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, 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 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 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!

Keep the comments coming for the cookbook

Don't forget to send your comments in until Sunday for the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. It is a beautiful book, as well as having some truly scrumptious recipes - there are cookies (chocolate, of course, as well as others), sweet and savoury muffins, the most amazing brownies (frosted brownie, raspberry cheesecake brownie), pies of all kinds - pecan, pumpkin, apple, lemon meringue; cheesecakes, cupcakes - and gosh, then there is a section for just "cakes" - whatever could be left?!

I watched Nigel Slater last night in his "Simple Suppers" programme - it is a revelation, really, to many, I'm sure, that you can follow a "recipe" which has no amounts, hardly any cooking times, and a lot of choices - you can add this if you like it, but if you prefer that, use it! It's a good way to allow people the freedom to use an idea but to mold it to their own preferences. He made me think of the cookbook I am giving away when he made a meringue confection from ice cream layered under meringue, whipped cream and blackberries and he called it an "indulgence" - it was, and so are the recipes in the book. Delightful, nutritionally unnecessary perhaps, but delightful all the same! Whilst we should all be trying to eat a balanced diet, I am sure that the odd indulgence is good for us.....

I'm working hard to make notes as I watch NS's programmes as I won't be buying the book - Tender (about a cook and his veg, I believe) as although I love NS's books, that one is just too big and expensive! I have been looking at the bank balances this morning and working out why I am just scraping through to the end of the month again without having any savings to put away and I have realised that the cars are the problem again in September. My poor old car had to have a service and there were a couple of problems to be dealt with so my cheque book bore the brunt of that at nearly £300 - so that is where the savings money went!