Friday, 30 October 2015

And we're home again

It is lovely to go away, but it is great to come home again!  

Just waiting for the washing machine to finish the last load and then I am off to find my bed, as I suspect it is hiding under the clothes that I turfed out of the suitcase a couple of hours ago - never got round to going back up there to put them away.  A job for the morning, methinks.

Thanks for the lovely comments - and I am glad to be back to civilisation with internet connections :)  Most holiday homes have it these days, but that one didn't, and although I was glad of the peace and quiet, away from the incessant updating, I did miss some of the benefits.......

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

We're here!

Internet access very intermittent - this dratted dongle can't pick up the signal for very long before it disappears off again!  The house is great, the girls are enjoying the break, and the weather has been very British - rain at times, but generally fine.......they have been to Norwich today and visited the Castle Museum as well as the shops. 

I have had Ang and Bob from Tracing Rainbows here to lunch, and had a great time with them, catching up on all their news.  Tomorrow the girls are off to Cromer to see Spectre, and then we will be packing up and heading home on Friday.  I shall share pictures of the house when I have more reliable internet signal.  I have been reading your blogs occasionally but not much, so I have quite a bit of catching up to do when I get home - hope you are all keeping well!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Half term is here!

There's a cake in the oven for UJ, bags are being packed, a last-minute to do list is being ticked off and we are shortly off to lunchtime.  Looking forward to the sea air and a change of scenery.  The knitting and the DVDs are packed!  
UJ will be here this afternoon, and will be in charge of the demesne whilst we are away - and has been left strict instructions by the YFG not to feed the cat hard biscuits whilst we are away as she seems to have lost one of her fangs!  

There may be intermittent updates if the dongle works. 
Otherwise, I'll be back at the end of the week x

Friday, 23 October 2015

Good news

Both of the stories I shared in the last post have positive news to report today - the Haitian birthing centre extension was fully funded but the money kept coming, because they run the Flash Mobs for 24 hours, so the extra money is being used to support pregnant mums and those just having their babies in the middle of the refugee crisis here in Europe.  They have partners in Berlin who will co-ordinate the relief effort at this end - and they have raised a phenomenal sum of money in 24 hours which I believe is about $475,000 or thereabouts. Amazing sisters coming together to support one another....I love being a part of it, however tiny a cog in the wheel that I might be!

And the other story - well, Tracey's doctors are continuing to treat her and her husband is planning her homecoming, which is a huge turnaround from the other day when he had to tell their children that she might not make it.  She is not out of the woods yet, by a long way, but things are looking hopeful.  I'm continuing to hold her and the family in my prayers.

Here at home, the girls have broken up for half term and had the day to themselves today. One went off to Cambridge on the train and did some exploring, and the other EF girl stayed here and watched the whole of the first series of Call the Midwife, which she has completely fallen in love with!  I have bobbed in and out whilst doing other things and enjoyed watching bits and pieces of it with her.  The YFG has done some homework but there's more to be done!

I've been out and about again - a craft group at one chapel this morning and a drop-in and prayer group at another one this afternoon. It is lovely to walk alongside these people and get to know them better - one old chap this afternoon was telling us about the amazing Rottweiler bitches that he has kept in the past. Not a breed I fancy at all, but he has had three in a row and loved them all, and really enjoyed telling us about one of them called Betsy this afternoon.  His diminutive wife is an adorable woman who sits and smiles constantly, in a little world of her own. He is well over 90 and she is not far behind him, but has dementia, and can't remember how much sugar she has in her tea, but he tells her patiently each time she has a cup, and it was a blessing to watch how loving he is with her.

Tomorrow I have a service to prepare and some shopping to do, as well as some ironing. Hoping for some fine weather this weekend so that I can cut the grass once I have bought some petrol for the mower.  Hope you are all keeping well. Thanks for dropping in - wouldn't be the same without you x

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

All together

There are some awful things going on in this world of ours right now......and we are blessed that there are people who are prepared to get right in there and tell us about them.

Glennon Doyle Melton has been to Haiti and come back with a report and a mission to raise money to help the women there to give birth more safely, and even to carry their children to term. When I look back and consider how lucky I was to get fantastic care and give birth in a dedicated maternity hospital in Scotland, I had no hesitation in giving what I could to her "Together Rising" Love Flash Mob today. She's aiming to raise enough to build an extension to the maternity service building in Haiti so that even more women and babies can be helped.  It brings tears to my eyes to read about women giving birth alone and with no help at all, as well as young women being encouraged by their families to take concoctions to try to abort their babies.  The best thing about the Love Flash Mob is that it is made up of lots and lots of little donations as the maximum donation at one time is $25 - I don't think it stops you if you go back again and donate more though!

(image from

And then there is a heart-wrenching story which I just found out about yesterday in which a beloved mother of many [7, I think] is in a critical condition in hospital in Australia, fighting for her life after an aneurysm damaged her bowel. She has hardly any bowel left after a run of operations, and it doesn't sound as if there is a lot more that the team can do, except wait and hope that her body can begin to heal itself.  I'm praying for her and her family.

What is inspiring about these situations is the way in which people come together to help one another. It is so much better for us all when we can support and encourage, rather than tearing each other apart in conflict and competition.  

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Meal plans

I should be doing a weekly meal plan but some days I am flying by the seat of my pants right up to dinner time!  This week so far, we started off on Sunday with cottage pie, with meat for most of us and a Quorn-based one for the veggie in residence. Leftovers were tarted up on Monday with baked beans and fresh spinach, and today, the EF girls have had butternut squash, spinach and carrot curry with rice and naan breads, and the YFG and I have had corned beef hash, because we don't like curry!
Two portions of curry have gone into the freezer but I am not telling anyone that they are nestled amongst a load of lamb chops - shhh!

Wednesday night is going to involve baked potatoes, and then Thursday may come together with a mozzarella spaghetti bake.  At this stage, Friday will be anyone's guess........freezer rummaging will be on the cards by then.  Note to self: when we get back from the Sheringham holiday, I must be more organised!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Day off

We had a bit of blue sky here eventually this morning, so a load of bedding was washed and whipped out on to the line to get dry in the sun and light breeze. The days of getting the laundry dry in front of the woodburner or in the verandah are here and it was a treat to be able to peg it out properly - and it smells so fresh when I bring it in pleased to get one more load dry on the line today.

I had quite a week of work last week and didn't get a single day in which I wasn't doing something church orientated, so I took a day off from all things churchy today, nearly!  I did send a couple of emails and finish off my time sheet for last week but that was about it.  I did some housework and then I put my feet up for an hour this afternoon and cast on another hat on the knitting needles whilst I watched TBN on the telly.  I'm constantly impressed by the energy and passion of some of the preachers that they have on there, and it encourages me to see the congregations in the mega churches - there are hundreds of thousands of believers in the world, even though the Fens seems to be dwindling in numbers nowadays.......

Even dinner tonight was relaxed as we had plenty of leftovers from last night - supplemented with some baked beans and fresh spinach. We sat around chatting after dinner and finally moved after about an hour - we are certainly engaging the EF girls in conversation here.  They tell horror stories about other host families that they have heard about from the other students and I wonder why some people bother to host if they are going to treat the students in that manner.  We had a laugh tonight and took a mock UK citizenship test that the YFG found online - we passed as a group but I am not sure I would have passed on my own......why are there a different number of people in a jury in Scotland, for example? I thought 12 was a pretty universal number for a jury but it appears not.

Back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Hither and thither

And a bit of a dither too!  It's been a busy day, going from one place to another, but all in all, it has been a good one......moments spent with the YFG in the car, pottering around town; chatting with UJ this afternoon, sitting by the fire together and catching up on news; the Harvest Tea at the chapel and a few more pennies in the pot but more than that, a group of people coming together in a community; sitting round the table tonight with the EF girls and with the YFG and chatting for an hour.  Precious moments all day.......

Bed time now - good night x

Friday, 16 October 2015


The lamb has been delivered and safely stashed in the freezer. I didn't have time to weigh it, as I had intended to do, but there is a rather large leg of lamb, a shoulder, a breast and a neck joint as well as five bags of chops and some offal.  Quite good for £45, I thought.  It will be eked out over the coming months and I shall look forward to making the most of every scrap - I shall definitely have to get some more mint sauce in!

I've been to the Harvest Assembly at the school this morning and had a lovely time - the children had poems to share that they had written, one class had learned to play "Old Macdonald had a farm" on the recorders, there was art work to view and a lovely story that another class read out in a part work form.  They also sang together at the beginning and the end and I was altogether very impressed.

After that, I went over to the chapel for a couple of hours, and then home to bake - there are events going on in three of my churches tomorrow so I made three of the cheap and cheerful cakes, as well as some cheese scones.  This evening I have been unpacking the Sainsbury's delivery and perusing the internet to learn more about credit unions.

I'm also concerned about a spiritualist group. I've been doing some research on that too, as I know very little about it.  My cousin has been very interested in this sort of thing in the past, and my EF girls had their palms read at the show we went to last weekend - we separated and I didn't know until we were in the car coming home - they were relieved of £10 each for a 5 minute "reading" seems that these people play to the part of human nature which wants to know everything, and basic Christianity is too boring as we wait to see what God will bring into our lives.  I can understand the temptations as there are loads of things that I would love to know, and now, but actually, I also realise that there are things that I am not ready to know, and I am content to wait for God's time.  In the instant world that we live in these days, people don't want to wait any longer.

Anyway, I shall add that to the long list of things I want to chat through with the boss lady at church when I see her again, as she is very experienced and will have words of wisdom to share.  Between now and then, I have to sort this service for Sunday and then write a presentation on all that I learned yesterday......Toodle pip for now x

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Money matters

I can't believe that it is nearly the end of the week again - these weeks are flying past us too fast!  Tuesday morning was spent at a conference about a strategy for professionals called "Think Family" which is about joined up care for families, and then today I was at another conference, but this one was all day!  Today's really floated my boat as it was about money......sad but true.

I went to workshops about Universal Credit, credit unions, barriers to accepting support and about the client commitment to work.  A lot of it was completely new to me, but there were loads of professionals there to whom it was not news - but it was a really good opportunity for me to learn so much.  I was the only faith-based delegate on the list - most were from housing associations, family workers, etc but I made some very useful connections and came away with some ideas which I hope to be allowed to implement.

I did feel a bit out of place at one stage when one particular delegate got on her high horse about people who claim Tax Credits as if we are another species, but that is a different story!

I'm leading worship on Sunday at the Harvest Festival so I am looking forward to working on that tomorrow.......if I get time!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

All over now

The YFG lasted three weeks at John Lewis. Absolutely crippling anxiety finished her off there - although the job in itself was not difficult and the people were lovely, she said.  I had to take her to the doctor yesterday morning to get a sick note to cover the notice period as she was unable to return. It is a shame in many ways, because having a foot in the door at JL was a good step for her, but there were quite a few things against it from the start - the length of the day and the travel arrangements for example.  

She was unable to articulate what was the problem but she was manifesting so many physical symptoms of stress and anxiety that she was beginning to be unable to function, such was her dread of the next Saturday. 

She came home this last Saturday, pleased that she hadn't been stuck on the dishwasher all day, and I thought she was making progress, but by Sunday night, the symptoms were back and she was clearly struggling already at the thought of going back the next off we went to the GP yesterday morning and all has been sorted, and it is finished. 

When I was speaking to a very wise friend, she recognised that although the job in itself was not difficult, and was indeed well within the YFG's capabilities, it was in a place she did not know, with a horde of people she did not know, and in a large organisation with a lot of protocols and procedures with which she was not familiar - and she had the travel to cope with as well as being away from home for an extended friend was surprised that the YFG took it on in the first place on reflection.  She has recommended a position with shorter hours, closer to home and in a smaller and more informal organisation to start with.  We will just have to see whether anything like that comes up!

And that was most of yesterday taken up.

Tonight I have been to a meeting in the village in which a local charity dishes out dosh to people between 16 and 25 who are still in full time education - the EFG applied for a grant from them and is thrilled tonight to get a text from me, telling her that £200 will soon be heading in her direction - a very welcome boost to her funds!

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Making room

I have been offered - and I accepted - half a lamb from a lady who is on the school governing board with me. She has a small holding just outside the village, and it is time for the lambs to head off to the local slaughterhouse. She is charging £45 for half a lamb, so I am having half, my sister is having another half, her mother-in-law is having half and UJ is also having half!  I should have asked for commission! 

Image result for butcher half a lamb image
(image from

She wasn't sure when they would actually be ready when she was talking about it, so there was no sense of a time scale then.  On Friday, I heard that we would be able to collect the meat from her on Thursday or Friday this coming week - so that means that we need to be eating from the freezer this week to make sure that there is room to stash the lamb!

I think that there will be some interesting meals to be had this week, then, as we eat up the oddments of frozen meals, and try to use up lots of bits and pieces.  I am sure the girls won't mind, as it will be one way to ensure some variety in the diet!

We're off to the Autumn Show at the Peterborough Showground when I get back from church this morning, so I hope the weather stays fair.  I'll try to get some good pictures of the exhibits.

Friday, 9 October 2015

A cake or two

To take my mind off the inspection on Wednesday afternoon, I did some baking....not always the best thing to do when I am distracted as I sometimes make mistakes and forget ingredients!

I have some cans of pumpkin, so I tried a new pumpkin cake, which was a bit of a challenge. I didn't have the required maple syrup, and in noting down the list of the ingredients from the website, I totally omitted the sugar!  Noticing that I didn't have the syrup, I stuck in a cup of sugar to compensate, not realising that there were supposed to be THREE cups of sugar in addition to the syrup - whoops!  My loaves ended up rather more orangey that the ones in the picture on the recipe website, but the girls have eaten one of them already and said that it was nice! So I am not too disheartened about that one.

On The Quince Tree, I saw a recipe for a cheap and cheerful cake, that I had already seen on Facebook. There's no eggs, milk or butter in the recipe so it is quite cheap to make, and I was further encouraged when Ang over at Tracing Rainbows shared a variation on the cake, so I made one - and very successfully too - it is easy to make and the girls have eaten half of it already!

I shall have another go at the pumpkin cake since I have another can of it in stock, but perhaps not for a week or two, as I have put one in the freezer anyway. The cheap and cheerful cake will probably get made again at the weekend, as there was far too much icing for one cake, and the remainder is stashed in the fridge, waiting for another opportunity to decorate something nice!  Everything I need to make it is in stock and it really is cheap, and the girls' comments included, "Amazing!" and "Brilliant cake!" so it was a success all round.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Made it through

Not quite still standing, though, as we are all quite shattered, and some people have worked very hard to make sure that the inspectors had all the information they needed to make an informed judgment. It's all under wraps now until we get the official report through - so for now, it is over!  

Hopefully, the blog will be resuming usual posting tomorrow......thanks for all your support x

Monday, 5 October 2015

The words have been uttered

The words which send panic and dread into the heart of every teacher and governor in the land. "Ofsted are coming tomorrow!"

They are coming for a two day visit, and I am summoned for 4 pm with some other governors to have a chat with them tomorrow.  Thing is, we know we have made a huge amount of progress, but we just need them to come and recognise that and validate our judgements.....will they agree??

Back soon - I hope!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Cash is good

I know that some money savers don't carry cash, as a means of preventing themselves from spending frivously or in an unplanned manner.  But I'm not one of them, and I do carry cash - and I am glad I do, because some days, it means I can grab a bargain!

This morning, I drove north to a chapel I hadn't preached at before, and I passed a woman with a big Transit van on a layby, and she had a table in front of the van with vegetables laid out on it - and I could see squashes as well as other things.  I hadn't allowed myself any spare time on the journey so I just noted it and carried on.

Luckily for me, she was still there when I came back a while later - but the squashes had gone from the table and all she had out were raspberries - which I didn't want.  So a friendly wave and a, "Got any squashes left?" had me out of the car when she said, "Oh, yes, but they're in the van!" I pulled over and got out of the car to go and have a look in the van: a tray of butternut squashes and a tray of assorted other kinds also laid in the rear area.

Remember how I paid £1.90 or so for a butternut squash last week?  These were a very similar size, and she was charging £1 each or 3 for £2.50.  I soon chose two butternut and another one from the other selection. She wasn't sure of the name of the other one I chose, but said that it has a chestnut flavour. At that price, I thought it was worth a chance!

I had a mooch around the internet when I got home, and apparently butternut will store for up to six months, if stored in a cool and dry place, so there is no rush to use them.  But I wouldn't have been able to pick up these bargains without a few pounds in my purse.  Around here, there are a LOT of people who sell veg from their gates, and it is reliably cheaper than the supermarkets.

Extending my range of butternut squash recipes is going to be good, and cheap if it goes on like this!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Celebrating the end

I splashed out on a mini bottle of wine for myself to celebrate my release from the phone job - I feel more in control now and less like I am tied down!  I did the final hour this afternoon - and the very last call was to a whinger: he wouldn't go back to x dealership because of the terrible customer service, blah, blah, blah!  Thank goodness I shan't be phoning him again.....

We have had an amazing day at the chapel - all the craft groups from across the circuit came together to share and do knitting, patchwork and cross stitch together for the day. We had a bring-and-share lunch, and there were 45 women there at one point [and one man, who did a lot of chattering and not a lot else]. The fellowship and creativity were great, and we are looking forward to doing it again at another chapel sometime after Easter. It was a lot of work on the tea-making front, but there was a good team to share the load.

Off to consider a bible-study for tomorrow afternoon now - hope you have a lovely weekend xx

Thursday, 1 October 2015

October's here

I think Autumn has launched itself upon us - the sun is shining and the days are bright and clear, which is perfect autumn weather for me!  If summer is going to be like the one we've had this year, give me autumn every time....I hope it lasts a wee bit longer.

We've been experimenting with vegetarian recipes this week. I bought a butternut squash on Monday and have made a curry and a stew with it. It cost me £1.90 as it was a fair size and it has been a significant part of 8 meals - so I was quite pleased with that.

It started on Tuesday with a butternut squash/onion/potato curry [I cheated and used a jar of sauce from Aldi] which the EF girls loved. It had other veg in it, like carrots and spinach, and they ate their fill and then I put two more portions in the freezer.  Tonight, it has become a butternut and chickpea stew.  I always ask for feedback as I don't want to make them eat something again if they don't like it, so one said she liked it and one said she loved it - good to go again, then, I think.  Again, they ate a big portion each and there are two more in the freezer.

I am really enjoying this "bung more in the freezer" strategy because it means that I get another night off in the future and will not have to cook from scratch - a really wise investment in time, I think! In between the two squash meals, they had a cheesy pasta and broccoli bake on Wednesday, which the YFG also enjoyed. She had the leftovers from that tonight as she is not keen on what she feels are "too vegetarian" meals, bless her!  It is certainly keeping costs down, so I am pleased with it.

Tomorrow night is a "with chips" meal - the vegetarian will have a veggie burger and the others will have battered haddock.

The best news - only 2 hours to do on the phone tomorrow and then I am done!  I think a small bottle of wine may get opened tomorrow evening.....