Sunday, 16 June 2019

Another Village Hall in Lincolnshire

It is so tempting to talk about the weather, the rain, the floods, the cold - but I won't.   

I took a drive to a different part of the county, yesterday.   

A surprise birthday tea had been organised, to celebrate a cousin's 80th birthday,  in Glentham village hall which is a bit further north and on the other side of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

The hall was pleasantly full, tables were set with starched white cloths, prettily patterned and mismatched china, vast platters of tiny sandwiches, dainty scones, savouries, and lots of homemade cakes.   

When the guest of honour arrived she was genuinely surprised to find a large number of her family and friends, plus her art class and writing group waiting for her.      Somehow the sixty/seventy people had managed to keep the secret.    Even this little chap hadn't blabbed a word of it to his great granny.

He was so proud of his face paint that I had to take a photograph.     

It was great fun catching up with everyone.      The family line is very complicated so I have given up trying to work out exactly what kind of cousins, etc they all are.    Let's just say that for a young woman born in the Victorian era my grandmother must have had quite a strong and resilient character and, despite everything,  my grandfather's 'first' family all adored her. 

Unfortunately, I never met her, she died a few years before I was born. 

Yesterday I could hear the genuine affection in their voices when they spoke of her.     How I wish I knew the whole story, but the dots still don't quite meet.     

It must remain a mystery.

Poppies are out in full force.

Walks are breathtakingly beautiful, the world is washed and clean.

Everywhere looks as it did before, except for the mud.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Parsimonious Parsonage Cottage

Parsimonious, but effective.

Today we have put the parachute up in the conservatory.   The gentle drapes of soft and faded green parachute silk lend the room an air of tranquility and shields us from the dazzling sunlight - welcome though that is.

It cost the princely sum of £30 (years ago)  and has been worth every penny. 

It goes up each spring, when the sun reaches a certain point in the sky, then stays up until around September/October.       A quick shake, fold and roll, and it goes back into the loft until the next season.

Cheaper than blinds, just as effective.

A boring post, but this is the best I can come up with at the moment. 

It looks as though we are in for some fine weather - fingers crossed - for the holidays.     It will certainly be nice to feel some warmth, lose that bitterly cold easterly wind.

'Til next time.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Real Life

Life chugs along quite happily and predictably, then every now and again something crops up and throws things out of kilter. 

One minute you are up, the next minute, down. 

Real life.   


My way of dealing with things is to walk the dog, bake bread, take refuge in my old books...and that is what I will be doing for the next few weeks.     I won't be writing any blog posts, although I am sure to do some blog visits, even if I don't leave many comments.

I just need some quiet time to make some adjustments, to think things through.    Nothing too terrible has occurred, so don't worry.

I will disable comments, for this post.   As you know, I enjoy answering them normally.   
(We are all different, but not to respond always feels to me like bad manners, even though I don't always manage to complete the task!  Please note: this is me, taking about me, not a comment on how anyone else deals with comments!)

I hope to be back in a few weeks.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Wonky Vegetable Box

This is a Lidl's wonky vegetable box, bought this morning, for £1.50.   Not a wonky or mouldering vegetable in sight!   Everything is fresh, firm and wholesome.

Broccoli spears, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, a swede, clementines, satsumas and lemons.    Excellent value, wonderful quality. 

Today was beautifully mild and sunny, once the early morning frost had cleared away.  Toby found himself being taken for some extra walks, for I find it impossible to stay indoors when it is fine weather.

Just as well I made the most of it, I hear the weather is going to break at the weekend.

Wooster and Dolly were making the most of the sunshine and couldn't be bothered to do more than half open an eye.

The last time I took that  route, a few days ago,  Dolly refused to leave her stable at all, but    Wooster insisted on coming over to have a conversation and a nose rub.     

I don't know much about Dolly, but Wooster is about 30 years old.    He looks his age these days, but he had his glory days and won lots of competitions in his youth.

He is a lucky lad, getting to live his life out in peace and comfort.

Dolly, who is as round as it is possible for one little pony to be, keeps him company.

He is content with his lot.

This is what I am reading today.   Published in 1935, it is a collection of history, tradition, folk lore, flower names and herbal lore, gathered together by Members of Dorset Women's Institutes.   Not a recipe in sight!

So far I have only had a quick skim through but it looks fascinating - no recipes, perhaps, but I have just discovered a couple of pages of old remedies...violets to treat cancer, Madonna lily to treat whitlows, and Groundsel as a cure for boils.

"Here's to you and yours
The good you and yours
Done to we and ours
If it be in our powers
To do the good to you and yours
You and yours done to we and ours
We'll do it."

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Magpies, Wombles, and Books, Books, Books

This motley collection of books are a few of the ones I have plucked from my bookshelves this week.    Most have cost just a few pence, from charity shops, book sales, etc. 

The weather lore book on the right hand side is the youngest of them, it was published in 1981 and is packed with 1900 sayings from the English countryside.    Interestingly, they have also been 'tested' and star rated as to their truth!

Following on from Sue's post about Magpies I thought it would be fun to add these sayings:

For anglers in spring it is
always unlucky to see single
magpies; but two may always be 
regarded as a favourable omen.
And the reason for this is, that in cold
and stormy weathr one magpie
alone leaves the nest in search
of food, while the other one
remains sitting with the eggs or
young ones; but when two go out
together, it is only when the 
weather is mild and warm, and
favourable for fishing.

Star rating: *

Magpies flying three or four
together and uttering harsh cries
predict windy weather.

Star rating: *

Given the particularly mild and sunny days we have enjoyed this week, the following saying is a bit worrying - especially as it is given a star rating of ****.

If there's spring in winter, and
winter in spring
The year won't be good for anything.

February is fast running away with us, but tomorrow, 24th February, is St Matthias' Day, apparently he is the patron saint of alcoholics.

Sayings for his day:                               

If it freezes on Saint Matthias' Day,
it will freeze for a month together.   

Star rating: *

Saint Matthias breaks the ice;        *
If he finds none, he will make it.    **

Saint Matthie
Sends sap up into the trees.

The Hand to Mouth book is an old Women's Institute cookery book,  originally published in 1933, my copy dates from 1944. 

The Lotions and Potions book dates from the 1960's, another Women's Institute one.    It is fascinating, full of very old recipes for creams, unguents, medicines and cures, many dating from centuries ago.

Today has been spent bread making, visiting family, and doing a little Wombling.

I decided I could no longer ignore the discarded aluminium cans, coffee cups, bottles, sweetie wrappers, chocolate wrappers, plastic bags, dog dropping bags (full), old lottery tickets, and general detritus, which was strewn along the lane.

I hitched up Toby, grabbed a rubbish bag, my litter picking stick, and set to work.     I cleared both sides of approx 500m of lane and ended up with a large bin bag full of trash.   

The vodka drinker seems to have stopped drinking though, or perhaps they have moved, for there wasn't a single alcohol bottle, whereas previously there would have been at least half a dozen, sometimes more.

A short time later, I went back up the lane to buy some eggs from one of our neighbours.   On the way home I had to pick up another can which someone had discarded since I cleared the verges.

Hey ho!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

People Who Enjoy Conflict

Some bloggers seem to thrive on conflict, and if they can't drum up a good argument on their own blog, they take their big wooden spoon and try to stir it up in comments elsewhere.

Are their real lives so dull that this is the only way they can get a little excitement?
Does it supply their hit of the hormones released by conflict and drama? 

Does it make them feel important?

Biting my tongue not to say more.   Grump over.

Normal service will be resumed later.

Monday, 18 February 2019


February, possibly the least liked month of the year. 

Despite the gloom, the mud and the insidious chill, I quite like it.

I love being able to see the bare contours of the land, the tracery of the trees, the bare fields.   

Winter walks through fields and along tracks mean that the dog and I will be squelching through mud and puddles.     Even so, there is something wonderfully exhilarating about being out in the cold, fresh air and pale sunshine, as long as you are wearing suitable clothing and footwear, of course!

Shadows and shade. 
Longer views, thanks to the lack of leaves, give surprising new glimpses of some favourite old places.

Learning the true lie of the land, sometimes so  different from how it appears when everywhere is dressed in summer finery.

Beautiful little glimpses.

Weak wintery sunshine adds a little warmth to the winter palette.

Countless snowdrops lift the gloom of the woodland floor.

Snowdrops will soon give way to the golden trumpets of daffodils.  They, in their turn, will make way for the haze of the bluebells and wild garlic.   

Home again, and the sunlight hits upon a cluster of crocuses, encouraging them to 'open wide'.

First job is to get rid of the mud from my boots, then comes the more time-consuming job of cleaning down the dog.

"Paddy-paw, paddy-paw.  Rub a dub a dub dub dub. Good boy!"

Hands washed, then on with the kettle for a good cup of tea. 


Soup is nearly always on the menu during winter.   Always home made, preferably served with a wedge of home made bread or a slice of quiche.

I make a large pot, normally sufficient to last three or four days.    Like most things, the flavours mellow and meld, so that the soup tastes even better, a couple of days later,  than it did on day one.

I made a very simple vegetable soup, nothing special, so I won't bother to give you the recipe.

This is a walnut and broccoli quiche - tasted much nicer than it looks, I promise.

The pastry recipe was a new one to me, using warm water and Marmite to mix...      I wasn't sure that it would work, but it turned out short and crisp, perfect and tasty. 

I will definitely be making it again.


175g (6oz) wholewheat plain flour
75g (3oz) Butter or Margarine
1 tsp Marmite yeast extract
Warm water to mix

Rub the fat into the flour, stir in the Marmite, then mix the pastry to a manageable dough using warm water.   Lightly knead on a floured surface, the roll out and use to line your tin.     Chill.         Bake blind for ten or fifteen minutes before adding the filling of your choice.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Love from Mum xxx

(A family post today.)

Five years already!

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Marbling the Village Hall

Yesterday afternoon the tiny village hall was almost filled to bursting (slight exaggeration) as a dozen ladies of the parish attended our monthly TED's meeting.

They didn't come along for the local history, and I am fairly sure the refreshments were not what got them across the threshold.  My bet is that the chairman of our local Parish Council 'whipped' them in, for she was hosting the meeting and had arranged for someone to come and demonstrate the ancient art of marbling.

Whatever the answer, it was good to see the hall buzzing with conversation and activity.

The newcomers were introduced and some people found that they had been living almost next door to one another for over three years and yet had never met...and this is in a very small village - the total number of parish residents is 185, and a good number of them don't live in the village.

Then the demonstration got under way.    Our instructor explained the process, then showed us how to marble on fabric, paper, stones, wood, tiles - almost anything which is porous and can be submerged.    It was fascinating and magical.

Lots of different techniques, no two are ever the same.

This is a tiny mounted canvas - a few twirls with a cocktail stick, to swirl and curl the paint, a quick dip, and this pattern is what appeared.

A very jolly couple of hours passed, eventually we left clutching our own pieces of marbled fabric.

The lovely Miss Read was there, of course.  She enjoys anything to do with crafting and was one of the first ones to get stuck in and have a play.

She was also absolutely thrilled to bits when she spotted the enormous woollen tablecloth( click for story) which used to belong to the village WI.     My husband and I had been into the hall to hang it from a metal curtain pole, for all the village to see - on those rare occasions when they attend a function in the hall.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph, I was slightly distracted by all the possibilities offered by the art of marbling - I am thinking about fabrics for fairies, end papers for books and journals, wrapping paper, greetings cards, etc.

Of course I had to come back down to earth - help to clear away the cups and saucers, then dash home to get tea ready for the grandchildren.

Still, it hasn't stopped my brain from ticking over, I like the potential of that craft.

Next month we are having a visit from an elderly woman who used to live in the next hamlet along, I believe she is a few years older than Miss Read, so we are looking forward to hearing her reminiscences of village life.     

It would be marvellous if we could have a similar turnout.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

A Spoonful of Sugar

No sooner do I complete the enormous task of clearing the woodland floor than Storm Erik comes along to rock and roll among the trees, tearing down branches.   Ah, well.   That is life. 

Owl Wood is a place of magical delight to humans and animals alike, but it does come with responsibilities and expenses.     In this modern day and age, even for such a small scrap of woodland, we have to have special woodland insurance and that doesn't come cheap.    Add to that the many hours we spend maintaining the place and, at this time of year, I do sometimes wonder why?

Then I come across photographs like this...

A safe space for our grandchildren and their friends to play in and explore, for treasure hunts, map reading practice, or for rambles with the dog.

Fun isn't limited to the summer.
Two cousins take a spin around the woodland.

A lazy swing and a bit of contemplation


A game of hide and seek with someone who hasn't quite grasped the concept...oh, the hours we spent doing that!

Early evening adventures, a little bit of darkness makes it all seem so much more exciting - for that is when you have to watch out for bears and wolves.

Owl Wood has been home to several little flocks of retired battery hens - their joy at the freedom to roam was very special.       They soon regained their feathers and their health, wonderful characters, each and every one of them.

The most recent flock were fancy breeds.   Beautiful girls, but definitely not as robust as those battery girls.     So many hens over the years, yet each one developed into a character.

There are many bird boxes, as well as nests, perched up in the trees.   

The most special box is the one where these three little creatures were hatched, three Tawny Owl chicks, all three successfully fledged, hence 'Owl Wood' - so much nicer than the official name.

Adding all these delights up, and all the ones I haven't mentioned - wild garlic, for instance - offsetting them against the cost of insurance (£150 pa) plus all the hard work - is it worth it?

You bet!

Thank you for all your lovely comments, they helped me through my silence. 

Whatever it was seems to have been blown away by the wind, for I came back from walking Toby feeling bright and energetic, windswept and cleansed of whatever ailed me.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Has The Cat Got My Tongue?

I find myself struggling to bash out a blog post.      

Words have deserted me.      

So many posts started, then abandoned.        

This blog has come to a standstill.

My thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post
my apologies for not getting around to answering you.

I will be back when I find my words.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Powder Puffs and Catkins

As I drove into Lincoln seven of the Red Arrows were zooming through
the skies in a large 'V' formation.
Lincoln Cathedral was their backdrop.
Fabulous start to the day!

The day has been cold, with an icy, biting wind.
Cold or not, dogs need their walks.   
Wrap up well, don thick socks, sensible footwear, gloves and a scarf.

Up the lanes, down the hill, past the little church, down by the old farm,
then along the river bank.

Cold, but dry.

Better than elsewhere, at least we don't have snow.

Good clean air and a bit of exercise
beautiful scenery
interesting buildings.

I enjoyed the walk, and so did Toby.

Home again.

A quick rub down with a towel
one dog biscuit
and a snooze for him,

a cup of tea and a browse through this book, for me.

Published in 1938, it was written by a man,
under the pseudonym of  'Aunt Kate'.

It is dated, tooth-achingly 'nice', but interesting.

One page for every day of the year.
A handy hint, a recipe, and a word of cheer.
All written as WWII was approaching.

Think 'Brief Encounter'.

Train Journey Tips

A very important article on a train journey is your ticket, 
use a handbag that provides a little compartment where you can put your ticket 
without fear of whisking it out with your powder puff.
Wear an invisible net over your hair to preserve its set on a railway journey.
Use a much heavier foundation or powder base than usual
to protect your skin from dust and dirt.
Carry a thick wad of cotton wool and a bottle of complexion milk.
The milk will clean up your skin and leave it as fresh as after a thorough wash-up.
If you are addicted(?) to headaches when travelling by train
carry frozen eau de cologne or lavender water.

Here is a cheery little note about Spring.

It is too soon to talk of springtime yet.
Before the bright and sunny days are with us there must be cruel days - cold and harsh.
But we are travelling towards the spring.
That unfailing process of revival is beginning.
Take courage.
Below the cold ground, under the sodden leaf, within the branch which seems so dead,
life is moving.
The days grow longer, the nights grow shorter.
January is done, and February is almost with us.
The spring will come and with all its singing birds
and we shall be glad!

How true this is.

I have spent a lot of time, this last week, working in Owl Wood, spring cleaning the woodland floor of all the branches and sticks which have fallen during the last few months.      Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of time and effort.

This foreground of this photograph shows what I have collected, it may help if I tell you that that heap of sticks and branches is between five and six feet high,all hauled up to an area where they can be crunched up to make some wonderful wood chip for the pathways and gardens.    Recycling.

The woodland floor is coming to life.   There are snowdrops everywhere, the early signs of the bluebells to come
and, most excitingly, the very earliest signs of the wild garlic!  Tiny, thread-like green strands, pinch them between your fingers and the smell of garlic is already in them.

One of the reasons I wanted to get the woodland floor cleaned up and ready, was so that I could watch the garlic grow, without danger of damaging plants by dragging fallen branches through them.

Spring is just around the corner.    All the trees and shrubs are preparing themselves.    It will happen.

Stay warm, stay safe, stay cheerful.