Friday, 28 November 2008


I am now going to reveal the Big Secret. Well, it's not much of a one to anyone else I suppose but it's the whole world to us just now. We have just paid off the last installment on our mortgage so now we are mortgage-free! We own every last little brick in these four walls and it feels so good. We don't owe anyone in the whole wide world anythng at all. G-r-r-r-e-a-t!

Lincoln had the pleasure of our company after we had done this deed. Most of the Christmas shopping got done so that makes a change. It's usually a last minute rush in our house. While driving to Lincoln we were treated to our own personal display by the Red Arrows RAF Display Team. Well, they were practising really; they do in that area. They used to be based at RAF Scampton but I think that's closed down now so I'm not sure where the Arrows would be based now. Cranwell perhaps? Anyway, I prefer to think that their formation fly-pasts were just for us.

When we got home we were greeted by the delicious smell of beef stew in the slow cooker. When it's pouring with rain and freezing cold, as yesterday, a hearty stew is the finest smell in the world. Keith was in his element: hot stew, crusty bread, a pint of beer and a warm house - aaah, God's in his Heaven, all's right with the world. If I've misquoted that, I'm sorry!

I don't mean to sound compacent, though I know I do. Just let me have my little moment eh?

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

OOOOOOH - secrets secrets....

I HAVE SOMETHING MEGA TO TELL YOU!!!! But not today - Ha! I'll tell you tomorrow. Here's a clue: I'm not pregnant and I haven't become a millionaire overnight. That's two clues. Can you guess what it is yet? Tee-hee, I'm as bad as Mimuther.

Our first Christmas card arrived today, from Keith's brother in Canada. His is always the first to arrive. He and Keith are very close, more so as years go by, it's a pity they can't meet up often. We had the pleasure of a visit from Stewart this summer and we treasured every minute. Keith had to be at work much of the time but Stew and I gabbed non-stop about all kinds of everything and I was his driver for his trips looking up other relations. I think he was a bit scared!! Keith has another brother and two sisters, all of whom live locally and none of whom he sees from one year to the next. His sisters won't even speak to him (or me, or Stewart), we don't know why. I know he wishes it were not so but what to do about it?

In a minute I am going to eat my lunch and then I am going to do sweet fanny adams all afternoon and watch Diagnosis Murder and then Murder,She Wrote, Columbo, Weakest Link. It means a bit of channel-hopping (aagh, is that work?) but I haven't watched these shows - which apparently make me some kind of geek - for almost a week now and I'm getting withdrawal symptoms. So forgive me for being so self-indulgent (I haven't got any chocolate, more's the pity) but I have to go. Now!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Woooo-hooo - superfantasmagorical - hee hee hee <jumping up and down> - I've WON something!!! If I tell you it's the lottery don't get excited. If I tell you it's money, don't disown me. And DON'T send any begging letters. £22! I don't know what that is in dollars or Euros but to my empty purse it is manna from Heaven. I got it from The Weather Lottery which is a charity lottery where contributors choose the charity they want to support - in my case the Brittle Bone Society. You pick 6 numbers and these are matched daily against the temperature lists published in the Daily Telegraph (only last figure of the temps counts). Good eh? I get £22 and the Society benefits too.

I've been thinking (yes, I know.....) those savings stamps I was talking about, I don't think they were Co-op, they were Post Office.

Mimuther rang from Birmingham yesterday, where she had just arrived after her cruise. "It was all I hoped and more," she enthused, "Except for the Waldorf Astoria. I'll tell you when I come home next week." Well you can't say something like that then leave a girl in suspenders can you? Unless you're Mimuther!

Keith and I are going Christmas shopping in Lincoln on Thursday. I don't know what on earth to give people, that's the trouble. Some people just seem to be really good at knowing what to give, always exactly the right thing, but not me. What do you give to a baby who is but a few weeks old? Even the Wise Men knew better than me - wish me luck!

On Friday my niece (mother of said baby) and nephew-in-law are moving into their new house. It has been a hard and rocky path for them but at last the house is theirs. I wish them love, luck and happiness and God's blessing.

There, I told you I didn't have much to say this time so at this point I shall leave you.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Harking Back

Ooooooh - I hope the utilities companies are going to be in big trouble. I turned on the news yesterday and what do you think was the first item? That people are furious that with their 'in credit' accounts they are still being expected to pay twice the direct debit - more sometimes - they were paying before. I would like to think my entry here the other day had something to do with it, or my irate phone call to the gas company, but I think not.

The trouble with phoning them is that you only ever get through to a call centre and I am daft enough to feel a bit sorry for the bloke who answers because he is only a small fish in a huge ocean, told what he can say and what he can't and he knows that "calls may be recorded for training purposes". Training....phooey! Taking it as a given that they can read and work a computer before they get the job then they have all the qualifications they need or are likely to get.

So I can only hope that someone finds that it's illegal what they are doing.

It's been snowing, not that you'd notice much now as the sun has come out and is doing its best to thaw it out. It has been freezing hard all morning and if the Siberian blast that just came through the back door is anything to go by, the sun doesn't stand a chance!

This must be the only time of year when you see winter jasmine flower PLUS a few of its leaves still on the branches. In the depths of winter there are just these glorious yellow flowers on completely bare branches.

Harking back - again - to my previous post. I have been reminded of the Co-op divi. If you shopped at the Co-op you had a share number and every time you bought something you gave your share number and on 'Divi Day' you received an amount of money commensurate with the amount you spent.

Everyone's mum was always gleeful when it was Divi Day. It was even better than gasman day! Now personally I can't remember divi day. I think mimuther kept it quiet so us kids wouldn't make any plans for it, but I do know of kids at school who had bank account started by fond grannies whose coffers were swelled by vast amounts (so we thought). We three didn't have bank accounts. Nor, come to that, did our parents, so that can't be where it went. It is quite possible though that we never actually got any because I seem to remember mimuther frequently sending us to the Co-op to get a loaf "on the divi", when the amout of your shopping would be offset against your prospective payout. We probably ended up owing THEM!

Us three kids did each have a Co-op saving stamp book. We could save our sixpences each week byu buying a savings stamp from Mrs. Across-the-Road, who was an Agent and came round every Friday. We never accrued many stamps. Certainly I didn't because I preferred to buy sweeties but I don't remember any of us cashing any stamps in, though I suppose we must have done. Unless.........maybe it's in Macy's till in New York even as we speak? Naaah.

Mimuther and Auntie fly back from New York sometime today, landing at Heathrow tomorrow morning. I look forward to seeing their photos as neither of them knows how to use a digi camera!

Keith is in charge of lunch today. Roast chicken, jacket potatoes, roasted butternut squash with garlic and green beans, all preceeded by home-made (by me) leek and potato soup and finished with vanilla mousse cream cake. I just dread to see how much washing up he can make with that little lot.
Anyway, it's almost 1pm and I am still in my dressing gown! What a slob.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wow, am I just a little bit cross! Our gas bill came today and to my delight it was in credit by £83.41. What's to be cross about? At the bottom of the page they tell me they are DOUBLING my Direct Debit payments.

For those in other countries who don't know how we do these things in England: our utilities bills (gas, electric, phone) come out every 3 months (each quarter) and most of us pay a regular amount monthly by Direct Debit from our bank to theirs. Now the way this used to work was that any shortfall over the winter payments would even itself out during the summer months when we use less fuel. Your payments were reviewed annually to see if you were paying enough.

Not now though. It's getting to be every time they send a bill they demand some more but do they read the meter? They do not. We get our gas and electric from the same supplier and I know for sure our electric meter is read most quarters. I know because I have to let the man in. He reads the gas metre at the same time, so he says, which is on the outside wall. Huh They rarely use the reading; it's always 'estimated'. Do you know, the only people who have right of access to your home are...............meter readers! Even the police have to get a warrant.

The bank sent me a letter to say I was £25 beyond my agreed overdraft so they would take an extra £35 off me (next time there was some in there, presumably). Next day they sent me another letter askng if I would like a loan of £20,000! For goodness' sake!

When we were kids absolutely everybody used to pay for their gas with a slot-meter. You had to put sixpences and shillings in and turn the knob and there your gas would be.. We're talking old money here of course. How mimuther used to look forward to gasman day. She used to plan her life around that. He would empty the meter and we would all stand round the kitchen table while he counted it and handed back any overpayment. There always was some, the meters were set that way. The instant he was gone it was "Shall I feed the telly mam?" "Shall I fetch some doughnuts mam?" "Dad hasn't gev us any pocket money (we only got sixpence) for x weeks mam." Nobody, mimuther included, ever thought to stick it back in the gas meter! There was a lot of carry-on, I remember, if the gas went while there was a cake or Yorkshire Puddings in the oven and we were all scrambling about loking for a tanner (sixpence) or a bob (shilling).

In those days, too, dad used to be able to mend anything. Most dads did. Many's the Thursday teatime in the early '60's when our dad would be missing his fry-up tea because he had a screwdriver stuckin the back of the telly trying to get it going because Dr. Who was on (it was a different show in those days, fit for kids).

Dad never paid garage fees either, he fixed the car himself. If he was nowhere to be found you would always find him - a pair of boots stickng out from under whatever old jalopy we had at the time. He'd be either mending the car or hiding from Pat up the road who could talk the back legs off a donkey!

Funny old entry this, isn't it? Good to have a rant though.

Monday, 17 November 2008

One thing I absolutely have to get educated in is putting icons onto my blog when people are so kind as give me awards. Many thanks to Joolsmac of Simply Joolz for the Butterfly Award. Now many of you will know, as I go on about it ad nauseum, that I have a silly and irrational fear of butterflies (and moths) but I think I can stand to have this virtual one settle here on my blog! Ha - I'd be no good living next door to Joolz in Australia would I? They probably have butterflies the size of a small aeroplane out there!

Hands up who's been following Marie's blog "A Year From Oak Cottage" ( . Marie, a fab pro chef, fab family cook, fab artist, writer and blogger and fab lots of other things too, has just published her cookbook. I can't tell you it's wonderful because I only just ordered my copy today but I will tell you what it's like when it arrives. Meanwhile, pop across to her place if you want to find a link for getting a little look at (maybe even ordering) the book.

Mimuther set off on Saturday 15th on her epic voyage on the Queen Mary 2. It's only a six days trip across the Atlantic (in November? Brrr) and then two days in New York, but she's been like a kid waiting for Santa for the past several weeks. From the sound of it, she is going to eat Cunard out of house and home and then take New York by storm. What she isn't going to visit there is nobody's business! If she figures out howto work her new digi camera I'll hope to show you some pics. She was a bit disgusted that she had to buy a new camera at all actually, but she got fed up of trying to find somewhere that stocked film for her old camera. Kodak etc must be shrinking fast.

All this technology isn't good for her. She has a credit card for the first time in her life (she's 80) because she was told she can't use cash on the ship. Digi cameras and mobile phones - well she doesn't really understand the concept at all. She rang me up on the night before they sailed to ask me what her mobile phone number is!! Oh well, as long as she enjoys herself. She'll certainly have one or two things to add to her "Memories" file!

Speaking of memories, I found this little poem in our local church magazine:

We met, we married, a long time ago,
Times were hard, wages were low,
No radio, no telly, timeswere hard,
Just a cold water tap and a walk in the yard.

No holidays abroad, no carpets on floors,
But we'd coal on the fire, we never locked doors,
Our children arrived, no pill in those days,
And we brought them up without State aid.

No drugs, no Valium, no LSD,
We cured our pains with a good cup of tea.
If you were sick you werer seen to at once
Not "sign a form and come back in a month".

No violence, no muggings, there was nowt to rob,
In fact you were rich with a couple of bob,
People were kind in those far off days,
Kinder and caring in so many ways.

Milkmen and paper boys would whistle and sing,
And a night at the flicks was a wonderful thing;
Oh we all had our share of trouble and strife,
but we just had to face them, that was life.

Now I'm alone, and all through the years
I don't think of bad times and struggles and tears,
I think of the good times, blessings of home and love,
We shared them together and thanked God above.

Another Keith-ism was given birth to last weekend! It's been so cold lately that he's been putting a hot water bottle in the bed (my side of course). I threw back the quilt and plonked myself down right on it. "You're a Bummie-Boiler" he chortled. And on that note I leave you for now.

Monday, 10 November 2008

And just "Lest we forget......"

I mentioned previously that this past weekend has been a patriotic one of remembrance and of the kind of festival that we English seem to do so well.
There were a few personal remembrances too. On Friday 7th my dad would have been 84 and my Big Grandma would have been 110 (!).
Sunday 9th would have been Keith's mum's 95th birthday. That day is also my great friend, Linda's birthday. She reckons she's 59 but she jolly well isn't. Ha!
Today, 10th, Keith's brother Michael really is 59. We don't see much of him but he is still in our thoughts on this day. As is my father, again. It's the fourth anniversary of his funeral today.
Tomorrow is, of course, the 11th day of the 11th month and, at the 11th hour, there will be a 2 minute silence in honour of those who have died in the service of this country from World War 1 to the present day .
And so, for all those servicemen and women and for the civilian men, women - and children - who have died in conflict I present this display of poppies made in sugar with my eternal thanks and respect.

"A small thing, but mine own"

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Cookpots, Crockpots and Crackpots

There are so many things I wanted to tell you about. So many pictures I wanted to show you. Now I don't know if I can remember them all!
23rd October was (it really was!) our 37th wedding anniversary and Keith gave me these beautiful roses, a dozen of them. We never give cards to each other - it seems pointless when we live in the same house and are on speaking terms - but a little gift is another matter. The roses have gone now but I will always have my photos of them.

Here's my great-nephew, Lewis, and his baby sister Holly, with their mum Kate. Doesn't Holly look huge? She isn't really, she's tiny and cute with a rosebud mouth and I'm told she has beautiful eyes (don't they all?). I wouldn't know though because I have yet to see her awake - which must mean I either have a profound effect on babies or I bore them to sleep because this one - apparently - never sleeps. She also has hollow legs, so her mum says, as she is always screaming for food. Aaah, a lass after me own heart!

Remember I said some new pans were needed? We took a trip to Lincoln (about 3/4 hour from here) to haunt one of my favourite shops, Lakeland, where I bought just 3 really good saucepans, these:

and a new old-fashioned type of cream mixing bowl. I had one of these in constant use since 1971 then the other week the bottom dropped out! Quite unprovoked, quite unexpected out it dropped, an almost perfect circle of pot and a stream of crumble mix with it! I was a little bit cross I can tell you. Anyway, there's a nice new one taken its place now:

Now THIS little character was Keith's idea, I have to say - our home would not be complete without it, how have we managed all these years etc etc...........

.........It's a mandolin for slicing vegetables straight or, depending which blade you put in, crinkley, chunky, shreddy. All the things I can do with my food processor only much slower and far more dangerous.......AND it all fastens trogether like this for stowing away in a cupboard. And that's where it remains. It has never seen the light of day and probably never will. Anybody want it? £10.

We had to resort to Comet for the last thing we got that day. I have been wanting a slow cooker for a long time and with fuel prices being how they are I got this:

Now I really do wonder how we managed before!

Here in England it's one of those wonderful patriotic, flag-flying weekends. The Lord Mayor's Show was this morning, Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall this evenng, the Cenotaph Remembrance service in the Mall, led by Her Majesty the Queen tomorrow morning. This whole weekend is destined to be murky, cold and wet and yet this morning there were still thousands lining the route for the Lord Mayor and everyone in his parade. There they all were, waving their flags and not a shiver or a long face in sight. Everyone must have been soaked to the skin but still they marched - military, civilians and animals - and the bands played.
Tomorrow at the Cenotaph our 82-year-old Queen will lay her wreath and pay her respects to the war dead. She will bow her head in homage to those who can no longer bow theirs to her. Then the parade will start of those still serving, comrades of those who have died, those who have served and given selflessly over the years, war widows and widowers proudly wearing their loved ones' medals. The rain will fall, they will march - and the bands will play.

Don't anybody phone me, don't call and see me, don't ask when lunch is ready because in front of the telly I will be paying my own homage to Them.