Saturday, 31 May 2014

What to say next

It's hard to know what to say when things you have imagined happening in the future seem to be hurtling towards you too fast and too soon, and there isn't a damn thing you can do to stop them.  Events develop under your nose and you just don't put all the pieces together to see the bigger picture until someone who is further back points out what you don't want to see.  They do it kindly, and with the best intentions, but it is still like a smack in the face.  It hurts.

Yesterday, the sleep clinic nurse was sufficiently concerned when I mentioned some of the FH's most recent symptoms, that she contacted the transplant clinic and we were sent along there to be seen by a doctor.  Although the two clinics are not that far apart, the FH almost collapsed on the mooch along the way, and I had to call for help to hold him upright - a nearby worker helped me to hold him whilst another fetched a wheelchair.  He was shocked at that episode and it put the wind up him before we even reached the transplant clinic.

As we weren't scheduled for an appointment yesterday, we had to wait some time to see the cardiologist - a lovely man that the FH has seen a lot of over the past 14 years that we have been in this area.  When we did see him eventually, it was after a caring charge nurse had taken down some details, and done the usual BP and weight checks.  Finally I was able to wheel him in to be seen.

The levels of fluid in the FH's body are rising, and his heart is under increasing strain.  The doctor described it as a stiff, thick balloon - hard to inflate and not very flexible any more, so it is not pumping the blood around his body very efficiently.  It is weakening, and at an increasing rate of decline, it seems.

The doctor was kind, and explained that there are still a few other diuretics that can help with the fluid, but that they will exacerbate the gout and probably increase the level of pain that he is experiencing.  He has largely had the gout at a manageable level these past few months, and has always been able to walk around lately.  His weight is increasing, but we are aware that that is fluid retention.  The doctor, with the best will in the world, is running out of options for the FH, it seems.

The FH was told yesterday that he should begin to think about how he wants to be cared for at the end.

His words were that it is not "imminent" but that we should discuss it and investigate the options, that he will write to the GP and ask him to talk with us about support available.  Thinking about this, there are a lot of questions arising in our minds, and so we plan to speak with the nurse practitioner at the surgery on Monday when we go for the next INR check.

Thank you for all your support and prayers - it means the world to me in all of this.

Friday, 30 May 2014


A visit to Papworth today and some news that we weren't expecting, that is hard to get our heads around.  Will have to think about this one some more.........

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Not all rosy

In the interests of letting you know that life isn't always rosy in the Fens, I have to admit that the SW plan isn't suiting us at the moment....the EFG has lost some weight but she has put back on some of the weight she has lost in the time we have been attending the group this year.  I've lost half a stone, and it is staying off, just, but I haven't lost any more - I've been hovering about the same weight for the last month.  We just aren't in the "groove" or whatever the expression is!  Perhaps the time is not quite right for the EFG with her exams starting on Monday, and I find that my own dietary restrictions don't fit terribly well with the plan.  I think I have to get to grips with it in a different way, and study the plan more carefully - when I did it years ago, there was a choice between Original or Green days, and I could cope with that, but now there is also Extra Easy and Success Express to add to the mix, and it is all just a bit much to get one's head around.

We are both doing more exercise, so that is a positive point, and we are both well aware of the simple equation which everyone keeps pointing out: eat less + move more = weight loss....We're working on it!

Good news is that I heard this morning from my Faith & Worship tutor that the Connexion [or Methodist HQ if you like] has assessed my work that was sent in at the end of March, and it has passed muster!  Very pleased to get that phone call this morning.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mathematics all around

I've had my fair share of time with a calculator today, I can say!  The girls went to the city on the train this morning, and then the FH went out to the lunch club, and I had some peace and quiet to check my emails: the temptation was easily overcome from online retailers such as The Book People, Cath Kidston and Sports Direct...not so easily overcome when that supermarket sent a voucher for £15 off when I spend £50.....that amounts to a 30% discount if you manage to get bang on the £50, and with delivery slots for just £1 now available, I thought it was worth a look.

I haven't had a delivery from a supermarket for months, certainly not this year, and I still choose not to buy fresh fruit and veg in an online delivery because to start with I am not keen on the quality from that shop, and secondly, I prefer to choose my own.  So I had a good look around for all the offers - the two for ones and the buy one, get one a bit cheaper type things!  I stocked up on long term bottles, cans and packets, and UJ helped me by asking for some ketchup and HP sauce.

It is useful to know your prices in this situation, and so I didn't buy anything that I think I can get more competitively priced in Aldi - margerine and tuna for example, as well as the fresh stuff.

The other reason for having spent time with maths was that my cousin and her work mate came around tonight for some help with Maths.  They are both assessors with learndirect and have to help their "learners" with passing Maths and English qualifications as well as the actual subject in which they are qualified.  Dear Cousin freely admits that her maths is a weak point and so she came over to do a paper on her computer with us that she has to help her clients to pass.  I found the actual calculations easy, but understanding what the questions really wanted was a bit of a challenge, and I let myself down on one question where I did some of the work before I realised that the units of the information were mixed up and needed aligning before actual calculation could begin!  How people whose first language is not English manage to work out what the questions want, I do not know.  Four of us worked on it for over an hour to make sure that they understood what they were doing.  Glad I don't have to do maths any more, but having sympathy for the EFG who is doing her A level Maths papers in the next three weeks - I have got A level Maths, but I have forgotten most of it now!!

I'll be getting the calculator out again tomorrow so that I can work on the June budget and figures for managing all the money.   See you then x

Psssst! Don't forget!

(image from

Apparently, it is Aldi voucher day tomorrow in the Daily Mirror or the Record if you are in Scotland.  I think that the amount you have to spend has gone up to £45 now, but it is still worth having if there is an Aldi near you and you have a family to feed.  It is ages since I have been along to Aldi so I shall definitely be getting a paper and popping in to get stocked up on tinned goods, and items like shower gel which we use lots of, and which don't go off!  Hope that helps someone x

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Losing the plot

I think that is what the weather is doing - it is more like November here tonight than nearly June!  The FH is tucked up in bed watching tv with a hot water bottle and extra blanket on the bed, and the rest of us have been downstairs watching BGT with jumpers on.  The rain has been incessant today and the chooks are not chuffed with the reappearance of a sea of mud which they thought they had seen the last of for the season....oh dear!  They are still laying well, though, which is a positive point.

The YFG has been to see her work experience placement manager today to get some forms signed for her time there at the end of June.  She was a little bit nervous as this was something she had had instructions to do very much on her own, so I dropped her off nearby and left her to it.  The EFG hovered in the town and met up with her straight afterwards and then I gathered them up again in the local supermarket car park.  She coped well and has all her instructions for the placement - she will be an "optical assistant" at the optician's that we use in the town.  The chap already has plans for her to set up a Facebook page for the business so that his regular assistants can just keep it going.  He knows she likes technology!

My plans for a vegetarian day today got sunk when the FH declared that he wanted something warming for tea, "with thick onion gravy" I had to drag a Fray Bentos pie out of the storecupboard for him.  For the girls I made a potato-crust quiche, which fits in well with the SW plan, and so I served it to the EFG with veg on the side, and then the YFG decided that she would have a portion of her dad's FB pie with some of the quiche, which actually seemed like a sensible way to get her veg.  I've been naughty and had some cake instead of any proper tea......I'll do better tomorrow but they do say that a little of what you fancy does you good!  It mostly came out of the storecupboard and freezer so it was a cheap dinner all round and used up a few of our own eggs too.

Tomorrow the girls are off on the train to the big city for some shopping.  I bought the train tickets for them today, and used my free Friends and Family Railcard, which I had had the EFG put on as the second adult just for occasions such as this.  Result as the YFG gets to go for £2 return, and the EFG's fare is the same as if she had used her 16-25 Railcard.  The free railcard only lasts two months, and I probably won't take advantage of the opportunity to buy a full one at the offer price as the I rarely travel on a train with the has been the girls together or the EFG with me.  Anyway, they will make use of it now and possibly again before it expires, so something for nothing and a wee saving there.

We were at the doctor's again this morning for the INR test, and the levels are settling now so the heparin injections have been stopped - the FH says that he didn't mind them, but he is jolly glad that they are done! Just the Warfarin to carry on with for now and have regular checks.  We are at Papworth on Friday for the CPAP clinic, so he is looking forward to the ride through the countryside, and I am hoping that the sun shines so that he can enjoy the ride more.  He doesn't get out much nowadays.

I found this beautiful scarf on a blog today so just had to share - I love this pattern and it reminded me of the scarf that I am knitting for the EFG so I brought it out again and did a few rows whilst we were watching tv tonight.  I shall have it done before September....

Monday, 26 May 2014

Good for me

I've had a good day, one with plenty of good things included.

For example, I went for a walk - up and down and up and down behind the lawn mower whilst I cut both lawns, in between light rain showers at lunchtime...

I went to an exercise class - Davina's Buff Boxing DVD with the EFG in the sitting room.

I had a relaxing hot shower and washed my hair after that, and then I was pampered whilst the girls took it in turns to plait my hair!

I've had my favourite meal for supper - sweet and sour chicken with rice.  I could eat that every day :)

The weather has been pleasant, and I have pottered in the garden too, tying up the raspberry canes, watering the tomatoes and seedlings in the greenhouse, having a cuppa and sitting outside, musing on all sorts of things.

The FH has been out this afternoon with a friend to a bee club meeting not too far away, but he was on his feet for just a little bit too long and has had to retire to bed with his jigsaw.  The girls and I have watched the first live semi-final of Britain's Got Talent tonight, and now that all the silly acts have been weeded out, there are some really good ones to watch and enjoy again.  We have particularly enjoyed the illusionist, Darcy Oake, and the impressionist Jon Clegg.  I've ploughed through a mountain of ironing whilst we were watching.

I know I haven't said much about the kitchen lately but it is still a work in progress.  I have cleaned out a couple more cupboards this afternoon whilst the YFG has done some more painting - she is a little star with a paintbrush!  We are hoping to get it done this week.

Hope you have had a good Bank Holiday weekend, and that the rest of the week goes well.  With it being half term, we have some bits and pieces planned, but the EFG has her first exam a week today, so she has been revising hard - chemistry and maths have been on the agenda for her today.

A day in the garden

Yesterday afternoon, I spent more time in the garden.  I managed to turn this area under the old swing frame, which had been a tangled mass of weeds, into a much cleaner and weed-free planting area.

I even found a couple of bean plants already growing which must have set themselves from last year's seeds.  I've been using this area, where we put the old swing, for runner beans, for several years now, and they are very "hungry" plants.  This year I have added some chicken manure pellets to the soil, just to give it a boost.  I have had a bucket of these pellets for years, and hardly ever use them as I have so much of the fresh stuff which I compost!

The raspberry crop is looking promising.

Little Gem lettuces are growing nicely in the greenhouse and will get planted out next weekend, I think.

Another area where I grew runner beans last year, and this little lot have all set themselves again!  I have popped a few more seeds in around the base of the canes to make sure we have loads again this year as I really love fresh runner beans and would happily eat them every day in the season!

Cucumbers growing nicely in the greenhouse.  We might get one or two nice cucs by the end of the summer...

After spending all that time in the garden, there was time to pop the lambshanks and a rice pudding in the oven to cook for the supper.  Then I read a book for the evening - well, it is a BH weekend after all!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Simple days

We didn't catch a single mouse last night - not even a whisker!  Will have to put the traps out again tonight - we cleared them away during the day as I didn't want any toes caught in the traps, since they are around the kitchen kick boards.  The cat has been in and had a good sniff around, but didn't give us any indication as to where the lodger might be......

I have had quite another lazy day, mooching around the internet this morning whilst the rain poured down outside.  I was quite disappointed not to be able to get out in the garden but then the inner gardener in me decided that I shouldn't be miserable about the potatoes and beans getting a good watering.  I did manage to get two loads of washing done, but this was about the most energetic thing I did all day.  I helped the FH with a puzzle for a while this afternoon.

The girls are planning a bike ride tomorrow which I estimate will take them a couple of hours, and I have a service to take first thing.  Then I am planning on cooking lamb shanks for a lovely Sunday tea - they should have cost a small fortune but I found them in the yellow-sticker section at about half price, so I am really looking forward to that.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Friday in the Fens

The FH had to have his INR checked this morning for his Warfarin so we trotted off to the surgery early this morning, and then I brought him home before I went back into the village for the Craft Club at the chapel.  Spending the morning chatting with the ladies and making tea is actually quite relaxing.

The FH's potassium levels have come back to normal so he has come off the supplements that he has taken for a few days this week.  He will be eating plenty of bananas instead, though, just to be on the safe side.

He has spent the afternoon finishing off this gorgeous puzzle which we borrowed from the chapel club, and he has really enjoyed doing this one.  I love the picture as well - the puppies and cat are beautiful, but I also love the kitchen too!

This evening I took the YFG to town for her swimming, and had a potter around Lidl, just picking up some of their good Braeburn apples and resisting other temptations.

A good day, all in all, and a day at home on the cards for tomorrow so I may get some more kitchen cupboards cleaned out and all the stuff put back.  I have had to set three mousetraps down there tonight - with peanut butter and chocolate for variety - as the YFG heard a definite munching sound coming from under one of the units this morning, and then I heard it too.  Hopefully a few nights of leaving the traps out will sort that one out.......otherwise I shall bring the cat in for the night!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Taking time off

After another blood test this morning and then an early lunch, the FH and I took off for the afternoon to visit some former neighbours who moved away about three years ago.  They have been renovating an old cottage with attached stable, and we thought it would be a good day to go and see how they are getting on with it all.

They have turned quite a dilapidated cottage and stable into a simply stunning home - with five bedrooms, two staircases, and a lovely meander of rooms running from one to the other, I would have moved in tomorrow.  It is not quite finished, but we could see it all turning out beautifully if the work they have done so far is anything to go on.  Quite temptingly, the little cottage next door is up for sale........I have looked at it on rightmove, and although the price is very attractive, the house is just too far from school for the YFG!

After a lovely afternoon with our friend [his wife was expected home at lunchtime but got held up elsewhere], we came home via the scenic route and just got home before the girls.  Since then, I have continued with a taxi-driving day, and taken the YFG to her piano lesson and then the EFG to the SW club this evening: she did well and lost the pound which I put on, so we are keeping it in the family!  The FH has also been out, but only in the village to the bee club.

All in all, a restful day, when I even managed to finish off one of the library books I chose last Friday.  I've still got several more to read, but I shall have an hour tomorrow evening to catch up on my reading whilst the YFG is swimming - usually she would swim whilst I am coaching a gym class, but we have broken up for the holiday from gym already, so I have a smidgen of free time - if the weather is nice, I may go for a walk.

Another weekend is approaching fast - I hope you have a good one x

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Exam highs and lows

Thanks for the support and encouragement for the YFG as she sat her first exam yesterday.  She came home in the afternoon and reported that she thought it had gone OK and she certainly thought she had written enough - sometimes she feels that she dries up too soon and ought to have more to say!

Last night, she was reading Blood Brothers to the FH, so she is busily preparing herself for the next exam tomorrow.  Luckily that one is in the afternoon, so we have no worries about getting her there on time.  I'll let you know how it goes....

Garden growing well

I managed to get some garden work done yesterday: courgettes planted out in the veg bed, to start with.

Then some cucumbers potted up - five Telegraph should grow long and straight, like their name suggests, and six F1 hybrids.  Not grown those before, so interested to see how they turn out.  Not sure I have room for 11 cucumber plants, so may be giving some away!

Little Gem lettuces needed pricking out desperately.  Also sowed some more for a good succession of salad all summer.

And three kinds of tomatoes potted up - Sweet Million and two new varieties.  I have already got older tomato plants in the greenhouse which UJ and a friend of the FH's gave us, so these will be the next round and will probably have to be planted outside, but they will probably still be giving us tomatoes in the autumn.

In addition, dwarf bean and runner bean seeds were also sown.

The back lawn was cut too, so it is looking a little tidier out there now.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Too tempting - too nice!

Just when I thought that it was safe to venture in, my local Sainsbury's store has started to sell these little devils!   

Have a look - they are the most moreish little chocolate logs with icing on them.  

I knew that bigger Sainsbury's sell them now and again, and mostly at Christmas, but I usually have a guard with me when I am in a bigger store, and I can trust the FH or the girls to help me to resist them......but I often go to the local store alone - this is now going to be wildly dangerous for the size of my backside and my purse.  I think I may have to stick to Lidl's and Aldi with all the Free From temptations that are assaulting me in the major supermarkets.  

I do most of our shopping at that supermarket and at Lidl's these days, but I do pop in to other shops now and again......let's just say that I can't expect to lose any weight this week!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Calling time on today

It has been a scorcher of a day today, so I started early on the chores and got the chooks all cleaned out and washing on the line by 8.30am; then two chaps turned up with our oil delivery [fab price of 50p/l] and it was time to get the FH moving for a doctor's appointment.  We got his INR checked with the nurse and then had a chat with the doctor, who is organising him an appointment for a CT scan, which should be through within the week, he predicts.

I've mown the lawn and finished a huge heap of ironing, cooked the tea, helped to encourage the YFG to revise for her exam tomorrow, and done some Davina boxing exercises with the EFG........I'm pooped for today, folks!

I think that blogging may be a bit sporadic this week - real life is getting demanding - I still haven't got the kitchen resorted out after the revamp, the garden is crying out for attention - there are seeds to be sown and seedlings desperate for bigger pots, and weeds growing like wildfire.......and the new preaching plan is out for the next quarter and I am taking 10 services in 14 weeks, so I have work to do there too.....the YFG has GCSE Eng Lit in the morning and is to be at school by 8am so that means that Mum's taxi has to do duty!  I am off to bed now because it will be another early start to be ready to leave here by 7.45am.  Wish her luck, friends, please xxx

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Another patient

Sorry for the lack of blogging yesterday - as soon as I brought the YFG home from gymnastics yesterday, she dissolved into tears at a pain in her side, and after a phone call to the experts at 111, we were dispatched to the hospital!  Five hours later, we were dismissed and sent home with instructions to monitor the pain and come back if it got worse - a couple of the nurses thought that she would be admitted and referred to the surgical team with suspected appendicitis, but on closer examination, the doctor decided that it was muscular pain.  I was very relieved.  She slept through the night, and woke up feeling much better this morning.  I awoke feeling like I could sleep another 8 hours....

This afternoon I am rebooting the washing machine at regular intervals, and cooking supper soon, whilst the FH and the girls sort out some junk stuff to take to the local car boot sale tomorrow - the YFG is definitely going with my cousin but the EFG is baby sitting tonight and may not be able to get up that early in the morning!  I am taking a service tomorrow and I have the sermon swimming around in my head, desperate for me to find a quiet hour or three to get it down on paper - I can see that that will be later on.

I hope that you are all enjoying this beautiful weather - it is so lovely here today that we are all feeling very summery and happy to be warm instead of shivering in the cold.  Even the FH is feeling a little more bounce in his step.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Just driving around

(image from

I feel like I have hardly been at home all day today!  One of the downsides of living this rural kind of life is that most places are some distance away........the hospital, the piano lesson, the slimming club.....and we have done them all today!

I had to go to the doctor's surgery this morning to pick up the FH's prescriptions [2 miles] so I combined that with a quick call-in at the school, which is on the way.  

At lunchtime, I then went to grab the YFG out of school and take her to the hospital for her last physio session [round trip of about 60 miles] so I called in at the supermarket for the cheese I forgot yesterday.

We hit home again at about 4.15pm, so I had time to chuck a stew in the oven for the FH, and then it was soon time to jump back in the car and head to the piano lesson [another 16 mile round trip] and whilst she was tinkling the ivories I nipped in at the library and picked up a stack of books.

Home again for an hour, during which I took the opportunity to catch up on a phone call that I hadn't returned yesterday from a friend, and then it was off to Slimming World with the EFG [that's 18 miles around the fields and over the border into Norfolk].

Finally, we are home and dry about 8.15pm and time to catch up with everyone all together!

I can't imagine living where we do without transport of our own, and we are really lucky to have cars to take us where we need to go.  We don't waste fuel unnecessarily, though, and always try to combine trips where we can - although today is hardly a good example.  I would never have taken one trip to the shop for cheese and then another to the library for books separately, and have learned to wait until I am heading out for several things to make trips worthwhile.

This month's big expense is going to be heating oil - another reality of living in the middle of nowhere is no town gas, so these houses were built with oil central heating.  The mild winter we have just had has meant that the tank of oil we bought last September has lasted longer than usual - we would normally have refilled the tank about March, so we have stretched it out a bit more this year.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Parents in desperate search

(image from

Two of these lovely blackbirds have been engaged in a desperate search for one of their recent fledglings this afternoon - they have flitted from shed roof, to fence, to summerhouse roof, to the ground, and round again and again, all the while calling ferociously for their offspring to respond - they could hear her but couldn't find her, and it was heartbreaking to watch them.

I found the wee bird in the chicken shed, although I can't really see how she found her way in there!  Trouble was that I couldn't get hold of her to get her outside again where her parents could look after her again, and they didn't seem to realise that she was in there.

I opened the wire door, and two windows flung wide, but she doesn't seem to have found her way out.  She's disappeared now, and the poor parents have had to give up and roost for the night.  They are quiet now, and I have really felt sad for them......if she survives the night, perhaps tomorrow will be a better day and they will be reunited again.

I took the FH for his scan this lunchtime, and sure enough, a small clot was found in his vein the groin area of his left leg.  We spoke to the doctor about it on the phone as he wanted us to call him and let him know, although the surgery is closed this afternoon.  The FH has been started up on Warfarin again, and the injections will also continue.  He will also be scheduled for a CT scan, and all blood tests are to be repeated on's a six month treatment plan.  The doctor has been brilliant, and even came out to see the FH later on this afternoon.

We had a quiet potter around Lidl's this afternoon after the scan, and did the shopping - lots of lovely fruit and veg - but the girls complained: I forgot to buy cheese and then the YFG said, "You didn't buy anything to EAT!" by which she meant that there was no rubbish to eat immediately!  I pointed out the loaf of fresh tiger bread and all the fruit, so she had some bread and jam and said it was good!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Night night

Too tired to say much tonight.  Ultrasound organised for tomorrow lunchtime, and fairly local venue, too.  I administered my first injection on the FH tonight, and he was very kind about my shaky hand!!  Thanks for all your supportive comments - you are kind, as always xx

Monday, 12 May 2014

Another hiccup

Ladies who wanted the knitting pattern for the hats should find that it has just landed in their inboxes.  Anyone else who wants it needs to send me a comment with an email address so I can send it to you.

News of the day today is that the FH appears to have a DVT in his left leg........the doctor took some blood this morning and it came back tonight positive, with a score of 400+ indicating the likelihood of a blood clot, so we have to go for an ultrasound scan ASAP to have it confirmed.  The doctor came round tonight with the first of a series of injections, and instructed me on how to administer them daily.

I noticed this morning that the occasional swelling that the FH has in his left foot, which he continually puts down to the gout, had in fact affected the whole of his left leg, which was noticeably larger than his right leg.  I managed to get him to the doctor before they closed the morning surgery, which was very lucky, and the doctor has been fabulous today.  The FH has been very worried that he would have to be admitted again, but it seems not at this point.

Ironing now, and some Keeping Up with the Joneses on the Community Channel to keep me occupied for half an hour!  I have become fascinated with this and watch it occasionally - the whole remoteness of their situation is what has gripped my attention - interesting lessons to learn for if I ever get my remote and rural house in the back of Scotland's beyond, even if the territory would present completely different challenges!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Hat pattern

To those of you who have sent me your email addresses in the comments, I am afraid that I have been too occupied with the YFG tonight to get the pattern typed up - she has needed back rubs, waiting on, and drinks fetching etc etc!!  Now that I have ironed her school uniform for tomorrow, I think I need to go to bed myself - she is already fast asleep - so I will organise the pattern tomorrow - thanks for your patience xx

Weary Walker

One very weary girl is home, with sore and blistered feet and a bit of a heat rash around her ankles!  She's had her favourite BLT sandwich and is now heading for the bath, and then a DVD in bed - she is absolutely shattered...they did 11 miles yesterday and 17km today [don't ask about the imperial/metric conflict in that information - I don't know either!] and her pack weighed just over 14lbs when she left here yesterday.

The EFG was very kind and piggybacked her in from the car when we got home!

Many thanks, RQ, for the rucksack - she says it was comfortable to wear but she just wished she didn't have to put so much stuff in it!!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Big Pray

I have had a fantastic day at The Big Pray, held at Red Lodge near Bury St Edmunds, today.  It was arranged by the East Anglian District of the Methodist Church, and there were 160 of us there.  I went alone, which was a huge step for me, but it was fine as everyone was friendly and there were lots of others there who weren't permanently attached to other people, so I didn't feel out of place.  I went to some good workshops, bought a couple of books and a new CD, and came home enthused and re-energised.  Loved it!

However, I am now just putting the final touches to tomorrow's service, the washing needs hanging up in the morning and although I cooked the supper tonight, I haven't had a chance to wash up yet - there's always tomorrow, I guess....

Hope you are having a good weekend - the YFG is off on her expedition and has texted to say she has walked about 11 miles today and is rather tired!  She's trying to wangle a day off school on Monday, I think!  She hasn't got too wet today, and the weather hasn't been nearly as bad as was forecast, thank goodness.

Thank you for all the support about the knitting - I shall email the pattern to those who have asked for it tomorrow - if you want a copy, please send me your email address in a comment which I won't publish x

Friday, 9 May 2014

Anyone for knitting?

These are some of the hats I knitted last year for the Operation Christmas Child boxes that we sent off from the Knit & Natter group at the chapel.

Unfortunately, the ladies have decided that they do not want to do the boxes this year "as they are a lot of work" - and I feel disappointed.  I also feel a bit miffed as I have loads of stuff in the garage chest of drawers ready to send this year - pens and pencils, crayons, bits of stationery, etc that I have been collecting, and that we had left from last year.

We send hygiene items [soap and flannel, toothbrush and toothpaste, brush or comb], stationery bits and pieces, hat and scarf [we made the scarves from IKEA fleece blankets last year] and toys, etc.

I think it is very worthwhile.

So the question is, do I find some other group that is doing this and support them, or would you like to knit some hats with me?  What do you think I should do?  

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A slow day

Now and again, a slow day is needed for rest and recuperation, and that is what I had today - after getting the FH's breakfast, and letting out the hens, I went back to bed with the laptop and a heap of books, to think about my service for Sunday.  I had a mooch around some blogs, looked at the finances [that invoice still hasn't come in for the hob connection] and talked with a beekeeping friend of the FH's on Facebook.  The FH sat and did a jigsaw - he is doing a beautiful "Flying Scotsman" scene at the moment - and then we both had a nap before lunch!  The sheer luxury of falling asleep whilst listening to some Christian radio through the laptop was was almost a shame to wake up and have to make lunch.

This afternoon, the YFG has had her piano lesson and then we went to that supermarket because she wanted some particular items for her DoE expedition this weekend - her waterproofs are going to get an exceptionally good workout, I think, looking at the weather forecast as it isn't very good!  I have told her to look out for church porches for somewhere dry to sit to eat their lunch, and maybe make a hot drink on the wee stove.  They may not have time for a hot drink, so I can imagine that hot chocolate may be required at the pub where I have to meet them at 3pm before we drive home.  She is looking forward to the experience, and hoping that the "real" expedition next month will be a tad drier.

The rain is doing our potato plants the world of good, and they are thriving.  We have been working on the rotavator problem, for the turning over of some rough ground that the chickens had been on for several years, and although a local member of the travelling community had offered to do it for £175 [if I had been there when he told the FH that price, I think I may have collapsed...] we are looking at renovating UJ's old one, which should cost a lot less, and we will have a working piece of equipment at the end of the exercise, which I think is always worthwhile.

I was interested in the news recently that the main supermarkets are beginning to struggle, and that Morrison's has had a 7% dip in like-for-like sales over the last year - I do like Morrison's and wish that there was one a bit closer.  I am going to read more about that tomorrow.

The girls in Nigeria and their families are constantly in my thoughts and I cannot begin to imagine how their parents are coping in these very dark days.  I read about a church in America which has learned of most of the girls' names and is going to assign each member of the congregation to pray for particular girls by name.  There is nothing that will give those families any comfort until they are able to hold their daughters in their arms again, and that is what I pray for.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Choc orange cookie recipe

These are the gorgeous cookies that the YFG made last night, with one bashed Chocolate Orange - she used about three quarters of it!

This is her version of the recipe, modified from one in a mini book called Cadbury Dairy Milk: 30 best loved recipes, published as part of a series in 2013 by Hatchette Partworks Ltd.

The recipe the YFG's way makes about 15 cookies.

She used:

250g plain flour
pinch bicarbonate of soda
175g soft margerine - we use that supermarket's own in a 2kg tub at the moment
200g light brown soft sugar
100g caster sugar
1tbsp vanilla - the original calls for extract, but she used flavouring
2 eggs
3/4 of a Terry's Chocolate Orange, or about 300g chocolate, bashed well!

The new oven runs cooler than the old one, so we are working on revising our "usual" temperatures.  This time she set the oven to 180C and lined three baking trays with greaseproof paper.  She sieved all the dry ingredients into a bowl, and then melted the margerine in the microwave in a large pyrex jug.  She creamed that together with the sugars, and then beat in the eggs and vanilla until it was all very well mixed and had become light and fluffy.

At this point, the dry ingredients were carefully folded into the mixture, and then the bashed up chocolate was added as well, very gently.

Heaps of about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough were well spaced apart on the baking trays, and then gently flattened.  Well spaced means that there were four on each tray!

They cooked in about 15 minutes, but she kept a close eye on them, as well as employing a keen sense of smell and as soon as they looked done, they were out of the oven.  She let the others try one warm, and most were eaten whilst they were cooling, but the cooled cookies had developed a slight crunch as they cooked overnight, and there are those four left - I dare say that they will disappear in short order as soon as the girls get home from school tonight!  I would say that I think they will keep well in an airtight tin for several days, but I don't think they will at all - I think that they will get eaten too quickly for us to judge that one!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

If you can't stand the heat...

In my case, it has become, "if you can't stand the paint fumes, get out of the kitchen!" As the symptoms developed today, I realised that the paint has got to me - and it reminded me of why we don't decorate often at all!  My chest is tight, and I have a terribly sore throat, symptoms I remember coming on when I was about 5 and my mum decorated my bedroom for the first time.  I felt awful.

So whenever I am in the kitchen at the moment, I have the windows and doors flung open to get as much fresh air in there as possible.  The YFG did some more painting whilst I was at gym this evening with the EFG so I was met with a fresh wave of fumes as I came home.  I haven't spent a lot of time in there this evening - supper has been a "do it yourself" affair, although I did make a quick omelette for the FH.

As well as painting, the YFG found time to make some wonderful chocolate chip cookies this afternoon after school.  In the absence of any chocolate chips, she bashed a chocolate orange that I won in a raffle at the chapel the other week, and used that - and the FH and EFG have decided that they are rather gorgeous.  I think that there are a few left....I'll share the recipe tomorrow and a photo if I can get one before they are all eaten.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Getting there slowly

The EFG has spent the day with her head in the books, revising like mad for the upcoming exams which will have such an influence on her future.  The YFG and I have been busying ourselves in the kitchen again!  She finished some emulsioning this morning whilst I completed the ironing, before we headed off to town to get some gloss paint for the woodwork, and then she had a break.  This afternoon we went back to it, and she has masked off and painted a lot of the woodwork - I kept her company and cleaned another cupboard out!
Just thought I would share the picture of the new plates at the top of the shelves, with my Bristol Blue teapot and gravy jug on the middle shelf and some mugs to finish it all off.  There is a blue theme, as you can see.  I loved the Bristol Blue design from BHS, but it has been discontinued, and I have been unable to buy any for years: I used to get it at a Kitchen Reject Shop in Kirkcaldy - I would pop in there whenever we went to Kirkcaldy to see what they had in store!  Sadly, over the years, it has been well used and loved and broken...these two items are all I have left nowadays.

It has been good to make this shelf area look special rather than just piling it up with paraphenalia as it was!  I am working on thinning the kitchen stuff out as I go along, so the bin is getting rather full this week.  Better to bust the clutter than just put it back, I think.

Sunday, 4 May 2014


Church this morning, and then home to lunch, followed by a lazy afternoon sitting in the garden in the sun, before the YFG and I began to tackle the kitchen again.  She has worked like a little trojan, cleaning the tops of the cupboards, masking off and then emulsioning the walls, up and down the stepladder like a pro!  I have been cleaning out the cupboards and using vast quantities of cream cleaner, which is the only thing that seems to shift some of the dirt........the shame!

My new plates are now displayed in a little nook, and I shall share a photo tomorrow.  Now I am having a wee break from the ironing, just popping in to say Hello, and to check emails.  It has been a remarkably technology-free day, and it has been good.  Not being connected to the world and his wife is sometimes a good thing!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Charity shopping

(image from

The YFG and I had a mooch in town today after gym - I wanted to go to the butcher's stall on the market, and to Iceland for frozen veg, and so I took the opportunity to go into two charity shops near the marketplace, looking for new jigsaws for the FH and I found three for him.  He was very pleased with one of the Flying Scotsman from M&S via the RSPCA shop, but I was more excited to find two gorgeous Swinnerton plates - see picture above for pattern - from the same shop.  One is an oval serving plate and the other is a side plate, I think: I paid £1.50 for the larger and 50p for the smaller one.  Having looked them up on the old interweb tonight, they seem to date from the 1950s.  I just love the pattern!

The FH has got one cold foot today, and so I have given him a hot water bottle, but it doesn't seem to be helping.  I think we will be consulting the doctor on Tuesday about it, as it is a new development.  I had noticed though that a scratch he has on that foot has not healed up very quickly, so I am wondering what is going on - his circulation obviously isn't great in that foot.  I shall get the EFG to check his blood sugar first thing in the morning too, as she hasn't done that for a week or two.  He doesn't have diabetes officially but they do like to keep an eye on his blood sugar level.

I've had a bit of a rest with a cup of tea and the newspaper this afternoon, but then I pottered in the garden, cut the grass and did a big watering session of the tomatoes, the seedlings and the potato bed, as well as sorting out the chooks this afternoon and washing and pegging out three loads of washing.

The girls and I have watched BGT tonight for the first time this series - it is so often disappointing as so many of the acts are useless, but then they find one or two which are astounding and we were lucky tonight to see a group of four male singers who were great and then a woman also sang and she was really good too.  But we did have to sit through some bad ones to find them!

Looking forward to my Easter roast lamb tomorrow now that the oven is working - bought the mint sauce today!

Hope you are having a good weekend, and I shall have a wander around your blogs tomorrow xxx

Friday, 2 May 2014

Splashing it around

(image from

Having been at the chapel for the morning to serve tea and coffee to the Knit and Natter ladies, I came home at lunchtime to find the kitchen clock on the counter and a faint smell in the air.  It took me a few moments to realise that the FH had been splashing some emulsion around - he had painted some of the kitchen ceiling.  Some of it, because he hadn't thought it was a good idea to go up a stepladder whilst he was here alone, so he had just done those parts he could reach with a roller on a broomstick, which was most of it.  At the weekend, the YFG and I will de-cobweb the cornice and paint the bits round the edges.  He did a good job, and it was his morning's work.  He retired to bed with a puzzle this afternoon whilst I went to the tooth inspector - she has decreed that a filling is necessary, but not until June, so I have time to save up!

And so another Bank Holiday weekend is upon us - the girls are looking at Monday as a day to catch up on their homework, and the best bit for me at the moment is that I don't have to have the school uniform ready for Monday this weekend, so I have a wee bit more leeway.  I am hoping to spend some time on the kitchen and have it sorted in the extra day.  But then I also need to get some gardening done...decisions!

Thursday, 1 May 2014


I have come across a couple of websites on MSE that I thought some of you might be interested in as well.  One is called The Austerity Kitchen, and the recipes are more for entertainment and remembering the old times than actually cooking the items as a lot of them make enormous quantities and are quite old in terms of the ingredients that they use, but it is an interesting read, nevertheless.  The other one is Recipes Past and Present which is really good!  There are recipes from Wartime and Victorian times, for example, and I shall be having a good look through them when I have some spare time.  Let us know what you think, please, if you get there before me!

I couldn't believe it at the slimming club tonight - not only did I lose a pound, but I was Slimmer of the Month for April at the class - and I only lost 4.5lbs the whole month, so I guess a lot of people didn't lose a lot, with Easter and chocolate temptations perhaps.  I have a half stone to go to get my Club10 award when I will have lost 10% of my body weight, and I am hoping to achieve that by the end of June.  The EFG isn't doing so well at the moment, having stayed the same last week and then put on a pound this week, but I am convinced that she just isn't eating enough.

Otherwise, today has been spent at school - shortlisting candidates for interview next week.  We whittled the field down from 4 to 2, and hopefully one of them will be a good candidate for the school.  It is one of the most daunting responsibilities I find, to employ new staff - such a responsibility to choose the right person!

Hope you are having a good week - I can't believe that this week has flown in quite so quickly and it will be Friday again tomorrow!  This week, I am looking forward to some rest and recuperation at the weekend - I just have to face the tooth inspection tomorrow afternoon [I won't say the D word as I know it gives some people the willies just thinking about it!] but it is just a check up and hopefully she won't find any work!

See you tomorrow xxx