Wednesday 28 February 2018

February Thrifty Bits + .............

............Obligatory photos of snow.

Watching the pennies is always the plan

 Took drinks and snacks to Addenbrookes hospital each week for the clinic appointment.
Started some cross stitch from the stash,  will be used for little Christmas gifts
Sorted through part of the craft stash and put some in box ready for car boot sale in the summer.
Ran cold water into jug while waiting for hot to appear  and used  for flushing loos all through month.
Got washing almost dry outside and finished on the clothes horse by the fire all through month.
Filled the oven when baking cake and rusks and mincemeat slices.
Filled the oven one day when doing Tomato and Goats cheese tart for dinner by roasting potatoes and drying breadcrumbs ( from dry crusts)
Filled the oven when making cakes and quiche
Used our own frozen peppers, green beans, courgettes and mangetout peas from freezer.
Used leeks from the garden
Got seed potatoes from Potato day,  more variety and cheaper than shops
Picked up free shopping bag from Potato day to cover the cost of entry.
Darned socks
Picked up twigs from field to use for kindling
Sorted through books again and sent off a small box full to Ziffit worth £13
Printed out a price comparison voucher from Asda worth £1.94
Biggest save, after having the water meter fitted last year..........our water bill for 6 months was £64.52p. Mrs F ( who we bought the house from) was paying £37 a month based on Council Tax! A good saving me thinks.....and we are clean and have clean clothes too!

As it's such a rare occurrence it always needs recording. We woke yesterday to a covering but blue skies.
Following the hare footprints down the field
Across the fields

The bench with more  footprints

Then I took the bin bag down to the end of the lane to await collection and took a couple more photos

Looking back up our lane and then down the road. Our next door but one neighbours have both gone out to work and taking their children to school . Not much traffic along the road. Everywhere was quiet.

Jolly cold and very beautiful..........nice for a change.......but not for too long I hope.

Thanks for lots of comments yesterday and hello to 3 new followers who have clicked the button over the last few days.

And edited in this morning to say - the weathermen got it right, we've had more snow overnight and as I type this at 7.30am it's still snowing.....very heavily. That's made about 4 or 5 inches, the most we've had in Suffolk for many, many years. Roads are closed in Cambridgeshire so a trip to Addenbrookes this week looks problematical!  Maybe more snow photos tomorrow.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Weather Report from Suffolk and Watch That Supermarket Pricing.

For days we've been told to prepare for some very cold weather with snow....... starting yesterday. "The Beast from the East" is what it's been called, coming in on strong winds from Siberia with the East of England getting the worst of it. I think we're ready. We wrapped up the LPG cylinders with the top of an old gazebo because it doesn't flow well in bitterly cold, we have plenty of wood and checked the oil last week so that's OK

Snow fell, starting around noon, it came down heavily for a while but it didn't lay. I'm expecting to wake up this morning to lots especially as Greater Anglia Railways decided to cancel all trains after 10pm last night - no replacement buses or anything. I felt sorry for anyone working late in London yesterday - suddenly finding they couldn't get home. It will be interesting to see if the weather predictions are correct, the new warnings system sometimes seem to over predict.

While the snow was falling, our new neighbours - who move in later in the week - had a Hot Tub delivered. We've never known anyone with a hot tub - wonder who is moving in? hope they are quiet and relatively friendly, I'm a bit worried that it might have been bought to let out as a holiday home as the only places I've ever seen a hot tub in use is in pictures in holiday brochures......... we shall soon find out.

 I went to Tesco last week and didn't intend to buy tea bags, because I'd looked on the Mysupermarket website and they were cheaper almost everywhere else and we still had half a box left.

These are what we buy - after trying all sorts over the years they are our favourite at the moment. A big box of 240 which usually works out cheaper.


 PG Tips Pyramid Tea Bags (240)

  • Sainsbury's
  • Morrisons
  • Poundstretcher
  • Waitrose

  •   Ocado
  •   Lidl
  •    Iceland
  •     ASDA
Luckily, walking up the tea and coffee aisle to see if any de-caf coffee was on offer,  I happened to notice that right next door to the 240 boxes on the shelf they had these on Special Offer........ 300 for just £4 which is several pennies  cheaper
Good thing I noticed..........Should have got 2 boxes!
Wonder how many people picked up the 240 at £5.99 automatically without noticing 300 much cheaper on the same shelf.
You have to keep your wits about you when shopping in supermarkets.

Thanks for comments on names yesterday, I love the way names go in and out of fashion. Even the names we choose for our children in the 1980s are not often used now - yet they seemed quite normal back then.

(Edited in to say I have no idea why the picture of the box of tea bags is right up there by the header photo. It's down by the prices on draft and even if I delete the picture by the prices on draft it's still up the top on live blog post. This is what happens when copying stuff from one place to another!)

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Monday 26 February 2018

What's in a Name

The other day I had a comment from a 'Colin in Kent' who said he hadn't commented before and it got me to pondering on how few people I know called Colin.

There were none in primary school but we did have some other names I've rarely heard Melvin and Neville and Roderick.

 When I got to Grammar school there was only one  Colin who was in my form right through the 5 years and I'm sure his middle name was also the same as my Col. I was "madly in love" with that Colin- as you are at age 11 and 12 ......and 13. Goodness knows why, as I think he found me totally annoying and I remember him being very rude about me in my hearing. I also remember getting to sit in the desk right in front of him one year......which was tremendously exciting! I left school after O levels in 1971 but he stayed on for A levels.
When we had our school reunion in 1988 and I was trying to track down addresses for the 90 people in our year who were by then spread far and wide,  I managed to find his address from his parents who still lived in the same place, by then he was deputy head of a primary school on the Suffolk/Essex border but sadly he didn't come to the reunion.  At sometime in the 90's I saw on the now defunct Friends Re-united site that he was teaching in Dubai. No idea where he is now although he has a Facebook page that he doesn't use..................I'm not stalking him.......honestly!

I met the  Colin I'm married to in about 1974 or 5 and we got together in 1978 and married in 79..... goodness me..... it's our 40th wedding anniversary next year!

There was just one other Colin, he would have been my Uncle except he died when he was just a young boy, a late baby for my Gran as he would have been just 10 or 11 years older than me. He had leukemia............ no cures for that in the early 50's.
 This photo is the only one I have of a little Colin, it says on the back June 1949, also on the photo is my mum aged 23 and  my uncle who died last year.

 As for my name......Susan.........we are just so common! There were 5 Susans out of the 45 girls in our year at Grammar School. There were at least 3 who were mums of  other children when our lot were at primary school and now there are many blogging Sues too. My Mum always said she wanted to call me Jane but was persuaded not to by my Gran.........who said " Oh No Not Plain Jane"..............I don't know many Janes anywhere.........would have been much more interesting!

Thank you for comments about the "vintage kitchenalia". It's rare to find anything similar in a charity shop nowadays...........think it's all on ebay.
Welcome to another follower.....guess what.....another Susan!

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Saturday 24 February 2018

"Vintage Kitchenalia"

A post inspired by both Sue in Wales and John Grey also in Wales, who both commented that they wanted my old whisk when they saw it on the pancake post last week!

My old whisk is now wanted  as "vintage kitchenalia!"

Put "vintage kitchenalia" into ebay and up comes thousands of things including Fridge Magnets?............... Hundreds of Fridge magnets and novelty salt and pepper pots and even more old Tupperware....Tupperware?......people are spending money on buying old faded Tupperware? Oh well, whatever floats your boat I guess.

I'm happy to say I don't have fridge magnets, novelty salt and pepper pots or old faded Tupperware. I did go to a Tupperware party............once........back in the late 70's .......NEVER AGAIN!

What I do have in my kitchen is a whole lot of old stuff, picked up over the years, mostly useful and in use.

An ancient nutmeg grater with it's own little nutmeg storage.

An old rolling pin, ceramic and wood.

 A cheese grater circa 1950's and another whisk not so old

Bread Boards - which I use as pan stands

Butter pats, have to admit to never using these, although they are old.

A ceramic storage jar with a lid - lives on kitchen window-sill holding bi-carb which I use for cleaning the sink and draining board.
My tea-caddy - an old biscuit tin found in a charity shop when we were in Ipswich.
 And all the little bits on my small shelves, actually come to think about it, most of these are not real vintage - but I've had many of them for a lot of years, I shall call them Retro!
There's a pile of old fashioned white pudding basins and two big Masons mixing bowls in the cupboard too..........all very old and secondhand.

I can't see any point in replacing things that are still useful.

Thanks for all the comments yesterday.

Have a good weekend.

Back Monday

Friday 23 February 2018

Make Do and Mend (1)

I like mending socks. Don't do it very often but recently Col has been wearing some of his thick socks that he used to wear in welly-boots.

Probably another side effect of everything - poor circulation = cold feet.

I have a wooden darning mushroom and a darning needle but what I don't have anymore  is proper darning it still made? so I did them with some grey wool, which I think is just tapestry wool so the repair might not last long.
  After I'd finished I looked on line and found yes, of course darning thread is still made and it's not much more than £1, so I sent for some and wished I'd have thought to look before, but at least  I'll have  the proper stuff  to repair the repair!
As I said ..............I like darning socks!

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday.
 Following on from my waiting at Addenbrookes post and saying how kind all the staff are, especially the Transplant Nurse Specialists..............Col had a letter to go for a bone marrow sample next week.........a different day to clinic day, therefore righting off two days of the week. He rang to query this as it was sooner than we thought, 100 days after transplant we thought and next week is only 80 something days . Speaking to Nurse specialist he asked if there was any chance  he could have it done on the same day as the clinic. She said it would make a longer waiting time but we said that's still better than two trips. She also said that he was due a CT scan and as the bone marrow sample could be delayed by a couple of weeks she managed to fit all three things into a clinic day in March. It will certainly be a long day but much better than 3 separate journeys and knowing we will be there for several more hours than usual we will be prepared .......both mentally and with extra food! Col told her on the phone that if she was nearer we would have given her a hug. 😊

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Thursday 22 February 2018

One Year On

We got the keys a year ago today
I wrote a list of things we've got done since moving  HERE......... a post written last November

Add on
Another 20 trees planted for the birthday wood and another 3 apple trees and apricot in the  orchard
A couple of dozen new raspberry canes have been planted
A frame over the raspberry bed put in place
A bed made for growing cut flowers
The dead bit of tree that removed itself from our hedge is now ready to be cut up for firewood.

That list of things still to do on the November Post are still to do!

Essex and Suffolk Water Company
 are doing a quote for the work to put  junctions on their pipe in the road so we can all have  new modern water pipes up the lane. Which we are going to have to pay for.
So it's going to cost a small fortune.
Have no idea of the logistics of this but something needs doing as water pressure is really low.

So one year on and
We still love living here, it's beautifully quiet (except for the odd times that a house across the fields plays music ridiculously loud!)
Common sense says we were mad to take on this house but of course when we decided to buy we thought the cancer treatment was working.

No regrets

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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Suffolk Rusks

You might have heard of Eccles Cakes, Stilton Cheese and  Cornish Pasties but do you know about Suffolk rusks?

My mum made them, Col's mum made them and I've been making them for nearly 40 years.

When we had 3 children at home and I did a big bake every week, I'd make these while I was deciding what other things to rustle up. Col's pack up had a couple of rusks spread with a little butter every day.
Although back then they were just rusks and it was only  years later when I came across them called Suffolk Rusks in a regional cookery book, that I found they were traditional here and nowhere else.
I think they used to be made for farm workers to take to the fields with a piece of cheese. They are high in fats so would have given the workers a good boost mid morning.

A few years ago Home Farmer Magazine ran a feature about cooking in different parts of the UK and asked for recipes so I sent them this recipe and they featured it in the magazine but with their photos -  goodness knows what they did but they looked nothing like my rusks!

 The recipe - if you are not into healthy eating - is on the separate recipe page - scroll down almost to the end. If you think these have too many calories you are right and even more if you add a bit of cheese as well as butter to the top of the rusk when you eat it!

Back Soon

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Come With Us To Addenbrookes, 72 days post transplant

We've been heading across Suffolk and into Cambridgeshire to Addenbrookes Hospital Outpatients once a week since Colin came home after the stem cell transplant.

This is how our day goes.................... for a doctor appointment at 10.30 we have to be there at 9.30.

7am I get up and get the wood-burner cleaned out and laid, grab some breakfast, bring in a load of wood to fill the wood basket. Then I make a flask and pack some food to take with us.
Col has a flask, mug, tea bag and a little milk in a jug overnight in his room so he can have a cuppa as soon as he likes. Then I take him some cereal and juice for his breakfast in bed and then he gets up.
He has to rest again due to being worn out getting washed and dressed while I wash the dishes and wipe up if there is time.

About 8am we set off. Its a couple of miles to the A140, down that road for a couple more miles then the A1120 for 5 miles to join the A14. Then 28 miles keeping up with the traffic at 70mph until a truck traveling at a preset 57mph pulls out to overtake another truck traveling at a preset 56mph and, because it's only 2 lanes, everything slows down to 57mph for as long as it takes!
One truck decides to overtake another truck going up a hill!

  Around Newmarket it turns into 3 lanes for 9 miles and then we turn off and head down the A11 - back to dual carriageway for 8 miles and finally an ordinary smaller road for another 5 miles to the hospital. By which time it's usually heading toward 9.30 as the last few miles to the hospital are very busy with traffic lights holding things up.

When we first started going to clinic after his transplant we drove straight into the multi-storey car park and after getting the wheelchair out of the back I'd have to push him all the way into the Oncology and Heamatology Outpatients clinic. When he got a bit better I'd drop him and wheelchair off at the drop off point and he got himself in while I parked and then caught up with him just inside to push him to clinic..... which saved me a lot of pushing. Now I can drop him and wheelchair off and he can prop himself up and push the wheelchair right round to clinic, so that by the time I've parked and walked from the car park to clinic he's usually already checked himself in and had his blood test.

They do a ticket system so that you check in, get a number and when called go round the corner from the waiting room to the blood test room. Then into another area to be weighed. He has to have his Hickman Line flushed and dressed each week and they do this by letters of the alphabet cards and when your letter is called you go and get this done by a nurse  in another room. Next is the pharmacist who is there to see everyone who needs repeat prescriptions, she sends the prescription request on-line to the pharmacy.

Then we wait to see the doctor and we wait and wait..............and wait some more. There would always be an hour wait because the blood test results have to get to the doctor but usually it's 2 or 3 hours.
We've always got our flask and snack and there's a water cooler there too (There's also a (W)RVS coffee shop adjacent to this clinic but they are blinkin' expensive so we put up with the strange looks we get with our flask and mugs!).
Last week we were put in a little room to wait (and wait) because according to his blood test from the week before he was carrying a flu virus! which is odd as he's had no flu symptoms at all.
(All post-transplant patients wear face masks in the hospital to protect them from catching nasty things from anyone)

 Unfortunately the chairs in the little room were more uncomfortable than the main waiting room. He sat in the wheelchair and I went back to the main waiting room for some of the time.I did suggest he laid on the examination couch but that would have been even more uncomfortable!

While we are waiting I toddle off down to the Outpatients pharmacy to collect his tablets. It's run by Lloyds Chemist and usually very busy.........not really big enough for the size of the hospital Outpatients departments. First queue on the left to check in and they look on their computer and then give you a numbered ticket and tell you how long the wait is likely to be.......30 minutes is the norm. I either sit in the waiting area and wait for the number to come up on the screen or go back to the clinic. Then once the number is on the screen it's another queue on the right to collect prescription. We are so civilized with all this queuing! But you do hear a lot of moans and groans by people for whom this is their first time and don't realise just how long they have to wait. I was almost shoved out of the way one week when a lady's number came up on the screen and she thought that because her number was there she could push her way to the front! " Sorry, it doesn't work like that" I said and showed her my ticket number which had appeared on screen a few minutes earlier.......... she stood behind me and moaned for the next five minutes!

The wait in clinic is livened up by  a browse through the book cases in the corner where they have lots of secondhand books for people to borrow or buy for a donation. Two of the weeks recently we've been entertained by a lady Harpist which is such a nice idea......... Harp music is very restful. There are some jigsaw puzzles laid out and started on tables but I don't often have a go at them. I also do a lot of people watching - Cancer does affect all sorts of people - it's a great leveler. It's interesting to see how different people deal with the waiting. Sometimes I'll go and browse through all the magazines in the shop by the main Outpatients entrance -  and other days  wander right up to the other end of the hospital and go the the Bank - the only Barclays I know without long queues, or maybe nose around the gift shop, the clothes shop and Body Shop or the M&S food shop....... but I don't need to buy anything. ...... always amazed at the queue at the Costa Coffee shop!
If I'm into a good book that I've brought with me then I tend to stay and read rather than wander.

Eventually we, or Col on his own if I've gone off somewhere,  get called to see the doctor and hope he doesn't decide to prescribe some other sort of medication which would mean repeating the Pharmacy wait all over again.
When the doctor says "any more questions?"  we usually answer "please can we go home!"

Then it's a big push  up to the car park or he walks a little depending how he feels. Get the ticket checked to get the discount, pay at the machine and Hooray.... at last we are out and on our way home. Sometimes we get in  by 3 o'clock often it's nearer 4. Neither of us feels like doing much for the rest of the day, so it's get the kettle on, light the fire and then something on toast for tea.

Repeat all over again next week.

Back Soon

PS  Welcome to follower number  280 and thank you for jug comments. This new jug is a bit bigger than some of my other jug collection so was put straight into use.......after a good the jug in which I put some full fat milk watered down ½ and  ½.....roughly......... for me to use.

Monday 19 February 2018

Seem to have added another jug................. the collection.

How did it happen?
Because of a car boot sale of course!

I had to go food shopping so went early to do a quick tour of the boots, although I found I was feeling a bit rough so didn't get right round. Just far enough to find this

Alfred Meakin "Tintern" for £1. Tintern Abbey is tiny but just visible in the picture. I think it dates from around the 1930's although it might be later. It's got a teeny chip on the base but still looks good.

After the boot sale a short dash round Tesco's and home to rest. I've had the ears checked by nurse practitioner and she said no infection just a virus that's going round - like a head cold but bunging up the ears rather than nose (sorry - too much information!). Apparently quite slow to get better - Oh great joy!  So annoying to feel grotty on the sunniest and warmest day for ages, I could have been out in the greenhouse. Oh well, plenty of time left to sow seeds.After we moved here last year I didn't get started  until the middle of March and we still had things to eat through the summer.

Thanks for comments about finances and feeding the poorly husband. 

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 17 February 2018

Half Way Through February Financial Update

Whoops, should have posted this earlier in the week, it's now well past half way through the month. How are finances going?

If I don't count the beach hut ground rent and the house insurance, things look very good!
 Cold  weather and feeling poorly saves money

Stretching pennies is what it's all about.........................
£1 = washing soda crystals from Wilkinsons - these are used with a little Ecover  Laundry  Liquid in the washing machine.
55p= 2 Bath cleaning sponges also Wilkinsons. I cut these in half to make 4, I use them on the wash basins as well as the bath and shower.
£10.80 = Car parking at hospital. We get the ticket stamped so it "only" costs £3.60 a time. Sometimes we are there for 4 or 5 hours and it would be £7+ each time without the 'generosity' of National Car Parks allowing this discount for clinic patients!!
£10 = The cat. I've cut her down to 1½ pouches a day. She was eating Felix pouches but then they changed the texture and she wouldn't eat them so I've gone onto Sheba and cut the amount and increased the dry food a bit......... Cats!
£4 = Seed compost. I shall get some multi purpose later.
£1.50 = Entry to potato day (but I picked up a good sized cotton shopping bag free)
£5.10 = 30 seed potatoes. 5 of each of 6 different varieties
£3 = fleece mini tunnel for growing
50p =  the seed feeder for the birds from car boot sale
50p = the Winifred Peck biography from car boot sale
£2 = The brass trivet from charity shop
£1.65 = items from the chemist
 £92 = Supermarket food etc  - a lot of which is still in the freezer,fridge and cupboards and quite a few £s of this is trying to find something that tastes right for Colin. He is still losing weight which is worrying.  I'm gaining weight finishing the things he's tried and found not good! We've gone back to full fat milk to give him a few extra calories and I'm watering down ¼ pint to make half a pint for me each day.
£6 = eggs from local roadside stall - Col is eating lots - scrambled and french toast. Bread, cheese and eggs are now something he finds tasty and soft enough to eat.
 £35 = Diesel for Blue Car

Total spend so far roughly £170 (+the beach hut ground rent and house insurance).

The rest of the month..................
Need to buy.............the LPG, diesel for grey car, milk, fresh fruit and veg. and a few other food items.
Also have to add Direct Debits for charity and phone/broadband.

We are feeling pleased with how well the heating oil is lasting. Never had oil before so had no idea how often we would need to fill the tank.When the new oil tank was put in it had a remote sensor that plugs in indoors which shows how the oil is going down, except that quite often it isn't showing anything, then a day or two later seems to be working fine. We had the tank filled in May last year so the other day Col wrapped up warm and taking a clean garden cane he did what people used to do.........dipped the tank to see what the level was and happily it's still got more than a quarter left. But with so much cold weather and Col sitting resting the woodburner has been lit for longer and our wood heap is much depleted. We may have to get Col's brother to come and split more Ash before the weather is warm enough to be without a fire.
(Our next door neighbours - elderly and without a wood-burner, have had their tank filled 3 times this winter.)

Have a good weekend.

Back Monday

Friday 16 February 2018

February's Library Books

These are the books I collected from the Mobile Library yesterday.

                               (Whoops, I seem to be slightly on the huh with this photo)

Not many books this month and heavy on crime. No matter, still plenty to read on my own shelves.

The two that are not crime are light fluffy fiction by Erica James and The Adrian Bell book which was featured for it's jacket illustration in the book on this subject that I wrote about earlier this month.
I'm pleased that the library service have got round to stocking more of the British Library Crime Classics, they hadn't got these a few months ago when I looked. Hope the book about Jack the Ripper by Gyles Brandreth is as good as the series of crime featuring Oscar Wilde that he wrote a while back.
Should be a few more to pick up next month.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 15 February 2018

East Anglian Potato Day

The 22nd year of THIS EVENT and several of them at this venue which we now live closer to than ever before. (It's where I go for the Sunday Car boot sales in summer). It's run annually by Norfolk Organic Group, Suffolk Organic Gardeners and Ipswich Organic Gardeners Group.
There's a lot of queueing up to get in and I've waited in snow and rain and bitter winds - it's rarely warm in Mid February. Last Saturday was Freezing and but dry enough. I arrived ¼ of an hour before the doors opened and reckon I was about 50th in the queue!

There are lots of other organisations running stands there and it costs £1.50 to get in but by picking up a free shopping bag from the District Council Re-cycling stall........
 I reckon that covers the entry charge. (Bit peeved that they only had cloth bags this year, every year previously I've had a sturdy jute bag). Inside the 80 varieties of potatoes are laid out in labelled boxes in alphabetical order and cost 17p each. They provide paper bags to put the potatoes in and pens to write what you've got. .

Before I went I checked the website to see what types they had available this year and  I decided to mix in a few  older varieties. Last year we just had First Early Foremost and Second Early Charlotte.........10 of each I think, they were what we grew at the smallholding to sell. But neither were very outstanding taste-wise  here........the soil is different I guess, and we seem to catch more rain here than where we were by the coast. This year we have a bit more room than last year to grow.

 I got 5 (enough for one row across a veg.bed) of each of First Early ...Home Guard and Swift, Second Early........Charlotte and Nadine and Maincrop.....King Edward and Majestic. Total cost £5.10. All I have to do is remember to write down a note of the rows when they are planted and it will be a good taste trial.
They make sure to hand out notes for next years date of course.

I need to get the early spuds on trays to chit (produce short shoots) The dining room table should be the best place for them........steady temperature and light.Nice sturdy shoots are what's needed...........and then roll on spring for getting them planted. We're going to need quite a lot of fine and warm weather to dry out the veg beds this year.

One of the stalls were selling off these...... "clearing out" they said ...........for £3 each. Good bargain.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 14 February 2018

February 14th

So who was Saint Valentine?
And why have I never had a Valentine card except for ones made by the children at school when they were little?

Saint Valentine was a 4th century martyr, and little is known about him ......or them because it seems there might have been  two ............ a Roman Physician  and a Bishop in Italy.
 The link between Valentines Day and romance dates to the 14th century and was probably due to it being the eve of Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival of fertility. It was also the day the birds were thought to choose their mates.
 It was the Victorians who started sending cards and for a time these became comic and rude and the tradition fell out of favour, gradually being revived through the early 20th century.

I've found one weather saying for the 14th

                                             St Valentine Breaks the Back of Winter

So things can only get better from now onwards.

Although it still feels like Winter here and  we've had some really cold winds whipping across the fields. I'm not going very far at all, need to shake off this sore throat, ear ache and general grotty-ness first.

 Thank you to everyone for pancake comments..........We had pancakes..........they were good.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Shrove Tuesday

More usually known as Pancake Day and traditionally the day to eat up all the eggs and butter before Lent fasting. I've never quite understood this as it's round about now that chickens start laying well again so even if you eat lots of eggs in pancakes there will be plenty more eggs before Easter......... what did they do with all the eggs between now and 40 days time? And anyway, pancakes only need a teeny bit of some sort of fat for frying so it wouldn't have used much butter.

Oh well, whatever the reason it will be pancakes for dinner tonight........... with sugar and lemon obviously, I'm a traditionalist, no foreign ideas like maple syrup or chocolate spread here!
  And why do I always get the one which is usually a bit too thick and doughy because the pan is never hot enough first time round?

  Mix a pancake, stir a pancake, pop it in the pan;
         Fry the pancake,toss the pancake -
         Catch it if you can.
                                                                                                          Christina Rossetti 1893


 Back Tomorrow

Monday 12 February 2018

Back to My Own Bookshelves

What a cold weekend we've just had here, perfect for staying in with a book and the Winter Olympics, Shoot-out Snooker and 6 Nations Rugby on TV. Since Thursday night  I've been fighting off a "bug" that finally turned into sore throat,ear ache and feeling pretty rough. Luckily  I survived long enough to get us to hospital clinic on Friday and for me to go to  the Potato Day on Saturday morning (more about that later in the week) but since then it's been minimum work of getting wood in for the wood-burner, cleaning out the fire and easy food prepping.( A lot of sandwiches and toast!) and washing up. Luckily Col is beginning to pick up a little energy and has been able to help with keeping the fire alight, making a cuppa  and a bit of wiping up the crockery. I haven't had any sort of lurgy for ages........a year or more so I'm a bit cheesed off!

Getting back to the subject...................January's collection of library books didn't last me for the whole month because, after flicking through them, there were several I didn't fancy, so ended up just reading 5 out of the 9  brought home.

 Then I resorted to my shelves and in  11 days I've got through all this lot........

 Top left......................R.M. Dashwood - Provincial Daughter
Written in the style of and by the daughter of E.M. Delafield who wrote the very entertaining "Diary of a Provincial Lady". This was OK but not as good as her mothers work.
Top centre .............Gerald Hammond - Dead Weight
A Prolific author who turned out lots of crime books set in Scotland in two series during the 80's and 90's. This one is from the gun-dog training series set around the kennels where dogs are bred and trained.
Top Right.................. D.E. Stevenson - The House of the Deer. Another prolific author who wrote through the 1930's to the 1970's. Also set in Scotland this is one of her later novels (1970) and is not much more than a romance. Persephone reprinted her earlier Miss Buncle books - don't think they will be reprinting this one!
Bottom Right............Mary Wesley - Jumping the Queue. Her first novel for adults published in 1983 when she was aged 70.
The Fantastic Fiction website describes it thus.....Recently widowed, Matilda Poliport's meticulously planned bid for graceful oblivion is foiled. Later she foils the suicide attempt of another lost soul, Hugh, on the run from the police, and life begins again for them both. But life also throws up nasty secrets and awkward questions, both from Matilda's past and her present.
An odd little story with no happy ending.
The other two books pictured by Ngaio Marsh were written in  1940's. A huge Crime series  featuring her detective Roderick Alleyn. I had a set of 7 re-prints of the early novels from Book People a few years back and have now worked my way through them.  I've got the next 3 in an omnibus edition from the library here to read and the rest will be borrowed from the library sometime in the future.

The mobile is round again on Thursday, bringing me 7 books I've requested. It won't be bringing me the new Elly Griffiths because I only just realised it had been published and remembered  to add myself to the library waiting list and found I'm 338th !! That must be the longest waiting list in the whole history of Suffolk Libraries! They have got 90 copies on order but even so it will be a while before it's my turn. Thankfully I've never seen the need to rush out and buy new books and I'm quite happy to wait my turn.
 I'm also waiting my turn for 17 others including one that has popped up on several blogs......"Home Economics- How to Eat Like a King on a Budget" by Jane Ashley. I'm afraid I can't justify spending £10 to buy,  so I'll borrow it..... 2nd on the waiting list............ and see what it's like and then if it's worth having it will be on Amazon secondhand and much cheaper in a while although I'm guessing most of the recipes have already been on her Eat Not Spend website. Actually looking at her website it's plain to see just how much food prices have shot up in the last year. No way is butter now 89p.

I loved all the comments about Spam and Ye Olde Oak Ham for Sunday teas......thank you to everyone for joining in with memories.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 10 February 2018

Spam, spam, spam, spam..........................

When you have chemo and nasty tablets forced upon you, one of the side effects is loss of taste-buds or things tasting weird and a dry, sometimes sore mouth.

So when Col said "I fancy Spam Fritters" I wasn't going to argue.

Spam is funny stuff, not something we had much when I was small as far as I can remember although we regularly had other tinned meats like luncheon meat and Ye Olde Oak Ham in it's unusual shaped tin, which was always part of Sunday tea if Aunties, Uncles and cousins came round.

Spam first came to this country from the USA during World War II.

Here's what Wikiwotsit says

History Spam was introduced by Hormel in 1937. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America states that the product was intended to increase the sale of pork shoulder which was not a very popular cut. Ken Daigneau, brother of a company executive, won a $100 prize that year in a competition to name the new item. Hormel claims that the meaning of the name "is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives", but popular beliefs are that the name is an abbreviation of "spiced ham",

According to various wartime books it was a very different product to what we see now, with a layer of fat around the outside - just as I remember corned beef once having about 30 years ago.

More from Wiki

Beginning in 1940, Spam sponsored George Burns and Gracie Allen on their radio program. During WWII, Spam was not only eaten but was also incorporated into many other aspects of the war; it was so prominent that Uncle Sam was nicknamed "Uncle Spam". Other terms influenced by the product’s name include the European invasion fleet, or the "Spam Fleet". Furthermore, the United Service Organizations toured the "Spam Circuit". In the United States in the aftermath of World War II, a troupe of former servicewomen was assembled by Hormel Foods to promote Spam from coast to coast. The group was known as the Hormel Girls and associated the food with being patriotic. In 1948, two years after its formation, the troupe had grown to 60 women with 16 forming an orchestra. The show went on to become a radio program where the main selling point was Spam. The Hormel Girls were disbanded in 1953.

There is a Spam museum in Austin Minnisota...............sounds er............exciting?

Here is the Nutritional Information for Original Spam (from Wiki again)
Net weight per package: 340 grams (12 oz.)
Serving size: 100g

Quantity per 100g
Energy 1,300 kJ (310 Calories or kilocalories)
Protein 13g (26% Daily Value or DV)
Total Fat 27g (41% DV)
  – saturated fat 10g (49% DV)
Carbohydrates 3g (1% DV)
Sodium 1369 mg (57% DV)
Cholesterol 70 mg (23% DV)
Vitamins and Minerals (% DV) 1% Vitamin C, 1% Calcium, 5% Iron, 3% Magnesium, 9% Potassium, 12% Zinc,
and 5% Copper

From the above I'd sum that up as fatty and salty!

A big tin of Spam - 340g is £2, so 58.8p per 100g. It's not something that will ever feature regularly on our menu but  a tin sitting in the cupboard is a useful standby. If it's popped in the fridge for several hours before opening it can be sliced very thin and will do fritters and a couple of days for lunch sandwiches.

BTW I was Never a fan of Monty Python and the spam with everything sketch makes me feel quite ill!

Back Monday

Friday 9 February 2018

Winter Flowers and Bird Watching

I think winter flowers are more precious than any others. Aconites and snowdrops are pretty but tiny but Hellebores must be the best. We seem to have 4 different ones here.
                                                          White with pink middles

Completely white

                         White with purple flecks and green centres, these are not quite open yet

              And my favourites, the earliest and tallest - shades of purple, dark in the buds and lighter the longer they are open

I expect these are all have proper Latin names but I don't know them.

With so many clumps of flowers I was able to bring a few in to enjoy in close up, which was a mistake that I should have foreseen - flowers that can stand up to minus temperatures are obviously not going to last long indoors - two days and they had keeled over.

 Of course one of the good things about the Christmas or Lenten Rose is that as it's leaves are evergreen you always know where they are when weeding the garden and I've got a lot of clearing to do as soon as the weather warms a bit. We had our coldest night of the winter here on Wednesday night, after waking to the most snow we'd had in the morning..........although only half an inch!!.

Compared to the showiness of the Hellebores poor Primroses look quite pathetic when there is just one little plant but it won't be long before they will be out everywhere and make more of a display.

Colin did the RSPB Big Garden Bird watch and saw all the normal visitors to the feeders and the ground beneath..............
Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tail Tits, Coal Tits, Goldfinches, Robins, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Hedge Sparrows, House Sparrows, Wrens, Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons, Pheasant,  Dunnocks, Starlings and Blackbirds.
It was only a few days later that we also had a visit from a pair of Greenfinches and best of all.......a Yellowhammer.
The squirrel has been back once or twice but since I repaired the big feeder....above.... with a flower arranging Oasis holder on the base, (fixed on by heating a tent peg over the gas and going through plastic and wire on each side) and a plastic tub over the top, he hasn't been able to get into the feeder. Ha! Mr Squirrel !
( Col had sent for a squirrel-proof feeder but, luckily as it turned out,  it didn't arrive and were refunded by the ebay seller. So mending the feeder and failure by seller saved £7)

Welcome to a new follower - I'll soon be up to 300 at this rate. Thank you to everyone for comments, hints and tips on various things.