Sunday, 31 May 2009


a self portrait. Well, It could be if you added a few inches to the girth of Moi.

First of all Rhondi, thanks for inviting us. I've been so looking forward to this. Happy birthday, I hope you have fun today. For your porch party last year I had to 'borrow' my sister's back porch as we didn't have anything that would do.

Well, we still dont't have a porch as such but Keith has been slaving away for a few months making us a nice place to sit in the back garden and I'm hoping lots of blog friends will call in for tea.

Just come round to the back of the house and through the gate to the left of the picture, by the blue pot.

There's a little table there to sit at - I can soon find more chairs. Or if you prefer......

........take a seat on the deck. Nte the strategically placed cordyline? It's foliage hides a basket of ironing in the conservatory that I forgot to move!

Now, THIS is a perpetually hungry guest who arrived on the wrong day (there's always one!). She is unbelievably camera shy but I thought I should use the picture seing as she let me take it.

OH NO! Blogger won't let me bring up any more pictures. That's so disappointing because you can really see that we do occasionally get beautiful weather in England. Rarely is the sky such a beautiful blue. Well I don't know if I'm being unusually clever or what - Quite out of character if I am - but I may well have discoveed how to put them at the side. 'Ma' does it. Maybe they don't look quite the same there but it's better than nothing eh?

I didn't really know what to wear today so I decided at last on a really bright yellow top with a not-quite-long skirt in this colour with a pattern of feathers on it. It's very colourful and just the right colour for a celebration. You're all looking very lovely. The croquet hoops and mallets are on the lawn. It's a lovely gentle game.

Tea, anyone?


Friday, 29 May 2009

The Tale of Messrs Young and Stupid

A couple of people have asked how the kitchen ceiling saga went, so here goes.

Back in the '70's when we were first married we lived in a small, very old bungalow (single storey house), pretty much as we do now. The kitchen had been built on along with a bathroom and had a flat roof covered with roofing felt and ballast. The summer had been very hot until it started to rain before we went on holiday (well it would!) and the roofing felt cracked - I suppose it was quite old too - letting in the rain. So there we were when we came home with a ceiling dripping water and a thunderstorm going on outside and, speaking for myself, sheer blind panic!

I think our brains must have been left in the car when it was stolen because we just went off to bed after putting out all the buckets we could find in a vain attempt to catch the water. There was electricity in there for goodness sake! Apparently what we should have done was turn off the power and bash a hole in the ceiling so that the water had a large means of escape. Instead, it just pooled up there while its turn came to get through a hole, thus making the plasterboard and plaster soggy and heavy and causing it to fall down.

You're exactly right Marcy, new roofs and ceilings are not something you usually budget for! We did have what we call "Bricks and mortar" insurance which should have covered it as storm damage. Don't ask me why we never made a claim but we didn't. Young and stupid I guess. Keith put up a new ceiling and his brother repaired the roof as a temporary measure and I rang an architect to come and draw up plans for a whole new extension and knock that one down. This had always been our intention but it happened a bit sooner though we would have saved ourselves a lot of money if we had only made an insurance claim. And that's what happened, we had a new kitchen built..........


While we were waiting for the wheels of burocracy in the guise of the local planning office, to grind slowly on (as they do) I set fire to the place! It was an accident, honest.

I was melting some fat in the chip pan to pour it away one sunny Sunday morning about 6 weeks later when I decided it was time Keith joined the waking world. Off I went to wake him up, leaving the pan on the stove and, of course, it did what unattended pans will do!

When I realised what the 'funny smell' was I flew through to the kitchen, Keith hot on my heels. Never mind covering the blazing pan with a damp cloth like they tell you to, he grabbed the pan handle with a towel and flung the whole lot out the back door, narrowly missing the milkman who was calling to be paid! Remember this, Keth had just jumped out of bed. He was starkers. Oh my, you couldn't have written that script!

This wasn't the doggy; he was a doberman puppy

That's when we noticed the dog was missing. Oh Lord, where's the dog, where's the dog. Guess where he turned up at? At the back of the cupboard under the kitchen sink where he had snuck cos he was scared. Then he couldn't get out cos the door was shut!

AND STILL we never made an insurance claim!!

The builders were due to start a week later so we put the dog in kennels and went to live with mum for 6 weeks. If it was now I wouldn't want to live in that house any more - would you?

So there's a silly story of Messrs Young and Stupid!

Until next time, xxx


Ask me who got to be Slimmer of the Week on Thursday at Slimming World? Ask me who got a star to put on her record book for attaining a grand loss of 8 lbs over the 5 weeks since I joined? And won a basket of fruit for her efforts? Me me me!! The class leader, of course, was a bit OTT with her praise but then, she always is. She's a nice woman. No, honestly she is. But d'you know what? I feel inordinately smug, just sad that I didn't win the raffle as well.

You know when I told you about our first disastrous flirt with camping? I forgot to mention that the day after we got home (after the police found our car, joyridden into some woodland) the kitchen ceiling fell in! Yep, true! It had rained so much for so long that water had come through the flat roof. We set buckets and basins to catch the multitude of drips and went off to bed. Next morning there was the ceiling - all over the floor! We didn't know that you're supposed to make a nice big hole for the water to get through so it doesn't have to force its way in.

Isn't it funny the things that were low on the list of priorities even as recently (what???) the 60's and 70's. Mum didn't have a fridge, she had a meat safe. This was a wooden cupboard with a mesh screen in the door which let the air in but kept the flies out. Anything perishable went in ours: cold meat, raw meat, cheese, milk, butter. It would be a hygienist's nightmare today.

We lived in a council house and the council built into every house a large walk-in pantry with stone shelves. Mimuther always kept our sweetie tin on the top shelf where little hands couldn't reach and sweets were doled out each morning at 10 o'clock to us and such sundry friends as had come to play. I have to assume this was only a weekends and school holidays arrangement because I don't recall getting sweets in any other way. Oh come now, we MUST have!

A fridge finally arrived about 1961 when mimuther decided she couldn't afford to keep throwing meat away. What she did throw away was the meat safe, I think dad burnt it; it always smelled foul anyway. Of course all us kids could think of was iced lollies wall-to-wall!

You'll see I remembered to take my camera out with me once or twice, although the photos are a propos of nothing in particular. The lovely blue hedge is at the front of our house and is spectacular when in bloom. Passers by stop to admire it and ask what it is - but can we tell them? We cannot! Any offers?

Tomorow we're going to a craft and food fair near Ripon and I will remember my camera for that too and hope to have some good photos for you.

Until next time............

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Second Post - IN ONE DAY!!!!


Just in case you don't get alerts about Marie's postings, go and have a look at this one (above, as I don't know how to do the HERE thing). She's doing a giveaway to celebrate her 550th post and believe me Marie's giveaways are well worth trying for. I know, I won one once!
Plus, of course, if I blog about it I might get more than one bite of the biscuit.
Am I being selfish?

LUMPY MASH and other horrid things

Something I just read on Marie's A Year from Oak Cottage sent me off on a reverie - it doesn't take much, I must be getting old! She was talking about good old mince. That's what we call it in England anyway. I think it's ground beef across the Pond. I don't know what it is in Oz. You know what I mean though don't you?

When I was little 'mince' amounted to all the ground up odds and ends of the animal carcass (sorry) that the butcher couldn't sell any other way because they looked too horrid. That would always include bits of bone, fat, gristle and blood vessels and, for all I know, heart, liver and - forgive me - the dangly bits from lower down.

Great vats of the stuff would be gleefully boiled up by school cooks and served up especially to us 5-year-olds who had just started 'proper' school and didn't know any better. Perhaps it might be a cottage pie, in which this grey, evil-looking stuff would hide under a layer of lumpy mashed potato. Or maybe it would be served with a scoop of said mash floating in the greasy grey gravy at the side of your plate. In either case the other side of your plate was usually graced by watery, khaki-coloured cabbage. At the infant school (where we went at age 5) you had to clear your plate of everything that was given you. You couldn't shove it under your plate like Marie did because the eagle eyes of the dinner ladies were watching and I remember poor Glynis still sitting there at hometime with a plate of congealed mince in front of her. I suppose they must have let her out then so she could get the bus but think of the schooling she must have missed!

The difference between me and Glynis was that Mimuther had sent a note to school saying that I was not to be made to eat mince because I didn't like it. Unfortunately, they didn't give me something else instead so I had to survive the afternoon on khaki cabbage and lumpy mash! While Glynis was starving for one reason, I was starving for another, but at least I got pudding (dessert), she never got that far.

Apart from mince, school dinners were generally lovely and I don't recall hating anything so much I couldn't eat it, though with hindsight the meat pie was probably suspect! You could say mince got me into grammar school when I was 11. Poor Glynis only went to Secondary Modern; it'll be all the lessons she missed!


Saturday, 16 May 2009

Three Bears

I should think some of you will have already seen this, but I hope enough haven't so that it will do a little work-out on your laughing tackle! In any case, it's a far more accurate account of the events of that fateful morning....

Baby bear goes downstairs, sits in his small chair at the table. He looks into his small bowl. It is empty. 'Who's been eating my porridge?' he squeaks.

Daddy Bear arrives at the big table and sits in his big chair. He looks into his big bowl and it is also empty. 'Who's been eating my porridge?!?' he roars.

Mummy Bear puts her head through the serving hatch from the kitchen and yells, 'For God's sake, how many times do I have to go through this with you idiots?

It was Mummy Bear who got up first.

It was Mummy Bear who woke everyone in the house.

It was Mummy Bear who made the coffee.

It was Mummy Bear who unloaded the dishwasher from last night and put everything away.

It was Mummy Bear who swept the floor in the kitchen.

It was Mummy Bear who went out in the cold early morning air to fetch The newspaper and croissants.

It was Mummy Bear who set the damn table.

It was Mummy Bear who walked the bloody dog, cleaned the cat's litter tray, gave them their food, and refilled their water.

And now that you've decided to drag your sorry bear-asses downstairs and grace Mummy Bear with your grumpy presence, listen carefully, because I'm only going to say this once....



Sunday, 10 May 2009

Just when you thought it was safe........


If there's one phrase I hate more of Keith's than "I've been thinking...." it's " 'ere, come and have a look at this...". It heralds a fait accompli. And so it was this morning.

Sitting here at the computer, minding my own business and not hurting anyone, I became increasingly aware of the sound of sawing and general clattering and banging and I thought " 'Ey up". Sure enough it wasn't long before I was unceremoniously whipped away from my Sunday morning musings to go and see..............
The Allotment! I did wonder who he'd buried at first!

Beans and Spuds have taken up residence

The best allotments have a Wild Bit. This is IT!

And THIS bit is where the bins will go!

That's what he said anyway, about the bins. His 'Allotment' is actually the compound he made for the bins to live in so they are not an eyesore or a nasty blot on the landscape.

Oh well, c'est la vie. At least it didn't cost anything.

Friday, 8 May 2009


Oh joy! Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon was my day for Slimming World, which I joined 2 weeks ago.

It's a bit expensive at £4.50 to join and £4.50 each week - more than I can easily afford really but something had to be done. My degree of fatness was growing ever worse and, I'm convinced, not helping what bit of mobiity I have. Now, I've been to these things before, with varying degrees of success and more than a few resounding failures. Some of them have been Slimming World too. It must depend on who you get leading the group but some run along the lines of "I'm Angie and I'm fat" (cue group hug) and that doesnt do for me.

Anyway, something must have gone right this time because the first week I lost 2 lbs. That doesn't sound much, I know, and I confess to having been a t-e-e-n-s-y bit disappointed, but it was apparently a good start. When I thought about it afterwards it was an excellent start because it started what I hope will be a downward trend.

Sure enough, yesterday I had lost a further 3½ lbs. and was just pipped at the post for 'Slimmer of the Week' by a bloke who lost 5½ lbs. As I can't do much in the way of exercise, being in a wheelchair, I hadn't expected to lose anything at all. The 35 lbs I need to lose seems an awful long way off so I just hope the purse will stand the strain!

Anyway, I hope you won't mind if I report back now and then. I'm not looking to be slim and sylph-like or give Kate Moss a run for her money (as if!), just make it easy for somebody to pick me up if I'm down on the floor. Just so that if me and my chair have to be lifted up a few steps, they're not running around looking for World's Strongest Man competitors! Just so I can't feel, through the chair's framework, my sister's arms shaking if she has to tip me backwards to get me up a kerb. Or Keith, come to that. They never say anything, never complain, I'm blessed.

Bit far away! Me on buggy, sis standing.

On the subject of my mode of transport, I went round to Slimming World yesterday on my electric shoppa buggy. It was that which caused the accident I had last July, which did more damage than I thought, and I haven't touched the thing since. I didn't feel very happy riding it but perhaps it'll get better given a bit of time and effort.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Our house from the back, showing Keith's handiwork.

My friend Judith and I at the garden centre

WELL! I don't know where to start. In fact I'm not even sure I can remember all I meant to tell you because I haven't a clue where I might have put my notes. They'll turn up tomorrow, you'll see!

Guess what I did a couple of Tuesdays ago? I went to Bingo. Now I know there are lots of people who like bingo. There are some who even win money at it - like enough to take 2 holidays abroad and get a tattoo. Good luck to them. I have no problem with it if that's what they want to do. But I hated every single minute. Every - - single - - minute!

My sis and I had been threatening to hit the hall, just to say we did. Then my niece (her daughter) rang to say she was going and would pick me up in an hour. So she did.

Well, what an experience. First of all you have to be a member to play. Don't know why but, hey-ho, it's free. Then you have to buy your tickets - for the whole evening. You get half a dozen 'books' each containing several strips of 5 tickets each strip. Each strip is a separate game but you have 5 TICKETS to mark for each game!

Oh, and don't forget your dabber. A Biro to cross the numbers off just won't do, you have to have a dabber. The reason soon became obvious: the numbers are called so fast there is only just time to hit the number (when you find it, if you do) with the dabber. To tell the truth, I spent most of the time creased up with laughter. The little chap doing the calling had a very camp way of talking. Instead of saying Forty-four, he said Farty-Far. Imagine 44!! There was never any danger of me winning anything, their bank accounts were safe with me. I couldn't keep up. You obviously need to be quicker in the brain department than me! In my defence I do like to think I have more going on in my head than bingo numbers. In reality, my ego went flying erratically round the room like a burst balloon!

Did I say.....I won't be going again! I wonder what bookies' shops are like inside?

What about this for a salad bowl?

Trust Keith, he came back from a local market, arms wrapped tightly around this. It's all sorts of different salad greens - just separate leaves - and where you break a few off to eat, more are supposed to grow in their place. I've never seen anything like this before. They're quite tasty! He also brought some trailing tomato plants, which you grow on your patio in a planter.

Considering he lawned over his veggie patch he's got quite a bit of stuff growing: Runner beans, potatoes, rhubarb and a few onions all in tubs. The rosemary is doing quite well, though it's small - perhaps because it's in a container but we never successfully moved a rosemary into the garden. They're ok if you plant them there to start with but they die if you move them. Our do anyway.

There are two different thymes. One is beautiful and the other not long for this world. Don't know why. The purple sage is in the garden and is coming through despite being pruned right back last autumn. It tends to go a bit mad if you don't.

The lovely flat-leaf parsley is showing willing too. I prefer it to the curly sort and it definitely adds a certain je ne sais quoi to salad, as do chives, which are just skinny new bright green shoots at the moment but their flowers (also edible) come out and make a beautiful display.

Is our house unique or just plain odd? we seem to have alkaline soil in the front garden and acidic at the back. We can't grow camellias or azaleas in the back but they love it out the front. I bet it would even support a rhododendron if there was room

We had our house valued today. Now that we have no mortgage we thought it would be a good idea to know what it's worth, especially as house values have gone down so much lately. Isn't it funny? Our first house, less than 40 years ago, cost less than £3,000. The second one, in 1978, was £12,800 and we thought what a lot of money that was. Now here I am hoping that this one will at least reach 6 figures. I wonder what we'll think is 'cheap' in 20 years time?