Thursday 30 June 2016


Good morning!  No sun, no rain, bit of wind.  Rather a dull day, in fact, but if we have no rain, that will be an improvement.

Yesterday's weather was lovely in the morning and pretty damp later on with dullness in the middle.  The baking went well and nothing failed, thank goodness.  I did wonder if I had made too much at first when there were only eight of us there but others arrived and well over half was eaten, thank goodness.  I transferred the rest onto school plates, covered it all over and left it on the staffroom table for my (ex) colleagues to finish off today.

I facebooked about the bag I made and people were very nice about it.  I now have an order to make a peg bag!

Today I have tuition later on but all is prepared from last week.  The biggie today is sorting out my house which seems to have got itself into rather a state.  Superficial, no doubt, but a mess, all the same.

So today will be worthy but boring, rather like this blog entry!

Today's food:
B:  toasted crumpet with a poached egg, water melon
L:  chicken, walnut and strawberry salad, apple, strawberries
D:  chicken in a spicy bbq sauce with salad and coleslaw, fruit and yogurt

Wednesday 29 June 2016


Hi!  The sun is shining and, although it's a bit too cold to open the french windows, it won't be long before the sun warms the air and if I were dressed they'd be open by now.

I went into school yesterday to do my usual reading only to find that it was whole school and class photograph morning.  It's been ten years since the last whole school photo so we are long overdue for one.  I stood aside but was told to join the staff which was really heart-warming.  :-)

In the afternoon I set to with a new pattern and the sewing machine and made a bag.  I think I will use it in the summer (whenever that is) rather than try to sell it, but it's really nice for a first go.  Next one I make, I shall use a stiffer lining, I think - calico or similar, and I shall do some top stitching along the vertical seams too.
Apologies for the poor photos but you get the idea.

The other productive thing I did was make some strawberry gin and strawberry vodka.  I shall post the recipe on my other blog because it is so very easy and so very delicious.  It's a bonus that I have used my own fruit this year.
I'm now wondering about making some plum gin or vodka in the same way.  What do you think?

Today is baking day.  At the end I shall have scones, chocolate cake and shortbread.  They're for a meeting this evening and the scones will be accompanied by my jam and some whipped cream (not clotted unless I have a quick change of mind!).

Today's food plans
B:  oat bran galette with natural yogurt and fresh fruit
L:  tuna salad, apple
D:  whatever I have at the governors training

Tuesday 28 June 2016


Good morning all.  It's gorgeously sunny this early Tuesday morning and my fingers are crossed for it to continue.  Everyone is more cheerful when it is bright and sunny.

I was quite wrong about Infant Sports yesterday.  With great inventiveness and some extremely speedy work, D managed to rearrange things so that the children did their races on the two playgrounds rather than the (very wet and slippery) field so they did get it all done after all.  I stayed for about an hour before leaving and driving up to Letchworth to see Mum and Dad (who was wearing his 'financial adviser' hat).

He sorted out my confusion and we got the signed form posted.  He also, bless him, created an email to send off about the forgotten AVC as they hadn't sent me the quote I actually want to use.
And when I got home, there was a letter from the state pension people telling me how much extra I would be getting for deferring retirement for two years.  Hopefully the back dated amount should appear in my account soon.

This is all very nice and most welcome but, to be honest, I'd like it to all be sorted and settled so I know exactly how much money will be coming in each month so I can set up standing orders for saving some of it.  It isn't at all a worry and I am certainly not complaining, it just feels a bit sort of disorganised and dribs-and-drabsy right now.

We had lunch at home (nice, healthy tuna salad followed by strawberries, thanks Mum) and dinner at the Millstream.  I ended up going for grilled chicken skewer with a salad and some sweet chilli sauce and it was really very satisfying indeed.  There was too much salad though and I had to leave some.

The drive home was very pleasant.  I guess most people were inside watching the football because the roads were very empty.  That's the sort of drive I like.

Also waiting for me when I got home was several patterns I had ordered last week - paper patterns, I mean.  I'm going to try one out tomorrow which is a tote bag pattern which I rather like.  If I like the results, watch this space!

Today, being Tuesday, is reading with FS morning and the afternoon will be spent having a go at that bag.  Fingers crossed.   Oh, and picking all the strawberries I should've picked yesterday but didn't because I was out.

Today's food:
B:  muesli, natural yogurt, blueberries and strawberries
L:  soft cheese and salad wrap, apple, strawberries
D:  turkey steak, peas, sweet potato mash, fresh fruit salad and natural yogurt

Monday 27 June 2016

Monday and a garden update

Well, yesterday was great, weather wise.  The sort of weather I like - sunny but not too warm and with a breeze.  The sort of weather to dry a load of washing.  To be able to have the French window doors open without letting in the humidity.

As expected, yesterday was a gentle day.  A baking bread, reading books.  Really rather pleasant.

I took some more garden photos:

I'm a gadabout today and will be eating out for lunch and dinner so all I can say is that breakfast will be cereal with strawberries followed by an apple.  Yum.

Sadly, I doubt Infant Sports will happen today as it's been raining this morning and the field will be dangerously slippery.  In all my time organising it, I don't remember having to postpone it three times!  Such a shame.

Sunday 26 June 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.

I wish all my problems were like this one.  Just look at those berries.  They remain after two lots of strawberry jam and eating them until they are coming out of my ears!
I've looked at my recipes and the next one on the list is strawberry gin or vodka (or both).  Nice.  I might even pop down Morrison's later this morning and get some.  I have plenty of sugar so don't need to buy anything else.  Nice for Christmas - if I can hold out for long enough!
After that, I guess it is the freezer until I have enough to do a big batch of jam.  They do make lovely presents, pots of home made strawberry jam!

Sorry this is a bit late this morning.  Since Thursday evening I have been popping round to Beth's three times a day to feed and socialise with her cats.  This morning I decided I didn't have time to write the blog before setting out - so I'm late.

After the sun yesterday, by lunchtime it was clouding over and then the rain came.  It was showery for the rest of the day with a bit of storm thrown in for good measure.  It's still dull now and I am wondering about Infant Sports Day tomorrow morning because the grass will be damp and slippery.

I've done my cat visits now because Beth and Al are back and I managed to get all the ironing done yesterday so I have an easy day ahead of me.  But first, breakfast.  I wasn't feeling hungry before but I most certainly am now.

Food plans
B:  bran flakes, pear, natural yogurt and strawberries
L:  chicken salad wrap, more strawberries
D:  chicken tikka masala, rice, fresh fruit salad including guess what.  Yup - strawberries!!!

Saturday 25 June 2016


Wasn't yesterday lovely - weather-wise, I mean, not necessarily in other ways.  Wall to wall sunshine pretty well and warm but not too warm with a refreshing breeze.  Today it is way, way too early to tell how the day will be (I had another early wake today) but it's dry and BBC weather tells me it should be sunny this morning and then there should be rain showers this afternoon.  I had better get the washing sorted this morning then, hadn't I?

I spent some time in the garden which was nice.  I have now potted on the remaining tomato plants and they are in their forever pot and their forever place.  I'm not sure about these tomatoes.  I don't even know what they are called.  Dad got the seeds: they were a special offer, supposedly new and feedback would be appreciated after the season is over so he paid his 10p or whatever it was and started them off.   They are supposed to be bush tomatoes but they are very weak and spindly looking so who knows.  Fingers crossed.

The strawberries just keep on coming.  I did three pickings yesterday, a good handful each time and am making more jam with some of them.  I think I will also freeze some of them.  I'm finding that regular picking gets to them before the slugs and, more of an issue, the little wood lice.  I started the jam off yesterday, macerating the berries in jam sugar for some hours and then adding lemon juice and slowly heating the whole thing until the sugar was all dissolved.  I then took it off the heat and will finish it off early this morning.  Two reasons for doing that.  The first is that by that time I was tired and I reckon playing with boiling sugar isn't a very good idea when you're tired and the second is that my experience tells me that for some reason it is easier to get a good set if the mix has been standing for a while.  I have no science for this, it is just experience!

Anyway, in a couple of hours I should have some lovely fresh jam which will be part of what I take to the governors' training session.  I hope that, with scones and whipped cream, it should go down very well.

Back to the garden; I popped some fuchsias in the little bed at the front so they should fill up a gap nicely when they settle.  I used to have a perennial wallflower in that gap but over time they do get very woody and lanky so out it came.  I didn't fill the gap last year because I knew I was having part of the front paved but this year I got some hardy fuchsia plugs when I ordered something else so  they're now in and I am hoping that they will provide green and colour at the front for years to come.

Sonja isn't coming after all so I have another free day  A bit of baking, maybe, and the kitchen certainly needs a sort out and so does, surprise, surprise, my bedroom.  One of these days . . .
Also I must sort out some untidy corners in the garden.  It won't take long, it's just a matter of finding the motivation.  I might sit out there for a time, sneezes and weather permitting . . .

Today's food:
B:  Muesli, fresh fruit and natural yogurt
L:  Chicken salad.  Yogurt with strawberries
D:  Chicken and vegetable rice, side salad, more strawberries!

I did enjoy yesterday's dinner.  Contrary to the usual nowadays, it was all from the freezer and bought, not made.  A small cod in batter (and it was pretty small, perfect size for me), eight oven wedges (yes, I counted them out and, while they didn't look much, they were enough) and some peas.  That, with a dollop of mayo made a very tasty and satisfying meal.  It's back on the cooking from scratch thing today but it's nice to take a break from time to time.

Better go and get some coffee, I suppose, and then get going.  No point in wasting the time, is there?  Have a great day!

Friday 24 June 2016


Good morning and hello, sun, how nice to see you!  Yesterday was not nice.  Rain most of the morning, then the sun came out for about five minutes, then we had drizzle more or less for the rest of the day.  The decision to postpone sports day was vindicated and even if it is dry this morning, the field will be sodden.

I got on with household tasks in the morning and pootled off to school p.m., voting on the way.  I had a nice time reading with the children after which I rushed home to get tuition ready only to be greeted by one cancellation and then another as there has been quite a lot of flooding, the roads have been gridlocked (Chelmsford is like that if anything goes wrong) and they wanted to get home before the rush hour started.  Very understandable.

Planning is never wasted.  Now I won't have to prepare resources or plan for next week's tuition.  It's just as well I don't rely on the money, isn't it?

I'm finding I need to pick strawberries morning and evening or the bugs get to them.  Oh, the hardship.  I have quite a lot and can't decide whether to make more jam or freeze them.  I think it will be jam and there's a reason.  We have a governors' training evening next week and I offered to bake some goodies.  I think scones with whipped cream and strawberry jam will make a nice treat and, as there are only likely to be about 12 of us, that, a sponge cake and some shortbread will fit the bill nicely without too much difficulty!  I can bake all three and freeze them..

Today is an easy day.  Sonja might be coming this evening, I think, so I need to check the guest room which is no hardship.   Then I can do a bit of baking!

Today's food:
B:  poached egg on toasted crumpet, strawberries  (gotta make inroads into them and there will be more this morning!)
L:  Smoked salmon pate and salad wrap, natural yogurt and - guess what - strawberries!
D:  cod in batter, peas, a few wedges; apple and orange

Thursday 23 June 2016

A very wet garden update

Looky, look!  The first runner bean flowers (and baby beans).  They are self pollinating.

The tomatoes are growing fast and furious and the strawberries too.

View from one of the French windows

The herb and foliage bed is so lush and green right now.

The oregano is taking over the bed - must do some harvesting!

This is going to looks great very soon.  Lots of heads this year so I might pick a few.


It's raining, it's pouring
The old man is snoring.

Yes, the rain came back and this morning is dull, dark and very, very damp.  No way could Infant Sports Day happen this morning.  I don't know if it stormed overnight - once the old hearing aids are out I am oblivious to anything like that.  I've missed some very exciting storms in my time because of that but I haven't missed my sleep.  Swings and roundabouts!

It actually started raining yesterday morning.  Despite the lovely sunny start to the day, by the time I arrived at the allotment the clouds had covered the sun and there was a smell of rain in the air.  We worked for an hour and then it started.  Not huge raindrops but an enveloping drizzle that was almost like fog and which soaked everything.

We had managed to do the mowing, some weeding and some harvesting before giving up so it was worth going and, as we said, at least we didn't need to water anything!
The potatoes are looking good and most of what we planted is surviving although the snails have devoured the green beans, sadly.  We're going to plant some more mange tout there instead and hope that they grow.

We came back to mine and divvied up the mange tout.  Some had gone 'over' so we podded them and I used the pods to make pea pod soup which is quite nice.  Minimal waste is what I like to see.

The governor's meeting in the evening was good too.  The sun was back out again by then and it was getting pretty humid but the fans were on and it wasn't too bad in the staff room.

Today Beth is coming over in the morning and I am off into school this afternoon to read with Y2 children.  I MUST do some tidying up as well.  And vote, of course.

Today's menu:
B:  bran flakes with sultanas; natural yogurt and a few strawberries
L:  pea pod soup; apple
D:  Cottage pie with sweet potato mash, broccoli, mange tout (from the allotment); pineapple, strawberries and natural yogurt

I have quite a lot of yogurt because I don't have much milk and I know this yogurt is 'additive-free' because I make it myself.  No hidden salt or sugar there.  The appearance of strawberries is, of course, because they are ripening like fury in the garden and are so, so delicious!

Whether it is wet or dry where you are, have a wonderful day!
Whatever you do or don't do, please, please make time to vote.  It's crucial.

Wednesday 22 June 2016


Good morning.  Thank goodness yesterday was a lovely, sunny, summer day and fingers crossed that today is the same: it looks as if it will be but it is maybe a little too early to tell really.
The forecast isn't brilliant for the rest of the week.  Overnight and into Thursday there is warning of rain and maybe storms.  Fair enough, yesterday did feel very humid at times but I didn't know whether that was a contrast with the air conditioned hall.  Maybe it wasn't.

Anyway, whatever happens, Infant Sports Day has been postponed until next Monday and that, I think, is a very sensible decision.  I've been through years of having to make 'shall we' shan't we' decisions and whatever you decide, it will be wrong and you will get stick.  When we have delayed making a decision until the last moment, we get criticised for leaving it so late and now, when a decision is made early, there's criticism that it's too early.  I do understand the problem - some parents have taken time off work to come and cheer their children along, which is very good of them.  However, making a decision now might mean that some can change the arrangements whereas if it was cancelled on the day they really couldn't.

The Castles Day was absolutely brilliant.

In the morning there were tables set up with the sorts of things people would have been doing within a medieval castle.  There was candle making (in little clay thumb pots that they made), making ink and writing with quills, making soap with flakes and fragrant herbs and petals, making nosegays, weaving, a wise woman table - oh, all sorts.  The lady running the whole thing took groups out and taught them how to practise sword and shield skills and to use a long bow (no arrows, thank goodness).

In the afternoon we had a banquet.  The tables were set out in an upside down U shape and there were goblets and wooden trenchers for everyone.  The children were put into groups to rehearse something for the banquet - a play, jousting (with hobby horses!), dancing, juggling and jester-like stuff - oh, all sorts.  Some of the children were servants.  They laid the tables and served at the banquet and they did very well out of it judging by the way they tucked into the food in between courses!

I was shattered when we got home but a long nap sorted that out and I was thankful that I didn't have to prepare for today's teaching.
Now I have thousands of photos (OK, slight exaggeration there) to edit and sort out.

Today is allotment in the morning and tuition planning in the afternoon.  Then there's a Full Governors' Meeting in the evening.  It's all go, isn't it?

And today's food plans are:
B:  oat bran galette with yogurt and pineapple
L:  hummus, carrot and celery sticks, oatcakes, apple or pear
D:  fish pie, peas, natural yogurt and pineapple

Tuesday 21 June 2016


Good morning, everyone, and welcome to a lovely, sunny Tuesday morning.  After torrential rain yesterday morning, out came the sun and I managed to get two loads of washing dried in the afternoon which was unexpected and very welcome.

There's hope for Sports Day yet.  Thursday morning is the Infant Sports Day which I am hoping to attend and a few days of sun or, at least, warmth and dryness, would dry the field up nicely!  I'm looking forward to a first time - for a while now I have been responsible for the organisation and the running of Infant Sports Day but on Thursday I can attend simply as a watcher.  Very nice too!

As mentioned before, last night was also a first.  I watched the music festival as part of the audience rather than round the side and it was a totally different experience.  The singing was stunning, the behaviour of our children was exemplary and it was an all round great experience.  And, as a bonus, I was home in time to watch most of the Sewing Bee after escaping from the car park ahead of the crowd who had to wait to pick up their children.  What more could I want?

Today is another busy day.  I will be in school again, as a governor, helping out with the year 1 history experience day.  It promises to be a lot of fun and the children should learn loads.  I will probably crash out come the evening but if I don't, I have ironing to be getting on with.

Here are today's food plans
B:  bran flakes and sultanas, pineapple and natural yogurt
L:  smoked salmon pate, oatcakes, crudites and an apple
D:  I am going to use my spiraliser to make courgetti to have with savoury mince.  I'll give it a go anyway!  Then water melon and a pear.

Have a great day!

Monday 20 June 2016

Monday and a strawberry first (for me)

Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to a dull and damp Monday morning.  When I say damp, I mean raining.  Yuck.  A bit of a slap round the face after yesterday's sun and warmth.

Yesterday was a first for me.  After picking the day's strawberries, I wiped them over, cut out the bad bits and, after combining them with those already in the fridge and discovering that I had half a kilo altogether, decided to make the first ever fruit jam from produce I have grown myself in this garden.  Now I have three lovely pots of jam - one for Beth, one for Alex and one for me.

It isn't quite the first altogether.  In one of the houses in London, we had a very prolific loganberry and although I wasn't really into preserving in my younger days, I did get several pots of loganberry jam.  However, since moving from London over thirty years ago, I have relied on bought or donated fruit so it was a bit of a thrill yesterday when I produced my own pots of my own strawberry jam.

 While the berries were macerating in the jam sugar (I use jam sugar because strawberries are low in pectin) I popped over to Beth's instead of her coming to me and met a new yet old family member.    Several years ago, Indigo had a litter that Beth called the Von Trapp litter.  I think it was Alex's idea really.  Because the number and the male/female balance worked out, each was named after one of the Von Trapp children.  One of them, Friedrich (Freddie) had a damaged back leg so wasn't sold.  Instead, he went to a very caring lady and then on to someone else after stuff not relating to Freddie and not anyone's fault.  After various adventures, Freddie has now come back to his first (and last) home and, you know what, he is just as gorgeous as I remember him to be and still has the same endearing habits.

The rest of the day was calm and placid.  I dug out some 'scraps' of Christmas fabric and started replenishing the Kitty Stitches stock of hair scrunchies which, after a slow start on Saturday, sold really well.  I hunted for some crochet patterns for Christmas key rings.  I read and I watched telly

All in all it was a lovely day.

This morning I am in school hearing readers.  This is what I am normally doing on Tuesday but on Tuesday I am wearing my governor's hat and helping with a history experience day with Y1, all about castles.  Should be good!

Today's food:
B:  granola and blueberries
L:  chicken salad, coleslaw, apple
D:  pork and veg curry, broccoli and new potatoes, orange

Sunday 19 June 2016


Hello, everyone!  It's a bit early to say what the weather looks like doing but it's dry and the forecast is positive so I am hoping for sun, fingers crossed.

Yesterday was a really good day.  For a start it didn't rain although it got perilously close to it once or twice.  It was jolly cold though - well, cold for the time of year anyway.  If it was December or January I'd probably be saying it was unseasonably warm!

The June fair was a great success - lots of stalls and lots of people too.  It is so nice to be able to say hello to so many parents I have got to know over the years and loads of children or teens came up to say hi.

Our Kitty Stitches stall went really, really well.  We sold big things and little things.  All the crochet key rings I made sold out so I must set to and make some more - I was well chuffed that they were so obviously popular!  Our sock cat kits and fridge magnet kits were well received and we sold the last of the not-Christmas bunting too.  We don't make enough to even get within sniffing distance of the tax man but we're happy.  For me it is about covering costs.  The rest is a bonus.

On top of all that I won two prizes in the raffle - yes, two!  One really isn't me but I am sure I can pass it on.  It is a round of golf for four at a local golf club!  The other was a family ticket for Barleylands Farm - two adults and two children/concessions.  Beth and Alex can be the two adults and I can be a 'concession'.  So that's a treat for the summer.

My goodness, it was chilly though.  When I got home I couldn't get warm and ended up turning on the heating - and this is mid-June, not far from the longest day!  I had a lovely, warm evening.

Today I've woken extremely early so I suspect it is going to be a sleepy day.  Beth may be coming over for lunch but I'm not totally sure yet.  I have to start replenishing my stock of key rings and I want to start looking for Christmas key ring patterns as the next scheduled fair is the school Christmas fair.  Sorry to mention the C word but it is June!

My food today is:
B:  bran flakes with raisins, natural yogurt with strawberries
L:  Hummus, oatcakes and a mixed salad, apple
D:  Chicken and veg stirfry in a soft cheese sauce, rice, natural yogurt with blueberries

Saturday 18 June 2016


Good morning and welcome to a dull, boring early morning here in Essex.  I had better cheer up as today it is the school fair and Kitty Stitches has a stall.  Fingers crossed, eh?

Yesterday we did have some sun and we did have some rain, both beautifully timed for me.  I managed to get two loads of washing dried and got the last load in just before the rain started.  So then I didn't have to water the tubs!  Couldn't be better.
Unfortunately, the rain started just in time for the end of school!  It always does that.

Yesterday was just an 'ordinary' day.  You know the kind - no big adventures, just lots of little joyful things one after the other.  Picking strawberries - and eating some of them.  Tying up the little tomato plants.  Talking to the tayberry and telling how well it is now doing.  Receiving a new toy from the postman and playing with it.

Yes, the spiraliser arrived and it's pretty easy to use really.  I tried each blade on a carrot and ate the shredded results with enjoyment.  I think this is something I will use.

Today will be busy.  The school fair will start at 12:00 and go on until 2:00.  Everything is more or less ready to pile into the car when Beth gets here and we know it only takes half an hour or so to set it all up.  I'm hoping I will be able to watch the infant dance from the point of view of a bystander and I have bought raffle tickets!  Can't do more to support really.

After that, the rest of the day will be quieter, I hope.

Today's food:
B:  oat bran galette with blueberries, strawberries and natural yogurt
Pre fair snack:  apple
Post fair lunch:  smoked salmon pate, oatcakes, crudites, maybe a peach
Dinner:  cottage pie with sweet potato topping, carrots, water melon

Friday 17 June 2016


End of the working working week (not that I care much) but, sadly, it is dull and gloomy outside, looking suspiciously like rain.  I've just checked BBC Weather and, yes, rain is predicted for this afternoon.  We do seem to be getting rather a lot at the moment, don't we.  Mind you, the wet and the warm is great for the garden.

I had a lovely day yesterday.  It was great to catch up with M in the morning and see her gorgeous little toddler.   In the afternoon I was at school.  Then I did tuition which was great and another few notes got stuffed in my Christmas savings tine - it's a tin that I cannot open so one the money is in, it stays in until I attack the tin with a tin opener which won't happen until I do the Christmas shopping!

Before and after tuition, I had a good chat with the mum, who is a neighbour, and the 'daughter of the family'.  J has to do a project about the sixties for school.  It's history, would you believe.  I was a teenager through the sixties!  Anyway, J has this idea of making a sixties dress for herself so her mum found a genuine pattern on eBay and some fabric and I'm going to teach J to use my sewing machine so together we can make up this dress.  It's very simple with no sleeves so J can do the straight seams, I can show her how to put in a zip and then she can have a go at the facings which means sewing a curve.  I think she'll do great and I'm really looking forward to it!  If there's enough fabric left over we can make a headband and maybe a little bag too.  We shall have to see.

Today is a day in.  The cleaners are coming this afternoon so I must start with a tidy up and then I need to get out our selling items and check them over as Kitty Stitches has a table at the June Fair tomorrow.   We kept the float from the last fair so we don't have to worry about that and I invested in a little cash box so now I feel more comfortable about it all.

There's also some washing to do and, by the looks of things, it's not going to be a drying day, so I will have to use the drying racks inside.

So that's my day today.

On the menu
B:  porridge with blueberries and yogurt
L:  egg mayo, mixed salad, pitta bread
D:  smoked cod loin (probably baked or steamed in foil), broccoli and new potatoes

I must look up some recipes for smoked cod!  I saw it and thought 'why not'!

Thursday 16 June 2016

It can happen anywhere . . .

. . . including here.

RIP, Jo Cox.


Well, despite some cloudy moments, yesterday was a beautiful day, mainly sunny and warm with a refreshing breeze.  If summer was more like that I would be a happy lady as I'm really not fond of the very hot weather.

I got my Aldi shopping done and then set to in the garden to sort out the tiny patch at the front which now looks a whole lot better than before.  I even mowed the lawn - and really it is a little lawn now, the best it has ever been since having it returfed last year.  It may be small but I don't care.  A shame about the bare patches but with warmth and rain they should fill in.

I also pottered in the back for a short while, picking strawberries galore and dealing with weeds that dared show their faces.  The foliage and herb bed is looking really lovely at the moment, very vibrant, and the tayberry is starting to show a bit of height.  The runner beans are almost visibly growing too.

It's greener in real life than it shows here.

I've shared these out.  Half for Beth and Alex and the other half is for a friend I am going to see tomorrow morning.  There will be loads more by Friday and then Lathcoats PYO will be starting and I can pick ANY TIME I WANT!

Even the tayberry is finally gaining a little height.  I'm hoping these stems will grow long enough to tie up and start to train along the fence before the end of the growing season.  Fruit next year, maybe?
Maybe another month or am I too optimistic here?  It will be nice to have the archways all green and productive too.

In the evening I went to a governor's meeting at school (interesting) and when I got home I lost a battle with myself.  I've said I won't get a spiraliser.  I've fought the impulse, I truly have, but I have lost!  Ho hum!

Today I am seeing a friend and then, after lunch, I'm off to school for granny reading again followed by tuition.  A really pleasant day, don't you think?

And today's food is:
B:  yogurt, strawberries and granola
L:  tuna salad wrap with beetroot followed by fruit and yogurt
D:  bean burger, cabbage and roasted summer veg, followed by vanilla yogurt and maybe water melon too

Wednesday 15 June 2016


Good morning!
Again, it is sunny outside at the moment and I am crossing fingers for it to stay because I have a commitment free day (until this evening) and I really do need to do some garden stuff.  Yesterday was monsoon like at times and, inevitably, it was especially bad just as the children came out of school.  I was sitting in the car waiting for Alex to come out (very sensibly he was waiting until the rain died down) and the number of students without any kind of cover, not even a little fold up plastic mac, was gobsmacking.  I saw one, just one, umbrella too!

It was good fun in school.  I caught up with some of the recent events and saw the dance for the June Fair on Saturday as they rehearsed it.  The children now know me well and they almost queue up to ask me if they are going to read to me today.  One little lass was distraught because she thought she didn't have her book in her book bag and ' I really, really want to read to you'.  Bless.  It was there, she hadn't looked carefully enough, by the way!

I was looking forward to an afternoon planning tuition but had a phone call from Beth.  One of her cats was ill but her car was in for a service.  She could have got a taxi, of course, but why shell out a fortune unnecessarily.  So I spent the afternoon with Beth, picked Alex up from school as arranged and then came home to an email cancelling one of the tuition sessions.  I will do the other today.

I did a bit more sorting paperwork out in the evening while watching telly - not that there's all that much worth watching with all the football on (no, I'm not a fan) but there are always videos/DVDs!

So, today is commitment free.   I intend to go to Adi and do a little shop.  I like their frozen salmon steaks and I am hoping they will have some cheap, big flower pots for the three tomatoes Dad gave me last week which are flourishing and really do need to go out.   I've no room on any of the beds for them.  Judging by the colours, there are more strawberries to pick and a number of rain encouraged weeds to murder!

Today's food:
B:  natural yogurt, blueberries and granola (delicious!), satsuma
L: coronation chicken and mixed salad wrap, apple, water melon
D:  chicken curry and rice, fruit salad, natural yogurt

Tuesday 14 June 2016


Good morning, everyone.
After a sunny start yesterday it clouded over and then the rain came.  Nothing torrential yesterday, but quite enough to water the allotment thoroughly.  Before it started, Sean turned up and cleaned out my guttering, a very overdue task and one I was glad to see done.   I am thankful it didn't rain on him.

Yesterday was a good day.

It appears that because I deferred my state pension for two years, I am entitled to some more pension and yesterday the letter and form arrived so I had to make a decision about how to take it.  After consulting my financial adviser (dad), I filled in the appropriate form and posted it back.  Now it is a case of wait and see when.  I don't really mind when because when it comes it will be backdated anyway.  Not a lot but enough to be nice.

I popped into Staples in the morning and bought some more suspension files for my filing cabinet and spent most of the afternoon sorting out pay slips, old contracts and goodness knows what else.  The shredder earned its space, that's for sure.  It feels good getting rid of stuff I no longer need and that I'm now ready to do it.  I wasn't in September but I am now.  Cheers.

The third good thing was that the hot air popcorn maker arrived.  Guess what I had as a snack!  It was fun to watch the corn whirling round and round and popping up and out of the machine into a bowl.

Today I am in school hearing children read, something I very much enjoy.  Then in the afternoon I need to plan my two tuition lessons for Thursday so that's the day sorted out for me.

Today's food plans:
B:  Toast and marmite, pear, maybe some natural yogurt
L:  egg mayo with a salad, pitta bread and an apple
D:  chicken and cashew pilaf, fruit and yogurt

Monday 13 June 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  Another week starts and it is a lazy week so I will have to plan some stuff to fill it - oh, the hardship!

First of all, it seems that Blogger has problems again with spam.  All my recent entries have rubbish comments on them.  It's annoying but please ignore them for now.

The rain started a little earlier than expected, mid morning and it wasn't really dry for very long after that, despite some sunny spells.  It chucked it down again come the evening.  Alex came over, or rather, I went to pick him up as it was raining and after lunch we picked up his laptop from where it was being repaired.

Today it's gloriously sunny right now, which is nice to see.  Maybe it will stay like that.  I hope so because I have a few things to do with the garden, especially round the front where there's some spectacular grasswork making an appearance.  The back isn't half so bad but I think there are more strawberries to pick.

That's about it really so here's the food plans for the day.

B:  Pancake, strawberries and natural yogurt
L:  Smoked salmon with a mixed salad
D:  Chicken salad, blueberries, yogurt

Sunday 12 June 2016


Hello again, everyone.  After a dull but warm and dry morning and afternoon(good for drying the clothes anyway) the heavens opened and we got some fairly heavy rain for a while.  Very disappointing for all the parties and barbies that were happening.  It is dry now so fingers crossed for that huge party along the Mall today.  I know that, being British, people will make the most of it whatever the weather, but it would be nice if it were dry, even if the sun doesn't shine.

Yesterday was an incredibly lazy day.  I did get the washing done and dried before the rain started, which is good, and I did the washing up - well, set the dishwasher off anyway.  Apart from that I watched the Trooping of the Colours, slept, watched Death on the Nile, slept, read a magazine, slept - oh, you get the idea.  I must have been snoozing when the fly past came over (it always does) because I don't remember hearing it and I did have the French windows open!

I did take a few garden photos so here you are . . .
Taken just to show off the baby truss!  That'll be my breakfast in a few months' time.

Nice, healthy looking runner bean stems.  They're all coiling around the canes now and I reckon once they are doing that they're pretty safe.

Very fragrant.

I just love these old fashioned flowers.  Aquilegia or 'grandmother's bonnet' and you can see why it's called that

I have to do just a bit more today, I really do.  I mean, one is meant to enjoy retirement but one does need to get a few things done!  I will have to cook a dinner because yesterday Al messaged me to ask if he could come over for dinner today and, of course, I said 'yes'.  I've already planned and got my dinner so I can get something from the freezer for him.  Better get it now, in fact, so it's thawed out when I want to cook it.  He likes sausages and I could make onion gravy.

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes with strawberries, mixed berries in natural yogurt
L:  cold salmon, mixed salad, watermelon
D:  quiche, salad, lime torte
I'm trying to keep my F&V up and I think today I will manage it!

Friday 10 June 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  I am now home again after a week away and it was so nice to sleep in my own bed again last night.  Mum and Dad's home is lovely, very comfortable, but really there's no place like home, is there?

It was a good drive home.  There was a fair amount of traffic bit it was all moving, no holdups at all.  There was just one heart stopping moment when a jogger ran straight into the road in front of me.  Thank goodness the reflexes and the brakes worked and also that I was not exceeding the speed limit.  He just ran on without even mouthing a 'sorry' to me.  Ah, well, it takes all sorts.

I popped into school to see someone for a meeting and it was very pleasant to say hi to friends and hearing some of the news.

That was about it really.  I'm sure you have seen the strawberry photos.  They really were extremely delicious and I look forward to the next lot.  The runner beans are climbing their supports well now and the tomatoes look good and healthy and one even has its first truss growing.  I came home with three more plants from Dad.  They are a new bush tomato, in its first year out, and Dad will be reporting back on it.  I have no room in the bed so will need to get out some larger pots for them.

Here's my food for the day - it is rather nice to be in charge again.
B:  toast and marmite, apple
L:  salmon steak with salad
D:  chicken quiche with salad, lime torte
Lots of sparkling water.

Well, I'd better get going.  There's a week's clothes to wash, dry and iron and I need to pop into town first thing.


Looky looky look what I have just picked after arriving back home today!  I have trimmed and eaten the slug nibbled one and the others are for lunch.

Pesky slugs!

I guess this will be appearing at the top of my foody blog soon.

Lunch with natural yogurt.  Gorgeous!


Good morning.  It's another sniffly, sneezy start to the day for me so I've taken the meds and can expect to need another snooze soon.  They do make me feel a little sleepy but not overwhelmingly so.  The alternative reactions tire me out a lot more.

Beth posted this photo on Facebook to show what's happened and I thought I'd share it.  Made me laugh and growl at the same time (please excuse the language!).
Some photos taken in Dad's garden.

Have a super day.

Thursday 9 June 2016


Good morning!  Nearly another week over and nearly a third of the way through the month.  Not long until the longest day.  When I wrote that I thought 'how ridiculous - we're hardly over winter yet'.  It's just incredible how time flies, isn't it?

The weather was lovely yesterday apart from one gloomy spell over lunchtime when it looked a bit threatening but didn't come to anything.  That's probably because all the excitement was forty or so miles away, in Chelmsford, where, Beth tells me, it absolutely poured!  No need to water the allotment yesterday, or my garden, come to that!

We had a pleasant time at Standalone although I had forgotten how pongy these animal places are.  Certain 'country aromas' are really not my thing.  I'm not a genuine country lass - farmlike-animal smells are yuck!  We walked around, looked at some animals, watched the model railway, enjoyed the frolics of the many littlies there and had a light lunch.

Also, I was glad I am now on anti sneeze meds every day for a while because even with them I was getting itchy and snuffly and my eyes were gritty.  I'd rather not think about how unpleasant it would be without them.  I've just taken today's dose after waking up itchy-eyed and scratchy-skinned.  Ho hum!

Today we go shopping and I have a form to fill in.  One of the reasons for staying here was so I could have some in-depth consultations with my financial adviser (aka 'Dad') regarding how to invest lump sums, 25% tax free AVC dosh, etc, etc, etc.  We have done so - long live ISAs, peer to peer lending and so on and so forth!  And while I am here, it's good to know the old home is being cared for too.  :-)

I gave in yesterday.  Remember last week I talked about making popcorn in the microwave?  Plain popcorn is a great snack and I am very fond of it.  Yesterday I gave in and ordered a hot air popper machine thing.  I hadn't realised that you can now get lots of flavours of powder to shake over your popcorn, should you fancy it.  That might be useful for parties, etc, but for now I will be enjoying my plain popped corn with maybe a little pinch of salt.

Hoping that all my readers have a great day today, wherever you are.

Wednesday 8 June 2016


Well, that particular sunny spell didn't last very long, did it?  Yesterday started warm and sunny, turned extremely humid and ended with a good storm and torrential rain.  At least I don't need to worry about the garden or the allotment getting enough water today!  It's early to say but it's not looking too promising out there at the moment.

I made dinner yesterday.  A right mish-mash of things from the freezer - belly pork, runner beans, wedges, corn on the cob - you name it, we had it (OK, slight exaggeration there)!  I did the belly port in a barbie sauce as described in a very old Readers Digest book called The Cookery Year.  Mum commented that her copy was in a disgraceful state (it is rather) and she really ought to look for another one so I came online, found a second hand copy on Amazon in 'very good' condition and bought it.  That was my good deed for the day!

I have decided I really don't like cooking with gas.  I've always been an electric girl myself and it upset all my timings, not to mention cooking 'differently'.  I wasn't all that pleased about how the belly pork came out but the sauce itself was really lovely and I shall try it with chicken some time soon.

Weather permitting, we are hoping to get out to Standalone Farm today.  Standalone is a small working show farm.  I used to take Beth and Dave when they were little and Beth took Alex there too when he was a little lad.  I haven't been for a long, long time and it has developed and changed, so it should be super.  If it's raining we won't go so fingers crossed - and if you're ever in the area it is well worth a visit.

On facebook yesterday, Beth listed all the stuff we are growing this year.  It is more that I thought when you put it all together so here it is:
". . . babycorn, yellow courgettes, cucumbers, mangetout, charlotte potatoes, big ol' baking potatoes, borlotti beans and french beans. Two kinds of apples, pear and plum on the trees. Rhubarb at the plot and at mine. Strawbs, toms and runner beans at Mum's too."
I don't think we will starve this summer!
Mind you, this being a funny old year, weather wise, I have already received notification of two full Smith periods from the very useful Blightwatch site so who knows whether the toms will survive very long!

Have a great day and fingers crossed for the sun!

Tuesday 7 June 2016


Good moning, Gentle readers all.  Apologies for not appearing yesterday but here am I, back again.

The weather really has changed good and proper now with loads of sun, warmth and hay fever.  Yes, the sneezes are truly back with a vengeance and I'm on the pills again.  No complaints - it's fantastic to have such effective and reasonably priced medicaton to hand because without it this time of year would be a misery for so many people.

Nothing very exciting is happening and life is plodding happily along.  The second half of the last last term has now started and in under three month I will have been a lady of leisure for a year.  With hindsight it seems to have passed very quickly in some ways and slowly in others.  I suppose that is normal.

Yesterday evening I went out for a meal with Mum and Dad.  I had chicken and bacon salad, an ordinary name but a very delicious salad which was rather like a caesar salad.  We both helped mum along with her chips!  Then it was back for Sewing Bee but I'm afraid I fell asleep so after I've finished this I am going to access it on iPlayer and watch it again.

Today I don't have any real plans apart from coffee and cake at a find raiser for a toddlers club.  I'm not doing the allotment this week but Beth is and she's been working hard doing all sorts of bits and pieces to get things under control, bless her.   She's a star.

Well, I had better stop now.  I need coffee and no-one else is going to make it fo me so I'd better get going!  See you tomorrow and I hope you enjoy this wonderful weather we are having (if you're having it too, of course).

Sunday 5 June 2016


Good morning, gentle readers all.  It is still very dull here although the sun did make a brief appearance for a while yesterday early evening.  The good thing is that it has warmed up significantly and no long are my fingers and toes cold, thank goodness.

In the end, Beth and I spent the whole of yesterday morning down the allotment and we managed to get a lot done.  We weeded (VERY necessary), mowed, sowed and planted.  All the mini-plants are now in their forever home (!) and, in the usual allotment way, Beth managed to swap our leftover borlotti beans for three cucumber plants which was jolly nice.

We also made the decision to cover a still very weedy part with tarp, which we did.  It's a relief to have that covered over.  It looks a whole lot better and it means those weeds will die back and the whole bed will be so much easier to deal with.

Finally we harvested some of the rhubarb.  There's such a lot there!  I gave some of my share to Mum and Dad and need to search for a rhubarb chutney recipe.  It would make nice Christmas presents.    I will also use some for my own strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry jam which is absolutely scrummy.

Talking of strawberries, mine are definitely starting to ripen now and some nice warm sun should speed the process.  That means Lathcoats will soon be opening.  Lathcoats, for newer readers, is our local PYO/farm shop and it's a very pleasant place indeed.  I am so looking forward to this year because in previous years I've only been able to go at weekends and often the best fruit has gone, picked during the week.

I look a good look at the fruit trees.  The redlove is definitely thriving which is great.  The plum has five or six fruit - poor but there's no dead leaves so it has survived the move really well.  The other apple hasn't any fruit but the leaves are intact and there's new growth.  The pear looks terrible but it's not dead, there's new growth, not only from the ends but also where the leaves died.  I think we can safely say that moving the trees was a real success.

The biggest problem (and it's not really a problem) is that the mower battery isn't quite long lasting enough.  To be fair, the grass was very long and very wet and it was all rather hard work but there wasn't enough power to do all of the grass so I am now umming and ahing about getting a second battery.  They are not cheap but, on the other hand, it will mean we can do the full job each time.

Enough of allotment.  In the afternoon I sorted out the rhubarb, chopped my share and bunged it straight in the freezer for attention later on and drove over to see Mum and dad with their share.  In the evening we went out to see a local production of Oklahoma which was most enjoyable although, yet again, it struck me how remarkably silly some of these musical story plots are!

As for today, I really have no idea whatsoever.  It is an adventure just waiting to happen.  I'm still a bit achey from yesterday morning and my dodgy ankle is dodgier than it was before but that's just par for the course really and not a problem.

It is time to make a coffee, I think, so I will love you and leave you, as the saying goes.  Have a great day.

Saturday 4 June 2016


. . . and 'they' say it is due to warm up today.  Thank the Lord for that!  I gave in yesterday: I was so cold and miserable after a good dig at the allotment that I turned on the heating and slowly thawed out.  I'm not sure why I was feeling so very cold but I was.  When I went to bed (early), I turned it up and fell asleep feeling toasty warm.  Bliss.

It was a bit of a shock arriving at the allotment.  After a few weeks of neglect it looked shocking so we all set to and dealt with a lot of the weeds.  I shall take the mower down later and deal with the grass edges and it should look a bit more presentable again.  Alex came down too and was a fantastic help, bless him.

To my delight, the redlove that I bought in memory of my dear Aunty May seems to have survived the move really well and has more mini apples on it than ever it did at my place.  Part of that is due to age, of course - it is now several years old and ready to produce more - but also it is because it's in a place where there are loads of other apple trees around.  It's not a self pollinating tree and needs to be pollinated from other trees.  Until now I did the necessary with some blossom donated by a friend but it was all rather hit and miss and only resulted in a very few fruits after the June drop.  Of course there is that to come so we will lose some then but it's looking quite hopeful all the same.

Two of the other three that we moved are also looking quite happy, which is great.  The fourth, a pear, isn't quite so content.  A lot of the leaves have shrivelled up and I doubt there will be any fruit this year.  However, there's new growth from the tips and green leaves there so fingers crossed it was just a survival reaction to stress rather than anything more serious.  I hope so: it was a prolific fruiter last year.

There are two apple trees, a pear and a plum.  They are all 'miniatures' or supposed to be, so we're hoping they won't grow too big.  There's a size restriction on trees but we can see that it isn't that rigorously enforced as we look round the allotments!

And the rhubarb!  Oh, my goodness, the rhubarb!  Just as well we both like the stuff.  Must look up a recipe for rhubarb chutney!

Today's food:
B:  Scrabbled egg on a toasted pikelet
L:  Spag bol
D:  No idea at the moment!

Friday 3 June 2016


Brrrr - it was a flippin' cold day yesterday.  I don't think my hands warmed up properly until the heating clicked on late afternoon and warmed up the house.  I can't remember the last time the heating came on in June.  The wind moderated a bit but it was still definitely adding to the chill factor!  Amazingly, the sun came out for around two minutes.  It must have decided it was far too cold and decided to go somewhere else instead and who can blame it?  Not me, for sure.

After some 'talk' on a thread in a Facebook group, I had a go at making microwave popcorn - pure and simple no added oil or sugar.  It worked a treat so that is now on my list of 'healthy snacks'.  I've blogged about what I did on Teacher's Recipes.

I also tried a recipe for oatcakes and they worked well.  I'll pop that on Teacher's Recipes too, in due course.

For a short time I toyed with the idea of changing the name of this blog to either 'Diary of a retired teacher' or 'Diary of a teacher (retired)' but neither looked right so I didn't.

I had some changes of plans, all due to illnesses but, dear me, it is lovely to be able to be so very flexible.  It also means that I can meet Beth down the allotment and get those plants in.  Silver linings and all that.

So today is digging and weeding and planting.  Fingers crossed the weather stays OK.  At present the wind is still moderate and the clouds are still there.  BBC weather tells me that today will stay cloudy, dull, cool and a bit windy but that tomorrow there will be a real change as the warm, sunny weather rolls in.  We shall see.

And today's food:
B:  crumpets and jam, orange
L:  egg mayo and salad in pitta bread, natural yogurt and toasted oats
D:  steak, peas and oven chips (treating myself and they're all from the freezer - I am still slowly working my way through the piles of stuff).

And now I must get going - first, coffee.

Thursday 2 June 2016


It's still cold.
It's still dull.
It's still very windy.
This is getting boring.  Where's the sun?  It's 'flaming June', for goodness sakes!

OK, grumble over.  After all, in other parts they're having glorious sunshine and temperatures in the twenties.  Maybe that will be here next week.

Yesterday my overlocker arrived.  We (Beth and I) have been considering getting one for quite a while now, just because, so when an ad arrived in my mailbox from the company we use for all our sewing machine essentials for an overlocker half price (bank holiday sale thingy) I didn't hesitate for very long.  I've looked in bewilderment at the machine and the instructions and need to work through them step by step.  It looks complicated but if I can use Thermione with ease, I can use this too.

I shelled out for a few things.  The willow basket weaving course is definitely on and a friend is coming too which will be nice so I sent off the cheque for that.  I've also sent off the deposit for the short holiday I am having at the beginning of September (just after the schools go back) in Suffolk which makes it really real now.

Then Beth and Sharon arrived and an hour and a half later Beth and I were both feeling a lot less shaggy around the head.  She (Sharon) is really good.  Her cuts last from appointment to appointment, hold shape well and are easy to manage.  She's a treasure and the fact that she comes to my home is a real bonus.

On to today - I was going to have coffee with a dear friend but she's not terribly well so I may not go.  I've messaged her and will see what she says.  I need to do a bit of tidying downstairs in preparation for the cleaners tomorrow.  People laugh when I say that but actually it means they can spend their time (and my money) doing the cleaning which is what I want them to do, rather than having to tidy things first.  It makes sense to me.

And, you never know, today might be the day I get my bedroom sorted.  Pigs might fly too.  Wouldn't that be a thing!

Today's food.
B:  fruit salad with natural yogurt and granola
L:  tuna salad wrap, orange
D:  turkey meatballs in a sweet pepper sauce, tagliatelle, jelly

Wednesday 1 June 2016


Pinch and punch for the first of the month!
That's got that out of the way.  I'm finding it hard to believe that it is now June.  Summer - well, nearly anyway - and yet yesterday the weather was more like February or March.  Howling wind and lashing rain and quite chilly too.  I managed to avoid putting the heating on but wrapping up well but Beth, who wasn't feeling too good, turned hers on and I don't blame her either.

It's still windy and cold - snuggle under the quilt, dressing gown and slippers cold.  It looks cloudy but it's hard to tell so early.  BBC weather says that it's likely to stay cool and dull all day with possible outbreaks of rain.

I still have plantlets in peat pots in trays and because the trays don't have holes, by midday the poor things were swimming in water.  I sorted that out but the pots are disintegrating rapidly now.  We were hoping to get the corn, beans and the single courgette into the allotment yesterday but there was not a chance in a million that either of us were trying that one.  We'd have drowned!

For the rest of the day I did the end of month accounts.  I am keeping a much closer watch on my finances now and it's really very helpful and reassuring and I did a lot of crochet and telly watching later in the day.

As for today, I got an email informing me that something is being delivered this morning so I do need to stay in and probably can't get to the allotment.  I'm not too happy about that but it can't be helped.
Then the lovely Sharon is coming to make my hair look decent again.
Ah, well.

Today's food:
B:  bran flakes, sultanas, fruit yogurt, apple
L:  coronation chicken and salad in a tortilla wrap, natural yogurt
D:  stir fry chicken with rice, fruit salad