Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Well, friends - dear friends all of you - it's rare to find me speechless so savour the moment!  The way you've all got behind me and thought of me and prayed about me.  Completely just kept me going when I felt so frightened.  Your comments and emails meant the world to me.  Thank you.

I actually got around to making some sausage rolls today, that staple of the British Christmas which we don't usually bother with because our tums will only hold so much, even at Christmas.

However, Delia Smith - my guru - did a Quick Flaky Pastry on telly and I just had to try it.  What better excuse when Ray next door told me where I could buy the "best Lincolnshire pork sausage meat in the county".  I'm not really a sausage fan but Keith is so I made Delia's pastry which involved grating frozen butter into plain flour and filled it with Ray-next-door's sausage.  To the left is the result: light, crisp, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth pastry, beautiful spicy, herby sausage.  I daren't really print the recipe because it'll be copyrighted within an inch of its life and Delia's recipes just never need tweeking so I can't do that and call it my own.  Trust me, they're yummy!  

Keith wanted to make something for lunch.  It involved peeling potatoes and slicing them thinly, and then layering them in a casserole dish with smoked bacon (chopped), small mushrooms (sliced), strong cheddar cheese (lots of it) and double elmlea (cream substitute).  Then he sticks it in the oven and bakes it until the potatoes are tender and the cheesy sauce bubbling.  I did take a photo but it made it look a bit burnt (which it wasn't) so I've deleted it.  But a plate of that was exactly the thing for a freezing cold, snowy day.  All the nicer because I didn't make it myself

I know people in other parts of the world have worse weather than us but right now it feels as if this is the worst weather to hit anywhere!  Snow, ice, freezing fog, minus temperatures.  Oh for goodness sake it's winter so this is how it should be!   I've seen it written in the gardening columns:  the gardens are busting for a good old freeze-up to get rid of some of the bugs.  We whinge when we get grotty summers and then when the weather does it right for once we STILL whinge!  Let your kids play in it, let them toboggan and have snowball fights, let them wear holes in their gloves.  If the next great British freeze is as long coming as this one they'll only get one go at it in their childhood.

Talking of snow!  I've been watching Holby City whilst typing this.  It's supposed to be Christmas (cut to outside shot) brilliant sunshine and leaves on the trees.  I don't know, did the BBC think no-one would notice??  Or has the BBC had the date of Christmas moved and not said?


Friday, 18 December 2009

Friday 18 Dec - Good News (I think)

I do so thank God that is over!  I have to confess this past couple of weeks have been a nightmare.  I couldn't even sleep properly.  A few nights ago every time I started nodding off I thought the bed had become 'live' and was trying to electrcute me!   It was so real.  I even made Keith disconnect the bedside lamp and the alarm clock.  I could only sleep on my side and only in the middle of the bed.  Poor old |Keith, he had to cling on to his little bit of bed for dear life!  How stupid is that?  The mind is a very powerful trickster.
My appointment was for 2pm and I wasn't called until gone 3.  The Consultant came sweeping in, stately as a galleon, sat himself down with 2 nurses and a med student in attendance (who all stood up of course).  Then HE asked ME if I had any idea why I had been recalled in the first place!  The first mammogram, he said, was R1 which, in doctor-speak, meant normal on their scale of 1 to 5.  Anyway, he said there were two courses of action, seeing as there was this apparent discrepancy:  they could do an MRI of my boobs which was immediately discounted as it would involve me lying face down in the MRI tunnel for half an hour and I couldn't lay face down for half a minute, let alone half an hour!  The other was to repeat the mammo in a year and see what it threw  up.  So that was decided upon.
And do you know the most stupid thing?  I never asked what results he had from the biopsy!  That would surely have answered all questions?  I think I'll ring up.
Afterwards, we drove to my sister's, about 10 miles from home.  She's not too well just now and had a nasty panic attack last week.  Very frightening for her.  We had extremely naughty fish and chips for tea and, after, I found that my mobile phone had gone  AWOL so I could neither text nor phone special friends because their numbers are in the phone.  Yes, I do have them in the computer address book but I never thought about that did I!  Turned out the phone was at sis's, as was a book she had lent me that I was really looking forward to.
So that's one panic button deactivated - at least for a year!

It's looking very Christmassy here as I type this.  We woke up to a covering of snow this morning but not much - the south-east and north-east of England are worse - but it's having a good old set-to now and the sky is black as the ace of spades.  Keith pegged out a couple of bed sheets this morning but they froze in ten minutes and needless to say didn't get dried out there!

Its daft really:  we knew it was going to snow.  The whole of the country knew it was coming and yet we STILL get caught out.  Cars still get stranded, roads still become impassable, schools still get closed.  Know what I think?  I think some of the drivers of the cars that get stuck go out on purpose so they get on the telly.  Whatever happened to running naked across rugby pitches?

Keith had to pick up mum and her supermarket shopping this morning.  What a little old lady of 81 so desperately needs that she has to go in Teso's on the last weekend before Christmas your guess is as good as mine.  You should see her cupboards - they're stuffed full. She's like a little squirrwl!  Tesco's was heaving, the car park was ridiculous. and Keith had a job to park.  She's not even going to be home at Christmas!  Time and again Ive offered to order it online for her, but no.

Oh, away with all this whinging and bitching - it's Christmas!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Thurs 10th December - Introducing Emily

Any of you who follow Marie at Oak Cottage will know that she's a multi-talented woman:  she cooks, she sews, she writes, she paints, she goes to work and cooks some more - she's always at it!

Every now and then I buy something or other that she's made.  Usually I have some excuse like they're for one of the great-nephews' or nieces birthday or Christmas prezzies.  And what happens?  I selfishly can't part with them so the kids get something else.

In summer I bought some prints thinking I would frame them for The Three.  This is them now.............

They're hanging in my hallway.

And here's my most recent acquisition

Emily is sitting in a corner of the dresser in our living room, every last stitch, every frill, from Marie's own hands.

Isn't she lovely?  Marie was wondering whether to make one just for herself.  I think so, don't you?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

OK, now listen...................

I'm going to tell you what happens after you get the letter none of us lasses want to see:  you've had a mammogram (they send for us every 3 years after age 50)and instead of getting the letter which says "All fine.  See you in 3 years", you get the one which says"...not quite what we expect.  You have an appointment for further investigations next week...etc etc".

It has happened to me!  The leaflet I got last Thursday said don't panic but you do.  My appointment was to attend Castle Hill Hospital in Hull.  Well that didn't go down well for a start!  My initial mammo had been at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby and Castle Hill strikes terror into the hearts of us 50-odds because it's always been thought of as the place where people only come out feet first!  Not any more;  they send you wherever there are appointments.

2,20 was my allotted time so we arrived at 1pm, Which turned out to be a good idea because I got called for straight away, no hanging about.

You go through to a mammogram room where the problem is explained to you and theyou have offending mammo well and truly grammed again.  It's not nice is it?  Talk about thumb-screws!  To be fair though the techy did say (not without relish I thought ) "You're not going to like this....".  Then you go straight through to the doctor who shows you the pictures and explains again what the problem is, or might be.  She has a lttle poke about your boobs then ultrasounds the naughty one.  As she wasn't sure what she was looking at she decided to do a biopsy.  "It won't hurt a bit," she said "Once the local anaesthetric is in.  That will sting a bit."  I had a moment of deja vu.  Now where had I heard that story before?  Dentist?

Well you know she was as good as her word.  It didn't hurt, not at all.  Even the local was not all that stingy and she explained everything she did before she did it.  A couple of loud clicks from the biopsy needle and Bob's your uncle, Charlie's your aunt.

Now I wait until next Thursday when I get the results from DPOW in Grimsby.  My mood at the moment is quite 'up' but who knows what I may tell you after?  

What I wanted to say was that, if you ever get recalled DON'T PANIC.  Got it?  Don't.  Wait until 2 days before you get the results and then.....PANIC LIKE MAD!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Christmas-y Chit Chat

Here I am fresh from reading Marie's "A Yeae From Oak Cottage' entry in which she's telling of decorting the Christmas Tree when she was a child (gosh, what a memory - OUCH).

I'm around about the same age as Marie - well a couple of years older maybe.  She is Canadian by birth And I am English but when it comes to Christmas trees our memories are similar.  In my early childhood we always had a  real tree.  I don't remember anyone having pretend ones.  A real tree was THE smell of Christmas!  A real tree and a  coal fire.  I don't think us three kids ever knew where the tree came from.  It just sort of.....turned up.....and there it would be standing in the corner on a chair to make it seem a bit taller.  

We had no such thing as a proper stand for it.  Dad would usually plant it in a big bucket - the coal scuttle often - and the first job was to camouflage that with red crepe paper.  Then the first thing the tree would always do was l-e-a-n one way or another.  That was why, in our house, the tree was always left until next day:  to see which way it was going to go so dad could shore it up.  And there would be us three all clamouring to get started!   "The baubles are still in the false roof," mum would protest.  They never were, the fibber, they were in her wardrobe.  By the way, "the false roof" wsas what we would call the loft these days.  I don't know why it was called that but anyway, it was the  void between ceiling and apex, used to store things we would be lost without.  Not much difference there then!

After school next day we would start.  In later years, when I was 10 or 11 we had 'fairy lights' and, as in Marie's experience, they never, never worked, though they had been fine when put away the previous year.  And they were all tangled up, though they hadn't been, and dad would drape them out around all the furniture
to get them straight and find out which lights were not working.  It only took one to put the whole lot out but you had to check them all before dad was despatched to buy however many new bulbs.  They were only tiny things but I remember mum scratting about in her purse to find enough money for them. 

Then there would - at long last - be the ceremonial draping of the lights.  It wasn't ceremonial really but it always seemed to us that dad spent an unconscionable amount of time doing ir!  Then the precious boxes were opened and mum  - ON HER OWN - would hang these glass baubles.  They were donkeys' years old some of them, and ever so pretty and delicate and us ham fisted little terrors were banished.  Well, one of us would be detailed to cut off short lengths from a reel of cotton so mum could tie them through the wire loops to hang them up.  No kidding, us lot were chomping at the bit by this time!  For goodness sake if they didn't get a move on between them it would be bedtime and we wouldn't get to do our bit,

We always did though!  Two of us would have litlle packets of stuff called Lametta (I think you can still get it) which was long thin strips of shiny silvery paper which we draped over the tree branches to represent icicles.  The third one would have a packet of cotton wool.  With this you had to pull off little bits and throw them at the tree.  These were meant to be snowflake

Then the littlest (our Gwyn) was hoisted up to put the fairy on the top.  Finally, off would go the room lights and the tree lights switched on.  Nothing "designer" about our tree.  Every colour known to man and, apart from the vey classy baubles, any Christmassy decoration considered nice enough.

How we loved that riot of colour.  Christmas was here!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thurs 27=11=09 = Thanksgiving USA

OK, this is jusr a short little post in the hope SOMEBODY might be able to tell me:  all you American ladies \(men too I suppose) have been busy busy busy preparing for Thanksgiving and all and the descent upon your houses of sundry family and friends.

By my reckoning that makes just a few people doing all the work and a vast number just being guests.   Am 
I right?  If I am, how old do you have to be before you learn how to cook a turkey?  As I write this 75% of America is on the move, going home.  What would happen if their homebody decided to pay a visit home too?

I am not being disrespectful (not wilfully anyway);  I was just wondering how it works.

Right, I'm going into hiding now!!!

lots of love and a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING - wherever you are,


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Tuesday 24 Nov - Hark, I can hear fiddles..........

As soon as he walked in the back door and said " 'ello Darlin' .  'Ow about a cupper tea?" - as soon as he did that he was dead in the water as far as I was concerned.  This was a Double Glazing Salesman par excellence.  The sort you used to see on "That's Life".  He was the result of a cold call and normally I just put the phone down but this time I thought surely after all the bad publicity they must have learnt a lesson.  Not a bit of it.  This bloke had such  attitude, such swagger, such arrogance.  I already decided he wasn't getting my order but I played along.

Cup of tea (one sugar sweetheart) - I forgot the sugar, heh-heh - and NO biscuits.  He spent the first half hour telling us exactly how we could set about burgling most of the houses in England.  When I pointed this out and asked if he could get arrested for "going equipped" he scoffed that women don;t remember these things!  Ooooh was he in danger of flying out the window!

After measuring the windows - from inside because it was raining - He did a lot of tapping on his calculator and came up with two prices, the higher one fixed for a year and which he would send us 'in due course' as their quote.  #2 was £400 lower and if we wanted to accept that - their special offer - we would have to sign an order now today.  I said no thank you, we'll think about it and be in touch.  That's when he started to get unpleasant, you know, kind of sneery.  I was glad Keith was there, though as I was quite enjoying myself he didn't say anything..

Tap tap tap and he came up with yet another price a further £600 cheaper than his earlier lowest.  He sar back all smug "Now luv, what would you say to THAT?"  "I would say, LUV, why didn't you say that in the first place?"  "So you'll sign an order on that then?"  "No".  And off he went in a right strop muttering about getting paid to sell windows not spend 2 hours wasting his time..............

Ooh I did enjoy that

Monday, 23 November 2009

First Catch your Turkey...........Monday 23rd November

Happy Thanksgiving to all you American friends.  I know it's only Monday but, you know me!  I might be quite certain at this minute that I'll be doing another entry before Thursday but more than likely not.  What is it they say about good intentions?

Some of you may remember that I have always bemoaned the fact that our dog Sally is camera shy.  In all her 16 years I have never managed to get a decent photo of her.  Well, pssst, listen here, I think I might have cracked it.   Keith and I have given ourselves a camcorder for Christmas.  It's not supposed to be used yet but I just had a l-e-et-l-e look, just a quick squint you know, and milady looked straight at the lens!  She's got cataracts so she doesn't SEE any camera and her deaf ears don't hear any tell-tale clicks and whirrs.  If I can figure it out I'll show you my beloved little old lady.

Well, we have been well and truly let down by the window man.  He was supposed to start our new windows on Oct 26 but he didn't turn up.  When he called in on Wednesday it was to explain that he had been diagnosed on Monday with advanced bowel cancer that had spread to his pancreas.  He said he had arranged with a mate of his - Duncan - to do the job the following Monday.  He never turned up either.  Our chap rang with profuse (the more I look at that word the less right it looks) apologies and promised faithfully to start "a week on Thursday".  Do you think he did? When he rang at 11.30 to say he wouldn't be here until 1.30 Keith cancelled the job.  Well, wouldn't you have?  I felt so sad about his illness and how he must be feeling but I would have been happier if he had just been honest and said he couldn't do the job.  Now I have to try and get our £150 deposit back from him.  And, of course, find a company who can do the job at a price we can afford.

Can I be very honest with you?  Various things have suggested to me that something is not quite right about that man's firm.  I mean, I don't dispute his illness - you don't tell people you have cancer if it's not true surely?  But though I have asked many times he has never sent us any paperwork;  we have signed no order or contract.  All I have is a letter from him acknowledging our deposit and confirming the start date.

And of course all our windows are left with chunks missing from the corners - like this - and that's how they'll have to stay until they get replaced.

Did I ever show you this photo?  It's from our trip down south when we had lunch with Marie and Todd at Oak Cottage.  It's Marie cooking Sunday lunch in her beautiful cottage kitchen.  Such a warm, happy, cheerful place.

Keith has made a start on the first projectof his retirement - he's changing the garden (again) I won't try and describe it.  At the moment it's too horrid to contemplate.  I'll pop down the garden in Jet Chair 1 and take photos, maybe a vid.  Soo next time I'll be showing you some mucky photos!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Friday 13th November - The Big Day

Don't know about other countries in the world but in England Friday 13th is always considered by the superstitious to be an unlucky date. Never mind what month it is, on Friday 13th the superstitious stay in bed.  My Little Grandma was terrible.  In fact she was a spooky old lass all round.  When we visited you had to hope the weather stayed fine because if you saw the storm clouds gathering at dinner time, te chances were you wouldn't get fed!  The least hint of thunder and lightning and that was it.  All things metal had to be out of sight.  That meant no knives and forks, no tea pot, no cooking pots - in fact no cooker either!  If you had hair grips they had to come out.  If you were half way through a meal she would throw a cloth over everything on the table and  we hadn't to touch anything.  I don't know what good she thought a cotton table cloth would be if lightnin struck!

I'm not sure whether or not I'm truly superstitious but on this Friday 13th I had to be up and doing because it was the day of  The Handover.  My friendly neighbourhood wheelchair OT (occupational therapist) came round so I could officially take possession of the electric wheelchair I've waited so long for.  More than a year have I waited for it and now - Ladles and Jellyspoons - I give you..............THE CHAIR.
I know what you're thinking: "Wouldn't you think she could have taken out that extra bit of cushion out from under the 'proper' cushion."  I should have.  Would have lookdd nicer but to tell the truth I forgot,  I'm using the extra bit to lift me up higher (me being awful wee)

Eeeeeh I went up to town on Saturday, to the camera shop.  We have a verygood familyrun one here where they really know what they're talking about and guess what?  They managed to retrieve all 118 photos of Keith's birthday that I thought we had lost.  Oh happy day so here he is, the birthday boy............ and a girlfriend!

C - H - E - E - R - S!!!!!!


Friday, 6 November 2009

Fri 6 Nov - The result!

I passed!!!!  Flying colours, the man said.  No he didn't, what he actually said was "OK, you'll do,"  but he couldn't keep from grinning like a Cheshire Cat.  Probably cos I was and smiles are infectious aren't they?

I can't get the chair until next week because they won't hand over until I arrange some third party, fire and theft insurance with breakdown cover.  Then it's mine and (I hope) my life will open up a bit.

Ilook forward to going places on my own instead of being taken everywhere.  It's not good for you, you know, being taken places.  Everything has to be arranged and then you feel sort of obliged to go wherever your 'minder' needs to go.  I suppose I ought not to say that, and truly I am grateful when people help me, it's just nice to be in control of something for a change.

Afterwards Keith and  I went out for lunch, which we've been trying to fit in since we didn't go on his birthday on 26th October.  It was well worth waiting for except that there's nowhere to park and it's on a busy road in town, so we left the car at home.  Brrr - I'm sure it's cold enough for snow.  A wheelchair is certainly a draughty place at this time of year.  I'm not complaining mind you!  Well, would I?

Fri 6 November - Big Day Today

At last the big day is here.  In 1½ hours from now I am taking my 'driving test' in my electric wheelchair.

It's a condition in our locsal NHS Trust that if they provide you weith a wheelchair you ha ve to take a course of instruction followed by a test to show you are competent to drive the thing.  You would think I was taking a CAR test, I feel so nervous.  I'll be backlater to tell you how I got on.

Wish me luck,

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tuesday 3 Nov 2009

Can you believe it eh?  All the pictures I took of Keith's birthday:  the cake, family lunch, tea party - the whole lot - gone!  They were all there on the memory card in the camera when we went to Blackpool but taking shots of the tower ballroom with its intricate decoration used up more memory than I knew.  It seems to have wiped other things to make more space - THEN sent me a 'no memory left' message.   Bother bother BOTHER, say I!  Sounds like a job for the brand new super-duper 8-gig memory stick.It'll have to go grazing off everyone's computers!  It's not the same though, is it?

Telephones.  Most of us have our very own personal carry-out ones these days as well as our home phone.  What they all have in common is push buttons.  I was just thinking this afternoon how I used to like the sound of the old-fashioned dial;  a simple pleasure denied us nowadays.  For some reason I could always remember people's phone numbers when we dialled them on a dial as opposed to a keypad.  I'm hopeless now - probably old age galloping up!  Now  I can't even remember a number for the length of time it takes me to look up the number and pick up the phone!  I did like proper dials though.  I didn't even mind ruining my nails in the holes.

There was something about a proper telephone ringing noise too.  Made from a proper bell, it was.  I know this because I once took one apart to see if I could alter the sound because the 2 phones on my office desk sounded identical.  A small bit of sticky tape stuck on the bell altered the sound just enough so I put it together again - and realised they were the same colour!  So I ended up with a r-r-resonant, r-r-rich r-r-ring-r-r-ring on one and a dull muted thud and a blob of Tippex on the other.  No needto mess about like that now.  You can choose your own ring, and what an eyeopener some are, to be sure!  My niece has an incredibly rude one which, basically amounts to an irate bloke urging you to "Pick up the *** phone.  Answer the phone...why dontcha,  Pick the *** thing up".  It gets louder and more insistent the longer you leave it.  Great in the supermarket checkout!

Let's take a step further back:  who can remember those old Bakelite telephonrs?  The first office I ever worked in had them.  Goodness knows how old it was even then, when plastic ones were the norm.  They smelled horrible and the handset weighed a ton but their dial made a beautiful sound and there was always a tiny little 'ching' when you hung up, which made slamming the phone down extremely satisfying and the person on the other end knew the phone had been slammed.  Not so now.  There's no sound when you press the disconnect button now and he who caused the displeasure rings you back and says"I think we got cut off..........".  Round 2 - ring-ring!

Monday, 2 November 2009

A Wet Weekend in Blackpool


There's a famous seaside town called Blackpool,
That's noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was young Albert
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle
The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much to the Ocean
The waves, they were fiddlin' and small
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded
Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all.
So, seeking for further amusement
They paid and went to the zoo
Where they'd lions and tigers and camels
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big lion called Wallace
His nose were all covered with scars
He lay in a somnolent posture
With the side of his face on the bars.

Now Albert had heard about lions
How they was ferocious and wild
To see Wallace lying so peaceful
Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

So straight 'way the brave little feller
Not showing a morsel of fear
Took his stick with its 'orse's 'ead 'andle
And shoved it in Wallace's ear.
You could see the lion didn't like it
For giving a kind of a roll
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im
And swallowed the little lad 'ole

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence
And didn't know what to do next
Said "Mother! Yon lions 'et Albert"
And Mother said "eeeh, I am vexed!"

Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Quite rightly, when all's said and done
Complained to the Animal Keeper
That the lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it
He said "What a nasty mishap
Are you sure it's your boy he's eaten?"
Pa said "Am I sure? There's his cap!"
The manager had to be sent for
He came and he said "What's to do?"
Pa said "Yon lion's 'et Albert
And 'im in his Sunday clothes, too."

Then Mother said, "Right's right, young feller
I think it's a shame and a sin
For a lion to go and eat Albert
And after we've paid to come in."

The manager wanted no trouble
He took out his purse right away
Saying "How much to settle the matter?"
And Pa said "What do you usually pay?"

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone
She said "No! someone's got to be summonsed"
So that was decided upon.
Then off they went to the Police Station
In front of the Magistrate chap
They told 'im what happened to Albert
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing
"And thank you, sir, kindly," said she
"What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy lions? Not me!"

Does anyone remember hearing this recited in a broad Lancashire(ish) accent by the late Stanley Holloway?

Now, I found it absolutely vital to recite this little ditty for you as Keith and I have just today come back from this self-same place. 
Blackpool, Lancashire, England.  The seaside town to beat all seaside towns.  Home of the "Kiss me quick" hat and the candy floss on a stick and draconian landladies.  The place where these ladies - proprietors of the Bed and Breakfast Boarding house - would, not all that long ago, enquire into your marital status before they let out a room to you and any chap you had in tow.  And you had to be married to THAT chap, not some other one upon whom you were 'doing the dirty'!
Home of the Illuminations.  Has anyone outside England actually heard of Blackpool Illuminations?  I only ask because, you know, I was so very disappointed with them.  I didn't think there was anything earth-shatteringly beautiful about them or spectacular.  In case you don't know, I'm talking about a display of multi-coloured lights which runs the full length of the sea front.  They get switched on by some celebrity in September and switched off again early November - I suppose by the lights-switcher-off but perhaps they have another celeb.

Home of the Tower.  Blackpool Tower, not Eiffel Tower, though it is alleged to look like it.  That'll be if you look at it through your fingers, through half-closed eyelids, in a fading light!  But that's only the outside.  Keith wanted to go see a show which had its last night when we were there.  It was in the Tower Ballroom.  Now, this is so famous over here - specially if you're into dancing - that I can't imagine the rest of the world not knowing about it.  It is beautiful - almost indescribably beautiful.  Breathtaking.  The staff there were so helpful to me in my wheelchair and decided that I - a whole posse of us wheelchair users in fact - should visit the top of  the tower (or as near to it as the lift will take you).  We were treated like royalty, escorted to our tables as well as for the bird's-eye view from the top and then at the end escorted out again.

Strange isn't it how the negative sometimes begets the positive?  The first thing I noticed about Blackpool was that it looks very run-down, seedy even.  Worse than Cleethorpes, and that's saying something!  Then I saw how clean everywhere was.  No litter in the streets, not even in the early morning when you might expect it.  It could have been the origin of the term 'shabby chic'

And of course there were the shops.  I was surprised to find there a seriously good shopping centre;  places to eat, whether just a quick coffee and a bit of cake or a  special lunch;  everyone so kind and welcoming and helpful.

I'll go there again, although I was quite sure this would be my one and only!  And all just 2½ hours from home.  Roll on summer.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Friday 16 October - The Eleven Plus

I was just reading Marlene's wonderful reminiscent entry and it sent me off on a memory trip myself.   I hope she won't mind me sharing her theme.

I was at grammar school (in England) 1962-1968.  To get there you had to pass your 11 plus exam at junior school.  They say  this was a terrible ordeal for an 11 year old but I don't remember it bothering me.  Come to that the 11 plus is one of the few 'events' in my life that I have no memory of at all.  What I do remember is the results arrivingin the post addressed to my parents.  I had got an 'interview'.  That meant you didn't get a good enough mark to pass straight through but you MIGHT be good enough if they saw you.  And so on the appointed day I turned up with lots of other kids to be interviewed at the grammar school we would go to if successful.  We had to sit at the desks in a classroom.  Old fashioned desks they were, single ones with a sloping lid and an inkwell at the top right hand corner next to a shallow channel where your pen would rest.

Ooh the smell of that classroom.  I can smell it now, a mix of blackboard chalk, old wood, dust and chewing gum.  I sneaked a look underthe lid of the desk, which was heavily pitted with carved-in names of the "Frid loves Mary" kind, not to mention some very artistic and colourful - and rude - ink blots.   Tacked underneath the lid was someone's timetable.  Biology, physics, chemistry - I can remember even now how I felt reading those words.  I'd heard of them but didn't know what they were.  Science I supposed as they were "ologies".  Gosh I was impressed.   English, French, Russian - Russian?  Would I have to learn that?  English literature.  I so wanted to go to that school.  It was probably a good thing they sat us in that room where us nosey 11-year-olds got a sniff of life in Big School because quite honestly I don't think many of us really knew quite why we were there.  We were told to go so we went!

I must have come over as an enthusiastic little soul because I got in and a few weeks later my parents got a big fat envelope in the post listing all the clothes and equipment I had to have before term started in September.  It was all very specific, even down to the shops (only two I think) who were official stockists.  Brown school knickers, divided skirts (for playing hockey in), school socks, regulation Gabardine coat with hood, brown leather shoes, Juliet cap.  The list went on for pages and pages.  When I think back it must have been scary for my parents because all those things must have cost a fortune and they never had any money.  A year later my brother went there too and my sister 2 years after that so it must have been a real struggle for them. 

And there was no compromise:  it was a brown pleated skirt or a gymslip (sorry America, I can't explain that one.  Suffice to say they were itchy, hot, ugly and you looked like a sack of potatoes wearing one!).  You couldn't wear a straight or A-line skirt.  There were  certainly no pants, not under any circumstances.  In the freezing cold of winter you had to wear your school coat, school skirt, school socks and shoes, school scarf and you would arrive at school with your poor legs all red and chapped.  And THEN if it wasn't actually raining or snowing, you had to wait outside until summoned in by the bell.  You couldn't even wear tights until the third year (you would then be 13 or 14) and then only thick woolen fawn ones.  The poor boys had to wear short grey trousers until the third year, when they were allowed long trousers so their legs got chapped even worse than ours.

After Easter (and not a minute before) you had to wear your summer uniform.  Instead of skirt, blouse and tie you wore a cotton dress with very narrow yellow and white stripes.  These were not available to buy in the shop, not even the authorised stockist.  You took a pattern home and your mum was expected to make it.  As luck would have it my mum was quite handy with the sewing machine but I can't think how the daughters of non-sewers got their frocks made.

To think, I wanted to go to that school.  The alternative was "Pram Pushers".  At our tender age we didn't quite know why they called it that but we were soon enlightened!  It was a Girls' secondary modern school and "you don't want to be mixing with their sort" - and that came from our teachers!!  I thank God I never became a snob.  Many did.

Having said all that, I was still sorry to see Grammar Schools go when they were done away with.  I may never have understood anything about physics or geometry but at least I knew what they were.  'General Science' is what  they have now and 'general knowledge' seems to have died out altogether.  Maths may have been like the dark side of the moon to me but  I can add and subtract without a calculator and I know my times tables.

I know The Lord's Prayer too.  They  don't even learn that any more.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Weds 14 October

SHE'S BACK!!!!  The mouse is back

I really thought I had lost her forever!  Today a little widget clicked in my mind.  The light dawned.  The fog lifted. I have so many pictures to drag over from my desktop pc to this laptop that I  feel I shall be at it forever but at least I now have some sort of idea what to do.

And me and Mouse are reunited!

She begs to be allowed to sit at the top AND bottom of this page - just this once - in celebration, and so she shall.  Tra-la-la.


Tuesday 13th October (just)

I have to make (yet another) request of you, my blogger friends.  I seem to be doing this a lot this year.  Keith's brother, Stewart, lives in Canada, as some will know, a few thousand miles away from us.  His wife Jillian was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few months ago and despite surgery and chemo things are not going well for her
We love them dearly and I wanted to ask if you could all please include them in your prayer considerations.  If prayer is not your thing - well, I'm sure God will be listening anyway if you just think "I wonder how Jillian Marshall's getting on?"


love, Angie, xxx

Monday, 12 October 2009

Mon 12th October - a hairy adventure

Just a short entry!  This morning I had my first official 'driving lesson' in my electric wheelchair.  Well, ther one that will be mine when I am deemed proficient enough not to kill anyone! 

You should see the assessment list.  Blimey, the things you have to be able to do!  Navigate a steeply cambered pathway,  cross a road without scaring the horses .car drivers,  drive backwards down a 4" high kerb without a dropped kerb on it turn around, cross the road and drive UP the other 4" kerb.  That might not sound very high to you but it's not YOUR back end that's plopping down there, blind, while you look forwards.  You have to be able to unlock the house door from the outside, drive in, turn around, close the door and lock up again, turn around and drive on.

That's only a little bit of it.  Driving that chair isn't a\s easy as it looks.   The 'joystick' kind of thing that drives it is incredibly sensitive to the least pressure.  I've driven a car for 30 years and a mobility scooter as well and believe me this electric wheelchair is something else.

I am a little bit amazed that it is perfectly legal to go to a shop and drive one of these things away!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Friday 9th October

STILL NO PHOTOS - but I'm working on it.  I'm wondering whether to save up for a photo editing programme like Adobe Photoshop.  I've used Arcsoft Fotostation Easy for years, or rather that programme from the same few disks as I used from the start.  Maybe it's time for a change - any thoughts?

Aren't blokes Wimps?  Keith just got his very first flu jab.  As a Pensioner, as a 65-year old (chortle chortle) he qualifies to get one you see.  This is for common or garden type flu, of course, not swine flu.  I went for mine at the same time.  Women get them at 60 or if they've got certain conditions which put them 'at risk', so that would be me.  The nurse made the mistake of telling him "You might feel a little achey in the arm but it's nothing to worry about.  It'll go away in a few hours."  So when we were in bed there he was asleep on his back and snoringlike a blocked drain.  I nudged him to turn on his side.  It's not that I can hear him - I can't - but he makes the bed rumble.  "Ooh I can't lay on that side," he said, "it hurts."  Poor lamb!

He's limbering up for his retirement now though.  Yesterday we spent the morning in Lincoln - just moochin around, or supposed to be.  We just happened to mooch into my fave shop where they sell kitchen equipment.  The total of what was in our basket was only £16 but when we got to the front of the checkout queue the till broke down!  And they GAVE us the goods free, gratis and for nothing because "you waited for ages.".  Wasn't that nice?

Last week we ordered some furniture from a local department store because they had an offer on of 20% discount plus a £1 voucher for every £10 spent.  So we got £147 of vouchers that had to be spent that day because we were going away until after the offer ended.  It is so difficult to spend vouchers just like that when you hadn't planned to buy anything.  Just tomake things worse they were giving vouchers on the things you bought with vouchers.  Down to the last few I thought "Perfume" - well you would, wouldn't you?  But what do you spend the resulting quidsworth on?  Not a cup of coffee because they don't take them in the cafe.  Not as a down-payment on a world cruise because they won't accedpt them inthe travel shop either.

Nice though, buying a thing or two juast because you fancy not because you need.

love, ANGIE

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Thursday 8th October: The View from up here.....

I had hoped to be able to post something as soon as we got back ffrom our weekend away.  I thought I might have got sorted out on putting my photos on this laptop before now but it's not to be so please don't be mithered if I can't put in the photos I would like to.  I'll publish them as soon as I can. 

This past weekend we went to the Brittle Bones Society Conference at Ashford in Kent - Brittle Bones (or, to give it its pet name, Osteogenesis Imperfecta) being what I've got.  It's a pain in the ....whatever bit gets broken....but c'est la vie.

On Sunday we had an absolutely scrumptious lunch with Marie and her hubby Todd at their Oak Cottage home.  Well we could hardly travel to just a few miles away from them and not visit!  And they're the wrong side of the country for wild horses!  If you've not been to Marie's page, go over and have a look.  You'll find a link on there to her other blog "The English Kitchen" .  Oh it was the wonderfullest afternoon!!!  Beautiful lunch, great company, wall-to-wall chatter AND THEN about 4 o'clock Marie's phone rang. 

It was Lura, another blog friend, calling from her home in California.  For goodness sake it was about 8am for her!  Mimuther says "8am?  There is no 8am on a Sunday."  - and she means it.   Thanks Lura, that was a lovely surprise.  Now Marie has met both Lura and I - she spent some time with Lura in America last year.

I'm jealous now. 

Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering whether Marie's recipe for Apple and Hazelnut Brown Betty is worth doing..............WE ATE IT!  There, now you're jealous as well aren't you?  Heh heh heh.

Sorry about the pictures.  You've even got to do without my little mouse, of whom I've become very fond.

A bientot (that's French)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Thursday 1st October - The Trusty De-crapper

Here I am, still on my desk top computer!  The laptop is sitting there just waiting for 'one who knows' to come and plumb it in for me.

Ray-next-door-across-the-path has been very kind with showing me how to make some recovery disks the other day.  Thank you Ray;  they're on the top shelf to be forgotten about - hopefully forever.  What won't go away is the router. 

The dreaded router (is that a ROOter or a ROWter?) came by courier the other day and I don't know how to do it.  Well, I could follow the instructions on the set-up CD I suppose but I'm afraid it might involve scratting about under the desk or fiddling with cables and things alien.  From my wheelchair I can't scrat.  See?

Ray seems to have this idea that if I can't do a simple little thing like installing a router, it's time I could .  He said "Oh it's ever so easy.  All you do is this....this....and this........" but he lost me around '....all you do.....'.  You see, what I know and he doesn't is that NOTHING relating to computers is simple and as for 'You can't go wrong.'  Yes you can!  So I don't want somebody to come and show me how to do it.  I want somebody to come and DO it.  All inclusive, in toto, finit, job done!

Dave - I shall have to pay him - is coming this afternoon.  1 o'clock.  I am so relieved because I can trust Dave because he's sorted my computer problems many a time.  By tea time today the laptop will be ready to go, all my stuff will have been copied over from this one and all the free-trial stuff that comes pre-loaded but I don't want will be gone.  Dave will bring his trusty de-crapper. 

He might just show me what to do with the memory stick I bought because I was told life wasn't worth living without one.

See you soon,

Monday, 28 September 2009

Monday 28th Sept - Murder Most Horrid

Yesterday Keith tried to do me in!  "What would you like for tea darling?" he asked scraping himself up off the sofa.  "How kind,  dearest," I replied, "Some lovely salad veg on a plate with a little dollop of very low fat mayo and a little dollup of tomato chutney and a little bit of cheddar would be nice."   

While he was clattering about in the kitchen I bethought me:  "Sweetheart, there's a jar of cornichons and a jar of pickled peppers in the cupboard too."  "Righty-oh," he warbled cheerfully, "Ham?  Bread?  Eggs?"  "Just the veg thanks,"  I called, wishing he would just use his initiative and not keep interrupting Antiques Roadshow.  In due course he served up this delicious looking and beautifully arranged plate of veg.  Now you have to remember I was not wearing my contact lenses by this time.  I happily speared what I thought looked like a cornichon (a titchy little gherkin) and popped it in la bouche.  It was a blinkin' chilli.!!!!  I have a jar of tiny green ones and red ones in brine in the fridge.  He thought they were the gherkins!  I gulped down a bottle of water as if it was going out of fashion.

And what did he do?  Laughed like a flipping drain!  

My new laptop arrived on Thursday and, always game for unwrapping packages, my sister promptly dealt with this!  Gosh it did look posh and I hadn't a clue what to do with it .  I'm waiting for a router to arrive and then I can apparently look forward to updating my blog whilst peering over my knees at the telly!  My next door neighbour knows about these things.  We spent a jolly Saturday afternoon making a set of recovery discs, without which, I was told by the laptop, my life could become very difficult indeed.  Easy peasy, I thought, I've got 5 blank CD's, they'll do.  Wrong!  Ray next door went and fetched the five he had.  Not enough.  Keith flew off (not literally) to Tesco's to buy some more and came back with 100!  In the end we needed 14 discs and this was a computer I haven't even started working with yet!  With any luck I shall make my inaugural blog entry about next Monday.

One thing though - we've got enough blank CD's to last a lifetime!


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saturday 19th September 2009 - In the Pink!

I forgot to mention..........another gift from Bob-round-the-corner was some Beetroot from his garden.  It's just a little bit messy to deal with but it doesn't take as long to cook as you might think.  Whatever you do, do not cut off the long root or it'll 'bleed'.  Don't peel them or wash them either.  Just shake off the worst of the muck from them, chop off the stalks at the leafy end to leave about 3" length and put them into a large saucepan.  Cover with water and add a smidge of salt.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 30mins to 1 hour, depending on their size.  Here's a clue:  they would have to be quite big to want an hour!

So how do you test them for 'doneness'?  Best not to stick a fork in them.  Put on a pair of rubber gloves (the washing up sort) to protect your fingers from the heat. fish one out with a straining spoon and gently squeeze it.  In a similar way to testing avocados for ripeness, you will be able to tell by the 'give' as you squeeze - be gentle, mind.  Or carefully try and remove a lttle peel.  Beetroots which are done will easily slip their skins.

So, now they're done comes the messy bit.  You have to remove the outer skin and this is easiest to do by removing the remaining leaf stalks - just lop them off with a little disc of the beetroot.   Now slide the skins off - easest done if you let the beetroots cool a bit first. I find they shrink away from the skins a bit this way.  Finally, cut off the root. 

And there you have the fabbest little beetroot you ever did see. 

Do as you like with them now.  Left whole and individually wrapped in cling film they freeze well.  Slice them and almost cover them in malt vinegar (see?  malt vinegar again!),  cut them in cubes, mix with grated horseradish, chopped capers and good mayo and eat with smoked fish.

Me?  I like them with vinegar and I can eat them in vast quantities.  Keith can too, but a cautionary tale:  do not forget that you've been OD-ing on beetroot.  Keith came out of the loo looking very worried the other day, he was peeing pink - HA!  I did try not to laugh!!!!  I did --splutter, splutter.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Friday 18th September - chutney and chunter

Busy, busy, busy, that's what I seem to have been this past week or so.  Well, not busy by most of you's standards but busy by mine because it takes me twice as long to get anything done!

There's been all the form-filling of course for himself's pensions.  I think - I HOPE - I've got that sorted now.  You would think it was Christmas or something with Keith marking the days off to his retirement  in his diary.  I've never known anyone so looking forward to that milestone! 

Then Bob-round-the-corner sent some green tomatoes, some lovely Bramley Apples (cookers) and some runner beans.  I always think the best thing to do with green tomatoes that are a l-o-o-ong way from turning red is to make them into Green Tomato Chutney.      

You need:
1 lb green tomatoes
1 lb onions
1 lb apples (I used Bramley but you could use Granny Smiths.  Sharp anyway)
1 lb brown sugar
1 pint malt vinegar (who says it has no use in the kitchen?)
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 oz salt

You do:
Cut up veg and fruit small.  Put in a bowl and sprinkle with all the salt (sounds a lot - trust me), cover and leave overnight.

Strain off and discard salty juice.  Put fruit and veg into a large pan, add everything else.  Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer - uncovered - for about 1 1/2 hours   Stir it occasionally.  When the chutney has got quite thick in consistency it's done.  If it needs more than 1 1/2 hour give it more but keep checking to make sure it doesn't 'catch' on the bottom..

Leave it in the pan to cool and then when it's at room temperature put it into spotlessly clean jars and seal them.  Don't forget the labels.

Of course, you can tuck into this straight away but if you can keep your hands off it, it's best if you leave it a few weeks.

You will only get four 8 oz jars from this amount.  So why are there only 3 in the picture?  Keith couldn't keep his hands off it!  The good news is Bob sent some more tomatoes so I can make more this weekend..

Also last weekend I made my first batch of Plum Bread for this year.  That is every bit as easy as the chutney but chutney doesn't taste so good on its own with a cup of tea..  You do need to have some loaf tins but if you buy the ready made parchment liners from  Lakeland like I do you don't have to mess about lining them!  Preheat oven to Gas 3.  Shelf about centre.

You Need:
4oz margarine or butter (butter's best)
4oz soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
12 oz mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, cherries, peel)
5 fl oz cold tea
8 oz self-raising flour
1 medium sized egg

You Do:
Put the first five ingredients into a large saucepan,  Bring slowly to the boil. stirring.
Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Leave it to cool
Add sifted flour and egg and combine well without beating.
Pour into lined tin and bake for about 1 hr 15 mins
If the top is browning too fast, place on top a piece of greaseproof paper with a hole in the middle (to let out any steam)
Test for doneness by gently inserting a skewer in the centre.  If it comes out clean it's done.  Otherwise give it another 15 mins and check again.

While I'm on about food, I bought these the other day in Tesco (I think ).  They are delicious with a cup of tea for brekky.

What a sorry state our house is in at the moment.  Along with the windows being changed at the end of October, the render on the outside walls has to come off, be replaced and painted.  Even the flowers look incongruous set against it

Oh well, it'll be nice when it's done|