Saturday, 30 April 2011

Ups and downs

I had to send the girls on their bikes down to the shop this morning to fetch me a newspaper for the photos from the wedding yesterday - and the papers didn't disappoint me: glorious full colour spreads of the balcony kiss, the wedding processions, the fashions, the mothers, etc - although the official photos aren't out yet. Perhaps tomorrow! That was one of the ups of the day.

The biggest down is that the washing machine has conked out, and so the FH has had to plumb a spare one that a neighbour gave us into the workshop. It is an old one, and I am not sure how reliable it is going to be, but if it lets me get the school uniforms washed tomorrow, I will be happy! The white wash sat in the broken machine for nearly two days, sopping wet, before we could manage to get the door open, and now it won't do a thing, except flash an orange light at us most forlornly.

I successfully made five banana and chocolate cakes today to use up the bananas which are still attracting fruit flies like the plague. I won't be buying any more for a while. One of the cakes can go to chapel for the refreshments in the morning, one can stay here to be eaten and the others will be stashed in the freezer. An investment in the future!

The girls have both been revising today for exams, both working hard - I am very proud of them both for the way they work hard and take their studying seriously.

I'm still feeling stressed, and my stomach is still a little upset, so I am trying to relax. I have finished all the paperwork for the selection process, and it is put away. I have got out a couple of Katie Fforde books to lose myself in tonight and tomorrow afternoon - they are very relaxing! Hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

Friday, 29 April 2011

What a day!

One of the kisses on the balcony

It was a lovely wedding - I can't get over how beautiful Catherine looked, the gorgeous dress, and all the pageantry and pomp were just wonderful. This is Britain at its best, surely. The crowds in London were loving it all, and we had the best views on the tv at home, from the comfort of our armchairs. Catherine is not over the top; she strikes me as very dignified, demure and reserved, so she should fit in well with the Royal Family. I thought her dress had echoes of the Queen's dress from 1947 with all that lace - very elegant.

These occasions always make me want to go and dig out a Royal Family tree so that I can work out who everyone is and how they are all related. I'm sure that Princess Alexandra is probably the oldest royal princess nowadays, and I think I heard someone say something today (one of the commentators) about the Queen being pleased now that her eldest grandson is married, but I thought that her eldest grandson was the Princess Royal's son, Peter Philips, who married the Canadian Autumn Kelly a while back........these are the sorts of things I think of and have to go and Google to satisfy my curiosity!

This afternoon I have been sorting out the 11am service on Sunday - the secondary readings for the day are all about the Temple, so I have constructed a service about the Temple and how God dwells in us now, according to the reading from Corinthians which is part of the service. I am going to email it all over to a mentor friend tonight and get the go-ahead on it all........

Thursday, 28 April 2011

School again today

Just when you think you have everything sorted out for the headteacher selection days on Tuesday and Wednesday - one of the candidates withdraws and mucks the arrangements up!

My stomach has been upset these past couple of days so I know that the stress of it all is getting to me, and I was really hoping that we had put the preparations "to bed" today, and could relax over the weekend........some things are not to be! I will be emailing some of my colleagues tomorrow and hope to get it sorted out quickly.

SFT - I didn't manage to snap any photos of our royal wedding, although the local papers were there, so I am hoping that they took some good ones.

Sorry that this is such a quick note, but I am getting weary and want to head off to bed soon!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Normal service tomorrow

Too tired to blog tonight!

Today's "royal" wedding

The FH and his friends are in for a laugh today at their lunch club!

They are all dressing up as people from the wedding - the FH is going to be Prince William, so we have had to find some royal attire for him - one of the churchwardens is going to be the Dean of Westminster, etc, and the food is going to be a royal banquet: a lovely buffet to start with, followed by trifle and then wedding cake. There will be corsages for the ladies, and buttonholes for the gentlemen too. They are all quite excited at doing something different and having fun!

My only disappointment is that I won't be at home to see the FH go out in all his finery, but I should be able to get a photo when he comes home, as I will be back by then.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A different kind of day

After the two weeks of holidays, it was back to reality with a bang this morning: straight into the school at 9.30am to talk to the staff about the headteacher selection days next week, pop into the chapel for a meeting about Knit & Natter, a new project the steward would like to get off the ground, and then home to gather the troops and off to Dad's for lunch.

Lunch was lovely - the gang all had fish and chips in "pensioners' portions" from the local chippy, and then MB had made rhubarb and strawberry crumble, which she served with ice cream, and one of her neighbours had also given her a beautiful plum pie which he had made himself - he is a widower of about 87 years of age, and the FH said it was really excellent pastry, and all home made. We sat around chatting for some time after the meal, and the girls were giving Grandad some pointers on his camera and mobile phone, whilst we had a cup of tea. We had to leave by 3pm in order to be home in time to turn the incubating eggs, but we had had a lovely time, and the YFG came home with two little sunflower seedlings - they are from sunflowers MB grew last year, and they reached well over 9 feet tall, so we are hoping for some whoppers here this year.

Talking of seedlings - the kale is through - the little seedlings were there this morning when I undid the plastic greenhouse to have a peep at them all. I can't believe how quickly they have grown, considering that I only sowed the seeds on Friday!

This evening the FH has been out on a wild goose chase! A friend in the village called him up to get some help with a swarm of bees in one of her outbuildings, but when he got there, the swarm was old and had been there for quite some time, and was so well ensconced in the crack in the building that he felt it would be impossible to get them out, and he has unfortunately had to recommend that the pest control be called to remove them - an absolute last resort, but he felt that there may be some disease in the "hive" because of the state of the comb that he could see.

Tonight I have been helping the EFG to list a load of books on eBay - she wants to clear some space in her bedroom, and she also would like some money to buy a camera; she has found the one she would like on the Amazon website so she knows she has to raise about £65. The sales of the books might help to begin with, and then we are going to sell some Playmobil as well, which may turn out to be a little more lucrative. We'll probably try to get that listed before the weekend, as I am sure that people who browse eBay might have some time this coming long weekend.

I have also had a little clearout - a big heap of magazines has been bagged up in fours and fives for the FH to take to the lunch club tomorrow for the ladies to take home to browse and swap amongst themselves. I have kept the Slimming World magazines, as I really need to use those!!

Anyway - better get off to bed! Good night!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Even more outside work

I have been busy in the garden today, again - digging up a very overgrown strawberry bed, and relocating the best plants to a new bed, and then attempting to dig out all the grass and weeds which were causing all the trouble. I have a big and painful blister in the palm of my hand for my trouble, but 45 strawberry plants are now in the fresh, weed-free bed, well watered in and looking promising! More weeding on the agenda before that bed is clear, though...(small sigh!)

The girls have melted down some of their many Easter eggs, and used the chocolate to coat Rice Krispies and hey presto - chocolate covered Rice Krispie cakes - a blast from the past as I don't think they have made those for years - and there was exercise involved: a 2mile bike ride to the shop to buy the cereal.

We are off to my dad's tomorrow for lunch, so we have to get organised as tomorrow looks complicated already! 9am I have to go to a staff meeting at school, then to Knit & Natter at church for a while. After that, we can nip off to the lunch date. Hairdressing is timetabled for our return at about 4pm, just in time to turn the chocolate orpington eggs in the little incubator! The YFG needs a trim before she goes back to school, so B is nipping up to do that for us tomorrow afternoon. The evening will be spent sorting out clothes for school and packing their bags ready for the off at 8am on Wednesday morning - these early starts are going to be painful until we all get used to them again.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Special Sunday

Lots of things to be thankful for today -
  • Easter communion service at our chapel in the village
  • Helping out at another service a few miles away
  • Roast lamb, mint sauce and new potatoes with fresh veg for lunch, with UJ here to share it with us
  • More relatives visiting this afternoon - UJ's brother and his family
  • Another sunny day, but more bearable in terms of heat
  • Making chocolate self-saucing pudding for the gang for their tea
  • Lewis - although it was the last in the series
  • Resting!
Hope you have all had a lovely Easter!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Great Shoe Hunt

4 and a half hours, about 35 miles, two exhausted females, and finally, eventually, a pair of shoes that fit and she likes - yes, this is the great Fen Family shoe buying extravaganza!!

We started off in the local town, where we tried Stead & Simpson, Clarks, a discount outlet, and Tesco. Assorted other shops hampered our speed and we just had to pop in here and there to acquire other trifles like the weekly newspaper, and some chicken food. Then we gave up and travelled to the speciality shop in Downham Market - Smith's Shoes - where the wonderful lady found two pairs in the right size, only one of which actually fit, but the YFG also liked them, a bit.

The YFG was flagging, and had to be pepped up with a lolly, but all this shoe-trying-on is hard work on a girl, don't you know!! I was just glad that the EFG's shoes still fit for another half-term or so....

Friday, 22 April 2011

More sunshine and some gardening

The FH has been busy pottering all day, and so I have been doing some gardening - I finally got the seeds in! Three kinds of tomatoes, some peppers, kale, pumpkins, courgettes, leeks, chives and onions, rosemary and plenty of beans - runner beans and dwarf French beans, as well as climbing French beans - we love beans! They are in the greenhouse, and in the mini greenhouse in the verandah. Now I have to do some weeding to keep the beds ready to plant them out when they are ready in a week or three.

The EFG has made whoopie pies today with her friend, and they are mostly eaten! Now that she has made them a couple of times, I have two bowls of the marshmallow filling in the fridge - why she keeps making more I don't know, but I must find something else to use it up on.

We have had fish for supper today, in the Good Friday tradition - the folks had fish pie and I had some Value white fish with home made oven chips.

The YFG has had a very lazy day: she started off helping me in the garden and quickly got fed up with that plan and retreated to the coolness of the lounge - it has been hot again today - and she watched several films - a good Disney version of Moses, and then The Princess Diaries 2. Yesterday wore her out completely, and she has had a day to recover today - she'll be back at it tomorrow.

Tomorrow there's lots on, so I'll pop in now and again to check the blogs. Happy Easter!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Spooky showing

The YFG and her friend went off to Wicksteed Park with the FH so then the EFG and I departed for the cinema.........but we were a bit late! We arrived at the cinema a good 15 minutes after the scheduled start of the film, and the foyer was empty. I asked one of the girls on the food concessions if I could still get tickets, and she said,"Yes," and sold me some. We crept into the cinema where "Red Riding Hood" was on, and slipped into seats at the front of the tiered seating. We were quiet, and it was very dark as the film had just begun. When a white screen came up and gave off a lot of light when the story line demanded snow, I turned to look at the rest of the auditorium - and we were completely alone! They were running the film just for us....

I called in at the local vegetable plant nursery on the way home and picked up 5 tumbling tomato plants, a few lettuce plants and two pepper plants, to get us off to a start whilst our own seeds come through. I pottered in the garden for an hour or so and the EFG went off to see her friend, and then later we watched a film together (yes, another one!!) and had a break! It was a lazy kind of day and one we enjoyed together.

The YFG and FH arrived home at about 7.30pm and the YFG was shattered after a busy day playing in the park. We have had jacket potatoes, mince mixture, carrots and cauliflower for supper, and we are off to bed now. Good Friday will be here soon - another Bank Holiday - but no church services in our church tomorrow, unfortunately, but I may read one to myself anyway. Sunday morning in church will be very joyful, and I always feel that Easter isn't quite right if you don't mark His death on GF first. Easter is as big a Christian festival as Christmas, but somehow it has been turned into a "Bank Holiday weekend" for everyone, and some folk don't understand what it is all about at all.......

Enough wittering - I'm off to bed with a book! Night, all.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sunshine - so much sunshine!

The sun was up long before me this morning - and the FH almost strangled me in the night with the lead to the CPAP machine, so there almost was no morning for me at all!! I am feeling more rested as the days go on, and today we have done less in the garden and a little more in the house instead. I did think about going outside, but it was just too hot.....and it is only April.

The verandah doors all had to be flung open, and we have had to think about putting some shade up in there of some kind as the freezers are working overtime in the heat.

The YFG went out at 3.30pm to her friend's house for a sleepover, so we have a quiet night tonight! She and the friend will be back early in the morning as they are off to Wicksteed Park with the FH tomorrow - they are so excited! I am probably going to take the EFG to the cinema for her treat.

I'm off now - heaps of ironing to do after all the washing I got dry yesterday!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Steamer savings

On Saturday, I piled all our ingredients for our evening meal into these pots and pans so that I could cook everything on the heat of just one gas ring!

Broccoli florets in the top steamer.

Carrots and potatoes closest to the heat in the lower steamer.

And a joint of boiling bacon in the pan at the bottom, cooking away at a simmer.

I mentioned to the FH that if only I had had another steamer pan, I could have put a rolypoly pudding on the top - he urged me to go and get another one so that he wouldn't miss out next time!!

I admit that we do like these joints and sometimes we have them with roast potatoes, but that involves the oven, and I am trying to cut back our electricity usage so this kind of cooking arrangement goes a long way towards that goal.

And the pans - the big one at the bottom is a very good quality one from John Lewis which I have had for 11 years - the only thing is that it used to be black and the coating wore off the outside! The top steamer is stainless steel and comes from the same purchase as the pan, but the middle steamer is about the same age as me, if not older, as it was my mum's, and is still going strong. I use a steamer almost every day, so they are worth while having.

Copper marans girls

Here are a few of the new girls. They are about 13 weeks old, quite skinny and very timid, but they are getting used to fresh air now!

Here is their front door - normally we would just open the pophole but they are nervous about using it at the moment, so we are opening the whole section whilst the weather is good, and they can get used to coming and going.

Their legs look lanky!! They are lovely birds and I am very pleased with them.

Power up!

I was a trifle disappointed today with the whole electricity saga - there I was, expecting a good six hours of technology-free time!

The power went off at about 8.45am, just as the YFG was leaving for her day out, but later on, about an hour and a half later on, when the EFG, FH and I were enjoying a cup of tea, made with water from the flask I prepared earlier, there was a loud beep and we heard the answerphone come on, signalling clearly that power was restored.

I was dubious that that was that, and thought that since the power company had warned us it would be off for 6 hours, it might just be a temporary reconnection. But it wasn't. Power cut over.

I did enjoy the absolute silence for a while this morning - the kitchen was so quiet - no fridges humming away in the background, no kettle boiling, no toaster popping etc. And in the garden, one neighbour got his petrol mower out and did the lawn pretty early, which resulted in a lovely fresh-mown grass fragrance.

The overabundance of fruit flies in this area has been on the news tonight, and, boy, do we know what they mean!! There are millions of them, repopulating areas as fast as they are dying from the flyspray - and now my utility room looks like a fly graveyard and is going to need some heavy duty cleaning to get rid of all the tiny bodies. I want some of those hanging flypapers but I am not sure where to get any from, so I have asked UJ to check out a very traditional ironmonger's shop near where he lives as I think that if they are available, they will have them!

The FH and I spent some time in the garden this morning, before it got too hot. We were filling tubs with soil and then planting potatoes - I think we have 9 tubs of them now. We also filled some of the tomato troughs up with fresh soil, although there are more to do which need weeding before we can top them up. We still didn't get any seeds planted today - there's always tomorrow!

I'm off!

Just got to boil the kettle to fill the flask, and then we are set for our day without electricity. I have managed to get 4 loads of washing done, so that can hang outside in the lovely sunshine to dry, and I am hoping to get some gardening done.

Back later, when the power's on again - cheerio!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Planned power cut

There is going to be an electricity cut tomorrow in parts of the village between 8.30am and 4.30pm. I'm quite looking forward to it!!

No phone, no computer, no tv, no washing machine, no iron! So it also means no kettle, but we can fill a flask before the power goes off, we are going to boost the freezers to the max setting tonight and then leave them unopened tomorrow, and we have a gas hob so we can still cook if we want to.

The YFG is going out with some friends to the coast tomorrow, so it won't really affect her, and I anticipate a day in the garden, and some studying. I'm not planning on going anywhere, and the peace will be novel.

The incubator has been taken to a friend's house tonight, and will be retrieved when the power is back on later tomorrow.

Gymnastics competition

Yesterday's gymnastics competition went well, on the whole. We took a rather different complement of gymnasts from the year before and the results reflect that. Some of the older girls who competed in this one last year have moved up a level and will be competing at a comp in June. That meant that the girls and boy in the comp yesterday were younger on average, and less experienced. A couple of our gymnasts weren't able to attend because of the late notice of the date, and that also had a minor impact on the results.

However, the gymnasts brought home 7 Gold medals, 9 Silver and 2 Bronze, so we are still very proud of them. A number of them also managed some very creditable 4th/5th/6th positions in large fields, so they are also winners!

The gym is on holiday now until the first Tuesday in May, so we have a couple of weeks to think about some new lesson plans and ideas for what we want to achieve with the gymnasts next term.

I have spent today mooching around and doing very little as I feel so tired after yesterday - like I am just getting over the flu, that kind of tiredness - and I wasn't up early this morning. The EFG has made some Whoopie Pies this afternoon, and we babysat some friends this afternoon whilst their mum was busy for an hour. They brought "The Sword in the Stone" DVD along, which stimulated some interested discussions between us about the many variations on the Arthurian legend - including the "Merlin" tv programme which is currently being repeated on CBBC in advance of the new season starting soon. I have a book called "The Road to Avalon" by Joan Wolf, I think, which I love, whether it is an accurate reflection on the legend or not. I even gave the EFG a middle name from the book!

Winners ahoy!

The winner of the Allotment Notebook, picked at random from lots of little folded pieces of paper by the YFG this morning is..........drum roll, please.....................Silversewer!

Thank you to everyone else who was kind enough to comment.

Silversewer, please send me your address as a comment, which I won't publish. And Albedo, for the Home Farmer magazine, please could I have your address as well please so I can get them both in the post this week.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

RHS Allotment notebook giveaway

Don't forget to send me your comments on this today as we will be picking a winner at 10am Monday morning. And we will ship it anywhere, so don't worry about where you live!

Early morning start

The YFG and I are off to a gymnastics competition in Luton this morning, and we have to leave here by 7am. She is not competing this time, just coming to cheer some of her friends on! It will be a long day and I am not expecting to get home before 9pm tonight, so I'll be back tomorrow to reflect on how the day went.

The weather today is supposed to be warm, so I hope you all enjoy your Sundays.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Quick giveaway

Home Farmer magazine - I bought this one last month and then have subscribed, asking for the May issue, but got sent this one. I have rung up this morning and they are sorting it out for me - very nice people - so they said to pass this duplicate copy on to someone who would appreciate this.

First commenter who wants it, gets it!

Friday, 15 April 2011

700th post giveaway

Another milestone for me - 700 posts!
In a change from the past where I have given away cookery books and a set of talking book tapes, this time it is a gardening item.

This is a lovely little hardback RHS folder, called the "Allotment Notebook" but anyone who grows things could use it - you don't need an allotment to grow things, as we all know.
If you are not a gardener yourself, it would make a lovely present for a friend or relative.

So, comments please! 10am Monday morning, a name will be drawn from a hat and it will be posted off to the winner.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The best laugh this week

<em>Casting Creme Gloss</em> 515 <em>Chocolate Truffle</em>
Allowing one's 14year old daughter, the EFG, to dye one's hair - hilarious!! Just got to dry it now and make sure it has come out "Chocolate Truffle" coloured, and covered up all the greys...that's frugal home hairdressing. The only more frugal thing I could do would be to let the grey show, and I'm not quite ready for that yet - although they do show for a while in between colourings!

Edit - it's dry now and it is a little darker than I thought it would be, but the greys are gone for now!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Using it all up from the stockcupboards

Inspired by Frugal Queen, we are trying to eat up some of our stores to save some money towards the laptop expense. Above here are some fruit loaves and dough buns which I made from an Big Brands For Less big bag of mixture. The dough buns rose, were baked and then iced so we ended up with home made iced buns, just like you can buy in the shop but for a fraction of the cost. The fruit loaves came from the same mixture but with the addition of mixed fruit and a teaspoon of spices.

Today the FH and UJ went out to their lunch club, so the girls and I ate our main meal at lunchtime too, since they are on school holidays - chicken and broccoli from the freezer, coleslaw from the fridge, and Smash-type instant potato which was a little left in the bottom of an old tub and really needed using up!!

This was the chicken - I made a sauce from a little golden syrup and some ketchup, garlic and finely diced red pepper - and it was delicious.

Earlier in the week - another chicken concoction - home made stew!

And using up those black bananas - a firm family favourite. One to eat and one to freeze.

Tonight I watched "Superscrimpers" on C4, I think - what a revelation. Some of the army of older ladies have some fab ideas for moneysaving, and then there was the young mum, Sarita, who was spending over £300/month on clothes, mostly for herself, although she said some were for her young children. That is a lot of money to be spending on clothes on a monthly basis - and she was doing it on the internet, and a lot of the clothes were stashed in a wardrobe, unworn. A monthly gas bill of £96 was also swiftly addressed!

I'm so lucky to have found all the blogs I know of, and I am sure that there are so many more, which can teach me so much about spending wisely and saving for what we need.


This is our big automatic electric incubator - an Italian Corti model.
The turning motor is attached in this block on the side with an additional power supply. The turning motor is an addition, as it is possible to buy it without the turning mechanism - cheaper but more work. It means that if you use the mechanism, two sockets are needed.

This is it, empty. There is a water reservoir at each end, and that light blue toggle is the internal thing on which the rack sits which makes the rack move backwards and forwards to turn the eggs. It is very easily cleaned with some Flash.

Here is the plastic tray on which the eggs actually sit.

These dividers ensure that the eggs stay in one place and just rotate on the longest axis.

This is it, loaded up last night with the Cornish eggs at the front of the picture and my eggs behind.

Plans, plans!

We'd quite like to go back to Thetford Forest for another long walk through the woods - that is a lovely day out! Really depends on the housework and gardening and the weather!

Planning to make more use of the Remoska and use the big oven less.

Very keen to make another trip to Ely Cathedral - we love it and haven't been for a couple of years now. The FH isn't up to the walking but he would happily sit down by the river and watch the world go by....

Some of these arrived from Cornwall, well packaged, so they went in to the incubator last night with some of our own eggs - fully loaded now with 25 eggs.

And the hens are laying well now, so we are planning to get the older polystyrene box incubators out and hatch a few more of our own eggs - we are figuring that two hatches close together may be easier to manage than spreading them through out the season as we did last year....and I have my eye on some bantam Chocolate Orpington eggs on ebay - they are going "Cheep!" if you can pardon the pun - auction finishes at 8pm tonight so will I bid or won't I?!?

Edited to add - I bid - but will I win??

Back again - I won! Six bantam Chocolate Orpington eggs for just £1.04 and postage.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Bother the weather

The sunshine has gone, and is replaced with gusty winds and overcast skies.  The chooks are not enjoying the wind, and I am sad about the lack of sun and warmth.  I really hope that that was not our summer!!  The YFG and her friend want to go to Wicksteed Park in Kettering next week, so I have ordered vouchers for their entry fee from the Tesco Clubcard site - hoping that they arrive by a week on Thursday, and that the weather behaves.  They can wear sweaters if it is chilly, but it must not rain!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A gorgeous day in the Fens

Apart from me nipping off to church on my own this morning, I have spent the day at home with the family - and it has been blissful!  The weather has been gorgeous - bright, warm and sunny.  I have had washing blowing dry on all the lines in the garden, I have pottered around, watching chooks, cleaning the incubator, looking through the seed boxes, putting weed'n'feed on the front lawn, cooking a roast dinner, and then a microwave sponge pud for tea which the FH and I ate down the garden, sitting in deck chairs, watching the chooks some more, with a cuppa.  Tonight I have watched Lewis, so that has been a good end to a lovely day.

I hope you have had similarly sunny days today, wherever you are.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

End of term relief!

Yes, I finally feel like we have made it to the end of a long term!  Gymnastics classes are all finished now until after the Royal Wedding, and so we have almost three weeks of school holidays, apart from a pesky two days where the kids have to go to school on the Wednesday and Thursday between Easter and the Wedding - hardly worth the effort, but I know that there is a legal minimum number of days that the children have to be in school so they have to fit them all in somewhere!

I managed an extra hour in bed this morning, and then ended up doing the headless chicken dance, trying to get it all done before we had to go out.  I got to the shed to let the chooks out and found one a bit sorry for herself - her legs are not working terribly well and she was being trodden on by the others - chooks don't do sympathy or empathy at all.  I separated her and gave her some food and water; by the time I got home again at 3pm she was able to walk if she had to, but she preferred not to, so she had made a little progress towards recovery.  She is in a box with some straw in the shed, apart from her mates, tonight, and we will assess her tomorrow.  Hopefully she will be looking better.

Gym was busy this morning with 30 children and lots to do as it was the last training session before a lot of them have a competition next Sunday.   We came back to the village and dropped another child off and then stopped to have a chat with his parents for a while, enjoying a nice cold drink in their garden.

Later I took the YFG and went off to Huntingdon - I bought the laptop I want to save up for!  I know that sounds rather backwards, but I just took the money out of savings and committed to replacing it by the end of the month, which I know I can do.  We needed some new crockery and I wanted to buy a set I had seen in our local Tesco but when I went to buy it last night, they were out of stock, so I rang round and found out that  the big store had 15 sets in stock.  I was rather mystified as I thought wherever you bought something from a Tesco, it would be the same price - but not so - it was £20 in our local store, £19 in another, and when I bought it today, it was only £18.  I know that isn't a huge difference, but it is nevertheless a difference.  And so this doesn't fit with having a super-frugal month, does it?  No, it doesn't but sometimes you just have to do these things - the crockery has chooks on it and I just loved it!!  It hasn't broken the bank....

On the way home from Huntingdon, I called in to see my Dad and MB.  They have had someone out to sort them out with a Freeview box and new remote control, but they can't quite get the hang of it, so the YFG soon set-to and gave them a quick lesson.  It was nice to see them, and they would like us to go over in the holidays for lunch one day, so I must bear that in mind.

And so tonight - the EFG and FH are laughing at Michael Macintyre on the tv and the YFG is setting up the new laptop which she and I will share.  It is red.  She is very pleased that it is red!

My incubator is still sitting in the verandah covered in a thick layer of dust, but little Leah has gone broody, so the question now is what to do with the eggs I bought from Cornwall this week - put them in the incubator or trust them to Leah?  I think Leah might get a go - they arrived from Cornwall yesterday so I could sort Leah out with somewhere safe and cosy to sit and then put them under her tomorrow.....and I must get some other eggs in the incubator this week as otherwise time is ticking on and I am getting nowhere fast - nary a seed set this year yet either........

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Heading for another milestone

I am heading for my 700th post here, so I am thinking about a giveaway again.  Chances are it might be a cookbook, as I have lots and lots.......but then again, it might be something a bit more inspired - I'll think about it as I have 8 posts to go, I think.

Today has been a gloriously sunny day like yesterday and it has been a joy to be outside, and to have washing on the line.  It all smells gorgeous.  We had a trip to the town this morning, the FH and I.  He wanted some screws and nails, and I needed to put a key through a friend's door and go to the Co-op, where I bought a lot of fresh fruit and veg and some reduced-price meat.  We haven't been out together like that for several weeks, so that was lovely.  The FH pottered in his shed for a while this afternoon whilst I was at school (again!) and prepared some veg for tea for me, as I had put a casserole in the oven before I went out.

This evening, I took the girls back to school to watch the Drama club's production of The Crucible.  It wasn't bad, but me being so tired, I was ready to come home by the interval.  Since one of the EFG's friends was one of the main characters, we weren't allowed to leave by the EFG, so we stayed, but I am heading off to bed now.

Stats and recipes

I love to check the stats page on the Dashboard of Blogger here on the blog - and it never ceases to amaze me that people are reading this! But I have noticed that day in, day out, someone looks at the sausage plait recipe, back in the posts a couple of years, and that frequently the posts for courgette cakes are also looked at - why is that? People find them through Google, it seems - so perhaps they are searching for specific recipes - interesting! Perhaps I should include more recipes and food ideas on here - what do you think?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

My Mum

Mothering Sunday just having passed, my thoughts are now turning to tomorrow. If she'd still been with us, it would have been Mum's 70th birthday tomorrow.

She died back in 1998, so my memories of her are as a 56 year old, but because of her illnesses, she was old before her time, and certainly died too young. She knew the EFG, and loved her totally. We lived in Scotland then, so she liked to travel up to see us quite often. She came up with my dad the week before she died so we had fresh memories of a week spent with the EFG when she died.

The call came at lunchtime to tell me that she had collapsed and been taken into the hospital, but it took us until nearly 3pm to make the travel arrangements and get the responsibilities at home taken care of, so it was 11pm before we made it to the hospital. She was unconscious, but I remember kissing her and telling her that I had brought the EFG to see her, and that I would bring the EFG back in the morning to the hospital. We went home to my parents' house and went to bed. The phone rang just after 1am to say that she had died.

She had been battling against cancer for several years; leiomyosarcoma, I believe her particular battle was called. It started in her uterus, spread to her back, her head, and eventually she had lumps and bumps all over the place, even after enduring several long operations.

And so she never met the YFG, didn't see us move back to England, missed out on all the big milestones in the girls' lives, missed out on her own life so much. And we miss her terribly and still wonder occasionally what life would be like if she was still here.

But she lives on, particularly as I see her every day in the mirror as I am getting older! The EFG shows a lot of signs of being in the same mould as my mum and I. My sister also has a lot of her traits, some we share and some are different but no one could doubt that we are her daughters.

Tea party

This is what the EFG did for me for Mothering Sunday at lunchtime when we came home from church - "Mum's teaparty" on the buns!

There was tea as well, and a candle lit - and my huge "Best Mum in the World" mug too!
It was a very special surprise for me.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The other end of the day

My eyes are on matchsticks and my feet ache!

I have had to send a couple of emails, but I am off to get in the bath and head to bed now. Night all!

Early morning - bleary eyed

Good morning friends! I am up very early as I have a babysitting favour to do for a friend this morning: she has to take her mother to hospital for 7am, so I am going to her house at 5.50am to look after her children and get them to school at 8.30am in case the traffic holds her up, and to save the children having to go out at this time of the morning.......I am just sitting here with a cup of tea, coming round!

Today is looking very fragmented already:
babysitting job until 8.30am, home to let out the chooks and hang the washing, meeting at school at 10am, home for lunch, back to school for 1.30pm for a quick chat, home again probably, then the shortlisting for the HT job at 3.30pm for as long as it takes, then gymnastics till 8pm. It is going to be a very in-and-out kind of day, and I will be ready for my bed by 9pm tonight, I am sure.

I have packed the lunches for the girls and have to wake the EFG up just as I am going out the door to do something to her hair for her, then she will probably doze until 7am, when I will ring them to make sure they are both getting up. They will be fine to get themselves out of the door by 8am then.

Hope you all have a good day, and I will try to pop back later!

Monday, 4 April 2011


A lovely lady from Northern Ireland has asked for info about my incubator....I haven't forgotten! I got it out of the shed yesterday, and it needs a thoroughly good clean before I can take photos of it, so I'll aim to get those done today, and then the post will follow shortly for you! Thanks for asking.

In the meantime, here is a link to information about mine, and I do believe I bought it from the company I have linked to. I thought I bought it from Ascott Smallholding Supplies, but they don't stock it, and I remember having a large box delivered on its own, so it was probably this!! I bought my lamps for brooding the chicks from Ascott, and leg rings, and a humidity gauge as well, so they are a mine of useful bits and pieces for chicken keepers.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

On Mothering Sunday in the evening

It's still Sunday, just - and I have had a lovely day with my girls and family. The church services went off well, and then we came home to find that the EFG had made cakes and prepared a tea party for me. She took a photo for me of how she had arranged the table - it was just lovely! I'll share the picture when she emails it to me. Tea and cakes was actually lunch!

In the afternoon, I pootled around a little; the YFG and I cut the front lawn, I looked at the chooks, my dad and MB came over and had a cup of tea with us and told us about their last holiday. I saw the end of Nigel Slater's programme, missed Guy and his boat completely, watched some of Countryfile, ate our tea and then I had a snooze! We've got the girls off to bed, watched Lewis on ITV + 1, and so here I am, just turning things off and putting the ironing away on my way to bed!

I've had a few moments to think about my own mother, and the YFG was asking what life would be like if she was still here. Quite different, probably! I lit a candle for her today, and one for Merry.

On Mothering Sunday in the morning

Here I am again - having a first cup of tea, reading some blogs, checking some emails, reading through the service I am delivering at 11am, and enjoying the peace and quiet!!

We are having, from today, additional monthly services, just on that first Sunday of the month, at 11am. The existing 9.30am service will be led by the preacher on the plan, and then people who can't be there at 9.30am can come along at 11am and they will have to make do with me. I have put together a service [my tenth - I have just counted them up in the book] which is more for adults than children, but if any children turn up, there are bits in it that can be adapted, but for which I shall have to rely upon the YFG to help me! We are going to the 9.30am service first ourselves, and then we shall have to get things sorted out for the second service....the FH has to go and fetch one older lady who would like to attend but needs transport. Even if we start small today, I hope it will grow throughout the year.

If you are reading this early, think of me at 11am and wonder as I am doing now, whether I will be facing a congregation of 3 (older lady, FH and YFG) or more!!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Remembering Freddie and his family today

Today I am thinking about a family I know. Their fifth child, a boy, was born last year on the 2nd April, so today would have been his first birthday. And therein lies the pain - Freddie lived for only 11 days. You can read his story on Merry's blog - a few days ago she asked that his name be spoken today, and his life remembered and I want to honour him and his family by doing that here for them all.

I know Merry and her daughters from when we used to home educate, and although I haven't seen them much over the past five years or so, I do follow Merry's blog and have enjoyed watching her daughters grow up through the window that the internet affords us. We all send them much love today and always.

Friday, 1 April 2011

April Fool's Day

No one has got me yet, but there are a few hours to go! The girls are off to school - should be there by now - and not a mention this morning of playing any tricks.

I'm going to look at a few things more carefully this month, and make a few Spring resolutions, I think. I am going to follow Froog's example and have a super frugal month, but I also need to look at our health and diet too, so I'll be doing some more comprehensive meal planning and looking for excuses to get some more exercise into our lives. What with all that has been going on at school, I have lost the plot a little here at home, and that needs rectifying sharpish.

The reason for having a super frugal month is to gather together enough money to buy another laptop without touching the savings, and indeed, without affecting my ability to continue to save, so that means finding about £350 out of the monthly spending budget by cutting back drastically on other things. I have put off this purchase for over a year now, and can't ignore it any longer. The EFG had a laptop for her birthday when she was going into Y8 at school, and it was a good one, but it broke down and was not able to be repaired, although we tried several repair shops to make sure the first wasn't just trying to sell us a new one! When it broke down, I had just bought a new one for the YFG and myself to share (this computer I am using now is a desktop which I have had for over 6 years and I think it is on its last legs) but with the breakdown of the EFG's, she sort of adopted it, and it is now full of her music, and the rest of us have to book a slot on it. Arguments are frequent, as this old one is not capable of doing some of the stuff that they want it to do, as the programmes are old, and upgrading them doesn't seem to be cost-effective. I have been looking at laptops on the internet, in the supermarkets, etc for a long time, and I don't think I can put it off any longer, so the aim will be to a) research the best model for our needs and b) to save up the right amount of money by the end of the month.

The FH, EFG and I could all do with losing some weight, and now that the warmer weather is in sight, now might be a good time to get to grips with that as well! I'm going to set my sights high, and aim for a post a day on here too!!