Tuesday, 29 December 2009

More sadness today

I went outside this morning to let the chickens out and to feed them - I made them some hot mash, let them out and they were all in seventh heaven, strutting around the garden, moving from one of the feeders to the others and looking to see which had more food! Then I came into the house to get a bowl to put the rabbit food in, fetched that and went to feed the rabbits, and there was Coco, dead on the gravel drive. She had been eating along with the others, typically scurrying around as she did - she hated to not be in the thick of the action, she was last to bed every night and the first out the of the door in the morning. When I picked her up, she had food in her crop and was obviously still warm, but very dead. It is a mystery to me how she died, in the four or five minutes that my back was turned. I cried.

Although the picture you will find at the link shows her as a small chick, she had grown into a beautiful Gold-laced Orpington. Her plumage was striking and she was a very inquisitive hen. We'll miss her - she used to make such a lot of noise that we nicknamed her "Cheepy" as she was always cheeping for food when she was little.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Departures today

The first departure happened sometime overnight and was only discovered first thing this moring: one of the Buff Orpingtons died in the night. She was found, very cold and looking rather pecked, in the house this morning. Another Buff was also in a miserable state but alive. It is looking rather like they were being bullied, so we have removed the other one from the run. She spent the day in the greenhouse in the sun, and then tonight I have put her in a small pen in the workshop under a heat lamp to keep her warm. She ate voraciously when we offered her corn and warm mash today, so I think that part of the bullying had involved keeping them out of the food. I hope she makes it through the night, and we'll have to see what we think over the next couple of days as to whether we re-introduce her to the flock.

The second departure wasn't until 4pm when Uncle J left for home, taking his Christmas cake along with him. He had plans to go bellringing tonight and then has work tomorrow so he had to go. We were sorry as he is good fun to have around, but he will be back on New Year's Day.

The YFG and I popped into town today to Sainsbury's for clementines, carrots, and greens. That was what was on the list, but we also got a lovely joint of beef for NY and a new electric kettle, so we spent a little more than we bargained for, but it was OK. We were only gone just an hour, so that was a rather rapid shopping trip, but it just proves that it can be done when we are focussed! The town was quiet at 3.30pm with the shoppers wending their way home, but the lady on the till said that it had been busy at times.

The washing machine is on the go and I have kept the fire stoked up to help to get it dry overnight. The EFG is still unwell, so she had a shower and put on (my) new PJs today, and I changed her bed again to freshen it for her. She has been downstairs for some time today but not too long. The cough goes on. She woke at 7.30 this morning and I went in to sort out her pillows and duvet for her, and re-administer the cough meds, and then we all went back to sleep until 9am. She has not had many decent nights' sleep this holiday, so I will not be surprised if she sleeps for a day or two when this is over.

Tomorrow - that'll be Tuesday - I lose track of time so easily when we have these high days and holidays - not sure what we'll get up to but we haven't had time to do the Christmas puzzle yet, so that will be on the agenda this week.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The snow has gone at last

Unfortunately, the thaw means that the mud is back...never mind - more snow is forecast for later in the week, although I do hope that we don't get as much as we have had recently. Enough is enough!

Christmas Day was spent very quietly here, just the four of us. We all went to church first thing, and it was a lovely service, led by a husband and wife team, and there was a splendid feast on which to munch if we got peckish during the service! Afterwards, we came home and the girls enjoyed looking at their gifts and sifting through the layers of paper - they were both pleased with their things, and the FH and I were lucky enough to receive some beautiful things too - I got some new PJs, earrings, chocolates, a poetry-set-to-music CD, and some novels. The FH also got chocolate (Toblerone), two new fleece sweaters, some socks, lots of art equipment for his art class, and a military band CD from his cousin.

We popped the turkey into the oven and relaxed whilst it cooked, then enjoyed it with all the trimmings at about 2pm. The FH was well and truly stuffed by then and passed on the pudding, and actually didn't eat anything else all day. The rest of us just had a sandwich during the evening as we were all pretty full too.

The EFG has been suffering terribly with a cough, and although she managed to get through the big day, she spent most of Boxing Day in bed, just getting up and having a bath at about 4pm when the FH's cousin, cousin's wife and son came to tea. She came downstairs after her bath and sat on the sofa but apart from coughing, she hardly made a murmur all day, and ate little.

The YFG has spent some hours playing with the little boy (5) next door, and his new Wii. He needed a friend to play on it with him as Mum and Grandma were getting a bit worn out! She has worn herself out cycling, Mario Karting and playing tennis with him too. She has enjoyed it tremendously, and the FH was there today and came home saying, "We've got to get one of those!" so the YFG was overjoyed! She spent quite some time on the internet this afternoon researching all the best prices for me, and I have ordered it with all the extras. Luckily, I had about £90 in Tesco clubcard vouchers, so they have been spent on it. The website promises that it will be delivered Wednesday, and that is also when I have an Asda delivery due so we will definitely be staying home that day.

Today we have been back to church for the usual Sunday service, which I led. The main theme was Holy habits, which was a very thought-provoking idea, and connected well with the time of year and making resolutions to try to keep for 2010. My uncle joined me and the YFG for church, and the FH stayed at home to look after the EFG. We had a cold lunch of salmon sandwiches and freshly made cheese scones, and then relaxed for the afternoon before I cooked a chicken dinner for 7pm. The EFG has spend most of the day in bed in her new PJs or on the sofa. Uncle J is staying for the night, but he will have to go home tomorrow as he has to go to work on Tuesday - his last three days of work as he will retire completely on Thursday. He only works three days a week part-time, but at 70, the time has come to rush around less and get a few lie-ins! With bell-ringing, gardening and looking after the house, he has plenty to do without going to work and he feels that he should be relaxing a little more at his age. I totally agree.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The snow is thawing, the turkey is in the fridge, the presents are under the tree, and we are all just about ready to get to bed and sleep the night away until the most exciting morning of the year!

We have had a lovely evening with our neighbours, and I have made chocolate muffins to take to church in the morning - not very Christmassy but far quicker to make than mince pies! I'll make some of those another day....

Today the YFG has enjoyed a Christmas get-together over lunchtime at her friend S's house in the town, so the EFG and I did some last minute errands in the town - some of the older neighbours needed sacks of corn for their chickens/ducks, so we picked those up from the feed shop, there was money to bank and a few items needed from the grocery department too. I'm through with shopping for 2009, I truly hope! I have booked a delivery for next Wednesday, but I may cancel it as I think we have enough food in stock BUT I might let it come and then I can have January as a store-cupboard month like I did this year - saved loads of money! Last January was when I saved the bulk of the money we needed to install the wood-burner, and now we are Really reaping the benefits of that effort - the feeling of walking into the sitting room when it is lovely, warm and cosy is beyond compare!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Keeping warm

I think that we will be staying at home today and keeping warm as more snow has indeed fallen overnight. The car we use to tow the trailer doesn't seem to be in very good form this morning, either, so the FH has had to use the other one to pootle off down to the doctor's - he has been coughing up phlegm all night, which means antibiotics are on the menu for him for a few days.

Still, there is plenty to do here, so staying in is no problem!

Monday, 21 December 2009

More snow, some spending too!

I've made up for all the No Spend Days in one fell swoop today!

The snow is still lying in the streets, and this road where we live is treacherous as the gritting lorries don't come down here, but the main roads are OK. Tonight, more snow has fallen for about 2 hours, and there is more forecast overnight - I'm kind of dreading waking up in the morning to yet more snow - this seems to be hanging around just a bit too long now; snow is one of those things which is great when it first happens as it is a novelty, but now that it has been here five days, the novelty has worn off and it is becoming just plain bothersome.

I went to the Post office in the village this morning to send a couple of parcels, and unwittingly locked the FH out! He was on his way home from the art club just as I was going out, and I presumed that he had taken the full bunch of keys: he hadn't! Just taking the car key is not terribly helpful, but he went next door to the neighbour, who kept him sustained with tea and mince pies until I returned about 20 minutes later. We joined them for tea and then came home for lunch.

After lunch, we all went to town. There was a Long List for Tesco and there were things needed from the town as well, so the FH and YFG hit Tesco and the EFG and I went to town. We also picked up a floor lamp from Focus which we had ordered last week, but which is going to have to go back as it just refuses to go together - some of the screws don't fit and the FH got very frustrated trying to put it together this evening. And a bulb was broken.

We are supposed to be going to Peterborough to take a load of books back to the unit, but although they are all loaded into the trailer, it will not be safe if the weather continues in this vein as there will just be too much weight on the brakes to be safe. The plan was to drop the books off and then go to my uncle's house to pick up a trailer load of logs but that may have to wait.

I emailed this fantastic calendar to my local printer and he did some copies nicely bound for me to give to a couple of my friends as a little Christmas gift. It is from www.moneysavingexpert.com and is really very helpful with no end of hints for saving cash, arranged for the appropriate months in which to do them. I hope the friends who I have decided to give them to like the ideas! Have a look and maybe you'd like to print one off for yourself. I'm keeping one for me, and I'm going to put all my important financial dates on it like the house insurance and car tax renewal dates, as well as the MOT dates - I'm always paranoid about forgetting them!

Stay safe in this challenging weather - and keep warm!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Strictly Sensational

Chris Hollins has just won Strictly Come Dancing!! We only began to think he could win tonight with the fantastic dances that he and Ola have been doing. He deserves the win as his character has been shining through and he and Ola are just so entertaining, although I do acknowledge that Ricky was probably the best dancer.

The snow is still here, but we are spending our time cosied up around the fire. The YFG is getting over her stomach bug but the EFG seems to be coming down with a cold as she is really suffering tonight with a sore throat and bunged up nose giving her a headache. I think that perhaps we may not all make it to church tomorrow morning.

The cat spent another night in the utility room last night, but if she tried opening the door again, she would have been thwarted by the sack of potatoes I put up against it! She has been in since about 6pm and is curled up tight on one of the FH's fleecy sweaters (it's an old, manky one!) on a chair.

The tree is up, at last, now that the curtains are up again in the lounge after the decorating. We took all of half an hour to get it all up - I just need to buy some tinsel when we go out again. I have started a shopping list as I reckon that the next time we do go to town will be the last time this year so I want to get all the bits and bobs we are running out of, as well as the vital supplies for Christmas like cranberry sauce! I must go to the Post Office on Monday with some parcels even if we don't go to town.

Friday, 18 December 2009

No Spend Days are here again!

Yes, there are several inches of snow on the ground, so I am staying home and not spending!! Therefore snow is good for the bank balance!!

The YFG has been unwell since Wednesday evening, so I couldn't go anywhere although I did send the FH on a mission to Focus and then Tesco. We have had the sitting room painted and the FH unfortunately broke some of the curtain rail fixings when he took them down, so I wanted him to get replacements so that I could get the curtains back up again, but no joy - they don't keep that make. Also made the mistake of asking him to nip in to Tesco as it is right next door to get some bread and clementines. £35 later, he came home with bread, meat, clementines, a cheesy french stick, milk, three boxes of cereal (THREE!!) etc....I should have known better.

I'll be back later to update the week's happenings, but I have to go back outside. I fed the chickens and came in to thaw out, but now that I am, I have to go and thaw their water out so they can wash their breakfast down. Some of the chickens are experiencing snow for the first time and they are hilarious - prancing round and pecking at it. We let the cat stay in the utility room last night for the first time, but she was investigating the rest of the house at 3am and meowing rather loudly so I let her out. She must be one of those cats which can open doors as the utility room door was firmly closed last thing.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Shop till you drop!

Well, my little expedition to Lidl turned into a major shopping trip. I started in Lidl and did find some lovely art sets for the FH, and some for the girls too. Then I went into the town and hit Superdrug for little girly bits and pieces for their stockings, as well as some regular shopping.

I also had a look in the "pound" shop for some battery-operated tree lights for the Christmas tree at church - the only place we can put the tree is not convenient for plugging lights in properly, but a tree without lights looks a little bare, so I was pleased to find a small set for £4.99 which I hope will do the job. They also had masking tape which I will need when we do the decorating.

I had a quick look in Mackays (now called M&Co) and got something for the EFG. I nipped into Sainsbury's and then went back out of town to Focus for paint charts, and to Tesco for the mens' socks I needed. Needless to say, I picked up a few groceries in Tesco as well!

When I got home, the whole lot had to be stashed away! Hiding stuff from the girls is so hard at this time of year, but actually, sometimes hiding items in plain sight works well - they just don't see things right under their noses...

I brought home the YFG for her lunch today as she has had a traumatic couple of days at school what with one thing and another; she didn't really want to go back at 1pm. She ate very little of her packed lunch yesterday so I was pleased to see her wolf down a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich. We have paid for her to have a school dinner tomorrow, so hopefully a change of direction will help - and perhaps I need to up the ante and give her more interesting lunches.

Tonight the FH has gone out to a village history society meeting - a speaker is coming to talk about Oliver Cromwell as this is definitely Cromwell Country around this area! He is going to discuss the opinions people hold on Cromwell as to whether he was a villain or a hero......the jusy is still out on that as far as I am concerned as I really don't know enough about him to make a decision. My first knowledge of him came in a book my grandmother loved called "The Children of the New Forest" about a family during the Civil War who took to the forest to live in hiding. I must have a look and see if it is still available these days as it was a good read.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

One day at a time

we are making it through the week!

The Lakeland parcel has arrived, my hair has been coloured (not the colour the packet indicated that it would end up, but it has been coloured nevertheless - one daughter likes it, the other is not so keen!) and another load of pallets is now strewn about the garden. The hairdresser, my friend B, brought her Christmas cake, the first one she has ever made, and I showed her how to marzipan it, but we ran out of time for me to do mine, so I will have to get mine done asap as she is coming back early next week to do the icing. She is thrilled with it, so I just hope it tastes as good as it looks!!

B was also an angel and helped my neighbour M whose hair had been butchered at a local salon on Saturday morning. She was almost in tears over in on Saturday afternoon but B has sorted it out rather well and M is well pleased with the result; she finds hairdressers traumatic at the best of times, so to have it all go wrong like that was even worse - and to be charged £18 for the privilege was rubbing salt into the wound.

Plans are underway for the party on Sunday and it looks to be coming together nicely. I haven't offered to bake anything this time, so that is one less thing to do. The HC's wife is doing some of the food shopping tomorrow and then I will get the bread for the sandwiches on Saturday afternoon, so it is fresher. We are looking at about 80 children at the party, so I think it will be fun!!

Tomorrow the FH is out doing deliveries for me, and I shall be doing some housework, and ironing. I may watch a DVD whilst doing the ironing, and there may even be a spot of knitting - I am feeling much calmer than I was at the start of the week, when I just felt like there was too much to cope with. I may have a quick trip to Lidl tomorrow as well, if I can fit it in, as their promotional items for sale this week are art/craft based things, and I want to get a couple of things for the FH's stocking to restock (pardon) his art supplies as he is enjoying his art classes so much.

Monday, 7 December 2009

"What am I doing?" she wails!

I feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment!

We have had a good weekend, and all the events went to plan - the coffee morning on Friday raised £220, then the choir came on Saturday evening and sang most beautifully, adding another £100 to the fundraising total, and Sunday.....well, Sunday happened....church, lunch, Dad coming over and then me popping round to D's house to lend her the sewing machine, but ending up playing charades with the family. I managed to watch the beginning of Hugh F-W's Christmas programme, but fell asleep sometime after he made the venison joints, and never saw the final feast, unfortunately!

I have agreed to do too much, as usual; there's the Christmas Party at gymnastics - next Sunday evening, the HC is going to redecorate the lounge before Christmas for me, I have almost all the Christmas presents to choose, buy and wrap, I have to prepare a Service for church for the 27th, hymns to remember how to play so need to practise, clean the house as it is a tip and I am harbouring FAR too many spiders - webs aplenty here! Meal planning - what's that? Ironing - yes, there's that to do, the washing machine is spinning so that needs rebooting asap, the chickens - oh, the poor chickens - too much mud - sorry, I am becoming a bit Virginia Woolf-ish in this rambling! My friend B's mum came to the coffee morning on Friday to help B with her stall, and then shocked everyone by having a mini-stroke that night and being hospitalised till yesterday afternoon. Poor B hasn't had much sleep, but she is coming round on Wednesday morning to marzipan our Christmas cakes (must get some apricot jam!) and do my hair for me. She may need chocolate brownies to keep her going.... And to cap all my hassles, Lakeland has lost the parcel they were sending me! They promised to re-dispatch so it will be delivered tomorrow but this second parcel hasn't got the cake stand in that I ordered as they are now out of stock, but if the first parcel should happen to turn up at any point, I am to open it and remove the cake stand from that one, and then send the rest back......

My week is looking like this -
Monday 1.30 - Governor visit to school/FH to art group
Tuesday - stay in for parcel, FH and friend to fetch more pallets, then 3pm YFG and I to gym
Wednesday - hair/marzipan/chatting with B in the morning; FH out to lunch
Thursday - FH out with deliveries/forecast to be dry day so chickens need attention
Friday - gym at 3pm with YFG
Saturday - gym from 9.30 to 1pm; promised girls trip to Ely to shops, then baking for party
Sunday - church at 9.30 then REST I hope until 4pm setting up for party, 6pm - 9pm party.

Could we just stop the world for a couple of days so that I could catch up with everyone else??

Thursday, 3 December 2009

I can't believe it - I'm fashionable!

The EFG took (with my permission) a long scarf, a bit like a pashmina, from my wardrobe earlier in the year, and likes to wear it around her neck all the time. She has the deep lilac one, and there is also a navy one in there somewhere, which she now has her eye on! Anyway, the point being that she wears it to school now that the weather has turned so cold, and it seems that she is following the latest trend - these scarves are worn by all the "in" crowd. One of them asked her today where she got hers from, so she answered, "Mum's wardrobe," to which the girl said, "Ooh, is that in Cambridge?" thinking it was a shop. The EFG had to explain that no, it was the big cupboard in the corner of Mum's bedroom!?! The EFG added as she recounted this to me tonight that the girl IS blonde...(we're not - and no disrespect intended to bright blondes - it was just the way she said it!)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas with NORAD

I have added a link to the NORAD site at the bottom of the blog roll on the left of the page - we love to watch this on Christmas Eve to see where Santa is delivering all those parcels; he certainly moves fast! At the moment, the site is showing a very handy countdown to Christmas, although I do believe that it is probably set to US time, rather than GMT, so it is not even as long as that to Christmas.....

Again, I have been absent and I can only apologise - I just need about 28 hours in a day at the moment. This wood burner in the lounge is fabulous, but it means hoovering in there every day instead of a couple of times a week, and then there's the heap of logs to keep replenished. I do love it, though, and the warmth which it kicks out into the room is just toasty!

Sunday afternoon was the village's Christmas bazaar event - lots of stalls, school choir, village band, Father Christmas, refreshments (where you would have found me, making tea for everyone!) and it was a great afternoon. It seemed like the whole village turned out for it, so I am sure they must have made pots of money for the cause - we took £100 on the refreshments for them, so it was good.

This Friday we have a coffee morning at church, and we are having a few stalls there too, as well as the usual raffle and cakes......and the FH is also busy helping me in the book business this week. This morning, we have had to do some chicken-work in the garden. The mud in the chicken runs is several inches deep, foul-smelling and trecherous to walk on, and the poor chooks hate having wet feet. There is no way of draining it at all, so we have had to come up with a plan B: we have used some of the pallets he fetched last week to make a shelter along one side of the run, with floors, so that there is somewhere for the chickens to be during the day - it is covered, there is a perch for them to roost, and lots of straw for them to peck around in. We both got absolutely filthy making it, but I am pleased that we have made something like a small improvement for them - let's hope the chooks like it.

The FH put the new chicken house together yesterday - it went together quite well although there were a couple of little snags with the woodwork. They were nothing that he couldn't fix, but I wouldn't have had a clue on my own. Anyway, it is smart, and we are pleased with it overall, so I think that the Partridge/Black/Gold-laced Orpington crew might find themselves rehomed into it shortly as they are getting a bit big for their current accommodation.

Now, what to have for supper tonight? I should have made a longer plan, but I didn't. Add that to the "to-do" list!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Happy anniversary

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary! We've come a long way in those years, been through a lot and had a lot of ups and downs with health issues and financial struggles, but we still love one another.

This morning I had to go to school to meet with the Chair of the Governors, which took most of the morning up. By the time I got home, there was just time to have a cup of tea and then I wanted to make a start on all the baking. I got 5 dozen mince pies made, although I probably still need to make another 10 dozen, but I'll do some more tomorrow. After picking the YFG up from school at 3pm, we went off to gym - we got home at 9pm to a lovely roast lamb dinner. It was gorgeous!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thanks be to whoever invented online shopping!

My new chicken house - well, what it will look like when we have put it together!

I have just spent an hour and a lot of money, and done some serious shopping online, all from the comfort of my chair here, with the aid of the poor old debit card.

Lakeland, Tesco, the Cartridge People, Amazon, the Book People and something called Surfdome have all benefitted from my custom this evening, and it is such a relief to be able to say that I have done some Christmas shopping at last! I did get the EFG's CD that she had on her list in Tesco this afternoon, and picked up 200 bonus clubcard points in to the bargain, but apart from that, the cupboard was looking pretty bare. The poor postie will have a heavy bag for a couple of days, though!!

And eBay - I bought the new chicken house on Monday night whilst the FH had taken the EFG to band. I only went onto the site to see if people were still selling hatching eggs as I am hoping to get the incubators cranked up in February to get some earlier hatchings in 2010. There are a few eggs for sale now, but I was just browsing and then I saw this gorgeous range of chicken houses being auctioned and only making silly money for what they were. So I got one (that one, up there!) for just £62 plus the p&p - and it arrived this morning. Now we just have to put it together! It was necessary as the floor has all but fallen out of the oldest house we have and the FH's health has hampered him from doing the necessary repairs. That old house has been in use for over 8 years, and could do with a revamp anyway, so we'll probably put it aside for 6 months and let it dry out, then recoat it with Cuprinol, put in a new floor and then it'll be ready as a house for new chicks in the spring.

Kinder neighbours

One of our neighbours came striding towards the house this morning, definitely a woman on a mission! I was apprehensive as she came to the door, but she had a broad smile on her face, so I was able to relax and welcome her in.

She had come to offer us free firewood - we just have to fetch it from the town. Her daughter works for a company which has daily deliveries on pallets, and the pallets are stacking up in the yard so she needed to get rid of them.

The FH went over there this afternoon with the lady, met her daughter and found out how it all works with regards getting access to the pallets, and brought a trailer load home. She'd like him to fetch several loads to make a dent in the heap, and then fetch some each week! Fires will have to burn here night and day to keep up with that kind of supply, so we have a friend who also has a fire and will be speaking to him about helping us out...

Those are the kinds of friends and neighbours who really bless us.

November days

November is always a very full month - so much to get done in the preparations for Christmas as well as the autumn clearing up in the garden. So I am sorry that I am not here much this month. I'll get back more regularly soon!

Last Saturday we had a fantastic evening at church - we were invited to a 60th birthday "do" and it was wonderful. Instead of a party, it was a band concert - the birthday boy wanted to raise some money for the chapel so he put together his old band and had a blast! There was a chap on saxophone (he had three different sized ones), a drummer who also sang, a guitarist who sang, and the organiser who sang and played keyboard. There was also Ernie - who just sang, but boy, how he sang! They did a mixture of music - country songs like "Crystal Chandeliers", ballads like "If tomorrow never comes" and inspirational music such as "You raise me up" and then there were some fab sing-a-long medleys. They played for two hours - and we could have listened longer! There was also a raffle, and then refreshments and cake. We were delighted to hear the next morning that the evening had raised £600 for the chapel funds - an amazing blessing!

The wet weather has caused us some inconveniences here - my poor chooks are a bit muddy, and I am having to dry the washing round the fire, but it is nothing to the devastation in the Lake District which the people of Workington and Cockermouth have suffered so our thoughts are with them. I have never suffered that kind of flooding so I have no idea how they are coping with it all, but I know I never want to live in a place where that might happen. We are incredibly lucky that the Fens are so well drained! Flood management is a big thing here and there are areas like Welney Washes which do flood each year in the winter, but the water is contained within huge banks.

The woodburner is in full service now - a roofer came and put the extra section on the top of it, and braced it very firmly to the roof, so we are enjoying cosy evenings in the lounge with it on. It gives out a good heat and gets the washing dry, although I am careful to open a window a crack to let the moist air out as I don't want mouldy spots anywhere! Two neighbours on the estate have also said that they want to get one as well so we have obviously started a trend, although our immediate neighbour is in opposition to the trend and started ranting on about it to my friend D in the doctor's last week and poor D had to tell the woman to be quiet!

I missed the occasion on Sunday which was "Stir Up Sunday" when I should have made the Christmas pudding. I'll be honest - I don't usually actually make one!! My sister has been known to make some and let our uncle boil them up for the required six or so hours in the old fashioned copper which he still has, but I can't be doing with that much steam in my kitchen! I buy a small one from a supermarket for myself which will be wheat and dairy free and then I will also get a larger one for the family. I know that the YFG won't touch it and the EFG only eats it as a vehicle for the brandy butter - she isn't interested in it with custard.

We are coming up to a week of baking - it is the village Christmas Bazaar on Sunday when I am helping my friend M with the refreshments there and have been asked to make mince pies, but I will also be making things for the church's cake stall. We are also having a Coffee morning at church the following Friday and then on Saturday, another chapel are lending us their ladies' choir for a concert of Christmas music for the evening. More mince pies/cakes/biccies required for those - no wonder I am heading out to the shops this afternoon to stock up on the flour, oats, mincemeat, margerine, etc..

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Governor politics

I'm going to be honest and say that there is governor on our board whom I really do not like, and he has had three digs at me tonight, and I am peeved. There, I've said it, out in the open.

He's probably not chuffed that I was nominated vice chair this year and he didn't get the job, but he took it off me the year before and I didn't mind, so what's he got to worry about?! He rarely volunteers for any of the jobs, but made these cracks tonight about me volunteering for everything. What is the point of being a governor if you are just going to sit on your backside and watch everyone else do the work? I've just been co-opted back on for another four years, so he's going to have to put up with me a while longer!

Apart from all that, my dear neighbour's father is stranded in Cyprus, with possible lung cancer and needs to come back to the UK for treatment as the base there can't give it, but we are struggling to get him back here as the medivac plane can't bring him - he did serve in the RAF years ago but is now 88 and apparently not eligible for transport. We don't know right now whether a civilian flight would accept him, given his fragile state of health, and so both M and her mum are stressed and worried and her poor dad was just in floods on the phone this afternoon. It is just possible that they would allow him on the civilian flight if he had a nurse with him, and the EFG's godmother is a nurse, and is willing, but we aren't sure if her qualifications are suitable for the job, so there are things to find out. They were here for Christmas last year and went back for the summer in March, and were due to come home to M for Christmas again this year, flights are booked and all, but now his health is deteriorating badly. If you are inclined, please say a prayer for them.

Monday, 16 November 2009

MIA - What a week!

Well, I was truly "in action" as it was a really busy week with something happening out of the ordinary every day.....where to begin?

Monday was interesting because a fellow Governor and I had to go to the school at 3.15 pm to do a Building inspection - sort of health and safety - and we had never done one before so it was steep learning curve. The Head and the Caretaker knew what they were looking for, and we spent nearly two hours poking round all the classrooms, investigating stuff. It was interesting, and we had a long list of things by the time 5pm rolled around - nothing too major and all easily actionable.
After that, I came home for a quick cuppa and then took the FH and EFG to band practice - one to participate, one to listen, and the YFG and I went to the gym to set out the apparatus with the HC for about an hour. We got that sorted out, fetched the band brigade and headed home for supper.

Tuesday morning I had an earlier-than-usual start as I was at the gym at 8.45am to help with some classes for the kids at the school as a favour to the head of PE there. The kids were having an immersion day (whatever one of those is) and a lot of them were doing various sports for the morning. They were Y8 and 9 and so were consequently quite large! It was amusing but also irritating that some of the girls weren't in the mood to even have a go at a lot of it, in case it mucked their hair up - seriously! One of the teachers confided that the age they are at is a bad one for trying new things as they are very self-conscious and don't like to be the centre of attention when they are doing PE. If that is the case, I don't understand why the teachers asked us to do gym with them all morning.......we weren't impressed with their effort or attitude so I will be a bit reluctant to do it again.

I was able to pick a friend's little boy up from school for her at 3pm as she had to be elsewhere, and then went back at about 3.45pm for the YFG; her Performing Arts class had been cancelled as the teacher hadn't turned up (an external company runs this course) so we were called to pick up our kids. The YFG and I trundled off to gym at 4.30pm for the 5pm class and were there until 8pm.

Wednesday was a pretty run-of-the-mill day until 3pm when the YFG was involved in a football match for the school in an inter-village tournament in another village nearby. That was a new experience for both of us! They won one, lost one and drew two, so all in all they came third of five teams; holding their own and doing pretty well, I thought. All the dads and coaches/PE teachers/Headmasters shouting on the touchline was a pretty raucous noise and not one I was prepared for - this was a "B" team event, and they were Y5/6 kids, not Aston Villa vs Chelsea!

Thursday morning saw me clambering round the window sills at the church, helping with a pre-Christmas spring-clean! I was cleaning the windows, and then I brushed the outside of the windows as there was rather a colony of spiders on the outside of each one. The sun shone in a little brighter when I had finished. I then did some hoovering and we were all done by lunchtime.

In the afternoon, I loaded up the car to take books to sell at a shopping evening for the NSPCC not too far away, but over the county line into Norfolk. There were people of a rather more affluent nature there, but they still didn't spend terribly well, unfortunately. It was a well-attended evening, and I did a little shopping myself. The downside was the torrential rain when we had to clear up - I had the back door of the Volvo estate open so I could load up all the boxes and then when I went to put it down, an absolute torrent of water came off it and fell all down my legs. Wearing sodden jeans was no fun and so I stopped the car in the dark half a mile further on from the hall and took them off!

Friday morning the whole family was up before daybreak so that we could all be ready to leave the house shortly after 7.15am as the FH and I were at a big show for the day and the girls went to our lovely neighbour until it was time to go to school. The show went well, although we were on our feet all day - but it was good fun and we do enjoy being together at things like this. On the way home, the FH dropped me off at the gym and I taught two classes; the YFG had got there with a friend, and then the HC brought us home at 8.40pm. I had a really good evening at gym as the first class was great and then I coached the boys' class with a volunteer helper whilst the HC took the YFG and her friend S for an extra hour's coaching, just the two of them working hard together. I enjoyed leading the class for a change, and it was a pleasure!

Saturday I grabbed a lie-in until 8am so I didn't get to gym until about 10.15 with the YFG for the second class. We have been working with some of the older girls to put on a little display at Christmas so we spent some time on that, which is a challenge, trying to get all the girls to co-ordinate their arms and legs to go in the same direction at the same time AND stay in time with the music. We have a few more weeks to practise, thank goodness.

We went shopping - food from Sainsbury's and hamster things (bedding and stuff for the bottom of the cage) from the pet shop, where the YFG also bought her two hamsters a new cage as the tank they had been in was not working out for them - too much condensation! She bought quite a posh one with lots of accessories included, so they got moved to their new home once we got back. They spent a lot of time investigating everything, and seem to have settled in really well.
After the shopping we then came home to get the school uniforms washed and all the shopping put away. Saturday evening was largely spent conked out, watching Strictly and just getting up at intervals to re-boot the washing machine! An early night was in order as we were all at the show again on Sunday.

The girls like to come to some of the shows with us for the shopping opportunities that they provide. They were given a £5 each and told not to ask more more - they stretched those fivers to within an inch, both coming back with a good haul of goodies for their money, including legwarmers (They do say fashion comes in cycles - I remember having a royal blue pair in the 80s!), cosmetics, sweets, and bits of stationery. The YFG was looking forward to having a go on the ice rink, but we watched some others on it and decided not to bother as it was just plastic tiles on the floor and people were not able to skate properly, so we thought it wasn't worth the £2 they were charging.

There was an interesting phone call from the EFG at one point in the afternoon; we had taken our little trailer as we had books to return to the boss, and the girls used it as their retreat, somewhere to go and play on their DSs and to picnic. It has a roller-shutter door on the back, and they get in and pull it down most of the way for warmth and privacy. The EFG was out there alone and some helpful soul pulled the shutter right down and put the clasp in so she was trapped. The person obviously (we hope!!) didn't realise that she was in there, so she called me on her mobile to have me send the YFG to let her out. We all had a good laugh over that, her included!

Last night, we were home by 6.30pm so that the girls could watch the Dr Who special whilst I fixed a quick bangers and mash tea - and it was so quick I used Smash!! My dad rang to say that they had had news of a death - the man that dad worked for for years and years, and who is my sister's godfather died yesterday morning. He was just six months younger than dad but his health had been failing in recent weeks. It was the end of an era as he had been a prominent coaching company owner in the area for about 25 years, although the company had been bought up in the 80s by a bigger company. In coaching history, he's there in the books! (By coaching here, I mean the bus industry, not sports coaching).

I ironed the school uniforms and the gang were all in bed by about 9.30pm although I watched a film until about 11pm. Today I feel quite worn out, and have just finished off the ironing and done another load of washing but nothing too energetic at all!

The FH has also had the swine flu jab at some point this week, but I can't remember which day - may have been Thursday evening. The Jane Austen tapes have also been posted to Carole this afternoon - what with the postal strikes at the start of the month and then rushing around last week, they had been delayed. Hope you like them, and enjoy your ironing as you listen. They should be with you within a couple of days!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Another weekend passed

This weekend has been very enjoyable in a number of ways. Saturday morning was gymnastics as usual, but I taught the little boys' class as their regular coach was away. That was an experience as I had not taught them on my own before and it was interesting to see what they could (and couldn't!) do. There were only 4 of them this week so it was a good little group for an hour. After that, I worked with some girls and then helped the choreographer with a group of girls trying to learn a routine for a display at our Christmas event in the middle of December.

Saturday afternoon was a bit of rushing around to make some more refreshments for the church evening. I only got the chocolate cake made on Friday, as I ran out of time, so I had to make the cheese scones on Saturday afternoon, and the Twinks biscuits didn't get made at all. We also had a bit of a last minute escapade with the music as the EFG had not finished the playlist on the laptop for the evening's music so I had to help her with that. I had thought that she would do that whilst we were at the gym in the morning, but it was not to be. We got it done in time, anyway. Then the FH's cousin arrived with his wife and daughter at 4pm to come to the church with us. There was apparently a few comments from the daughter about not coming to church but the FH didn't give her the choice and she had to come. Why come to someone's house knowing that the whole point of the visit was to go to church if you didn't intend to go to church? (She's in her forties so it is not as if she was made to come!!) My uncle also came for the evening, arriving at about 5.45pm but he had already eaten so it didn't matter that the rest of the gang were munching the sandwiches when he arrived.

The evening itself went very well; the other ladies of the church had made a lovely spread of sandwiches and snacks for the interval, to which I added my contribution, and there were some excellent raffle prizes, too. I've learned to pick up things that might be useful for raffles whenever I see something nice that is cheap or reduced as we are frequently asked for prizes for various things! We had a good attendance from the members of our church as well as from other churches on the local Methodist circuit. All in all there were probably about 45 people there, which is a good turnout for a little village! We raised £120 for the church funds, so I was very pleased with that. The singing went well too and the general opinion was that people had enjoyed the evening and are looking forward to doing it again!

Sunday morning saw us back at church for Rememberance Day at 9.30am, which was a good service. After church, we did various jobs around the house, had baked potatoes for lunch, had to nip out and do some shopping, and then I cooked a roast dinner for tea. Whilst that was cooking, the girls cleaned out the rabbits and the EFG had an unfortunate accident, falling over in some mud and ending up needing a bath. She took her bath whilst the YFG went to our friend's house to pick up a new pair of bantams; they are Gold-laced Sebrights, which hatched in the summer. They are happily investigating their new house this morning, and seem fine. They cost me a bag of corn and one of layer's mash, so they were cheap!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Christmas Cake recipe

I thought that some people might be interested in my Christmas cake recipe.....

It is from Family Circle magazine (now no longer published) and I first made it in December 2000, so it has been around a while!

This makes one 8" round cake.

On Day One, I mix together:

8oz raisins, 7oz sultanas, 7oz currants, 6oz no-soak dried apricots, 2oz glace cherries, 2oz chopped mixed nuts, 2oz chopped mixed peel, 7tbsp brandy and 6tbsp orange juice.

This is mixed together and covered, and then frequently stirred again throughout the next 24 hours, so we are now onto Day Three - Day Two is spent stirring and enjoying the aromas!

Day Three - grease and line the tin. Preheat the oven to 150C/GM2.

Cream 8oz softened butter with 8oz dark brown sugar. Gradually add in 4 beaten eggs, each with a little flour. Total flour to be added is 8oz so use a little at a time and then add whatever is left with the spices: 1tsp cinnamon, half a tsp ground allspice, half a tsp ground ginger and quarter tsp grated nutmeg (fresh if possible). At this point, I also add in the grated zest of a lemon and an orange.

Once the basic mixture is together, the fruit can be very gently folded into it.

Then I put the mixture into the tin for baking, levelling it off and making a small dip in the middle. It needs to cook for about 3 hours - it may take a little longer but no more than 3 hours and 15 minutes. When a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, it is done. If it is getting too darkly coloured, I just pop a double layer of greaseproof paper over the top to shield it a little.

Leave it in the tin until it is completely cold - I leave it to the next day. Then take it out of the tin and take off all the greaseproof paper wrappings. Re-wrap in fresh paper and then some foil as well, and store in a tin in a cool place until we need to marzipan/decorate them.

In addition to the brandy we used to soak the fruit, I also make fork holes in the base of the cake and pour a capful of brandy over it, probably three times between now and when I will put the marzipan on.

Historical cake tin

I have just unwrapped the Christmas cakes from their greaseproof paper, ready to be re-wrapped and then encased in tinfoil and put in a tin until the time comes to marzipan them, nearer to the big day. It struck me that one of the tins I use is a very old one, which my grandfather used in his bakery, and which my father gave to me years ago.

Since my grandfather was at least the second generation to run that bakehouse, it is possible that that cake tin is over a hundred years old - antique, in fact! Apparently, once the bread baking was done for the day, the bakehouse used to produce some fruitcakes, and this is one of the tins they used to make those in.

I don't make fruitcake very often as the FGs don't like raisins and sultanas in their food, so it doesn't get much use on a regular basis but I do find it good for the seasonal baking as it is a very solid tin and allows the cakes to bake evenly.

I have had an hour outside this morning, feeding and watering the hens, moving a rabbit house around, watering a couple of rabbits which the YFG seems to have overlooked this morning, and then doing a bit of general tidying up around the garden. The Partridge Orpington/Black Orp/Gold-laced Orp run has also been moved along the grass a little as the rain is turning everywhere to mud. There looks to be one Partridge Cockerel and four hens, and I think that the Blacks and the Gold-laced might all be hens too. Having a ready-made group of Partridge ones will be excellent come the spring and I shall try to breed another lot from them next summer, and I shall be looking for some more Gold-laced eggs to hatch as well, as one on its own is not a lot of good, except for looking pretty!!

Now I am going to make a chocolate sheet cake, some Twinks and some cheese scones for the Songs of Praise evening tomorrow - although I am not kidding myself that they will all make it there as the gang here love the cheese scones with a passion - better make a double batch!!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

A quiet day at home

I have had a peaceful day today with the FH. It was less peaceful after 3pm, but it was still good all in all! This morning, as I couldn't find anything I could eat that I wanted to eat for breakfast, I made a crumble out of some pears and pineapple that were lurking in the fridge. The FH and I enjoyed that at about 9.30am once all the animal chores were tended to, and then we settled down to the morning's work: laundry for me as it was a good, blowy day outside so I was getting stuff washed and out on the line, in between ironing the last lot!

The FH was sitting at the table, sorting out the hymns for the Songs of Praise evening we are organising at church on Saturday. It took him quite some time, and in the end I had to help him. Lunchtime came and went, and then all too soon it was time to fetch the YFG from school and chat with some of the mums. I have missed that lately as the YFG has been cycling to and fro to school but now that the weather is colder and a lot wetter lately, she is more reluctant and I am the mum-taxi service again!!

After school, we went to town to get the EFG some football boots as she is playing rugby for the rest of the term and has been told she must have a pair as the ground is so slippery. There went £25 very quickly - she has such wide feet that we had to get a pair of men's size 6.5! The YFG also got a pair of black school shoes for a more reasonable £8. We took a neighbour with us, and went to Tesco as well, so our neighbour could have a look around. She is older and has no transport, relying on her family to get her out of the village, so she appreciates a ride out now and again. Her family are very busy, working full time, so it is hard for them to fit in, I suppose.

This evening, I am going to get out some cookbooks and do a bit of menu planning, and then do some knitting. I know it is gone 10pm already, but I will probably stay downstairs until about 11pm tonight! I also want to look at some cake recipes for the Songs of Praise evening.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

And the lights went out..........

Most inconveniently, last night at the gym, there was a power cut! We had just finished the first class and the girls were arriving to start the second, when all but the emergency lights went out. The resulting dim lighting was not sufficient to take a class so we had to pack up early and send the kids home. Result was an early night all round - and the HC gave me some more of his delicious Picasso potatoes.

Today I have finally made the Christmas cakes - the last pair are in the oven right now and the house smells divine! I have made two loaf shaped ones and two round ones - I am sure that one loaf will get eaten rather soon and will never make it through to Christmas. The others will be wrapped and stored somewhere safe until nearer the time, although I will have to "feed" them with brandy regularly.

I just have to rave about a new book I bought - it is just Gorgeous!! It is called Gorgeous Christmas and is by Annie Bell , continuing in her "gorgeous" series. I already have the cake book so when I saw this one for £4.99 at the Book People, I had to get it, and it didn't disappoint.
The photography is superb so it is almost worthy of being a coffee table book, but the recipes are great too: puddings, baking, leftovers, gifts, "hand-me-rounds", the big birds - chapter headings which just don't do the recipes justice. Look it up in the library, ogle it in the bookshop but find one somewhere!! I'll be trying some of the ideas out soon, so I'll report back.

We have had the YFG's parents' consultations this afternoon - she's doing very well in all areas and could do with a little kick up the backside in Maths. She is showing a lot of potential and knows her number facts, but is frightened of having a go in case she gets it wrong, apparently. However, the level that she is recorded as having got to now is not a significant improvement on where she was when she entered school two years ago, so I will be making some enquiries as to why this hasn't been picked up before...

Monday, 2 November 2009

Jane Austen

I haven't forgotten about the tapes giveaway - what with the holiday and getting ready for it, I just haven't got round to doing the draw........I will do it now......the winner is...Caroline!

Hopefully they will make the ironing less of a chore for you, Caroline. Please send me a comment (which I won't publish) with your name and address, and I'll get them in the post this week. Fingers crossed you like them.

Everyone else, watch out for some more giveaways in the weeks to come as I am in a decluttering mood and there may be more treasures in store.

Note to the Mom over the seas in Ohio - a new neighbour got me some pumpkin from the base and I made your pumpkin bread today but she got the 29oz cans so I ended up making four loaves instead of two......and news from your old house - the beautiful pantry I so envied has been made into a downstairs shower room!! To explain that to everyone else, the Mom rented a house not too far from here which was a Methodist manse - it was vacant because two local Methodist ministers were married to each other and only needed one of the manses, instead of one each, so there was a spare for a while. It is a gorgeous old house with lovely big rooms, and there was a great pantry. Now that the new minister moved in about 18 months ago, he happens to be our minister at our church - he's the Superintendent of the area. I was telling him that I loved his house and that I was envious of the pantry as these modern houses are sadly lacking in the pantry department, and he said that it had been made into a shower room; I am sure that his family are finding that useful! You can see I have a serious pantry-envy problem, I can tell! I did have one once, I promise.

I haven't made the Christmas cakes yet as the YFG was too busy today with friends and going with the FH to his art club. Unfortunately she is back to school tomorrow so I think that I will have to make them on my own anyway.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Scents of autumn

Yesterday it was the colours, today the smells! This afternoon, I prepared and chopped all the dried fruit for two Christmas cakes, and they are now soaking up brandy and orange juice in the kitchen until tomorrow, when they'll get used to make the cakes.......can't wait - then the smells will really be good!!!

This morning's DIY service at church went well - we lasted just on the allotted hour with no problem, and the music, played from the EFG's laptop, worked well. I was relieved about that. Now we have to do a Songs of Praise evening on Saturday with the same method - say a prayer for us!! It should be fine, but I am sure that someone will want to sing a hymn we don't have the music for. Always the way!

We had a late lunch at 2pm of my sausage plait, lots (nearly said "lashings" there!) of gravy, roast potatoes, carrots and broccoli, then I made a microwave sponge pudding with pineapple. That lot sorted them all out for the afternoon!! They have only just managed a little sandwich and cake for tea, and now I am going for my Sunday night treat, Doc Martin on the TV and my feet up on the sofa. Uncle J has been persuaded to stay for one more night, and the YFG is looking forward to helping me with the baking tomorrow - might take some photos too if the weather stays fine.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Colours of Day

The place we have spent the last few nights is in a woodland at Kelling Heath on the North Norfolk coast near Sheringham. The woods are clothed in their most majestic attire at this time of year - russet reds, gold, yellow, warm browns, beautiful colours, which are just amazing. We had a lovely couple of days there, and I did take some really good photos.....we lost them in the transfer to the laptop so I was a bit miffed with the EFG over that, but hey ho and all that..what is done is done and hopefully we'll go back this time next year and I can try again!

We left here a bit later than we hoped on Thursday but even with a quick stop at Morrison's in Fakenham, we still arrived by about 2pm, which gave us plenty of time to saunter around for a while and relax. It gets dark so quickly these days that we had had supper, washed up and settled in for the evening by 6.30pm! That first night, we watched "In Pursuit of Happyness" which stars Will Smith and his son. It is an inspiring film, and one I hadn't seen before. One to watch, if you haven't already seen it.

Friday we got up late and pootled around the caravan until about 11.30 and then went to Cromer. The FH snoozed in the car whilst the girls of the family hit the shops and grabbed some fish and chips for lunch, then I drove whilst they ate and we headed off to Holt. As I remember saying before, Holt is posher than Cromer and Sheringham, but we love them all for their own attractions. I was angry with a shop assistant in Holt who refused to accept a Scottish tenner because of the risk of forgery.....I suppose some people can only cope with keeping track of one set of notes whereas in Scotland we have three or more issuing banks, and they all issue all the notes - so that makes at least 15 notes to know instead of only four - there are still pound notes up north too!! I went into Barclays and changed it for a more acceptable version. In Holt there is a very posh department store called "Bakers & Larners" and it sells pretty much everything you could possibly want - food, wine, clothes, books, stationery, cookware, housewares, soft furnishings, shoes.......it is really very nice - and it sells things that other shops don't bother with, too, so we like to have a good browse in there.

After Holt, it was back to the caravan for another little wander and then I cooked myself some supper and made the others more of a high tea with sandwiches, cake and a little pud. The movie of that evening was Inkheart - I remember buying the book for the EFG but she says that she found it boring - the film wasn't boring but it wasn't as good as the Will Smith one of the previous night, and I watched it with only half my attention as I was knitting again. Again - well, I knitted last time we went there, and I brought it back to do more, but I hadn't done any in the meantime. Shame on me.

Today dawned rather damp but totally in keeping with the autumnal feeling in the air. We packed a little and then went to Sheringham to poke around the market and the shops. Two hours later, we had bought the Christmas puzzle, some books, some new woolly hats, some sweets, etc and had some very fresh sea air. The streets were busy and there was a surprise on the High Street. The town which has been fighting hard against the intrusion of Tesco has allowed a Sainsbury Local to go into the old Woolworths' store. It is due to open on 10 November, so I wonder what the effect will be on all the lovely little shops which the townspeople of Sheringham have treasured for so long. I would love to understand the rationale for letting Sainsbury in but fighting so hard against Tesco. I would have thought that all the same arguments would apply.

After our shopping expedition, we returned to the caravan for some lunch and then had a lovely hour sitting round the table playing cards with the girls. The YFG is delighted to have got the hang of whist now and wants to play often - she has had Uncle J playing tonight already. We left the caravan and headed home, stopping off at a restaurant for a meal near King's Lynn.

I seem to have come home to a lot of news - one blogger has announced a pregnancy, one neighbour came round with some hot gossip almost as soon as we got home, I had 80 odd emails to download, and I am a bit overwhelmed tonight with it all! Time to have a bath and think about tomorrow's service at church, I think!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Busy bees here

We are dashing around like mad things today - and last night I was up till 1.30am ironing all the heap to get it put away so that Uncle J didn't have it cluttering up the place. Today I have had the Asda delivery, a Book People delivery and a UPS collection, so it was just as well that we didn't need to go far. The FH went out to his lunch as usual, but the rest of the gang stayed close to home; the EFG finished her room, although the YFG was allowed to rollerskate around the estate a few times (well, she was out there about an hour) as she got hers finished a day or two ago. I have spent a lot of time today preparing the service for Sunday, and it is now done!! Yay - what a relief! I also made Uncle J's bed up and hoovered the room for him - just the bathrooms to clean tonight now and then another basketful of ironing to do from today's washing.

In the morning the FH has a man coming at 10am to see to the extra piece we need to get on the chimney, so our departure will be delayed a little. That gives me an extra couple of hours to pack in the morning, and to clean out a henhouse!! I'll be needing a shower after that and then we should be ready to go - hoping to be out of here by 11am and at the caravan by 1pm for lunch. Planning an easy afternoon - perhaps a walk around the park there and then relaxing with some knitting and a book/DVD in the evening. All depends on the weather as usual.

Lost the camera so finding that is on the list to do before we go - so hoping to be back here Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, with or without photos. Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Monday, 26 October 2009


We are going for a little holiday on Thursday but there is a LOT to get done before we go: the house needs to be cleaned and tidied as Uncle J will be moving in for two nights whilst we are away, the henhouses need cleaning out again, there is a mountain of washing to be ironed - yesterday was such a glorious day that I washed everything that needed it, and some quilts too - and there is also the service for All Saint's Day to have ready before we go. It's coming along but there is still some work to go on it - I've got to find the preparations I have already done!

Tonight, Uncle J has been over to see what is what as we will be leaving on Thursday morning but he won't get here until the late afternoon. We have had a feast of chicken pie, roast potatoes, carrots, runner beans and then pear and chocolate sponge for pudding! We are all well and truly stuffed! Whilst I was busy cooking all that, the FH took the EFG to band practice and Uncle J went along to listen. I think he enjoyed it; he is a man of few words.

This morning, my dad came over to pick up a bag of carrots. His partner, MB, has had some bad news - her daughter's husband died on Thursday evening. He was only in his forties, and they are not really sure what caused his death, but most disturbingly, he unfortunately died on the lounge floor in front of his wife and two teenage children. My heart goes out to the whole family. Poor MB is just in a terrible state - she looks as if she hasn't slept at all and is very distracted at the moment. It was her birthday on Saturday, but I don't think there were any celebrations, understandably. I had never met the chap, nor any other members of the family, but I love MB and I am so sorry for what she is going through right now.

The hamster is back in his cage, thank goodness!

Yesterday after church, the FGs went home with another family for the rest of the day and were returned to us at 4.45pm. The FH and I spent most of the time in the garden, having a tidying up session - removing the canes from the runner beans, emptying the tomato troughs and putting the spent compost on the garden beds, and putting the tomato plants, now dead, into the hen run for the girls to peck through. We let one lot of hens out so that they could have a good peck through the soil in the garden beds, and they had lots of dirt baths and really enjoyed their afternoon out. We still have weeds to clear, and broad beans to sow, but we are making progress. I do like cleaning the garden up for the winter - it is like putting it to bed!

Jane Austen giveaway

Well, no one likes Jane Austen apart from BB and Caroline, you all live overseas, or you have all had a busy weekend and not had time to read and post.......whatever the reason, I'm giving you another day!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Jane Austen giveaway

I have a set of Jane Austen audio tapes - P&P, S&S, Persuasion, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park. They are the Women's Hour set, read by Maria Aitken, Juliet Stevenson, Penelope Keith, Janet Suzman, Patricia Hodge and Annette Crosbie.

I bought them years ago when I was working as a silver service waitress whilst at uni. The famous golf Open Championship came to St Andrews and we had to work extra shifts, and at the end of the week, we were given a bonus - it was about £60 and I spent it on this set of tapes. Very extravagant of me, but there were no kids back then and I had worked hard and thought that as it was a bonus, I would treat myself to something I wanted. I enjoyed listening to some of the tapes whilst I was ironing, and travelling, but I haven't touched them in the five and a half years that we have been here, so I think that it is time that someone else got some pleasure from them.

I can't afford to post them internationally, so UK comments only please and apologies to others. Let me have a comment about why you would like them, if you would! I'll give you all until Sunday night to post something and then I will put all the comments in the hat and let one of the FGs choose one. Good luck! If no one wants them, I'll give them to a charity shop....

Thursday, 22 October 2009


No, not the Australian soap, unfortunately - the real folk who live next door.

On one side, we have an absolutely lovely family who are renting the house and we have become good friends. On the other side, we have a couple, and they are a pain in the you-know-where. We put our verandah up a couple of years ago, and they complained to the council, so a nice enforcement officer had to come out and look at it - it was fine as we knew it would be, but she still caused hassle. Then there was the cockerel issue - the first complaint was someone else, but the second was her. And now, it's the woodburner. The letter that came from the council today says that we are causing a smoke nuisance!

We are amused and angered by this, as we haven't actually had it alight for the last 5 months, so she is obviously more worried about the smoke which might come out over the winter than the smoke which has been non-existent all summer. The chap I spoke to on the phone couldn't actually say much about it as he knew little - as long as we burn clean wood which doesn't make dark smoke, he doesn't see that there is a problem, and is quite willing to come and look at our smoke!!

It angers us that someone thinks that they have the right to dictate to us what we can do in our own home - we investigate these things before we do them and we know that we are allowed to do them before we invest our time, effort and money in doing them. All these letters keep raising the FH's blood pressure each time, and my itchy feet just get more and more itchy! I spent the afternoon on the internet looking for alternative houses! I am getting to the stage where I don't feel that I want to live next to such an interfering busybody.....

Scurrying creatures!

Not only do I have a hamster still on the loose in the kitchen (the trap is too small, we have decided), I have seen a rat this morning, and it shot back under the compost bin when it saw me, so I guess that it may be living under there with its mates/family. It is the first one I have seen since about two years ago - and it was a shock to my system this morning. I am very particular about not overfeeding the hens, so that there is no spare food lying around, and if the FH accidentally puts too much in the feeders in the afternoon, I always take the feeders in to the workshop for the night. However, I have realised that I should be doing it much earlier now that the nights are drawing in and I must get out there and shut the doors as soon as it gets dark. The FH rarely makes a mistake with the food, but I don't want to take any chances. The sooner the rat family starve into moving house, the better - and I do have a rat trap I can put down but it only kills one at a time....shame! I am reluctant to use poison because of the cat and the couple of hens which free-range - although they could get shut in for a while if needs be.

The chickens think that they are in heaven this morning, I think, as I have put a thick layer of straw in the yards as the ground is so muddy. It is as much for my benefit as theirs, though, as the mud was so slippery last night that I was in danger of going down on my bum! We bought several bales of straw a few weeks ago specifically for this purpose as once the winter rains start, the yards do get into a bad state and this is the best remedy for the hens to be comfortable. They love pecking through the straw!

We had to put the big white rabbit out of her misery last night, as she was suffering with the illness that has struck all her babies. I have buried her this morning. Her last remaining baby is in a box in the kitchen - he has the illness but is still Ok at the moment - we are bathing his eyes twice daily with the Optrex and giving him tiny amounts of Calpol. He is still showing signs of normal rabbit activity like washing himself and chewing the box, as well as eating, so there is hope for him yet. The breeders we spoke to said that the rabbits can get over this illness, although ours aren't doing so well.

The EFG has gone to school in a good mood as she breaks up for half-term today whereas the YFG has to go to school tomorrow as well! On the flip side, the YFG gets the Monday after the holiday off as well whilst the EFG is straight back to school on the Monday morning! Why can't these schools co-ordinate their training days so that all the children in the area get the same days off?! It would be so much easier. However, it does give me a day with each daughter on her own, which will go down well with them.

Well, today I am home alone until about lunchtime as the FH is out and about. I have grand plans to get things done, so I had better get the rubber gloves out and start on the bathrooms!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

What a Wednesday...

This morning we woke to some plumbing troubles! Our houses here are not on the mains sewer so we have "treatment plants" in the garden - posh cesspits, in other words. They are supposed to treat the water so that it can be discharged, and the solids are supposed to sink and then be emptied every year to two years. We are not impressed with the sewage system here - the pipes in the garden have not been laid with enough fall and so water (etc...) sits in them, and when certain younger members of the family use too much loo paper, the lack of fall means that there is not enough pressure on the water and its load to push it all through the pipes, and we get a backlog.......we got a backlog this morning and the loos weren't flushing properly. First I had to get the chickens into their adjacent run as the lid of the tank is in their run. I also had to scrape a couple of inches of mud and chicken poo off the top of it, and wedge it open. It needed emptying, so at 8am I phoned the local man who does this for a living and asked for an emptying. His wife wondered if we could wait until Monday and I said no, if he wanted the job it had to be done today. He came at 4pm, and did a good job. But the pipes were still bunged in the garden so I had to pick up some draining rods from a friend and get my rubber gloves out. Managed to clear it quite quickly, thank goodness. I suppose I can now add Sanitation Engineer to my list of experiences!! As we only pay for the water coming into the house, our water bills are quite a lot lower than they were when we lived in town and had to pay sewage charges as well, and the chap charges £65 for an emptying - this is usually once every 8 - 12 months, so it is not bad economically - and he has charged the same for the last 5 years!

The EFG's eyes were giving her some problems so I managed yesterday to get a short-notice appointment for a check up this afternoon. Relieved to report that her eyes are fine and her prescription remains unchanged. The optician did tighten her glasses a little as they tend to slip down her nose and she peers over them instead of looking through them, which I didn't think would be doing her any good. If her eyes continue to cause her pain, we are to go to the doctor, but the optician did say that the recent colds we have had could well have affected her eyes and might take some time to get back to normal. The appointment was at 4.30, so as soon as she got off the school bus and got changed, off we had to pootle. We got there dead on the dot!

Today I have also been a hairdresser - my friend D's little boy likes me to cut his hair! It is not hard as he has a number 3 all over with the clippers. It takes about 10 minutes and I like to do it for him, as he is such a sweet little boy of 7. I fitted that in between picking up the YFG from school and waiting for the school bus to bring the EFG home. I sat and chatted with his mum for a while - we are both school governors, both have girls in the same class at school and both have the challenges of living on a budget, so we have a lot to talk about - too much, sometimes!

Tomorrow evening we have to go to the EFG's school for an Open Evening for the YFG as she will be moving up there next September, and the transitioning has already begun. We go tomorrow for a look around and asking questions, if we want to. Then later in the year, she will go on a supervised day at the college with her teachers and they will spend a lot of time in the library, doing various activities. In the summer term, then, they will go on an unsupervised trip when they take the bus with the other kids, and have to shadow some current Y7s around. The YFG is ready for this, I think, and very excited about it all - I just can't believe that my younger child will be at secondary school within the year!! Then they will both be out of the house between 8 and 4, and I think that my day will be longer - maybe it will be time to look for some career development or a job.......watch that space.......I'll have to work on that.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Tuesday turnabout

Today has been one of those days!

The YFG has a swimming lesson at school, then a Performing Arts after school club and then two hours at gym - by which time she is running out of steam. The EFG has sore eyes, a badly dried bottom lip and mouth ulcers, so we are going to the optician tomorrow for the eyes and we'll need to go to the chemist for the lip and the ulcer. There are poorly rabbits again - they seem to be picking up some kind of virus - probably snuffles - and there is nothing we can do except make their last days as comfortable as we can: the latest has just shown symptoms tonight so we have administered the Calpol and Optrex and he is snuggled into the FH's shirt and they are both sitting, dozing, watching the Ten O'Clock News!

So that is all the miserable news from here...on a more positive note, the FH has finished his course of antibiotics and his cough is receding nicely, as is mine. I am definitely on the mend now! My friend D has brought us a humane mouse trap to borrow in an attempt to catch the meandering hamster. Only downside is that it is built for MICE and not large hamsters, so we are wondering whether he will actually squeeze himself into it!! If he is hungry enough, he probably will - so we have baited it with his favourite nosh and we have fingers crossed for a successful capture tonight!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Gymnastics at the O2 arena

I have been glued to the television this afternoon, watching the men's vault final, the women's beam and floor finals and the men's P-bars final. Yesterday I saw the men's rings as well - that Iordan Iovchev from Bulgaria is doing amazingly for someone of 36 - silver medal if I remember rightly, and then today the men's vault Gold medallist was 29, from Romania.

But the wonderful news today was that Beth Tweddle won Gold on the floor!! She went first, and then the next gymnast, from Columbia, had a nasty fall and there was some delay until she was stretchered off, so the following gymnasts had to watch and wait. Beth's tension as she waited for each girl's score to come up was clearly visible - you could almost see her wondering whether any of them would knock her off the top spot. Her fall from the bars meant that she didn't make that final so the floor was her best chance, and she did an excellent routine with some brilliant tumbles.

Aside from gymnastics, I have cooked, ironed, hoovered, tidied, cleaned and surfed on the net. Didn't make it to church as none of us are feeling 100% and thought we had better keep our germs to ourselves. We are on the mend though! I've also watched Doc Martin on ITV tonight - he's hilarious!

Yesterday the FGs had a lovely time out with their Aunty M at the Disney on Ice show at the Birmingham NIA. They were amazed by the costumes, the dancing and the ability of the ice dancers - although they did notice a couple of small falls, they said. They brought home a programme so we could also see the costumes, and the YFG has been showing it to her friend today. I think that some thank-you letters are in order this week. In true Fen fashion, they noticed and were disgusted by the prices being charged at the Arena - £2.50 for a bag of Haribo sweets that retail for about a £1 in Tesco, horrendous prices for rubbish like burgers and chips, and the programme was £8, apparently. Still, they were given £5 each pocket money and they both brought it home to put it away for other things as they decided that there was nothing there that they wanted and they are both saving up for things that they do really want!! Well taught, I think!!

The hamster is still out and about, although I am taking up BB's suggestion of a humane mouse trap - that is on the "acquire" list this week. Not sure where I'll get one from but the hardware shop in town might have just the thing. One joker said I should just put the cat in the kitchen for the night - that's a bad idea on two counts: one - that I do actually want this thing alive as it cost me £5 and I don't want it roaming my house for ever, and two - if the cat gets it in the night and eats it, I won't have any evidence as to whether it has caught it or not. So no to the cat...

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Yes - the hamster is on the loose.

Sammy the Syrian hamster made his escape last weekend - we noticed that the cage was empty on Monday evening, but the girls had each "seen" a flash of something in the kitchen on Saturday and Sunday, so we presume that he escaped sometime on Saturday.

Luckily for him, I had been lax about getting the mouse traps out although I had said to the FH that the things they had seen may have been mice that the cat might have brought in; it stupidly never entered my head to check the hamster cage.

He's still here, but we haven't caught him yet... all suggestions welcome!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Health update

I am plodding around the house, doing what needs to be done but a bit slower than usual. The YFG is full of beans and at school. The EFG came home from school yesterday with a headache and feeling nauseous, so she has stayed home today - again. I am getting concerned about the amount of illness she is having this year. And the FH - he went to the doctor yesterday and got some antibiotics as he has the chesty cold now and is suffering particularly badly. He spent most of the night coughing, so he will be staying in bed for today. He is tucked in with plenty of covers, and frequent hot drinks, so he'll mend in a couple of days, I hope.

The girls are off to the NIA in Birmingham with my sister to a Disney on Ice performance - they are quite excited! Just hoping that with enought rest today, the EFG will be well enough to go.

Milk bar is Still open

Bubblegum gave birth to her babies (she's a rabbit) on 1st July this year, so they are getting on a bit now - around three and a half months old. Each evening, there is a scrabble and a hustle, and the six of them go in for their nightly feed!

Poor Bubblegum usually ends up straddling herself over them as they take their fill of her milk. They are not quite as big as she is, but they are growing fast, and I am surprised that her milk is still flowing - but it is as I can hear it glugging down their throats.

She doesn't let them feed for many minutes before she leaps away, but it is a sight to see as they are laying on their backs with their feet patting furiously at her to encourage the let-down of the milk.

We must sex them very soon and get them segregated or we will be having some unplanned pregnancies..

Thoughts on Hallowe'en

I am firmly nailing my colours to the mast this year and saying that we do not "celebrate" Hallowe'en.

I was shocked years ago when my EFG's godmother dressed her up as a ghost and brought her trick or treating around our street when I had thought the EFG was just there for tea and play!

When we moved here and made new friends, there was a minor falling out when they knocked at the door in their costumes and I hadn't a sweet in the house to give them, their mother not being too chuffed at my, "Oh, we don't do Hallowe'en". It was awkward. The next year, I had sweets in the house to give to callers, but we still didn't go out ourselves. Last year, I wanted to put a sign on the door saying that we didn't welcome trick or treaters, but the FGs thought that would be too "embarassing" as a lot of the callers would be their friends.

I see Hallowe'en as unBiblical, unChristian and a load of baloney, putting it plainly. We worship God and I am not interested in encouraging my children to participate in this glorification of evil. So how do we avoid it? We don't walk down the aisles selling the paraphernalia in the supermarkets, we don't decorate the house with ghost/pumpkin/spooky hangings, we will be putting that sign up this year - and I will be telling the parents of the friends who might call, that we don't do Hallowe'en. We're coming out of the Hallowe'en closet, so to speak, and not avoiding the issue.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Getting there, one step at a time

I'm still suffering with this awful cold, but I am making some progress. After what amounted to four days either on the sofa or actually in bed last week, I made it to the Autumn Show at Peterborough on Sunday. The Show is the best one that the Showground puts on and really had a good countryside feel with lots of animals/poultry to look at and loads going on. There was the commercial aspect of all the trade stands, but they weren't as overwhelming as they are in the summer at the country show. It is close to Harvest, and that helps to get me in the mood, and the glorious weather on the day helped too.

I wasn't so lucky with Dad's party on Saturday night. With the best will in the world, I just could not get up and go. I spent most of the evening asleep, even though the EFG had brought me her laptop in bed so that I could watch a new DVD. That's still on the list of things to watch another time. The FH and the girls had a great time at the party and rolled in at about 11pm.

Yesterday I struggled around the house after spending the morning curled up on the sofa watching a Catherine Cookson film, The Rag Nymph, on "Yesterday". I have seen it before - Honeysuckle Weeks plays the lead character as an adult, and her remarkably similar-looking sister Perdita plays the same character as a child. It's a comforting film, and I read the book too, because like all CC stories, there is a happy ending, after some suffering and a little tradegy. I managed to wash and hang out three loads of washing during the ad breaks.

The girls both went back to school yesterday, and came home full of all the news. This morning we had a near miss with the EFG's bus as we overslept and woke up at 7.45 - she usually leaves the house at 7.55....but she made it. She is very good in that she always packs her things the night before so all she had to do was get dressed and go - I made her lunch and she had some toast thrust towards her too!

Today, the weather is lovely and I have spent a little time out the back sitting under the verandah in the sun. It's warmer out there than in the lounge as that room faces north. I have our bedlinen in the machine now, so I think that tomorrow will be ironing day. I am going to take the YFG to gym tonight, but probably won't be coaching as I am not up to it. Delighted to report that one of our coaches, who was widowed earlier this year, has delivered a son on Sunday. He's 6lb 15oz and fine but she has some health issues so I am keeping everything crossed and praying for her safe recovery.

Friday, 9 October 2009

I'm here but only just!

That was the week that wasn't! I went to the school meeting on Monday, I made it to gym on Tuesday and that was the end of that. The Book fair had to be cancelled and the apologies sent to the school meeting on Wednesday, and I have had to send my apologies to gym for tonight. Wednesday was spent on the sofa, yesterday and today largely in bed. Since the germs have been so widespread as to affect the girls, we have had a Mario Karts tournament on the nintendo DS this morning, sitting on the bed. The Sudafed started to kick in this afternoon, hence I am up now, albeit still in the PJs!!

Grandad's party tomorrow evening will have to be done, or we'd never hear the end of it, so we are planning a restful day and an early night tonight. Unfortunately, I also have to go to the Autumn Show at Peterborough on Sunday as I can't afford to lose a day's wages, but the girls are quite au fait with running the stall so I am hoping that I can take a big flask and a chair and supervise them from behind the stall! The FH had his flu jab on Wednesday so I am not expecting him to be well enough to help on Sunday as it always makes him ill - he'll have the sweats, the cough, the runny nose, the aches and pains - the flu! He keeps having the injection year after year in the belief that this reaction to the vaccine is less severe than the "real" flu would be if he got it, and I am not going to be responsible for testing that theory!

From a financial point of view, being ill is an interesting method of saving money - I stay at home, so I spend much less! I have had to ask the FH to buy Benylin and Strepsils for us, and that is that. Four NSDs (No Spend Days) in a row, as far as the Grocery Challenge is concerned.

Hope that you are all well, at least!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lurgy here

Yes, the EFG and I are suffering with a chesty cough, razorblades in the throat and lack of voice. She has had two days at home, and now is hoping to get back to school tomorrow. We had a short trip out yesterday in the late afternoon, and she is now the happy owner of a Syrian hamster: the YFG kindly donated her old cage and the EFG was given a £5 voucher for WHSmith from school for being so excellent (!) so I bought that off her and she had the £5 to get her hamster. He is a monster compared to the Roborovski pair but he is very cute!

Got to go to bed now and try to get some rest. More tomorrow, maybe.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

And the winner is ...........

I wrote all the names of the comment-writers on pieces of paper, folded them up small and threw them up in the air over a clear piece of carpet in the lounge. The EFG was asked to choose one, and she picked - Bovey Belle! Congratulations - I hope you are going to like the book!

Please send me your address in a comment (which I won't publish, of course) and I'll get the book out to you in the next post. I hope you will leave us some feedback about what you think to it once you have received it. Thanks to everyone for taking part.

I hope you are all enjoying the sunshine today!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Last call for the birthday book

We'll be making the draw for the birthday cookbook tomorrow after church, so get your comments made before 12 noon tomorrow - I can't wait to see who wins!!

Welcome, Tom and Jerry

The pet shop had indeed got some beautiful, tiny hamsters! We bought two this time, because we thought it was better for the hamster to have some company. They are really small - Roborovski hamsters - the smallest available, we're told.

The YFG has named them Tom and Jerry - we don't know for sure that they are boys, so it might really be Thomasina and Geraldine, but the lady in the shop assured me that they are the same sex, whatever they are! I told her that two was plenty and I would be complaining if more arrived later on...

Because they are so small, we have had to put them into a glass tank rather than Hammy's old cage, as they could have possibly got through the bars, or got stuck in between the bars and there was no way we needed any more trauma. They are a burrowing hamster, so we have given them a good depth of sawdust to go down into, and they seem to be settling in quite well tonight.

The weather here has been incredibly windy and we have had a good rain shower this afternoon - the first for weeks - so the seasons are definitely turning. Having said that, the forecast is for a dry and bright day tomorrow so we can't complain.

We haven't gone to the Barn Dance tonight - I was too tired and the EFG has had a bad head cold all day, so there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it here. I think that an early night is in order.

Friday, 2 October 2009

RIP Hammy

On coming home from gym tonight, the YFG was inconsolable after finding her little hamster dead in his cage.

He had food and water in there, so he didn't die of hunger or thirst, and there is no real way of telling what happened. He was in the food bowl, which is plastic, so the YFG wonders if he fell from the roof of the cage, where he loved to do his acrobatics, and hurt himself on the hard plastic of the bowl. There is a lot of bedding in the cage where it would have been better to fall, if that is indeed what happened.

I think she had had him about a year, so he wasn't that old for a hamster - I would have expected him to have lived maybe another six months to a year. We are going to make a trip to the pet shop in town after gym tomorrow to see if they have any more little hamsters.

Shopping for the month ahead

I have just done a big shopping "trip" on the www.mysupermarket.com website and then had it sent to the cheapest supermarket, after making some savings through their suggested swaps. No huge surprise that the cheapest one was Tesco, so that is where it is all coming from tomorrow.

The theory today is that I have ordered all the tins and jars and cleaning stuff, the UHT milk, the bleach, etc and all the freezable things that I need to get us through the month of meals which I planned last weekend. There is no bread on the list, no green veg, no Frubes, no crisps, no individual wrapped chocolate biscuits aka Penguin or Breakaway. There's no chocolate, either! I hope that this has helped me to avoid temptation! It is being delivered tomorrow, which is not a cheap day, but I have spent some of the savings on the delivery, and I am sure that the amount I am paying for delivery on a Saturday is far outweighed by the amount I might have given away if I had actually gone and wandered the aisles - I am not strong minded in a supermarket!

I didn't really feel that I had time to go and do it myself this week - we have gym tonight and tomorrow morning, then we are going to a Barn Dance tomorrow evening. I don't shop on Sundays if I can help it then Monday will disappear into a school meeting and band practice, Tuesday is a trip to hospital and gym, Wednesday is a book fair and another school meeting, Thursday - well, I do get a day to myself then, yes - and Friday is gym again and then Grandad's party on Saturday. This is set to be the busiest week we have had for a long time!!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Freezer investigations

Oh, my! It is seriously cold in those freezers (yes, I KNOW it is meant to be, but sorting through it and handling all the frozen things just chills me through!), but I have had a good rummage through both of them and we have got:
Strawberries, broccoli, blackberries, runner beans, broad beans, cherries, mixed peppers, asparagus, rhubarb, apple, whole tomatoes, a whole turkey (that's Christmas dinner sorted, then!), pasta sauce in vast quantities (thanks to GTM for that inspiration), three whole chickens and two bags of chicken pieces, rolls, bread, crumpets, hot cross buns, pittas, puff pastry, loaf cakes, mince pies, fruit scones, baguette, HM bread rolls, HM sliced bread, smoked haddock, cinnamon rolls, pears, chicken livers, gammon, bacon, sausages, leftover cooked turkey, pork chops, chipolatas, stewing steak, Quorn mince and chunks, white fish, sausage meat and several portions of cooked mince. Phew! Some of these items we have a LOT of - especially runner beans, strawberries and blackberries.

I shouldn't need to buy any green veg for a week or two, and there's easily several weeks' worth of meat there too, if we can live with the repetitive nature of the inevitable meals. We need to eat more of the fruit - either just defrosted or used in recipes.

I am planning to shop on Saturday afternoon this week and I am hoping now that it can be a much slimmer shopping list that I am working to when we go round the shop!

Photo catch-up

This photo shows the five Gold Partridge Orpington chicks - I took it last night when they all had their heads down for supper! The feathers are really showing their partridge shadings now and look as if they will be lovely as they grow up.

Above and below: Moppy, our giant white rabbit, has had some babies to our new male, Guiness, who is a black and white Dutch. The babies are now coming up to three weeks old, and getting more adventurous. There were 6 of them, but we lost one at the weekend; it just got very weak, and although we tried to hand-feed it, it didn't make it.

Above: the lovely flowers my little friend next door brought me for my birthday!

And this is the beautiful bouquet that my sister delivered on my birthday! I was spoilt!