Tuesday, 10 December 2019

December 10th and The Accidental Christmas Cake

I wasn't planning to make a Christmas cake this year. I made one last year and  without Col here to eat it no one else ate much so that it ended up lasting me through all of January and beyond. ( I think I fed the tail-end to the birds!)
But I accidentally bought marzipan and icing.....don't ask!........... so made a small cake. It smelled so delicious when I unwrapped to feed it for the first time, that I decided it was worth making for that experience alone.

The recipe I use is a Mary Berry recipe from over 30 years ago. Pages torn from a Family Circle Magazine and kept ever since, although I also have the recipe on a separate sheet of paper and on here on the recipe page.

Adding a little brandy  to keep it nice and moist

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Monday, 9 December 2019

December 9th and The First Card

The First Christmas card was produced by Henry Cole, founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1843. It was specially produced to be sent by the new penny post which had started in 1840. The cards were sold at Felix Summerley's Treasure House - a store in Bond Street London. They cost a shilling each and were a big commercial failure. But the idea didn't disappear completely and by 1860 many were being sent and when the halfpenny post for unsealed envelopes was introduced in 1870 then everyone started to send cards.
The first plea to "Post Early for Christmas" was in 1880.

The Victorians loved scrapbooks and albums and soon cards became larger and more colourful so they could be fixed into their albums and shown  to visitors during the year.

My first Christmas card arrived on Thursday of last week. It was from my cousin in Felixstowe, the first card is always from my cousin............... even when they were up north in Chesterfield.

And yes! it had a robin, and a postbox and snow - all my favourite things for a card.

I must get on with card writing and posting them out. I have letters to put with some which always slows things down. I'm so bad at letter writing now I have the blog.

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Sunday, 8 December 2019

December 8th and The 5p Money Box

Emptying the 5p money box is not as much fun as it used to be. That was before all the money laundering rules when you could walk into a bank with your bags of change and they would give you notes in return. Now you have to pay it into an account and it sort of disappears into the general pot.

Why they think you would be laundering illegally earned money in 5p pieces I have no idea.

Anyway once again all year I've been emptying my purse and putting the 5p's* that get stuck in the corner and some 10p's* in the tin. I found several 20p's* there too. I also had £2 worth of  2p and 1p coins in another tin where I chuck them if I have too many in my purse

So I added up, bagged up as per bank instructions, found some more 20p's* left from car boot change to fill another cash bag and will pay a grand total of £32 into the bank. There was about a pounds worth of 5p's* to go back in the tin to start the collection for Christmas 2020. So although this was my money anyway it feels like £32 that I didn't know I'd got, which is quite nice. In years past I would use this for the Christmas Ham and Turkey, now it will be used for some other treats - a pack of that special local butter is top of my list.
 Next year there will probably be a lot less in the tin as I seem to being using contact-less card payments more often now as it's so easy.

 *with the ending of the Apostrophe  Preservation Society I feel free to put Apostrophes everywhere even when I have no idea if they should be there or not!!

Thank you for comments about Christmas stamps yesterday, with mixed opinions on designs. Sorry about not replying - a bit busy out with grandchildren.

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Saturday, 7 December 2019

December 7th and The Christmas Stamps

As usual I bought a few Christmas stamps for using this year

This is the whole set available for 2019

image from Royal Mail website

They are OK but perhaps not as colourful as in the past. So I found  my stamp collection (Philately will get you anywhere!) and looked back to past Christmases.

Thanks to all of Colin's Dad's years and then our years of trimming and sorting stamps for charity I have a good collection right through to 2003. Then the charity stopped delivering and collecting the stamps so it all came to an end. The children still remember back to the 1990's when a huge sack full would arrive and we would tip them all out on the living room floor and turn them over and over to look for something exciting, before putting them back in the sack and trimming and sorting properly.

2003 is where my stamp collection ends and the stamps were bigger then

But look how colourful and joyful they were in the past

From this you can also see how stamp prices have increased over the years.

Eldest Daughter and Grandson Jacob arrived safely, Son-in-law forgot he was due somewhere Friday evening so he may follow on today.

Hopefully the weather today will be better than yesterday evening as we  are going on a Santa Hunt.(No idea!) There were two events of switching on Christmas lights and street fairs in villages  not far away yesterday and it must have been a wash-out for both.

Thank you for all the comments yesterday and apologies for not getting round to replying to all.

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Friday, 6 December 2019

December 6th and The Lonely Bauble

 Among all my red, red/gold, gold and silver tree decorations I discovered one lonely yellow bauble. There are a few green and no blue at all but just one small and very lonely yellow bauble.

It needs a new home.

But meanwhile everything red, gold  and red/gold  has been added. I'm no minimalist when it comes to bunging things on the tree, I like it bright! 😎

I'm also not bothered that a very old set of lights are multi-coloured and the newer set are all plain warm white and I've searched but as far as I know not one bauble on this tree was bought new.

Mixed weather day yesterday, it started with a bit of brightness then thick fog rolled in for several hours which made everywhere feel very damp and cold. It didn't really go until late afternoon and by then it was too late for much sunshine, I lit the fire and settled down to watch the snooker, but still couldn't get warm and then I started sniffing and sneezing - oh B****R gone down with a cold, that explained the feeling chilly............. but a day before visitors............ Drat........I shall fight it off.........hopefully.

A man brought my Blue Ray/DVD player and connected it up. I didn't need to write down instructions for changing from DVD to TV as it's simple enough.( I have no idea what blueray is apart from another way of watching something) but the old DVD player wouldn't fit the new TV as scart leads don't exist anymore.With any luck this new stuff will "see me out"!

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Thursday, 5 December 2019

December 5th and Bah Humbug!

BAH HUMBUG - Button Pinback Badge 1.5" Anti Christmas | eBay
image from internet somewhere
Imagine being around in 1652 when the message went round the country that Christmas was banned henceforth. The Puritan Parliament had abolished Christmas and even sat in parliament on Christmas Day.

When Christmas was despised and banned for 22 years in ...
image from boing boing.net

  Would people still have sneaked out to bring in a bit of greenery?........ would they have quietly made a Christmas pie?.......(not a pudding, that came a bit later). I have no idea.

A man called Hezekiah Woodward who was a nonconformist minister of the day and also well known for writing and distributing pamphlets - or tracts as they were called then, wrote in 1656..........

" We are persuaded, no one thing more hindreth the gospel work all year long, than doth the observation of that Idol Day once in a year, having so many days of cursed observation with it".

Is he saying - Christmas went on for Far Too Long?.................Nothing new then!

  After loving Christmas when our children were young and Col's Mum was alive I was a bit Bah Humbug for a few years in the early 2000's, everything was hard work and I didn't know what to do for presents, or who was coming and going where and when. All Christmas organising was always my job and maybe I got resentful that most of the work and every decision had to be made by me.

No More Bah Humbug
image from somewhere else on internet

 But I've not been Bah Humbug for several years now........ I got over the grump.  So I'm quite happy for supermarkets to play Christmas music for weeks and love to see houses with all their decorations outside from early December. I ignore all the hype about buying and do my own thing. I've got over the dread of "weird presents" and making Christmas Hampers solved the what-to-give problem.
 I'm not even going to let the 'being on my own' thing spoil the fun and Christmas for me started last Saturday and will last all month.

I wrote the above paragraph and thought  "sure I've written that before?"  I went onto the old blog and thanks to looking in Christmas in the Labels...found this from 2013....In fact NOVEMBER 12th 2013!

Every year some people seem to  get themselves into a tizzy about the approach of Christmas. They are worrying about the commercialism, the never ending ads on TV. The over eating. The debt. But I can't see the point of getting all "het up" about it ( as we say in Suffolk).
You can preach all you like but there will always be some people who go completely OTT. This is the time that shops take the most money, so of course they are going to advertise. You don't HAVE to buy what they are trying to persuade you to spend on. However much money you give some people they would still spend it on things others consider unnecessary. However little money other people have some will still spend it all and borrow more.
You can be annoyed at the shops playing Christmas songs in November, but there's no point in raising your blood pressure over it. Just do your shopping and leave.
 You can be an all-the-year-round Christian or at only-at -Christmas-church visitor but you will be made welcome whoever you are. And if you are not - then find another church next year because if a church doesn't make a stranger feel welcome then they are not doing what they should be doing.
You can be Pagan or Atheist as long as no one is hurt by your beliefs or non beliefs.
You can stay at home, read a good book, watch TV  or go to huge family parties, in the whole great scheme of things as long as you are not hurting anyone then it doesn't matter.
You can spend a fortune on presents, make them or buy them secondhand. If the recipient doesn't like it then it's their problem not yours.
It's just Christmas, it happens every year. Enjoy it or not.

 Blimey, I was a bit  preachy back then!

For me to have written this in the first half of November Christmas must have been starting very, very early in blogland........ much earlier than nowadays.

I disabled/dismantled comments on the old blog so have no idea what people said when I wrote that!

Yesterday I met up with Rachel-in-Norfolk for a coffee and catch-up in Diss Morrisons (Didn't notice any Christmas music). They were doing free top-ups of coffee, but had all toilets out-of-order.............. which must have caused some people a problem - luckily I was alright until I got home! Me and Rachel (sorry Rachel and I) have now met up several times and still have plenty to talk about.

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Wednesday, 4 December 2019

December 4th and The Christmas Mantel

I couldn't put my Christmas tree up at the weekend as it would have been in the way of the TV man but after singing 8 Christmas carols (sore throat followed) at a coffee, cake and carols event at Cotton Chapel on Saturday I felt festive enough to put autumn back in the cupboard and find Christmas for the mantel shelf.

The wooden Christmas cats and mini snow globe are new-to-me for 2019 and I've put 4 things in a bag for  the next charity shop visit to make up for acquiring more 'stuff'. I think the snow globe, with a jolly snowman inside is quite old as it's not lost any liquid like modern globes seem to do and it has something in it that looks like snow rather than glitter - which is what they put in snow globes nowadays.
I've also put my Christmas cup and saucer in the charity shop bag, it came from a charity shop years ago and I've faithfully used it every December since, but the darn thing is so heavy and so big that it loses heat quickly, so someone with bigger arm muscles can enjoy it now!

 My Christmas started with the carols and cake last Saturday, continued with more carols, Christmassy demonstrations and party food at WI on Monday evening and this weekend the Surrey family will be here, so I've made a start with writing cards and wrapping gifts so they can take them home with them as they won't be staying here again this year.
 Some people love wrapping presents........I don't, they never look very good when I've finished but as the paper usually gets ripped off anyway I've given up worrying and I don't add fancy bows or twiddley bits any more either. Sellotape and a name tag - usually made from last years Christmas cards - that will do.

More New TV news...............Sorted out how to get BBC iplayer yesterday so I'm able to catch up on University Challenge and Only Connect on a better (than lap top) screen. Why the Beeb insist on always putting both programmes  on Mondays when I'm at WI every other week I don't know!
I'm ever so pleased with the bigger and clearer picture, the family will get quite a surprise when they see it - "Fancy Mum getting up to date!".

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Tuesday, 3 December 2019

December 3rd and The Robin

I now have a TV aerial affixed to the side of the house and a brand new up-to-date bigger TV wot-does-things! So far I know how to turn it on and off and change channels. I shall learn more I expect as time goes on.

Now here's a silly thing...........................Very nice bloke fixed aerial up, ran wires along etc and got the outside sorted. Then he came in and unpacked the TV and said " I don't believe it - this TV has Freesat built in as well as Freeview!" "WHAT" said I, "you mean to say I didn't need to have an aerial at all, it would have run off the existing dish?!" He said " I fitted a TV that was the same as this last week and it didn't have Freesat built in, they must have had this slightly different model into stock and no-one knows!"
After he'd sorted everything out and showed me how to work the TV and packed up and left. I rang the shop, explained about the inbuilt Freesat and why had they sold me an aerial I didn't need and there was a deathly silence.........long enough for me to say "are you there?". Yes, he was still there and was completely dumbfounded, he was looking up the specifications online, no mention of Freesat being on this TV. How odd.  He asked me if I wanted the aerial taken down and a refund as I'd been mis-sold.......I said I'd think about it, but it seems a bit pointless as the Satellite dish is quite old so could well disintegrate sometime and now I have a choice between two ways of picking up a signal, which might be useful...........
Although in a few years time we probably won't need aerial or dish as  we'll access new TV's through our broadband connection and search the WWW through the TV screen. That will be exciting??!! I wonder how much it will cost? and they'll have to be big improvement in internet connections for some parts of the UK............Oh I forgot............that's one of Boris' or that other blokes promises!(can't remember which as I've forsworn all election debates etc for the foreseeable future!)

 Anyway,  now to the Advent post .........................The Robin

This is another illustration from the library book by Catherine Hyde borrowed in October

The reason we have robins on so many things at Christmas is explained in one of my little books that I've had for years.

To Quote " Robins choose their mates as early as December so their plumage and song are at their best when other birds' are dull and mute..........................The Introduction of the penny post in 1840 also led to the robin being used as a symbol on Christmas cards and early postmen wore royal red uniforms and were sometimes called 'Robin Postman' "

                                                  There's a robin on my Christmas bell

I wonder how many Christmas cards will feature a robin this year?
  I'd love to have a friendly robin like the one that Joy found in Bury Abbey Gardens and one does visit the bird feeders but not friendly enough to pose for photos.

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Monday, 2 December 2019

December 2nd and the Cards for the Family

 Writing a blog is fun, but even better is meeting up with another blogger and Joy and I had a good chat when we met up in a coffee shop in Bury St Edmunds and on Wednesday I'm meeting up with blogger Rachel - so two blog meet-ups in one week.
It always surprises me how quickly I can get to Bury on the A14 nowadays. A journey that took over an hour by bus going through villages in 1971 when I first worked in Bury Borough library now takes less than 20 minutes on the A14......... which hadn't even been built back then. Although it takes me nearly 20 minutes to actually get onto the main road first! Not that I mind, because being so far from a major dual-carriageway everywhere at home is so quiet and peaceful.

Last year I bought a  slightly naff Christmas decoration for £1(from a boot-sale of course) -  a canvas picture with lights run by batteries. I took a photo,  printed it out and this year turned them
into.............cards for the family.

Later I added some peel-off labels and hopefully they're good enough to send. The lights show up quite well in the photo.

Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday.

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Sunday, 1 December 2019

December 1st and the Advent Calendar

Every year since 2015 my December blog posts have been a photo-a-day of something relating to Christmas.
Shall I do something different for 2019?
Why change when you're having fun?!

So here we go
My 1st Advent Photo for this year.

  I wasn't going to bother with a calendar, but then I thought ..... actually I like choosing a calendar  and opening a door every day so this year I found this big free-standing  one. It's a village scene with the 3 Kings and their camels coming in on the right and the shepherds approaching on the left but a very English speaking HOTEL and CAFE in the middle!

Behind door number 1, in an upstairs window is a person carrying a candle on their way to bed.

Happy December everyone!

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Saturday, 30 November 2019

November Financial Round Up

No-vember wasn't a no-spend month, it never is, but my Black Friday  spending just involved going to a fund raising coffee morning run by the Friends of The Doctors Surgery where  I bought coffee and cake, a book, some draw tickets and  more Christmas wrapping paper, exactly the same as some I got several weeks ago at a boot sale and also 50p. NOTE TO SELF....DO NOT BUY CHRISTMAS WRAPPING PAPER IN 2020! 

Other spending this month..................

  • Polly cat had a trip to the vet for the same problem as January - a mystery allergy or something that makes her clean herself too much so that her back legs go a bit bald - the treatment like last time was a steroid injection.
  • The wet weather on the first weekend of November put off a trip to a local firework night with son and family but that left me with a bit extra to spend on our own first ever 'extravaganza' here. There are some rockets left for Christmas ...maybe or next year.
  • Food for me, (including a bit extra spent on the Locally Produced bits) and the cat, things for making gifts for the two hampers. 
  • The usual  Direct debits
  • Started getting vouchers that the grown up children want for Christmas. Finished buying for Niece, Nephews and Grandchildren.
  • I bought the rolls of willow fencing stuff that Rob-next-door-but-one has now fixed up on the posts to fill up the gaps and make a sheltered spot under the Turkey Oak. 
  • Had a hair trim instead of a wet cut as it hadn't grown very much - saved a few pound.
  • Topped up the heating oil with 500 litres. Enough in there now for a few months.
  • The ride-on mower was taken away, serviced, cleaned and generally sorted. Now right ready for next year
  • A big spend on a TV aerial and a new bigger TV-wot-does-things! will be fitted in next week. I'm getting myself up to date at last.

A man at a car boot a few weeks ago had a huge box full of Christmas tree baubles etc for 10p each. Some new but most used, and I sorted through and got these for £1. Red and Gold for the Christmas tree this year I think. I hope the tree hasn't disintegrated any more after another year in boxes and bags in the cupboard. I'll be doing it early as the Surrey family are visiting Early December rather than at Christmas.

The only income was the usual County Council spouses pension, repayments from loans to family and bits of interest from savings, so savings were dipped into again......but still enough left to last me until state pension time in 2021 ............perhaps Labour will get into power and mysteriously find some money to pay us 1950s women what we've missed out on by goalposts moving ......... a few years of back paid state pension would be a nice chunk of money, but I think that's very unlikely.

Any Frugal bits?
I won a raffle prize (giant chocolate Kit Kat ) at WI and will wrap it up and use it for the raffle at the village over 60's Christmas lunch.
Still eating my own potatoes and frozen peppers plus leeks from the garden.
Made a batch of pastry cases to put in freezer ready for quiches or flans over Christmas etc.
Using bread-maker
Local and cheap apples from boot sale early in the month
Still catching the cold water before it gets hot enough for dish-washing.
Hung washing out  to half dry and then finished off in front of the fire in the evenings.
Finding half a tub of bird-feed fat balls for £1 at the table top saved me needing to send for bird feed this month.

The old rotovator from the workshop was bought and taken by the man who collected the mower for it's service.
Big bag of books to charity shop.
Cracked pudding basin and dented cake tin -out into bins

Nothing to do with anything else but it's always a surprise to look out of the bedroom window and see people, normally it's just wide open fields.
 A real country scene of a pheasant shoot, two fields away. There's a hatchery and rearing pens down near the village and they would have released them at the beginning of Autumn. Any journey on the little roads around means avoiding pheasants as they wander about but however many are shot there still seems to be some around to pick up all the food that the small birds drop from the feeders.

Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday

Have a good weekend - I'm going to Coffee, Cakes and Carols at  chapel. meeting a fellow blogger  and must start Christmas stuff ready for the Surrey family visiting next weekend.


Friday, 29 November 2019

No Car Boot Sales

Following on from yesterday's 60th post about car boot sales here is the NOT A BOOT SALE post!

The local Sunday small Boot  sales had to finish before the end of November because their site was  waterlogged and it just keeps raining so no big boot sales either. That meant  I was "forced" to go to Stowmarket to the monthly indoor table top sale in the Church hall  (really I went for shopping and to organise a new TV but I knew about the sale so had to have a look!).

I found a few bits and bobs including half a tub of bird feed fat balls for £1 and a new Sudoku book also £1.
I always have a Sudoku book on the go, so like to snap them up when I see one cheap. There's another copy of "The Night Before Christmas" ready for Willows advent parcels in 2021. And two little Christmassy bits - a little old fashioned snow-globe and some mini crackers. The snow-globe is another bit of vintage tat for the mantle piece and the crackers are for trimming the Hampers.

As for organising a new TV - it took a while because I need a proper aerial first - something this house hasn't got. The TV I have was bought several years ago, for a much smaller room and has no 'extras'. I'm getting myself up to date at last but still avoiding paying for any extra channels as I'll have free-view rather than free-sat.
Just hope the bloke who comes to set it all up and 'drive me through it' has plenty of  patience because although I might be OK at writing a blog, buying stuff online, hanging pictures, driving a ride-on mower and unblocking drains,  I'm totally hopeless at understanding things about TVs. Every time we've moved in the past it's been Colin or our son who've done all the tuning in etc.

The weather forecast has been telling me everyday that things are going to get colder but brighter, hopefully today's the day as yesterday was yet another wet, grey, dismal day. The car is a right muddy mess again so I suppose I shall have to clean it........... again. My least favourite of the jobs that Colin used to do.

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Thursday, 28 November 2019

Definition of A Squirrel?

1. One or other of various species of rodents (characterized by a long bushy tale, furry coat and bright eyes)

A few weeks ago Mr Tasker Dunham commented on one of my many (actually 59!) blog posts with car boot bargains that I must have been a squirrel in a previous life, I know (hope) he was joking but it made me think.........Oh dear...........do I squirrel stuff away........ after all no one else has 59 blog post about car boot finds! or do I just find useful things at good prices

Lets have a look at a recent picture
Apples .............eaten
Brio......given away
Candles ......for hampers to give
Jar/Vase......in cupboard
Soap kit......in bin after trying it and discovering it smelled vile!
Kilner jar......in use
Birthday card........sent
Clog...ready for next August Flower Show

and the previous photo..............crackers and wrapping paper for Christmas

Then I went back through the posts labelled "Car Boot Bargains" and picked out at random...........

From a September blog post. Bottles ready for hamper gifts. Children's books given away already or for future. Toothpaste in use. Adult book off to Ziffit. Seeds for next year. Journal book for making a folklore/weather  journal/scrapbook during the winter....I have started it ....not got far yet.

Another photo from August this time................ Bowl in cupboard. Railway toys went to Florence. Book kept for now. Bus here for Jacob

Jumping back to July............................. The Tree book is on my shelf the other one went off to Ziffit after reading. The teapot full of toy tea-set has been much used here. The tub of Dinosaurs will go to Jacob and the zoo animals stay here. The Easter crackers will be for Grandchildren next year.

Going back even further to October last year

The slipper-socks and car sponge were given for Christmas presents last year. Bib was used for Willow at Christmas. The book was looked at and then off to charity shop or ziffit. The torch turned out to be rusty in the battery bit and had to go in bin. The oven gloves are still in the cupboard ready for a gift.

A random picture from Summer 2018............shower scrunchies - one in use, two in cupboard. Cars here or at Jacobs. Peel offs for crafting....................some here some sold at car boot sale. Book here for grandchildren. Lettuce seeds still here to be used.

Another photo from 2018, right back before Colin died. The Ladybird book is still here - Willow loves pretending to count the ladybirds. This little piggy glove finger puppets - still here. The cling film in use. Nasturtium seeds used last year.

What about picking a random photo from even earlier..........October 2017......The  dolls pushchair went to Florence and still in use. The cake shaped candles are at their house too now. The jars have all been used for gifting chutneys or in my cupboard and the winter bell will be on the mantel-shelf again very soon.

And another from early days of this blog..................The jug is still in use for catching the cold water before the hot water arrives. Tomatoes - long gone, 3D decoupage used for a card a long time ago. The teaspoons are in use, The washbag went for a present and the parchment has been used up.

That's 10 Car Boot Bargains posts plucked at random from the 59 labelled. Seems like everything has been used/in use/given away.

So I shall  dispute the idea that I was a squirrel in a previous life! I think I'm just making good use of other peoples unwanted things and squirrels don't use unwanted things..........they pinch my hazelnuts and ruin the bird-feeders!

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Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The November Library Book Photo

Collected from the Library Van last week, all books I'd requested on-line and  Goody, Good - Plenty to read.

 7 crime set in various periods in history. 2 Cookery books - I've borrowed The Savvy Shopper before but spotted it on someones blog and decided to have another look. I usually like Rachel Hore's books, this is her most recent. 'Waiting for War' is another look at the phoney war from 1939 - 1940. 'Close to where the Heart Gives Out' is subtitled 'A Year in the Life of an Orkney Doctor', which tells you what it's about. 'Confessions of a Bookseller' is the second by this author and the first was excellent. Finally 'The Victory Garden', not an author I'm familiar with and the story isn't a mystery or set in WWII so I'm not sure why I ordered it, unless I read about it on a blog. Hope it didn't get into my pile of requests by mistake and was really meant for someone else.
I'm looking forward to reading several of these, just have to decide which to start with.

I read almost everything from last month's haul - which is unusual The only two I couldn't get into were Dancing with Bees and All Clear. Hare and Moon was just a 'looking at' book and The Modern Herbal is very comprehensive and if I didn't already have a couple of books on herbs I might have coveted this one.
Book read have been added to the separate page.

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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Around Joe's Lane and Back Down the Road

Sunday was so gloomy and grey indoors and out, so after making the Cattern cakes, mixing the Christmas pudding and getting the breadmaker to make me a loaf of bread I thought I'd better get some exercise in the damp daylight.

The farmer hasn't used his quad bike yet to put the line of the footpath back across the field which is very muddy. You can just about see where a few people have walked across, but I decided to go round the edge.

Looks like a deer .....probably a Muntjac went the same way

Then along Joe's Road and I've no idea who Joe was

Onto the proper road and I passed the hard standing which was full of sugar beet two weeks ago

All that's left is a big heap of soil which fell off the beet when it was loaded, I expect it will get shifted sometime

This barn was up for sale a while back for conversion to a house, but nothing has happened yet

 Someone's been round with a can of yellow spray marking the pot holes and these kerb-stones that need repairing because they've been pushed away from the road edge, so I guess we'll have a road closed sign sometime while they do the work.

The brown signs are the Heart of Suffolk cycle route- about 50 miles round Mid-Suffolk, and the green sticker is for the new Hakluyt 6 mile cycle ride round the different parts of the village

 Between this photo and the one below I talked to Simon and Andrea who pulled up in their car beside me to say hello, they live in a house on the road opposite the end of the lane and then to Ruth who lives in the house beside the post box, she was gardening out the front of her house. They were the only people I talked to all day so it was a good thing I went out.
And the postbox at the end of my lane has been painted - a rare occurrence.

Bright red and easier to see now

Then I went up the lane and home to light the fire.

The electric is off here all day today......a planned outage while they do repairs somewhere nearby. Think I will be lighting the fire much earlier than usual.
(edited  in at 8.30 - just had a text message to say electric outage has been cancelled for today - bother - I shall have to do the hoovering after all!)

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Monday, 25 November 2019

November 25th ....St. Catherine's Day

Cattern Cakes and Lace is the book that started my collection of books about Folklore, Weather Sayings, English Customs and the special days celebrated in the past. I found it years ago in a charity shop I guess - as it says 70p inside the front.
It's full of recipes and traditions all illustrated with photographs and water-colour paintings. 

In the introduction to the book the author, who is a lace-maker, says she heard about Saint Catherine when reading about lacemakers in Tudor times celebrating their Patrons Day with merrymaking, Cattern Cakes and bohea tea. St Catherine had become the protector of young unmarried women when stories of her Martyrdom on a wheel of fire were brought back from The Holy Lands by returning Crusaders. Catherine of Alexandria was said to be beautiful and intelligent and after a vision converted to Christianity but was put to death in 310A.D by Emperor Maxentius.

Bohea tea is now known as Wuyi and is a type of black or oolong tea from China and Cattern Cakes (Cattern is a corrupted version of Catherine) are a sort of fruity/pastry/cinnamon swiss roll cut into slices before cooking.
I thought I'd make some just to see what they were like................quite good but don't think I'd bother again

I used the Cattern Cakes book and the others I collected, to write a page  each month for a year for The Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter, it included many of the days I mention here on the blog but also  A Shepherd's  Calendar and  Fresh Produce Available. After that I had nowhere to use all the bits and pieces of interest in my books so Hooray for blogging!

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Another November Saturday and Stir-Up Sunday

 It's been good to have a (mainly) dry week this week after  the first half of November which was so wet, dull, gloomy and  muddy. Even though the sugar beet has all gone from the fields and all the big heaps have gone off to be turned into sugar, there is still plenty of mud around on all the small roads close to home, and despite it being a waste of time I washed  the car and got the mud out from all the wheel arches and it looked better............... for about 2  days.

The following is one of the poems from the little book of collected Country Poems that I found in a charity shop in October. I said I'd share some on the blog, but shelved the book and forgot , until now.

The lonely season in lonely lands,when fled
Are half the birds, and mists lie low, and the sun
Is rarely seen, nor strayeth far from his bed;
The short days pass unwelcomed one by one.

Out by the ricks the mantled engine stands
Crestfallen, deserted, - for now all hands
Are told to plough, - and ere it is dawn appear
The teams following and crossing far and near,
As hour by hour they broaden the brown bands
Of the striped fields; and behind them firk and prance
The heavy rooks, and daws grey pated dance:
As awhile, surmounting a crest, in sharp outline
(A miniature of toil, a gem's design,)
They are pictured, horses and men, or now near by
Above the lane they shout lifting the share,
By the trim hedgerow bloom'd with purple air;
Where under the thorns, dead leaves in huddle lie
Packed by the gales of Autumn, and in and out
The small wrens glide
With a happy note of cheer,
And yellow amorets flutter above and about,
Gay, familiar in fear.

Robert Bridges (1844 - 1930)

The sun only 'strayeth from it's bed' a couple of times this week, but even that was better than the forecast.
 From poetry it's easy and interesting to see how language changes just in  4 generations. I know that the engine mentioned is the threshing machine and daws are Jackdaws, but would my children?  I had to look up 'firk', which means "move quickly or dance" and  found 'amorets' means "an amourous girl"  or "a love knot" but I guess it's alluding to falling leaves. Also presume 'gay' isn't used in the same context as we use it now!

So apart from eating locally produced food, what have I been doing since my last Saturday round up two weeks ago?
Well, as usual I've been out and about. Swimming once a week and thinking how much easier it is in summer, because now there are too many clothes to take off and put on! For just a few minutes this week I was the only person in the pool - felt quite luxurious.............. and very strange.

I've been sorting some books for the charity shop, I'm getting more ruthless now, even some of my WWII Home Front collection are going. Also tidying crafting stuff into  smaller spaces. I have a chest of drawers in the craft room that now only has one drawer full of crafting papers and once I decide what/where/how to sort them, the chest can go.

On Thursday I volunteered to take Col's brother for a hospital appointment as the letter he got said "don't drive home", but it turned out he could have driven himself there and back. Oh well. He's got to be there at 8am one day in December and definitely mustn't drive - not sure I can get up early enough! so hope he can find someone else, luckily he's got dozens of mates.

I've been watching some repeats of "Who do you think you are" . Episodes I missed from a few years ago and this week it was Danny Dyer - of Eastenders fame and he was tracing his ancestors back to the landed gentry, including The Tollemache family of Suffolk. It reminded me that I really ought to visit Helmingham Hall which is not far from home, a famous house and gardens, owned by the same family for 500 years, yet I've never been.
It gave me a plan for next year.....A Tourist In My Own County. I'd better write a list!

Are you making a Christmas pudding this weekend? It's "Stir Up Sunday". The Sunday before advent was known as Stir Up Sunday because the collect for the day from the Book of Common Prayer says "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 The congregations version was "Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot, Stir up,we beseech thee, and keep it all hot!

This week I am Grateful for
  • Ideas for 2020
  • My books
  • A quiet swim
  • Fine days

Hope you have a good weekend, whatever your plans. Not a lot going on for me this weekend but I don't mind that at all.

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