Saturday 30 March 2024

End of March Financial Round Up

March Income was the usual two pensions and interest on savings. 

The main expenses in March were for the car windscreen excess payment, servicing and MOT and I'd forgotten that I'd not paid for the tyre valves when they were replaced a couple of months ago - so that was added on. All the normal expenses as usual = Electric, diesel for car, phones and broad band etc. 
Household spending was for a new little electric heater and window cleaner. 
Birthday gifts for my sister and SiL. For the garden I bought a small trailing ivy from a boot-sale to add a bit of interest to the plant stand and a new packet of all female cucumber seeds so I have some to sow  later in the season. 
Buying wild bird feed has become a more regular thing as they just Love the dried mealworms and the suet blocks. If I'm outside and the mealworm feeder is empty a Robin  appears to moan at me and make me feel guilty for not filling it up! 
I also bought a book of  8 x 2nd class postage stamps before the price rise  - should have bought more I guess as they are jumping up by 10p each. 
Food spending was more this month and not just because of that so called 'Suffolk Cheese'!

Personal spending included WI annual subs, which has been subsidised again thank goodness and I re-joined the village Over Sixties group, which is half the cost of WI and is much better value  as unlike WI no money has to go off for regional and national organisations. I avoided second-hand books all month so just exercise group and one swim to pay for. Had my usual coffee and cheese scone when out a couple of times.

I cleared out three bags full of bits and bobs this month including 10 books, 6 DVDs and various other bits that I can't remember. They all went  to a charity shop.

 Frugal Notes for March

  • I've cancelled my Radio Times Subscription. It was a quarterly direct debit and suddenly they took £21 more than the previous quarter without notification making the price the same as it is to buy in a shop. I was very disgusted but there didn't seem to be a way to get a refund on the payment, but at least they won't take anymore in May. 
  • Had to stop mixing whole milk half and half with water as my coffee cappuccino machine won't froth water! I'll be buying semi-skimmed instead. Increase spending on milk is offset by big decrease in spending on boxes of coffee sachets!
  • Make sure to shut curtains as soon as it's dark
  • Mended old leggings again.
  • Only using dishwasher every other day
  • Home made bread and malt loaf, cakes and biscuits
  • Using lots of my own batch made meals from the freezer
  • Finding things for Grandchildren from car-boot sales
  • Found 20p on the ground in the car park!
  • Reading Library books for free
  • Won a tub of Celebrations chocolates at the Over 60's group meeting and as I don't eat chocolate it will be a perfect gift for giving to the family at Easter.
  • Only used tumble dryer once despite having no radiators working for 12 days.

I had a quote for a new oil fired combi boiler £3,500 + VAT this was from a company that specialises in replacement boilers and can do them almost straight away. The next day Ian,  the usual heating engineer came  (the one with all the family disasters) and repaired the old boiler as we agreed we'd give it one more chance. I don't really want to spend out that big sum of money for a new boiler - it's quite a chunk after lending Son etc money for their car.  I might decide to move again and would need what I have for that!

And Looking Forward  with trepidation to April when expenses are always awful.........................

Add together Council Tax, Charity donation, Phones and Broadband, Diesel for the car, TV Licence, Dentist visit, Electric, Plus the  House Buildings and Content insurance and I reckon about £870 without even eating or doing anything! Frightening .............and it's the YGD's birthday mid month although she's had half a sandpit already.
And now there'll be a bill for the boiler repair to add on - an expensive month for sure with no way of spending less.

 State Pension increases in April but from my point of view it won't make a huge difference as I'll just get taxed more on the Suffolk County Council Spouses Pension!

Hope the rest of your Easter weekend goes to plan, clocks forward tomorrow - lovely lighter evenings but makes it harder to get up early for boot sales! 
I found out last week that when the ground is dry enough my nearest boot-sale is going to have a Thursday morning boot-sale as well as Sundays - I'm not sure that's a good thing at all!

I shall be back Monday

Friday 29 March 2024

Good Friday

In the distant past Good Friday was a day when very little work was done and definitely no washing as it was thought that linen hung out on Good Friday would become tainted with Christ's blood. At one time it was also a day which required people to eat nothing except bread, now it's the proper day for Hot Cross Buns, which are the descendants of small cakes/ buns made in celebration of the arrival of spring and for the Anglo Saxon goddess Eostre. The Greeks and the Romans had festive spring cakes too.
 Even the cross was there before Christianity - it was originally a symbol of the year divided into four seasons. At one time all bread was marked with a cross to help it rise, but this was frowned upon by the church after the reformation so that a cross was allowed only on special Holy days.
The earliest reference to Hot Cross Buns was in Poor Robin's Almanack in 1733 and they  were once thought to have holy powers and one would be hung in the house from one year to the next to protect the household from harm. If the bun went mouldy then disaster would strike the house!

Hot Cross Bun Seller from the Illustrated London News 1851

Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns
One a penny, two a penny Hot Cross Buns.
If you have no daughters give them to your sons,
One a penny, Two a penny, Hot Cross Buns

I have made my own Hot Cross Buns in the past but now they're just bought  from Aldi and are traditional flavour although there are lots of different sorts available - (like mince pies at Christmas)- I'm not sure about Jaffa Orange or Raspberry and Vanilla and 'Caramel' sounds much too sweet.

The Aldi pack proudly states that they are 'Baked In Britain' - I should certainly hope so - I hope that things never get so bad that we had to import Hot-Cross-Buns! Or perhaps the Aldi message means we already are importing them unbaked and Aldi just shove them in an oven!

(Info  taken from my books -  The English Year by Steve Roud and Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones)

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 28 March 2024

Added For Easter and Easter Crosses

 I've added a few extras to the seasonal display on the bookshelves.

Just for my benefit, unless I get any unexpected visitors.

Stowmarket Church has a Festival of Crosses for Easter, so I popped in to have a look. Lots of groups and organisations taking part.

A different idea to encourage people into the church at Easter.

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Wednesday 27 March 2024

A Cheese Tasting

 I haven't bought any different cheeses for tasting for many months but when I got a letter from my penfriend with a page included about some different cheeses that her husband had been given for a cheese subscription for Christmas, I was reminded about my plan to try more local cheese.

The Co-op had this which I'd not come across before. The village of Kelsale is only a few miles from where we were at the smallholding but I had no idea this business had been there since 2007.

This is the online blurb.................

The Smokehouse & Deli is a family run business based in Kelsale cum Carlton, near the beautiful Suffolk coast. We were established in 2007 and since then, our list of products has dramatically increased. We originally just sold our smoked cheeses and smoked fish pates at farmers markets; but we were soon picked up by The East of England Co-operative Society. Thanks to their support we have grown and grown. We now also do a range of oak smoked and chili-smoked olives; some traditional pates, but also some more unusual vegetarian ones using 'superfood' ingredients.
We also have a range of smoked & non-smoked condiments using fabulous Pink Himalayan Salt, which we also use to season all our delicious pates.
We supply some lovely local farm shops and regularly attend markets and local food events

I was expecting a good smokey taste but what I got was something a bit rubbery and not particularly special at all, smoked in Suffolk but not made in Suffolk. And it was extra expensive - won't be caught like that again!

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Tuesday 26 March 2024


 This is the second Spring book of my Reading The Seasons 'challenge' - which isn't really a challenge at all but just reading some books with Spring in the title in March, April and May. This one was already reserved to read anyway, before my bright idea.

Cora Harrison -  Spring of Hope. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021). 

This is one of the author's Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins mystery series. 

March 1859 and it's the spring after the summer of   'The Great Stink', when the Thames became so polluted with sewage that Parliament was overwhelmed. Dickens has become friends with Joseph Bazalgette, a young engineer, who is trying to find a way to keep the sewage out the Thames and win a big money prize. At the exhibition to show his plans a man is fatally injured and Dickens and Collins are not convinced it was an accident.
I'm enjoying this series which are fiction but based on some facts and real people of the time. They also shed some light (perhaps) on the woman and her small daughter that Collins took into his home without knowing anything about them.

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Monday 25 March 2024

Freezing Car Boot Sale

 I was glad that it wasn't me standing around selling at the boot sale on Saturday morning and happy to be walking round because the wind was freezing.

I hurried round in an hour and quickly went home for breakfast and to get warm again. These are the things I found.
The T-shirt will make a present for YGD for her birthday next month, there's a little kit for making wind chimes and  two small enamel pie dishes, I would have preferred ceramic as metal won't agree with the dishwasher but they are new and will do to replace the two I have which are ceramic but have become very crazed. Also there are a pack of cheap food bags and I bought a large bag of lovely fresh Purple Broccoli from one of the vegetable sellers. Total spend £6.50 

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Saturday 23 March 2024

There Was Some Sun

 A much better week weather-wise - at last. The sun shone on more than one day - which is an achievement for this year so far.

I went swimming this week for the first time since October but it was crazy busy. The only other public swimming pool in the North Suffolk/Norfolk border area is in Diss and is closed for a year for complete rebuilding so more people are using Stradbroke and it's not very big!

The internet dropped out for several hours on Tuesday - a problem for several villages around I discovered and  I'm still without a heating boiler. The family business (Ian who does repairs, his wife who does the paperwork and their son who does servicing of boilers) - who usually sort out my boiler have a had a 'few' problems that rather put things into perspective - death of Ian's father, whose empty farmhouse was then ransacked and trashed on the day of the funeral, at the same time as their son needed some help moving house which all happened at the same time as the wife was injured by a horse - when I heard all that my boiler didn't seem a priority! I'm planning on having a new boiler as I'm fed up with all the repairs that have been needed since I moved in, although Ian and son only do new boilers in summer so I might go elsewhere.

It's been easy to keep warm enough in the living room and I bought a cheap oil-filled radiator to have on low in the hallway ready for this weekend when the temps are set to drop. It will keep the rest of the bungalow just a little warmer. I'm thankful that washing machines and dishwashers work from cold water inlet but going back to old fashioned ways of keeping myself clean isn't much fun! So although my electric bill will be bigger, the heating oil will be lasting longer - looking on the positive side - and a new boiler will be more energy efficient and will put off having to have a ground source heat pump for longer.

More garden tidying has been done this week and my seedlings in the propagator (aubergine, 2 types of tomatoes, and peppers)  were big enough to prick out into modules. I sowed 3 cucumber seeds, which I discovered were all I had. If all three come up that will be plenty but one failure and they'll be a shortage, plus I wanted to sow a seed later for late cucumbers so I'll need to buy some more seeds. Also sowed some Climbing French Bean seeds, they are on the windowsill beside the propagator.
 The flowers on one of the young pear trees are about to open so I hope we don't get frosts. The big Magnolia flowers are open but the petals are falling like confetti from the flowering cherry.
Flowers on the table (bookshelf) this week are my own tulips -lovely to have enough to bring in. 

Indoors, much reading has been done including a very poorly written book - 'Murder in Paradise' by Ann Cleeves. 

Thumbnail for Murder in paradise
Published in 1988 -  ten years before starting her Vera and Shetland series - The George and Mollie Palmer-Jones books are a struggle to get through. They are written in an odd way with many short sentences and are quite confusing. All eight have been republished recently.

Much better was this children's book

Thumbnail for Digging for victory

"Set in Devon in 1941, 'Digging for Victory' tells the story of twelve-year-old Bonnie Roberts who is desperate to play a valuable part in the war effort. For her, tending the family vegetable patch just doesn't cut it; she wants to be a hero like her RAF pilot brother, Ralph. But when the mysterious Mr Fisher is billeted at her Devon farmhouse, and Ralph is reported missing in action, she starts to question what heroism actually involves. And as Bonnie attempts to find out who Mr Fisher really is, she embarks on a life-changing and emotional voyage of discovery. 'Digging for Victory' is an adventure-filled story, with beautiful verse and a very satisfying ending."

That's about it for my week
Hope you have a good weekend, I'll be back Monday. 


Friday 22 March 2024

Finally - Three Weeks Later

 It was back at the end of February that I said I'd a fancy to make a proper old fashioned meat and dumplings stew. I bought a packet of suet for the dumplings but then couldn't find any neck of lamb chops in the first places I tried - they are the tastiest cuts for a stew - not a lot of meat but all the flavour. Even the butchers in Diss didn't have them. But finally I spotted one pack on it's own on the shelves in Morrisons. 

It's very strange that  the cuts of meat that I knew from having our own lambs butchered are called different things in different butchers. The butchers in Diss offered me small cutlet chops when I asked for neck of lamb chops and when I demonstrated they were round he said I meant  Stewing Scrags! a name I'd never heard before.

The stew made enough for two days and the dumplings, gravy and vegetables were delicious but the meat was disappointing - no flavour and nothing like I remembered from our own lamb all those years ago. I didn't take food photos as a stew isn't very photogenic!

We have a shortage of proper butchers now but I know of a couple more to try in two other villages so next time I fancy a stew that's where I'll go.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 21 March 2024

Running Race

 When you live in a village where nothing much happens, anything is interesting!

So seeing dozens of runners passing by on Sunday was kind of exciting - in a "phew, glad I'm not doing that" way.

Had to look up the who's and why's and found it was a half marathon running race over a new route, organised by a local running club  and according to their running vests there were people running from lots of different Suffolk clubs.

Lots of over 50's running as well as younger and the weather was awful. Not my choice of spending a Sunday. But what was worrying that two blue light ambulances also went by! might have had nothing to do with the runners but  I hope everyone was OK.

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Wednesday 20 March 2024

So Funny

 It was hilarious how many comments were not about the six year old coffee and if it would be drinkable or only suitable for the compost heap but about the fact that I'd paid only  £1 for the very small, lightweight cafetière from the house clearance people at the boot sale!!

(Comments were from Anons who had, perhaps, never been to a boot sale in their lives!)

The thing about house clearance businesses is that they charge several hundred pounds (between £400 - £1,000 I've read) to clear out houses of the deceased. They take anything good to auction and then chuck the rest into boxes and haul a van full of boxes to car boot sales for people to sort through for anything useful. The bits and bobs in boxes are virtually worthless but they still sometimes ask more than what seems sensible because what they can't sell gets dumped in landfill - they don't sort it or take anything to charity shops.

The  whisks that I mentioned last week - both the 'new' one and the top-heavy one bought last year came from house clearance boxes and other things I'll save from landfill are part boxes of foil/greaseproof paper/baking parchment and anything I know I can use and need.

I paid £4 for a larger glass cafetiere from a charity shop in February, so that I'd another way to use ground coffee as well as the lovely machine I had for Christmas. I've become interested in all the different coffees that are for sale............. very late in life moving away from jars of instant.  

And if you don't know what I'm talking about you haven't read the last two posts and comments! And Anons should remember that I love to make a post out of your comments!!

Vernal Equinox today - Proper Spring - weather to match? We shall see.

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Tuesday 19 March 2024

Coffee and Collared Doves

 I opened the coffee, it looked good, it smelled good, it was perfectly dry - it was fine - not dusty, tasting just as it should - so a good bargain - for a 'tight' frugal person!


There must be a pair of Collared Doves nesting somewhere around - they may have taken over a pigeon nest on the sycamore tree next door - as I keep seeing one on the fence and two on the roof ridge of the house behind me. 

The photo is through the window as they are quite shy birds so no good trying to go outside to photograph.

They are so common now that it seems strange to think they didn't breed in Britain until 1955 when they were found breeding in Norfolk after spreading into Europe during the first half of the twentieth century.  They originate  from India, reaching Turkey in the sixteenth century and by 2000 there were 284,000 breeding areas in Britain.

They are smaller and neater than the more common wood pigeons with creamy/pink/grey colouring, young birds don't have the collar markings. Their nests are much the same as pigeons  - a bundle of twigs in a tree, hedge or on guttering or any ledge.  If enough food is available they can breed almost all year round - and like other pigeons can have 5 broods a year.

In my book of Bird Poems there is a poem called collared doves that isn't really about the birds at all.

Listening to Collared Doves

I am homesick now for middle age, as then 
For youth. For youth is our homeland: we were born
And lived there long, though afterwards moved on
From state to state, too slowly acclimatising
Perhaps and never fluent, through surprising
Countries, in any language but one.

This mourning now for middle age, no more
For youth, confirms me old as not before.
Age round the world, they say, to childhood's far
But what now (strength apart) I miss the most
Is now unseen like air, since everywhere.

And yet, when in the month and in the skies
That were the Cuckoos' and in the nearer trees
That were the deep voiced wood-pigeons', it is
Instead now the collared doves that call and call
(Their three flat notes growing traditional)
I think we live long enough, listening to these.

I draw my line out from their simple curve
And say, our natural span may be enough;
And think of one I knew and her long life;
And how the climate changed and how the sign-
Posts changed, defaced, from her Victorian
Childhood and youth, through out country of grief;

And how she adapted as she could, not one
By nature adaptable, bred puritan
(Though quick to be pleased and having still her own 
Lightness of heart). She died twenty years ago,
Aged, of life - it seems , all she could do
Having done, all the change that she could know having known.

E.L. Scovell (1907 -1999)

Edith Scovell was an English poet and translator who published 3 volumes of poetry. Her poetry was admired by Vita Sackville West and Phillip Larkin (according to wiki). Collared Doves was published in 1968.

It might be more about life and memories than Collared Doves but at least it's more understandable than that poem about Kestrels last week.

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Monday 18 March 2024

6 Year Old Coffee?...................

..............will it be drinkable - or not - that is the question.

Bought from one of the house clearance people at the Saturday car boot sale - and they are particularly tight - not a lot given away!

So I didn't ask "how much?" but "how much for six year old coffee?". She then couldn't really charge me much and said £1 for the cafetière.

 I'm going to try the coffee and I'll let you know.

Comments open for a vote - OK or old, dusty and nasty?! 

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 16 March 2024

Things That Went Wrong This Week

 After the Wednesday boot-sale I'd planned to visit a couple of churches in small villages to the east of Needham Market. I went to three and they were all much for that plan!..........I went home again and spent the afternoon sorting out exactly what was in two drawers in the TV unit. There was a box with a large collection of keys - not for anything here - and all sorts of other bits and bobs.

A bundle of wires and an old telephone

The other two drawers have CDs and DVD's and I decided to put all my old Kevin Costner DVD's in the charity shop bag - can't remember the last time I watched one.

The boiler has gone wrong again, big wet patch on the garage floor and low pressure light on and even when I let water in it only lasts for a few hours. Repair man called - although I think I need a new boiler. Then my phone decided to play up so I zoomed down to Tesco in Stowmarket and  the lady in the phone shop fiddled with it and got it sorted and later on the same day I went down with a cold - no doubt  caught from grandchildren on Saturday. Spent the rest of the day sneezing and drinking lemon and honey in hot water.

So we got car issues sorted and then a week of other problems - Hey Ho!

On a dry morning Brother in Law came and cut the grass for me with his proper mower as it was too long and wet for my re-chargeable battery mower to cope with. He can get it much shorter too and it always looks so tidy - for a while. 

Hope there is some more dry weather over the weekend, everyone I speak to is so fed up with the rain and grey days, even people who don't usually take a lot of notice have had enough of it this year.

Thank you to everyone for comments over the last couple of days and apologies for not replying. My excuse being that I've so many good library books to read this month.

Back Monday - if there is anything to write about.

Friday 15 March 2024

Small Spend at a Small Boot-Sale

 It was actually fine on Wednesday so I decided to pop out to the mid-week car-boot sale. There were very few people selling.

I spent all of 50p on a whisk, to replace the whisk that I got last year, which replaced the whisk that I'd had forever but had gone rusty!

This years whisk

which replaced last years whisk which looks fine but it's too long and when left in a bowl it's top-handle -heavy and falls out flicking Yorkshire pudding batter everywhere......messy .......I've been caught out numerous times in the last year

I've put it in the charity shop bag -  maybe I should have put it in the bin - but I'll leave that for the next owner!

Who knew a blog post could be made about a 50p whisk!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 14 March 2024

Old Posts and The Most Viewed Post Ever

 Very short of blogging ideas and I know that when I said that a couple of weeks ago things turned up to write about but it hasn't happened this week. So I looked at some old posts and according to Stats this is the most viewed post ever = 12 thousand + views!!


From Monday  4th May 2020 - when we were in the middle of lockdowns - which, thank God, we have all forgotten about.

I've finished another little cross stitch picture for a card

Koalas with googly eyes.

I have a you do cross stitch or know people who do. Please could you ask around and see if anyone has a chart for the little owl on the right. It would have been a free kit on Cross Stitcher Magazine but no idea how long ago -I'm guessing within in the last 10 years.
The  kit made a scissor case which, with the scissors in the case, made the handles look like the owls eyes. I don't need the kit - just the chart.
I saw these 3 kits on ebay and they sold for.........wait for it................. £19!!!

This is probably a vain hope but while I keep fingers crossed I'll start another little picture for a card.
Purple Irises this time I think

Lots of people commented about the kits and sent me links and the chart and I made the glasses case kit and have done hardly any cross-stitch since! But I really don't understand why this post has so many page views.

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Wednesday 13 March 2024

The Flood/Car Saga is Over

I looked after the MG and YGD on Saturday so that Son and DiL could go and find a new-to-them car. Second-hand cars are crazy expensive nowadays - now that 'they' want everyone to buy electric which most people can't afford and will be impossible to charge for the majority who don't live in homes with driveways and room to park and plug -in. 
 Thankfully they found something suitable so my car is all mine again and if it had been fine on Sunday I would have gone to the Woolpit boot-sale ........but of course it rained YET AGAIN - All Day.

Stayed at home instead and decided to craft a few cards using up some more of my craft stash. After 3 Easter cards I remembered why I don't enjoy card making much anymore....rather be reading or writing.

The cookery section of the Bacton Fayre and Produce Show in August is organised by the WI and I've been helping for the last few years. So I spent some time searching through the WI Cakes and Biscuits cookery book for ideas ready to send off details to  the Schedule editor. I seem to have volunteered to assist the judge on the day as I have done for the last couple of years. Not sure I'll enter much this year, it makes a very tiring couple of days, baking the day before then on the day having to pick fresh vegetables and  get there early for putting entries in and then 3 or 4 hours helping and then looking round the Fayre and going back again to collect entries at the end of the day -  I'll see nearer the time - I'm probably too competitive NOT to enter something!

Mother's Day pressie from Son and DiL made me smile - hanging here until I find a hook

and lovely flowers for this weeks Flowers On The Table

And more good news, my car had it's annual service and went through the MOT on Monday, so that's sorted.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 12 March 2024


 The first book finished in my plan to read some books with SPRING in the title through Spring was 'Absent in the Spring'  by Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott.

I'm not surprised she used a different name for this book as it's completely different to her crime and mystery books.

'Absent In The Spring' was written in just three days and Christie said it was "The one book that has satisfied me completely - the book I always wanted to write." It was published in 1944 but is set in England and Iraq a few years before the war.

Returning home by an overland route from a visit to her youngest daughter in Iraq, Joan Scudamore finds herself unexpectedly alone and stranded in a rest house when bad weather holds up her train across the desert. With nothing to do but walk and think, for the first time ever Joan has to look at the truths about herself and her family.  Looking back she examines her attitudes, relationships and actions and becomes very uneasy about how smug and un-seeing she has been.
This is an unsettling book to read - Joan thinks she has been a perfect wife and mother but really has been completely selfish without realising the effect a very early decision has had on her husband and then her three children.
"Oh but, Rodney, There are lots of other things to consider. There's their schooling. They must go to good cant just do what You  want to do.....................She had spoken very decidedly, very positive....................He was like a little boy. She felt strong confident and maternal......................He had looked at her then - a long sad look..........."

It's was quick read but not a happy one.

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Monday 11 March 2024

From a Distance

 From my kitchen window I kept seeing a bird of prey over the road in the graveyard. It would jump down off the top of a grave stone then hop back up again. I thought it was probably a Kestrel (although I was hoping for something more exotic!), but they usually perch much higher on a wire or a telegraph pole before swooping down from a great height. Or they hover.

I've been trying to get a photo for weeks but it was too far from indoors...............

 and too wet for outside. Eventually a sunny day and I opened the front door very carefully and crept down the front path.

And At Last two decent photos and yes it is a Kestrel. I'm pleased with the photos because Kestrels are usually up on a wire making them difficult to photograph.

(And what a lovely sentiment on the gravestone)

Below is the illustration of  Kestrel from my book  "A Sparrow's Life as Sweet as Ours" by Carrie Akroyd. It's in the Autumn section of the book but Kestrels are around all year and very common. Seen more often now than even 20 years ago when we would get quite excited to see one hovering. In some parts of the country they are  known as "windhovers". Now they can be spotted on almost any walk or drive.  In the book it says their skill at hovering was tested and it was found they could hold their position within a centimetre for 28 seconds. They spot their prey - mainly mice and voles - because of being able to see the wavelength of ultraviolet and trace their urine trails.

There's a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins about the Kestrel - but I need a translator!

The Windhover

I caught this morning's minion, kingdom of daylights dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon,
in his riding
Of the level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel he sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and the gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh air, pride, plume here
Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue beak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 9 March 2024

TV and Other Happenings This Week

Apologies for not replying to comments  or commenting elsewhere much this week. I've been avoiding the the lap-top in the evenings and generally cutting down on screen time - except for the TV!.


Imagine having a really good idea for a book, writing it and it's about to be published when you find someone else has had much the same idea and their book, with a similar title, is coming out just a few months before yours. It would be quite annoying. Last weeks issue of the Radio Times had details of lots of TV dramas featuring women detectives including the one that came second in print.

The second book was The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood (better known for writing the Death in Paradise TV series) and the one that beat him to the publishers was of course Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club.

But Robert got one over on Richard because The Marlow Murder Club has beat The Thursday Murder Club to the screen as The Thursday Murder Club film has been delayed. I watched the two episodes of Marlow on UKTV Play channel this week and thought them very good. Haven't read the books and probably won't. Some crime stories I find are better on TV than in a book - like Vera and JK Rowling's Strike series.

Son and DiL finally got news from their insurance company that their car has been written off - as they thought - pity that it took more than 2 weeks to decide - of course the  money they are getting off the insurance is nowhere near enough for a new-to-them car so good thing I have no mortgage and have savings to lend! That's what Mum's are for I guess. If Colin was alive he probably would have repaired their car but I can't help in that way so help out in the only way I can. They are borrowing my car again this weekend to go and look at something to buy. Thankfully the cracked windscreen was replaced yesterday so is OK for them to drive and for the car's annual service and MOT next week.

I begun to prepare for seed sowing by checking that my little window-sill electric propagator was still working and after finding it was fine, I filled up the seed trays and brought them in to warm up. Today I'll put in seeds of two sorts of tomatoes, aubergines and red peppers. Cucumbers will be sown later.

Back to Six Nations Rugby on TV this weekend and I'm still watching my way through the umpteen episodes of Bones on the Channel 4 catch up.

I shall be back Monday after a hopefully mostly dry weekend - if it is it will be the first for ages.

Friday 8 March 2024

The March Library Book Photo

Lots of lovely books for me this month. They are all books I'd reserved online. The very narrow book on top is a book called Toll Houses of Suffolk, which I decided to borrow after writing about the one that moved from the main road to Needham Market. Thought I'd see where the other toll houses are - if they still exist.

There are several crime here including the most recent Elly Griffiths in her Brighton series, four non-fiction and one children's book - far right.

I also brought home two books with Spring in the title for my Reading The Seasons "challenge". I'll write about those when I read them.

Not quite sure how I will fit in reading all these - but I'll give it a go.

 These were the books I carried home in February. I read nine out of the twelve

including these 3 non-fiction which can all be recommended.

Nigel Richardson - The Accidental Detectorist; Uncovering an Underground Obsession. Non Fiction (Published 2022) A travel writer is stuck at home through the pandemic and buys a metal detector. He starts in the meadow behind his Hampshire home and then sets out to meet other detectorists and joins in rallies and is very quickly hooked by his new hobby. Travelling around the country looking for the illusive buried treasure he meets all sorts of characters and learns so much more about what's hidden.

Peter Ross - Steeple Chasing; Around Britain by Church. Non Fiction. (Published 2023). This isn't so much about churches but about the people involved with them and how they are surviving and have survived. He takes the reader around the country through the pandemic visiting St Pauls in London, Durham Cathedral, the forgotten churches of Norfolk, the holy wells in Wales and back to London with a few other places in between.

Lara Maiklem -  Mudlarking. Non Fiction. (Published 2019) This was a re-read but I enjoyed just as much it second time around. Lara spent all her free time for years exploring the edges of the River Thames whenever the tide was low. This is a look at all the things she found and a little about their

As always the books I've read are on the Books Read 2024 page

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 7 March 2024

Car Woes and WI

 As  mentioned a while ago, Son and DiL are car-less after running their car into an unexpected flood so my car is doing double duty being in two places so DiL can get children to pre-school/school and herself to work at the school in my village (where I can fetch it to use between 9 and 3!) They are STILL waiting for the b***** insurance company to decide what's happening - two weeks on.

I had the car for WI and came out to drive home only to find a 10 inch crack in the windscreen. Of course the car needs to be in one place - not on the way between there and here! to have it repaired and it needed doing ASAP (insurance covers the majority of the cost thankfully). But they give a vague time - between 8 and 5 until they ring an hour before arrival on the actual day. Complicated for the family. A day later they phoned to say the new windscreen was delayed so all plans had to be changed again! Just hope they have the correct screen and are able to do it as the car is booked in for it's MOT on Monday...

These things are sent to try us!

At WI we had one of those speakers who is really interesting to listen to even after an hour! Patrick Barker is 4th generation farmer in one of the local villages and although he runs the 1,200 acre farm for profit his big interest is increasing biodiversity on their farms. He has got involved with many environmental organisations and all sorts of counting and recording - absolutely everything.......... Birds, insects, frogs, butterflies, moths etc etc. You name it and he knows exactly what's on their farms and what to do to increase numbers. He gives talks and visits other farms to get them involved in doing the same.

There's a 2023 BBC programme on iplayer 'Saving Our Wild Isles' narrated by David Attenborough that featured the farm and when he finished talking to us he was rushing home because BBC Countryfile programme were waiting there to film a piece for the programme......Probably on TV this Sundays or next.

One thing among the many that I found interesting was the involvement of the giant Nestlé company in where their produce comes from. I can remember boycotting their products back in the 90's because of the way they treated their producers. Now their producers are all tracked and traced and they provide money from their (undoubtedly Huge) profits to help their farmers increase biodiversity. Probably a drop in the ocean  but better than nothing.

If all farmers were like Patrick Barker our countryside would be a better place to live.

Support British Farming whenever you can. 

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 6 March 2024


There's a distinct lack of wild flowers around the village this spring so far. The long ditch all down the lane that had primroses has been dug out to help with drainage off the field.

 Hopefully they'll come back sometime. Other places are just so muddy or splashed heavily with water from the roads that nothing much is growing.

All I spotted last week was a tiny patch of  Celandines

Anywhere else I've lived these would have been too common to mention as they usually grow profusely on the edge of ditches.

In my book about the folklore of plants it says they were an human eye remedy. Pliny believed swallows used celandine to improve the eyesight of the young birds and it was sometimes called swallowwort.

Here's the Celandine fairy  painting by Cecily Mary Barker from her Flower Fairy books

and her poem

Back Tomorrow - probably