Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's All Over

Well. here we are December 28th and Christmas is but a memory. All that food preparation and cooking, present buying, tree decorating, card writing etc and it's all gone in a flash. Why do we do it?Because we like it! Fortunately for Plum and I, we didn't have to do the entertaining this year as we usually do because we were invited out by Jay and Fraser and Terry and Yvonne. That was really appreciated because we both had the 'flu/ cold that is going around, Plum worse than me (as I write this she is coughing, shame).
Christmas Eve we went to Jay's as it was Izzie's first Christmas. She had so many presents they spilled out from the spare room across the landing to the stairs. it took J & F 4 hours to unwrap them all!! One of the pressies we gave her was a Christmas quilt, hand made by her great aunt Plum. (See picture) so it would always be a memory of her first Christmas as it has a label on the back which is a picture of us all dressed in red.
Christmas Day dawned and after opening a mountain of presents for both us and Molly, she was more keen on tearing the wrapping than the actual pressies, we went off to Terry and Yvonne's for a lovely home cooked Christmas lunch, played a game of Articulate (boys v girls, boys won, naturally) and then made our merry way home again.
Boxing Day we were too sick to do anything but start our new 1000 piece jigsaw called Dad's Potting shed which Sarah kindly bought us which, when it is finished will take pride of place on the wall of our shed.
Yesterday, feeling better, I planned to go down the plot to pick some leeks. However, when I got into Plum's car and put on the seat belt, the mechanism broke and I was trapped in the seat unable to escape! Eventually I managed to extricate myself after a good hour. Plum thought I was at the plot so no one looked for me. I have to get a new belt as soon as our garage re opens. (Plum says!!)
Today, we are off to Terry and Yvonne's again for lunch with Paul ,Vicki, Jay, Fraser and Izzy who we call number 9 as she is the ninth member of the family to sit down to meals now.
Molly has enjoyed her Christmas too especially the microchipped mouse that squeaks when it moves. She has tossed it up and down the stairs and we can hear her still playing into the early hours. She has also learned how to ting the tiny silver bell on the Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Village Green at Christmas

is alive and well... just over a week ago, we saw the Parish Council putting up a beautiful Christmas tree complete with lights on Terry and Yvonne's village green.
This week we all gathered round that Christmas tree for carols all equipped with lanterns lit and voices at the ready. How old fashioned I thought, but how very wonderful and what a way of slowing down for thought before Christmas and to be reassured that some traditions will never go away. Of course our candles burned so brightly, that we nearly set fire to the song sheet. Do Yvonne and I know how to have fun, or what?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Christmas Wish

A Merry Christmas to our friends Far and Near

from Bri, Plum and Molly xxx

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's getting to look a lot like christmas

Fill My Stocking

with loving kindness, peace on earth, goodwill to all, helping hands and thoughtfulness, but it never is just that. It is gifts of the biggest kind, drinking, eating, merriment. Apart from the gift business, is there anything wrong with celebrating once a year - I don't think so, because somehow Christmas brings families together, and that is really the true messsage isn't it?

Strictly the Best

After next week, Saturdays nights won't be the same. The reason for this is that it is the final of the nation's favourite t.v. show, Strictly Come Dancing or, as it is known to us fans, 'Strictly'.
This show embodies all that is good about Saturday night t.v. in that it gives us everything we want from a show. It has glamour and glitz, with the wonderful Hollywood style costumes, drama from the judges criticisms and the celebrity and professionals reactions to their scoring, humour from the banter between Bruce and the judges, tension from the results of the phone-in vote and the subsequent dance off as well as world class star guests. This year, especially, has been more controversial than ever with the headline hitting departure of John Sergeant. (The photo of him dragging his partner across the dance floor will loom large in the history of the programme). The X-Factor may attract more viewers, but that is just a singing contest not a whole entertainment package. For once, the BBC has got the formula right and I for one, can't wait for next years competition when it will be nice to see it, to see it, nice.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Mulling We Will Go

'We will have mulled wine with wisdom, & buttered toast with story-telling & crack jokes & bottles from morning till night”.... the words may have been written by Herman Melville years ago, but the spirit of them still ring true, because when we think of mulled wine, we think of friends around a crackling fire on a snowy Christmas Eve, or carol singers enjoying the moment as the door opens and happy faces greet them with a mince pie or of hot roasted chestnuts in paper cones bought from a street seller. Or does mulled wine bring you other thoughts?

1/2 pint of good red wine
1 small glass whiskey, brandy or rum
6 fl oz lemondade
1 slice lemon
1 slice orange
1 clove
1/2 stick cinnamon
good pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 dessert spoons sugar.

1. Put everything except red wine and chosen spirit into saucepan
2. Heat until sugar has dissloved and simmer gently for 10 minutes
3. Add wine and spirit and reheat but not to boiling as it spoils the flavour serve as hot as possible into glasses. Don't forget a teaspoon added to the glass will prevent the it from shattering with the hot liquid.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Victory Over Rationing?

During the Second World War, rationing made everyone resourceful, there was no choice. It is about to happen again according to the newspapers with the BIG recession looming over us. I have decided to make an early start with it being Christmas. I always mean to be extra thoughtful, so I thought what if I pretend we are being rationed - how would I handle Christmas? Well, better than I thought - I have tried to make everyone a little something (this should scare my family something rotten) to go along with their real presents.It has taken longer than shopping, but I have had time to think about favourite things or personalities or just fun things. I do hope everyone will like wondering, 'what the hell is this for?', when the wrappers come off. As for decorations, I am still pondering over what to do with the dried orange slices, sticks of cinnamon and tartan ribbon I bought thinking these will be great when I get them home and, and er...... you can't win 'em all, so, just in case... Thank goodness I still have our ration books.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who's in Control.

Let me ask you a question: Who has charge of the remote control in your house? I bet the answer isn't any female member of the family. Since their invention, the remote control has always been the province of the man of the house. Let's face it, men, we can't get along without it. We have to have it beside us at all times while watching the box, especially in this digital age of multiple channels. It gives us a sense of power to be able to flip nonchalantly between channels on a whim with no regard whatever for our partners and or kids who have been watching a programme for some time only to suddenly find that they can no longer follow the plot because we have decided to have a look at what is on the other channels.
What it is , is that we like to know what is on all of the channels all of the time in case we are missing anything good. The fact that we never actually SEE anything all the way through is not as important as the fact that we have TOTAL CONTROL over at least one aspect of family life... How on earth did we manage before this electronic marvel, when we would have had to get up off our behinds and change channels manually? We used to wait until our wives went to make a cup of tea and ask them to change it whilst they were passing! But now, that is all in the past! We are in control! We can watch what we want, when we want! We can...wait a minute! there's something interesting on BBC3.. no, hang on, ... is that a new film on 4? Did I just see Jordan take her kit off on ITV2?........

Must Try Harder

I have a confession to make. Nothing that would have the scribes of the gutter press beating a path to my door to expose to the Nation, though. No, my confession is simply that I don't do cold. The recent spell of cold weather has kept me and Plum firmly indoors. There is work to be done on the plot but I am afraid it will have to wait until the weather is more clement. I have had to brave the cold on occasion though, as we are overwintering our geraniums in our plastic greenhouses and the shed and they do need water from time to time.
I was reading Hazel's blog yesterday, and it appears that she has had a really good year. On the other hand, I must admit that Plum and I are disappointed with our results this year. Last year, apart from growing the veg, we also had to organise the plot with pathways and beds and compost bins etc but this year, only having to concentrate on growing, we have come somewhat unstuck. The peas and beans didn't really take off, and as for the tomatoes, they were the same as everyone elses - a disaster. The sweetcorn grew and ripened, however, because of lack of sunshine, it doesn't taste anywhere as sweet as the year before. We did have an abundance of courgettes and raspberries and the first crop of cos lettuce was fantastic as were the strawberries ( We are still enjoying the jam we made from them). Our brassicas have been a big disappointment apart from our January Kings which, although they are growing well, we have decided we don't like cabbage. The leeks, lambs lettuce and mazuna are doing well and so are the spinach and the parsnips.We haven't seen our neighbour Julie for some time, so when we do we will have to ask her how she fared this year.
We have a plan for next year - that is to grow fewer crops and to concentrate on making them as good as we can. To this end I am having a book for Christmas entitled The Vegetable Expert which was recommended to us by Julie. I will take this as my Bible and then my next end of year report won't have to read 'must try harder'

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Books for Christmas

The new trend is now firmly set to buy a cook book for Christmas that has been written by, or for any celebrity going. Are these books any good or are they turkeys? This year sees Jamie Oliver with two up there in the charts but Delia is still outselling him with her How to Cheat. Nigella is selling her old recipes under a new title (Nigella Christmas) and even Delia has jumped on the recession bandwagon with Frugal Food. But I am looking for something a little different so I have asked for a nostalgic look at cooking with Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by Jane Brocket and some fun with Maw Broon's Cookbook.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Chance of Snow? (Maybe)

Many years ago, there was a true Christmas story of a small girl called Virginia who wrote to the New York Times to ask if there really was a Santa Claus, because if the New York Times said there was, then it must be true. Such was the trust in newspapers.
This weekend, the long range weather forecast in the Sunday times says there is probably a chance of snow this week and this winter could be cold because we are on the wrong side of the Jet Stream or maybe not. How would Virginia fare with the probablys and the maybes of today's reporting?Would she believe in Santa or not?
I love snow and the anticipation of snow is wonderous. I can't explain it. Is it the thought of being marooned in a romantic hideaway, or the silence that comes alongside the beauty of it, or is it simply that on a snowy day, it gives you an excuse to do nothing at all? So should I write to the Sunday Times and ask will there be snow this Christmas? I don't think so after seeing their weather report this week with their ifs, buts and maybes. But if not them then who?
By the way, the New York Times did reply, they said,'Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus', but we knew that didn't we because we saw him yesterday.

In Search of Santa

With great trepidation we agreed to go out in the country again, at night. After our last escapade of getting really lost we thought 'it can't happen twice'. Wrong! when departure time came - thick fog. Now, as my brother had asked us and he goes to regions where it freezes your eyelashes, shoulder high snow in the middle of absolutely nowhere, we decided we definitely couldn't chicken out, fog or no fog. So off we went through the thick, thick fog and then the dark thick, thick fog, and this was just to get to his house. When we got there, we were truly welcomed by Yvonne and Terry who admitted they thought we wouldn't turn up as we never go out in the dark and over our local border not being the adventurous types. We weren't even late.
Our destination was a lovely little village called Elford, (also in the middle of nowhere) which was having their annual Victorian Christmas Market complete with brass band, and, of course, Santa. It was truly magical with mulled wine (of which we imbibed), Victorian dressed people, colourful stalls, pig roast and a wonderful crackling log fire.The hedgerows were lit with candles in jars to lead the way to their warm, welcoming church. The four of us had a lovely time and are looking forward to next year's event. It was such a cold night but Yvonne had prepared a warming hearty meal earlier for when we returned. Our journey home was in even thicker fog but we didn't care because we'd seen Santa !

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tailor Moves In

Plum and I are a bit frazzled . Every time we turn around, there is a cat under our feet. We have now decided to call the-cat-with-no-name Tailor because he has a large black tail at the end of a white body. He now comes to see us several times a day. Yesterday, we had to go out in search of Molly who had been missing for a couple of hours. When I found her, I locked her in and went to find Plum to let her know all was well . When she went upstairs, she thought she had gone dizzy because the bed in the spare room seemed to be moving. In fact, it was Tailor who had come in while we were out and plonked himself on the bed and started washing. Because he is white and the bed cover is very light, Plum didn't realise he was there. He had made himself so comfortable in our absence that it made us feel like absolute rats to throw him out in the rain. But, we needn't have worried, because Henry popped in just at the right moment and escorted him off what he regards as his premises. Fine Then we were pinned down by Henry who had come in out of the rain for a smackerel and a comfy lap. An hour later he also went home and left the house in peace to Molly. Phew!!!! Oh for a bit of frantic Christmas shopping it's much quieter!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Bears and I

I started a new quilt today, I am calling it the bears and I, it is a pure indulgence and will go with nothing in the house. I saw the material and I had a quilters moment when you just know you have to make that quilt. I love bears and so I started collecting fabric that would be woodsy with bears, flying geese,moose and log cabins and now after a year I have enough for it. So today I cut my first block which is of course the bear's paw pattern. Molly helped so it will probably take a little longer than I expected, I hope she will like quilting as much as Amy (our previous cat) who in 21 years never missed a stitch.

One Step Closer

The cat with no name is still coming everyday, twice usually, but today we got a clue. He has a new collar a diamante fancy one. Now I ask you did a man buy him that? I don't think so. Therefore he must belong to a woman. So far we know he lives up the road not down it, he is out all day so his owner works and now we know its a woman, shouldn't be long before we get another clue as to where he comes from and find out his name. BUT the diamante collar now suggests he could be a girl, which is why he takes no notice when we call him a good boy and ask him nicely to leave! Am I a dick or what?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


We have had a week full of cats this week. The problem with Molly being so friendly is that she brings home every cat she meets. She probably tells them 'Come back to my place, my Mommy and Daddy will give you some dinner' This has resulted in a stranger arriving who we call the-cat-with-no-name as, although he lives around here, we don't actually know who he belongs to or, indeed, what he is called. He is not a stray because he has a collar with a blue bell. None of our neighbours like this cat so, when they see him, they run him off. We won't do that however, so we will try and find out where he comes from. Unlike Henry, who once he has been fed goes away again, this cat hangs around so we don't feed him.We don't really want him wandering around our house in case it upsets Molly. It definitely upsets Henry who is frightened of this cat, so he stays here longer until he is sure that the other cat has gone away. This has now resulted in us not knowing whether we are coming or going or going and coming having to keep doors shut etc.Our, niece to be was here yesterday who has a real phobia against cats so we had to make sure that Molly was kept away from her and Henry turned up so we had to lock him out of the room as well. This resulted in a true British farce. Henry's Mom and Dad have gone away this weekend so we are going to their house to feed him and his brother Ferret. At least we got one of our hours back this weekend but not our sanity!

Monday, October 20, 2008

What a Weekend !

This weekend I became an Optimistic Articulate Person I had no expectations of the day but I have to say I had the best Birthday and Weekend anyone could have wished for. It was hectic, fun and full of surprises and I was spoiled rotten by my lovely husband, family and friends, the time and love they all put into it made me feel so special that I did'nt have time to think which birthday I was celebrating let alone sulk or fill in the form for my free bus pass. I am a t'wearly but not a cauliflower. Translated, that is too early to use the bus pass before nine thirty because the bus drivers say 'you're too early', and the cauliflower is apparently the tight white perm you have to have to get on the bus with. I personally have no intention of behaving gracefully as I haven't up to now. I may wear plaid and get a purple hat though.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cool Up North

Save Our Sheep

Next time you townies are out and about enjoying the countryside, no doubt through the window of a car, look out for upside down sheep. Apparently, your sheep is top heavy, especially when its coat is particularly wet.

This leads to a propensity to falling over and rolling into a position with its feet in the air, a state from which it is unable to recover. Unlike a beetle or insect, it has no wing shell or wings to open to assist recovery, nor can it arch its body.

So, it just lies there looking and, no doubt, feeling hopeless and forlorn. This is where you come in. Simply get out of your car, roll sheep onto side and it will scramble upright and, with a baa of thanks, amble on its way. You’ll feel great (when you’ve washed your hands), and a place in heaven will be assured.

Pip Pip,
Old Arthur

Lonely Hearts

At a time when loads of friends and family are celebrating ruby weddings and stuff, spare a thought for those without a squeeze. This week’s parish magazine has just the one request.

Tartless Wreck seeks Reckless Tart. Photo appreciated to : Box 100, The Fawdry Journal, Sutton Coldfield.

* * * * * *
And remember, a little of what you fancy does you in

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Phwoar What a Whopper!!

Yesterday, we went down the lottie as we hadn't been since last Saturday. Everything looked pretty ship shape but there was the leeks to weed, some raspberries and courgettes to pick and we pulled our first parsnip, which, although it wasn't very big, was straight with no forks. When we arrived, Plum found a pot with bluebell bulbs in for her from Julie which she has planted along with her daffodil bulbs. We planted some more sets of onions which Reg had previously given us. Speaking of Reg, we bumped into him and he kindly offered us a load of beetroot that he didn't need which we took as Yvonne loves beetroot.
Today, we bought some squash seeds to sow next year . When we went down the plot, Plum met Jackie who had grown squash this year. She showed us how they grow and how much space they take up. Then she gave Plum a little squash which we will take for Izzy as she loves it all mashed up. John Badger was there who had just won first prize for his giant pumkin (43 pounds) what a whopper! He graciously offered it to Plum who didn't want to take it off him but did, for Izzie's first Halloween pumkin. Whenever we go down the plot, we are always amazed at everybody's kindness. We hope that, when we have been doing the lottie a bit longer, we will be able to repay everyone in kind.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just Molly and Me...

...Molly and I had a jolly in this afternoon’ s autumn sunshine. We went to our very local pine trees and collected pine cones, we found loads. She really really had fun running in and out of the fallen branches and pe-poing me. Not sure if she understood what we were doing there though, but it didn't matter. This was getting ready for our own family thanksgiving harvestfest dinner which we have just invented. We have come up with the idea for a thanksgiving harvestfest dinner because we can’t all get together every Christmas and this can be our very own moveable feast.

The pine cones are for the decorations,when dried out and open, along with squash from Hazel’s allotment and corn from Sainsburys, they have fancy colours black,orange and yellow.

We also will use them for Christmas, but then we will paint them with dabs of white emulsion to look like snow and hey presto! natural tree ornaments. Sometimes I like to add another dab of glue and glitter, but you really can’t improve on nature.

Friday, October 3, 2008

New Beginnings...

Today I have started a new blog especially for recipes. These are going to be made up of tried and true old recipes we have collected in our family. This blog is especially for our niece who is just starting to cook for her new baby and will be adding, we hope, to our collection.
It can be found at

Monday, September 29, 2008

P. S. Elle C

P.S Just in case anyone wants to catch up with Elle C's week, she did sit on our laps all the time we were there on the last night and purred and nuzzled and loved us lots, but she still was really pleased to see her mom on Saturday. We hope she will still pop in and not forget us. Molly has her dish all to herself, much to her relief. You can take this sharing thing too far, says Molly.

A Jewel of a Day

Yesterday, was our Ruby Wedding Anniversary. We held it in the back room of the Bull in Shenstone where we gathered with all our family and our old friends (adopted family). When we arrived, Terry and Yvonne had dresssed the room just how we had always imagined we would want it for a romantic setting, with sparkling lights, red gingham tablecloths, pots of red and white flowers and tea lights in pretty little cut glasses flickering away. All chattering away together like a large Italian family,( but without the violin cases!!) over a splendid lunch.When we looked around, the generations spread from a great,great, aunt to our five month old niece, it was just perfect. We had finally got the cake there, duly decorated. We all went back to our place for champagne, cake and chocolate truffles and a rousing game of Articulate, a family favourite. It was a great day and we will really cherish the memory of all the effort and love that went into it on our behalf.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Rescuers

Not Walt Disney's Rescuers but the Hill's. Thanks to Julie for a saw and Hazel for cake decorating help we are now all set again. Needless to say I hope that I didn't need the saw for my cake, but after my first disaster who knows. We needed a saw to reinforce the shed where we have put up a tea time bell so we won't have to shout when tea is up and disturb everyone.It's much better than shouting, 'come and get it'. So remember girls you are welcome for a cuppa when the bell rings. Hazel I will check out the places you suggest and keep my fingers crossed, thanks.

Last, but definitely not least we would like to wish Kieran a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Thursday and hope he has a wonderful day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cat Sitting and Cake Making

This week, we are cat sitting for a neighbour, the plan being that we feed her in the morning and lunch time and sit with her for an hour at night. Saturday, the first day, she looked us up and down, and then went back to bed. Sunday, was a little better. she sat on our lap for two minutes, and watched us from the hall for a bit before she went off to bed obviously disgusted with our choice of viewing which was the so called 'variety' show, a more dire piece of tv I have yet to see. Monday, however, Plum had a nice visit with her in the afternoon, and in the evening she kept us and our friend Sarah company and was purring and sitting on the sofa washing and stayed with us for a good hour and a half before she went to bed. Today, we had a lovely surprise, while we were eating our lunch, she came to visit us!! She went and checked out Molly upstairs before going back home. Plum went with her to feed her and got lots of purrs and love in return. We are hoping that when we go round tonight, she will stay with us all the time we are there and not feel such a little lost soul.

As far as the cake making goes.. it isn't. We are making a big cake for Sunday, but our first attempt sunk without trace. The second one looks a lot better (couldn't have looked any worse) we thought all now will be plain sailing, we've got the cake, just the decorating to do. But what a nightmare it has turned out to be. There is nowhere including Hobbycraft to get cake decorations so we are now stuck with a bare cake, what are we going to do??? We have til Saturday to come up with a solution..... we definitely prefer cat sitting to cake making.