Monday 31 December 2018

That Was 2018

As usual for the last day of the year I'll look back with a few photos

WI meetings are part of my life now
Here's last years programme from Big WI

Two speakers didn't turn up and I missed a couple of meetings from early in the year when Colin was in hospital and after he died.

Snow in February on the meadow, following the hare footprints

A lot of travelling the A14  main road to Addenbrookes early in the year

The lovely tulips flowering for the first time in my mini cutting garden

The book that started my journey around some of Suffolk's churches

Arrival of third Grandchild on my birthday in April

A Lucky Photo in May

Just some of the condolence cards received after May 11th

One of the 4 boards that Eldest Daughter put together for Colin's funeral in June

In August I entered some things in the Bacton Flower and Produce show

Here's a list I made in September to help me through the months, I've ticked the things that have been completed
  • Clear the garden✔ 
  • Clear the greenhouse ✔ and wash down
  • Wash all the used pots✔
  • Clear the patio pots of summer stuff✔ and then
  • Plant up some pots for winter colour✔
  • Keep swimming✔
  • Keep going to monthly craft group
  • Sort through Colin's clothes and send to charity shop/clothes bank (I cleared his chest of drawers several weeks ago because I need to move it but the wardrobe is still full) (Started)
  • Make a memory box for the grandchildren. A lovely idea that a friend (who was a Cruse Bereavement counselor) gave me.✔
  • Go through Col's books and sort.......... to Ziffit/Charity shop/ keep/donate to Mid Suffolk Light Railway Museum ( I've actually made a start on this already)✔
  • Go through Colin's DVDs and CDs and sort as above✔
  • Visit more churches in Suffolk ✔ including a
  • Day out in Bury St Edmunds and a ✔
  • Day out in Felixstowe
  • Make lots of birthday cards - I've stocked up on 3D Decoupage sheets ready to get started✔
  • Start the HUGE job of sorting out all the might-come-in-handy stuff in the workshop. I have no idea what a lot of it is anyway. Sort into crates for selling at Auction and stuff for a skip. (Started a little)
  • Help at a charity shop? ✔
  • Read (goes without saying!)✔
  • Visit local NT properties that are open.
  • Chop kindling and pick up twigs for fire lighting✔ Ongoing
 Making Chutney in October
 The regular library book photo is always popular

New technology isn't for me but Son in Law's drone photo was very good

That was 2018, which ended with me going down with a very nasty cold and feeling very rough, (kindly passed to me from Eldest Daughter and Son in Law  before they went home!) Spent two days laying on the settee and  sneezing and watching old war films, westerns and Shadowland. Only getting up to go to the loo, put wood on the fire, fetch drinks and food .......I work on the "feed a cold, Starve a fever" regime.  Not nice being alone when you are ill, hopefully it won't last too long.

I'm not sure about posting everyday through January - not many interesting things will be happening to write about, I'll see how it goes.

Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting  and support through this very weird year.

I have got a January 1st post in drafts so back tomorrow

Sunday 30 December 2018

So What Did I Put in the Christmas Hampers?

Jewelled Mini Fruit Cake                                                         

Christmas Cranberry Chutney
Beetroot Chutney
Spiced Nuts
Chocolate Cookie Mix in a Kilner Jar

Plus some things not home made
Flavoured coffee sachets
Wafer rolls for the coffee - like you get in posh coffee shops!
Savoury Biscuits
Lindt Chocolate Bear
Scented sachets

All useful I hope and all packed into the Jute bag to use for many years.
So some of the ideas I came up with through the year didn't actually get used - they will be noted for 2019.

Back Soon

Saturday 29 December 2018

Some Lovely Pressies

Would you believe that on Christmas Day we completely forgot to take any photos. All my plans of getting the three grandchildren photoed all together - kaput- how hopeless I am.

I did remember to snap Jacob, now 2½ in his den (under a blanket hung between chairs) on Thursday before they went home, he has his favourite  cars with him and Mummy's phone!

and Willow now 8 months old, who had popped over with her mummy and daddy to say goodbye to her big cousin.

I'll have to take my camera next time I visit Florence to get some photos  of her too.

Having all my family here was the best present but I had some other  nice presents for Christmas (including the ones I had chosen for Col's brother to give me!) and just a couple of strange pressies that make me think that people don't know me at all! Which I know sounds awfully ungrateful. Sorry.

The puzzles I choose  - one will be started today.
Holly and Ivy butter spreaders and cheese knife from eldest - seem to be starting a collection!
Books I want to read, from son and youngest daughter, these are part of series and an Amish one from my wish list
Some  sweet treats (and I also have some Lindt Lindor hidden away for January) and a pretty tea towel

This looks interesting - something I choose myself
And lovely glass Christmas coasters

A white Hellebore to add to the garden later
And a Hyacinth too

A Robin nest box in the shape of a teapot. I shall wedge this into a tree that's covered with ivy rather than fixing to a wall or fence.

And a bamboo and bristle pan brush from a penny pincher pen friend- very handy.

And somewhere in the country is a person with the same name as me who is missing a book from their Amazon wish list, because my nephew gave me a book that was supposedly from my wish list but certainly isn't!

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Friday 28 December 2018

Santa's view of The Cottage at the end of the Lane

Son in Law brought his drone when they came to stay and did some aerial views of the cottage. In the first picture you can see my cottage and garage behind it. The workshop is the shiny roofed building with the woodshed tacked on the end. The meadow and Colin's Birthday wood are not on the picture. The public footpath is along the lane in front of the cottage and passed the workshop, straight down the meadow and between the new trees.

Here's the cottage from the front, next door neighbours house stands back and then other neighbours in their new eco-home stands end on to the lane.

It was a beautiful clear day and you can see the wind turbines on the horizon 5 miles away.

The Surrey family have returned home, the house feels very quiet. A very strange time it will be here for the next few days as I have nothing happening until the world gets back to normal on January 2nd although I hope to restore the house back to normal before that!

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Wednesday 26 December 2018

Boxing Day....................

...................isn't a holiday in most parts of the Lucky Us!

In the book "Cattern Cakes and Lace" I found this tale about "The Hunting of the Wren", a horrible sounding custom which involved killing a wren and then asking for donations  - How Gruesome! 

December 26th is  St Stephen's day but he  is forgotten except for in the carol "Good King Wenceslas". But Wenceslas was a prince in Bohemia in the 10th century and the story in the carol is just fiction. It was probably the practice of giving money to servants or the poor that gave John Mason Neale the idea for the Carol in 1853.

Hope everyone had a lovely day yesterday. 10 adults and 3 small people was all a bit crazy!

Thank you for all the Christmas wishes, apologies I didn't have time to visit other blogs.

Most of this post is one I prepared earlier! normal blogging will resume when the house is back to normal.


Tuesday 25 December 2018

Happy Christmas

To everyone who reads my blog all around the world..............Thank you

                    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - Free Photos, Images ...

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Monday 24 December 2018

December 24th..............Short of Time

Went to a the first Cafe Church yesterday at the Methodist Chapel where Colin's Dad was a lay preacher for many many years  before he died. Col's sister goes to services quite often so I said I go and see what a Cafe Church was like. We did some crafting and drunk coffee, not sure what the older members of the church thought. Then Col's brother cooked a roast dinner for the three of us.
Home again to prepare for arrival of Jacob......
Once he arrived no jobs got done!

Ran out of time to do a post!


Sunday 23 December 2018

December 23nd and the Spiced Nuts

This is a photo from a few years ago because I forgot to take any this time, but this year looked the same

They are exceedingly more-ish and it was a wonder any of them got into the bags for the hampers.

To make them I just put some runny honey in a bowl and added a little cumin, coriander, paprika. Stirred in the nuts and spread them on baking parchment on a baking sheet. They had 10 minutes in a fairly hot oven, stirred them round and then another 5 minutes.

Left to cool and bagged up with some left for me and Christmas visitors if they last that long!

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Saturday 22 December 2018

December 22rd and My Christmas (and the whole of January) Reading

I seem to have collected rather a lot of library books from the mobile library, once again it was a big surprise because the system is still playing up and not telling anyone when the books have moved from one library to the library they've been ordered from.

The whole lot are crime which is worrying! and look at the size of Tombland at the bottom of the pile. I usually read C J Sansom's previous book in his Shardlake series before the next one arrives to remind me of the storyline as there is usually a few years between each volume. But there is no way I'll have time to do that.
All the above are authors I've read before except "Dark Suits and Sad Songs" by Denzil Meyrick, have no idea where I came across the idea of ordering this to read.
Top of the pile is the new Christmas novella by Anne Perry " A Christmas Revelation". I enjoy these small books which always feature characters from her other  two series.

I have a feeling I will be glad of all these books to keep me occupied because after the busyness of the last two weeks January will be very quiet.

 Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday, I was re-assured to find there were a lot of other people  who hadn't got in some green stuff for the Solstice!

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Friday 21 December 2018

December 21st and the Winter Solstice

According to my Country Wisdom and Folklore Diary at 22 minute past 10 tonight we should celebrate the Winter Solstice and the Official start of Winter.

Today is also St Thomas' Day.........

St Thomas grey, St Thomas grey
Longest night and shortest day 

The tradition of bringing greenery into the home goes back a Very long way. This would have been the only decoration available to the poorest homes.
And even earlier each plant had a meaning.........Holly was a symbol of everlasting life and fertility, Ivy was an anti-witching plant with medicinal values, Rosemary was holy and magical and Bay was sacred to Apollo and Aescutapious, the God of medicine. Mistletoe was also associated with fertility and used by Druids in their ceremonies.

Christmas wreaths made of greenery are also ancient, thought to date back to Roman times when they decorated homes during Saturnalia. The wreath is thought to be a symbol of the wheel of the year. (The word Yule is usually thought to come from the Nordic word jol but may come from their word for wheel.......houl).

There should be pictures of holly, ivy and other green things here but I was so busy yesterday that I didn't get round to bringing anything in. I'm working my way through a list of food preparation so I can spend more time with Grandson Jacob when he arrives with his Mum and Dad on Sunday afternoon and before then I have coffee at a friends, a carol service and a dinner out, a shopping trip, bread sauce to make, spiced nuts to do for the hampers, deliver the hampers, more red cabbage casserole to make and cook. Some small presents for neighbours children to wrap, wood and kindling to bring in and maybe I'd better do some cleaning!

So instead of a photo of green things brought in for the Winter Solstice here's a page from the book "Cattern Cakes and Lace"

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Thursday 20 December 2018

December 20th and Mixing Mincemeat recipes...............

................ is not always a good idea!

When I found a recipe for Cranberry and Apricot mincemeat I thought it would be really nice to make for hamper gifts and to use for mince-pies - as a change from the usual Delia recipe. Especially as I planned to make a Cranberry and Apple Christmas Chutney so would be buying dried and/or frozen cranberries anyway.

This is the Delia recipe that I've used for several years - I usually just do half the recipe as it makes a lot


1lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped small.
8oz Shredded suet - I always use Vegetarian Suet
12oz Raisins - chopped
8oz Sultanas
8oz Currants
8oz Chopped candied peel
12oz Soft dark Brown Sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 Oranges
Grated zest and juice of 2 Lemons
2oz whole almonds, cut into slivers ( I just use flaked)
4 teaspoons mixed ground spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grated Nutmeg
6 Tablespoons Brandy

Mix everything together  EXCEPT the brandy  in a large ovenproof bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and leave for 12 hours or overnight.
Next day cover the bowl loosely with foil and put in a cool oven Gas ¼, 225F (120C). For 3 hours.
The reason for this is to melt the suet so it coats all the fruit with fat, sealing in the juices and this will stop the apple fermenting which can be a problem.
Remove the bowl from the oven and it will be swimming with fat - don't worry.
As it cools, stir from time to time. When it is completely cold stir in the brandy.
Pack in clean dry jars and seal.
Keep it in a cool dark cupboard and it will keep for a year.

This is the CRANBERRY AND APRICOT MINCEMEAT recipe found somewhere online

500g Mixed Raisins, Sultanas and Currants
140g Dried Apricots
85g Dried Cranberries
85g Mixed Peel
150ml Brandy
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
175g suet
100g fresh or frozen cranberries
200g soft brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Put all dried fruit and peel into a bowl, pour over brandy, zest and juices.
Stir cover and leave for 24 hours.
Tip everything into a saucepan and add remaining ingredients.
Warm gently over medium heat until suet is melted.
Turn up heat and bubble for a few minutes.
Pack into sterilised jars,

I rarely follow a recipe exactly so.................
What I did................
The half a tub of mixed peel that I had in the cupboard turned out to be nearly a year out of date and looked very pale and nasty so I used double the cranberries instead. I used 200g of  (vegetable) suet as that's how much there is in a packet and otherwise I would have been left with a box with a tablespoonful left in the bottom which would never get used.
I then followed the Delia method and mixed everything together EXCEPT the brandy, covering and leaving for 24 hours. Next day I warmed the bowl in the oven until the suet melted and left it to cool before stirring in brandy and putting into sterilised jars.

It looked lovely BUT I realised that the reason the second recipe cooks everything is to make sure the cranberries are cooked. After using some to make mince-pies and doing a taste test I found the new mincemeat is delicious but the apricots ought to have been soaked and maybe cooked a bit too as they were a bit chewy. I don't think I can give it away so will use it up quick and make a big supply of mince-pies...and when I offer them around I'll need to explain that the chewy bit are apricots and not something worse!

Here's some pages from another book from my shelves........ "The Ladybird Book of Christmas Customs"

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Wednesday 19 December 2018

December 19th and The Holly and the Ivy

 I ran out of time for writing a proper post so here's an old carol and another page from The Country Diary Christmas Book.

  Carol, from the same Greek word as chorus, used to mean a round song or dance. There were Easter Carols, Midsummer Carols, May Carols as well as Christmas Carols.

The Holly and the Ivy is a very old folk carol and was re-discovered by Cecil Sharp at the end of the 19C, in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.

windycorner: The Holly And The Ivy
Thank you for comments yesterday, I now have another red cabbage to make a second batch. And apologies for not leaving comments anywhere recently. It's been a busy few days.

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Tuesday 18 December 2018

December 18th and The Red Cabbage + plus something funny?

One of the things that yells Christmas to me is a red cabbage! We used to grow a few to sell when we were at the smallholding and they always sold well just before Christmas but not so popular afterwards, although they keep for ages.

The recipe I use to make this colourful part of Christmas dinner comes from Delia Smith's Christmas.
A BBC book dating from 1990 (One of the few Christmas presents that Colin bought without me knowing!)

Braised Red Cabbage with Apples
2lb Red Cabbage
1lb onions chopped small
1lb cooking apples, peeled cored and chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground cloves
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
½ oz butter
Ground black pepper and a little salt.

Pre-heat oven to gas 2, 150℃
Discard any tough outer leaves of cabbage, cut into quarters and remove hard stalk. Then shred the rest finely..
In a large casserole arrange a layer of cabbage seasoned with salt and pepper, then a layer of apples and onions with a sprinkling of garlic and spices and sugar. Continue with layers until it's all used. Pour over the vinegar and add some dots of butter. Cover with a tight lid and cook slowly for 2 - 2½ hours, stirring everything around once or twice during cooking.
Once cooked this will keep warm without spoiling or can be refridgerated and reheated or frozen.

I "sort of" followed the recipe but didn't actually weigh  the cabbage, used my home made cider vinegar and eating apples rather than cookers as that's what I had and less onions than the recipe because they were making my eyes water too much!

It tastes good and has gone in the freezer but not sure if its really made enough for 10 people........ may have to repeat.


A very British sense of humour? So many bits of this radio programme made me smile, snigger and  laugh when I listened on Sunday that I thought I would share it with anyone interested, just to find out how many people find it funny or is it just me? ( and the people at the recording?) Is it funny in other parts of the world?...................... If the link to the radio programme actually works its here.............I'm Sorry I haven't a clue series 70 episode 5

Many Thanks for comments yesterday
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Monday 17 December 2018

December 17th and The Ice Rink

Some more pages from The Country Diary Christmas book, compiled by Susan Hollis.

Ice skating was popular in Victorian and Edwardian times - when the winters must have been colder. It gave the young ladies and gentlemen a way to meet informally and show off their skills.

 This quote is below the picture - so not everyone was a natural on the ice!

Francis Kilvert also writes in his diary about skating at Draycott Water ( near Chippenham?) in 1870, there were bands playing so the skater did the dances of the time - The Lancers, Quadrilles and The Sir Roger de Coverley. It sounds as if skating carried on until after dark because he mentions Chinese Lanterns and torches being lit.

This poem is on the same page

 Last Saturday there was an "ice" rink in the middle of Stowmarket nothing like the painting!

 It was only little but big enough for children and their parents to have a go. I didn't like to take a photo with children in it so just a quick snap.

The ice rink was part of an event called Christmas Snow-fiesta and it was certainly cold enough for snow. There were stalls all down the street and carol singers - all very Christmassy. This photo was early morning

I  had volunteered to do a couple of extra hours in the charity shop in case it was extra busy , but it wasn't too bad and there were three of us there so I tidied and topped up the book shelves and then did some sorting upstairs. I'm still overwhelmed by the muddle and it doesn't help that each week things have been moved round because it's all so new and gradually getting organised. When I left the charity shop at midday everywhere was packed with people. There was free parking on all the car parks which was a good idea to get people into town.
I've been to many things alone in the last 7 months but it felt odd to be walking through town on my own among all the families, so quickly got the shopping done at Asda and home to light the wood-burner and warm up the house for an evening of glitzy glamour........ the Strictly Final. (Think Stacey and Kevin got the sympathy vote because on the day none of their routines were as good as the others! I didn't mind who won, it's all good entertainment.)

After I wrote this I did some research on the artist - because under the picture it say's "L Prang & Co(after a work by Henry Sandham)". Turns out L Prang & Co were a company well know for producing Christmas cards the USA! and Henry Sandham was actually a Canadian Painter.
This is an original of Sandham's  dated 1886, from which the Christmas card  could have been copied

Ice Skating, 1886

He came to the UK in 1901 to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts and died in London in 1910

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Sunday 16 December 2018

December 16th and the Special Carol Service

The Co-op Funeral Service hold special carol services for families to remember loved ones who have passed away during the year. I got an invite as did Col's sister and we both decided to go. It was in Stowmarket church among the Christmas trees. Which looked so much better seen at night and all lit up compared to when I saw them in sunlight.

There were favourite carols, poems and bible readings. It was a good service and I lit a candle in memory of Colin.

But one problem - I can't sing anymore. I used to be able to sing and hold a tune but now my voice sounds like a quavering old lady! Is it because I don't talk very much? Can't be old age as many choirs have older members.
I thought I would try and sing and record it with the camera and found if I'm loud it sounds OK. So now I know what to do - practice singing loudly at home............But don't worry I won't be inflicting it on you!

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Saturday 15 December 2018

December 15th and the 50p Christmas Decoration

I've  tried  this almost every year since 2013 ............ To do a post that makes the the page views go mad!

It happened  first with this  post that went viral (slight exaggeration!) from November 30th 2013......................................

This morning Him Outside concreted in the  6 new posts for our broken fence. He wanted to get this done so that when our son is here next weekend he'll be able to help lift the fence bits upright, while they are fixed back onto the posts.
I did the ironing and a bit of housework then biked down to the village hall to have a look at the Annual Cancer Research Christmas Sale. Plenty of people there and things to buy but I just had a go on the Grand Draw and spent 50p on a little Christmas Decoration that I've hung on the back door. (The last of the Big Spenders!)

 For several years this topped the page views - have no idea why and I found if anyone googled Christmas Decorations up popped this post.

It's no longer at the top of the viewing lists but when I bought a 50p decoration this year it reminded me to try it again.
I wanted something old fashioned-looking to add to the mantel-shelf and found this happy fella in the charity shop

I'll see what happens with the viewing figures....................

Many  Thanks for comments yesterday. Apologies for not getting round to replying. I had a day out travelling down to visit my Essex friends who have recently moved house. Managed to find them in their new village without too many problems.

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Friday 14 December 2018

December 14th and the Brown Paper Packages.................

.......................tied up with...................ribbon.

I have actually got some Christmas wrapping paper - some saved from presents, a few folded new sheets and  a roll from a car boot sale last year - but also had a roll of brown paper from several years ago - it's moved house twice - and loads of ribbon.
It was about time it was used

 I've been dipping in and out of this library book

which is an interesting book about the history of all the customs we take for granted. Including the wrapping of presents.

Many of the first gifts were hung on a Christmas tree and were edible and these were often displayed in paper cornucopias, which was just a cone of paper or card and filled with sweets or dried fruit.(Mentioned in 1832 when a German professor, teaching at Harvard took the idea to the USA) Paper cornucopia could be made at home but soon shops were selling specially printed paper for making the cones.

In the well known engraving of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their family dating from 1848, the presents under the tree were not wrapped and there is no mention of wrapping presents until much later.

The Outkast Group – Monday Musing: The Brief History of ...

By 1882, the wealthy were importing "Dresdons" these were boxes made from card that had been pressed, shaped  and lacquered to look like tin  and were in the shape of animals, ships, sun, moon etc. and were often more expensive than the gift inside, and made the unseen gift more mysterious.

Wrapping of presents followed the Victorian approach to decorating their homes, with boxes to put things in and tables, chairs sideboard etc all being covered. It was the Victorians who first had cases for gloves, handkerchiefs, spectacles and folders to hold writing paper, covers for matchboxes and bags for nightgowns and their  early wrapping paper was just the brown or white paper that all shops used to protect their customers purchases on the way home. As late as the 1880's a British children's book describing a German Christmas explained, as though it would otherwise not be understood that "Every present is wrapped up in paper and labelled from Mary to Jane, or Jane to Mary, as the case may be"

After the industrial revolution and mass production, shop bought gifts often replaced home made and wrapping became more popular showing a bit of care and love had been taken with the gift. Just like nowadays the manufacturers responded to the new trend by producing more colourful wrapping and then printed labels.
I'm hopeless at wrapping Christmas presents, just like card writing I start with good intentions but then finish in a hurry so  one of the good things about giving hampers is that no wrapping is necessary. For a couple of years I found hamper baskets at boot sales, I've also used boxes and covered them in cellophane. This year I had an excellent find............. a man was selling these new bags for £1 each or bargain of 2 for £1.50. Much more useful for using after Christmas..................... long as  no one minds shopping with bags with random advertising - but they'll have to like it or lump it as my Mum used to say!

 I much prefer prefer jute bags for shopping as they are so much easier to pack compared to cloth bags where I usually get the handles tangled with the shopping, hopefully the family will agree.
 Everything should fit in nicely.

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