Tuesday, 13 October 2015



Just back from a fabulous weekend at King’s Park Northampton, with all my Connexion friends. Some brilliant teaching sessions, and plenty of time to sit and chat. Much laughter, and renewing old friendships and making new ones. I was so busy that I never even got my knitting, or my library book, out from the bottom of my bag!Friday and Saturday evening we had an alco-free cocktail bar again


I borrowed Steph’s two dispensers from the wedding, and bought another in The Range. It meant I could pre-mix and it was much easier to serve. This year I did not add parasols, just ice.

There are orange and lemon slices floating in the first, blueberries in the second, and red apples and oranges in the third dispenser.



curacoaPeople loved the colour of the Blue Moon – it comes from Sirop De Monin Curaçao [I got mine in Beers of Europe, near Kings Lynn, but you can buy it in Makro Cash'&Carry too]All three drinks were enjoyed – but the Autumn Sunset [very similar to the Slimmers’ World Sangria] proved the most popular.

Saturday afternoon, during the Workshop sessions, I taught a group to make Kusudama flowers. Much laughter and lots of fun.


kusudama flowers1

People were really proud of their finished efforts. I am sorry I did not take more pictures. These friends are all very special – some of us have known each other more than 30 years. It was worth making the 200mile+ round trip [and having Lucy, Jackie and Jill as travelling companions] I have come back with lots to think about [and a new recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding]

7 dwarfs

I have also come back with a streaming cold- I was Snuffly [but Happy] on the way back, and Sneezy by bedtime [fortunately not Grumpy, but maybe a bit Sleepy and Dopey]

I spent Monday morning in bed – and at one point, I turned over, and saw a fantastic jewel-bright blue light on the bedroom ceiling. I just had to climb out from under the duvet and check where it was coming from – it was simply the morning sunshine, reflecting off a tin standing on the top of the cupboard. But it looked so beautiful!

reflected light

I am planning to take things gently this week, and recover from the cold, I have another busy weekend ahead.

Ang Goes Harum Scarum in Sarum

Harum Scarum: reckless, impetuous, cheerfully irresponsible [possibly from harass + scare] Sarum: the old name for Salisbury

It was only on Friday, going to my weekend away, when we diverted slightly to collect Lucy from the Railway Station there that I realised that Salisbury is barely 20 miles from Ferndown. Jill, in the back of the car, told us she had lived there when first married, and encouraged Jackie and myself to visit sometime. So Bob and I decided it would be a good Day-Off sort of outing. It was fantastic! Salisbury is full of great architecture, has a splendid Cathedral, lots of Charity Shops, and on Tuesday and Saturdays, an excellent proper market, selling interesting things, not just old tat! Bread, cheese, meat, fish and fruit on sale – also clothes, tools, and takeaway hot foods. The city has loads of history, interesting buildings, and shops with crazy names! I must also mention the efficient park&ride too. People were friendly and it was fun to meander around [many streets pedestrianised]

salisbury 10 15

We walked round, visited loads of CS [I bought nothing, but Bob increased his tie collection] watched the ducks and swans in the river, and had lunch in The York Roast sitting beside a portrait of Richard III. That was truly splendid [the lunch not the picture]

salisbury 10 15-002

1995-sense-and-sensibility-poster1After lunch we walked up to Mompesson House, the NT property overlooking the Cathedral. They were celebrating 20 years since Emma Thompson, Rick Wakeman and co came here to film ‘Sense and Sensibility’ – lots of the rooms had photos from the filming or costumes on dummies. The gardens at the back were wonderful, full of autumn colour, and the house itself was charming.

salisbury 10 15-001

Then we walked round the Cathedral – that will get a post all of its own later, it was so interesting.

A quick cup of tea and then home again to Ferndown – and I used some of the pack of bacon mis-shapes [only £1.50 on the market] to make a bacon and onion suet pudding. It was real comfort food [and quick and easy to cook in the microwave] Another grand day out!

Monday, 12 October 2015

M is for Memories, N is for Nature, O is for Outdoors...

Every child should have the right to connect with nature. To go exploring, sploshing, climbing, and rolling in the outdoors, creating memories that’ll last a lifetime.

So says the National Trust, and I agree with them. They have picked up the furore about the nature words disappearing from dictionaries. The latest edition of their magazine has a brilliant article by Robert MacFarlane [I mentioned him here] and on the NT website is a link to this excellent "Wild Words" rap from the Wild Network. I am not really into rapping - but I think this guy gets a load of excellent words into his brief video.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Lighthouse

portland bill

In my wrestling and in my doubts, in my failures, You won't walk out.

Your great love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea,

Fire before us, You're the brightest, You will lead us through the storms.

In the silence You won't let go, in the questions Your truth will hold.

Your great love will lead me through.

You are the peace in my troubled sea, I won't fear what tomorrow brings,

With each morning I'll rise and sing, my God's love will lead me through.You are the peace in my troubled sea,

My Lighthouse, shining in the darkness, I will follow You. My Lighthouse, I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore

[Words – Rend Collective, picture of Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset from Daily Mail]

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Putting Up The Christmas Tree Already?

Sorry, I know many people don’t think we should mention Christmas before December, but I am going to anyway! Back in August, on my return from holiday, I was contacted by a friend at another local church, they are planning their first ever Christmas Tree Festival, [in less than 8 weeks from now] and wondered if United Church Ferndown would contribute a decorated tree? Ok! I said, then started writing down some questions

  • do we buy just buy a tree and decorations? [quickest, easiest]
  • if so, should I ask our lovely Treasurer for a cheque? [probably not – it hasn’t been put into the annual budget plans]
  • so should I ask people for donations? [but that doesn’t really involve people, I want them to feel part of the project]

So – if not buying, then we need to make them

  • sew, knit, crochet, cross stitch? [lots of talent at UCF]
  • what theme will we choose? [it must be about JESUS!]
  • when should we start making? [SOON to give people time]

I found an idea for a sewn ornament on the internet, and then realised we could add something embroidered on evenweave canvas to the other side. And then I put the idea to some of my friends. I cannot get over the enthusiasm that was shown. I prepared instruction sheets, and found the fabric and threads in the Great Stash, other people donated some evenweave Aida.

P1020321Half a dozen of us spent one afternoon assembling packets of materials + instructions. The following Sunday I took them to church and people took packs. Some took ‘fronts’, others ‘backs’ and some took both components.

Most of these have come back now, so last Monday the small group met again to assemble things and sew on hanging ribbons. Above is the table before people arrived – I laid out all the finished parts. And here are some of the finished ornaments. Sue brought down a tree so we could get an idea of the finished effect.

ucf tree stuff

Each ornament has a star on one side, of folded and stitched fabric, and one of the names of Jesus embroidered on the other. We had prepared 40 ornaments [with 40 different names – Prince of Peace, Good Shepherd, Light of The World…] and over 30 people have been involved in making them – from teenage to octogenarians!

They look very effective- but they really are surprisingly easy to make. Next week I will write up an easy tutorial in case any of you wants to use the idea. Huge thanks to my team here at UCF who have got involved in this one.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Crispy Or Crumbly?

Autumn is upon us, and friends-with-trees are generously sharing bags of apples with us, and it is time to make Proper Puddings [served with custard – or natural yogurt if I am feeling lazy healthy] But do you make Crumbles, Cobblers, Crisps, Buckles, or Brown Bettys? The Huffington Post had a useful article explaining the differences a few years back. Many people say that the Crisp is the US equivalent of the British Crumble – and that the former contains oats, the latter doesn’t. Personally I disagree, having always put oats in my crumble, but does it really matter if the end result tastes good?

Karen, from Rhode Island, who blogs at SewManyWays shared a recipe for her Apple Crisp recently. This is for a 13 x 9” pan. I used my two large pyrex casseroles and made one to eat, one to keep. I also used some of the blackberries we had picked when Adrian and Marion visited.

Apple mixture

10 cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced [thats 3lbs worth]

1 cup white sugar

1 Tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup water


1 cup porridge oats

1 cup plain flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarb. of soda

1/2 cup butter (4 oz), melted

Preheat oven to 160ºC fan. Place apples in 13 x 9 pan [or 2 smaller ones] Mix other dry filling ingredients, sprinkle over. Pour over the water. Mix topping ingredients together, spread evenly over fruit mix. Bake at 160ºC for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold.


The verdict; Bob said it was crisper than the crumbles I usually make, and had a pleasant biscuity taste to it. I think the proportion of oats to flour is higher in Karen's recipe. Thanks K for this one.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Trying to Pull The Wool Over Their Eyes?

Campaign For Wool spotted my last post and sent me links to their two Wool Week 2015 video clips - both incredibly short, so I am sharing them here - enjoy!

It’s National Wool Week!

Well, it is if you live in the UK [excepting Shetland, who had it last week!] Discovering this event has left me with so many questions needing answers…Why do people celebrate it at different times around the world ? And how come Prince Charles is the Patron – can he knit? Does Camilla make him cable knit sweaters when they are staying up at chilly Balmoral ?Wool-Week-Date-2015

Tomorrow is Woolly Hat Day [having sent almost all our woolly hats off to Calais, perhaps I’ll wear the lovely blue beret Kezzie sent me]

Woolly Hat Day_blank_poster_A4_10032

I think I must have been on another planet recently, because this one almost passed me by completely. In my defence, all I can say is, I did help with the woolly blankets etc for Romania on Monday [thank you to all those lovely people who have contacted me about contributing to that project] and I have worked on two knitting bits…

P1020333I finally got round to sewing buttons on the BSJ I made in August.

As I am away this weekend, I have started a small knitting project [socks] to take with me if I have any spare time.


The sock pattern is the Web-of-Wool 2-needle one I have been using for years. I did start a 4-needle pattern, but got in a muddle, and decided it was easier to use a familiar pattern if I want to knit and chat at the same time!

These two projects are both in Shades of Grey – reflecting the rather grey weather we are experiencing this week

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Cheap And Cheerful Cake

sues cakeSue, over at The Quince Tree published this excellent recipe earlier  in the week. Apparently it dates from the Depression era in the USA. Like many WW2 cake recipes, it uses bicarb and vinegar in place of eggs. Without the icing, it is a vegan cake.

This makes about 16 pieces depending on how big you cut them! Grease an 8'' (20cm) square or a 9''(22cm) square cake tin with butter, marg or oil. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven)

Mix together in a bowl

  • 1½ cups/9oz/250g plain flour
  • 1 cup/9oz/250g granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ cup/ 1oz/30g/4 tablespoons cocoa powder


  • 1 cup/8fl oz/240ml water
  • ⅓ cup/3fl oz/90ml/ 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (any will do)

Mix well and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 30-35 mins.  Leave to cool before turning out. Ice if liked once it is completely cool. [Buttercream made with 3oz of butter, 6oz of icing sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and a dash of vanilla extract]

Sue’s Suggested Variations
To make a plain cake omit the cocoa powder but increase the amount of flour by ¼cup/1oz/30g
Add chopped nuts or a handful of desiccated coconut. Glacé cherries, chocolate chips or dried fruit are other possibilities. Instant espresso powder added to the batter and the icing makes a lovely coffee cake.


Here’s my cake – before I cut it into 16 squares. I replaced one teaspoon of water with a tsp of Camp Coffee Essence, and made my icing with a dash of Camp rather than vanilla . I only used 2oz butter and 4oz of icing sugar, as I didn’t want it to too thick. And I topped it with walnut pieces.

It was really quick and easy to make, using ingredients from the store cupboard. I used the cup measures. The cake turned out beautifully moist. I couldn’t really taste the coffee in the sponge, maybe I should have omitted the cocoa from the sponge and just used flour. The icing was definitely coffee flavoured.

Thank you for this one, Sue!