Monday, 30 June 2008

Monday Titter........

OK, today I have declared International Giggle Day. Your muscles get a better work-out if you laugh than if you frown. You no longer have wrinkles, they're laughter lines. Try these for a preliminary smile and then look out for things to smile about all day as you go about your business. Do a kindness for someone you don't know all that well. Share your sandwiches with a colleague you don't like much. May the following make you smile, if only a little:

MELANIE (age 5) asked her Granny how old she was. Granny replied that she was so old she didn't remember any more. Melanie said "Well if yo don't remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say 5-6 years"!!!

STEVEN (age 3)hugged and kissed his mum goodnight. "I love you so much that when you die I'm going to bury you outside my bedroom window"

BRITTANY (age 4) had an earache and wanted a painkiller. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seing her frustration her mum expained that it was a child-proof cap so she would have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked "How does it know it's me?"

SUSAN (age 4) was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. "Please don't give me this juice again," she said, "It makes my teeth cough."

MARC (age 4) was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them he asked his dad "Why is he whispering in her mouth?"

CLINTON (age 5) was in his bedroom looking worried. When his mum asked what was troubling him, he replied "I don't know what'll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in?"

JAMES (age 4) was listening to a Bible story. His dad read "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city. But the wife looked back and was turned to salt." Concerned, James asked "What happened to the flea?"

AND FINALLY.......the sermon this mum will never forget! "Dear Lord," the Minister began, his arms extended toward Heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face "Without you we are but dust......." He would have continued but one very obedient little girl who was taking it all in leaned over and, in her very audible and shrill little 4-year-old voice, asked her mum "Mummy, what is butt dust?"

Sunday, 29 June 2008


As promised last time, I'm going to show you some of the loot I bought at Appleby Fair. As I said, the weather was horrible so we spent a good bit of time poking about in things we ought to have left well alone - junk stalls! There are treasures in there; you just have to look for them.

This is the sort of book I adore and this one in particular was a bargain. It's not a money-spinner - worth about £6, that's all - but a bargain because a) they only wanted £1 for it and b) there are not many of them about now. It's a slim volume published on the engagement of our present Queen to Prince Philip in 1947. I plan to send it to Keith's brother, Stewart, in Canada for his birthday in August. He may have been away 30 years but he is a royalist through and through. I blame Princess Anne myself, he shares her birthday of August 15th (not the same year of course! He may be a little bit older).

This little lot were all in a bag proclaiming "Old Cookbooks £1 each". Well I couldn't afford all that so I asked the man if I could have them for £4 - and he said YES! That doesn't usually happen to me. In fact I wouldn't normally haggle. Well, you can hardly call it that can you because he didn't quibble. When he snapped my hand off at 4 quid I wished I'd said two!!! Anyway, I digress. They are mainly from the 1930's to the 1950's but one, this one:

is from 1913. It's a compilation by the "Married Ladies of St. George's Road Primitive Methodist Church, Hull", probably for church funds. None of the recipes has much in the way of a 'how to do' method, just a list of ingredients. It's clear that Married Ladies could generally be expected to know how to do these things in those days! But it's not just food recipes. Right at the back Mrs. Kirk tells us that "a lump of sugar, put in the teapot, will prevent tea staining damask, however fine, over which it maw be spilled". What if you don't like sugar in your tea? Well tough, don't argue with Mrs. Kirk! And what does Mrs. Nowell say about floor stains? "Dissolve six pennyworth of permanganate of potash in 2 quarts of water. Apply with a brush in the usual manner. When dry, polish with beeswax and turpentine". What do we take from that? They didn't have wall to wall shag pile did they?

There's even a medical page. Here's what Mrs. Lazenby calls a "Recipe for Cholera": Tuppence worth of each - spirit of camphor, essence of capsicum, tincture of rhubarb, laudanum, essence of mint. From 15 to 30 drops to be taken in cold water or brandy. I'm not sure that I wouldn't rather take my chances with the cholera!

The very last word in the sauces section goes to Rev. J.H. Hirst. He cites the Best Sauce in the World as being "Hunger".

Apart from the facination of the old recipes, I like the ads as well. This one is from the '30s or '40's. And it was in 1932 that a 2oz block of Cadbury's Bournville chocolate cost tuppence in old money - well, as the price of something, that isn't even on the scale. When you think that an old shilling was 12 old pence, 5 new pence..........well, that dates me for a start! The Up to Date Cookery Book, edited by Elizabeth Craig around that time tells us "WIVES: the health of the family is in your hands. Choose chocolate". Y -a - a - a - y - so it's not just me then?

I shall give some of these old recipes a go as and when I can. I think I'll have to copy the pages I want because I daren't risk having those precious books on the workbench.

Away from cookbooks again, I also bought this old safety razor. It's a heavy old thing with a comb for the beard, a little box for spare blades and a leather (beautiful smell) strop. I have no idea when it dates from. On the head of the razor it does say 'Canada 1914' but that could mean anything. It was the purple velvet lining inside the lid which really caught my eye. It goes beautifully in my bathroom!

More soon,

Monday, 23 June 2008

From the Village Pump......

Dressed for the weather

You know what time of year this is don't you? In England at any rate - it's the Village Show season. Yes come rain or shine (usually rain) the show goes on. They're all pretty much the same and yet every one is different - if you follow?

There's a poor, sad little pony in there somewhere

In the show ring there will usually be something like the Pony Club where young riders will show off their skills, the dog training club will have the crowd in stitches when their proteges show no sense of occasion. A local shepherd will put his dogs through their paces. There'll be a novelty Dog Show (dogs always draw the crowds) - waggiest tail, smilingest face, silliest grin, best catcher. If you're lucky there will be a police dogs display, motorbike display team, a parade of tractors through the decades, Morris Dancers.

Look at that sky - it was hailstones 5 minutes before!

Outside of the show ring, you find stalls of all kinds and rarely are they commercial. They are usually for the benefit of, for example, Cats' Protection, RSPCA, Church Roof Fund, Playing Field Upkeep, Village Hall Improvement fund.........and so on. They have such ingenious ideas for the money raising stalls too: Rat-up-a-Drainpipe (or, if you're a very graphic 10-year-old, Splat the Rat - method on application!), Tombola, Raffles, Coconut shy, Hook the Duck, the Village stocks (that's where local dignitaries get their comeuppance - the Vicar or Headmaster or Doctor goes in the stocks and folk pay to throw wet sponges at them!). It's all good, clean (very clean if you're the Vicar), harmless fun.

The Church Ladies' cake stall never lasts the whole afternoon. They're always sold out very quickly. Church Ladies and Mr. Kipling have this much in common: they both make exceedingly good cakes!

The pall of smoke in one corner and the antics of blokes in pinnies signifies the presence of a hot dog and burger stall. There's always a queue a mile long for this. Even in the rain there s always a queue at the ice cream van. If there's a queue a mile long anywhere else, that'll be the ladies' loos which they hire in for the occasion. Village fairs, specially the smaller ones, usually have nice loos because ladies from "The Committee" volunteer to do stints throughout the afternoon on toilet cleaning duties. Gents' loos are hired in too but that's different.......well, let's not go into that!

The Sunday after the Friday when Stewart flew back to Canada, Keith and I went to one such show near here. It had been sunny all morning but in the afternoon, just after we got into the showground, the heavens opened. The rain was torrential and poor Keith shoved me and my wheelchair through mud. Mimuther was with us too, in sensible shoes for a change, and we all took shelter for a little while at the cake stall, which was in a tent. Not a marquee, just a little camping jobby but they were glad to have us all there as it meant they had a captive market! If I had been running the stall - which was for the village church restoration fund - I would have passed a bucket around those sheltering to get 10p sheltering fee off each of them and thus swell the coffers still further. Mercenary madam!!! It was a measure of what we English expect of the weather that there were very few people without an umbrella or plastic mac or both. In my case an outboard motor would have been good too.

My sis, a friend of the Committee Lady who was Treasurer for the day, says they cleared £5,000 profit for that afternoon. How on earth much would they have made on a nice day?

Next time I'll show you my loot from the show!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Sally in the Alley

While Stewart was with us he took lots of photos. Well, you do don't you? Unfortunately our dog-ess, Sally, hates cameras but Stewart tried every trick in the book to get a photo shoot with her. Stick it up his jumper to turn it on? Nope, she's already got one eye open and can see what he's up to. Digi cameras are noisy, hissy, whirry things and it's almost impossible to use one without a dog knowing.

On the Wednesday of his visit a few people came for the evening and, I suppose because everyone was talking, he managed to take a photo of her in her bed. He called her name softly, she turned her head and CLICK the deed was done and she was off behind the sofa, where she always goes when she's had enough.

Just after midnght everyone went home. You know how it is: 3 steps to the door (yack yack yack) another few steps (natter natter) open the door and natter a bit more. But eventually they were waved off. Stewart came in here to email his wife in Canada and Keith called Sally to do her wee-mails (I've pinched that off Jasper at aol's Dog's Blog) before bed. Where was she though? Not behind either sofa, not in our bedroom, not in the garden. Oh no, we thought, she's followed everyone out of the back gate and gone walkies on her own. Well, our Sal is beautiful but I'm afraid as thick as two short planks! She has no road sense AT ALL. Cars are for getting into and going fun places without wearing yourself out. I was afraid she might cause an accident - the main road is at the end of our road, a matter of 150 metres.

Out went Keith with the big torch to look for her, Stewart hot on his heels, while I phoned the police to report her missing. "Sorry madam, we don't deal with missing dogs any more. Ring the Dog Warden in the morning", at which point I dissolved in tears. The thought of her out alone on this cold cold night. What if it rained as well? What if somebody ran her over and threw her to the side of the road? What if somebody illtreated her? What if somebody took her away to a laboratory? What if, what if...........? (and THAT, Jasper - I know you're looking in - is why Ruth was so mad at you)

They couldn't find her of course but where to look? She had 20 minutes start on them. Then Keith went to put his coat away - and there she was, fast asleep on the bedroom floor! Where on earth had she been, apart from the Land of Nod? Then came the answer: the police helicopter, which had been about all day, was still flying around so she would have heard it. It's one of her really big terrors that police helicopter and she will go ANYWHERE to get away from it - except outside. Her favourite place is in the back of my computer cupboard where you can't see her and you can't pull her out and that is where she will have gone when Stewart was emailing.
Here she is, daft article, on a previous panic attack

We were so glad she was safe, we couldn't be mad at her. Well, actually, she hadn't really done anything wrong. I blame Stewart! We all got the silent treatment from her for a couple of days, but she gave Stewart a really wide berth the rest of his stay in case his camera was anywhere around.
Daft mutt!

Saturday, 14 June 2008


Eeeeh, what a week this has been! Friday evening (last week) I had an email from my BiL in Canada saying he would be landing at Manchester Airport on Monday morning and being picked by his wife's brother. He was coming for 10 days and would spend half his time with us and half in Leeds but he hadn't decided which order that would be in.

Sunday we went down to Birmingham to pick mum up and Monday morning we went to Asda just for a few bits and pieces of groceries, something for Keith's packed lunch and so on. Came back to find two voicemails : "I'm 20 miles away" and "I'm at the end of the road - put the coffee on". SHOCK - HORROR! Twenty minutes after I heard those words, there he was, large as life.

I don't know about you but when visitors are coming I like to at least start off with the house looking nice, meals planned, plenty of everything in the fridge. I like to plan these things. I am a planner, I make lists and everything, including me - nay, especially me - runs like clockwork. I even include snooze time in my workings out!

I was so pleased to see him though. He's been in Canada 30 years and we've only seen him a few precious times. We lived next door almost until they went to Canada. (Was it something I said???) Here's a picture of the three brothers.

Stewart is in the middle, Keith is the little one and Michael is the lofty one. There are two sisters as well but they don't care for the rest of us so I don't have any photos of them.

This trip was Stewart's Fathers' Day gift from his wife and his grandson (whom they raised) and he had a list as long as your arm of people he just had to see in his short visit. Most of his visits he went on foot, though I did offer to drive him, but on one day he did need a chauffeur. I dropped him at his destination and we agreed I would go for a drive around for an hour and then come back and wait for him. That's what I did but I got lost in the 'one way' system in the town. No, I wasn't late back, I was early because as soon as I saw a street I recognised I darent go anywhere else!

And that's when I got mistaken for a burglar! I sat outside the house, in the car with the window down, stereo on (quietly) and sunglasses on, just enjoying the peace of a lovely afternoon and a packet of chocolate raisins. A woman with a couple of children fresh from the school gate went into one of the houses. Then I saw her looking at me through her lace curtains. Then I saw the bloke at the next house doing the same. Next the chap, an elderly man with a big flappy hat, came out with a screwdriver and made out to be doing something to his doorbell, looking round every few seconds. At length he came across to the car, screwdriver at the ready, and was visibly relieved when I took off my specs. "Oh," he stammered, "You'll have come for yonder young man 'av yer? Missis Next-Door thought you was casin' t'joint." Wonderful! Little 4'7" me "casin' t'joint"! And 69-year-old Stewart was chuffed to bits to be the 'young man' in question. I could dine out on that for weeks!

Keith took Friday off work and the two of them spent the day in Lincoln. I was supposed to be going too but I thought they needed some 'brother-time' so I stayed home.

On Saturday he was collected by his Leeds BiL and there were tearful farewells all round. These things get all the more poignant, don't they, the older you get? I wonder how much the fare is to Canada?

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Thank you Rhondi!

In my humble opinion, there are few things more evocative of England than strawberries. Put them together with Victoria sponge and softly whipped cream and you have a recipe for Heaven food! And, if you want, you can cheat like mad. Quite a few visitors from Rhondi's party wanted a slice and, as I said before, my Lithuanian friend wanted to learn how to do it so - why don't you join us? I'll try and put some photos in the right order too (enormous thanks to Marlene for your tip on this, and Marie for yours too.)

Strawberry Tart

2LBS english strawberries (or 1lb and a jar of jam)

6oz soft margarine

6oz Caster Sugar

3 medium eggs

6oz self-raising flour

here's the first bit of cheating:

First of all, open a jar of home-made strawberry jam, or the very best you can afford from Asda. OR DO THIS:

Put 1lb of strawberries in a big pan with 100g of sugar. Get your (clean) hands in there and crush it all up. Put it on the heat, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so, being sure to skim off any foam every few minutes. If you think it looks a bit too runny you can add a dash of lemon juice or mix 2 teaspoons of arrowroot with just enough water to give a runny paste. Pour this into the simmering liquid jam and stir constantly until the jam becomes clear again (as it certainly will using arrowroot). OK, now let it go cold. MEANWHILE............

here's the second bit of cheating:

Remove packaging from a sponge flan case which you've bought from Asda and set it on a flat serving plate. OR DO THIS:

Grease very thoroughly with margarine a fluted 10" flan tin (it has a raised up bit in the middle to give it shape)

Cut a circle of greaseproof paper to fit the raised up bit and put it on
Flour the rest of the tin which only has grease on

Put 6oz margarine (NOT butter) and 6oz caster sugar into the bowl of electric mixer (use a hand mixer if you want).

On a high speed, cream them together, scraping down the sides a couple of times, until the mixture is a very pale colour and doesn't feel 'gritty' from the sugar

Add the 3 eggs. You can beat them up first but it doesn't make much difference if you're using an electric mixer anyway.
Beat thoroughly again. If the mixture starts to separate (like with curdled cream) don't worry. DON'T PANIC! Just add a couple of teaspoons of the measured-out flour and beat and it will all come together again.
Now, passing the flour through a fine sieve, add it to the mixture. All of it at once, no messing about. Hold the sieve as high as you can without the flour getting all over the place. This way you get lots of air into this very light cake.
Now, taking a large METAL spoon, fold in the flour very gently so you retain as much of your precious air as possible.
That's your cake mix! Pour it into the prepared pan - not right up to the top; leave a little space for it to rise.
Bake it in the upper part of the oven for about 25 minutes until it's golden and springy to the touch. It will also be just starting to shrink away from the sides of the pan. I would never test a sponge cake by sticking a skewer or anything in it. If a single finger, when you touch it very gently to the centre of the cake, leaves a mark then the cake needs cooking a few more minutes
Carefully turn it out onto a wire rack and let it go cold.
When cold spread jam (bought or made as abovee) generously over the middle part.
Arrange hulled, halved strawberries neatly all over the jam.
Make up a packet of red Quick-Jel (another cheat) OR: pass some more squashed strawberries through a sieve, add sugar, bring this sweetened strawberry juice to the boil, add a thin paste of arrowroot and water and cook until it thickens and then becomes clear again. Just open a packet!
Whichever you do, spoon it over the strawberries, put the whole thing in the fridge until it's needed to be the piece de resistance on your tea table!
Now get somebody in to do the washing up.
- gleeful chortling - turning somersaults.......I did the pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pardon me that these instructions are so simplistic, I know most of you are ace cooks. I enjoyed writing them for Ingrida and thought I would share them with you! The main thing is that the photos are in the right place!

Thursday, 5 June 2008


Here are some bits of Gwyn's garden. Pretty isn't it?

Posting #2 from me for today!! I haven't got a porch of my own but I thought it would be OK to borrow my sister's back porch.

There are two chairs under the canopy by the door for sitting on while it rains, as it is wont to do at not a moment's notice here in England.

The huge clock on the wall is so you can see what time it is when you open half an eye because the phone disturbed your afternoon nap. You forgot to unplug it again!

There's a strawberry tart for tea, Rhondi, made by my Lithuanian friend, Ingrida. She asked me to show her how to make one and I was only too happy to oblige. For some reason the sponge base got a bit stuck in the tin but - hey - you won't notice it when you pour on some lightly whipped cream! These are English strawberries too - sweet, succulent, lovely. Is there room for it on your table?

Please feel free to look around. She has a very big garden, my sister, so there's always plenty to look at - even if she hasn't had time to pull all the weeds out. Some weeds have very pretty flowers! Others have v-e-r-y long roots. Little Grandma used to say that was because the devil had hold of them 'Down There', only she didn't actually say 'down there' out loud. She used to just mime it while stabbing her index finger downwards. A bit like comedian Les Dawson used to do when he was on about women's trouble!
Wasn't it a lovely idea of Rhondi's to host this party! A great annual event. I'm off to visit a few more Porches - see you there!

YOU TOUCH-A MA CAR..........

This is it folks - my new car! It's a Ford Focus Estate Automatic and has an electric hoist fitted in the back so I can get my buggy into the car. Keith just picks it up and in it goes but me....well! Can't say I'm wild about the colour. I chose it of course but it looked more green on the swatch I saw. I really do look like the Mad Woman from the Attic don't I???

Let's see if I can find a picture of me, full frontal. It'll come out at the top I should think, I can't figure out Photobucket at all - but that's another story! Yup, there's Bridget the Midget about to get in for an inaugural drive!

Keith had to drive it away from the garage on Tuesday because they are in the middle of a major expansion. Unfortunately, in order to expand they have to shrink first of all. They have less space because it is being built on but they have the same amount of cars for sale. You can hardly move around there. I usually drive away from the garage, not Keith! It doesn't feel like my new car if I don't have first go in it.

Tuesday was also a full day of torrential rain. It has rained an awful lot this past week in our bit of Lincolnshire and Tuesday was the worst of all. Well it would be, wouldn't it, as this new car business did not go smoothly. We arrived at mid-day, as instructed, but then had to wait there for 3½ hours because the bloke installing the hoist was 'having a bit of bother'. I ordered that car 4 months ago, the garage has had it for a month and they have to have the hoist installed the day I collect it! We were starving but couldn't go anywhere for lunch because we had already handed back our old car and it was raining too hard to walk (or go by chair, in my case). I was busting for the loo but the garage's was upstairs so I just had to think happy thoughts. I had to wait until Wednesday (yesterday) to drive the thing. It took the shine off it somewhat (not literally).

So anyway, there I was, looking forward to today so I could have a drive at leisure but - where is my car? At the chicken factory where Keith works. Just sitting there in the car park. Doing nothing. Oh bum!

I get the car through Motability. It's a wonderful organisation, that. In return for getting my Diability Living Allowance (Mobility element) every month they provide me with a new car every three years, they cover the road tax, insurance, RAC, servicing, the lot. All I have to do is put petrol in and love it! I don't know whether there is anything similar in any other country. As far as I know it's unique to Great Britain and yet it relies on charitable donations for its existence. They have an excellent website at and on its 'support us' page it states:

"We at Motability believe that everyone has the right to personal freedom and independence. We do everything we can to help disabled people realise their full potential by providing them with personal mobility. By supporting Motability, you can make a real difference to a disabled person’s life."

They can provide other means of getting around if a car is not for you. Electric scooters, power chairs, wheelchairs, wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs). They also pick up part of the bill for adaptations you might need to your ordinary car. I have a hoist in the boot (trunk) to lift my buggy in and out. I could have had an electric box on the car roof which can pick up and store my folded chair. Or left foot controlled pedals in an automatic car. Steering wheel turning devices if you only have one hand available. Many, even more sophisticated things to make life easier. You would be surprised how many bits of you can be missing and you still being able to drive! Good eyesight is de rigeur if you want to drive yourself but even blindness is no bar to having a car and nominating a friend or family member to drive you.

With Motability providing the means and us in 'gammy legs corner' providing the motive, suddenly being disabled isn't so bad! If somebody tries to sell you a raffle ticket, please buy one.