Wednesday 31 August 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  It looks as if the last day of August will be a very pleasant one, weather wise, with plenty of sun and a high of 23 C according to the BBC.  That is just about right for me.

Yesterday was a quiet, pleasant day.  Matt the Plumber came, worked hard, sorted out the slight problem with the shower, replaced the boiler, advised me on another plumbing issue, tidied up and went.  Very efficient, very quiet, I'd recommend him to anyone.  If you live round my way you couldn't do better.

While Matt was taking over the kitchen, I was at a bit of a loose end so I went upstairs and tacked my yarn cupboard and pondered on how to reorganise some stuff in there.  Anything that had been wound into a ball went in a wicker basket that I no longer need or want in my room and all the sock yarn went in another box.  I think I will carry on today and finish the whole cupboard off completely.

So today is more of the same as Matt finishes it all off.  I have to go and feed some cats but apart from that there are no other commitments so I can do as I please really.  Downstairs needs a bit of a tidy up - nothing too bad but it will be if I don't deal with it now - and, of course, this evening it is Bake Off.  It's biscuit week which is always an enjoyable one, although my absolute favourite is bread week.

I will, of course, be on tomato watch.  It's all looking good out there.

Also looking good is the tayberry as I mentioned yesterday.  It's definitely decided that it likes where it is and that it's going to stay this time.  It has three clear growing stems and it looks as if it is sending out a few more but I think I will cut those back come the autumn as I only want to start with three, one for each wire.

And here, because you are all, of course, wildly excited and curious about the tomatoes < cough >, is yesterday evening's state of affairs!  I remembered what they are called - Giulietta.  Despite the lateness, if the taste matches the appearance, I might get another one next year.  It's certainly producing plenty of fruit anyway so will more than cover its costs.

On to today's food:
B:  puffed wheat with fruit, apple
L:  gala pie with a salad, melon
D:  steamed salmon, new pots, tomato salad (I have rather a lot of them!), orange

Tuesday 30 August 2016


Good morning, everyone.  The sun is shining and it was cool overnight so I could snuggle under the quilt.  I do sleep better like that so I've had a great night's sleep.

Another reason might be because I was sleeping in an uncluttered bedroom.  Yes, I finally got the bedroom sorted.  It is now neat and airy and open and I won't stub my toe on anything.  I didn't manage to sort through all the cupboards, although I did quite a lot, partly because the bin is now full and I need to wait until collection on Thursday but also because it took more or less all day (with breaks) and by the end of the afternoon I was hot and bothers and rather achey.   I'll get the rest of the cupboards done another time.

Another nice thing is those tomatoes getting riper and riper.  I reckon the first two will be ready by the weekend.  I'll take a photo of one in my hand so you can see how big they are.
For now . . .

The tayberry has changed out of all recognition since the Spring days of a few leaves at ground level.  I have now started training the stems along the wire on the fence and am dreaming of fruit next year.  Not much, I am sure, but some, enough to do something with.

Today Matt the plumber is here to replace my boiler and give the whole system a thorough overhaul.  He says to just leave it to him so I will.  I will just potter as there's various bits and bobs of stuff that need doing.

Today's food:
B:  yogurt, stewed plums and granola, melon
L:  pea and courgette tartlet, side salad, coleslaw, orange
D:  burger, new pots, runner beans, fried tomatoes, pink fluff

Monday 29 August 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.

First of all, that silly thing I mentioned yesterday.
A few days ago I noticed that the fridge felt rather cold.  It's not too difficult to move the dial while one is cleaning round the edge.  So I turned it down - higher number means higher temp, doesn't it?  It was still feeling too cold so I turned it down again.

Then I got out a frozen lettuce and frozen celery, both of which had been near the back of the fridge.  Ooops.

So I consulted the manual and had a 'doh' moment.  Higher numbers mean colder temp, not warmer.  So I reset and all is fine again - which is more than can be said for the lettuce!  The celery can go into the freezer for cooking with so that's not a problem.

Apart from feeling more than a bit silly, the main emotion was relief.  Having to buy a new fridge in the same month as a new washing machine would have been more than a bit 'ouch'.

Now some good news - for me, anyway.  At long, long, long last, finally, the Italian plum tomatoes have decided to start ripening.  Woo hoo!

OK, so it's very faint and not showing up all that well on the photo above: that was yesterday and it's brighter today, even in the poor early morning light.

Yesterday was very pleasant with Beth and Alex coming for lunch.  I pushed the boat out and we had three courses and it was all rather nice.  There was enough soup left over for me to have more for tea, which was great.

Today is Have To Tidy Up My Bedroom day!  It really is.  No more excusing, prevaricating or negotiation.  By this evening it will be a delight to walk in to.  What?  You don't believe me?  Just wait and see!

Today's food:
B  bacon, tomato and mushrooms
L:  tuna salad wrap, melon
D:  tomato and veg pasta, natural yogurt and fresh fruit

And, as I've made it (for a Facebook group) here's a montage yesterday's food.  The soup was cream of mushroom and it was so delicious and so easy.  Most certainly one to make again.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Sunday - and a special award to . . .

 . . . Specsavers.  Good old Specsavers!

After my glasses broke on Thursday I went into town yesterday, partly to get some things from the market and partly to go to Specsavers to make an appointment to have my eyes tested (long overdue) and to see if my poor glasses could be repaired.

The bad news was that they can't be repaired.  Such a shame because there's nothing wrong with them (apart from the broken bit, of course).  At the moment they are sellotaped up but they don't feel right at all.

The good news is they were able to fit me in for an eye test right away as I got there early.  It turns out that my vision has hardly changed since the last test which is really encouraging after a lifetime of gradually getting worse and worse and everything came out super healthy - great muscle reaction, eye pressure well within the normal range, excellent peripheral vision (well, I have been a teacher most of my life) and so on.  My goodness, the tests are a whole lot more high tech than they were three years ago though.

The test before last, they found something at the back of one of my eyes and sent me post-haste to have it checked out at the eye clinic.  It turned out to be a little mole, nothing dangerous at all.  Today I was told it hasn't changed one little bit so that was also good news.

They do a two for one, of course.  However, given as I don't really need new glasses from the vision point of view, my prescription sunglasses will still be fine so I got two 'normal' pairs, one pair for everyday and one pair for swimming as the chlorine does have an effect on the lenses over time.

And what is also great is that they came out cheaper than three years ago!  OK, so maybe a few 'retired' not-payment things may have clicked in but even so, can't be bad, can it?

So, you see, Specsavers is in my good books right now!

While at the market, I looked at the fruit and veg stall and came back with a bag full of stuff.  Oranges, nectarines, Victoria plums and mushrooms.  I shall make some soup with some of the mushrooms which will be great for lunch today for me, Beth and Alex and  I think I will prep and freeze some of the plums.

On the kitchen front, I made some more vegetable stock paste which is now snugging in the fridge in three jam jars.  It's so good, makes lovely stock for soups and casseroles, etc, and, being home made, is incredibly frugal (and additive free)!

I picked more tomatoes.  Sadly, at least one of the montello plants has blossom end rot which is a right pain.  The fruit isn't totally wasted, you just have to cut off the bottom and discard it so OK for cooking but even so.  Thing is, as they're in pots I can't see how I could have over-watered.  Underwatering is more possible, although I have been careful.  I gather it is basically lack of calcium  which can be caused by either so I've given each pot a handful of slow release pellets and for the next little while I will crunch up egg shells into a powder and pop them on too.  The good thing is that it can be treated and the advice seems to be small waterings three times a day rather than once a day and then it wilts before the next watering.  Anyway, fingers crossed that it works for the currently developing fruit.

For the rest of the day I crafted and generally enjoyed myself in quiet, homey ways.  I did something that made me feel rather silly but I will share that tomorrow as I've waffled on for long enough!

Today I shall make that soup for lunch first of all and then potter.  After all, it is bank holiday weekend.  We will not mention that life is one long holiday now, OK?

Today's food:
B:  natural yogurt, fresh fruit and granola, apple
L:  mushroom soup, lasagne, Karen's frozen pink fluff
D:  gala pie with salad, melon

Saturday 27 August 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's the start of the weekend and I bet a lot of families will be thinking of heading for the coast.  Fresh sea breezes are just the thing on these warm days, aren't they, and I envy people who live by the sea.  The weather forecast is weird - there's a yellow warning of rain but the actual forecast shows merely some light showers.

Fortunately for me, the rain isn't due until around midday (if it arrives at all).  I should be back from town well before then because I shall be in before the crowds, I hope.

Yesterday went well.  My delivery arrived at the time they said it would, Sharon worked her usual magic on my hair and the early bird swim was lovely.

I decided not to go for lengths this time, but to just paddle my way up and down for a while.  I did about forty five minutes and it was physically invigorating and mentally relaxing.

As I was drying off afterwards, my glasses felt wonky so I put my hand up to adjust them and discovered that one of the legs (or are they called arms) had come completely off.  It wasn't the little screw, it was a bit further along, and, while I was able to push it back together and sellotape (when I got home), the spring isn't there any more and they feel very loose and unsafe.
So while I am is town, I will pop into Specsavers to see if it can be repaired and, as I'm overdue for an eye test, I will book one at the same time.  I've popped my prescription sunglasses into my bag in case they take off the sellotape and then discover that it can't be repaired.  I shall have to drive home somehow, after all!

The other thing I need to do is go to the haberdashery stall to get buttons, zip, thread and lace for one of the current projects.  I shall also give the connecting fabric stall the once over in case they have anything new in.  Then, seeing as I am in town, I will go to the fruit and veg stall as they can have some very good stuff very reasonably priced.

Once home, I think a bit of gardening is on the cards, plus more crafting.  Oh, isn't it a hard life!  The knitted part is coming together well and will be finished today  and tomorrow I shall focus on the sewing part.  I was a little concerned that there was enough yarn but it is coming together fine and I will have enough to send a little ball of it for any necessary repairs.

I have enough tomatoes now that I can start cooking them so yesterday I fried some in a little butter and, oh, they were so, so good.  I have some left over to eat with a crumpet for breakfast and I'm really looking forward to it!  In fact it has got to the point where I have to go out with a container to pick - my hand isn't big enough.

So, today's food:
B:  crumpet with fried tomatoes, apple
L:  mini crustless quiche with salad, orange
D:  steak, more fried tomatoes, runner beans, mushrooms, natural yogurt and soft fruit

As I don't have an appropriate photo, here's a montage of yesterday's nosh!

Have a great day, everyone.

Friday 26 August 2016


Friday already!  The end of the working week for many.  The end of the last full week of the summer holidays.

All my adult life I have got to this point in the year with a sort of sinking feeling.  Not dread, just sadness that the holiday is nearly over and, yes, a sense of hovering stress, there and ready to pounce.  It's missing this year.
The thing I am dreading most at the moment is the drive over the Orwell Bridge that I will have to make to get to my B&B in a few week's time.  I have no head for heights whatsoever; I even avoid the flyover at the Army and Navy roundabout and as for the QE bridge, I take a middle lane and stick to it, looking ahead rigidly!  The Orwell bridge looks as if it has no sides although common sense tells me that it has to.

But that's an entirely different feeling!

Yesterday was warm again, wasn't it?  Not as baking hot as Wednesday and the skies were hazy but warm enough to dry the washing quickly and to make staying in with the fan on a very pleasant option.  The tomatoes are certainly liking it and I was able to give Beth a bagful the other day.

After tuition (I'm loving it!) Beth came round and we got started on a new commission.  I won't tell you what it is yet, just in case, as it's a gift, but I am knitting and we've adapted a dress pattern.  It means a trip to the market tomorrow morning to get sylko, lace and a zip!

My new iron arrived yesterday.  The old one (which is very old now) was showing signs of wear and tear and wasn't ironing quite as well as it used to do.  I reckon that if I am going to iron, I want to do it properly!  It's a Which? Best Buy so should be OK: it is certainly pretty substantial.

Today looks like being fully occupied.
Swimming first, then back home to wait for Sharon to come and do my hair.  After that, weather permitting, we're off to the allotment but just to water.
Then things ease off a bit and we go our separate ways but Beth is staying overnight so I need to make sure there's a meal for her when she gets here.  Her bed is already made up and her room will be nice and clean, once the cleaners have done their best!
I'm awaiting an email that will give the an hour slot for an important delivery so the allotment bit might change.

Today's food plans:
B:  oat bran galette, natural yogurt, fresh fruit, apple
L:  soup from the freezer, orange
D:  salmon, new potatoes and fried tomatoes, pineapple and yogurt

Thursday 25 August 2016


Hot yesterday, wasn't it?  About thirty three degrees here, I believe.  That's about ten degrees hotter than my comfort zone and it made watering the allotment rather an unpleasant experience.
This morning it is cooler but the rain predicted yesterday seems to have vanished off the BBC weather page.  A shame - a day of penetrating drizzle, interspersed with the occasional heavy shower would have done wonders for the allotment.

However, to compensate for the baking hot weather yesterday, the cooking demo was great: the food was delicious and there was loads leftovers for another day.  Actually, to tell the truth, I did have more of the berry foam come the evening which was a sort of super whisked semi-frozen mousse-y thing, the leftovers of which went straight into the freezer after the meal.  So, instead of running my freezer down, it now has two portions of pea and mint soup, two portions of tomato pasta with veg and feta (Beth took loads home too) as well as the foam which Beth and I have re-named 'Karen's Pink Fluff' - a reference that Chalet School fans might recognise.

Today I have a tuition session at ten and then I will go and water the allotment again.  After that it is 'home, James' for a spot of bedroom tidying and clothes sorting out.

How exciting!

Today's food is:
B:  scrambled egg on a pikelet (I have a left over yolk from yesterday which I can use up), apple
L:  red pepper hummus and salad wrap, apple
D:  savoury mince with runner beans, Karen's pink fluff with strawberries

Wednesday 24 August 2016


Welcome to what promises to be another beautifully shiny day.  Yesterday was gorgeous and today will be too, according to the Beeb.  No complaints here!

I didn't do half the stuff I planned to do yesterday but I had a great day and got the important bits done.  The rest can wait for another day.

Swimming was cool - in more than one meaning of the word.  Thirty lengths and a couple more for luck.   It's weird how one can get quite heated in cold water, isn't it?   And once home I discovered that my new toy does a thirty degree half hour wash which is perfect for washing the swimming stuff.  Let's face it, the costume isn't getting dirty, is it.  It's been in the water for an hour!  The towel is for drying off clean water after the shower.  A very short wash is all that's needed.

I'm getting excited now because today there's a cooking demo here at lunch time and then in the evening it is the first episode of this years Bake Off.  I love that programme, I really do.

I've discovered it's CJ who is leaving (has already left) Eggheads.  I'm kind of sorry - I liked his quirkiness and superiority and I really enjoyed 'Revenge of the Egghead' when it was on.  I guess there won't be any more series of that now.

So the menu for today is somewhat different.
B:  yogurt, fruit and granola
L:  < takes deep breath >  Pea and mint soup, tomato pasta with vegetables and feta, berry foam.
D:  probably leftovers, if I have any room.

But first . . . coffee!

Tuesday 23 August 2016


Hello again, gentle readers.  How was yesterday for you.  It was lovely here - warm sunny and with a breeze.  I washed and dried two loads of washing and it smells so fresh now.  Gorgeous.  At the moment it looks as if today will be similar too.

I met Beth down the allotment in the morning and tried out the strimmer which did a great job.  We weeded and scraped and clipped and weeded some more and then Beth watered everything.  I came home with three cucumbers: two mini ones from our plant and one long one from Bert, the guy several allotments up from ours.  Beth had a little courgette and we both had potatoes.  Our cucumbers were delicious - well, the one I cut is.  I'm sure Bert's is as well.

They're a very friendly bunch down there.  After chatting to Bert, Dave came over from his patch and we had another chat.  At the moment our allotment doesn't look much worse than the posh one over the way but I bet they're on holiday and that's why.  It doesn't take long for the weeds to emerge again.

Once back home, I baked some oat cakes (scrummy) and made some broad bean pate with Sunday's leftovers and it was really tasty - so it's in t'other blog!

That was about it really - I was a bit lazy and got on with the knitting while watching telly later on.  It's all back to normal again now the Olympics have finished although instead of Eggheads there was 'So you want to be an Egghead' instead.  No, it wasn't quite called that but it looks as if maybe another old stager is going and they want replacements.  I still miss Daphne . . .

Eat Well for Less was back earlier.  It was a bit different this week with a family where a member needed to be gluten free and they didn't quite know how to find their way through it so they were all having different meals.  It was really good, so engrossing that I was surprised when the hour came u[p and the programme finished and I daresay I will watch it again on iPlayer at some point.

Today I will have an early morning swim and then I have to get the kitchen spick, span and tidy for a demo tomorrow.  I may as well devote the day to housework and get it all done!

Today's food:
B:  puffed wheat, fruit.
L:  gala pie, salad, apple
D:  beef casserole, new pots, runner beans, natural yogurt and pineapple

Monday 22 August 2016


Hello and welcome to the start of a new week.  There's just two weeks left of the summer holiday here in Chelmsford - a bit less, in fact.  It seems to have gone really quickly, as quickly as it used to go when I was teaching.  I gather the weather is warming up again so this week should be pleasant and maybe some more tomatoes will give in and do the necessary!

Yesterday was much nicer than Saturday, weather wise, with sunshine and more warmth, although the wind kept up rather most of the day.  As my garden is surrounded by trees, big and small, there's a lot of movement when the wind blows which I love to sit and watch.  It is very relaxing, like watching the waves on the shore.

I went early bird swimming and did thirty lengths - that's 1,000 metres.  I know that's not a huge number or length in the wider scheme of things but it is for me.  My minimum target is twenty lengths but I like to aim for thirty.  Yesterday the pool was pretty empty and it was both relaxing and invigorating at the same time.

Once home, I got going with the dinner which all worked out well.  In one of my searches in the freezer I found some home made stollen which I got out and thawed.  With it I made a posh bread and butter pudding which was really delicious, definitely one to do again.  It was very simple because the bread already had the fruit, the spices and most of the sugar.  I've blogged about it on Teacher's Recipes.

After Beth and Al went home I chilled by watching the last few bits of the Olympics.  I'm not a great follower of sport but I shall miss them this week.  However, in compensation, Bake Off starts and Eat Well for Less resumes so there will be things to keep me watching.  Also, of course, the usual favourites will be back in their rightful place - Eggheads, Pointless, etc..

Today I'm allotmenting and playing with my new toy, the strimmer.  After that it will be the usual Monday stuff - kitchen, washing, drying and ironing, etc, in fact I already have one load in the machine to peg out before I go to the allotment.  I also need to go shopping at some point but will probably leave that until Tuesday.  Just a normal day, in fact, ordinary but very pleasant!

Today's food:
B:  two boiled eggs and an apple
L:  broad bean pate (from yesterday's left over broad beans, zizzed with some soft cheese, garlic and a touch of olive oil) with carrot and celery sticks or, if I get round to making them, oatcakes, salad, melon
D:  chilli con carne with courgetti, natural yogurt and pineapple

Sunday 21 August 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  As predicted, yesterday turned out to be very gusty with some heavy showers interspersed with sunshine.  The wind didn't blow down the tomatoes although it was a near thing and they'd have gone flat if I hadn't tied them up more.  As it was I added some more stakes and will have to take another look at them today and see if they need more support.  They're very heavy now with all their fruit.

Yesterday also turned out to be a kitchen day.

On Friday I got out of the freezer some shin of beef, about 500g of it.  I looked up a likely recipe which needed chopped toms and, as I am out of tins of chopped toms, I got some of last year's tomatoes from the freezer including some with some chilli which had made it rather hot.  However, I reckoned that by the time it was diluted with all the other ingredients, it would be OK - and it was.  It turned out deliciously, in fact.

However, I had some tomato left over so I went back into the freezer and dug out a very old pack of turkey mince and made a sort of chilli con carne with onion, pepper, mushroom, peas and sweetcorn together with the mince, the chilli tomato and a can of kidney beans, together with various seasonings.

I was well pleased that I didn't have to buy anything, I used up some of my stash of stuff that I really should have used ages ago and I now have a number of meals that are only one step away from being eaten so that's several meals for the next fortnight all sorted out.

You see, I am on a project, a 'mission', if you like, to use up my food stash and to spend as little as possible on food as I do so.  I'm a terrible hoarder anyway, most teachers are, and my whole house is suffering as a result but the food situation is ridiculous at the moment.  So my freezer is my butcher for several months and I need to see gaps in my cupboards.

It's way too early to tell what the weather will be like today.  BBC weather predicts maybe a few showers early and late with fine, warm weather in between.  Let's hope so.

Rain or shine, I'm going early morning swimming and after that I shall set to and make a roast dinner, seeing as it's Sunday.  I found a small silverside joint at the bottom of the freezer which will do nicely.  Beth will have a Jack-burger and we will all have the ubiquitous runner beans with some broad beans and new potatoes.  Not Yorkshire pudding because you have to make such a lot and I don't, right now, want to give over freezer space.

So - today's menu:
B:  Oat bran galette with soft fruit and yogurt
L:  Roast beef, new pots (from the allotment!), runner beans and broad beans, apple
D:  Gala pie with a mixed salad, yogurt and pineapple

Saturday 20 August 2016

Garden update

This and the one below are not my trees, they are in next door's garden, but they do add to the general greenness and freshness that is all around me.  The one below leans over into my garden.
See the lovely blue sky this morning?

Plenty of runners to pick
. . . and plenty still to come.

So many sungold tomatoes just learning how to ripen.

. . . and loads and loads of the big Italian plum tomatoes showing no willingness whatsoever to ripen.
They'd better get a move on or they'll be destined for the chutney pot! 

And finally, at last, Montello is getting the hang of this.  One picked this morning, the one in the photo will be ready by this evening and several others blushing with shame at being so late!

Now all I need is the predicted wind today to blow the whole lot over < sigh >.

Added later.
As the wind is getting up and I'm damned if I will let it blow over my veg, I've attached a somewhat Heath Robinson-ish contraption with string and next door's fence posts in the hopes that it will keep both the tomatoes and the runners upright.  Fingers crossed!


Good morning, everyone.

Well, the old washing machine has been disconnected and take for recycling, the new one is in and working and I'm loving it.  It looks complicated at first glance but actually it's very intuitive and user friendly.  What I really like is that you can set your own programme, temperature, spin speed, etc and save it so that you don't need to keep changing settings.  For example, I like a cottons wash at 40 degrees with a 1400 spin so that's what I will set it to remember.

It also has an auto dispenser.  You have to use liquid detergent and conditioner and you pour it into the correct holding container and it automatically dispenses the right amount for the wash you have chosen and you can change those settings if you like.  Or you can turn that off (both or either) and just bung in a capsule or whatever.  Very neat.

Of course, because I had a new machine and washing that had to be done, it rained all afternoon, more or less, so I have things drying in here.

That was my day, more or less.  Today it's homey things - housework and the like.

I had to try something out overnight with my new toy.  You can delay the start for up to 24 hours so I set it to do a wash that finished at around four o'clock this morning.  And it worked!  As it's OK at the moment I shall hang it out and hope!

This weekend is the V festival here in Chelmsford.  Right at the moment it is dry and clear but the forecast isn't brilliant with a weather warning for wind, of all things.  Nice when you're in a tent!  Good luck to them!

Today's food plan:
B:  porridge with pineapple and yogurt, apple
L:  tuna and olive salad, melon
D:  fish pie with broad beans and runner beans (I changed yesterday's plan to steak and salad), yogurt ice cream

Friday 19 August 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  It is the last day of another working week and there's just two weeks left of the school summer holiday now.
There's a very pink, 'shepherd's warning' sky, very attractive to look at so I snapped a photo.  Why is it these photos are never as good as the real thing?

Yesterday ended up far from quiet and peaceful.

First of all, it was A and AS level results day.  Grandson Alex has just finished his first year of 6th form so was taking his AS levels.  To our huge delight he got great grades, an incredible achievement for him.  It bodes well for next year and his A levels.  That was very cheering for us all.

While that excitement was going on, I spent a bit of time in the kitchen making my lunchtime salad and it was very fortunate that I did because suddenly the washing machine started gushing water out of every orifice.  I turned it off before there was too much of a flood but if I hadn't been there it would have been a right mess.

I've had a few niggles with this machine for a while, little things had started to go wrong and it is now really quite old so it didn't take too much thought before I went online to AO, and within half an hour I'd organised my new machine which will be delivered and connected today.  I have used AO before and have always been very impressed and I'd already got some idea of what I wanted anyway so it wasn't nearly as much of an impulse thing as it sounds.  Given how long the last machine did me, this one might possibly see me out, you never know.  It's good to get a big expense like that done with while I can afford it, isn't it?

Fortunately, the afternoon settled down, the main excitement being the delivery of the battery powered strimmer.  I had intended to use it at the allotment today but I will have to see when the washing machine will be delivered - they give a four hour time slot and I should be getting a text fairly soon.  Also, as rain is forecast (pink skies are a fairly good predictor) and Beth and I are fair weather allotmenteers, it might not have happened anyway.

Today's food:
B:  puffed wheat with mixed fruit
L:  feta and olive salad, apple
D:  fish pie, runner beans, broad beans, fresh fruit salad with natural yogurt

Thursday 18 August 2016


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to Thursday.  The sky looks a very funny colour out there, a sort of mauve-y-pink with grey overtones.  I wonder if it means rain.
(two minutes later)
Just checked BBC weather and according to them it should be sunny right now.  Well, it isn't!
Actually, it is a pleasantly cool early morning and the fresh air is flooding in through the French window.  A very nice start to the day.

Yesterday was a very good day indeed.  Jackie and I med up in Billericay very early to get on a coach that was to take us on a trip to Hampstead and then to Kenwood in the afternoon.  A comfy coach with efficient air conditioning.

We arrived in Hampstead earlier than expected so had an extra gentle stroll around before partaking of a very welcome coffee (or tea) and biscuit.  We then had a gentle - the bumph emphasised the 'gentle' bit several times and, given that I was one of the younger members of the group, I can see why - stroll around up and down a few hills and into the grounds of the church of St John the Evangelist.  We meandered around the beautiful old graveyard which has been left to do its own thing to a certain degree and which has aged beautifully.  The artist, Constable, and some of his family are buried there.  Despite where it is, it was calm, gentle and made me think of 'dappled beauty'.  J and I both agreed that if we lived close by we'd visit often, sit on the benches and read peacefully.

We also looked at the newer cemetery which was less beautiful, being arranged in rows, but some interesting people have been buried there.  There were some huge clumps of blackberries which made me ache for a pot with a lid so I could join the enterprising young mad who was busily picking the ripe ones!

We then strolled back to the pub, taking in lovely old buildings and winding alleyways, before enjoying a remarkably good roast dinner of turkey, roasties, a yorkshire and some veg, piping hot and obviously plated up and immediately served.

We had a little time to stroll around after dinner so Jackie and I made tracks to a 'crafts emporium' we had noted in the morning and had a very pleasant time strolling around there.  Very, very expensive, of course.  On shop particularly caught my eye and that was a card shop where the girl makes some fabulous 3D cards and fabulously £D prices but I would consider one for a very special occasion.  I took her card and here's the link.  Be prepared to admire and wince at the same time!

Then we were off to Kenwood.  It's a lovely park and house, packed with history and, for us, a sudden, unexpected and fantastic view across London that made me very sorry it was a bit of a hazy day.

After a drink and a 'comfort' visit, we were off home again and even that went remarkably smoothly with only one real hold up on the M25 (it would be the M25, wouldn't it?).
Back at Jackie's, we decided to pop into town for fish and chips before I drove home.  That, also, was very good.  Fresh cooked and delicious.

So that was yesterday.  It was a good day, really enjoyable, warm, sunny . . . I was pleased at how well my ankle held up with regular doses of ibuprofen to keep it more or less comfortable and there was only one very dodgy time when, fortunately, we were able to sit down and admire the art in Kenwood House, which was stunning.  We want to go back there because we really didn't make the best of that particular part of the trip.

The tour leader was excellent - very knowledgeable and with excellent crowd control skills.  J and I, as ex-teachers, watched and admired as she herded 49 more or less elderly people safely around and kept us all entertained all day.  We also sympathised as she attempted to head count at the end before more or less lining us up to check - and she did it very unobtrusively too.

Today is rest and recovery day!
And after all the self indulgence yesterday, it is back on the wagon properly.
B:  natural yogurt, pineapple and granola
L:  red pepper hummus and salad wrap with extra tomatoes seeing as mine seem to have decided it is now ripening time, then an apple
D:  2 mini beef burgers with gallons of runner beans and some yellow courgettes from the allotment, fruit salad with natural yogurt.

Wednesday 17 August 2016


A very quick drop in to say that today is going to be a very busy day but I will be back again tomorrow.  Have a good day, gentle readers!

Tuesday 16 August 2016

An extra bit.

Some of today's harvest - from the garden, behind the garden and a share from the allotment.  That'll do me nicely for a few days, thank you very much!


Good morning.  It's another pleasant, rather chilly but looking good morning here.

Do you ever get dates in a muddle?  Sometimes I do - it's right in the diary but in my head it isn't.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I had it in my head that today is when I was going on a coach trip but it isn't, it's another day this week.  I had also got it into my head that I was having a Thermo demo this week.

My friend emailed me and mentioned the day we really are going on the trip.  In my head, it then clashed with the demo.  Instant panic.  So I fired off a few emails before realising that the demo is not this week, it is next week.  So I had to fire off some more emails cancelling the first ones.

You will be glad to hear that the day got a lot better after that.

I watched a lot of Olympics as it's all getting quite exciting.  Right at the end of the tennis my friend arrived for coffee and a chat and I had to be quite rude and leave the telly on to watch the match point.  Not that she minded!  Well done Murray!!!

I had a lovely chat with N, who had also come to collect the owl I made for her a few weeks ago.  Then the day just glided along peacefully and happily.  It was lazy.  Armchair Olympics and knitting.  I finished the knitting for one wise man and started the next.  Now I have two and a half more figures  and three sheep to knit and then everything will be ready to stitch up and construct.  That will be very fiddly but I have plenty of time so will take it carefully.  There's no imminent deadline for a Nativity set, after all.

I said I would mention the weaving course.  It was at a very simple level (thank goodness) and accessible for absolute beginners.  Some of us, me included, were at that point as I don't count the day I did as in any way moving me off the bottom rung while some of us had done a bit more and wanted to move on.

There were eight of us in total, enough to be companionable but not too many so help was available very quickly if we needed it (and we did!)

The format was the same as the Cressing Temple course really - explanations first with H&S and talking about the tools, etc.  Then Jo modelled the first bit (making the base) and we had a go.  She encouraged us to make two so we could then choose the best one to continue.  We learned two different ways of weaving and how to do a finishing off row at the top.  Finally she modelled how to make the handle.  I was awkward and decided I wanted two smaller handles opposite each other.  There was a good reason for this - I had decided I wanted to use my basket for whatever my current knitting project is and a handle that goes over the top would get in the way.

The whole thing was jolly hard work and we all ended up with wonky baskets and aching hands.  Mine is very wonky but I don't care, I love it!  I now want to have another go so I can correct all the mistakes I made.  I came home with some willow but not enough to make another basket.  It's dried out now so I have time to think.  And I am booking to go on the woven reindeer course at Cressing Temple in November.  I guess I could keep the willow until then and use it to make some more for our Christmas stall, maybe.

Here's a few photos:  you can see the wonkiness and my handles don't match because the basket sides aren't going up at the same angle.

The base wasn't properly circular for a start.
This was where I should have made sure that the 'ribs' were going in the direction I wanted.  It's a lot harder than it looks though!
I thought it was going to end up coal scuttle shaped!

Getting bigger!

It looks better very close up.  I love the detail on each willow branch.

And here we are, back at home.  One wonky basket, now filled with knitting!
Really not wonderful at all but I can live with that!

To finish off, here's today's food:
B:  granola, yogurt and pineapple, melon
L:  tuna pate and salad wrap, orange
D:  pork and veg curry with runner beans, apple

Monday 15 August 2016


Another lovely morning outside.  I've just been out to pick runner beans and it is cool, almost chilly, but it will warm up.  The skies are clear and the air is still.  Lovely!

I had a bit of excitement yesterday.

I left you yesterday as I lounged about in my hotel room with a couple of hours in which to chill, relax and generally be lazy before going for breakfast.
So I had my bath, dried myself, sprayed on the deodorant and puffed on the baby powder and off went the fire alarm.  Very loud, guaranteed to wake up a sleeping hotel in the middle of the night.  Eeeeek.

You know those instructions to evacuate immediately and not to wait to collect personal possessions?  Well, as said personal possessions included simple things such as clothes, that really wasn't going to happen, was it?  So into enough clothes to be decent, snatched up hearing aids (no way was I leaving them behind, they are my life line), grabbed handbag and made for the door, to be greeted by the very nice girl in charge who sorted out my problems getting into the room on Saturday.

Yup, it was my smoke alarm that had set off the whole system and, given that I have never in my whole life smoked and I had quite obviously not succumbed to spontaneous combustion or similar, we decided it must have been the deodorant or powder, plus the fact that where the fan was might have blown particles in the direction of the alarm.

That was the easy part.  Getting the system reset was a different matter and we ended up moving the fan so that it was blowing away the air from the smoke detector and towards the open window.
Even so, I was half was through my breakfast before it settled down and stopped going off every time she tried to reset the system..

The hotel was full.  I was somewhat embarrassed as you can imagine, the hotel people were mortified and kept apologising to me between giggles (me more than them) and all the people who had rightly expected a nice, lazy holiday lie in had been well and truly disappointed.  Oh, dear.

I guess that's not really the way to make your mark.

I'm really not sure what they will do about it because smoke alarms have to be sensitive (obviously) but on the other hand, being set off by deodorant or powder (and I don't use a lot) must be somewhat unnecessary.

Breakfast, however, was delicious and I was a right piggy.  Fresh fruit salad, cooked breakfast (lovely bacon, perfectly fried egg, shame about the sausages though) and finishing off with a croissant, all washed down with gallons of rather good coffee.  As a treat it was great.  As a healthy meal it was . . . er . . . not really!

As I seem to have gone on rather, I will cover the weaving tomorrow and leave you with the rather essential food plans (skirt getting tight - ooops) for today.

B:  oat bran galette with yogurt and fruit
L:  tuna and feta salad, apple
D:  vegetable curry, runner beans, orange and melon

Sunday 14 August 2016


So here I am, sitting in my very comfortable Premier Inn room right on the edge of south Ipswich after a very relaxing evening and a good and comfortable night's sleep.  A fantastic night's sleep, in fact, which is unusual for me first night in a 'strange' bed.  Not that there's anything strange about this bed.  It's large and supportive, the pillows are clouds of puffy white restfulness and I ended up with three of them, oh the luxury!

Yes, I am up early, but aren't I always, and after a very early night I wouldn't expect otherwise.  With no-where to go and no-one to entertain, I watched the Olympics, read the paper and my magazine, knitted and meandered around Facebook.  And fell asleep pretty early.
Ahead of me is another day's willow weaving together with Jo and seven other enthusiasts but first there is breakfast, aka  How to Eat a Whole Week's Calories in One Meal.  I'm looking at the menu as I type and I can have any or all (fat chance of managing all though) of it.  Rather than reproduce it all here, follow the link.

While googling for the link, I noticed that I can find out how many calories.  Er - no, I really don't think so!  Not this time.

The breakfast is a treat.  I could have had dinner at the Beefeater which is attached to the Inn but I decided to go for brekkie instead.  I love a good cooked breakfast!  Yesterday evening I feasted on a bag of crisps with a flapjack and an apple for afters but I wasn't all that hungry after the excellent lunch that Jo provided on the course.  I had a sort of upmarket pot noodle thingy but that will keep for another meal sometime.

I think I should do this more often.  Spoiling myself is good once in a while!  I've picked up a handful of touristy type info stuff from the entrance lobby which will come in useful when I have my proper holiday in Suffolk in a few weeks' time.
Not that long ago I ummed and ahed about spending several days in Edinburgh.  There's a Premier In  on Princes Street and I could go up by train - there would be plenty to do by car or I could hire one if needed.  There's other places too.  Lots and lots of other places and I now have the time to start exploring them.

The journey up here was a doddle, much easier than I expected, both in terms of traffic and in terms of how easy everything was to find.  I was rather dreading it, not being an enjoyer of negotiating 'new' (to me) roads, but this was, honestly, dead easy and the roads were, at times, almost empty.  I passed the hotel on the way to the course venue so wasn't secretly worrying about finding it all through the day.  And I didn't need to look at my Google Map printouts once!  For neurotic me that was a triumph!

A few photos (as one does):

View from the bedroom window.  It is the river Orwell and tidal.  Rather crooked - sorry.
A most efficient fan that kept everything cool and comfortable.

I used it too - yesterday was a warm day.  Ever so comfortable and what a good idea!

Making myself right at home.

I now have at least two and a half hours before I need to even think of getting ready for breakfast.  No kitchen to clear, no bed to make, no dishwasher to empty, no plants to water (Beth is doing that, thank you, lovely daughter) so I guess I will just have to knit, read, Facebook and watch the Olympics with the sound down and the subtitles on.  Oh, the hardship!

I'll tell you more about the course another time but it's very, very good.

Friday 12 August 2016


End of the 'working' week (for many), over a third of the way through the month and my first AVC payment should be in (not that I've checked yet!).  The sun is shining its head off out there and it feels warm already.

I've just been out to water and noticed some colour among the three Montello tomato plants, and, yesssss, it was a ripe tomato.  I put out my hand and it just fell off into it so I guess that's telling me it is ripe!  Just the one but it has to start with just one, doesn't it.  The plants are laden with small, plum shaped fruit so I am anticipating a goodly crop from them.

I'm home now, after more time spent with my lovely parents getting thoroughly spoilt and pampered.  I arrived home  at lunchtime after a good journey with holdups only in Bishop's Stortford which is always busy.  It's an old town with narrow streets that take a lot of traffic and there's really not much that can be done regarding widening the roads.  Dad recently discovered a country route that cuts off the centre of the town which, he says, is longer but quicker.  One of the roads is not is good condition but if you're observant and go carefully round the potholes, it's OK.  I think I will try that next time I go that way.

Once home, I needed to do a shop so it was ho! for Morrison's with a short list.  As always, I forgot something and, yes, eggs were on the list, darn it!  Never mind, I can do without them over the weekend.

Then, feeling tired, I sat down and watched the Olympics while I knitted.  I am doing OK with this nativity set which is going faster than I anticipated.  I've completely made one shepherd and yesterday I added to it one baby in a manger with a bed of 'straw' and a tiny wee blanket.  Very sweet, although I had two goes at the baby.  The whole thing involves a fair amount of fiddly construction which is something I am not wonderful with so I am learning on the job.  As well as those two, I have the second shepherd and Mary all knitted and in little poly bags to make up when I am feeling 'strong'.  I have now started the first wise man and have three wise men, Joseph and three little sheep to make.  All good fun.

At some point I went out into the garden and picked copious amounts of runners and some more tomatoes - about seven or eight, I suppose.  The tomatoes, with some other salad ingredients and some feta and olives will form the basis for my lunch and dinner will be loadsa runner beans with savoury mince on top.  Delicious.

Well, I have a very long list of Things To Do so I had better disappear and get started.  I hope the sun shines warm for you today.

Thursday 11 August 2016


Another stupidly early start to the day but who care?  Not me - I have all the time in the world!

Yesterday we spend a lovely three hours back at Wrest Park, first of all having lunch and then sauntering around.  It's a favourite place for us - plenty of visitors including families and yet never noisy, never rowdy, always calm, peaceful and restful.  It's not particularly spectacular but it has the feature beloved of generations of youngsters -  acres of grassy space to run, chase, jump, roll and generally let off steam and there are no 'keep off the grass' signs anywhere.  Everyone is so friendly!
Here's a few photos.

In he evening we got a Chinese takeaway and, as with almost all Chinese takeaways, there was a lot left over, so that's this evening all sorted out!

It was a good day!

For Rachel.  On your blog you were asking about the name of a flower.  I found some at Wrest Park in the plant shop and took a photo as I knew I would never remember the name.  So this one is for you!  :-)