Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year Everyone from Bri, Plum & Molly

Close Encounters

Molly came rushing into the kitchen this morning and when I looked up, a huge shadow crossed the kitchen window. I thought, now what? What now indeed, it was a flock of at least ten really huge birds circling our little pear tree. I thought it can't be swans and it wasn't. Looking up they were white but had black tipped wings. They had great big yellow hooked beaks and looked menacing. They circled for a good ten minutes and it seemed as if Molly and I were suspended in a snowglobe. It was a weird experience and I was glad Molly had the good sense to be worried and come in. They were hungry for sure. After sorting through my bird books I discovered they were herring gulls, a bit far from home I think. I really hope so, I wouldn't want them at my bird table every day if ever.

Well Preserved

On the bleakest morning of winter so far we had a summer treat from our allotment. Yesterday, for breakfast, I opened a jar of our strawberry jam for our croissants. When I closed my eyes I could smell and taste summer. I knew then that I will never quit wanting to grow fruit and veg. We still have leeks to make into soup and to go in chicken pot pie, swedes to go in our mash with sausages, parsnips to coat with maple syrup and roast, but best of all a cupboard filled with rhubarb and ginger jam for our steamed puds, raspberry jam to go on anything, strawberry for croissants and scones and beetroot chutney for well, I'm not quite sure yet. However, it is wonderful to know it's there and we grew it. I know on cold horrible weather days the time for planting seems so far off, but the speed last year went I'm sure it will be right round the corner. Bri's plan for next year will be entirely new to us and will make it all fresh again. I can't wait...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Well then...

...another Christmas Day over and another collection of happy memories. For us a treasured one will certainly be seeing our great-niece who is almost two, dressed up in her fairy costume complete with golden wings and twirling around so everyone could see them. Memories don't get better than that, except that we were all together with our family and Terry and Yvonne had done the cooking (It was wonderful). We hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas Day as much as us. Having done the turkey route and all the trimmings, I have to say we are looking forward to the rum soaked Christmas cake we have been feeding since the end of October. Yes, it should go nice with our coffee each morning. Talking about coffees, our biggest Christmas disappointment this year was, after having walked on the ice to get to Costa's or Starbucks for an Egg Nog Latte and finding they were sold out. Not to be miseries, and to get into the festive mood, we tried the Gingerbread one and we honestly couldn't tell the difference between that and a regular old plain one. What a let down! We won't fall for that one again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Sad Demise or Two

Now call us crazy, most people do, but to get upset about losing your thirty year old beloved vacuum is probably on the list of insane. But, I have to say our loyal old hoover junior has been just wonderful over the years and just the right size for me at four foot eleven oh all right, four foot ten. To replace it has been a nightmare; everything is just so heavy and tall. Eventually, I have had to compromise and say O.K. to a wind blowing panasonic it will do as, long as I remember to dust afterwards. It was making it's debut this morning, as Monday's is mucking out day for me and I was thinking maybe this isn't so bad, when tragedy struck.... Ralph got sucked up!!! Who is Ralph? Ralph is Molly's peanut, she picked him out of a whole bowlful of peanuts the day she arrived. She just popped out of the carrying basket Lynn (Team Rescue) had brought her in, she gave us all a kiss and headed straight for the peanut bowl and has been in love with Ralph ever since. How do I tell her? Perhaps get another one quick just like my vacuum - BUT replacements are never the same.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hickory Dickory Dock...

the cat ran up the clock.... Last night we were safely tucked up in bed with our books and cuppas when I thought I heard the keys on the hall table jingle. Or being this time of the year, I thought I'd watched one Christmas movie too many already and was hearing sleigh bells. No, when I came down this morning I found our new heart shaped pottery clock's delicate fingers mangled. Mistaken for one of those there bugs from Sunday I suppose. Now who do you think could have done it ? Yes you've guessed our ' dear Molly'. This week we reckon we have had at least a hundred pounds worth of damage from all our furry friends. I ask you are they worth it? To us they are... But let's hope this is the end of the carnage, before we have to file for bankruptcy. Now where's the glue and pliers.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gold Fever

Yesterday, our latest wedding certificate (1897) arrived for my great grandparents. I found out that my great, great grandfather's occupation was a gold miner. I am now wondering was he one of the 49ers? Was it in Australia?, Klondike? California? or Wales?, was he a claim staker or claim jumper? All to be revealed now I have some more dates and names to work with. I gather he never found any us not being rich like. This is more like it, better than an insurance salesman!

Civilization restored..well almost

At last we have furniture back! I really thought we would never see it again as the days have crept past and I couldn't get him on the phone. But it has returned, brand new and a bit stiff; needs breaking in now, just like new slippers. With everything back in its place - we hate change - all is comfy cosy and we thought how peaceful and relaxing ... until there's a hell of a clatter in the kitchen and two huge cats fighting, neither of them ours. My favourite Royal Worcester mug (collectors item) smashed to smithereens by Ferret and Toby who had finally met up after weeks of us making them miss each other. They must have crept in through the cat flap one at a time whilst Molly was out and while we were admiring our new furniture. I am now looking on the Net for a replacement of my Art Deco Sails in the Sunset Royal Worcester mug, not the later conical shaped ones, if there is one left anywhere. I would settle for Castles in the Air instead if I could find one of those. Meanwhile, I said to Molly 'you can come upstairs with me to look for a mug'. She immediately started looking up the wall for bugs not mugs and made me laugh when I felt really fed up. It was a tonic.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I think I am beginning to believe in Karma. This morning, I went out to do a good turn and by sheer 'karma' found my mini photo Christmas albums. Oh what joy. I am now set up to do my parcel packing and table decorating. Hope it comes out as I am expecting or all that shoe leather and time will have been wasted. But never the good deeds.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Got 'em!

They say seek and ye shall find. We went to our favourite city of Lichfield this morning, and found the elusive candy canes almost straight away in Hawkins Bazaar, who'd have thought it? Then, across the road in The Works, boxes of 'em at 99p a box so I am well stocked, and well pleased. You'd think there was a war on... now for the miniature photo albums....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where, Oh Where?

Having no furniture is one thing, we are adapting. But not being able to buy a few traditional Christmas items is quite another. Thinking we had better try and do something towards Christmas whilst we can't sit down anywhere, we have worn ourselves to a frazzle over the silliest things. For instance, I took it in my head that I would like candy canes for Christmas tree decoration and for putting on our parcels as the Americans do. Every year since I can remember, BHS have sold 12 in a box for £1.99 or thereabouts. This year, there is not one in sight in BHS, M&S, House of Fraser, garden centres, supermarkets, Cosco or sweetie shops, not one bl...dy Christmas candy cane. Where are they? So, I thought, I'll try another idea, I will look for very small Christmas photo albums. Not a lot to ask for, WHSmith, the biggest stationers we know, sent me to Poundland, they also sent me there for bookmarks which no one has either. This is a Catch 22 situation. The shops tell you they don't stock it because no one buys it, and no one buys it because they dont stock it. Is it me, or them? Bring back Woollies, all is forgiven! Help....

A Long Days Fortnight!

How your life can change so easily. We have only had no furniture for two weeks, but, in this fortnight, our leisure time has changed dramatically. We have found that we have nowhere to sit together to blog, do our family tree, Christmas shop on line, e-mail friends, quilt, read, make music, watch a good old movie or entertain friends and family. All these things we have obviously taken for granted and boy, do we miss them when they are taken away. Our furniture is being reupholstered. They took it all in one go and have now decided that it will take longer than they told us before we will get it back. A lesson to be learned here is to always appreciate the things you do day by day and never take anything for granted whether it be small or large as you do not realise how much they make up your lives until they are gone. You may wonder where we are writing this but we have found an old deck chair as Molly has taken the best seat in the house loaned to us by Terry and Yvonne as they took pity on us. The other lesson we have learnt is to never take anyone's word, but to always get it in writing. The days when a gentlemen's word was his bond have truly passed. We can now take pity on Terry and Yvonne who have ripped up their kitchen and hall floors awaiting their new one and have just been told that the man is starting the job at least half a day late. Good luck with that then!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Enchanted Places

It's no secret that my brother and I are tree huggers. When autumn arrives, each of us goes around picking up the reddest, goldest leaves we can find, I press them in books or my flower press. I don't know what Terry does with his. We try to find tree places that have the best displays to ooooh and ahhh over. This weekend, Bri and I went to Shugborough, nothing grand there, but today on our own doorstep, in Sutton Park I found an enchanted spot in the woods by Henry VIII's old hunting Lodge at Bracebridge. I also found the reddest holly berries by the side of Blackroot Pool. Our Park has so many hidden gems in autumn and, in winter, jewels of a different kind, frosty spider's webs, watching the ducks skate on the frozen ponds in fact, lots to look forward to.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

'and there would, she knew, be crumpets'...

this is a quote from Jan Struther's Mrs Miniver, it is about her return home after the summer has finished and winter is arriving. I love this book, it is almost poetry in her wonderful descriptions of daily life in the late 1930's. On turn - the - clocks - back -Sunday I appreciate it even more and always read the bit about tea. It is cosy comfort on a page.
Last week was my birthday and I had a quilting frame, which I absolutely love, It will be a joy this winter seeing my almost finished Bear Paw quilt in the frame waiting for me when I come home to crumpets for tea after toiling down the plot , muck spreading or cleaning out the shed, or harvesting the last squash, leek, swede, parsnip or collecting my well dried out onions. Ooooh! how I love long evenings with things to do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plum's Little Hooligans

Hooligans come in all shapes and sizes and mine are no different. We had Molly two years last week so I decided to take a photo for posterity, a nice one I thought, one that shows her true nature I thought. Well did I get a surprise when I looked more closely. There she was sticking her tongue out at me as she leaned over the edge of next door's trellis. Was this a coincidence or was it the real Molly? I will never know. The other little hooligans that came in from the cold was twelve little one meal sized pumpkins from our plot. I guess they are called hooligans because, although the seed packet says they are mini pumpkins the vine itself sprawls all over the place and I couldn't control it... Now to cook these little gems you just take the top off, scoop out the seeds, pop 'em in the microwave for four mins and then fill the centre with butter, cheese and bacon bits, just like a jacket potato, but apparently they taste nutty. I will let you know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rock On!!

Yesterday, when we went to the plot to do some tidying up and check on our mini pumpkins and squash, I had a nice surprise as Julie (second best in Bham) had kindly brought me some pink rock back from her trip to Barmouth. She has even offered to do this on a regular basis from the famous Barmouth Rock shop (pictured) am I looking forward to that ..thanks Julie, rock on!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bri's New Adventure

Bri, aka Ramblin' Robbo, has decided that listening to, reading about and playing blues is not enough so he is on a quest to change everyone's mind about blues music being sad and miserable. I have to say after living with it since I was eleven and hating it, even I have become a convert up to a point. I really like country blues. I hope you will give his new site a go, it may be just up your street and you didn't know!!! There is a link to his new blog in our blog list.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Who Stole September?

I can't believe, as I am sitting here with the smell of Christmas wafting through the warm house, that we are already into October. It was so cold yesterday, that we decided to put the central heating on early and start our Christmas cake which is cooking as I write, so it will be well fed by December, which, at this rate, won't be long.
I was still waiting for an Indian Summer when all the signs say it is well and truly Autumn, such as the rust coloured carpet of leaves covering the pavements, the squirrels collecting and burying conkers everywhere followed by the magpies who are busily digging them up again. Our resident hedgehog is getting fatter by the day ready for his long nap and the low flying geese who have made their long journey, plus our dear Molly, who we have had two years this week, asking for the fire to be switched on. I want to know why the months are suddenly passing a lot faster - are there still thirty days in September?
Where's my camera, I don't want to miss October!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Reminder Days

There are certain days that just shout out to remind you of a certain time or place and certain things that go with those days. For me, it is a day like today; overcast, still and quiet. It shouts TOFFEE APPLES. When I came out of school on an October or November afternoon, there used to be an old man selling toffee apples at the gates and for an old three pence he would sell me a wonderful dark golden crack toffee apple. I saved my crisp money for this treat and it was always a grey day. These days are known to me and my family now as 'Toffee Apple Days'. I love 'em toffee apples and quiet, still, grey days such happy memories come to mind like soon to be bonfire night with woodsmoke filling the air...

Now there are other treats that provoke memories too, such as Butterkist. This always reminds me of snowy mornings walking with my Mom, snow up to my knees, to the nearest shop to buy me a bag of the lovely crispy sweet candy. We never walked to get any at any other time. I think it was an excuse to go out in the snow. I love snow and still buy Butterkist but I can't be trusted with a big bag...

Now Bri, on the other hand, can't be trusted with Pink Rock. He begs on his cell phone and pleads with anyone packing a case going away to any seaside town in England, preferably going Oop North as this is the hottest, to bring him back a stick - a big stick mind, not a tiddly one and it has to be pink. He doesn't seem to have memories to go with it he just loves the stuff. When he text Yvonne to say R O C K spells rock, he got a text back saying T E E T H spells teeth, our dentist can't believe his luck that he still has almost all of his teeth.

Hot doughnuts, lovingly called by us 'duffnuts' always remind us of quilt fairs as we never leave without having a hot doughnut drenched in sugar and cinnamon. This is a real treat for both of us...

I wonder how many people have these special days...

Tomorrow, according to the weather forecast is going to be a right 'Winnie the Pooh! ( a blustery day)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Italian Job

We got a surprise call on Friday night from Terry & Yvonne who said 'Get dressed up Italian style we are going to cook you an authentic Italian meal for your anniversary'. This sounded lovely. So the next evening, off we went all dressed up like a mafioso and his moll not knowing what to expect. We took our Italian phrase book with us from our Italian lessons and some cantuccini. All that was missing was a violin case.
We arrived to a 'bueno serra' and the dining room given over to red and white gingham cloth and little candle holders, Dino on the hi fi and the garden with twinkly lights - it was the perfect Italian atmosphere. The meal was out of Gino Decampo's book and started with a dip followed by a tagliatelle with a red wine beef ragu with little tiny peas. It was delicious. It was accompanied by cheesy focaccia and followed by a real raspberry polenta cake with a raspberry coulis. We had lots of fun and was a thoughtful anniversary present and very much appreciated, and cooked great.
This started our anniversary weekend with a bang and, Monday, we decided to go to Amerton Farm for a wander round and pick up some home made bread and a look at their crafts. Then we carried on down the road to the small village of Salt, which originates from the Saxon word 'Selte' which means salt pit or salt works where we had lunch at The Holly Bush. This pub is the second oldest licensed pub in England. Pubs first got their licenses in 1670 under the reign of Charles ll but this hostelry has been there since 1190 (it is mentioned in the Domesday Book) as it was a stage coach stopping place on the highway from London to Liverpool which is now the A51. They serve the biggest onion rings we have ever seen and a delicious home made cheese cake. It was a different and interesting weekend trip and we really enjoyed it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There's a Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose!

Or a series of unfortunate coincidences...Molly was incredibly quiet yesterday afternoon and sat on top of the radiator in the hall. We took no notice for about an hour and then began to worry. Mainly because Molly never sits anywhere for longer than ten minutes at a time and she is very rarely in of an afternoon. What was up? I'll tell you what was up - a mouse, a tiny mouse which eventually ran from under the radiator and up our curtains. Hell, what's a person to do? Scream? Run? Panic? yes, we did all of these things before forming a plan to rescue him from the Big Bad Pussy Cat. It was a real Tom and Jerry afternoon which ended up in a real Laurel and Hardy evening.
We managed to drape the curtain through the window and force the poor shell shocked mouse outside. We heard him plop onto the bushes and hoped he made a full recovery. Molly meanwhile was locked out and watched through the glass door with utter horror as he went free.

It didn't end there though and, unless you believe in coincidences, you are never going to get a grip on this...

We are cat sitting this week for Elle C (Little Mama), and we went to sit for an hour with her to calm ourselves down and watch Masterchef with a nice cuppa. Now ,as we closed our neighbours curtains, a mouse ran down them , a little tiny mouse!!!! Oh my, this was too much to take in we couldn't believe it - wouldn't believe it - how? - did we bring it with us? - had Molly brought one round to Elle C? - did we bring one round to our house from Elle C's earlier ? We will never know but, we did chase it around the house a lot, opened the back door for it to run out when it made it to the kitchen, but, in the end, totally disappeared somewhere and we spent the evening with our feet up. Elle C, meanwhile, took no part in any of this and only wanted a cuddle from two nervous wrecks. Oh, well, fiddle dee dee, tomorrow is another day. I suppose the mouse will have the last laugh!!!

Breakfast at Blackroot

Who needs Breakfast at Tiffany's when, right on our doorstep, we have the Blackroot Bistro set in the heart of our park.

We woke up to the most beautiful Indian Summer's morning, and decided not to waste it but go and have a full English brekkie with scenery, so we did.

The views were beautiful, and so was breakfast.

We may do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lost and Found

Autumn Days full of mist and mellow fruitfulness or something, or ... well, I have found two brand new shiny conkers fresh from the big chestnut tree this morning and it has made me go all poetic. Two 'V's of geese just went over practising their flight and calling - I just love that sound, it is my very favourite. It says " time to quilt, time to enjoy the fire glow, time to make soups, and crunch leaves." All the things I love start coming with Autumn so bring on those conker contests, let's feed those birds, collect pine cones and I'm off to look for red toadstools with white spots.
P.S The damsons have arrived from Sarah's orchard, thousands of 'em... and the postie has just delivered our first Christmas movie this year ready to put away for chilly afternoons. What a great day!
The Saving of the Green - We Lost and We Won!
Some might say what's in a name? We say lots, we called ourselves, Terry, Yvonne, Sarah, Bri and me The Village Idiots, and we were. Next quiz night we are going to be oh, I don't know, we'll think of something brilliant. It should be a night to have fun as well as save the village green from builders and it was fun. Even though we didn't win the quiz, we did have THREE WINS on the raffle. Champagne for Sarah, hair voucher for Yvonne (Bri didn't think he could use it) and chocs for Bri - Now that was embarrassing but not enough to stop them getting their photos in the local paper and us all promising next time to try harder and, as Yvonne wrote on our score paper - See Me!

Found...Bri's great granny has been found and here's a turn up, we think she comes from the Channel Islands. She is still under investigation but the evidence (the marriage certificate arrived today, her name was Lizzie Lefebvre) is pointing that way!
Also found was Bea and Bobby, the cat and kitten who went missing yesterday and the neighbours all came out to find them. Bea was in the sub-station (I remember Molly doing that), and Bobby, the kitten, had just plain wandered off into the nearest bushes. It took all day to find them and part of the night - they were lucky this time...