Monday, 5 December 2011

It's been a long time

Three months, more than that in fact! I am a failed blogger, my Twitter profile admits it so it must be true! But as I had the temerity to put this blog address on my Christmas letter I thought I'd better write something. Anyone who has been here before will know that I was determined only to write positive things and I am pleased to say that I can now do so, as my mum has been succesfully treated for breast cancer and my husband has come to terms with loosing an eye. Yes, I know, sounds awful doesn't it - but it has been an extraordinary 6 months and a steep learning curve on all sorts of levels and I think we have all emerged stronger for the experiences.
I didn't get round to making all my Christmas cards but I have done some and you can see a selection over at NC&NF (click HERE) if you want to.
At least I am a bit ahead of myself now and getting things done in good time. There are lots of cuttings in the little greeh house and maybe I will manage to keep them alive until Spring. This time last year we had been under a lot of snow for a month so that's something else to be grateful for. All in all life is pretty good. I hope it is for you too.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Perfect Sunday

Yesterday was such a very particularly lovely day. I took the morning service at a little chapel in Trimley St Martin. The original building was badly damaged in the hurricane that came in the 80s so it is a modern building now, with the most stunning stained glass window. One of my cousins and a friend of his came to the service too and then back for dinner and the timer on my oven worked, so we ate on time (Hurrah!) Then the daughter of one of my other cousins popped in with her husband and two boys and it was hugs all round and a cup of tea. After they went cousin no 1 did some very helpful bits of DIY for us while I took his friend for a walk. It was a day filled with love and fun and friendship and was just perfect from beginning to end

Trip to T&M

At the end of July I went for a look round the trial grounds of Thompson and Morgan A friend had the opportunity to get tickets for a private view, prior to their open weekend. Another friend came with us. Now I have known these two friends since we were 11, we were all at school together, but they hadn't seen each other since my 21st birthday party, which is a couple of years ago now (!)
It was lovely to see so many flowers all together and we all bought some very reasonably priced plants and we all talked and talked and talked and it was a lovely day. Everone was given a free packet of verbena seeds and a little blue verbascum plant - a new variety and quite expensive in the catalogue so I hope I can keep mine alive! When we got back to mine we all took some cuttings of each others plants too, so far most of mine are surviving! I took a lot of photos and some of them are over on the other blog, just click HERE

Friday, 8 July 2011

Days Out Part 2

Today was my birthday. By coincidence, it happened to be the day that my friend Heather over at Random Ramblings and I had made an appointment to have our feet nibbled by fishes. It's all the rage at the moment and there are a few places around where we live but I did a bit of ringing round and was impressed by the information I was given by a nice young lady at Beauty Rituals in Melton so that was where we decided to go. I was chauffeured in style by H in her nice new car. Although it is hidden away a bit on the Wilford Bridge Road business estate, the interior of the premises are very well done and we received a warm welcome. We had our feet checked briefly and then climbed onto a high bench - very comfortable though - and gently put our feet into the tank. We probably looked as though we were in great pain but it didn't hurt a bit. It tickled. It really REALLY TICKLED! But after a minute or two that wore off, well for most of the time, and then it was just a very pleasant pins and needly sort of feeling. I must say that I was surprised how nice it was and how nice my feet felt afterwards. Unfortunately H has tastier feet than mine so next time I shall go on my own. They have a salon and do various other things too so have a look at the web site. I think I shall be treating myself again
After that we went into Woodbridge for me to get the rest of my present from my husband. I had bought a skirt and was looking for some tops to go with it and found some - amazingly - so hubby is stumping up the cash, bless him. Then we went to the restaurant at The Riverside and had a lovely lunch. An enormous roasted red onion and goats cheese salad for me and a duck leg confit with noodles for H. We had some pre-prandial nibbles, sweet potato chips and crunchy broad beans with a sour cream and chilli jam dip. The puds looked lovely but we didn't have any room.

Days Out Part 1

This Monday it was a lovely day, the forecast was good, and so we decided to visit Stonham Barns and, more particularly Suffolk Owl Sanctuary . This is somewhere we used to go quite often but haven't been since we moved nearly 4 years ago. The place is very much the same except that, thankfully, the landlords have tidied up the paths etc a bit, so they are much easier to push the wheelchair across. There were some birds we hadn't seen before, like the first picture below which is a yellow headed caracara. It makes a lot of noise ALL the time.

There were two flying displays. The one at 12.30 was fairly well attended but when we went back for the 2.30 there was only us and three others so we were able to ask lots of questions and see the birds much closer to thyan usual.
The barn owl is called Cobweb. The owls are very focussed so if something distracts them it can be difficult to get them to come back into their display routine. On the other hand, they can be so fixed in the routine that - well, the story he told us was from when some yob broke in and let all the birds out. Most of them were retrieved but an owl was missing for a while, but then came back one night and started doing the routine on its own. The handler had been camping out in the hope it would come back so they did their display at three o'clock in the morning, reinforcing the birds attachement to the handler and, more importantly, the food source!

All the birds are bred in captivity. Some are bred from wild birds that have been injured and cannot survive in the wild but have a good life at the Sanctuary. It's the only bit of Stonham Barns that we really go to see. The shops seem to be much the same and the antique shop is closing down, which is a shame in a way although it did mean I was not tempted to spend any money ! We took a picnic too, that way we know we will be getting something we really like, although in hindsight, maybe chicken sandwiches was a bit tactless.

The picture above is of a very rare bird indeed. The Seldom Spotted Husband is a shy creature that prefers to hide under any available hat. Its mating call sounds like "isthereanycake"

And here's some more of the feathered variety

Monday, 30 May 2011

All change!

Life has been a bit complicated this last few weeks and I really had to wait until I was feeling more positive before I told you all about it. True to my brief of only posting positive posts I won't go into all the details of how OH managed to hurl himself out of his wheelchair at The Heath and damage his right eye sufficiently to make it unlikely that he will ever get the sight back. For the first couple of weeks I needed a spreadsheet to work out when all the drops and cream and antibiotics had to be down and I had to neglect my mum a bit, in spite of her own mini crisis which we will come to in a minute.

The decision has been made that OH will not drive anymore so I am going to sell my car and drive his instead. We need to use his because of the space in the boot for the wheelchair and the electric hoist but at the moment I still have to use my own car for my own purposes and only drive his when I am taking him somewhere, due to various laws about these things so there's a bit of sorting out to do before that change can take place. It means I shall have to get my personal auto-pilot reset to driving the automatic rather than the manual. At the moment when I drive the automatic I keep saying "don't change gear, don't change gear" and then when I get into mine I forget to change gear for a few minutes! That may make me look a bit of a nit-wit but trying to change gear in the automatic can do real damage.

It's going to mean quite a big change in our lives too as he has effectively wiped out what bit of independence he had and will be totally reliant on me to go out, so I shall have to make sure that appointments for me, mum and him co-ordinate!

Then, the day after it happened we got an offer on mum's flat. Those of you in the UK will know that the process of buying and selling property is more than a little complicated, and as it is what I used to do for part of my living, I know more than most what could go wrong before it is finalised. We have been trying to get her moved closer to us since last August but I am not counting any chickens

I have been quite overwhelmed by the amount of love and prayers coming our way. I have realised in a more meaningful way just how many friends I have gained since we moved here. I have 2 churches looking after me, and such good cousins and almost cousins. And I really have felt God with me and His support and guidance and we are already seeing how things could have been so much worse and so counting our blessings. We will be alright. OH is back to reading the paper at the weekend and doing the dishwasher all wrong just as he did before! There was a moment there when I could have turned my face to the wall but it didn't last.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Spring Clearing

No, that isn't a typo, the cleaning will come later!
On Thursday I spent most of the day at my mum's flat helping her to start sorting out some "stuff". Well, I say helping. What actually happened was I took all the "stuff" out of her wardrobe and airing cupboard and she watched and we decided what could go to the dump and what could go to the Hospice shop. Anyone reading this who doesn't know, we have a local Hospice named for St Elizabeth and they have charity shops around the area where they sell people's unwanted, or pre-loved items to raise funds. Anyway, I went there with mum's big shopping trolley stuffed to the gunnels and they got very excited about some plates. Then I stuffed the trolley again with things to go in my paper recycling bin and for hubby to take to the local tip.
So enthused was I by this that I decided the time had come for me and him to have a go at our garage on Friday. Quite a lot of rubbish, the discovery of things we forgot we'd got, some more for the shop and, as a reward, fish and chips from the chippy at the Heath for lunch. And I had a pineapple fritter as well. But then I had walked to the Heath and back twice as I'd already been there in the morning to go to the Post Office so I must have burnt a few of those calories off one way and another.
Today (Saturday) I am continuing the good work at home and tomorrow, after I have taken the service at Kirton, I shall be going to mum's and continuing there.
Mum and I are both hoarders so it has quite a liberating feel to be making spaces that are not immediately going to be filled up again!
In other news, we really, really need some rain here. The farmers are worried, the reservoirs are dropping and there have been grassland and heath fires across the UK like I have never seen before. The temperature has been way above the normal for this time of year and although 20 degrees plus is lovely, it's not doing the wild life any good at all. Wondering how my Canadian cousins are faring

Monday, 2 May 2011

A Great Honour!

I'm sure I'm not the first to comment that "you wait ages for a Bank Holiday then 4 turn up together". By the way, does that joke work in the US?
Anyway, today was May Day Bank Holiday, which is on the first Monday of May and which is a relatively new holiday, having been made an official holiday only in 1978. Of course, we had Good Friday and Easter Monday last week, plus the special holiday for the Royal Wedding this Friday and I guess a lot of people will actually be quite glad to get back to normal. Amazingly the weather, traditionally awful whenever the holidays fall, has been lovely.
Today my friend @easternsparkle came for coffee as I had promised her some plants from my little greenhouse. We had a very pleasant time, her, me and my OH, chatting cheerfully. And then came my great and unexpected (though secretly hoped for) honour. If you look at Her Blog
you will see that she is a quilter and sewer and crocheter, and she has been learning to make useful and beautiful little bags. And she gave me one ! And I love it.

As you can see, she knows I am a purple person and not that flowery so my bag is made from a wonderful abstract purple and black fabric which I have already scanned to make background paper for my hand made cards. Now I have been thinking all afternoon what I want to keep in it and I haven't quite decided yet

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Late again!

As usual I have managed to finish a lovely warm winter crochet project just in time for the hot weather. Hey ho! Anyway, as my friend over at Loves2Crochet expressed an interest and I thought there might be one or two others who would like to see what I have been up to I have at long last taken some photos to show you.
It all started last year when I found a pattern for a thick jacket, made in a sort of rib pattern which is achieved by each row being worked round the post of the stitch in the previous row rather than into the top. Alternately behind and in front, then behind in the ones behind and in front of the ones in front, just ordinary trebles (or doubles if you are in the US)
This is what the jacket looks like. It isn't easy to take a picture of these things without a dummy but my husband refused to co-operate!

Then I looked at my stash of wool and decided to use up a lot of bits and bobs by making a sleeveless jacket in the same rib. I varied it by putting a wide band down each side at the front in the other direction, building the neck up a bit mandarin collar style and fixing with three HUGE buttons which I found in the Fabric8 shop in Felixstowe. More pics follow

Hope you are impressed Ha ha!

That's Life!

My life really has been just jotting along recently. I'm not complaining, it's all been quite relaxing and serene, although the weather has been unseasonally hot and dry so I have horrendous hay fever. We had a visit from a cousin of mine who I knew when we were children but have had only occasional contact with as adults. It was a bit like finding a long lost brother. I can't really explain in detail as it wouldn't be right to talk about things here which are personal to other people, but it was a really lovely day.
I am now planning on what to do on Friday. Sorry, but although I may just put the tele on to see what Kate's dress looks like I shan't be watching the wedding. I might do some weeding Ha Ha!

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Social Whirl

Life has been very busy and lots of fun this last week or so! I seem to have acquired a social life all of a sudden. Well, no, that's not quite true, it has been building up since we moved here, but everything happened at once, or so it appeared at the time.
Last Saturday (the 5th) I took the friend that I now call HeatherA to meet my mum. H wanted to go to a shop in Felixstowe that sells zips in every colour you can think of so that she could make some little quilted bags (more details HERE ) We had talked about her (she?) and mum meeting up so the opportunity was taken. Of course, all those horrid people on Twitter made comments about when to buy a hat, did mum ask her about her prospects etc, but we ignored them. We are just good friends. And our husbands will confirm that. After coffee at mum's and shopping we went to the Spa Pavilion and had a bacon sarnie for lunch and then a walk along the front where we got cold and wet because it rained. The Spa is a bit basic but the bacon is especially good and you can sit in a window and people watch, and see the sea. I still haven't got the necessary to download photos from my phone so HERE is a photo someone else took
On Monday my cousin Christine came to visit. She is the eldest daughter of my mum's sister JOAN
who passed away nearly 18 months ago. We also went to visit mum and did lots and lots of talking. This is us

Then in the evening I rang my friend Marion, who I have known for 45 years (!) and we talked for over an hour
On Tuesday I went for coffee in the morning to the friend I now call HeatherB. I met her at the service I took at the Seaton Road Methodist Church a couple of weeks ago. We have a lot in common and I hope our friendship will grow.
Then in the evening I made pancakes for me and hubby and two friends who both live on their own. They had both commented that it wasn't (in their opinions) worth making them for yourself only so I have invited them both each year to share with us, but this was the first time they were both free to come.
On Wednesday I didn't do much.
What it is to be popular!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Worth asking

I am a law abiding citizen. I was a lawyer. Not that the two are necessarily always mutually inclusive (LOL) Now I love to crochet and I find it a lot easier than knitting but I can (sort of ) knit too. So I was delighted with a book that I recently bought (not saying which one yet as am in negotiation with the publisher for a freebie to use as a giveaway) I thought that the patterns, which are for something small and cute, would be great for making and selling locally, but I was aware that there might be a copyright issue. I contacted the publisher and explained my dilemma and, amzingly, they said that, yes, I would have to pay a royalty one each item sold UNLESS I could make a label that credited the book, with a picture of the front cover and the publisher's website, then they would accept that in lieu. I am so glad I asked.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

New Friends

I have had a really lovely morning.
For various and complicated reasons I haven't been taking services for a couple of years but at the end of last year I was transferred to my local Methodist Circuit and went back "on plan"
This morning I went to Seaton Road Methodist Church for the first time. Now I am one of those weird people who actually relishes going into new situations where I don't know anybody, so I was not nervous about that, but there is always that little bit of doubt about whether the service and sermon have come from the right place. There was a very warm welcome, everything went well and I even managed not to over run the hour (well almost) But I was quite overwhelmed by the reaction that I got afterwards. At least four people said that it had been very relevant to them, one gave me a great big hug and many people seemed genuinely uplifted. It is always so good when that happens because it tells me that God has been getting through - make no mistake, I know that I do not do this on my own, but it is so nice when there is a little bit extra confirmation.
And I made some new friends, Micheala, Liz and Heather, who will have to be known as Heather B, so you (and I) don't get mixed up with Heather A
I think the time has come for me to do a bit more so I am thinking I will offer one service a month from now on and see how it goes.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Ladies (and Gents) who lunch

Two posts for the price of one here. I have only just realised that I didn't tell you all about my little trip to Framlingham with Heather. I used to work there some years ago and was sorry to see one or two of my favourite shops are no longer in business, but we had a jolly good wander round and a long chat with the lady in the quilting/wool shop, whose name I have forgotten for the moment. We lunched HERE - The Crown. Heather had a wonderful looking scotch egg with a beautifully bright yellow yolk and I had hummus and flat bread. And then I had cheesecake while H watched and felt virtuous!

Then today me and hubby went HERE - Milsoms/Kesgrave Hall as it was our 19th wedding anniversary. I had done a reccy the day before and it scored pretty high on wheelchair friendliness. You can't book, but it wasn't crowded when we got there. I had Peking duck spring rolls with cucumber noodles and a spinach salad and himself had a hangar steak, which took a bit of chewing. This is no reflection on the chef, I hasten to add, but on his less than perfect dentures. For dessert he had spotted dick and ice cream and I had a dark chocolate fondant with blood orange sorbet. It lived up to expectations - several Twitter friends have been and recommended it. If I have one criticism it is that it was very noisy

It's his 80th birthday next month and we shall go again, if I can save up enough out of the housekeeping!

Friday, 18 February 2011

A lovely day

I have had a great time over the last couple of days. One of the very nice people I have met via Twitter and Facebook is Karen and, without boring you with the details, it was arranged for her to come to visit me and have a crochet lesson - which meant we were meeting in person for the very first time. Another friend called Pat who lives near me had also asked about learning to crochet so I asked her too. Then my cousin (actually I think she is first cousin once removed, anyway she is my cousin's daughter) Erica rang to say she had a free day and could she come to visit on that day.

So yesterday OH and I tidied the "public" rooms of our stately home and I cooked a big saucepan of vegetable soup (lots of peeling and chopping) brown rolls, white rolls and OH's white loaf (lots of kneading) stewed apple ( more chopping and peeling) stewed plums ( more chopping and stoning) and 2 cakes ( mixing, stirring, weighing) I slept well

Pat and Karen were here at 10:30 and after tea and cake the crochet lesson commenced They were both good students and we all got to know each other as we crocheted. Pat's husband arrived at 12.45 and I heated up the soup and was just serving up when Erica arrived so we all sat down to our lunch of soup, hand knitted rolls and stewed fruit and cream for afters. Then we discovered that Karen and Erica had both been to the same University only a year apart and probably lived in the same road while there!

Karen had to get away at 2, and almost did.

Pat and her OH left soon after - oh yes, he had brought their cute little dog Toby, another coincidence as one of Erica's sons is called Toby.

Then Erica and I bored my poor OH with family reminiscences and photos. She had brought a memory stick with some photos for me to look at but my PC is upstairs so I asked her to close her eyes as she made her way through the mess caused by me tidying downstairs. More tea, more cake and she left at 6.


So I made one new friend, got to know another newish friend better and caught up with an old friend. It was such fun!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Resolutions #3

As we approach the end of January I thought I would consider how well my New Year Resolutions have been going. Er - um- well.......
Following the slight hiatus with my tummy problems I have had to choose my moment when it comes to going out for a walk. My original resolution, linked to the fact that London is hosting the Olympics in 2012, was to walk at least 201.2 minutes a week. The weather hasn't helped. And I walk quite a lot in my day to day routine and I haven't always remembered to time it, so I have given up on that, on the basis that when I did manage to time it I found that I probably do more than that anyway, so I shall just try to keep on with that.
On the being greener front I have made a controversial decision. I shall be glad to know what you think but it probably won't change my mind. Neither myself, my husband nor my mother go on holiday. the last time I was on a plane was in 1985. Mum hasn't flown since 1982 and hubby has never flown. So I am balancing that against the fact that for all three of us, our food is one of the highlights of the day and I am going to look for local alternatives but if I can't get them I am going to buy stuff that has come from abroad. Particularly at this time of year. I am going to grow some things in the summer - that is what I can do in pots. Last year I grew mange tout successfully and I am going to give peppers a go this year. My dodgy back stops me from doing a great deal of gardening but I do my bit for the local wild life that way (That is my excuse for the state of the flower beds and I am sticking to it !)
I am getting quite good at planning the cooking so I use the oven for more than one thing once it has gone on. We have just had a letter to tell us that our gas and electricity charges are going up so that will concentrate my mind even more. Heating has to stay as it is as hubby, being disabled and therefore not able to move around to keep warm, feels the cold quite badly.
I don't always say no to plastic bags because I need them to wrap the rubbish sometimes. Getting free Tesco carriers sometimes means I don't have to buy bin bags so much. There is no way round this that I know of. The recycled rubbish is dry and it is a requirement that things are not wrapped for that bin. The food waste that goes into the brown bin is wrapped in newspaper. The dry other rubbish goes in unwrapped but when it comes to the smelly stuff, like the plastic bag the fish or meat has been in I'm afraid that needs to be wrapped up, especially in the summer. I am thinking about it though so I hope I don't lose too many Brownie points.
The water is another problem I haven't quite solved. I have to run a tap to get the hot water through and that water is not "potable" so the only solution that anyone has come up with is to use it to flush the loo. That however is not easy because the dodgy back means I cannot heave buckets of water out of the sink and up the stairs and hubby is quite unable to do it even for the downstairs loo. In the summer I can probably siphon it outside to water the garden.
Oh dear, I'm not doing very well am I. But I am going to blog more. Watch this space!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Resolutions #2

I've not been well! But this is a positive thinking zone so I will just elicit some sympathy by telling you that I got some sort of stomach bug that saw me spending a day in hospital dosed up to the eyeballs with painkillers, including morphine, and having a very uncomfortable time of it.
The reason I mention this is because it has, of course, mucked up all my good intentions for the new year, not least the "walking 201.2 minutes every week" one and the "getting myself organised and into a routine" one
Are we downhearted comrades? No, of course not! This is a challenge. And so in this household, 2011 has been officially postponed for a fortnight and I shall start again on the 14th.
So Happy New New Year

Sunday, 2 January 2011


Happy New Year!
Now is the time when many of us decide to have a look at our lives and make a few promises about how we are going to change them for the better. For many these promises will involve
a) Food - less of the eating of
b) Exercise - more of the taking of
c) Personal skill - a new one, the developing of.
All of these things are very worthy and I have all of them on my list, but this year I also want to make a promise to the planet and I hope you might join me.
If you look to your right - no, not in your room, on the page, silly, you will see I have acquired a new button. I have adopted Baglady. Underneath you will find a link to her site and the pledge she is asking us to make. It would be great if you could join in. Tell her who you are and that you are willing to offer her a virtual bed for the night and we can see how far she manages to travel over the year. I was introduced to her by Karen at The Rubbish Diet and thoroughly recommend her blog too for more inspiration
If you look back at my post near the beginning of December, "Suggestions please" you will see the problem I have had in coming up with a suitable pledge. Unfortunately my dodgy back precludes serious gardening, or heaving buckets of water out of the sink which knocks some of the suggestions on the head but one thing that was suggested and which I am going to look into and will report on in due course is solar battery chargers.
It seems to me that it can be very difficult sometimes weighing up the extra miles I drive in order to get to a shop that sells unpackaged or more eco-friendly goods. One person suggested freecycle but we did use that when we moved and had some problems with people, plus the fact that what I mean when I say we save things to take to the dump is things like old batteries, and those flippin' low energy light bulbs (and can anyone give me the definitive answer about whether the low energy use really outweighs the poisons used in their manufacture?) By the way, the other problem with the light bulbs is that we found we have to have more burning to give us any decent light in the evening so that's another impossible calculation. So I am going to have to research all that as well. Now I know I am sounding negative and I didn't mean to, but I can't help feeling it isn't all as simple as it seems.
So my rather vague pledges were to start looking properly at where foods come from and to go local or East Anglian first, English second, UK third and Europe fourth and to replace bulbs as and when with low energy (subject to still being able to see my way round the house and read) Read my earlier post HERE More thoughts and suggestions welcome!