Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Where have I been today

Now I pose the question what do you think is behind this door. I hear you say is she off her rocker it's a garage door so there must be a car in there or its full of tools and junk. Wrong (scroll down slowly).

Walk around the side and you see the real entrance. No clues here.

Is this a give away? Someone very busy sweeping the floor. If you look you will see tools of the trade. I think the mirrors are a big clue.

I think if you haven't guessed yet the two basins are the final giveaway.

So today saw me taking my regual six weekly trip to the hairdresser. Sarah who owns the salon is the blonde and Rosanna is her assistant. I believe I have mentioned before that I have been one of Sarah's clients for over 10 years and she moved from rented premises to her converted garage several years ago. It was part of her planning consent that the garage facade remained, so from the road it looks like all the other houses. The actual salon is quite large, with a small kitchen and a cloakroom. It's more like visiting a friend and you get to know lots of the other clients and share sorrows and joys.

Today Sarah shared some good news she is getting married in September and she is planning for the ceremony to take place in Cyprus. So I shall enjoy getting regular updates between now and then. I wish Sarah and her partner, Steve, a long and happy life together.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Food Cooperative continued

You may recall the post when I mentioned I belong to a food cooperative, well last night was collection time. All the goods are delivered to one house and members arrive at 7 pm to collect their orders as quickly as possible. You can get some idea of the process from the above picture. Sometimes it does seem a bit chaotic with everyone scrambling to claim their goods. For some reason this time there were several items missing from the delivery and a couple of things included that we didn't order. I'm rather glad I wasn't the person having to sort out the mistakes and luckily for me my order was complete (that sounds a bit like 'I'm alright jack' but it wasn't meant to be honestly).

To save time I decided to bag up the muesli and puy lentils at home. It was quite an effort getting this huge sack into the boot of my car. I have just finished weighing up 10K for other people which has left me covered in a fine white dust. The only problem I have now is how to store the remaining 15K of organic muesli which is currently sitting in my kitchen. This should be more than enough to keep my hubby going for the next few months. The lentils are fine and almost fitted into a large storage jar bought for the purpose (now I will be trawling for some more lentil recipes so if anyone has a tried and tested soup recipe please let me know).

As promised this gadget (looking very much like a wooden egg when viewed from above) is what I purchased from Nigella Lawson's Living Kitchen range. I haven't tried it out yet but I'm told if I keep the Parmesan in the freezer I can grate as needed. So if any food bloggers read this, is it good advice ??


Monday, January 29, 2007

Fun Monday -Pictorial view of growing up after the war

Having enjoyed last week's 'fun monday' I decided to join in with Erik's (The Electronic Firefly) suggestion of posting pictures from our childhood. Being a post war baby there was very little money available for luxuries such as photos and, of course, back then they were mainly black and white. I remember being thrilled when at around the age of twelve an aunt gave me an old 'Box Brownie' camera and this was my faithful friend until I was in my 20's.

Some of you may have seen this in my post last Wednesday. Very contented at 3 months must have just been fed.

At nine months I was ready to pose for the camera. Taken in a studio, although its hard to see the photo is in colour but back then it was coloured afterwards and looks very artificial. My hair was not really yellow!!

Aged 1 year 2 months and beginning to look more like a little girl.

I was just beginning to walk and I loved my bright red shoes and had to show them off by striding down the street outside my granny's house. I won't mention showing my knickers!! Probaby 15-18 months.

Starting school is a big step and I was around 5 when this was taken.

At about 7 years I was loosing the blond look and my hair had grown.

This is me with my brother photographed at my grandparent's small holding (very rural in the middle of a wood). Shortly after this was taken my brother was chasing the cats in an area where we told not to go. I remember it well as he suddenly screamed as I heard a crash and he had put his foot through a glass window hidden by the long grass. His leg sustained a deep cut and my mum had to give him a piggy back to the Drs in the village. It was so bad they debated whether to do skin grafting. Something else we did that my mother didn't know about at the time was ride on the pigs. We were forbidden to go into the pen but would you refuse if your grampy offered you a ride and lifted you on. It was such excitment and I remember it clearly.

I think I was around 12-14 when this was taken, as it is the summer uniform. A shapeless blue dress, beret with school badge (detention if not worn), navy cardigan knitted by my granny (rarely had anything that was shop bought) and the obligatory Clarks sandals. I had luckily passed my 11+ exam and went to the Grammar School which was about five or six miles away from home. We went by coach and picked up children around all the county lanes so had to start fairly early.

When I was growing up we did not have holidays. My parents ran a confectioners shop so they were tied to the business. So during the long summer holidays we had several treats with my granny, and this is one of them. A day out at Weston-Super-Mare, which is a seaside town and although only about 50 miles away from the small town where we lived, it took for ever (or so it seemed) to get there on the bus (no motorways back then). It was always windy and cold but for us one of the highlights of the holiday. I was able to take a friend (Judy Moss) whom I have lost touch with and I often wonder what she is doing now. I did try and find her on 'Friends United" web site but no luck.

Beccy insisted that I put in a swim wear picture. Aged 16 on the first ever holiday I had with my parents at Wembury in Devon.

At end of final school year they held a school dance. My mother bought this hideous pink nylon flock dress, which I hated. I had an awful time at the dance as I felt frumpy and being over weight and having a "perm' did not help. You might ask why I did not throw this dress out but for some reason I kept it and years later I was able to use the under skirt to make an Angel costume for a Christmas play when my eldest daughter, Sam was at playschool. So it had its uses.

Around the age of 18 also in the picture cute little "Breezy" our dog at the time.

I left home January 1962 to train as a nurse and this was taken sometime during the following year so was 18-19 at the time.

Skipping quite a few years I wanted to add this photo of me with Beccy (15yrs) and Sam (19 yrs) taken in 1985 when we all played tennis together in the local league. This was just before Sam went off to university.

I am now looking forward to seeing eveyone else's post.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Old Haunts Revisited

Just a little round up of this weekend, on Friday evening we took a trip to the cinema to see Venus. It was not the most exciting film I've ever seen but nevertheless, it was enjoyable. I am not going to recommend as a 'must see' I think you would need to read the reviews and decide whether it's for you. To round off yesterday's shopping trip, once my mother was settled for the evening, we went out for a meal. Unfortunately we had left it too late to book a table so we ended up having a bar meal instead. The food turned out to be perfectly adequate and I'm not complaining as I didn't have to cook.

We had a very leisurely start to today, and after I cooked my mother's lunch we went off for a local pub lunch. There was a limited Sunday menu and the meal was very mediocre and therefore disappointing. Serves me right as I really knew I should have cooked a nice roast lunch, but decided not to be a kitchen slave as Beccy was here.

Now to the real point of today's post. After lunch I decided we would take a walk on The Downs. This was a regular walk, often on a Sunday, when Beccy and Sam were growing up. There were times when I was not able to go with family as I was an agency nurse and had to cover the weekend shift, as happened on this particular day.

At the time Beccy was about 6 years old and quite adventurous as you can see from this photo she wasn't a bit bothered about being buried in the sand and she was always determined to win any challenge.

Back to the story this is the Avon Gorge where you can walk along the side of the river and it is very popular with climbers but also quite dangerous. Mike and the girls were walking on the path alongside the river( rt hand side in this pic).

When they got to the sheer rock in this picture Mike, apparently, said who can get to the top first. Now it may not look very steep, and these day's it's covered in graffiti but imagine a six year old looking up at this. Beccy did not need second bidding, she was determined to be first to the top and did so with ease. So far so good but the disaster happened when she turned to come down. She soon discovered you do not run down a rock face. The run soon turned into free fall, fortunately a bush broke her fall part way down and there were a couple of climbers who managed to carry her down. She was an incredibly lucky little girl as she only had a few scratches and bruises.

You would think she had learnt from this but she hadn't as a couple of weeks later she fell from a wall and cut on her knee rather badly. As the wound was gushing blood, you would think Mike took her straight to Accident and Emergency, but no he brought her to me at work, where I could do nothing as I was looking after an elderly lady in her own home so could not leave. I sent them straight to hospital where she had seven stitches in her knee and she has scars that remind her of the incident.

Today I took her back to take another look at the scenery she so vividly remembers from her childhood. This photo was taken from across the river. We have never let her forget this incident which was not really her fault and it's always mentioned when we drive pass the spot, as we do quite often getting to and from the airport.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shopped til we dropped

Beccy and I decided to spend a few hours doing what we do best you've guessed shopping. We left my mum organised with lunch and she had a friend coming to visit so we knew she was OK. We had a good look around the shops and we were able to get a few bargains as some of the sales were still on. A pair of black boots at half price was too good a bargain to miss. A couple of photo frames, I'm a sucker for buy one get one free and I know I will use the second one in time. I can never have too many photos of the family on display, in fact I'm rapidly running out of space.

Something I would have loved but decided was too expensive at £59 was a Nigella Lawson cream ceramic bread bin with a beech wood lid which I have just found on Amazon at a lower price. So instead I bought the little item in the (not quite in focus) pic. Anyone care to take a guess??


Friday, January 26, 2007

Sleeping Beauty

Today I collected Beccy from Bristol International airport (sounds grand but it's actually quite small although it has increased its capacity and countries of destination over the last few years, much to the annoyance of locals) around 7:40 am. Beccy had a really early start and by the time we arrived home she was quite tired. I cannot remember the last time we spent time together alone, so it was lovely slipping back into 'mother' mode preparing and eating breakfast together and catching up on news. We spent the rest of the morning looking through old photos and scanning a lot onto the computer (ready for Mondays post). As we're both addicted to blogging she wrote her post whilst I prepared a snack for lunch. She just about managed to keep awake until after lunch, then while she settled down to watch 'Neighbours' on TV and have a snooze, I went off for my regular Friday afternoon swim.

Beccy bought me some of the silicone baking tins so I decided to make a choc cake to try them out. I used a quick recipe where you throw all the ingredients into a bowl whisk and cook. I think I over cooked it by a few minutes (was taking a phone call) and we decided that it would have been good with a hot choc sauce, so more of a pudding than cake. However having said that we enjoyed it. We are now off to the cinema so will probably tell you about that tomorrow.


A huge thank you

I have not yet had a chance to thank everyone individually for visiting me yesterday and leaving such lovely greetings on my Birthday. So this is by way of a huge THANK YOU to everyone. I have never had so many visits in one day; and you helped make it a very special birthday. Chris xx


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Whose the birthday Girl ?

I would not normally be advertising the fact that another birthday has crept up on me rather quickly but as this sort of links to my post for next Monday (more later) I decided to let it slip to my fellow bloggers. After all you have become a significant part of my day and I now look on you all as friends. I was pleasantly woken at 7 am with a call from eldest daughter Sam who had stayed up especially to greet me (8 hr time difference). It was lovely talking to you. I excitedly opened up my cards as my grandchildren always make their cards which I love and I just had to share them with you.

This is from Ben (6yrs) I love you Ben you have got my age just right and you wrote so beautifully inside and I loves all the stickers. He must have been reading Sally's post earlier in the week!! so clever.

This is from Mollie see how well she knows me and all my favourite things. The greeting in her card pulled the heart strings, Mollie I would put you and your brothers top of my list of 'loves' and I'd better not leave out your mum and Sam.

This is from Dillon a sophisticated flower beautifully drawn. Beccy before you think I didn't appreciate your card that is also lovely so Thank you all very very much.

I shall be celebrating when Beccy comes tomorrow but I expect I will enjoy one of my favourite things this evening such as a glass or two of bubbly.

When I decided that the baby picture was much better than the up to date version I had not seen that, after the success of last Monday's post (view from front door), the very nice man is suggesting (On Monday 29th January we should each post a picture (or several pictures if you like of ourselves as kids, stating the age we were when the picture(s) was taken!). I'm going to participate so how about joining me I am sure it will be fun. I can see Beccy and I will be hunting out photos and doing a lot of scanning over the weekend. I can't wait to see all the photos and lots of people have already indicated they are participating so don't miss out hop over and let him know you are joining in the fun.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Before and After

When I first started this diary back in September 2006 I had just retired and one of my early posts mentioned that I was going to redecorate my breakfast room which for the past five years had become an office when I was forced to work from home (another civil service cost saving excercise). So I thought I would show you the final transformation. You can see the empty room back in October when I was preparing it for decorating here

I had my computer desk under the window for daylight and I could keep it wide open when it was very warm. I always thought computers made for a paperless environment. I assure anyone thinking about working from home this is NOT the case.

As you can see my table was taken over with reference material and in these photos you cannot see all the filed material in stacking boxes around the room and on my dresser.

Having seen the before; this is what it looks like now in a view looking from the kitchen. It's rather a dark room that gets no sunlight so it's not the most inviting room in the house.

This is the view from the other end looking down towards the kitchen. I feel that I have erased the office image although I did keep a filing cabinet which has to remain until I find another home for it. I wonder how long it will remain uncluttered but at least for now I can sit and have a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper- this is the life I'll enjoy it while I can.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Guilty secret

Yesterday I did something that I can honestly say I never or should I say rarely do. From the picture its not hard to guess. I know it's not a crime to watch TV during the day but as Andy Murray was playing Rafael Nadal for a place in the quater finals of the Australian Open you can see why I couldn't resist. Had my hubby not rung me to remind me it was on I may well have missed what was a good match. I actually only got to see the first 4 sets because at that point the hospital rang to say that they were discharging my mother. I gathered later that Andy Murray lost the last set but I think he can be proud of his performance and am sure he will go on improving. Roll on Wimbledon.

Now back to the fiasco that we had in actually getting my mother discharged. My brother happened to be at my house having a spot of lunch (I inflicted the tennis on him he's more of a footie fan really) before a planned visit to see mum. We were so surprised to get the call because only two days previously we had been told she would be in for sometime as she still needed to see a haematologist. When I queried this I was told it could be done as an out-patient. So I quickly gathered up some warm clothes and we set off. There were no parking spaces so I left my brother in the car on double yellow lines while I went off to the ward. I was directed to the day room where my mother and several other ladies had been 'dumped' during the morning with all their belongings packed (if you can call it that) in suitcase and plastic bags. I later found that lids had not been secured on toiletries so you can imagine the mess. (Mum said the nurse had bundled everything in and the consultant had told her the bed was needed for someone who is very sick).

I got her dressed and after about 45 mins, when no one came near the day room to bring her tablets, I went to find a nurse and a Dr who happened to be sitting at the desk heard me asking how long was it likely to take to get the tablets. The Doc tells me 'I am just about to look at her file and write a prescription and then they have to take it to pharmacy to be dispensed and sent back to the ward'. All this time my brother had been out side well over an hour so I went out and updated him and he decided to go home before all the afternoon traffic built up. I went back and waited and waited. I managed to get one of the nurses to make the ladies in the day room a cup of tea, no one had thought to tell the person giving out the afternoon there were patients in the day room and all the water had been removed so they were left without fluids.

Mobile phones are not supposed to be used in hospitals but I decided we were being treated rather badly and I needed to organise transport so I contacted Mike to make arrangements. A physiotherapist then arrived and asked mum to go and practise doing the stairs before she went home, not sure what would have happened if she hadn't managed it as there was someone else in her bed by now. The physio showed a lack of interest in the home situation and I knew she was just going through the motions. Finally at about 5: 15 pm a nurse brought the tablets and a case of fortified drinks and a box of sachets for mixing.

Now the fun begins, 11 different boxes of tablets (to be taken at quite a few different times) the nurse explained times for taking the tablets, but couldn't tell us in detail what they were all for, luckily we did get a carbon copy. By now mum was exhausted this was the longest she had been out of bed for over three weeks, I was tired and thirsty but Mike arrived soon afterwards and we finally got home just before 6 pm. I won't go into all the drama I had trying to explain when tablets needed to be taken, I had to go on the internet today and find out exactly what each one did in order to impress upon my mother the importance of taking them correctly. We are still not quite there. She's shattered, I had carpet fitter booked for today and they arrived 8:45 am, then my brother arrived as he had not actually got to see mum yesterday. When mum went for a rest I went shopping and what with cooking and putting furniture back in place and helping re-hang the doors I did not get a sit down until 9 pm (is this my punishment for over two hours of daytime TV yesterday). Hence this very late post and I can hardly keep awake so my margin for errors is likely to be high.

I hope to catch up on my blog reading tomorrow but I'm not too hopeful.


Monday, January 22, 2007

View from my front porch door

I saw this challenge on pensieve's post with a link to living life and catching light who was suggesting everyone post the view from their front door on Monday 22 January. Anyone participating had to let her know by 19th. As I only saw the post today I was too late to follow the rules but thought I would use this for today's post anyway.
I had several different views to choose from but each one is fairly dull and uninteresting especially in winter. The garden has an air of neglect about it even with a little sunshine, although by the time I took this snap the sun had moved around making it even more dreary. The Cherry tree, that looks very pretty in bloom is bare. Most of the garden at the front of the house is not visible from the door and in winter there are no tubs of flowers which would fill this area if it were summer, the bulbs are just begining to peep through in the urn. If you look very carefully you will see that we have a "cowslip' in bloom (bottom right). We live on a fairly busy main road, but fortunately Sundays are quiet so there is little traffic disturbing the peace.

According to the papers and the radio so it has to be true!! today is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Something to do with getting credit card bills. As my bill doesn't arrive for another few days maybe my worst day is yet to come. Anyway I'm sure looking at everyone else's nice views will brighten this particular Monday.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Don't you just love Garfield

Now I know why I have put on weight recently!!!!


Friday, January 19, 2007

Pink Saucepans!!!

Do you remember Beccy's new kettle. Well I was walking through Marks and Spencers on my way to get some currency (euro and dollar very good exchange rates at the moment so thought I would get stocked up for the year ahead) and what did I see their new range of kitchen ware that immediately made me think of the kettle. I took this photo of the pink saucepans and they had pale green on display as well. They were not very expensive so probably not particularly good quality but lots of fun and they would brighten up the kitchen.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gale force winds

Like most people in the UK we are experiencing the effects of the gales that are currently sweeping the country. Our house seems to be in some sort of wind tunnel and over the 20 years of living in this house we have suffered quite a lot of damage when gales are particularly strong.
You may think I am exaggerating but see what you think:
We've had a large section of wall collapsed before my eyes like a concertina (this actually happened on one of my birthdays what a lovely present). Then there was the time half the roof blew off, major expense as insurance company refused to pay out the full cost. Another time our large double gates were blown off their hinges.
I replaced these gates with custom made solid wooden gates, the larger of the two gates is even too heavy for two people to lift. Whenever there are gale warnings I leave the gates open as an additional precation. As I was eating my breakfast, today, I saw two bin lids and flowerpots sail past my dining room window to disappear from sight. Then you can imagine my horror when I looked out of the window only to see that the side gate was swinging loose. I rushed out through the kitchen door, which opened with such force it was difficult to hold, to find that the metal hook fixing the gate had been pulled off the wall. I put a wedge under the gate but this didn't hold and the next gust split the wood. This time I piled half a dozen bricks infront but within less than two minutes the bricks were scattered across the yard one almost reaching my car and the solid metal hinge had pulled away from the gate. In desperation I lugged a plant container, full of soil and wedged this together with bricks infront of the gate and later went off to visit my mother in hospital wondering what I would find when I returned.

Fortunately it appears to have held but I am now worried that the other larger gate might not hold and my car might end up a casualty. Hubby has not been very helpful, on the phone he said 'I'll take the gate off when I get home', now he's actually home and its dark, he says the winds are going to die down and it should be OK (glass half full). As for the large gates, he says we can't move them alone in this wind and he's right so I will just have to hope for the best overnight (glass half empty).

My little problem is insignificant and not really worth mentioning compared with the tragic loss of life that has resulted from the storms. So my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the eight people who have so tragically died during the storms.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What a Coincidence- I wonder if it's a sign

Having confided to the world, only two days ago, that one of my (no longer) secret wishes is to ride along a beach. Imagine my delight when watching a holiday programme on TV earlier this evening to see the perfect place to fulfil this dream. So the holiday destination I now have on my wish list is Pakiri Beach, North Island New Zealand. Then it would be on to Queenstown on South Island where I could go Jet Boating which looked the best of fun. I had to come and do a little research and found this video that convinces me even more that it would be brilliant. I'm sure Sam and Beccy and family would love it too. One can only dream but you never know I might win the lottery if I remember to buy a ticket.

I believe (but I expect I'm wrong) Pakiri is reasonably close to where Barbara lives so if we ever got to meet that would be an added bonus.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Baked Salmon en Papillote or my version of Salmon Parcels

Looking through the cookery book Sam gave me for Christmas I came across this recipe for 'Baked Salmon en Papillote' this recipe was not dissimilar to one that had been in a Sunday supplement about a year ago for Chicken parcels. So using these recipes as a guide for cooking times, I decided that I would make my own version which is something I rarely do as I am a follow the recipe and you can't go wrong type of cook (and despite this is still does).

The vegetables I used are potatoes, turnips, courgettes and carrots. All chopped into small sticks and into boiling water for 5 mins before draining and placing on the baking parchment (I used greaseproof paper; this needs to be large enough to make the parcel). I skinned the salmon and added lime juice, seasoning and some olive oil brushed over the salmon.

The paper is then folded exactly like a parcel and the joined ends are placed down onto the baking tray to keep secured. Bake in oven 180c (fan) approx 30 mins. I think for fish this was slightly too long so next time I will probably try around 20mins.
You can serve in the parcel and allow individuals to open the parcel when turned up the other way the fish will be on top of the vegetables.

This is the end result a simple healthy meal which I garnished with parsley before serving. Verdict 'clean plates' so draw you own conclusion.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Hosting the Food Cooperative Meeting

I believe I have mentioned before that encouraged by my friend, Tina, I joined a food cooperative back in June 2005. Tina has been a member for over twenty years but membership has fluctuated and it is now down to around a dozen families. This means we are always looking to recruite new members who might be interested in bulk buying.

Yesterday it was my turn to host the ordering meeting and this provided me with the perfect excuse to bake a cake to have with the tea and coffee. We were, able to welcome a new member to the group which was an, unexpected but pleasant bonus. Most people arrive with a list but we do tend to go through the catalogue as we place our orders. Sometimes agreement has already been reached to share items such as dried bluberries which are tremendously expensive (Tina and I can't resist having some dried ones in reserve for times when we can't buy fresh- well not all that fresh here in the UK as they are imported).

I was keen to buy organic 'Puy' lentils but I didn't want 5 kilo. Two of the others wanted a kilo each so I was able to have 3 kilo, for the same price as two smallish packets from the supermarket (a bargain and they will last me ages). The order is delivered to one of the members homes and we collect it in two weeks time and this seems to work reasonably well, although occasionally I have run out of Camomile tea or oats during that time.

Having seen some recipes I wanted to try (on food blogs) I had meant to order polenta and cornmeal but stupidly forgot. I wasn't particularly worried as I tend to go shopping on a Monday and I thought I would have no trouble in getting either item from one of the largest supermarkets in the U.K. Silly me, the guy I asked hadn't ever heard of either but went to ask. It turns out they have ready made Italian polenta but no cornmeal so I will have to visit a whole food shop later in the week and plan a different menu for tomorrow.

I'll maybe return to this topic in a couple of weeks, and I will try and remember to go armed with my camera to capture the organised chaos of what looks like a 'shop' as all the goods are piled up in someone's kitchen waiting to be collected.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Help I've been tagged- Five things people don't know about me

How could my youngest daughter do this to me. It put me in a fine panic I can tell you, I was thinking about it before I went to bed on Friday and had the most peculiar dreams. I'm not sure what she hopes to learn about her mother that she doesn't already know and I don't really think I have any secrets. Anyway if there are things she doesn't know then that's how it's going to stay. Oh I expect I can think up some fairly innocuous things that won't rock the boat. Now let me see how far shall I go back.....

1) Lets start with teenage years (children can be forgiven anything after all they cannot be responsible for their actions or so we're told) it's nothing drastic but something I knew I should not be doing. No on reflection it is something that would have appalled me if Sam and Becs had done it. Or maybe they did and I didn't know!! I used to skip some lessons- I didn't actually bunk off I remained in school hiding in the cloakroom and it was only for music. I used the time to either do my homework or read. I am surprised I was never caught. There is a reason I disliked music so much, let me explain. I come from a fairly musical family (my grandfather was choir master, he played the church organ and the piano, my brother could sing but would not join the choir). However when the music genes were being handed out I was passed by and cannot sing a note in tune (I hasten to add I do enjoy listening to all sorts of music). My grandfather, who before retiring had also been the headmaster of the local infant/junior school, was a hard task master and could not accept imperfection so having a non-singer in the family was something I was being reminded of constantly. So from an early age I was prevented from singing and as I got older I felt I would be totally ridiculed for singing out of tune. This meant there was no way I was going into music lessons when I knew we would be asked to sing to the class. I have a real complex and never sing in front of anyone, so karaoke is out, I do sing along to the radio when I'm home alone.

2) Another childhood secret which I cringe about is that I learned to swim in a brook not far from my home. So what's wrong with that you may ask. Well we had to share the brook with the cows and the area where they walked into the river was not very pleasant as you can imagine and us kids had to negotiate the same area to get into the brook as the banks were too steep. When I think of the health risk we were exposed to, but we lived in the country and the nearest pool was miles away, no cars and few buses, even if you had the money to go which we didn't. The positive side I did learn to swim albeit not correctly but I can poddle up and down the pool doing a sort of breast stroke. I would love to have been taught all the different strokes correctly, particularly 'free style'. I do not like my face being underwater no prizes for guessing why!! This was to be avoided at all costs when swimming in the 'brook' as you can imagine.

3) Now when I was a student nurse we had very strict rules about what time we had to be in and in our opinion this was quite unreasonable as it was so early and if you went into town it was almost impossible to get back by curfew (buses were as unreliable in the early 60's as they are now). So how did we get around this dilemma well it was climbing through the window of someone whose room was on the ground floor. Sometimes this was pre-arranged but there was the odd time when we it was unintentional because the bus just did not turn up and we had to walk back to the nurses home and knock on a window. I don't expect such rules exist these days- I don't even know if they have accommodation on site for nurses, probably not. (you could only live out in your 3rd year and then only if matron approved).

4) I may have mentioned in earlier blog that I used to be a keen tennis player and one of the +/- of this is that I am very competative and I always hated to loose and this put an awful lot of pressure on the family. We have a snoopy mug which says ' winning isn't everything but loosing isn't anything' which sums it up. I have a lot of good memories of well contested matches and a few trophies for my efforts. My best winnings were £50, 2 tickets to Wimbledon and lunch for 4 to 'The Post Office Tavern' a local pub.

5) Finally I've always harboured a wish to gallop along a white sandy beach on the edge of the water. Silly really but there you are.

Oh dear I may have revealed too much!!

PS anyone who has read Beccy's blog will have seen her secret about writing a book- well back in the 80's guess what I started to do ??? I may even have a couple of chapters somewhere.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Why does excercise always make you feel hungry!!

It would have been very easy to stay indoors today and not put my nose above the parapet but instead I got up bright and early to make soup as this was what my mother said she fancied. I wanted to have it ready for my brother to collect on his way in to visit her. We had thought she was coming home this week but she had a little relapse during early hours of Weds so they moved her back to a medical ward and she is having her heart monitored at the moment as the doctors seem a bit puzzled as to what triggered the 'raised pulse etc'.

I decided to have a day off from visiting and go for a swim and I have to say I feel so much better for the excercise. The trouble is it's also made me feel a lot more hungry. Repeat- I must not give in, I must not give in... no it's not working I shall have to go and make a drink and raid the fruit bowl or maybe have a piece of malt loaf. You can tell me off for being so weak it might encourage me to stop the snacking habit I seem to have developed since the recent festivities.

Beccy just to show you I am still keeping up with the news: An Oxford prof says that youngsters have a different sleep pattern to adults and they would achieve more if they were allowed to lie in and start school around 11am (they are apparently in a permanent state of jet lag). The pattern apparently reverses around age 20 when adults become more alert in the mornings (it's to do with the secretion of melatonin). Dillon might be interested in this article.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Flowering Cacti

This beautiful cacti is in full bloom and helps cheer up another stormy day. I have several plants but confess I do not look after them as well as I might so the watering, feeding and resting is all a bit haphazard, hence the random flowering.

On quite another tangent I gather David Beckham is off to LA when his current contract in Spain finishes in August. I'm not a football fan in any way shape or form but the press make sure Becks and Posh keep a high profile. I don't suppose the £128 million contract for 5 years influenced his decision!! I believe that's around a million dollars a week; nice if you can get it but is anyone worth that amount of money. I don't think so.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What's new from Apple

The media has been very enthusiastic about Apple's new mobile phone (iphone) and set-top box to transfer programmes downloaded from the internet onto TV. Lets hope the new technology is better than when they first brought out the iPod. I am lucky enough to have very kind daughters who bought me one for my birthday three years ago. This was ahead of them being sold in the UK as Sam was able to order in the States. However along with many others I had to almost immediately have it replaced as there were problems.

I am still using my original mobile phone (rather large and heavy) so maybe it's due for an upgrade in the next few months (you can see the way my thoughts are going) but I guess the iphone will be very expensive to buy and run, so maybe I will just stick with what I have as it's functional and I probably wouldn't get that much use from a hi-tec phone.

Another topic I have been listening to on the radio this morning is about global warming and the suggestion that people should opt to stop flying. My conscience agrees in one way; however I cannot see this happening unless the cost of air fares become prohibitive again. As my girls and grandchildren live so far away I would never get to see them if I didn't fly. As it is I maybe visit Beccy and children twice a year and Sam less often. Now I'm retired, I was hoping to take advantage of cheap flights to travel more frequently, so that means I have a dilemma and I'm sure this is the same for many people. If I'm honest I cannot imagine denying myself air travel at the moment. So I will continue doing my bit for the environment in other ways.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Macaroni cheese

Having read Cookiecrumb's and several other posts about macaroni cheese and also seeing her wonderful slide show (wish I could do slide shows) it reminded me that this is a dish Mike likes but one that I rarely make. So I decided today was the time to indulge him as I had quite a lot of cheese in the fridge to be used up. Second reason and probably more significant was the fact that I had not planned our evening meal and I had been on the phone for nearly three hours trying to sort out a few things which have been put on hold during the last ten days so I needed to do something quickly.

Does anyone find it difficult to resolve issues with a machine or if you're lucky a human voice over the phone and am I the only one who would like to be going back to the time when you could physically visit an office/ shop and speak face to face.

a) a problem with the electricity supplier, who was threatening me about not keeping to an agreement for monthly payment plan. I was puzzled by the letters because I pay a sum by standing order. I knew I was in credit so was not prepared to increase the monthly amount by £30 as they were suggesting. Well would you! that money is better in my pocket than their's. When I finally got to speak to 'a person' he could not tell me why I was being threatened he kept saying it was the computers fault. He then found out that I (so say owed £63:20) but he couldn't tell me why as he acknowledged I had always been in credit. I could tell he was was not happy at my insistance that I wanted an answer. He then said he wanted to speak to someone else (on hold again). This is the comical bit "the computer had sent the letter because I had not upped my monthly payments as had been suggested after they did a review of my (in credit) account. Are you still with me they were expecting me to pay the increase for past two months with administrative fees on an account that was in credit. Can you believe this. Then he wanted new meter readings which I gave him, he then put me on hold for ages while he worked out a prediction on what I might use next year and concluded that the amount I was paying did not need to be changed. I then decided to try and speak to a supervisor but no luck. The guy said I should to contact my bank and re-instate the monthly order which he said they had cancelled. I thought this was odd as I knew it was a standing order and I had certainly not cancelled the payment. But hey ho I called the bank (another wait for connection) to find that the order was still in place next payment due out tomorrow and bank confirmed that only I could alter the payment details. So I had never defaulted, which I already knew as you cannot default on something you have never agreed to in the first place. I would really love to change my electricity supplier but I don't have the energy. When my friend Tina tried to do this recently they suddenly accused her of being in arrears for over £2000 for electricity supply to a garage. She has lived in her house for over 20 years and there has never been a garage to the house. Eventually they discovered this was a neighbour's account. Again computer blamed; doesn't human error come into the equation or do computers operate themselves!!

b) next issue was renewal of my car insurance, I had a quote but my details needed changing as I no longer need business cover and will be doing less mileage. I was hoping this would give me a lower quote. Just as all the information was being fed into the computer the person on the phone line said her computer had crashed and she would call me back in 10 mins. Twenty five mins later I got the call, she was very aplogetic but had got the payment reduced by a few more pounds so that was a positive.

By now it was 5pm and I couldn't face c) making an insurance claim, so that's for another day.

I have totally digressed from the meal but I thought macaroni would be very quick as I managed to cook it while I was waiting for the call back. As hubby was due home anytime I knew I would not be able to add bacon and mushrooms (I know feeble excuse he could have waited) and it would have added a little extra something to the dish. So instead it was turned out to be very basic, however, the (good) pinch of cayenne gave the sauce a kick and the topping of grated cheese and (homemade) breadcrumbs worked well giving a nice crunchy topping.


Monday, January 08, 2007

The patient was laughing so that's a good sign

I hadn't realised that my brother and my niece were planning to visit mum today but it was a nice surprise when they arrived. There are only supposed to be two visitors at a time but as mum is in a single ward we managed to avoid the eagles eyes of the ward staff. As you can see from the photo we managed to get mum laughing and when they left I took her for another little walk for some gentle excercise.

The picture is hello to Sam and Beccy so you can see her looking more her old self.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lost Property

Having posted a small package to Ireland of things left behind, including one of Dillon's new CD's I now find one or two other things which may not be as vital. I did find pieces of 'stickle brick' and a toy car down the side of the settee and surprise surprise lots of sweet papers particularly 'After Eight' wrappers. Now I wonder how those got there!!

Afraid this is a very brief post as my day has been taken up with domestic chores, reading the Sunday papers and helping Mike with his crossword (I only get asked the ones he can't do and today I didn't do too well. However I did know the album by Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Cabbale- I'll leave you to work that one out). I'm now going to search the internet to solve some of the other clues.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Using up the beef.

Today was one of those days when I was glad I stayed in bed for an extra hour. Even before I opened the curtains I could hear the rain and it remained miserable for most of the day. I was actually tempted to jump back into bed but I had to brave the elements to collect the daily papers which I then read over a leisurely breakfast. Oh and I completed the quick crossword, with Mike's help on one clue. When it came to making dinner I had nothing planned but I knew there was some cold beef that had to be used and I decided to make a pot luck Cottage Pie as I also had lots of vegetables. You can see from the photos below how it turned out.

I have a very old Robot Chef Food Processor so old it's no longer in production and a quick search tells me it's the Robot coupe that the latest. Well mine may look antiquated but it still works (chopping the meat very quickly) so I don't think I will be buying a new one anytime soon.

I fried some chopped onions and courgettes (Zucchinis) and added diced carrot red pepper and more courgettes that had been zapped in microwave.

Added meat, oxo gravy, worchester sauce, salt and pepper

Topped with creamed desiree potatoes (added couple of tablespoons cream a little butter, salt and pepper and a small amount of grated cheese to produce a very smooth consistency. Now if I was a food blogger I would have piped this on evenly. As I'm not I plonked it on smoothed with knike and patterned with fork before popping it in the oven to brown.

While the pie was browning I cooked some extra vegetables and the end result was quite tasty with a nice glass of wine.