Thursday 31 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  Another waking at stupid o'clock but never mind, there's plenty to do.

Everything slotted in nicely yesterday.  Jeff has reduced my front weed bed to an orderly state once more and there is now plenty of inviting soil showing for me to plant my bulbs.  At Hyde Hall the other Saturday, I bought some pretty tulips and some crocuses, neither of which I actually have already and then, at what-used-to-be-Wyvale, when I checked out my purchases, I got a free bag of narcissi - unscented, sadly, but you can't win 'em all!
Getting them out, some in the front and some in pots is a job for the weekend, weather permitting.

It's quite crazy - tomorrow will be November and yet the fuchsias are still flowering merrily and there's still some colour on the trailing geraniums and the dahlias.  The primulas are mighty confused too and are flowering now.  Will they flower in spring or not, I wonder.

Al and I had fun in front of the PC, she showing me how to book train tickets online.  Honestly, I'm so naive, I've never done it before.
My disabled person's railcard proved a real blessing by getting us both considerably reduced fares, me as the card holder and Al as my travelling companion.  Around £14 each to get us right to the Natural History Museum and home again.  I don't even have to fork out for the bus fair into the station (although Al does).

Later on, while Al was in town, I went online again and started investigating train fares up to Edinburgh.  It's a little, simmering plan of mine to train it up to Edinburgh and stay for a week in the Premier Inn on Princes Street, slap bang in the centre of the city and with walking distance of loads of interesting stuff.
My brother lives in Jedburgh, not too far away, so I'm sure we could meet up at some point too.
The train fare is not cheap, but when you consider the cost of taking a car, petrol and parking expenses, it suddenly looks a very viable option to let the train take the strain, as the saying goes.
Anyway, it's a baby plan!

Personal Training went well.  Lindsey showed me some exercises I can do on my balance ball thingy and, bless her, after the end of the session, she filmed herself doing them and sent them over to me with guidance.  It's the sort of thing I can do while watching telly!

Then Sharon turned up to do my hair and now I feel half human again. 

Today, as mentioned, we're off to London for an adventure so that's the whole day taken up.  Then it's taster evening at SW in the evening.  Hopefully I'll sleep well tonight anyway.
Have a great day, everyone.  xx

Wednesday 30 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  It was another lovely day yesterday with plenty of sunshine, just perfect for a long(er) walk to the shops in between cake making!

First of all, Marlene, if you read this, I'm sending lots of love and want you to know that I will miss your blog very much.  Many hugs in your direction and may you be happy.

Well, I had a go at the 'healthy' cake for the taster evening tomorrow.  I've banged on about it in the other blog but, suffice it to say, no!  Just don't.  It wasn't nice!  I'm afraid it saw the inside of the bin!

After getting over that disappointment, I gave the fruit soaking in alcohol for the Christmas cake, sent Beth a message, got a reply and set to to make my first ever Christmas cake!  OK, not as grand as it sounds as it's a Delia recipe so hardly any kind of culinary risk but all my adult life Mum has been the one to make the family cake and then Beth took over when Christmas shifted to my house.

It was a mess-creating situation but great fun and highly successful.  It took four and a half hours to cook and in that time the house became warm, spicy and plummy.  Such a shame one can't bottle that aroma as it's the most Christmassy scent there ever was.
It's now well wrapped and in a tin and later on in the week it will get its first feeding of cointreau.  Mmmmmmmm.

In the evening, Alison arrived so I picked her up from the station and we chatted and chatted until I almost fell asleep.

Today is a busy day.  A shame when I have a visitor but we know each other well enough not to have to so 'special'.
Jeff's coming at eight to do a general garden tidy up and then we have some more chatting time until I need to go off to Lindsey's for my PT.  Alison says she'd like to pop into town during the day.
In the afternoon, the lovely Sharon is turning up to do Beth and my hair - I'm feeling very shaggy dog so it will be a relief to get it sorted, it really will.

That's it for the day so, although there's 'stuff', we'll still have plenty of time to chat and to sort out what we'd like to do tomorrow when we might take a train into London.  For someone living so close to one of the great cities of the works, I really don't make enough use of it.  In fact, I don't go at all which is a shame and something I ought to remedy, especially with a bus pass and a disabled person's railcard to ease the financial load.
Fingers crossed for the weather.

So that's my day and it should be a good'un!  I hope yours is too.  xx

Tuesday 29 October 2019


Good morning!

As expected, it was a lovely, sunny day around here and the walk round parts of Chelmer Village was lovely.  Not warm though; I was thankful for my cosy coat although I didn't quite need my gloves.  I looked up where we had gone as part of it was along the River Chelmer by Sandford Lock.  A pleasant walk and one I will do again, definitely.

The rest of the day was lazy.  I didn't go elsewhere but I did have a pleasant relax.

Today, this morning, a surveyor is coming to measure up for the work I'm having done next year.  After that, the day's my own but I have a friend arriving at around eight this evening to stay for a few days so I do have a certain amount of clearing and tidying to do plus making her soda bread as, because of various intolerences, she can't have ordinary bread.

I also want to have a go at some pumpkin cake which may or may not work.  It's a taster evening on Thursday at SW group and if I try this today and it doesn't work, I have time to find something else.

I'd better get started.  Have a great day!  xx

Sunday 27 October 2019


Morning, everyone.  After the horrible weather on Saturday, yesterday was beautifully sunny.  Quite chilly, but that was OK.  Today's supposed to be nice too - bring it on.  It's jolly chilly right now though and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it's frosty out there!  The heating is working its usual magic.

It was a lovely day yesterday.  Dave came round to have Sunday dinner with Dad and me and we all had a jolly good talk about all sorts of things while we scoffed roast lamb (a real treat), etc.  Once they had left, I read, watched TV and did some ironing and made a fool of myself with the balance ball.  It's harder than one would think.

Today feels like a holiday.  It's the first day of the half term break for schools around here and my diary is blank.  No tuition this week, I have decided.  I went online and booked a Heart and Sole walk around an area of town I don't really know for this morning so that will be good.  It starts and finishes outside Asda so I'll pop in and look at things in there before heading home for lunch.
In the afternoon, I'll probably do some recipe hunting, plan some Christmas stuff and generally just take things nice and easy.  I might go out for another walk, depending on how I feel or I might pop down to a couple of garden centres and take a look around.  Or there's the garden which always needs a bit of tidying up and I have some bulbs to pop in.

I know people shudder at the thought of mentioning Christmas so early but, for me, all the planning and prepping are part of the fun and I wouldn't change it for the world.  Looking around the displays and decorations is a pleasure that never palls and a feast for the eyes.  Very cheering!
Also, the family Christmas arrangements seem to be sorting themselves out quite nicely.  It won't be the same because everyone has other people to celebrate, not just me, but things are working out well.

I doubt I will ever completely lose that 'it's holiday' feeling at the start of each school break.  I hope not, anyway, it is so lovely.  It lifts the spirits and creates a sense of freedom and gratitude in my heart.
Here's to a happy day for us all.  xx


Good morning, everyone.  We had some pretty heavy rain yesterday afternoon and some strong winds as well but all is fine and dandy and it's supposed to be sunny today although, right now, it feels chilly.  I think it's time to start wearing the PJs again.

Yesterday was lovely, despite the weather.  Dad arrived before the rain and had an easy drive down.  Beth turned up late afternoon.  It was just a nice family day.

Today is more of the same.  Dave is coming round for Sunday lunch and Dad will leave after lunch, before it starts getting dark.

That's about it really.  A lovely, gentle day with family.

Happy Sunday to you.  xx

Saturday 26 October 2019


Hi, everyone.   Yesterday was an OK weather day.  Not a lot of sun but it was dry and quite mild - no need for a coat when I went out.  Today doesn't look like being so good.  Loads and loads of very heavy rain, according to the Beeb.

Yesterday morning was good, thank you for all the good wishes for it.
I started off in Sainsbury's, noticing that clothes were 25% off - always a good thing!  I didn't get much as I really don't need much this year but I did get some slippers as mine are getting a bit worn.  I wear slippers mostly inside at this time of year and they're not made to last!  I got myself a warmer dressing gown because the one I have is about six sizes too big now and that's just too much.  Finally, I got a Christmas jumper.  It's bright and sparkly and just what I was looking for.  There was another one I really liked but there were none in my size - that's the other side of being the size I am, they go quickly in that size.  However, naughty me, I might go online and see if they have the nice one there.

I also did the food shopping and treated me and Dad (who will be here this weekend) to a small lamb leg joint.  Fingers crossed there's enough as I've asked Dave and Anna over.

And I treated my car to a wash from the company in the car park.  It looks loads nicer now although that won't last for long.  She's now also topped up with petrol so she's good for another month or so.

I head off to Wyvale and found that it now has another name - Longacres.  The Christmas decorations were up so I had a browse around and found a replacement for my wooden, electric, Scandi style seven candle holder thingy that finally fell apart last year after decades of use so I had to chuck it.  This one is red which works well for me as my Christmas colours are red, gold and green.  Old fashioned?  Moi?
I also found a wooden plaque thingy that said 'Retired, happy and spending the kids' inheritance" which made me laugh so in the trolley it went.  I'm not sure where to hang it but it has to be where the kids will see it!
Superficially, it looked more or less the same although they didn't have the wide range of very posh Christmas trees that Wyvale used to have.  There were loads of tree decorations but none that grabbed me by the throat and hissed 'You NEED me'.  I have so many tree decorations now that they have to be overwhelmingly amazing in some way for me to buy!

Finally, I stopped off at Hobbycraft but all I got there were some card mounts as Beth is nearly out of them - a little gift for her!

I was shattered by the time I got home but it was a good morning.  I'm glad I had pre-made the soup!

The rest of the day was pretty lazy although I had ordered one of those exercise balance ball thingies from Amazon and that arrived so I spent a few calories pumping it up using the foot pump provided.  Now I need to make sure I use it!  YouTube, here I come!

(Anyone know what's happened to Zoe Ball?  She's not been on It Takes Two all week)

Today, I have slept in.  It must be all that shopping!  Thankfully, nothing was booked, I have no commitments until Dad arrives later on this morning, so a lie is is not any kind of problem.  I will potter and tidy up a bit, make our lunch and generally take life easy.

Today is Beth's birthday and she's coming over for dinner this evening.  I've got her the new Margaret Attwood that she's been longing for so I guess I won't then see much of her for a few days!

And that's it.  A happy yesterday and, hopefully, a happy today as well.  Hope yours is too!  xx

Friday 25 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  We had horrible weather here yesterday most of the day.  Lashing rain but not cold, thank goodness.  I felt for the teachers - trying to sort things out before half term and the children getting more and more restless.  Not fun.

Yesterday went well.  I got Dad's room ready for the weekend and pottered around clearing and tidying.  Beth came round and had lunch and dinner here which was nice, before we went off to pottery.

I was really pleased with the way my two bowls turned out. 

 I shall use this with the advent candle I treated myself to at Hyde Hall - another personal tradition.
 I think it looks nice - nicer than in the photo.

When advent is over, I will use it for a square candle over Christmas.  I always have lots of Christmas candles.

The pasta/tapas bowl also turned out nicely although I thought the glaze inside would be lighter, more sort of oatmeal-ish instead of the mushroom colour it has turned out to be.  What I am pleased with is the transition from the lighter to the darker glaze - it's neater than I thought it might be.

I might use it for my soup at lunchtime!

This is what I started.  It's hard to tell and the photo isn't great but the centre dips in and the sides curve out.  I've just left it to dry out and will neaten and smooth bits off at the next session. 

I also started a tea light holder and have brought it home, carefully wrapped in wet J cloth and cling film, together with a lump of clay, so I can get on with it at home.  There's no pottery next week, you see, as it's half term.

Today I have absolutely nothing in the diary.  Well, that's not quite true as it's cleaners day, but that's all.  I feel as if I have a gift of a day to have fun in.

I've just done what is turning out to be a simple highlight of each day and that's stirring the Christmas cake fruit and the fat free mincemeat, both of which smell fabulous.  The latter is now ready to go into the freezer but I might be very naughty and have a little mixed in some yogurt as it's really delicious.

Also, I started early and have a rather delicious smelling roasted butternut squash and red pepper soup (partly using leftovers) ready for lunch.  The peppers (with onion and tomato) were already cooked.  I roasted a bit of squash in the actifry, then popped the lot into Thermione with some garlic granules, stock, water and seasonings.  After a short boil and a good blend, I added some milk and a dollop of ricotta and zizzed it again.  I'm lookin forward to my lunch today!

So - what shall I do?  Well, I gather Sainsbury's has their Christmas clothes in so I think I will take a look there and also do my weekend shopping at the same time.  Then I might go to Wyvale as it's not far down the road from Sainsbury's and I have heard that it will be closing which is extremely sad as it's such a lovely shop and garden centre and their Christmas decorations are to die for, they really are!

I might then drive over to Hobbycraft and just have a lovely time wandering around there.  There's nothing I actually need but you never know . . .

Goodness, what self indulgent plans!  I guess it's going to be a lovely day!  I hope yours is too.  xx

Thursday 24 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to Thursday!  I'm awake at stupid o'clock, probably because of stuff buzzing around in my brain, but never mind.  I can always catch up later on, if I want to.

After some pleasant weather yesterday, when I even got one load of washing dried outside, down came the drizzle and it ended up pretty damp.  Today is more of the same, according to the Beeb.  Mist, gentle rain, heavy rain . . . dee-lightful!

Yesterday may have been expensive, like Monday and Tuesday but, by the time Matt had finished, the heating was on and working efficiently again, the radiators had all been sorted, there were super-new thermostats on them and the grab rails were back up in the bathroom, just where they will be most useful.  I'm happy!  And when the Golden Oldies' winter fuel payment hits the bank statement, it will go straight into my savings to compensate for a bit of what it cost.  Everything helps!

After mixing up the first stage of the Christmas cake on Tuesday (it's smelling great each time I uncover it to give it a good stir), I looked at the fruit I had left and Googled for a fat free mincemeat, finding one that is hardly low calorie with all the dried fruit, honey and alcohol but which looked worth a try.  It has many of the traditional things - zest, dried fruits, etc and is sweetened with honey.  It also has grated apple and, slightly more unusual, some grated carrot.  Instead of brandy, I used more of the cointreau (so now I will need to get some more when the cake needs feeding).

The bumph with the recipe says it keeps for about a month but, after the three day soaking, I am going to pop it into freezer pots and keep it that way.  Then I can get out just what I need.  It does smell great, so fingers crossed.  Before I freeze it though, I will add some chopped walnuts - I love nuts in mincemeat - although the recipe doesn't mention nuts.

Over lunchtime I went for my hour of PT with Lindsey.  She's definitely pushed things up a notch and has started working on balance stuff as well.  I found that hard so it's something to work on before next week.

Today the diary just says tuition and pottery.  That means I have time to sort out a few messy areas on the house as well as finishing off the week's washing, drying (indoors) and ironing.  Dad's coming here this weekend so I need to get the guest room sorted out; luckily, it's the week for the cleaners to do upstairs as well as downstairs, so I can leave that side of things for them.

I need to decide what to make next in pottery.  Perhaps another candle holder with a more Christmassy theme - holly leaves are fairly easy - or another pasta/tapas bowl.  Or I could make a slab pot in the shape of a Christmas tree.
Better take a look through my collection of photos and ideas and see what inspires.

Have a great day, everyone.  xx

Wednesday 23 October 2019


Good morning.  It was a nice day yesterday and it looks as if today is going to be pretty pleasant as well, as far as you can tell at this time of the day.

Yesterday was a 'funny' old day.  The double glazing man came round as arranged, with paperwork to sign and stuff to go through.  I'm self funding but he still had to go through all the 'your loan is safe' sort of stuff with me.  Rules, said he.
So sheets were printed out, signed, a deposit was actioned and the date for a survey arrainged.
So now, in April next year (that's when I want it to happen), I will have
new upstairs windows
a new front door
a new garage door
new guttering and fascias front and back

It's taking a chunk out of my savings, of course, but well worth it.  Now I must work to build them back up again.

I cancelled aqua as the meeting went on longer than expected and went for a walk instead.  Tuition was, as always, fine and I have decided not to offer sessions next week during half term.

Today, for the first time in months, I overslept.  I didn't wake until just after seven which is most unusual and a bit annoying as I'm waiting for Matt the Plumber to come round and had left the kitchen in a bit of a mess, thinking I'd have time this morning.  SO it's been a rush.

And here he is!

I'm having new thermostats downstairs and he's just checking things out as the radiators can be slow to come on.  He's also dealing with a 'strange noise' and putting the grab rails back up in the new bathroom, now I know where I want them to go.

I'd better go, seeing as Matt is here.  Have a good day!  xx

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Tuesday and another cake.

Good morning!  It really wasn't very nice yesterday, was it.  Bleak, wet and windy - but not that cold, thankfully.

After a cakey weekend, Beth and I decided to carry on the theme by planning for making the Christmas cake.  It's a family tradition that Beth makes it and I buy all the ingredients.  So we went online and dug out Delia's classic recipe which we only change by using cointreau instead of brandy for the alcohol (so lovely).

 So, in a few days' time, there will be a big bowl of dried fruits soaking in aftrementioned alcohol, making my kitchen smell simply wonderful.

Delia puts nuts on hers but we go the whole hog with marzipan and icing so I need to have a think about how I want it decorated.  Google, here I come.

Yesterday was quite busy.
First of all, Beth and the Everest man arrived more or less at the same time and for the next two and a half hours we talked about new windows, doors, guttering and fascias and new garage door, glass patterns and door styles.   I now have all the info I need and have made a decision as to who will replace my windows, front door, garage door, guttering and fascias.  It's very nice to feel that things are starting to move at last.

After a quickly made lunch of tomato and lentil soup (thank you, Thermione), Ray (from Hire a Hummy - silly name but . . .) turned up and, hopefully, not the leak in my bedroom and a problem with the front door has been patched up and will keep out damp until the replacements are put in.
 I have to defer complete judgement until after I get the bill, emailed to me today to be paid by internet but, assuming it's reasonable, I think I have found a 'handyman' source to replace the previous one who is now too busy with big projects to undertake little maintainence things.

And then tuition . . .

All go, innit, as we say in Essex!

So, a good day, all in all.  However, I still have a bit of a 'low' feeling which is connected with the fact that it was - or would have been - Mum's birthday on Saturday.  I guess it can take quite a long time for this sort of thing to work through and I'm sure it will lift at some point.

Today, in contrast, is a dead easy day.  I have aqua booked for midday and I might take a stroll around the shops too.  Today's tuition is all planned and ready.  And that's that.  I might do some housework or I might just have some R&R.  I'm so lucky to have that option!
Have a great day.  xx

Monday 21 October 2019

Monday - two cakes

Good morning.

The morning went well, Lindsey may have raised over £700 for Kids Inspire (rough calculation, may be more), Beth sold some stuff and both my cakes were eaten, slice by slice, with some nice comments.

As they went well, here's the two recipes

The cinnamon apple cake.

I hope this links works for you - it should take you straight to the 'print' page as the main page is another one that goes all round the houses before you find what you actually want!  All the advertising seems to be very much a 'thing' nowadays but I find it annoying!
The only thing I changed was that I added a bit of cinnamon to the cake batter as well as to the topping so it turned a sludgy brown.  Next time I'll not do that.
It was extremely easy to make.
The texture was soft and it really was delicious.

The coffee and walnut cake

(Apologies for the cling film- I didn't want it to dry out and didn't notice it when I took the photo!)

This went down a real treat.  I kept hearing really good comments about it!  Nice.

The only thing I changed was that I made the coffee in my cafetiere, double strength (and I usually have it pretty strong).
It's basically a 4-4-2-4 mixture but, because of the added coffee liquid, it wasn't quite as light and fluffy as it would have been if I'd added coffee powder (not granules) and I might try that next time and see.

Anyway, there you go - two cakes that worked really well and when I bake for the Christmas Fair, I may very well make them again!

Sunday 20 October 2019

Sunday- photo heavy!

Good morning.  I was up really early and have finished icing the cakes.  They don't look stunning - I'm nt good at that sort of thing and it's only spreadable stuff but I hope they look OK enough.  The smell fab, that's for sure.

 Apple cinnamon cake - this is the one I want to taste as I love apple and cinnamon!
Coffee and walnut.  I think I shouldn't have put the chopped nuts in the middle but it's too late to do anything about it now, it'll just make a worse mess.  It'll taste good, that's the main thing!

I was supposed to make some strong espresso coffee but I couldn't be bothered; I just used the cafetiere and made it double strength and it's a good coffee favour.

Hyde Hall was brilliant.  We were so lucky; wall to wall sunshine all day and, despite being on the top of a hill (what passes for a hill in Essex, anyway) and windy, it was wasn't cold either.  We walked and talked and talked and walked, enjoyed our lunch and were lucky enough to visit on a day there was a textiles exhibition which we very much enjoyed.

 I loved this 3D work entitled Nepalese Shop.  Sadly it was not for sale or I'd have thought hard about it.
 I did think hard about this one.  It was absolutely stunning.  A view from Hyde Hall.  If I had a spare £200 or so, I might own it now but, as it is, someone else will get lucky.
It had some amazing stitchwork when looked at closely. 
'Just' a quilt but a very lovely one.

And here's a few general views.  You can see what a lovely afternoon it was and the colours were glorious!

 I'm not a great fan of ornamental cabbage but, oh, those colours!
This is Hyde Hall but my cyclamen is also quite a picture in the middle bed.  Actually, my middle bed needs a good old tidy up as there's still quite a lot of colour but it's half covered by other stuff.

Today is the do at Lindsey's in aid of Kids' Inspire.  Beth has a 'table' there so she came over here yesterday evening and is fast asleep (I hope) upstairs as I type.  We'll take my car as it holds more and I certainly intend to do some spending both to support Beth (she has several things I want to buy) and to support Lindsey.  It should be a good morning.

As for the afternoon, I will probably be catching up on my sleep.  How lucky that I can.  Also, if the weather is nice, I may as well put in half an hour on the garden too and tidy up that middle bed.
I hope you have a good Sunday too.  xx

Saturday 19 October 2019


Good morning!

It's been great fun making cakes.  I did the apple cinnamon cake yesterday and will ice it this evening or even early tomorrow morning.  I've just made the coffee and walnut cake - it's still in the oven, in fact - and will ice that ditto.
I'd forgotten how much fun it is to make a cake and how wonderful it makes the whole house smell!

Both the recipes seem to have worked well so that was lucky.  I'll definitely make the shortbread biscuits tonight.

Today, Jackie and I are off to Hyde Hall for lunch and a good look round.  The leaves are finally starting to turn autumnal and they will have all their pumpkins, gourds and squashes on display which should be fun.  Must remember the camera!

I'm keeping this short as it's a busy morning and the timer is about to shout to me that I need to check the cake.  Have a great day and see you tomorrow!  xx

Friday 18 October 2019


Good morning.

Pottery was lovely.  It was so nice to be back there and brilliant to be sitting and working next to Beth.
The two pots I was working on at the end of last term were still there and I got them both glazed.  They don't look much yet but I hope they will.  I've decided that the square one is going to be a candle holder so I need to hunt for a square candle to go in it.  The other is a sort of tapas/pasta bowl - the inside should be sort of oatmealy and the outside a dark brown.  Fingers crossed.

 The photo hasn't come out all that well - the outside has been scored to look like bark so it's got a real texture.
This wasn't quite how I left it, shored up with balls of newspaper to create four wavy sides.  Two balls must have been moved as there are now two wavy sides and two much straighter sides.  Never mind.
The rough edges are all deliberate, not just bad work!!!

I have to decide what to make next now.
On the candle theme, I am tending towards some candle holders with star cut outs.

Beth, of course, took to it like a duck to water.
Remember my first effort that ended up as the mousehog?  Well, here's Beth's, from the same starting point.

There's no comparison, is there?

On Sunday, Lindsey (personal trainer) is having a Christmas shopping day at her home in aid of Kids Inspire, a local charity that does some fantastic work across Essex.
Beth has a stall and I will be there both to help and to spend.
Unfortunately, the catering arrangements had fallen a bit flat as someone can't do their bit so some of us are baking and making.  It's really nice to have an excuse for that kind of cooking - I haven't really done much since the gallbladder problem.
Yesterday I just had a try out, using a couple of patterned rolling pins to fancy up some shortbread and it looked so nice I went online and got a Christmas themed one for the Sunday biscuits (and for other occasions too).  It should come today and my fingers are crossed that it's OK and suitable.

I'm also making a couple of cakes - probably coffee and walnut and cinnamon apple cake.  Fingers crossed people buy a portion to go with their coffee.

Today I need to write my list of things I need to get for the cakes and then go a-shopping.  In the afternoon, I have the personal training, cancelled on Wednesday.  In the evening, I am baking.  Great fun all round and not a lot of pressure - apart from a tidy up for the cleaners and, amazingly, there's not much to do there.

Have a great day.  xx

Thursday 17 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  It's a chilly morning and I'm thankful yet again for good central heating.  Yesterday turned out very pleasantly sunny, not that I went out, and inside kept very warm and cosy.  Now that the tomato plants are all out, there's a lot more light coming into my living room again.

I gave up feeling sorry for myself fairly quickly as it was boring.  I didn't have much commitment yesterday, but I did have to cancel my personal training session.  Lindsey was most understanding and we have rescheduled it for Friday instead.  Yes, it means cancelling my aqua (and I have also cancelled today's because I just don't think it is sensible) but that's not a problem.  Later on, I will take a walk the longer way round to Morrisons to get some dishwasher tablets so I will get a bit of exercise in!

Come the afternoon and I was definitely feeling more with it so I decided to give those pumpkin shaped rolls a go.  It was a bit of a risk as my dried yeast is now rather old but, thankfully, it was perfectly OK and they turned out quite well.  I reckon they will be really nice with the spiced pumpkin soup I plan to make for the Girls' lunch.

I'm not happy with the 'stalks'.  I think I will get some pecans, halve them longways and try that instead.

The recipe was:
250g bread flour (I used half and half white/wholemeal)
half tsp salt (or a bit more, according to personal taste)
5g active dried yeast
150 mls milk (you can warm it if you like)
1.5 tbsp olive oil
around 30 to 50 mls water (you need more liquid if you're using wholemeal so go with the dough!)

I shaped the rolls above as shown in that clip a few days ago.  A bit fiddly but it was OK.
I also tried shaping a flattish roll and then snipping round with scissors.  It turned out more like a patty pan squash and I might do a few of those as well, as a shape contrast.

You can see the yeast worked absolutely fine.

Today I am taking it easy again as I want to feel 100% come the evening because . . .

It's POTTERY!  Yay!

Beth is coming along too which I'm so looking forward to.  I must get out my pottery bag and make sure everything is tidy and ready.  I can't wait.
And now I have a phone that takes proper photos, maybe I will remember.
If they're still there, I have some pots to finish off.  I'm hoping they have had their first firing and will be ready to glaze.

So that's today.  Many thanks for all the kind words about yesterday/next little holiday plans/etc and have a fab day. xx

Wednesday 16 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  It's another damp and dull start to the day.  Not cold, just not nice.  Having had a bad night with an upset tum, it's not helping to cheer me up!  :-)

Yesterday worked well.  The aqua class was great and tuition was fun while C and I enjoyed our catch up chat.  I did, anyway, and I hope she did too.

I was a bad girl and have booked a couple on nights away at the end of November.   I discovered that there is a Premier Inn, with parking and a restaurant, in the centre of Bury St Edmunds, just a short walk (I estimate about five minutes, if that) away from all the interesting historical bits, shops, etc.  Premier Inns may not be 'luxury' or 'boutique' but they are very warm, comfortable and, generally, well run places and having meal availability is a bonus for me.

I've booked two nights which, effectively, will give me almost three days, plus meal deals so that's the meals pretty much sorted.  I'll most likely reserve some fruit from breakfast and maybe a yogurt or something and that can be my lunch.  I know Bury is easy to get to - I did it a week last Friday, after all - and from a certain roundabout to the hotel is literally just four more roads and an easy one way system so even my 'getting lost' phobia isn't grumbling too much.  Yet!

I know there's no guarantee of fine weather, it will certainly be fairly cold and the days will be short, but it should be bright and cheery as some decorations will be up, the windows will be full of Christmas goods and there really are so many interesting things to see and do within walking distance as well as within a short drive.   I'm quite excited really.

I'm feeling a bit ragged around the edges right now but not to worry, I've cancelled the few things I had scheduled and I am going to get my fleece out, snuggle in my lovely, comfy recliner, and shut the world out for the day.  I would still be in bed except that Jeff was here at eight to do his bit (big bit) in the garden.  Now all the tomatoes and the cucumbers are up and in the brown bin and it's looking a lot better.  Thank you, Jeff.

Have a good day, everyone.  xx

Tuesday 15 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  Yesterday was dull and gloomy, not too wet but definitely on the 'getting a bit more chilly' side of life.  It is half way through October, after all!  Today is forecast to be dry but not a glimpse of sun.  Dull and gloomy again.  I think I might light some of my candles later on this afternoon, just to cheer things up.

Thank you all so much for the Bonfire food suggestions.  I now have a good list of ideas and can start sourcing recipes for them.  Cheers!

It was so nice to get back to normal again yesterday.  Everything is again in its usual state of slight disarray and it feels cosy and comfortable.  I did some cooking, some housework, a bit of ironing: all the usual stuff, in fact.  Nice.

The Windows Man came round at twelve, did his act (and did it very well, I thought), answered questions, measured up and left me with a quote which, I have to say, was less than I had anticipated, even without the garage door replacement (they only do electric doors and there's no power in my garage).  So that's one.  Now to get the next one to come.

My student was full of the residential week the whole of their year was away on last week.  They all seem to have had a very good time.

Today looks quite full.

C from over the cul de sac is coming over for coffee and a chat this morning.  We've both been pretty busy going away so I haven't seen her properly for a while, we've just exchanged greetings in passing.

Then I have an aqua class booked for twelve o'clock.  I must repack my swimming bag as I took stuff out for the Center Parcs holiday.

Straight after that will be tuition so before anything else this morning I must look over the planning in the relevant folder and make sure it's all in order.

And I really ought to change my sheets and get them washed, dried and ironed.  I wonder if it's worth putting them outside to catch the air, at least, even if they don't completely dry.  I'll see what it's like when the time comes.

Definitely back to normal!  :-)
Have a great day.  xx

I've just come back in to say just watch this - aren't they cute?  I shall definitely be giving this a go to have with my spiced pumpkin soup!  I love them.

Monday 14 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.

Yesterday I stayed at Dad's until after lunch - a proper dinner, in fact, as he likes my cooking (!) and we had some good chats over the weekend.  One thing that might be nice is that now he's feeling much more with it again and the exercise classes he goes to are definitely helping with leg strength and balance, maybe we could go away for a couple of days to some interesting towns.  He mentioned Bury St Edmunds which is not too far away from either of us and, as long as we get somewhere central, shouldn't involve too much walking.  Something to consider for the future anyway and I know Dad has missed the short holiday breaks he used to enjoy with Mum.

It was a fairly splashy drive back home yesterday although the rain had more or less stopped but the general conditions kept all but the most necessary traffic off the road so it was a pretty easy drive.  Getting the stuff inside from the car took quite a while but I got there, eventually, and now things are more or less unpacked and sorted with just a bit more to go.  I was desperately tired and kept nodding off through the evening although I did manage to stay awake for the Strictly results - no spoilers in comments, please, but more than a bit of a shock there!

Real life starts again today.
Firstly I need to get proper caught up with all my social mediating over a few mugs of my proper coffee followed by finishing off the tidying up, etc.

Then, over lunchtime, there's a visit from window people followed by tuition.  If I can, I really ought to pop into school to see if M wants me to continue helping out after half term.  All her new littlies will be in full time by then.

I need to start exploring 'bonfire food'.  Our next girls' get together is here and we thought it would be nice to have 'bonfire food' as a theme.  I thought of spiced pumpkin soup, glazed sausages, jacket potatoes, a fruity punch (non alcoholic) and maybe something apple based for dessert but need to refine these ideas.  It's my job to organise it all and ask/tell the others what to contribute.  It's not for another month so there's loads of time but these things tend to get forgotten and then there's a rush at the last moment!
If you have any recipes, ideas, suggestions, etc, please do post them in comments - that would be great.

Well, the kettle has boiled and the cafetiere is loaded so I'd better stop rambling on and get started.
Have a great day.  xx

Sunday 13 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.  It's nice to be back after my little blogging break.  I promise I will catch up on reading all your blog entries, even if I don't leave any comments.
People are so caring.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not 'glad' that some were worried but it is confidence boosting to be missed.  I think I just needed a break;  certain things were just getting on top of me.  A very First World thing when I was away on a lovely holiday, isn't it?

Holiday is over and I'm spending the weekend at Dad's, going home this afternoon.  The reason for not staying until tomorrow as I usually do is that I have a car packed with stuff that will need unpacking and sorted out before the double glazing people come to look and quote over lunchtime tomorrow.  Getting home today just makes it easier all round.

I took far too much with, of course!  The thing is, Center Parcs is not cheap and shopping in their 'ParcMarket' adds considerably to the final bill.  I don't know how they can justify it really, given that it is basically a glorified co-op with co-op branded goods as well as the big brands, but profit is master, I guess.  Because of that, I take a lot of basics with me and this year I took way too much.  Clothes too!  Oh, well.

I arrived at Dad's on Friday afternoon and by evening I'd done all the clothes which might even get ironed before I leave, you never know!  I need something to put on my exercise chart for today and a good stand up ironing session would be just the ticket.

Anyway, it was a very nice holiday all in - just a shame I had a mood drop in the middle.  I swam lots, walked lots and, unfortunately, ate lots!  There was one really horrible, wet day but the rest of the time it was sunny intervals with the occasional shower.

As mentioned, I'll be off home after lunch and should be all settled back into my home again by this evening.  It'll be nice to be home, I have to admit; I've missed it.  East, west, home's best, as the saying goes.

Thursday 10 October 2019


Hi, everyone.  Just to say that I'm taking a few days off from blogging. 
Back soon - be good.  xx

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Wednesday - photo alert!

Good morning!  It was so lovely to see the sun yesterday pretty much all of the first part of the morning and through the afternoon although later on there was a heavy rain shower.  Today looks like being pretty lovely too so I'm in luck!

As planned, I skipped the swim and soon after ten I headed towards the car, got there and had to head back to the apartment because how can you drive a car without the key?  I've not been carrying keys about with me this week as they are not needed and weigh the bag down a bit! 
As expected, it was just a short drive along the road before I was drawing into the entrance to Brandon Country Park where I found the car park, paid my dues (£2 for all day) and took a look around.

There seemed no sign of any visitors' centre but there were maps and leaflets in the entrance to the cafe so I picked one up and found the walk I planned to take, well plotted in purple!  First of all, I took a look around the walled garden which must have been really pretty in summer and should be in spring too, but needs just a bit of autumnal cutting back ( like my garden really!)..

 Loved this signpost!
You can see how pretty it is.

Then I set out and it was a really pleasant walk, through different parts of Thetford Forest, just touching the heathland area at one point and then back into the forest before passing Brandon Park House and the mausoleum that the first owner had built for him and his wife.  That last is all locked up and the bumph says that it is now home to some pipistrelle bats.
The walk was very well signposted and, even without a map, there was little chance of getting lost.

 Just look at all the colours on this log.  I love tree bark and the more I look, the more detail I see.  Colour, shape, pattern.  Nature is a wonderful artist.
 Part of the walk; very easy terrain, damp in places but never muddy or soggy and well maintained.
 The heathlands area
 I have no idea what kind of fungus these are but how attractive is that frill, like a tutu almost!
 This is the mausoleum.  Posh bat hotel!  It's a very lovely little building.
The rectangular pond had bamboo and bulrushes all round the edge and the bamboo seemed to be being harvested.

Then I had lunch (very tasty!)

After lunch I decided to do the shortest walk, just one mile in length so I did that fairly briskly and then, as I wasn't ready to leave, did it again but slowly and looking down carefully to see all the little things that are so easy to miss.  Please excuse all the photos - I took loads as there was so much to see!

Back at the village, it suddenly clouded over and we had a very heavy shower; very attractive (when looking out from the warm and dry flat) but difficult to photograph! 

You can just see the rain!

I guess when I come back I will go to Brandon Park again and maybe do the longer walk, the five miler.  It should be fine seeing as I did more than that in total yesterday!

Today is just the usual.  Swim and walk.  I think I will do all round the perimeter of the village this afternoon, assuming good weather - and, probably, even if it does rain!
Have a good day too.  xx

Tuesday 8 October 2019


Good morning, everyone.

An 'interesting day', yesterday - for me, anyway!
As usual, the swim was lovely and I got my hour in easily.  I was sitting on one of the poolside chairs, reading the paper, when they started clearing the pool.  I never found out why; it wasn't an evacuation as all the other water based facilities were still being used - flumes, rapids, death defying thing which I have never tried (and won't be trying either) and spa pool - and I never found out what the pool problem was.  I didn't ask and, as I didn't have my hearing aids in, would not have heard the response anyway.

Then I came home and was just finishing my shower, dripping wet hair, etc, when the alarm in the apartment - in the whole building, in fact - went off.  Oh, darn it!!  So I did what you're not supposed to do and took time to wrap a towel and dressing gown around me, grab my hearing aids, purse, etc, and look out into the corridor.  There were some cleaners there who assured me that it was just a practice, nothing to worry about, but by that time I had stepped out and the door had closed with the security key I had forgotten to snatch up on the other side.

I hope what I muttered under my breath wasn't too audible before the funny side struck me and I started laughing.  They were able to let me in again, of course, so it wasn't a major problem, but the lesson was learnt:  NEVER leave the apartment without the security key (which is an elecronic wristband thing).

After lunch, I went back to the village centre to do a thorough trawl of the shops.  It was very enjoyable but there honestly was nothing I chose to spend my money on.  I tried a couple of costumes on but wasn't convinced.  I think I will wait until the new year's Cotton Traders costumes become available.  They are fairly sensibly priced, I know they fit and there's a reasonable number that don't have stupidly high legs, low tops, holes in inconvenient places, etc.

I looked at the Christmas decorations but there was nothing to fit my colour scheme, which is always red, green and gold, as they were mostly white and silvery.  I was tempted by some scented jar candles and might go back and get a few before I go though.

Then it was time to head back to the apartment for the evening.  In a holiday village crammed with people of all ages, shapes and types, it is odd how isolated one can feel.  I suppose it was a result of the two earlier experiences where, without my aids in, I was very shut off from what was going on around me and at something of a disadvantage.  I don't mind the feeling; I've become used to it over the years and only occasionally is it brought to my notice that what is really a relatively minor disability in the wider scheme of things can be a right nuisance!  How I would cope without my wonderful aids, I'd rather not imagine!  Lucky me.  Seriously, lucky me.

Anyway, I had that sense of isolation, of being very on my own, albeit in a very cosy, comfortable little box, for just a short time before it passed and things were back to normal again.  Very odd.

After all that, I had a fabulous night's sleep.

Today I can't make up my mind whether to have a swim first or set off for Brandon Country Park earlier.  I think I might do the latter and maybe give the swimming a miss today.  I am feeling the effects of yesterday's swim with slightly aching shoulders and upper arms so perhaps a day off is called for anyway.

There are several walk trails at the Park which is open from dawn to dusk (says the web site) with the visitors' centre and tearoom opening at ten.  It's just down the road from here.  Literally, you turn left onto the road, go down a couple of miles or so and there it is, on the left.  It really couldn't be easier.
The trail I am interested in is called the Forest and Heath trail.  The bumph on the site says:

"The Forest & Heath Trail follows a 3.5 mile circular route from the Visitor Centre through our arboretum and magnificent Beech Avenue, into the deeper Thetford Forest.
Distance: 3.5 miles
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
Terrain: A gentle walk on firm paths and soft forest tracks.
Description: Follow the Purple Trail around the Country Park and into the wilder Thetford Forest. From the Visitor Centre venture past the play areas and our famous Beech Avenue to the arboretum. You pass by our Orchard and into Thetford Forest with its acres of evergreen Scots Pine plantation, areas of Larch which drip needles onto the paths and open glades. Look out for buzzards soaring in the air above, sparrowhawks skimming through the trees, nuthatches and blue tits. Listen out for green woodpeckers or barking muntjac deer. At dusk hear our resident tawny owls. "

Sounds OK, doesn't it? Another trail description warns about possibly muddy areas but this doesn't so I am assuming, perhaps wrongly, that it won't be too gloopy.

So the ideas is to have a leisurely breakfast, set out in my own time, do the walk and then treat myself to lunch at the Copper Beech Tearoom which looks really good and does half portions and more healthy snacks (it says!).  After that, I will see how I feel.  I might just meander around for a while or I might come back again.

By the end of today, there will be just two days left!  Time flies.
Enjoy your day xx

Monday 7 October 2019


Good morning.  It wasn't such a great day for us humans yesterday but the ducks loved it!  I discovered that my super comfortable and supportive new running shoes are not water-tight.  I will have to spray them with something that might help.  However, my older Karrimor walking shoes ARE so that's good.

As I wanted to start swimming at ten, before the pool got too busy, I skipped getting the paper until afterwards and managed to get the very last Sunday Times they had.  Phew!

Over lunch, I caught up on Strictly.  Wow, some amazing dancing for any time, let alone just week three and the first tens awarded!  Where do they go from there, I wonder, in order to show the 'journey' the judges like to talk about? 
There were some extremely funny bits - am I the only one to think Anton actually looked a bit like Hank Marvin in his wig and glasses, especially the glasses?
I've never seen Craig look so disconcerted!

I thought it was clearing up over lunch time but no, down came the rain again in the afternoon so my pm walk was splashy in the extreme but still fun all the same.

And I had a very pleasant evening, very relaxing and nice and warm.  The apartments seem to have a very good heating system.  I managed to stay awake for Strictly and have slept very well indeed, especially considering dinner was rather large!

I took these photos from my second floor balcony window using the zoom.  The muntjacs are all over the place and I've seen more of them in the last few days than I did over the whole holiday last year

Today is probably more of the same.  I was thinking of popping out to Brandon Country Park and walking one of their trails but, checking the weather, it is likely to start raining again this afternoon whereas tomorrow is expected to be sunny so I think I will probably do that tomorrow instead.
I do fancy doing a bit of shopping.  Last year I got a lovely hooded long cardigan thingy but I've looked around the 'boutique' and there's nothing the catches my eye.  However, in the sports shop there are a couple of nice swimming costumes.  I can still wear my current cossies (obviously!) but really I could do with a size smaller and they're not so easy to find in the shops right now. 
Anyway, I might try them on and see what I think.

I'll have my early stroll to the shops and my swim but I think I'll take it easier in the afternoon and just stroll around the village centre and people watch as well as shopping (mostly of the window variety!).  If I go to Brandon Park tomorrow, it's likely to be energetic enough to make up and anyway, I'm on holiday!

Have a good day, everyone.  xx

Sunday 6 October 2019


Good morning.  Second day in and it's absolutely chucking it down (and they are expecting it to do so all day, according to the Beeb).  Never mind, I have stout shoes, raincoat and brolly so, while I may not walk for as long as yesterday, it isn't going to stop me getting out, no way!

Yesterday was wall to wall sunshine, although not as warm as it looked, so I made the most of it!  I've discovered that the path they are working on is one that had an extremely steep bit that was unsuitable for wheelchairs and for anyone with any sort of mobility issues and what they're doing is 'shallowing' it out which is good.  There's another way down to the beech and round to the shop, so that works for my early morning walk.

It was great to get back into that lovely pool!  While it is far from being a conventional up and down pool (thank goodness), it is perfectly possible to go up to the deep part and enjoy a fairly uninterrupted side to side swim while the action goes on in the shallower part, especially in the morning.  By midday it is quite a lot busier.

After a late lunch, I went for my afternoon walk in the sunshine.  It was gorgeous, the wildlife was out and about and I managed to catch a few photos although the rabbits were too bouncy and speedy for any sort of unblurred photo and the water birds seemed to be hiding!
Here's some of my snaps.

(I just love this fence)

I was so tired by the evening, I had a very early night and missed Strictly.  It didn't help that I hadn't slept well over Friday night - I never do first night  in a different bed - so the day had started way too early as well.  What with that and all the exercise, I just crashed!  I have my laptop so can watch it on playback!

So - I've slept like a log and today's going to be great, despite the rain.  I will do more or less the same thing.  I won't get my early walk for the paper as the shop opens at ten so I'll have a leisurely start to the day and pick up the paper on my way to the pool.  After the swim I will have lunch and then get out in that rain.  I'm sure dodging the raindrops burns calories!!

Have a great Sunday and stay warm and dry!  xx