome to another fine day!  At the moment it looks just like yesterday morning - bright and sunny.  Maybe it will stay that way today: yesterday clouded over and, while it didn't actually rain until the evening, the afternoon was very dull.

The workman came to paint the new fencing yesterday.  Great to get it done (or half done anyway) but a bit frustrating as I had a load of bedding I wanted to peg out but didn't because he needed that space to work in.  As I've said before, it isn't a big garden.  When he left I quickly pegged it all out and unpegged it immediately as it started to rain!  Such a pain!

In the morning I made some mini bread rolls to go with the mini burgers I planned to have for dinner.  They came out very well and the burgers were delicious with just some fried onion and a side salad.  I had two more split and toasted for breakfast and that leaves two for the freezer for another time.  I think I will freeze them with two mini-burgers (separately wrapped) as they will go together to make a meal.

At midday Beth came round and we started making things.  Bunting, Christmas stockings, Christmas pram and cradle covers - all sorts.  More about that later, if it all works out.

In the afternoon I had a delivery.  I had ordered a laundry basket with retractable legs from Lakeland.  Mum has one and it certainly does save on the bending down as one hangs out the washing, etc.  When I opened it, one of the pairs of legs didn't retract.  It was OK when they were down but one pair didn't stay 'up properly.  Disappointing.  So I shot off an email to Lakeland as I know their customer service is outstandingly good and within two hours I had a reply with an aology and saying that they would be sending a replacement asap.  A good thing was that I did not need to return the faulty item.  No quibbles, no questions.  I was very impressed.

Today I plan to shop at some point and Beth will be round to get on with more sewing.  Should be good.

Today's food:
Breakfast:  two mini rolls, toasted, with jam, yogurt
Lunch:  Beans on toast, fruit
Dinner:  meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta, yogurt and fruit

Monday 3 August 2015

Jammy idea

I've made strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry jam before.  It is a jam to die for, wonderfully flavoured and just scrummy.
I have both strawberries and rhubarb in the freezer but I only have dried cranberries.  However, if I soak those dried cranberries in apple juice, I am sure that would do.  I think I will try it with just a few and see.

Watch this space . . .


Good morning, everyone.  I think it is going to be another lovely day today judging by what I can see out of the window - clear skies and sun reflecting off the windows of the houses behind mine.

As expected, yesterday got warmer and warmer and in the end I put on the fans both downstairs and then, at bedtime, in my bedroom too.  It wasn't particularly hot by then but the heat builds up and my room gets sun most of the day.

I had planned to clear out a cupboard but I didn't!  I did have a go at making apricot jam in Thermione but that wasn't an unqualified success.  What I ended up with was a thick sort of textured syrup which will be fine in yogurt or on ice cream (if I had any ice cream) and will be fine on toast but which will 'run'. a bit.  I will have another go with the remaining apricots, using the conventional way.  Maybe that will work better.  I suspect Thermione just can't get the jam to a high enough heat for true setting point.

Apart from that I did more washing and ironing (I've just about caught up now) and snoozed quite a lot.  Talk about being lazy!

Today Beth is coming round and we will have a girly afternoon.  I'm looking forward to that no end.  Before then I have housework and I want to make some mini bread rolls too!

Ah, well, better get on and do!

Today's food:
Breakfast:  toast and ham/marmalade, yogurt
Lunch:  cheg and salad, coleslaw, potato salad, melon
Dinner:  mini burgers (from Aldi yesterday) in mini rolls, a few oven chips and a salad, fruit.