Thursday 30 April 2020

Strange Times,The April Spending Round Up

Well, we've all got through a whole month of STRANGE TIMES, and it was almost a good month for not spending..................if only there was a way to avoid the unplanned extra expenses!

The boiler repair bill was paid and then the mower repair, they were the two unplanned bills on top of paying the TV licence, then the usual food for me and the cat, direct debits for phones, broadband, council tax and charity and just one lot of diesel. A bit more than usual was spent on postage as I sent parcels to the two 3 year old grandchildren (the cupboard which held all the bits and pieces found at boot sales last summer is now more or less empty, so I hope boot sales start again before the end of the summer)
I sent for vegetable plants to make up for my seed failure when normally I would have got them from a boot-sale or garden centre and bought myself a birthday present.
 Despite only going out and doing food shopping 3 times - Morrisons once, Asda once and the local Co-op once, I still spent the usual amount on food due to buying the yogurt mix packs  and getting an order from Natural Collection (for food things I usually buy at the Oxfam shop) which cost more. Although I'm now well stocked with those things to last through May and June in some cases. I noticed some food items have gone up in price -  a coincidence or not? and I might have bought a few extra things? ..........
For instance this is what happened due to going in the Co-op for the post office and looking round the food and standing by the fridge dairy products while queueing to get out - Clotted cream leapt  into my basket! to go with the scones and jam which are home made.

Anything Frugal
  • When I'm washing up  I still catch the cold water in a jug before the hot arrives although when the solar thermal panels are heating the water it is much hotter, so I often end up putting the cold back in the bowl after all.
  • Boiler not on much with warmer weather. I used the heat caught in the conservatory during those hot days to warm the living room in the evenings.
  • Saved money on Diesel because of not going out.
  • Rhubarb and asparagus from the garden.
  • Avoided using tumble dryer all month by picking the right days to do washing 
  • Parceled up books to sell to Music Magpie - £11

Looking ahead to May's expenditure...............
 My car breakdown cover is due, it's also Eldest Daughter's and Eldest Grandson's birthday but other than that there are no big expenses, so it all depends on how long we are stuck at home.

Did you hear the results of a university survey? Talk about  stating the blinkin' obvious........... . We are visiting food shops less often but when we are there we are buying more! Well fancy that!

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Mapping The Garden

About a hundred years ago someone asked if I could draw a plan of the garden, and finally due to the shortage of ideas for posts, I got around to drawing one.

This view from above taken by son-in-laws drone camera has helped with the drawing

The track is on the left edge which people can walk along as it is a footpath, the path goes through my new gates onto the meadow. The footpath is the dotty line- - - - - - -. When I said we had a footpath through our property a lot of people said they couldn't live with that but it doesn't really affect the house. No different to living in a street with a pavement going by. Until Lockdown and "forced" exercise the footpath was hardly used but since then I've seen lots of people walking by as part of a circular path from the village proper.

 The green blobs are trees or shrubs . The trees behind the garage are the older fruit trees, apples, pears and a plum. 4 vegetable beds along the bottom of the picture with the top-fruit bed at the end, that has 4 gooseberry bushes, 1 blackcurrant and some older raspberry canes. Also the asparagus along the edge .
The square strawberry and raspberry beds are the new ones we did in a hurry before Colin died. They are not so good, the soil there is poor. The patio has lots of pots including hostas, an acer, the olive trees and blueberry bushes and I'll put the squash plants in big pots there too. The  Fig tree is in the ground at the edge of the patio.
My new gates make everywhere a bit more private. Before they were there vans and cars could drive straight in, around the Turkey oak and out again

Next doors house is bottom right, you can see a bit of their garden is a behind mine. Apart from the bit that goes behind my garden, their garden is all at the front of their house. They have a hot tub in the corner at the back - weird for Suffolk!

There are fields to the right,  at the far end and to the left, which is how I'm at the end of the lane. Nowhere else to go when you get to my house - unless you are on foot.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 28 April 2020

More Excellent Books

Two of the books bought with the free gift card have been read and both were good.


Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery (British Library Crime Classics Book 78) by [Carol Carnac, Martin Edwards]

British Library Crime Classics have already reprinted a few books by this author under her pseudonym of E.C.R. Lorac and they were all well written and this one is a good read too.

 This was written in 1952, one year after the author had her own holiday in the alps
In London, still recovering from WWII, Inspector Brook of Scotland Yard looks at the victim of a ruthless murder who lies burnt beyond recognition, his possessions and papers destroyed by fire. But there is one strange, yet promising, lead – a lead which suggests the involvement of a skier.

Meanwhile,  sunshine beams down on the sparkling snow of the Austrian Alps, where a merry group of holidaymakers are heading towards Lech am Arlberg. They are a ski party organised among friends and colleagues consisting of eight men and eight women and travelling out from London to enjoy some time on the slopes. Some of the 16 are known to each other but a few are friends of friends stepping in to fill the gaps when others dropped out. The story moves between London and Austria  as  the ski party are soon to become sixteen suspects. Perhaps one of their number is not who they claim to be.

Secondly.................... and thank you to whoever it was (if it was a blogger) that mentioned "The World My Wilderness" by Rose Macaulay.
What a treat this book was.

The World My Wilderness (Virago Modern Classics Book 15) by [Rose Macaulay, Penelope Fitzgerald]
It is 1946 and the people of France and England are facing the aftermath of the War. 17 year old Barbary Deniston has spent her childhood years in the sunshine of Provence living with her beautiful mother and stepfather. During the War she ran wild with the French Resistance, experiencing collaboration, secrecy and murder.
 In peacetime she is sent to live with her very proper and upright barrister father and young stepmother in the drab austerity of postwar London life. 
Confused and unhappy, she discovers the flowering bomb craters around St Paul's Cathedral. Here, in the bombed heart of London, with the outcasts living on the edge of society, she finds a world similar to the way she lived during the war.
Then an accident among the ruins of churches and homes brings her mother to her from France.

Originally published in 1950 this was first reprinted by Virago in 1983.
I loved it and raced through it in all spare moments - and there are plenty of those now!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 27 April 2020

A Late Birthday Present

I waited to see if any more diesel was likely to be needed this month and it wasn't  so with the money that would have gone on diesel this was what I bought myself for my birthday.
It had to be something to do......... in these strange times of being at home.

 I used to make yogurt years ago, in a wide necked flask which is long gone and despite trying various additives I could never get good yogurt from goats milk. So it's donkeys years since I made any. This looked interesting and doesn't need milk.

I've mixed up the strawberry pack - simple to do and very nice it is too.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 25 April 2020

Strange Times End of Week 6

This week.................

It's been a lovely sunny week in Suffolk................pity about the East wind early on, but we get used to that.

On Monday night  Small WI had a Zoom  'meeting'. Ruth the President had tried to get the speaker to do her presentation over the airwaves but that hadn't worked - poor connection - so instead 8 of us switched on and chatted for a while about the Strange seems we are all getting through.  I was the only one to have gone crazy with the hair clippers! everyone else was either snipping fringes or putting up with their wayward locks.

The answer to the question asked on Monday............are fish and chip shops open? is NO - at least not the nearest one to the doctors/pharmacy in a nearby village. Oh well, something else to look forward to in a few weeks or months time or - heaven forbid - a year!.....that worries me, my grandchildren will have forgotten who I am.

I've sown more seeds, watered several times and done some weeding and at last my ride-on mower was collected, repaired and returned again so the long bits that I hadn't got done with the little battery mower are now looking better.
And my pepper plants arrived from Thompson and Morgan.   The email saying they had been dispatched appeared on Thursday of the week before last but the plants didn't arrive until yesterday. Knowing what poor specimens of tomato plants Joy had received from them I was beginning to get a bit worried but they look fine and have been potted into small pots to grow a good root system before moving them into their big pots on the greenhouse workbench. Added to the one I managed to grow  I will have peppers ......... better say 'fingers crossed' I suppose.

The wind disappeared on Thursday and I sat out for a while hoping to see Swallows or Housemartins,  Son - the archaeologist - who is back at work at the moment not many miles from me, has seen them as have so many bloggers. But here.............nothing!

So I sat out a while on Friday too and AT LAST some Housemartins checking out their last years nest. I do hope they move back in even though they leave such a mess on the conservatory roof which I can do nothing about.

This week I'm grateful for
  • Warmth and sunshine
  • Mower repaired
  • Some good books
  • Getting past a down blip
Have a good weekend
Back Monday

Friday 24 April 2020

Willow Trees Leading to Memories

The Ogham Alphabet is the only native British writing system devised over 2,000 years ago and carved using notches onto wood or stone.
I had heard of this way of writing from the Sister Fidelma Books by Peter Tremayne -the first few of these I read years ago before they became very repetitive.
It was because of the book by Artist Karen Cater called 'Spirit of the Hare' which I found at a car boot sale last year that led me to her publishing company and details of another book 'Ogham Sketch Book - a Diary of Tree Lore'. I splashed out for a second-hand copy because it sounded fascinating and it is.

It turns out that in the Ogham Alphabet each letter is also a tree and a number and part of the calendar or actually the other way round..........each tree is a letter and number and a month or day of the year.
Karen set out to find, in her local area, each tree of the calendar, illustrate them all and find out more about the history, traditions and folklore surrounding the trees.

!!Brainwave!! I can't draw but I can take photos, there are lots of books about trees on my shelves and maybe I could fill a few blog posts in my efforts to do a post-a-day. So..........................starting now I'm going to try and track down the trees for each month beginning with the tree for the 5th Lunar month from April into May. Representing the letter S. 
As the dates of a Lunar month would vary from year to year, the dates Karen used  are for the year she wrote the book. I'll do my tree posts roughly with a new moon and when I'm short of stuff to write about.

Below is her illustration for Willow, The letter S in Ogham is top left


 It was easy to find a Willow to photograph, there are several here - this is a Goat Willow growing just a few yards from my house.

This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago when the whole tree was covered in the fluffy catkins we call "Pussy Willows". The leaves are all out now.

The Willow family includes White Willow, Crack Willow, Weeping Willow, Osier and the Goat Willow. All grow quickly, bear "pussywillow" catkins, can cross with each other and grow easily from twigs pushed in the ground, and that's how we planted many metres of hedges on the campsite at the smallholding.

 I found this picture of Colin planting more on the campsite in March 2014. In the background you can see a willow hedge also planted from slips about 10 years earlier

When looking for a photo of the willow hedge I also came across a bit I'd written about some of the people who were easily remembered from our years running the campsite
 It made me smile to read again so I thought I'd share ...............

The people remembered for all the Wrong reasons.................................

From my post in August 2013
The reason for mentioning campers I remember, is because the other day Gill at Frugal in Derbyshire had a picture of her Damson Tree on her blog and I commented that I had had a Know-it-all type camper here over bank holiday who had pointed to our Damson and said" Your Victoria Plum Tree looks as if they are ready ". I said " It's more of a damson type plum and they are still quite hard and solid as yet". He said " I'm sure it's a Victoria Plum as we have one near us at home". I wasn't going to argue so I just said Oh Right. There is no telling some people!
This Damson/Victoria discussion happened on the campers first day here, and I wasn't at all surprised when he came back to the door several times over the 5 days they were here. The first time he said "what's the best time to come to the door with enquiries?" I wasn't really sure what enquiries he meant as he had already asked me dozens of questions when he arrived. I don't mind answering questions about everything around but he didn't seem to listen to anything I said anyway!

This reminded me of some of the other odd things that have happened in our 20 years of owning a campsite.

There was the man who came running across the camp site to me in a panic when we were having the hay field cut many years ago. He was horrified we were having the field cut in case something flew up and hit his caravan. As he was several yards away from the hay field I didn't think there would be a problem. But he argued for several minutes that it was stupid of us to have the field cut when we had caravans on the adjoining bit.We planted a hedge between the two fields after that, just in case he ever came back!

Then the people whose car alarm went off early one morning and nothing they could do to stop it. It was so loud and the man didn't even know how to open the bonnet of the car. Very odd.

Years and years ago we had some people who would come every year to camp while they went sailing at Aldeburgh. But everyday there would be a line of huge knickers hanging up to dry. Did she really fall in that often and why did she have such huge knickers?

Several years ago, before we had electric hook ups, a small campervan pulled in to ask about the site. I spent several minutes answering questions about everything and then said it was £3 a night per person. Which was all we charged back then. The man said that was fine and started up to drive in but his wife suddenly shouted at him that £6 was FAR TOO MUCH and they would find somewhere cheaper. He gave me a look of despair and put the van into reverse to back out again, without saying another word, they had gone.

An elderly couple used to come regularly, but every time they came they would want to borrow a ladder or some tools for mending the caravan. Colin was a bit worried about this old boy going up a ladder so it always ended up with Col doing the job for them instead.

About 5 years ago I was in the shed milking the goats at about quarter to seven in the morning when I was amazed to hear two caravans pull in. They had booked but I wasn't expecting them THAT early. We had other caravans on site so I quietly explained where they could pitch and said I was surprised to see them that early. One of the men said they had come down from a site in Norfolk and wanted to avoid the traffic around Norwich. Whatever had the campers thought on the site in Norfolk when they packed up and went at about 4 o'clock? The trouble was they didn't just pitch and settle down quietly. They started putting up awnings, rattling all the poles and shouting across to each other. You should have seen their faces when I went out and told them to be quiet and have some consideration for other people. I'm sure they had never been told off before!

A while back someone came to the door and said they were a bit worried because a man on the campsite was trying to fly a kite. Now normally this wouldn't be a problem on a campsite but we have the Very High Voltage wires not far away so kite flying is a definite No, obvious to most people with a bit of common sense.  So I went out and explained that kite flying was really not sensible.He was another who seemed surprised to have someone tell him he couldn't do something. Eventually he agreed that it would be more sensible to take the kite down to the beach (only a few miles away). But as I walked away he and his wife started having a huge shouting match, with her saying "I told you not to" and him shouting back that he wouldn't be told what to do and then the son started yelling at them to stop fighting. I crept away quickly!

Just after I started blogging there was also the lady and the parcel, a saga that went on for several days. Some of it is HERE if you want to read it

Although reading this again made me smile it did me no good at all, as I had weird dreams about campsites all night!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 23 April 2020

Well, That Was OK

That's what I did, first trip out for 14 days and decided on Asda which is in the other direction to Morrisons where I went last time.
 I keep reading of all the hassles other people have had while shopping so wasn't looking forward to it.
Bit of a queue to get in, one out, one in system operating and one way arrows round the shop, but it was easy to go round an aisle again if you missed something -  that was fine, didn't feel pressured to rush, plenty of room, everyone keeping their distance and the shelves were pretty well stocked. The only bit completely empty were the flour shelves.

But look what I got!

 To get out took a while with a zig-zag detour marked with arrows all around the clothes bit (nothing I fancied buying) making a long queue with one person at a time at each checkout. Me and other ladies in the queue all laughed and rolled our eyes when a man pushing a trolley tried to go the wrong way!
I didn't see anyone coughing or getting cross or impatient........ We are very civilised in Suffolk!

At home I did the same as a fortnight ago - putting all the store cupboard stuff that wasn't needed straight away into one bag and quarantined them out of the kitchen for a few days. Everything else was wiped before putting into fridge and fruit bowl, with lots of hand washing in between.It worked last time so  hopefully I've done enough to avoid catching anything again this time.
All a bit of a palaver but with such quiet days there's really no rush.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Earth Day

Today is the 50th Earth Day, a campaign started in 1970

Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis — oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they literally caught fire.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet.

The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement, and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event

Have things changed much in the intervening 50 years? 

  More info HERE

I first came across this poem on a poster on the inside of a toilet door at a children's centre where we used to go to a toy library - funny what things you remember from years ago.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 21 April 2020

First of the Season

This time it's a few spears of delicious Asparagus. I'd been looking hopefully for them appearing for a couple of weeks and at last 5 spears big enough to eat.

It's a bit of a 'Marmite' food you either loathe it or love it and  I love it especially as it arrives so early before any other fresh veg is available from the garden.

My 10 crowns were planted in our first year here but haven't done too well, the soil is too heavy for them and it was the same at the smallholding and now we never seem to get the rain at the right time either.

There could well be a shortage of asparagus in the shops this year as farmers haven't got enough people for the harvest, it's very labour intensive, usually cut and packed by people from Eastern Europe.  Many years ago a friend in the Smallholders Society took over a small field of asparagus, it was on the light sandy heath-land soil near the Suffolk coast but he gave up after just one crop with a bad back!
Heard on the radio that a big grower in Cambridgeshire is flying in 2 plane loads of people from Romania to help with all the veg that needs cutting/picking during the summer. There needs to be many more than two plane loads.

Apologies for not getting around to answering any comments yesterday.....Must try harder!
Back Tomorrow

Monday 20 April 2020

Strange Times Wk 6 Post 1

Very excited to see my sister-in-law commenting on my blog, unless there is someone with the same name out there. I love it when people I know read and comment. If I had a friend or relative writing a blog it would be fun to read. (Although I now have friends who write blogs but I didn't know them before!)

Saturday was a cold, gloomy day with a bit of rain but not enough to do much good for the fruit trees and bushes.  I hardly stepped out of the door at all and watched my birthday present DVD of Midway, which is the 2019 film look at what happened in the Pacific after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. I've seen the film from the 1970's several times on TV and now want to see it again so I can decide which was best.....

Swallows or Housemartins returning have been mentioned on some blogs, no sign of them here yet, the cold east winds we keep getting are probably pushing them further west  but out cycling last Thursday I spotted the first Orange Tip butterfly and then two small Blue butterflies - presumably Common Blue. I've been increasing my cycling distance each time I've been out so that on Sunday I was able to do the 6 mile loop around all the parts of the village. Next I'm going to try the 3 and a bit miles to the community shop in the next village. I can go one way and come home by another little road to make it more interesting.

My hair was driving me nuts as it gets so heavy when it gets too long so thank goodness I kept the clippers after starting going to a hairdressers. A quick buzz with a 5 comb and there was a big heap of grey/white/black hair on the floor, although I missed a bit at the back  oh well!
When Col cut my hair all the time it was always the 6 comb but having been used so much it developed a tendency to fall off mid cut - which was one of the reasons for starting to visit a proper hairdresser. Heavens knows what Kirsty will think of the mess I've made of my hair when eventually she is allowed to open her little shop again.
 We did another Zoom meeting with 4 houses and all the grandchildren yesterday, it was lovely to see them again. Son had written a list for a scavenger hunt for the children. 

That was my weekend and now here we go into week 6 of  Strange Times and week 5 of  lock-down. Must go shopping one day this week, that will be exciting but frightening at the same time and I need to pick up prescription too......are fish and chip shops open? - I usually get my cheap pensioners meal when I go and pick up my tablets

 Kirstie Allsop has got a crafting programme on starting this evening at 5pm for everyone stuck at home, hope the ideas she has aren't too expensive. How glad I am that when I sorted the craft stuff I kept all the cross stitch materials. The frog got finished and I'm doing a couple of little bits that go onto  tea-pot shaped cards.

 My favourite colour tulips are the latest to open and a bunch are now indoors

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 18 April 2020

Strange Times Wk 5 Post 3 Saturday Once More

Thank you to everyone for the Happy  Birthday wishes on yesterdays post. The birthday cards lasted on the window sill until the evening, when Polly likes to sit there looking out in the dark - no idea what she sees, but I have to leave the curtains slightly open so she can get on there easily - as you do! I took the cards down and then put them all back again next morning. Someone asked if I tried the cheese - I looked, I sniffed but no - 9 days to get from Surrey to Suffolk was a bit too long!
I think the windows only look clean because we've not had rain since the window cleaner came and getting up close they aren't so clean on the inside!
Happy Birthday to blog reader Debi who is halfway between 60 and 70 today.
The 'yet to be published' book coming later from Waterstones is another British Library Crime Classic Checkmate to Murder.

Another  quiet week up the end of the lane has ended and I'm 'worried' that I'm NOT angry and NOT bored! I had no idea I was so easy going but when I see people moaning about life as it is now I think "chill"!
Of course I'm worried for my family and frightened of getting the virus because of being alone but I'm feeling quite settled about staying at home, gardening, reading, watching TV, doing puzzles from a puzzle book, baking, cycling, walking, stitching and another 3 weeks the same will be OK I'm sure..................Seem to be getting into a reclusive frame of mind much too easily!

I've not been out shopping this week so it's now 12 days without going out..... so far.  I'm saving so much diesel! but will have run out of apples by Tuesday and ran out of fresh veg (except spuds, carrots and onions) several days ago.

 I like to have two portions of fruit a day  so made my fresh fruit last by buying some soft fruit, 4 pears and  and lots of apples. The soft fruit was eaten in the first two days, then 4 pears and and four apples the next four days, then an apple and home grown rhubarb for the next 4 days and then the last apples plus dried prunes/apricots soaked and cooked for the remaining days. It will get more difficult as we get further into April and May because of being the end of the stored apple and pear season. So it will be tinned and dried I reckon or shopping more often which doesn't appeal at the moment.

 With my disastrous Sweet Pepper germination I'd been hoping to order some sweet  pepper plants from a local-ish nursery who have started delivering but they have had to close completely due to someone with the virus.
 Looked online at several other seed companies but all are so busy they have stopped taking new orders. Then remembered Thompson and Morgan who I should have thought of earlier as their HQ is just in Ipswich. They are more expensive than Kings Seeds, Marshalls and D.T. Brown (whose catalogues I get sent every year) but their main business is online and by post so they are well set up for an increase in orders and Hooray! they are still taking orders and 3 pepper plants should arrive within 21 days and just for fun I ordered a watermelon plant too. The cold frame has nothing in it so the watermelon can go in there, if I can find a way to take one of the lids off  or prop it up safely,  otherwise it will be too hot. I've drilled some drainage holes in the bottom of an old bucket ready for the melon as all pots are already  in use -  the cold-frame is sat on slabs -  like the greenhouse.

I did a sort-of greenhouse tidy before taking the photo but it still looks a muddle - so much is crammed in. On the left are the big pots ready for Sweet Peppers and Aubergines . Then all the small pots with things growing either waiting to pot up or to plant out. There are Big Mama and Cascade Tomatoes, Aubergines, Courgettes, Butternut Squash, Pumpkin. Rocket seedlings, some Climbing French beans just coming through, Little Gem lettuce - there are more in a container just outside the greenhouse door and somewhere there is the 1 Pepper plant that germinated from my 3 times sowing. Straight ahead are the cucumbers, some pots that I've just sown with Nasturtium, more tomato plants which are destined for Brother in Law and some pots of Parsley that I keep forgetting to plant out.

 Turning round and standing in front of the Cucumbers and looking the other way are my Ildi yellow plum tomatoes and pots waiting for the rest of the tomatoes. On the ground is a piece of guttering that I'd just sown with Mange-tout peas that I'd had soaking in water for a day.

Growing food has to be the best hobby and has always been important for me, my sister loves gardening too yet I can't remembering our Mum doing anything in the garden so goodness knows where we inherited the gardening gene from.

This week I'm grateful for
  • Still being alive to celebrate another birthday!
  • Presents, cards and letters from family and friends.
  • Quiet roads for cycling 
  • Remembering that I'd put some multi-grain flour in with the white for my bread so it wasn't spots of mould I could see! 

Hope everyone has a good weekend, a bit of rain for the fruit garden would be useful.

Back Monday

Friday 17 April 2020

Strange Times Wk 5 Post 2

A few months ago I changed my house insurance and got it through a local broker because the Saga price had shot up so much. The local broker were offering a £50 One4all card for new customers which duly arrived with a leaflet explaining where you could use it. Lots of the shops/restaurants where I could use the card we don't have in the area, others are places that I would never shop at anyway and of course anywhere I could use it is shut! Then I had a brainwave.............. Waterstones Online!........ Books for my birthday..............even better............ FREE books for my birthday!
I only rarely buy new books but free, when stuck at home, it was a no-brainer.
3 arrived and the fourth is yet to be published and there is still £19 to spend!

Yesterday  was the day I was allowed to open them as  I reached half way between 60 and 70.........blimey, how did that happen? And of course it was youngest grand-daughters birthday too, she was 2 - I still think that Son and DiL were so clever arranging her arrival on my birthday!

There were other presents and cards too and letters from my cousin and penfriends, a phone call from Big W.I,  A whats-app call with Birthday Girl Willow and lots of good wishes from friends and family, and a parcel from Eldest Daughter arrived on the right day, unfortunately she'd posted it 9 days ago and it had some cheese in it! If only it hadn't been Easter in between and the post less busy it might have got here in good condition as it was wrapped with an ice pack and lots of newspaper. It was only after she'd posted it that she realised it probably wasn't a good idea! The cheese looked very sweaty! But the biscuits and chocs that came with the cheese will be very tasty. 😊

I've stood the cards on the window sill.........until Polly tries to leap on there to do some bird-watching and knocks them over!

They all so pretty, how lucky I am.

I have a plan for another present as there will be no birthday outing and no more diesel needed. I'm quite used to buying myself a birthday present. Col was a wonderful husband and dad but if birthdays and Christmas had been left to him no-one would have got anything!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 16 April 2020

Saint Bernardette Soubirious of Lourdes

The Saint for April 16th is one even I  had heard of.......St Bernadette of Lourdes.
She was born in 1844, daughter of a poor miller. In 1858 while collecting wood on the banks of the River Gave near Lourdes, she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. She showed people the cave in which Mary had appeared but was mocked for her vision. From 18th February until 4th March Bernadette continued to see and speak with the blessed Virgin every day. Crowds would gather drawn by what she had seen and the mysterious appearance of a spring. On 25th March another vision of Mary told Bernadette that she must build a chapel at the place where the appearances took place.
Today Lourdes is a famous place of pilgrimage where people flock to be healed by the waters of the spring.
Bernadette became a nun in 1866 and died on 16th April 1879

St. Bernadette & Our Lady of Lourdes – Discount Catholic Store

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Wednesday 15 April 2020

Strange Times Wk 5 Post 1

I'm ready to rob a bank.................or just go shopping!

4 layers of cotton that was originally a basket liner, bag ties threaded in the top seam to make a nose clip and elastic around the ears, but that was painful so another piece of elastic round the head. It's very bodged but might work, certainly more coverage than one of the thin pleated surgical masks, although the advice is still not to wear masks for "day wear" outside.

We did a family Zoom meeting on Sunday afternoon which was hilarious as the grandchildren kept disappearing, re-appearing and putting their faces right up against the cameras. Polly cat came to join in too, as she always does when she hears me talking to anyone. One positive outcome of the virus is getting more tec savvy! (Although more by luck than knowledge)

 Have you been watching more TV than usual since lockdown?  I have, especially before the warm weather of last week.

I don't often watch TV in the mornings (except perhaps wet Sundays) - a habit that remains from many, many years ago when I was the "nasty Mum" who wouldn't let the children watch TV before school.
Lunch time is Bargain Hunt, where they rarely buy anything that makes a profit, even more so since introducing the rule when teams have to spend more than £75 on one of their three items.
 The TV is definitely turned off after the local news as Doctors is one of the silliest soaps  -  for one thing the waiting room is always empty! I avoid all the other soaps too.

I like all quizzes and some game shows  and have been enjoying the repeats of House of Games. We used to watch Countdown everyday but it's not so much fun on your own - no one to listen when I say smugly " I've done it" to the numbers bit! (less good at the words).  Monday nights was 3-Quiz-Night until Only Connect finished and only one more week of University Challenge. I wonder what will happen for next year if they record it before the summer break.

There are more films on than usual but I'm not a huge film fan....although if they were to show any Kevin Costner films I'd probably turn on - unless it was Dancing With Wolves which I've seen loads of times but it makes me cry and I hate crying nowadays.

Then of course there has been the Coronavirus Update each day which I've usually watched, it's quite interesting to see MP's etc actually speaking normally as opposed to being interviewed by someone who interrupts them (Radio 4 Today Presenters I'm talking about you!) or shouting at each other in P.M's Question Time. The Q & A's from journalists gets a bit repetitive so the TV goes off then.

Friday night has been cheered up for the next few weeks with the return of Have I got News For You. I wondered how they would do a new series with all the social distancing stuff but all 4 of the team members plus the weeks guest host  are recording from home via one of the group broadcasting things. Paul Merton is his usual droll self and Ian Hislop as witty as ever. Always funny, cheers me up no end.

I started watching the first few series of Line of Duty which I didn't watch originally, on iplayer but discovered they are all a bit 'samey' if you watch one after another and I've been finding some strange programmes about Alaskan living on DMAX.

Sunday evening is always Countryfile - a programme that many proper farmers dismiss as rubbish but I like it and the the 5 day weather forecast is useful for deciding which days to do the washing.

I've been glad of the TV to keep me company but I'll be even more glad when I don't need it. And I'll really miss the tennis this summer.

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Tuesday 14 April 2020

Walking Down To The Middy

First of all thank you to everyone for some lovely, kind comments over the last few days and apologies for lack of responses, I always read but don't always get round to replying.

Now the fields have dried and the sticky clay mud has turned to solid clay concrete I thought I'd walk down to the Mid Suffolk Light Railway to see if any work had been done to EXTEND THE LINE

It was Easter Saturday, a beautiful blue sky day

Here are the buffers where the line will end.  But it all looks the same as early last year, nothing has been done in the mean time. It's awaiting sleepers and rails and fences
The footpath goes beside a field of Willow, which is cut and bundled ready for collection. I have no idea where it goes - to be made into baskets I assume.

In the 1940's when the railway ran from Haughley Junction to Laxfield this gate would have been for farmers crossing the track from field to field. There is another further down the track and they will be restored later.

The little steam engines would have puffed up this slope from Brockford Halt, and they will again sometime.

Below are some of the old carriages in storage at the station, this is as far as it's possible to walk to at the moment.

Here it looked like someone had started to dig a grave! but I decided the big oblong box sitting on a picnic table is to be dropped in the hole and filled with concrete to make a firm footing for one side of a bridge.................. cross this ditch. A similar dug out area waits on the otherside.

And then I turned round and walked back up the hill and home.

More about the history of this railway which never made any money, went bankrupt and closed in 1952 can be seen HERE

With two of their main visitor events already cancelled and another postponed it seems unlikely any more funds will be raised for  work on the extension this year.

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Monday 13 April 2020

Books Abandoned and Books Read

These were the books collected in March from the library van, before the world stood still.

I had to give up on 5, three I couldn't get into (Cold Kill, Requiem for a Knave, Death in Fancy Dress) one had teeny print (The Golden Thread), one just didn't get going (To War with the Walkers)

Or maybe it was just my mood!

"Root to Stem" and "A Foragers Calendar" are similar books of what edibles to look out for in the wild. Both are OK but I wouldn't buy them.

As all these books will sit here for weeks, waiting for libraries to re-open, I could always try again if things get desperate .............which is very unlikely given the number of books on my shelves that are much more interesting.

These are the books that I HAVE read recently......................

Tracy Chevalier  - A Single Thread. Fiction. As always with this author fiction is woven around fact. In this case it is the women who embroidered (what we now call tapestry) the kneelers and cushions for Winchester Cathedral in the 1930's. Violet has moved from Southampton to work in Winchester mainly to get away from her mother and memories of her brother and fiance both killed in the war. One day she comes across the Broderers, women from all sorts of backgrounds working the patterns designed by Louisa Pesel. The kneelers and cushions can still be seen in the Cathedral (wish I'd known this when we went there for Son's Graduation Ceremony so many years ago).       
A very good story which I really enjoyed.

D.E. Stevenson - Mrs Tim Flies Home. Fiction from 1952. This is the final book featuring D.E.Stevenson's alter-ego Hester Christie. Hester has spent 18 months in Kenya where her Army Officer husband has been stationed and now comes home for the summer, renting a house where her children can join her for their summer holidays from school and university. Another gentle happy story that I enjoyed.

Emma Smith - No Way of Telling. Children's Fiction. I'm not sure where I saw this book mentioned, but as it was by an author I read before with her biographies 'The Maidens Trip' about her time working on canal boats during WWII and 'As Green as Grass' also about her life before and after the war,  I must have decided on a 1p purchase
 This is a story of a girl and her granny in Wales during a spell of harsh winter weather when a stranger appears and then vanishes. This tale of living in a remote place and the effects of heavy snowfall are beautifully described.
It's good to read a children's book now and again.

Edward Marston - The Mad Courtesan. Over the last 15 years I've gradually collected all this series written by this prolific author through the 1980's and 90's. Featuring Nicholas Bracewell who is a Stage Manager (Book Holder) with Lord Westfields Men - a group of actors in Elizabethan London. The stories are all very similar but as I only read one now and again it doesn't matter.

On what would have been library van day last week, Andrew the driver rang me (and everyone else) to make sure we were all OK and to say there would be no overdue charges. Quite nice to have a chat as we do every 4 weeks, although he is quite hard work as he has no sense of humour but he knows I used to work on library vans myself umpteen years ago so I know how things work.

Just as I'd finished talking to him the girl who was running the OneSuffolk weight loss group also rang to check I was OK and to say that all being well a new 12 week course would start in September and I would be able to join that - although would have to start from the beginning again.
 It would be useful if I could keep off the 7lb weight that I lost in the first 4 weeks of the course! But with Simnel Cake, Hot Cross Buns and an Easter Egg to eat that may be difficult.

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Saturday 11 April 2020

Strange Times Wk 4, Post 3 - End of the Week.

Is it Easter weekend? Yes I think so. I won't mention all the things we would have been doing this weekend - it's depressing to think about.

But I made a mini Simnel cake - it got a bit overdone ............

 I didn't get round to making Hot Cross Buns because I forgot there were some in the freezer that I'd bought for family to share as I wouldn't have had time to make them with grandson staying.

It's been such a good week for gardening here up the end of the lane. On Monday I carried on emptying the big compost bin and partially filling the big pots I use in the greenhouse for tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and the ONE pepper plant I've got.  I'll top them up with Multi Purpose when I plant everything. Son told me the nursery in the village where they used to live is delivering within 15 miles. I might be a bit too far and they have stopped all orders until after Easter anyway but I'll try afterwards, they should have vegetable plants by then and they might have pepper plants. Before lockdown  I ordered some Brassica plants, having decided to grow a few for the winter and I THINK I added a couple of pepper plants to the order, because my first sowing had already failed.....It was before all the companies got busy and stopped taking orders so I hope they will turn up.

Another job done was to re-pot my Olive tree, small Bay tree and a couple of Hostas that live on the patio. I also planted out into the garden a small pear tree, it is supposed to be a Patio Pear but hasn't done much in a fact it's got more dead bits than live although there are a few flowers...... the pot was needed to prepare for a squash plant (large flower pots were one of the things on my list to look out for at car-boot sales).

Beetroot seeds have been sown outside and climbing beans in trays in the greenhouse.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the warmest days of the year so far - really beautiful. I sat out and read a book for a while each day, it was good to have the doors open to let the spring air in.

 Walking down the meadow in the bright sunshine one day, with everything quiet all around, I decided at that moment in time there was nowhere else I would rather be.
I've often had this thought before...........
It would happen when I was out on a Scouting event with my Cub Scouts, or sitting milking a goat on an early summer morning, or catching some sunshine on sunny days at the smallholding. I odd or is it normal?

It's going to be a very strange weekend alone, but I guess it will pass.

This week I am grateful for
  • Sunshine
  • Another week staying well
  • The delivery drivers and postman
  • Living in the best place I've ever lived
  • New followers - hello and welcome - hope you enjoy reading 

Enjoy your Easter weekend at home in whatever part of the world you live.
Back Monday

Friday 10 April 2020

Magpies and Ants

My second picking of tulips from my mini cutting garden, nearly all yellow this time, the next lot to open will  be all shades of pinks and purples.

While I was collecting the nettles tops last week I found a magpie feather. I know it came from a  magpie because of the green blue shimmer. Last year a pair nested in the top of one of the Poplars on the field.

A few weeks back I heard a huge racket and saw a pair of magpies arguing with a pair of rooks over that old nest. I've not noticed any birds near it recently so maybe they all gave up.

(For readers from overseas this is a magpie!)

Magpies are large striking looking birds, unmistakable in their black(with shimmery blue/green tinge) and white and now SO common. It was rare to see them when I was a child and so unlucky to see just one. Now wherever you drive in the countryside there they are.

"For anglers in spring it is always unlucky to see single magpies; but two may always be regarded as a favourable omen. And the reason is, that in cold and stormy weather one magpie alone leaves the nest in search of food,while the other one remains sitting with the eggs or young ones; but when two go out together it is mild and warm and favourable for fishing."

"Magpies flying three or four together and uttering harsh cries predict windy weather" .

What I also keep hearing and then seeing down the meadow, but only as they fly away, is a pair of Green Woodpeckers, they are very shy birds,could they be nesting somewhere close? None of the trees down the meadow are old enough to have holes in them for woodpecker nests.

Still seeing the goldfinches and long-tailed tits on the feeders, like the header picture, and a couple of starlings have found the suet block - don't see many here .

On Monday I noticed a few of the early potatoes were just showing through so needed a little soil pulling over them and as I did this all along the edge of bed were ants..... as usual. I've puffed them all with Nippon ant killer but only have a little left. Last year I got some Dof ant powder cheap from a boot-sale which turned out to be useless. With no garden centres open I've ordered online some of the decent stuff. Ants do more damage here, especially to the potatoes, than anything else- and they are bound to appear in the kitchen in June, coming  out of the old chimney bricks so I expect this will be my 4th June hoovering up flying ants.

I was supposed to be doing posts about Saints and their days from my book, but they've not been very interesting to write about!
However, today's Saint is Fulbert of Chartres. Fulbert was born in the mid C10 and was a clever child sent to study at Rheims and later taken to Rome where he became chancellor of the cathedral of Chartres where scholars came from all over Europe to study. He died in 1029 and the steeple of the cathedral is the only part that remains from his time when he rebuilt the cathedral after a fire.
And the next two? April 11th Saint Guthlac and April 12th Saint Zeno of Verona.  Not very well known.

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Thursday 9 April 2020

A Little Bit of Stitching

More cross stitch has been done in the last 3 weeks
than in the last 3 years!
Which didn't take much doing as I'd not stitched for ages.

This is the latest make - just a little lavender sachet using some Aida band which can also be used for bookmarks and to make cake bands.

I bought a couple of metres of this umpteen years ago and still have enough left for a few more sachets, and a small bit of calico left to make the pouches that hold the dried lavender inside the Aida. But I don't have much dried lavender so must remember to dry some more of my own this summer.

What next? I need some more birthday cards for men, so had a search though my box of charts. I have a box file full of charts mostly pulled from cross stitch magazines years ago and saved from kits bought at boot-sales. Most of my charts are small designs and some have been stitched quite  frequently when I was selling cards at the Framlingham Country Market.

This frog has been stitched at least once before, originally a kit from  Textile Heritage they don't list the numbers of the colours so I must have matched my DMC threads to the originals when it was stitched for the first time.

Several different greens in this but it won't take too long to do. I've been stitching for an hour or so in the morning, sitting by the front window where the sun has been streaming in........ better than housework!

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Wednesday 8 April 2020

Full Moon and New Leaves

In the early hours of this morning the  full moon was a Supermoon. According to my Almanac it is 357,030km away and this is the closest the moon will be to us this year when full. Making it appear 14% larger and 30% bigger than when furthest away. I walked down the meadow just before 8pm last night and took a couple of photos.
A lovely clear night after a warm sunny day.

In a little book called Field and Fen, which is a collection of articles from The Eastern Daily Press, a Norfolk newspaper,  I found this description of how leaves unfold.

The pages enlarged

 The warm weather last weekend has opened up many leaves, green is spreading over the countryside.

Still tightly closed are the fig leaves on my small tree and the Walnut in a garden down near the road.
Fig leaves tightly closed
 But other leaves are opening (my camera  has decided not to focus on close up so these pictures are awful - or it might be me not keeping still enough-)

 I'm so lucky to have all this green around me.

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Tuesday 7 April 2020

Strange Times Week 4 Post 2

It felt very odd to go  out shopping yesterday - first big supermarket shop for nearly 3 weeks - the roads between home and Diss were quieter but not empty and I arrived in Morrisons car park to find it a lot less than half full.
I was expecting to join a queue - as seen on TV - but was ushered straight in - although there was a queue and a bloke with a clicking counter thing counting me out later. The shop had plenty of food and everything else on the shelves but still no yeast except some sachets of extra quick yeast for hand baking that I'll  use for Hot Cross Buns which will make my other yeast last longer - still have enough for several more loaves.
A few people shopping were wearing masks - I haven't got one but kept well away from other people in the aisles and several people were wearing gloves - which I had got.There were lots of staff around unpacking trolleys full of stuff and doing the Home Delivery picks - none had masks or gloves and it was difficult to keep well out of their way.

I had a craving for Chinese food which seems rather ironic! and splurged on something from their chilled section. (Judge me if you like!) but my main reason for going was for fresh fruit and vegetables and cat food.......... plenty  available. Funny how it almost feels like having to justify going out and buying food now.

Next shopping trip in about 3 weeks if I can make everything last.

The postman brought a letter from my penfriend on a windy Scottish island (Hi W 👋) and a lovely pressie from Youngest Daughter (a Mothers day gift ) it was an Arthur fob to add to my key ring which she got for me last year. 

My key ring is getting heavier..................... but I love it.

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Monday 6 April 2020

Strange Times Week 4 and Stinging Nettles

My small battery strimmer isn't man enough for some jobs so this year no one will cut down the stinging nettles, and I don't mind that at all as they provide vital food for some butterflies while they are in the  caterpillar stage. There aren't many nettles here really, just along the top of the ditch in a few places. But BiL would have zoomed through them with the big petrol strimmer - just like Colin would have done in the past. Neither of them would have taken a bit of notice of me saying "can you leave a few nettles"!

Lacking fresh veg I decided to pinch out a few nettle tops and use them in an omelette as a change from the wild garlic.   They were blanched by pouring boiling water over them twice - tested to check the  stinging-ness had gone then chopped up and added to two eggs.

Turns out they are totally tasteless - but all that green-ness must be good for you.....right?
I investigated........

 This is from the middle book - 'Nature in Your Basket'. I picked out a few relevant bits.............

Urtica dioica
 People and nettles are old companions. Wherever the soil has been enriched by the refuse of human settlement - there will be nettles. They have very high levels of Vitamin A and C, 2.3% by weight of iron and a remarkable 5.5% of protein.
Pick the young tops between March and June.
Mankind has been using nettles from Prehistoric times. During the WWII nettles were harvested to supply chlorophyll for medicines. 

The page above mentions the soup made in a BBC TV series "Living in the Past" from many years ago when a group of families lived in a replica of an Iron Age Farm Settlement.
When I read this I had to go and look at my copy of the book which was an amazing find from somewhere ( I can usually remember where I found a treasure but this alludes me.)
The series was made in the late 70's and through one of the wettest summers ever. The families spent a lot of the time wading through mud and never having enough to eat.

Meanwhile the weekend here was lovely, sunny but too windy for sitting out!

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