Saturday 29 September 2018

Happy Dance!

The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and I have the rest of the day to myself - apart from seeing to the animals, walking the dog again, and cooking a meal later.    Freedom!   Time to play.

On my first dog walk of the day I was fortunate enough to come across two muntjac deer, they lifted their heads to watch me, as I stood still and watched them.   Beautiful creatures.  Then they silently melted into the Wild Wood.   Toby, engrossed in getting the most of some delicious scent up his nose, wasn't aware of their presence at all.

As I turned for home I could hear voices - voices which turned out to be a large flock of geese.    They flew in a spectacular formation but very different from the ones I have seen in the last couple of weeks.

By the time I had found my camera/phone, the formation had altered a little, but here are the remnants, it originally looked like the outline of a bird, even down to body, beak and tail.

All of the above are good reasons to be happy, but what has made me even happier is the print out from the files which gave me so much trouble.    The printer has sent a new and updated copy of Miss Read's booklet, front page adjusted and now properly printed.     Relief!   It looks good.

I can forgive him for all the angst, just about.   I still wish he would update his software though!

I need to proof read it, then I will drop it off for Miss Read to have a read.    Next job will be to decide how many copies will be required and get the money from the Parish Council, who are funding it.

It would never make the best-seller rankings, but as a booklet composed from notes jotted down at a series of informal meetings in the village hall, it does the job.    Simply her recollections of life in the villages during 1930's to the 1960's.   Only of interest to locals, but memories of the area which could have been lost forever.

Now I must head off and play around with my fabrics and sequins.   There is a bazaar on in few weeks time and I need some bits for the stall.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday 26 September 2018


I have been somewhat distracted for the last couple of weeks, my time and attention almost wholly taken up with trying to achieve what I have now discovered to be the impossible.      Without going into too much detail - Lincolnshire is a large county, but word of mouth travels fast - I have been led a merry dance.    Not deliberately, not with any malice aforethought, but even so, I have wasted many, many hours of computer work and endless hours of thought and worry on something which was presented as being my problem, when in fact it was not.


My computer programmes are up to date, modern versions, so not necessarily entirely compatible with decade and a half out of date versions...     

This wouldn't matter if it didn't involve six thousand words and thirty five photographs, a lot of work.     Hours and hours of work, especially when you begin everything from scratch again, then spend hours searching for something which (doesn't exist)  may be corrupting that file. 

Frustration, exhaustion, worry. 

It drains energy, zaps the life-force.

This is how I feel at the moment.

Normal service will be resumed soon.   I just need to recharge my batteries!

Saturday 22 September 2018

Windfalls and Misfortunes

The wind has been blowing hard, causing apples, pears and quince to rain down.       The quince are not quite ripe yet, but that didn't stop me from baking with them. 

We planted two quince trees last year, one dropped its fruit when they were very small, but the other one has about two dozen quince still attached, despite the gales and blustery winds.    I hope they will have the chance to ripen a bit more before I have to harvest them.   I have lots of recipes lined up which I hope to try out.

The fig tree has been very fruitful over the last month or so and the grapevine has produced several pounds of wonderfully flavoured grapes.    The hot summer certainly worked some magic.

I made a very simple windfall tart with the quinces, some apples, a pear and a bunch of the grapes.       I poached the quince in water, drained it and mixed it with the apples, grapes, and pear, added some chopped walnuts, soft dark brown sugar, a few dabs of butter and some cinnamon, then put the whole lot into a tart tin which I had lined and part baked beforehand.

I normally do a bit more baking wizardry than that, but I was feeling tired lazy exhausted!

It was delicious.      My husband likes any pudding with gallons of custard, I preferred mine just as it came.   
Much of my attention has been taken up with working on a 'new' version of my fairies, I think I am getting there.   I could make them the old way, but that would be too easy! 

Today has begun in an 'interesting' way.    Before six o'clock this morning I had already discovered that the milk in the jug was sour - after I had poured it into my first coffee of the day.       I made a fresh one, put it on the side table, saw that the dog's bed was untidy and began to straighten it only for my hand to encounter something disgusting and very smelly - a deposit left there by Sparky, the cat.   She has a naughty habit of doing that occasionally, always choosing to leave a deposit on the dog's bed, presumably so that he gets the blame!

I hope the day improves... 

Tuesday 18 September 2018

What £20,000 Can Buy You...

A couple of weekends ago, I toured six churches.     It was Church Heritage weekend.      Here in Lincolnshire we have hundreds of country churches, some small, others large, many are loved, but there are some neglected ones.

This church had been on my 'To Visit' list for a long time, several years, in fact.    It wasn't listed on the heritage trail, but it was only about a mile away from two others which I intended to see, so I added it on.

It is built in a tiny medieval village, medieval in layout, that is, the tiny bit is obvious when I tell you that the population of the village is just 35.          The church is just off the village green, in a slightly elevated position.       From a distance it didn't look too bad, but as I walked towards it, I could see that the lead was missing from the church roof, definitely not a good sign. 

It still looked pretty wonderful, though.   The colour of the stone, the repairs, the whole look of the church appealed to me. 

I fought my way through the nettles and long grass only to find that the door was locked and that there was a 'Police Aware' sign on the board.     It seems that the lead has been stolen more than once.

From what I have read, it seems as though the lead may have been stolen as far back as 2011.

Crumbling old stone, clambering invasive plants, no lead on the roof, one can only imagine the state of the interior.       Once home, I started doing some internet searches, trying to find out why this beautiful 13th century church is so neglected.

Once well loved, supported by a fairly wealthy family, the church simply fell out of use because of the dwindling congregation versus the cost of upkeep, it was eventually declared redundant.       Decay set in, exacerbated when the lead was stolen off the roof. 

Centuries of patching the place up, keeping it going, old red bricks and yellow stone, emergency sheeting battened down on the roof and doing little to stop the water pouring in the big hole which was a bit further up on the roof.

A beautiful little village church.

I had mixed feelings when I read that it had been up for sale, for years.   Twenty thousand pounds was the price, it was stated that it was to be used for running a small business, or for community purposes.      Ha!  was my reaction.     I read a few more reports, found that it was sold, subject to contract and that permission had been sought to change the purchase conditions and planning permission. 

The purchaser, or their architect,  has got a London agent on board and has now got permission to turn this listed church into a home.   They originally planned to make it into a three bedroom house, with the bedrooms in the church tower, but the difficulties of access for the third bedroom now means that it will become a two bedroom house.

Off road parking will be carved into the slightly elevated grounds.     If anyone wants access to the graves and outdoor monuments they will have to write for permission.    Some of the monuments indoors will be kept, no mention of what they will do with the rest - sell them, presumably.

I am glad I took the opportunity to have a look around, but almost wish that I hadn't, I feel so incensed at it all - the theft, the lack of maintenance, the sleight of hand with permissions, etc, all mixed in with relief that the building will be saved.

Someone, with money, is going to get a beautiful home. 

A building saved, but a treasure lost.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Three Beautiful Women.

Birthday wishes to:

This lovely woman, who is my older son's wife.     
Happy Birthday, I***!  

This lovely woman is my younger son's wife. 
Happy Birthday, Ming Ming!

I love this photograph, although I think she would be a bit grumpy
that I chose to show it - we had just come home from the beach
so her hair had gone into tight curls.
I never forget their birthdays
because it is engraved in my heart,
today would also have been my Mother's 90th birthday.

I miss you, Mum.


I wonder what the odds were that both my DiL should share the same birthday as my mother.

No doubt there is some mathematical formula to work it out!

Thursday 13 September 2018

Dandelion Roots and a Wedding Dress

Quite a few years ago I splashed out £5 on a second hand wedding dress.    I  knew that one day it would come in handy and so it has.    The dress was one of those big full white things, the glory of this one being that it was made in silk!    Yards and yards of it, all in very good condition, just very dated in style.

Last week I found these old books in a charity shop, 50p each.     Three of them are very good, packed with useful hints, tips, and recipes.

Tui Flower was a New Zealander, sometimes described as 'New Zealand's Julia Child'.

The Kitchen Garden Cook Book is also excellent, not least for the sections on Flowers, Herbs and Household Tips.

One recipe which quicly got my attention was Dandelion Root Dye, which is described as being of gypsy origin. 

If there is one thing which I now how to grow well, it is Dandelions.   We have lots of them, stout and strong, they pop up everywhere, possibly because of the popularity of the Dandelion Clock game, in certain quarters.

I dug up a heap of roots, scrubbed them clean and, following the directions, soaked them overnight.  The predicted colour was magenta, however the colour I got was not so deep and rich.    It worked well on the silk and came out a very pretty lavender colour.       Perhaps it is a bit late in the season, or maybe I simply hadn't got enough roots out of the ground.   

Once begun it was difficult to stop.      I remembered my stored onion skins and the avocado stone and skin which I had saved and decided to have  a little fun.

You can see some of the results in the top photograph, I am really pleased with the colours.

As I was cutting and ripping sections, I couldn't help wondering whether the dress was ever worn, if it was, are they still together, etc, etc. 

I doubt for an instant that the bride would ever imagine that sections of her old dress are going to become angels/fairies for a bazaar, once I can get into sewing mode!

ps   Apologies for the missing 'K's' in this post, the key eeps sticking!

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Village Hall Sprouts

Yesterday afternoon the village hall was buzzing with music and conversation.    
It was the monthly get together of some of the village elders.   
One of our number had brought along heaps of music books,
 a long sheet of questions
 a mountain of small prizes.

She treated us to an hour and a half of fun, with songs and music which she had carefully selected.  There were songs from the days of the music halls, with early musicals right the way through to more recent hits. 
She had thoughtfully provided us with cushions, 
pens and paper, ready to note down our answers.     
 Easy to tell that she is a retired teacher!   

 I sneaked a couple of quick photographs, here you can see a retired business man - a wonderful local historian, a retired teacher, a retired farmer, Miss Read, retired teacher,
 and the wife of the village 'Squire'.  

It was tea break time, 
with an excellent cake provided by Miss Read.

While we were relaxing, we also took the opportunity to discuss the feasibility of holding a Christmas Bazaar this year.     Two of our main sponsors have decided to move away from the village, we will miss them but, after discussion, we decided that we are still going to make it happen!        

As for the tin of Brussels Sprouts, that came out as a booby prize in the quiz.      

The tin is several years out of date, it has been lurking at the back of someone's pantry for about four years now -  it is to be wrapped and used as a 'guess-what-is-in-the-parcel' type of game. 
Games like that are always popular so it will raise a few pounds.

There will be bric a brac, a huge tombola stall, books, games and the usual raffle and refreshments.

We have two and a half months to work it all out, at least there will be a team of silver-tops working hard to make it happen.     

We'll show those young ones!

(Apologies for the slow replies and lack of blog visits.   I am feeling very tired at the moment, swimming through treacle is what life feels like at the moment,
 energy levels are low, but it will pass.)

Sunday 9 September 2018

New Zealand Bound!

Just waved goodbye to the Rayburn;  he will shortly be on his way to New Zealand. 
Who would have thought it!

New Zealand was somewhere I always fancied visiting.
I wonder whether he will remember to send me a postcard...


Saturday 8 September 2018

Always Moving On

From birth until the age of seven, I lived in the same house, played with the same friends and had one set of grandparents living right next door.       Life was anchored and safe, I knew my neighbourhood, the school, my friends, my place.   

One day  we children were told that we would be going to live somewhere else, we would be flying on an aeroplane and living in a very hot country, leaving Grandma and Grandad behind, and my cat, Sooty.         One day Sooty was there, then the next day he wasn't.    I was told he had wandered off and found a new home, I still have my doubt about the truth of that!

There was a flurry of activity, lots of new clothes and sandals bought, packing cases filled and the purchase of several B.O.A.C. cabin bags.    We were on our way to Hong Kong, where we would spend the next few years.   In those days the flight took 3 days, with two overnight stops. 

A few years passed, we came back to England.     We moved every two or three years, Lincolnshire was followed by Cheshire, then the Western Isles, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk and back to Lincolnshire.

New places meant new school, new uniform, new curriculum, being the new girl.  Always the new girl.   I hated school.

I met my Geordie husband in Lincolnshire, we married, moved up to Newcastle, then down to Hampshire, back to Lincolnshire, followed by a few years in Dubai, then more time in Abu Dhabi.   I returned to Lincolnshire so that my children could go through their senior school years without being uprooted or always feeling the odd one out.

Back in Lincolnshire, we bought a house just a few hundred yards from the beach.   We lived there until our three children had been through university and were beginning their own travels - Israel, Canada, China, and Taiwan.   Then we moved into the country, I had found my dream cottage.    Perhaps not externally the prettiest cottage in the world, but the atmosphere was very special and so was the interior.

It was an old farmhouse which had originally had lots of land and barns, although only a large garden remained.    Most wonderful of all, though, was the atmosphere.  Peaceful, warm, welcoming, especially in the room which had been the kitchen in years gone by.      No matter what the weather or my mood I just had to walk into that room to feel better.     Nothing dramatic, just a peaceful feeling.

Unfortunately, it wasn't my husband's dream cottage.   We left after a couple of years and moved here.

We have been here for 12 years now.  This house has become home.

Finally, I have been able to put down deep roots.

It was brought home to me how well I know the fields and byways of this area when I was chatting to a local farmer, earlier in the year.    We were talking about foraging, not sure why, when he told me that he had never seen a puffball mushroom.       

Yesterday I was able to give him a rough map of where to find some on his land.   It struck me as quite funny, but then I have the luxury of just being able to walk the land, whereas he farms it.

This one is now about the size of a football, if no one kicks it or picks it should grow even larger.


Wednesday 5 September 2018

Watermill Tales and Big Shoulder Pads

When he was just 14 years old, Farmer T (Snr) got a job at the watermill, that was in 1940.      Back then it was still a working mill producing flour for bread and grinding grain for animal feed.   Farmer T was small, but strong, his  main job was to heave around the bags of grain and flour for the miller. 


He recalls that elderly customers would tell him what they remembered about a fire which caused quite a lot of damage to the mill.   A candle had been left burning in a room at the top of the mill, resulting in the thing which all millers fear, a fire, the year was around 1890.    When the building was restored the damaged waterwheel was replaced with a water turbine.    Although it doesn't work as a mill these days, the turbine and stones can still be seen by visitors to the cafe.

As well as milling flour, they also baked hundreds of loaves a day.    Many of those loaves were sent out to customers via the train station which was just along the road.

The mill changed hands a couple of times and by 1980 it was run down and almost derelict.

A Dutch couple bought it, then spent the next two years renovating the mill and creating a smokery where they specialised in smoking eels, trout and any other fish which could be sourced locally.

Last week I happened to be reading an old Lincolnshire Life Magazine from the 1980's.   I flicked through some articles,  then became fascinated by the ads for clothes.  They looked so familiar, and so very dated.   Think great big shoulder pads, big earrings,  big hairstyles, the bold makeup, high heels ... ah, but they were great at the time. 

I thought about rummaging around to find a couple of photographs of me in such garb, but I don't need the embarrassment, even if you could do with a laugh.

When I turned over the page I found a full-page ad for the watermill around the corner from here.   

The owners, the Dutch couple,  were running a restaurant which was open from 10am daily, Tuesday to Sunday, serving morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.   Smoked food was their speciality, most of which was produced in their own smokery.   The smoking process they used took 24 hours, I believe.

The restaurant critic described the place as being 'Tucked away on the edge of the Middle Marsh between Louth and Alford, where the Great Eau leave the Wolds on its way to the sea at Saltfleet.'  He took a party of eight, three of whom were Canadian, along for dinner.

He described walking over the mill race, the pleasant sound of the rushing water, the old turbine and mill workings.     The restaurant was sited in what was once the main working area of the mill, pre dinner drinks were taken in the restaurant while making their choices from the menu.

The smoked dishes on offer included - Salmon, trout, mackerel, eels, herring, chicken, turkey, prawns, shrimps, mussels, crabs or sole, Dutch cheese or Smoked Ham Salad, were the dishes on offer, along with a range of smoked pates. 

The diners were very happy with their food, so the place was given an extremely good review,  despite the fact that the wine list was not extensive.    The wine was described as being well chosen and particularly well suited to the menu on offer.

This is the road which leads past the watermill, a very peaceful setting.   

The Dutch couple stayed for about eight years.   Then they sold up and moved to South America, where I believe they planned to live on a boat, which is about as far removed as you can get from life in this quiet place, although I suppose water is the common feature.

The mill was then bought by a couple from Oxfordshire, they had run a restaurant and wine bar.   Under their watch lots of wild fowl and decorative birds were brought in and it became something of a wildlife sanctuary, as well as continuing to run the restaurant and the smokery.

Eventually age and ill health forced a sale and so the wheel turns again and now the 'new' owners are working hard to make the place into a tourist attraction with light meals, local food, home baked cakes, fragrant coffee, etc.   They are also hosting outdoor theatre and outdoor cinema screenings, with hot dogs and home made pizzas cooked in a wood oven.   

Big wheels keep on turning.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

This Little Piggy

Our youngest grandchild was a little very shy.       His shyness eventually crumbled away because he adores rhymes and songs, with the occasional tickle thrown in for good measure.      'This Little Piggy' went down well and so did 'Round and Round the Garden Like a Teddy Bear', but his favourite was 'Horsey, Horsey, don't you stop..'.

His older brother had no shyness, just a desperate need to prove to his two older cousins that he was as big and as strong as they are, except when it came to nettle stings, and he was awfully good at finding stinging nettles.   Ouch!

We had three days of fun and mischief with the grandchildren.    I have cooked lots of meals, poured countless teas and coffees, played, chatted and talked myself to a standstill.       

Yesterday we were down to just two grandchildren, the local ones, while their parents went back to school.

They are both good walkers, so I took them out for a couple of decent walks.   We explored places new to them, picked elderberries, and watched the river for signs of trout.     It was a gentle day, a transition between full summer holiday mode and the new school term.

This old horsey had better get a move on, the grandchildren will be -

in half an hour, I need to get rattling some pans and cooking a meal for them.

Sunday 2 September 2018

Cutting it Fine

The heating and plumbing engineers have finally finished.   Over the last two weeks the house has not felt like my own space, sights like this one, were almost daily fare.      However, they finished the final snip of the wires, soldering of pipes and flame regulation just before 11am on Friday. 

Older son and his young family arrived at midday, for the weekend.

Nothing is quite where it should be, even the new tiling has not yet been done, but I do have a fully functioning cooker again, which makes life easier.       It sounds such an easy job - remove a Rayburn, replace with a range cooker and a combi-boiler - simple! 

It really wasn't. 

I am truly happy that we didn't wait another year, the process has been exhausting - and I wasn't doing the work.     Enough of the whining. 

First thing I baked was bread, of course.      Perfect!

Out in the vegetable garden, the pumpkins are ripening... a few are tiny!

But the rest are large.    The butternut squash are all medium-sized and doing quite nicely, so there should be plenty of soup-making going on this winter.

We will be heading to the donkey sanctuary and then the beach, which should be fun especially if the weather is as beautiful as it was yesterday.

The plan for this evening?

Relax, with a cup of tea.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.