Wednesday, 30 September 2015


We have a small problem on the lovely Susan Skoda, and it seems to be electrical.  Actually, I suppose there are three problems: the boot won't open at all, the inside lights don't work and last night, I realised that the fan will only blow cold.  I think the problems are connected.....but not being particularly expert in all matters "car", I am not entirely sure.

Trouble is, my wonderful local garage man, who does wonders to keep Susan running, is an expert with the engine, but less confident with the old electricals.  I am going to see him today and get some advice, but I think he is going to send us out into the world of less-well-known-to-us garages to get some electrical expertise elsewhere.

When I mentioned the boot situation to him a few weeks ago, there was the slightly sharp inhalation of breath which indicates that it could be expensive.  But although Susan has well over 169,000 miles on the clock now and 10 years of experience on the roads, she is still going well in all other areas, and had a new cam belt in January, so I don't want to put her out to pasture just yet - she was a bargain when we bought her in 2012 and I love her!  Good job the savings pot is looking healthy - these are just the kinds of expenses for which it pays to have some money put aside.  And in my new job, I need my car.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Do-er or stew-er?

Which are you?  I am a do-er, I am sure.  It is therefore frustrating me that the EFG seems to be someone who stews.......I have had several messages from her overnight about how worried she is, to the point of feeling sick, about the girl coming back to the flat tomorrow.

I feel for both of them, all of them, in this situation, and I am feeling frustrated about the miles, as I said the other day.  I have just spent half an hour discussing strategies and possible actions with the EFG on the phone, things she could do, people she could speak to for advice and support......I suspect that when I get to speak to her again tonight, she won't have done much apart from come up with a few reasons why it wasn't a good idea to do any of them.....I really hope she has done something, but I won't be surprised if she hasn't.

My concern is that if all the stress of this makes her ill and she has to come home, the university will ask who she told, who she asked for help, where she went to chat with people, and whether she spoke to her doctor, for example.  They can't help her if they don't know she needs help, after all.

Half of me wants to jump on a train to Aberdeen in the next couple of hours and go to sort it out for her, but the more sensible half is saying that no, she is 19 and she needs to grow through this and deal with it.  The less sensible half may win out in the end as I am still worried - I'll wave as I travel up the country if I do go!  I have already checked the train fares and timetables........there's a bus service from Dundee to Aberdeen because of a derailment of a freight train at Broughty Ferry.

At least I can pray.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The miles

Some days I am really struggling to cope with the miles between here and Aberdeen. I wish that the EFG had gone to uni in Norwich sometimes, but then I remember that no, the course which suited her best was in Aberdeen.

Last night I spent three frantic hours worried half to death about her. One of her flatmates had had an episode of self-harming and quite terrifying behaviour and the other four girls, including the EFG, had fled from the flat in fear.  I had the EFG on the phone in tears, shaking and incoherent.  It was not a good place to be.

In near constant communication with her and the other three, I encouraged them to ring the police for the other girl's safety, but they rang 111 and didn't get a lot of support. I tried all kinds of numbers in Aberdeen to find them some help, as it was getting late.  Eventually, I managed to prise the girl's home phone number out of them and I rang her mum, and explained the situation.  Of course, her poor mum then became as upset and worried as I already was, and managed to get a lift into Aberdeen, as she lives about an hour away.  She has taken her daughter home for a few days of R&R, and possibly a trip to the GP whilst she is home too.  All was well again by midnight and we settled down!

Today I have had a lovely morning taking a service at one of my favourite chapels, and then I came home and charged up and down and round and round with my new lawnmower - it was great!  My headteacher came over this afternoon as we have a mini-crisis going on at school and she had been away with a group for a couple of nights and needed a catch-up.  Then, I waded through 5 years of old governor documents, looking for minutes and documents relating to a specific issue......I had a couple of cups of tea whilst I was doing that....

Tonight - the fire is lit for the first time this season, and it is a lovely cheery sight......just in time for Downton Abbey in about half an hour.  Love it - a perfect end to the weekend!

Saturday, 26 September 2015


I'm part of a group of bloggers who sponsor children in Niger.  People come and go within the group and it seems that several slots have been left vacant, and the organiser of the group has been covering the sponsorship of these children herself.

We each pay for one quarter of a child's sponsorship each month, at £6. 

If anyone is interested in joining us in order to keep these children all part of the #ShareNiger sponsorship gang, then please do get in touch.  I was very grateful for a lovely lady being able to become part of it last time I appealed for support.  

Cybher 2013

If you click on the badge in the side bar that looks just like this one, you will be taken to a post which explains all about it.

It is a worthy cause that I support but I completely understand that we all have our own choices of charities which we support to the level to which we are able, and this is by no means a hassling post.  I just like to let readers know when slots open up in the group in case they feel drawn to come forward. 

Thank you for reading x

Friday, 25 September 2015

A special request

In conversation with my Superintendent minister today, I have discussed blogging, and been asked to consider developing a ministry to widows.  I know that there are widows who read this blog, who have particularly identified with me in my situation, and some of you have made yourselves known.

In order to develop this, it would be very kind if some of you would email me, at the address in the sidebar to the right, in order that I might be able to discern more about how such a ministry might work and what support widows of all ages might benefit from having.  I know how I feel but I am just one amongst many.

I'm never going to identify you on here, never going to expect you to do anything with which you don't feel comfortable, but it would help me to help others, if I could ask you some questions privately.  Whether you feel able to respond will be up to you, if you contact me.

Your faith background is not relevant to this, as I want to know more about the general level of support you have had since your partner died, and whether you think that it has been enough, and what more you would have sought or appreciated, and perhaps what barriers you felt there were to you accessing such support.

With love and thanks.

Recipe round up

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Some great posts you might want to check out:

An appetising recipe for what look like cinnamon swirls but are actually Maple Frosted Spicy Scrolls from a "cheapskate" blogger down under. I'm going to be going through her blog looking for other fab recipes to share!

Mimi is another Aussie blogger who I have added to the blog roll, and I came across a link to a really good chocolate cake which she describes lots of modifications for, in order to turn it into a variety of different cakes - all from the same basic mix.  This is going on my "To Try" list very soon.

The Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog always has something worth trying on it, and this recipe for Ginger Biscuits looks superb - if mine turn out as good as these look, I shall be very impressed!  Just have to get some molasses.......not sure if golden syrup would work?

And these gluten-free cookies look amazing - I am slightly concerned by the length of the ingredient list, but they look like they might well be worth the effort!  Gluten-free food is very expensive bought off the shelf, and these may be a good alternative to some of the things I like the look of but have to turn up my nose at the prices!

This crock pot website may be just the thing we need for scrummy winter-warmers as the colder weather approaches. I am going to have a good look around here for some fresh inspiration.  And there are more on this site, which I just came across: this person has obviously published books but there is a big section of free recipes, including crock pot ones.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

More tatties?

Looking around the internet, I came across this helpful website, powered by Sainsbury's, which allows one to tell it which ingredients are in the cupboard, or in too plentiful supply, and then it can supply a limited number of recipes to use up said ingredient.  I like it!  It has quite a few potato based recipes!

Tonight's delicacy was Rainbow Vegetable and Egg Bake and it was very well received.  It didn't look much like this, though...

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Well, I used white onions instead of red ones, left out the sweetcorn and the courgette, didn't have any rosemary either.......I suppose you could say it was inspired by this recipe, even if I didn't follow it to the letter!  We didn't have much Cheddar left, but we did have some mozzarella, so I chopped that up and popped it in as well as three eggs.  It is getting to the end of the week, so it didn't get served with salad, but green veg and plenty of them.

I don't think anyone has gone to bed hungry, and the whole lot was from in-stock ingredients.  And we have used up all the forked potatoes, so that is an added bonus.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Childish glee

You know when a child is all excited about something and can't stop bouncing around and telling you about it?  I feel a bit that way inclined tonight.....

UJ has brought me a reconditioned petrol lawn mower for my acreage - and he cut it all in less than an hour this afternoon - ALL of it!  What used to take me approaching three hours with the electric Flymo, he has whisked through in under an hour.  I would have taken a photo but it was dark when I got home so that will have to wait - but it is rather a spiffing red colour and looks just the ticket. Can't wait for the flipping grass to grow again so I can have a go, but he did leave the little bit of front lawn so I can have a quick whizz around that if the weather stays fine tomorrow.

And the best bit? The mower was £40, and my dad has bought it for me!  My birthday next week, so I should think it will be my present - couldn't think of anything better.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Mash up

Having dug all those potatoes up at the weekend, there was the odd casualty that I put the fork through, so I knew that I had to begin to use them up as soon as I could.  I had a vague idea for a dinner of cheese and potato pie, an old school dinner recipe which the FH used to rave about from his school teaching days.  But I had no idea what it actually looked like, so I had to have a search about on the web in a hurry this afternoon to find a recipe.

I found one on a forum attached to the Nigella website, and it worked a treat - the girls really loved it! It did make too much for the three of them for one dinner though, so they are happy to have it again tomorrow....

I cooked 2 lbs of potatoes, grated about 3/4 of a pound of cheese [it suggested a whole pound!] and beat 2 eggs with a splash of milk.  I fried one onion in large rings, using a little oil. When the potatoes were cooked, I mashed them with a big knob of butter, and then beat in the egg/milk mixture, with a quarter of a teaspoon each of mustard powder and cayenne pepper.  The onion and most of the cheese went in at this stage, although I kept a little to go on the top. It had about 20 minutes in the oven on 180C and then I popped it under the grill to brown up a bit for the last 5 minutes.  

The onion was not in the original recipe, but who has cheese and potatoes without an onion? 

I served it with lots of green veg and some carrots, and they soon cleaned their plates and had seconds.  The serving suggestion was to accompany it with bacon, mushroom, tomatoes and baked beans, which sounded more like brunch to me.  Maybe we'll try it that way another time.  However, this was was thrifty, vegetarian and filling, and made with ingredients I had to hand - a winner all round.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Photo catchup

We eventually managed to connect the phone to the laptop, and here we have some pictures!

The old walking boots finally went to landfill - they weren't fit to donate or recycle in any way.  There was a little twinge of sadness when I threw them over the side!

Potato harvesting yesterday.

I weighed them all, and we have grown 83lbs of potatoes this year - UJ planted them, I watered them regularly and the chicken poo fertilised the soil and seems to have done wonders!  They are much better potatoes than we grew last year - and there are some really large specimens in amongst them.

A pasta concoction invented by the EFG and recreated from her instructions. I am not sure where she got the inspiration from, but those who ate it cleared their plates.  It is large pasta shells, filled with a lentil, tomato and onion mixture, put in a shallow dish on a base of cheese sauce and then a little more cheese sauce over it with a sprinkling of grated cheddar on the top.  It went in the oven for about 15 minutes and was served with some salad.

Tech struggles

I've got a load of photos to share but I took them on my phone and now it won't play ball to email them to the laptop........but the YFG assures me that I can download them with a cord she has - when she finds it and has time to show me.  Hey ho!

I have had a good weekend for the most part - I could have sat at gymnastics on Saturday morning and fallen asleep so I am glad that the YFG came along with me to do most of the actual coaching of the group to which we were assigned. She starts at John Lewis next weekend - and has to catch a train before 7.30 am so we will be up early next Saturday!

Sunday afternoon was just gorgeous with the sun shining and I sat in the sun out the back and caught up with reading some papers.  I had hoped to nip off to see my dad, but when I eventually caught him on the phone, it was past 4pm and I had lost my enthusiasm for going out.  He had been out to lunch with my half-sister and her partner, and it had been a l-o-n-g lunch, but he had enjoyed it.  I don't connect with that sister, I am afraid.  We never got to know each other as I didn't know she existed until I was past 14, and then I didn't meet her until around the time my mum died, I think.  I see her on occasions at family gatherings, and hospitals.....

Off I go again - I shall hope to get the photos sorted out tonight. I hope you are enjoying investigating the new blogs I have added to the blogroll, and if you can recommend some new ones too, I'd be glad to share them - a change helps us all out sometimes!

Friday, 18 September 2015

What's in a word?

Addressing some of your comments, and thinking about the YFG's words yesterday, I love this post from Wendy at My Abundant Life, and I think it very ably sums up a lot of the reasons that some of us actively don't go all out to earn every penny that we can - sometimes it is just wiser to spend less, rather than try to earn more.  As MeanQueen said in the comments yesterday, we only pass this way once, so why "spend" all the time in the pursuit of cash with which to buy stuff we don't really need?

Slow living is more enjoyable than fast living, I think, when fast living means not seeing one's friends and family, not having time for relaxation and hobbies, and not feeling 100% fit because of a lack of rest and good food.  I'm conscious of the fact that I haven't seen my dad for a couple of weeks, and I shall be looking forward to trying to get to see him next week, somehow, for example, and it is UJ's birthday on Monday so I want to have a cake ready when he comes over on Wednesday for the lunch club.  All sorts of little things that make all the difference.  

Jumping down off the soap box for tonight -  thanks for dropping in!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Something new

Well, I had never heard of the spider steak until tonight, and then the YFG and I just sat there, watching "Eat Well for Less", slightly agog.....people actually eat that?  Sphincter muscle from a cow's rear end......oh my!  Now, before you all write and say you've loved it for years, I am not disputing it's flavour or anything, just that I had no concept of eating that particular muscle!!

The family on tonight's programme were spending around £350 a week [a WEEK!] on their food shopping, and there were only the four of them, and one of them a small child.  They were buying premium branded everything and seemed to have huge stocks as well.  You know I am a fan of stocking up, but spending that much money a week on food is just not sensible in anyone's book. There are plenty of people who can feed an adult on less than £15 a week, and regularly share their recipes and food plans on the MoneySavingExpert forums, and yet this family were spending nearly £100 a week per person, if you say that the adults were spending that and the small child was the £50. Blimey.  The presenters managed to find them loads of swaps which would save them about £8000 a year, which was the best result the programme had had so far, but actually, those who spend the most are the ones who can save the most, aren't they? The people who hold the record for losing the most weight are always the ones who had the most to lose in the first place, and it was the same with the spending here tonight.  The man of family was so relieved that this was going to take some of the pressure off him as the main earner, and I felt for him.

On telling the YFG that I had resigned from the phone job by text this morning [she had gone to school by the time I did it], her response was charming, "Oh mum, are we going to be poor now?" to which I replied no, because I had done all the sums to ensure that we can manage on what I will earn at the church, and the other incomes we have.  Bless her, she did understand that it was better to have a little less but be well and healthy, rather than wearing myself out for only a little more.

Friday again tomorrow - these Fridays keep coming, and I am reliably informed that after tomorrow, there are just 14 Fridays till Christmas....not sure I wanted to know that just yet!


I've just done the deed and sent the email to the phone job boss to resign!

I thought I had a plan in my head to carry on until Christmas, but the bags under my eyes and the lack of time I have had these past two weeks for my daughters has convinced me, along with a conversation I had with a stranger on Tuesday, that enough is enough.

And I will have enough, my wise stranger's words convicted me.  So I hope that she will become a good friend in future, as I shall be spending more time in her church and I really valued the time I spent chatting with her on Tuesday.  

So I have just lost some income, and some tax credits too, because my hours will now fall under the 30 limit, but we have enough to live on from other sources, and I feel like I really need to put my time and energy into the church work, which is my passion.  

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Chance encounter?

Sometimes you meet someone and you just feel a real connection, don't you?  I went to one of "my" churches today to meet the Bowls Club and see what they get up to [apart from rolling small balls up and down a green carpet] and they were a lovely bunch of people.  I got chatting to a retired Baptist minister's wife, from Poole in Dorset [small world, hey, Ang?!] and she was just a kindred spirit kind of person.

She explained how she and her husband had met, how they trusted God in everything and how he brought them to this was a lovely afternoon that I spent chatting with her and listening to her story - and that is a lot of what this job is about: listening to people's stories and walking alongside them as their story develops now.

I had to go to Lidl as well this afternoon as the EF girls needed more rye bread and that is the best place to get it for them around here. It is very dense and heavy, just the way they like it!  The YFG has definitely turned her nose up at that as she prefers fluffy white stuff, which she doesn't actually get very often as I think that Best of Both is better for her, although I do buy the odd wholemeal loaf when I think she is in the mood to eat it.  If that sounds like I am pandering to her, well, I suppose I am - but much better to give her stuff which is half healthy and have her eat it than to find that she throws the lunch time sandwich away and lives on fresh air, as I found that she did once or twice when she was younger.  She's on a bit of a health kick at the moment, so I did manage to get her to have proper wholemeal stuff this week!

Long hours are beginning to get to me, now - and here I am still up now!  Last night there was a Preachers' meeting which went on until nearly 10 pm and so I didn't get home till gone half past, and tonight there has been a governors' meeting till half past 8.  Meetings - had enough of them this week...

Have a rummage through my blog roll on the right as I have added some more lovely Australian/NZ ladies, and I have given John a regular spot from Going Gently - I have been reading his hilarious blog for ages but hadn't got it in the blog roll!  About time - if you haven't "met" John, do go over and say Hello!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Saturday snoozing

I slept in yesterday until 8.30 am and I was sorely in need of the extra sleep!  I am determined to get into a better routine for getting to bed earlier so that I can get the sleep I need - dragging myself through the day feeling tired is not the way to thrive.....

Saturdays have been a welcome relief these past two weeks - nowhere that I needed to be for work purposes and no phone calls expected either.  Yesterday the YFG and I worked on a meal plan for the week, and then checked with the EF girls to see if they needed any shopping whilst I was out. They both headed out in different directions on the trains just after lunch, and the YFG went to the local town to go to Lidl and the library - a book I had ordered had come in and I was keen to get it picked up.  

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I've been reading the "Game of Thrones" books, as they are popularly known: the EFG has the first two, but I have had to source all the others from the library.  I know that they have been made into a television series but I am not even considering watching that until I have read all the books!  I am enjoying them so far - although it is a challenge to remember who is who!

I did manage to cut the front lawn in the sunshine when we got back, but the mower is making weird noises so I didn't strain it too much!  UJ has not brought the "new-to-me" mower over here yet and I think it is still at the works getting serviced, so I am still plugging away with the Flymo......for how long, I don't know!  The lawns are getting overlong in some places and I don't think that the Flymo will manage those bits now........a combination of having a lot of rain lately and meetings has meant that when I had time to cut it, it was too wet, and then when it was dry enough, I wasn't here - and that combination has been a bit of a disaster!  I may get a little more cut today if the weather holds out.

I've tried to get the EF girls trained to do some of their own chores, so Thursday night I explained that I would need their bedding laundry first thing in the morning and with one gentle reminder, it all appeared in a basket on the landing.  They do need to remember to make their beds before they try to get in them though, as they were both struggling with duvet covers past 10 pm when they went up to go to bed on Friday night - whether they had forgotten or just left it until they went to bed, I don't know!  We had a "you've been here two weeks, what do you think?" review at dinner last night, and both seem happy with life here at the moment. 

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Saved the best news for the last!  The YFG has been offered a Saturday job at John Lewis!  She had been offered one which was Friday nights and all day Sunday but we couldn't manage that because of transportation issues on Sundays out here in the middle of nowhere, so she declined that.  They seem quite keen on her though, as after two phone calls from them and us explaining the situation, they have altered the job offer - and she is over the moon!  We believe that it is just a temporary one, from the end of September to the end of January, but it will be an excellent start in the world of work.  She and I have agreed that at least half the wages will be going into savings - good to get her into the routine of savings from the start, I think, or the money would soon be spent!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Coming up for air

It's been one heck of a week.....thank goodness it will be Friday in a few hours!  

One of my girls has just capped off the day by having a wobble which necessitated a kind listening ear and a hug, and all is better for now - I hope!  I am very glad that at least she came and talked to me and didn't hide away and sob.

Jobs are going well - but there are not enough hours in the day, I am finding, even if I get up at 6 am! To that end, I have realised that I have six days of holiday from the phone job to take and have pretty much organised with the boss to take almost every other Monday off between now and the Christmas holiday - that means that those weeks will only require 8 hours on the phone and leaves me with a little more breathing space in the schedule.  I shall decide between now and Christmas whether I shall go back to the phone job after Christmas, and if not, I shall give notice in time.  

I am loving the social aspect of the new job - Tots groups, Knitting groups and drop in sessions all have plenty of tea on offer - and the serious side of the work is actually a joy alongside the new team with whom I am working - but I am the only one who can even remotely claim to be a Fenlander as the others are all northerners, and proud!

Hopefully I will be back at the weekend - I have a lovely recipe for recycled shortbread that I used today and I even managed to take a couple of photos.  See you soon xxx

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Hard hearts

I could have cried yesterday when I went to the Worship Lunch at the chapel. I never actually participate in eating with the ladies as they always have soup and bread, then pudding and custard, and I prepare the food, serve it and wash up, since I can't eat any of the food.......but I always say the grace before they eat.

Yesterday I thanked God for food, fellowship and friends, as I usually do, but then I asked them to think of others, of families desperate to reach safety and of children washed up on foreign shores. 

I said the "Amen" and walked back into the kitchen.  I could overhear the conversation at the table, and the eight older ladies were using words which really broke my heart there: "too many foreigners here already", Enoch Powell was mentioned in a favourable light, and the conversation went on for a little while about how immigrants would take "our" jobs and benefits.

I was angry and did not know how to respond, and remembered that I was in church.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that we have generations of British people who just don't consider what kind of a nation we are - we've been having other folks come here for hundreds of years, from the Romans, the Vikings and the Saxons for example, right through to people from former Empire countries and EU member states. 

There is a huge difference as well between an immigrant, who comes to seek a better kind of a life, and a refugee, who comes seeking Life itself.  

And every one of the refugees who comes seeking Life should be given a chance to have it, not to lose it in a boat in the Mediterranean or in the back of a lorry in Austria. These are not people looking to be able to claim benefits and an easier life - these are human beings, like us, with families and friends and life stories, who are looking for a way to just stay alive.

Seems to me that as much as we need to pray for people who are seeking life, we need to pray for attitudes to change across the world. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015


Bear with me, folks - this new job and the extra daughters on board are taking some getting used to!

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Tomorrow is the EFG's last day at home, too!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Missed it!

I saw yesterday that we were approaching half a million page views and I had planned today to keep an eye on it, and have a wee jig around the room when it clicked over - but I forgot all about it with everything else on the agenda today!  I have just noticed that the counter is at 500,178 - which I am pretty chuffed about. I had no idea back in 2008 that I would still be chuntering away here in 2015, and that you would all be reading - thank you!

I've had one heck of a busy day but it has been great - new job will be a challenge, which I am ready for and looking forward to engaging in, and the team I am going to be working with are just lovely people.  Ready for bed now though - ready to do it all again tomorrow.......