Monday, 30 May 2011

Soft refreshing rain

The garden plants must be rejoicing! It has been raining steadily all day, a soft persistent rain which is soaking into the parched, cracked ground here, and I am really hoping that it will do a lot of good! Yesterday, I finally planted the dwarf French beans, the rhubarb, Marigolds and some garlic, so they will all be benefiting from the rain today. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon in the garden yesterday - I managed to do lots of odd jobs as well as the planting, and I did several loads of washing. It was a funny day weather-wise, as dark clouds kept looming and then blew over in the strong winds, so it didn't actually rain all day, and when the sun broke through the clouds, it was really quite warm.

Today has been all about housework as UJ is coming in the morning to stay for the rest of the week whilst we go away to the Norfolk coast. The house is now presentable, and I am just going to make a cake to leave for him, and then I will be satisfied!

We are really looking forward to these few days away, and hoping for good weather. It won't matter particularly if the weather isn't great, as we have packed books, DVDs and some homework to fill in the gaps! We will get out and about whatever the weather, so I hope to bring you some decent photos when we get back.

Have a good week, wherever you are and we'll be back at the weekend. Cheerio!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Bats and buzzing

Tonight we have been really excited to see two bats flying around the front of the house for a good quarter of an hour! Neighbours elsewhere on the estate have reported seeing bats near their houses before, but we haven't been so lucky before tonight.

The buzzing - well, I concentrate mostly on growing vegetables, but with the longstanding bee crisis that this country and others are facing, I decided that I really ought to do more for the bees, and I bought some little flower plug plants to put in amongst the veg - marigolds and petunias. Not sure about the companionability of petunias, but I know marigolds are good for veg!

Yesterday morning's coffee session at the chapel raised a fab £200 for the funds, and I sold off some of my books - ones that were in good condition so that rather than donate them all to the charity shops, I offered them for sale - many had only been read a couple of times, so I was pleased to get a £1 each for them. I came home with some ice cream money for the holiday next week, and made a donation to the chapel from the takings as well, so we were all pleased. Another lady donated a load of plants for sale - which is where my marigolds and petunias came from.

I have been to the chook food shop to stock up for next week, whilst UJ is in charge, and I also nipped into the library and borrowed three books for the holiday too. I have a mountain of ironing to plough through tomorrow so that I can pack on Monday! I need to get the school uniforms washed and dried tomorrow as well as we won't have a lot of time when we get back to do them - and I must organise a service for next Sunday as well!

I'd better be off to bed - we have had visitors here tonight - two children whilst their parents went out for the evening, so the little girl has been on the computer with the YFG and the little boy has been watching a DVD of the Robin Hood series with Jonas Armstrong, which he has loved! They also played a few board games earlier on, and had some snacks so I think they wouldn't mind coming back another time! The EFG made some lemon buns tonight, too, so people had to have a wee taste of those too.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Several hours of this morning were written off to a long sleep - I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open so once the girls were off to school and I had the morning chores done, I went back to bed - from 10 to 1.15pm!! Then I had to scramble round to get the rest of the jobs done before I left at 3pm to pick up the YFG and take her to her piano lesson. Tonight I have done some baking for a church coffee morning tomorrow - cheese scones and a lemon loaf cake - and I have waited up for the EFG to come home, as she has been out with a friend from school. Now I am off back to bed!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Challenges ahead

I am still considering my "40 things to do before I am 40" list, and it is coming along nicely. I do have to fill it up a little more, though, before I share it. Just can't quite get the last few spaces filled yet...

We are also getting lined up to do a Grocery Challenge when we come back from the holiday at half-term. The girls and I are looking at the rules, and have so far decided that we will be going from the 6th June to the 22nd July, so that is the rest of the school term. They are on board, which is always a bonus! There will be 7 weeks, or 47 days as it starts on a Monday and ends on a Friday, and we will have £100. We will be eating what we have in the storecupboards and freezers, what we can grow and what we are given! I have to say that we never actually ask for anything, but UJ rarely comes here empty-handed! To be fair, he often goes home with some eggs or a cake, or a dinner, so he gets something in return. I will not be buying extra food to stash away in the meantime, but will just be buying the usual bits and pieces. I will have to do some shopping this weekend to make sure that UJ has everything he likes whilst he is here chicken-sitting, and then the challenge will begin when we go back to school after the holiday.

The £100 will be for food. Other purchases are kept to an absolute minimum during challenges, considered on a "do you really have to have that? isn't there something else you could use?" basis, and there will be no book/toy/game/DVD/entertainment purchases whatsoever. No clothes, shoes, household items, extravagances of any kind.

Why? Because we can, because we have lots of stores and we could do with using some of it up to free some space in the freezers for this year's produce, because it will save us about £500 or more in cold hard cash in the bank, which can be saved! I will be keeping track of how much is put in the savings account, and will post it as we go through. I will also be posting shopping lists and menus, so i can keep track of what we are eating, and hopefully that what we are eating is still relatively balanced. I will be doing an inventory before we start, but I won't be posting that as it is bound to run to pages and pages - we have a lot of stores!

The other reason for doing this now is that we have some big bills coming up, and they just have to be paid! June sees the Vectra needing a new tax disc at £210, July brings the Volvo's turn at £215, and the TV license as well at £145.50, and the RAC membership too. I looked at paying for the RAC with Tesco clubcard vouchers, but they want £58 in vouchers for the membership we have, and I can do more interesting things with the children with those! I do put money aside for the big bills each month, but the Vectra has come at the wrong time of year for the plan that I have had for several years - the previous Astra was always taxed in January, but I bought the Vectra in December with six months' tax on it, so it has moved the time of year! Time to change the plan...

Monday, 23 May 2011

It rained!

And I got drenched in a couple of minutes! The baby chicks were out there and I had to race out and fetch them in under the verandah as they are too young to get that wet, so it was me who took the brunt of the showers whilst I was bringing them in. This dry spring weather is causing some problems for the farmers and crop growers around here, and my garden has been in danger of blowing away as the soil is so dry and fine that it was just like dust! The rain has dampened it down so it should stick around a while longer, I hope.

I am saddened tonight to hear that this storm which has passed over the UK in the last couple of days, with very strong winds, has killed a couple of people. There has been a lot of damage done, and other people have been lucky to escape with minor injuries when trees have fallen onto trains and cars. Travel has been widely disrupted across Scotland and the north of England, with bridges closed due to the high winds, trains not running because of debris on the tracks and roads closed or slow because of accidents.

I spent over an hour on the phone this morning trying to sort out the electricity companies. We were sent a big "final" bill by our utility company because they were closing our account, as they thought that we wanted another company to take over our supply. It was an "erroneous transfer" due to the fact that the national database of electricity supplies has not been updated since these houses were built, still using the plot numbers. So when a neighbour asked for her supply to be moved to another company, instead of taking the supply relating to her house number, they took the supply relating to my old plot number, which happen to be the same! I think we are heading towards the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a hassle to get it all sorted out.

Tonight has been a leftover night - the FH and EFG had the sausage plait cold tonight with various side dishes and pickles, and the YFG had a tin of her absolute favourite soup - Baxter's Highland Broth. She loves the stuff, but it has to be a rare treat as it is expensive! I made a quick vegetable risotto for my supper as I can't eat the sausage plait. They all had their meals after band practise tonight; one of the band leaders died and there is a big funeral tomorrow where people are coming from bands all over the area to play at the funeral, so the FH will be going along. The man was in his senior years, but died after a long battle with cancer. He will be much missed in the village.

The holiday issues have been resolved and we can stay until the Saturday so we are all pleased! I will be going to the library later in the week to choose some books to take along, and I will also be looking to dig out my knitting needles to carry on with my squares. I plan to do some studying whilst we are away as well, as there will be less distractions! Just hoping that the weather goes back to the warm and sunny stuff we have been enjoying, but somehow I fear that it might just tip down a month's worth of rain instead, since I have been praying for rain for the garden - you do have to be careful what you ask for!!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Top post

That post way back when for Sausage plait is still my top ranking post, with so many hits on a daily basis compared to anything else I have written! So, guess what? I made sausage plait for tea photos though as you all know what it looks like now.

Today has been another Maggie day where I have been pleased with all that we have achieved. The morning service went very well which was a relief as I had had visions of it being a disaster! The other lady that I sometimes lead services with helped me today by taking on a part of the service that I usually do and that took a bit of the pressure off me, but then I did a different part for a change, so it all worked out well. I had a group of children reading the Three Little Pigs story about the houses made of straw, sticks and bricks, because the text for the day was from 1 Peter 2:2-10 where it says we are to be like living stones, and the whole service was about stones! So I drew a parallel with the house of bricks in the story, telling the children that the little pigs were living safely in the brick house as we can live safely and securely sheltered by our faith in Jesus which is represented by the bricks/stones in the Bible text. The house is solid and secure, just like our faith.

After church, I put my feet up for half an hour and had a cup of tea and a snack, before I started on the garden. It has been fine all day, and I hung washing out on the line, but it has been so windy here that I have really been thinking about my friends in Scotland (all of you - all over the place!) where much much stronger winds were forecast. I hope no one has any structural damage.

In the garden I finished weeding another raised bed, and then planted some cobnut squashes and the runner beans. These are a variety called Czar which I bought from the Real Seed catalogue, and they are growing into lovely strong plants. We have an old swing and we are using the frame to add stability to the bean poles as they have been blown over several times in past years. I am really hoping that they stay upright this year. I have also pricked out some Little Gem lettuce seedlings (must sow some more!) and potted up some free tomato plants which arrived this week. I think that they are called Tomazilla, not a variety I have heard of before, but free is always good so they were worth a go!

After tea, I had a bath and then enjoyed watching the last episode of Vera with the FH for the evening's entertainment. Have to admit that all the fresh air today has tired me out. Day at home tomorrow so more gardening on the cards - always lots to do in the garden...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Chick flicks

Here's Leah with one of her chicks - the other one is around in there too. The blur in the photo is the wire of the run that they are in. They are all doing well.

These are the almost two-week old chicks which hatched in the incubator. Today was their first day outside - the sun was shining and I thought they could do with some fresh air and sunshine; they loved it!

They were a little timid when they first went outside but they soon got used to the grass and the colours of the outdoors.

When they were warm, they would sit in the shade but they had a grand time, fluttering their wings and exploring the space. They stayed outside until about 6pm, and now they are back in their box in the utility room for the night. They are done with the heat lamp now. They are very healthy-looking chicks, eating well and growing feathers fast!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Just a little rant!

The Fens areas have quite a few Tesco stores: let's start in the north, with Wisbech, and then head south - March has two, there's one out at Downham Market, Ely has a large one, Huntingdon has an even bigger one with an upstairs area, there's another at Ramsey heading out west a little, and then there is the huge one at Bar Hill, much closer to Cambridge but still within reasonable travelling distance. Other supermarkets don't get much of a look-in round here; there is an Asda at Wisbech and a Sainsbury in March, a Morrison's at Downham Market and a Waitrose at Ely. That is about it. Obviously Tesco has a monopoly in this area - and the other week the newspaper reports that there is to be yet another one, in the market town of Chatteris. Why would the local people need yet another one? It would surely have been more appropriate to have brought in some competition - an Asda or a Morrison's would have been much better and given more people a wider choice within their area. The paper was full of letters last week from local people who are complaining about it. I am beginning to hate myself for succumbing to Tesco's wiles to get us into the store, but I feel that I have to weigh up the economies of shopping there against the stand I would like to make by shopping elsewhere. I'm not really much good at making a stand as I am more driven by making the most of every penny for the children's sake.

And that brings me to the next point. £9K a year for 3 years, for two children: that is £750 a month for 6 consecutive years for their university education. Can't do it. Not a chance. We have been talking about it lately, and whilst we are saving hard into funds for their future, we and they realise that those funds are going to have to help support them whilst they are studying rather than being the means by which we pay for the courses. They realise that they will have to take out tuition fee loans in order to pay for the courses.

Today we have had the official opening of the new KS1 building at the school. My speech went off fine, and I was presented with a very post brass ceremonial key to symbolise the handing over of the building in to the care of the Governors. It was a lovely day, and the opening was done by a local Fenland celebrity, a boxer called Dave "Boy" Green who was a British and European Welter weight champion in the seventies!

A day at home tomorrow until I have to pick the girls up, so I will be doing a mountain of washing, watering plants, planting out some beans if the weather holds and starting a major clutterbusting session! I am also hoping to get another batch of eggs set in the incubator Friday so I must disinfect it tomorrow and get it turned on to get up to the right temperature. All go!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Woe is me - again!

The clouds are building on the horizon and there is trouble brewing!

The girls are being affected by a boy on the school bus hassling them and some other girls, the problems at school are resurfacing because they are not being dealt with effectively, and another issue has arisen at school which involves a friend of mine.....and then there is the matter of the caravan holiday, which has not yet been resolved.

I know that these are small problems compared to other challenges that the world is facing. I know two people currently serving in Afghanistan - a neighbour is serving in Kandahar with the US military and the EFG's godmother's son is in Camp Bastion with the Royal Navy. A bomb was found in Ireland this morning ahead of the Queen's visit, so whether it would have affected her or not, it could have killed others; the people of Japan are struggling to rebuild their shattered country; I have two dear friends currently being affected by mental health issues - I know that my problems are small fry compared to these!

This week so far

Tuesday already - again! Wednesday will be here tomorrow [of course!] and the week will be half over - how quickly the days are passing.

Sunday was a good day; we went to church, and then rushed home because the service went on longer than usual, and we had two lots of visitors coming, to whom we had said, "Come any time after 11," so when the service finished at five to, I had to scurry the FH away from another cup of coffee. We did manage a little breather before anyone arrived, though.

UJ came to lunch, and the girls wanted lasagne, so I thought I would make some home-made garlic bread to go with it. I put some French stick dough in the bread machine so that it was ready for me to roll out and leave to rise when we got home from church, and that was timed to perfection. It rose beautifully and I cooked it and then let it cool. Once I had the lasagne in the oven, I sliced the bread almost through, and spread each piece with some butter mixed with garlic, wrapped it all up in tinfoil and put it back in the oven. With some steamed broccoli, we had a good feast. We followed it up with some meringue nests [from the reduced section because one out of the pack of 8 had been crushed] topped with a tiny portion of squirty cream and some strawberries and mango.

In between the meals, I did some more potting up and seed sowing, sitting in the verandah. Leeks and brown onions, Sutherland kale and sprouting broccoli all made it to the next stage, and I sowed some new lettuce seed as the last lot hadn't come up at all - I think it was too old.

In the evening, I watched "Vera" starring Brenda Blethyn [can't believe she is 65] and did the ironing.

Yesterday was also another busy day - washing, a bit of stuff to do on the computer, some housework, a quick trip to town to put some cheques in the bank and go to the tool shop for the FH, and get two watches repaired at the jeweller's shop - one dead battery and one broken strap.

Last night I took the church treasurer to a meeting in a nearby village, and that was an eye-opening experience. Once the minister had opened the meeting with a prayer, there was no mention of God or the Bible, of how God might help us to raise money or that we should be praying for guidance on the whole issues around the payments. There are 15 churches in the circuit, and each has to pay an assessment to the circuit each year, in four quarterly payments. There was a general malaise amongst the treasurers that they couldn't pay that amount - and it is all fair and in proportion so each church has to pay the same amount per member. We always struggle a little to pay, but we do a lot of fundraising in the village and always manage to get the money together. Our treasurer was quiet and let the others do the complaining as she felt we had nothing to complain about. The other thing is that these churches expect to get grants from the circuit towards their big expenses - but they can't see that if they don't put the money in, they can't get any back out - it's not a bank where you can get an overdraft or loan! The minister in charge kept asking if people wanted to say anything, but I was afraid to open my mouth as I was concerned that if I started, I wouldn't be able to stop!

And so to today - gymnastics tonight. I am hoping for an email from my sister today as she is mucking me about over the caravan on the coast again. She did this a year or so ago and double booked it so that we couldn't go when we had arranged to go, hence our trip to Scotland last October. This time I booked it for the school half-term in two weeks time, so that we would be able to go from the Tuesday to the Saturday. Now she is telling me that she thinks she has told some man he can have it on the Friday night. We are all very disappointed about that, and I have told her to find out for sure and let me know asap. We were all looking forward to a good poke around on Sheringham Market on the Saturday morning and it was to have been one of the highlights of the break, so I hope she sorts it out in our favour. I shall make her email me confirmation next time!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

More chicks

Leah has successfully hatched two dear little GPO chicks - they came out on Thursday from the nest and are in a run with her on the lawn. She is an excellent mum, and does so well with her broods each year. It isn't her fault that only two of the four eggs hatched, and she will look after these two brilliantly, I'm sure.

We were at gym last night, and then again this morning, and then we came straight home, not pottering about in the shops at all. What a difference that makes to the afternoon - there really was an afternoon! I had some lunch, had a bath, did some washing, planted out beans in the long troughs that the FH made last year so that the beans can grow up the trellis again [Climbing Blue Lake in one area and a Runner bean called Teenie Beanie in another section], finished weeding a raised bed for the onions, leeks and garlic to go out tomorrow if it is fine, fed the chickens, answered the phone a couple of times, had a cup of tea sitting in the shed watching the was lovely to be able to spend some time outdoors, mulling things over in my head, as well as doing something useful.

Then the EFG presented herself to me with very itchy and red eyes, so I rounded up the troops, gathered together a couple of errands, and we went back to town. I visited some friends on the way with a parcel for them, went to Focus to get some compost, and then went to Tesco for some Optrex and eye drops. Tonight we have had a storecupboard/freezer dinner of sticky chicken with a vegetable rissotto. The girls are off doing things and the FH is heading for the shower and the tv, I think - I won't be far behind him!

Friday, 13 May 2011

16 months and counting

In 16 months' time, I will be 40.....and I have seen an article somewhere (in Good Housekeeping, perhaps) about a lady who chose 40 things to do before she was 40 - she didn't manage to do them all, but I was sort of inspired. She chose big achievements, like hot air ballooning in Namibia, driving alone on the motorway, losing weight, doing things and going places. A lot of them weren't things I would choose, so I started to concoct my own list. It's not finished yet - I'll happily take suggestions - and I will share it soon!


Just hoping that Blogger eventually restores the two missing posts - one with the photos of the chooks and one with the Eccles cakes. If they don't pop back soon, I will re-write them!

And with one "refresh" they are back! Hope Blogger doesn't do that sort of thing too often.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Very quick Eccles cakes

I brought out from the freezer some frozen puff pastry two days ago, and unfortunately didn't make the recipe I had been planning to make. The pastry was in the fridge and getting a little dry, so I thought I had better do something with it tonight. I had the oven on anyway to make home-made chicken nuggets and home-made baked chips, so it wasn't an extravagance to use the heat for these.

They are very simple!

One block of frozen puff pastry cut into twelve squares and then each rolled out to about three inches square - quite thin. Some of the home made mincemeat left from Christmas was put in the middle of each square, about a dessertspoonful, and then the corners folded in to contain it all, and the whole parcel turned over so that all the gatherings are underneath. I cut two small slits in the top of each one, brushed each with egg, and then sprinkled some brown sugar over as well, and baked at 160C in the fan oven for about 25 minutes. The FH is in love again, and it isn't with me - he has eaten three tonight already! Some of them split open a little but I shall know better for next time - for an experiment, I was quite pleased with the results.

What a difference a week makes

This is the beginning of the hatch last week - they weren't all out of the incubator yet.
Very cute and fluffy.

And this is the gang a week later - the fluff is already being superseded with the beginnings of the feathers, and they are looking more grown up!

They are all well and healthy, and I am thrilled with the hatch.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My day "off"

No meetings, no pick ups, no appointments, and I didn't have to be anywhere at any particular time - bliss!

OK so I did have to go out and do a few errands around and about the village, but they were happily done in my own time, and I had time to stop and chat with people, rather than rushing. So I have had a day at home, with the girls, pottering. They were both in too much pain from the dental work yesterday to go to school today, so I have had to dose them up with Nurofen and let them sleep some of the day away in an attempt to get through the pain. They were both up by lunchtime, and on softer foods for today, not that that has stopped them from eating!

I had the lettuces and seedlings watered early this morning before the sun got out too strongly, did a couple of loads of washing and had those hung out in the sunshine, tidied the kitchen and the lounge, and did some weeding tonight. I have also posted a dozen eggs to Somerset, so I hope they get there safe and sound, and, more to the point, I hope they hatch for the poor chap!

I am a little disappointed as my cousin has had to postpone our lunch on Sunday - she was cooking for all of us and UJ for Sunday lunch, but her father-in-law, who lives with them, is ill so she has had to let me know we can't go this weekend. Tis a shame, and I really hope he is feeling better soon. She has just launched a new business, so she is stressed already, so I am praying that it is nothing too serious for him, and that he will make a speedy recovery.

UJ was here for lunch with the FH today - he sat and snoozed much of the afternoon away but he did have half an hour in the garden with me later on, as we sat in the sun and chatted about the garden. He will be coming to look after our little estate here whilst we go away for 4 nights in half-term, so we were talking about the chooks and who's who, and what is going on in the veg beds. It was lovely to relax and chat. He has an appointment on Thursday to see an orthopaedic surgeon about his hips and shoulder, where he is getting a lot of pain. He had a hip replacement op in July of 1998, and now that hip is very painful again, and the other side is over-compensating and getting very sore as well, so he needs help. I hope he can be put on the waiting list for surgery soon.

Ginger cake

This is the only ginger cake recipe I have used in the last 12 years - there just hasn't been a need to look for another one when this works so well, and always brings compliments!

I was a childminder when the EFG was small, and used to look after a child called B after school. Her mum brought us a ginger cake one day, and everyone said how great it was [had lodgers at the time so there were several people to exclaim over how wonderful it was!] so I had to ask for the recipe. The mum explained that this was B's Nanna's Ginger Cake, and so that is how I wrote it down in my old exercise book notebook, and that is how it has remained ever since!

The recipe makes 2 or 3 cakes, in 2lb loaf tins. I use loaf tin liners from Lakeland or Julian Graves, which I would recommend as it is a very runny mixture and would get between cut corners of a loaf tin if I lined it myself with greaseproof paper.

Here we go: Preheat an electric fan oven to 150C. If you have another kind of oven, adjust accordingly.

2 tins

3 tins

12 oz

15 oz

Golden syrup

8 oz

10 oz

Margerine or butter

Melt these two together in a pan over the heat


1 ¼ lb

Self raising flour

2 tsp

2 ½ tsp


4 tsp

5 tsp

Ground ginger

2 tsp

2 ½ tsp

Bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp

1 ½ tsp

Ground mixed spice

6 oz

7 ½ oz

Caster sugar

Sieve all the dry stuff together in a big bowl





2 ½

Cups milk (I use an American cup measure)

Beat eggs and milk together in a jug.

So at this point you have cooling syrup and butter in a pan, dry ingredients in a big bowl, and the beaten eggs and milk mixture in a jug. The two or three loaf pans should be ready to go, and the oven is on!

Now you need some kind of beater - I use a small hand held electric mixer, but a big mixer would work well too. You need to mix all the ingredients together in the big bowl, and mix, and mix. It incorporates air, which makes it quite light, but it also needs to make sure that there are no lumps of flour clumping together. So beat very well, and look for clumps.

Pour into the tins and bake in the middle of the oven for anything from 40 minutes to about an hour depending on your oven. I turn them around half way through as one side of my oven has a tendency to burn things. It doesn't matter if it gets a little darkened, but you are looking to remove them from the oven as soon as a skewer/knife/toothpick [depending on where you are in the world!] comes out clean.

Leave them in the tins to cool, and then you have some options.

You can start eating them! Or you can pop one or two into large freezer bags and freeze them as they hold up well in the freezer. Apart from that, if you can bear to wait, you will be rewarded: wrap in tinfoil and put in an airtight tin for up to a week or even a bit longer, and they will start to develop the "stickiness" of a bought Jamaica ginger cake which people seem to love.

If you are making this as a gift, or for a coffee morning, for example, try to plan ahead and make it a few days in advance as it will definitely improve for keeping a few days.

If you have dietary restrictions, note that this also works very well with soya milk, vegan margerine like Vitalite and barley flour. When I could still have soya milk [soya products now give me bad stomach pains] I used to enjoy this cake too. I haven't made it recently for myself, and I haven't tried it with the Dove's Farm gluten free flour, but the barley flour works fine for wheat-free people.

Enjoy - and let us know if you try it out!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Stop the world, I want to get off!

I guess that I left blogland for nearly a week, because there just wasn't the time and energy to be here, as well as doing everything in real life that needed doing. I have been reading your blogs, so I know that Sue at The Quince Tree has an immaculate fridge, and I have serious fridge-envy; Ilona is off to Scotland tomorrow, and I wish I was going too! Then Albedo and the BH have planted some raspberries, and it sounds like Silversewer is off on a jolly as well........hope everyone is well.

So, what's been happening here, then?

The dust had barely settled on the new Headteacher appointment when we were thrown straight in to organising the official opening of the new extension of the school - they've been using it for a year, but we hadn't got round to having the bods and dignitaries out to cut the ribbon or open the curtain over the plaque - and now we have only just over a week to get it all sorted. A lot of the background work has been done and now it is just the detail - and one huge thing no one told me about is that I have to make a speech - aaaaaaaaaaaaargh! I've got just that week to think about that.

The garden has taken off and I have seedlings coming up beautifully in the verandah. Sunday afternoon I had to do some repotting, and they are all looking very healthy. There's just the matter of the weeds in the raised beds to deal with before I can plant them out in a day or so. I did manage to get 20 lettuce plants out, which I bought as plug plants and then potted up. They seem to be doing very well, but I am watering them every day in this "drought" that we are having in the East.

The chicks are going great guns - tiny feathers are now appearing amongst all the fluff and they are so cute. Rather smelly, in my lounge, necessitating the use of lots of fragrant candles and having to be cleaned out daily, but cute nonetheless. They may be moving shortly, as the next hatch is due tomorrow. I bought some chocolate orpington bantam eggs from good old ebay, so fingers crossed that they do hatch. I have had a message from someone else who bought partridge orpington eggs from the same seller as I did, with the disappointing nil points hatch. He also had absolutely no fertile eggs in the 6 he bought, so we have done a deal and I am going to send him some of my eggs. I had hoped to swap some, but he hasn't a cockerel, so that put paid to that idea. If we get the payment sorted, I am hoping to get those in the post to him tomorrow.

The girls have both been to the dentist today - the EFG to the local one for a filling with the FH as her chaperone, and I had to take the YFG to Cambridge to the orthodontist for tightening and alterations to her braces - and now she is in a lot of pain, as she is each time she has them altered. I suspect I may be up a couple of times in the night, once for Nurofen and once for Calpol administration. She has been to gym with me tonight, and worked hard, but I could see that she was in pain.

I went to a nearby chapel out of the village on Sunday evening to a service which my mentor Local Preacher was taking and I was priviliged to meet an old gentleman called Fred who will be 98 on Thursday - he was lovely! He said he hoped to make it to 100, but he wasn't confident. I pray he does, and that I can meet him again.

On Friday I made some ginger cakes: three - one for chapel craft meeting in the morning, one for the staffroom to say thanks to the staff for all their efforts over the HT work, and one for a member of staff and his wife, as his wife is quite ill. They were all well received but the FH was miffed that there wasn't one left for home so I set to and made three more yesterday morning. I think that I will share the recipe with you tomorrow - although I may already have done so, way back in here somewhere - it will bear repeating as it is a fab cake and always brings me compliments!

Good night :-)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Catching up with myself

Just a quick one to say thanks for all your support. We successfully appointed a new Head last night so that is a big relief - although I am mentally exhausted after the whole process!
The chick count is now up to 12, although the photos are still on the phone. And the YFG had her first piano lesson with a proper piano teacher tonight, and she did really well and liked the lady, which is a bonus. That's all I can say tonight as all I want to do is fall into the bath and head for bed. Hopefully I will be able to fill in the gaps at the weekend!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Busy busy!

Yesterday was a very long day, at school, on the first selection day for the HT job. Then I went to gym afterwards....Today we have the presentations and formal interviews, so we should be able to go to the Full Governing Body tonight and make a recommendation - I hope!

Big news in the household is that we have 8 GPO chicks this morning - pleased to say that they are hatching from my own GPO eggs, less pleased to have to report that the bought in eggs show no signs of hatching at all, rather disappointingly.

We have taken photos, so will hope to get those on here tonight. Must go now - lots to do!!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Maggie's Monday

Apparently, Margaret Thatcher once said that the most satisfying day was one on which one had everything to do, and one got it all done, or words to that effect. So today has been like that - I feel like I have got tonnes done! I cut the back lawn, watered all the veg seedlings and the gooseberry plants, made 6 loaves of bread and some sticky buns, did some ironing, looked after the chooks, had time to sit in the sun for half an hour and read a book, and have watched some tv tonight - another new drama called "Case Sensitive" which concludes tomorrow evening.

Now I am off to have a bath before going to bed - very early start in the morning as I need to be at school just after 8am for the first day of the HT selection procedure - I just hope I have all the paperwork in hand. Hoping to see some cracks in the eggs by the morning as well - keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Special Sunday

We didn't arise too early this morning, as it being the first Sunday of the month, I was taking the 11am service at chapel, and I didn't feel up to going to the 9.30am service as well. We missed a treat, as it happened, as the preacher at the 9.30am was a retired baker and confectioner and he brought along cream meringues and chocolate eclairs!! My service went OK, although I could still do with more of a congregation....

The spare washing machine has been hard at it all afternoon but it has been so windy here today that the washing has dried in no time. I must have had five or six loads through it today, so what with the sun and the wind, the washing smells lovely - so fresh and clean - just as clean washing should smell.

We have enjoyed watching the new mystery drama, "Vera" tonight, starring Brenda Blethyn, and she is excellent. It was a rather gritty drama, and I really enjoyed watching it, although the YFG was fiddling with my feet half the time, and tickling me!! She has been working really hard today on her science revision, as has the EFG, so they both deserved a rest.

And William and Kate are not swanning off on honeymoon immediately, but enjoying a secluded weekend break in the UK before returning to Anglesey next week so that the Prince can return to work - I am impressed. That fits in so well with the dignified and not-over-the-top tone of the whole wedding; somehow two weeks somewhere hot and expensive would have spoiled that. Good for them. I must admit to being shocked at reading in the paper today that Pippa Middleton's dress would have cost around £20,000. That seems to be an obscene amount of money to pay for a piece of material, however expertly draped. I must remember to tell my girls not to fall in love with a prince, as there is no way I could afford it!

We are hoping for a hatch from the big blue incubator this week. In order to keep the bought in GPO eggs separate from my own ones, we have removed the bought in ones to another incubator so that when they hatch, we will know which birds are which. I am hoping for some good news by Wednesday! Will keep you up to date on that. I will have to get the FH to buy some chick crumbs on Tuesday afternoon when he takes the girls to gymnastics, and get the lights sorted out.

The EFG has sold a few books on eBay this weekend, so I must help her to sort them out and package them up to post on Tuesday. She's quite pleased to have some money in her camera fund already!