Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Lions and lambs

If anyone thought March was going to go out like a lamb this year, they'll be disappointed here today. The wind has been roaring round the house all night like the lion instead!  Gusts from the northwest are blowing things around, the bushes and trees are back and forth like mad - there is one good thing in that the wind is blowing all the clouds past really quickly and so the sun is shining.

I have had a lie in this morning  as the YFG doesn't have a revision day at school today - she had one for ICT yesterday and has one for Geography tomorrow, so I took the opportunity to stay snuggled up till 8am.  We've got to stay in today as the EFG has ordered something to be delivered here, and apparently it will be coming today.....but we do want to get to Aldi sometime this week and were hoping to go there this afternoon.  Fingers crossed the delivery gets here this morning.

The EFG's vegetarianism is going to be an interesting development in our culinary adventures.  She has some recipes which she loves which we are going to try out when she comes home as they will be new to the YFG and I, and we are going to look for a balance between meat-based meals with alternatives for her, and all of us sharing vegetarian dishes.  I am hoping that the vegetarian days are not going to involve cheese and dairy too often, as that will mean I can't eat the meals.....what a challenge.  She will be home on Saturday, and she is very good at meal planning, so I expect we'll work out some plans for the rest of the time she will be here and then use up what we have in the cupboards a little as well as having to buy some new ingredients - we don't use a lot of beans at the moment, for example.  She wants to have a look at the Jack Monroe book that I have, as there are some lovely recipes in there for vegetarians too.

Nearly 10am so I had better go and get the phone warmed up for the morning's work!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Tonight's tv

From my earliest memories, some of the greatest films I have watched have been based on biblical stories.  The film making may not have been the best, the stories may have been tweaked a little, and the acting may have been just a little wooden in places, but they are memorable stories.  Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments leaps in to my thoughts straight away, for example.  

(image from bbc.co.uk)

Tonight, we are offered Noah's Ark on the BBC. A made-for-tv film, it has been advertised on the tv for a few weeks now.  I thought it was going to be a new series the first time the ad came out, and then I gradually realised that it was a film.  I know already that there have been some tweaks - a fourth son, for example!  But I am going to watch, nevertheless.  It is a sad reflection, though, of the low importance of religious broadcasting that this is scheduled for 8.30pm on a Monday night.  It would have been more impressive to have been able to put it out last night, on Sunday, when a bigger proportion of the community might have been watching...

Sunday, 29 March 2015


Pause In Lent
(image from angalmond.blogspot.co.uk)

Joining in again with Ang over at Tracing Rainbows for the last Pause in Lent

I've been thinking about connections today, because I have been on a course for gymnastics over 20 miles away, and met a woman from another gym club locally here.  We connected instantly over the places we come from and our common interest in gymnastics, as well as people that we both know. We exchanged mobile numbers and email addresses before we left, and I am sure we will be in touch again soon.

Connections are important - the Methodist Connexion is an example of that.  It would be wonderful if we could all share our connection in Christ, and hold that as more important that our myriad differences.  

I've been disappointed at the response reported in the media that some of our supermarkets refused to stock the Real Easter Egg which is the only one which actually mentions Jesus.  It is really hard to help some people to understand the connection between Easter and Jesus when all they see in the media and in the shops are twee chocolate offerings and multiple pastel eggs which have nothing to do with our redemption.  Apparently one supermarket buyer told the Real Easter Egg rep that Easter had nothing to do with the church.......the mind boggles!

I am going to try to think of some different ways to remind myself and others of the significance of Holy Week and Easter.  I hope you have a blessed and peaceful time this Easter.

Saturday, 28 March 2015


I noticed this yesterday in particular because poor old Morrison's seem to have a bug in their computer systems and someone has got hold of email addresses and is sending out hundreds of spam emails about Morrison's vouchers - I had more than 15 emails in my inbox from them again this morning!

We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and inducements to visit shops and websites to be parted from our cash - and the companies are working hard at it.....my Facebook feed is full of it as well - two T-shirts for £30 from FatFace for example - probably because they found out that I bought a £45 jumper in the sale for £12.50 last autumn.  I get emails weekly from places that I have made purchases from in the past - the Book People and Approved Foods are constantly sending offers on delivery too.

It feels like an uphill battle sometimes to keep my money in my purse and under my control.  All these companies are targeting us and trying to entice us to part with it, and on a whim.  Their advertising methods are very convincing and appeal to our selfish natures - "You're worth it!" they are constantly reminding us.  Well, actually, that is a matter for me to decide, and what I decide is "worth" it is a secure roof over our heads and cash in the bank for a rainy day.

I had a conversation the other night with a dear friend, and I was almost speechless when she said she had never set foot in either an Aldi or a Lidl and hadn't a clue what they were like inside, or what they offered.  She's "never needed to," she said.  In the next breath, when we moved on to filling in the forms for Tax credits, she confessed that she has no savings whatsoever.  As a single mum with several children, working hard, I would definitely be encouraging her to gather a few pounds together in an emergency fund.  And stepping into our local Lidl would be one way of starting that!

Anyway, at this end of the month, I am delighted to be able to say that the £1000 savings we made in February has managed to stay in the bank and has been joined by some more cash.  The total isn't as dramatic this month, but we are definitely well on the way to our second thousand.  The YFG is completely on board, and when I said we had £350 left for all our expenses this month, she encouraged me to save another £100 and live on just £250!  I did remind her that it is the Easter holidays and she wants to go to Bletchley Park, so we will have some expenses there......we are hoping to go next Saturday.  She got a voucher for 20% off an admission when she bought me "The Imitation Game" DVD for Mothering Sunday, so we will be making use of that too, to keep the costs down a little.  And we will take our own food.  And not be tempted by too many souvenirs.......

Friday, 27 March 2015

A little parcel

Donna has confirmed safe receipt of her parcel from the giveaway, and since she doesn't blog, I took a photo so that you could see what I sent.

There's a Cath Kidston 2012 Olympics teatowel [so long ago!!] which I bought because it had gymnasts on it, but I never used it and thought it deserved to go to a more appreciative home!  I was glad to read that the colours match Donna's kitchen.

The preserving book is one that came in a set with several others, and hadn't been touched as I tend to use my mum's and granny's jam and pickle recipes.

The seeds are sweet peas - one of my absolute favourite flowers.

There is a wee crochet packet that came free with a magazine and I just knew that my crochet skills are not up to making that yet.  It looks cute though.

That yarn is from the Splash range of beautiful colours - this is my favourite colourway - and I just wanted to share it with someone. I have made two hats in that colour already as I can get two from a ball.  I have bought several other colours in the range and could probably happily knit from that range for years.  Hope you enjoy using that too, Donna!

And the thank you notes - well, I used to buy a lot of Phoenix products years ago and I loved these note cards.  I probably have enough to stock my own wee shop so it was time to share the love and send them out into the world to bless someone else's day.

All in all, a little representation of a few of my favourite things and pastimes.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Voucher day

Image result for aldi
(image from theguardian.com)

For those of us in England and Wales, today is Aldi voucher day again in the Mirror.

I've seen elsewhere that the voucher will be the usual £5 off a £40 spend, and valid until next Thursday.

Disappointed for the Scots again with no voucher in the Record. If anyone can shed any light on why the voucher has been stopped north of the border, I'd be interested to know.

With school breaking up here tomorrow, we will be getting a voucher and heading to Aldi early next week, I think.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Quiet prayers

The circuit meeting passed the resolution tonight to appoint two ministry support workers.  As soon as the job is advertised, I shall be applying, and would thank you for your continuing prayers over this opportunity.  

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

It's gone!

It has been posted at last!  The last two sections of the Faith and Worship course that I have been doing for the last four and a half years - sent in to be assessed this afternoon....

Results will be sent to the local tutor at the end of May.  In the meantime, I need to read twelve of Wesley's sermons, and think about a short presentation I need to make to the circuit meeting.

BUT I have [in my head] put the flags out as it feels like such a weight off my mind.  I can't really believe it!

So tonight, on my return from gymnastics, I am putting my feet up by the fire and watching Jackson Brodie for a fix of Edinburgh architecture and Scottish accents.  Chocolate cake is also on the menu.

Hope you are keeping warm - the last throes of winter were lashing down the hail here this afternoon!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Film review

The YFG and I went to see the second film in the Divergent series on Saturday afternoon. This one is called "Insurgent". They are based on a trilogy of books by Veronica Roth, who has a tiny part in the film.  

These two are the main characters, Tris Prior [Shailene Woodley] and Tobias Eaton/Four [Theo James].  Needless to say in a teenage film, there is a thread of a romance between them as well as the main thread of the story.  It was interesting to find out that Theo James is British and has actually acted in an early episode of our beloved Downton Abbey as the poor chap who died in Lady Mary's boudoir!

Her mother is played by Ashley Judd, who I have watched no end of times in Double Jeopardy.

Image result for shailene woodley divergent
(image from theguardian.com)

The film a science-fiction based story, set in a Chicago which is almost destroyed and is surrounded by an enormous fence, more to keep the people safe than to keep them in, they are told.

The people are separated into five factions, consistent with their dominant personality traits.  Tris and Four both come from Abnegation families, but end up in Dauntless, the warrior faction.

Image result for divergent factions
(image from pinterest.com)

Teenagers are tested for their aptitude and can change faction from the one into which they were born.  Tris's parents were devastated that Tris chose Dauntless and her brother moved into the Erudite faction.  At her testing, Tris finds that she has dominant traits from so  many of the factions that she doesn't actually fit into any one of them particularly - she is a "Divergent" which the government seek to find and destroy because they see people who can't be pigeonholed neatly as a threat to a stable society.  

It was an interesting film and I had read the first two books in the trilogy - and now I find that I have to go and read the last one, Allegiant, as I am not sure I can wait two years to find out how the story ends.  As is the trend with books like this which are being made into films, they are all dragging out the final book by making it in to two films.  Film-makers did that with the Twilight books and are now doing it with the Hunger Games books too.  And so Allegiant will be made into two films.

We went to a different cinema from our usual venue, and it was lovely.  The Light cinema in Wisbech made a refreshing change from the Cineworld cinema that we had regularly frequented.  Yes, the Light cinema doesn't have an arrangement to take Tesco Clubcard vouchers so I did have to part with real money but it was cleaner, more comfortable and more welcoming, so we are definitely going back.  It wasn't expensive as these things go - the tickets for the two of us booked online came to less than £13.  Needless to say, we passed on the popcorn, the huge paper cups of Coke and the assorted other items of junk food which we on offer in the foyer.  A reasonable treat for Mothering Sunday, even if it was a week late!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Another Pause in Lent

A Pause in Lent Floss
(image from angalmond.blogspot.co.uk)

Joining in again this week for A Pause in Lent with Ang at Tracing Rainbows.

Today's service was based around some verses in Jeremiah 31 which talk about commitment and God's relationship with us.

The minister pulled together an interesting service and had us all making origami boxes in which to keep notes of our commitments to our faith for a period, perhaps a month or two.

The service challenged us to think about commitment in this time of Lent, when we are trying to reflect on Jesus's time of trial, and perhaps trying to abstain from something for the time of Lent. We talked about how we might devote ourselves to something like marriage or parenthood compared to a short term commitment to something like an evening class for a period of a few weeks.  We considered our faith and our devotion to that, and how we live out that commitment in our life.

As I am going to get the last section of my local preacher's course in the post to the HQ this week, I reflected a little on the dedication that getting this course done over the last almost five years has required.  I shall be very relieved to get it in the post, I have to say.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Finally, Donna!

Donna, the winner of the giveaway a couple of weeks ago, can at last look forward to a parcel in the post! 

Image result for parcel
(image from shipping-usa.co.uk)

 It was sent yesterday, so with luck and the Royal Mail on our side, you should have it by about Tuesday as it was sent second-class.  Hopefully Donna will let us know that it has arrived, when it does, but I am not going to spoil the surprise for her of what is in the package!  I just hope she likes it or finds some of it useful......

I wasn't able to find a blog to see what you like, Donna, so I just presumed that you like some of the same things that I do, since you visit here, and sent some bit and pieces that I like...

Friday, 20 March 2015


Apparently, Spring will have sprung today, but I am not so sure: there's a lot of mist and murk here this morning and not too much in the way of sunshine.  It may even rain here today, and the clouds are fairly heavy so I am not too hopeful of seeing much of this eclipse!

Image result for growing in the fens daffodils

However, it's always good to have a good start, so the first day of spring might be an opportunity to start afresh again!  It is apparently the International Day of Happiness.......at a time when the news is still reporting people feeling miserable about their finances, and the isolation that many are experiencing, it can be a struggle to find happiness.

Well, you know me!  Trying hard to find positive thoughts each day, and feeling gratitude, are my keys to happiness.  There are always things I could do better, I know, and sometimes I get overwhelmed with stuff - but there are things to look forward to and I know that this season of busyness isn't going to last for ever, thank goodness!

Professor Brian Cox is on the tv this morning on the BBC's eclipse programme - and he seems to be permanently cheerful with his cheeky smile!

Image result for brian cox
(image from telegraph.co.uk)

My joy got a knock yesterday when the annual Council Tax bill arrived, but I did know that it would arrive at some time this month!  £127 a month this time, and that is with my single adult occupancy discount......so the two months of being able to make a little extra in savings are over.  I've had a good week spending-wise in that I have hardly left the house, and so I haven't spent anything in the shops.  I have bought two cinema tickets on line for the YFG and I go to see a film tomorrow afternoon as she was a bit disappointed that I didn't have much time to spend with her last weekend.  It is her choice of film, so I am not sure how much I am going to enjoy that bit, but given that I shall be out with her, I'm sure it will be a good time - she is very good company :)  My lack of shopping this week drove her to the cooker last night - there was no "food" [read "snacky stuff"] and so she made herself a carrot cake.

Anyway, I am going to watch the Eclipse on the tv now and then start work - doesn't seem to be any point trying to phone people this morning until it is over!  Enjoy the first day of spring, and let's all try to be a little bit happier today - it's all about making connections with others, they say......

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Alternative birthday treats

My stepson is partial to a good curry, and when he and the FH did some work in Dundee years ago, it was the highlight of the day to go from their digs to a local curry house for the all-you-can-eat buffet.

The EFG thought that she and her friends could have a curry last night in his honour, since he wouldn't be able to partake himself.  They went to a curry house in Aberdeen and the EFG sent me a photo of her dinner - Haryanvi Saag Aloo - which she said was onion, spinach and potato. She enjoyed it with butter naan.  It was possibly the most expensive dish of curried vegetables I have ever encountered, at £8.99, and would have Elaine over at MFin3 appalled, I am sure!  They had a great evening though, and it also fitted in with her new vegetarian tendencies.  The Easter holidays are set to be interesting.

However, personally, I think I would stick with the cakes in the last post as a birthday treat.  I'm not going to mention what I think of curry...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Happy Birthday

My stepson will be 50 tomorrow, but he has decided that HM Prison isn't quite the place for a knees-up....

Image result for growing in the fens cake

He's quite fond of cake, occasionally - Victoria sponge?  Not his favourite.

Image result for growing in the fens cake

A bit of spicy ginger cake?  Yep, that might be one he'd like.

Image result for growing in the fens cake

No, can't see him liking these!  Too dainty, but then...

I know what his favourite is:

Image result for lyons battenberg
(image from commons.wikimedia.org)

I think that we will be buying some of this when he is released later in the year, as I can't see me having time to make this - it looks quite complicated, and I am not sure I can get marzipan rolled out that thinly!

So for now, I have sent him an email, and wished him a peaceful day tomorrow, and his girlfriend will be visiting him as usual on Sunday - and she always buys him chocolate when she is there!

The weather has turned quite chilly here this week, and it was raining this morning for a change.  I'm still up to my neck in Faith and Worship - another exegesis sent to the tutor last night and just one left to do - on John 9.3.....bit tricky, I think.