Sunday, November 26, 2006



As I will not be able to phone you on your birthday Ben I am writing this blog especially for you. I hope you have a lovely time at the cinema with your friends and that you enjoy your presents. Please ask mum to post a picture of your cake.


Ben these are some of the photos I took when I visited. You're good at washing your fruit.

Ben doesn't always want to pose for the camera.

Ben I'm sure you will have a great birthday. Love you lots from Grandma.


Friday, November 24, 2006


I find this time of the year very depressing I hate the dreary dull days of winter. Having to keep a light on for most of the day makes it feel like night. In the past I have used daylight light bulbs but I'm not sure if they helped. I could quite easily hibernate, like our tortoises. When I was working I had to motivate myself but now I can be really lazy, and I am always looking for comfort foods and in fact I was really naughty today, finding a few squares of chocolate caramel bar in my cupboard they were in my mouth before I even considered taking a photo for Sam's challenge. I think this choc had been there for months so would have soon been stale, well that's what I am telling myself. I have now taken a photo of the wrapping and I'm owning up in public so I feel that's ok.

Anyone who has read my previous posts will be aware that this year I have been very lucky as I've had several holidays since I retired. Having only just got back from Dublin I am fortunate enough to off to Spain tomorrow and I'm hoping a good dose of sunshine will help me through until the new year. Beccy will be publishing a special post, already drafted, on Sunday which I hope you will read. I will see you all in December when I will be in a real panic with only three weeks leading up to Christmas.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Organic Recipes ' Little Red Goosberries' Daphne Lambert

Beccy gave me this interesting cookery book over a year ago, and although I have dipped into it, as I try to buy as much organic food as possible, I have only just started to try the recipes. I wanted to find out more about the author and Penrhos and this makes interesting reading. The author is a chef and nutritionist and she is involved with "Green Cuisine School of Food and Health' which run courses such as Women's Health, Permanent Weight loss and Sports Nutrition.
If you are looking for a cookery book with lots of glossy pictures then this is not the book for you (normally I like to see what the end result should look like but this way means you produce your own unique version). The recipes are divided into seasons with starters, main course and puddings.

This week I made her 'Carrot and Ginger Soup' which she says 'makes a glorious golden-orange colour and the hint of ginger makes it very warming when the weather turns chilly'. I have to say I agree and my mother also seemed to enjoy it but I suspect that's because she only had to heat it .

700g ( 1.5 lbs) carrots
1 medium onion.
2.5 (1ins) cube fresh root ginger
50g (2oz) butter
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock.
Salt and pepper
Fresh Corriander to garnish.
Scrub carrots trim and chop, also chop onion
Peel and grate ginger.
Melt butter stir in carrot and onion- sweat for 5 mins. Stir in ginger and cook for another 3 mins.
Add stock, cover simmer 15 mins. Cool and blend until smooth. Season as required.
Garnish fresh corriander.

As you can see this is a quick easy recipe, taking very little preparation and cooking. Give it a try.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Just One Dalmation

Let me introduce you to Angel, who is a Dalmation, belonging to my niece who lives a couple of miles away from us. Angel is a lovely sweet natured dog who normally goes to stay with my brother whenever there is a need. However, next year they have all planned a holiday together in Portugal, and I said that I would look after Angel while they're away. Although it is many years since our own dog died, I have never seriously considered having another dog as it was so devastating when we had to let her go.

Tamsie was a much loved border collie cross (labrador). If you care for your pets properly they are a big responsibility and I could never leave a dog in kennels so I was very tied and we never had holidays abroad as we could not take Tamsie. I have to add that did not worry us as we always went to Cornwall which we loved as did Tamsie who enjoyed lying in the sea or any water she could find.
Anyway I digress, my niece wanted me to have a trial run so that if I found it difficult she would still have time to book kennels which I know they didn't really want to do.
I was very confident there would be no problems and Angel arrived late afternoon yesterday. She explored a bit both in and outdoors and was very well behaved settling into her bed as soon as my niece and her daughters left. She whimpered a bit but was very exited when we took her out for a walk later in the evening. I had forgotten how strong big dogs are and she nearly pulled my arm out of its socket. We didn't hear from her overnight and I took her for a lovely long walk this morning through Blaise Estate which also has a folly and a museum in the main house. I really enjoyed the walk it's where we go as a family for our tradittional Boxing day walk so I will no doubt mention it again. The trees were still looking quite colourful as they had not all lost their leaves unfortunately can't include photos ( those who read yesterday's post will know why).
I had also forgotten just how friendly all dog owners are, so many people stopped to speak to us and introduce us to their dogs. I was educated, by the owner of a cute puppy, on the meaning of 'Angel' which is of course 'God's messenger' and how it originated from a Greek word; I met two small terriors (who were pretty little things) and their owner told me how they had recently jumped on the back of a goat but luckily no serious damage to either the goat or dogs. I could go on and on but I won't bore you with doggy ramblings. However, at the end of the 2 hour walk I felt quite elated and there was a part of me that wished Angel was staying for a bit longer; just think of the excercise I would get twice a day. She slept most of the afternoon and I have just said goodbye to her, she was so excited when they came to collect her. I am now looking forward to the next visit and I hope she is too!!

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hidden Talents

I am doubly frustrated as I have just lost a whole post that I was about to publish when Safari crashed on me just as I was inserting the last link. So I have to start over, also I cannot believe I was stupid enough to leave the cable for my camera in Dublin. I now have to wait until Beccy sends it before I can download photos from my camera. Luckily I had transferred some photos onto her computer so I am waiting for her to email those and it sounds as though they have just arrived. I need to download them before completeing this post.

The real topic of this post is Art. As I have said before I am not artistic but I am keen to try. I did dabble in watercolours (only copying) when my children were very young. At that time my efforts were really not very good and I didn't persue it. I decided that now I have more time I would give it another go. My colleagues from work decided to give me a helping hand with this lovely gift. When I mentioned this to a certain daughter who is celebrating her birthday today what happens? She beats me to it and paints pictures for her children's bedrooms.

This is the end result:
They are very good and Mollie who absolutely loves everything about Winnie-the-Pooh is delighted with the pictures that now adorn her wall.

Ben, as you can see, loves Sponge Bob and as I had never watched any of the programmes he was keen to tell me all about SB's adventures under the sea.
My grandchildren are delighted with their paintings and rightly, very proud of their mum. I wonder what she will try next!! I shall have to get started soon. Beccy's mother-in-law (who is a very talented artist) was giving me lots of tips when I saw her during my recent visit so I have no excuse or maybe I do. Still I don't have to show anyone my efforts and they will not be posted on my blog!!


Monday, November 20, 2006

Goodbye Dublin

Anyone who has ready Beccy's post today will know that I have just returned home after spending a week in Dublin. I am always sad to say goodbye to the family but it's not long to wait until Christmas when they will be over to visit us in Bristol. It was a beautiful clear sunny day as we decended over Bristol and I had a wonderful view of both Severn Bridges. The flight arrived ahead of schedule but was not much of an advantage as we had to wait so long for our luggage. As I walked from 'arrivals' to the pick up point it began to rain and had been pouring ever since. It had slipped my memory, until I listened to the answerphone, that Mike and I have a meeting to attend tonight so that's a very good excuse, no I mean reason, for not rushing to the shops to get something to cook for dinner. It will have to be a take-away- meal, now what will look least sinful. You're right 'take away' and low calories don't go together. I promise I will be taking a photo for Sam's challenge (see Wednesday, November 15).


Saturday, November 18, 2006

At the end of the day...

I am feeling quite exhausted. It's about 10:45 pm and the house has suddenly gone quiet, I had forgotten how hectic it can be with young children. These last few days I have had a taste of all the jobs my daughter Beccy does so effortlessly. Running the home and all that entails such as cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry, some childcare for friends, she is secretary of the parent's association at Mollie and Ben's school and she makes sure homework gets done. She plays tennis, assisting the ladies captain and she acts as a taxi service to and from the many activities that my three grandchildren enjoy throughout the week. There is cubs, girls brigade, drama, swimming and scouts (actually my grandson does now ride his bike to scouts with friends so that's one less journey for her). As well as all this she still finds time and enjoys attending a book club.

I don't think I could keep up the pace. Let's take today Sat: my son-in-law had to go into work so he was up and away even earlier than during the week, Dillon took himself off to sailing, on the DART (train), Beccy took Mollie to basketball, came home fetched her an hour later, we then all went off for an hours tennis.

Mollie and Ben have both improved so much since I last saw them play in July. Mollie had me running all over the court so I got plenty of exercise today and it was great fun to be playing with them. After tennis Mollie went straight to hockey we went home and Mollie had to be collected an hour later. Beccy then cooked lunch and Joules managed to get home just in time to join us. She then used her new best friend 'kitchen aid' for the first time, I'm not going to dwell on this as it's for her to talk about. After lunch Joules took the children out and Beccy and I did manage to watch a video 'Brokeback Mountain' which we had both been wanting to see for some time. Just as the film ended the family returned and she then prepared dinner for the children and me before getting herself ready to go out for the evening.

I am very pleased that while I am staying she and Joules have been able to have a night out with their friends. So while they have been out the grandchildren and I have been very busy all evening (if you are wondering what we have been doing you will have to look at next weeks post probably on Tuesday). Of course when grandma is in charge it's a treat to stay up a bit (maybe a lot) later and indulge in a feast well a box of 'after eight mints' which is one of Mollie's favourite chocs (just like her mum and auntie Sam) and we don't tell 'mum' (it's our secret). So I have only just finished clearing up and I am now sitting down to relax a little, drink my camomile tea and write this before retiring.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Diabetic Food blogs

My husband and one of my friend's are diabetics and I want to try and find a few more recipes to suit their dietary needs. As I'm supposed to have more time now I'm retired and I am back to doing more cooking Mike is beginning to feel a little left out as far as desserts are concerned. So I think I'd better start looking for food blogger who have posted recipes suitable for diabetics. If anyone can give me any links this would be appreciated.

Mike won't mind that Beccy and I stopped and had a bagel for our lunch as he's not keen on them but he would have liked the 'all day breakfast' filling. I'm not even considering the calories, after all I'm on holiday, time to cut down next week when I get home.

Lots more retail therapy today: quite a few Christmas presents bought and we had a really lovely chat with the guy in the wine shop as I wanted to take a couple of bottles of wine to a Christening party on Sunday. On his recommendation I bought some Australian wines, so I hope they will be OK 'Hanging Rock' a Merlot Geelong and Perricoota Verdelho.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Coffee with Clare

Our plans for today had to be hastily re-arranged as Mollie woke up with an upset tummy and had to stay home from school. We had planned to visit Clare (a friend of Beccy's who I now know quite well) for coffee so that we could try her Kerry Apple cake and I was also very keen to see her new kitchen which was installed back in the summer. However, once we had explained our situation, Clare readily agreed to come here for coffee and bring her cake and Beccy had made cookies last night so there was plenty of naughty but nice snacks. I am ignoring my conscience that is saying 'this would not be good if it was next week and you were recording all the food that passes your lips for Sam's challenge.

Clare arrived bearing a 'just out of the oven' Kerry Apple Cake and cream. If you are wondering we indulged in two small pieces each with our coffee, not at all good for the waistline, but it was served warm as intended and was deliciously moreish. The couple of hours we spent catching up went by very quickly and I agreed I would see Clare's kitchen next time I visit.
Here is the recipe:

8 oz Plain Flour
4 oz Butter/Marg
4 oz Sugar
1 level tsp Baking Powder
3 Medium cooking apples
1 tsp grated lemon rind
Pinch salt
1 large egg + little milk
3 tblsp Brown Sugar
Pinch nutmeg/cinnamon


Rub fat into sifted flour, then add sugar, salt, baking powder.

Prepare apples and chop finely, then mix into flour mixture. Beat the eggs and stir in, adding a little milk if needed to make a not too firm dough. Finally, add the grated lemon rind.

Put the mixture into a well greased and lined 7- inch (18cm) tin. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon mixture. Bake at Gas Mark 4 (350 F) for 40-45 mins. Serve warm with cream if possible.

As you can see by afternoon Mollie was feeling better and was able to watch some TV. She was hungry so that's always a good sign. She was less keen to catch up on homework but did after a little persuasion

Ben returned home from school about 1:30pm and after he had a quick snack it was my pleasure to listen to him read. He read me a whole beginners book and I was amazed at how much progress he had made since the summer. Yesterday to help pass the time in the car I was giving him some simple maths (adding /subtractions) to do and he got everyone right which impressed me. I know Sam, Grandma's are easily impressed, and rightly proud of their children's/grandchildren's achievements.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Emerald Isle

It has rained non-stop today, but as we had planned a shopping morning it didn't really matter too much. For a long time now I have been looking for a pair of brown boots and the first pair I tried on were exactly what I had in mind so I promptly bought them and it is one of the quickest purchases I have made for a long time.

Beccy has been wanting some measuring cups to help her with recipes that don't have conversions and we found a set of oval shaped orange silicone cups in House of Fraser in Dundrum shopping Centre. We were not able to find any spoon measures which surprised us so its back to guessing for a while longer. The cups have already been put to good use but I'll save that for another day.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dining a la O'Sullivan

I was delighted to find that my son-in-law, Joules had set me up a file on their computer so that I can easily post my blog. I think they thought I might get withdrawal symptoms!! So although I may not post every day I am sure there will be plenty to write about.

The journey was uneventful and I arrived in Dublin safely and on time. For once the baggage reclaim was very quick and I took the Aircoach to Leopardstown (home of the famous Irish Racecourse) where Beccy and Ben picked me up and took me home for a family dinner. There was a wonderful aroma of baked bread as we opened the door. Beccy had tried the recipe recommended by June at bread, water, salt and oil. Everyone loved it, particularly Dillon who had been sampling it before we arrived. Having had a piece toasted for breakfast today I agree it does make delicious toast as well. I think this is going to be a daily bake from now on, there are two being prepared as I type.

We enjoyed roast chicken and all the trimmings followed by a delicious pavlova washed down with a bottle of something fizzy. Beccy makes a superb Pavlova and she was trying a new filling which she was told was from a New Zealand recipe. This was layers of lemon curd, cream and pomegranate and it was delicious. Barbara if you read this you might be able to let us know if it originated from NZ.


Monday, November 13, 2006

It's nice to see friends.

A couple of my friends called in for a quick coffee and chat this morning. I knew they were planning to visit so I thought it would be nice to bake a cake rather than just open a packet of biscuits. I had rather a lot of oranges so decided to try an orange cake. The end result was a light moist cake but as far as I was concerned it did not taste very 'orangey' although it looked it. During the preparation I stuck to the recipe- big mistake. I really knew it would have been better to drizzle/infuse the top with icing sugar and squeezed orange juice. My friends had clean plates so it couldn't have been too bad. It was nice to catch up and we had a good natter for an hour before they went back to work and......

I rushed around getting a lot of last minute jobs done before I fly off to Dublin, tomorrow afternoon, to see Beccy, Joules and the grandchildren. My mother, who has not been well, had an appointment with her doctor and luckily he feels her chest infection has responded to the antibiotics so I think she will cope while I am away. I've been shopping so she's well stocked with food as is Mike (I know he will happily cook himself lots of unhealthy snack type meals or get takeaways).

If you read my Friday's post I mentioned how I was going to turn the remainder of the "champ' into a pie and this proved very successful. All I did was add grilled crispy bacon, chopped cooked mushrooms and grated cheese and baked. It's a quick, tasty supper dish, which goes well with a side salad and a glass of wine.

I may get the opportunity to post from Dublin but if not I will be back on November 20th. See you then.


Sunday, November 12, 2006


Yesterday I was let out after dark to go to the theatre. I rarely go into the centre of Bristol in the evening and it was quite an eye opener. It was a chilly if not a really cold evening but I still decided to wear a winter coat even though I knew it would be very warm once we were inside the theatre. However, I could not believe the number of women, heading for the various nightclubs, who were in very skimpy strappy tops, bare mid-riffs, short skirts with no coats. My rather more worldly (by this I mean much younger not an old stay at home like me) friends knowlegeably informed me this was because you have to pay to hang your coat up and it takes so long to check in and out of the cloakrooms. Last time I checked a coat in you just left a tip on a plate on the counter, clearly things have changed and I'm out of touch with reality of modern-day city night life and showing my age.

We were heading for the Bristol Light Opera Comany's production of Oliver which was being staged at the Bristol Hippodrome. A friend of mine is in the cast, the productions are always highly professional and very entertaining and so much effort goes into each performance it's amazing for an amateur group. The songs are familiar and all the principal characters have strong voices. Fagin and the Artful Dodger were particularly good and it was clear the cast were having a good time. We were a party of twelve including some friend's children and it was a really enjoyable evening. I was also able to catch up on news of ex-colleagues and what was happening in my old job and yes I'm still glad to be away from all the stress of the workplace.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday Saunter

I was out doing some shopping and Mike phoned me and offered to take me for a pub lunch. As I had a half an hour spare, before we arranged to meet, I decided to take a brisk walk along the banks of the River Severn at New Passage within sight of both the Severn Bridges. It is an overcast and very windy day and visibility is not really a good enough for taking photos unless you have a really good camera, which I don't. I am trying to get used to carrying a camera 'just in case' so have posted a couple of snaps of the bridges. You can get a better view of both the Severn Bridges which take you into Wales. Before the original bridge was built you could only get there by driving around via Gloucester or the other route was a ferry across to Beachley from Aust (the site of the first bridge) I can remember doing this as a child. The original bridge was completed in 1966 a few months after Sam was born and it was a very popular walk at the time. For a short period my father, who worked for the council, operated a toll booth on the bridge, in addition to his main job. This was mainly weekends and some bank holidays.

A few facts about the river Severn that you might not know:

The Severn is Britain's longest river
100 bridges cross the River Severn
The Severn has the second highest rise & fall of tide in the world
There are 10 million tonnes of mud in the Severn estuary
The worst flood on the Severn happened in 1795
In the 18th century 60' vessels would trade as far as Welshpool
When opened in 1827, the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal was the widest and deepest canal in England.
A Gloucester man surfing the Severn at Gloucester achieved the world surfing record. Dave Lawson rode the bore for 5.7 miles on the 29th August 1996
The River Severn produces the highest bore in Europe.
The Mariners Church was built in Gloucester Docks in 1849 as a mission to the numerous seamen who visited the port.

The Severn Bore is very popular with surfers and it is quite spectacular. My grand mother went every year to Stonebench where the river is very narrow to see the Bore on the high spring tides in March. More information and a chance to see the bore in action can be seen here.

I am not going to dwell on lunch. The 'Plough" apparently changed hands only yesterday and the new owners are still settling in so I will reserve judgement but was not impressed today. Limited menu and 'no' specials.

Mike had no complaints. He enjoys his food . A bit too much!!! I did take photos but don't want to 'bore' you with such ordinary food.

I am off to the theatre tonight to see a musical will tell you all about it tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Sam, Hope you are feeling better.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Traditional Champ

As I don't have to cook dinner tonight (Mike is eating out) I was wondering what I could concoct for my lunch out of the meagre ingredients left in my fridge. I decided to look for some recipes to use the organic leeks that had been languishing there since Monday. I came across this basic Irish dish of potatoes mashed with leeks served with lashings of melted butter. The information went on to say it makes an ideal accompaniment to grilled gammon. Well I had some thick traditionally cured ham infused with Juniper berries, Rosemary, Bay leaves and mixed herbs, and then glazed with heather honey so I thought why not. The ham was from a range of foods produced by the the Prince of Wales Dutchy Selections Free Range which is part of his Dutchy Originals some of the proceeds help support his charitable Foundation.

The recipe comes from a book called '100 Great Potato Recipes' produced by 'Dealerfield a company created in the mid 1980's to exploit the concept of offering books, stationery and other giftware to customers in the workplace, through the use of self contained displays.'

The books and other items used to be left in the office, for about a week, several times throughout the year and I often got tempted to buy a cookery book. I have probably had this one for about 8 years and have only tried a couple of the recipes.

Traditional Champ:

75g/3 oz butter
125ml/4 fl.oz milk
2 leeks chopped
6-8 potatoes cut into even pieces
freshly ground black pepper

1 Put 75g/1 oz butter and the milk in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir until butter melts and add leeks. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 mins or until the leeks are soft, stirring occasionally (personally I think you might need a little more milk and butter depending on size of leeks and as you can see from the photo mine were rather large)

2 Meanwhile, put potatoes in large pan salted water bring to boil, cover and simmer until soft (recipe says 20 mins too long if potatoes cut in smallish chunks)

3 Add cooked leeks and their cooking liquid to the potatoes and beat until potatoes are well blended and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. (I skimped on the creaming process so mine was not as smooth as recipe suggests, again this is where you might need extra milk/cream if you want to make it special)

4 Spoon potato mixture into a warm serving dish , make a well in centre. Add remaining butter and serve immediately. (I think this could actually be served in small individual portions as a variation to other meals e.g. sausages/mash substitute the butter for onion gravy- all you clever cooks can probably think a lot more imaginatively than me so ideas would be appreciated. I do have one idea for using up the remainder (as below).

Ideally the consistency should be a lot more creamy looking and I think you could add cheese for additional flavour. As I made rather a lot, tomorrow, it will become a pie with cheese, bacon and mushrooms

It was a simple dish, quickly prepared, that went well with the subtle flavour of the ham. The cookery book suggested a crisp, country wine from France but I decided not at lunch time. A couple of hours later I went for a swim to work off all the calories, if I had drunk wine I might not have made it to the pool.


Thursday, November 09, 2006


I am always keen to do my bit for the environment but it is not always easy. Our local council have operated a duel collection system for quite a while. This means we have rubbish (garbage) and the recycling items collected alternating weeks. There has been much debate about this and whether it works as there are so many rules to remember...

Cans, tins, bottles and foil containers all have to be washed and separated in a plastic box. Shoes, provided they are tied and clothes/textiles as long as they are kept clean and dry also go in this box. There is a green bag for newspapers magazines etc but NO envelopes (junk mail must be taken out of plastic wrappers and envelopes), yellow pages, greetings cards wrapping paper, cardboard and shredded paper. As you can see we still have to resort to using some plastic bags and no I am not advertising Tesco intentionally as I only shop at the local 'tesco metro' mainly for daily papers.

Now you can put cardboard, provided it has not come into contact with food, into the green bin. Shredded paper can also go into the green bin but only if it is in a cardboard box (this according to the binmen is because it will blow all over the yard if it is not contained - and it would take too long to clear it up!!). Also in the green bin goes compostable waste such as grass clippings, twigs, branches, leaves, weeds and rabbit and rodent bedding but not cat, dog or bird cage litter and no food.

All other refuse goes into the black bin. Neither bin will be emptied if the lid is not closed. Have I lost you yet I am sure you switched off a long time ago. Oh yes, councils want the bins out before 7:30am on collection day but if you are away on this day they do not want you put them out in advance. What about plastic bottles you may wonder, these can only be recycled from specific drops e.g. at a supermarket store, luckily for me the supermarket I use (Sainsbury's) does have a plastic bottle bank (but there are rules- bottles washed, lids must be off and wrapper removed-have you tried getting some of these off).

I do not want to give the impression I am against recycling far from it I want to do my bit for the environment. In fact about three years ago we decided to compost our waste food despite the fact that we did not really have the space to do this very easily. We failed miserably using a plastic compost bin obtained from the council. The grass cuttings, peeling etc took so long to compost, the smell in the summer was awful as we could not site it far enough away from where we sat. However, that was not the main problem, when we were emtying the bin what should jump out but a 'rat'. I screamed and my husband said I hadn't moved so fast for a long time (I dispute that because, at the time, I was still playing competative tennis and moved pretty niftily even if I say so myself). The nest was quite fascinating, and it was surprising all the paper and things the rat had gathered and it had several tunnels for escape. I had to get the rodent officer to call and he thought there would be a second nest under the tortoises house so he set bait, returned to check and I am pleased to say we saw no further signs. This has put me off composting at least for the time being.
Now the other negative aspect of recycling is that it actually costs quite a lot to the household, firstly it's quite time consuming, extra hot water and washing up liquid used to get container clean; in turn this uses extra fuel and cost more. Taking plastic to recycling bank again impact on use of petrol and car, if making a special journey. Storing all the different containers is not always easy in many households where space is already limited. The individual has no control over the packaging used by supermarkets (lots of plastic containers could be recycled but councils do not have the facilities for this- it would certainly reduce the amount going into land fill sites. I asked the men on the recycle lorry last week why more wasn't being done to increase the collection of plastic response and I quote

'its bad enough now since the introduction of the green bag people are recycling all sorts it already takes us twice as long to do the collections we don't want more it would take even longer'

well excuse me for not being sympathetic isn't this the object of the excercise and isn't that what they're paid to do. The householder isn't paid to clean and sort. Councils are even going the route of introducing additional charges to collect our refuse and recycling and some are already putting electronic chips into the bins to track our habits. The papers are full of articles on invasion of privacy- big brother is watching and people are vowing to remove the chips from their bins- I did check they hadn't slipped one into my bin when my back was turned.
I always use my own bags and I have even bought a jute bag which is all natural material. I also have two bags given free as a promotional for Sainsbury's organic vegetables (you will see these on the linked site).

I am also the owner of a can crusher which arrived from Lakeland today, I rushed out to retrieve a can from recycle box to try it out but even with all my weight it did not flatten as I thought it would, so what am I doing wrong I wonder. I'll get Mike onto it when he comes in from work.

I think I have been on my soapbox for long enough. Time for lunch and a quick read of the papers. Do I really want to read about Rumsfeld's resignation. I will enjoy the English (Norfolk) strawberries even if they are grown under glass at this time of the year. Also don't tell anyone I am eating some very tasty cheddar cheese as its bad for my cholesterol. Then I must make sure I retrieve the recycling bag and box, I don't want to be reprimanded for leaving them too long on the pavement; it might be a health and safety issue for pedestrians.

PS> I tried the can crusher again after a minor adjustment (by Mike) and hoorah its working fine and I have a couple of very flat tins so this will save on space.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Get that car clean......

After all the fog and the damp atmosphere I was ashamed when a burst of sunshine today showed me how dirty my car had got over the past couple of weeks. So I stirred myself and gave it a quick shampoo and it is now fit to be seen again

It's a pity my grand children don't live near enough to earn themselves some pocket money. I have to say my own children, as youngsters, were never that keen unless they were desperate for money.

Now there was time when I always had a willing helper I wonder who that is don't be shy to show your face.

This is hard work but I am very determined so leave me to it.

Well that's me finished, I am very pleased with myself and it was worth the effort.

These last three photos were taken a long time ago and this little chap is now a strapping teenager. I don't expect he will appreciate this post but as a proud grandmother I thought he was cute then and he still is of course. He is also still very helpful as are all my grandchildren.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sam's Toulouse Sausage, Bacon and Green lentils

I may not be a good cook but I can follow a recipe. So when Sam posted this yummy looking recipe last week I knew I had to give it a try, particularly as sausages are one of my hubby's favourite foods. Now we don't have a Fatted Calf so I had to make do with what the supermarket could offer, which I'm sure is an inferior Toulouse sausage but Mike won't know the difference.

Last night when I asked him for red wine for cooking (I wouldn't dare to raid the cellar as I would probably choose some special vintage he has hidden away) he went out and bought me a small bottle, it was just about the right amount.

It's an easy recipe and I think the end result looks something akin to Sam's and I can vouch that it tasted good having sampled just a soupcon for my lunch. I will now have to wait for the verdict from Mike!!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Echo Lake

This lake was very quiet and peaceful out of season and although you cannot see it in the photo there were lots of lovely houses along the river banks. I would imagine it is very busy in the summer but it's beautiful in the fall.

Just before the visit to the lake we stopped for lunch and some us had a 'Turkey Gobbler'

I hear you asking what is a 'turkey gobbler'. Well as you can see it's just a fancy name for a turkey sandwich. I was a bit dubious but decided to give it a try as it was recommended by our travel guide. The sandwich is basically turkey, cranberry sauce and Alfafa. I was quite worried that it would be dry and tasteless but I was pleasantly surprised as it was nice and moist and actually tasted like turkey and I believe it is freshly cooked. It was supposed to be served with 'chips' but the waitress managed to get me some rather indifferent fruit instead. Now why is this of any particular interest. Well the waitress was very accommodating towards us but she had an argument with another couple because she would not let them sit on a table set for four. It got so heated with raised voices I thought they were going to get physical. However, the waitress stood her ground and the couple finally left, as they would not accept a table for two, saying they had never been treated to poorly before. It was not a tranquil lunch so the brief stop by the lake made up for this.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beautiful sunset for Guy Fawkes Night

I felt that I wanted to share these photos I took at dusk today. The sky was really beautiful and it's not often we get such an array of colour. It reminded me of skies I saw when I visited Sam in San Fransisco.

The sunset means that it is going to be a lovely evening for the traditional burning of the guy and the fireworks. We're beginning to see and hear fireworks in the neighbourhood but nothing close enough for me to take photos so try this to create your own display it's good fun.

Beccy I think the children will enjoy it and Sam I know you also like fireworks so maybe you will, I certainly did. Have a brilliant evening those who are celebrating.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

How I got my daily dose of excercise today!!

Nothing remotely worth mentioning has happened today. Mike and I have spent most of the day with a smile on our face knocking on doors in an attempt to get people, who have failed to return their electral registration forms, to complete the form. We do this over a three week period and have another week to complete the task. We have to visit during the evenings or weekends when people might be home. Doesn't always work in practise as people who've been at work all week are out and about at the weekend. We have both come across a few people who are ignorant and abusive, we have had doors slammed in our faces and refusal to complete the forms despite the fact that it is a legal requirement and individuals can be fined quite heavily. Then you meet people who are lonely and want a chat and it's hard to get away. Some people, when they realise you are from the council, think you can solve all their problems. For example one elderly lady thought I could prevent her neighbour building a garage to her adjoining wall which she said took several inches of her land. Someone else couldn't understand why I was unable to take all their forms for their council tax exemption and another person had a problem with the drains. So you can see why this takes a long time, the social worker in me would like to help everyone but we have to stick to the task in hand. So we will be out tomorrow doing more of the same!! and if the weather continues to be sunny and dry it's actually not such a chore. Now if it rains we ask ourselves why do we do it- well the money helps pay for a holiday so that's a good enough reason and I do want to visit Sam next year.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Frosty Friday

There was a frost last night so hopefully it will warm up before I need to use the car. If not it will be out with the scraper and gloves. It takes a long time for the sun to hit the bottom of our yard especially in winter.

However, as you can see from this view of my neighbours garden's (taken from my dining room window on the side of the house), it's actually a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed a brisk, early morning walk around the block to get the newspapers and the circulation going. Until about three months ago I walked for a half hour walk every morning and found this was a good way to start the day. During the recent hot summer I lapsed and am only now getting back into what was a good theraputic routine.

The flowers in our garden are still in full bloom and I decided, albeit rather too late in the day, to try and capture some last photos before the frost gets to work. Unfortunately by this time it was dusk and the light was very poor.

The lavender still has a beautiful scent and I should have made more use of it. Most of the fushias in the garden were planted when we moved into this house twenty years ago. At the time they were small cuttings taken by my step-father whose hobby was growing mainly fushias, and some carnations. His greenhouses were always a riot of colour and his 'pride and joy'. Coincidentally this was the name of a shop my mother and he owned for a while selling, loosely what's called antiques/ bric-a-brac. My mother was not allowed near the greenhouses except under close supervision, I don't think she actually minded she was top dog in the shop. It's nice to think even though he has been dead for over 15 years his fushias are still thriving and my mother, who now lives with us, can look out on them from her sitting room.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Window repairs

Yesterday I finally managed to get a much needed repair done to a couple of our windows. The seals had gone leaving visible condensation between the double glazing units, particularly noticable on cold, wet days. This little task has been high on my 'to do' list for a very long time but somehow I have always come up with a good reason/excuse for not spending time searching through the yellow pages for someone to do the job. Despite not working it's still taken me nearly two months to get around to finding a reliable 'window fixer'. I was actually recommended to try Phil of Costfixed and when I phoned him last Friday to explain the problem he happened to be working a couple of miles from my home so within the hour he had called and given me a quote. It seemed reasonable so I agree to go ahead. Phil said he would order the units and return the following Wednesday (three working days) to fit the two new units and check all the windows for adjustments. Now in my experience one usually has to wait weeks if not months to get these small jobs done. So this was very impressive as far as I was concerned. Then I began to worry, mmm if he's not busy perhaps he's naff - no, he's probably very well organised and just fitting me in, I told myself. So yesterday, at the appointed time, Phil arrived and I need not have worried, he completed the task quickly and efficiently. He was very pleasant (I know about his family and vice versa- his two daughter live in Turkey and he's off to Dublin in December) and I would certainly recommend him. I also found out he has just got himself a web site so I thought I would give it a mention, you can find details here. If you live in the Bristol area, you never know, it might come in useful one day.

Thank you Phil and I hope I don't see you again. I mean this in the nicest possible way of course and in case you read this, my mother is delighted that you have fixed her drafty window. Now what else is on my list... I still have a room stipped and ready to decorate and have been waiting three weeks for the decorator to phone I'll chase that up tomorrow or maybe Friday.

As I was finishing this post my phone rang and it was the Kirby (vac) service engineer to tell me he would be arriving about half an hour late. This annual service had only been booked yesterday-in fact they had rung me during the evening and virtually begged me to take the final 4pm call today as the engineer was in the area 'it will be doing us a big favour' the guy said. Shouldn't you be working for the customer I asked after all we are the ones paying for the 'service!!' It wasn't actually convenient, as I had something planned but I agreed. Hubby said 'you're a soft touch and I think he might be right on this occasion. I might just cancel the contract..... lets see if he arrives by 4:30pm.