Thursday 31 December 2015


Still feeling rough but less rough which is good.

There's not a lot to say really.  I did nothing but sleep, whinge, drink water and sleep yesterday.  Today might very well be the same.  We shall see!

Wherever you are and however you celebrate it, have a very happy new year.  See you next year!

Wednesday 30 December 2015


Apologies for the lateness.  I've had a rotten night and was catching up on sleep.
I'll be back when things have picked up somewhat.

See you - have a good day.

Tuesday 29 December 2015


Funny, isn't it, how, when there's something to do, there's always something else to do that is more attractive.  Like playing that extra Sudoku game online or looking up some obscure name that has just come into your brain or - or - well, anything really!

Yesterday was a bit like that as the day went on but I managed to get quite a lot done anyway.

I finished off dealing with the turkey except that I just need to reduce down the copious amounts of stock into some manageable amounts.  After feeding nine on The Day, four the next, a large chunk for brother and another large chunk for my parents, plus slices for the buffet table on two days, the freezer has ended up with . . .
four single portions of sliced meat
three portions of turkey curry
one portion (I ate the other yesterday evening) of coronation turkey
five single portions of turkey chunks in stock
and loads and loads of stock.

That turkey was a good deal.

While on the kitchen/cooking thing, in the evening I had a go at Yorkshires made with the recipe Rachel told me about and they were an outstanding success, light and crunchy and delicious.  I used just one egg and it made enough for two meals (or one, if you're being piggy as I was).  I like that!  I will post about it on t'other blog.

As it was a lovely, sunny, breezy day I seized the opportunity to get some washing out on the line where it dried beautifully.  It's now all ironed and aired and needs putting away.

So, you see, it wasn't all idleness by a long shot.

In the evening I watched Mastermind and University Challenge, both festive versions.  Then it was Connect, which I am becoming addicted to, even though I am lucky if I can get one right all through.  So all very enjoyable.

Some of the Facebook groups I read are full of the bargains people have found in the supermarkets.  I am sorely tempted but I still have a pretty full freezer with all the post-Christmas additions to use up and it would not be sensible to go out looking too much so I am controlling myself.  What I do need to do is re-organise my upright freezer because that's where I put all the things for Christmas and I need to know what's left and what I have for New Year's Eve.  I'm not going to buy anything else, just use what's there.

My plans for today are to catch up with the washing (no chances of drying outside today, I suspect) and to sort out the fridge and the upright freezer.  I will have to go shopping at some point because I am right out of white bread flour but I will go to Morrisons as they now do strong flour that is only a little dearer than Aldi and  the petrol to get there would cost more than that.

Apart from that - who knows?

Monday 28 December 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's all back to normality now, if normality can be the right word with Christmas tree and Christmas candles scattered all about.  I'm a 'believer' is keeping them up until twelfth night but on a catch-up QI I watched yesterday it argued the case for keeping them up until the start of February.  Now, I won't do that but I have decided to keep them up a little longer as Sonja and Milli are coming to stay and they love Christmas decorations.  

Yesterday was very gentle - mostly.  I didn't do the work I had planned (no surprise there then) but I did make work for myself.  I dropped a bottle of beer and it smashed all over the kitchen floor.  What a mess!  Splinters and beer in all directions.  I mopped up and swept up, all very carefully, but the kitchen still smells like the public bar of a seedy pub so I guess it will be out with the zoflora or even do a steam clean of the kitchen floor.  What a waste of good beer though, eh?

For the rest of the time I moved a comfy chair in front of the big PC monitor and watched quite a lot of Christmas telly.  It had to be the PC because iPlayer and the other channel alternatives often/usually have subtitles while on the Virgin playback thingy they don't.

I watched:
Strictly - lovely and I agreed with the decision.
Doctor Who - light, frothy and a big giggle
The two ballet programmes,  the one about Nureyev's defection and Darcey's Ballet Heroes which is about the rise of the male ballet dancer and how they are continually redefining the role.  I enjoyed it very much.
Jamie's Night Before Christmas - nothing new really but I like Jamie Oliver.
The Snowdog - I was disappointed with this the first time I saw it and I still am although it is, of course, quite charming.  It just seems to be an adapted rehash of the original which is, of course, fantastic and is still part of my Christmas tradition.
The Great History Quiz - very enjoyable and, to my great surprise, I knew lots of the answers.  I put that down to the voracious reading of historical novels in my misspent youth!
Assorted QIs!  Pure enjoyment!

So, you see, there wasn't much time for housework!  No wonder my eyes are square (or rectangular) this morning!  Waste of a day?  Well, maybe, depending on your pov.  Not for me though!  It was just what I needed after a week of work, work, work.  Fun, but work!

So what about today?  Well, floor to wash again as mentioned above, food to deal with, washing, drying and ironing - and more telly!  There's some goodies like The Farmer's Llamas (Shaun the Sheep) and Britain's Favourite Children's Books . . . and quite a lot more.  I've been enjoying the festive University Challenges but have missed a few so I need to catch up with them as well.

And the lovely Rachel has introduced me to what looks like a really rememberable (is that a word?) recipe for Yorkshire puddings.  I shall try it in hopes as my last efforts have been a dismal failure and if it works I shall pop it on the recipe blog.

So nice, fun, enjoyable, easy, gentle stuff today.  Lovely!  Hope yours is just as good.

Sunday 27 December 2015


Good morning.  Welcome to increasing normality again.  I shall soon be on my own again (fine by me) and, with a pile of leftovers, not just meaty leftovers but nuts, drinks, etc, I'm in heaven!!

After blogging yesterday I went into the kitchen to get things ready for John to take home and while it was out, I sorted out the turkey.  Meaty bones for boiling up, the other breast for slicing and the carcass which got boiled up yesterday morning.  I now have a stack of stock that I have reduced down so it takes up minimal space in the freezer and which will likely be used for the gravy next Christmas, just as this Christmas' gravy was enriched by some freezer stock.  I also have a stack of meat and today I will be making a turkey curry, I think, using the curry sauce recipe from Loving your Leftovers, my favourite book at the moment, or maybe the coronation turkey from Eat Well for Less at Christmas.  Or maybe both, one today and one tomorrow.  Decisions, decisions!

There's several bits and bobs that will be used up at New Year and most of the vegetables got finished off for Boxing Day dinner.  The rest will go in the curry or into a soup.  Sorting out the fridge is on the list of things to do today, as is washing the tea towels, of which we seem to have use a huge number of the past few days.

Anyway, back to yesterday.  It was a quiet morning and I kept wanting to fall asleep but managed to stay awake until after lunch which was another Christmas dinner right down to the Christmas pudding.  Not nearly so much hard work to prepare though!

Tea was even better as Beth did it all - thank you, it was really lovely!

After I have done the bedrooms and apart from the food related stuff, the main activity for today is catching up with all the telly I have missed on iPlayer or the equivalent.  It should be restful as well as entertaining.

How are you spending today?

Saturday 26 December 2015


This is from Google images but it's more or less what the turkey looks like minus the drumstick.  I only carved half of it, including the brown meat from the leg (very tasty) and there's a fair bit left over from the first side after everyone had had their fill.  Now that's what I call leftovers.  I carved it the new way - taking off the breast and cutting across it and it was such a 'firm' texture that the slices were lovely and thin.

I still can't quite get over the fact that such a whopping turkey can be cooked so quickly.  Under three hours it took, that's all, really, to be perfectly roasted.  All through my life the turkey has been a worritsome beast, needing to go in at some phenomenally early hour and requiring constant basting and attention.  Since I started buying KellyBronzes, it has all turned upside down - literally, in a way.  You start with the bird breast side down and half way through you turn it over.  And that's it!

However, that provided me with my only worry of the day.  The thing was so flippin' heavy that when it was hot I just couldn't get the power needed to lift it out of the dish, let alone turn it and put it back in again.  Fortunately, brother John is made of sterner stuff and he did it all for me, bless him.

The other thing I struggle with is how it stays warm - nay, hot - for two hours out of the oven.  The instructions this year said not even to cover it but I fear that was a step too far!  It had its usual covering of foil, a heatproof table covering and a fleece on top to keep it all on!  And it stayed hot.

And the best thing?  Because I had joined their turkey club (now defunct apart from honouring the points collected so far) and had amassed four points from previous purchases, the whole thing was free.  Didn't cost a penny!

Now that's what I call great value.

Dinner was great and because I've been paranoid about planning everything it wasn't a lot of hassle.  Yes, there was a lot to do but there was only one stressful moment when I was carving and vegetables needed to go out.  And even that wasn't bad because Mum helped.  There's enough leftovers for tomorrow that it is going to be a very easy meal!

It was a fantastic day.  Lots of family here, lots of chatting and laughter and - er - beer!  My recycling 'glass and cans' box is a bit of a giveaway!  I've gone on about the food because when you're the caterer it's a big thing but, actually, we could have had jacket potato and cheese and it would still have been a very lovely day.

I hope yours was as good.

Today will be, I hope, quiet.  Beth and Alex are coming over for midday dinner and I expect I will be sleeping quite a lot in between washing tablecloths, etc.  And then things get back to normal - as normal as normal ever is anyway.

But now it is still very quiet, my guests are still asleep, I need to get a bag of goodies ready for my brother who leaves this morning and there's the coffee.  Must have the coffee.

Have a wonderful Boxing Day, gentle readers.

Friday 25 December 2015


Good morning and welcome to Christmas.

Yesterday was frantic but lovely.  I got everything done that I needed to get done by which time the family had descended and it was noise and laughter and just lovely.

When I opened the turkey box it looked pretty large (the turkey, I mean) and there was a little note saying, effectively, that the turkeys were a greedy lot this year.  I haven't weighed it yet but it is worryingly 'tight' in my biggest roasting tin and I am umming and ahing about cutting off the wings and drums.   What a first world problem, eh?

Lunch was cream of broccoli soup - I made the soup from my own recipe that I posted here a while ago and it is really delicious.  Simple and with 'clean' flavours.  To go with it were the fresh rolls made earlier in the day and some grated cheese.  It was just right - satisfying but not heavy.

The pizza buffet was great, thanks to Dave and Anna.  They do make delicious pizza!  There was an assortment of bits and bobs - cheese, coleslaw, salad, garlic bread, etc.  To my delight there was very little left over although the line of empty beer bottles/cans was pretty impressive!  They are now in the green bin!

It's lovely and quiet here at present.  Things are out of the freezer, the dishwasher has been unloaded, the merry, festive, electric lights are on and working their magic and I have a little time to myself to breathe and get my mind around the organisation of the morning.  It's only a roast dinner but a fairly busy one.

Christmas Day

Thursday 24 December 2015


The New Born Child by Georges de la Tour
Ever since I saw this painting in a book I have loved it.  It's not a madonna and child but the girl is so young and the baby so much more new born than the usual nativity painting that it calls out to me.  I hope you like it.

Well, it's Christmas Eve.  I'm nearly ready for an influx of guests at around one o'clock.  I have things to do, of course, including cooking the ham (which didn't thaw completely yesterday) and prepping the turkey and the sprouts (because I really couldn't be bothered yesterday) but that won't take too long.  I might even get a bit of a sit down at some point.  That would be nice.

Yesterday was hectic but I made the biscotti (nice) and also some stollen which I have never made before.  I used a simple recipe and it worked out very well indeed.  The results are delicious.  I've frozen half for another time and half is well wrapped and waiting for a suitable occasion.

In the evening I got the pressies wrapped and under the tree which looks lovely.  Small piles of little parcels and, for once, I will have the same number of pressies as everyone else.  Now I'm no longer a class teacher, you see . . .    In some previous years, because of the demands of the Christmas Dinner, I have had to finish opening them much later.  Not this year though.

It's time for coffee and then the ham goes in and I shall get the turkey from the shed and do the necessary.  Fingers crossed it is not too huge . . . I still remember the time all their turkeys grew rather more than expected and instead of a 7 to 8k one, I got one that was so huge I had to cut off the legs to get it in the roasting tray.  Not being a butcher, I made a right hash of it too!  It was nice to have the extra meat though!

Have a great day and don't work too hard, OK?

Wednesday 23 December 2015


I'm a wee bit worried.

Never before have I been ready for Christmas quite so early.  Oh, OK, there's a few bits and bobs to do including some cooking and baking (fun!) and family pressies to wrap but I will do that this evening in front of the telly with something cheery to keep me going.

Yesterday was a busy day with a few panics to make life interesting.
Anna came round to drop off some chairs and while she was here there was a sudden crash and the tray with all my jams and chutneys for presents landed on the carpet.  I have no idea what happened but it didn't half make a mess as well as scaring the living daylights out of us.

Anna, bless her, helped me to tidy up and the eventual damage was just four smashed jars.  It made a shocking mess but we rubbed and scrubbed and I had some carpet cleaner so we used that and it seems to have cleared up fine.  You'd certainly not know now that yesterday there was a pile of green tomato chutney mixed with fragments of glass.

A bit later I tried to get some washing out of the machine and the door wouldn't open.  After some pulling and wiggling I decided to run it through a rinse and spin and then try again and, fortunately, it worked fine.  Again, no idea why but phew.

The cleaners have been and everywhere is now shiny clean - everywhere except my bedroom/dumping ground.  No-one - but no-one - is allowed to see the inside of that room!  This clean has been a treat to myself before Christmas for several years now and it doesn't half make a difference.

I've done my shop and that's it.  Done and dusted.  What we don't have, we won't have!  We won't starve, that's for sure.  I'm so glad I went early.  It was busy but it was shop assistants doing internet orders, not 'real' shoppers.  I didn't have to queue for a till.  AND I was really good and successfully fought that 'I won't have enough' feeling.  I KNOW I have more than enough.
Afterwards I topped up with petrol and was pleasantly surprised at the price.  It's been a long time since the litre gauge and the pound gauge synchronised with each other.

As I have more time than I expected, I'm going to make some stollen and some biscotti.  I've made the latter before but not the former so it should all be good fun.  I also have to make soup for tomorrow, some bread, gravy (from the giblets), Bath's vegetarian meal, some oat crackers and some cranberry sauce.  Easy peasy!  I also need to make a big pot of broccoli soup but I don't need that until tomorrow.

Later on the turkey arrives so I will get that oven ready.  It's really too warm in the shed although it's colder than yesterday so it's got a space in the fridge.  It's a KellyBronze and the roasting instructions are so, so simple, it's a doddle.

Right!  I've had my coffee and sit down after shopping now so I'd better get up and going.  Whether you are busy or not today, I wish you all a good one!

Tuesday 22 December 2015


This one takes me back to the olden days - I loved Dick Bruna books when I was a younger teacher.  You don't see his books around so much now which is a shame.
Well, it was an interesting day yesterday.  I was feeling a bit low in the morning and had a bit of a wibble (mostly on my own).  Beth and I did a try out of the table arrangements for The Day and I nearly had another wibble when the tablecloths wouldn't fit but Beth was more on the ball and suggested we turn them the other way so they did fit.  Doh!

Alex was amazing, helping so much.  He carried the Gopak tables from garage to house and then from house back to garage and he helped Beth to finish off the icing on the cake - and it looks lovely.

I did hours and hours of ironing.  I'd got a bit behind with my sheet washing and what with visitors and so on, the pile was rather high.  Never mind, it's pretty well all done now, as are the bedrooms, which is a relief.

While I sat ironing I had my 'last shopping list' within reach and each time I thought of something I wrote it down.

There were emails galore with changes to a complicated schedule that, I hope, makes things a bit easier and simpler for my guests.

And all through the day the weather got worse and worse and by the time darkness fell it was lashing and windy and just most unpleasant so I decided to make something delicious and scrummy.  I had some old sprouts that needed using up so I par-cooked them in the microwave while I sauteed some onion, pepper, bacon and mushroom with some butter and some garlic.  I then added the shredded sprouts and threw in some dried cranberries and some chopped walnuts with a bit of salt, pepper and sage.  Finally I tipped the lot into a dish, topped with grated cheese and in the oven it went for a short while.  You know what?  It was brilliant!

Today I want to get the house completely ready.  I seem to have so much clutter, despite some clearing out when I retired.  How can one person need so much?  It is just ridiculous.  My bedroom is a store room right now!   The cleaners come at 3:30 so I have until then.  But first, coffee.

Monday 21 December 2015


When I see pictures of 'the journey to Bethlehem' I always wince.  I can't imagine riding a donkey when you are around eight to nine months pregnant could have been much fun!  Nor could walking, as the donkey would have been the mobile suitcase!  Poor old Mary!

Good morning.  No, I haven't started a 'thought for the day' to go with the pictures but it's always been something that makes me alternatively wince or chuckle. 
It's still pretty mild here, a no-slippers-or dressing-gown morning, and yesterday we had lashings of rain early evening.  I noticed weeds are still growing between the paving stones in the back garden which is not fair.  A month ago people (well, certain sensationalist 'news'papers anyway) were going on about 'shock, horror, the coldest, snowiest winter ever'.  Hmmm - got that a bit wrong, didn't they?

Yesterday was great.  In the morning I set to and concocted some gluten free stuffing.  When I made the GF loaves the day before, as soon as they were cold I sliced them, wrapped them in interleaving and froze them.  I kept back the ends and a couple of wonky slices and yesterday zizzed them into breadcrumbs.  I used them with various other merry festive bits and bobs to make something that turned out so delicious that I had to cool and freeze it quickly - as it was, some (I made patties) never saw the inside of the freezer, poor things.  Life cut short!  ON The Day, I shall reheat them in Handy Andy (my halogen oven) - dead easy!
I shall write up the recipe and blog it.

Early afternoon Beth and Alex came over and we set to work.  In came the tree and decorations, out went various bits and bobs that I don't want hanging around over the next week or so, up went the tree, the lights and the baubles, out came the lovely old wooden nativity set made of different kinds of British woods and that cost an arm and a leg when the children were small.  Out came all the candles, candle holders and festive things to go round them.

I can't say it actually looks right yet because it doesn't, there's far too many bits and bobs hanging around, but the bare bones are now in place and by tomorrow afternoon it will all looks great.

Then we had a nice tea/evening meal.  I did mini jacket spuds with butter and grated cheese, salad and coleslaw with some tray bakey savoury things that were reduced mightily in Morrisons and some crispy nibbles, followed by a most delicious carrot cake that Beth made.  She's brilliant at cake things, is our Beth.
I was really pleased because I got it just right.  After some serious munching and a few visits for seconds and thirds by certain people, it was all gone apart from the cake (good, I can have more today).  That's great because another thing I did yesterday was organise the fridge so there's room for the turkey and I really don't want lots of leftovers right now!

Today, when B and A wake up, we will have breakfast and then we will get in the Gopak tables and set out the table runner and mats we have made for a 'client'.  There's a couple of reasons for this.  One is that we want photos and it's best to have photos in the right context, if possible.  The other is that it's a good chance to work out the layout for my guests on Christmas Day.  When you have ten and a smallish table, it takes some working out.
In the afternoon I want to get the guest rooms ready so that's off my mind.  That means more sheets, etc, to wash so I'll get that done and then the ironing can be done in the evening.  I also want to go over the Christmas table linen (yes, I know it's sad but . . .) and then I can tick that off the list too.

So that's my day.  I expect there will plenty of stuff on the telly to keep me entertained and if not there's always iPlayer or a DVD

But now I must wash, get dressed and then take a quick trip to Morrisons for some coloured icing so that Beth can finish the Christmas cake.  See you tomorrow!

Sunday 20 December 2015


The last Sunday in Advent.
Good morning, gentle readers.  There's not long until The Day and I have a list as long as my arm but I know that if I work through it slowly and steadily it will be fine!  It WILL . . .

It's so mild at the moment, isn't it?  Yesterday evening I popped into Morrisons, didn't need a coat, and as I came out I thought I could quite happily sit outside with a coffee.  I'm hoping it gets colder soon because I usually keep my turkey in the shed but I will have to find room in the fridge if it stays like this. 

I meant to get a lot done yesterday but kept getting side tracked.  There was a lovely programme of music by the Kings Singers in the morning, just the sort of thing I love, so I watched it while leisurely ironing some sheets.  And so it went on through the day!

The gluten free bread was interesting.  I'm on the shelf about it really.  It tastes OK.  I thought it would be 'cakey' in texture but it isn't, although it lacks the chewiness of usual bread.  The big difference was the method - almost like making muffins in that you mix the wet stuff with seasonings and then add the oil and the flour like a very thick batter.  It did rise, it did bake and it's not too solid, which is probably good!  I've sliced the two loaves I made and they are wrapped in interleaving and a poly bag and are in the freezer.  

I then set to with two large bags of spuds.  The King Edwards' were parboiled and then roasted to almost done.  I cooled them, put them in a foil roasting dish, covered it with foil and popped it straight into the freezer.  On Christmas morning I shall get it out an hour before and it should take under half an hour to be table ready.

I did the other spuds the more usual way (for me) - parboiled, cooled, dredged with flour and open froze them before bagging.  We should be OK for spuds now!

In the evening I watched a load of telly which was relaxing and enjoyable.

Today is Christmas Tree day.  This afternoon Beth and Alex are over and we put up the Christmas Tree.  They stay overnight, I think, and I have planned a nice meal and a Christmas DVD.  Sort of tradition.

I'd better get doing.  There's a kitchen to sort, washing to wash, ironing to iron and a breakfast to eat.  Have a great day, everyone!

Just remembered - a plea for help.  I need to make some gluten free stuffing.  I have the appropriate breadcrumbs, onions, bacon, sage, cranberries, walnuts (no chestnuts), dried cranberries, etc.  Do any of you have a recipe I could use, please?

Saturday 19 December 2015


Add caption
. . . and the Christmas holidays have started.  Even for me with my one day a week contract.  OK, so for the next week I will likely be working a jolly lot harder than the one day of teaching but never mind, it still feels great.

So what did I do yesterday.  Well, first of all I had a lazy start.  No alarm.  No rush.  Two leisurely coffees.  I had a long and lingering bath before getting dressed.  I pottered around getting the downstairs more or less tidy for the cleaners.  They are very obliging but I do pay them to clean, not to tidy so I needed to get sorted!  I have treated myself to three more hours of cleaning next week - a Christmas present from me to to me!

It all worked out very well.  I went into school for the now traditional Carols by Candlelight which was lovely.  I thought back to when I started this, quite a long time ago now, and felt glad that it has become a non-negotiable part of the school's Christmas tradition.  Last year we all had to cram into the school hall which was simply too small and therefore pretty uncomfortable.  This year we were all in the lovely new, big hall that accommodates the whole school, adults and children, with room to spare.  Not only that but it has great acoustics for singing.

Then it was over to Morrisons for a bit of shopping and then home.  I looked on the 'free from' shelves and found some gluten free stuff.  Isn't it expensive though?  Absolutely shocking!  After seeing what I had to pay for four rolls, I bought a bag of Dove gluten free strong flour and I will have a good go at making some gluten free bread tomorrow.  There's a recipe on the back of the bag and I have the chickpea flour it asks for.
If any readers have good recipes, please do share.
I was pleased to get some little fancy pork pies that were fairly significantly reduced because of date.  They're now in the freezer and I will defrost them and cut then into quarters for the buffet on Christmas evening.  One thing off the list!

Once home, I expected to see the cleaners' van outside but it wasn't there.  They had finished, done a good job and I must have just missed them because the kitchen floor was still slightly damp.

I've watched a few cookery programmes (aren't there a LOT at the moment).  Normally I like Tom Kerridge but I have to say some of his Christmas recipes really didn't do it for me.  I LIKE a big turkey with lots of leftovers!  I want leftovers - you can do brilliant things with leftovers.  The turkey breast rolled with stuffing did look nice but no thanks.  Where's the carcass to pick over, the bones to boil up for stock?

Anyway, that was yesterday.  Today I am devoting my energy to sorting out the small bedroom (aka the dumping ground) as it will not only be needed next week but also tomorrow night.  I suspect the wheelie bin will be a lot more full by this time tomorrow.  This evening is the Strictly final and I want to be all ready, alcohol to hand, nice dinner ready, so I don't miss a single bit.

And then tomorrow is Christmas Tree Day!  Woo hoo!

Friday 18 December 2015


Phew.  It was a fair old day yesterday.  I arrived at school to get set up for teaching early so I could go to the coffee and gateaux do in the hall only to find that there had been laptop issues so I had to spend time sorting them out as I needed access before I started teaching.  Then it was all go.  The children were tired and hyper-excited because of the disco after school and  I did a play duty for someone who was feeling very rough.  Many of my colleagues really do need a break - they are running on empty now and are utterly exhausted.

After school I walked into the disco prepared to do my little bit and the noise hit me like a solid wall.  I'd have coped with that as I can always turn my aids down or even off, but there were also flashing lights so I beat a hasty retreat.  I tend to avoid flashing lights as I had a few seizures as a young adult and while it hasn't been a problem for decades now, it is best to be wise!  There were three discos - one for the infants, one for years 3 and 4 and the last for years 5 and 6.  I should imagine the DJs were pretty wiped out by the end of the evening.

I came home to find a message asking me if it was OK to cancel the tuition I give on Thursdays so I had a free evening.

Checking the Radio Times to see if there was anything half decent to relax with, to my disgust there was not just one clash but two.  At 8:00 Eat Well For Less at Christmas clashed with Masterchef and after that DIY: The Big Build clashed with a Bake Off Christmas Masterclass.  When you think how many evenings there are when it is just rubbish, to have two clashes like that was frustration.  Thank goodness for iPlayer.

Eat Well is always enjoyable and the families they choose to showcase are always delightful but I can't help wondering how they manage to spend that much money!  I suppose if you will buy ten bottles of champagne at £30 a pop (when they have difficulty telling the difference between it and the Aldi Cava at under a fiver), it builds up rather quickly.  I didn't learn anything new about leftovers (which they always throw away, I gather) but the actual recipes looked interesting.  The idea of crumbling leftover pudding or mince pies into ice cream is one I have done myself (pats on back) and it does make a delicious dessert.

I was chuffed when they recommended what I always do which is prepping the veg early and freezing them to save time on The Day.  I reckon they taste even better that way and my carrots and parsnips are already in their chilly bed.  I have the spuds and just need to get then done.  I also make the gravy and other sauces in advance so they only need reheating.  After all, isn't that why God made microwaves in the first place?

Also interesting was Paul Hollywood's recipe for cheat's puff pastry.  Seeing as it can be made in advance and then frozen and it is a week until Christmas, I might have a go.  The Christmas tree bath bun thing is very like the mincemeat scrolls I blogged about a few weeks ago so I was again quite chuffed!

So I was a bit of a Hogwarts Express last night - chuff chuff chuff!!!

Today was is no alarm to wake me and no urgency to get up which is why I am down at six writing my blog.  I have to tidy the house ready for the cleaners this afternoon when  I will be off to the Carols By Candlelight service at school.  Then it will be an evening of relaxation (and some iPlayer).

Bliss . . .

Thursday 17 December 2015


We're unlikely to see much of this in the next week or so!
What a super day yesterday was.  Panto (it was Dick Whittington) and swimming pm (them, not me).
The children were so funny - they obviously related totally with Dick Whittington and  were on his side all the way through.  They kept calling out advice and warnings which were hilariously funny to us adults.

The company is called 'Panto in a Day' and they are well worth considering if you want something for Christmas at school.  They kept all the children engaged for a good hour and it was all very entertaining!
Many thanks to the Friends of the School who paid for this.

As if that wasn't enough excitement, yesterday evening Beth, Alex and I were at Al's school to see him receive his two awards, one for academic progress and the other for exceptional personal endeavour.
We are just so proud of him!  Well done, Alex.

The evening was the usual mix of speeches, chapping and music.  Generally, the music wasn't bad but there was one outstanding performance from a counter tenor who used to be at the school and who won a music scholarship.  He sang 'Ombra mai fu' (Handel) which is a favourite of mine and it was simply beautiful.  I think some of the youngsters were surprised to hear such a pure and high voice coming from a man and there were a few giggles at the start but they soon died down and at the end he got the biggest round of applause of the whole evening.  I would happily have heard it all over again.

Today, as I said, I am teaching again but not the whole day.  The nice thing about living so close and being freelance, so to speak, is that I can do an occasional hour here and there and am not restricted to half days or whole days (although those pay better, of course).  Today will be harder work as the class teacher has emailed with definite instructions, but I did it last year with my class so it is not new.

But now I have a bit of home time and need to use it well.  Coffee, then work.

Wednesday 16 December 2015


It's panto day today!

Oh, no it isn't!

Oh, yes, it is!!!

I have no idea what the pantomime is but that really does not matter.  At ten o'clock all the infants will troop into the hall (must find out which hall) to enjoy a time of fun and laughter.

We've used the company before and they are very good indeed.  Usually just three people who take a multiplicity of parts with speedy changes that occasionally don't quite come off and jokes that Noah turned away from the ark but which are just perfect for littlies.

For the past seven-ish years I have say in the panto with one eye on the children and the other on the action (all teachers have that skill, you know) with a niggling little worry about what I, as Infant Coordinator, will say at the end.

This year I can relax in the knowledge that someone else now has that responsibility and that as I will have year 2s, they are unlikely to get upset, frightened or need the loo (unless it is boring, which is highly unlikely)!  Minimal responsibility sounds very good to me!

I enjoyed yesterday very much.  A year 2 class who were pleased to see me and cheered when they were told who was taking them.  Wasn't that nice?  We did English in the computer suite, maths problem solving and a rather challenging bit of science where they rose to the occasion quite well.

Today is the panto in the morning and swimming in the afternoon.  Between those two bits of excitement there's maths and a Christmas craft activity.  Very nice!

I have always loved Christmas in school and aren't I lucky to be able to enjoy it again, post retirement?  I spent some time after school yesterday in decorating the smartboard slides so now each slide has hanging paperchains.  Very festive.

Well, it's time to have a bath and get ready so I will love you and leave you in the hopes that we all have a great day!

Tuesday 15 December 2015


Oh, my word, what a fantastic afternoon I had yesterday.  I went to the Junior Carol Concert down and St Andrew's Church and it was brilliant.  Great singing, great readings.  Away in a Manger, sung beautifully with one child signing at the front brought tears to my eyes and is something I will never forget.

Now I have two days of work.  Mostly it is lessons I have delivered before and I will have a good time.

However, I am a bit short on time now so this will be short.  Enjoy the day!

Monday 14 December 2015


I've been playing with some free online stuff .

Good morning, gentle readers.  It is Monday - start of the last week of the term.  It's mild outside and the chances of getting any sort of white over Christmas - snow or frost - seem very low indeed.  Shame - I love a good frost, even though scraping the car windows is a bit of a pain.

Yesterday was very pleasant.  I made bread in the morning as well as taking my culinary life in my hands to make vegetable pasties for lunch.  It worked though.  I first sauteed in butter and then boiled a mixture of veg (onion, leek, sweet potato, potato, carrot, sweet corn and shredded cabbage) with some red lentils in water with some seasoning until they were soft.  I drained off the vegetable water and used it to make gravy with thickening granules.  I made the pastry in Thermione, mixed the veg with some soft cheese for a sauce, made up the pasties and baked them.  You know what - they were really nice.  My guest has food issues that make what can be eaten quite restricted so I was pleased that they turned out so well.  The gravy was good too - one I shall make again.  With sprouts and carrots it made a good meal.

In the afternoon Beth and I got on with sewing while my guest did some work for a meeting today.  After Beth left I carried on sewing and have finished off the project we were on (mostly made by Beth).  Beth, if you read this, all done I will pick off the bits and get them all ready for packing!

In the evening I was a terrible hostess and watched Countryfile, Strictly and Antiques Roadshow.  A good evenings telly for me.  I was so pleased and Anton and Katie reached the finals and they danced better in the dance-off than the other pair (I think) so deserved to get through.  Anton is always my favourite!

Today the dough is rising, I have to take my friend to the station soon, I have a morning of housework and an afternoon of Christmas carols and readings.  Luvverly!

Sunday 13 December 2015

Questions, questions, question . . .

1)  Do you like blue cheese?
     Is the Pope Catholic? 

2)  Have you ever smoked?

     No, never.  When I was a youngster, still at primary school, we all clustered in a corner and tried to smoke straws - those paper and wax ones.  I was so very comprehensively sick it scarred me for life, emotionally, thank goodness!

3)  Do you own a gun?  

     What on earth would I want a gun for?  No, thanks, the thought terrifies me.

4)  What flavor of Kool Aid is your favorite?

     I'm guessing Kool Aid is a kind of fizzy drink but I have no idea of the flavours so can't say.  I do like those upmarket fruit fizzy drinks - Schoer and the equivalent.
5)  Do you get nervous before dental appointments?

6)  What do you think of hot dogs?
     Home made rolls, good quality sausage, caramelised onions - gorgeous.  The usual kind -  no way!

7)  What's your favorite Christmas movie?
      An old film called 'A Christmas Without Snow'.  I'd love to get hold of a DVD of it.  With subtitles!  It's about a choir that does Handel's Messiah one Christmas.

8)  What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
      Coffee.  Or bucks fizz!

9)  Can you do push-ups?
      Ha ha ha ha 
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha . . .

Er - no!

10)  What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
        I  don't wear jewelry.

11)  What's your favorite hobby?
        Reading, sewing, knitting, crochet, crafting in general, social networking (is that a hobby), cooking and baking.

12)  Do you have A.D.D.?
        Don't think so!

13)  Do you wear glasses or contacts?
        Glasses.  I never had the patience for contacts.

14)  What's your middle name?
        One I would rather not have!

15)  What are your thoughts at this moment?
        The dough must be ready now.

16)  Name 3 drinks you regularly consume.
        Coffee, coffee, water

17)  What is a current worry of yours?
        Will I be ready for Christmas?

(no way would I be honest about this one on a blog!) 

18)  What do you currently hate?
        Nothing and no-one.  I'm not terribly fond of our government at the moment but hate is not an emotion I would willingly allow room in my life.  It is too destructive.

19)  Where is your favorite place to be?

20)  What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year?
        I expect to be at home, perhaps with family here, but not necessarily.  I will watch some telly, drink some bubbly, read and crochet and go to bed when I am tired.  The last time I stayed awake long enough to see in the New Year was the Millennium!

21)  To where would you like to travel?
        I'd love to have a holiday in the Cotswolds.

22)  Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their
        Not a clue :-)  

23)  Do you own slippers?
        Yes.  Pink and fluffy!

24)  What color shirt are you wearing?
        Not wearing a shirt

25)  Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
        Not at all.  I like cotton.

26)  Can you whistle?
        Not very tunefully and not using fingers.  I play a mean recorder though.

27)  What is your favorite color?

28)  What songs do you sing in the shower?
        I tend to bath and I warble away at whatever is going round my head at the time.  At the moment it tends towards Christmas songs.

29)  Would you be a pirate?
        A pirate?  No thanks! 

30)  What's in your pocket right now?
        There's a hanky in my dressing gown pocket.

31)  What's the last thing that made you laugh?

32)  What vehicle do you drive?

33)  What's the worst injury you've ever had?
        I've been lucky with injuries.  I guess the worst was when I went head over heels on my bike and broke a tooth.

34)  Do you love where you live?
        Yes, I do.  While I could wish for hills and moors and more solitude, I am very happy here and wouldn't want to leave.

35)  Would you change your first name if you could?

No.  I like my name and anyway, it's me!

Edited to apologise for the slightly random formatting.  I don't seem to be able to sort it out!


This makes me feel warm and cosy inside!
Good morning, lovely readers, and welcome to the second Sunday in December, third Sunday in Advent.  Just imagine more of those candles lit for today!  It's not terribly festive outside, sadly - rain, rain and more rain.  We're in no danger of flooding round here but my heart goes out to those who have been badly affected and need some dry weather!

Yesterday my friend and I went off to Oaklands Museum, a local museum not quite in the centre of town.  It's not a 'big' museum but it has interesting local stuff from Chelmsford's past, plus other bits and bobs, such as photographs and an indoor beehive as well as an Essex Regiment display.  I particularly loved the Victorian kitchen display but has to look at it through a window as one was not allowed to wander among the display itself, which was a shame.  However, judging by a photo I found on Google (not showing as it has children on it), it looks as if they do school experience days.

This is the best photo I could find.  What a beautiful range!

Here's the house the museum is in and the bit to the right is an add on that was opened in 2010.  It's actually a very attractive building in a simple way and I'd love it to be my home.  Big, high rooms, not fancy but with plenty of 'period features', as they say, and grounds that are not ginormous but enough for a sit on lawn mower.  Most to the back is a football pitch and tennis courts but one could make a wonderful garden out of it.  There's a large semi-circular lawn at the front with some beautiful old trees.  All very attractive in a simple way.

I will go again at some point.

So that was yesterday's exciting high point!  Today is a stay at home day and Beth will be coming round for lunch.  With two vegetarians to cater for, I will also turn veggie for the meal and make some vegetable pasties with a selection of veg and roast spuds.

I have more to add but I think I will make it a separate entry!  Two for the price of one!

Saturday 12 December 2015


Jolly little chaps, aren't they?  I wonder what they are thinking.

It's Saturday once more.  Another weekend when I don't have to do the washing, drying and ironing, clean the house and get the paperwork sorted.  One of these days I will get used to it!

I must have been really tired on Thursday evening because I didn't wake until nearly seven yesterday morning.  My guest and I didn't have any outing planned so we chilled around until I went off the school.  The school dinner was really very good indeed - turkey, stuffing, sausage, roasties, peas and carrots (they seem to have abandoned the idea of sprouts, thank goodness!  After eating with the children I helped out with serving.  Because so many children wanted dinner, instead of queueing with their tray they all say down and adults served them.  It was quicker, more efficient and, by the looks of it, they enjoyed being waited on.

Today we have plans that don't depend on the weather which is just as well because the forecast is dire.  More about that tomorrow.

My guest is still asleep and there are things I can get done before breakfast so I will set to, have my coffee and get them done.  I hope your day goes well.

Friday 11 December 2015


These are lovely - and easy.  I found the pattern too!

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Friday.   I have no idea of the weather, yet, because I haven't looked, but it was certainly raining hard yesterday evening as we got pretty wet just running from the chippy to the car!

Yesterday was more or less back to normal in that I was able to get into school to do my granny helper bit.  I had to laugh - I've been invited in for the coffee and gateaux that the school treats all the helpers to at the end of each term!  I've been before, of course, but as a 'thanker' not as a 'thankee'.

Then my friend arrived and it was lovely to see her again.

Today is the school Christmas lunch to which I will be going.  I think (know) my friend is glad she won't be going.  Hard sprouts, anyone?   No, seriously, they are pretty good dinners and all cooked in our kitchens so no complaints from me.

Depending on what we do, I would like to get on with my crochet.  I'm making some 'cats bum coffee mats' for someone.  Here's a picture, found on Google.
They make me laugh!
I had to wait for some cotton yarn I ordered from Deramores (Great online shop!) as acrylic isn't suitable.  Cotton will soak up the condensation while acrylic doesn't.

Well, I had better go as the kitchen is in rather a mess from yesterday and needs a sort out.  Have a good day.

Thursday 10 December 2015


Good morning to you all.  I'm hoping you had a good night's sleep with no disturbances.  It's still pretty chilly here but not freezing and not raining either.

I had a lovely time yesterday evening.  The five us us Ladies Wot Lunch decided instead to have dinner together so we all met at the Hare for their Christmas meal.  I went for the vegetarian option and had roasted butternut squash risotto with chestnuts and yarg cheese and it was extremely delicious.  Afters was a selection of ice cream and some coffee.  By the time we had finished, I was pretty worn out so went to bed pretty much as soon as I got in.

Today I have a friend coming to stay the weekend so I have a few things to do to get ready.  Should keep me out of trouble anyway!

See you later!

Wednesday 9 December 2015


Good morning, gentle readers.  It felt jolly cold this morning when I opened the landing window to 'feel the air'.  No frost as far as I could tell but a fair bit colder than previous mornings.  It's not raining thought, thank goodness.

I felt so sorry for the children yesterday lunchtime.  They were all out playing and some had taken off their coats while some had - er - 'forgotten' to put them on and some didn't even have a cardigan or jumper on!
Anyway, the heavens opened.  There was no warning, no warning drizzle, the rain came down like a waterfall.  In the time it took for the children to get from playground to classroom door, those without coats and jumpers were absolutely soaked through.
Of course, I had to do the teacher thing and point out the moral.  After all, they do know they are expected to put on their coats at this time of year.  I did my duty but I did sympathise in my heart.

The biggie yesterday was the second performance of the Infant show, The Bossy King.  It was brilliant.  I enjoyed it so very much.  Well done to them all, children and staff.
(It still felt really strange not being involved though!)

Today is, I think, a day at home and I have Plans.  There's a lot of pre-Christmas stuff building up so I have bin bags and a determination!  After all, there's really now long to go now, is there.  Not long at all!
Fingers crossed that I get loads done.  I'm feeling so much better that the energy is back and I am ready to go.  Vroom.

But first - coffee (of course)!