Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Norwich today

We went to Norwich in the car, and left it in the Park & Ride, travelling into town on a new bendy bus!  The driver said it was his first day on the P&R but we really hoped it wasn't his first day driving a bendy bus.  The trip took about 20 minutes, and had a wee tour of the UEA campus as well on the way, which inspired the YFG afresh with her midwifery plans.

The inner castle keep - the balcony above is the original level of the main floor, and this floor is apparently a later Victorian addition.

This was our first view of the castle this lunchtime.  The sun was shining beautifully, and it was warm.  When we came out at half three, it was much fresher and the clouds had come over.  The castle is beautiful on the hill, and it looks quite imposing - it's been there over 900 years after all.

There were extensive natural history exhibits, and they were really good for showing us the local wildlife - although I am not sure how local this enormous white pelican was.  In another room were some lions that had been shot in Kenya in 1908 - they were in surprisingly good condition being over 100 years old!

We sat in the Rotunda and enjoyed a cup of tea, sitting right next to this e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s teapot!  This is believed to be the largest teapot in the world, and it is in Norwich.......there is rather a collection of teapots in the castle - over 3000 of them!

There is a very interesting - and locally relevant - section about the Iceni and Boudicca.  This picture shows how the Iceni used to worship - at water sources and rivers, and often by placing valuable items into the water: this chap seems to be putting a knife into some marshy, reedy ground.

We paid a little extra to go on a tour of the dungeons - what an experience that was!  Down a  long flight of steps, and into some very damp-smelling and dank rooms far underground, a guide showed us the cells and vaults with some gruesome exhibits.  There were some plaster casts of heads there, and they were made after the executions of murderers who were put to death at the castle or in the nearby market square.  There was also a gibbet - a metal cage in which the murderers were put in later years as a method of execution BUT the bodies had to be left in the cage until it disappeared: the bodies were denied a proper burial.   In the deepest of the dungeons we heard a story about a monk, cousin to Henry III's wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who killed his prior and was held there in the 1200s......if I have remembered it right!

There is an exhibition in the upper level of the Rotunda connected to the Royal Anglian regiment - it was heartbreaking to read the soldiers' letters home to their families and to read about those who didn't make it back.  There were pictures and memorabilia from the First World war in particular, and it was all brilliantly arranged.

We really enjoyed the day out, and would go back again for anther good look around - there was so much to see and do.  The exhibits in the keep were very interactive and there were lots of activities for children to do, so it would be great for all ages.


The 1st September is sort of another go at the beginning of the year again - the new academic year heralds a fresh start in a lot of ways.

We have heard yesterday that the EFG's accommodation issues are COMPLETELY resolved and she will be able to move directly into her permanent room on Saturday - hooray!!  No moving and mucking about on the 12th, worrying about being in two places at once as she had an induction booked for the same time as the moving van, and making new mates on the corridor twice!

Tomorrow the girls are off to London with my sister for a day sightseeing, and then the evening performance of War Horse, as I have already said [sorry - we are all quite excited about their day!] but it means that they are going to have a Very Long Day in the capital.  Hence we have scaled back our Norfolk plans and did not go to Norwich yesterday.  We're off today, we hope - and Blickling will have to wait until Easter, I think.

We're going to the Park and Ride, then we'll catch a bus into the city, where we are going to the Castle Museum.  W're doing this on a budget - by going in on the P&R, we get the museum tickets for just £3.80 each, rather than the full price.  Bargain.  We did think about going on the train, but with the tickets for that costing over £30 for the three of us, and losing out on the P&R discount, we thought that we were probably better off driving as it isn't really that far.  Hopefully we will have some decent weather today and can post some photos for you later.....

I plan to call in at an Aldi on the way home - the fridge is beginning to look a little bare, and that voucher is burning a hole in my purse!

Hope you all have a good day today xxx

Monday, 1 September 2014

Cooking for two

I knew that this year would be one of changes, and boy, we have had changes, and perhaps more to come.  Today, the 1st of September, is still just within the school holidays, but this week will take the EFG to Aberdeen, and the YFG back to school.  Gymnastics won't resume for another two weeks, so we have a little lee way with that, and piano lessons probably not until next week.

I have given the EFG a couple of "student" cookbooks to take on her journey, but it did occur to me that they might be very useful for the YFG and I too.  I will be cooking for two now, instead of four, and it feels strange already.  I have been preparing for it through the summer: whenever I bought meat, I packaged in one or two-person portions before I froze it, and the apple sauce has been bottled in smaller jars this year.

The YFG does love a bit of junk now and again [pizza and chips with her friend last night, for example] but she will eat most things [apart from courgettes and mushrooms, she would shout] so I am not thinking that there will be any major dramas.  I just have to think about things more carefully - freezing bread for her in smaller packages than whole loaves, for example, because a whole loaf would go off before she could manage to eat it.  We may not have roast dinners with joints of meat unless we have guests, perhaps, or we could cook a joint and freeze extra portions....we're going to have to have a go at this one and see what feels right.

I'm going to join in with Sue's storecupboard challenge once everyone is back in a routine - there are still some things to buy for the journey for the EFG and the YFG needs to think about what she is going to eat in her lunchbox this term - she may not fancy her last staple of cheese and tomato sandwiches this term.  We have a new budget to manage, and it will be interesting to see if we can go even lower!

Your comments and advice would be welcomed........

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Happy Sunday

Hoping for a lovely day...

Finished my tax return last night - weight off my mind!

Sun is shining.  Girls have taken some clutter off to a car boot sale with my cousin.  Family coming for lunch afterwards together.  Spending time with family and friends - last weekend with the EFG.  [Shhh!  We all piled into my bed last night at midnight!!]  I'm off to church to lead the last of four services based around Ruth - what a faithful, God-loving woman she was, and what a privilege it has been to share her story.  

Loving Ann Voskamp's post yesterday - head on over there and have your spirits raised today.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Vacuum cleaner laws

Goodness me, the emotions that can be raised by a new law about the manufacture and import of the humble vacuum cleaner!  They have come on somewhat since their early days......

(image from en.wikipedia.org)

I remember my Mum having an upright one for years which she often had trouble with, something to do with the belt slipping off the motor....and my granny always had one with a long hose attachment.  Mum went to work at Gonville & Caius college in Cambridge when I was older, and we met the first of a series of Henry hoovers that she used working in the accommodation houses there.  She loved her Henry so much that she eventually had one at home too.  
(image from amazon.co.uk)

We have had a blue upright Vax vacuum for several years, probably at least 5 years.  It has been replaced once, by a hose type like Henry, which then died and we had to go back to the Vax.  The Vax only does any good if it is emptied every time it is used, and I mean Every Time!

And so the time came yesterday.......in light of the new legislation, a rather nice vacuum cleaner was half price in that supermarket, and so I bought one.  It actually picks things up without having to go over the carpet half a dozen times - what bliss to be able to clean a room in 5 minutes instead of 15!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Cooking by gas

Round here, that phrase, "cooking by gas" means that we are getting on with things, busy!

Actually, what I mean by it now is that we are actually able to use the gas hob again - the plumber friend of the FH's came round this morning, found the leak and repaired it, and we've tried it out for lunch and supper.  The chap is also going to order a new bath panel for me, to replace the one I broke years ago, putting my knee through it whilst leaning over the bath, washing the girls' hair over the bath.

I popped along to the knitting club after he left, to show the ladies how the Alpinia is progressing, and to help with the tea and coffees, and then the hoovering afterwards.

I confess that I had a bit of a rest after lunch whilst the girls went off for a bike ride, but then I folded up all the washing I had hung out in the bracing breeze this morning and got dry, and I cut the front lawn.  Whilst I was washing up the supper dishes tonight, I made some flapjack to feed my recent addiction - got to stop that!!  The girls have helped me and at least half of it is gone now - less to worry about rationing tomorrow, surely!?!

I'm off to have a shower now and think about tomorrow.  Lots to be thankful for tonight including having both my girls here with me.  We are off to Norfolk on Monday and Tuesday, they are going to London on Wednesday and the YFG is back to school Thursday.........time is going to F-L-Y!

Just a basic kind of Thursday

Yesterday was not the most marvellous of days, since we didn't really do very much of note!

We did, however, manage to successfully fetch a new fluorescent tube for the kitchen light from the local DIY shop, which hasn't worked for more than a fortnight.  The YFG and I got it working when we got home, and hey presto, we had light!  Whilst we were in town, I took the old kitchen sink to the town recycling centre, making it within a minute of their closing time - we were very lucky.  The YFG had wanted to take an old chest of drawers from her room as well, but we couldn't fit it into the car, and I am not sure that I want to throw it out yet either - I have seen some lovely revamping techniques on Elaine's and Froog's blogs, so it may be that we have a go at some of them to revitalise the furniture.

I have also spent a little time on the internet, and rekindled my interest in YouGov - with all the stuff we have had going on here lately, I haven't had time to do any of their polls so there isn't a lot in the kitty there - only about £7, so I shall have to be a little more consistent in trying to do them, towards earning the next £50 payout.

All my lovely jars of apples have been safely stored away in the cupboards, on the shelf next to the marmalade which I had made for the FH shortly before he died: he liked that when he was having toast for breakfast, but since he had been having stewed fruit most mornings, I still have quite a stash of marmalade to get through.  Perhaps I shall have to bless others with some of that?!

Avoiding spending is still high on my schedule although some companies seem intent on parting me from my cash - the House of Bath sent a catalogue yesterday morning.......we are not your typical HoB customers, I believe, from the range of items within their pages, but we have bought a couple of mobility things from their website in the past for the FH, which is how they have all our details.  It would be best if they forgot our details now, as I am not about to be swayed by pages and pages of bedding, kitchen items and clothing.

Today is Friday, as you know, and this time next week, the YFG and I will be waving Cheerio to the EFG as she and my sister start to make their way northwards.  Thanks to SusanM in the comments yesterday for sharing that the Daily Record was running a story about the accommodation debacle at Aberdeen; we are just so grateful that the EFG has a room for the week until the 12th and then she will have a permanent place for the rest of the year.  The article is slightly worrying about the cost of accommodation in the years ahead, when she has to go out and live in a flat - it sounds expensive!  Hopefully, the EFG will remember some of our frugal ways and be able to manage.

[I have managed to weave 9 words into that post which are apparently disappearing from common English usage......any guesses as to which ones they are?]