Sunday, 31 October 2010

End of October: sloe collecting day

Remember my sad harvest of sloes from the other week? Hey ho: did much better today! 1270 g of super ripe big juicy sloes. Gathered on a dog walk today where we did also get soaked, but that's by the by. The dogs- who love to eat the ripe sloes- found them at the side of the footpath again but this time I had the sense to look up and I saw there were many more in these old gnarled tree/bushes and many were in a private garden...( NOTE to SELF : grow sloe trees in own garden as soon as possible!) . BUT also this time I noticed that there were 2 right adise the garden fence and their fruit was falling onto the pubilc footpath. A little skae of the tree trunk and VOILA it was RAINING ripe sloes! They hit our heads, shoulders and arms : rat tat tat, plop plop plop. Thus it was great fun a-gathering these sloes. Miss Y was with me and it was a race for both of us to gather our harvest before the dogs got to them.

Found a recipe online and will be buying the gin, sugar and preserving jars tomorrow, maybe we have enough to make 3 l of sloe gin for New Years and beyond.
Yesterday we did have our day out in Bath: above the Roman Baths but the queues were too long to visit, kids etc.

Loved,loved looo-oooved these ancient Singer black'n gold sewing machines in this shop window.
Made me remember the dear treadle I bought at auction in the 1980's but had to lose/leave behind in the divorce: shame.

We saw an exhibition of Britain from the Air photographic exhibition , these are salmon farms in the Hebrides. The girls had fun walking on a giant map of Britain.
Found Miss Y a cafe JUICE MOOSE CAFE with gluten free brownies and fresh juiced juices: Yummmeeeeee.
Finally visited the Royal Crescent ( in the rain) despite many visits to Bath BC( before children) we had never done this before. Bought 2 wee Tree decs from Rossiters: it actually SMELLED of Christmas in that shop already.
Wee Miss Mousy and a whicker woven heart. They look better than my bleached out photos.
Miss E and I visited the Fashion Museum and had a fun time trying on hats and corsets and crinolines but those pics are still on my/her blackberry. To follow soon.
After time spent in Jack Wills, Octopus, Top shop, Apple store, Orange store, River Island etc for the girls and the Wool shop on Old Orchard street for me, we sped home to walk and feed the dogs, we had a lovely day out. (Alas I was only allowed a few minutes in the woolshop and they did not have the colours of felted tweed that I needed)
This morning at home JJ tossed some old bread on the table: ''for the birds'': SEE what happened:
This was accompanied by much intense whining and whimpering.
I can see it but how do you get to it? Oh look I'm much closer now but still cannot reach....
Can you see Lucy?

And now? So close and yet so far

Ach my beautiful collar, 'twas too pink too stripey and is now still being unpicked. I made a wee decorative circles snood in the car on the way to/from Bath- piccies soon.
Our lovely blue edge kettle died ( ie leaked) within 7 months of purchase and this is the replacement: you can SEE the bubbles dancing and there's blue lights too. Steam, see?
Half eaten now: this is the Earl Grey tea cake - gluten free- from the cookbook in the last post.
I'm the only one eating it. As we bought some WEINACHT'S Stollen from both W'rose and Asda Miss E and JJ are wolfing that instead. Miss Y also doesn't rate it alas.
And this was the chocolate and banana gluten free cake made with rice flour that Miss Y wanted.
We're going to ''ice'' it with chocolate spread tonight to see if it will be eaten?
I can't waste food but don't want to have to eat it myself.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN and a Novel Nourishing November to you all.
Ps the Sloe Gin should be ready to drink by end of December: perfect for our toast to 2011?!!!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

October Half Term

Not many pictures today I'm afraid as the camera battery is charging again. Been a bit poorly too, asthma palying up with a lot of breathlessness- not the good kind- as I've now had a cold since 29 September. Above is Lucy as she is now, very lively, easily bored and needs to chew a lot. The above bone is NOT supposed to be edible- say no more. Monday after the first eleven plus exam, we got back home at 1pm and I spent the afternoon baking: gluten free treats.
A Chocolate and banana cake and an Earl Grey tealoaf. Piccies to follow although I have to say they were not very photogenic. Quite scrummy though, just not quite as nice as with real wheat flour. I think the self raising mixed gluten free flour worked better than rice flour with baking powder to help it rise.

Anyway enough of that, this half term holiday has been dogged by my lethargy( the asthma and lack of oxygen makes me very tired) and 2 kids who are either glued to TV: Friends or Scrubs or a computer screen ( JJ's laptop) or I-Pad. Hardly seen Miss E, she hides in her room all day except for spells lounging in PJ's ( until 2 or 3 pm) on sofa with said progs on TV.
Nothing is good enough, boring food, house not nice enough, nothing to do,( we DID go to see Despicable Me on Saturday and it was fun) not wanting to join in or come on activities. Spending all day on MSN to school buddies or ''my'' new blackberry.... Talks non stop to her friends but hardly ever to me. I miss my little girl.
Yeuach! Save me from 12 year old girly moodiness.

Miss Y was really no better, also always lounging under a blanket or her duvet on sofa with TV.
No Cello or Piano music whatsoever has been heard in the house in these last 6 days.
Dogs have gone without walks except for me or JJ walking them. Baking was done solo for the first time in years.... Miss Y had an excuse though: eleven plus exams on Monday and Wednesday mornings and practice sessions on the intervening Tuesday.

Originally I had planned a day at Windsor Castle for Tuesday but after panicking on the Monday when I saw the hundreds of children queueing for the exams I revised this to take in a bit more tutoring and vocabulary building. She did at least learn ONE word: Clan! Besides like I said I wasn't feeling up to driving to Windsor and back. We did steam the puddings for the requisite 6 hours though.

Wednesday we were away all day: last exam in the morning and the RELIEF that it's all over and she's done her best is indescribable. Then to a dear old friend for lunch and lots of catching up and crafty creative news sharing and then a quick spell at the Eden Centre where we looked in vain for suitable wintry tops or dresses for Miss A's particular shape. ( apple)
Zara had a lovely deep navy needlecord dress but why do winter dresses have short sleeves???
It was very chic and French looking but Missy didn't like it. Ditto for tops in Gap or the 5 outfits in Next or Monsoon. Didn't like topshop or River Island or M&S. Found a jumper in Next but again: WHY short sleeves???? Miss A loved it so there you go, she wears it layered. Then we found a fab scarf in Accessorise and she has not yet stopped wearing it. So THAT was a good day.

Then somehow I collapsed by 10 pm without doing all of my usual duties/chores like settling the dogs and doing the kitchen and woke startled at 1 am by loud voices from the girls who were BOTH still up and argueing. JJ fast asleep. They didn't fall asleep until after 2 am so today's daytrip had to be revised as there's no way we could go to London and the V&A for the day when she wasn't dressed until 12.30. Mostly still a PJ kind of a day but we did make it out to walk the dogs and go see Legend of the Guardians an epic tale in the style of the Hobbit but with owls and battles.
Rona saga:
Also Tuesday with the collar almost finished and most of the ends sewn in ( Why oh why did I do that- it makes the undoing near impossible!) I decided the collar did not look right so I'm unpicking the lot: all 30 rows of super neat dc with a 3mm hook: ie tiny tiny stitches. And did I mention the sewing in of ends, yep I did? ,well it makes it well nigh impossible to unpick and preserve the yarn. D....! So am still at it and also worrying how I can complete it as the darker blue yarn is running out and there's not enough to redo the collar without re-using the yarn and and and - guess what I think it's been discontinued so I can't just buy another ball.
Was on internet today and found one on a shade card and then JJ- such a hero, such a sweetie- went into John Lewis and bought what looked like the same dark blue tweedy colour on the website- BUT it turns out the wrong colour. A lot less blue, more of a charcoal. Oh heck.
Sorry just needed to have a bit of a moan. Jj's asleep and the girls are fighting again. Miss Y mainly: shouting and threatening us all with heaven knows what- and that's after our lovely afternoon at the cinema? And no chores or help done? Have we spoilt them? Wasn't our intention but they are certainly playing the BRAT card in triumph and repeatedly these days.
Oooops. I much preferred them as babies and wee toddlers: so cute and sweet and more or less under better control than now.

At least the dogs have stopped fighting now and are mostly friends with each other and play a lot together. Sometimes Pippa gets fed up or Lucy is too boisterous and persistent and then Lucy gets a sharp nick or a deep growl to back off. As long as she heeds that she's OK.

Got to go sort out the girlie battle upstairs. Back to work tomorrow and finally seeing the GP in the late afternoon. Hopefully a family day out to Bath on Saturday and then JJ working again Sunday ( as well as all evenings either working or asleep) . C U L8r.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Christmas pudding time again

It's that time of year again: time to make the Christmas pudding: such a lovely rythm to the year; I'm pretty sure I made it at a similar time last year? This year though I'm making 3/4 of the mixture for 3 of us and 1/4 Gluten free for Miss Y: ie a 900ml pudding AND a 300ml pudding.
Here's the fruit a -soaking: now I know it doesn't look like much but OOOH THE SMELL!!! DIVINE. Just as if Christmas is already here. The kids have already made a few lists and also decided what they're giving us apparently. The 6 Bells in town has a decorated X-mas tree in the entrance. Bit early I think. Then again X-mas cards and toys etc went on sale in September in some supermarkets. Try to catch the sales while people think they still have jobs? Comprehensive Spending Review will likely make millions redundant.

This year it was this stout that JJ kindly bought while I was walking the dogs at Moreton. Not sure it'd be gluten free but what the H. Only for soaking the fruit?
Talking of fruit, did you know Dachshunds like sloes? I managed to pick only these measley few,but Pips andLucy managed to eat lots of large squashy ripe ones they found on the path.
Oh I hope I can go back with a ladder as I do so love Sloe gin and Christmas. Mum used to make it every year and give me a bottle but now I'll have to make it and take her some. JJ has the recipe on his i-phone. ( glad to find it CAN be useful, but mostly it's a nuisance)
Frost and blue skies again today and such glorious berries on the trees; we'll have another hard winter?! Remember last year, all the berries, JJ's prediction and then ALL THAT SNOW in January?
My aubretia is still flourishing in happy harmonious blues even if all my astors have died in the frost.
Red Kites were screeching and circling the house, causing much barking from the dogs.


And Pippa, wonderful eyebrows aren't they?
Did you see the article in Country Life recently? Why dachshunds are TOP dogs! Bought it in Petersfield in September as that COULD be Pips and Lucy on the cover- before /after grooming respectively.
This was the other shot of them. At a school. The article said what characters they were: well:
Lucy looking oh so sorry for herself. I have only these 2 blankets on such a cold hard floor....
That's because minutes earlier SHE had pulled her basket to the other side of the kitchen and pulled the cushion- well chewed of course- and the blanket OUT of the basket. She does like re-arranging things.

Favourite place: SOFA! Favourite activity: CHEWING something.

PS Also note new sweater dress in first piccie? Am so very pleased with this. Long and warm and very cost effective as it was from my beloved TKMAXX. I do love browsing and hunting for designer bits and bargains there.


Woke up with an aching right side, shoulder especially and still have that cold from 29 September so very short of breath a lot. Even at 5 am this time. So decided to have a lovely snuggle in bed and read my book as above.
It's about a girl in her mid twenties who spends 3 months in the 4 parts of the UK: Wales,Ireland, Scotland and Cornwall, she's trying to find her purpose, a home, a love and eventually her destiny : ie the life she's supposed to be living.
It's very good and makes you wonder and think.
Here I am thinking and wondering about the very same. Well not about my love or my home or where to live- although I would so very much like a countryside view(!!!!!!) - hills, mountains or sea but a bit of nature to look at other than one's garden. And of course I did rather lose my heart to Hampshire and the South Downs when I was 16 rather than the Chilterns and Oxfordshire. Though of course they are quite pretty too. My drive to work passes some lovely scenic hilly views and I found a lovely spot in Long Crendon where you can sit and watch the view too.
Meanwhile back to the point: what am I to DO next? Raising the girls and looking after family,partner and dogs will be part of it BUT I too am searching for something meaningful and pleasant to do in the next 10-15 years. It's a bonus if it pays well, where that used to be a pre-requisite but I want to HELP in some way, Contribute, have an effect in a positive way on people's lives in the local community. But how?
Teach crochet? Teach sewing and machine embroidery? Local classes or in a school, say a secondary school? Or run a wool and crafts shop with a chatty and stitchy cafe element?
Somewhere to come and chat and make something for friends and family or for charity- like charity granny square blankets? Preemie hats for the hospital? Or work in Public Health? Advising on campaigns for vaccinations and analysing data to help improve services?
Still the yarn and fabrics keep calling me.
As in the crocheting the button bands and hem on Rona - as above- afforded me such delight, such pleasure, it's amazing. Lovely corner isn't it? Straight and mitered beautifully. Sumptuous tweedy colours. Even with a 3mm hook( not my preferred size) it was lovely to work this, it felt good and I was so content.
If I do go ahead I'll have to find way to do so. JJ says a business plan but I haven't got as far as that yet. What , where, how often? Will it be popular? Are the demographics right or should I do it in Oxford?
Or do something more ''medical''? Physiotherapy? Psychotherapy? Occupational therapy? Acupuncture? Grinberg Method? Counselling? Style Management/Advisor? Wardrobe planning?
Or something else entirely? Writing novels or creative books- how to....-Agony Aunt?
These bootees made for an expected baby by a colleague are awaiting an address to be sent to - as well as the choice of ribbon which I have not yet made.

My father died aged 51. A few weeks before his 52nd birthday. Heart Attack. Sudden. Unexpected. Un planned or prepared for. I still miss him every day. Still cry for him.
What If I do the same ? Then I have only 1.5 to 2 years left. Better make 'm good ones.

How did the years go so fast? Key moments which I remember:
Dad's death. My first kiss. Moving to the UK. Learning to sail and winning the first Langstone Regatta as crew. Making custard from scratch for a boyfriend who then broke my heart.
Dancing at tea dances because mum would not/ could not find ballroom dancing lessons for me.
Doing A'levels. Going skiing with 6th form. Choosing what to put on an UCCA form. Choosing a University for it's countryside, walking clubs and hours of sunshine per year.
Leeds versus Newcastle upon Tyne and Newcastle won.
That walk down the long corridor at the RVI after midnight after a busy session in A&E.
The stolen suitcase on my trip home for Christmas. and all the effects that had.
Chrisje's wedding and the older boyfriend episode. Gilbert and Sullivan performances.
The medic's Revue. That song: we'll all be doctors in a year or two and we'll be treating you....
The visit to Calgary. The panic and loneliness and isolation of Stockton on Tees. The weirdness of Whitehaven. Alberta College of Art. Mithe de Fontenay. Swimming daily. Skiing weekly.
Suede trousers. Goppi. Chester Deloittes. 1 Little New Street.Golders Green. Hampstead Garden Suburb. Wendy. Touche Ross & partners. Dwygyfylchi and the mountain views as well as the sea views from the top of the hills. Aber Falls. Julie and the gym. Black bin bag and red van day. An apartment with high ceilings and mountain views. OCA. The little Wrexham house.
Dairy Barn Moreton and the Ambulance .The cruise on the Nile. Joyful births and the ecstacy and euphoria when I realised that I really was a MUM at last. 9 miscarriages, 3 before, 1 in the middle and 5 since the youngest. Old eggs I expect. Watford sewing club leading to many years City 'n Guilds. Winning first prize for an embroidered garden. Exhibitions. Thame Show. OCC, R'sons,SPH. 10-12 years flying by, whizzing away and feeling afloat. ( adrift?!)
Where are the plans, the progression? Nervous breakdown at 40. ( not mine!)
Serious car accident. Meddling, interfering family members who do not understand. On both sides. Charity work? Abroad? Children to consider. Walk the entire footpaths of Britain?!! When? Mum with dementia, JJ on medication for the above breakdown- many responsibilities. Highlight of my week: baking, cooking new recipes , creating and crochet and especially: country dancing and singing! Newly re- discovered.
and always: walking the dogs in the countryside on a sunny day. No mobile phone. Just dogs and country. Many thoughts and maybe some singing.

Have lived and lost in Wales so need to visit Ireland: ALWYN!!! And Clare in Edinburgh.
Would like to see Cornwall ( mum and I did Devon in a caravan in 1978: it rained) as per the book and also the ANDREWS by GAINSBOROUGH - a trip to London and the National Gallery perhaps? Horoscope says the time is ripe/right to take a risk and go for it.
( but WHAT exactly?)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Madame Tussauds : fun day out in the summer

We had the first frost yesterday and very pretty it was too, even heavier and thicker this morning. -2 instead of a mere -1 .Had a few ''not so good'' days. VERY tired and full of a new haedcold as well as that chest cold that I caught at mum's on the 29 September but which still rattles around my chest today. Miss Y was told scary stories at school and had a few nightmares and a set of terror hysterics yesterday evening and this morning so we've been up in the night a lot.
Also Lucy the dog who used to sleep in Miss Y's room came a scratching at our door at 1 am, 2 am, 3 am ,5am on Monday and I 've not yet recovered from that either. Tonight I could have happily gone to sleep at 8pm! JJ is away in Scotland /Ireland on a trip and I still had to clean the kitchen and chivvy the girls to make their lunches and get to bed.

Had a meeting today. Very hohum. My line manager has left without telling me she was going and I accidentally lost my entire inbox: 623 e-mails over the past 6 months- yesterday. Ooops.
Could not think today. Just too foggy up there and oh soooo tired. Nice dry day though whereas Monday we had a sudden hailstorm!
Needed cheering up so I found a fab sweater dress in TKMAXX : all soft and warm and quite flattering really , oh yes that and a cabled cotton number for hiking in. Very his'nhers as JJ has a posh one : navy cotton cabled from one of those trendy men's places like Hollister.
In central Oxford today and I hadn't been in ages and ages so it was a thrill just to sit and watch people go by ( after my meeting of course) .
Later on I stocked up on essentials at Primark: T-shirts at £2, £3 or £3.50 were too good to pass up, 100% cotton or 95% cotton and 5% elastane. Long sleeves, various necklines and lovely long, loooooong length so you don't have that nasty/chilly gap between jeans and T when you raise your arms or do anything active. Beats paying £8 or £15 per T ( or from some catalogues Miss E likes £18-£25 and above!)

And here is Miss E looking cooool in MY sunglasses! Oh we did have such fun at Mme T and it wasn't what I had expected at all. Should have worn photogenic garb though.... Then again Miss E managed to chop me in bits on quite a lot of the intended ''good pose'' shots...
here's just a few of the best.
My muse, my idol, my INSPIRATION.
Now: which one's the monster again? Depends whether it's about or after 9pm on a schoolnight as every single night at about 9pm the girls fight.....
It's now after 11 pm and it's finally gone all nice and quiet; PEACE prevails.
Yesterday was 20.10.2010 : now that's a good date eh? And the GIRL Guides had a 100 year celebratory ceremony at 20:10 ( time) on 20.10.2010.
Miss Y said her guide promise.
Of such stuff our lives are made. Oh and Lucy has hurt her eye somehow and I burned part of the dinner because it was after 19:30 and I had snuck upstairs for a tiny wee bit of crochet on Rona.......The end is in sight: just finishing the edgings on hem and front-bands now....

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

ordinary days

A simple ordinary diary day and very enjoyable it was too. Sunny skies and clear blue without a cloud I walked the dogs at Cuttlebrook at about 9.15 this morning. First I had tried to return a kettle: Russel and Hobbs and only less than 7 months old! Leaking already.
Tempted to say they don;t make things like they used to... Got told off about limescale. Can I help it that Thame water is sooooo HARD?
Wrong receipt was in the box so we have to go back with bank statements... Oh ugh. Been boiling water in a small pan all day. Still I enjoyed the walk and buying fruit and vegetables on the market before 9 am.
At home I was supposed to clear my workroom, there's too much clutter and piles of ''to do'' stuff: mending and sewing mainly. BUT I was still shocked due to hearing from a third party that one of the 3 original steering group members is leaving. ( another has already left) Mmmmm. Not sure what to think. So , soooooo I sat and crocheted to have a quiet contemplative time and this went from 10 to about 3 pm.

Undid the tacking and sewed in both sleeves to Rona jacket. Also sewed in lots of ends and fantasised about the world- wholly unrealistic- that the Gilmore Girls live in. Then crocheted in granny square pattern- ie groups of 3 trebles- on the end of the sleeves before the cuffs proper because they were just below the elbow: it too short. This is after taking OUT 3 completed granny squares at each sleeve end because the sleeves would have been far too long.
Did some cleaning and some e-mailing and then picked Miss Y up , shopped a bit for essential gluten free food items and came home to find I had 10 minutes of potato peeling to do before picking Miss E up from her piano lesson. Traffic was awful due to the traffic lights by the football stadium. Long queues both ways. So dinner was going to be late.
But worth it! Lovely roast ham with a slight ginger glaze , buttery mashed potato and lovely succulent green beans. Yum. The stock and broad beans I roasted the ham in has now been made into soup for us to take in thermos flasks for lunch tomorrow. ( I added some tomatoes)
We are learning fast, Miss Y started her gluten free regime on Monday 11 October.
Tiny mistake on Sunday: didn't realise Communion Bread has gluten in it, oops.
Went dancing with Miss Y yesterday evening and we had a splendid time, even if there were a few more complex figures to master...( Pousettes)
11 plus prep is going well, she had a borderline pass on Sunday but a 94% ie magnificent pass on Monday so we had today off. First real one is on the 25th.
We'll celebrate after the 27th and even more so in November when the results come out!
Dinner party time again. Like these Lillies which were a gift from a recent dinnerparty which was hugely enjoyable.