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Friday, 31 December 2010


Just wanted to say a big thank you to all those lovely followers who have been with me throughout this year and to say how much I have appreciated your taking the time to let me know what you think of my posts. I hope that 2011 will prove to be a good year for you all and that it will bring peace, happiness and good health to you all.


The photo is by way of being a Friday Favourite too as I love spring flowers and one of my resolutions is to have more fresh flowers in the house next year!


Best wishes for 2011 to one and all.

Monday, 27 December 2010


We woke this morning to a steady drip, drip sound and the birds were singing in the woods too. Well they might - sing the birds I mean - as the temperature hadn't dropped below freezing all night and today it is almost balmy here compared with recent days! I had a potter round the garden after feeding the birds and noticed these little bulbs beginning to shoot - I don't know why they aren't in the ground properly but nevertheless they seem determined to bloom and it won't be long before we have some snowdrops.

There are big fat buds on the climbing hydrangea against the wall too.

And see all these primrose plants ready for some sunshine and they too will flower - isn't nature wonderful?

PS Yesterday's drip drip turned to a downpour last night and this morning the snow has all but disappeared from our garden - can't tell you how good it is to look out onto greenery again! Never thought I would miss green and wet so much but then I am English!!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas wishes

My wishes for you this season


Hope you will have the Christmas you hoped for and that neither you nor your friends and family are stranded across the world this holiday (sister-in-law is having her trip to New York extended unintentionally and won't be back till after Boxing Day but guess it could be worse!)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Mixed bag

Just so that you know I am not totally against Christmas - Kate was surprised that I even had a Christmas tree - here are some of my other decorations:

My kitchen shelf is decorated as you can see - more memories on there too along with some of the cards!

I have even put a couple of golden sprays in the cloakroom as decoration - pity I didn't clean the mirror too though!
You are right to expect that I don't have reams of paper chains and dangling balls nor fairylights all over the place indoors and out but I DO make some effort towards celebrating the season it's not all Bah Humbug here!!a

For a change from Christmas recipes I thought I'd share this one with you - I made it yesterday. This is for a lemon layer pudding which is a light lemony dessert which might make a pleasant change from the rich stuff we normally have at this time of year and comes from an old Good Housekeeping recipe book of my mother's.

It goes in the oven in a bain marie - I usually add the water using a can with a spout once it is in the oven as I find I tend to slop the water otherwise - old age making my hands a little shaky perhaps?

And comes out like this a light fluffy sponge which has separated to have a lemony sauce beneath, delicious served straight from the oven and also good cold too or can be reheated in the microwave if you have any leftovers..

Recipe here:
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
2 oz butter
4 oz sugar
2 eggs separated
Half pint of milk
2 oz self raising flour
Add lemon rind to butter and sugar and cream till soft and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat well. Stir in milk,lemon juice and flour. Whisk egg whites stiffly and fold in to mixture. Pour into greased dish about 2 1/4 pints in size. Stand dish in a shallow tin of water and cookd near top of oven for about 45 mins till top is set and firm to touch
Oven temperature 350 deg F Gas Mark 4
Sorry it is in ounces and not metric it is an old book!

These last 2 photos are of some bits of needle felt I was playing about with the other day - one advantage of all this snow is there is more time for indoor games and as we are not expecting any visitors I don't have much else to do this week (memo to self - clean the cloakroom mirror though!). I think I need to needle them more as they are not completely felted and the holes still show don't I? Not sure what to do with them when I have finished but it was fun playing!

The other morning 3 young men rang the bell - I should be so lucky - they were neighbours and asked if we were OK and did we want them to spread any grit on our driveway. I thanked them and accepted their offer and they cleared the steps down to our front door and sprinkled it all with grit which they said they had got from one of the bins of the stuff provided by the council. I was grateful for their kind thought of course but it also brought home to me that we are obviously considered by the younger generation to be the elderly who need to be checked up on! Not a pleasant thought as there was me thinking I was young and fit!! Later that afternoon I went out with a strong carrier bag to see if I could get some more to put on the steps at the back of the house too and managed to find enough - it was all I could carry anyway. We now have non slip steps front and back.
Whilst in London recently on the Tube a young woman offered me her seat - again I was appreciative but hadn't realised I obviously looked elderly! I think I am still about 25 ish (not sure how that works as then I'd be younger than my daughter but I don't go there!)

Then last Sunday we were in Salisbury and had a cup of tea in a little chocolate shop there which was very pleasant. A couple with a little boy came in and began chatting to the man who was obviously the owner of the shop and the little boy was allowed to take some chocolate balls from a bucket on the counter labelled Merry Christmas. I must have been watching too closely or maybe I had a look of envy or perhaps again I was a poor old lady but the owner took a felt stocking and filled it with the balls and presented it to me as a gift! I was dumbstruck - the spirit of Christmas is not yet dead even if you have to be an old aged pensioner to find this out. My Mum used to tell me there were advantages to being older and she - as always - was right!!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Friday Favourites

I set out to do a Friday favourites post and to show you the new camera which I bought at the weekend as being my favourite thing but it's not!! The camera is fine but the program for uploading the photos to the computer doesn't seem to like Blogger and I have been all ****y afternoon messing with it and was all for giving up blogging and chucking the camera in the bin! My husband who has more patience with things which don't work than I do has managed to get the photos into the old program and now I can do it but I deleted the photo of the camera as being my Friday favourite!!

Maybe I will choose MEMORIES as a Friday Favourite instead:

aHave decorated our very small tree today as it was too snowy to go out - not for us a tastefully themed tree all in shades of one colour but a hotchpotch of many different colours and sorts all of which bring with them memories of friends and times past.

a a

There are those which I have received over the years as gifts from my American pen pal of 55 years - thank you Kathy! Each one brings memories of happy times we have spent with our friends across the pond.

a a

Some which were made for me by a friend who sadly died a while ago but who lives on in her beautiful beadwork - many happy hours we spent with our Textile Group and again many memories of our friendship.

Some bought at a German Christmas market many years ago - boy was it cold at the market in Stuttgart but the hot mulled wine and the freshly cooked mackerel in a Kaiser roll live on in the memory!
Some which were chosen by my daughter when she was little - each year we added a new decoration or two and her choice was for the bright and cheerful such as the little snowman here - what fun Christmas was back then.
On to other things:-
More white stuff today!
Have you noticed how so many trees still have leaves - perhaps we didn't finish with autumn before the winter arrived. Just look at this one still with lots of leaves and covered with snow in this morning's sunshine.

Look - here is a snapdragon still bravely in flower even in the snow! Isn't Nature wonderful and perhaps I could learn a bit about fortitude and patience if only I stopped and took more notice?!
Hope you are keeping warm and cosy and to those of you on the other side of the world I hope you are keeping dry and cool!!
Better get this posted or it will be Saturday not Friday Favourites!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Day out in London

As promised a post about my trip to London last week. I went by coach and the day was bright and sunny so it made for a pleasant journey. Stonehenge looked very cold standing as it does in such a windswept open place. The fields around were still white with snow and along the ditches there were still mounds of snow but in other more sheltered places there was just frost.
Arriving at Hammersmith I took the underground to Westminster which was buzzing with policemen and from there I crossed the bridge to Lambeth Palace Road and along to the Garden Museum. This is the entrance.
The museum is housed in an old church - the rediscovery of the tomb of 17th century plant hunters, the John Tradescants, in the churchyard of St Mary-at-Lambeth led John and Rosemary Nicholson to save the church from demolition and found the Museum of Garden History in 1977. In October 2007 a competition for the design of a new interior was organised. The winner, London based architects Dow Jones, devised a free standing timber structure to create a contemporary space, including the first gallery in Britain for exhibitions in garden design.
For more pictures of this museum pop over to Sharon's blog here as she went back in October when the garden looked so much nicer than it does at this time of the year.
We had a delicious lunch in the cafe here and a wander round the exhibitions followed by a cup of tea and a cake (we had forgone pudding with our lunch for this) before taking a stroll round the garden which although not at its best was a little peaceful oasis apart from the police and television cameras hovering overhead - this was the day of the student demo just across the river.
After our cuppa and more chat - the main reason for our outing was to catch up with each other - we wended our way back towards Westminster Bridge via St Thomas's Hospital. We made our way through the hospital - which is enormous and like a small town in its own right with shops and banks etc - so as to see the lovely Doulton tiled murals see here for one of them and on out into the sunshine where this was the view - my friend said that patients can come out here and sit if they wish but needless to say there were no takers on Thursday as it was bitterly cold even though the sun was shining.
Further along the South Bank on the end of Westminster Bridge we saw this fine fellow guarding the bridge. Further along there was the London Eye - it would have been a fabulous day to take a ride as it was so clear and you'd have been able to see what was happening in Parliament Square too no doubt. I have riden this in July and was lucky to have a fabulous day with views as far as the eye can see.
Anyway we wandered along and came to a Christmas Market which was fun to explore and it was all fairly quiet - perhaps most people stayed away from the area as they didn't want to get involved in the demos - by the time we reached the last stalls dusk was falling and a cuppa called for which we had in the British Film Institute before making our way to Waterloo where my friends got their train and I took the underground to Hammersmith to get the coach home. A tiring day but such fun and it was good to meet up with old friends again Thanks Steph for permission to use your photos.

When I got home and saw the television news it was hard to believe that all this had been going on just a stone's throw away from where we had been and the only signs I had noticed were the lack of traffic on the bridge and the fact that the tube didn't stop at Westminster as the station was closed. London is so full of interesting things to do and see and I always come away having seen something advertised that I want to see - whilst waiting for my train I noticed a poster for an exhibition I thought sounded interesting and so now I am planning another trip to the metropolis to see Evolving English at the British Library and another friend has said she'd be interested in this too so more gossip and cups of tea will be called for then! And I also want to see the wonderful costumes in the exhibition titled Daaghliev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes at the V&A before it closes on 9 January - anyone fancy going?!! This is the sort of thing I missed so much living in rural France so there is no stopping me now!!

Friday, 10 December 2010


Two favourites for the price of one here - Tom plus Springtime complete with primroses!

Ever since the day we went to the RSPCA, to see if there were any cats needing a home, as we had a vacancy, and Tom climbed up my sleeve to my shoulder and meowed in my ear saying "Take me home with you" he has been my special baby!! As a kitten I think he thought I was his mother as he used to lie curled up on my lap and suck his own tummy whilst kneading his paws as cats do. He did grow out of sucking himself rather as a child grows out of sucking its thumb but he still comes to me for a cuddle and he just has to be loved.

He is a master of relaxation and can make himself comfortable anywhere. Look how his little toes curl with happiness!
Such a trusting little animal - tummy all ready for a rub! Try it with his sister and you'd get your hand bitten but Thomas rarely bites or scratches and then only if I overdo the play and he forgets I am not actually another cat!!
I went up to London as planned yesterday and met my friends at the Garden Museum in Lambeth just across the river from where all the student protests were taking place. I don't have any photos but am hoping one of the friends will e-mail me some of hers and I can show you later.
Have a good weekend and many thanks to all those of you who have commented on my previous posts.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Jack Frost

The temperature outside our back door this morning at breakfast time was minus 6 degrees - not sure what it was out in the open nor what it had been during the night!

The view from our bedroom window across to the wood...

I did so want to take a photo of these seed heads (you will perhaps remember how much I like umbelliferous plants from this post?) but as I am still without a camera I was dependant on my personal photographer and he didn't get the close up I had in mind but this is a pretty picture with the red rosehips in the foreground isn't it?


As I left to go to my Knit and Natter group the hand rail alongside our steps looked like this - looks a bit lethal doesn't it?

These berries were the only bit of colour to be seen apart from the few red rosehips. Boy was I ready for a nice hot chocolate after my 30 minute walk into town!


Thank you all so much for your encouraging comments on my attempts at water colour painting and for your thoughts on my moral maze. I wondered afterwards if I had maybe over egged the pudding and I would hate you to think I am a miserable old "holier than thou" sort of person who doesn't have any fun in my life (not true I trust)! What with my not shopping for gifts and making my friends recycled paper sachets instead of buying some nice bright wrapping paper for my token gifts and all my other musings. I did think perhaps I had better delete that post and maybe not post any more till after Christmas as I seem to be becoming a bit of a wet blanket and wouldn't want to spoil your fun. But after a good night's sleep I realised that although this blog seems to be going off in directions I hadn't intended at the beginning maybe it is an honest reflection of how I see things - sometimes looking on the bright side, sometimes seeing things from beneath a grey blanket and occasionally spending too much time thinking about things instead of getting on with life....

Monday, 6 December 2010

Doing the Right Thing

Yesterday I went to a watercolour painting for beginners class here - it was good fun and this was my first attempt. We had copied a picture done by the teacher and she had held our hands, as it were, taking us step by step along the way and teaching us the various techniques required to produce this picture. I didn't win the bag of chocolate gold coins (so beloved of teachers at this time of year - I used to use them as a prize myself back when I taught adults) but I was happy with the result. Pity I have already got all my Christmas cards ready for posting or I might have used it to make a few!
Today's post has been inspired by a recent blog and is about Doing the Right Thing. Relatively Retiring spoke about whether she had done the right thing in feeding the wildlife so well in her garden or whether she had in fact upset the balance of Nature. I then thought of the times I feel I SHOULD do this or that and whether or not it would actually help such as:
Should we purchase things which have been made by underpaid workers in sweatshops whether overseas or in this country? My immediate response is a resounding No we shouldn't as these poor souls are being exploited BUT then again if we don't will they have no income at all and thus be unable to support their families?
You know my feelings about consumerism and Christmas - BUT am I doing any good by not purchasing goods to give as gifts which later end up in landfill sites and giving to my chosen charity Centrepoint to help the homeless young people instead or will the shops go out of business if enough of us follow my example and thus more young people will end up on the streets and needing Centrepoint's assistance?
I hate the huge supermarkets and the way they can ride roughshod over the farmers and producers they buy from BUT if they lose even one of their branches because enough of us refuse to shop there where will all those who work there go to find work? This was brought home to me by one of my friends who feels as I do about one of our supermarket chains but her son works for one of them and in rural Wales jobs are hard to come by and sometimes one's principles have to take a back seat.
Should I condemn those who cover their homes with flashing lights at this time of year for their profligate use of our limited resources or should I be applauding their generosity in giving to charity the money they collect by so doing?
I remember being taught at Sunday School that doing the right thing might not always be easy - it's not doing the right thing that is so difficult it's know what is the right thing that makes it so hard!
Truly finding one's way through the moral maze is incredibly difficutl and as with most questions in life there are no right answers just different ways of looking at things. What do you think?
Hope to add to the ringing tills soon when I purchase a new camera but until then I am sorry for the lack of illustrations!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friday Favourites

"No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."— Samuel Johnson

My Friday Favourite today is London - a city I love although I have never lived there. Maybe it is in my genes since my father was a Londoner and my mother lived there in her 20s. An aunt worked as a nanny to an actress in London when I was a teenager and I used to visit her and spend a few days in London and also later in my 20s when she worked as housekeeper to a family who lived in Brompton Square although I never stayed there. Strangely I visited London more often when I lived in Dorset before my marriage and again now I am living in Somerset than I did when it was just 30 minutes away from our home in Surrey. Always I have a feeling of coming home when I approach the city and although I would not want to live there if I ever won the lottery - not likely since I so rarely buy a ticket - I would buy an appartment there so that I could visit whenever I wanted to and not have to be content with day trips.

According to Wikipedia London is a leading global city, with its strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence.... London has a diverse range of peoples, cultures and religions, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries.

I think it is this amazing mix which makes me love it so and the fact that however long one lived one could never see everything - there is always something new to discover - blogging is a great help here and I have a long list of places and exhibitions I want to see - thank you bloggers!.

I am supposed to be meeting a couple of friends there next Thursday for a visit to the Garden Museum (which I first heard about here and which was then suggested by my friends as a suitable place to meet) so am hoping the weather will have improved sufficiently by then for me to make the journey.

Hope you have a great weekend and to those of you in UK that you manage to keep warm.
PS Have just remembered the name of the stuff we used for chilblains - mentioned on last post here it is:

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Winters past

This photo was taken last year but the view this morning is exactly the same! We didn't escape the white stuff after all.
Hydrangea balls!
Brave little snapdragons still flowering!

This cheery soul is just outside the front door and I thought would have died back months ago!
The last 3 photos taken by my personal photographer - yes "Dave" you are not the only one with such a being! - must get myself a camera soon I really miss mine!
As I was getting washed and dressed this morning I thought back to the winter of 1963 and couldn't help but be thankful that this time I have central heating and a flushing toilet! You see back then I was living in a flat shared with 2 other girls and our only form of heating was a little open fire - we had the upstairs floor of house in Exeter so the fireplace was only a small bedroom sized one. We used to put a shilling (remember those?!) in the gas meter and light the oven and sit round it with the oven door open till we had thawed out sufficiently to light the fire! Sleeping arrangements were one double and a single bed and during the coldest nights we used to all three get into the double bed together wearing our PJs plus socks, cardigans, scarves and even woolly hats!! Then the toilet indoors froze up - can't remember what we did there though it might have involved kettles of boiling water to flush it or something. Were we glad to see the spring arrive!!
These musings and thankfulness took my thoughts to other winters way back and although I can't remember the winter of 1947 being only 3 at the time I do remember other childhood winters. As you haven't had a Childhood memories post for a while I thought you might like to hear about winters in the Forest in the 50s? If not look away now!
Winter in the Forest
Winters were much colder then – or maybe they just seemed so without the benefit of central heating, warm bedrooms, hot baths and so on! Bedroom windows were usually iced over in the mornings, decorated by an incredible artist in the intricate patterns frost makes of leaves, ferns and swirls all delicate and glistening and before you could look out you had to scrape the inside of the panes with a finger nail till a small hole had been cleared and your hands were too cold to make it any bigger! Did it snow more back then or is it just memory that makes it seem so? The cold seemed much more bearable when under bright blue skies we could make our snowmen and slides in the playground (it wasn’t forbidden then in the cause of health and safety as happens nowadays – we must have been a much tougher lot in those days). And of course there were snowballs which would wing their way back and forth during playtimes until the bell called us all back into class for more lessons where we sat gently steaming from the melting snow!

I don’t remember the schools ever closing for snow days then but perhaps it was because we all walked to school and because we had no central heating boilers to go wrong as classrooms were heated by means of black cast iron “Tortoise” stoves – so called as they had an image of a tortoise cast into the lid on the top – these solid fuel stoves were fed with coke which stood in a hod alongside ready to replenish the fire. Those children sitting near the stove were warm enough but the ones at the back of the classroom were usually cold! We were often told to “Put down your pens” and then we would have to do some exercises alongside our desks to get our blood circulating before “Be seated and carry on quietly” was the command! Feet and hands were so often cold and many children suffered from chilblains and we nearly all had purple mottled patterns on our legs. Anybody remember that green stuff in a small block that we used to use on chilblains? What was it called?

Our winter garb consisted of vests and fleecy knickers (for the girls at least!) topped with numerous woollen jumpers and cardigans and skirts. We wore long socks held up with elastic garters but our knees were still bare and on our feet shoes, Wellingtons or for the lucky few boots. Boys at primary school wore short trousers and again long socks often wrinkled round their ankles and they too had bare knees usually decorated with assorted scabs from earlier injuries! Out of doors we had coats and long woollen scarves were crossed over our chests (odd that our chests were deemed so vulnerable to the cold when nobody gave a thought to our poor mottled knees) and sometimes pinned at the back with a large safety pin. Boys wore woollen balaclava helmets and we girls had hand knitted bonnets – either the pixie style which was basically a rectangle folded and stitched down one side with ties on the corners of the open side or a “proper” bonet which was more of a cube shape and often made in a Fair Isle pattern - tied under our chins - being made of wool these were quite tickly I remember - and mittens or gloves sewn to a length of cord or elastic which was threaded through our coat sleeves so the gloves couldn’t be lost easily. Getting ready to go out was a proper palaver!

School dinners were of the warming variety and often consisted of stew with dumplings followed by spotted dick or jam roly poly for pudding served with a good dollop of glutinous yellow custard! No thoughts of what constituted a balanced diet or 5 a day fruits and vegetables back then – just fill ‘em up with whatever was available. Every morning before playtime we each had a third of a pint bottle of milk with a straw made of waxed paper – we all hated this in the summer months when it was usually lukewarm (refrigeration was not widely available then and certainly not sufficient for several crates of the mini milk bottles) but in winter when it was cold or even frozen, so that the metallic top sat like a little hat on top of the iced milk which had risen above the top of the bottle as it froze, we didn’t mind. I think the government back in the 1950s was concerned about the health of the coming generation after the deprivations of the war years as they also provided delicious orange juice, in a small glass bottle with a blue and white label, for young children and rose hip syrup too as a source of vitamin C. Speaking of rosehip syrup I remember that being a country school we were encouraged to gather rosehips and bring them into school where they would be collected for sending to the factory to be made into the syrup. Maybe the school got paid for these and it helped to swell the coffers a bit. See here for more on this and to prove I didn't imagine it!
Winters were definitely much harder then if not in actual fact because we had no mod cons to keep us warm but we didn’t seem to mind – what you don’t know you don’t miss but even so we were always glad when Spring came round again!

Those of you who are still with me thanks for your company down memory lane!

I have been awarded another blog award this time The Beautiful Blog Award by Louise over at Gephert 836 Thanks so much Louise. As I have already bored you all with 10 things about me here I will pass on doing this again and also since I could never choose from amonst the lovely blgos I follow just 2 to pass the award on to please consider it done to all my faithful followers!

My Friday outing is definitely off so I have an unexpected day free - now what shall I do with it I wonder - fritter it away or actually achieve something?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

December colour post

Brrr! It's freezing and dull here today so some December colour is definitely called for. I had this post all ready as a draft and when I posted it just now it appeared below the last post and was dated 28 November - is there a way to move a post? I ended up deleting it and am doing it all again!

These flower photos are from the archives although I do still have some geraniums in bloom in the unheated conservatory which is very cheering.

Here is some colourful ribbon weaving in progress - was hoping to make some tree decorations like the ones in the photo below to take to Surrey with me for a get together on Friday but I gather they have had snow all day yesterday so maybe I won't be going!

Thank you for all your kind comments on the death of my camera. I don't think Santa is going to come up trumps this year since as you may remember I resolved not to give any presents this year and so cannot expect to receive any either! However this afternoon we have a lady coming from ELSA (English Longitudinal Study of Aging - research into aging which we have been involved in for nearly 10 years) to interview us and as it takes a couple of hours we get paid £20 each so my cheque can go towards a new camera can't it!! Some advantages in getting older eh?!
Hope those of you in the UK are keeping warm - remember only 3 more colour posts till Spring and the days will begin getting longer in just under 3 weeks - can't be all bad can it?!!