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!