Saturday 30 April 2016


Morning, all!  Welcome to the last day of April, jolly cold with a slight frost, dry and the skies are clear.

It was a busy day yesterday.  Because I had visitors for lunch yesterday, I did a bit of a clear out, baked bread and biscuits and generally bustled around getting things in order.  Lunch was lovely, lots of catch up chat and their little daughter was a delight.  They liked the crocheted cardigan (phew).

After they'd gone I had a bit of rest and relaxation and got on with more crochet which was lovely.  I was intrigued by the term 'virus shawl' so looked it up, found a pattern and had a go.  I rather like it so think I will finish it as a shawl for those cooler summer evenings which means ordering some more yarn as it was from Deramores, not Hobbycraft.  While it's coming I shall be getting on with making key rings for the next stall.

Today Sonja is coming and we have promised ourselves a Harry Potter fest!  I shall be cooking a favourite old dish, apple and chicken stir fry.  Looking forward to it very much indeed.

Today's food:
B:  toast and pate (leftovers from yesterday)
L:  probably soup
D:  apple and chicken stir fry with new potatoes and broccoli, grapes (more leftovers!)

Time for coffee, I think and, as I seem to have done something minor to my back, it can wash down a couple of ouch-killers!
Have a good day!

Friday 29 April 2016


This got me so, so excited yesterday when I saw.
Look at these

Yes - strawberries.  Really strawberries - well, future strawberries!

Go away snow, go away frost, go away very cold wind.   I need warm sunshine now.

Stay warm!

Thursday 28 April 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  As usual, here's the weather forecast.  It's cold but better than yesterday and it's not sunny.  However, the clouds are high so maybe it will cheer up at some point.

For the first time since last year, I was so tired yesterday evening that I went to bed while it was still light.  Seeing as I slept the clock round, I must have needed it!  Today is a busy day so a good sleep was very much appreciated!

I get a message from Beth saying she was still rather shattered so we are going to the market tomorrow instead of yesterday.  In the extra time I set to and managed to finish the second little cardigan which is a much better size and very sweet.  I'll see if I can take a photo at some point, when I have bought the buttons from the market!

You'd have laughed at me yesterday.  A few weeks ago I bought a new ironing board cover as the one I had was rather thin and old and manky.  When I tried it on, it didn't seem to fit so I muttered something a bit unprofessional and left it.  I looked for larger ones but couldn't find any, measured up and realised that it was actually supposed to fit so yesterday I rolled up my sleeves, so to speak, and had another go.  Well, I pulled and I pushed and I adjusted and I trapped my fingers once or twice and I said a few naughty words but, after about five minutes (which is a very long time for something like that), I managed to get it on - just!  Yes, it's a tight fit but isn't that what you want from an ironing board cover?   So now my ironing board looks a little less disreputable and, I have to say, it's nice to iron on again.  But what a struggle!

Today is housework for a while, then tuition preparation, then hearing readers at school, then some shopping and finally the actual tuition itself.  A busy day, in other words, so I'd better get started or I'll not finish in time!

Have a good day, everyone.

Wednesday 27 April 2016


It's still jolly cold out there this morning but the sun is shining for all it is worth so it might warm up later.

After a pleasant morning in school yesterday, Beth came round and we went through our fabric stash.  It's probably a good thing to do now and again to remind one of what one has.  We also took the opportunity to sort them into colour piles and to was some fat quarters that had obviously been tucked away without washing.  I shall hang them out to dry this morning.

Does anyone else find Creme de la Creme really boring and monotonous?  At one point even one of the contestants said 'I want Mary Berry' and, while, in fact, it was because she'd just been slated by the judges, I know what she means.  Mary would add a touch of colour and character to what seems to me to be rather grey and dull.
Personally I'd like to see those three judges put into that situation in a hot studio, under time pressure and see them do any better.  They are really horrible at times.  In most shows, for every 'nasty' judge, there are several others who state their opinions more gently and kindly - in other words, it is balanced.  This isn't.

Enough of that.  Beth and I were going to the market today but Beth is somewhat shattered after her last TMA which she has just sent off so we're going on Friday instead.  I think I will take the opportunity to Sort The House Out today because it's in a terrible mess, one way and another.  I'm feeling the energy although whether I will feel the same after an hour of housework remains to be seen.

I finished the little cardigan yesterday and it looks great but way too big for the little lass who is the recipient so I have started another one using a smaller hook and that's coming out much better.  One good thing about having the sort of 'stall' that Kitty Stitches has is that things like that can go up for sale!  It's going to be a real bits and bobs stall this time!  The pattern has given me a few ideas to try out as well, so it's all good.

Well, better go and get dressed, have breakfast and get going or half the day will be gone and I will have achieved not a lot.   Thank goodness it's bin collection tomorrow.

Have a gread day and stay warm.

Tuesday 26 April 2016


. . . and it's another cold morning although frosty and sunshiney so fingers crossed it stays sunny through the day.  No snow here as far as I know although 40 odd miles away (by road), it was snowing in Letchworth yesterday early evening.  Gives a new meaning to 'April showers'!

I was naughty yesterday and went back to Hobbycraft.  Ooops!  I needed some yarn to make a little cardigan for someone - that's my excuse!  I got the yarn and over the afternoon and evening I worked on it and got it finished.  Now I am wondering if it is too big!  In fact, I am sure it is too big and will set to and have another go with a smaller hook.  I have until Friday, after all.

When I went to my friend's home for a quick chat, she loved the jam, was pleased about the marmalade and raved over the tonk sock cats.  I came back with a birthday card, some daffs and a gift card for . . . Hobbycraft!  She also made an order for two owl cushions!  Fair exchange!

Apart from the crocheting, I made three loaves for my weekly customers.  I shall be delivering them today when I go into school for reading this morning.  Beth's coming over later and we will be going through our stash and making a list of what we need to get, not just for J's order but also generally.

That's about it for today.  Rather busier than yesterday but still very pleasant.  I hope you all have a lovely day too.

Monday 25 April 2016


. . . and it is still jolly cold.  Far too cold for the end of April.  I have plants I want to get out and I can't which is somewhat frustrating!  Come to that, I want to sit out with a coffee and a book and wile away the time but I can't!  Huh!

Yesterday was also chilly but it was a lovely day.  I made black cherry jam first thing and started on the roast dinner.  Beth had macaroni cheese, being vegetarian and, though I say it myself, Thermione and I make a great partnership where macaroni cheese is concerned (and I refuse to call it mac'n'cheese - shudder).

After finishing all the preparations I had a nice lazy morning.  I had a nice afternoon too but not quite so lazy as Beth arrived with socks so we made some more tonk sock cats!

In fact, I was lazy most of the day but that's OK, one is allowed to on ones birthday, isn't one!

Today I shall have coffee with a friend and take her the jam I made for her plus some marmalade and two tonk cats.  Then it is home to bake the weekly bread and to crochet some more.  Oh, and to boil up the turkey carcass (OK, turkey crown carcass) for some stock for tonight's meal!

What a life, eh, what a life!

Today's food
B:  Toast with jam
L:  turkey salad
D:  Probably turkey risotto.  I haven't had risotto for ages and I do love it!

Sunday 24 April 2016


It's raining outside.  Even though it is still very dark, you can see the rain running down the window panes.  Maybe it will clear up later - I do hope so because I will have washing to hang out. if possible.

Yesterday was a really pleasant day.  In the morning I went shopping, first to Hobbycraft to get a few bits and bobs where I ended up with a few more things than I had anticipated including a lovely pack of fat quarters, all different toning shades of blue.  I do have an idea of what to make with them too.

Then I went on to Sainsbury's, seeing as that is fairly close by and had a lovely time going up and down the aisles.  I haven't been there for ages so I had a good time.  I treated myself to a car bash while I was in the shop and it was lovely to come out to a sparkling clean car.  So, of course, it's rained!!!

When I got home I pootled around for a while before settling down to crocheting some more key rings.  I've got the owl pattern/making right now so it's just a case of making plenty for the two fairs we have coming up..
Here are the ones I made for a friend.  In Hobbycraft, I picked up some likely looking beads for beaks and that's what I am now using rather than stitching on the beak.

As well as the owls, I have found a pattern for a heart which, when I do two, stitch them together and stuff them, look great as a key ring.  I've decided to stitch on something nice and shiny too so I guess it is back to Hobbycraft soon to get some.  They sell beads by the pot full, like a choose your own salad or pick n'mix sweets.  The pots look tiny but it is surprising how many beads you can cram in, if you are careful!

Later on, after my friend had arrived, we started something we have promised we will do and that is to watch the Harry Potter films straight through.  Yesterday we managed the first two and we're carrying on next week, which is going to be a sort of celebration!  More about that later on.

Today, Beth and Alex arrive for a Sunday dinner.  Alex and I are having roast turkey and I am making macaroni cheese for Beth.  With it we are having roast potatoes, carrots, sweet potato and parsnip and some nice looking cabbage.  Beth is bringing a birthday cake for dessert.  What I like about a roast dinner is that once you have done the preparations it just cooks itself until nearly the end.  I can make the macaroni cheese good and early too and finish it off in the last half hour.

After that I guess the sewing machine and the knitting needles and crochet hooks will come out and it will be clickety-stitch for the afternoon.

Sounds very pleasant, doesn't it?

So, today's food.
B:  Toast and marmalade
D: roast turkey with the trimmings, roasted pots, carrots, sweet pots and parsnip and steamed cabbage, followed by cake.  Might have a bit of the macaroni cheese too!
T:  Most likely a turkey salad with the leftovers.

Saturday 23 April 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  Welcome to another sunny day.  Not warm, though, dear me, no, it's bitterly cold out there at the moment and I am glad for dressing gown, slippers and central heating, not to mention the oven that is currently cooking my breakfast!

Yesterday was a stay inside day and I pottered around doing this, that and the other.  Just one of those days.

Today I have a friend arriving and I have shopping to do this morning.  I might take a trip to a garden centre I have sometimes driven past but never gone into.  I feel another idle day coming on but I do need to sort out a good dinner for tomorrow.

Have a lovely day, one and all.

Friday 22 April 2016


Friday already!  Time flies when you are enjoying yourself!  Last year I was rather filled with dread as the SATs approached - an thus unknown quantity as I had managed to escape these nasty things apart from the optional tests in Y4 which were quite bad enough, thank you.

Anyway, I really appreciate going to bed and waking up in the morning without a heavy stone of apprehension sinking to the depths of my being.  I have a deep sympathy for my colleagues who have to go through this annual . . . well, I won't use the word I was thinking of but I guess you get my meaning.

Suffice it to say, I enjoyed waking up this morning thinking 'What shall I do today?' rather than knowing exactly what I would be doing to the very last full stop.  It sounds aimless but it isn't, it is just packed with possibilities!

This isn't a pity party, far from it, but please be nice to any teachers.  Between assessments, SATs and reports it is a very difficult time of year.

So, yesterday was great.  We got the grass cut at the allotment and I learnt how to put the back down in my car - had to because of transporting the lawn mower!  The allotment now looks a whole lot better, simply because the grass at the front is cut.  It's not great, being bumpy and coarse textured, but so, so much neater.
Not all the allotments on the site are beautifully cared for and lots are in a worse condition than ours was, but where we are there are loads of neat, lovingly cared for plots that look fantastic and one doesn't like feeling like a sore thumb!

Before heading off for the allotment I had to tidy out the car to make room for the mower as well as the sundry tools already there so now it's a lot neater in the boot.  Unfortunately, it's all rather mucky so my first task today is to search for a small cordless hoover type thing on Amazon.  It is long overdue for a clean anyway and I no longer have the excuse of over-work!

Other tasks on the list include a tidy up (cleaners coming pm), some ironing, some baking, a bit of gardening and some crochet/knitting.  Later on I might get the sewing machine out!

Today's food:
B:  scrambled egg, apple
L:  egg salad, flavoured yogurt
D: chicken curry and rice, stewed rhubarb and strawberries with natural yogurt

Edited to add:
Of course, after posting this I go and read that the SPaG tests have been cancelled this year after the spelling list leak.  That will be some relief but there's still two maths and two reading papers.

Thursday 21 April 2016


Good morning, everyone.  It's still dark here as I had an early bedtime resulting in an early wake too.  It feels jolly cold too, such a contrast to yesterday which was gloriously warm and sunny with a refreshing breeze.

Apart from the weather it was a most frustrating day yesterday.  Without going into details there were two visits to the bank, the second to sort out their cock up after the first one (I was NOT pleased) and two visits to B&Q.  I did, however, get the wheelbarrow things and yes, they had pink!  I was too late to help Beth with the allotment but my apologies were accepted, offered as they were with hot coffee and muffins.  It's all starting to look so much better now.  We're pulling rhubarb and the mange tout are shooting.  Yay!

Well done, Beth!

Over lunch we managed to put the lawn mower together, the battery is charged up now so it's all go for this morning.  It won't be easy as the ground is bumpy and the grass very long but we will set it to the highest setting and do our best.  It has to be better than it is at present and several mowings will sort it out before we settle to a once a week thing.

After allotment this morning I will come home and tidy myself up before trundling down to school this afternoon to hear Y2 readers.  And that's about it for the day really apart from the usual housework, washing, etc.

Today's food:
B:  toast and marmalade, yogurt
L:  gala pie with salad, apple
D:  chicken curry, rice, yogurt with stewed rhubarb and strawberries

Wednesday 20 April 2016


. . . and the sun is still shining his socks off!  Nice one!  There's also another frost but we won't worry about that too much.  I'm just glad I haven't put out any seeds yet.

Yesterday didn't quite go according to plan in that I got an email saying that the mower would be delivered today (i.e. yesterday), not tomorrow (i.e. today!) so I rushed a quick email off to school to say sorry, I'll be in if I can but . . .  Of course, true to postie's law, it didn't come until well after the end of school so I could have gone in but you can bet your bottom penny that if I had gone in it would have been delivered while I was out!

It was quite exciting, unwrapping it but one look at the rather minimalistic instructions convinced me that two heads are better than one so Beth's coming here after the allotment time and we will sort it out together.  So now I have a living room filled with two huge boxes, assorted bits of paper and polythene and a lawn mower.

Also delivered was my new extra-loud-for-old-deffies alarm clock which certainly is loud!  It also has a shaky thing that you put under the mattress.  I wonder if one ends up on the floor if one doesn't silence the alarm quickly enough!  It was delivered, with a new splatterguard, in the other huge box that is now lying around!  I almost took a photo and now I wish I had.  They must have smaller boxes than that for two small items, surely!

While looking for wheelbarrows online I found the perfect one.  Perfect for me and Beth, I mean.  Not too big, stable, pullable, great for narrow spaces . . . and it looks nothing like a wheelbarrow.  We might even get two!  Here is it!
Image result for pink work cart keter
What do you mean, does it have to be pink?  Of course it has to be pink.  And if they don't have pink in the shop, I will order online, so there!

To my great delight, I have sold two owl key rings so I set to and made them.  The one in the photo has a wonky beak and wonky eyes so I won't be selling him!  I must work to make several for our next craft stall which is the second week in May in Southend.  More about that in due course!

While all that was going on I was trying an experiment in my yogurt maker.  It's not an Easiyo, far from it, but I tried one of the Easiyo flavoured sachets (toffee!) just to see if it worked because they have some lovely flavours and you know what - it did work!  I have a lot of yogurt to eat up now so it's just as well Beth is here for lunch.

Today I have to go to the bank first thing to sort something out and to make sure they understand that phone calls don't work for me.  Then I might whizz to B&Q to see if they have a pink wheelbarrow thing before ending up at the allotment for another couple of hours of hard labour!  After that Beth is coming home with me and we will combine brains to put the mower together.

I should sleep well tonight!

Today's food:
B  stewed rhubarb and strawberries with yogurt
L:  beans on toast, toffee yogurt
D:  I have a jar of curry sauce that needs using up, plus assorted veg, so I will make a bog standard chicken and veg curry.  It'll make enough for several portions!

I have some marmalade (of the Ma Made variety) on the make so I'd better go and give it a stir.  Have a good day and may the sun shine on you.

Tuesday 19 April 2016


The sun may have decided that he needed needed a bit more sleep for a while but even so, yesterday was lovely!

We're going great guns at the allotment.  Yesterday saw us both weeding and digging for all we were worth and it's looking so much better.  When I got home there was an email saying that the mower would be delivered on Wednesday.  In a way that's a pain because we had planned more allotmenteering then but never mind, I shall wait in for the mower and once it is all charged up and ready, we will tackle the grassy areas and that will make such a HUGE difference to the look of the place.  I know it's not about looks solely but there's no doubt, a nicely neat allotment is a pleasure to behold.
In between times we sat under the tree drinking coffee and munching on fresh made muffins and another allotment holder came over to chat and have a muffin too.  Bliss
I was rewarded with four sticks of rhubarb - the first of the year!

The afternoon meeting was great too.  It's the first time I have say at that sort of meeting as a 'visitor' rather than staff and it was an interesting experience.  Good discussion, positive outcomes.  What more could you ask?

Today is also full of good stuff.  Sharon is coming to do hair this morning and in the afternoon I will be going to hear the readers I would have heard this morning but can't because of hair.

I'm enjoying my second mug of coffee and then I shall go and sort out the kitchen which is a bit of a mess.

Have a good day, readers.

Monday 18 April 2016


Hello, gentle readers.  Another new week begins and the weather is fine but chilly.  No frost today though.

Yesterday was glorious.  In the afternoon we ended up with the French window open to clear the stuffiness.  Then, of course, it felt too cold!

We had a good afternoon, Beth and I.  Firstly we did some reckoning up and sorted out who owed what.  Then we booked allotment times this week.  If we don't do that, other things get in the way and allotment has to be a priority at the moment.

On the same theme, we went onto Amazon and ploughed some money into a likely looking cordless lawn mower.  It's getting something of a priority to get the grass at the front of our patch into some sort of order so, hopefully, what we have ordered will do the job nicely, fingers crossed.  It will be hard work at first but once the long grass is sorted, it should be a once a week haircut and that's all.

We also did an audit of what we have for our stall and, what with things left over from last year and things we have made recently, we actually have a fair amount.  One can always do with more, of course, so Beth settled down to finish off a table runner and I made an owl key ring.  Last time I tried this pattern I got into a terrible muddle, but this time it was fine.    Here's what I made.

The beak isn't quite right and it's in the wrong place but I sorted that out on the next one which came out, oddly enough, much smaller even though it's all double knitting.

When I got the washing in I looked at the main flower bed and it's a right mess.  The bulbs were wonderful this year but it's always a pain afterwards when the leaves are starting to die back.  One of these days I will lose patience and chop them back.  The Japanese anemone is coming up nicely and will be a picture again this year, I am sure.  It's better than it was before Sim worked on it on Saturday though.
Oh, dear!
However, the tayberry is looking more hopeful than it ever has.  I'm looking for the day when I can train the shoots along the fence.  Quite a change from the last photo where you needed a magnifying glass to see much!

In the evening I got stuck into more ironing so I have an empty basket.  That's not bad for a Monday morning, is it.

Today it is allotment this morning and then a wash and spruce up before I pop off to an afternoon meeting in school.   No visitors though, for the first time in quite a while.  The house will seem very quiet and I will enjoy having 'me' time.

Today's food:
B:  Egg on toast, apple
L:  jacket spud and salad (leftovers from yesterday), yogurt
D:  Chicken wrapped in bacon and baked with some vegetables and, maybe, a few oven chips, orange

Sunday 17 April 2016


Morning all!  Such a lovely, sunny day this morning so I have washing in the machine in order to make the most of it.  There was a heavy frost but that's more or less gone now.

Yesterday was one of those 'nothing' days.  Shopping, the lads came to do some gardening, beds were made up and then I made soup followed by knitting/crocheting until my guests arrived.  I have to get going with little things as I think Beth and I will be doing a stall in Southend as a friend asked us the other day and I'm not sure how much we have.  I'm crocheting little bags and key rings to start with.  We also have quilted bags and bunting.

Thank you, Google Images.
I think next week at some point I want to take another trip to And Sew On.  Buttons are top of the list, closely pursued by Fabric For A Tablecloth!  Also it's a nice trip and a nice place.  Fingers crossed for good weather.

I've offered to make some 'refreshments' for a meeting in June so I shall be doing some googling to get ideas.  I already have plenty but it's always fun to have new ideas too.

Today Beth is over for lunch and we shall be tidying up recent transactions, making a few plans, etc.  Nice.

That's about it really.

Today's menu:
B:  poached egg on toast, apple
L:  jacket potato with cheese, salad, yogurt
T:  leek and potato soup, orange

Saturday 16 April 2016


Good morning.  Again, apologies for yesterday's disappearance.  I have a feeling the disappearance was my fault in that I had the message open twice, managed to clear one of the windows and then hit the wrong button.  I think . . .

Yesterday started off lovely and sunny and disintegrated into heavy rain just as we came out of Hobbycraft.  You will, I am sure, be relieved that I didn't do anything that would challenge my bank manager's good nature while in Hobbycraft.  I was very reasonable despite the fact that I could quite happily have bought up half the shop!

I had to get my friend to the station later on and, between rush hour and rain, Chelmsford centre was pretty gridlocked.  I am very glad we left loads and loads of time or we would have been panicking.  It took nearly 90 minutes to do a run that would normally take 20 at the most.  I am so glad that my chosen career did not require that sort of travel.

Today I have another pair of friends coming for the night so I have to do a quick bed change and make sure I have enough of the right foods in.  Then I have a whole stack of washing which will just have to dry indoors if it's too damp outside and some tidying up to do.

Today's food:
B:  porridge and maple syrup
L:  leek and potato soup
D:  savoury rice with chicken and loadsa veg, yogurt

Coffee first though!

Friday 15 April 2016


I have no idea what happened, but I posted a blog entry earlier and it has vanished.  There's no time to write another one, but I will be back tomorrow.  So sorry.

Thursday 14 April 2016


Phew - I'm back to normal now, sleep-wise, after a busy day and a great night's sleep.

It turned out to be a gorgeous day yesterday with wall to wall sunshine for most of the day.  It made working on the allotment much more pleasant that it would otherwise have been and we got quite a lot done as well as making a list of Things We Need To Get!

One of the priorities is a battery lawn mower.  It can't be too heavy but it has to be robust.  There's no power at the allotment and neither of us is strong enough to use a push along on fairly bumpy ground.  We're researching at the moment in hopes that we can get one soon.  There's also a number of smaller things, a few of which we got when we went to Homebase in the afternoon  slug pellets, twine, gloves, etc.

In between allotment and Homebase, we set to and packaged up all the owls and they should soon be flying to their forever homes, if they aren't already.

After that I set to and baked soda bread and muffins.

So it was all go.  No wonder I was tired by the evening.

Today is another busy day.  A meeting at school first thing and two hours of tuition in the late afternoon.  Al and I hope to have a rootle around Hobbycraft at some point so that should be fun.

B:  pikelet and poached egg, apple
L:  probably toast and scrambled egg, yogurt
D:  Tuna salad with oven chips

Wednesday 13 April 2016

The dog coat.

I can now post photos of the dog coat I knitted recently.  Fortunately, it fits perfectly and R is delighted with it.  She sent these photos.


I'm a bit bleary eyed after a very late night (late for me, I mean), so I'll keep this short.

Yesterday was lovely.  It was nice to get back into school and read with the little ones and I did some baking in the afternoon.  The evening saw me at the Hare having a good meal and chat.

Today is allotment morning so fingers crossed for better weather than yesterday morning.

Today's food:
B:  toast, etc, fruit
L:  soup, yogurt
D:  haven't decided yet.

I need my coffee!

Tuesday 12 April 2016


Good morning.

It's not nice out there - very wet at the moment and looking as if it is set to continue for a while.  However, looking at the forecast, it is expected to clear up before I am due to meet Beth at the allotment so fingers crossed.

Yesterday was a busy-ish day but very pleasant apart from waking up at the unholy hour of before four!  That's not good and I paid for it later on with two irresistible snoozes.  After I'd done the internet usuals I managed to got back to sleep and slept through the alarm for about ten minutes.  Today I slept through for about 40 minutes.  Not good: either my alarm is losing its voice or my hearing is deteriorating and I suspect the latter.  I'm googling for 'very loud alarm clock' in order to get something better.  I don't often need my alarm clock nowadays, but I do sometimes.

Al and I went to the quilts exhibition at Hylands House and it was lovely.  I could have done with another visit as you get a bit brain dead after looking at a certain number of quilts and you will be pleased to know that I resisted the various fabrics and supplies that were on sale.  I did have a go at the raffle and, to my delight, won a lovely hand made drawstring bag which I want to deconstruct to see how it is made.

I took some photos but they haven't come out that well as the lighting wasn't always that good and I didn't like to use flash.  The quilts were lovely and the photos don't do them justice.

This is one that I really liked.  Each piece of the windmills has been cut from the same part of the pattern on the fabric to give different effects, sometimes of curved lines, of a flower, of three dimension or of movement and there's also a pattern to the arrangement of the background colours.  Much more clever than you would think at first sight.
After looking at the quilts, we treated ourselves to a restorative mug of coffee from the stable block cafe and the muffins and biscuits I had brought from home before leaving.

Once home I set to and made bread.  School's in again and it's back to baking for my customers.  I have to say, after faffing around with other kinds of bread, it was really nice to get back to my good, faithful, basic bread again.

While talking about bread, Thrifty Lesley has been investigating in her own individual way and has come up with a soda bread that uses sparkling water.  I'm not sure but I will give it a go and see how it works out.  I don't keep sparkling water 'on tap', so to speak so will get some this morning.  The value water is very reasonably priced and I like it as a 'treat' sometimes.

Before that, I am due in school today to share books with the littlest ones.  It will be nice to see them again.

Today's food:
B:  Toast and poached egg
L:  Not sure - maybe a soup from the freezer
D:  Out to the Hare with friends

Monday 11 April 2016


First of all, may I introduce the hoot of owls that Beth and I (mostly Beth, very little me) have been making.

Cute, aren't they?  Obviously others thought so too because all but one of the big ones will be flying off to their new homes very soon!  One little one is spoken for and the others will grace our June Fair table, if they're still around by then.

Yesterday was a nice day.  Not entirely lazy as I cooked a dinner for four and also have nearly finished the cushion cover.  I'm on the button hole band now and just have a few rows and some stitching to do.

I'm not sure it will get done today though as we're off to a quilt thingy at Hylands House.  Here's a link to what we are going to.

I have much to do before we leave so I set my alarm and, as a result, woke very early and couldn't get back to sleep again so got up.  I may try for another snooze soon.

Have a great day.

Sunday 10 April 2016


It's a bright and frosty morning out there today.  I thought it was cold when I drowsily came to for a few moments much earlier and snuggled more cosily under my quilt!  Hopefully this is signalling a bright sunny day which will be nicer after yesterday's dull and dismal-ness.

I did a lot of knitting yesterday and am on track to finish my current cushion cover today, fingers crossed.  I really MUST start looking for buttons.  I will need sixteen of them - no, twenty - because I am doing four covers for myself and then there's the cushion I have made for someone else too.
I meant to post this the other day and forgot.  This is the latest pattern.  There's a lot more of it now, of course!

Today my friend is back and Beth and Alex are round for lunch.  That's about it - a nice, restful day with making dinner the only pressure!  I can live with that.

My meals.
B:  probably egg on toast
D:  cottage or vegetable pie with assorted veg followed by some yogurt
T:  some kind of salad - tuna or egg based.  I will ask my friend.

Saturday 9 April 2016


Good morning!  It is chilly and damp out there but too dark to see what's really going on.  If we have another day like yesterday it will be good - glorious sunshine with spells of clouding over from time to time.  It was lovely.

What else was lovely was the trip to Cressing Temple.  How I have never heard of it or been to visit it before, I have no idea!  It's an 'ancient monument' one of the earliest possessions of the Knights Templar which has three Grade I listed Medieval barns, one of which is the oldest standing timber-framed barn in the world as well as a reconstructed Elizabethan walled garden which is lovely.

One barn is completely empty, a real 'wow' place, absolutely enormous.  The other has a museum display and a scaffolding so that you can see the old timbers at close sight.  It's all very touchy-feely with only a few of the exhibits in the whole site roped off.

I took some photos, of course, although the battery ran out as we entered the walled garden which means that, of course, I shall have to go back there again!

The rest of today's entries consists of some photos I took with occasional comments

Such old timber with built in woodworm!

A Victorian craftsman's initials (I think).

There's a blacksmith's shop . . .

. . . and a wheelwright's.

This is straight - honest.  Lovely wonky walls!

It doesn't show up too well but this upstairs floor is very uneven - look at where it meets the side.

A beautiful one room building containing a well.

Inside the bread oven in the baker's shop - thank goodness for flash photography because it was extremely dark.

The wheat barn (I think)

The only photo I got of the walled garden.

Friday 8 April 2016


Hi, gentle readers.  It's a jolly chilly morning out there - frost on the shed roof, would you believe?  The sky is clear and the sun is shining: it's really lifting my spirits!

Yesterday was another typically April day, sun, showers and quite strong breezes at times.  One lot of guests departed and another guest arrived.  I made bread, soup and soda bread.  We talked, went food shopping and talked a lot more.  Lovely!

We were feeling frugal so, instead of going to the chippie, we bought oven chips and some cod in batter, a toffee cheese cake and some cream and paid less than we would have paid for the takeaway fish and chips and with no waste.  And I reckon it was less effort than driving to the shop, waiting around and driving back.  Almost as quick too.
Can't complain about that, can you?

The half and half no knead loaf went a dream.  The dough looked dreadful at first and I really had doubts, but after the long rising and the short proving, the resulting loaf was a bit of a stepping stone towards a sourdough loaf in texture and, to a certain degree, in flavour too.  It was a small loaf - I used half amounts so just right for me.
It tasted wonderful with my home made celery soup.  Mmmmmmmmm . . .

Today I will be making some banana choc chip muffins before we trot off for a visit to Cressing Temple.  It's fairly close (about half an hour's drive away) but I've never been so am looking forward to it.  Here's a link so you can see what it is.

Better get into the kitchen and get started.

Thursday 7 April 2016


Is it really Thursday already?  This week is passing frighteningly quickly.  I'm sure it was only Monday yesterday!  There's a watery sun out there but a pinkish-greyish sky and I think it won't be long before we have rain.

Yesterday was a typical April day, all showers, wind and some sun.  It also turned quite cold at one point and then the hail fell quite hard for a short time.

We ended up not going to the allotment because it was raining.  Apart from the getting wet bit, the soil is quite heavy and it's no fun trying to turn it when it is so wet.  We will go again in the next few days.

Instead, I made my oaty biscuits (always delicious and so, so easy to make) and also I made a no knead loaf of which I have blogged on Teacher's Recipes.
As John Torode would say, it's a lovely, thing - or it was.  Half is now in the freezer and the other half is pretty well gone the way of all good bread!
As it came out so well, now I have a granary/wholemeal one on the make.  I started it yesterday evening and I'm just warming it up close to the radiator.  It's not quite as bubbly as the white was but even so, it looks promising.  It seems to be a flexible process so I will do the last bit in my own time.

Today one pair of visitors leave and another comes so I need to sort out a bedroom this morning.  I also need to make some soda bread and this time I am using some home made yogurt rather than buttermilk which does work out quite expensive.  I gather it works really well so fingers crossed.

Well, in the time it has taken to write all this the sun has vanished and the clouds are gathering.  It's just as well I don't have too much outside stuff to do today.

Today's food:
B:  marmite on toast, apple
L:  celery soup (I promised my guest I would make some and I do have some celery that ought to be used up.
D:  fish and chips.  From the chippie!  Yay!

Wednesday 6 April 2016


Good morning, everyone.  Round here it's a cool, semi-clear morning although too early to tell what the weather will be today.  BBC weather thinks that it will be fine today although tomorrow looks pretty horrendous with quite a lot of rain.  Ah, well, so that's allotment (ouch, ouch) today and indoorsy stuff tomorrow.

Yesterday I had a lot of starter so made around eight pikelets, six of which are now stored in the freezer.  As I have more today, I think it will be pikelet day - breakfast and lunch.  They're so delicious: at the weekend I shared the recipe with a friend and she and her boys now love them.  As I've said before, it is worth keeping sourdough starter simply for the discard side-products.

Down the allotment, I managed to trim one pathway with my new shears and dig over a patch of soil before the back protested and the foot/ankle started giving me hassle.  Little and often is the name of the game, I think, and gradually the stamina will build.  Beth finished digging over the potato patch and after I had gone she planted some mange tout which is exciting.  The potatoes are doing whatever potatoes need to do on her window ledge at the moment.  I have no idea what she will be wanting me to work at today but I am sure it will be hard work!

I managed to get the cushion cover finished and all it needs now, like the first one, is buttons.  I will have to take a trip into town to the market at some point or maybe it is an ideal excuse to visit And Sew On again.  I need to go anyway - I have decided to make a tablecloth with large patchwork squares a bit like this only with larger squares and in colours that tone with the furnishings, of course.
From Google Images.
It won't be quilted but I think I will line it - double cost but better, so worth doing.

Today is the aforementioned allotment and I need to make some more oaty biscuits as I'm right out.  In fact, I might do them when I have finished this as they are very quick and easy and can bake while I am getting the kitchen ready for the day.

After coffee, of course!

Today's food:
B:  poached egg on pikelets
L:  pikelets with soft cheese and chutney, apple
D:  the rest of the pasta with the rest of the sauce made yesterday - I might add some chick peas or other beans to it.  Then yogurt.

Tuesday 5 April 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's another dull and gloomy morning here in not-so sunny Essex but then yesterday was the same but we had some lovely sun later on.  It was a proper April showers day but in between showers Beth and I skipped off to our allotment and got started.  She started digging the potato bed while I got to grips with some of the edging with my new shears.  I left the cuttings in a pile and today I want to take an old laundry basket to transport it all to the compost heap!

Before we set out for the allotment, I set to and made some pasta and a vegetable sauce for a quick lunch as I guessed we would be hungry when we got back.  It was very nice - I love home made pasta and made enough so I could dry some.  Not having a proper pasta rack, I improvised!

It worked a treat and now I have pasta for today and maybe another day this week too.  I am guessing (hoping) that, once dried, it keeps for a while.   I have some bacon that needs using up so I think I will use it to make a smoky tomato sauce to have with the pasta.

Later on, Beth finished the owls, all but one big one, and now I have nine sets of owlish button eyes staring at me from the chair.  While she stitched, I knitted away at the next aran cushion and it is now nearly finished.  A few more rows and then I just have to do the button hole band on 2x2 rib and sew it up!  I have decided what pattern I want to use for the next one and now just have to work out the numbers.  It will be a trellis with cables up each side, I think, and I might have moss stitch as the background stitch.  I think I need to do some swatches to see how it all goes.

We're off to the allotment again today.  Being terribly unfit, both of us, we can't do a very long stretch and there's some heavy work to do, but I'm looking forward to being able to take a picnic along there when the weather gets better.  Little and often should do the trick quite nicely, I think!

Later on my two friends are arriving for a few days.  I need to make up their beds and prepare some kind of vegetable soup, that being their meal request!  They seem to like my veg soups, so thank you, Thermione!

Well, I had better get going.  I have sourdough starter to deal with, pikelets to make plus a soup and a pasta sauce.  That should keep me out of trouble, shouldn't it?

Today's food:
B:  pikelets and a poached egg
L:  sourdough bread with soft cheese and chutney, apple
D:  pasta with smoky bacon and tomato sauce, orange

Monday 4 April 2016


It's an early start for me today.  After several mornings of sleeping past seven o'clock, I am back to my normal pattern of waking between four and five.  There's a difference though.  The heating is not on and it's nowhere near as chilly as a short time ago.  The weather has been gorgeous over the weekend.  Yesterday was so sunny and warm that I threw open all the windows including the two French windows and drenched the house in fresh air.  It was lovely.

What wasn't so lovely was the accompanying sneezes.  Pollen, I expect, and I must take some of my antihistamine tablets if it starts up again today.  A bit early but then everything has been a bit early this year.

Beth came round for lunch and then set to, sewing up the last few owls.  Sadly, she needed to pop off earlier than we had expected but never mind, I sat in my TV chair and watched 'stuff' while continuing to knit the latest aran cushion cover.  Annoyingly, I noticed a mistake several pattern sets down so had to do an unpick job which was frustrating but there you go, if I will make mistakes . . .  I have caught up and gone past now.

Today, when I have finished this entry, I will make the most of the early start and pootle off into the kitchen to sort out the sourdough and make some pikelets with the discard.  That will sort out most of my breakfast.  I hope to meet Beth at the allotment at some point, weather permitting, and then there's more knitting and sewing to do plus the spare room beds to make up for guests.  A nice, happy, predictable day.

(I hope that's not famous last words!)

Today's food:
B:  pikelets and a poached egg
L:  pasta with a tomato vegetable sauce
D:  sausages, oven chips and a salad

Have a great day.

Sunday 3 April 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  It is another gloriously sunny morning and I love how, now the clocks have changed, the sun appears so much earlier.  It's not warm enough to sit outside in the earlier hours of the day yet, but one of the joys of the summer for me is sitting in the garden with a first coffee and whatever book I am reading at the time, so as soon as I can, I will!

Yesterday was mostly sunny too, sunny enough to dry two loads of washing before the predicted rain finally fell.  I didn't iron it yesterday evening so that's the first task for today, after sorting out the kitchen, etc.

I was very pleased to finish off the dog coat and it looks OK.  No photos yet because, as you may imagine, it looks weird without a dog inside!  The customer has said she will take some photos so fingers crossed . . .

Then I started a second cushion cover.  This is not for me: someone saw the first one and liked it very much.   There's a lot of knitting in that so it will take a few days.

I finished the sourdough loaf but, like all my other efforts, it failed at the last hurdle, sinking badly when I transferred it to the baking sheet.  It tastes OK but the crumb is very tight.  Maybe I am over proving it, I don't know.  Diane, any advice?

I was going to do an early shop at Aldi (going later than opening time on a Saturday morning is asking for parking problems) but didn't go.  Instead I went late afternoon and I think it might become a regular slot from now on because it was much quieter and more pleasant to shop in.  By that time it had started raining so I was glad I'd taking in the washing before setting out.

Today I have some sorting out to do followed by ironing and then I will knit until Beth comes for lunch.  Nothing posh today, probably beans on toast!

Now I need my coffee!

Saturday 2 April 2016


Good morning and apologies for the lateness.  Just a quick one on this lovely, gloriously sunny morning.

I've been busy with the doggie coat and it is now nearly finished.  I feel a deep uncertainty about making it from measurements I haven't taken myself and not being able to check as I go along but fingers crossed that it will be OK and my customer likes what I have done.

After a facebook chat about sourdough yesterday, I have started a loaf and am keeping my fingers crossed.  I know the starter is good, a friend has made this recipe many times and swears by it so fingers crossed.  I'm not sure why my sourdough loaves aren't working but maybe something will click.  It's the waste that worries me really.  It may be only flour, water and salt, but even so, that's more than some in this unequal world are certain to have.

So today's loaf is in its banneton, covered and in front of the window in the warm sun, slowly, oh so slowly growing.  It will be late this afternoon before it can go in the oven, I think.  OPatience, Joy, patience.

Today's food is more or less like yesterday's as there are plenty of leftovers.  So . . .
B:  Pikelets and fried tomatoes (much nicer fried than raw at the moment)
L: Tomato soup and apple
D:  Chicken curry with rice, oranges.

Friday 1 April 2016


. . . and a pinch and a punch for the first of the month.

No April Fools - I'm too old for them.

It might be the beginning of April but when I woke under an hour ago (disgracefully late: I blame the cold) there was a thick frost over everything.  It's melting rapidly now but the early morning must have been chilly.

I got a lot more done yesterday than the rest of the week put together, I think.  Washing, drying, ironing, recipe tryout, finishing a Kitty Stitches waistcoat (big one) getting on with a Kitty Stitches doggy coat, tidying a kitchen and generally bustling around.  Shows how much better I am feeling now, thank goodness.

While I was hanging out the washing, to my delight I noticed that the tayberry is sending out shoots (as posted yesterday) which, sad to say, really made my day.  I sent the good news to Beth because, after all, she will share the fruit with me when it finally arrives next year and we had a daft little conversation on Facebook which made me laugh so here it is.

Me:      Looky look look - the tayberry is not dead, it has risen! (well it is Easter!) It's sending out several new shoots.
Beth:    lol the second coming

Me:      Third coming, more like!
Beth     he's not the messiah, he's a very naughty plant hahaha
With any luck, this is what it will look like in a year and some months' time.
Well, one can hope.  A lot of gardening is about hope.
I was pleased to finish the Elmer waistcoat.  All done, even down to the ironing so Beth can post it off.  It does look lovely, very bright and happy, and we're well pleased with it.  Now I'm working on the dog coat and want to finish that before the weekend is over.

I dearly love bread and butter pudding but hardly ever make it because it means having the oven on and it's all a bit of a fiddle faddle with bain marie, etc.  However, as I mentioned earlier in the week, I wondered if I could steam a B&B pudding in the Varoma so yesterday I had a go and yes, you can, it was delicious.  I've posted about it over in Teacher's Recipes but it is just a recipe for Thermione.

Today is another stay at home day except that I need to trundle over to Aldi at some point today or maybe tomorrow as I'm nearly out of various bits and bobs that I buy there.  I will get on with my knitting and do a bit of tidying and clearing.  Nice, homey stuff.

I haven't had my first coffee yet and it's getting late so I'm off into the kitchen to make coffee, sort out the dishwasher, feed the sourdough starter and start off a loaf.