Monday 31 July 2017


Good morning and apologies for being a bit late - I had an early morning tuition session!

It's a pleasant day today around here.  Not particularly warm but sunny and breezy and the windows are all open!  There's still a residual paint pong around so airing the house is important.

I was busy yesterday bit everything went well.  Dinner for five was delicious and, apart from the vegetarian curry (which I expected), there was very little left over.  I'd forgotten how delicious crumble and ice cream is.

We didn't allotmenteer yesterday but there was no need to worry about watering.  Today we will be sorting out the rhubarb, cutting it all back and then leaving it to do its own thing, flowering and seeding.  There's quite a lot of weeds under the clumps so we will deal with them at the same time.  I suspect rhubarb jam will be on the list of things to do tomorrow!
I also want to lift some more potatoes as yesterday's dinner finished most of my stock up.

When I investigated my potato bag (in the fridge), to my shame several spuds were merrily sprouting in there.  Waste not, want not, so we will give them a go in the allotment and, if they don't cooperate, no problems.  We shall see.
Bad me!
I got the planning done later on so my conscience is now clear.  :-)

This morning, apart from tutoring, I picked runners and tomatoes and had a rummage through the freezer for lucky dip meals!

After a couple of busy weeks, this week feels footloose and fancy free although I am sure things will happen to fill the time available.  Don't they all!

Have a good day and may the sun shine for you.

Sunday 30 July 2017


We have rain!

Actually, that's not quite true right now as it's cleared and the sun is shining through the gaps a bit but there's more on the way.

Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to Soggy Sunday!

I got loads done yesterday - but not the front garden!

We met at the allotment, Beth and I, and after coffee and a chat, set to work.  The edges are now neat, we have planted more mange tout and sugar snaps (fingers crossed that they germinate), we weeded just a bit more (there wasn't all that much to do) and we dug over the ex-potato patch, raked it flat, sowed some more chard and then planted out as many of the little leeks as we had space for.  The rest will have to wait until we have cleared more potatoes.  Beth had a chat to a chap further along who gave us some of his beetroot and told us to take a look at his dahlias and let him know the ones we liked and he would prepare some plants for us next year.  Wasn't that kind?  There's no point us sharing our produce with him, he has loads, but I will have a rummage in my jam cupboard.  Lord knows, there's enough to feed the five thousand in there so sharing would be good!

Beth came back with me and we had lunch - home grown tomatoes fried in a little butter on toast.  Totally delicious!

Then I cleared the kitchen, made my bread dough and then popped to Morrisons to get a few things I needed for today before I finished off the bread and made a curry for today with loads of bits and bobs.

Come the evening I was tired and slept in my chair!  Getting old, that's the trouble.

Today I have guests for lunch (hence the curry) so need to make sure everywhere is relatively neat and tidy.  Later on I need to plan as I have three tuition sessions tomorrow.  So another busy day that ought to keep me out of trouble.

Saturday 29 July 2017


Morning, everyone.  After copious amounts of rain overnight, this morning is beautifully sunny so the windows are all open to take advantage of the fresh air (I still have a painty aroma all over the place).  The skies are clear blue and there's a gentle breeze.  I may well have breakfast outside today.

Beth and I managed to dodge the raindrops enough to put in a good two hours each on the allotment and have a simple picnic lunch.  When we had finished the work, we sat there in companionable silence, looking at what we had harvested and at the now neat and tidy again allotment with huge satisfaction.  We're both really glad that we've been making the effort necessary this year - it's a wonderful feeling.

The corn is now 'flowering' so the little cobs can't be far behind, we have two medium sized squashes hidden under the corn to go with the cute titchy ones, the cucumber is producing at a great rate of knots, ditto for the beans and the courgettes, we got loads of potatoes from just one row that we lifted and the mange tout and sugar snaps are now over so we cleared those rows.

At home I picked runner beans, tomatoes and a few strawberries.

Courgettes, green beans, runner beans, cucumbers, loadsa potatoes, tomatoes and a few strawberries - oh, and one spring onion that survived the attentions of a pesky cat that scratched all the others up.

Two butternut squashes

Some green beans that'll be ready in a few days.

< satisfied sigh >

Today is a day without any diary commitments so, of course, I will be very busy.  Allotment first, to strim the edges and plant some more peas, just to see if we can get a second harvest.  Then I want to jam some plums, freeze some green beans, make a vegetable curry, sort out my front garden which is getting itself into a right mess again, make bread and generally have a productive and homey day!

And we're supposed to be getting more rain later on!

Friday 28 July 2017


Funny old day, it is.  It was raining earlier, then the sun came out and it was gorgeously sunny, now it is clouding over again.  Do we have allotment today or not.  Will we be able to picnic?  Who knows?  Time alone will tell.

Yesterday was great.
I picked Beth up and we went off, firstly to Costas to spend my present (a Costa card), then into Hobbycraft for a good meander around and, yes, we bought a few things but nothing that bad) and then we went to Pizza Hut for a buffet lunch.  I love those buffet meals: you feel you're getting a lot, even if you're not really, and the choice is pretty good.

When I got home, I meant to get some planning done but I went to sleep instead.  Never mind, the planning got done later.

Today I've done the tuition (nice and early) and now the day's mine.  Allotment, maybe a picnic and then maybe some sewing.  There are runner beans and tomatoes to pick at home and goodness knows what at the allotment!  I have eggs to use and fancy making some mayo using my Bamix stick thingy.  It's so delicious!  I won't have time to make bread but maybe I will make the dough and then pop it in the fridge overnight.  How lovely to have an open day!

Here's to a good day for us all.

Thursday 27 July 2017


Good morning, everyone, and thank you for your patience over the last week.  I don't think I've ever missed two entries in one week before, but things have settled now and it's back to normal.

I mentioned that an old friend was coming to visit.  Suzanne and I became close friends when we were both at collage together, at Southlands, finding ourselves in rooms 24 and 25 (I think), Mid-Chapman many, many moons ago.  After college, we went our separate ways, me into teaching and marriage and she into teaching, here for her probationary year and then to Papua New Guinea to teach before joining World Vision.  Sadly, we lost contact but, thanks to good old Facebook, we managed to contact again, hence her visit.

I had a lovely time and I hope Suzanne did too.  It was just a short stay but I hope she'll come again before long.  Unlike me, she's not retired (yet) but is reducing her hours.  Like me, she has her home and loves her garden.

On Tuesday we pootled off to Hyde Hall where we had lunch and did a lot more talking than looking.  There's been some big changes there with more on the way so I have scheduled another visit next week to explore further.
Yesterday we popped into town to go to Lakeland where S bought a few useful items and then we had coffee in M&S (fortunately missing the rain).  I followed my parent's example and bought a few jars of gravy.  It's lovely gravy and when you cook for one, often there's not enough left to make a proper gravy.  Not terribly frugal but good and flavoursome!

Thanks, Suzanne, it has been brilliant getting back in touch again.  Here's to the next time.

In other news, poor Beth had some unwelcome drama.  One of her cats got out and vanished.  He was gone for 24 hours and caused her great anguish as she searched the highways and byways for him.  He turned up again, 24 hours later, scared and hungry but none the worse for his adventures and was soon comforted with love and food.  I think it will take longer for Beth and Alex to recover from the experience though!

Today I'm doing stuff with Beth.  What we do depends on how she feels after the Fred-fiasco.  We might go to Lakeside for clothes shopping or we might ransack Hobbycraft.  Either way, I have a Costa Coffee card, given as a birthday present, so I will use that to treat us both!

The garden is going well - I've picked the first runners and the first tomatoes and more are coming in.  The Ruby Ann strawberries are still producing and have sent up another set of flowers while the other strawberries are producing runner at a great speed.
The allotment also looks fab.  We now have copious amounts of cucumber and courgettes, the beans are also producing steadily and we have tiny, baby butternut squashes that look so cute!  The potatoes are dying back so need lifting now and, unfortunately, the weeds are having a field day.  I think that, weather permitting, tomorrow has to be an allotment weeding day - S and I popped over there to get her a couple of courgettes and I was horrified!

Well, that's me up to date now.  Have a splendid day, whatever the weather does your way.

Wednesday 26 July 2017


Just a very quick entry as I have a guest and little time!

Back tomorrow, properly back!  Have a great day.

Monday 24 July 2017


Apologies for yesterday's non-appearance.  I was at Mum and Dad's and there were a few connection issues.  Home now and back online.  The weather is just as dire though - still dark, damp and gloomy and I am really noticing that the days are getting shorter and the nights longer again.

It was a good time away.  On Saturday we popped over to M&S at Biggleswade again and had lunch there (absolutely delicious sandwiches and a HUGE cup of coffee!) while the sun was still shining and in the afternoon we stayed in as the rain fell and the garden lifted her head and rejoiced.  As did any blight around and I got a blight warning in my mailbox.  Ho hum!

Yesterday morning I cooked the dinner for us all (a really tasty savoury crumble, though I say it myself) and headed home p.m.  I was lucky enough to dodge the showers that were dotted around the countryside and it was a pleasant journey.  I came back loaded with goodies from my generous parents, bless them.  More super-posh muesli, a bag of runner beans from their garden and a thing to help me hear the telly better which is now all charged up and ready to go!

I came back to a small stack of mail - a bill, a tax thingy for someone else and two tax thingies for myself - one a notification of a change in tax code (it keeps changing!) and one telling me that the tax bods owe me some money.  A nicely comfortable amount too which, when paid, will go straight into my savings, maybe into investments.  That was a cheerful thing to come home to and it'll be interesting to see if my 'disposable' income now goes up.  It's all so complicated (to me it is anyway) that I'm a bit gung ho about it which is probably totally the wrong attitude, but at least I'm not likely to fall for a money making scam in any way.  No way do I want to add complication to my life!

Today I have quite a lot to do in anticipation of the arrival of an old friend tomorrow morning.  I need to make some bread (haven't made bread for a while now as I got some yellow sticker bread), get her bedroom ready, finish the ironing, prep the runner beans, plan a menu and shop for any extra things I need, dust and hoover and, to start with, I have two morning tuition sessions.  It's now the school holidays, officially, not just the weekend, but I've been asked by some to do holiday sessions and am happy to oblige, seeing as life is one long holiday now!

I had a bit of a disappointment though - the coach trip to Buckingham Palace is off.  When it came to paying, there wasn't enough interest so the company cancelled it.  A shame, but there you go, the things one can suffer and still survive, eh?  We might have a 'do it yourself' trip with a 'Royal Day Out ticket' which means we can wait until September when schools will be back and it won't be quite so crowded.
I do hope they don't cancel our trip to the seaside.  I'm really looking forward to that one!

Well, the planning is done and ready for 9:00 but there's loads more to do so I need to get going.  Have a good day and may the sun shine for you.

Saturday 22 July 2017


Morning, everyone.  We've had more rain overnight which is just perfect.  Rain at night, sun during the day.  Just what the garden and allotment ordered!   Three cheers.

I was out for dinner last night with my mum and dad.  I had a buttermilk chicken burger and it was delicious, covered with smoked bacon and cheese, so delicious that I more or less finished the lot off apart from the top of the bun!  My only grumble was that they served fries, not chips, those thin, twiggy like things - next time I must remember to ask for chips instead.  They're very obliging at the Millstream and I'm sure they would.  Dad had one of the specials, liver and bacon, and it did look delicious!

Working back through yesterday, the lovely Sharon is back in business and came round to do our hair.  It's been rather a long time as she's been out of action and I was feeling very shaggy-horses-mane-ish but it's fine now.  Phew.

Before then, I was at the Leavers' Assembly and a bitter-sweet time it was too.  Tear creating.  The class I had in Y1 was one of my favourites.  They were lovely.  Some right characters, always looked out for each other and generally hard workers.  I'm sure they will make their mark on their next schools.

And before then I did some clearing out, putting away and washing.  The cleaner came and I now have an acceptable home again.  Paul was really good at minimising dust and cleaning up after his work each day, but, inevitably, there was some extra mess and dust.  It is lovely to get my home back again AND now I have somewhere to put the ironing board away.  Three cheers.

The garden is flourishing in the current weather we are having.  Even though they're late, the runners should be ready for a first picking next week and after that there will be no stopping them so I'm glad I have room in the freezer for surplus.  I've picked the first two tomatoes (yum) and others are now turning too.  It's one of the pleasures of my summers to pick some early morning, dry them in a little butter and have them on toast.  SO delicious!  The potatoes are growing mightily, they're taking over that corner of the garden, so I'm hoping the spuds in the bags will be correspondingly big and beautiful. The few carrots I planted are also almost ready to pull.  How lovely is that?

I have no idea what we're doing today but am sure that, whatever it is, it will be fun.  Have a great day yourself too.

Friday 21 July 2017


. . . and what a lovely, sunny morning it is too.  There's quite a breeze so it doesn't feel hot and it's very cheerful.  Hope it stays like this.

My friend left yesterday morning and had a great journey back home.  I set to and cleared more cupboard stuff and under the stairs looks like a useful space rather than a glory hole now.  There's still some stuff to tidy away but I'm pleased, all the same.

I wasn't needed in school so I had a pleasant afternoon before two great tuition sessions.

Today is busy (which is why I'm late).  The cleaners are coming for the first time in three weeks so I've made it easy for them to get into the nooks and crannies.  I'm off to the Leavers' Assembly at eleven (note to self:  make sure I have tissues in my bag) and then I shall pop round to selected classes to wish them a good holiday.

I was wrong about just teacher who are moving classrooms needing to clear their cupboards.  All the classrooms are having a 'deep clean' so everyone has had to clear out everything.  Oh, my!  I don't envy them one bit, but the school will be shiny clean come September and that will be nice.

Anyway, then I'm home and Sharon is coming to see to the bird's nest that is my hair.  I can't wait.

So it is a busy day all round and I'd better get going again.

Thursday 20 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.  We've had rain overnight and the patio is still a little bit puddly.  That's good: it means I won't have to water either garden or allotment today.  The sky is grey after a bit of early morning brightness but the clouds are high at present.  There is a possibility of more rain but what will be, will be, so I'm not fussed.

Yesterday turned out to be a very pleasant day.  It wasn't anywhere like as hot as predicted which helped and we managed to get to Ingatestone Hall (which was dead easy to find) for the afternoon.  There's a very easy back road route that avoids the busy main roads and the only hold up was at the level crossing (both ways which was bad luck!)

Ingatestone Hall is not posh - nothing like Chatsworth in miniature, for example.  It's a family home that has remained in the same family, the Petre (pronounced 'Peter') family, since it was built in the 16th century and most of the part open to the public has been stripped back to it's Tudor roots as much as possible.  Lots of pictures on the wall, plenty of information around, some displays, some gorgeous woodwork and gardens that we didn't have time to do but which will be well worth another visit, not because they are magnificent but because they look interesting.  The Petre family has always been strongly catholic but survived all the religious ups and downs of the last four centuries or so.  There are two priests holes to be seen, one of which was only discovered when bedroom floorboards were lifted to retrieve a child's toy!

I bought a little info book in the shop and look forward to reading it today.  I took some photos as well, of course - here's just a few.

In the shop there were jars of locally made jam. one of which was called 'Traffic Jam'.  Intrigued, I looked at the label and it was strawberry, peach and kiwi - red, amber and green.  Clever!  I might have a go at that myself.

Annoyingly, my camera seems to be on its last legs.  The zoom kept 'crashing and I do use the zoom quite a lot.  One reason I bought that particular camera was because that feature was very good, but I have used it a lot over the years and technology is moving on so I guess I will be thinking of another 'lump sum' purchase now.  Ah, well.

In the evening, after tuition, I rushed on to school for a meeting which did rather go on.  Back home at eight thirty, I cooked us a belated meal, a vegetable curry, which was really delicious.  Curry does improve with keeping and I made this one on Monday, so the flavours had developed and mellowed.  All I had to do was thoroughly reheat it and cook some rice.  Lovely!

Today my friend leaves and I have some housework type stuff to deal with - sheets, remaking beds, putting stuff away, etc.  I'm not in school this afternoon as I'm not needed.  There's enough to do on the last but one day when teachers are changing rooms without random ex-colleagues wandering around, getting in the way.  However, I have several Governor reports to write so I can get on with them before the two blocks of tuition late afternoon.

And now the sun has come out again and I need my second coffee.  Have a great day, whatever your plans are.

Wednesday 19 July 2017


Hello, everyone.  How did you sleep last night?  We had a storm here which, unusually, disturbed me.  It wasn't the noise as once my hearing aids are out I hear nothing, it was the lightning.  Really bright!  I didn't stay awake for long though, thank goodness.

Yesterday was lovely.  We decided not to go out but we had good chats, caught up on stuff, went out for lunch (which was lovely, thanks, A) and then popped round to the allotment so I could water and pick.  No need to water today after the overnight rain.

Dinner was salmon with allotment veg - potatoes, courgettes, green beans and mange tout and it was delicious!

I had one tuition session which was fun.

Today we might be going out and we might not, it all depends.  Nice and casual.

Have a good day, wherever you are and whatever you do.

Tuesday 18 July 2017


Morning, everyone.  Wasn't it hot yesterday?  I was happy to stay indoors as much as possible in the heat of the day!  It feels nice and cool right now which is comfortable.

I got just about all the chores done.
The history cupboard was fine really, it just needed a bit of tweaking.

FS was, as always, fun.  The littlies are so lovely.  I'm glad my teaching career was with the younger members of the school community.

The sorting out/putting away again is progressing.  I can now put things pack in the cupboards under the stairs but might wait until my guest has left - it all depends what we are going to do really.

The planning for today's tuition is sorted - always a weight off my mind.  In fact, the way things have worked out, I only need to do one more lot of planning this week as I have activities left from previous sessions.  I do have to think about next week's sessions but there's time for that!

The decorating is finished and I have paid the bill.  My home is mine again.  Now I'd better start saving for the next time!

So that was yesterday.  I don't know about today yet.  We could go to Coggeshall today and to Ingatestone Hall tomorrow but we might decide to have a quiet day in and catch up on each other's news as it's been quite a while.  I do have to go and water the allotment and, maybe, pick some goodies if there are any and maybe A. will come too.  Oh, yes, and I have washing to do.

All is still quiet upstairs.  I think I will have another coffee and then my bath by which time A might be coming round.  If not, no problem.

Monday 17 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.  I'm still tired after a hot, humid and busy day yesterday - in fact I slept for nine hours - great - and am still yawning.  Maybe that's because I haven't had the first coffee yet though!

I met Beth down the allotment but, to be honest, there's not a lot to do right now apart from watering and picking, a bit of weeding from time to time and drinking coffee!  We came back with potatoes, green beans, courgettes, mange tout and cucumbers.

Beth helped me bring all the sewing stuff back downstairs, reorganise it and get it away in one of the cupboards.  It looks loads better than before.  We then brought down some of the paper, envelopes, etc.  She told me about a box for rolls of wrapping paper in Hobbycraft so we whizzed over there to take a look and I got one - very convenient and will keep the paper on much better order than just stuffing it in the cupboard.

Come the evening I was zonked so watched bits of Wimbledon and then went early to bed because I kept going to sleep!

Today I finish clearing the guest room of clutter, go into school to tidy the history cupboard (seems to be my role in life right now - tidying cupboards), help in foundation stage in the afternoon and then do some planning before my guest arrives.  While all that's going on, Paul will be doing the woodwork!

I'd better get started then.

Sunday 16 July 2017


Good morning, everyone, and apologies for yesterday's non appearance.  I had a wonderful day - a coach trip to Portsmouth to visit the Mary Rose museum.  What an incredible experience and what an amazing museum.  Because of the dim lighting, photos haven't come out all that well so I won't bore you with loads.  What I will say is that if you get the chance to visit, please do, you won't regret it.

We had an early start, needing to be at the pick-up point quite early, before eight.  We thought we'd left plenty of time but, to our dismay, as we walked along the road, up drew the coach.  Bit of a panic there but the driver said he'd have waited as he was rather early.

The journey there was quite long, made longer by a half hour stop for coffee and loo, but J and I had plenty to talk about!  Once there, we decided to have an early lunch as neither of us had eaten breakfast (travelling tums, etc) so we had a very nice but rather dear portion of fish and chips each.  Not quite in the league of the pizza lunch we had a week ago but very tasty, all the same.

Then we sauntered along Plymouth Historic Dockyard, just enjoying the sights and sounds as we headed for the Mary Rose Museum.  We spent some time wandering around the HMS Victory, taking photos and trying to decide whether to 'do' that or the museum first.  As the latter is what we'd really come to see, we made the decision and went into the museum, brandishing our tickets!

It's hard to describe it all really.  It was all in half light in order to preserve what are very vulnerable artifacts, and there are several 'air lock' entrances/exits to keep the correct air quality stable.

The dry dock that they ship is actually in it, of itself, a listed 'thing', and until recently, the ship herself was constantly sprayed with misted water mixed with some chemical that preserves so, although you could see her, it wasn't a great view.  Then, in 2013, the misting stopped and the timbers were slowly dried out.  You have three walk pasts that make you feel as if you are actually in the ship, long corridors with the ship on one side and artifacts that were found in those particular places on the other side. They also projected images of people doing what people would have been doing in those parts of the ship at that time, with a rather ghostly effectiveness.  At each end of the walk through there were fascinating displays, focusing on the different people whose remains they found with their tools and possessions and information about what they did.
The first to walk pasts were completely behind glass, but the third, the top deck, was open (apart from a chest high glass safety 'wall' and that was absolutely amazing!

The actual ship has quite a lot that still needs to be added - a lot of the floor/ceiling boards are still being dried out and will be added as and when.

When we had finished, as we left, people were queueing to get in and it all looked pretty crowded as, unfortunately, did the entrance to the Victory, where people were being let on a few at a time and there was quite a long queue.  We decided against it (maybe another time) and sauntered back, popping into a few of the exhibitions on the way, before arriving back to wait for the coach.

Oh, we were tired!  Conversation was definitely a minus quantity on the way home which was smooth and speedy without any hold ups.  I was intending to finish off my ironing when I got home but . . .

So that was yesterday and it was a day I will remember!  A shame it rained from time to time, but never very much and at least it wasn't baking hot.

Friday 14 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.  I am rather painstakingly typing this using the on-screen keyboard on my laptop as the PC is all covered over.  Yes, decorating has reached the technology and it's all rather a mess in the older part of the living room now.  By this evening, Paul will have finished that bit and I can have my 'office' back again.  Three cheers!

Then it's the hard work putting everything back in the floor to almost ceiling cupboards as a lot of it will need a good sort out - all the fabric and all the paper stuff.  Ah well!

Yesterday I spent about an hour and a half down the allotment, doing some much needed weeding and forking over where we have lifted the potatoes and then raking it all flat.  We want to put some kale in there and, maybe, some more chard.

Today I'm off to B&Q to see if I can find some clothes hooks and this afternoon it's - guess what - yes, allotment.  Beth can come today so there will be lots of coffee and chat as well as harvesting and watering, etc.

Then, this evening, I have a whole stack of ironing to do, assuming there's any free space.

So just a nice, ordinary day today.  I hope yours is good too.

Thursday 13 July 2017


I have a couple of titchy, tiny runner beans.  Woo hoo!  That's today's big news!

Cute, isn't it?
Good morning, everyone.  It's fine this morning and a lot brighter than it was this time yesterday so fingers are crossed for a good day.

Yesterday's meeting was good, the Upper Junior show was absolutely brilliant and the tuition was great fun.  In between times, Paul finished the landing and stairs and just has to tackle the original living room part.  Unfortunately, that's where the technology is so I might be offline for a short while but he has been brilliant at working around me and my 'needs' and has promised that by the end of today, that particular bit will be finished.  Apart from access to computer, etc, it means that I can start bringing stuff down and putting it all back in the big cupboards again over the weekend which means my guest room will be freed up again.  That's lucky for the guest I am expecting on Monday evening.  :-)

I'm glad I woke early again this morning because it means I can finish my planning for today's tuition before Paul arrives.  Excellent.
So I'd better get on with it, hadn't I?  See you tomorrow!

Wednesday 12 July 2017


Morning, everyone.  For the first time in ages, I have woken while it is still dark.  Three thirty, to be accurate, which is plain daft but I have had a great night's sleep and I shall use the time to get more stuff back down again.

It's dark, it's cool, it's lashing with rain.  Perfect really and I have slept really well snuggled under the covers.

The rain held off until the afternoon yesterday, although there were a few moments earlier when it felt and smelled as if precipitation was imminent.  However, it didn't so Beth and I were able to put in a couple of hours of allotment work.  We weeded and watered as usual and then harvested some courgettes and some peas while I found a potato that I had left on the soil yesterday.
Then we turned our attention to the cleared section which had ground elder growing through again.  We forked as much as we could of that (and roots) up before levelling it, digging a trench and putting in a 'sleeper' to mark the narrow pathway the other side from the bins.  Beth will get some membrane down at some point soon and then we can cover with bark chippings as the spirit moves.
She took a few photos of the front of the plot.  Here's one.

What comes to mind are the words from 'Oh, what a beautiful morning':

The corn is as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbing right up to the sky . . .

Beth tells me I have to wait until August for the corn to produce though.  Shame!
(mind you, the weeds under the corn are shocking, but they can't be seen so they're not really there!  OK?)

Our new allotment neighbour to the right is going great guns.  In a week he has cut back branches, built and painted a shed, built a compost container, laid a little 'patio' in front of the shed and cleared his plot of surface weeds, of which there were many.  He's obviously an allotment mover and shaker!

His new shed and our shed have created a little sheltered hidey-hole sort of space for our table and benches.  Really nice and cosy and fairly private as you can see from the photo.  We will be painting the shed, the table and the bench with Cuprinol in shades of green so it should all look a bit more classy once done, but it's a really nice place for us to sit, chat and plan as we have our coffee and/or picnic.  

The bed that you can see is going to be raspberries and, probably, strawberries (runners from mine at home).  We want to have some summer fruiting raspberries and also some autumn fruiting ones, bushes rather than those that need supporting, and we need to start looking.  Any recommendations?

We had a think about layout once that 'cage' has gone.  I will miss it - or, rather, I will miss the nice shapes it creates and the impression it gives of a little walled garden but it is rotten and a weed trap and needs to go.
What we don't want is an allotment that goes from side to side in rows so we talked about how we can use some portable 'slabs' we have to create squares and rectangles to maybe make it a bit like patchwork.  It may sound silly but, actually, how it looks is important to us as well as what it produces, like a garden is.  Fortunately, the slabs are light and easily moved so we can experiment a bit, once the front is more or less cleared.  The back will be permanent once the raspberries are in.

At home, I have my first sweet pea flower with plenty of buds coming.  Thank goodness for that.  I hope I will be very busy cutting them for indoors as the more you cut, the more they come.  Everything is looking very healthy at the moment, especially the potatoes.  Beth told me they aren't Charlottes as I had fondly imagined, they are maincrops that she dug up and which she didn't use in our potato patch, so she reckons September.  All I can say is, if they keep growing the way they are, they will take over the garden!  There's loads of tomatoes too but I must look out for blight in the wet weather.  I will get warnings from blightwatch if it's lurking around.

Enough of plant stuff - sorry, I have gone on rather - I've been thinking out loud really. 

Once home, I did my planning and tuition.  I was really pleased with how things went, despite some extreme tiredness at the end of the school year.  I well remember the feeling!  Both yesterday's student (or their parents) want to continue during the summer holiday so I am keeping my diary strictly up to date!

Then it was telly on to watch some Wimbledon and I caught the Jo Konta match which was pretty exciting and didn't she do well?

Today is busy.  In school am for a meeting and then to watch the Y5/6 show, Pirates of the Curry Bean and then planning, housework and tuition pm.  Well, I say 'busy' but it's not really that bad and the show will be sheer fun:  I have slowed down a bit and what is busy now used to be a minor bustle three or so years ago!  
As I keep saying - loving this life of retirement!

Light is now dawning and, yes, it is still raining.  Good-oh!  Time for a second coffee, I think!

Tuesday 11 July 2017


Good morning, everyone, and a very dull and cool morning it is too.  Normally by this time the sun is shining on the houses I can see from the window but it looks more like rain right now.  No complaints, mind you, as it will save me watering both here and down the allotment.

Yesterday was pleasant.  A very hot allotment session with a bit of weeding, some harvesting and a lot of watering.  Mind you, the watering is getting less, temporarily, as we dig up the spuds and put the rhubarb to sleep for another year.

To my great delight, there were three green beans ready to pick.  Cheers.  Also some mange tout/sugar snaps, a courgette and (more cheers) the first lemon cucumber.  I shall have it today - some of it anyway.  I dug up another potato and now have enough spuds to last me the rest of this week.

Dinner yesterday was delicious!

In the afternoon I did my duty in FS.  I was set to sorting out some of the resource trays and I gave them a good wipe over too.  I well remember the time this takes and was glad to be able to help in this way.  As the teacher said, every year she does her best to get ahead and every year at this time she's behind as more things get landed in her lap.  Know what she means!

The decorating is continuing well.  Everywhere is still a bit chaotic although slowly I am getting stuff away.  The trouble is Wimbledon.  I mean, is there a choice?  Putting things away or Wimbledon?  No, there isn't.  Still, I'm getting there.  Every time I go up, I take a tray and every time I come down I have a full tray (which makes negotiating the stairs a fairly slow event, of course).
I've cancelled cleaners this week too after Paul said he wouldn't be completely finished by the weekend.  I suspected that!  It means three hours paid for and not received so I think the next three one hour slots can become two hour slots and then we will be square!

Today my diary is blank until tuition!  There's allotment but it looks more and more like rain as the minutes go by and I suspect it isn't going to happen.  Then it's a great opportunity to really sort things in the part Paul has done.  There's stuff I can't put away but it could look a lot neater and I will need the table for tuition.  I also do have a bit of planning to do as well.

The garden is looking promising.  I have a few little runner beans just starting to show and the tomatoes are less green, if you know what I mean.  The potatoes in bags are looking healthier than the allotment ones although no flowers yet so they have a while to go.  I reckon by the time the allotment ones are done the garden ones will be ready which should tide us over a few more weeks 
AND - the sweet peas are finally sending out flowers (even more cheers).  On the other hand, the tayberry has been a great disappointment in terms of fruiting so I will hope for next year.

In the kitchen I have some mixed currants and some gooseberries awaiting my jammy attention.  They're from Mum and Dad's freezer, I will convert them to jam and take them back again.  Nice.

So that's today - have a good one yourself too..

Monday 10 July 2017


Good morning.  It's another gorgeous start to the day and the forecast has changed from loadsa rain to a warning about a storm mid-afternoon.  Well, whatever they say, what will come, will come and that's the bottom line at the end of the day!

Enough of cliches!
I had a lovely weekend with Mum and Dad and now I am home I have a whole load of putting away to do.  I started with the kitchen and the stuff in there is now away.  Next I will bring down the 'pretty' china and get that away, then the glassware.  The sewing stuff and the paper stuff will have to wait until that section has been done so that's going to be next weekend's task!

Today, therefore, is more clearing, allotment and school in the afternoon, punctuated by tuition planning.  Busy, busy, busy!

I took some photos of Mum and Dad's garden.  Even at nearly ninety and doing a lot less than they used to, their garden is lovely.

I'm not even trying to compete!

Well, Paul has arrived so I'd better get a move on.  Have a good day, whatever you are doing.

Sunday 9 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.
How was yesterday?  It was very pleasant here with my parents and, thankfully, it wasn't as hot as it has been recently.  I think the humidity was missing and it made a big difference.

In the morning we drove off to M&S to get a few bits and bobs and Mum bought a rather nice casual 'jacket' type thing.  I do like spending someone else's money!  We also got some ready meals for their freezer.

In the afternoon we stayed cool and watched tennis and when I cooked dinner, we had potatoes from the allotment and courgettes and broad beans from dad's garden and most delicious they were too.

Today I will be driving home and will start putting things away again as much as I can.  More stairs (sigh).  This evenings mantra will be 'it'll be lovely when it's done', muttered through gritted teeth.

Dad is calling me to breakfast so I'd better stop.  Have a great day.

Saturday 8 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to the weekend!

As almost always, yesterday passed pleasantly.  The painting progresses and the 'extension' section is now finished.  All the dressers and sideboards are back in their places so I can start bringing china and glassware downstairs again.  They're going back in different places so I've been thinking it all out very carefully to make the best use of space, both display and hidden behind doors.  I want to show the crystal off better, for a start, and put the Reflections tableware where I can access it more.  Now all the white stuff has gone, it should be much easier.

I've decided to get rid of more stuff - I have cheap wine glasses, again bought for when I have a houseful and they were particularly used when I had the team round for our Chinese and Chat evenings.  Really, they are no longer needed and haven't been used for over a couple of years so I will keep a few of the smaller wine glasses and send the rest on their way.  More space saved!

The thing I am not looking forward to is sorting out the stationery.  I am going to have to be extremely hard-hearted here because it is ridiculous, the amount I have for just one person!

It will be so good to get things away again!

Have a lovely day and stay cool!

Friday 7 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It's another muggy morning after a very hot and humid day yesterday when it kept threatening to storm but didn't quite make it.  Disappointing from the garden point of view.

The day passed as planned - meeting, helping, three tuition sessions and then ironing to finish off the day.  I wasn't needed in Y2 so I made up my time in FS with some reading and some photocopying for next year.  It's nice to be useful.

While at school, I saw that the KS2 SATs results were in and, while I know that they are not (and should not be) everything, it was really lovely to see that they were absolutely fantastic, outstandingly good, the best we have ever had (and we've always done well).  I was also please later on to get a message that some tuition I had given had obviously 'worked' and the mum was so pleased and proud, as was I too.

The decorating is coming along.  Paul is doing the whole area in 'sections' as I think I've mentioned before, and he's nearly finished the extension part of the room.  Over the weekend I should be able to start putting things back in the two dressers and two sideboards and use that area for living in.  Yesterday, I did tuition using the gopak table and it was more than a bit restrictive.  The curtains should also go back up which will be nice.  I'm lucky in that the back is not very overlooked but, nevertheless, it is nice to be able to draw the curtains and shut the world out later on each evening.  Let's be thankful it is summer, not winter!

Today, Beth and I are meeting down the allotment a bit later and are having a picnic.  I made a small pot of jam with what was left of the surprise plums so I thought I'd use it to make some jam sandwiches.  Won't the wasps just love that!

Until then, painter or no painter, I have some housework that needs doing so I'll have to sort of work around him!  The cleaners won't be coming today, of course, as upstairs is as bad as downstairs in terms of disruption.

It'll be grand when it's all done though.

Thursday 6 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.  How quickly this week is going!  It's Thursday already and it feels more like Tuesday.  Mind you, last Monday felt like Tuesday so I guess it is just One of Those Weeks!

Paul, the decorator, started yesterday.  He's doing his best to minimise disruption for me but, obviously, the impact is huge.  I had to keep hunting under his plastic cover for things I needed yesterday evening but did find them fairly quickly!

It's going to be much easier for him if I am not around too much so that's good.  Yesterday I did allotment twice, morning and afternoon.  There were more potatoes, courgettes and mange tout and we noticed tiny little French beans so maybe in a fortnight . . .  The corn is growing well in this hot weather (and it really was hot yesterday) while the squashes are reaching out all round.  Also, great excitement, we should have a cucumber next week with several more snapping at its heels.

Unfortunately, due to illness, the meal out was postponed but it did mean I could keep up with tennis and that I got my ironing done, all except the bedding for which I really wasn't in the mood.  There's more in the machine as I type and my fingers are crossed for the weather because the saying goes:
Red sky at night
Shepherd's delight
Red sky in the morning
Shepherd's warning
and the sky is definitely pinky-tinted at the moment.  On the other hand, rain would be good for the garden and allotment so it's win-win.

Fortunately, if it does rain it doesn't really matter as what I have to do is indoor stuff.  School for a meeting, school for nanny helping and three blocks of tuition.  A busy day today.

So I'd better get going . . . coffee first and then kitchen.

Wednesday 5 July 2017


Good morning and a Happy Wednesday to us all.  The sun is shining, the French windows are wide open and, despite the fact that today is going to be a bit manic, life feels great!

I had a lovely day yesterday.  With a friend, I went on a coach trip to London, to Kensington Park and Palace.  The main aim was to see the exhibition of Diana's clothes and the memorial garden but there was also the opportunity to wander around the gardens and into Hyde Park, if we wanted to.

We left here at eight o'clock and it was a long haul into London.  Between visits, one forgets just how shocking the traffic can be - well, I do, anyway.  It was jolly satisfying to let the coach driver take the strain!

Neither of us had had much breakfast beforehand (mutual concerns about dodgy travel-tums which were unfounded but even so . . .) so we decided to pootle off and grab an early lunch somewhere first.  Problem was, most places didn't start serving until twelve so we had a coffee first (we were also in need of caffeine because of concerns about semi-elderly bladders!) and then found a Prezzo that started meals at 11:45.

And what a delicious meal it was.  We both chose an 'Italian sandwich' with chicken, prosciutto, salad and garlic mayo and we could chose between a side of salad or one of fries.  We had one of each and shared.  We also went bad and had a small carafe of dry white and it was all absolutely delicious eaten by the open window with London passing by.  Also, remarkably good value, a lot less that we had thought we might have to pay.

Then we sauntered back to the park and to the Palace, showed our tickets and got ushered straight in (nice!).  Everyone was so polite and attentive, even the ladies who searched our bags: in fact, the only criticism we had was that, despite air conditioning units, it was flippin' hot inside.

Diana's dresses were wonderful.  You saw her wearing them in photos all over the media so they were almost as familiar as items in your own wardrobe but seeing them in the flesh was something else.  The skill and craftsmanship that must have gone into their making, not to mention the time and stitching and fabric!  That high collared pearl dress also had little sequins stitched between the pearls and other dresses had the most amazing embroidery . . .
If you get the chance and are interested in that sort of thing, it's well worth a visit!

Then we meandered around the Diana garden and I took a few photos.  It's a very pretty, mostly white with touches of pink creation and very peaceful.  You can't go into the centre of the garden but there's a tree arched walkway all the way around with views into the centre and lots of sitting places.  Despite the many people, it was peaceful and lovely.

After a sit and a chat it was time to find the coach and come home.  We were going to go to the Flyer for a meal together but we both still felt full from our lunch so J drove home and I had some marmite on toast which was much better!

So that was yesterday.  Today the decorating starts so I have no idea what I'm doing until tuition when I have also been invited to stay and share a meal so that will be splendid!

It looks as if it is going to be another warm day and I must go out and water my poor plants as I have just remembered that I forgot yesterday evening.  They will be so thirsty!  Better do it straight away!

Tuesday 4 July 2017


Good morning, everyone and welcome to a bright and sunny Tuesday morning, packed with good things.

Yesterday was so busy.  We almost didn't get to the allotment as it started raining but it cleared fairly quickly so we took a change.
When there we did a bit of weeding and then cleared the other side of the shed which was overgrown with brambles and nettles.  I felt a bit Margot Leadbetter as I cut one thing at a time, holding it out in front of me, red gloved and with a 'patient' look on my face.  Still, we got it done and I was only stung twice!  We were then able to pick more plums from that side.

It needed doing, partly because we're supposed to and partly because at some point we want to paint the shed.

We also lifted a couple of potato plants (Beth's turn to take them) and there were a few mange tout and sugar snaps, just enough for one, so I had them.  So what with that, the plums and some chard, we were pleased.

I stewed up some of the plums and we had them with custard.  My goodness, they were delicious, really delicious!

Then, in the afternoon, Beth helped me finish off the clearing.  She was such a help because there was more in the under the stairs cupboard than I had thought, much of which needed to be thrown away.  She then went with me to the charity shop where I off loaded lots of bits and bobs.  Now I just have a couple of bags of bits and bobs for the Salvation Army recycling point and it's more or less all done.  The room isn't empty, of course, I've got to live in the place, but the rest can be easily moved.

Then I did the ironing while watching Wimbledon, which was pleasant.

I'll tell you about today afterwards.  :-)

Monday 3 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.
I'm getting the days all muddled up at the moment.  I wrote 'Sunday', then Tuesday' for the heading and it really doesn't feel like Monday at all right now.  Maybe it's because Sunday felt anything but Sunday-ish.  No idea why and, thank goodness, it doesn't matter anyway!  :-)

Yesterday was busy.  The white crockery has now all gone (cheers) and there's just one load to take to the charity shop.  I've almost finished the clearing and Beth is coming to help with the last bit so I've pulled out of school this afternoon as we are meeting up the allotment this morning.  The living room still looks like a bomb has hit it but really it's not that bad and won't take too much longer!

I didn't get the ironing finished but, given that it is Wombledon (that was a typo but I'm leaving it in because I like it!), I shall have plenty of opportunity to iron as my head goes from side to side following that ball, so I'm not fretting.

I've been busy already this morning, making four loaves of bread and some smoked salmon pate.  The pate is for lunch for me but the bread is for giving away.  They are now in the oven with about ten minutes to go and it's lovely as I haven't made bread for a fair old time.  As soon as that's out, I will pop back up for my bath and to get properly dressed (as opposed to improperly?) before buzzing around a bit more.

The strategy of taking a pile of stuff up each time I go upstairs has worked well.  I guess I will have to do the same but the other way round in a fortnight's time.  It'll be more work as I will be sorting out all the stationery of which I have way, way too much, but I will have to do it because I need the guest room the following week (and the week after that too).  Oh, well, it will be lovely when it is all done and dusted, won't it?

Well, the house is smelling gorgeous - is there a better aroma than fresh baking bread? - so I'd better go and check on things.  Have a great day, everyone.

Sunday 2 July 2017

Sunday extra

I've just come back from a lovely lunch under the shade of the trees at the allotment - and weeding/watering NOT under the shade.  Phew, it's a hot afternoon.

Guinea pig banquet food - the chard, not the lavender
A bit blurred but you can see the lemon cucumber - there's several on the plant, in fact.

The mange tout and sugar snaps will be ready soon.

The French beans will take a bit longer.

This was a right mess last week.  Not finished but so much better!

Fingers crossed that these will ripen.

I had lunch under the cherry-plum tree (the darker leaved tree)  It was bliss.


Morning, all!  The sun is shining - how lovely.  It's not warm yet but it probably will be.  There's a lovely breeze moving the birch leaves.  It's beautiful.

Yesterday passed more or less as planned.  I sorted out some more cupboards and climbed numerous stairs and descended again.  The bedrooms are beginning to look cluttered and I thank my lucky stars that I have the space.

I had a sudden think - all the basic white china from Matalan that I was expecting to take down to the charity shop might be needed locally so I posted a few photos on my Facebook page and within a couple of hours had takers.

A friend is coming to take some tea plates and dinner plates and another friend with a large family will take the rest.  Splendid.
I've kept some.  The large white bowls right at the back are a perfect size for pasta dishes, the oval ones are perfect for pies - fish pie, shepherds pie, etc.  I'm also keeping a large oval dish (not in the photo).  But the rest is far more than I need and, with three other sets (pretty, everyday and historical-best), there's no way I need this nowadays.  I am delighted someone else can use them.

That means just one trip to the charity shop instead of two or more.  That china is heavy!

I have one and a half cupboards still to do plus the under the stairs cupboard and then it's just tidying away all the bits and bobs.  Then I will be ready for decoration to start on Wednesday!  Woo hoo!

Today the aforementioned friend is picking up the china she wants so I have to stay in for that.  An ideal opportunity to really get stuck in at the clearing.  Then it's allotment time and I think I might take my sandwich, apple and coffee (and Kindle) down with me and have lunch there, weather permitting.  It's just weeding and watering today.

Then it is evening ironing.  Just a normal, small task, friendly, satisfying schedule, just like my life nowadays.  < happy sigh >

Saturday 1 July 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It's somewhat dull and gloomy with a chilling breeze this morning.  The doors are definitely closed as fresh air can be too much of a good thing!

The sun did come out yesterday and it was quite warm at times.  I got to the allotment at ten and Beth and I spent a couple of hours cutting back the jungle at the back and stacking all the rubbish.  We have a very useful chap round here who comes to pick up all your rubbish, sorts it and either sells it or dumps it properly.  He charges, of course, but when you think how much the council demands for picking up large rubbish, he's jolly good value.  He's said he can take our rubbish away when we need him too although he won;t quote/estimate until he knows just how much there is.  Fair enough, we think!
Now that we have a new neighbour, we have to move some stuff that spread onto the unused plot, so we now have a rule - each time we walk to the back, we pick something up and stack it with the rubbish.

Look what I came home with.

We lifted one potato and there are plenty more courgettes coming on.  I changed my dinner plans accordingly and enjoyed a most delicious pork, courgette and potato bake (leftovers for lunch today as it was very filling).

  I am wondering if the chard can be crisped up like crispy kale.  I'm going to give it a try anyway.

I did a bit of taking stuff upstairs, not as much as I should have done, probably and then popped off to B&Q to look at their lights.  They had loads there but not much that appealed.  There was one ceiling light I liked but it said the bulbs can only be bought online so no way!  I don't mind buying online, it was the 'only' bit that bothered me.  So I will wander around Amazon today and see what's there.

After that I decided to look around Wyvale because it's nice there and I managed to get some good quality cotton tea towels at 70% off.  Some of my old ones are terribly battered now so I shall re-purpose them into dishcloths or dusters by cutting them down and re-hemming them.  I won't be able to sew for a few weeks but I can do all the tacking, etc.

Once home, on went the telly and I watched through the teatime stuff.  I was really looking forward to the Great British Menu banquet but I fell asleep and woke when it was all over so thank goodness for iPlayer!

Today is allotment (weather permitting) for some weeding, then the rest of the day, on and off, is to be shared between doing the planning for next week (not as much as usual so it shouldn't take too long) and taking more stuff upstairs.  Today I want to clear one of my big office cupboards (giving it a good sort out as I do so) and one of the sideboards (which won't need a sort out as I did it last year).  That, plus the usual daily housework stuff, should keep me going most of the day.

I need to take a trip out the the freezer to get the necessary for today so I will love you and leave you, as Diane says, and I hope you have a good day.