Thursday 31 March 2016

An addition.

I just have to post this, I'm so pleased.  Despite being 'bumped off' several times by over enthusiastic young gardeners over the last year or so, my poor, long suffering tayberry is sending out several new shoots.  Titchy little shoots, but shoots nevertheless.  Three cheers.  No fruit this year, of course, but I now hope to get some next year, please, pretty please.
Just being able to train the shoots along the wires my dad so kindly put on the fence for me would be great!

I think I will get one of those slate plant markers and write on it 'I am not a weed - please do not kill me!'

Something like this, maybe.


It's another lovely morning here, looking bright and mild from this side of the glass.  I've not long woken up: I'm being very decadent at sleeping in at the moment although I did sit up late knitting last night so I've had just the usual amount of sleep.

Most of yesterday was spent with Beth here.  She did owly sewing and I did doggy coat knitting and we both got on famously.

The doggy top is going well after several mistakes.  I now know why conventional aran stitches, such as cable, are surrounded by reverse stocking stitch - it is to signal the start of the new element.  I've got the cable and the trellis backed by moss stitch and it's much harder to see when one starts and the other stops when you're knitting, especially on the back.  On the other hand, moss stitch lies nice and flat and that's exactly what I wanted.
Here's the pattern.  The colour isn't that pink, it is more a lovely cherry red shade

I have a request to make a cushion cover so when I've done the doggy coat I will start that.  At least this time I won't need to work out the pattern, number of stitches, etc!
I've always enjoyed aran knitting.  It's so structured and you can see it grow so easily.  What I would love to make is one of those blankets made with a number of large squared, each made from a different aran stitch.  I think they look lovely!

 There's no photos of the owls yet as there's one unfinished one plus some mini ones to make.  When I can photo them I post one

The photo at the top at the moment is a bit 'noisy', but I was lucky to get it.  I was drawing the curtains around eight last night when I saw the glow over the fence so grabbed my camera and popped out the back to see if it was any good.  Two minutes later and it had all subsided.

Today I have nothing happening so, apart from some important 'paperwork' I shall knit and sew.  Beth has some cloth bags, plain dull brown bags, and I have an idea for jazzing them up a bit for Kitty Stitches.  I shall have a go and if it doesn't work they will never see the light of day in her.

I might also have a go at another sourdough loaf, just a little one.  I might follow my nose this time rather than a recipe and we shall see.  I'm not having much luck so far.

Well, the kettle must have boiled and the coffee is calling so I will leave you and get on with morning things.

Wednesday 30 March 2016


Oh, dear, it feels just like Tuesday here.

That's because Sunday was a nothing day, Beth and Alex came round for Sunday dinner on Monday, so that was Sunday.  As a result, yesterday was Monday so today is Tuesday!  Perfectly logical.

I didn't venture out yesterday after having a bit of a coldy crash.  In fact, I didn't even get dressed which is shocking!  All that coughing and spluttering can't be good for those around me and now I'm retired I don't HAVE to generously share my bugs with others any more.

What was sad was that not only did I not get to a funeral to which a dear friend had invited me, partly because of sharing bugs with vulnerable folk but also, because of the aches and temperature, another friend also decided not to come over to stay.  Actually, I say sad, but really it was a very sensible decision of hers as she has some important interviews coming up and there's no way she needs a cold right now!  Sad for me though.

In between whinging, knitting, watching rubbish telly and snoozing, I did some kitchen stuff, mostly connected with Thermione and her varoma and mostly extremely frugal, using leftovers and old veg.  I'm starting to use the varoma a lot more now and it's opened a few doors in terms of convenience.
The varoma is the thing on top.  It is basically a steamer with two layers and it sits snugly on the thermomix lid.  It holds more than you would think.  
I made my broccoli soup from the stem of the broccoli we had on Sunday - I mean Monday!  While that was bubbling away, I popped the leftover bones from the lamb plus a couple of spuds cut into four in the varoma and put it on top.  When the lamb was hot, I removed it and it was easy to pick off all the last bits of meat.

I mixed that meat with the leftover gravy and the few leftover roasted and chopped veg (parsnip, carrot, a roasted potato and some onion) and added a chopped mushroom which needed using up.  That all went into an ovenproof dish.

When the potatoes were done, I peeled and mashed them, mixed the mash with some seasoning, some grated cheese and some butter and topped the lamb and veg mix with some of it (the rest I will use for something else.  At dinner time, I heated and browned the pie in Handy Andy.

So that was lunch and dinner (I also had some broccoli left so I microwaved that while the pie was browning) sorted.  It all took not much time and very little effort as equipment either went into the dishwasher or just needed rinsing and draining.

I had some hot cross bun loaf drying on me and wondered if I could use the varoma to steam a bread and butter pudding.  I looked it up and it appears that you can so I will have a go, probably today.

As I was resting quite a lot, I got on with the aran cushion cover I was knitting and got it more or less finished.  I just need buttons now.  I posted a photo on Facebook and it caused quite a stir.  What do you think?
How I started it.  The ribbing is too wide but it is underneath and doesn't show.  The next one will be OK now I know.
Finished.  Different light so the colour looks different but it is a very nice subdued teal that goes perfectly with my furnishings.  It fastens with buttons across the back but as I don't have any appropriate buttons, that bit isn't finished!
It was fun to work out the pattern myself.  Very simple, I know, but one has to start somewhere.
Last night there was a new kind of Bake Off called Creme de la Creme.  Basically it was teams of master bakers making what Jack Monroe would call arty farty poncy sweet stuff.  I'm sure it was all very clever and expert and fiendishly difficult but I was disappointed.  It was so far removed from anything I would make, there was so much specialist equipment and nowhere near enough detail about what and how that I felt disengaged from it in a way I have never felt with the proper Bake Off.
I really couldn't care less which team got through and sorely missed the banter and joking of Mel and Sue and the usually gentle but critical comments from Paul and Mary.  There was no sympathy, no empathy, no 'I'd like to make that' reaction in my soul.  A shame . . .

(I've come back in to say that the online reviews seem to agree with me.  I LOVE the Telegraph's headline:
Bake Off Creme de la Creme review: 'a soggy-bottomed disaster.
Couldn't have put it better myself!)

Today is a craft day.  Beth is coming over and we are focusing on owls.  Maybe photos will appear tomorrow.  I have also undertaken to knit a little doggy coat.  I've never made anything like that but have all the measurements and I think I have got the structure clear in my head.

B:  Fruit loaf toast (it has to be used up, it's far too delicious to waste - next time I will make half quantities!)
L:  Probably soup
D:  Something with chicken, I think.

And now I need my coffee.

Tuesday 29 March 2016


I find myself not too well again today and have cancelled going somewhere this afternoon where I know there will be a lot of more elderly people.  A cold may not be that serious for me (just unpleasant and inconvenient) but it can be very serious for some people and it would be irresponsible of me to share it knowingly in that context.

Gutted though.

Going back to bed for a while now.  See you tomorrow.

Monday 28 March 2016


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to a very wet, very windy Bank Holiday Monday.  I doubt many round here are looking forward to a picnic in the park or a jolly down to Southend or wherever today.  It's really not nice out there.  Lashing rain and enough wind to blow it around very convincingly although not quite strong enough to cause any worry in terms of fences, roofs, etc.

Well, after yesterday's little non-event, I woke just before eight this morning.  Unheard of, although I suppose changing the clocks had something to do with it and two days ago it would have been just before seven which feels a lot less idle and indolent, somehow.

Thanks for all the messages of concern.  I think I'm feeling a lot better and, as the 'just woken up' feeling clears, will feel more better (or do I mean betterer?).  I hate the first coughs and splutters of the day when you have a cold but there's no doubt, they clear the old tubes!

Enough of that!  Here's a few photos I was going to show yesterday but didn't.
Here's the hot crossless bun loaves, made on Saturday.  I'm munching some, toasted and buttered, as I type and it's very good indeed.  The main problem is that I made a bit of a 'spatial' error and all the fruit is around the outside with none in the middle which makes for a very pretty pattern on each slice but . . .

The other is some little egg baskets that were dead easy to make.  Yes, Beth, I nicked a few buttons from Kitty Stitches!  I reckon little eggs are a lot smaller than they used to be because these little baskets are fractionally too large for the eggs so I had to lay them on their sides.

Today I have an Easter Sunday dinner to make.  Roast lamb, etc.  Apart from that, it will be knitting, crocheting and maybe some sewing too.  Nice and relaxing anyhow.

B:  toasted fruit loaf
D:  roast lamb, etc
T:  not sure - I will see what's left over or boiled egg and toasty soldiers, I think, with fresh fruit to follow.

Sunday 27 March 2016


Feeling full of cold and yuck and am going back to bed.
Back properly tomorrow.

Saturday 26 March 2016



How was yesterday for you?  Here the sun came out and shone so brightly that I was motivated to change my sheets early and make use of the lovely drying conditions - something that doesn't happen very often.  I now have a basket load of ironing but I don't care - it's a good excuse to sit in front of the Saturday morning telly while I iron merrily away!

I was able to get lots of crochet done.  I now have five little dolls cot blankets for our stall at the summer fair and I think that's probably enough.  All the ends have been sewn in (yawn) and they have been steam pressed.  I just have to make and stitch on little flower and leaf shapes as a decoration and then take some photos of them on the little IKEA doll's bed I bought last year.

On Facebook, someone posted a photo of a little crochet basket so I tracked the pattern down (on You Tube - such a useful place) and had a go.  This is it . . .

The 'proper' one is made with two strands of DK and a big hook but I made mine with single strand and a smaller hook, just to see how it worked.  Isn't it lovely - perfect for a little lady.  I think I shall make a few more for the June Fair stall.  I think it just needs a cardboard insert at the bottom.
Here's the link to the instructions.

Later on in the day the cleaners turned up so I went out to do a bit of weekend shopping, including the muscovado sugar I wanted for the hot cross bun loaf I am making today.  When I got back the van was still there so I thought 'stuff the cost' and took a little jaunt around the area.  I set off for Writtle, turned down the 414, took a country road turning and followed my nose.  It was lovely.  The roads were deserted, the sun was bright and I had no idea where I was!  After a while I used the sat nav to take me back home again although it wasn't long before I was in familiar territory once more.  I love country lanes and we have plenty of them around here.  I must do this more often!

When I finally arrived home it was to a lovely, bright, clean house.  Bliss.

Unfortunately, later on in the evening a cough developed and I did have a bit of a disturbed night, but it's OK this morning, just uncomfortable and chesty.  Some hot honey and lemon will sort that out.

Today is a lazy day again.  I'm baking, crafting, ironing and watching telly.  First of all, though, I need to go into town to pick up those loaf tin liners from Lakeland so I'd better get going because I think parking will be rather 'iffy' today.

Today's food:
B:  fruit
L:  probably egg on toast
D:  something with chicken

Friday 25 March 2016

Good Friday

Good morning, gentle readers.  The Easter holiday has now started although, for many, it is work as usual.  After a very dull and wet day yesterday, it looks much more hopeful out there right now and the sun should come along soon.  There is a weather warning for wind tomorrow, however, so we will see.
NOT taken yesterday as you can see from the skies!
After a lovely lunch (brie and bacon toastie) and a good catch-up natter with friends at the Writtle tea rooms I got out the ironing basket and set to.  I now have an empty basket and a stack of things to put away.

Come the evening I decided to treat myself to a takeaway for the first time in quite a while so I logged on to Just Eat, chose my local Chinese and placed my order.  Deliver at 18:30, they said.  Fine.
At 19:30 nothing had arrived so I contacted Just Eat and started a 'chat'.  I can't phone the takeaway direct because of my hearing difficulties.
After 15 mins, I was told it was out with a driver and would be with me in five minutes (I only live about ten minutes drive away, if that).
An hour after that - so two and a quarter hours in total - it arrived, almost cold.
While it was heating up I left a review . . .

I didn't eat much after all that but it means I have leftovers for dinner tonight which isn't so bad.

Today I plan to go to Morrisons for a few items and then to have a home day.  I need to tidy up the corners and have more washing to deal with.  That's really about it!

My food:
B:  pikelet, bacon and poached egg
L: soup
D: leftovers!

Thursday 24 March 2016


It's the last day of the school term.  For me, yesterday was the last day of term as I don't have any supply booked today, so I'm taking it all very nice and easy this morning and nursing a potential cold - bunged up nose and sore throat.  The last one didn't really turn into anything too bad so I'm hoping this one will be just a few days of discomfort and nothing more as well.

Yesterday I had a reception class for the morning and it was a good time.  The TAs are so efficient and watch your back so loyally, it make the experience a very pleasant one.

After lunch I took my friend to the station to catch her train and then came back to have a little nap before a very busy evening which made for a very long day.

First of all I saw the lower juniors' show, Resurrection Rock, which was brilliant.  Acting, dancing, speaking, costumes, staging - all were great and as for the singing, it was simply outstanding.  There will be some very tired lower juniors today though!

Then it was straight into a governors meeting where we made decisions, asked questions, had a bit of a laugh at times and generally, I hope, supported the school.
After arriving home I logged into Facebook and spend a few hours dealing with a 'situation' before crashing out in bed.

Today couldn't be more different.  A lie in (comparatively speaking), lunch out with two friends and then a nice, gentle evening.  What more could I ask?

B:  Pikelets with a poached egg.
L:  No idea but it will be good.
D:  It really depends on what I have for lunch but I think I will defrost a piece of salmon and see what I fancy with it.

Wednesday 23 March 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.

After the cold and frosty start to the day, out came the sun and it was glorious.  It warmed up very quickly and most people (sensible people who don't wake so early) had no idea there had been a frost at all.  By the time I walked out to collect the class, they had very sensibly taken off their coats and were enjoying the mildness.

The morning went as mornings at school usually do.  No assembly because of the concert but I didn't get to see it because my class had their turn yesterday.  This made me sad - it is the very first time ever I haven't been able to see the concert and as I started them all off in the first place decades ago, I feel a sort of possessive things about them, albeit very much at a distance nowadays.  Changing times, eh.

We thought about going out in the afternoon but ended up talking for ages over a bowl of peanuts!

Today I am in school again this morning and taking my friend to the station this afternoon.  I have no planning to work on as it's all done and ready.  Looking forward to it.

Today's food:
B:  I have some left over mash from Monday so I think I will make tattie scones as I don't want to throw it away.  A poached egg will go nicely with them.
L:  I'm not sure.  I will see what my friend would like later.
D:  I have some roast beef to finish off so probably just slices of that with some veg.  Not terribly exciting but I have no other ideas right now!

And now for my first coffee . . .

Tuesday 22 March 2016


Good morning.

After a dull day yesterday, the clouds must have lifted overnight because at the moment it is extremely cold and there's a frost!  Once again, I am thankful for my central heating!
Thank you, Google Images.
Yesterday was really a pottering day.   I baked and my friend worked.  We talked about meals as she has some specific dietary needs and I made a shopping list.  Then I popped in to school to deliver the bread, find out what I am teaching this morning and do the shopping.

Then it was home again for lunch - home made broccoli soup with bread to dunk - soda bread for her and a roll for me.

After a little while, we drove to Admirals Park, a lovely open space in the middle of the town but somewhere I have not really used.  We meandered around the gardens, across the bridge and along the river, sad on a bench, had a good natter and then came back again.  Brrrr - it was jolly chilly and there wasn't much sun to warm things up either, but it was pleasant and I shall go again soon, especially as there's a very nice, purpose built, free car park by the side.
I shall definitely have to go again in the summer, when this Google photo was taken.
Once home I set to and made a fish pie.  It was a little bit of a challenge because of what my friend cannot have, but it was delicious and I shall make a note of the recipe for another time.  Suffice it to say there was none left!

Then I had an early night because of school this morning.  I have the plans and remember teaching those lessons last year.

I'm not sure what we're doing this afternoon but we will go out somewhere, weather permitting, maybe along to Hylands.

B:  pikelet and poached egg
L:  tuna sarnies, fruit
D:  vegetable curry with rice, yogurt

Monday 21 March 2016


Good morning everyone.  I hope you're all well and happy.

Yesterday turned out to be quite a busy day.  After enjoying a roast beef dinner (lots of leftovers!), Beth taught me how to make an owl cushion cover.  Then we cleared up.  It's amazing how much mess you make when crafting.

I set to and made two ordinary loaves for delivery today and then a soda bread loaf which was a dismal failure as I left it in the oven for way too long and it's very over baked.

I picked my friend up from the station early evening and she's now fast asleep (I hope), warm and cosy in the guest room.

Today I have to deliver the loaves, find out what the teacher wants me to teach tomorrow morning and do some shopping.  Apart from that I'm really not sure.

B:  toast, apple
L:  soup
D:  tuna and jacket potato, salad, yogurt

Sunday 20 March 2016

Little waistcoat

The light is not great so apologies, but here's the little waistcoat for a 2 year old that I've made, suitable for boy or girl because it doesn't fasten at the front (although it could!).  It's far from perfect because I was learning on it but it's acceptable and really very cute.  If it sells it will be cheaper!

Do you like it?


Hello, gentle readers.  Welcome to the first day of Spring!

Sadly, it's yet another dull, gloomy morning but around here, chez Clark, life is warm and shiny, whatever the weather is doing the other side of the glass and brickwork!

Mind you, I'm a bit muggy headed after yesterday evening's little indulgence.  Oh, OK, so I got a bit tiddly but it was all in a good cause.  Some fantastic news came through about something that I have been seriously worried about for a little while, something that might have had some fairly drastic repercussions on my family.  Without going into too much detail because it isn't appropriate, I am thrilled that Alex has been 'awarded' (strange work to use in the circumstances but there you go) PIP at the enhanced rate plus mobility allowance.

Of course, I had to celebrate!  Oh, yes, I did!

Apart from that piece of great news, I made some 'quick' and easy bread rolls.  The (comparatively) quick was achieved by cutting out the first rise and it worked very well.  I baked them in Handy Andy (halogen oven) as I didn't want to turn on the oven for such a small amount.

Also, having googled and found a likely looking pattern online, I made a little waistcoat for a two year old, just to try it out.  There were some tricky bits, mainly tricky because of my lack of recent experience, but it looks rather cute and could be made reversible.  I'm just doing the hand sewing now bit will take a photo when it is finished.

Today, much of the morning will be spent making a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings.  The beef will be slow roasted (apologies to those who like it pink) because that's how we prefer it!  It means I was able to get a less expensive joint.  I will add some red wine and veg to the dish so the resulting stock should be great.

Then, after lunch, I hope to finish off the big waistcoat that we have made to order.  I have ideas for more but need orders as they are big things whereas the little ones don't take so much time or effort!

Today's menu
B:  The sourdough starter is being most energetic so it has to be pikelets with poached egg followed by an apple.
L:  roast beef with the trimmings, nice ice cream.
T:  something involving cold beef, I expect.

Saturday 19 March 2016


Where has the sun gone?  Yesterday was dull, gloomy and damp at times (drizzle) and this morning looks just the same.  I am so glad that we fitted Hyde Hall in on Thursday when we had glorious sunshine all day.

After Mum and Dad left yesterday I pottered around, did some housework and some knitting and was half way through the ironing when Beth phone.

'Mum, I'm just going to Hobbycraft.  Want to come?'

So I said I was right in the middle of some very exciting ironing and therefore couldn't possibly . . . .

No, I tell a lie.  Within five minutes I was in the car and on my way!  Beth didn't need much so we had a wander round and - er - some things just jumped into the trolley, didn't they!

After that I rushed home to wait in for the electrician and now I have a mended socket and Thermione is back in her usual place again.

Today looks like being more of the same.  Not Hobbycraft but general housework and some crafting.  I also have some washing to peg out (in the damp and gloom) after tracking down a bad smell to the manky cloth I used to mop up the mess made when some eggs smashed onto the floor earlier on in the week.

I did a bit of a google search and found a neat looking, free paper pattern for little waistcoats, just like the patchwork one we have made.  I printed it out, stuck the bits together and I am knocking one up for a two to three year old, just to see how it works.  It won't take a lot of sewing!

That's about it really.  A quiet and, hopefully, trouble free day.  I hope yours is as pleasant.

Friday 18 March 2016

Hyde Hall 2

Hyde Hall 1: flower close ups


Good morning, everyone.  I hope you slept well and are feeling bright and breezy this morning.  It's been a chilly night (again) and I'm in dressing gown and slippers, despite the heating being on.

We had a wonderful time at Hyde Hall yesterday.  Just look at that sky!  Wall to wall sunshine although there was a chilly wind and we were glad of our warm coats.

After a gentle and slow start to the day we arrived just in time for lunch - leek and potato soup with bread or a cheese scone (I had walnut bread which I love) followed by a gentle saunter up to the top and an equally gentle wander round.  There were a lot of empty spaces, of course, but the daffodils were glorious and the blossoms were opening.
I took a lot of my usual type of snapshot - close ups of flowers - and will post them separately but here's one to be getting on with!

How sunshiney is this, eh?
After arriving home, SOME of us went to sleep for a while after which it was time to go to the Hare for dinner.  Nice food, great company.  What more is there to say really?

Today my visitors depart and I have a day of peace and quiet.  There will be sheets to wash, washing to iron and I must sort out some of the freezer contents.  I have a lot of carrots to use up so need to hunt for creative recipes.  I can shop and freeze some, make a carrot salad for lunch and make some carrot muffins but if anyone has any other ideas, please do say.  Also I'm nearly out of marmalade so will be making some more (from a tin, cheat that I am).  Some to keep and some to give away!

Today's food:
B:  Toast and marmalade, apple
L:  Ham salad, yogurt
D:  Chicken and veg pasta, fruit.

Thursday 17 March 2016


 . . . but it feels like Saturday.

I dunno, two mornings teaching and I feel as if I've done a whole week!  Ridiculous.  Yesterday morning's work was really lovely with year 1.  That's where my heart lies, always has, and I consider myself very, very lucky that I have been able to spend most of my teaching life with year 1 (or the equivalent).

Then it was home, James, for some cheese on toast before we whizzed into town.  I rarely go into town nowadays so it was a bit of a treat.  We attacked Lakeland first where I got one of the items I needed and ordered the other.  Last time I went in they didn't have it so yesterday I asked!  One good thing - I have realised that you can use loaf tin liners again and again and again but mine are getting rather much on the cooked side now.  What I've ordered should last me the rest of my lifetime now I know they can be reused over and over again!

Then we went to M&S and had a very nice cuppa, followed by a wander around Bhs.  Money was spent!

Dinner ended up as jacket potato with salad (very tasty) after which I rushed off to school for a governors committee meeting.  Short, informative and very pleasant.

Today, weather permitting (which it is), we are going to Hyde Hall.  Lunch first and then a gentle wander round.  In the evening we're going to the Hare so all-in-all we're having a lovely day.

Thankfully, I now have a working shed door again and can get at the freezers and various stacks of stuff I have in there.  Phew!

Food today
B:  toast, apple
L:  some kind of soup
D:  goodness knows.  It will be a 'smaller plate' version but no idea what yet.  What would you choose?

Wednesday 16 March 2016


Hello again, gentle readers.  A short entry after last night's little extra.

I had fun yesterday morning, although my heart sank when I realised that I had to use technology in the shape of laptops for English.  It was justified too but never mind, technology is god, even when unreliable!

Today I am in school again, this time with Y1 for the morning, which should be fun.  In the afternoon, weather permitting, I am into town with a friend to do some Lakeland (and other) shopping.

In the evening it's a governors' meeting.  Just one of those days!

B:  toast
L and D: no idea.  The shed door may be open by then, in which case I will get something from the freezer but if not, I don't know.

I will leave you with the photo of the damaged socket from yesterday's little contretemps.  The electrician is coming on Friday!

Tuesday 15 March 2016

A near disaster

I nearly had a disaster just now - a real and utter disaster.  Well, OK, a first world, foodie, personal disaster

I did what I never should have done and left Thermione kneading some dough and looking decidedly rocky so it was all my own fault and I really should have known better.  Suddenly there was a huge CRASH - so huge that it even made deaf old me jump.  I knew straight away what had happened.  Thermione had bounced her way to the edge of the working top and fallen off onto the tiled floor.

And she had.  Taking several things with her as she did so.  Three eggs (fairly old and all smashed over the floor) in an egg holder (not smashed), a pyrex bowl (smithereens), a soup bowl (amazingly intact and staring at me smugly) and, worst of all, Thermione, on her side . . . oooooohhhhhhh noooooooooooooooooo.

And, up on the wall, the plug was still in the socket and the socket itself had pulled right out of the wall, cracked across in one corner (socket, not wall).

And Thermione?  My lovely Thermione which I couldn't manage without (first world, I know)?  With my heart in my mouth I picked her up and cleaned up the mess on the kitchen floor, my brain revolving around making the first ever claim on house contents insurance and wondering if I should get another 3.1 or the new model and not really liking the idea of all the fuss and bother because I love her just the way she is.

In trepidation I plugged her in and on came the lights.  No error message.  So I switched her on and off she went as if nothing had happened.  How lucky is that, eh?  Thank goodness the plug didn't pull out of the socket because that must have broken the fall.

I thanked my lucky stars that I hadn't put into the egg holder the half dozen I had bought this afternoon.  There are advantages to being a trifle slothful!

And now I need to find an electrician!


Hi!  An early start today as I want to be in school earlyish so I can go over the morning's work in detail.  I'm taking a Y3 class, my old class last year, so I'm really looking forward to it very much.

Yesterday was a very busy and satisfying day.

First of all I drove over to a friend's home and had a lovely catch up chat with her.  Once home, I sorted out the bread (which is now made, wrapped and ready for delivery today) before settling down to some serious sewing.  By the end of the day the waistcoat was just about done, apart from some hand sewing and some top stitching.  And here it is, looking a bit un-ironed but even so it's good and I hope the recipient will really love it.
Looking a bit brighter than it really is because the flash went off and then the battery died so I had no opportunity to take another photo.  I'm really pleased with it though, it looks great.

The afternoon meeting went really well and then I popped into school to see the class teacher of tomorrow's class and get to grips with the planning.

More sewing in the evening but I had to stop because the lining and back of the waistcoat is black and I couldn't see properly in artificial light.  I'll get that done another time, in natural light.

However, it ended up with a mini-disaster.  I went out to the shed and couldn't unlock it.  Something has jammed.  Very frustrating as I keep stores of things in there and now I have to go shopping.  Things like loo rolls, etc, not to mention the freezers!

Today is school, school, school.  Earning pennies a.m. and nanny helping p.m.  Then it's home to do tuition and to get tidied up and ready for Wednesday.  It'll keep me out of trouble, anyway!

B:  toast and marmalade
L:  lasagne and broccoli
D:  probably something bacon and eggy!

Monday 14 March 2016


Good morning and welcome to a rather chilly start to a new week.  Wasn't it a gorgeous day yesterday?  It certainly was here with wall to wall sunshine and an open back door to air the house.  As the skies were clear, come sunset it got jolly cold again and this morning is a bit nippy.

As expected, yesterday was great.  I spent the morning in the kitchen concocting the lasagnes and getting things ready for lunch and the afternoon was taken up with sewing.  Beth started an owl and I got on with a patchwork waistcoat we are making on order for someone.  It's going to look really nice when done, I think, although I was very nervous about cutting into the patchwork we had so carefully pieced together!
This is borrowed from Google but it will look a bit like this only longer (and different colours, of course).  The lady for whom we are making it took the pattern from an existing waistcoat and sent it to us.
In the evening I received a text message asking if I could do another morning's teaching this week so now I am doing two mornings this week and two next week.  Jolly good - it all helps the old finances!

Today is also busy.  I am meeting up with a friend a.m. and p.m. I have a meeting with another friend.  In between those two appointments, I need to make two loaves of bread.  It's all go, isn't it?

Actually, to save a bit of time, I have started the bread now, just the autolysis.  Thermione is now sitting in the fridge - the bowl part, I mean - and will be finished off later.  The afternoon meeting is here so I can do whatever is necessary to finish the bread.

Well, I'd better got myself sorted out.  There's still two hours before I need to go out but they can pass surprisingly quickly if I'm not careful.  Have a great day, whatever you are doing.

Food today:
B:  toast and marmalade - all home made, delicious
L:  soup from freezer
D:  not too sure.  I need to look in the freezer and see what's there, I think.

Sunday 13 March 2016


Yesterday was the bake and ache day!  You know how when you have a cold there is always one day where you ache all over.  Well, that was yesterday.

But I managed to bake.  Three loaves (one white and two spelt), some shortbread biscuits and some brownies.
I wish . . .
The loaves went as well as loaves ever do!  I love how they make the house smell great for hours afterwards.

I had to make some biscuits for the lad who does my garden and they were lovely too.  I have posted the recipe on t'other blog as it was really simple and a useful one to have in the repertoire.

I had found a recipe for brownies on the lovely 'Frugal Girl' blog which I.  I had to translate it from American but dear me, what is google for if not for things like this.  They're going in the freezer - Most of them, anyway.  I think I will make some custard and have some of them for dessert today.
She calls the recipe 'not from a mix brownies' and the thing about it is that it contains no chocolate, just cocoa (which means no faffing around with bowls and saucepans of boiling water to melt the stuff and fewer messy pans).
And they are gorgeous.  A real chocolate hit!  I have blogged about them too, on Teacher's Recipes.

And between all that I managed to keep the kitchen tidy and do two lots of washing.
So, aches or no aches, it wasn't such a bad day really, was it?

I didn't cook the mince yesterday so will need to do that today and intend to use Thermione and the reverse function so I can just bung it in and leave it to do its own thing.

Today, being Sunday, is 'Beth round' day and I reckon she will love toasties which is nice and easy to make.  There's no point doing a roast dinner for just me and I tend to ring the changes on Sundays anyway.

Saturday 12 March 2016


Good morning and welcome to Saturday.  It is only just past six o'clock and already it is getting light.  Lovely!  I'm hoping for sun today.  Yesterday was gloriously bright and sunny after a freezing start and it really does cheer ones spirits, doesn't it, not to mention drying the washing nicely?

Yesterday happened more or less as planned.  I didn't quite finish the dolls' blankets but I only have loose ends to sew in and a border to finish so I'm nearly there.

The cleaners came and went and I now have a clean and reasonably tidy home (just don't mention the b*dr**m, OK?).

In the evening I started a loaf - just an ordinary one with a fifth strong flour and four fifths plain flour.  I mixed the flour with some of the water and then popped it in the fridge overnight.  This morning I made up the dough and you wouldn't believe the stretch in it - amazing for so little strong flour.  Maybe autolysis is the way to go - must try that on a 100% plain flour loaf and see.

There's a simple description of autolysis here, if you're interested.

Anyway, technical stuff aside, I now have a rather nice, stretchy dough gently rising.

I haven't done anything much with the sourdough this week and it's been chilling in the fridge but this morning I took it out, stirred it up, kept a bit and fed it and the rest is in the discard bowl for crumpets, I think.  I fancy a crumpet for breakfast!

As well as the bread, I have other culinary stuff to be getting on with.  I have guests next week and I want to make a lasagne for one of the meals and get it into the freezer.  I think I will make the pasta as I have eggs to use up and I will use what's left to make spag bol for dinner tonight.

Then there's the washing - dried on the line, I sincerely hope, weather permitting.

Apart from that, I intend to take things easy as I've had short sleeps the last two nights.  Not bad sleeps, just shorter than usual, so I'm feeling a bit weary.

Today's food
B:  bacon, egg and a crumpet
L:  broccoli soup, bread, fruit or yogurt
D:  spag bol, side salad, fruit or yogurt

Friday 11 March 2016


 Yet again it is Friday.  Last day of the working week - or it used to be, anyway. for me.  There's a heavy frost and there was some freezing fog although that seems to be clearing now.  I thought it was supposed to be getting warmer!

The resident garden spider forgot to turn the central heating on, didn't he?

Yes, I was stupid enough to go out just now, in slippers and dressing gown, to take some chilly photos!

Yesterday was packed with 'stuff'.  Mostly bits and bobs but I enjoyed the tuition and I then took Alex to a thingy at school.  Lots of stalls with employment and further study stuff.  Not many universities and the ones that were there were very local, but it gave Al the chance to ask questions and pick up information handouts.  On the way back I was treated to sausage and chips which were unexpected but delicious!  Oh, and I was told that at my age it was bad for me to try to lose weight.  Gee, thanks, Alex!

It seems that there was trouble at t'mill yesterday evening.  It's not funny actually: some people were going round breaking windows and setting fire to cars on this estate and the adjoining one.  The police were called, there was a helicopter tracking what was going on and, presumably, they sorted it all out.  There's not a lot one can do really - I can't put my car away as my garage is a dumping ground - er - I mean storage room and this is the case with most people round here.  Even when one car is garaged, there's often a second car out.  Very much a first world problem, isn't it?

I wonder what the motivation was.  It could be sheer hooliganism, but given how difficult life is getting for the poorer in society and how much more contrast there seems to be between the haves and the have-nots in our local society, I wouldn't be surprised if violence becomes more prevalent as inequality increases.  It's quite a worry really.  I don't consider that I am particularly a 'have' but I'm certainly not a 'have-not' either, not in world terms anyway, which, I suppose, is more significant!  When you're lucky enough to have a home, a car and various bits of technology as well as all the basics, that puts you head and shoulders above most of the rest of the world.

The bread making was OK.  The 80/20% loaf worked and to my uneducated palate tasted fine.   Of course, the gluten strands in the risen dough were much more obvious than in the 90/10% loaf (and were not really noticeable in the 100/0% loaf at all).  I also made a couple of wholemeal/granary loaves and took one over the road when I went a-tutoring there.  The other looks really weird.  I was careless and when I put it in the loaf tin, I put the seam side up instead of down.  Inside should be fine, outside looks most peculiar!

Looking at my diary, today I have nothing scheduled apart from the cleaners coming this afternoon.  That means I shall need to do a bit of tidying up but the mess is all very superficial and won't take too long.  I shall probably sleep for a while as I was in bed very late last night and woke at five.  Not enough sleep there, even for me.

I'm in the middle of making a small dolly-sized crocheted blanket for the little daughter of a friend.  I looked up how to crochet hearts (dead easy by the looks of it) and shall make some to applique on which should make it look very pretty.  So I shall finish that today, I hope, and get it wrapped up.

Today's food:
B:  toast and marmalade
L: soup, fruit
D:  As I didn't have what I planned yesterday, I shall have it tonight instead.  So that's pizza, salad and coleslaw followed by fruit yogurt

Thursday 10 March 2016


Good morning again, gentle readers.  Goodness, the days are spinning round so fast at the moment, I've no sooner finished one post than I'm planning the next!
Yesterday was dim and dismal and very damp although we didn't have a lot of rain, and today looks like being similar.  It's pretty dull and gloomy right now.

I was at the Infant Music Festival all day yesterday.  All jolly good fun and I was helping with the 'orchestra' again.  I can take most things in my stride but even my mouth fell agape when two lovely lads bounced up clutching their glocks and announced 'Hello, what are we doing?  We haven't practised anything.'


You will be glad to read that we found them something to do and they managed it fine.  They all managed fine.  It may not have always been according to the notation but we believe in the Morcambe and Wise approach - all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order!  It works for Y2.

My most favourite sketch ever - I like watching the reactions of the orchestra in the background.

Beth posted her photos of the fifteen Tonk sock cats that we've been making.  They're really very cute, aren't they?  They're sitting on the current granny rectangle blanket that is nearly finished.

They're cute.

The other thing I am crocheting is a small ripple blanket.  I have decided I really ought to extend my crochet techniques somewhat and, as I am having coffee with a friend on Monday, this will make a nice gift for her daughter to wrap her dollies in at night!  See, I am still using up yarn - there's plenty left on the cupboard still.

Today is pretty peaceful after yesterday.  There's stuff I have to do in the morning and after school it is tuition time again.
I think I might have time to try an 18/20% loaf and see how that pans out, although the 90/10% was really very delicious.  For the technically minded, I am working on a 63% hydration!  And yes, I do know that that means - at last!

And now I need coffee as I have woken up very stuffed up and with a sore throat.  A cold, I think.  Coffee should help!

Wednesday 9 March 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  For the first time in several days I woke up to a not-frosty world today.  Chucking with rain and soaking wet, yes, but no frost.  I'm happy that I don't have to be outside much today.

Yesterday was just like the good old days.  Out at nine and not home again until four.  Well, nearly anyway.  I went into school to do reading with one of the Foundation Stage classes.  The children are now used to me and keep coming up to say 'Are you reading with me today?' or 'Is it my turn yet?'.  Isn't it nice to be wanted?
Then it was home for a very quick lunch followed by a zoom into town to one of the big churches where the Infant Music Festival was doing its first day thing.  I immediately got roped into helping with the orchestra, a band of percussionists from various schools, a-clutching their instruments firmly and hoping they could play on (or off) the beat as required.

 I hadn't seen the music before but it wasn't too hard and we all had a jolly good time.
And I didn't dream of 'one, two, three and rest' all night but it was a close run thing!

No bread making yesterday, you will be relieved to hear!

I'm sending 'keep going' vibes to my (ex)colleagues.  Tonight is the first of two Consultation Evenings (tomorrow is the second of them) and I have to say it is not something I am missing.  Don't get me wrong, I loved meeting the parents and having a good talk about their child's progress but after a long day at school it was a killer, it really was.

Well, on to today's food for those who are interested:
B:  toast and a poached egg, apple
L:  sandwich and cake (not my choice but there you are)
D:  Plaice in crumbs and some wedges, fruit yogurt

Just to finish off, the other day I just managed to catch a lovely sunset.

Tuesday 8 March 2016


Good morning, everybody.  Here it is another bitterly cold morning and everywhere looks beautifully white.  The sun is trying to shine and I an now, again, able to watch the shadows on the houses to the back run from the light as it rises in the early morning.  I miss that in the darker months.

First of all yesterday I went swimming with Beth.  We took it easy and didn't stay in the water for as long as usual because, inevitably, we got a bit cold.  Once home, we had breakfast (beans on toast, yummy) and settled down to finish the Tonk cats.  They're all done now and Beth took some photos so when she sends them to me I will pop them on here.

After that we tidied up the stash shelves, a task long overdue.  The main motivation was to see what we have that we could use for owls and we have plenty including some attempts at patchwork that will make good fronts.  The main find, however, was a quilt that I made last year for an expected baby that didn't work out - well, it was the first thing I ever tried, rather ambitious really, and I would know what to do now.  Anyway, we can cut off the bad bits and use the four panels for the fronts of four owls, which would at least make use of something that would otherwise be wasted.
Before I do that though, I have to finish the waistcoat and, as I am not too sure about where to stitch - or rather, where not to stitch - to be able to turn it inside out (or do I mean outside in, or even inside in), I need to do some research.  There will be something online, I am sure, but if not I can mock up a mini version.

While that was all going on, I made some bread, two loaves for my customer and one as part of my ongoing investigation about how much strong flour one really needs to use.  I know, boring, but I want to know.  After the visually successful but not terribly bread-y results of using 100% plain flour, yesterday's effort had 10% strong flour (so 20g strong and 180g plain white).  My goodness, the difference!  I ended up with a very acceptable loaf that had a crumb/texture very different from the first loaf.

I'm trying to keep everything else the same including the way it's shaped and baked.  That's why it looks quite like the first loaf.

And here's the inside.  A good crust and a soft, chewy crumb.  A bit uneven, maybe, but it baked really well.
Today is a full day.  School, music festival - so no chance to do any more breadmaking today - which is just as well as I have a few loaves to deal with first.

Today's menu:
B:  I have ham to use up so I shall have a slice of ham on toast with a poached egg on top!  Apple
L:  home made soup (from the freezer so no idea what yet) with bread to dunk, orange
D:  ham and veg pasta.  I shall saute some veg, add some tomatoes and the ham with some herbs, seasonings, etc, and serve  with pasta.  Easy peasy.  Then a fruit yogurt.