Tuesday 31 July 2018


I visited the church at Writtle today.

Writtle is a lovely village just west of Chelmsford.  It has managed to remain a separate entity, unlike other villages such a Broomfield and Springfield which have now been gobbled up, as there's a very thin strip of (hopefully) protected land as a boundary.

There's been some sort of settlement at Writtle since the Stone age and in the Doomsday book it was a large place of over 1000 while Chelmsford boasted only 20.  How things change.

There are a number of timber frames homes, mainly close to or around the large, triangular shaped green,  These houses and the others round the green are extremely sought after and rarely remain on the market for more than a few days.  There was a for sale sign outside one today.  I bet next time I pass, it will be gone.

In recent times, Writtle’s claim to fame is that Marconi started the first regular radio broadcasts from a small hut in Writtle in 1922, with the call sign 2MT (two-emma-toc).

Anyway - today I visited the church but I also took a few photos of the green and here they are.

In one corner of the green there's a very well maintained pond with ducks, etc, that the children love to visit.

Up tails all!

This reminded me very much of that lovely little poem in 'The Wind in the Willows' which I will reproduce at the end.

One of the loveliest houses on the green is an old timber framed home called Aubyns which is a grade 1 listed home on the corner of the lane that runs from the green to the church.  It was built around 1500

 From the front.

 From the green to the church

 A blocked up side door

 A cute little window that just caught my eye.

The old brick pathway that leads to the front door through a small and rather overgrown Elizabethan knot garden.

And finally - from the church to the green.

I must spend another hour or so wandering round the oldest parts of Writtle because there is more to see.
(I'll do the church in another post after I've sorted out all the photos.)

From 'The WInd in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame

The Rat was sitting on the river bank, singing a little song. He had just composed it himself, so he was very taken up with it, and would not pay proper attention to Mole or anything else. Since early morning he had been swimming in the river, in company with his friends the ducks. And when the ducks stood on their heads suddenly, as ducks will, he would dive down and tickle their necks, just under where their chins would be if ducks had chins, till they were forced to come to the surface again in a hurry, spluttering and angry and shaking their feathers at him, for it is impossible to say quite ALL you feel when your head is under water. At last they implored him to go away and attend to his own affairs and leave them to mind theirs. So the Rat went away, and sat on the river bank in the sun, and made up a song about them, which he called
All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!
Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!
Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim--
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.
Everyone for what he likes!
WE like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!
High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call--
WE are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!


Good morning, everyone.  We've had more rain overnight which is great.  What is not so good is that it might be the last for some time to come as the forecast is for more hot weather.  Ah well, take blessings as they come and at least the allotment will be fine for today!
Lots of lovely rain yesterday too although it did turn humid from time to time so I turned the fans on.  Love my fans!

Alex and I never got to Matalan.  I picked him up, we set off heading down into town and oh, the traffic.  I wondered if there had been a problem on the A12 bypass (Chelmsford always then clogs up as traffic diverts right through town) but no.  As I finally got onto Parkway (which is an inner 'ring road' round the town centre) it was clear that there had been a very nasty accident.  The whole of one section of Parkway going the other way was cordoned off and everything was more or less gridlocked as traffic was diverted up through some very narrow roads.

I know that part of Chelmsford pretty well so was able to find a slow way out of the jam and, after an hour, we headed off towards the next place Al wanted to go to as there was absolutely no way I was heading in the direction of Matalan.  So he ended up with no socks but it wasn't a completely wasted journey.

I looked it up (as you do) when I got home and it was nasty.  A lorry had hit a pedestrian who had 'life threatening' injuries.  She had been air ambulanced out to hospital by the time we drove past but it was crawling with police.  I wondered what a pedestrian was doing there - not a good place to try and cross or even to be. 
All very sad and I hope she will recover, although I guess things will never be the same for anyone involved, ever again.

Sorry to go on - I keep thinking of it.

Anyway, apart from that it was a pleasant day.  I didn't have an awful lot else to do so started watching Pride and Prejudice on iPlayer.  It really was a good adaptation, I think.

On to today.
I've overslept.  I can't remember the last time I slept past seven!

I'm hoping to get out to visit the Willingale churches today if only for an outside view although they should be open.  It's not that far away. 
I will be going to the allotment to dig some potatoes for Beth and also to pull a few courgettes and pick some mange tout.  I'm hoping the baby corn will be further on and maybe there will be some baby runner beans.  Must remember to take my camera with me.

Then, this evening, we're having a girls' meal at the Hare, postponed from earlier in the month.  We have a lot to catch up on, some happy and some sad.  I shall choose from quite a good smaller plate selection; the full meals are way, way too much!

But now I must get my breakfast ready.  Have a lovely day, everyone.

Monday 30 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  We've had more rain overnight and there's rain in the air as I type.  Just light drizzle really but so very refreshing.  More is needed to really replenish the moisture in the soil but I'm grateful for what we've already had anyway.

Yesterday was fairly quiet.  I finished all Beth's ironing and, as she came over in the afternoon, it's all gone now and I made her promise she would put it all away/hang it up properly immediately when she got home.  I did a bit of clearing and tidying and had a good relax with my Kindle.  To be honest, that was about it really.  There's a busy week ahead so a day of rest was appreciated.

Today I have a holiday tuition session first thing.  Then I need to make sure the house is tidy for my lovely cleaner.  After that, Alex and I are going to Matalan so he can buy a pile of new socks, his old ones being in a disgraceful state!  What an exciting life I live!

Then the day's my own do I will probably sort out some washing, make dinner early (chick pea curry so good for reheating) and deal with some weeds.

Finally, I have eaten two tomatoes, one a maybe-sungold and one an authentic sungold.  Both were delicious and I could detect no difference in flavour so I was right to use the self seeded baby plants.  Several other tomatoes are now changing colour so it won't be long before I am inundated with them  I love it when we get to that point.

Ah - the sun seems to be coming out!  I need to have my bath and get ready to face the day so I'll stop waffling.  Have a splendid day, whatever you intend to do.

Sunday 29 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.

It's damp out there, not raining hard but there are drops in the air.  It's cool, there's a good breeze going and it's just lovely!  It took a while for the house to lose the heat - after all, homes are built to retain heat, not to lose it - but open windows helped and now it's lovely and fresh inside as well as out, so much so that I think it will be a jeans and cardigan day today.
We have a forecast of heavy rain for part of the day and light rain for most of the rest of the day and I'm glad.  What we've had so far has only dampened the top few centimetres of soil; it is amazing how much more is needed to get back to how it was.  The allotment won't need watering though, not if we get that heavy rain.  Beth and I had planned to go down there later on but, for the first time in weeks, rain has stopped play.

There is a flip side and that is that the strong wind has broken down the two gladioli stems but never mind, I now know that they need support next year.  Another is that those pesky weeds are already fighting back.  Grrrrrrr.

As always, when severe weather breaks, it tends to break with more severe weather.  We tend to not have too much of an issue round here (fingers crossed) but BBC news tells me that there have been floods and other damage and there's a severe weather warning out for today.  So while I rejoice in the cooler conditions, it's not necessarily so great for others.  I hope my readers are all OK.

I worked hard yesterday, washing, drying and ironing, and got loads done.  It was a perfect drying day.  By the time the next load had finished washing, the previous load was ready to come in for ironing.  There's a bit more to do yet but not a lot; I'll get it done this morning, for sure.  The results are all stacked in piles or on hangers, waiting to be collected.  I'm glad I don't do it for a living!

I also have to sweep the carpet.  Because of the strong winds yesterday, those pesky little birch seeds blew all over the place and, as the French windows were open, they blew right in and the carpet is covered.

So that's today planned.  Finishing the washing/ironing, cleaning downstairs and, after dinner, Beth should be round to keep me company.  I'm looking forward to that.  She will take back her done washing - I'm looking forward to that too!

And finally, I saw that BBC iPlayer is showing the complete Pride and Prejudice again.  I know it didn't always totally stick to the book (wet shirt?  joint wedding?) but it was a good adaptation and I will thoroughly enjoy watching it again, especially now I have worked out how to connect the laptop to the telly.

Should be a good day!

Saturday 28 July 2018


Oh, joy; oh, bliss; oh, utter delight!  It's raining cats and dogs, it's windy, it's cool and I needed to sleep under the cover last night.
The forecast is absolutely perfect.  More showery rain for a few hours, then several hours of sun at around 22C (perfect) and then more rain tomorrow and Monday.
No need to water the allotment or the garden.  Actually, that's not quite true, I have containers in sheltered spots in the garden and they WILL need watering but that's not a problem.

I'm glad for the sun because I have four bags of washing that I've taken to help Beth and Alex out and I would like to dry it all on the line.  Sun and a fresh breeze really would be perfect so fingers crossed!

Most of yesterday became hot again, sadly, but it clouded over later on, there were a few flashes and claps of thunder and some brief heavy rain that cooled things down a bit in the evening.  There was more rain overnight too.

That pretty, purple flower turns out to be a liatris, blazing star.  They are prairie wild flowers and some types can grow to about five feet although I doubt mine will.  They are a member of the aster family.  They tolerate dry conditions, grow well in containers, don't need much feeding and all together sound the perfect plant although, reading between the lines, they could be a bit invasive as most wild flowers have to be.  I love the way they flower from the top down as they remind me of sparklers.

This is what one site says.

Growing laitris plants is easy. These prairie wildflowers provide many uses in the garden. You can grow them nearly anywhere. You can grow them in beds, borders and even containers. They make excellent cut flowers, fresh or dried. They attract butterflies. They’re relatively pest resistant. The list can go on and on.
Read more at Gardening Know How: Liatris Planting Information: How To Grow Liatris Blazing Star https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/liatris/liatris-blazing-star.htm

I have some in a container and others round the front where they have been thoroughly neglected as I haven't watered the front through this hot spell.  They are not as well grown as the container ones, but they are fine and I'm happy to let them spread a bit there.

It looks like I have accidentally found a treasure.  Good old Aldi!

Today I have washing, more washing and yet more washing to do but, apart from that, little else, so I will be lazy and continue watching my box sets while ironing as the clothes dry.

Well - the rain has stopped, the sky is clearing, the sun has emerged and it is still breezy so I will be brave and get the first load of washing out on the line.  It looks so bright and fresh out there; just looking at it makes me happy.


Friday 27 July 2018

A tip

Better late than never, I have remembered a tip someone gave me ages ago (was it you Diane?) about how opening your loft/attic door helps. 

Hot air rises, as we learnt in geography, so it accumulates upstairs.  However, if you open your loft, it rises more, leaving underneath cooler. 

I opened mine this morning and already the landing and my bedroom are cooler.  Why didn't I remember this earlier?


We have had rain!!!
(thank you, Google, for the photograph)
Not much, not enough, but better than nothing and it looks as if there might be more on the way.  Let's hope so because yesterday was horrible and overnight was the warmest I can ever remember.  I put a towel over the bottom sheet and I still have to change and wash the sheet (and towel) today.  I suspect that everyone else, like me, feels drained and worn out this morning.

Back to yesterday.  Over Wednesday night I must have slept awkwardly and done something to my back because it was jolly uncomfortable all through yesterday and it's still not great today.  I do this now and again and it'll be OK in a few days' time, I know but just now it's 'grin and put up with it'.

Apart from the heat and trying to do as little as possible, Alex and I decided that the last thing we wanted to do was bus into town so instead I drove us out the the Hare for lunch and before, during and after we had a great chat about all sorts of things.  He's not sleeping either so we were both a bit bleary eyed.

He's bought himself a bike.  It's a really 'sensible' bike with a basket on the front.  He's also booked in for a training session as he's not really ridden on roads before.  The last time he used a bike he was both too young and too autistic-y to be safe on the roads but since then he's done the driving theory test so he knows what's what with signs, roundabouts, etc.  We're lucky - Chelmsford has plenty of dedicated cycle routes that can take you all around the town and Alex managed the route over to me with very little problems, riding through two parks and some residential roads, crossing the only main road he needed to cross at some traffic lights.

Apart from eating out, I did precious little other than some ironing first thing.

Today is ditto.  I thought it would be way too hot for the cleaner and she agreed so is coming on Monday instead when it should be much better.  I have to pop over to Beth and Alex's to pick up some washing and drop off some ironing.

Margaret, I was thinking about your tomatoes.  I had some that were given to me actually as tomatoes  from Italy by a friend and I harvested some of the seeds and grew plants the following year.  They were 'black' tomatoes, very fleshy but didn't taste great at all.  Then I remembered that they might be better for cooking, tried that and they were absolutely delicious fried, roasted, whatever.  It could be that it needed a few more days on the plant or it could be a cooking variety.  Maybe worth a try..

My first not-sungold might be ready to pick tomorrow.  I'm very curious as to what it will turn out like.  Some of the others are also starting to turn as well so I will soon be inundated.  Excellent!

Well, while I have been typing we've had more rain, there are a few little puddles on the stone circle and it looks as if there's more to come.  It feels fresher too so it looks as if 'Furnace Friday' won't be.   I'm glad: apart from wider issues, I'd been bracing myself up to go to the allotment today to water.  I didn't yesterday because of the heat and my stupid back so would have had to today.  However, with the rain we have had and the rain that should come, I won't bother now.

Is it cooler where you are too?

I'll close with another photo.  I bought a random box of summer bulby things in Aldi ages ago and here are two of the results.  The one in the foreground looks like a gladiolus and is much darker than it shows in the photograph but does anyone know what the fluffy looking one is, please?

Thursday 26 July 2018


Good morning everyone.
It feels a bit fresher this morning but the forecast is for the highest temperatures yet so I'm not hopeful.

Actually, yesterday wasn't so bad as far as coping was concerned.  I am glad that on Tuesday I put together a pedestal fan that's been in its box under the stairs for a while.  It's made a big difference as long as I stay within its range.  I'm also more than glad that I don't have to rush off to school and swelter in a hot classroom trying to make each child make 'outstanding progress' while they likewise swelter and want to go to sleep!  These hot spells were never easy at school.

I started off with tuition.  I go to their house and all the doors and windows were open, creating a pleasant through draft.  This particular student is great to work with so it was very enjoyable.

After tuition, I 'girded up my loins' as the old saying goes and drove down to the allotment.  After all, if I was hot and thirsty, the plants were even more so.  It took a while but everything got watered well, I picked two courgettes and a handful of mange tout and I also thinned out the two apple trees, something I've been meaning to do for ages so now there are only two or three fruit on each bunch (is the word 'spur'?).  Doing the redlove gave me particular pleasure as two years ago I could count the fruit on my fingers and none of them reached maturity.  I am very much hoping to get some mature fruit this year.
I was disgusting sweaty by the time I'd finished.

Then it was home, James, to sort out what was a very untidy kitchen.  It was mostly things out of place though, easily sorted without too much effort.  Lunch was very simple - leftover frittata and some halved tomatoes plus the obligatory glass of water.  At the moment I am keeping a jug of water in the fridge, topping up after I pour some out.  It's working a treat and is much more thirst quenching that diet coke!.

I considered doing some ironing in the afternoon but decided that creating extra heat at that time of day probably wasn't all that sensible an idea so I rested and very nice it was too.
Come the evening it was much fresher, really rather nice so I did a bit - just a bit - of the ironing.

Today it's supposed to get even hotter so I will get the allotment watering done early after which Alex is coming over to continue my bus training.  I'm not sure taking a bus will be all that pleasant but we're going to John Lewis for lunch and that's air conned.

Then, in the evening, I'm doing a catch up tuition session but that's all been planned so all I have to do is read through to remind myself of the lesson content.

It should be a very pleasant day made all the more pleasant by noticing this.

I'd like to say it's a sungold so nearly there but the truth is it is one of the self seeded plants, from a sungold but it won't be a sungold (dad says) because they are F1 hybrids and, as some bumph I found explains -
" But seed collected from an Fl hybrid will not produce plants the same as those from which it is collected. Only by crossing the pure lines can the variety be made - and only the original breeder has the necessary pure lines."
So it's not sungold, it's a mystery soon to be solved but, so far, it looks awfully like a sungold!

A few more photos.

There will be raspberries in the autumn . . .

. . . and runner beans for dinner - yay!

Wednesday 25 July 2018


Good morning, everybody!  How are we all managing?  I gather that down here in the south east we are getting most of the heat but I expect it's uncomfortable everywhere to some degree.  Today is predicted to reach 31C and tomorrow and Friday 32C before a drop on Saturday.  Oh, heck!!!

At least and last, at long, long last, my tomatoes are starting to turn colour, properly turn.  One or two are anyway and where one leads, the other follow.  I was getting close to popping a few bought tomatoes under them to get things moving a bit.  Seriously.  I gather it is like putting a banana in a fruit bowl!   So maybe by August I will be picking.  I hope so anyway; I knew they were going to be late because of everything going on earlier in the year but this time just before ripening seems to go on and on and on for ever.

Yesterday was a day to keep things slow and easy.  It was baking hot and I didn't move far from my two fans; I certainly didn't go out to see the churches.  I didn't do the ironing so must do some today and the kitchen is a mess.  And Beth didn't come round - she's finding the heat hard to manage at work and just wanted to get home.

This morning I'm popping out to do a bit of tuition first thing and when I get back I will sort out the kitchen and get going with some ironing before the heat peaks.  I have to water the allotment too.  I ought to do it in the evening but at the moment I'm a hot, sticky pile of nothing by the evening so it has to be the morning.  At times like this I wish the allotment was closer, preferable next to the back garden.

Well, I had better get moving, I suppose.  Please take care, everyone, and don't push it.  It has to freshen up at some point!  :-)

Tuesday 24 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.

After driving home yesterday morning (thank heavens for car air-con), I stopped off at the allotment to dig, pick and water.  Not enough watering, of course, but it was so hot and you can't use a hose.

I ended up with potatoes, courgettes and a few mange tout, to which I added runner beans from the garden.

The runners and potatoes were delicious for dinner with some cold meat while one of the courgettes and maybe the mange tout as well will make a great frittata for dinner tonight.

After lunch (salad),  took stock and decided that as I didn't really feel like going swimming, maybe I ought to so I did and I'm very glad that I did as it was lovely.  Back and forth, back and forth, pondering over stuff like the week's menu, planning (not that there's an awful lot to plan), life, the universe and everything.  A cool pool and good air conditioning.   A good way to spend part of a hot afternoon.

There was post for me over the weekend so, in the evening, I looked through and most of it ended up in the recycling bag.  However, one booklet caught my eye, from Essex County Council about forthcoming adult learning courses.  Several caught my eye and the one I went for is beginners pottery, a nine week course starting next year.  I can't imagine I shall be all that good at it but I think I will enjoy it and it's very hands on - just what I like.  It's also not cheap but isn't that what the lump sum is for?  Well, mine is, anyhow.

I'm rather peeved with Virgin Media at the moment.  You might have seen on the news, they are no longer showing most of my favourite channels - Dave, Alibi, Good Food, Home and so on.  I gather loads of people are creating a big stink about it so maybe . . . we will see.  I notice there's no suggestion to reduce the bill accordingly!  Maybe I should suggest it to them.

Fortunately, I have a number of box set DVDs to work through so I won't have nothing to watch when I'm ironing, etc.  And there's always iPlayer.

Today I might be off to Willingale to look at the twin churches - or I might not if it feels too hot and right at the moment it does feel too hot.  There's time and to spare another day if I decide to stay cool in front of the fan (or have another swim).

If it's hot where you are, please take care, try to stay cool and hydrated.

Monday 23 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  It's been a quiet weekend spent with my mum, dad and my middle brother, John.  As you may have realised, I do spend quite a lot of time there right now to give Dad a break from caring for Mum who has galloping Alzheimer's.   As he has his own health issues, a break from time to time can do the world of good and it is really nice to be able to help a bit.

It was jolly good to see John too.  As children, we didn't get on all that well but, with maturity comes more tolerance and understanding.  And he likes my cooking!

I went through their freezer with Dad (at his request) and am now the proud owner of a couple of bags of last year's blackberries.  I looked it up and redcurrant and blackberry jelly is definitely a thing with the redcurrants making up for the lack of pectin from the blackberries.  I think that this time, as it's a gift, I shall make proper jelly, then push the fruity remains through my mouli and use it for making yogurt ice cream or similar.  After all, waste not, want not!

I'm home today with no session at school this afternoon or for the next six weeks and no tuition to plan for,  I do have a session tomorrow, very early, but I have everything prepared for that so today should be pretty relaxed and easy going.  As the weather has made the weekend rather tiring, I look forward to resting and taking life easy - apart from catching up with the washing, ironing and allotment, of course.  Oh, and planning tomorrow.

Tomorrow?  Well, I am hoping to do my first church visit tomorrow, weather permitting, to a pair of local, related churches that I mentioned a few posts ago.  I've found more info online (how did we manage before the Internet?) and will make sure the camera is all charged up and ready to go.
However, if it is just too darn hot, I will stay at home and shelve it for another day.   I won't be a mad dog or an Englishman about this!

Have a good day and stay in the shade.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Saturday and some butter

Good morning, everyone.  Disappointingly, we had no lightning, no thunder and, worst of all, no rain!  So the dryness continues and I gather it will get hotter again this coming week.  So much for my prediction of rain when the schools break up.

I went to the leavers' assembly yesterday.  Because I teach - I mean taught - down in infants, classes I had are still working their way through the school so I knew a lot of the children taking part and most of the parents coming to watch.  It was a great presentation, funny and sad at the same time and a lot of the kids were in tears as they sang their last song, setting some of the audience off too. 
Bitter-sweet is just the right word for it.

I had a few things I just HAD to do.  First of all, the other day a friend brought round some redcurrants she had picked so yesterday I got going with a fork to remove the berries from their stems.  It's a fiddly process but not too bad and as I am making jelly (or seedless jam) with them, the occasional stem won't matter. 
They are now in the freezer until I can see to them.  I wonder if they would go well with blackberries.  Blackberry and redcurrant jelly.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  In a few weeks |I'll have loads of blackberries because Dad's canes are ripening fast now and he's asked me to take some fruit once it builds up.  What he does is pick and freeze as required.

The other essential was butter.  I saw some large pots of cream on yellow sticker at 10p a pot so I got two pots.  You can't refuse at that price.  Yesterday I made butter.  Given the price of butter nowadays, I got myself a bargain!
It's easy to do - just whip or zizz the cream until it splits into solids and buttermilk, using something electric as by hand would take all day.  I used Thermione but an ordinary processor would do.  It took about two minutes to get to that point.  Then you wash the butter in very cold water to get rid of any residual liquid.
What you get is unsalted butter so add salt if you want to.
I spooned the butter into some little pots with lids before bagging and freezing.  Now I can just take one out whenever I feel like 'a little bit of butter on my bread' as the king said to the queen. 

Even better if the bread is homemade and the jam is redcurrant and blackberry!

Friday 20 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  It's back to dull this morning, comfortably cool so the windows are all open and I've just put a load of washing out!

After allotmenting yesterday, I went round to Beth's and finally got started on helping Al to clear his room of junk.  We started but it will take more than one session, especially with all his uni stuff to go through as well.  I came home with two bags full of washing, most of which has now been done.  Thank goodness for the warm, dry weather - perfect for drying on the outside line.

I'm sure there will be more but it is a good start!

I've officially finished the last tuition sessions of the school year apart from the 11 plussers who will carry on because the test is in September (it used to be February when my two were that age) and a couple of catch ups because of missed sessions.  A nice long time to get ahead with resources and ideas.

Today, this morning will be quite busy, this afternoon less so.  One of the books on Essex churches that I ordered from Amazon might arrive today (impressively quick) so, if it does, it will be nice to start looking through and planning a few more trips.

I may not post tomorrow or Sunday, it all depends, but I will definitely be back on Monday.  I won't vanish!

Thursday 19 July 2018

Thursday and some plans

Good morning, everyone.  A quick one today as time is flying.  The sun is shining this morning and it looks glorious out there, not too hot yet and with no haze.  Really lovely.

I've been having a good think about what I'm doing with my retirement, not in any 'worthy' way, just because I don't want to be too routine bound.  I was inspired by Sue from The Cottage at the End of a Lane who has a book about Suffolk churches and is sort of working her way through them.

I don't have any such helpful books (yet) but the idea stuck and I've been thinking round it for a while and now that tuition and school responsibilities have more or less stopped for the summer, I think I will do something very similar (hope you don't mind me copying you, Sue).  There should be plenty of info on the internet.

So next Tuesday I am off to Willingale which is not too far away at all.  Willingale has two churches on the same site, both old and interesting looking, both open for visitors and I can be there in fifteen minutes.  Hopefully it will the start of something good.

We have a cathedral in town, of course, and while it's not a village church, it's worth a visit, especially as the bus stop is right outside - cheers.  In Little Maplestead, there is a Round Church that looks fascinating and I would love to go back to  St. Andrews Church, Greensted, the oldest wooden church in the world (says their site), and the oldest ‘Stave Built’ timber building in Europe.
My friend, J, has expressed an interest in coming with me sometimes which will be very nice and she tells me that Gosfield church is worth a visit.

I think I have a plan here, don't you?  Thank you, Sue.

One of the Willingale churches, photo borrowed from the Churches Conservation Trust website.

Edited to add a screen shot from Google Maps.

Wednesday 18 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  We're back to dull mornings again, quite fresh right now but dull.  Not a patch on yesterday's sun-filled delight (see photo below)  but then yesterday had turned dull and humid by the afternoon so maybe today will be the opposite.

(It does look so much more friendly with the cushions, doesn't it?)

It was a busier day than I had expected.  I made lunch, whizzed into school to sign a few cards and make a few donations, whizzed over to Morrisons for a few bits and bobs, whizzed home, made a frittata for dinner (to be had cold with salad), made mayonnaise for the coleslaw as a treat on a day when both remaining meals had guests and welcomed my first guest.

It was very pleasant to stop whizzing and chat as we ate, catching up on all sorts of stuff.  She brought me some nectarines, I gave her some golden yellow courgettes from the allotment.  Fair exchange!

After she had gone, I looked over my planning after tidying up the kitchen and then had time for a read.  Not outside, it was a bit humid for that and the sun had disappeared, but never mind.
Tuition, as usual, was fun and I was proudly shown another report.

Then Beth arrived.  We scooted down to the allotment, dug some potatoes, pulled some courgettes, did a little bit of weeding and came back for dinner as Beth didn't fancy eating down there.  I have to say the courgette frittata went down well, accompanied by cold new potatoes (allotment), salad and coleslaw.  All very delicious.

Not totally the day I had planned but you know what they say about plans.
“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley.”
How true!

On to today.  I'm back in school at 9:30 to finish the meeting from Monday afternoon and then I'm staying for the 'Goodbye assembly' to say farewell to some staff who are moving on to pastures new.
After that it should be a quieter day and I'm dithering between allotment and swimming; there's not time for both.
Then some tuition and finally an evening in front of the telly watching  Back in Time for Tea (repeat) and then either some more Next Gen DVD or some Doctor Who on iPlayer.     
(Or, more likely, gently snoozing in my comfy chair)

Should be good!

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

The book I mentioned yesterday is called 'Bookworm',recommended by Sue in her blog, The Cottage at the End of a Lane(https://attheendofasuffolklane.blogspot.com/2018/07/its-new-week.html)  and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

This is what Amazon says:
"When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.
She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.
In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.
Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm."

Reading it has made me realise how fortunate I have been in my childhood reading.  Many of the books and authors she writes about are old personal favourites of mine too and, of those books that have been written since my childhood, I have met them in a book-rich school environment and have had the privilege of introducing 'my' children to a range of them, one way or another.

The author reminds me of myself.  For example, I was the one who went to a friend's home, found the book shelves and disappeared into a corner with one I hadn't yet read or wanted to re-read.  I was the child who kept her torch under the bedclothes to read after the lights had been switched off.  I though my parents didn't know but, of course, they did.
Mum, in particular, encouraged me in my reading.  She was a librarian before I came along and loved books.  Not only was I taken to the library every fortnight; remember when you could only borrow three books at a time and each book had a ticket inside(?), I had a home filled with books of all kinds, old books, new books, classics, all sorts and mum took the attitude that if I was old enough to want to read it, then give it a go (I guess they just didn't buy the more 'mature' type books or, at least, kept them out of sight of us children.

Reading Bookworm is like going into a house and finding it a home, the one in which you grew up with all the old furniture, furnishings and rooms.  It is beautifully written and is giving me many a 'stop and appreciate the language' moments as well as chuckles and quieter smiles.
I will certainly read it again - and again and again and again.  It is already a favourite.  Not everyone will like it but I most certainly do!

Here's more reviews.

Tuesday 17 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  So here I am, back home having slept in my own bed again and it's a gorgeous morning.  Sunny, clear blue skies, not a hint of humidity and a lovely breeze keeping the air moving.  So different from the weekend which was solid heat and very humid.  If it were always like this, I would be a happy girl.  Well, OK, rain too, but that would fall overnight in my ideal weather world.

The journey home was slow-ish - it's a country route and there are lorries and farm vehicles - but no real holdups.  Even the road works outside Bishops Stortford seem to be more or less finished and the road is clear again after months of frustration so thank goodness.

I stopped off at the allotment to water and to dig up another potato plant and there were also raspberries and four good sized courgettes.  Once home, after throwing open all the windows and turning on all the fans (it was SO hot), I gave the plants a welcome home drink and found three runner beans ready to go with the one dad gave me and very delicious they were too, with the new potatoes and chicken for dinner.  There will be more in a few days.

After lunch, I went into school for a meeting at which I was wearing my governor's hat.  The head's room is air conned so we were extremely comfortable.
Then it was home for tuition and more good news about school reports (my students seem to have done rather well, which is most satisfying) and after that, sone Dave came round for a quick financial get together.
Finally it was a late dinner and a few more episodes of Doctor Who before bed!  Perfect.

This morning I've already given the garden its morning drink and picked the ripe blueberries which will go with yesterday's raspberries on my muesli.  There's not loads but they will taste great and those golden berries look so colourful.  I must remember to put some more yogurt on to make or I will run out and that mustn't happen.  I love my yogurt!

I have a friend round for lunch today, arranged ages ago and only just remembered (yesterday).  I'll make a load of salad so there will be some for dinner tonight which will be a picnic at the allotment with Beth again.  Unfortunately, the weeds took advantage of my weekend away to grow behind my back, cheeky things, so I guess I will be weeding while Beth waters.

It should be a very pleasant day and I have put the arbour cushions out in expectation of time to read my newly acquired book while the wind rustles the birch leaves, the birds sing and the insect hum busily around my tomatoes and runner beans.


Edit - Eloise, I have left you an answer under Saturday's entry which you might find helpful.

Monday 16 July 2018


Good morning!
It was so hot here yesterday.  I've coped with this hot weather pretty well really but yesterday was a bit too much, it really was.  It didn't help that I had three loads of washing to dry and iron and, yes, I needed to because I'm at my parents and coming home this morning.  If I go up to help out, I'm not leaving them with a pile of ironing!  :-)

While ironing, I watched Wimbledon, turning over at three to avoid the World Cup.  Why they couldn't just have the football on BBC2 beats me.  It's not as if people don't have access to BBC2!  Anyway, I felt that it was something of an anticlimax really.  I suppose they would have been tired after such long semis.  I enjoyed it, but it wasn't edge of the seat stuff.

Today feels like a busy day.  After driving home, when I will stop off at the allotment to water (not great timing but probably the best I can do).  I have a meeting in school this afternoon followed by tuition.  I'll probably crash out come the evening!

Have a lovely day - maybe the weather will be less fierce today.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday 15 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  It's yet another bright, sunny morning, predicted to get very hot later on.  We honestly thought rain was imminent yesterday when it grew very gloomy and humid but, no, not even a rumble of thunder was to be heard.

It was a quiet day if you can call watching Wimbledon quiet.  The end of the second men's semifinal was so exciting and I expected the women's final to be an anti climax but it really wasn't.  I'm no expert but it seems to me that Williams was just slightly over-hitting and if she could have controlled that aspect a bit more, the result could have been different.  It was an exciting match with some great tennis shown by both ladies.

And it is well worth noting that a British pair has won the wheelchair doubles - many congratulations to Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, not only for this win but for a Wimbledon hat-trick!

Today looks like being more of the same.  The potatoes have all been eaten now (we rather ODed on them yesterday and they were so lovely) so I need to dig some more at my next watering visit which won't be until tomorrow.  I have washing, drying and ironing to do and there's some more tennis to enjoy.

Have a good day!

A message for Amy from 'Love Made My Home'.  I'm really sorry - I've been checking back over comments and looked at the spam section for the first time in ages and there were a couple of comments from you there, sent back in February.  I have no idea why they were put in there and I'm so sorry that I didn't notice or respond.
Must check the spam folder a bit more often!

Saturday 14 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  No rain here yet.  How about you?  A good downfall to soak the ground would be so welcome but it's probably holding off until schools break up for the year.  Then it will rain, just wait and see!

It is with great pleasure that I announce the good news . . . the new potatoes are ready for digging up!  This is what two plants yielded yesterday plus the courgettes.  We had some of both for dinner last night and they were so delicious!

. . .while at home, I have one, single, solitary runner bean but where once goes, others won't be far behind.

Back at the allotment, the corn continues to grow cms each day, the mange tout has flowers at last and so do the runners which are later than the garden ones.

Now all we need is a decent load of rain!

Have a lovely day, whatever you plan to do.

Friday 13 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  More dull start to the day but it feels rather humid this morning.  That might be because I am just out of the bath, I don't know, but the fans are on which helps a lot.

Well, chaps, I am no longer a Senior Citizen Bus Pass virgin!  Yay!  I shall do it again pretty soon, it was good and free, totally free and the bus driver was very nice about showing me exactly what I had to do.    I now know not only how to get into town but also where to get the bus home (I'd never have guessed that one, it's a bit out of the way), that buses are every 20 minutes and that it's all a doddle.
If you've been using buses for ages, it's not a biggie, I know, but for me it IS a biggie and it's now off my List Of Things I Must Learn How To Do!  Thank you, Alex!

While we were there I treated Al to lunch and he fancied Prezzo as I said he could choose.  I'm glad I did as he told me his end of first year results and they are outstandingly good, fantastic, even the few mathematical areas where he had experienced some problems.  Totally on track for a first.  Who would ever have thought it seventeen or so years ago when he was a non-verbal three year old, diagnosed with autism and given a statement!  Well worth a celebratory pizza.

We had a lovely meal, a lovely chat and just a very good time.

When we got back here, before I drove him home (the least I could do after all his help), he showed me how I can connect my laptop to my telly so now I can access iPlayer on TV that way rather than using the very slow and clunky link through the TiVo box.  I need to get a longer cable so I can have the laptop beside me, bit that's not a problem.  Amazon, here I come!
Yes, it was simple, but remember I am a techno-idiot!

So, all in all, a good day, finished off with some great tuition.

Today is a bit busy.  Seth comes at around 9:30 to put back a cupboard door that fell off.  Then I water the allotment and dig some potatoes (yum).  Following that I go to Morrisons for a weekend shop and then my lovely cleaner comes.
So the first job is tidying up the kitchen and the second is tidying up the living room.  No, it isn't terrible, but it's not great either.  So better get started!

Stay cool!


Thursday 12 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.
It's another very dull but dry morning, a bit humid (so what's new) but if it's anything like yesterday it will brighten up later.  No rain yesterday.

The upper Juniors' show, The Amazing Adventures of Superstan, was absolutely brilliant.  They just keep getting better and better and this year was no exception.  It was also extremely funny - some of those kids have a real comic ability and there were a lot of laughs.  I also got a bit tearful towards the end - half of them will be moving on to secondary and we won't see many of them again.  I taught one of those Y6 classes in Y1, of course, and how that have come on!!!
It'll be worse next year as I taught BOTH next year's Y6 classes in Y1 or Y2 and also they will be the last year group in the school that I will have taught.  Bitter-sweet indeed and I'm sure tears will flow.

Swimming was good too - very few people in the pool so I didn't have to 'lane-hop' at all to avoid bumping anyone else.

I was cross with myself though.  Later on in the day, I got bleach down the front of a favourite T shirt and it is now ruined.  The only consolation is that it was getting a bit too big anyway but all the same, I liked it.  Serves me right!

Am I the only person in the country not to have watched any world cup matches?  It certainly feels like it and I had so laugh as I hauled out my metal and glass recycling box this morning.  All the others that I could see were absolutely laden with beer and lager cans.  Mine?  Diet coke!!!  Football just isn't my thing in any way and even a world cup isn't enough to change my mind on that one.

I am hoping that today will be educational!  Alex should be coming round to teach me how to use a bus to get into town (and back again) and I will be treating hime to lunch as a thank you.  It's daft to have a bus pass and not to use it, isn't it?  If I have to get old, I should make the best of the compensations!

Later on, there's tuition so I have to be back by a certain time and after that a lazy evening, hopefully.

I've just had more good news about another Y6 pupil and SATs.  A very happy start to the day.

A couple more blogs that I read and enjoy are changing.  It's the same story - unnecessary, unpleasant, unkind comments causing anger, distress, annoyance.  Why do people do it?  It baffles me that anyone should think it appropriate to make comments of that kind.  They certainly wouldn't say them face to face, I am sure.

And now that's been said, I need to do some clearing up and give the garden a drink.  Have a good day!

Wednesday 11 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  It's a cool, very dull start to the day (no complaints) and I'm umming and ahing about dressing gown and slippers.  No complaints from me though.

Thank you for your kind comments yesterday - they were all appreciated.

What a fab day yesterday was.  First of all, the Yr5/6 show dress rehearsal was brilliant and I'm so looking forward to the actual performance this morning.  Reserved seat, front row - the advantage of being a governor!

Then I did a bit of Morrisons shopping before coming home for the flypast.  None of my photos are worth showing, but it was very impressive indeed.  By the time the Red Arrows had flown over, the first planes had done their fly over Buckingham Palace.  Goodness, they ain't half speedy!  I wish I could get into London half as quickly!

After tuition (fun as always), Beth came round and off we went to the allotment for a picnic and some watering.
I have to admit, we spent longer eating and chatting than watering and weeding but it was lovely - warm but fresh and very, very peaceful.  A thoroughly satisfying experience sitting among the results of earlier hard work.

We shall get great use out of this hamper this summer, I can tell!

It is now a proper allotment - we have our own baby robin.  A very handsome little chap, too young to have grown his red breast yet.

He came close but was a bit wary, keeping his beady little eye on us all the time, so we encouraged him with crumbs from our rolls.

I came home with two little courgettes and I think I will do something like roasted Mediterranean veg for dinner tonight.  Yum.
There will be more to pick in a few days but they will be for Beth.  It won't be long before we no longer need to take turns, the way they are looking!

And finally, I got some really great news about one of my students and their KS2 SATs performance - yes, the results are out!  Very satisfying.

Today is another good day.  First of all it's the first performance of the show.  Then I will go swimming because, although I normally hear readers in Y2 on Wednesday afternoons, I'm not needed this week.  On the way home, I will likely stop off at the allotment again as there's a lot of weeds daring to show their heads and put in half an hour or so.  Then I will complete the planning for tomorrow's tuition as it's always nice to get ahead.

No tuition this evening though.  There was going to be but the evening show performance was brought forward from a six o'clock start to a five o'clock start because of the World Cup semi and it would just be too tight.  Also, H will need a rest after school before going back for the show.

So, although there's plenty to do, what I'm doing is mostly because I'm not having to do other stuff so it feels like a gift (if that makes sense).  A spot (well, quite a lot of spots, actually) of rain would be the icing on the cake.

Have you had any rain down your way?

Tuesday 10 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  It's dull this morning, the earlier sun is behind clouds and I shall close the windows again as it feels a bit chilly.  No complaints, it just feels odd.

I received some shocking news yesterday.  A friend, just my age, died suddenly yesterday.  I can't really take it in.  I hope she is at peace at last.
RIP, dear C.

I had an email yesterday, from the teacher whose class I help out in, saying not to come so I didn't.  I went swimming instead!  Around twelve is obviously a good time to go; there was plenty of space and the people who were there were more interested in swimming than in chatting with their mates as they block the way!  The pool was colder than usual though one warms up soon enough; I wonder if they've reduced the temperature in this hot weather.

Tuition was, as always, good fun.  The wind got up while I was 'tuting' and we had to turn the fan off as it felt cold.  Amazing to feel cold, rather pleasant really.  It is getting near to the end of the school year now and the children are pretty weary sop I'm taking things easy with them and not pushing too hard.  They'll pick up in the new term.

Today is a bit busier but still very pleasant.  First of all I am into school to watch the dress rehearsal for the Y5 and 6 show.  These are always good fun and it's nice to watch with the children.  I'm seeing the show proper on Wednesday morning!

Then, around lunch time, we should have a real excitement.  As I think you will all know, the RAF is organising a flypast to celebrate their 100th birthday today.  It's due to reach Buckingham Palace at 1:00 but on the way there it should fly directly over my house!   I will certainly be out in my garden, camera in hand, although I may not get any good photos.  We will just have to see.
At school, they are having lunch early so all the children can be finished and out on the field to see it.
Here's a link with a description of what should be part of the flypast.

Once that's over, there's tuition and then, hopefully, a picnic with Beth down the allotment, weather permitting.
No time for swimming today so I'm glad I could fit it in yesterday.

Edited to add - I've just realised I only used one half of the curtain fabric (slow on the uptake, that's me) so I have more to play with.  What next, I wonder?  Maybe a quilty thing to tie to the back of the arbour seat?   Ideas, please?

Monday 9 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  It's not as sunny as it has been at this time of the day for the last two weeks or so and feels pretty fresh (nice) so doors and windows are open to enjoy the cool air that's pouring in.

Well, I set to yesterday and started making the cushion thingies for the arbour.  The colour isn't quite right on the photo - they tone/match better than it appears and I'm really pleased with how it looks.  One side of the cushions is a disappearing nine block pattern and the other side is plain to match the seat and is, admittedly, rather more faded than I remembered but the fabric is in great nick..  It was nice and cool sewing with the fans on and Doctor Who on the telly and certainly kept my mind off food!!

And while I am on the subject, guess what I saw in Morrisons.  Some really nice lavender plants, quite big, very fragrant and really not all that expensive.  So I got two, brought them home, watered them well and sat them in the shade.  Later on this week I will get them into the pots and, as they are flowering, will harvest the petals and make a few lavender bags for my drawers.

It all looks a lot better now and much more comfortable for sitting out.

The flip side of the day was that, while walking past the table, I caught my little toe on a chair leg and ouch!  I now have a black and blue little toe with hardly any nail.  Made me mutter a few things between the ouches and I've had to loosen my sandal strap.  That'll teach me to be careful!

That's about it as far as yesterday goes as the sewing, etc, took most of the day.  I now have a mess to clear up but first I want to finish off a skirt so that will be the first task of the day.  If I have time, I will go swimming, but I doubt I will today, what with housework, helping out in FS and then tuition.  And I want to sit outside on my new cushions at some point too!

So I'd better get moving!

Sunday 8 July 2018


Good morning, everyone.  After yesterday's mega efforts, today's entry will be a lot shorter!  Apart from anything else, I'm off for an early morning swim at 7:45.

Phew, I think yesterday was the hottest yet and humid as well.  I dug out the fan from the guest room so there's now two downstairs and it was fine as long as I stayed in that sort of area.  Overnight, things seemed to cool off a lot, thankfully, and I slept well.

Beth didn't come over.  She felt very weak and woolly and just not with it properly and she stayed home to rest.  A shame, but there will be other opportunities

When I looked at the 'cucumber' plant yesterday, it wasn't, it was another courgette.  I neither want nor need another courgette so I'm back at the starting post with those arbour pots but I'm thinking lavender now - that would do for several years before getting too leggy and woody and the fragrance would be great.

I started the seat cushion.  I've had the foam pad since last year, made to measure, and the fabric is old bedroom curtains; they're somewhat faded in parts but that's not a problem.  It's all measured out now and tacked up.  I shall properly sew along the side and one end and the other end I will hand stitch so it is easily undone and removed for washing at the end of each summer, I think.
Now I have to decide whether to make scatter cushions in a toning colour, contrasting colour or use the same fabric (I have quite a lot more).  I have old cushion pads that do need using so I think I'll go with using the same fabric in the interests of frugality and conservation.  Although I do rather fancy making some with machine patchwork - perhaps one side patchwork and the other side old curtains!
Maybe I could make some bunting too!  That would be fun!
Note to self - go through fabric stash.

Today will be more of the same, I think. 
I've just been out to pick my breakfast blueberries and I shall have them when I come back from swimming.
There's no way I am going to risk the garden centre today; the lavender will just have to wait.  Beth and Jane are going to water the allotment today so I don't have to worry about that and there's only a bit of weeding, etc, to do at home, should I feel like it, before the evening watering.
I have some tuition planning but not an awful lot.
I'll get the sewing machine out and get that seat cushion made and I will go through my pile of fabrics to see if there's anything I can use.
And I will take it easy and stay as cool as I can.
Sounds like a plan!

Take care, everyone.

Saturday 7 July 2018

Allotment update

Very dry, a bit too weedy for me (note to self - weed on Monday) but here's the state of play.

The fruit trees are doing very well (so far and fingers crossed)

 Beth can't remember what type this is.  Anyone recognise it?

 The redlove is such a pretty tree.  The inside of the apple is pink, not white, and this year it is laden.

 So many pears too.  We've learned our lesson with these pears.  They don't keep!  That means daily pears through the autumn months.  Oh, the hardship!

Hardly any plums this year but those that we have are starting to colour.  Exciting.

The baby corn is doing so very well even if something knocked three of them over last night at some point.  They're standing again now!

After a late and slow start, the runners are now coiling around the canes.  There will be no stopping them now

The mange tout.  Great growth but we now need flowers (and pods).

I've left the courgettes for Beth as it's her turn but I was sorely tempted.

Oodles of potatoes soon.  Yum.

The tomatoes are coming on.  Not as well as the ones in my garden but then they don't get the same watering.  It's a sunny spot so ripening should be no problem.

Not much fruit this year but they've mainly grown well and there's plenty of runners to fill the gaps.

Better than nowt!  And a bonus from these autumn fruiting canes.

And last of all (no cheering at the back, there!), a general view.  The gap at the front is where the asparagus should be!  Ho hum, better luck next time.