Thursday, November 29, 2007


  1. The cake is eaten
  2. The inspectors have gone
  3. David gets home tonight
  4. It is cold
  5. I have not thought about Christmas shopping yet
  6. The tree is still in the box in the shed, where there may or may not be rodents. (I do not like rodents. I have been spreading out a lavish banquet of rodent dispatcher when I think about it, just in case.)
  7. The Christmas cards have started arriving
  8. I have not written my Christmas letter
  9. I have not got a Christmas list of things to do
  10. Can we please move Christmas a month or 2?

As you can see, I have my priorites all in the right place. I would have made another cake but as I have not been near the shops, I have no cake flour. Just as well, really, or I would most probably have eaten half of it by now. I forgot to take lunch to school, so was ready to gnaw on anything that was not nailed down by the time I got home.

I am still uncertain about work. I am uncomfortable being uncertain, if that makes any sense. I am not a ditherer at all. For some reason, I am holding back, and I never do that. With me, it is usually "throw yourself in the deep end". But enough of uncomfortable things.

There are so many lovely things to read out there in our bloggy world. So many places to visit and to join in with as well, and I really should be sewing! I have become the world's greatest procrastinator. I will make some coffee and get on with things. And just maybe I will think about the tree this weekend. That should act as a visual spur to get moving. I hope!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Field trips and schools

I loathe alarm clocks that go off at 5 in the morning. I loathe having to crawl out of bed and get dressed at 5.01am. And more than anything, I LOATHE driving to the next town at 5.15am in dense fog at a snail's pace with no sign of the road at all. But I did all the above with a smile, albeit forced, to take David to school to depart at 6am on his Biology field trip. The one I am convinced is being held at a 5 star hotel in Yorkshire, given the cost of the 2 day trip. He and his ginormous wellies are there as I speak. And, please note and applaud with vigour, I LET HIM TAKE MY CAMERA. My camera and I are very attached. I am a star. No, make that a mother.

Why is it that boys as so unconcerned re the packing idea? Now, if it had been my daughter going on this trip, she would have been packed and ready and sorted a day or so in advance. David??? I gave in and threw all his stuff into the bag myself at 10 last night, always aware that I could be making a late night dash to Tesco to get the forgotten bits. He breezed past me at 10 and announced that he was off to bed. Packing? I suggested? I know where everything is, he replied. Men! To his future wife, one day in the far distant future, I say.... I tried! And failed, it seemed.

Work. I come home and I am drained, and I am not wildly enthusiastic, and I cannot forget the disquiet I have felt about taking this job. Something does not feel right, and I still have no idea what it is. The people seem nice, and the kids are not that bad, but there is still something there. I will wait and see, and decide by the end of the week. And I seem to attract inspectors. We are being "Ofstedded" on Thursday. Yesterday, there was an accident on the way to work and I arrived late. Not ideal for one's first day. I did wonder if that was another divine sign, I have to say. Today, I was so early, the school was empty when I arrived. And we have had fire alarms going off each day too. In the rain. So watch this space. I have no idea what I will do.


At a Hen's Pace is hosting an Advent traditions carnival today so I thought I would do a post on the Christingle service. I had never heard of this service before I moved to England, and here it is now a big part of the Advent season, and it is all about putting Christ back in Christmas. It has it's origins in the Moravian Church, and became part of the Anglican tradition in 1968 apparently. If you google Christingle, you will come up with some great sites which tell the story behind the first Christingle in the 1700s.

To make a Christingle, you need 4 tooth picks, an orange, a small candle, some dried fruit and a red ribbon. The orange represents the goodness of the Earth God created, and the 4 tooth picks represent the 4 seasons, and each stick is threaded with dried fruits to represent the fruits of the Earth.
The red ribbon is wound round the orange, to represent the blood of Christ, who died to save the world, and the small white candle which is inserted into a small hole, usually lined with some tin foil, represents Jesus, the Light of the world.
There is a very close link with the Children's Society, here in the UK, and the children in the Sunday Schools are given envelopes in the weeks before the service, to collect money, which all goes to the Children's Society. The great thing about this service, is the complete lack of commercialism. I wish you could see the little ones' faces as they go up to the front of the church to receive their Christingle (as do we all) and then the lights are dimmed and the candles lit, and "Away in a Manger" is sung at the end of the service. Here, it is on the afternoon of the 2nd Sunday in Advent.
We traditionally also have an advent wreath with 4 candles, and light one each Sunday in Advent, and then add a 5th on Christmas morning. When my parents lived in South Africa, my sister in Switzerland, and us here in the UK, we used to make a time in 3 time zones and all light our Advent candles at the same time, to celebrate together. Now, we try to do the same with my sister in Switzerland.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cinnamon Cake

I made the cinnamon cake. It makes the whole house smell divine and rather festive.

So I made another one. We wanted to EAT the first one! It is the easiest and lightest cake to make and absolutely delicious. This is my children's favourite cake.

As you can see. The cake was still warm when we cut the first slice. Who cares.

So, because I am nice, here is the recipe for you to try. I am not up to the Pioneer Woman's standards, but even I can post a recipe. And I have not forgotten the butternut soup one. It is coming!

Cinnamon Cake

2 Cups sugar

3 cups flour (ordinary cake flour)

3 eggs

I teaspoon Baking powder

pinch of salt

half a pound of butter

1 cup milk

Cream the sugar and butter till light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat well.

Add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt alternating with the milk.

Whip the egg whites till stiff and fold into the cake mixture gently.

Pour into greased tube or springform baking tin.

Mix 2 tablespns sugar, 1 dessertspoon cinnamon and 1 rounded dessertspoon butter till crumbly, and sprinke over cake mix.

Bake at 180C (350F) for 45mins to 1hour. The cinnamon mix sometimes sinks into the cake and leaves wonderful crunchy cinnamony bits.

Perfect. Delicious. You need to go and make one now.

Here it is

The studio/sewing room is finished. Well, the contents of the cupboard still needs to be transferred but hey, it is nearly done. I can't fit all my things into the very limited storage space I have, and the only solution would be to use the deck as well, which would be great, but I need the queen size bed up there for when the kids come to visit, so I will have to put up with it.

The study is lined with bookcases, and this is the overflow!
You can see what I mean about the deck. It works so well, and up there at the back, there is a row of cupboards which I have not been into for 9 years. It is on the "to do" list, and I clearly do not need to keep anything in them, or I would have made a plan before now. I am in two minds about whether to paint the stairs. I think I should, looking at the photos.....any opinions?
Those enormous bookcases. I could do with more, but as you can see, have nowhere to put them. Sigh.
It is light, bright and lovely. I am pleased with it. Space for me, and those who know me will appreciate how desperate I have been for space of my own.

So, there you are. The finished room. I am now in the middle of painting the shower room. I thought the door to the studio looked a little jaded, and so I painted it, and that made the shower door look dire, so I painted that, and then I did the inside of the door, and that made the medicine cupboard look awful, so I did that and then the walls..... you get the picture. This was not on the list.

David is off on a Biology field trip this week, and came home with a list of required items. Most of which he did not have. Finding UK size 14 wellie boots is not simple. I suggested bin liners tied round his legs, and he was less than amused. So the last 3 days have involved much searching and, thankfully, finding. Waterproof trousers. Stuff. Anyway, he is now equipped and is off on Tuesday at 5am. Thankyouverymuch. I will be dropping him at school while half asleep.

I start work tomorrow. I am not sure why, but I have a strange feeling about this. No reason, just a very ambivalent feeling. I have no idea where it comes from. I have never had this before, and I am not sure what it means. There is more of me which wants to say no thank you than there is which wants to get in there and get started, and that is odd for me.

Perhaps because there are still so many things up in the air and unfinished and I can't get past them yet and now will have no time, and that makes it a long-drawn-out process. It feels like I will never get to the stage where I can just move forward in a way. I don't know. But right now part of me wants to walk in tomorrow and say thanks but no thanks. Really weird.

It has been cold and damp and distinctly wintery this week. And now I am off to make some cakes for David to take with him this week. Cinnamon cake. Maybe I will make one for us too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

First, to all my American friends around the world, Happy Thanksgiving! I am looking forward to reading all your stories after tomorrow, and will be thinking of you all celebrating with your families.

It is cold and wet here, and I have been finishing off the studio, which is looking good. Photos will be up of the finished room probably tomorrow. It works. I zapped up some plain cream curtains this evening, and went straight to the curtain tape and then the hooks! I haven't got round to putting labels on drawers or boxes yet.

The UK is a little on edge today, after some imbecile at HM Revenue and Customs copied and then lost 2 or 3 copies of the Child Benefit Database. All 25 million sets of data, including National Insurance numbers, bank accounts, dates of birth etc. Perfect. Just perfect. So absolutely everyone in the country with children under 19 has compromised bank accounts. Including me. It doesn't matter how careful we are, shredding all personal details and protecting ourselves, when it is possible for the GOVERNMENT to lose our details. Give me strength. The PM has "apologised for the inconvenience." INCONVENIENCE???????? What planet is the man on?

You might note that I am feeling a little tetchy about this. You would be right. And, as I speak, England is losing the Euro qualifier football match against Croatia, and they have to win or draw, or else are out of the Euro tournament. Gloom and despondancy all round.

On a more cheery note, my friend Linds, in NZ, posted our Christmas presents early. They arrived today. I have yet to think about Christmas, never mind wrap or post anything. But it is great to have a parcel already!

Have a wonderful happy thankful day tomorrow,and I hope all your turkeys are perfect!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I have some news. Today I went for an interview at another school on the other side of town, and was offered the job! I start on Monday. You have no idea what a relief this is. I have not been through a 4 hour interview/trial before, and it was actually fine. I was very relaxed, and it was great to be back in a classroom. Anyway, there were 4 of us, and I was offered the post. I bought some carrot cakes on the way home to celebrate. Small insignificant ones..... that is why I use the plural!

So now I have to finish all the bits of things I need to do around here this week, and take Mum out for a bit, and contemplate Christmas, and what has to be done before then, so life will be speeding up again. Not that it ever slowed down, but you get what I mean, I am sure. And the secret projects need to be finished too, and curtains to make.........why am I sitting here? I should be working!

Monday, November 19, 2007

There is light at the end of the tunnel of mess

Well, that didn't last long. There was no snow left by morning, much to my son's disgust. About 4 inches fell, which is a lot for here. Once upon a time we used to get heavy snowfalls in winter, but global warming has put a stop to that it seems.

The studio is still "getting there". I have spent today moving the contents of cupboards about, and the mess seems to rise expontentially. And the recycling wheelie bin is nearly full, and so is the car with all the things for the charity shops and the tip. I really do need a driver to go back and forth as I fling the stuff out the front door. I have not got the energy. And it takes a while to get moving, as I am stiff and aching from all the moving, lifting and all the rest. I was perched on top of the bookcases this morning drilling holes in the wall to screw on the brackets to stop them falling over. Then up a ladder, moving paintings. We have enough paintings to fill an art gallery. In fact, I am looking at a row of them stacked in the kitchen as I am writing this. Houses in South Africa were at least double the size of this one, and in fact, Mum's was probably 5 times the size.

The good news is that I can actually walk through the kitchen. And I can see some chairs. It is the small things that count here.

I have masses of reels of ribbons, and am off to get some rod tomorrow, because I have put up some hooks, and will thread the reels on to the rod and attach it to the hooks. So I won't have to rummage for the ribbon I need. That is the theory anyway. Louise has suggested that I hang some of my quilts from the railings on the deck. I may just do that. After I have painted them.

Ah well..... hopefully I will get it finished soon.

I just remembered - I have canes outside for the garden. I can use them to hold the ribbon. I am in a frugal mode! Lateral thinking. That's what I need!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It is snowing!

I have just been at a birthday lunch for a friend, and left at 8pm, and discovered that it is snowing. Hard. Lots falling. There was no warning that we would have snow, but suddenly it feels like winter.

The studio is still a work in progress, but it is getting better slowly. The piano is moved, and I have considered a zillion different furniture layout ideas for the lounge (which included knocking down a wall and rebuilding it in another place, which is clearly a step too far) and my son told his aunt to keep all further rearranging ideas to herself, and give him a break. In the nicest possible way I hope. I will post photos when it is finished.

And so another weekend has whizzed by.

Yesterday morning, I came down to read my emails quite early and discovered that we had no water. As in the cold taps were empty. After a few heartstopping moments contemplating mega bills for burst pipes or the like, I called my friend in Scotland and asked what no cold water means. As one does. He said that it meant someone had turned off the mains and to go and check if the neighbours had the same problem. They did. What a relief. It turns out that a water main burst in the village square, and flooded homes nearby in the middle of the night, and so the water company turned off the water. This meant a dash to the local shop for bottled water. The prospect of no coffee was not an option. I collected bottles for some neighbours too, and it was about 5pm when it finally started running again. Complete with mud. Quite disgusting. Understandable, but yuk none the less. I had to clean the bath before I got into it. Life is never calm and peaceful around here.

The BBC's Children in Need appeal was on last Friday night, and they raised over £19 million on the night. A new record. Amazing. The UK has a wonderful record of giving, and usually the total for the night is doubled by the time all the money is in. Given that there is a population of about 60 million, it is a stunning total. The money is spent on children, especially those in need here, and the organisations which support them, and on children all over the world, who are in need.

Watching the film clips of children who are carers, or children with special needs, or children's hospices, or children with crippling injuries, and the people who work with them, is awe-inspiring. The love, the patience, the dedication, the never giving up spirit is a salutary lesson to everyone who thinks they have insurmountable problems. I heard one young boy, who is a carer for his parents, say, when given the opportunity to join a group of young carers on a riding camp...... "I love the camp, but I love what I do for my parents. My life is good. " He was 10. Wow.

So right now, I am looking at the mess ( is still here) and I am thinking.... is just stuff. You will get it sorted. Think just how much worse things could be. I need to remember that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More complicated mess

If you are contemplating a room change, my advice is DON'T.


Groan. Do you remember how I described my kind of cleaning the house? Where I start one thing, see something lying about, so stop. Move that thing, and then discover something in the place it is supposed to be and sort that then forget the first thing???? Okay, I know what I mean. Magnify that a zillion times and you will have an accurate picture of my house aka the Tip.

Yesterday, I gave all the pine wood in the new studio an undercoat of white paint. To make it look bigger. Climbing past and over the piano as I slapped the paint on. I am also doing the deck - underneath, to reflect more light on the darker area. I will do the railings at the top when I finally clear the steps, which are shelves right now. It will look good. In 2021. If I get there. And I cleared a path for the piano to be moved on Saturday, when the big strong men come to shift it for me, while I am being weak and feeble. Making tea.

Today was the Arrival of the New Fridge. What joy! What excitement! I was actually taking Mum to the dentist when it arrived, but Simon, father of the babes, came to wait for it while we were out. The men were groaning under the weight of the old one as I arrived, and then we discovered that the gap in the units was a little tight. I was not going to be thwarted at this stage, so I said....shift it a sec, and climbed into the gap, and kicked the cupboard, dusted down my hands, and said, try now. They got it in. The cupboards could have exploded out on each side, and I would not have batted an eyelid. That fridge was going where it was supposed to go.

Anyway, it is on, and great. It works. I am happy.

Then I went to Ikea, with my mother, who is 82. To get the bookcases for the studio. Do not ask. Try though she might, 82 year old mothers are not designed to try to help lift flatpack furniture which weighs more than a mid sized elephant. I heaved and shoved and completely lost the plot, but finally got it onto the trolley. (Just picture a middle-aged woman, with hair falling out of the slide pinning it back, glasses falling off the nose, re-faced, dripping with sweat, highly irritated and not a trace of elegance or serenity. Bag tossed on the floor, and foot anchoring the trolley while twisting sideways to heave. ) Thankfully, a charming gentleman (unlike the assistants who were mysteriously nowhere to be seen) helped me load them into the car, and we trundled home, where I unpacked the boxes in the car, and brought the bits in one by one, and deposited them on the floor. In the centre of the lounge.

And then, instead of finishing the painting and sorting, I constructed them. I now have 2 enormous bookcases lying on their side in the middle of the lounge, and a small table too, and nowhere to put them until the piano is moved, and the piano will have to go over/through/past them to get to where it is supposed to be. On their side, they do make very handy, if very large, coffee tables, and watching TV is somewhat of a challenge over the top. I never learn.

And the place where the piano is supposed to go is now completley hidden by the piles of everything that was lying about the place because..." oh my word, we can't let the delivery men think that we live in a mess". So that has to be moved back to the lounge, where the piano will be passing through and where the 2 ginormous bookcases now rest in splendour. Sigh. Logistics. I should be able to manage this better.

So here I sit, because I am happy to be a source of great amusement to the world at large, and I can put off getting started back at the beginning and actually sorting the first thing on the list.

Maybe I will just go to bed instead.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The mess.... continued

It gets worse before it gets better.

The mess. Oh my word. It is indescribable, and I lose the will to live when I walk into the chaos. I need my sister and Barb to arrive NOW to sort it out. I (Me. Alone. Singular. Stupid) heaved the piano across the room. Well, I exaggerate just a touch... about 5 feet. That meant I could get the old trusty Dyson out and clean behind it. And then dismember the desk and reassemble it in the space where the piano was. And then I flopped in the rocking chair and contemplated my toes and wondered what had possessed me to start in the first place. And had a snooze.

And today I have to defrost my fridge/freezer as the new one arrives tomorrow and the old one must be dry, said the man, who is also taking it away to dump. Which means that my kitchen is also going to be turned upside down to facilitate the removal /installation process. Oh what bliss. I did say it gets worse.

I did go to the doctor yesterday to check on the fingers, and he does not think they are broken, but they are damaged. And should be strapped. I did strap them, but took it off later when it drove me nuts. You do not want to know how it attached itself to the toast I was eating and started unravelling......

The good news is that David got an excellent report back from the teachers and I was delighted. And his uni application forms have been submitted. Tick the box. He is going to study forensic biology. As in molecular biology. Hmmm. He is unusual in that he is studying the 3 sciences for A levels, and yet writes beautifully. He has written a couple of books and has had a publisher suggest he finds an agent. And yet there is the obsession with science. It is rare to find the two opposites together. And his biology teacher mentioned with a smile that he needs to work on NOT making the biological facts sound more beautiful that they are! Not something she is used to having to say. An interesting child.

Right. I can put off the evil moment no longer, she says, flexing the muscles. The fridge awaits.

Heave ho, me hearties!!!!!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Charity bites back

The day started off spectacularly. Sunrise was glorious, and I leapt into the car early to go and take some photos and got out the drive before I realised that I could not see a thing for the frost on the windows. A fish slice works well when you are in a hurry. I was.

But the effort was worth it.

Today is Mum's birthday, and even though the house is still a diabolical mess, I think she had a good day. Well, I mean, what more could you ask for than to spend the morning (-1 degree early on) going to the clothing bank at Sainsbury's to drop off a car full of clothing and sundry other bits, followed by an exhilarating trip to the tip to drop off the things that no charity would look at? Excitement rules here at the Casa de la Rocking Chair.

About the charity biting back thingy........ the clothing banks are huge metal containers with pull down flaps for depositing your bags of clothing into, and they have handles to do this. I loaded a bag into the flap scoop thingy (there are a great number of "thingys" in this post I see) and let it shut, while holding the handle. Only, the lip of the flap had been bent, so it closed jamming my fingers between the handle and the container. Heavy flap. I think I have broken a finger. It looks rather odd, and it HURTS. 3 fingers are swollen, but the middle finger on my left hand is definitely wonky. Oops. I did phone the British Heart Foundation (who own the finger-eating contraption) to tell them it may need some adjusting.

And then I took my Mum out to lunch. That was good, and we had fun looking at all the Christmas decorations at our favourite Garden Centre. And the omelettes and salad were so huge that I did not have to cook tonight, so that was even better.

After going in to school to help the girls again, David and I moved a large oak chest of drawers upstairs to my room, which now looks like a furniture store, it has so much in it. Oh well.... I just use it to sleep in, so I can live with it for now. And did I mention that I painted the wall in the new studio before we went out on our exciting circuit of dumping grounds? My energy knows no bounds.

Friends popped in to see Mum, and I had to escort them through the chaos, wearing one shoe. I sort of lost the other one while I was heaving that chest up the stairs. My timing is not the best. For heaven's sake, I could have waited until AFTER Mum's birthday. Their faces sort of blanched at the amount still to do. Hmmm. They could have a point.

Anyway, there are now more bags waiting to be dropped at the finger-eating place. And there will be many more to follow. And the finger? I will see what it looks like tomorrow. More moving, more throwing out, more school, more meetings and to top it all, parents' evening at David's school. And now I am going to bed.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


They say a picture says a thousand words. They are right. I am mid changing rooms around. This is my sewing desk. My machine is somewhere under there.

And this is the room I am making into "my space". That is a piano back there, under all the piles. This is an interesting room. It was once the single garage, and I had it converted to a room when Mum and Dad came to stay. It has a high pitched ceiling, and I had a deck built over half of it, and there is a queen sized bed up that ladder. Great for when the kids come to stay.

Pete and Glynis popped round this afternoon, just as David was about to go on strike at the prospect of moving the gigantic cupboard. Pete suggested tea to fortify us, and then the 3 of us heaved the wretched thing into the old kitchen, which has been my sewing room. It will now be a store room and music room. That is , once we move the piano, which weighs a zillion tons.

We all know about changing rooms. My entire house is now a tip, and I am creaking in places which are definitely not supposed to creak. And I have run out of energy. I also need to do a trip to Ikea to get some bookcases. I am compromising. I would love to get a complete wall of units for storage, but it will have to be book cases, as my continual failure to win the lotto is proving to be a slight inconvenience.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I am starting to get used to the new look, but I have to say that it doesn't feel like home yet.

Today is a real autumn day, and we have had it all...sun, wind, torrential rain (as I was taking Mum to have her flu jab of course) and tonight there is the possibility of a storm surge (sea) off the East Coast. I know that Norfolk and Suffolk are on alert, and so is the Netherlands. It could be the worst sea surge since the 1950s. Apparently it takes a combination of special circumstances to happen, and flooding could be widespread and bad. But then, maybe it won't happen. We will know at 7am tomorrow. I am nowhere near the sea, thankfully.

You will be pleased to know that I am actually sewing again. I am in the middle of my secret Christmas project, and I am really enjoying watching it develop. It is sort of evolving in my head as I go along. We have a wonderful patchwork shop here in the village, and I have called in twice this week to chat and pat the fabric. I needed some special thread, and resisted the urge to buy anything else.

The shops are full of Christmas things here now and before I know it, it will be time to haul out the tree and decorations. And think about all the things I should have been making over the year. Sigh. I am definitely scaling down the gifts this year, and focussing on things I make. That is the way it used to be, and somehow it got a little out of hand over the years.

My sister has suggested that I convert one of my downstairs rooms into a place for me. Like a studio/playroom. For me. This will mean chopping up an enormous dark oak cupboard which once belonged to my grandparents. It is huge, but I think I can make it into a work-surface, and storage unit for some of my machines etc. First, though, it will have to be emptied. Heaven knows what is in it. It is massive. I will post photos as I start the transformation. Changing the room will also mean moving the piano as well. It weighs a ton. And thankfully I have an extremely strong son in residence! If the weather is still foul over the weekend, it will be a good time to start. Watch this space!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I am a genius. Of course......

I have been playing. Or rather, I sat down and refused to move until I got this blog up and running in a familiar fashion again. Page elements????? Where did they come from???? I have been zooming back and forth to Blogging Basics 101 to try to see what to do. Thank you, ladies! You are life-savers!

I really wanted some misty mountains in the background, but then I gave up, and seeing that I was married to a career sailor, the harbour template seems an appropriate alternative. For now. It feels roomy and spacious, and I can spread out a little. I am stretching as I speak. Being hunched over the keyboard with gritted teeth makes me creak.

Do not ask....

I upgraded my template and now I have no idea what to do next or how to put things where I want to. Or change layout. Or make it nicer. Or ANYTHING. I do not know what possessed me. I did save the old one but I DON'T KNOW what I am doing.

You might gather that I am not in an "all sweetness and light" mood.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rocking chair rambles

There is lots on my mind at the moment, but there seems to be a blockage between the mind and the fingers. Probably more of a reluctance to say what I am thinking. Or something. Whatever.

So instead you get the feeble ramblings of a middle aged woman who happens to be feeling very middle-aged at the moment. Doddering may be closer to the mark in fact. My son, in a fit of absent mindedness, hopped on a bus going in the totally opposite direction to the way he was supposed to be going at the crack of dawn, so I had an unscheduled trip to fetch him and drop him at school before I was fully awake. Too much focus on the iPod and too little on the actual number of the bus, I think.

This is the same son who stuck a piece of paper on the TV screen last night, saying "bed time, old ones", after taking photos of both my mother and me asleep in the chairs facing the TV. At 9pm. Did I mention middle-aged?? Ancient, maybe. What a blessing that boy is. Man. I forget he is 18 now. If he takes any more candid photos, he may not make 19.

I went into school yesterday to tell the girls what they need for their practical work and where to get it, and that was a strange place to be in. It felt weird to be standing in front of them, talking, and yet to not belong. They were very happy to see me, and that was lovely, but it was difficult in a way. I am not sure I am doing the right thing. For me. My idea of education and that of the powers that be seem to be diametrically opposite right now. The only reason I am going in is because I think these girls have been shortchanged in the worst way, and their future matters to me. They are capable of great results, but not without me, or another experienced specialist guiding their practical work. It is "not my problem", but in my heart it is. You know what I mean? They matter. I believe in them. I really do care. Dilemma. The head of department knows her limitations, and is fighting so hard for them, and yet the powers that be ............ maybe I should stop now. I have teaching friends who read this. (Hi guys... I love you all.)

I think I might just have underestimated the emotional cost of the past few months a little. Preparing for the Inquest, having to make mega decisions etc etc. Looking for a job. Sorting out Mum. Fighting legal battles. Trying to find answers to questions which haunt me. Being a Mum. Being a friend. Being a daughter. Being a woman. What? I have forgotten how to be the last one. Maybe one day.

Right now, all I want to do is hibernate. Sounds good to me. And maybe crawl out next spring to a new and different world.


The sun is shining, and the garden is covered with leaves and I should get out there and sweep them up. Or go and sew. Or make a cake. Or go for a walk.

Oh for a simple and uncomplicated life!!! Just for a little while.

Taking a deep are 5 things I am thankful for today:
  1. Laughing son
  2. Washing machines that work
  3. Reading glasses with 2 arms
  4. Enjoying coffee out with Mum
  5. Dreams
Maybe I'll postpone the hibernation a while after all!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Morning sunrise

It was a beautiful sunrise this morning.....

as you can see.................

This is the "mound" behind the church, early this morning.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Butternuts in autumn

Autumn means soup to me. Especially butternut soup. Do you get butternut squash in the States? I have no idea. I remember when we arrived here to live in 1990, butternuts were nowhere in sight. Now you can get them everywhere. In South Africa, they were the first savoury food you gave a baby. Butternut and gem squash. Just divine.

So when I saw them in one of the local shops shortly after I arrived, I was beyond happy. But after a few weeks, they stopped getting them in, so I went to have a little "chat" with the fresh produce manager, who informed me that no-one ever bought them. Now, as I had singlehandedly being popping his entire stock into my trolley every week and making soup for all and sundry and converting them to butternuts forever, I disagreed. So we came to a compromise. He would order a box and I would guarantee to buy the whole thing.

A week later, he called to tell me they were in, so off I went to collect them. What happened next was hysterical. I heaved the box into my trolley and headed for the checkout. Should have been simple? Hah! By the time I got halfway there, I had a horde of women around my trolley asking where I had got them, why there were none out and why I had them ALL, so I looked at them, and said....follow me, ladies, and headed off to find the fresh produce manager. He saw us coming and nearly passed out. No-one buys your butternuts? I think not, Mr Fresh Produce Man. I helpfully offered to share my box, on the condition that they went back on the regular supply list. Victory!!

And now they are a staple for everyone. They grow here too. And you can buy them in virtually any food shop in the land. The fact that Jamie Oliver started using them in his TV shows and recipe books, as did all the other celebrity chefs also helped! I love butternuts. I think I might have mentioned that.
Let me know if you want the recipe for the soup. It is wonderful. It is also simmering on my hob as I speak.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Glowing world

Yesterday (after another back breaking session in the garden) David helped me take more loads to the tip to recycle, and on the way home, the light of the setting sun down in the valley near the river was so beautiful, that I had to go home and get my camera and take some photos. The sheep look as though they are glowing!

In autumn and spring, the sun is golden and everything is bathed in this amazing light. I took 53 photos while avoiding both sheep droppings and sheep. In about 15 minutes. The sun set at a really rapid pace too. I had not realised just how quickly it drops below the horizon.

This is where I used to walk Bailey, our border collie, who died a few years ago. It is a really peaceful place to go and walk around the lake. Unless you have a border collie who thinks she needs to arrange the sheep neatly in a little group. Which she did on one memorable occasion. And moved them 2 fields away from where they were in the beginning. The farmer thought it was hilarious. I thought she was going to bring the flock home to my house.

I think those sheep remember me. And Bailey. If you could have seen the looks I got from them as I tiptoed over the grass between them.........