Sunday, 21 January 2018

Blame it on Ilona, Toby

The recent rain has made walking through fields and local tracks... unpleasant.    We didn't wade through that lot, we turned off to the left and took another course.

Today dawned very frosty, the earth as hard as iron, water like a stone - hurrah!   A great day for a good walk.

A lot of the water had already drained away, but there was plenty of ice remaining.

At the beginning of January, Ilona, Meanqueen issued her annual walking challenge.       For once, I decided to participate, take a proper note of just how far I walk each day, so I dug out my pedometer and got started.

I honestly thought that I would be doing most of the walking by myself, despite the fact that I have a dog (he has issues, plus he doesn't like getting his feet wet).         I decided that he needed to get fit almost as much as I do.    The big downside of that was the very idea of spending so much time just walking the same old field margins several times a day.   Far too boring.

So I have been pushing Toby, extending his comfort zone, sticking to quiet routes, field margins for sure, just different field margins.    His tail would go down and he definitely got slightly stressed but he trusted me and we made progress.

Three weeks on and he is able to travel further from our local fields and railway line than I ever thought he would be able. 

It helps to have a target - mine is 10000 steps a day - so that, plus having to report in each month on Ilona's blog, have spurred me on to give Toby the extra nudges that he needed.    No doubt there will be setbacks, but now he knows he can jump over the hurdles and head for new horizons.   He is happy and so am I.

So far this month we have clocked up just over 70 miles.   He is a fitter, happier dog.  Thank you Ilona.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Taking Comfort where You Can

Each winter it is the same, he resolves to stay strong and not succumb.   He fails.   Max catches a common cold and it turns into something nasty and long lasting.     He makes a terrible patient.  Enough said.

Besides medication, rest and tlc he sometimes needs comfort food.    The kind of foods which his mother used to make for him, like chicken soup.     I have learnt, over the years, that it is pointless making real chicken soup from scratch because what he craves is tinned cream of chicken soup.   Just like Mama used to dish up.  It does have to be a certain well known brand though.    Offer him at any other time and he does not like it, so it must be something to do with the comforting memories and emotion it evokes.

When he tires of that one, spaghetti on toast works wonders!   His mother was a lovely woman but cooking was not one of her interests, although she made absolutely the best Yorkshire Puddings ever, they never failed.

Image found on google

When I have been ill and want to eat something, but don't know what, I turn to poached eggs on toast, just like my mother used to make for us, failing that a slice of hot buttered toast will always hit the mark although these days I prefer it to be toasted on both sides, unlike when I was young and loved to have the soft squidgy side to contrast against the buttery crunchy side, for some reason.

Image found on google

So how about you?   What foods do you turn to?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

English Muffins with Vodka, Beer, Takeaways and Chocolate

I admit that I have been turning a blind eye to the accumulation, perhaps hoping that it would all just melt away, or that the  Good Fairy would come along and sort everything out.    By yesterday it was still there and I could ignore it no longer. 

Time to gather up a couple of sacks, my 'grabber' and some stout gloves and get to work.    The lane which runs along the side of our property and down to the railway bridge was in need of a good litter-picking session.

I probably cut a comic figure as I drag my sacks along behind me, filling them up with the detritus that others just cannot be bothered to take home with them but, well, someone has to do it, the council won't and it probably irritates me more than most people because I walk that lane every day.

Sweetie wrappers, chocolate wrappers, several takeaway containers and plastic food wrappers, several vodka bottles (and it is almost always vodka bottles rather than other spirits)  countless beer and fizzy drinks cans, rubber gloves, the odd dog poop bag.    By the end I had gathered up the best part of one and a half sacks of rubbish and recycling.

This is one tiny lane in a quiet part of the countryside, scary to think how much rubbish is abandoned with such thoughtlessness every day.     I once came across a whole wodge of lottery tickets - very exciting - of course I had to check them out, but no winners among them, darn it!

Feeling a bit under the weather today, aching bones, streaming eyes, hacking cough.   

Which makes it a good day to sit by the fireside and indulge in some homemade English Muffins.
I know they are inexpensive to buy, but homemade ones are so much nicer
and very easy to make.

I'll put the recipe up another day.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

It's Complicated...

I am a child of the 1950's, which makes me pretty old - although my granddaughter was keen to reassure me that she has got one teacher at school "who is even older than you, Gran".   I am of the generation which lived in a house with an outside loo, and was often totally delighted by the incredibly beautiful patterns which Jack Frost had left on the inside of my bedroom window, no central heating, having to obey the rule of Silence in the public library, a place of  books and no computers, and who could forget those small bottles of milk which we were expected to drink at morning playtime.

Different times, but I remember them fondly, no doubt my memories are enhanced by selective amnesia.  Everything changed anyway when I was seven years old, we moved to Hong Kong and the memories from there are all filmed in a totally different colour scheme and temperature. 

Our telephone number back  then was  Insert name of town-4223, the telephone was a huge black bakelite model, rather like this.    As I recall, I often used to sing "Nellie the Elephant" down it, though to whom, and why, is lost to the mists of time.

Image borrowed from telephonelines.  net

Nowadays, of course, most people have mobile phones, even I have a mobile phone, though mine is a granny phone, a pay-as-you-go, which I reluctantly agreed to have, just in case...    just in case I break my ankle again, or lose the dog, or suffer some catastrophe and need to call for help.  For peace of mind, my  husband's peace of mind, I should say.

I also have another mobile phone, a much smarter one, which used to belong to one of my sons, it doesn't have a sim card fitted, though it could,  I use it for the camera function - it fits nicely into my jeans pocket, unlike my nice but bulky cameras.      At Christmas I was given an ipad, which has an even better camera function, can't fit it into my pocket, alas!

Betwixt and between all of these devices, I somehow manage to cobble together my posts.   It gets complicated and I am aware that it could all be made much simpler if only I would agree to update and modernise, but I hate the way information gets shared or stored in the cloud, whisked off hither and thither. 

I most definitely do not want to be contactable at all times, or to be made aware of each and every message as it arrives, have my every move posted on Fb, etc.   Besides, that would mean taking my specs so that I could read what was on the screen, yet more stuff to carry about.

On the plus side, by making use of all these devices, and having to learn how to transfer information from phones and computers of assorted makes and generations, I reckon I am giving my brain a great fitness and agility session.

ps Lest you think I am a complete dinosaur let me assure that I once even took a 'selfie' then nearly collapsed on the spot when I viewed it and saw my late 92 year old aunt looking back at me, every wrinkle deeply etched in her face, deep bags under her tired eyes and when did her hair get to be that white and her teeth so, well, yellow?   Hit the delete button quickly, trouble is, somehow that file got shared to my brain and it seems to be protected, delete doesn't work.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Nooooo... You can't Make Me

This poor dog of mine really doesn't like to get his feet wet.  He flung himself backwards and dug his heels in, tail lowered and between his legs.   
A passerby could have been forgiven for thinking that I was being mean to him.
In his opinion I was being very cruel, after all, I know that he doesn't like water, don't I?
The local fields, which we normally walk, are wet, wet, wet.   The rain has come down and the local clay soil is very slippery and awash with muddy water.
I have a tendency to go base over apex in such conditions, so for both our sakes,
I was trying to be kind by walking him along our quiet lane to a much drier, local bridle path on slightly higher ground.
A short walk down to the watermill, up the hill and branch off to the right
along a green bridle lane.

We finally made it this far, perhaps two or three hundred yards, it was hard work.      I stopped and had a chat to the mill owner, and a local farmer.       They were highly amused at the sight of me having to coax and cajole a dog to take a walk, their grins said it all.    I'm used to it, I have been coaxing and encouraging Toby dog for over four years now.   It is just as well that I am patient.

The mill itself looks as though it is sitting in a huge pond of weak tea and the water is very high, much to the delight of the wildfowl.

Soggy, boggy and gloomy.   Can't blame Toby for being less than enthusiastic really. 

I noticed there is a lot of rubbish strewn along the road between the railway bridge and the turn off to the watermill.   I intended to go back with my little grabber gadget and a couple of bags - one for recycling, the other for rubbish, but the heavens opened and I decided to save that little treat for another day.   Lucky me.

Instead I went to visit a couple of local friends and this little chap, Bill.

Other than that, I did a little baking ready for when my grandchildren come back from school (we have them for a couple of hours, until their parents come home), tried to do my best Florence Nightingale nursing for my husband, he's got bronchitis again, and that pretty much sums up my day in soggy Lincolnshire.

It rained heavily through the night.

I expect another less than sparkling day.   Thank goodness for books and a warm fireside.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Between the Covers

I believe that what goes on between the covers is much more important than the covers themselves.   That being said, I do enjoy playing about with them, so some of my instagram posts were my version of some recipe book covers.

None of these were carefully planned, I am far too disorganised for that.

Usually I would be trawling through my books, looking for a new way to tickle our tastebuds, or to use up a glut of fruit, when my eye would be drawn to an image like this one.   A quick glance at the fruit bowl and the dresser and I was off, playing.

I would dash around, gather an armful of appropriate props, and away I'd go.   Propping things up and trying to capture the spirit of the original cover.    It was fun and now that I am retired I feel free to play such silly games, alongside all of the things which have to be done.

This little vintage RNLI book is probably the simplest, and yet it took longer than all of the others to set up. 

It was fun.

For all that I love a good book cover, it is what is written inside which matters most.   I have a slowly growing collection of old/very old/relatively modern cookery books.   

Some are big and glossy, others are tiny, tatty, lack covers or illustrations.   It is this latter group which I find to be the most interesting.     They are mainly from the very early 1900's, through to about 1950's and have few illustrations, if any.  They are often printed on poor quality paper and are ragged, well thumbed, splashed, fragile and show their age and it is something of a minor miracle that they survived long enough for me to get my hands on them.

Many of the coverless ones contain recipes of the kind which call for sheep's feet, calves heads, or 'six pennyworth of meat from the butcher'.   Cake and biscuit recipes require only a short list of ingredients - in either small amounts or enormous quantities, depending upon the era and to whom the book was directed.

Others have been written by 'ladies', directed at households who couldn't afford a large number of staff and give the occasional suggestion for a kitchen supper, for cook's night off.

They are packed with social history.   More of this another time.