Thursday 30 November 2023

Z is for ...........

...........the end of the alphabet, and wishing I hadn't started it as it was nowhere as interesting as my efforts last year!

Zzzzzzzzz could be for sleeping. Something I only ever do at night, have to be really poorly to sleep during the day. Luckily I don't usually have problems sleeping, sometimes it takes me an age to fall asleep and other times I'm gone without thinking. 
Usually I wake up once or twice but only for the loo and usually get back to sleep straight away. I've never understood getting up in the night to do something if unable to sleep although it must be OK for some people but it would be too cold for me and would wake me up even more. Some nights I have really weird dreams, especially if I fall asleep laying on my left side - and if anyone could explain that - I'd love to know why. 

Thank you to everyone for A - Z comments through the month. Remind me not to do it again next November!

Back in December - which happens to be tomorrow.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Y is for Yule and Yule Log

The word Yule predates 'Christmas' in English (from gēol in old English) but it's meaning was vague. Variations of 'Yule' existed in most Germanic and Scandinavian languages (jól in old Norse meaning a feast) and seemed to describe mid-winter  days and festivities. The word went out of fashion and Christmas was used from C12, although Yule carried on being used in Danish settlements and was a common dialect word in the North. (Info from The English Year book see below)

The idea that a large log of wood -  The Yule Log should be burning in the fireplace on Christmas Eve or all of Christmas day was well known for more than 300 years. It had different names in various places - The block log, clog or brand but could be found all over the British Isles.

This is taken from my book 'The English Year' by Steve Roud and comes from Herefordshire in 1886

A respectable middle aged labourer tells me that in his boyhood his father was always careful to provide a Christmas Yule Log. On Christmas morning he would put a bit saved from last year's log on the fire and lay the new log on top of it, so that it might be kindled from the last years piece. Before the new log was quite burnt out he took it off, extinguished it, and put it away to kindle the next year's log.

The idea of keeping part of the wood was to ensure the luck of the house continued but it was also thought to offer protection against fire and witchcraft. 

From the same book.......Folklorist Charlotte Burne recorded

In 1845 I was at the Vessons farmhouse in Shropshire. The floor was of flagstones and observing a sort of roadway through the kitchen and the flags much broken, I asked what had caused it and was told it was from the horses hoofs drawing in the Christmas Brand.

Not many houses with open fireplaces big enough for  yule log now - perhaps just a few old farm or manor houses.

Nowadays a Yule log is more likely to be made of a chocolate swiss roll covered in chocolate butter icing ridged with a fork to look like a tree trunk ,with a plastic robin perched on it and icing sugar sifted over the top.
 I'm not doing a Christmas cake this year  as I always get left with eating it all through January so instead I'll do a chocolate yule log, with a bought chocolate swiss roll - doesn't matter if it's left for me to eat at all! 

I tipped everything out of my very old cake candles and decorations tin - which has travelled Suffolk with me for more than 40 years............

But although I have plenty of candles and holders, a church, Joseph, Mary and Jesus and some random ballet dancers, the only things for the top of a log are some tiny bits of plastic holly. I shall see if I can find a robin next time I'm out.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 28 November 2023

X is for Xmas

 I didn't like using Xmas for Christmas but understand from those in the know about these things that it's now recognised as being  legitimate and OK to use and not just a lazy way of writing about the season.

So for X this year  I decided to visit some local Christmas/Xmas Fairs/Fayres and take a photo at every one I could get to.  Perhaps have a coffee and cake at all of them too. Although I had to give up that idea when straight away the first 3 were on the same morning!

This was the first, where I just found a couple of books, had a coughing fit, (the cough was the remains of a snotty 3 day cold given to me by middle grandson when I looked after him!) went into the coffee area to get a drink........ and hot sausage roll for breakfast and forgot to back into the church bit for a photo. 

This was the second Fayre of the day and I found  nothing I wanted so just had some tickets for the Grand Prize Draw - which was more of a donation to the church as I never win anything!

Very busy

                 And this on my way home was the third of the day and again I didn't buy anything 

                                                                      Not so busy here 

I popped to another on Sunday 19th at Stowmarket Leisure Centre, but forgot a photo. It was called a Grand Christmas Market rather than a craft fayre and was much bigger but I couldn't stay long as it was full of burning scented candles and soaps and other smellies and set me off coughing again. Several of the people who had been at numbers fairs # 2 and 3 the day before were also at this one.

Then on Saturday 25th it was off to visit a couple more (the things I do for a blog post!) First at Debenham Leisure Centre

Very busy, lots of different crafted items for sale. But as usual nothing I really needed - makes me feel very guilty and I know I'm really odd in not wearing jewellery, make up or needing smelly candles and I've already all the Christmas decorations, cards, hats, scarves, gloves and Christmas crackers that I need. Someone had jewellery using old fashioned pen nibs from the 40's/ 50's - nice idea but they looked lethal!
But I did pick up a small, sensibly priced, holly wreath for putting on my Mum and Dad in Laws grave and a little bunch of dried bits to add to my Christmas greenery vase next month.

The second, below, was at the  Church in Son's village, where I met up with the family. It was crowded. (That's my two small horrors in the photo - not a random photo of someone else's children!) Found out from the family that Youngest Granddaughter had been off school for a few days since last I saw them with  Scarlet Fever! Where the heck had that come from. DiL said that one day in the week they were very short of staff and children at her school due to various illnesses. So many things doing the rounds. Probably not helped by all the Christmas Fairs!

We all had a cuppa and cake at this one and several goes on the tombola where I won a bottle of some sort of flavoured fruit juice and a bottle of eau-de-cologne - both of which I gave to Daughter in Law to use for something.
A lady here had some beautiful willow baskets in various shapes and sizes - I was Very tempted, as baskets are a weakness - except that once I have them I'm never sure where to put them and really I have enough already in use and no where to display any others.

 The last time I went to this big Christmas Fayre in the town centre, was on a Saturday in December 2018 - 7 months after Colin died. That time they had one of those small artificial ice rinks. I remember feeling very sad among all the families enjoying themselves and didn't stay long.

Since Covid they've moved the fayre to a Sunday and it's got much bigger . Son and DiL went last year - I think- and said it was crowded and mainly food stalls.
I was in town anyway as I've recently started going to the big United Reform Church (URC) in Stowmarket for their Sunday service. It is much busier than the small version in my village, so I can hide at the back, sing hymns, sit quietly and slip out at the end. The church has a nice feel to it too and very welcoming. My cousin's husband was preaching on Sunday - dragged out of retirement I think! and surprised to see me there.

It wasn't very busy through the street when I arrived in town so plenty of room to walk through to church and I was surprised to see a small 'big' wheel.

It seemed to be mainly food and jewellery stalls as I continued up the street and I thought I'd have a better look round after church.

But when I came out of church the street was PACKED! (Just like I remember Ipswich Town Centre on Christmas eve many years ago!)  I didn't get much of a look around or more photos - much too busy-  but it was definitely almost all food stalls. You name it - and you could buy every nationality there. But if you didn't want food there wasn't much to see! I battled my way back to the car park - which was also crazily busy- and thankfully went home. 

Sunday was also the turn of my village to have a Christmas Craft Fayre. So after lunch I strolled up the road looked around the stalls ...........jewellery, candles, knitted Christmas decorations, dog snoods(?!) and once again bought nothing. I did have a £1s worth of Grand Draw tickets - didn't win obviously. I didn't take a photo as the place was empty apart from me and the stallholders.

That was as many as I could manage for this X for Xmas/Christmas Fair/Fayre  blog post but there are still more happening in December in various villages around which I may or may not visit and probably still feel guilty for not buying anything again!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 27 November 2023

W is for Wordle

First of all must say thank you to everyone for comments and memories about getting/not getting vaccinations. A conversation without nasty comments was good.

From Wiki ..................Wordle is a web-based word game created and developed by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle. Players have six attempts to guess a five-letter word, with feedback given for each guess in the form of colored tiles indicating when letters match or occupy the correct position. The mechanics are nearly identical to the 1955 pen-and-paper game Jotto and the television game show franchise LingoWordle has a single daily solution, with all players attempting to guess the same word.

Wardle created the game to play with his partner, eventually making it public in October 2021. The game gained popularity in December 2021 after Wardle added the ability for players to copy their daily results as emoji squares, which were widely shared on Twitter. Many clones and variations of the game were also created, as were versions in languages besides English. The game was purchased by The New York Times Company in January 2022 for an undisclosed seven-figure sum; the game was moved to the Times website in February 2022 and remains free for all players.

I was very late finding Wordle  , which is now heading towards # 900. I don't pay the 50p a week, which allows you to see if you've solved it in the best way - compared to a robot. I think I read there are either 3,000 or  5,000 x 5 letter words, whichever is right it will be running for a few more years before repeating. 

Here's my results for each morning this month. When I finished the puzzle  I hopped over to drafts to record my effort.

 1st Nov. NOISE in 4 tries.  242 played . 98% correct. Current run of 80.    average
2nd Nov. UNTIL in 4 tries  243 Played. 98% correct.   Current run of 81.    average again
3rd Nov. ARDOR in 6 tries 244 Played. 98% correct.Current run of 82. ARDOR??It's ARDOUR here!!
4th Nov. MANIA in 6 tries  245   " "        "   "    "         "       "    "  of 83.    tricky!
5th Nov. FLARE in 3 tries   246  "  "         "    "    "          "       "     of 84.    much better
6th Nov TRADE in 3 tries   247   "    "         "     "    "       "       "    of 85.   seemed easier today
7th Nov LIMIT in 5 tries      248  "    "            "     "                        of 86.  much thinking needed
8th Nov   oh dear I failed . The word was NINJA - not really used much in my vocabulary! Bother! 
9th Nov GLAZE in 5 tries    250 Played. Now down to 97% .    Run of 1.
10th Nov LEASH in 3 tries  251 Played.  97% correct. Current run of 2. That's more like it!
11th Nov  ACTOR in 3 tries  252  "  "       97% correct.   "    "     "    of 3. That was a lucky one.
12th Nov MEANT in 2 tries 253  ""  "    97%   "  "    .    "    "     "     4 . Wow that hasn't happened often.
13th Nov GREEN in 3 tries 254 " "   "     97%  "  "      "     "     "   "   5. Much luck involved
14th Nov SASSY in 6 tries  255  "  "  "   97%  "   "      "     "      "      6.    Very tricky
15th Nov SIGHT in 5 tries  256   "   "      97%      "       "       "       7.  Many options after getting IGHT
16th Nov TRUST in 4 tries  257  "   "      97%    "     "      "    "           8.  Average
17th Nov TARDY in 3 tries 258     "     "  97%   "       "     "      "        9. Blimey that was lucky!
18th Nov THINK in 3 tries  259   "    "     97%  "  "         "      "         10. Another lucky hit after TH in 2
19th Nov QUEUE in 5 tries  260  "     "    97% "    "         "    "           11. Had to be a Q
20th Nov CANDY in 3 tries 261  "    "    97%    "     "     "     "          12. Another bit of luck
21st Nov PIANO in 3 tries 262    "    "     97%   "       "     "   "           13. Seemed easy today
22nd Nov PIXEL in 4 tries  263  "    "      97%   "     "    "     "          14. Flash of inspiration!
23rd Nov QUEEN in 3 tries 264  "    "     97%   "   "      "      "        15. Surprised at another Q 
24th Nov THROW in 2 tries  265  "   "    97%   "      "       "     "     16. That was a good guess!
25th Nov GUIDE in 5 tries   266 "    "     97%  "   "     "     "    "      17. Back to average
26th Nov SOLID in 4 tries  267  "    "     97%  "    "       "    "          18.  Good

I won't put today's on here to avoid a spoiler for anyone who hasn't done it yet.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 25 November 2023

V for Vaccinations

 Back in the 60s children's vaccinations were given at school. A team of nurses went round the schools - I guess a letter went home for parents to give permission? or maybe we just got them regardless! I can't remember much about it happening - and now I'm not even sure what we were vaccinated against. What was that one we had that had a small circle of tiny needles that left a pretty pattern for ages?

All 3 of my children were vaccinated when they were small against all the childhood illness that were preventable. They had fewer days off school than I had, when measles, mumps and chicken pox did the rounds in the 1960's. My grandchildren have had even more vaccinations and will be spared many more nasty things. I heard on the radio that Chicken Pox vaccination is another one children should get in the future in England, it's already given in many places.

Flu vaccinations are offered in this country for anyone over 65 and others at risk. There's a special flu vaccine for children - they are given it from age 2 or 3. There is a long history of research about preventing flu, going right back to the 1940s in the USA and from the 1960's here. This year would be my 4th year and my flu vaccination was planned for the 2nd November and had to be cancelled due to flooding - the vaccination team couldn't get to the local health centre.
It was reorganised for another day and I had heard tales of just how long people were forced to wait outside in a queue to go in for the previous vaccination sessions in October. 
Thankfully no such problems when I got mine done on the 14th, no queue, just a "steady stream" the nurse said. No side effects this year again either.

My blog posts are not usually controversial, so no trolls or vile comments. But this statement is sure to create some.........I'm not having a covid booster vaccination and didn't last year either! And I've never tested myself for covid either - Shock Horror!

Waiting for the comments ..................................

Back Monday

Friday 24 November 2023

U is for Upset?

The U I had planned  didn't happen.

Last Years U was  Underwear - specifically the garment called a Liberty Bodice, a properly written post!.

So I was Upset that I'd not made an effort for this year. Upset? Really? no of course not! takes a lot more than that  to upset me nowadays.

When you have lost the person you have shared everything with for 38 years, small things can't upset  anymore.

Other words beginning with the letter U.

 Umbrage = To take offence at something said or in the case of blogs and comments - written. I'd like to take umbrage at comments that seem to be boasting of things they do better than others but I can't be bothered!

Umbrella = I have  2 small fold up brollies that live in the car, they are both a pain to open and are looking a bit worse for wear. Umbrellas were never allowed to be opened in the house when I was young - bringing very bad luck.

Unheated = My radiators were unheated for just over a week due to a boiler switch glitch. There was hot water but no central heating. I was very glad of my wood burner and convector heater. 
Ian, the heating engineer was very busy but he finally got here yesterday with a new switch that sorted it out. Just in time before a forecast of a drop in temperatures.

Here are 300+ more words starting with U. Just in case you are playing Scrabble or doing a crossword!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 23 November 2023

T for Treats

 There's no one here to make me a cuppa so having a coffee out has become a regular treat . For most of the years before Colin died we didn't do coffee and cake out, we preferred to save our money for other things. We even took a flask and lunch on all the trips to Addenbrookes hospital rather than getting something from the machines or café.

So that's treat number one.

Treats two and three are edible and only bought at Christmas.  Two is something for the month after Christmas.  I don't drink alcohol and no longer eat chocolate on it's own but love these chocolate liquors. The price goes up the closer it gets to Christmas so I bought mine in October, and treat three is for a few cold grotty days in January when something warming, sweet and just a bit different is needed.

It's also a treat to have the occasional  takeaway meal,

 to come home from the library with a big bagful of books to enjoy and

 to settle down in a warm room of an evening to read them.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 22 November 2023

S is for a Second-Hand Post

S is for Sorry - I just ran out of time/energy/ideas so here's a repeat of last year - with a couple of updates -  when I covered lots of 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. 2023 - A year later there are many more empty 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 - 2023  Sad that it closed -it's still empty, 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!

And a new bit.............Scout Post

I shall get my Christmas cards written for my cousins in Ipswich and Felixstowe next week and drop them into a collection point for the Scout groups of those areas to deliver. It costs 35p for each card  and all the money raised goes to the Scout's funds. This all started 35 years ago with one Ipswich Scout Group delivering in their local area and has spread. 

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 21 November 2023

R is for Retirement

 Averages are meaningless.

Never-the-less here's a chart I found of various incomes in retirement and what the average person could use their income for. It's a year or so out of date now after so many price rises.

The average income of a single pensioner was £246 a week between 2020 -2021.

I'm eternally grateful that Colin loved his County Council Bridge Inspecting job and they give me a spouses pension because of his death. I have a savings bond using the downsizing money and those and my state pension means my income is in between minimum and moderate.........although closer to the minimum.

Have to say that £54 a week on food seems a lot, my spending is less than that and I see that those on minimum income are not expected to have a car - they all must live somewhere with public transport! because the majority of people in villages and countryside have no alternative. £580 for clothes and shoes is way more than what I spend too - thankfully.

Some people think I worked until 1980 and then never worked again, so have been retired for 40 years already! Not quite true. It is true that I never had a full time paid employment outside of home after eldest daughter was born. My library assistant salary was way down the pay grades and I really didn't like being bossed about by the new young graduate librarian anyway, so it seemed sensible to stay at home and find ways to save money. Which, by never wasting a penny, growing food and watching all the spending, we achieved. Every now and again I did some part time work that fitted in around the children. 
I have.........
  • Cleaned a house
  • Cleaned a village hall
  • Grown herbs to sell at the PYO fruit farm
  • Picked fruit on the fruit farm for their freezers
  • Saturday Library  assistant job
  • Been an after school and holiday childminder
  • Run a small home based nursery group
  • Been a lunch time school playground supervisor in a primary school
  • and in a Middle school
  • Sold herbs at a WI Country Market
  • Census enumerator
  • Poll Clerk on election days
And all the time we were doing up houses and moving up the housing ladder.

Then after moving to the smallholding I had animals and the campsite to look after and vegetables, fruit and herbs to sell and for several years we bought and sold country themed books at local country fairs and I also sometimes made cards and cakes for a WI Country Market.

Although my retirement isn't as planned...... Colin dying aged 61 didn't come into any retirement thoughts .............I seem to be managing well and actually have spare pennies for those coffees out and second hand books.

I realise I'm one of the lucky pensioners that are so disliked by many!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 20 November 2023

Q is for Quite a Nice Mixed Book Collection!

 Had to fit the November library book photo into the month somehow!

These are the books I had reserved and collected last week.

There are 5 crime, including two books of short stories, 1 children's book, 4 non fiction, 2 general fiction and a DVD .

As usual there are some there that I have no clue about and must have ordered after seeing them on a blog or somewhere else. For instance - what on earth is 'How To Cook A Wolf' ! (Actually it's a 1942 cookery book published for wartime in the USA). I know I'll enjoy 'The Raging Storm' and there's a Christmas poem book there to give me ideas for December posts.

Last month I brought home these below and  finished the tenth yesterday -  'The Bookseller' by Mark Pryor -  the excellent debut novel of a new to me author published in 2012. Details on those finished are on the Books Read 2023 page. I didn't bother with the historical novel by Ken Follet - it was just too long and didn't like two of the old crime fiction so abandoned them after a few pages.

I think I'd missed hearing that the author Anne Perry had died sometime this year which is very sad as I'd enjoyed all her various crime series mostly set in Victorian London.
One less author to check for new books on Fantastic Fiction 😢  

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 18 November 2023

P is for Preparedness and Peace of Mind

 Be Prepared is the Scout Motto and I was a Cub-Scout leader for 20 years so learned that lesson well. 

I've been "Being Prepared" forever and especially since moving here with electricity needed for everything, for the first time in many years.

Having the wood burner installed was an expensive business but gave me Peace of Mind. Having the en-suite moved was another thing that cost me money but has made such a difference in many ways. No worries about the macerator pump reversing itself for a start! 
I keep a supply of logs, large and small in the garage and I'm still using kindling I bought from car boot sales in 2022. I buy a box of natural non smelly firelighters online and they last ages. They are needed for this fire as it doesn't draw well to start it easily. I've also got plenty of matches - no fire without them - and no, Scouts don't rub two sticks together!

I have an electric convector heater which has been needed a few times this autumn when the oil central heating has refused to work properly - which it did recently for the 3rd time this autumn - I have hot water but no heat which in theory shouldn't happen. Heating engineer has been rung - the last two times the heating has started working again the next day but not this time. He's hoping it's something simple like the flow switch.

I recently replaced my picnic gas stove - less than £20. The old one had originally been used in the beach hut and was very rusty. Last time it was used when the electric was off,  it didn't work well at all as it would only work on very low flame. I have a pack of 3 new gas canisters too and that means I'm prepared for hot food, hot drinks and making a hot water bottle for any future power cuts.

I have lots of candles and this re-chargeable light below so  I'm Prepared for lighting if the electric goes off as long as it's not off too long. I've got a large torch and a small one - with batteries to fit.

Plenty of batteries always in the cupboard for the radio. I have a wind-up radio too but it's very old and temperamental now.

I try to never let the car go below half full of diesel, that's enough for over 200 miles if needed and  keep my mobile phone charged since BT changed landlines to wifi hence needing electric.

By ordering my prescriptions from the health centre in good time - I don't run out if they have a delay.

My kitchen cupboards always have a good supply of food - I don't like running out of anything, even though I now live within walking distance of a village shop. I have a few tins of vegetables and fruit just in case I can't get out for fresh and I've got bags of flour for making bread. Plenty of food in the freezer  and I keep a large 5 litre bottle of water in there too. If the electric goes off it works like a giant ice pack and of course if ever there's a burst water main and we lose supply then that will make several cups of coffee.

Being Prepared = Peace of Mind

Back Monday - Have a good weekend folks. Christmas Fayres are starting. Coffee and cakes beckon!

Friday 17 November 2023

O is for onions

 This is an old traditional weather rhyme - is it correct? does the thickness of onion skins vary from year to year? Can't say I've ever noticed.

Onion's skin very thin
Mild winter coming in,
Onion's skin thick and tough,
Coming winter cold and rough.

So many of my recipes start with an onion and would be tasteless without, which always reminds me of the cooks in wartime who had to do without them. Back then hardly any onions were grown in this country and it was only later that Onion Sets became available for the home gardener. Sets are one year old onions that have been grown from seed, dug and stored over winter to be sold for planting in February or March.

We always grew a bed full of onions, from sets, at the smallholding that kept us going nearly all year. For a few years we also grew the over-winter onions which became available in the 1990's . The sets for these are planted in Autumn and ready in early summer - filling the gap before usual onions are lifted.  We stopped growing those when we had some problems with onion rot in the maincrop and it was thought they might cross contaminate.

I looked at the onion page in my little book "A Potted History of Vegetables" by Lorraine Harrison.

On the history of onions the book says that remains of onions were found in Neolithic Age settlements in Jericho, dating back to 5,000BC. They are thought to be native to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. They were introduced into India and Mediterranean regions and by Roman times their use was widespread.

I tried growing onions this year again even though I'd said the year before that the space was better used for something that either costs more or better eaten very fresh from the garden. All I ended up with was a handful of golf ball size as they got flattened early on - next door neighbours cat perhaps?

Definitely Not growing them in 2024. I'd rather have more space for green beans, runner beans and sweetcorn.

Back Tomorrow


Thursday 16 November 2023

N is for Norfolk Cheese

 What on earth to write about for N?

Thankfully I went into the Co-op and chanced upon N for  Norfolk White Lady Cheese!

Norfolk White Lady is a soft white Ewe's milk cheese made by Becky Enefer on her farm at Hockwold near Thetford in Norfolk. Similar to a brie but richer and stronger

The Enefer family have had 4 generations on their farm. First rented in 1930 and bought in 1954. The farm is now run by Nathan and wife Linda and their son Lee and his wife Becky and their sons.

In 2021 they made the decision to diversify further and purchased a small cheese company. Becky gave up her job to begin making cheese on the farm in a barn converted to a modern cheesemaking facility.

I found this online about the original cheese maker Jane Murray

‘Initially, I started milking a handful of Friesland dairy sheep in 1986, which soon increased to a flock of 60. After nearly a year of trying to develop a cheese recipe, with varying success, I eventually started production of Norfolk White Lady in 1999. This was the first cheese produced commercially in Norfolk and the county name was naturally included in the name of the cheese. “White Lady” was chosen because my sheep were my white ladies in the surrounding black fen, the cheese has a bloomy white surface mould & I was one of very few “lady” cheesemakers.

The following year I developed the recipe for the hard, manchego styled Wissington cheese. This name was chosen due to the dominance of the Wissington sugar beet factory on the skyline of the surrounding fens. In 2008 I sold my dairy sheep & relocated the cheese business to Deopham, where I developed the mild & creamy Deopham Blewe. After 23 years of increasing cheese making success, I sold my business at the end of 2021 & looked forward to retirement.’

Wilton Farm now produce two cheeses - the Norfolk White Lady and Wissington - a hard cheese also made from ewes milk . They sell through farm shops in Norfolk and Suffolk and to the wholesaler who supply East of England Co-op.

I'd never tried a cheese made from ewe's milk so this was an interesting taste-test. I found it much firmer than  a Brie - even after being out of the fridge to come to room temperature. It has a lovely flavour when eaten on it's own but on top of one of my home made Suffolk rusks the flavour disappeared. 

My overall view is that it's nice but not really worth the cost.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 15 November 2023

M is for Mum.

Before writing about my Mum I must  say thank you to lots more comments on the K for Kenton blog post that I found a day late. Many people are sad to see so many blog writers dropping out and in 10 years of blogging I've never seen this happening before.

Also hello and welcome to another person who has clicked the follower button - creeping towards 800!

 I don't often mention my mum on the blog, she died in 1999 age just 73.  

She was born in 1926 the second oldest of 6 children. Her father worked in a factory that gave him a lung disease, he smoked untipped cigarettes and he was often ill. He died young. Her mother was tired and old from looking after a family on limited money. When Grandma  got her pension she said it was more money than she'd ever had before. Mum's youngest brother died from Leukaemia when he was just 4 years old. 

Mum's older sister passed the eleven plus and so did mum and her younger sister. The family struggled to afford the uniforms for Grammar School. Mum said she felt guilty that her mother had gone without things so the girls had correct uniform. She left school and went to work in the lab at ICI in Stowmarket as a paint tester. 

Mum became a widow when she was pregnant with me at age just 28. Although she married my real dads older brother after 3 years on her own with me, I'm not sure she was ever happy.

She had rheumatoid arthritis for more than 20 years - there wasn't much help for it back then and she was in constant pain - and she had  breast cancer and a mastectomy during that time but wouldn't go back for any follow up treatment. Constant infections in her hip joint meant they took it away, then she was chair and bed bound, having to be hoisted up and down for the last years of her life. 
She absolutely hated her dependence on Dad and her carers.

She was never a 'best friend' as I hear other people saying about their mothers and I was definitely not a good daughter.

Mum in younger, happier times

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Tuesday 14 November 2023

L is for Lists

 Love a List!

But do I remember to look at them? No not always.

I found this list recently, it's written on one of the pages at the end of my diary. It's a list of ideas for things for this years Christmas Hamper gifts.

Shortbread biscuits in a jar
Apple and honey chutney
Honey Dijon mustard
Choc nut clusters
Rosemary salt
Spiced orange slices.

Have I made any of them? No. Can I remember where I saw  the recipes? No. Why didn't I make a note?

 I'd better write them in the back of the new diary ready for Christmas 2024 and search my Christmas books.

There's another list on another page in the diary. These are things I've not watched on TV but want to on the catch-up channels.....sometime. By the time I remember to look they've been and gone!

In the kitchen is a shopping list, I add things to it as needed and thank goodness I usually remember to take it with me.

Most weeks I note down a list of jobs that need doing, cutting the grass has been on there every week recently but it's never drying up enough to get the job done. At last I can finally cross off  'Cutting the Yew Hedge' after getting my neighbours side done on Friday.

I'd be lost without lists.

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Monday 13 November 2023

K is for Kenton, All Saints

 Before I get to K I have to ask - whatever has happened in Blogland? 4 people have stopped in the last week, I've never known such a sudden dropping out. Makes me sad to lose blog friends who I've been reading for years.

Anyway, I'll keep going...................

K was another problem for the alphabet this year. Last time it was Kitchens and I couldn't think of anything else of interest so decided on visiting the church in the nearest village to me that starts with a K - fulfilling two labels at once!

Kenton is one of those small villages - population around 240 - in Suffolk that no one goes to or through unless you are visiting someone or delivering an Amazon parcel! It's in the middle of arable fields just a couple of miles from Debenham and all the roads leading to it are small . 

The church is a typical Suffolk village church but has an unusual side aisle chapel built of red brick

I've never seen one of these in a church or anywhere else before although many villages in Suffolk are mentioned in the Domesday Book.

The porch has two doors into the church the main door and this smaller one into the side aisle/chapel.

It was a dark gloomy day so not so good for inside photos. The church isn't very big but all neat and tidy.

The first thing I noticed were the lovely colourful kneelers.

The carving and pillars of the chancel arch are quite special.

On the left are the stairs that once went up to the rood loft. They start on a window sill so look quite odd.

Not many windows have stained glass the biggest is the East window over the altar

The font has unusual marble legs

And a very old cover. You can read more about the possible history of the font on the Suffolk Churches website - the link is below.

There are several old plaques on the walls, all mentioning different people but with the same date

There are also several circular marks around the walls and this one is coloured.

The side chapel has it's own altar and statuette of the  Blessed Virgin and Child.

From the Suffolk Churches Website I found out more. The side chapel was built as a chantry chapel for the Garney family in about 1520. Two Suffolk historians transcribed John Garney's will of 1522 which directed his body to be buried in his chapel on the south side of Kenton church.

There was one thing I discovered that will take me back to Kenton that is -Apples - . I knew Moat Farm produced apples for sale wholesale but they had some on a stand at the gate too. Nothing better than straight from the orchards.

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Saturday 11 November 2023

J is for Jam (and other things) Again

 Last year J was for Jam (and chutneys and relishes). I struggled to come up with something for this year. Do you know there are no villages in Suffolk that start with a J? The only things in my labels for J are jigsaw puzzles which I don't do anymore and jumble sales - and they are a rare happening now.

But then decided I could do J for Jam(and chutneys and relishes) again because this year some different things were made and at WI this week we had a man who recently retired from local government and started a small business - Swallowtail Preserves - making and selling jam, jellies, marmalade, chutney and pickles.

He was originally a scientist and had some handouts showing the pie charts of how chutney is made (evaporation, caramelisation etc) which went over my head - don't need to know the science - just the recipe and the taste! He spoke about the hoops he had to jump through to get permission to set up as a business. I knew some of this from doing the Hygiene certificate and District Council kitchen inspection back in smallholding days when I made and sold for WI country markets and at the gate. Things are even stricter now with more rules about labelling.
He gets much of his produce from a relative who has a smallholding and makes around 30 different things. To have enough orange marmalade, his best seller, he has to buy enough Seville oranges in January to fill a chest freezer.

I bought a jar of lemon and lime marmalade to make a change from my homemade - which is always the cheats marmalade from tins of prepared fruit.


Meanwhile back in my own kitchen I tried a small batch of something new - Mango and Apricot chutney - to finish up the dried apricots that were bought in the summer  for marrow and apricot jam. 
I usually do a mango and  sweet pepper chutney to go with curries and to give away but didn't this year due to the problem of something eating the peppers - and I had a jar left from last year anyway.
I'd photocopied the recipe from somewhere ages ago and made half measures which still seemed to contain a lot of sugar. The recipe also had grated fresh ginger but as I'd made some other gingery things through the year I left that out. It used garlic cloves and chopped chilli pepper so has plenty of ooomph even without the ginger.

It is quite a sticky chutney - very similar to the red onion 'marmalade' chutney in consistency and Oh My Goodness it's absolutely delicious - even straight away. Suddenly becoming my new favourite chutney! It will be made again for sure.

Other things I've done this year which haven't been made before were the 'Compost Jelly' - mainly made from blackberries and apple peelings and over ripe plums. That's also delicious and will definitely be made again. Also new to me were pickled gherkins and the sweet and sour cucumber pickle. I won't bother with growing and pickling gherkins again but the cucumber pickle is good.

Plenty of preserves made for me and to put into the Christmas Hampers.

Back Monday

Friday 10 November 2023

I is for In Between

 For 20 years  ages 0 - 20 I lived in a hamlet between two villages and then at the smallholding 23 years in between two villages again. 

This photo below is Wetherden in the 80's. This is where I went to primary school in the 60's .( The school is just to NW of centre with the field beside and behind it and is now a house) But we didn't live in Wetherden as our hamlet was officially in Haughley.  Wetherden was only half a mile along a quiet road. All the children in the hamlet went to Wetherden school and we walked there and back everyday. But Haughley village was a mile and a half away, much of the way along the busy road then called the A45.

So we weren't really part of either village. The Wetherden history group aren't really interested in where we lived and neither are the Haughley History society.

The photo was on display at the recent Wetherden History Group open day - I always go and look each year if I can, in case they've found some more photos of people I was at primary school with. 

At the smallholding we were in between two villages again -  Knodishall and Friston. Closer to Friston but counted as being in Knodishall. Not really part of either village again.

It's no wonder I've never really called any village  my home village

And of course being born in 1955 am I a child of the 50's or the 60's ? 

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Thursday 9 November 2023

H is for Home

 I struggled to find a subject this year for the letter  H. Last year it was Hampers for Christmas presents and I didn't want to repeat myself.  I might have written about Hedges - The Horrible Yew Hedge  out the front of the bungalow, I managed to get my side and half the top cut on Tuesday. I'll do my neighbours side another day, as it's quite hard work now I'm getting older.

 I could have written about Herbs - but that's been done before HERE. Other H's in the labels are Holidays, Hazelnuts, History but can't think of anything special to write about at the moment for those subjects and that leaves House and Home.

When does a House become a Home? I've only lived in two houses that weren't really homes . 6 months in the rental when we looking for a smallholding and the year in Ipswich in 2016, which never seemed like home. Usually I can get settled into somewhere quite quickly. 

Then I remembered a book that we had when the children were little and found this you tube rendition.

Hope it works - if not this is the link It was a favourite to read with all the rhyming .

It was only later when I'd run out of time to do anything more that I thought of Holly - the big tree in the churchyard is absolutely covered in berries this year and  I could have found some folklore and history.

Now there's a plan for a December post. 😊

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Wednesday 8 November 2023

G is for Giant Second-hand Book Sale

 Last month the Giant  NSPCC second-hand book sale moved this year from the gymnasium of a private prep school just outside of Colchester to the much bigger gymnasium of a secondary school just inside Colchester. I was glad of the sat nav on my phone as there were several mini roundabouts between the A12 and the school and I took the wrong exit on one of them. I was still there in plenty of time to join the queue to get in. There seemed to be lots of dealers this year and I had a chat with a couple in the queue who had travelled here from Gloucestershire - they sell online, have a warehouse and keep 5 people employed I was told! The trouble with dealers is they go in and will grab big handfuls of books on their favoured subjects - often buying a couple of hundred books in half an hour. I know that to the NSPCC their money is as good as anyone's but they are annoying!.

Somehow I found a good heap of books - no surprise there then! After all the posts about Sutton Hoo it was really odd to find a copy of both 'The Dig' and one mentioned by Sarah 'Burial Ground of Kings'. Plus I found a book that I'd added to my wish list after doing the post about my WWII Home Front Collection. One or two that I brought home are not quite what I thought they were (there's no room, and such crowds of people, it's very difficult to have a proper look at things found) but all in all I was very pleased with my haul. Only a couple were more than £1.50 and most were £1. And I can count the spending as a donation to a worthwhile charity!


Almost all non-fiction  this year, although there were lots of fiction there  and I skimmed over the boxes looking for grey Persephone covers - not a single one and nothing else of note except the book by Willa Cather - I've enjoyed a few of her books in the past.
Close to the bottom of this heap is a book called 'Once Upon a Farm' which has lovely illustrations by the author Bob Artley of his life growing up on farm in Ohio in the 1940's. I admit to buying this and the one above it 'England is a Garden' by Catherine Hamilton simply because of the art work.

I'm not sure how we first heard about this annual book sale although I know it was back in the days we were buying  second hand country and farming books and selling them at our Suffolk Smallholders Show and a couple of other shows each year. That's more than 15 years ago now but my eyes still automatically go to books with titles like 'Small Scale Sheep Keeping' and 'Hens and Eggs'. I have to stop myself picking them up! 

Hopefully I'll be there in the queue again next year - last Saturday of half term week - see you there!

Back tomorrow