Wednesday 30 November 2022

Z in amaZing and for Zenith

 The Z in amaZing is because of all the places all around the world where the folks who read my ramblings live. 

I couldn't believe how many people took the time to reply in a comment.


The word Zenith is not a word I've used in general far as I can remember.

It's a word originally from the Arabic meaning "the way over ones head"  and became the name for the point at which the sun or moon is directly above you and seems to be at it's highest. 

Now it can be "the time at which something is at it's highest point or most successful".

I wonder if we ever know when we are at our highest point or most successful until it's in the past and we are on the way down and out?

What a cheerful thought to end the A-Z!

And tomorrow the blog will be back to normal although I will be doing Photos In Advent for the 8th year, as well as my normal diary stuff.

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Tuesday 29 November 2022

Y is for You

 I think someone suggested this for Y 

Y is for You

Who are You and where are You ?  (County or Country -not your actual address!)

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Monday 28 November 2022

X is for Xercise!

 The over 60's Exercise/Wellbeing group run by SPOT Wellbeing has almost finished the 6 week course. The village hall is booked for 12 more weeks but without anyone to run a group, so not sure what will happen. I'll find out tomorrow. Apparently there is cake tomorrow after the exercise - sounds good..

There are more people going now than at the beginning - which is better than the other way round.

 I still don't get the mindfulness bit, sitting with my eyes closed and thinking about the feeling of my feet on the floor or counting my breathing does absolutely nothing for's supposed to be relaxing, but my idea of relaxing is sitting in the sun on a sunny day or laying on the settee reading a book!

Sadly there are some Old Men who tend to dominate any conversation (just like at the village Over 60's group!)

The half hour of fairly gentle exercise - standing or sitting- has given me ideas for keeping joints, muscles and balance in good condition. I've been doing a few at home when I remember, along with going up and down my exercise step bought months ago when I started to feel "bungalow knees"!

For exercise I still prefer swimming but the lane swimming sessions are fewer now the schools are using the pool. Some days only very early morning or late evenings - neither suit me and one of the days with late morning lane swimming is the same day as the exercise group. Much to my surprise, yesterday I discovered they'd got a lane swimming session on a Sunday morning, I'd not even thought about looking on the Sunday timetable, assuming it would be all family swim sessions. It was good to get a swim in as I didn't manage one last week and won't during this week either.

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Saturday 26 November 2022

W for Watching

What have you been watching on TV now we have the dark evenings back again?.

 I'm still watching my way through NCIS  on the 5USA channel. It's up to series 14 now and Mark Harmon is still aging well. They've been showing 3 episodes each weekday evening from 6 until 9pm (or 7 - 10 on 5+1).

No NCIS on weekend evenings but I came across a new foreign language crime drama on All 4 called Artic Circle. Blimey it's cold up there in Lapland! The interesting thing is that when Russians, Finns and German characters are talking to each other they speak in English. And  perhaps that explains why so many people in this country don't bother to learn another language! I watched all of series 1 but will have to wait for series 2 to appear on a free channel sometime.

Now I've found 'Murder in the First' on the 5 Catch Up channel which is a police drama from the US. Seems to have more than one series.

I'm watching Strictly Come Dancing as usual, although not really getting into  it so much this year. Because of watching NCIS I'm missing quizzie Mondays but catch up with Only Connect and University Challenge on iplayer. 

There was a good programme a few weeks ago - Ed Sheran at the BBC. Showing all the times he has appeared on TV - he looked so young at the beginning.- he WAS so young! and still is of course.

An then we have the World Cup Football. The Radio Times had a helpful wall chart to fill in with scores etc if I was so inclined - I'm not. Like many people I don't think Qatar should have been given the tournament - hopefully FIFA will have learned a lesson but it's all about the money, so probably not.

Do you watch Taskmaster? For umpteen years I assumed it was something that I wouldn't want to watch but I caught some of the last series and it is very funny - I think it depends on who's taking part but I should have watched earlier - I think Col would have enjoyed it too. Sara Millican has been very smart in this recent series.

There's a new police drama starting Friday - set in Aberdeen and I must make a note to watch series 20 of QI on iplayer sometime. It's on at 10pm - too late for me!

And as I mentioned the other week Countdown is now watchable again after the Ann Robinson interlude. They've been having temporary presenters after a couple of weeks of Colin Murray - who is  good but probably busy with Football stuff on the radio at the moment - one of the temps was Rev Richard Coles and they could easily take him on as a full time presenter - he was excellent, someone had written to the Radio Times to say the same thing.

Countdown title sequence from internet  HERE if the picture doesn't appear for you

Here's the Countdown numbers game from the latest Radio Times. I did it but took me longer than 30 seconds. See how you get on.

I certainly watch more TV now I'm on my own.

Back  Monday

Friday 25 November 2022

V is Village Halls

 What would villages do without their village halls?

Well, in the case of my village, which doesn't have one, it means there's nowhere for a big group to meet during the day, because the large Community Centre Hall is used by the primary school for P.E and dining hall and what was a Community owned Small Hall has been sold to the school for a Special Needs Class.(Both were built adjoining the new primary school in the 80's).
 Instead we have just two much smaller meeting places - the United Reformed Church and the even smaller Old School Room. At sometime in the future there are plans for a new community owned hall . Hopefully sooner rather than later but the wheels of local government work exceedingly slowly and much fund raising will be needed.

Thankfully most of the villages around are in a much better position.

This is Stowupland where I called in on my way home from shopping last Saturday to look at a Christmas Craft Fayre.

And on my way I noticed a big poster for another Christmas Fayre at  Old Newton so did a round trip and went there too

At the first Christmas Fayre I bought something interesting that I'll put on a post in December and at the second a small donation got me something else that will also be in a December post.

Here's the Village Hall where I'm doing the over 60s Exercise and Wellbeing group.

And this one where I go to one of the WI groups

Both of those two above had had modernisation and extensions in the time we were away from Mid Suffolk. I've queued for dozens of jumble sales outside both of these back in the day.
The rather nice notice board was paid for by the WI in our centenary year of 2019 and made by the local Men's Shed woodworking group. The one problem with this Village Hall is lack of parking, people have to park all along the road which causes chaos and it will get worse with dozens of new homes being built here. There is talk that one of the building companies are supposed to build a new Community Centre as part of their permission to build the new houses but when it will happen is a different story.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 24 November 2022

U is for Underwear (You Weren't Expecting That!)

 If you are over 65 you might remember Liberty Bodices, Suspender belts, Roll-Ons  and Panty Girdles.

They all seem such strange items of underwear, now that we are used to briefs that can be very brief and bras that can be strapless or backless. Or maybe they are not so odd and you are wearing them now!

It was thanks to the Lunchtime TV programme  Bargain Hunt that I found out where Liberty Bodices were made when the presenter visited Market Harborough Museum.

From the internet..........................

Symingtons Liberty Bodices

The Liberty Bodice was invented by Fred Cox, Marketing Director at R & W H Symington & Co Ltd in 1908. It was a fleecy knitted vest with rubber buttons, re-enforcing cotton tapes and buttons to attach drawers and stockings. The bodice helped to change the way that children dressed in the early part of the twentieth century.
Until then most middle and upper class children wore supporting re-enforced corsets that were supposed to help ‘train’ their developing bodies. The Liberty Bodice was a softer, less restricting garment that allowed children to move around and play, at a time when playing and being active were viewed as an important parts of childhood.
Fred Cox’s daughter, Freda wore the bodice in an original advertising photograph. She appeared as the ‘Liberty Bodice Girl’ in much of the early marketing. The Liberty Bodice was produced in its millions and continued to be made until the 1960s. Loved or hated by three generations of children it remains one of Leicestershire’s most interesting products.
A child's Utility Liberty Bodice 1943

My Mum dressed me in a Liberty Bodice, although by the late 50's they didn't have the tapes and buttons to attach drawers and stockings -thank heavens!. They were abandoned by the time I started school.
I remember with loathing the Suspender Belt - too old for socks and before tights were common it was stockings held up by a belt with suspenders. Worn with a mini skirt of the time, it was always a worry that stocking tops would show...........nobody would bother now but back in the early sixties in Suffolk it would have been wrong to see petticoats, bra straps or stocking tops (bit like the Victorians and ankles!)
Mum had roll-on supportive underwear, it held everything in with suspenders for stockings but I can remember the Pantie Girdle (now they would be called Shape wear) which was worn over the top of tights, mainly to hold up the tights which had a tendency to slide down and wrinkle .
I'm very glad that none of those items feature in my wardrobe in 2022!
(Edited in to say - if you can't see the image of a Liberty Bodice which is there in drafts but seems to disappear HERE is a link)

and a PS...... Happy Holidays to all readers in the USA - have a good Thanksgiving Day
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Wednesday 23 November 2022

T is for Treasure

I've had this little chest of drawers for as long as I can remember. When we were little it held all the doll's cutlery........ knives, forks and spoons , but it didn't have those little brass handles, found those much later.

I don't know if someone made it in the 50's or it might be much older - there's no one to ask now.

The grandchildren like to pull the drawers out to look at all "The Treasure"!


I've got coins here from all around the world - (although I've only been out of the country twice in my whole life) but many are currencies used here and Europe years ago.

I have no idea where they've all come from apart from  a few put in the honesty box  at the smallholding when people paid for eggs and vegetables.

The oldest are two coins we found under the brick floor of the very old house we renovated. We hoped for real treasure but only got a penny from 1799 and a halfpenny from 1774  and these huge keys for the original doors.

The top drawer has a collection of random bits and bobs that have been in there for ages, including son's Young Ornithologists Club badge - better give that back to him , even though he's now 41! 

Where did that large metal bird come from? The only place I can think of was a lamp that my Mum had years ago - a undersea scene backlit with a bulb and the seagull on top, but surely not, as that was 50 years ago.
One day I must sort it all out but in the meantime it's just treasure for the grandchildren.

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Tuesday 22 November 2022

S is for So Many Things

 Suffolk.............A good County to live in, no cities and no motorways and there are still quiet places. The family history shows that many generations before me have also been born and lived here all their lives, as far back as the 1700's at least.
Suffolk people are well grounded, we know Suffolk has been here for ever and will probably stay much the same too. We quite like being ignored by others who think it's just a large flat county with nothing much to see! 

Susan Mum wanted to call me Jane, but apparently Grandma said I would get called "Plain Jane" so I was named Susan Jane instead. When I got to Grammar school there were 5 Susan's in my year - which was annoying for everyone. There was one Jane but she left after a term or two. Mum shouldn't have listened to her Mother! I'm only Susan now to my cousins and to myself if I tell myself off!

Stowmarket.............main town in Mid Suffolk, the place where I was at Grammar school, went to Youth Club, and the cinema, hung around with friends and went shopping for all the years before we moved East to the smallholding, and now I'm back shopping there again. Asda is just off the town centre and Aldi, Lidl and Tesco all have their own carparks a little further out from the centre. Not many empty shops in town either. People moan about how many smaller independent shops have closed in the last 20 years, but that's the same everywhere. There will be one more empty shop next month as I noticed the Cancer Research Charity shop is closing - you know things are bad when even the charity shops who don't pay full business rates can't afford to stay open.

Seeds.................. nearly time to investigate what seeds I need for next year's vegetable growing.

Shopping....... I'm one of those strange people who don't mind going food shopping, specially now I'm not in a hurry. I've always done it on my own- it's not a chore. But clothes shopping is a completely different thing - don't like that or shoe shopping at all. Life is so much easier with supermarkets having clothes as I can look at what they have when I'm there for food. I've only ever done grocery shopping online once and found it a real faff!

Sea and Sky............

On a November day the sea and sky in Suffolk looked like this. We have plenty of sky here, you can see the weather coming from all directions.

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Monday 21 November 2022

R is for Reading

 Just as B had to be for Books so R has to be for Reading. 

I'm always reading something - usually library books

These are 13 that I had reserved and collected last week from the library van. (Apologies for poor photo, it was a wet and gloomy afternoon).

November Library Book Photo

The D.E Stevenson's that I asked the library service to buy have all come at once and then lots of crime as per usual.  I'll probably alternate. There are a couple of Non-Fiction.
The Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling )in the Strike series is huge fat book(I found the next in the TV series should be on before the end of the year). 
I shouldn't have ordered the one by Rachel Blok as although I read the first of hers a while ago, I found the second to be a nastier story and this one is the same - it will go straight back.
I can't remember why I requested the one about Prehistoric Life - must have had a reason. There are two by Anne Perry - one in the Daniel Pitt series and the other is a Christmas Novella. I may have tried the Veronica Smallwood crime novel before as it's several years old. I think someone mentioned her books - I'll give it a go. 
I started straightaway with the Kate Ellis because they are always a really good read mixing archaeology with crime and past with present.

These were the 16 books I'd ordered which I picked up from the library van last month and although there were many I thought were going to be good, it didn't turn out that way.

October Library Book Photo

 I sent back Landlines by Raynor Winn  - too much illness for me, I found I didn't want to know. No recipes were copied from 'Restore'. I thought The Rose Code would be good but it was too annoying. It's another written by an author from the USA who hasn't done enough research on the words that would have been used over here in the 1940s. I could have persevered but had plenty of others to read.
 I started reading Thunderstone and wasn't sure about it and put it back in the pile and then took it back by mistake so I've reordered it. 

All the crime were read and enjoyed.

Judi Daykin - Into Deadly Storms and An Artful Murder. 
Christianna Brand - Death of Jezebel. 
Alexander McCall Smith - A Song of Comfortable Chairs.
Mel Starr - Suppression and Suspicion 
Anthony Horowitz - A Line to Kill..
Sebastian Farr - Death on the Down Beat.
Martin Edwards -Editor. - Final Acts, Theatrical Mysteries.

The Great Plant Based Con is fascinating - an awful lot of facts and figures but many details about who actually benefits from the trend toward Veganism..............and it's not the people eating a vegan diet! I'm still dipping in and out of it.

Everything I've read has been added to the Books Read 2022 page

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Saturday 19 November 2022

Q is for Questions

I'm getting lazy with this A-Z thing, so for Q........................ 

 Ask me a Question.................... (not the sort that are on University Challenge or Mastermind please!)

I'll come back later and answer them ..............if I can.

Friday 18 November 2022

P is for Positivity

 What do you say when someone asks "How are you?"

I started a new way of answering a while ago. I now say "I'm really, really well thank you". 

And the best thing is that the more often I say "I'm really well" then the better I feel. I realise how lucky I am to have no serious health issues and no family or money problems, but I could spend my time feeling cheated out of all the things Colin and I had planned to do in his retirement, but negativity has been chucked out!

Positivity is the way forward, long may it last.

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Thursday 17 November 2022

O is for Owls

 Along with postcards, stamps, thimbles and probably other things I don't remember, I once collected owls.

Not the real, obviously, or the stuffed specimens like the tatty ones I photographed at the Rural Bygones Auction in September.

Mine were usually pottery or candles, and very small as I couldn't afford anything bigger. I have no idea why I collected them or how it started.

Not many left now.

The one the Cub Scouts gave me when we moved away to the smallholding.

A pair of wooden book-ends

And one small owl made of stone? or something

When we first moved to the smallholding we would often see a Barn Owl quartering the meadow and visitors to the campsite would be excited to watch it. But after a few years they didn't visit so often and it turned out that a neighbours big hollow tree had blown down and that was where the owls had been roosting.
At my last home we had visits from an owl which left owl pellets in the wood shed, although that too stopped visiting after some Kestrels nested in the Owl nesting box and Magpies nested up in the top of the poplar trees.
Here in my bungalow the garden is too enclosed to see owls and I've not noticed any over the road in the grave yard as yet.

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Wednesday 16 November 2022

N is for .................................

 Not much begins with N - or not much that I could think of to blog about - hardly anything in the labels and I certainly didn't want to write about Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. 

So I asked for suggestions and these were what were given to me..................

November, New, Neighbours, Neighbourhood, Nanny, Norfolk, Notebooks, Not for me, Nature, Nuts, NIMBY, Novels, Nattering,

Thought I would do all of them!

NOVEMBER ........I could repeat the gloomy November poem by Thomas Hood but even that isn't correct for this year as the weather has been unseasonably warm and there are plenty of birds on the feeders and we don't have smog anymore.

NEW............the newest thing in the house is the en-suite shower room and I have actually bought something new for it. It's rare for me to buy something without much thinking, looking and pondering and finding second-hand but car-boot sales have finished and I needed some small storage to fit under the basin and found a little drawer stack. I decided to have an old fashioned basin rather than one of those all-in-one fitted unit cupboard things and I like proper taps and a plug on a chain to fit the plughole.

NEIGHBOURS..........I have a couple in their late 30s on one side they have 2 children, the eldest has just started secondary school and the youngest is 8. A and A  both work - the husband was a wedding photographer who had to think of something else to do in Covid so now also runs his own specialist baking business. He works very odd hours and is often out at farmers markets and foodie events at weekends. They are friendly - thankfully - as we share a driveway entrance. 

On the other side are a retired couple, my age . Also friendly. I've just cut my horrible Yew hedge between our front gardens and did both sides as T has been a bit poorly. There's one area I couldn't reach, so hope they don't mind the sticky-up bits I had to leave!

Over the back are a young family with 3 daughters - they both work, and are hardly ever there except in summer when the eldest daughter spends a lot of time practising tennis against the back wall of their house, which would drive me nuts if I lived there!

NEIGHBOURHOOD..........Neighbourhood isn't a term we use so much here. I looked up the actual meaning and it says "part of a town or city". But I'm edge of a friendly village, which is a good place to be, everyone says hello around the village and I don't feel too enclosed with the graveyard over the road.

NANNY...........I'm a Nanna. My Mum was a Grandma and neither me or my sister wanted to be called Grandma so we are both Nannas. that County over the border! divided from Suffolk by the River Waveney. They have a football team that Suffolk people never mention! I cross the border every time I go to Morrisons in Diss.

NOTEBOOKS..........the only one I have is where I write ideas for books to borrow from the library although I do have an accounts book and a diary for reminders. My blog is my biggest notebook.

NOT FOR ME..............?

NATURE.......... gets mentioned on here under The Natural World label

NUTS...........Just stocked up on 2 large bags of mixed nuts to make Spiced Nuts for Christmas - me and the hampers and then me again!.

NIMBY...........Never had to worry about anything happening in My Back Yard

NOVELS...........due to working in a library these are called Fiction. I read a lot of Fiction!

NATTERING.............supposed to be something women do - but I think men do it much more, especially when working. I know this due to the 3+ weeks of having the men working here doing the shower room! Yesterday the builders came back to make the door from the garden into what was the old en-suite. There were two of them and they spent 20 minutes nattering out the front of the bungalow until eventually taking some tools round the back. They didn't stay long as it started pouring with rain.
Hope they are back again today.

NICE............One of those words that has different meanings depending on the tone of voice! I don't think I say it very often - it's a 'nothing much' sort of word in my mind. I think I'm more likely to say Lovely or Good. I shall listen to myself to see when I next say Nice!

Don't think I've missed any ideas - thank you to everyone who helped fill this post.

(Thank you for comments yesterday - apologies for not replying. Also hello to some new followers, hope you enjoy reading)

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 15 November 2022

M is for Mistletoe

In the Ogham  Tree Alphabet Mistletoe has no number or letter but instead represents the "day" of  "a year and a day".

The Celtic Lunar calendar had the year as being 13 months of 28 days = 364 days, so to complete the year an extra day was added. This was always December 23rd because the year started and ended on the Winter Solstice, which was counted twice. (Information from the book "Ogham Sketchbook" by Karen Cater and I don't quite get that statement either!)

The Druids believed Mistletoe was too sacred to be given a name or a symbol but they called it "Allheal" due to it's medicinal use. It has always been a magical plant, not of the earth but growing in the meeting place between earth and sky. The Celts considered all these meeting places as sacred  where magic could happen. Dawn and Dusk, Earth and Sea , Gateways and Thresholds.

The Mistletoe

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen—and kissed me there.

By Walter De La Mare 1873 - 1956

In early November I saw a poster for a craft fair with free coffee and cakes in a nearby village - (the FREE was the attraction!)  a lady had some small stained glass pieces and I spotted this for the Christmas looks better with a light behind it.

I've written about Mistletoe before..... HERE . The huge bunches high up in the churchyard of my previous village and the clump I found not far from Clay Cottage and when it was mysteriously cut down. 
It usually grows way out of reach but I spotted some on an old tree a couple of years ago, and stopped to cut a little bit last year but it seemed a strange colour and half dead. I shall look again this year.

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Monday 14 November 2022

L is for Leaves

A couple of weeks ago I raked up lots of leaves from the Sycamore tree which is in next door neighbours garden but right against the fence, thinking there were still so many left I would have to do it a couple more times at least. But the rest of the leaves must have gone the other way as it's nearly bare now and I've not raked again so far.

Gathering Leaves

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight;
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for colour.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop.
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop.

                                   Robert Frost (1874-1963)

This is the order that some trees shed their leaves - according to one of my books of Weather Lore.

"Starting with Walnut, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut, Lime, Ash, Beech and Oak, Apple and lastly young Beeches and pollarded oaks which sometimes keep their leaves until they are pushed off by new ones in spring."

I found this painting by googling  'Autumn Leaves' - I rather like it and it fits in so well with this post.

File:John Buxton Knight00.jpg
Autumn Leaves by John Buxton Knight 1842-1908

Not an artist I've heard of.

John William Buxton Knight RBA (1843 – 2 January 1908), English landscape painter, was born in Sevenoaks, Kent.

He started as a schoolmaster, but painting was his hobby, and he subsequently devoted himself to it. In 1861 he had his first picture hung at the Royal Academy. He was essentially an open-air painter, constantly going on sketching tours in the most picturesque spots of England, and all his pictures were painted out of doors. He died at Dover on 2 January 1908

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Saturday 12 November 2022

K is for Kitchens

 How many kitchens have I cooked in? I counted and made 13, which is more than the number of houses I've lived in and more than the number of gardens I've grown in!

How can that be?

I've counted the caravan we lived in for a year  in the early 80's while renovating the very old cottage, then two kitchens at the smallholding - the original from 1992 until 2011 and the new one after we did the big extension  plus the stripped out small caravan I used as a kitchen all summer 2011 while the extension was being built.

I've had two large kitchens but the rest have all been much smaller and almost every house we owned had a kitchen that needed replacing or modernising while we were living in it and I've had all sorts of colours and finishing touches - from orange in the late 70's, red in the mid 80's and back to red in 2011

Below is my kitchen here, and I've not done anything to change it........yet! not very big, but very easy to work in, with cupboards in every available space. The cupboard doors are glossy grey and the work-tops are wood -  neither of which I would chose. I always wanted a Butler sink but Colin always did the washing up and he didn't want one - too deep he said, and now I have one I can quite see why - it's a pain, especially as there is no proper draining board - which is still needed I think even with a dishwasher.

 I like to have everything easily available to use so the bread-maker and food-mixer are stood out and I like the storage drawers on the right.
To take the photo I'm standing right against the back wall of the kitchen. The double oven cooker is just on the right of the photo and to the right of the oven is a pull out narrow larder cupboard and the fridge/freezer.
The door to the hall is on the left of where I'm standing. The top shelf of the cupboards are way out of my reach, so I have folding steps stood behind the door ready to grab.

The kitchen window looks out to the front and I don't have to be stood there for long to see someone walking by with their dog - or dogs - one woman has 3 small poodles dressed up with matching coats in winter and neckerchiefs in summer. Many people are glued to their phones as well as walking the dog and no one looks happy.

Thank you to everyone who's said they are enjoying the A-Z, I may get stuck next week........need something for N, better get my thinking cap on over the weekend. 
Although  not everyone is liking the November posts as follower numbers are going down rather than up!

Hope you all have a good weekend, I'll be back Monday.

Friday 11 November 2022

J is for Jam (plus Marmalade and Chutney)

 This was my last batch of 2022 chutney made a couple of weeks ago. A pan of sliced red onions, red wine vinegar and sugar,

which made jars of Sweet Onion Marmalade Chutney.....................

Which were added to my "Jam Cupboard" out in the garage........ looking much healthier this year after the very sparse moving house year last year.

Chutneys and relishes on the top shelf and jams and marmalades on the second. Too many just for me so I'll be giving some away (as well as the small jars at the back of the bottom shelf which are for this years Christmas hampers.)

Also on the bottom shelf is the 'wine cellar'!. I don't drink and never buy wine so these must have been wins from a raffle but probably from years ago................. does that make them vintage? Doubt it.

Wrapped in bubble wrap on the bottom are a couple of tins of prepared  Lemon mix for making Lemon Marmalade. Had to send for those, nowhere to buy them locally anymore.

Preserve making is finished for 2022.  What will I do in 2023? 

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Thursday 10 November 2022

I is for Ipswich

 County town of Suffolk, population roughly 134,000, one of the oldest established towns in England and somewhere I've been going for shopping a few times a year since I was small. We always took the bus there with Mum in the school holidays and it was once full of department stores and really busy all the time.

Now like so many other towns it has many, many empty shops. This was the Co-op, huge store over two floors but has now been empty for many years.

Below is the historically important Ancient House. For many years it was home to Lakeland but they closed during Covid 

As well as the empty Ancient House beside it was once BHS - another big shop now standing sad and forlorn  and on the opposite side of the road a row of empty shops including the old Edinburgh Woollen Mill store.

There are lots more empty premises but it was too depressing to take more photos. Even the Hotter shoe shop has gone since last time I was in town, and it was always so busy.

Every now and again the Borough Council spend money on various bits of the town.

This is The Giles Statue . Giles was a cartoonist from Ipswich and his statue was on the other side of the road but money was spent moving it across the road to make "Giles Circus"

Below is the result of another  bit of "tidying and tarting up" - a photo from summer a few years ago. Now Debenhams is also closed after being the biggest department store in Suffolk.

The Town Hall

With so many empty premises the town seems to consist of coffee shops and charity shops. I avoid Costa, Café Nero and all the rest and always go for a cuppa in the old St Lawrence's Church. The staff are people being helped into work after mental health problems or learning difficulties. There is always plenty of space .

I didn't go in all the charity shops in town but in the Salvation Army shop found this little bit of Poole Pottery in the shape of a buoy, it's actually a bell, and just appealed to me for my Summer Seasonal display.

Finally found a  ring bound diary for next year for not too much money. I've been looking in The Works in Stowmarket for weeks but the Ipswich shop is bigger and had this. I like a ring bound one because it will keep open and lay flat.

There's a bargain Cancer Research Charity shop in town where they sell off leftover things from their other shops (I think) and they had lots of last years packs of Christmas cards. I really didn't need any Christmas cards but these were rather nice so they've been added to my Christmas drawer.

On the way home I called in to the out of town shopping centre to look for some lampshades for the bedroom. The Range, Dunelm and B&M all had nothing suitable.

I wonder which shops will still be open next time I venture to town.

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Wednesday 9 November 2022

H is Hampers for Christmas

 A few weeks ago, when I wrote about Rose-Hip syrup, I said it was difficult to find except for the Lakeland company having it - and I mentioned liking the look of one of their Christmas hampers. Only problem was that it costs £129.99!.

Here's what was in the £130 hamper on the Lakeland website that looked so first sight!

  • Antonio Facchin Dalla Balla Prosecco (750ml) 
  • Condado de Artola Rioja (750ml) – .
  • Donelli Red Sparkling Grape Juice (750ml) 
  • Simon Weaver Cotswold Brie (140g) –
  • Godminster Star Vintage Organic Cheddar (200g) –
  • The Ribblesdale Cheese Company Superior Goat’s Cheese (150g) –
  • Cropwell Bishop Blue Shropshire Wedge (200g) –.
  • Grants Smokehouse Rope-Hung Smoked Scottish Salmon (100g) – .
  • Great Glen Charcuterie Venison & Pork Salami (60g) – 
  • Roger Vidal Terrine Fine Champagne (180g) – 
  • Made For Drink Chorizo Thins (18g) –
  • Ballancourt Lobster Terrine Pâté (90g) –
  • Fosters Sobrasada Pâté (110g) –
  • Duncan’s of Deeside Wheat-Free Scottish Oatcakes (200g) – .
  • Olina's Cranberry & Pumpkin Seed Toasted Crackers (200g) – .
  • Drivers Real Ale Chutney (350g) –
  • Mrs Darlington Christmas Chutney (130g) – 
  • Fosters Savoury Gouda Cheese Straws (150g)

On closer inspection it would be a big waste of money for me as  I don't drink alcohol, and make my own chutneys and cheese straws. I'm not a fan of salami, chorizo and pates now that I don't eat  much meat. 
That would leave me with grape juice (although I'd rather have apple!), salmon, cheeses, oatcakes and the toasted crackers to eat with the cheese. 
A few years ago I thought about buying a few special things to make my own hamper but it didn't really come to anything.

I decided to try again this year. Thinking of things I wouldn't usually buy - special one-off food treats that I would like and all for much, much less than £130! 

These are the first 3 items for my hamper - all from Morrisons.

There will be no chocolate in my hamper because something odd happened during the summer.............I ate no chocolate at all for about 3 months and then when I tried some in September I found I just didn't like it anymore! Very, very strange.

I always put together two Christmas hampers for my sister and her husband and Col's sister and husband. It started several years ago when I didn't know what to get them. I make up the hampers using my home made jams, chutneys, marmalade and anything else I can think of. Thank heavens the cost doesn't amount to anywhere near £130. Both sisters would have a shock if it did!

I'll take a photo of the two hampers I shall be giving away in December and maybe if I find some more things for mine, I'll do a photo of that too.

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Tuesday 8 November 2022

G is for Gardens and Greenfinches

 I grew up in a house with a big builders yard all round, there were a couple of bits of garden although my Mum hardly ventured into either as far as I remember. The vegetable garden for many years was accessed off a little lane that went to fields behind the house. It seemed a long way from the house when I was little but actually only about 30 yards. I vaguely remember Dad grew potatoes. Looking back with the experience of years the soil there was black and probably very good. The house dated from the C16 and I reckon had been used for growing for centuries.

Garden 2 was behind a new build - and Garden 3 the complete opposite being a long thin garden behind a Victorian terrace - lovely soil there and that's when I got interested in growing food.

 Garden 4 was at a 1970s terrace - that was where we had out first greenhouse and two small children - Colin made a sand-pit.

Garden 5 was ¼ acre, all of it at the front of the timber framed house that we stripped back and rebuilt while living in a caravan. The greenhouse moved here and was rebuilt after we'd finished the house and sold the static caravan. Here was also when we kept our first hens.

Garden 6 was a bit bigger than quarter acre behind a 1980s bungalow. The greenhouse moved again and we grew our own food again although there were huge trees all down one side that belonged to a neighbour and took all the moisture from the garden - the soil was shallow and poor.

Garden 7 doesn't count as it was all concrete around a house we rented for 6 months while looking for a smallholding. 

So after all those years of 'practising' we ended up at the smallholding and Garden number 8 with plenty of room for the three polytunnels that we eventually needed, greenhouse, vegetable beds, soft fruit cage and orchard.

I'm hardly counting garden 9 - that was a small square behind the the Very Small Bungalow in Ipswich. 

Then garden 10 at Clay Cottage with a nice garden and room for vegetables for us and a couple of apple trees and the half acre meadow too.

And finally garden number 11, here at the bungalow - one of the smallest I've ever had, but enough for me to  manage and grow a little to eat in my greenhouse, 3 vegetable beds and a few new fruit trees.


And why Greenfinches?

Up until a few years ago they were common visitors to bird tables and feeders but then came this..........

How serious is Trichomonosis?

In Britain, the size of the greenfinch breeding population has declined markedly, from a peak of approximately 4.3 million in 2006 (just before the onset of the epidemic) to approximately 1.5 million individuals in 2016 (66%, or an average reduction of around 280 000 birds every year).

and I'd not seen any for several years until last week when there was a pair on the seed feeder.

It was thought the disease might have been cause by mouldy birdfeed left in feeders, which, if it's true, is sad.

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Monday 7 November 2022

F is for Figs

Desperately searching for something relevant for the letter F and in the labels was........ Figs and the last time that Figs got a mention was at Christmas 2020 when a Fig tree in a pot was delivered at Clay Cottage ready  for me to plant it here when I eventually got here.

I must have forgotten to label the post when I  planted it, which would have been early June last year but thanks to the search function I found this picture of what it looked like when it was brought here. It's that small "stick with a leaf" second pot from the left.

The plants I brought with me in May last year.

I lifted a half slab on the patio and cut away the weed suppressant material from underneath to make a small space to plant it last summer. Books always say that figs like having their roots restricted and I know the fig tree we had at the smallholding which had loads of room to spread didn't produce as many figs as I would have expected from a huge tree.

This is how it looks now, it's 5 feet tall after a year and 5 months! which is pretty good going considering the original growing tip caught the frost last winter and then this summers dry weather - but it is one of the things I watered regularly.

There are some figs starting to grow, but they may fall off over winter. In hot countries they have two crops a year.

HERE is a post about Figs written in August 2020

It's odd to think that I'd never even eaten a fresh fig until the tree produced some at the smallholding.

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