Friday 31 January 2020

January -The Ins,Outs and Frugal bits

January spending was low.............. until the trees were cut down and I had to pay their bill! Although it's like paying for winter heat 2 or 3 years in advance so I don't mind and then I peered in the top of the heating oil tank and thought it would be best to get 500 litres in before it got any lower and a day later noticed the dial on the cooker LPG switch-over thingy was red so an empty cylinder to replace. 

So spending was low but not for long!

Pound, Coins, Currency, Bank Note, Money

There were no utility bills due this month so other expenditure was just the regular direct debits for broadband/phones and charity plus food for me and the cat, diesel for the car (prices have gone up again I notice). I bought a second-hand car seat so I can take youngest and nearest granddaughter out to toddler groups or whatever after new baby arrives; had a much needed hair cut and another chunk went on vegetable seeds and the moth traps for the apple and plum trees. The vet visit wasn't too bad as we decided on no steroid injection and I'll keep Polly in at night  and  try the calming pheromone stuff which was £30 at the vets but I bought online for £16. With any luck it will work so I won't need to go back to the vets again for the same thing. Then the window cleaner turned up yesterday, another thing for the OUTS column.

A few frugal things?
Took walking shoes back to the shop for free repair
Eating leeks from the garden, still a few peppers and mange tout peas in the freezer.
Re-stocked the Christmas card stock with a pack half-price from the Cancer Research shop
Access to free physio advice in Suffolk
Free NHS health check
8 Birthday cards made, using up  more card-making stash.
Took advantage of cheap pensioners fish and chips when I picked up my prescription - both in the same village a few miles away.
Reading library books for free
Always catching the cold water to use elsewhere before the hot comes through when washing up.

Still a little clearing out...............
Books to charity shop
Top that I'd not worn for years ditto
Tea-cosy ditto (Had two and rarely use a tea-pot!)
Few more crafting bits ditto
Few very old paper-craft mags to recycling - the more recent ones will go to charity shop

Bills arriving in February  will be the half-year water bill and house insurance. I've used Saga for insurances for a while, and usually talk them down so it stays the same as last year but might try a local brokers after a letter came offering a £50 shopping voucher for new insurances.

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Thursday 30 January 2020

30th January

Thank you to everyone for comments this week so far, especially about 'stuff' in the cupboards. If I didn't have room for all my possessions to be tidy then it would be time to move more out, but at the moment everything fits in, is used and tidy enough to find. I can't see any point in clearing out things that are used now and again because as sure as anything the moment I got rid would  the day before I needed it!
 So the clearing out will slow down to just books.............oh and maybe the tea towels (a post to follow sometime!) My sister and I (mainly sister as she was closer) cleared out Dad's house after his death and he hadn't chucked anything out for years- there was an awful lot of junk, don't want to leave my lot with too big a job - even if it is  hopefully a long time in the future.

There was no swimming again this week. The pool has had to put in some sort of temporary boiler as parts for their old one are having to be made from scratch. That short power surge in early January certainly did a lot of damage.

I went for the free NHS 5 year health check and the nurse asked about exercise - and of course I hadn't swum due to the above, I hadn't walked due to my walking shoes being repaired, I hadn't cycled because the weather has been too wet and hadn't gardened for the same reason! Making me sound totally lazy - oh dear. (I've now got my walking shoes back - so no excuses - except for the weather)

But, just a little bit of proper sunshine on Monday enticed me out for half an hour to start the job of cutting back all the dead stuff from the quarter circle garden out the back of the house. I often think my gardening mojo has disappeared but it always comes back with fine weather. Although the fine day on Wednesday was accompanied by a freezing strong wind which put me off.

Took Polly to the vets again because once again she is constantly cleaning herself and losing hair. We agreed that there was no point giving her another steroid injection. Instead I've sent for  one of those plug in cat-calming things and I'm going to shut the cat flap at night so the mystery cat can't come in and Polly will have to use a litter tray (UGH) night time. ( I know all about microchip cat-flaps but it would be difficult to change it on the door, plus finding someone to do odd jobs is difficult).

I couldn't believe what I found after getting my shoes back and doing my first walk  down the field and back up the lane - someone has cut down the branch of the old apple tree that had the mistletoe on it.  I thought the wind had broken the branch but No it's been sawn through and is laying on the ground under the tree

WHY? and WHO? is what I want to know.

I'm a bit cross, but nothing I can do about it.

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Wednesday 29 January 2020

St Botolph's Church Burgh

Another small Suffolk Church. This one gets a mention in the 100 Treasures in 100 Suffolk Churches book because of this...................

The door handle of the inner door is an iron ring set on a heavily bossed back plate said to have been forged in C13.
In medieval times, people seeking refuge from justice could take sanctuary within a church. Holding onto the ring would give them protection.

St Botolph's church Burgh sits on a a piece of high ground but it is over a mile from the main village. It's thought St Botolph brought Christianity here in the C7 or C8 and that his bones were brought here for safety from the Danes.

A plain interior but it has many stained glass windows

 One of the windows

The font has good carvings on it's eight sides

This painting is by Anna Zinkeison and illustrates all the birds in the bible. She painted it in 1967 in memory of her husband.

The carved pulpit is dated 1708, but is in an early Jacobean style

One of the interesting graves .

The church became famous in 1991 when  Andrew Lloyd Weber and his wife Madeleine Gurdon had their marriage blessed here.

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Tuesday 28 January 2020

What to Clear Out Now?

I've been clearing out unwanted things from the house ever since Colin died, mainly because I know I'll have to move again sometime and will be downsizing when that happens.

It's getting more difficult to know what else to get rid of.

Let's look in a cupboard so you can see what I mean - This cupboard is in the back porch-way over the washing machine.

Top shelf............. has got the District Council recycling/rubbish bags that I use instead of dragging heavy bins all down the lane.
Bottom shelf......... Container of washing soda, spare packs of the same and bottle of Ecover washing machine liquid. Shoe cleaning stuff and flower vases. Rubbish bags that I use for ash and in the swing-top kitchen bin - nothing surplus to requirements there.

Here's another cupboard, this is in the kitchen. There's the cat food that's in use with spare bags of dry food at the back behind the food in use (Spare boxes of wet food are out in the garage). Then on the left is the jelly straining bag and stand with the jam pan, funnel and spoon.
Underneath on the right are the liquidizer and behind that the food processor for my Kenwood and my very old chopper thing that I've had for 45 years. On the left at the back are other bits for the Kenwood (whisk, nut grinder,etc) and my mini cake tins, steamer saucepan and blanching basket. At the front is the salad spinner, a plate cover that gets used often especially in summer and a box full of various spare light bulbs.
But nothing really to get rid of - maybe the chopper thing - haven't used it lately but it's a useful gadget sometimes and not electric.

I've been round the house looking in cupboards many times now and there are very few useless things, unless you count things merely decorative - like my mini jugs and other bits and bobs on the dresser,

which I discovered,  after putting the photo on here, could do with a bit of dusting and tidying and re-organising.

I could get rid of all this lot, take the shelf top off the chest of drawers below and leave a bare wall, but that seems extreme.

Then Sue's (A smaller and Simpler Life) post about Tea Towels gave me a nudge, that's possibly something I could sort.

I'll show you my tea-towel "collection" another day!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 27 January 2020

The Weekend

Hello and welcome to some more followers, hope you enjoy reading and also hi to some new people commenting.

I needed to go and pick up a new LPG cylinder for my cooker so thought it would be a good idea to call in at a village event..........not my village..............nothing happens here. But at Cotton they have Village Cafe once a month - breakfasts and some stalls - I had a chat with Colin's Aunt, who never seems like an Aunty as she's only 12 years older than me. (Col's Mum was already a teenager before this little sister was born). After my bacon roll breakfast and picking up the gas I came home a different way and saw some signs for a Jumble Sale........  so of course I went back in the afternoon to have a look.
It was Eye Scout Group  Jumble which I went to last year, so lots of children's toys and books. I found a big pudding basin to replace one that I chucked last year because it was badly crazed and two packs of children's card games, modern versions of some we had years ago. Had a go on the tombola and won................nothing as usual!

On Sunday I had a late 'Christmas' lunch round at BiL's house. Col's sister was there too as she had been to chapel. BiL had bought a reduced price turkey crown and wanted to use it up, without having to eat it all week - he's a much better cook than I am nowadays. I love baking but cooking for one is still a chore - I ought to get more organised with meal plans.........or something.

I meant to do the RSPB great garden bird-watch but didn't get round to it - and I'd cleaned out all the bird-feeders too. Earlier in the winter there were goldfinches but they seem to have vanished and the long-tailed tits only make an occasional appearance. I reckon it's because the weather has been so mild they are finding enough to eat in the garden and hedgerows. If winter isn't going to arrive until February or March I'd better order some more feed next month and a new peanut feeder as the one Colin made years ago it's falling apart.......squirrel proof this time so they can't bite through the plastic.

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Saturday 25 January 2020

It's Saturday Once More

Another week in Suffolk..................

No swimming again - I rang to check and the lady there told me the electrical surge had done more damage than first thought and parts for the pool heating were having to come from Belgium! They're hoping to be open next week but not definite, have to ring again.

The very windy weather 2 weeks ago had pushed over a small pollarded willow. It couldn't fall further because it was in the ditch but it was sticking out over the footpath that goes down the meadow. I texted BiL to see if he had a spare half hour and he had (that was a surprise!) so once again I cooked him dinner in return for chainsaw work......thank goodness he's not too far away. Hardly any useful wood from it as the biggest bits were only a couple of inches across.

I thought about going to the cinema to see the film 1917 (it was on in the afternoons in Stowmarket) but the temptation to stay at home and light the wood-burner was much greater!  I'll add it to my list of DVDs to borrow from the library when it's available.

All the logs that came from the trees cut down nearly two weeks ago are now stacked up on some pallets to dry and season reading for splitting sometime in the future. I couldn't get the ride on mower to start to use the trailer even after putting the battery on charge, so ended up using a wheelbarrow and carrying the rest one or two at a time - good exercise!
Got the mower to start in the end - so just hope it's the battery getting old and taking longer to charge up. It would take a VERY long time to cut all the grass here without it.

Tried out the car seat with eldest granddaughter - it's so blinkin' complicated, push this, pull that - they were simpler back when my lot were little - probably safer now but certainly more expensive. Anyway Florence and I went to see the sea at Aldeburgh - it was flat calm but grey and misty, we threw some stones in, looked at the huge seagulls, spoke to a fisherman ............the one who owns this boat below, although this picture is from Internet and obviously taken in summer - yesterday it was as damp and grey and foggy as everywhere else in Suffolk! He showed me what damage seals do to his nets.
Photo Borrowed From Beach website
 There are now so many seals coming to breed on the Norfolk coast  they are having to move south to find food. He said there will soon be no fish for him and the others who fish from these small boats.  Once there were about 300 young seals born around Norfolk coast each year, last year there were 5,000, because they are so protected............... but they are ruining the livelihood of local fishermen.

And Finally.....................
Anyone else been watching the Indoor bowls championship on TV last week? I was half watching on Friday afternoon but ended up turning off as there were so many people in the audience cough, cough coughing.  It sounded like a wonderful place for catching something nasty!

(plus a P.S. to my penfriend W on a windy Scottish Island, many thanks for the gift for grandchild number 4, it's beautiful- hope baby arrives soon, DiL is getting quite fed up)

This week I'm grateful for
  • Stacked wood for the future
  • The warmth from the wood burner on foggy damp days.
  • Seeing the sea on a grey day

Have a good weekend
Back Monday

Friday 24 January 2020

Using It Up

It was way back in October 2018 that I first thought about downsizing the card- making stash. I wrote....................
Owning all the card making stuff that I have means that if I see nice cards somewhere and buy them (like the ones  from the art exhibition)   I then feel guilty because I know about the bits and bobs sitting on the shelves at home.............I also don't want to shift everything yet again when it comes to the time to move house.

I made a few cards in January last year and some more for Easter and then a few more at Christmas, and cleared  lots of equipment out -  some at the two car boot sales and a few bits to The Big C charity shop in Diss where they run craft courses and have lots of crafting items for sale.

After all that I still have some 3D decoupage sheets left so got busy again and every female friend and family member this year will get  a vase of flowers card. All I need to do is add a"Happy Birthday" sticker/topper  and  "sister/sister in law/daughter/DiL" peel off  at the time.

I've not got rid of everything as I kept lots of card blanks, a few paper punches and rubber stamps, some papers, decoupage sheets, toppers, stickers, peel-off labels and other  things which might come in handy for grandchildren later.

This means that if I see a lovely card at an art exhibition which seems just right for someone I'll be able to buy it - supporting local artists- without feeling guilty that I have tons at home yet still I've enough bits and bobs to rattle up a card or two if need be.

And scaling down meant a whole chest of drawers was emptied and passed on to Son and DiL who needed something for Willow's Big Girl bedroom.

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Thursday 23 January 2020

WWII Fiction Reprints

The Imperial War Museum has joined the other publishers who are reprinting fiction from the 1940's. Books that have disappeared and been forgotten.

I'm not sure where I found out about this one but the library had it in stock. It is one of 4 Wartime Classics the IWM published last September.

London, 1942. Flight-Lieutenant David Heron, home in London on convalescent leave, awakes to the news that a murder victim has been discovered in the garden of his boarding house. With a week until his service resumes, David sets out to solve the murder. Drawn into a world of mystery and double dealing, can he solve the mystery before his return to the skies?

An interesting story, first published in 1943, but not a lot of depth to it and although it's 1942, there are very few mentions of the war and everyone seems able to move about in the blackout easily which seemed odd compared to others I've read.

The other 3 wartime classics they published last year are all set over-seas ......... one in Malaya, another in Normandy and the last in Albania. I'm not planning on reading those. There is no mention of more fiction from IWM archives being published but I'll make a note and check up again later this year.


I'm glad our weather is changeable as I wouldn't want a whole winter like yesterday - it was foggy all day, very dull, damp and gloomy. So just three days of sunshine and frost. The roses that were still in bud in November have opened, all sorts of primula are flowering and the cyclamen and hellebore are colourful too and the grass just keeps growing but much, much too wet to cut. All seems a bit too early.

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Wednesday 22 January 2020

Butternut Squash

Up until about 10 years ago I'd never grown butternut squash. Then we stopped growing Brassicas out on our field at the smallholding because of the increase in pigeons and other pests, leaving us with space for something else. Pumpkins and Butternut Squash were the best solution, they didn't need much care after planting and extended the vegetable selling season.

 I found a photo from the old blog from May 2014. The Squash and Pumpkins, planted out on the field. Each one has a little 'wall' of soil pulled round them to protect against the wind twizzling them out of the ground.

 Since we moved here I've grown a few plants each year with varying success, last year after good germination the plants didn't do well at all - the didn't seem to like being in the same bed as courgettes, and I think I ended up with about 7 small squash. To make the most of them I roasted several with lots of other homegrown chopped vegetables and stacked meal sized boxes in the freezer - I've still got a few boxes left.
I'd almost forgotten there was one squash left sitting in a basket on the kitchen widow sill until I moved the basket the other use it quickly.

That last squash was strangely shaped but actually that makes more useful flesh than the usual shape.
I chopped it all and added to a pan with chopped onion, a couple of chopped leeks from the garden, a few small potatoes peeled and chopped and an apple. Softened everything in a little rapeseed oil
Added curry powder, a tablespoonful of flour and stirred the mix up 'til the flour and curry powder were cooked then added a splash of vinegar, a spoonful of sugar and boiling water. Cooked that all for a while covered adding boiling water and stirring often. Finally chucked in the last three frozen spinach balls I found in their pack  tucked  in the corner of a freezer draw.
 Once the spinach had defrosted and I'd stirred it all in I ended up with 5 portions of curry, one to eat and 4 for the freezer.

Not many days later I was going through the seed catalogues deciding what I needed this year and found a  variety of squash called Tahiti Melon  - HUGE fruits with a long neck and small seed cavity.

Even if I only get a few it will be enough for loads of roast and tons of curry!

I do love trying things I've not grown before - all part of the optimism of gardening.

Thank you for comments yesterday and Monday, welcome to some new followers, hope you like reading my ramblings about a quiet  Suffolk life.

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Tuesday 21 January 2020

First Jumble Sale of the Year

The first jumble sale of the year was well advertised - which caused problems as it was in a tiny village hall on some very narrow roads. Everywhere was completely jammed up and I ended up having to reverse quite a long way because someone coming the other way couldn't!
I thought about giving up and going home because by the time I'd gone backwards, turned round and found a space to park a long way up the road, the queue to get in was about 50 people.
But I stayed and everyone eventually squashed in and I fought to get to the tables of bric-a-brac and  then the book table and after all that..............I spent just £1 on 3 things

Never had an apple corer and slicer, so thought I'd try one. The 12 tiny nail varnishes will be for Christmas for the eldest of the 4 children in the lane. I always get them a little something and pretend that Santa delivered them to the wrong address - although the eldest two are way past believing!
And the book - Suffolk Author and Suffolk Illustrator - a book for children - curious to see what it was.

Next jumble sale in 2 weeks time I think...........a waste of time and money? probably, but they get me out of the house on a Saturday until the car boot season at Needham Market starts in March - a month later than usual...............I'm getting withdrawal symptoms!(And they are  finishing at the end of October instead of early December - very sad news for me)

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Monday 20 January 2020

Very Small Library Book Haul

Thank you to everyone for comments on Saturday, I had every intention of replying but with the log shifting and then getting into a book the days just went.
The flat mouse story throws up lots of questions but I'm assuming Polly had left it there and it was already dead before I sat down!
Welcome to some new people who've clicked the follower button - hope you enjoy reading.

Just three books collected from the library van this month, which is probably a Good Thing as I've got several left from Decembers collection as well as all the books I had for Christmas.

The 3 books are another Venetian crime story by  Donna Leon ; 'This Golden Fleece' by Esther Rutter which is subtitled 'A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History' (think I spotted this on Ang's blog and thought it looked interesting) and  'Walking the Tides, Seasonal Rhythms and Traditional Lore in Natural Craft' by Nigel Pearson a bloke who lives in Suffolk.

I still have five left to read here from December/November. Books read have been added to the separate pages either 2019 or 2020.
A few went back un-read namely the British Library Crime Classic titled 'The Christmas Egg' ; The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen and surprisingly 'Darkness on the Fens' by Joy Ellis and 'Sorry for the Dead' by Nicola Upson. The first two I couldn't get into and the last two were just so much like all their others that I couldn't be bothered.

Since library day I started reading The Frayed Atlantic Edge, which is the story of an historian and nature writer  and his journey down the Atlantic coasts of Scotland, Ireland, bits of Wales and Cornwall by kayak. I stuck with him through the Shetlands and Orkneys and part of Scotland but then gave up - an interesting story of the people of the past who lived and worked on the rugged coastline - but a bit "samey".

The Medieval Christmas might go on my wish list as it's got lots of fascinating bits in which I'd like to re-read and keep, just hope the price comes down. If not I'll re-order it from the library next Autumn and hope they still have it in stock.

Hopefully I can make a start on reading some of my own books this month after I've read the library crime books.

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Saturday 18 January 2020

Over the Halfway Hump

January always seems such a long month, I think because it almost seems to start straight after Christmas, so it's good to be over the hump and running toward February.

Here's some more bits of my week up the end of the lane.

Last Saturday I went to look at my nearest farmers market. It's in a village hall about 10 miles away on the 2nd Saturday of each month.
 The stalls included someone with beef, pheasants and venison;  honey and candles; Pakenham Mill flour; and a family who, like me and Col, were in at the beginning of the Suffolk Smallholders Society, they are still going strong with their Gloucester Old Spot pork and jams and chutneys. I hadn't seen G for about 10 years so of course she didn't know about Colin. There was also a market gardener with a stall outside. I bought some lovely fresh purple sprouting broccoli - so delicious - it lasted me for 3 meals.

Drove all the way to the swimming pool one morning only to to find it closed due to a power surge which had damaged lots of the electrical circuits, they said it should be all sorted for next week.......think I'll ring and check before setting out.

When I go to the library van I park in a pub car-park -  at lunchtime, so this month I decided to go in and have a carvery roast lunch - very delicious it was too - and a treat not to have to wash up after a cooked meal.

Spent several minutes mid-week trying to catch a mouse that kept appearing and disappearing in the living room, Polly cat was no help, she just stood there looking behind the log basket long after the mouse had gone under the armchair. Next day I got up from the settee and found I'd been sitting on a dead mouse!  😲 How?.......................  It was very flat!

This week I've been grateful for
  • Being prepared for the electric going off
  • Plenty to read
  • More wood for the wood burner = More years here.

The weather forecast is more hopeful for the weekend - colder but dry and bright at last. Everyone I know is so fed up with all the  wet days we've been having. Perhaps I'll be able to start getting the newly cut logs into a heap and visit a Jumble Sale too.

Have a lovely weekend whatever you are planning
Back Monday

Friday 17 January 2020

And Yet More Firewood

I tracked down the phone number of the tree-cutting couple and contacted them about taking down a few trees and branches. D popped round to see what needed doing and then rang the next day to say they had a cancellation and had a free day. So that job is done already.....much sooner than I thought .............just waiting for the bill!

They cut down two thin poplars and branches off the sides off all the big poplars where they were overhanging the meadow and footpath. Then logged everything up and chipped the small bits. Now I have a big job to move and stack all the cut logs into one heap - I can use the ride on mower and trailer to help. They can sit and season for a year until BiL returns with the log-splitter next year.

There's an Ash tree in the back garden boundary hedge with a branch over-hanging next door neighbour's hot tub (brrrrrrr!, never actually heard them in it!) and D had a look at it and say's it really needs pollarding as it's showing signs of Ash tree die-back disease. That will have to be done after the field at the back is harvested. It will be sad to see it disappearing but better done now than when the disease sets in and makes it difficult to fell safely. Next door neighbours have offered to chip in with the cost of it's removal although then I'll feel obliged to let them have some of the wood, now that they too have a wood-burner and I'd quite like to keep it as Ash is much better for burning!

The Firewood poem
Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut's only good they say,
If for logs 'tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold
Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter's cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

This version is by  Celia Congreve, believed to be first published in THE TIMES newspaper on March 2nd 1930. Although that's disputed because there are many versions and given how important wood for burning was long before this date, I think it's probably a much older rhyme.

I prefer this poem which covers more types  of wood

                                                        Logs to burn, logs to burn
                                                        logs to save the coal a turn
                                                     here's a word to make you wise
                                                 when you hear the woodsman's cries
                                                          never heed his usual tale
                                                     that he has good logs for sale
                                               but read these lines and really learn
                                                        the proper kind of logs to burn
                                                  Beechwood fires burn bright and clear
                                                             Hornbeam blazes too
                                                          if the logs are kept a year
                                                  and seasoned through and through
                                                            Oak logs will warm you well
                                                                if they're old and dry
                                                        larch logs of pinewood smell
                                                                but the sparks will fly
                                                              Pine is good and so is Yew
                                                         for warmth through wintry days
                                                             but Poplar and willow too
                                                             take long to dry and blaze
                                                             Birch logs will burn too fast
                                                                   Alder scarce at all
                                                            Chestnut logs are good to last
                                                                        if cut in the fall
                                                                Holly logs burn like wax
                                                              you should burn them green
                                                            Elm logs like smouldering flax
                                                                      no flame to be seen
                                                                 Pear logs and Apple logs
                                                                 they will scent your room
                                                               Cherry logs across the dogs
                                                                smell like flowers in bloom
                                                         But Ash logs all smooth and grey
                                                                burn them green or old
                                                         burn up all that come your way
                                                       they're worth their weight in gold.

BiL is very dismissive of the lightweight quick burning  Poplar I have as the wood he cuts and sells is more likely Oak and Ash, but as I said "beggars can't be choosers".

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 16 January 2020

A No Electric Evening

Tuesday afternoon I scheduled and clicked publish on Wednesday's post after writing that Storm Brendon hadn't given us much windy weather here - I spoke too soon! The rain lashed down and the  wind got going and just before 6pm the electric went off. I was eating my dinner at the time and finished it with the light from the wood-burner and the mantel-shelf fairy lights which I'd luckily decided to leave up for the rest of the winter. Then I found the torch from the drawer and the  re-chargable lantern from the cupboard, lit some candles, put a saucepan of water on the gas hob for my evening drink and popped some batteries in my radio.............. the electric has been off umpteen times since we moved here so I'm well prepared!

(A no electric evening but my re-chargable lantern has been a really good buy - enough light to read easily)
 A knock on the front door was my next door neighbour checking I was OK and then a text message from next-door-but-one also checking I was OK in the dark. I was able to reassure both that yes thank you, everything was good up the end of the lane. (Lovely of them to check but it made me feel very old! especially as I know I'm better prepared than either of them.........sorry that sounds a bit smug but it's true.......... I'm the only one with cylinder gas cooker for a start! Hope these words don't come back to bite me on the bum!).
Just a little while later came a text message from UK Power Networks telling everyone that over 300 homes were off due to a tree pulling down power cables and a couple more messages kept me updated with what was happening which is always handy.

The electric came on sometime after midnight I think - it makes the doorbell ring which woke me up.

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Wednesday 15 January 2020

St Mary's Church, Playford

Tucked away down a narrow lane in a small village not far from Ipswich, this church stands up high and has a lychgate - not many Suffolk churches have one.
This was erected in 1930 in memory of a mother who died in the late C19.

Through the lychgate and up a steep path, then steps

until finally you can see the church and one of the grandest south porch towers in Suffolk.

But the reason this church gets a mention in the 100 treasures book is because of this obelisk in the graveyard

It says "Thomas Clarkson  The Friend of slaves"  and was erected in 1857 by 'a few surviving friends' Thomas Clarkson worked with William Wilberforce to persuade parliament to abolish the slave trade, leading to the Acts of 1807 and 1833. Clarkson died in Playford in 1846 and there are other memorials to him in his birthplace of Wisbech and in Westminster Abbey.

Inside is a small plain church, restored in Victorian times and very few older features remain

Stained glass over the altar

One thing that survived the Victorian modernisation is this  huge brass, nearly 5 feet tall for Sir George Felbrigg who built the tower and died in 1400.

More about the church on the Suffolk Churches website

Thank you for comments about the local Mistletoe. I can see how it wouldn't be noticed when driving as it's on a bend but still can't understand why I've not seen it when walking, but walking roundabout here is on hold for a couple of weeks as I had to take my Hotter walking shoes back to the shop for repairs as a metal eyelet pulled right off last time I did them up. They'll repair them for free but it might take a while. I've only had them a year so wasn't best pleased.
Walking anywhere will be even muddier now  after the rain from storm Brendon passed over Suffolk. It wasn't too windy although the A14 over the Orwell bridge was closed on Monday and when I heard it might close on Tuesday afternoon I was glad my trip to Ipswich was early. Apart from going to Hotter the main reason to go was to pick up a child car seat bought secondhand for my car so I can help out with Willow a bit once her brother or sister arrives......won't be long now........very exciting......I take the phone upstairs every night ........just in case I have to dash over to Willow sit.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 14 January 2020

A Discovery

Down the road, not far from home is an apple tree. It's old and doesn't have many apples on it and those it does have aren't very edible.
I've walked past it many times and driven past it at least a couple of times every week and when I walked by last week I thought "what a shame this apple tree hasn't got mistletoe growing on it, I bet it's old enough". Then as I started to go by I noticed this...........

Not in a big ball at the top of the tree, where it usually grows but a small clump lower down round the back of the tree.

But why have I never noticed it before?

Next year I know where I'll be getting some from for indoors. Hope no one else has noticed it.

Many thanks for comments yesterday and hello and welcome to some more followers - hope you enjoy reading.

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Monday 13 January 2020

Older than I thought

I spotted this book in the Samaritans charity shop in Ipswich...........  a small book containing a novella and a short story.

I used to read Mary Stewart books back in the 1970's, this looked different. Turned it over and read

"A long lost novella"....... .............
Because of the British Library Crime reprints and The Furrowed Middlebrow reprints from way back anything that says 'long lost' surely  means  I probably haven't read it.

So I paid my £1 and brought it home, looked in my book-of-books-read and there among the list of Mary Stewart books was "Wind off the Small Isles".

Surely if I read a 'long lost' book at the time it was originally published, it's not really 'long lost' ........  or I'm much older than I thought!

Oh dear.

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Saturday 11 January 2020

Back To a Saturday Round-Up

This is post number 901 on this blog, I did 1,068 on the old blog so by summer I'll have overtaken myself!  There were 410 followers on the old blog and now 548 on here - hello and welcome to a new person. Stats are so interesting 😀

I'd almost forgotten about my Saturday Round-up posts with the things to be grateful list because I've not  done one since November.

Finally after 5 weeks I got back to the swimming pool. It was the knee injury that made me miss it to start with, then Christmas. More weeks without swimming than since I started in May 2018 and so good to swim again although I limited the number of lengths to save aggravating my knee too much too soon.

On Wednesday I had my Physio appointment, she showed me some new exercises for my knee and my back but said the knee was healing well, although swimming breast-stroke is not the best for knees apparently (trouble is I sink doing anything else).

Popped over to the coast to visit Youngest and Florence, she's just started ballet classes and showed me how she could point her toes 🩰

And at last I finished reading my first book of the year. I need to read more - it's library van day next week and I've still got a large heap to read and that's without counting the 9 books I had for Christmas

This week I'm grateful for
  • Swimming again
  • Free easily accessible physio treatment.
  • First snowdrops in the lane
The Snowdrop
Already now the snowdrop dares appear,
The first pale blossom of th'unripen'd year
As Flora's breath, by some transforming power,
Had chang'd an icicle into a flower,
Its name and hue the scentless plant retains,
And winter lingers in its icy veins.

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Dilemma of the week
If I want to be ethical about shopping would it be better to
  1. short drive to shop locally at the Co-op in Eye or Debenham (both about 5 miles away) even though all their fruit and veg is packed in plastic bags?  OR
  2.  drive to Stowmarket or Diss (both about 12 miles) so I can shop in Asda or Morrisons where they have loose fruit where I can use my new produce bags?

The blinkin' obvious thing of the a leaflet about Vegan food from the Co-op

Well, I'd be a bit worried if I found dairy, eggs or meat in a fruit juice!

Have a good weekend
Back Monday

Friday 10 January 2020

Log splitting

BiL Andrew came back last Sunday, as promised, with the log splitter, to start on the logs from the poplars and willows which the tree people felled from behind the workshop in October 2017.

I didn't take a photo this year but found one from last time he brought it round, which turned out to be longer ago than we thought....... 12th March 2017, not long after moving in.
The log splitter - which is a converted dumper with a hydraulic bit on top,  is still going despite looking like it was on it's last legs nearly three years ago. It's in regular use in BiL's  wood supply business. He and a friend pay to take fallen wood from a woodland in summer then in winter they split and bag it to sell. He says they've been very busy this winter so far.

 Back in March 2017 Colin was relatively OK, although he didn't look very well. The doctor had put him back on steroids so he had a bit more energy, you can see him pushing a wheelbarrow in the background, we were waiting to see what would happen next after finding that his own bone marrow transplant hadn't worked.

It seems an age ago now.

Anyway, thanks to Andrew two thirds of the logs are now split and added to what he cut the other week to make two giant heaps, taller than me, in the wood shed. They are very wet from sitting outside for 2 years but I won't need to use them until  spring 2021 so will have dried although they are poor wood and burn too quickly.

 Once I've emptied two out of the four builders bags full of wood that I'm using this year.I think Andrew will come back with the chainsaw to finish the few logs that he didn't do last time and there's also lots of odd small bits in the workshop that need cutting ready for splitting for kindling.

I've contacted the tree cutting people who are coming to look at what can be cut down and left to season. Brother in Law reckoned I might have moved by the time I need more wood but I said if I'm still here it will be no good waiting 'til it's run out as I doubt he'll give me mates rates if I have to buy it off him!.

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Thursday 9 January 2020

Never Judge a Book............. it's cover or it's first sentences.

SPOILER ALERT! Don't read this post if you are planning to read this book

A very strange book, not my usual read and not what I thought it was, but it needed finishing.

I usually avoid books that have won something, but I didn't know about these accolades...........

A Times Best Thriller Book of the Year
A Guardian Fiction Book of the Year
A Sunday Times Fiction Book of the Year
A Telegraph Top 50 Book of 2019
A Mail on Sunday Book of the Year
An Express Best Book of 2019

It's 1468 and a young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artifacts - coins, fragments of glass, human bones - which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

So far so good - it's obviously an historical crime. But then it mentions plastic and you find that this isn't the 1468 that we know but the 1468 that is 800 years after the Apocalypse which seems to have happened in our very near future - 2025! and caused by the failing of everything that makes the world work as we know it today.

As I said "I'd started so I finished" ( I don't always). The first half of the book is very good but it goes downhill toward the end and the end is too sudden and not happy.

Also interesting is the title which explains sleep patterns in the past - never heard of this before.

 The only other book of his that I'd read before was Enigma,which I remember enjoying. Not sure enjoying is quite the right word for The Second's rather disturbing.

This was the last of 92 books read in 2019, that's several down on previous years. 

Back Tomorrow

(edited in to say I have no idea why there are two pictures of the book cover on this post - in my draft there is only 1 - very strange)


Wednesday 8 January 2020

St. Andrew's Church in Rushmere St Andrew

It's months since I visited a Suffolk Church from the 100 Treasures book.

The village takes it's name from the church............. Rushmere St Andrew, which is now almost part of Ipswich and at first glance the church looks like many other Suffolk churches.

But as you walk up the path and look to the right you see a whole new extension, a Church Hall to use for village events ,built to accommodate the growing population as the village becomes a suburb.

And inside the main building is not quite as you would expect either another more recent addition and the reason this church gets a mention in the 100 Churches book. The chancel was enlarged and modernised in 1967.It really is a church of two halves!

 This means the altar is now central so that both parts of the church - old and new can be used separately or both at once.
This photo I'm standing in the old part looking over the altar into the new modern enlarged chancel

And to take this photo  I'm in the new bit looking back to the older church and then

 standing with the altar behind me a closer look at the medieval building

There are a few narrow stained glass windows in the older part of the church

Also getting a mention in the book  are the C19 carved bench ends - lots of angels

and one holds a model of the chancel before it was rebuilt and extended

A Large carved memorial in the old part of the church

A very modern artwork of the Last Supper in the new bit.

It was unusual to find someone in a church but there was a lady there cleaning so it was nice to have a chat about the modern extension and how useful it is to the village.

Lots more pictures and explanation of the building CAN BE SEEN HERE

Many Thanks for all the comments and ideas for Sarah in Dorset - I hope she knows people are rooting for her.............. hoping she can get through.

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