Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
2009 looks as though it will be an interesting year. The troubles in the middle east look as though they are at the point of escalating, and wars and famines etc around the world will probably take centre stage for many. However, in true British style we have something about to happen here that will not only take our mind off all these things it will also totally overshadow everything else that is going on, and I am sure that even Gordon Brown himself is breathing a sigh of relief at the announcement.
Yes, it is true. Andrew Lloyd Webber is going to help choose the song that will come last in the Eurovision Song Contest. Apparently this is the new contest that will grace our TV screens for the next several months. Frankly, there are five syllables that fill me with dread, and are an absolute guarantee that I won't go anywhere near a television until it is safe to do so. Those five syllables? Why: and rew lloyd web ber, of course.
Such a shame there is nothing to look forward to in 2009.............
Or is there.....................?
Monday, December 29, 2008
It was ironic that this was the first time for years that our plans for the holiday were quite cut and dried. Our cards were written and sent in plenty of time, Christmas day was to be spent with my brother and family, Boxing Day with our son and family and the Saturday with our daughter.and family. Well, some of it happened, and some of it didn't, but none of it occurred as originally intended. Would you like to hear the story? If you know what's coming you can switch off now if you aren't interested.
So, I know I should have had the 'flu jab. Unfortunately our surgery does this at a Saturday morning clinic, and we work away on Saturdays. So it didn't get done.... When I was designated as my mother's carer I had one automatically at the same time as she had hers, now, of course, I don't qualify so it means an extra effort, I suppose it served me right! For three and a half days I lay in bed, unable to raise my head from the pillow. Finally I was able to sit up, and then the cough started.
Don't worry, I'm not going to go into a minute by minute, or even a day by day account, but coughing and no sneezing was the order of the day for the rest of the time. I managed to make it to the doctor on Christmas Eve, and I'm glad I did as I had bronchitis, so antibiotics were prescribed and are still being taken. Christmas Day, however, was spent mostly in bed and not travelling down the motorway to Swindon as had been anticipated. Instead of turkey and the trimmings we eventually found some fish in the freezer and had fish and chips for our main meal. It was the first time I had eaten since being poorly, probably not the healthiest of starts, but the fish was good, and I ate half a dozen chips, I never eat the batter anyway. A change of scene was prescribed for Boxing Day, and we did visit our son, only 10 minutes down the road. We stayed for an hour to watch our grandson open our presents, and then we came home. It was a pleasant interlude. On Saturday we ventured a little further, a half hour drive took us to our daughters, and we managed to stay there for three hours. Then yesterday I seemed to have a little relapse, and spent most of the day lying down. This is actually not something I ever choose to do lightly as I have a problem with my spine that causes it to go into spasm if I lie down for more than about 7 hours.
When I was at college I remember our lecturer (who practised at the Maudsley Clinic) telling us a tale about a lady who was very upset. Each night she had great dreams of earth shattering import, but when she woke in the morning they had been forgotten, and the rest of the day was spent in anguish trying to remember them. It was suggested that she began to sleep with a notebook and pen by the bed, then she could write things down in the night, and in the morning all would be clear. This worked. One morning she woke, knowing that she had had one of these dreams, and sure that she had scribed something. Indeed she had.
'The pen is mightier than the banana'
It is indeed profound. However, a pen would not be much use if all you wanted to do was make a Banoffee pie. On this basis, though, I won't share any thoughts, profound or otherwise that I had while I was suffering. I may on another day, but suffice it to say that I too have had the answers to all the world's problems at some point over the last few days......
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Christmas was always an exciting time, but wasn't heralded by street lights or shop displays that appeared months before the actual time. Our Christmas Tree didn't make an appearance until about a week before the actual day, and presents were always a surprise, with no promptings on TV to persuade children that the latest toy was a definite 'must have'. Christmas cakes and puddings were always made in advance, but out of sight once they were cooked.
So what is the significance of the date? We lived in Surrey, within close proximity to London where my father worked for the BBC. My grandparents lived a couple of hundred miles away, one set in the north-east of England and the other in the depths of the Welsh countryside. Each year they would travel by train to spend the holiday with us in the slightly milder south of England. The holiday would begin at the end of November and go on until March or even April. Their imminent arrival was always heralded by a delivery of their luggage sent in advance. It would arrive from the local railway station, brought by something that I have today discovered was a Scammell three wheeled lorry. You can see a picture of a vehicle here.
In retrospect it must have been very difficult for my mother. My father's father had very bad rheumatoid arthritis, and my maternal grandfather suffered from chronic bronchitis. This long holiday was a way of giving both grandmothers a break from their caring roles. As children this passed way over our heads. We just remember it as a very happy family time - for the whole 3 or 4 months.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
During the week orders have been processed and we have been out selling too. Last night we had a lovely evening in Woking when I spoke to the Embroiderers' Guild Evening Branch. It almost began in disaster as we approached. An accident had occurred along the final stretch of the journey and the police closed part of the road. As a result we had to retrace our steps and take a long detour. To our amazement the other end of the blockade ended exactly at the entrance to the hall. If it had been any further along we wouldn't have been able to get there. I can't tell you what actually happened, but the one car that we saw will certainly not be driven again.
Consequently I haven't been able to add much to my blog this week, however, as it says in the title, it doesn't take much - to get a post going, that is! I thought I'd show you this photograph of our kettle spout. Not a very inspiring subject, but I couldn't believe what I saw this morning. I hope you can see it too.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
A bottle of whisky
A pair of slippers
A comfortable cosy bed.
What to do:
1 Prop the slippers up at the end of the bed
2 Get into bed
3 Drink the whisky until the slippers merge together and become one
You are now well on the way to recovery.
Need I add that he was a Scot.....?
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Thankfully it is coming to replace a branch of Somerfields. I only visited the shop twice, and the last time was probably 16 years ago. The selection of goods and standard of fruit and vegetables left a lot to be desired and I preferred to walk across the road and shop at Waitrose where the choice was always good. In actual fact I haven't shopped in Fleet for several years. I should rephrase that, I haven't shopped for several years. I hate shopping, and if I can persuade someone else to do it I most certainly will! So for this reason I won't actually be visiting the new shop tomorrow, or, probably, in the near future.
So why all the excitement? Which shop is actually coming? Why, Sainsbury's! Now, at last, the overpriced branches of Tesco's Express on the outskirts of the town will have a run for their money. Don't ask why I'm getting so excited, as I said, I don't shop .....!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I thought I would show you a photograph of our daughter. She was sponsored to dye her hair pink. Believe it or not it took four and a half hours to bleach her hair and a further hour to colour it. Here she is with our grand-daughter.
Sponsorship money is still being collected if you would like to contribute. I'll let you know the final total when I have it.
I'm teaching in Nottingham for the next few days. Watch out for the next part of the Collage Tutorial when I come back.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Was there anyone that wasn't frightened of the dentist? Is it any wonder? Our dentist was only a short walk away. The father of a school friend, I regarded him as a 'safe'. So, when the large needle suddenly appeared at eye level with no explanation I had conflicting feelings. The noise of the drill, the awful smell of the gas mask and then that funny woozy feeling and nothing else until you felt the after pain..... To learn years later that so much of the work that was done by dentists at that time wasn't necessary, but to improve their pay, almost makes the memories worse.....
How different it must have been, though, for my mother. Living in a small village there was no dentist. The nearest was in the next village, but there was no road! Travelling to the dentist involved a walk down a long hill and then a ferry trip across the fast flowing river. Imagine standing in the cold and wet waiting for the ferryman to row across to get you. The prospect of a similar trek on the way home was the culmination of the visit. I always wondered why Mum would never talk to me about the dentist, years later I discovered that she hadn't wanted to 'put me off'. Frankly, the dentist did that all on his own.......
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It is very hard for us to book a day off, and to decide on a Saturday for a break requires a lot of forward planning. Yesterday we had a day out with our family that has been eighteen months in the planning! Not only did we need to ensure that we weren't working yesterday, but we thought we would have today off too so that we could properly recover in the glow of a lovely day.
The day started late morning when we drove a mile or two to collect our son and daughter in law. Another couple of miles and we were at the station waiting for the fast train to London. A smooth ride, a picnic while travelling, and forty minutes later we arrived at London Waterloo where our daughter and family were waiting for us. Their journey had been slightly longer, but now there were eight of us about to begin our adventure.
It was a beautiful day, and who needs the underground on a day as lovely as this? We strolled across Waterloo Road and headed in the direction of the Royal Festival Hall. This wasn't our destination, but it would lead us to the bridge that crossed the Thames and on to the north side of the river. We bypassed Villiers Street by walking along the continuation of the bridge (we could see it through the gaps) and finally ended up in The Strand. A short walk brought us to Trafalgar Square.
Here we paused to look at the Street Theatre and other delights on offer
This particular living statue was more imaginative than any of the others around. One young child was a little disturbed by him, so he got off his pedestal and became fully human until the child calmed down, a really lovely touch.
We walked on through streets and alleys that I haven't investigated for a long time. In my student days I walked all over London. I often couldn't afford my underground fare, so I would walk between Waterloo and The Kings Road on many occasions. We had plenty of time so the stroll was leisurely and comfortable. Our appointment was for three o'clock, and we arrived in plenty of time.
Eighteen months ago I managed to book eight seats for 'Mama Mia'. We had had to wait that long for seats together, and today was the day. Yes, I booked them, and I was the one that viewed the whole day with most trepidation! I don't like musicals, and I felt as though I had already had my fill of Abba music some long time ago! Even as we approached the venue I kept these thoughts to myself but trembled inside a little. I needn't have worried....
A quick drink in the bar (it was orange juice, folks)
and it was time to take our seats. Our grand-daughter and I just had time to compare nail varnish and then it was time for curtain-up!
It was great fun. It was also LOUD! We were in the second row, fantastic views, but of course loud to the extreme at times. We laughed, had our heart strings wrenched and sang along when it was appropriate. It really was a thoroughly good show and enjoyed by one and all, including our 16 and 14 year old grandchildren. No photographs of the show as these are understandably forbidden.
And then it was time for dinner. An Italian restaurant recommended by our son was just around the corner, so that was where the table was booked. It was lovely. A long, leisurely family dinner, with plenty of wine.
So now we headed back towards the station for the train. It was dark, but very mild so no need for the underground this time either. We retraced our steps, enjoying the evening, and the company! Pausing briefly on Hungerford Bridge for the last views of the evening.
Just too late the moon emerged from the clouds, but there wasn't time to dash back for another photograph.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Choose your colouring media. I suggest something like diluted dyes, Brusho or coloured inks to begin with. You can use water colours too, but you must be more heavy handed than usual, you want a good depth of colour.
Start with a clean sheet of paper and just put some colour on. This picture shows a piece of the wet strength tissue. Can you see on the left how the colour is starting to 'bleed' into the surrounding area? I love the way this happens, it makes the transition between colours so much more gentle than on other surfaces.
Add more water to the colour, just a little, and applied with the brush
It will spread and the mismatched strokes become more integrated. Add other colours and more water until the page is covered
Before leaving it to dry you can take prints from the surface, sometimes two or three, just cover with another sheet (it could be a different sort of paper) and press gently all over with the back of your hand. Don't worry if these papers aren't fully covered at this stage.
Put them to dry and paint some more. You can never have enough, you will want plenty to choose from so have fun colouring as many as you have room to dry! Don't stick to your favourite colours only, mix and match and start to produce a good stock. Don't forget the crumpled papers too, they will take the colour slightly differently. When they are dry they can be ironed on the reverse to flatten them. They will curl initially, but don't worry about this.
Enjoy, and watch out for part three coming soon.
Part one is here
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
You can purchase some by using either the button below or the one in the sidebar.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I have no memory of the first or main course. They must have been good, or I would have remembered them as bad. Finally the dessert menu was presented, and I chose fresh figs. Well......
It now transpired that the Maitre d' was Greek. He suddenly went into ecstasy mode.! The whole restaurant became silent and everyone looked in our direction. 'Madame! Madame! Madame, she want figs! Madame, she want fresh figs! She want FIGS! She is pregnant and she want FIGS! In my country, we know when a lady want figs when she is pregnant, she is expecting a boy. More champagne! She is expecting a boy.' He went on in this vein for some time, the whole restaurant cheered, and we did indeed get a free bottle of champagne. I duly ate my figs and went home.
Three months later I gave birth to our daughter.
Friday, October 10, 2008
How can you fail to be inspired when you take a course set in scenery as beautiful and serene as this?
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
This is a true story.
Once upon a time there was a pig. We will call him Monty.
Monty lived on a farm, and, although he was well cared for, he sometimes got lonely because his only companions were cows and turkeys. Sometimes Monty would go for a walk in the hope that he would find another pig to talk to, but the farmer always found him before he had time to get very far.
One sunny day Monty shook the pigsty door until it opened. Walking across the farmyard he pushed yet another hole through the hedge and began to walk along the lane. He was big and fat, so he walked slowly, sniffing the air for interesting smells, especially as his eyesight was poor. He could see a shadow ahead, and as he approached he could tell that it smelt interesting.
It was a car with the boot up, but Monty didn't recognise it as such, to him it smelt like a food trough, for languishing in the boot was a large sack of horse feed. Monty didn't know that the feed was only meant for horses, he thought it had been put there just for him, so with an enormous amount of effort he pulled himself into the boot and began to devour the feed, packaging and all. It was delicious, and he was really surprised when suddenly there was much commotion and the farmer arrived with a very irate man who demanded compensation! Without ceremony Monty was returned to the lonely pigsty.
Holes in the hedge were reinforced and an extra strong bolt was put on the pigsty door. Monty was fed more than usual, but that was no problem, he could always find space for another morsel. But one day he began to feel lonely again, and he knew what he had to do.... With enormous effort he pulled himself over the door of the pigsty. He fell with a bump, but although a little sore he walked towards the hedge. He felt a little like an Olympic pole vaulter, he felt that he had set a record for pigs, the hedge would be easy, in spite of reinforcements.
He began to walk along the lane. The sun was shining, and that shape was there again. Monty sniffed the air. Sure enough, it was waiting with food for him. However, when he got there he discovered that the food was covered up! (The boot was closed). Now what to do? The more he sniffed the air the more he wanted the food. How could he get to it? Monty was a resourceful pig, he walked around the car sniffing as he went. As he got to the driver's door the smell intensified. Hooray, someone had thoughtfully left the driver's window open. Here was a way in.
Getting through the window was not easy, but having done so Monty was in heaven. On the back seat was a sack of horse feed, exactly the same as the one he had eaten before! Such delight! He chomped his way through it. It was delicious! (Isn't forbidden food ALWAYS the sweetest?). When finished he sat for a moment to make sure that nothing was left, the smell of food was still strong, although nowhere in sight. Yes, he could still smell something, and then he realised that the smell was coming from behind the seat. Sure enough, there was another sack in the car boot, but how could he get to that?
The pig who had scaled the pigsty door, pushed through reinforced hedge AND climbed in through a car window knew no limitations. It wasn't very tasty, but Monty now began to tug and tear at the back of the seat, and before long he had access to the rest of the food. Once he had his head far enough through to eat he stopped pushing and just ate. He thought he was in heaven before, but this must be it, because there were two sacks waiting for him. Delicious!
When he had finished, however, Monty began to panic. He was now firmly wedged with his head and shoulders stuck through the back seat and his rear end jammed up against the back of the front seats. He couldn't move... How was he going to get out? He began to twist from side to side in the hope that he could free himself, but this only served to make the car rock, and this rocking drew the attention of a passing postman.
Car owner and farmer were duly summoned. More compensation was demanded, Monty heard the words, but didn't know what they meant. What had he done wrong? The farmer bundled Monty into a trailer and off they went. Regrettably, not to the pigsty.....
Thursday, October 02, 2008
PS For those of you that have asked about Demerara sugar there is a listing on Wikipedia, or you can read about it HERE