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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day

We all know Shrove Tuesday as Pancake Day but in effect it is the last day before Lent i.e. Ash Wednesday.

In the Middle ages people were called to Church to be "shriven" to confess their sins have their sins and be forgiven in preparation for Lent. Lent used to be observed very strictly as a time of fasting. Shrove Tuesday was therefore a day for feasting and merry making. There were certain forbidden foods during Lent and one of them was Eggs; so to use up the surplus they used to make pancakes -hence pancake day. In this country Shrove Tuesday was sometimes referred to as "Goodies Day". The bell that called the faithful to church was known as the pancake bell but it wasn't the only goody on offer.

The following verse was taken from Poor Robins Almanack

But Hark I hear the pancake bell
And Fritters make a gallant smell
~The Cooks are baking, frying, boyling
Stewing, mincing,cutting, broyling
Carving, gormandising, roasting
Carbonading, cracking, slashing,
toasting


There are all sorts of strange customs associated with Pancake Day, pancake races being one of them; the race is traditionally run by women; tradition has it that the pancake race started in a village called Olney in 1445 when a housewife was late in cooking her pancakes, heard the church bell and ran to church taking her griddle and her batter along with her. Ever since the race has been contested by women who must run from the Town Squaqre to the church in Olney tossing their pancake at least three times along the route. Since then it has gone world wide.


Here's a recipe for Pancakes

Pancakes makes approximately 12

Ingredients:

4oz plain flour
2 eggs
10 fl oz milk
pinch of salt
1tblspoon oil
Cooking fat

To Make

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.

Make a well in the middle of the sieved ingredients and pour in the eggs.
Add half of the milk very gradually and then beat well to give a sticky gungy consistency. Mix in the remaining milk (I use a balloon whisk to do this). Stir in the oil just prior to use

Melt a little fat in a pan just enough to cover the base (until a blue haze is seen) you have to get it very hot but not on fire. Use approximately two two spoonsful of batter for each pancake tipping the pan to spread it thinly. Cook at a medium heat for about two minutes until light brown turn with a fish slice or if you are feeling brave "toss" go on have a go and then continue cooking on the other side.

I keep cooked pancakes one on top of the other in a hot covered dish with foil over the top. Serve up with fresh orange or lemon juice and caster sugar sprinkling liberally with both. Roll up to serve.

A couple of other ideas are to serve with tinned fruit i.e. mandarin oranges, a dollop of whipped cream and/or home made ice cream. Blueberries, ice cream or fresh cream (or the tinned whipped cream) - cherry or apple pie fillings are also good.

Tossing the pancake"

Shake the pan to loosen the pancake round the edges if the pancake is cooked the pancake should slide and move freely within the pan.

Hold the pan loosely with wrist relaxed and facing towards the pan handle. Give a quick sharp flick flicking the pan and pancake upwards but be ready to catch it as it flips over and then hopefully lands in your pan.

Enjoy

Friday, 20 February 2009

Incapacitated Brother

My baby brother had to go into hospital yesterday for a day operation under general anaesthesia at our local hospital as he had a torn cartilege in his knee. He had a similar operation a couple of years ago; that was straightforward and done and he was back home in a day but had to rest up for a few days thereafter. He expected the same to happen yesterday but unfortunately because he was last on the list and still very groggy had to stay in overnight. Bet he was happy; anyway they have let him loose and he is home today but apparently he has spent the best part of it asleep!As it is half term my two wonderful nephews are on half term so he will have company for the rest of the week. Take care dear bruvver and I do hope you feel more comfortable soon. Perhaps I should call him hop along Cassidy!

Big Sis

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Pleased to Meet you



Hello I am Tyson the difficult one - the one that treads his own path and professes not to like fuss (only under my own terms) I like things how I like them, but the best part of the day for me is to cuddle down on my mum's bed on my own fleecy blanket and just flop. I visit the Greengrocers every day - they make a lot of fuss of me and I curl up under the counter and sleep - as long as Caroline has the heater on. When they close I go upstairs to the young couple who live in the flat above. They thought I was a stray and were feeding me and letting me stay in there. Mum was pulling her hair out because suddenly I wasn't coming in of a night. She hates us cats being out overnight as she has lost two lovely ones this way.

Anyway I am going to catch up on some sleep my blanket is waiting for me.

Books and Books and Books

During my lunch hour today (Tuesday) I headed for our nearest specialist book shop Waterstones, and spent a good 20 to 30 minutes just browsing as to what books they carried. Its a while since I have indulged myself in this way. Trouble is I saw several books that I would really like to get my mitts on and at the moment I don't have the pennies. So needless to say I will go back another dinner time and make a list of the ones I would really like to read and form a plan of attack. Its a while since I have done any serous reading and I am getting the urge again.

Its surprising really that I ever learned to read. I was one determined little madam and I did not find reading easy to start with. Enter my dear father; he was as equally determined that I was going to learn to read as he knew how much pleasure I would get from it. He gave me extra tuition on reading and on spelling; every evening after school he used to sit with me for an hour, through tears and tantrums and Dad losing his cool once or twice, he got me there and the little girl who was determined not to read found a long life friend.

It turned out that I didn't have terminal problems - I wasn't bad at reading just that I was making simple unnecessary mistakes with similar spelt words like their, there, through, though etc. Dad with his perseverance and constant spelling tests soon put that right.

My Dad always taught me that if you had a book you always had a friend; it was a place to retire to a world of fantasy a retreat from the outside world and an ideal way of keeping myself entertained and of no nuisance to anyone when I was bored or lonely. That has held me in good stock over the years. Poor old Dad then had the problem of me retreating into fantasy land and wanting to stay there rather than face reality. He got there bless him with an awful lot of patience and boy did he need it especially with a child who wanted to know the why's the wherefores and the ins and outs of everything - and endless long conversations.

I was also very lucky as my Dad had stimulated my imagination from a very early age; he had been to Egypt with the Services and had been there for a few years. He was therefore able to take us on Magic Carpet rides and describe places to us and really bring things to life. My brother sadly doesn't remember that much - he is 3 1/2 years younger than me, but he does remember the Magic Carpet rides. Funny what sticks in your memory.

My Dad always maintained that you only got out what you put in, and that always stayed with me.

Because of his intervention by the time I was 7 years old I had the reading capability of a 16 year old. I was always in the school library and read the Hobbit when I was seven years old and totally enjoyed it. Latterly at Junior School in Peterborough because of my love and knowledge of books I was made Year Librarian and used to help the other kids with reading as well.

Apparently I had a photographic memory as a child; Dad was an Engineer by trade and from about the age of 2 years he used to ask me to pass a 2 3/8ths spanner for example and every time I used to pass him the right one; I also knew what each tool was used for and how it was used. I couldn't for the life of me tell you now. Surprising that I stayed near him and the cars and bikes because as soon as he used to crank handle the car into action I would start squealing. I didn't like the noise.

My first husband and my current partner both hated/hate it when I read as I really become immersed and involved in what I am reading and cannot bear to put the book down. It makes me a tad anti-social. Unfortunately I am a compulsive reader and when I start I have to go all the way through. The only thing I cannot do is read before going to bed - it wakes me up and I just don't get to sleep.

Do you like reading or have you always viewed it with suspicion and not really got into it or do you love reading as much as I do and have you been able to pass on your enthusiasm to your own children. It would be lovely for some feedback.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sea Fever

Its been a lovely day today although chilly the sun has been out. Not that the snow is not beautiful but it does make getting about a tad tricky. It was also the first day back to work today for me - after a week off trying to make an impact on the stuff I am putting into storage. Its always a shock having to go back and at least I have been free to choose where I wanted to go and not be cooped up.

It has been a long day - non stop without a break. Some of the stuff I have been dealing with has been extremely complicated and there has been a need to be as precise as possible. I work as a legal secretary dealing with sensitive family matters where we are dealing with peoples lives and problems on a day to day basis. After being cooped up in an office all day I am just a little stir crazy.

My eyes are sore with all the close work and I am tired. I feel a little irritable and a need to be out and about and being at one with my environment; and for the environment to permeate me to calm me to soothe me. I need to chill; doing what I do for a living I find it hard at times to come back down to terra firma especially after a hard day at work and the amount of concentration that is required; that's why I do my crafts and lose myself in preserving, and plan and plot and dream.

Today I wish I was by the sea, to walk along the beach watch the waves and go beach combing for shells and pebbles of interest to be in the fresh air and to be free. Something so simple, but something in which I take great delight and where I am content with my own company and listening to the song and the symphony of the sea as the waves crash and then slip back out to sea.

I love the sea down in Cornwall and Devon; the colour of the water seems to be so blue and the light and reflection so different down there; the air so fresh and clean and when it blows through it gets rid of all the cobwebs.

Over the past few days I seem to have been reading a lot of poetry it seems to be resonating with me - more so than usual. Like classical music. It tends to go in phases.

I found some holiday photographs (some of which are already posted on this blog) but these were photos taken of the sea on a glorious wild day and on quieter days about three to four years ago whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall.

The following poem seems particularly apt for my mood at the moment.

SEA FEVER
by John Masefield 1878 to 1967

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely seas and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.



I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.



I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from the laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.









More peaceful times



One can dream - hopefully I will get back down there sometime in the future.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Loneliness and a Kind word

Loneliness is a sad thing and can hit anyone and everyone, the very young and the much older.

Its funny you can be in a room full of people all chattering and interacting with each other and yet you can feel so alone, as though you are not connecting on any level or that anyone really feels your pain. Sometimes we make the requisite noises, but really it might as well be an automaton in that position rather than a full bodied passionate person who feels and has needs.

Sometimes we go into ourselves deliberately and put up this brick wall that says halt go no further do not pass go. That's probably when we are chewing over something inside or want to be alone to sort something out - but because of pre-arranged engagements that time is not always open to us. We then become pre-occupied and distant, not joining in like those around us expect us to because we haven't had the time we need to get things straight. Sometimes we don't even realise we are keeping people at bay. That is loneliness of our own making in a roundabout fashion, although it is not always the case.

Loneliness can be soothed however by a walk in the countryside - walking the dog is always good - beautiful places and a change of scenery can give more healing and balm to the soul because you are able to just simply be at one with yourself without interruption.





The sound of water always soothes me and ideally I would love to live near a stream a river or the sea. I am fascinated by water - its power, its gentleness toughness and extreme cruelty.









That is one scenario, however, what about the widow who is now on her own after many years of happy marriage; her children have flown the nest, they keep in touch as best they can, but they have busy lives too. She does not want to be a burden to anyone and sometimes it is days before she has any interaction of any sort; that is enforced loneliness. Sometimes caused by the way they have been pre-conditioned in their early years i.e. that you don't push yourself forward for anything as it is rude to do so.



Your words and your interaction may not mean anything special to you - but they mean an awful lot to the person who is on their own; its an act of love and kindness and a confirmation that they do exist and do count.

People are on their own for many different reasons but sometimes they have an inate fear of rejection by others, because this is what has happened in the past with people who are less than generous in spirit.

Next time you are in a hurry remember it is a kind word and a simple smile that brings down barriers between people. Just because people are younger or older does not mean that they don't have something legitimate to add by way of ideas or practicalities as each person's experiences in life are unique to themselves.

And next time when you are down or feeling out of it and really lonely - start looking for the silver lining to the cloud - its always there somewhere.

Another Award - Thank you So much



I have only just spotted this and would like to thank Nita from The Kentish Lass for giving me this award. It has made a lovely bright point in an otherwise difficult day:o)

If anyone deserves special praise it is Nita for even though her life is not easy she always thinks of others rather than herself. A true recipient of a very special award.

It's the Lemonade award and it is for showing great attitude and/or gratitude. Its lovely isnt it.


The rules of the awards are:

Put the logo on your blog or post.

Nominate at least 10 blogs, which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
Share the love and link to this post, and to the person from whom you received your award.

Everyone I have come across on blogland has been so generous and lovely but i can only do 10.

I therefore nominate the following:

Bovey Belle (Jennie)http://codlinsandcream.blogspot.com/
Yarrow at http://oakmoon.blogspot.com/
Rowan at http://circleoftheyear.blogspot.com/
Goldy at http://goldysclearout.blogspot.com/
Dannette at http://greentwinsmummy@simplelife.blogspot.com/
North Devon Dumpling (or Lotti) at http://lottisdevondiary.blogspot.com/
Anne at http://silversewer.blogspot.com/
Leanne at http://somersetseasons.blogspot.com/
Allybea at http://www.alleybea.blogspot.com/
Hen at http://www.bee.leaf.co.uk/

I hope this award brings you all pleasure too - it has me - as I am only a junior blogger.

Enjoy

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Angel Thank you


I received a lovely surprise as a thank you during the week. I have a very good friend who found a lump - every woman's worst nightmare. Not helped by the fact that our local hospital cocked up and did not see her within the 14 day legal period - which caused further anxiety for her and her family. I had been helping with Reiki treatments, and the power of prayer during her stressful time and generally just being there for her.

I am pleased to say though that it was and is just a fibrous lump; which I am very pleased about for her and her family. To me the fact that she is okay and well is thanks enough for me. Others are not so lucky.

What was even nicer is that she knows I believe in Angels but she did not realise that I collect them. My first one was bought as a present by my cousin, whose mum (my aunt) had insisted that I needed protection.

Here have a look and see - isn't she lovely

Valentines Day Part 2




I suppose deep down I am really a romantic at heart and a dreamer to boot - not a good combination. I sit watching an old movie and get so involved in it tears end up streaming down my face as I live the part of the character. Everyone else laughs at me, but I can't help the dreaming, fiction a form of escapism from the real world. But it is the words I love - every word has meaning every intonation every nuance can create a special world. I love reading and I love poetry and attach some of my favourite poems below to share with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The first is a well known song, and probably better known in this format and yet the words are so beautiful themselves.

Beautiful Dreamer Serenade
by Stephen C. Foster

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull'd by the moonlight have all pass'd a way!

Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life's busy throng,—
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer awake unto me!

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea
Mermaids are chaunting the wild lorelie;
Over the streamlet vapors are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.

Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E'en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart,—
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!


BEWARE CUPID IS FIRING HIS ARROWS RIGHT AT YOUR HEART BEWARE WHERE THEY LAND




Another favourite, and one which is very romantic - but with a twist:-

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear


I
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

II
Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

III
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.








And the final poem:-

A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.





Roses are read violets are blue
Sugar is sweet and so are you










I was lucky enough to find these images on a book entitled Instant Memories: Love which is a ready to use scrapbook of pages that can be used straight out of the book or straight from an additional CD which is at the back of the book. The ISBN No 1-4027-2642-2 and is published by Sterling Publishing Co. Inc. I found this book greatly reduced. I do hope you agree with me that the images are beautiful and Charming.

Happy Valentines Day





Today is the day where lovers all over the world express their love and devotion to their husband's wives, boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other. It is very different today to what it used to be far more commercialised, yet the sentiments remain very much the same. This is the time of year when other halves quake in their boots at the price of roses (which for some inexplicable reason always seem, to be far dearer on the day).




I hope you have all had a lovely Valentine's day and that you have been appreciated by your other halves.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Peace and Quiet



Every so often I need time for me to recharge my batteries, to mull over things that have happened and to get them straight in my head. When I was a little girl I was the same and my Dad used to spend hours talking to me (and I mean hours) and help me put things into perspective, by discussing all options and deciding on the best option to take. I used to use my Dad as a sounding board and he used to do the same with me. We were extremely close; so close that often we could finish off each other's sentences. It used to drive my dear mum up the wall at times.

Last year, unexpectedly we lost Dad - I miss him dreadfully and it is as though my right arm has been amputated as I no longer have my sounding board - and I know my dear mum is missing him greatly. My father was the life and soul of the party; very cheeky very amiable and very easy going - most people got on well with him.

I love peace and quiet, (as did my Dad) and I gain much pleasure from being out and about for a walk in the countryside you can really be at one with yourself just with a change of scenery or by going somewhere different as it really takes you out of yourself - to lose and hide yourself and just take time out from the monotony or otherwise of every day living.

Be kind to yourselves at such times - even if it means walking the dog a little more regularly than usual or just walking on your own - getting away from the noise and hub-bub of every day living is calming and balm for the soul. We are all under different stresses and each person reacts very differently to situations that arise - sometimes people cope admiarably at others not so well.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Boxes Boxes Boxes

I have this week off and in an effort to do a major sort out with stuff have bought over the past few years I have been going through this in order to sort it out to put it into storage; keeping only those items I want and disposing of those items not wanted to our local charity shop. Needless to say I have found an awful lot of stuff I had forgotten I had had, so it has been quite pleasant re-discovering it so to speak. Trouble is I like junk shops, charity shops, auctions, car boots and Ebay .... and am a bit of a hoarder to boot. I have also been scheduling what I am keeping and am doing an inventory so that any items I am after can be retrieved from storage quite easily. Dealing with this will also make more room in the house as I want to have a dedicated Reiki/Meditation room eventually and also a spare room for guests to stay over/craft room. The idea is that eventually and hopefully the Reiki will pay for the storage so killing two birds with one stone.

Finally, and at long last I am now beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But its back to the grind tomorrow and more boxes.

Hi ya



My name is Poppy - Pattypan took me and my brother in after our original owners moved and left us behind - we were so hungry and Pattypan fed us - we lived in her greenhouse originally where it was nice and snug and warm. Pattypan made it comfortable for us. I used to go everywhere with my older brother. One day Pattypan went to the shop and he followed her over the road but got knocked over and left to die. Pattypan didn't know and found him in the middle of the road left for dead and took him to the vets and because he was so badly injured it was kinder to put him to sleep as he had sustained brain damage. Pattypan bought me into the house that night and although there were some scraps with the other residents I soon found a friend in Tyson who used to protect and look after me like my brother did.
I am a bit of a grumpy old lady these days and the kits are mischievous and very naughty at times, but come bed time both of them snuggle up next to me to go to sleep and to keep warm.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Hello I am Squeak




Hello I am Squeak - Merlin is my half brother - we share the same Mum. - I shouldn't be here really - but I felt mum hadn't got her bits and bobs in the right place - so I re-arranged them for her. Naughty aren't I. Besides I wanted to sprawl out where I wanted to sprawl - without the others, and this shelf is just my size. I am Mum's girl - Mum gives me lots of cuddles - she does the others too but I am the one that goes to her and demands her attention. Nothing is sacred I even climb vertically mum gets a bit cross with me because she is sometimes getting ready for bed and is naked - but I have to cling on somewhere! Poor Mum. Miaow for now xx

Hello



Hello I am Merlin, the youngest of Pattypan's moglets. I am not into exercise, I love my bed and my foood and every so often when I want to lay and sprawl mum sends me out - do I really have to go, its soo cold out there. (I think she sends me out to freshen me up)

I have four other furries that live with me hopefully you will see them over the next few days or so.

Friday, 6 February 2009

FRENCH ONION SOUP IN THE PRESSURE COOKER

I think I am starting with a bit of a cold - all the damp and cold doesn’t bode well so I think I am going to try to nip it in the bud as I really cannot afford to have a cold at the moment.

Its time for some French Onion Soup I think. I am going to make a scuttle full first thing in the morning so that we can have it lunch time and I think I will put the bread-maker on as well so we can have nice fresh bread as well to go with it.

This is a particularly good soup to have when suffering with colds or flu like symptoms or a bad cough or tickly throat. The onions and garlic are both natural antiseptics and help you feel more comfortable especially when you have a very sore throat. A couple of bowls full of this soup helps soothe it. Unfortunately there is no cure for a common cold you just have to let it take its course, so it is really just a matter of making yourself more comfortable for the duration.

I am going to use the pressure cooker as it takes approximately 4 minutes to make at high pressure and I am ever conscious of the rising cost of gas and electricity, so I am tending to not put the oven on willy nilly and am making the best of what equipment I have. To tell you the truth I had forgotten about the pressure cooker, but Mum was telling me what she gets up to with hers, and so I have bought new gaskets and safety valves as it has been a while since I used mine as a pressure cooker. I have two Prestige pressure cookers and have been able to get replacement parts from our local Co-Op.

Well here is the recipe I use:-

Cooking time 4 minutes
Pressure high
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1lb/0.5 kg of onions
2oz/50g butter
2 pints/generous 1 litre stock (recipe suggests beef stock cubes – but it is an old book) I use whatever stock I have to hand)
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
few drops of Worcester sauce or 1 tablespoon Maderia (or sherry) per serving
4 slices of French bread (or four discs cut from a couple of slices of bread with a pastry cutter/cookie cutter you can use different shapes then)
4 oz Gruyere cheese or Cheddar cheese grated

Method:

Peel and thinly slice the onions. Heat the butter in the open cooker pan with out the lid and the trivet removed and cook the onions on a very low heat until the onions are softened and are only just beginning to brown. [it is important at this stage that the onions are cooked very slowly as this helps develop the flavour]. Add the stock, the seasoning and the bay leaf making sure that the cooker is not more than half full. Add the cover, and put on high until there is a continuous stream of steam coming out of the pressure gauge point (then add the pressure weight gauge) and let build up pressure following your pressure cooker instructions [I do have general instructions if anyone has lost theirs please pm me and I will supply] Once pressure has been reached turn down the heat and cook for the requisite time. Then switch off and allow pressure to dissipate (this can be done by placing the pressure cooker in a bowl of cold water or by allowing the pressure to reduce at room temperature) when it stops hissing it is safe to take the weight and then the lid off.

Remove the bay leaf then ladle the soup into four ovenproof bowls (if serving 4). Stir ina few drops of Worcestershire sauce or Madeira or Sherry into each bowl of soup then add a slice of French bread or a disc of ordinary bread. Sprinkle the bread with a lot of the cheese then put the bowls under a preheated grill to melt until cheese is bubbling for 2 to 3 minutes.

The soup can be frozen but do so without the cheese or the bread.

This never lasts long in our house; I also supplement this with a teaspoon of honey per day and also fresh orange juice/fresh oranges to give extra vitamin c. Honey helps boost your immune system naturally. It is also a natural antibiotic and gets rid of any mucuous off your chest - a natural expectorant. But if you cut yourself it is equally good smeared on a bit of lint and then strapped on the cut. It helps get rid of any infection that might be there and also helps heal the cut with minimum scarring.

And Snow on

Oh what a day. Yesterday was bad enough. We had no snow overnight and we were up early again as snow had been forecast, but got into work for usual time with no problems like there were yesterday. We had all been asked to either ring into the office to access a voicemail message or alternatively log in on email before going into work to see if the office was going to be open. It was, so everyone who could turned out, including a few who had come quite a distance

I had just got into the office and the snow came down and down and just did not stop. Lots of schools were closed locally, some people didn’t come in because they had young ones to look after and others had to go half way through the morning because nurseries and schools that had opened had then decided to close their doors. The road had been clear on arrival and there was little snow on the ground in the car parks, but this snow was settling and wasn’t stopping for anything. Cars were getting stuck on the slope into our car parks and equally spinning and nearly causing accidents on the parkway on the way out. A couple of times the chaps had to turn out to assist those drivers experiencing problems, with their cars spinning and slipping all over the place and we received reports that the Police had intervened and stopped the buses running for a while; an ambulance went by in a hurry. And still it snowed.

Those who had the furthest to go went about 11.00 a.m. as there was a weather warning out for the county. The rest of us had been expecting to follow but Management reckoned that it was going to rain around lunch time and they would review the matter again then. And still it snowed.

The sky was that funny opalescent colour, so thick you could feasibly touch and feel it and there was no let up, it was thick-constant snow, a proper blizzard, and we watched out of the big picture windows in the office, wondering if it would go on or whether as Management had anticipated it would rain or not. We were all anxious about reaching home safely.

We carried on working getting things done or as much of as we could. Dinner time came and went, and still we hadn’t heard anything from the Management and it was still snowing so instead of going out like I normally do at lunch time I stopped in the office and surfed the net (we are allowed to do so in our own time) and although it was severe here, others down in the West Country in particular were having an even harder time of it with heavy snow, villages being cut off and power cuts. I do hope that this was temporary and that they are now able to keep themselves warm and get where they need to be.

Lunch came and went another message came up on the email indicating that Management would review the position a little later on. And still it snowed – no rain just constant snow. It then steadied up a little later on and then things started to cool down a little and we received a note telling us that they would be closing the office at normal time, which should allow us time to get home before it started freezing at 5.30 p.m. (now I am a little puzzled as weather never usually happens to a schedule it usually happens in its own time). About half an hour later we got another email indicating that they would close the office at 5.00 p.m. (15 minutes early) to allow us all to get home safely.

Phew we got there in the end.

As we were leaving work there was the most beautiful red sunset in the sky, it was quite cheery and bright and signified the page break between day and night. We will have to see what joys we have to face

We have had tea, home made chips and fried chicken with bread and butter which was quite tasty.

The sky is now inky black with twinkles of light where the stars are. It is bitterly cold and they reckon the temperature will dip to minus 4 degrees tonight.

Rest assured that we are having a proper winter this year and it reminds me of the winters of my childhood, bitterly cold and seemingly never ending, where we were wrapped up warm in many layers and fed stomach filling foods like suet puddings and stews with dumplings to keep the cold away.

And more cold weather is predicted for the rest of the month. We shall just have to wait and see and deal with each day as it comes.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Well we had snow on Sunday/Monday earlier this week but by Tuesday it had more or less all gone and there certainly wasn't any when I went to bed last night (early hours 1.pm) but by 6.00 a.m we certainly had a lot of the white stuff. It had been forecast, but we are talking about Peterborough here. Peterborough is very low lying compared to all the villages around us and we tend to miss any severe weather and in the past everyone surrounding Peterborough have experienced problems - but this time we seem to have copped for it big time.

We were woken by the cat at about 7 p.m. as he wanted out; so off he went. He has places to go and people to see and doesn’t like being put out of his routine. He has the option of staying in here, and can come in at any time he pleases, but he usually camps out with the people who run our local veg shop, sleeping under their counter next to a heater. He usually gets chucked out of there at about 5.00 p.m. He also gets very grouchy if things aren't quite how he thinks they should be. I am owner of a grumpy old cat. The veg shop owners however didn't make it in today. If he is not there he is camped out with the young couple in the flat above the veg shop. They were convinced that he was a stray and wasn't being fed, but they have since found out he is a very good con artist.

Everything was strangely quiet first thing this morning, normally we hear any traffic that is outside, but it seemed unusually quiet this morning - we just thought that there was no traffic about. Big shock when I poked my nose out of the window - traffic was nose to tail outside the house. I had forgotten about the double glazing – it is certainly making a difference.

OH came downstairs made a cuppa and I got my breakfast next thing I knew he was stomping up the stairs. He couldn’t get a signal to the satellite - so he went up to dust the dish down – men and their televisions and remote controls.

When I eventually went outside at about 8.00 a.m. It looked ever so strange as there was about five to six inches of snow sitting on the fence and the washing line was about 10 times thicker than it normally is. The dustbins even had Russian style hats all white and fuffy.I had gone out to put some bread out for the birds on one of the lower roofs so that some of the local wildlife could find something to eat. Its safer to feed them on the roof as the cats cannot get at them easily.

Well I went to work this morning; I only live about a mile away from where I live but it took us over 40 minutes to get to work and it took OH 50 odd minutes to get back home. Some of my colleagues who live in the outlying villages had been on the road for about two hours or so. One of the girls who lived Ely way had managed to get in as well. There weren’t many of us who made it in. Local buses had been cancelled, a lorry had got stuck on a slope leading up to a bridge, only one lane of the parkway was open so it was rather slow going; but for a change people were being sensible. We were sent home from work early at 1.00 p.m. due to the poor weather conditions; OH said he would walk to meet me. In any event he collected me, in the van, which was very handy as the stitching on the inside of my new flat boots had caused a blister. Ouch – me and new shoes or boots.


More snow is forecast for tonight/tomorrow but the roads are a mess and will be dangerously so if it freezes as it is forecast to do. Many of the side roads haven't been cleared and this morning Police were out doing traffic control on one of the main roads into town. A couple of bridges were also closed because vehicles were not able to go up the slopes leading to them. Also only one lane was open in many places on the parkway. They are forecasting another 20cm of snow if not later today tomorrow.


Anyway I have had a lovely tea, a nice stew cooked in the slow cooker served with mashed potatoes. Then pancackes, strawberries and cream for pudding.

I have all the cats present and correct although Tyson didn’t think much to the snow as he came gingerly walking up the street and tried to avoid as much snow as he could flicking his paws with every step. They have all been fed. Tyson is now curled up on his blanket on the bed and the others are all fast asleep in the other room.

It is bitterly cold again outside and freezing. The sky looks full of snow, that funny light not quite grey not quite white. I think we will be in for a skiing session or two in the morning. Given all the circumstances, many of us who live in the towns are probably faring better than those living in the villages at the moment; some villages have been cut off although in all honesty I would rather be in a small village as the community spirit seems to be far more prevalent than that of the city. As the saying goes you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

Its a shame we didn't have the snow for Christmas. Oh well better get the boots ready for tomorrow.

Take care everyone

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

As a result of Decluttering........

I am in the process of a major de-clutter at home at present; a major job in itself as for many years I have bought bits and bobs for a house I haven’t yet acquired only dreamed of many of them new, many of them practical. I have also inherited family bits and bobs which hold a special memory or have a special story attached to them and although not worth very much their connection to my loved ones is a precious memory/memories and one I do not wish to lose as they tell me where I am from and help ground me in this hurly burly world of ours

A lot of items I drag out from time to time and which are very useful especially for preserving and also winemaking and baking so they do get used; but I only have a tiny kitchen with not much storage and I absolutely adore cooking and preserving.

I have arranged storage locally and am slowly working through everything and making an inventory of those bits and bobs I intend to keep and also hopefully it will give me some idea of whether or not we have enough household contents insurance and I will know where to find certain items as all the boxes are coded. Those items I do not see a need for will be winging their way to a local charity shop which will help out those less fortunate than myself. I am by nature a hoarder a busy squirrel who always puts up stuff for a rainy day when the opportunity arises although this is mostly food items.

I think the declutter will help breathe fresh energy and opportunity in to what otherwise was something going nowhere i.e. a stagnant situation It is also me ready to admit and start sorting through certain situations and emotional uncertainties and my insecurities – trouble is to tell the truth I do not like change; I know change is good but I feel safer with my feet firmly plonked on the ground – I never did like heights! There always has to be a safety net.

As a result of this declutter, I am hoping to be able to start my Reiki again and to turn the small bedroom into a treatment room dedicated to this use. Its early days yet but that is my intent it would also be nice to have a room where I can go meditate in peace and quiet without the television constantly blaring.

I am also hoping that this will help unblock my creative vent and that I can unleash that and turn it into something very positive. I have all these ideas but I don’t seem to have enough time either to create them or to do them although I do what I can

The larger room I want to turn into a guest room/study cum craft room. It would be nice to have people to stay again and to be able to offer simple hospitality especially those friends who live away of which there are quite a few.

I have a dream and I want to start working towards it before it is too late for me. I am 50 years old in May – no longer a child and as they say life is not a rehearsal and I still have a lot of living to do. I want the dream, the cottage in the countryside with the roses round the door and the land to be able to grow my own veg and to keep some livestock; I would also like a small orchard, somewhere where there are hedgerows. I have put in my cosmic order – now we will just have to wait and see – for now I have the dream to spur me on even though I appreciate that it may take some time. We shall just have to wait and see.

In the meantime I am going to square the garden up and grow some veg to help supplement the housekeeping. It will be good practice for when I get where I want to be.

It will be interesting to come back say in a few months time to see if I have managed to accomplish anything or whether this is just pipe dreams, but I am very focused and know that at the end of the day its down to me to make my dreams come true.

Monday, 2 February 2009

In the Stillness of the Night

It is very quiet and has been bitterly cold all day; OH has gone up and left me downstairs to my own devices. It is too quiet and it has gone warmer I am expecting it to snow it has been forecast but it is just a matter of when. It always warms up just before the snow falls or at least that is how it appears to me.

When I am on my own I love the time alone to reflect on what has happened and to sort things out in my head and to plan my way through the slalom of life. Sometimes things are plain sailing another time more troublesome and sometimes you have to retreat and then regroup. It’s a time to do meditation and healing.

I am not sleepy and I tend to wake up when I should be fast asleep in my bed the sleep and the rest would do me good but I have a lot on my mind and a lot of things I want to accomplish there is a lot to do but best done as little chunks at a time. There is a lot to do and so little time to do it so I need to keep focused and the still of the night is like a soothing balm to my troubled brow. But I can sense things are changing deep within me – I know the change is imminent but patience never was one of my strong points.Change is always unsettling one part of me always wants to greet it the other is terrified as my footing is not so firm and is like shifting sands. I like my feet on terra firma.

Sometimes I feel so alone as though no one understands me – really knows who I am as though I am off centre and adrift; I have always been slightly different. On other occasions I need to be alone to recharge and make sense of all the turbulence and hurly burly of the previous days and to get things straight and focused in my own mind.

I usually start with a meditation as this soothes me or listen to music – music is good for manifesting your dreams; but it is also the time when I also do my absent healing and general healing for all those in need.

It is late, I have just stretched my legs and gone and changed into my pjs and poked my head out of the back door. The snow has fallen and landed coating everything in a thick blanket of white frozen snow – and its getting colder. I thought it had as it somehow seemed warmer and quieter in the house. When it snows it sort of cushions all sounds and you tend to lose the echo

I love to watch the snow falling; it’s as though the Angels in Heaven are having a major housekeeping sort out and in shaking up their pillows and bashing and prodding and fluffing them up a great big Angel Pillow fight where lots of fluffy lacy snowflakes are created and fall to earth quietly and silently.

We shall just have to wait and see what morning brings

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Its 1st February - 4 weeks into the New Year and its my partner’s birthday. Many happy returns Geoff.

Its been a bitterly cold day here today and we have had several flurries of snow throughout the day but so far none of it has landed, although it is forecast for later. However, we shall have to wait and see as we are quite low lying round here and the surrounding villages tend to get cut off - but not the town.

Well its been a busy day It started with me over-sleeping have been very tired the past few days and I suppose it kinda caught up with me and then housework tidying up, hoovering, doing the washing and getting it dry by whizzing it around in the tumble drier.

My mum has been and spent the day with us. Yesterday I made home mad Cornish Pasties and made the pastry myself in the Magimix. I was quite pleased it was the first attempt and everything has come out well. We had them for a snack just after mum arrived. She thought that they were quite tasty. The intention is to make a load and freeze them so that can just literally grab them and get a quick meal for sometime in the week.

OH then took mum out to Farm Foods. We only have a two seater van and mum doesn't get out very much these days. She couldn’t get over how cheap everything was and had managed to get hold of something she had been looking everywhere for and hadn’t been able to find so she was extremely well chuffed. If you haven’t yet been to a Farm Foods shop it is well worth going as prices are more than reasonable. It is not just the frozen stuff that is a good price and quality it is also the other bits that they sell quite cheaply as well. OH is going to take her when she comes for the day again.

Well we have had a lovely dinner this afternoon Roast Beef with a mustard crust on a bed of onion, carrot and celery with a drop of water and a foil lid (I then turn the veg into the gravy; home made cauliflower cheese, broccoli, carrots, roast potatoes, roast sweet potato and parsnip, cabbage, swede and carrot crush, Yorkshire pudding and gravy and then profiteroles and cream for afters together with birthday cake that my mum had made for OH and it was absolutely scrummy.

Its been lovely to have mum here and we have had a pleasant afternoon talking about food and mum reminiscing about her great aunt on her father’s side of the family. Apparently they always kept a pig - which I hadn’t known until today and mum recalled the bacon and hams being stored in the kitchen hung up when she used to visit as a child. Every so often a little bit more information comes out and it is another part of the big jigsaw relating to mum’s side of the family.

I just wish mum would come more – I don’t like her being on her own unnecessarily. I always cook plenty on a Sunday as we always have any leftovers for Monday night tea. I cook extra veggies and then together with the left over meat I put in the microwave for tea and it makes a quick meal and then I am able to get on with something else like the ironing pile!

The cats are all in - the dining room currently looks like a retirement home for lazy mogs – they are all curled up on their beds sprawled out and extremely comfortable thank you very much - I am just waiting for them to start clamouring for food. Because it is cold I fed them early today - so no doubt come normal feeding time their tummy clocks will have forgotten that they have already been fed.


Well am going to watch some television and perhaps do a bit of crotcheting.

If I had a log fire I would surely be curled up in front of it – keeping warm. As a child I used to curl up on the rug in front of the fire and read or just lay there in the dark with the heat from the leaping flames. One day I will get my fire.

Take care wherever you are - especially with all this cold weather and snow about.

Don’t forget to leave some bread and water out for the birds

Troubled Times

On my way to our market yesterday dinner I encountered a chap on his own in a shop doorway asking if anyone had any change. At the time he initially asked I hadn’t any so was unable to assist. However what struck me was this chap was grateful that I had replied to him - so many had just passed him by as if he just didn’t exist. He was quiet and unassuming wasn’t at all pushy – whereas some are. What really got to me was that it could just as easily have been me that was brought to this sorry state as him. And it was a bitterly cold day. I feel the cold badly enough anyway and I have a roof over my head, but this bitter weather really does cause hardship to those that don’t.

Anyway on my way back I had some spare change about 70p – it wasn’t much but I passed it to him – at least it would go towards a cup of coffee.

What you say – why did you hand this out – because I felt compassionate; because that could so easily be me and I would like to think if I was down on my luck as he so obviously was that a stranger would pass on the same kindness to me. We never know what we are going to be driven to in order to survive.

We don’t know what is ahead – we cannot take anything for granted that could be so easily us – all it needs is a few things to go against you and the whole house of cards may come tumbling down. You don’t even have to do any wrong in this day and age.

Therefore be compassionate and if you can help no matter in how small a way please do so – many of us are so lucky compared to quite a few. Be grateful for your blessings and take care.

Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)