Sunday, 30 September 2012

Party pennies

We had a wonderful afternoon tea party yesterday - I was so busy and then so engaged in chattering with all the guests that I didn't get any photos, so you have to make do with the logos of the charities we supported yesterday afternoon!

People came and had a good time, they said, so I was very pleased.  I over-catered but it would never do to not have enough food for everyone, and the congregation at the chapel this morning won't mind cake with the  morning coffee.

I was so grateful for the help of the church ladies who manned the tea pots and the washing up bowl admirably.  Two of them stayed in the kitchen most of the time, and another two were helping them out.  The  girls, my own and the others from church, were most helpful in so many ways, so we were very proud of them too.

I hope you all had a cup of tea and some cake yesterday afternoon and enjoyed the "virtual" party!

We raised a further £300 yesterday afternoon, to be shared between the chapel and Macmillan, so overall, after both the events, Macmillan will be getting £320 and the chapel £150.  I think we did well for them!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Macmillan pennies

Every penny counts when one is fundraising, and we managed to collect quite a few pennies together today!

The raffle, thanks to the hard work of my friend, Joyce, raked in just over £100 which was amazingly good, and the donations for tea, coffee and cakes amounted to just over £60, so all in all, we have about £170 in the pot to send off to the charity from this morning's event.  The chapel was packed out at one point and we had to make room for a party of latecoming gentlemen (yes, the FH and his mates!) by getting out more chairs and an extra table.  

It was lovely to have so many people there.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Chicken run

Right now, I would love to have my feet up and a cuppa in one hand, whilst watching the funny animated film of that name!

(image from

But it is our chickens which have been liberated this afternoon from this kind of establishment:

(image from

The recent downpours have made their runs very muddy so the FH has let them out to pillage in the vegetable garden, and they are loving it!

They are finding all sorts of tasty morsels to eat, having a jolly good scratch around, and sunbathing!

The FH was instructed to make sure that they couldn't poop all over the patio, and get under the porch area near the back door, so he has constructed, in a Heath-Robinson manner, a little fence to keep them out.  They are happy, I am happy!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Parcels away

The little booklets are parcelled up and posted, so Ang, Susan [VC] and Lesley can expect them very soon! SarahElisabeth has something going in the post that I promised some time ago as well - that will be posted today.

Menu planning

I had got out of the habit of planning the week's meals, knowing that there was food in the freezer and cupboards that I could pull out each morning to be cooked in the evening.  The trouble was that we have had to re-adjust to getting back into the swing of term time activities again, and things have changed in that department a little.

The EFG has started a hockey club on a Tuesday evening, at the same venue as the gym club, but at a different time.  So, consequently, it was a bit of a hiccup last week in the culinary department.  I went to school to pick the YFG up and took her to the gym, so I left here at 3pm.  The YFG has a snack at about 4.30pm when we have the gym equipment set up and then we have classes until 8pm.  The FH brought the EFG to the venue in time for hockey at 7.30pm, and he took the YFG home with him a little earlier than she would normally have left gym, because after gym, I had to sit and read a book until the hockey finished at 9pm.  The EFG and I arrived home at 9.15pm.  Hungry.

I had had a sort of plan that the EFG would do herself a microwave baked potato and beans before hockey, and then the YFG would cook herself a piece of fish and some veg from the freezer when she got home after gym.  This they did, and I ate some leftovers at 9.30pm.  The FH managed to eat twice, as they each made enough for him as well when they made their meals!!

It wasn't terribly good all in all. This week, I was more on the ball, and had some mince out of the freezer on Monday evening so that it was defrosted by Tuesday morning, and able to be cooked then into a shepherd's pie.  They both went to hockey this week, and were able to re heat portions of the pie before they went, and I had my portion when I got home.

Tonight, I have thought about what to make again, as we have a fairly quick turnaround to get the EFG to Guides, so planning definitely helps!  My trouble is keeping it up, but I will try...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Baking and other stuff

The baking for the weekend is underway, and two banana/chocolate/walnut loaves are in the freezer, two boiled fruit cakes are wrapped in foil and stored in tins, and three ginger cakes have had to be hidden in the utility room before anyone attacked them with a knife!

Tomorrow, Twink's hobnobs are on the list to be made.

This morning the FH and I had a whim to go to Scotland this October half term.  It lasted about half an hour, in which time we discussed travel [hiring a motorhome], where to stay [campsite just outside St Andrews], making the journey in one day [probably not] and the weather [forecast looking bad] and added up how much it would cost....£650 for the motorhome, about £180 for the campsite, the fuel, the overnight stops - and then we stopped.  It was getting ridiculously expensive, and I only wanted to visit two old friends in Cupar for the week.  Trouble is that they ARE both old - both over 80, and we haven't seen them in about 5 years face to face.  They are definitely worth the trip, as we dearly love them both, but it was all escalating out of control.    A little more time and effort researching to find cheaper options is on the cards, and probably not for October.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


Having launched this giveaway on the 30th August, I then forgot all about it!

I have four more titles to add to the bundle.

I found this bundle this afternoon whilst tidying, so here I am with the winners - I decided that Lesley, Ang and Varis Creations should share them.  Hope that is OK with you, ladies.

So, I have VC's address, I have lost Lesley's and I haven't had Ang's, so if you two would supply me with your addresses via the comments, I will get these sent out tomorrow.

I am putting them randomly into three envelopes, and you will get them allocated as the addresses come in so it will be a surprise as to which you will get.  Happy cooking!

On the subject of sorting...

I need more magazines published like this lovely one I found today!  91magazine is published on the internet, and is free. That would keep the FH very happy as they would be stored in the hard drive on the pc and not on the shelves here...he doesn't mind eating what I produce, or trying out the gardening ideas, but he isn't keen that I have the inspirational magazines "cluttering up" the house.

Someone on the MSE forums has one of these gorgeous shelf  units from IKEA and on it she stores 10 years worth of Good Food magazines, as well as others.  I don't have 10 years of anything...I did think that the unit would be useful as it is possible to buy deep drawers to put in the cubes and I could see tablecloths and napkins nestling in a couple, as well as all the Wii paraphenalia in another, and even the board games would have a home.  The contents of the sideboard which would have been displayed in a "china cabinet" 30 years ago could actually see daylight for a change, and we could enjoy them instead of them being tucked away and never seen.  I might [might!] pop the odd book or two in random cubes, but it would hold so much and look useful.  They even come in different sizes, and I was toying between the 16 cube one or the 25 cube one.  It was a question of how long I could bear to be saving for it for - 16 cubes would be quicker!

But No, I have been told that I can't have one.  Words were exchanged last night, and I went to bed rather angry.  Frustrated, perhaps.

Because although I know that in a lot of ways, I am in charge of a lot of things here, I am only in charge because the FH allows me to be.  He makes the final decisions on things like cars, furniture, livestock and pets for example.  That's why we don't have a dog.

No comments about feminism, thank you.  This is right, for me, for us, for this Christian family - just as the Christian family worldwide looks to God for leadership, this family looks to the head of the household, who is the FH.  He challenges me to do better, to grow more, to be stronger and more disciplined.  And that is right too.  So that lovely [yes, OK, I am not quite over it yet!] unit will not be mentioned any more, and I will look for other sorts of storage which are already here.  I am challenged!

A little chuckle

(Image from

I have an Approved Foods order due tomorrow, and I just clicked the link to check how far it has got on its journey to the Fens.  Currently, the tracking page shows that it is at the "Sortation Facility"....


"Sortation Facility" - is that like a Sorting office at  Royal Mail, perhaps?  Some kind of central hub from where parcels are re-routed to their destinations?

However, I am jolly sure that "sortation" isn't a word.

According to my Collins Concise English dictionary (which isn't that concise because it is about two inches thick!), 'sort' can be a noun as in, "He's a good sort." It can be a verb, to sort, in which one would be expected to differentiate between items, for example.  One who does sorting can be a "sorter", another noun.
But sortation, no, that's not there!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Menu decisions

I have been looking through my recipe folders and books this evening.  One thing is for sure, there will be plenty of tea served next Saturday!  I have 8 boxes of Tetley in my storecupboard courtesy of AF and Tesco selling it off cheaply, so I will be taking a box to the Macmillan morning on the 28th, and then maybe another to the party.

I bought a couple of these cute cake stands from Lakeland as they have been reduced to clear - I don't mind being patriotic whilst we celebrate!

These are the Paul Hollywood scones, and they are definitely on the menu, with raspberry jam, and perhaps some cream too!  I shall have to make a couple of double batches though.

I am sure there will be a variety of cakes - I'm thinking coffee and walnut sponge like this might be a good start, as well as butterfly cakes, ginger cake, carrot cake....

And yes, there will be savouries too - I'll think about those tomorrow!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Party poopers

I know that some people don't get on with others, but I am only going to be 40 once, and it seems to be a threshold in one's life that is worth a little extra celebrating.  With that in mind, I invited everyone whom I would like to share in the celebration with me.

I have had two messages today from people asking if specific other people are expected.  One group, on being told that the objects of their questioning will be at the party, said that was OK, and they just wanted to know, but they will still be there.  Thank goodness for that!

However, I am not sure that the second questioner will come now that I have replied in the affirmative to the request....

I had long chats with the lovely UJ before I started all this, concerning the wisdom of getting this disjointed family of mine all in one place.  He is like me and has no quarrel with any of them.  They disagree amongst themselves!  He and I hoped that people would come for MY sake, and be able to put their differences aside for an afternoon.  

I have decided to not get upset about this, because I could so easily, but to let it go.  Those who want to be at the party will share the celebration with me, and the rest won't.  Perhaps if they are going to be uncomfortable, it will be better for them to stay away.  

I think we should have a virtual party in spirit here, as there are some lovely people in the blogsphere who I would have loved to invite but you are all such a distance away!  

The other slight party pooper is the organist - he was coming on Wednesday to have a look at the organ at the chapel and he didn't turn up!  I got an email Thursday morning to say he had arrived at 7.15pm, more than half an hour after the arranged time, by which time the FH had given up waiting and come home.  We are going to try again this Wednesday...

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I do love to share when I find something lovely, and I have two sites I want to share with you all tonight, although I am sure that some of you will already have found them.  I was doing some bloghopping early this morning and came across them both, so it was a lovely start to my day.  And they are both Christians, so I am even more pleased to share their places with you.

At the first, I am going to link directly to the home page, rather than to a specific post, because there are lots of wonderful posts at Lilian's blog so please have a look - she is sharing some patchwork, plenty of innovative and frugal home decorating ideas, and her beautiful children and cats feature as well as her absolutely Gorgeous chickens!

And the second.  I haven't even begun to plumb the depths of this inspirational website so I am linking you straight in to the post where I found some lovely Advent resources.  Someone else (Lilian, I think!) linked to this page because she had used these lovely Advent cards to make a home made Advent calendar, and put a card in each pocket.  I am no seamstress, so I won't be making the calendar that way, but I am racking my brains and nudging every creative atom I can summon together to give me some other ideas about how I could make use of these cards.  Have a look and you will see what I mean.  I am sure I will be browsing this site more often and there will be more things to share!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A frugal forum

[Image from mothering .com]

I know that some of my readers are Moneysavingexpert fans, as I am now and again, but there is another forum which I visit quite often too, at Frugaldom which I am sure that some of you would find interesting, and I know that several of my readers came from there too!

It is a fun forum with lots of different topics, and hordes of fab ideas there too.  There is a fairly busy Daily thread on there, and it is all about living a frugal life, for whatever reason you need or choose to be thrifty.  There are Challenges for support and inspiration, which always help.

Do pop over there and have a look when you have time.  I post there under a different moniker but you will find the link back here in the signature, so you'll know it is me!

Day off

Sorry that there was no post yesterday, but there was so much to do in the real world that I didn't really get on here much at all!

I spent the morning trying to finish a section of Faith and Worship, my local preaching course, and I kept at it until 1.30pm, which was very good going for me.  The FH hasn't quite got to grips with the idea that when I have my head bent over paper and folders and a pen in my hand, that I am working!  He sits on the piano stool and mutters things at me at intervals, but after I ignored him a few times yesterday (kindly, I will add, I was "mmmm-ing" at times!) he took the hint and went to find other things to occupy himself.

I had some lunch, packed some bags, took a shower and went off to gymnastics then, via the school to pick up the YFG.  The EFG came home on the bus.  We were at gym together until 7.30pm when the FH arrived with the EFG, who had come to the same venue to play hockey for 90 minutes.  The FH took the YFG home with him, and I was at the gym  until 8.15pm, when I then went and sat to read a book until the EFG had finished hockey at 9pm.

Once home, I cooked my tea (everyone else had eaten at various times by then) and headed towards the bath.  I was rather pre-occupied last night, as I am this morning, by a disturbing incident which occurred last night at the gym, and although I slept last night, it has been on my mind because I am unsure of how the future will unfold because of it.  It may not blow over, and certain other people's actions may have longer term ramifications - I have done nothing wrong and just got caught in the middle between two other parties.

So, this morning, I am in for a time of housework and rebooting the washing machine at intervals to get the mountain of washing under control!  The sun is shining and we will see what the day brings.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Ginger cake

Don't they look gorgeous fresh out of the oven?  I actually made three, but the other one sat on the cooker.

They will cool overnight and then two will go in the freezer and the other one will be wrapped and tinned up for a few days to go a bit sticky!  I'll get it out again towards the weekend for sampling.

Just wish we had smelly-vision as the aroma of warm ginger cake is just beautiful.

The recipe is well worth a try!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Busy day

How to sum up today in a few words?

  • Fantastic new minister at chapel this morning!
  • YFG at gym competition this afternoon - clean sweep of gold medals in all four pieces for her age group, so consequently, the gold medal overall and a trophy!  One tired but happy YFG and one proud mummy :)
  • And tonight - the return of Downton Abbey - lovely.  90 minutes tonight, and I could sit and knit because I did the ironing yesterday - bliss.
Off for a hot bath now.  Good night, all xx

The excellent ginger cake

I realised that I have posted the good ginger cake recipe before - here but there are no photos...I'll try to make some more cake this week and take pictures!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A question of how far...

How far would one go in the search of the frugal alternative?  For thrift's sake?

We decided this week that a particular ginger cake recipe was probably a step too far, in these times, but that if we had lived in wartime, and were hungry, it would be acceptable.  Situations change, and what we would accept in one situation might be different, I think.

I found a recipe for a wartime ginger cake in the Wartime Farm book, and I saw that the same recipe also appears in the Good Food magazine this month.  Their home economist remarks that it is a little dry and would be better eaten with custard.

Anyway, the thing with this cake is the peculiarity of the ingredients.  Simply flour, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger, and tepid water.  That's it.  No eggs, no fat of any kind.  

It bakes ok and comes out looking like a traybake should.  The instructions say to wrap it and store it in a tin for at least two days.  I made it Wednesday evening, and it was sampled on Friday evening, so that would be about right.

Chief taster, YFG, said, "It's a bit chewy," but ate it!  The square has been reduced in the tin so someone has had some more, and the FH is getting some for pudding tonight with some of the recommended custard.  But I have a tremendous recipe from elsewhere for ginger cake, so I will be sticking to that one in the foreseeable future.

Sometimes we just have to try these things, don't we?!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Home made truffles

Not the best photo in the world, but you get the idea!

You will remember that there is a famous brand of delicious chocolates which are available in many shops; they are sold in clear perspex-type boxes, in which the individual sweeties are wrapped in gold paper and sit in a little brown case.  There has been a tv advertisement for them in the past featuring a huge heap of them!

You know what I am talking about?

They aren't cheap.  But, thanks to The Frugal Graduate, we have a way of making them much more affordable, which takes only about 20 minutes of your time.

Check out that link to find the original recipe.  I made a few alterations!

I bought ready roasted hazelnuts, so that cut out a huge section of the recipe and meant I could just chuck them straight in with the bashed-with -the end-of-the-rolling-pin ice cream wafers.  

I then used Tesco's own brand chocolate hazelnut spread (much cheaper than Nutella) to mix the ice cream wafers and the hazelnuts - and she's right - you do have to get in there with your hands to get it all together!

I rolled them into little balls and refrigerated them.  The trick with the rolling was to wash my hands every 5 balls or so in very cold water, and then the stuff didn't stick too much!

I used Lidl's milk chocolate, and melted it in a bowl over a pan of hot water, and then just rolled them in it.  The impaling on a cocktail stick idea didn't work for me as they weren't hard enough to stay on the stick - the act of impaling started to push them apart!

Then, once coated, I put them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, as you can see above, and popped them back in the fridge overnight.

The YFG has easily eaten 5 or 6 of them since last night, some before they received their chocolate coating, and says they are lovely.  

Costs to me:

75g pack of Askeys ice cream wafers - 58p (Tesco)
100g chopped roasted hazelnuts - £1.49 (Tesco)
300g chocolate hazelnut spread - £1.11 (from a 400g jar at Tesco)
200g milk chocolate - 70p (2 x 35p bars from Lidl)
Didn't bother with the petits fours cases.

So, £3.88 spent, and 32 chocolates made, at a cost of about 12p each.  Heaps cheaper than the real thing!
The price for the real thing this morning is - a box of 16 for £4 or a tray of 24 for £6.

I think I have found something else to make for people at Christmas alongside the fudge, and having had a trial run, I think they may be popular.  This batch are being shared between the family and the ladies at the chapel craft club this morning.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sweet chilli jam

Five jars successfully made this morning!

I never did get round to making this earlier in the week, but it is made now and cooling in the jars, which are clean and labelled - with the name and date on the front and the list of ingredients on the back.

The recipe is here but I have had to modify it slightly this year.  It calls for 8 red peppers.  Have you seen the price of peppers in the shops?  80p each!  That would have been £6.40 just on the peppers, so I had to compromise on that and buy bags of mixed peppers - there were 6 in the bag so I supplemented it with just 2 larger single red peppers.  I was a tiny bit concerned that the finished product wouldn't be quite as red, but I need not have worried - it looks plenty red enough, doesn't it!?!

I used my own chillis from the greenhouse, my own tomatoes, which the FH kindly skinned for me, and a few of our own peppers, but they are rather small, so wouldn't have been enough without buying some to help them along.

Now we are going to store it away for a few weeks and let the flavours mature.  The FH scraped out the pan I cooked it in and declared it rather spicy, which pleased him, so he'll be looking forward to the official opening!

Frugal pastimes

Well, one in particular.  Many people look down on the watching of too much television, but my problem at the moment is the lack of time to watch particular programmes which I would really like to watch!

Wartime Farm. Photographer: Laura Rawlinson
(photo from

I have been so looking forward to catching up with the exploits of these guys on the farm, but haven't had a chance to watch the first episode yet, having missed it last Thursday night.

Image for Episode 5
(photo from

And The Great British Bake off - well, I think they are up to about episode 5 now, and I only saw the first one!  Now it is most inconvenient too - 8pm on a Tuesday is just when the gymnastics is finishing so by the time we have got home and supper is organised, this is the least of our priorities, and the FH is watching something else when we walk in the door so it goes right out of my head....if I had remembered anyway!

(photo from

The Bletchley Circle looked like it was going to be really interesting - a team of code breakers from Bletchley Park doing a spot of detective work after the war, and with Julie Graham as well.  Only three episodes to watch, and I haven't seen one yet either!

Downton Abbey
(image from

But somehow, I do not intend to miss this one!  The new series of Downton Abbey starts on Sunday, at 9pm, just when I will have the perfect excuse to be watching the tv - the school ironing heap - so this is in with a chance.

And in that mix we have mostly the historical with a little bit of culinary, and lots of interesting people.  Not rubbish.  And only four hours in a week.  

I know about the wonders of i-player and itv player.  I KNOW!  But it doesn't "feel" right to sit at the computer and watch tv somehow - and it is much less comfortable, and I can't get the ironing board set up in here very easily, and it wouldn't be conducive to knitting!

And you know what - the FH will be 75 in November, so we have only had to pay a measly £36 for our tv licence this year, and nothing to pay after that, so I would like to make the most out of what will be free entertainment!  

I'll read the books instead...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Afternoon tea

So, it has been arranged at last - afternoon tea for a good number of people in the chapel on the Saturday afternoon after my birthday with an organist who is well respected in the local area playing in the background.

Sounds good, so far?

But what would you recommend for "afternoon tea"?  Do you  have any delicious ideas for the menu?  Have YOU perhaps held a similar event in the past?

All ideas welcome - I'm thinking of the budget, too.  I am going to invite about 70 people, adults and children.  I don't expect them ALL to come, but I will know the weekend prior to the event how many have replied.

Small technical hitch with the printer this morning, but I am hoping to get that resolved and the invitations out this afternoon now that the organist has confirmed his availability.

Fingers crossed xx

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Not tonight...

I'm staggering off to bed, I'm afraid - dodgy hip is a bit sore and I need to soak in the bath and head for bed.  Will be back tomorrow xx

Monday, 10 September 2012

A very pleasant evening

(Image from

I'm not sure what the Harvest Festivals of yore were like, but this evening, I have been in the club room at the village hall with the Women's Section of the Royal British Legion, village branch.  I would insert the name of the village in there, but I don't do that!

About 16 women had gathered to do some committee business, have a short Harvest Service [my part], share a meal and then have a raffle and an auction of harvest-type goods.  It was actually more fun than I thought it was going to be.  I did know some of the ladies, all of them at least 10 years older than me, from events at the chapel that a few of them have attended.

I don't know much about the Royal British Legion beyond the Festival of Remembrance and the Poppy parades, so it was good to find out a bit more, and to spend some time with them.  The meeting opened with the "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them" speech, which we all stood for.  They basically do a lot of excellent fundraising in the local area to support the work of the RBL.

The meal was a bit limited for me, but that didn't matter as I have eaten since I have returned home.  The auction was fun and I came home with a jar of freshly made (this morning!) plum jam for £1, a beautiful cyclamen plant (£2), some chocolate teacakes [for the YFG] for £1, and some leftover apple pie for the FH for £1.  All the proceeds are going straight into the RBL funds, so it is a good cause. The ladies also very kindly gave me a bottle of wine for taking the time to go along and do the service, which was a lovely surprise.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the wordl’s wealthy.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation vou are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering.
If you can read this message you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read it at all.
(via bitchville)

I am in the middle of preparing some Harvest worship for a village group tomorrow evening, and I found this and wanted to share it, but also keep it somewhere safe where I could remind myself often of how truly blessed we really are.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

They've done sport proud!

Oscar Pistorius
(Image from

Oscar Pistorius won Gold in the 400m, the final track race in the Olympic stadium tonight.  A fantastic end to a wonderful Games.  He has done so much for disability sport, been a great ambassador and sportsman, that it was so right that he should win an individual Gold as the climax of the track events.  What a star.

Ellie Simmonds
(Image from

And our Ellie!  The cheerfulness, the dedication, and the smile on her face just says it all.  She was so pleased with all her medals as she was interviewed tonight - 2 Golds, a Silver and a Bronze - what a haul for such a great swimmer!  

There are more athletes than I can record here who have done sport proud in so many different disciplines.  I have been amazed by archers shooting with their feet, cyclists with one one arm and one leg, the blade runners, swimmers with no arms or no legs, the wheelchair athletes playing basketball tonight, the chaps playing bowls (I think) who could hardly move their own chairs, but could certainly launch a ball, and the wonderful spirit of the Games which holds it all together.

I know that there are still more events to come, but these track and pool events have really been the ones I have watched; they have been the ones most often on the tv when I have been able to watch, anyway!  Hoping for a chance to see the marathon tomorrow, though.

New radio star

I have had the most enjoyable few moments this afternoon, listening to Froogs on Radio Cornwall via a link on her website to a radio show that she was on this morning!  I was so impressed at her calm composure on the radio, and so much of what she had to say was just so sensible and yet inspiring for people who are not used to frugaling.  I would encourage you to head over to her blog today, click on the link and listen to a new radio star in the making - she's great!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Local lad does very good!

(Image from

I had no idea until late last night that the wonderful Jonnie Peacock is one of our own out here in the Fens!
He comes from a village called Doddington, some 30 or so miles north of Cambridge.  The news reports say that the local pub was packed last night to watch his race, and the villagers are looking forward to their gold postbox.  Well done, Jonnie!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Making progress

Making things has been the order of the day here.

The FH went out yesterday afternoon and came home with about 2lbs of sloes, so sloe gin was on the list today.  Unfortunately, I hadn't banked on the sloes being ready this early in the season as it was October when I made it last year, so I had to go shopping for the gin first.  I combined the trip with getting some red peppers to make the sweet chilli jam which was so well received last year - I have plenty of chillies in the greenhouse again.

The sloes have been pricked and are in the bottles of g in with the sugar and the amazing alchemy that turns sugar, gin and berries into the most delicious liqueur has begun to work.  Daily shakings for a couple of weeks, and then weekly, and we should have something drinkable for Christmas.  It is in the dark cupboard alongside the home made vanilla essence [that is in vodka - people will think I am an alcoholic!].

All the ingredients have been brought together for the sweet chilli jam, so that is on the agenda for tomorrow.  There wasn't really time or energy for that today.  Luckily, I have just been given a wee collection of small jars which, once filled with the chilli jam, will make excellent gifts.

I also did some bed making today - our sheets and those of the EFG have been whipped off the beds, washed and dried in the lovely sunshine we have enjoyed again today, and they are now back on the beds, smelling so fresh and clean.  It has to be one of my favourite smells - no need for fabric conditioner here!  I will do the YFG's at the weekend.

And the girls?  They have both come home happily from school.  The EFG has her timetable, and actually there are only a few study periods over the fortnight, I think, so she has plenty of lessons to keep her occupied.  Textbooks and homework have already been dished out, so she has been doing some maths tonight.  The YFG has found out that they will be studying Pride & Prejudice this term, and has had to gather information about Jane Austen, so that has occupied her this evening.  She has also been given an invitation to go away for the weekend camping with her best friend's family.  They took her away last year and promised to go again this summer but what with the weather and other things, they just haven't been; this weekend looks like we are going to have some fab weather, so they are planning to escape to the coast tomorrow after school.  She is packing her bag tonight, ready to be picked up at 4.30pm tomorrow.

It has been an interesting day without them, but actually we got on with things and didn't have time to miss them...yet.  This evening, we have watched David Weir triumph again to win a third gold medal in the wheelchair racing, and the awesome Jonnie Peacock storm to victory over Alan Oliveira and Oscar Pistorius, neither of whom even got a medal!  That was an amazing race, and I really had no idea who would win, but I am so pleased that it is a British athlete.  So many of the athletes have thanked the National Lottery for helping to fund them that it has made us realise just how much funding it provides for them - we had no idea at all.  We have decided that it would be a good thing to do the Lottery more often - in the spirit of a donation to these people's achievements and in their honour.  I know that if I ever win a silly amount of money, I would give most of it away!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Taking a deep breath

We are into a new era tonight, as the EFG packs her bag and lays out her clothes for the morning: starting Sixth Form is a new stage in her life.  We are very proud of all that she achieved at GCSE level, and I am just as confident that she will work hard at her AS and then A level work.

Registering today at school was an experience, but interesting!  She already knew the tutor group that she is in, but they weren't sure yet where the form room was, so she will be on a hunt in the morning for that, but she knows it will be on the language corridor as her form tutor is a French teacher.  She is looking forward to getting her timetable in the morning and finding out about study periods.  

The YFG is going into Year 9 and thinking about which GCSEs she will want to do, although she is doing French this year.  This should enable her to get the "English Baccalaureate" suite of qualifications at the end of Y11 more easily if she already has the language requirement under her belt early.  That is the college's thinking anyway.  She is also looking forward to getting back to school and seeing all her friends again - most of them live in other villages, so she hasn't seen them in the holiday, and the one who does live in the village here has been busy and away with various relatives, so she has only seen her about twice!  There will be a lot of catching up to be done over the next couple of days, I'm sure.

And me?  Well, I have spent a very pleasant afternoon today, manning the washing machine and rebooting it at intervals, hanging washing in the sunshine, picking beans and then sitting under the gazebo to top and tail them for tea.  Once that had all been done, I retrieved the trousers from the YFG and turned up all four hems [yes, she found the other pair] so that they are all ready for her to wear.  I did that outside too, and it was lovely, watching the washing blowing in the breeze and hearing the chooks cackling to one another.  I even got up and grabbed a couple of handfuls of weeds from the veg beds for them to enjoy.  

Tomorrow I plan to start the day with a list, and see what can be accomplished!

Home straight now

Yes, tomorrow is the day!  I'm kind of looking forward to the return to the normal routine once the girls are back at school, but I am going to miss them so much!

Last night we started gymnastics again, and that went fine: several new children, inspired by the Olympics.  Today we are off to school to register the EFG for Sixth Form there, and then this afternoon I have to turn up the YFG's new school trousers.  She has two pairs, but one pair seem to have gone walkabout already so she will have to be on a mission to find them.

I'll be back later xx

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Money in my pocket

I do enjoy being given money, don't you!  The bank have been kindly looking after some dosh for me, and have given me some interest for letting them use it this past year...well, I wouldn't have kept it under the bed in this day and age, so I'm glad to let someone else have the bother of the security and all that.

I wasn't up to speed on when the interest gets paid, so it was a lovely surprise to log on to the bank this morning and find myself a little richer - it's quite made my day, so far.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Getting ready

We are so close to being ready for school on Thursday now!  The YFG has had new school jumpers and shoes bought today, and they have both mooched around the shops and found a few bits to put in their lunch boxes.  I have warned them that they had better not eat them before Thursday, though!

This morning was the last lie in of the summer, as we didn't need to be anywhere, so we were pretty relaxed about getting up.  Luckily I had done the washing last night, so I could just peg it straight out when I got up and saw the sun shining beautifully.  It is typical and totally to be expected that the weather would improve just as the children are going back to school.

Tomorrow morning is chapel cleaning and then gym resumes in the afternoon, and we have several new children starting so it is going to be quite full-on integrating them into the classes, as well as continuing to work with the dozen or so children who are doing a competition on the 16th of the month - not long now!

On my moneysaving front, I had to take a meter reading yesterday for the energy company which we switched to recently.  They want up to date readings every so often, so I trotted out to the box, yellow key in one hand and pad and pen in the other, and wrote down the reading.  Back in front of the computer, I logged on to the website and readied myself to enter the figures.  Slight problem.  The computer reckoned that a meter reader had been round on the 17th August and his reading was higher than the one I was trying to enter, so it wouldn't let me use mine......cue quite a wait on hold on the phone till I got through to an operator, all geared up to tell the person that the was no way the meter was read that day unless a meter reader person had scaled my back gate, all 6ft of it, etc.  I was not chuffed but really had the wind taken out of my sails by the chap saying very nonchalantly, "Oh, it's obviously a mistake, I'll change it," making me wonder why they bother sending the readers round then.  So glad that I had had to read it for myself and check the website or they would have been sending me a new bill and possibly even revising my direct debit based on wrong information.  Phew!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Examining the budget at the end of August

Now that we are in September, I can look back at August and see what went right and what could have gone better!

We are now in the last third of the year, and possibly the most expensive for a lot of people.  We have to start [if we haven't already, of course] making preparations for a family and religious time of celebration in late December - Christmas.  I'm going to start thinking about that once the children are back at school later this week.

Anyway, looking back first to what happened in August:

  • We sold the box trailer for £1100 and I put £700 into the ISA very quickly!  The remaining balance is being kept handy for the costs involved in putting a towbar onto the Fiesta and sourcing a cheap and probably secondhand small trailer, just big enough to pick up a few pallets occasionally, or some straw bales for the chook runs.
  • We kept the petrol/diesel budget well in check because we were at home a lot during the holidays.
  • The food budget for the month got blown [again!] because I did some restocking from last month AND I got two deliveries from Approved Foods, so the cupboards are full again.  I feel better when I have food in the house for everyone!!  If we were to average £40 a week for the rest of the year, we'd come in on target for the year.  Somehow, I don't think that is going to happen, but it is something to shoot towards.
  • In addition to the £700 in the ISA, I also managed to put £250 into savings.
  • My car was serviced and MOT'd, and I had a serious bill of nearly £300 to deal with for that.
  • The EFG finally made her concrete decision to attend the local college and I could order her bus pass - it arrived this month and my cheque for £450 was cashed.  That felt a little painful, even though it had been planned for and saved!  I have left the Travel Fund account open, so it is there to start stashing the next £450 away by next July - £45 a month would do it.
And looking forward to September and beyond:
  • I have had a letter about house insurance from a company I haven't heard of - PolicyExpert - offering house and contents insurance for only about £185 - considerably cheaper than the £250 I paid last year.  Has anyone heard of this company or used them?  I have until the end of October to sort out the house insurance, but I like to shop around a little, so I do start in September.
  • I am having a 40th birthday party at the end of the month, so I am going to make some savings across the board in order to fund that, in addition to the sealed pot, which hasn't had as much in it since we went on holiday as I would have liked!  This is not going to be a particularly expensive party, as it won't  involve alcohol - we are holding it in the chapel, so alcohol is not allowed, and it is going to be an afternoon tea anyway.  I am going to get the invitations out early this week so that I know by the middle of the month how many I am catering for.  This will also be a fundraiser, the proceeds of which will be shared between the chapel and Macmillan cancer care.
  • The day before the party is the Macmillan Coffee morning so that will also involve some baking - pennies will be spent on extra flour and margerine, etc in preparation for that, and I just have to keep my fingers crossed that the hens keep laying eggs for me!  
  • I read daily on MSE how people are becoming worried about changes to benefits and price rises in all sorts of areas, but especially food, due to the strange weather we have had this year - too much rain here and too little in other areas of the world, so everything from flour, bread and wheat will be going up, alongside potatoes and dairy, it seems.  I try not to worry too much, but I am keeping my stocks at a reasonable level.  I am not hoarding hundreds of bags of flour, tea or tins of beans, though!
  • I will be spending time at the library in town on a weekly basis as the YFG's ballet lesson has been put back by half an hour on a Saturday afternoon so I have more time to kill.  We come out of gym at 1pm, and now we have to wait until 2.15pm for ballet to even begin - I am not that happy about this change - and it runs for an hour, so I will be taking up residence in the library for some of this time.  I can use the time on my coursework, and reading, as well as looking for some new recipes and household or gardening tips.  The journey home may only take 10 minutes, but I am thinking of the diesel I would be wasting going back and forth.
How is your September looking?  I am trying to anticipate the expenses and be prepared!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Paralympic wonders

What a day at the athletics and in the pool today!

Oscar Pistorius smashes world record in men's 200m heats to lay down marker at Paralympic Games
(Getty Images)

Oscar Pistorius blew us away with his amazing 200m heat this evening - he just went out and left the rest behind!

Ellie Simmonds

Ellie Simmonds not only won her race, but set new records as well.  The American girl was just out in front most of the way through the 800m race, but then Ellie took the lead in the last 50m stretch, and she just ploughed her way through the water to triumph!  Go Ellie!  She has several more races to take part in, so she's not done yet. 


Richard Whitehead had us worried to begin with and then he came from behind and it was just as if he was floating along the track - a truly inspirational win from him tonight.  This was in his 200m race.  He is a double amputee, but he runs on what look like "straight" legs, so his legs swing out from the hips and he has quite a wide stride, but must actually fit within the bounds of his lane - it just looks wide.  He is 36, and just outstanding.

The FH has been watching the cycling in the velodrome this afternoon, and I have been amazed at a picture in the paper today of a cyclist who has only one arm and one leg, on the same side - I am bewildered at how he balances the bike with that level of amputation/loss of limb.  These athletes are truly awe-inspiring.

Some days...

Eilean Righ
(image from

Some days, living a place like this has its attractions.

Only two houses, accessible only by boat or helicopter, 250 acres.

Sadly, I don't have £3m to buy it with, so it is a good job I don't have these longings too often!!

[If you DO have the readies, it is here]