Friday 30 September 2016


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to the last day of September.

Yesterday was an odd day - I woke feeling 'not right', felt progressively worse through the day although I did my reading stint at school, came home to get ready for the music festival meeting and just crashed out, shivering and freezing cold.  I turned up the heating, sent apologies to the meeting and tried to get warm under my owl fleece and after a while the warmth returned and I went to sleep.  Still feeling a bit odd this morning but definitely better after sleeping really well, although I'm very glad I have no commitments.  I was going to school to watch a video about Termly Learning Conferences, but it's not essential so I shall give it a miss and take it easy and gentle today, keeping the aches at bay as much as possible.

Whinge over - thanks for listening.

On Bake Off this week, the technical challenge was making fougasse, which is a French flatbread traditionally shaped and slashed to resemble a leaf.   As I watched, it seemed a very simple process, not to different from an ordinary bread dough (with the addition of fresh herbs to match the 'botanical' theme for the week).  I looked it up, found the recipe they used (newly posted on the Beeb site!!) and thought I would have a go.  I quite fancy making mini-fougasse, if that is possible.  The only ingredient I don't have is fine semolina for dusting.  Have any of you, my readers, made fougasse?  How did it go?

I finished the bag and managed to get it to the lady who is going on maternity leave today.  Here's a couple of not very good photos - the patterned fabric is a Very Hungry Caterpillar pattern.  The bag and the pockets are all filled with something - a pack of disposables, baby oil, etc, with a couple of goodies for the mum to enjoy once baby is born.

Yesterday's food went totally doolally but never mind, here's today's plan
B: two boiled eggs, apple
L:  red pepper hummus, oatcakes, fruit
D:  fish pie (MUST have it today), runner beans, yogurt and pineapple

Wednesday 28 September 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.

I feel so rested this morning.  One could almost say that I overslept - I didn't wake until 5:45 this morning which, given that I've been waking around four recently, is fantastic and I do feel so much better for nearly another two hours of sleep.  I wasn't late to bed either.

I bounced downstairs and set to making this year's mincemeat.  I use the Delia recipe that my mum has used for decades and which looks a bit urgh in the jar but tastes heavenly.  I adapted it, of course, to suit what I had in the cupboard so, instead of currants, I used cranberries and I added some chopped dried apricots which needed using up.
There are a few things I need to get: a bit more candied peel and some oranges, and I think I will also add some chopped walnuts as I adore them in Christmassy things.  I'm also trying to decide whether to add brandy or whether to get some grand marnier and add that instead.  I have time to think about that as it's a long process and I won't need the alcohol until tomorrow as I am leaving it all to steep until early tomorrow morning so the flavours develop and mingle..
Here's a link to the recipe, if you're interested.  It's really good and I will give some away as Christmas presents.

Yesterday I was given a bag of crab apples (thanks, M-A) so that's another very pleasant task for today.  I have to brave the garage to find my jelly bag first though as it has to be a lovely, clear, pink tinted jelly.  I think I will use the remaining mush to make something else though as I can't bear the waste which is why I rarely make a jelly.

After having a good time in Foundation Stage in the morning, getting to know the new-to-school children, the afternoon was spent in sewing and crocheting.  I've finished the gift now and, hopefully, will get it to the recipient tomorrow.  I hope she likes it.  I have also almost finished the poncho I am making.  It's a step above what I used to make with granny squares in my younger days and fits nicely so I am sure to wear it.  I just have to decide whether to put a fringe round or not.  I'm thinking not as it strikes me as rather hippy-teenager-60s like and while I can relate to the 60s, it's in quite a different way!!
Here's a link to the pattern which I have made, not in the lurid colours there, but in a nice, slightly tweedy dusky-dark lilac aran.

So today is mostly going to be kitchen based after a trip to get what I need.  Apart from the crab apple jelly, I have a pile of giulietta tomatoes to turn into chopped tomatoes for the freezer and I'm pondering over making some red onion marmalade.

Later on it is tuition, but the planning for that is pretty much done and really just needs a tweak and a polish.

I also have to start owl making for a friend who has ordered two and, after some good news from another friend, I am thinking quilts again!

However did I find time to work, eh?

Today's food
B:  toast and marmalade; apple
L:  red pepper hummus, oatcakes, salad; orange
D:  fish fingers, new potatoes, runner beans, tomatoes; yogurt and pineapple

Tuesday 27 September 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  It's dark out there and it feels cool.  Not dressing gown and slippers cool, just slightly less than comfortable.  Yesterday evening the heating clicked on.  Autumn is definitely here now.

I worked hard in school yesterday and by the time I had to go I had sorted out the resources and produced an audit sheet.  Good feeling.  It felt odd, however, to be sitting with the staff eating my beans on toast - sort of half in the past and half not belonging any more.  Nice but odd.

That was about it for the day really.  These things take time and you can see how difficult it is for a class teacher to find the time to get things like this done on top of your normal full day's work.  It took me all day.  I shall be doing the history cupboard in a few weeks as well, history and geography being my 'responsibilities'.

Today is a more gentle day.  Into Foundation Stage this morning to finish off the reading books and then I want to do some shopping - I have mincemeat to make and don't have all the ingredients.  Also I gather I shall be given a bag of crab apples this morning and I need to sort out my jelly bag so I can make crab apple jelly.

Today's food:
B:  natural yogurt, blueberries and granola, apple
L:  beans on toast, orange  I might spice up the beans with some grated chorizo
D:  tomato, veg and tuna pasta, yogurt and pineapple

Have a good day!

Monday 26 September 2016


Welcome to the start of the week!  A very busy week too, for me, and my diary is covered with scribbles and alterations!  It's all nice stuff though, nothing too hair raising!

Yesterday was really exciting.  Not 'impact the world' exciting, just impacting my world exciting.

H came round with the front door ramps and fitted them so that his lovely wife, my dear friend, Julia, can now come and visit, have lunch with me, coffee, etc.  I can't remember how long it has been since she could do that.  I forgot to take a photo in the excitement though, darn it!
We're now thinking lunches and craft days for me, Beth, Jules and Jen and, in time, maybe others.
That's exciting!!!  I'm thinking one in November and maybe a Christmas themes one in December, although that depends on how well busy ladies can make any dates!

I started off the day having a go at making onion gravy.  I've tried before but never really been successful except with the bisto and marmite version (which is nice enough with a decent stock for flavour  but . . .).  I'm a bit restricted because it needs to be vegetarian.
Anyway, I had a go at sort of following a recipe and what emerged was OK.  Actually, on its own it tasted just very slightly too vinegary but when poured over carrots, parsnips and new potatoes it came to life and was really delicious.  I suppose the sweetness of the veg and the tang of the gravy balanced each other.
We both had seconds.
I have some ideas for tweaking so will try it again another time soon and maybe report back, when I have got it just so!

Then I cleaned out Thermione and started off the bread dough.  On Saturday I used just spelt flour and it was really delicious but didn't rise all that much - it was a lovely texture inside though.  Yesterday I did half and half spelt and white and the loaf it produced was just beautiful.
I'm very lucky - I now have a contact who can get great quality flour for me at a ridiculously cheap price and, while I was perfectly OK with Aldi flour and would happily go back to it, should I need to, this flour is brilliant and it does make a difference.  Fantastic.

Of course, having fitted the ramp, Julia and Harry came in (ooooh - so exciting) for coffee and J selected the materials she wanted us to use to make two owl cushions.  She also spotted what I had made for my colleague and thought it was lovely so that settled my mind, especially after Beth was also very nice about it.  I have to get a few more bits and bobs to go with it and then I can take a photo and show it off!  She even hinted (well, stated) that she might like one herself and, as I have extra fabric, I could do that.

Finally, I booked to go on a course.  Being a governor, I am notified of relevant courses to match my interests and responsibilities and I liked the look of one that is taking place in January.  Generally we are, as a governing body, busy people so don't go on many of the courses but I thought 'why not' so did!  I don't have to pay and it should help me in my role as a humanities subject governor.

Today I'm in school wearing said governor's hat to do an audit of the Geography resources which, in reality, means tidying up the cupboard.  I know very well, from my own experiences, how hard it is to make the time to undertake something like that so am glad to be able to support in this way.  I'm booked to do something similar for the history cupboard at some point this term too.

After that it is tuition, changed from the normal day because of other commitments.  The planning is all done and I just need to glance over it all so it's at my finger tips.

My food plans for today:
B:  oat bran galette with fruit and yogurt; melon
L:  beans on toast (which I can prepare at school, if necessary); more melon
D:  leftovers from yesterday (ham, new pots, carrots), runner beans (the plants are still producing); fruit yogurt

I seem to have rambled on an awful lot.  Finished now!  Have a great day.

Sunday 25 September 2016


Good morning.  It's too dark to say what the weather is like but wasn't yesterday beautiful?  The BBC tells me that today will be less sunny but fine, all the same.  OK by me!

I had a most successful expedition into town yesterday.  I set out to get some thread, some zips and, hopefully, a handbag.

The first two were easy.  The market stall really is very good.  So much stuff crammed in such a tiny space which makes it awkward when busy but at just after nine on a Saturday morning it was fine.
Then I went to look at the market stall but, disappointingly, there was nothing that suited.  Several lovely bags, sure, but just too small.  Not MY bag!

So I left the market and thought where I might get a bag.  Bhs was my first thought but then I remembered that it has closed.  Debenhams is way too expensive (I looked a couple of weeks ago).  However, we do have an M&S and, even better, I remembered that I had an M&S gift card that I had never used.

After wandering around the food hall (sheer pleasure), I found the bags and, yes, there was one that was Just Right!  It was much more than I would have wanted to pay but that gift card made it affordable, so there you go!

Once home, I transferred all my stuff over and, while doing so, found something important that I have been looking for and thought I had lost which was a great relief and made me very happy.

After that I used Thermione II to make the spelt dough (lovely smell) and I now have a couple of loaves to enjoy.  I shall slice it and then freeze it as I eat much less bread nowadays.

I also did some sewing and finished the gift I am making.  I'm not totally sure about it really so I'll see what Beth thinks.

Today I'm baking in the morning and in the afternoon H is coming round to fit the ramps for my front door.  Really exciting!

I'm not totally sure about today's food.  Must do some more menu planning!

Added later - I forgot to post this - yesterday's pickings from a very small patch!

Saturday 24 September 2016


It's Saturday!  I know, just another day of retired idleness but even so!  Saturday.

First of all, Diane, thank you so much for the recipe.  I've made it but wasn't able to eat it yesterday so I will have it this evening.  I changed a few bits: I added wine as well as water and I shall thicken it a bit with some thickening granules.  It is absolutely delicious and made the house smell wonderful.

Yesterday and Thursday I caught up with quite a pile of washing which included visitors' sheets.  Yesterday evening I set the ironing board up in front of the telly and worked through the lot.  Now all I have to do is wash my own sheets and that's that for the week.  Cheers!

After swimming yesterday Beth came round and we had a good natter while she got on with some sewing.  I made soup for lunch and after she left I popped up to school to pick up two lovely bags of spelt flour from a friend.  I shall try it out after I've been to the market today.

I had a bit of a scare in the evening (if 'scare' is the right word).  When I went up to bed, the shower light was flickering on and off, on and off but no water.  I had no idea what was the problem so I fired off a message to the lovely Matt and slept soundly - and this morning it was OK again, working perfectly.  Really weird.

I also spent some time going through some new Thermomix recipe books that I have acquired.  Occasionally I have a slight sense of guilt about these books but then I remind myself that cooking is a hobby and it's just a bit of pleasure really.  Anyway - looking through, there's loads of recipes I want to try so, after I've done the bread, I might have a go at the red onion balsamic relish which looks really delicious.

I also want to have a go at Delia's mincemeat.  Now I have more time, I'm taking on more of the Christmas cooking.  Mum has always made the mince pies but this year I shall have a go and hope that my new found and somewhat fragile pastry skills hold up!  Not today though as I have enough plans.

So it's off to the market first for some thread, zips and, if possible, a handbag.  While I was on holiday, on my visit to Snape Maltings, I indulged in a lovely new purse/wallet thingy.  It's gorgeous and so it should be at that price, but ever so slightly too large for my bag which was too small anyway.  There's a good (and cheap) handbag stall in the market so I shall go and get one, if possible.

Then it's home again to do lots of sweet, homey, simple things for the rest of the day.  Bread, chutney, sewing, crochet, changing my sheets - all those little things that make life such a a pleasure.

Today's food:
B:  yogurt, fruit, granola, melon
L:  ham salad wrap, apple
D:  chorizo and potato stew with runner beans, orange

Friday 23 September 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  Welcome to an early Friday morning.

For someone with virtually nothing written in the diary, I seem to be having a very busy two days.
Yesterday, after Mum and Dad left (good journey, no problems with traffic) I set to and washed the bedding so that's now just waiting to be ironed.  I sorted out a huge pile of tomatoes (passata/freezer) and thought I really ought to dig out the tomato ketchup recipe I made last year.
Then, before I went into school in the afternoon, I sorted out the planning and got it all set out and ready.
Reading with year 2 was super and then it was tuition which all went really well.
I was tired after all that!

Today I've started off the day by ironing the fabric and cutting out the pieces for the gift I am making.  In a little while I'm going swimming with Beth and then I will sew and knit, do a bit of gardening, sort out a corner of the kitchen and generally keep things moving.  Later I am pick up some spelt flour from a friend so tomorrow I will be making spelt bread for the first time.

With Autumn coming ever closer and a garden overshadowed by a tree (falling leaves, etc), I bought a garden hoover yesterday.  Not an expensive one but to give it a go.  It blows and sucks at different speeds and - well, we will see.  It warns against trying to suck up wet leaves but I doubt I'd be doing that anyway.  It wasn't terribly expensive so I don;t feel too guilty.

The project I was working on has now been delivered and the recipient has - er - received their gift so I can post photos.  They're not great (the photos) but you will get the idea.
It's got a deep hem so can be turned down quite a bit.  The colour's not come out well on the photo.

Sweet little cardigan.

Detail of the pattern.

Today's food:
B:  before swimming: apple.  After swimming: toast and marmalade
L:  Ham salad, orange
D:  Chorizo and potato stew (thank you, Diane), yogurt and melon

Thursday 22 September 2016


Good morning and apologies for yesterday's non-appearance.  What with one thing and another, there just wasn't the time to sit and write an entry.

There's two days to ramble on about.
The weather wasn't looking too promising on Tuesday so we decided to defer Cressing Temple until Wednesday.  I popped into school to do my nanny helper duties and sped home again afterwards.  Mum needed some knitting yarn so we decided to pop out to Hobbycraft (any excuse) and then, if Hobbycraft didn't have what she wanted, we could go to the market in the town centre.

Well - you know me and Hobbycraft.  I just love looking around and, as Mum hasn't been there for ages, we most certainly did have a good look round!  Quite a long time later, after admiring loads of stuff on the ground floor including some Christmas craft items which I would have dearly loved as a child, we took the lift to the second floor where the yarn is and found just what Mum wanted.  I also found some fabric for a project I need to work on over the weekend - more about that in a while as it's for someone at school.

On the second floor, there's a table and chairs.  It's there for their Knitter-Natter sessions and for anyone to sit at, if necessary, maybe to look through patterns, etc.  On the table were some end of line knitting and crochet patterns and three of them jumped into my basket!  Yes, they did!

Then it was 'home, James' and while Mum started the knitting, I started the dinner!

Yesterday it was the deferred visit to Cressing Temple.  We had a light lunch first (toasted teacake and Tiptree jam and very tasty it was too!) before starting to wander around.  After a very enjoyable time we decided that enough was enough (after all, Mum and Dad are both coming up ninety) and that another visit or two  was most certainly on the agenda, one of which will have to be next May/June to see the walled garden again.

Today it is 'home, James' again for Mum and Dad.  As for me, it's a busy day.  I will have sheets to wash and dry, food leftovers to sort out, one lot of planning to finish - I did two lots early yesterday morning - some Nanny reading at school and tuition late afternoon/early evening.  Phew.

Today's food
B:  apple crumble leftover yogurt, granola, apple
L:  ham salad, orange
D:  fish pie and broccoli (both leftovers from yesterday), melon

Tuesday 20 September 2016


Good morning.  It's two thirds of the way through the month and I sit here typing while my guests sweetly slumber in the guest room upstairs, mentally planning today, especially dinner tonight.  It's lasagne which, as many of you will know, is not difficult but does take time as it has three 'stages'.  The first stage is done - that's the savoury mince/bolognaisey type bit.  The second stage is the cheese sauce and Thermione will make short work of that at some point.  Then it's the construction and the baking thereof, which will be done this evening!

Yesterday was good.  After a pretty busy morning, I was able to sit and iron until they arrived.  Dinner was good.  I think I overcooked the steaks a little bit but they didn't go tough (phew) and the peppercorn sauce went down a treat.

Today it looks very uncertain outside.  It might well rain and if it does there's no way we're going to Cressing Temple as most of it is outside and you have to walk from one barn to t'other.  It's not a problem as even if we don't get a chance to go this time, there is always next time.  Cressing Temple won't vanish.

Before we have to make that decision, I'm off into school until playtime and I am hoping to get the reading boxes finally sorted and listed.  There's only the last two stages to go and there aren't so many books so it should go fairly quickly.

Today's food.
B:  bran flakes with blueberries, apple (and toast for my guests too)
L:  Not sure but if we stay at home it will be ham, salad, fruit
D:  Lasagne, salad; apple crumble with custard or cream.

Monday 19 September 2016


Good morning, gentle readers, and welcome to Monday!

Yesterday I get quite a lot done.  I made the bread; doesn't baking bread make the house smell wonderful.  I finished off the little dress and cardigan Kitty Stitches was asked to make for someone and very cute they look too.  I took photos but won't post them until we known the recipient has received them.  It's always the last bits, the finishing off, that takes the time, isn't it?

After sorting out the post-lunch mess in the kitchen, I got on with crocheting my poncho which is going to look very nice, I think.  Ponchos always seem very retro to me as they were all the thing in the 60s but I gather they are 'in' again now.

One thing that I was rather gutted about.  I was asked to do some supply today and had to turn it down because I have friends staying for three nights, starting today.  So sad because nothing has come along for months and then, when it does, I can't.  Oh, well . . .

A nicer things is that I have noticed that some of my strawberries must be autumn fruiting but whether they will come to anything is beyond me.  I have decided that I will just chop off the runners as they reach the edge of the bed and then thin the plants out in the spring.  The thinnings will then go to the allotment, you see.

In the late afternoon, a friend came round with some lovely apples from her tree for me.  They look very sound so I can leave them for a few days but I shall make an apple crumble for tomorrow evening!  Yum.

In the evening, I sat in front of the screen and googled for cottages to rent.  There's quite a number so I have a little short list and will make my decision at some point soon for next April or May.  I am advised that May is a good time to go to Suffolk.

Diane, thank you so much for the recipe.  I had food left over from lunch so didn't make it yesterday evening but it is on the list for Thursday evening, after my guests have gone home.

So today starts with swimming and is then filled with stuff to do, mostly in the kitchen!  I have a ham to boil, a cake to make, biscuits to bake and a granary loaf to make.  Before swimming I will sort out the kitchen so it is ready for go!
Oh, and I have some washing to do too, if the weather seems to be smiling.  I haven't looked out yet!

Today's food:
B:  marmite on toast; apple
L:  last bit of leftovers from yesterday; two mini-oranges
D:  steak, new pots, runner beans, peas, peppercorn sauce; cheese and crackers.

Sunday 18 September 2016


Morning, everyone.

After a shop that was big enough to turn the bank manager pale, the rest of yesterday was quite lazy.  I made some plum jam with star anise that turned out absolutely delicious and carried on with the little dress I am making.

It was cold all day, stayed cold overnight and is still cold this morning.  'Cold' is a comparative term, of course, it is nowhere near winter cold, just chilly enough to wear an extra layer and not to go bare footed.  I'm crocheting a poncho at the moment and the thick layers keep me warm!

Today I have a pile of things.  The kitchen needs another tidy up but that won't take too long.  After that I have bread to make, sewing to finish, a bedroom to prepare and some admin stuff to do.  I think I also need to get stuck into some tuition planning as I won't have much time to do it this coming week.  Beth and Al are over for lunch.

Today's menu:
B:  two boiled eggs, apple
L:  jacket potato with mince topping, salad, coleslaw, orange
D:  a sort of chorizo and potato bake thingy which I will make up if I don't get a recipe!  Then togurt with fruit

Saturday 17 September 2016


I can't believe how quickly this month is going.  We're not far off two thirds of the way through and time is just whizzing by.

I'm a bit late again this morning.  I did an early morning shop so it's all done and ready now, for the whole week, I hope.  I am trying not to do top up shops.

What a change in the weather yesterday.  Wet, windy and increasingly chilly.  Today I wore a thin coat to go shopping and I wished I had put tights on too.  Still, it was a pleasure to be able to snuggle under the quilt and I am sure I slept better for it.

While at Sainsbury's, I treated myself - or treated my car - to a wash and wax and it looks so much better.  It was getting shockingly dirty but it's gleaming again now - so what's the betting it will rain now!

Well, better go.  I still have food to put a way and a kitchen to tidy.  Have a good day.

Friday 16 September 2016


Sorry this is late.  I got diverted earlier.

Well, what a turn-around in the weather.  It's dull, damp and quite chilly after some storming overnight and early this morning.  Quite a relief although now I have to look out for blight!

It wasn't as got yesterday as it had been on Wednesday but it was still stay-in-the-shade type weather so I did!

Today Beth is here and we are sewing, etc.  I'm just about to make the mushroom soup!

Here's the menu
B:  Baked oats with blueberries
L:  Mushroom soup, apple
D:  chicken and pasta bake, yogurt.

Better go and carry on working . . .

Thursday 15 September 2016


Good morning!

It was another scorcher yesterday which I mostly spent indoors, popping out from time to time to water the tomatoes, hand out the washing, bring in the washing, etc.  Even the evening was warm and overnight my bedroom was a bit uncomfortable.  I've opened the French window and lovely cool air is now flooding into the living room, thank goodness, although I will have to close it again if, as I expect, I will get sleepy and go up for an extra kip in a little while.

In-between bits of planning, I managed to get three loads of washing clean, pegged out, dried and, mostly, ironed.  I just have two fitted sheets and one quilt cover to do today and then the ironing basket will be empty again!

Tuition went well and then I waited for Beth to pick me up for a meal with the girls at the Hare.  That was lovely; lots of laughter and chatting.  I had what I'd planned: Mexican style nachos, which looks a lot more than a 'mini-bowl' and which Beth had to help me finish off.  It was tasty - cheesy nachos with re fried beans, guacamole and sour cream.  Just one scoop of lemon sorbet was all I wanted for dessert.  It was also very reasonable - well under a tenner for the lot.  I find it is the drinks that often pile up the bill and I just had water with ice which was both hydrating and free!!!

Today is another tuition day so I need to plan this morning.  There's also a guestroom to make up for more visitors who arrive on Monday and some cupboards to sort out.  Also, the way those tomatoes are ripening in this warm, sunny weather, I will be making some more passata.  There's still a load of the large plum Giuliettas still to ripen so I reckon I will have loads on the freezer to see me through the winter.  I might just peel and chop some instead of cooking and sieving as there are very few seeds, easily removed, and loads of flesh.  If I can, I shall write next week's menu and do the shopping list so it is all ready for Saturday morning.

Today's food is back on the wagon after yesterday's little indulgence.
B:  slice of bacon with tomatoes; apple
L:  red pepper hummus, oatcakes, salad batons; orange and melon
D:  runner bean bolognaise; fruit and yogurt.

Wednesday 14 September 2016


Phew, wasn't it a scorcher yesterday?  So hot that we didn't want to go out: we just stayed indoors with the curtains half across and the fan on.  It's still warm as I type so the windows are wide open and the fan is on!

It was very nice to be back in school again.  I received a warm welcome and three 'Your hair looks lovely' comments.  As I've not changed my hairstyle, I expect it was the new glasses really but people didn't realise!  The littlies seem to have settled in rather well and everything flowed smoothly.  I got stages 2 and 3 sorted out, numbered and listed and only have to finish two more boxes of books so felt I'd done a good half morning's work.

While chatting to a colleague, I was asked would I like some apples (from her tree), then would I like some plums.  As you may imagine, the answer was a hearty 'yes, please'.  I think I might use some of the apples to make a vegetarian mincemeat that mu Mum used to make, ready for Christmas.  it will make a nice 'thank you' to the donor too, a bit different to the usual jam/chutney.

While I was away, I had some pickled red cabbage and carrot as part of a pub meal and it was absolutely delicious.  As it happened, there was an article in this month's Good Food mag about the new way of pickling too, so I intend to have a go.  Cider Vinegar is now on the shopping list and googling for mor info is on the 'to do' list.

In the afternoon, Al and I had a lovely time chatting about this, that and the other and then we turned on the telly for the usual teatime TV to which I have added a new programme called 'Yes, Chef'.  Another cookery competition (did we really NEED another one?), it's quite good fun really.

Today Al leaves and tuition resumes so I have planning to do plus a few emails to answer which will take most of the morning and some of the afternoon as well.  I've got into the habit of checking my finances every day so that's already done - a daily check is far less onerous than doing it weekly, I have found, and then I know exactly where I am.  Because my income now comes in from three different sources and at different times, just a glance at the amount available doesn't tell the whole story: for example, two of next month's amounts are already in.  I just find it 'safer' to work that way, a month behind, so to speak.

I have a stack of tomatoes to turn into passata as well.  It is so easy to make a basic passata and it's lovely to have it over the window for casseroles and soups.  The plum tomatoes are great for this while the sungolds are delicious eaten just as they are (but are also delicious fried or roasted).  There are still loads to come so I really shouldn't complain about the warmth - they are loving it!

As it's such a great day, weather wise, I will perhaps do some washing and drying.  I'll have a set of bed linen to add to my stuff so there will be enough for two loads which is good.  With any luck I will get the ironing done too before going out to meet the girls at the Hare for dinner.

That's about it really - life has slowed down again now that the holiday is over and school stuff has resumed although, looking at the above, it doesn't look that slow.  I suppose it is comparative; many of my duties are small, gentle things that can wait a day or two, if necessary

Today's food:
B:  fried tomatoes on a crumpet, probably; apple
L:  red pepper hummus; oat cakes; celery, carrot and lettuce; orange
D:  at the Hare.  I think I might go for the mini Mexican style nachos and I almost always have a sorbet for a dessert.

Have a wonderful day, whatever you are doing, and stay cool and hydrated as much as you possibly can.

Tuesday 13 September 2016


Good morning, everyone.  Wasn't it a glorious day yesterday.  By the evening the bedroom fans were on and stayed on all night which helped me to have a good nights sleep with only one wakey spell and a rather weird dream early morning.

I was back at school, not my school but one I had just accepted an appointment to as a class teacher.  It was the pre term meeting and it was a terrible school.  My classroom was one of those huge old Victorian classrooms (lovely)  with wooden chairs piled from floor to high ceiling (not so lovely and no tables to work at!) and huge, battered display boards with posters on from WWII - and they looked as if they'd been there since the war too.  I was told I was in charge of driving the mini bus and I refused until I had the proper training so there was a row about that.  For some reason the deputy head of 'my' real school was there too and she was backing me up, offering advice and saying I could always come back if I wanted to.  I also refused to take on the choir until I'd get settled into the job.  Then in walked the head and introduced us to the OFSTED team - and then I woke up!

I suppose that was all because this morning is the first Granny Helping of the new school year and you can be sure I woke with a huge sense of relief!

I was hoping to take my guest to a few places these two days but when I googled around just about everywhere is closed Monday and Tuesday which was rather a blow.  Yesterday we ended up staying in and having a jolly good chat about all sorts of stuff.  Beth stayed for lunch so it was very pleasant all round.

I went into town and now I have my new glasses.  It's so lovely not to feel that they might be falling off at any point and the sellotape that was just at the edge of my peripheral vision (which, they said, was excellent) was really bugging me so I'm glad that's gone!  As I have two 'normal' pairs plus the sunglasses, I threw the old pair away with a slight pang because I did like them.  If I'd only had one pair, I'd have kept them in case, but there was no point and I'm trying not to hoard.

The healthy eating was blown right out of the water last night as we get a take away fish and chips - one portion of fish each and a shared portion of chips - and it was delicious.  Today I shall have to be careful!  :-)

So - today:
B:  natural yogurt with granola and blueberries; apple
L:  not sure, it depends what we do; if we stay in it might be something like scrambled egg on toast; fruit yogurt
D:  probably jacket potato with tuna mayo and a salad; fruit

Monday 12 September 2016


Good morning, gentle readers.  Welcome to the start of a new week.  I love sitting here each Monday morning just wondering what discoveries and happenings I will encounter this week.  It's a nice feeling.

This is the week when routine things start again, including Granny Helping at school and tuition.  That makes it a comparatively busy week but it is always nice to get back into routine again.

After wall to wall sunshine yesterday, I gather today will be more or less the same, which is lovely, as I have a visitor for a few days.  The house got a good airing yesterday and I will throw open the doors and windows again today to make the best of whatever the weather fairy sends!

Today is a great day because I will be picking up my new glasses.  Since my current pair came apart in my hands around a fortnight ago, I've been managing with the help of some sellotape, but it will be nice to have them feeling comfortable and secure again.

I was hoping that we could go a-visiting somewhere but, after Googling around, all the interesting places seem to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays which is rather a disappointment.  I suppose it does change once the children go back to school - it isn't something I have noticed before.

Food today:
B:  yogurt, fruit and granola, fruit
L:  egg salad, fruit
D:  jacket potato with tuna mayo, salad, fruit

Sunday 11 September 2016

Sunday (and Thursday)

Wasn't yesterday a misery day?  It was here, for sure.  Before popping out to Aldi for an early shop, I pegged a load of washing out, and when I got home I had to unpeg it hurriedly as the rain had started.  It dried all day inside so I decided not o do my second load but wait until today when there is a much better forecast.

I did a basics shop and, to my delight, the strong flour is back on the shelf again.  I bought a bag of each which is enough to keep me going at the moment as I'm not eating all that much bread and make just one loaf a week for a friend.

For most of the rest of the day I was dreadfully lazy and watched a load of stuff on iPlayer.  Things like Only Connect, University Challenge (the OU won, three cheers), An Extra Slice, I'm a Doctor, Trust Me, and so on.  I'm not more or less up to date and all viewed out!

Last Thursday I had decided to spend most of the day at Sutton Hoo.  Briefly, for those who don't know, Sutton Hoo is an old Saxon burial site that was not discovered until just before WW2 when the owner of the property asked an archaeologist if the strange mounds in one of the fields were of any significance.  The rest is history and the story can be found here.

When I arrived, I was advised to view the exhibition first and I'm glad I did, for reasons that will be evident further along.  It was an excellent exhibition, clear, colourful, informative and with a short film that set the scene, told the story and had signing and subtitles.  Full marks, National Trust.

During a coffee (good coffee too), I looked at the maps and made my plans.  There were a number of walks marked but I decided to do the one that took me round the field with the burial mounds, then have lunch, then visit Tranmer House.

It was a lovely warm day so the gentle stroll was an absolute pleasure.  I'm not convinced that summer is the best time to view the field though.  The grass was high and there was a lot you couldn't see, even from the viewing platform.  Better to go in winter when the vegetation has all died back and the smaller mounds would be clearly visible.

Nonetheless, it was fairly awesome, in the light of what I had learnt from the exhibition and I could see with the eye of the mind, so to speak.  I could have taken a guided tour, decided not to and realised that was a mistake.  Next time . . .

There were some lovely views as I walked around.

Tranmer House (formerly Sutton Hoo House) is where the owners of the estate lived.  It's a beautiful old Edwardian house.  The upstairs has been converted into three holiday apartments for rent while downstairs is partly office space with some rooms kept in the decor of a 1930s house for a very hands on experience.  Even the piano can be played (with permission) and there was only one item that we were asked not to tough or sit on - a rather battered chaise longue.  It was very interesting and I forgot to take photos of the interior which annoyed me afterwards when I realised!

After all that I headed off and ended up at Snape Maltings.  I'll have to go again as I didn't have a lot of time and was a bit concerned that where I had parked wasn't really where I was supposed to be parked, but there were some fine shops, very interesting, and the setting was lovely.  Maybe, one day, I will go to a concert there.  After all, I do have a B&B I can use overnight, don't I?

So, back to normality again.I have a friend arriving later on this afternoon so I need to prepare for that.  Beth' s coming this morning but not staying for lunch.  I will be going back there but, for now, life moves on again.

Today's food plans.
B:  bacon, tomato and a slice of toast
L:  a small tomato pasta thingy, apple
D:  vegetable curry with rice, yogurt

Saturday 10 September 2016

Saturday (and Thursday and Friday)

Good morning, everyone.  Isn't it funny-nice that being away on holiday is great and then coming home, back to old, familiar things, is simply lovely and the best thing ever.  All those cosy, familiar, comfortable little things (like reliable internet) are so important.

So - to resume . . .

On Wednesday I went through Framlingham to Shawsgate Vineyard.  I knew it was there - my dad had mentioned that he an mum visited when they stayed in the area a long time ago and, indeed, I remember the bottle of wine he opened for dinner a short time afterwards, English wine being less common than it is now.  It was OK but not what you might call a 'popular' taste.  It went very well with what Mum cooked (can't remember what that was now).

Anyway, I rolled in, wandered into the wine shop and was greeted in a very friendly manner, encouraged to have a good wander around the fields, given a laminated sheet with a map and info and off I went.
The wine tasting area.  To the left there's an adventure playground to keep children entertained!
The map!

It's not a large vineyard, not like those rolling terraces you see in photos of France or Italy, but it makes for a very pleasant stroll for about an hour.  I just went round the perimeter but you could go up and down, through the rows, if you wanted.  No restrictions.  The guide sheet pointed out the two different ways they use to train the vines and, like the strawberries at Lathcoats, it's all more or less at shoulder height, making harvesting very much more accessible.  I wishes I had brought some sort of container though, as there were masses of blackberries around the edge, just going to waste.  Shame!
They tasted quite sweet too.

Cutting off unwanted growth to make harvesting easier.
See what I mean - and there were loads more, all looking lovely.
If I ever go back . . .

When I got back to hand over the info sheet, I sat down and masses of different wine was waved before me.  Sadly, I couldn't have much as I was driving but, given that the wine tasting was all free and from what I saw being poured out for others, it was all very generous and I can see why it's a popular place!  I had half centimetres of the stuff and ended up potentially giving my bank manager a heart attack as I bought - er - some!  To be put away for Christmas, you understand!

After that I turned the nose of the car north and headed for the open road.  Around there you can drive for miles and not see another car and I was quite happy to pull in on occasion and let anyone behind me pass so I could bumble along happily!  I came across a windmill with an English Heritage sign so I stopped and investigated, but it was closed.  Open Fridays and Saturdays only.  I was sorely tempted to drop in yesterday and delay my home coming but the old tum was starting to feel the effects of several days of routine-less eating, if you know what I mean.  Maybe next time . . .

It was a lovely day.

I'll talk about Thursday tomorrow or this will be way too long an entry!

I've just realised that, what with holidays, etc, I haven't planned this week's food and, if I am to go shopping when Aldi opens, I need a list, so I'd better set to and do something about it, hadn't I?  I wonder if they've got bread flour in again, the bread flour they consider 'seasonal'!

B:  if the milk is still good, then puffed wheat with some melon followed by an apple.  If not, then I will just have the fruit
L:  soup from the freezer, orange
D:  yesterday, after picking the 'welcome home' tomatoes, I made a very simple and tasty tomato sauce to have with the last of the dried pasta.  It was just onion, yellow pepper, mushrooms and tomatoes with some herbs, etc, and it was gorgeous.  I have the other half of that so I think I might treat myself to some bacon and do another pasta dish for this evening, followed by some yogurt

Friday 9 September 2016

Friday afternoon.

So sorry about the disappearance.  The internet connection went.  No idea where to but it certainly wasn't visiting my laptop.

I'm just home and will do a proper entry tomorrow once I've sorted everything out.

Menu?  Nope, tomorrow will have to do!

Wednesday 7 September 2016


Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Suffolk.  To my dismay, it was raining yesterday morning but it had cleared up by the time I was ready to leave for Framlingham and it remained sunny/cloudy/dry for the rest of the day, albeit quite humid - not my favourite weather really.

I spent the day wandering around Framlingham Castle and then the church.  I wandered down to look at the market but, as it consisted of four stalls, there wasn't much to look at, sadly.

Never mind, the castle and the church made up for that.  Built originally in the 1100s, 'modernised' in Tudor times with then very expensive red brick, it has no central keep but consists of a curtain wall with thirteen mural towers to keep watch over the surrounding countryside.  The Tudors built a number of somewhat incongruous but attractive chimney stacks on the towers, some of which are just for show, ornamental rather than practical.  Framlingham castle is where Mary Tudor  raised her banner before marching on London after Lady Jane Grey was declared queen.

One of the ornamental chimney stacks.

Worth enlarging to look at the brickwork.
These two were built on genuine 12th century chimneys as you can see and were for practical use.

In Stuart times and beyond, the internal buildings, now in ruins, were destroyed and a very attractive Poorhouse was eventually built.  By that, I mean the building is attractive, of course.

The poor house.  The left wing is private accommodation and the end wall on the right is the only remaining bit of the original internal buildings still standing.
There's a very exciting and interesting looking Wall Walk and I really wanted to have a go, despite my fear of heights.  Access to the walk was via a rickety, worn, winding staircase with a rope handrail.  Taking a deep breath, I trembled my way up about twelve steps before getting to a gap in the handrail and then couldn't get any further.  You might call it a bit of a panic attack.  For several minutes I stood there, not being able to go up or down, wondering what on earth I was going to do (calling for help wasn't a favoured action!) before managing to retrace my steps down to the ground again.  I was very angry with myself but there you go.  Ironically, the stairs for the way down have been 'covered' by a wooden staircase which looked perfectly manageable but it is a 'one way' walk so I couldn't use them.  If I'd been thinking straight I would have asked staff if there was another way up but maybe it was just as well as parts of the walk looked very exposed.  At least I tried but I did feel a wally though!

Up the wonky staircase.
Part of the Wall Walk.  I may not have been able to manage parts like that anyway, given that you can see through gaps in the floorboards.
After an restorative ice cream, I went down to the Church which was also very interesting.  There are several very ornate tombs including one of Surrey, the 'poet earl' who 'invented' blank verse that was then used to such great effect by Shakespeare and whose coronet is not on his head but beside him as he was executed for treason.

Close by there is a tomb for the wives of one of the Dukes of Norfolk.  It says plenty about the lot of  even wealthy and well born women then as there are are effigies of two of his wives with space left for a third, should it be needed!

After popping in to the Co-op to get something I had forgotten to bring, I came back here to have a little rest, deal with rather a lot of photos and then eat the dinner I had requested.  It's a B&B but Anne does meals on request and, given that the local pub is closed on Tuesdays, I requested.  She produced a wonderful meal - duck with an orange sauce, new potatoes, runner beans, carrots and asparagus with profiteroles for afters.  I have no idea what it is going to cost me and really I don't care it was beautifully cooked, delicious and just perfect after a day of history.  I forgot to take a photo though!

Today I intend to look at Shawsgate Vineyard ( ) and I daresay I will come back with 'refreshment' for the evening, after I come home from dinner at the pub.  I am quite looking forward to a glass or two of something with a good book in my very comfortable room!  If that doesn't take too long I think I might just head for the open road and trust my sat nav not to get me too lost.

Breakfast is in forty minutes.  I was very piggy yesterday and had not only the fresh fruit and some orange juice, but also the full cooked breakfast AND toast with marmalade to follow, with a carafe of coffee (not decaf!) offering.  As a result, I really didn't need much lunch which was just the idea!  So I am looking forward to today's.

Tomorrow I might head for the coast or I might look out a stately home.  Given that I do intend to come back here another time (or two), it really doesn't matter all that much.  Freedom is lovely!

Tuesday 6 September 2016


Well, I got here after a very decent journey, nothing like the hassle I was expecting (I'm a terrible worrier at times as you've probably noticed).  Even going over the Orwell Bridge was a doddle.  The sides were so high and solid that you really couldn't tell you were either on a bridge or so high up.  I was on it I before I realised.  So, so much better than the QE2 bridge for someone with no head for heights.

I arrived very much too early, even after stopping off at the Chequers for a late lunch which was a small bacon baguette with a salad and not one, but two carafes of coffee as I was very thirsty and needed caffeine, so, after checking that I knew exactly where the farmhouse was, I pootled off into Framlingham and was lucky enough to get a (free) parking slot where the local market is held every Tuesday.  And guess what - there, before me, sat a very interesting looking second hand book shop.  I swear it was calling out to me, honest it was.  I dunno - I load up my Kindle and then buy four books!
Olde worlde looking building

Framlingham Church

I'm really in clover here - I mean, big time.  The farmhouse is gorgeous, mine hostess is just lovely and my bedroom is so comfortable, I can hardly believe it.  I have a single room with a washbasin, a comfy bed, a sofa with four, no, five, cushions and private use of a bedroom that quite reconciles me to it not being an en-suite.  It's even got a wonky door.
Doesn't it make you want to snuggle under that lovely, puffy quilt.
View from my bedroom window.  That's Kettleburgh church.
Wonky door!!!

I've already decided I'm coming back here . . .  Diane, thank you very much indeed.

Today I am off to Framlingham Castle.  Tomorrow I may visit a local winery.  Frugality has been thrown out of the window this week.

And all's well chez mid-Essex.  What more can one ask for?

Er - no menu!!!

Monday 5 September 2016


Good morning and welcome to the start of the new school year.  Guess what - it's raining!  Typical!  Let's hope it cheers up in time for playtime!  A wet playtime on the first day of the school year is simply unfair!

First of all, Rachel, here's the link.

Yesterday went quickly what with one thing and another.  It was pleasantly cool, thank goodness, and there was a fair amount of sun as well as some cloud.

I got all the washing and ironing done and then found, annoyingly, that I had to re-wash a couple of T shirts so they are now hanging over the back of two chairs.  They will dry before I need to leave.

Today is all about leaving everything in a reasonably tidy state for my house sitter.  Can't leave a mess, that would be rude!

No menu planning for the next few days.

Have a good day, whatever you are doing, work or play.

Sunday 4 September 2016


End of the week or beginning of the week, depending on how you see it, Sunday is like January, looking both ways, back and forward.  A bit like blogs like mine all the time, I suppose.

It's stupid o'clock, too dark to see what it's going to be like, but BBC weather says no rain and 20 top temp.  Yesterday ended up wet, windy and wild.  Great for the garden, not so great for those enjoying a last fling before the start of the new term because it really did pour at times.  I was sorry for people caught out in it.

Yesterday I did most of what I planned.  I decided to leave the washing until today after the rain started but I have six and a half pots of scrummy plum jam to give away or eat myself.  My route tomorrow is planned and I have a list of places I want to visit, far too many to fit in but it is nice to have a choice, isn't it?  I did the last moggy feed and I started getting out all those creature comfort things you want to take with you to a B&B, including the wherewithal to use all the technology - phone, laptop, camera, kindle and so on plus associated cables, chargers, etc.

Today will start with a bread making session.  No, not for me, but it is back to school so I will be making again for my customer.  I can drop it off before I set out in the morning as I really don't want to drive on the A12 in the rush hour.

Then I need to pick tomatoes.  They can sit on the kitchen window ledge and I am sure my house sitter will enjoy them

I have washing, drying and ironing to do, sorting out the fridge and generally getting everything tidied up and ready.

Food today will be mostly leftovers and bits and bobs to use up.
B:  puffed wheat with stewed plums, apple
L:  a sort of mixed grill - 1 rasher of bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, maybe a slice of black pudding if I can find it in the freezer, melon and strawberries
D:  burger, sweet potato fries, salad, melon and strawberries

Saturday 3 September 2016


Good morning, gentle readers: welcome to Saturday!
After a dull and gloomy day yesterday - when I went to bed last night there was some drizzle in the air (and on the windows which is how I knew) - today looks much more promising with a clear sky and wispy clouds.  It remained cool all day yesterday which, actually, was rather nice and meant a comfortable and comforting snuggle under the quilt at bed time.

Have you noticed I have changed the blog name a little bit.  It seemed silly not to really, seeing as I have no contractual work and supply looks a bit thin on the horizon.

After a morning at the school conference where I 'liaised' (mostly chatted) to the two subject leaders with whose curriculum areas I am linked, setting a few dates for visits, I came home laden with a big bag of victoria plums.  Beautiful plums too, so I have set some aside for munching over the weekend and the rest are now in the maslin pan, having been stewed, measured and mixed with sugar which has now dissolved.  I also added one star anise as I have found that it gives just the faintest hint of warm spiciness which is lovely with the plumminess.

I also made the passata and not my window ledge looks more reasonable again but - BUT - I picked the first two giuliettas so guess what I am having for breakfast, fried, on an oat bran galette.  Yum!

(please excuse wrinkled old hand!)
After feeding the cats, I came home to a lovely, lazy evening although I kept nodding off and missed most of Bake Off : an Extra Slice because I simply couldn't keep my eyes open any more.

Today will be fun.  One more cat feed and that's my duty done.  I like Beth's cats but not all the rigmarole that goes with owning a pet, especially not doing the litter stay (shudder).
Once that's done, I will be plum jamming, washing, ironing and prepping my packing and planning my route and visits to places.  The house sitter is all organised (thank you S) so the plants should be OK.

Today's food:
B:  Oat bran galette with fried tomatoes, apple
L:  breaded chicken with a salad, melon, three plums
D:  cottage pie with sweet potato topping, runner beans and peas, stewed plums with yogurt

Friday 2 September 2016


Good morning, everyone.  It is way, way too early to tell what the weather is going to be but I've been out to the freezer and it's cool and dry (weather, not freezer) so looking good!

As I expected, yesterday was glorious.  Fence to fence sunshine all day but not too hot.  Just perfect again.  The tomatoes are ripening rapidly now and every time I went out into the back garden I came back in with a handful.  I need to process some of them!

Tuition went well.  I'm loving it: it's a great substitute for class teaching, keeps my hand in and it's just good fun.  Then I had time to do a bit of clearing and some hoovering before lunch.  My friend came round at last (we've had to cancel several times) and it was super to catch up with her news and just chatter.  She brought some home made marmalade with her and I swapped it for a pot of my yellow plum jam.  Bartering at its best!

She was just going when Paul came round to quote for the bedroom decorating - I am waiting to hear from him now.  He's all booked up for some weeks, which is reassuring.  I'd worry if he had said he could come next week or something like that!

The plums never arrived because S had forgotten she didn't have my address and I didn't answer her email until it was too late.  However, we will both be in school today so I can see her then.

After a good night's sleep and an early wakening (before four), today is mostly booked up.  I have to go and feed the cats early because I'm due in school at 9:30 for the school conference.  Once that's over, apart from the second cat feeding in the afternoon, the rest of the day is free so I shall sort out the plums and deal with them.  I also have to do something with the tomatoes that are gathering on the window ledge so I think I shall make some passata for the freezer and maybe look up some tomato sauce recipes as well.

Today's food:
B:  bacon and fried tomatoes, apple
L:  soft cheese, oatcakes, carrot and celery sticks, melon
D:  pork and veg curry with rice, plum yogurt

I've just been out to the freezer to get the food for today and felt some drops of rain.  There's no indication of rain on the Beeb site but they say it is going to be cloudy all day so it maybe humid.

Ho hum, well, we will see.  The school hall has air con, if that is so.

Thursday 1 September 2016


Good morning!
Pinch and punch - there, that's got the traditional bit done!
It looks as if it is going to be another wonderfully sunny but not baking hot day today.  I'm loving this week - my sort of weather.

Well, the boiler and the central heating are all now in tip-top condition and ready to go.  What's the betting we will have the warmest winter ever and the heating won't be needed!  There's something very reassuring though about knowing it's all working properly, isn't there?

I asked Matt and he gave the the contact info for a painter/decorator that he can thoroughly recommend.  He is coming this afternoon to take a look at my bedroom.  Yes, in this current mood of 'spoil myself', I have decided to neaten up the decor in my bedroom.  Nothing lavish, far from it.  In fact I am hoping that the walls will be in good enough condition under the paper to paint and if they're not, then I will ask him to make good so that they can be.  I need a new, properly fitting curtain rail so that can be done too and I'm hoping he can also deal with the centre fan light and the lights above my bed too.  I might ask him how much it will cost to get rid of the nasty artex ceiling.  I might even then get some new curtains although I'm not sure about that because I still like the ones I have.
In for a penny . . .

Yesterday was another gentle, easy day.  Once Matt had gone, I went onto Amazon and bought some Kindle books to read next week.  I made some orange squash using Thermione (very nice with ice and sparkly water).  I did some ironing.  I talked to the tomatoes (well, sort of anyway).  I went to feed Beth's cats.

Today, this morning I have a tuition session, after lunch a friend is coming round for coffee and a chat and after that Paul is coming to look at what needs doing in the bedroom and give me a quote.  And I have to feed the cats.  A much busier day than yesterday but still very pleasant and sociable.

Here's today's update with apologies for the fuzziness thereof.

Now 'all' I need is a glorious September with no blight inducing weather!

Today's food:
B:  two boiled eggs, apple
L:  steamed salmon with a salad, orange
D:  Chili con carne with rice, melon and strawberries