Friday 30 June 2017


Good morning, everyone.  I'm somewhat knackered after yesterday's very full day but it all went really smoothly with nothing to interfere with the flow or cause problems.

The course was really quite good with lots packed into the two hours it took.  Nanny helping was the pleasure it always is and the meeting was lovely and friendly, producing plenty of good ideas.
Finally, tuition was great and, in Great British Menu, the chef I liked got her dessert to the banquet - that's all my favourite chefs through!  Add to that a good night's sleep and I'm feeling great this morning.

Clearing out downstairs is continuing.  I'm trying not to go upstairs without taking something with me which seems to be making inroads into the clearing without too much hassle.  It does mean everywhere is affected though and the next two weeks are going to be a bit urgh!

Today is an easy day - well, as easy as days usually are nowadays.  I have a load of washing in the machine that needs freshening with a short wash before I peg it out and I shall be meeting Beth down the allotment.  I'm hoping there will be a courgette or two and, as I wasn't down there yesterday, I'm wondering how much the corn has grown.  Every time I turn my back it grows another inch or two!  I'm also going to pick off a few little chard leaves and see if they're nice in the pork and pasta dish I am cooking for dinner tonight, shredded and wilted.  I also wonder if it crisps up in the oven, like kale.  Must give it a go.

Then it will be home to dry washing (hopefully) and a pile of ironing.  Must keep up with that now.
Or I might take a trip to B&Q to look at their lights.  I want to replace four of my lights.  The ones in the hall and the downstairs loo are as many years old as I have lived here and are in shocking condition while the bathroom light is broken and the bedroom ceiling fan is no longer with us.  So I have things to buy!  That's the sort of shopping I enjoy although I'm missing Bhs for lights.  They used to have such a good range.

I also have a trip to the charity shop to make with lots of bits and bobs that need handing on!

Looking at this, maybe it's not such an easy day after all.  But it will be good and all the sorting out is very therapeutic, representing as it does, some laying down of the past!  😃

Thursday 29 June 2017


Good morning!  The morning sun is shining for the first time in several days which is most cheering although it's not all that warm and I was happy to snuggle under the quilt overnight.

The biggie this week is that Alex has done his last A level exam and has now officially left school.  Ten years ago, if you had asked me if Al would ever do A levels, let alone have plans for higher education, I'd have laughed in your face and then hidden in a corner to cry, but since then he has transferred from special to mainstream schooling, doing five years at Baddow High, creating a niche for himself and winning several awards along the way and is now hoping to read mathematics at uni.  Absolutely amazing.  He has confounded expectations all the way along and, whether or not he actually gets the required grades, he has been brilliant.

Enough of that!  In allotment news, it looks as if we have a new neighbour.  On one side, the plot is very well cared for but the other side has been ownerless and is rather a mess.  We have strimmed over it to keep the grasses and weeds down but nothing else and I had hopes of harvesting the brambles that are growing there!
No more though.  Last night Beth went along to do a few things and there was the allotment manager with an elderly gentleman, showing him his 'new' plot and, I gather, saying some extremely nice things about our plot.  The difference three months makes, eh?  Beth seized the moment and now has permission for me to be a key holder as well as her.

Veg wise, Beth picked another courgette and says that by the weekend there should be some for me too.  Cheers!  She also picked some chard leaves for the guinea pig - no, not ours, we don't have one, a little friend's pet.  I wonder what chard is like - must look up some recipes.  Diane, do you have any nice cooking ideas?

As for me, I spent the day feeling better, did some work around the house, caught up on some sleep and did the usual tuition plus one swapped from today!  After a great night's sleep, I now feel ready for anything which is just as well because I have a very full day.  This morning is a governors' course on the needs of the most and least able.  That's in town.  Then I'm nanny helping in school after which I am straight into a meeting followed by two lots of tuition.  I'll be ready for bed tonight, that's for sure.  It's just as well tomorrow is relatively clear, isn't it?

Given that it's such a busy day, I had better stop now and get going with the usual.  Bath, dressed, breakfast, bit of housework!  See you tomorrow.

Wednesday 28 June 2017


I'm rather late today.  In fact, I can't remember when I last did my blog in the afternoon.  I felt a bit urky this morning so have been taking things easy.

The painter chap has just finished the shed and as much of the fence as he can do so I thought I'd take and share some photos - yes, more photos - of stuff out there.  Having a neat fence/shed does make a difference to how everything looks, for sure, as well as protecting the wood..

Firstly the spuds.  Two bags of Charlottes, found on the allotments but not needed there . . .

. . . and one bag of King Edwards, planted as an afterthought after some sprouted in my fridge.  There's more to come up here but they will be late as they were late in.  In fact, they were all late in really.

Next are the tomatoes.  All doing well although I'm wondering if we will be getting a blight warning.  Dad's had one today.
Three different types, three different colours - or they will/should be anyway.

The sweet peas are growing fast but no sign of flowers yet.  I wonder if I need to nip out the tops or something.  Must google for information!

Next door there is a lovely birch tree that delightfully shades the end of the garden.  I love sitting under it, enjoying the dappled sunlight.

Here's the bit where I want to lift up a few of these slabs to make a bit of a growing area only I haven't decided which slabs I want lifting yet.  It will be a sort of geometric edge as I'm not cutting any of the slabs and I think it will really look rather nice.  It won't be done until Autumn though, after the harvest.

And finally, the strawberry thingy is starting to look nice as the lobelia comes into flower.  I'm so glad I didn't throw it out now.  The strawberries aren't bad either!

Back tomorrow!

Tuesday 27 June 2017


Apologies for being so late with this.

I've been down the allotment (where else) and we picked our first courgette.  A most confused courgette too that can't decide if it is yellow or green.

Beth and I were sitting on the bench under the tree at the back and wondered if the fruit on the tree was edible.  It's ween there for years but we've not 'noticed' it before.

I brought a bit home, took a photo and asked on Facebook and it seems that it is a 'cherry plum, or plum myrobalan, so called because the fruits are plums that look quite like cherries and, yes, it's edible.  Brilliant.

Looks nice, doesn't it?

That's it for today - short and sweet.  Have a great day.

Monday 26 June 2017


Another new day, another new week.  It's fresh outside and I've just closed the French window.  My toes are cold but I can't be bothered to go up and find my slippers so it can't be all that bad, can it?

I did allotment duty yesterday - 90 minutes of weeding, hoeing and watering and very peaceful and restful it was too.  After that I came home and started sorting out some of the cupboards.  I've made a decision about what to keep.  You see, for various reasons, I have several sets of china/tableware.  There's the main set that I use all the time, there's the set that Gordon and I had for best before the divorce, there's some fine, pretty stuff and then there's a load of chunky white stuff from Matalan that I got so, so cheaply when I knew I was having a load of family round for Christmas and didn't have enough.  Utterly ridiculous to have so much, I know.

Originally I was planning to sell on the old best stuff but you know what, I really love it.  I loved it when I first saw it, coming home from school, in the window of a shop in Lewisham and I've never stopped loving it since.  I haven't used it much because it's in a bit of an awkward-to-get-to cupboard and anyway, you can't get it any more unless you go to those expensive china replacement companies (I was thinking to sell it to them).

On the other hand, part from a few bits of the white stuff that I do use regularly, I wouldn't miss it one little bit.  It's 'cheap', clunky and - well, you get the idea.

So I have decided to donate the white set to the local hospice shop where, I am sure, they will get some use from it one way or another.  And I have resolved to use the Reflections tableware much more often, just as I am now using the Edinburgh crystal and the pretty china!  I love it, it makes me feel good and, although I am not a Kon-Whatsit person, it 'sparks joy'.
And there's that connection to a happy past too!

So, with any luck, I should get all that white stuff out of the house this week.

Later on yesterday I tied up the tomatoes again (inches every day now!) and made a very tasty dinner with sardines!

Today is busy.  The plasterer is coming at eight and, while he works, I will get on with cupboard clearing.  This afternoon, I am in school, Nanny-helping.  In the evening I am off to some Governors' Training all about assessment which, oddly enough, I am quite looking forward to.  No allotment today unless it turns really hot, in which case I will go and water.

There's fragrant smells coming from the kitchen as I have cooked some rhubarb.  I'd better go and deal with that and then I must get going so as to be ready for eight.
Have a great day.

Sunday 25 June 2017


Cool, cloudy and comfortable.  That's this morning round here!  We also had rain yesterday evening which wasn't much but better than nothing.

First thing, I went shopping.  I didn't have loads to get but I needed to visit several shops so off I went and two hours later I was home and putting it all away.  Very strangely, a cookery book and a couple of magazines seemed to have jumped into my bag so that gave me something to read later on in the day and for the next week too.  After that I didn't really fancy the allotment so I didn't.

I might have given the allotment a miss yesterday but I did catch up with my washing and ironing.  The latter was way too hot for comfort over last week but I'd got to the point of needing to iron something before putting it on so I girded up my loins, as the saying goes, and got stuck in.  I did two loads of washing as it was a great drying day and now the ironing basket is empty, both of old and new ironing.

The tomatoes in the garden are really making progress now.  Every kind now has lots of flowers and mini fruit, even the mystery Italian tomatoes.  They obviously love the heat.

Today I MUST do some weeding and I must also start clearing the cupboards downstairs.  Next Monday (not tomorrow), I am having most of downstairs decorated plus up the stairs and the landing.  So all the cupboards have to be cleared so that they can be moved.  It's going to be very disruptive, but it's a good opportunity to have another sort out and it will be lovely when it's all done.  Tomorrow the plasterer is coming to deal with the artex in the hall and downstairs loo so I guess I will need to do a fair amount of dusting and sweeping afterwards.

Well, sitting here won't get any of the jobs done, will it?  Breakfast first and then bath, after which I must work!  I wonder how much I will get done today.

Saturday 24 June 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to another weekend.  It's cool and cloudy here - the first time in many days that the sun has not been shining - and a bit of rain is forecast although I will believe that when I see it!

Yesterday really was a lovely day.  It was fine and sunny, but fresh and breezy and that oppressive heat had disappeared overnight.  I met Beth down the allotment and we pottered around gently.  I weeded and watered and she strimmed and then tackled the table and benches at the back.  It had been uncovered for a while and was coated in bird poo!  She had a strong scrubbing brush, loads of water and some antibacterial spray and before she got going with that, she tightened all the screws and nuts and bolts.  I forgot to take a photo of the finished table/chairs - they now needs painting anyway - but we had bought a fairly substantial cover so I took a photo of them covered.

On top are a couple of broken slabs, to keep it on until we get round to drawing up the strings round the bottom.
Well done, Beth.

This summer we are going to re-paint the shed using Cuprinol Garden Shades and we will do the table and benches at the same time, either in the same colour or a toning colour.  We've got a lot of choice.
I quite like the sage and seagrass but am also rather taken with the blue and violet shades.  I don't think Beth will let me though!

I wasn't home long before the cleaner turned up and an hour later I had a nice, clean downstairs.  I sat outside and read for a while, then came in and just generally pottered sleepily.  I shouldn't be sleepy, I slept really well Thursday night, but maybe the previous restless nights had caught up.  Anyway, I was in bed before nine and had another lovely, cool, cosy night waking after five.  That's a lie in!

Today I am going shopping, then allotmenting (finishing weeding round the potatoes and then watering, weather permitting) and after that it is probably going to be yet another very lazy day!  I could get used to this, you know!

I'll finish off with two flower photos.  The green beans are starting to flower and the cucumber has five flowers (or it did yesterday).  A promise of good things to come.

Friday 23 June 2017


Morning, everyone.  What a lovely night's sleep.  It has cooled down considerably and it was bliss to be able to snuggle down under the quilt again after having to sleep on top for so long.  I opened both French windows earlier and have closed one again!  It was so, so hot yesterday lunch time and afternoon, or maybe I mean humid, rather than hot.  Uncomfortable, anyway.  It is lovely now.

It's been a very busy old week and I am so glad that today is an empty day - nothing in the diary at all.  OK, the cleaners are coming to do downstairs so I have a bit of tidying up to do and I'm going down the allotment this morning but that's not the same.  I'm feeling footloose and fancy free - no teaching, no meetings, nothing but things I choose to do.  Splendid.

Beth and I worked on weed attack yesterday.  It took a while because we removed the netting from the peas, gently cleared the weeds from around them (we had to be so, so careful), tied them up against the canes, creating a sort of trellis so they climb up against that rather than up the netting, and then replaced the netting.  I know the weeds will be back - it is now the bindweed rather than the ground elder that's the big problem, but patience is a virtue and we have plenty of that.  While we were doing that, there were a few drops of rain and while we were having coffee it intensified so we cleared and left.  Sadly, it didn't come to anything so it's still watering cans at the ready!

Today we are planting on the four runner bean plants I have left, making a sort of wigwam for them to grow up.  We won't get much from them, I know, but it's better than throwing away the little plants (and it will look as if we know what we are doing!)

We've been taking regular full view photos of the allotment so here's some showing progress, to bore you!  :-)

The beginning of April - oh, dear!  No wonder the chap next door (to the left) wasn't happy.

Starting to attack the weeds.  We did the front first to make the whole thing look better!

Some of the cage has gone, the weeds at the front are being held back, and we've started attacking behind the cage.

We have planting!

Taken on Wednesday.  Everything is coming up well (including those pesky weeds) and it's full of hope!

Better stop - I have a living room to tidy before I have my bath and get dressed and then an allotment to tend!  Strimmer day today!

Edited to add one I took an hour ago.  Different angle.

Thursday 22 June 2017


Hi, everyone!

After a lovely early morning yesterday it got hotter and, by the afternoon it was baking!  Doing the allotment work wasn't too bad as there was some shade and plenty of breeze so I stayed for two hours, weeding and watering mostly.  I hoed around the baby corn and tackled the French bean area which now looks better although I am sure some of those weeds are still lurking, ready to pounce when we're not looking!  Today it is the turn of the mange tout to get the weed treatment!  I am determined not to let the whole place get into such a state again.

We may not have much fruit on the redlove, the pear and the plum trees but the other apple tree makes up for that.  If the June drop has happened, then we should get a good harvest here, fingers crossed.

I weeded after taking this photo - it is better now.  The baby corn is growing strongly in this heat.

. . . as are the courgettes.  We'll be eating some soon, I hope!

We have a flower on the sugar snaps.  Yay!

And a flower on the lemon cucumber.

The French beans are happy.  Even the ones we moved to fill gaps are now coming on.

After giving everything a good watering, I went home and did a bit of stuff in the garden after which I showered and cooled off a bit.  Tuition was, as always, good fun and then it was straight off to school for two meetings.

I enjoy these governors' meetings and last night we were back in the hall with the air con on which was bliss.

Today is quite busy but in a fairly undemanding way.  It's allotment first, then school followed by tuition.  I now have three students on Thursdays so it goes on later.  I'm really hoping today will be cooler and more comfortable although there's a weather warning out for storms this morning which means high humidity!

One good thing - whatever causes my hay fever is on the way out for this year.  Yesterday I didn't take a tablet and it was fine.  Today is a bit sneezy but nothing too bad.  A great relief.

Have a lovely day and stay cool.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Wednesday and garden update

Good morning.  Another delightfully cool start to the day, great for watering, although it will hot up soon, I am sure.  The garden is loving the weather though.

The montellos are coming along . . . 
And have babies!
The mystery Italian tomatoes are reveling in the hot weather and growing almost visibly . . .

. . . and so are the sungolds

We have potatoes (I hope).  The other two bags are the same!  Charlottes and maybe King Edwards!
Finally, the Ruby Anns are taking off from where the others stopped.  Not many but they are beautiful fruit.
Must remember to take my camera to the allotment soon.

Yesterday was busy but I survived (!)  It was a very long day as the evening meeting went on until 10:30 and we are continuing it before the Full Governors meeting this evening.  However, we were comfortable!  The staff room was so hot that we decamped into the hall which has air con.

Today is easier.  I have to get paint from B&Q and then to water the allotment plants but after that I just have planning and jamming and cosy, comfortable, homey things to do until tuition and the evening meeting.

Thank goodness for fans!

Tuesday 20 June 2017


Hello, everyone.  Wasn't it a scorcher yesterday.  Jolly uncomfortable inside, even with fans on, and not nice outside even in the shade.

As mentioned yesterday, I arrived home from my parents' and got going with stuff.  I managed two loads of washing before setting out for school where the FS classroom was, as I had suspected, hot and the children were sitting quietly with their water in front of them, watching something suitable on the screen.  As we said, it was too hot for anything else.

It's coming up to the end of the school year now - just four weeks to go - so after doing my usual thing, I started preparing stuff for the new year and the new class.  It's those little things that can be a real pain so the more of it I can do, the easier for everyone else.

Then it was home for a cool down in front of the fan, some watering and an early night.  It wasn't a good night - I did sleep but it was restless.

Today is busy.  I'm going to water the allotment early and may very well go back this evening to give it all another watering.  I have a meeting with the mum of a potential summer pupil, a workman is turning up at some point to do some 'stuff', I have the usual two tuition sessions and then there's a 'strategy' meeting at school.  No, I have no idea either, but I will know better afterwards.  I won't be talking about it here though!  :-)

I wonder if it will be any more comfortable here today.  Fingers are crossed and I'm very grateful for a consistent supply of clean, cold water, something I guess most of us just take for granted.
Not me thought, not today!  Maybe not you either.

Monday 19 June 2017


A belated Good Morning to you all.  I'm home after four days with my Mum and Dad, the washing is on, the fans are on, the windows are open and as soon as I have done this, I shall be watering the plants!  Phew, it is so hot already and I am really not looking forward to going into school this afternoon as it is so, so hot in there unless you are lucky enough to be in the halls or the head's room where there's air con.

It's been a pleasant four days but, of course, I have eaten too much and drunk too much so it's bread and water for me for the next few days.  I came back with some long frozen fruit that probably won't get used so I will be cooking, sieving and then either freezing or jamming straight away.

I have to do the allotment watering but I shall wait until the evening when things might be a little cooler, you never know.

So it is back to normality!

Sunday 18 June 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Isn't it hot?  Yesterday was a scorcher and today looks like being the same. or even more so.

It was pleasant at the school fair yesterday, albeit very hot.  I did my duty in the cake comp (not too many, thank goodness) and then wandered around, spending some cash and having some good chats to people.  I was glad to get home and turn the fan on though.

When I first retired, I had it in my mind to offer tuition to littlies, that age group being my favourite.  Things like phonic catch-up, early English/maths, etc. That didn't materialise at that time and I ended up with junior aged students.  Don't get me wrong, I'm loving it, so that's good, but recently I've had enquiries regarding younger children and the ironic thing is I don't have any more spaces - not unless I increase the number of afternoons/evenings I do and I'm not going to do that - I'm retired now.
It's nice to be wanted though!

Today is going to be hot, hot, hot, so the plan is to stay inside or sit outside in the shady places and the fans will be earning their space!😎
I woke this morning, sneezed six times and took the hay fever meds.  I understand that the pollen count is very high round here so I'm taking no chances.  In a few more weeks, my sort should be over and finished but I really sympathise with those who have reactions for a lot longer.  It can be miserable!

Well, time is pushing on and I have to wash my hair this morning.  I should really have done it yesterday but didn't.  It's not the sort of hair that can just be left - it needs drying and then 'ironing' into shape which does take a bit of time.  Having said that, it doesn't then need any more fuss until the next wash and it doesn't need daily washing at all, so no complaints.  Better get started though.

Please stay cool and drink plenty of water today.

Saturday 17 June 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It looks as if we're in for a spell of good weather and today is no exception.  That's good, because it's the June Fair today and the last couple of years have been less than ideas, weather-wise.

This will be the first time in decades that I have no responsibility for a stall of any kind.  Not that I am being lazy, dear me, no.  Today another governor and I have been given the job of judging the entries for the bake-off competition so, by lunchtime, I will be all caked out!!!  That won't stop me enjoying all the fair has to offer but it might stop me going for that hot dog!

Today's going to be a bit busy so I must get started.  Have a good day, everyone, and stay cool.

Friday 16 June 2017


It feels awfully like Saturday for some reason.  Since retirement, I have had a tendency to muddle my days although tuition has helped to ground me to a certain extent.

Anyway, it is gloriously sunny again this morning although the nights are still pleasantly cool and comfortable.  It certainly is a treat I will never stop appreciating - to wake early, go downstairs, make my coffee and then sit in my lovely arbour, dressing gown on, kindle, book or magazine to hand and appreciate the sights and sounds of  the time before most people around me have woken.  The air has a peculiarly clear quality, the birds sing their hearts out and there's usually a fresh breeze to stir the wind chimes.  Combine that with the certainty that I have all the time I want to take and it is sheer bliss.

Yesterday was also lovely.  I only had time to water the plants at the allotment and, as I did so, make some mental notes of places that need another weed.  I am absolutely determined to keep up with that particular task - I never, ever again want it to get into that state!

In the evening, I went to the Arcadians' latest offering, One Night Only.  I know it is only a fortnight since their last show and, no, they are not usually that prolific but they were offered an evening at the local theatre which was too good to miss.  They performed songs from some of the shows they have done in recent years and one block from a show they certainly haven't done, Les Mis.
Their shows are very good but I also love their concerts where singing is the aim and they need tp 'tell the story' without costume or backcloth.  They sing so well and are blessed with a considerable number of good solo voices, not to mention an outstanding musical director.
Well done to them all.

I have no idea about today except that I will be eating out this evening which will be nice.  I love an empty day full of possibility and promise.  I wonder what it holds.

Thursday 15 June 2017


Hello again!  The sun is shining, the windows are open and I am sneezing!  Oddly enough, yesterday was more or less sneeze free and I only realised I hadn't taken my tablet when down the allotment thinking how nice it was not to be sniffing away.  The pollen must have been low down our way.

I slogged away on that last bit of un-dealt with ground and finally, at long, long last, it's all finished.  Here's the photographic evidence to prove it.

We have no plans for this bit right now except as an over-spill.  The spare runner beans will be there, growing up a wigwam construction, and maybe a bit of kale, but in the longer term, there will be another bark chipping pathway to the right of the rhubarb bed and the rest will be split into two sections, one for raspberry bushes and one for a strawberry bed, to be filled with runners from my strawberries, here in my garden.  The strawberry bed will be covered with membrane and then with straw over the top.  We'll have to see what the birds make of it all - we might possibly need some sort of cage construction to protect the fruit but time alone will tell on that one.

For now I will be hoeing it over once a week to keep those pesky weeds under control!

By the way, we don't have that gap in the rhubarb patch so we can plant flowers, we plant flowers because there is a gap!  Later on this year, Beth intends splitting one of the plants to fill it.

The only other news from the allotment is that the courgettes are doing great and I hope to see a flower today or maybe tomorrow.

Back home, I whizzed around a bit and then made my way to school where I watched (and took part) in a couple of recorder lessons with the Y4 classes.  You may wince at the thought of massed recorders and I would understand but, you see, back in the day I did a lot of recorder tuition at school.  Multiple clubs at different levels and individual lessons for those who were keen and showed promise.  We entered music festivals and took graded exams (very successfully).
So this was fun!  It helped that I taught both classes, one of them in Y1 and the other in Y2 so we were old friends.

So that was yesterday.  Today promises to be another very pleasant day.  Out to lunch and then a show this evening.  And it should stay sunny all day too.  Superb!

Wednesday 14 June 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Down here in the SE it's another lovely day this morning with wall to wall sunshine and warm enough to eat breakfast outside.  Bliss, especially on a 'school'day.

Yesterday was also gorgeous, warm enough to switch on the fan late afternoon, and working at the allotment was sheer pleasure.  It's interesting how much stronger and 'fitter' it is helping me to become.  I used to be stiff and sore and achey but no longer!  The only problems I have now are with my feet and ankles and that's always going to be so, I think.

Anyway, I weeded and forked and sifted through to get rid of malicious roots and disturbed an ants nest which caused then great consternation.  There's only one more little bit of unworked soil now and I reckon I shall get that done today.
You can see what I mean here.

I didn't make the jam yesterday as it felt too hot to stew over a cauldron, but I have just ladled some into six jars and popped on the lids.  They're cooling and then I will make the labels - home made strawberry, cranberry and rhubarb!

Tuition went well and then I watched telly for a while before getting an early night (and slept right through too).

And the pong in the car?  What pong?  It now smells fragrant and pleasant!

Today is - guess what - yes, more allotment!  When I get home, in the afternoon, I'm off into school to watch a recorder lesson before coming home to make some bread.  In fact, I might make the dough before I go and leave it to rise while I am out.  Sadly, today's student is unwell but that does give me the rest of the day to get stuff done - there's almost always a silver lining.
The pollen count seems to be lower at the moment - no sneezes or sniffles yet, fingers crossed and touch wood!!!

I hope you enjoy the sun too.

Tuesday 13 June 2017


Yesterday was the very best day in a long, long while for the simple reason that Beth heard that not only had she done extremely well in her last degree course, she has now been offered her degree.

BA (hons) humanities with literature, First Class.   Ooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Studying with the Open University has some advantages but it does require huge amounts of commitment, persistence and determination and an awful lot of very hard work over a long time.  It's not been easy, in fact most of the time it has been a real uphill struggle in many different ways.  She stuck at it, however, and she has discovered (or re-discovered) her love of literature and, especially, poetry along the way.
I am so, so, so proud of her.  I am anyway but I am sure you know what I mean.

Moving from the sublime to the - er - less sublime, I solved a slight mystery yesterday.  For a while, there's been a funny pong in my car.  At first I put it down to damp grass from the mower or strimmer and told myself I must clean out the back at some point.  However, the last few days have been really stinky and I got quite worried so yesterday I cleared out the boot.  Nothing.  I investigated the inside of shopping bags in case there was a stray carrot or apple that had escaped.  Nope.
Last of all I took everything out of the allotment bag and right at the bottom was a poly bag (fortunately) with some old veg peelings I had intended to take to the allotment and forgot about.  Urgh . . .
So that's now in the bin and I soaked my car freshener hanging thingy in some essential oil and my hopes are that the pong will have gone by this morning now that the source has been removed and that any aroma will be pleasantly acceptable!  I will find out soon.

It was nice down the allotment.  Not too hot and with a refreshing breeze.  I tidied up the rhubarb patch which had got rather weedy, strimmed more of the plot next door that is unmanned right now and looked as if it was taking over if we didn't do something about it and then settled to more clearing of that last patch.  Then I watered before coming home (worrying about the smell!).
You have to look carefully to see things growing but they are - no, not weeds, real things to eat!

The potatoes have flowers
A weed free rhubarb patch
The lemon cucumber
One of the yellow courgettes
Baby corn
Little apples
Mange tout - half time score:  Pigeons 1: Clarks 20 (at least)!
The sugar snaps are also looking pretty healthy now.

After doing my duty at school, I got out the ironing board and now several loads of washing are nicely smooth and stored where they should be.  Gotta love an empty ironing basket.

Nearly forgot to say - at home, the second planting of runner beans started showing too - three to start with although one seems to be a bit alternative as the roots are growing up!  Three is enough to fill the gaps (a few more would be better) and any others will go down to the allotment rather than be wasted.  The harvest will be a bit later but will go on longer so that's OK.

So yesterday had one huge, great, big, enormous happy thing and lots of other small pleasures.  A lovely day.

Today I don't have any commitments until tuition after school.  I shall do my stint at the allotment again, after which I will come home and check through the planning and then set to and make some strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry jam.

Doesn't that all sound nice and homey!

Monday 12 June 2017


What a beautiful morning!  The sun is shining, there's a fresh breeze moving the leaves and it is a bit cool but not cool enough to make me want to close my windows.  I think I will have breakfast outside today and make the most of it all.

I enjoyed yesterday.  I bustled around clearing up the kitchen which was, frankly, more than a bit of a mess, before getting things ready for the planned meals.  A potential pupil (or rather, the mum of a potential pupil) came for a quick meeting and left satisfied so I have one more on the list and absolutely no more space for anyone else.  It is very pleasant to be able to do what I have always loved - teaching - but without all the other stuff that made life a misery from time to time.
The Beth and Al turned up and we had lunch.  I had made cheese toasties (cheese and ham in Alex's case) with some salad and it all went down a treat.  However, I have now virtually finished the batch of red onion chutney that really adds something special to the toasties, so I will have to make some more.  It's a thermo recipe, so very easy, but it doesn't half stink the house out so I will have to pick my day carefully!

After lunch, Beth and I went to the allotment.  It's still looking good.  We strimmed and watered, Beth hoed round the potatoes and I did a bit more clearing of the back.  Then we had coffee and chatted.  It's such a pleasure and very relaxing.  There were a number of others around but no-one near enough to be intrusive.

Beth took these photos.

Then it was home for a quiet evening and a great night's sleep.

This morning I am allotmenteering again and today's main job is weeding and clearing around the rhubarb plants as those big leaves can hide a multitude of weedy sins!  I'll pick some rhubarb and, because I have the other fruit too, I shall make some of the best jam ever - strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry jam.  It's so gorgeous and just different enough to make splendid gifts.

The afternoon will be spent with FS and the evening will be garden pottering, I suspect.  All very gentle, happy and fulfilling.

In the time it has taken to write this, the sun seems to have faded somewhat but I bet it will be back before long.  And I'd better fade too and start some of those housework tasks that need doing every day.

Sunday 11 June 2017

What a gadabout!

I've made a list of outing/shows in my diary . . .

Coach trips:
Kensington Palace to see an exhibition of Diane's clothes
The Mary Rose Museum/exhibition
Buckingham Palace
Suffolk Coast

La Traviata (last night)
The Letchworth Arcadians at the Broadway Theatre
A Princess Undone
Private Lives (a matinee followed by a meal)

When did I ever find the time to work, eh?

Like I said - what a gadabout!


Oh, dear, oh, dear, I do have a muggy head this morning.  I'd like to blame the hay fever which has landed with a big thud, but . . .

Yesterday was wonderful.  The sun broke through the clouds and I set off to do a shop at Aldi and then on to Wyvale for some more potting compost.  I seem to be getting through loads of the stuff this year but the garden is looking good and I don't begrudge it one little bit.

After sorting that out, I loaded the mower into the car and spent an hour or so down the allotment, mowing and weeding.  Everything is coming along nicely and we have a couple of teeny weeny little yellow courgettes on one small plant.  The mange tout and sugar snaps have survived the onslaugh from the pigeons and the potatoes have flower buds.

After that I made scones, got out the best china, made elegant (well, crustless) sandwiches and so on before changing and waiting.  After tea, we set off for the Picture House in town and watched a recorded showing of La Traviata from Glyndebourne.  Oh, it was stunning, simply wonderful.  The music is glorious anyway but the acting was superb too and I am so glad that gone are the days when a 'well built' and aging soprano could play Violetta, just because she had the voice for it.  On recordings, that's fine, but not for the full package.

When we got home, J and I opened a bottle, got out some nibbles and settled down for a good chat.  Several hours, thousands of words, lots of nibbles and - er - more than one bottle later, we said goodnight and retired.
Hence the muggy head this morning - not a headache, just muggy!  My own fault and copious amounts of coffee are slowly clearing it.

However, it was a super day and I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

Today will be quiet - mostly.  Beth and Al are coming for lunch and I have planned something easy - toasties with salad, which we all love.  Then Beth and I are allotment bound to water, weed, strim and clear although, if it's hot, that might reduce to just watering and strimming!

I have decided to start using my 'best' stuff more.  I have some very pretty china which has been stored away in a cupboard and never used.  Ditto for my Edinburgh crystal.  I've realised that it is very silly to have lovely things and not to use them, especially at my age, so - I will use them!  Not all the time, they will stop being a treat if I did, but much more often than never!

Do you find you have things you never use because they are 'best'?

Saturday 10 June 2017


Morning, everyone!  It's a bit dull right now, no sun and no breeze but, according to the BBC, the sun will break through and we will have a glorious day.  I have already sneezed seven times so will be popping the anti-snuffle pills next time I wander into the kitchen!

I got a fair amount done yesterday, one way and another.  The house is now reasonably neat and tidy and downstairs is clean.  I baked bread - a larger loaf than usual - and made scones using yogurt and they were delicious.  My friend came round and we had a really good catch-up chat after which she left taking the rest of the scones with her for her boys.

Do you like the new photo at the top?  That was yesterday's picking and there's still plenty more to come.  More jam, I think, plus some in the freezer.

Today is busy.  Shopping first and then allotment.  After that I will be doing a bit of baking and making 'elegant' sandwiches for when two friends come over for tea.  I'm doing a proper tea with two types of sandwiches followed by scones with jam and cream, shortbread and cake.
Then we're all off to see a recorded showing of La Traviata which should be splendid.
After that, once home again, I imagine that a bottle of something will be opened, nibbles produced and we will chat and chat!

I shall enjoy today!

Friday 9 June 2017


Good morning, everyone.  We have sunshine this morning and, actually, yesterday wasn't nearly as bad as it might have been, weather-wise.

I turned up to the meeting but found it had been cancelled (illness).  They had phoned me and left a message but I didn't pick it up and phoning is useless for me before the hearing aids are in - I just don't hear it at all.  That's how deaf I am so thank goodness for technology or my world would be a very isolated one.

With the feeling that I had just been handed a free day on a plate (Y2 was out so I wasn't needed pm either), I did my civic duty and then went home.  I decided to use the time gift well so I set to and got all of next week's tuition planned and ready.  I'll have to read through it again and might tweak bits but that won't take long.

I also tried something out.  I had bought some strong rubble sacks (plastic bags but thick) and I had some sprouting spuds so I have planted the sprouting potatoes in the bags and punched drainage holes in the bottom.  They don't look very professional but, dear me, it's worth a try, isn't it?  I gather it will take three months (if it works).  Two of the three bags have Charlottes and one has King Edwards that had sprouted in the fridge.  Goodness knows if the latter will come to anything but the Charlottes should as they are doing fine in the allotment.
The one on the right needs more soil and I will have to buy some this weekend.

I then wandered around pulling off side shoots on the tomatoes, noting the flowers, real flowers, on the montellos, counting the blueberries (five!) and picking more strawberries.  I now have three pots of jam, really luscious home grown, home made strawberry jam.

I thought I'd managed to kill the Japanese anemone cutting I took for a friend but, to my delight, when I looked yesterday, it is very much alive and sending out new shoots.  Phew!

It was a good day.

Today I have a 'free' (ha ha) morning and a friend is coming round for the afternoon.  It's downstairs cleaner day too, so I need to sort out the mess in the kitchen.  The tuition is all finished for this week so I can relax and enjoy the sunshine if there is any.

And don't we live in 'interesting' times?

Thursday 8 June 2017


Where's yesterday's sun?  The cloud is back, the wind never went away and it feels a bit chilly so the slippers and the dressing gown are both back in action and very grateful for them I am too.

It was gorgeous for most the the day yesterday although we did have some hard rain come the evening: it is just one of those weeks, isn't it?  I'm looking out for blight warnings now, early as it is in the season.

I finally got the extra beans planted in pots, all ten of them, which is more than I need.  That's all I have now so if they don't come up, I will just have to make do with what has decided to grow.  Gardening is very much an act of faith and, I suppose, now and again, faith has to be tested.  Beans or no beans, the strawberries are still coming on a treat, even if the new ones haven't started ripening yet, and I have loads in the fridge for these few pots of jam I intend to make.  I might tackle that this afternoon, if I can get the tuition planning finished this morning.

I went to the meeting yesterday morning, did my bit to help and came away again three hours later.  Happily, there was cake in the staff room at playtime to lighten the load!  One more meeting today and that's my school duties finished for this week as Y2 are doing something else this afternoon - my fingers are crossed for good weather for them.

Well, if I want to make jam this afternoon, I need to do planning now, so I had better get going.

Wednesday 7 June 2017


Good morning and welcome to what looks like a much nicer day today.  We have sun.  We have breeze.  We don't have rain (yet).

And we have loads more strawberries, despite me trying to dodge the raindrops yesterday to pick the ripe ones because I didn't want them to go over in the torrential rain.
I know what I am going to do with all the spare ones so far (the ones I can't eat, despite having some three times a day).  On Friday I have a friend coming over for the afternoon and on Saturday I am doing an 'afternoon tea' for a couple of other friends.  I shall make some strawberry jam!  Just a bit, maybe one or two pots.  It's a pound for a pound (fruit and sugar) so I can work it out and I have jam sugar and lemon juice so it should be fine and simple.  Just think - home made scones and home made strawberry jam.  Scrummy!

Despite the weather yesterday, it was a pleasant day.  The new tuition sessions seemed to go well enough.  There will be no need to water garden (apart from the planters) or allotment for several days which is just as well because this is a very busy week.  I held the washing back and it can be done this morning, with a stiff drying breeze when I peg them out.

This morning I am at a meeting followed by possibly attendance at a recorder lesson (but maybe not) with a tuition session late afternoon.  After that, in the evening, it's the start of a new series of Eat Well for Less, a programme I enjoy very much indeed so I will have to stay awake.  I've been dozing off at around eight o'clock recently so I will have to make an effort!

Have a pleasant day and I hope the rain stays off for us all.

Tuesday 6 June 2017


. . . and a warm 'Welcome Home' to my blogging friend, Diane.  I hope you've had a wonderful time and have brought the sunshine back with you - please.

Well, we knew the weather was going to turn, didn't we?  We may slightly mock the weather people but they are usually pretty accurate in their predictions and they certainly got it right yesterday.  By early evening it was pouring with rain and the wind was picking up too.

After a weekend away, it was nice to see that things have come on in the garden.  I always feel a bit inferior after visiting Mum and Dad as they have a wonderfully tended and care for garden.  Dad's cut down on the number of veggies he grows now but those he still has are coming on so well - corn, courgettes, runner beans, broad beans and tomatoes.

Here, the tomatoes are coming on nicely.  The montellos,so slow to get going last year, are forging ahead and now have flowers coming.  The sungolds have taken to their patch and are also sending out flower buds which the Mystery Tomatoes were put in their for ever home yesterday and seem to have survived.  They are Italian and I have put the container in a warm and sunny part of my little patch of land.
 The montellos

The sungolds

The Mystery Tomatoes.
The pot they are in is a pretty large pot with plenty of depth, so they should be OK there.

The strawberries are doing well too and, although the Ruby Anns are looking less pretty now, that's because the fruit is coming in.  From the bases, more flowers are coming too.  It was advertised as all-summer fruiting and, right now, that looks encouraging.
That's just one of several.

The bush that thinks it's a tree has been beautiful in this, its first proper flowering year.  When I had the old one, the one that had to come out as it was trying to reach the sky, I didn't realise that the fruit can be used for jam, cordial, flavour, etc, but now I know I intend to make use of whatever comes along, even if it is just an added flavour in some apple jam or something similar.  There's plenty of recipes on Google.

Fingers crossed for fruit.

There has been one disaster though - the runner beans.  I only have three plants.  It's not too late though and this time I am planting in pots to bring them on indoors before planting them out when they are stronger.  Cropping will be later but will go on later too so it should be OK.  But only three when I planted twelve?  I wonder what happened there.

After all that, lets get back on topic.  I had a very pleasant journey home yesterday morning and in the afternoon I was in school, helping out with FS.  It was all very pleasant.  

My Dad always likes to support small businesses and, after watching a programme called 'Back to the Land' he sent off for some muesli from a small artisan business called Lakeland Mues (I think).  Being the very generous soul that he is, he also ordered two bags for me so I shall be having a posh breakfast of artisan muesli, natural yogurt and home grown strawberries today.  Doesn't that sound delicious!

Today, the weather being what it is, is NOT an allotment day.  I'm a fair weather gardener and while I've been typing this after taking the photos above the rain has started again!  However, I will do a bit at home, planting more runner beans, and I have some planning (quite a lot of planning) to be getting on with so I won't be bored.

And with that, I had better get started or the day will just drizzle away, like the rain!