Welcome to family, friends and visitors. Here you will find interesting (hopefully) pictures of my part of the world, news of our household and probably, long ramblings about anything that catches my interest.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Wintry.

It's been a day of sunshine and wintry showers, very wintry indeed with a good amount of hail. First thing this morning I decided to walk down to the Co-Op to get the sugar. It's a brisk 15 minutes walk, downhill on the way there and uphill on the return. For most of the journey the road is the last one in town so I had plenty of country views over and between the detached bungalows. On the other side of the road were occasional views of the hills on the far side of town. No feelings of being marooned in a city thank goodness, 20 years was enough for me.
My day has mainly been spent baking biscuits as well as unpacking the last boxes and filling up the big pine sideboard. All was going well, the chewy chocolate.....
(Wow, I just clicked on something and was given the option of 'Read aloud' which of course I had to try. And yes I was treated to a natural sounding man's voice reading this post.) ..... cookies were done, so also the biscuits with contrasting centres. I thought I'd leave the lemon icing until tomorrow and just do the chocolate decorating. The heart shaped biscuits needed dipping in white chocolate and I planned to drizzle white and dark chocolate on the cookies. It started well, I dipped the smaller hearts first then began on the bigger hearts. Then the chocolate wouldn't stick to one biscuit. The melted chocolate began to solidify which I thought might be down to the slightly chilly kitchen. I tried using more hot water in the outer bowl but no matter what the chocolate remained soft but not runny enough to pour. I ended up spreading it on the last biscuits with a knife. In the end I gave up. I don't suppose my family will mind. I know chocolate can be temperamental and by that time I'd had enough. I wonder if I accidentally got some water into the melted chocolate and upset the structure of the chocolate? The dark chocolate behaved itself and I flicked chocolate over the cookies. I've got half a bar of white chocolate left so I may try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Very Wet.

We've had a lot of blustery showers today. It would be fine one minute and the next you could hardly see where you were going. Right now the wind and rain are battering at the window. Peter was all set to go rowing this afternoon when the row was called off because of the wind. I had all my Christmas post to take to the Post Office and instead of walking into town from Lidl's I drove a bit further to the Post Office at Sticklepath. They have space for a few cars and even if as today they are full you can park on the road. My bill for stamps was quite high because either the envelopes were about 1 cm too big to qualify as standard letters or the embellishments on the fancy cards made them too fat. A bit annoying but it's only once a year.
Before going home I went back to BJ's as they are the only place that still have daffodil bulbs. I really wanted the early big bright yellow ones but had to settle for some 2-tone daffodils and another bag of the little yellow narcissi.
This afternoon I made a start on my Christmas biscuits. I only had a couple of hiccups which is quite good for me. First of all I discovered that despite carefully writing out lists of ingredients before shopping yesterday I had forgotten to buy icing sugar which is needed for two of the recipes I'm using. Then  as the second batch of Lebkuchen  were in the oven I saw that I had 3 rather than 2 heart shaped cutters and had used the largest instead of the middle sized one. I made a few with the smallest cutter but as my family are hearty eaters made the rest bigger. So even bigger biscuits this year. Then I couldn't find my star shaped cutter which I planned to use for the gingerbread biscuits so used a cat shaped cutter instead. The kitchen is easy to work in but I stopped after two kinds of biscuits and they still need decorating.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Two Rainbows.


I may have just gained myself a reputation as a crazy lady amongst the neighbours. Not only do we not have net curtains or blinds on any of our windows but this evening as the dark began to fall I was cleaning out our wheelie bin in the parking area. This came about because today we had our fortnightly rubbish collection. I had tied up the bag inside the bin so that it would fall into the dust lorry. This evening I went to put in a new bin bag and found that not only was there still some rubbish at the bottom of the bin, the sides were dirty and the whole thing stank. Clad in bright yellow gloves I began cleaning it with bleach, water from a watering can and a kitchen scrubber fixed on the end of an old broom stick. I then decided that I didn't want to tip out the filthy water/bleach in my garden or even on the communal grass as the bleach might kill off the grass. So I dragged the bin, watering can, bleach and scrubbing stick over to the hardstand where people park their cars. I scrubbed and rinsed it out a couple of times and after letting the bin drain upside down for a while brought it back to the front garden. 
When I woke this morning one half of the window showed bright blue sky and the other half dark grey clouds. It wasn't long until the clouds had covered the whole view which was then improved by the sight of first one rainbow followed by a second.

Not only did we have the treat of a double rainbow but the end, and of course the pot of gold, was somewhere in the trees along the next road.
I had an appointment to see my doctor today. The skipped beats seem to be settling down but my blood pressure is a bit high so I shall be wearing a 24 hour monitor in January. I'd better keep up my exercise bike sessions and add in some high intensity work. After my appointment I did some shopping including the last of my Christmas shopping. There were a few showers and I was glad I was wearing my new waterproof jacket. As last year's hanging basket of winter flowering violas had lasted for so long I bought 6 pots which had been reduced to 50p to put in a hanging basket that is by the front door.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Sunny.

Today has been bright and sunny with enough wind to make it worth hanging washing out on the line. I've found why Fluffy Cat is always in our garden, he likes to sleep on top of a cupboard in the shed where the sun shines in and he is sheltered from the wind. Today he stood yowling at Patch until my presence made him turn tail. Speedy has already found the way around the row of houses so I can let him out of the front door and when he's had enough he comes through the cat flap from the back garden. Patch just waits by the front door until I let him back in again. 
First thing this morning I painted one last coat of paint on the back wall. In the afternoon the men from the Hospice shop came to collect the mirror which was in the garage. We took the opportunity to ask them to help us move the big pine cupboard from the garage into the house.  Peter bought a small trolley which is useful for moving stuff. While we were at the garage we put the round garden table on its side to take up less room. We also discovered that the garage roof leaks, not a lot but noticeable in a couple of places after the recent heavy rain. Luckily I had saved my old heavy plastic tablecloths which came in useful to cover up things for the moment. We were chatting to our neighbour whose garage is next to ours and they have a similar problem. The roof is made of wavy concrete asbestos boards and there may be something to paint/spray on to make it waterproof. 
Now that the cupboard is in place against a white wall it is beginning to feel a bit more like home. 
 Tonight's sunset from the back (above) and the front (below) of the house.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Stormy.

I woke before light this morning to hear the sound of a storm raging outside. The gusting wind and occasional clattering of bins being blown about made me appreciate how warm and cosy I felt under the duvet. Once it was light I could see our kerbside food caddy (for food recycling) was on its side halfway down the garden with the lid open. As I wrap up the food scraps in newspaper, using the free weekly paper, I thought I'd better go down and rescue the caddy before it got too wet inside. Surprisingly the Christmas wreath was still in place on a nail by the door. Very little of my anti-cat holly had been blown away either as I had pushed the stems into the soil. By mid-morning the wind had died down but the rain continued. This report mentions that the 'New' Bridge aka the Taw Bridge had gusts of nearly 75 mph while the rest of the country has had snow and ice with more to come.
I was up early so that I could put another coat of paint on the wall and have just painted a third coat. The rest of my day was devoted to writing my Christmas cards. There was a bit of a hold up when I discovered that one of the boxes of luxury cards I had bought last January came with silver envelopes. Very nice to look at but almost impossible to write on even with a permanent marker. After a protracted search I eventually found a roll of white labels on which I could write. Somehow that took all afternoon and to finish off I wrapped up 2! Christmas presents. It's a start.
Still looking streaky as the paint hasn't dried.
Latest weather forecast says -12C /10.4F for tonight.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Cold and Grey.

Today has been grey and cold without enough wind to dry any washing. While Peter was out rowing I used his PC to write up my Christmas letter. I don't have Office on my PC and since the school wouldn't let me keep my 9 year old lap top I have to rely on Peter's PC. Not that I have much need of Office anyway.
     Speedy and Fluffy Cat having a silent stare down. 
With the hope that we might bring the big dresser up from the garage soon this afternoon I shifted all the boxes around in the dining area and made a start on painting the last wall. I ended up using brute force to bend the floating shelves away from the wall so that I could unscrew the brackets from the wall. Actually I was multi-tasking, while waiting for the wall to dry after being washed down I mixed up a couple of banana loaves and while they were in the oven got on with the painting. My little paint roller is so much better than the big standard one. Not only does it reach right up to the ceiling without me having to stand on a chair but the smaller diameter of the roller makes it easier to get into corners and in general it is a lot easier to handle and clean afterwards.

The banana loaves weren't bad and it made a nice change to be able to control the temperature of the oven. I couldn't find my usual recipe, written on a scrap of paper so I got one on-line. I picked a BBC recipe so that I didn't need to convert the amounts but it is a bit too sweet for my taste, next time I'll reduce the amount of sugar.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Cold.

I woke very early this morning. As I lay watching the sky lighten I realised that the noises I could hear were from our house rather than the neighbours'. (We do hear things like front doors being closed but not too much.) Wondering if it might be a burglar, unlikely or a strange cat come in through the cat flap it turned out to have been the sound of 6 eggs hitting the marble floor after a determined effort on the cats' part to move the waste food caddy to the edge of the counter and thence onto the floor. Needless to say I was not amused.
At least being up so early gave me the chance to do my exercises and make porridge before a friend of Peter's came round to have a look at the garage door. Larry has been an engineer and knows about such things. He brought round some new pulley wires and explained how to fit them as well as how to close the door while it is still in its dilapidated state. 
I was not best pleased when I saw how the removal men had crammed stuff in the garage. No wonder they had reached a point where no more could fit. I think if they had taken a bit more time it would have been more sensibly stacked. Never mind, today I moved a lot of the stuff outside (I work better on my own when I'm trying to think of a plan as I go along) so that I could make some order out of the chaos. We had hoped that the big round garden table would go in the back garden on one of the decks but unfortunately it is a bit too big to manoeuver through the house. Once I had cleared out some stuff that should have gone to the dump in the first place and filled up a tall wooden cupboard with tools it was possible to stack the rest of the boxes and rearrange the odd shaped items so that things are accessible. There are still 3 pieces of furniture that need to come into the house when the walls are painted which will make even more room. We decided not to keep the antique overmantle mirror and the local hospice shop is coming to collect it next week which will give us a bit more space. Getting the garage sorted was a major job but as I had a car full of stuff I drove over to the dump to get rid of it all. 
It has been very cold today, mainly bright with the occasional shower. The sheets that I hung outside dried nicely in time for me to iron them. Peter feels the cold much more than me and while I still keep my study window open for the breeze he sits in his study wrapped up like a parcel. I haven't had the heart to point out that due to the staggered layout of the houses his room has 2 outside walls while the other rooms only have 1.