Tuesday, 12 December 2017


I hate sewing zips. I really do. Buttons, press-studs, hooks&eyes, velcro, toggles, drawstrings and other fastenings are fine. But zips are something I avoid like the plague. So I know I can never apply for a place on the Great British Sewing Bee. However, my niece's fiancé was given an Alpinestars jacket, brand new but with a broken zip. Lucy texted me, to ask if I could fix it. I love that sort of challenge. The jacket would have cost around £170 - and a new zip was about 1% of that from Fabricland. 
So I spent much of yesterday working on the project. It took hours to remove the broken zip. The jacket was beautifully made, and has linings, and windflaps, and velcro bits which needed to be worked round. I took out the old zip and carefully positioned., pinned, then tacked the new one. The layers were pretty thick, so I used a leather needle on the machine, along with the zipper foot. Satisfactory result - zip in place, and the logo across the front matches up.
While I worked, I caught up with recorded TV.
Howard's End - don't recall reading any EMForster, but know that this is the book with the line "Only Connect" [favourite TV Quiz show]. Beautiful Edwardian costumes and houses. But the characters were so miserable. I am not sure I'm inspired to read any other EMF 

Then I watched some Kirstie Allsopp Christmas Crafting. Why does none of her stuff ever feature the Nativity Story? The nearest she gets is the occasional star. 
Finally I watched some of James Martin's new Saturday programme. I never watched the original Saturday Kitchen, but my brother said this series is good. I agree, it was good fun, and his guest was Rachel Allen on this Christmas Edition. She made Brandy Snaps. James made Beef Wellington. He stressed that the key thing is taking time to prepare properly and then it was all come together easily and correctly. A bit like putting in open-ended zips! 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Strangeness And Charm

Do you know about quarks?
Physicists like Bob will tell you that a quark is an elementary particle. There are six types of quarks, known as flavours; up, down, top, bottom, strange and charm.
My SIL Marion will tell you that quark is a low fat dairy cheese, beloved of Slimmers' World Devotees. The Scandis love quark and use it a lot in their cooking.
I recently borrowed this book from the library, you can read some more of the recipes, here.
The book contains a recipe for Quark Pastry [with the cheese, not the atomic particles]
Basically it is 250g softened butter, 250g quark, mixed together - then stir in 250g flour, 1tsp baking powder, ½tsp salt. Form into a circle of dough, and wrap in cling film.
Chill in fridge for 30 minutes, then use as any other pastry.
I made two quiches - one using up some smoked mackerel, some cooked new potatoes and chopped spring onions, the other was bacon,mushroom and tomatoes - both in a basic egg/milk custard [with a dollop of leftover cream for added richness]
Using the small amount of pastry leftover, I made some mini tart shells, which I baked blind [and remembered to get out of the over before the quiches had finished cooking!]
I froze one quiche whole, portioned the other, and we have been enjoying lunches of warmed mackerel quiche, with a salad, and on colder days, with jacket potatoes and cooked veg.

I filled the tarts with some leftover taramasalata, garnished them with half a cherry tomato. They do look more like strawberry tarts- but they tasted fine.

The quark pastry, made with wholemeal flour, is quite pleasant - not as 'short' as regular shortcrust, and the baking powder gives it a little 'lightness''. You could say it has strangeness and charm so it really is quark!
The first time you encounter snow, it probably has strangeness and charm too. We have yet to see any here in Dorset. Here's my precious Sno-Ro in Norfolk yesterday, enjoying the winter wonderland! Pleased to see she has proper stringed mittens!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Pause In Advent #2 - Let The Light Shine

My good friend Chris Duffett writes a great blog called "Be The Light". It is full of bright ideas and helpful tips, for people who want to share their faith in a gentle, unthreatening, but meaningful way.
Light is so important at this time of the year, here in the Northern Hemisphere. 

I know some of you in the Antipodes are preparing for your Christmas beach BBQ - but here in Britain, some of us - like Steph, and Mags, have snowy weather to contend with, and it gets dark so early in the evenings.
At 6pm on Friday, I was at my second Carol Service of the season, and it was an open air event. At 6pm, we gathered round a trailer in a car park at the end of the main street in the next town - there were hundreds of adults and children singing, and I don't imagine many of them were regular churchgoers. But the familiar words were sung, and the brass band played, and the school children read the Nativity Story from the Bible, and the Vicar said some jolly good stuff about Jesus the Light of The World, and we wished one another a Merry Christmas. [but it was cold, so Bob and I left before the Red Barrows Charity Wheelbarrow Race, back up the street]
The event began with a "Procession of Light" - from the Church at one end of the street down to the Car Park at the other [traffic is re-routed for 4 hours for this annual community event] Bob had his fancy torch, others had Star Wars, light sabres, and the two churchwardens carried amazing candle-lanterns which are over 100 years old and belong to the Church. My picture did not come out- but here is one from 2015. You can see the candle inside the glass lantern atop the pole.
I love candles, and I am conscious that I blog about them frequently. But I have learned a new thing about them in this past week which has challenged me.
If I buy candles, they tend to be cheap, unscented pillar candles, or tealights [usually from IKEA or Wilko] Mainly because I have often found the perfumed ones to be a disappointment. I've just found out why - it is all to do with the "throw".
When you sniff an unlit candle - in the shop, or maybe as you open the jar/unwrap the cellophane/etc you can smell the perfume. This is called the cold throw. When you light the candle, and smell its perfume, that is the hot throw. It seems that cheaper candles are often produced with a strong cold throw, so in the shop you think wow, this is good for just a quid! but when you light them, the hot throw is much weaker and often disappears altogether.Many are made with only a layer of scented wax on the top, and after a few hours burning, that's all gone. What seemed initially attractive proves to be temporary, superficial and disappointing. A really good scented candle will have a strong hot throw, throughout its life, and will perfume the whole room, every time it is lit. That is why you have to pay so much more for one.
2 Corinthians 2:15 says "Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance" If we are to be the light, let's make sure that when people encounter us, they're not only drawn to the initial signs of love and concern we display- but that we do not prove to be superficial, showing care for just a brief time, and turning out to be a disappointment in the end.
Jesus bids us shine 
with a pure clear light, 
like a little candle, 
burning in the night.
In this world is darkness, 
so we must shine
You in your small corner,
And I in mine

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Run, Run, As Fast As You Can...

...you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!
An early form of gingerbread can be traced to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians who used it for ceremonial purposes, and the Indians and Chinese who recognised this spice as a cure for digestive ailments. 11th-century crusaders brought the spice back from the Middle East for the tables of the rich. As ginger and other spices became more affordable to the masses, gingerbread caught on. An early European recipe consisted of ground almonds, breadcrumbs, rosewater, sugar and ginger.
The resultant paste was pressed into wooden moulds. These carved works of art served bore the likeness of new kings, emperors, and queens, or religious symbols. The finished cookie might be decorated with edible gold paint (for those who could afford it) or flat white icing to bring out the details in relief.
In the 16th century, the English replaced the breadcrumbs with flour, and added eggs and sweeteners, resulting in a lighter product. The first gingerbread man is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who delighted visiting dignitaries by presenting them with one baked in their own likeness. Gingerbread tied with a ribbon was popular at fairs and, when exchanged, became a token of love.

All over Europe, for the last 500 years, gingerbread has come to be associated with Christmas -the Germans claim to have invented the houses, the Swedes had guilds to which the artisan bakers belonged...and they all have special names for these beautifully cut and decorated shapes Polish pierniczki,  Czech pernik, Russian pryaniki, Croatian licitars, Scandinavian pepparkakor and Dutch speculaas.
Bob's Flemish roots mean we have a family fondness for speculaas. So when Steph mentioned that she needed decorations for her Christmas tree, I decided to make her a couple of Christmas Gingerbread characters. At our recent UCF Girls' Night In, Nadia had brought felt pieces for people to stitch - and although I was busy with other things on the night, she kindly gave me a couple of sets afterwards.
I made the boy and girl - but also stitched two minuscule pieces of Aida evenweave to make labels for their backs.
The boy's tag reads "Steph's 1st Manchester Christmas 2017"
The girl's says "Made by Ang, Xmas 2017"
I have also passed on to Steph some of the decorations from the 'family' box, which were ones given to her in childhood. So now she can start her own collection. 
I have just one new item for this year's tree here - more on that another time.

Friday, 8 December 2017

What's For Dinner?

The experts have been busy predicting the new food trends we should be expecting next year - the BBC have a helpful one minute clip whisking us through the new menu. 
There's 'fusion food' - anyone for a croissushi [how do you even pronounce that?] the light, buttery pastry of the archetypal French Breakfast - wrapped round Oriental rice, seaweed and fish.
Or how about pasta donuts - eggs, cheese and pasta combined in an easy-to-hold snack? 
Maybe Homer Simpson might like these, not sure I would
Vegan food is set to become more mainstream - here are taco shells made from carrots!
We are told that the Millennial Generation are more concerned about what they eat [some of them anyway] and shun their parents addictive caffeinated brews for 'healthier' alternatives like mushroom coffee. That is not a trend which will catch on in this family, I am sure!
Other unusual ingredients include activated charcoal black martinis,  which allegedly "grabs all the toxins in your body, and helps them find their way out" Yeah, right! Just eat fibre rich baked beans, on slightly burned toast for the same benefits!

The trend I am happiest about is the one to encourage people to make more meals from foodstuffs they would otherwise waste. But I am not clear as to why that is 'new for 2018' - haven't people been doing this for ages?

This is a good place for me to include a seasonal tip sent anonymously to me this week, about recycling mince pies; Make a mince pie fridge cake
Fridge Cake Recipe
300g dark chocolate 4 chopped mince pies 1 orange zested 50g of pecans roughly chopped. 
  1. Line a 20cm x 20cm tin. 
  2. Melt half the chocolate and when melted pour into the bottom of the tin, put in the fridge to set. 
  3. Melt remaining chocolate add mince pies, orange zest and nuts, stirring gently so it does not turn to mush. 
  4. Pour over the layer of chocolate, then return to the fridge to chill until firm. 
  5. Turn out onto a chopping board with chocolate side facing up and cut into 12 squares.

Thank you 'unknown' for this one - it sounds delicious!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Looks Like Rain, Dear!

...said Santa to his wife, as he drew back the curtains. Joking apart, did you know that reindeer do not like rain? Their coats are designed to keep them warm in snow- but rain is not good for them. A Dorset woman, Susie Stewart, is Britain's only registered Reindeer Breeder, and she was recently featured on the BBC News Website in a brief video clip about her animals.
In the clip, she explains her concern about the future of these Finnish reindeer in their native habitat. 
Global warming is seriously affecting them - and the other reindeer in Russia and Alaska and Canada...all round the Arctic. A study a year ago showed that reindeer are getting smaller. Less chilly winters mean that whereas before, there were reliable snowfalls, often the higher temperatures mean rain instead. So there are sheets of ice, which the beasts cannot get through to forage their food. There has been a 15% decrease in adult body weight. Some reindeer starve, others give birth to stunted young. There is an imbalance in the food chain- the arctic foxes who scavenge on bodies of dead reindeer] are thriving. The change in weather patterns affects the reindeer migration routes - and often when they reach their destination, the food they are looking for is already past its best.
Other things, like drilling for oil in arctic regions is also impacting the future of these beautiful beasts. It is happening in Russia right now. 
A year ago, in one of the final acts of his Presidency, Barack Obama sought to protect these Arctic waters, as he and Justin Trudeau both brought in laws to ban drilling. This strengthens laws which have been brought in by the US government since 1960 and the days of Eisenhower [and built on by Jimmy Carter et al]
In case you missed it, Donald Trump's Tax Bill has just overturned all this. I do not understand these things - but fail to see how granting permission for drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge has any place at all in a tax bill.
I read somewhere [cannot find it again] that shoppers in a mall in the States complained to the management because "The reindeer in the display are smaller than last year"
The report did not say whether these were Republicans or Democrats. Perhaps they should take this issue up with their President.

Susie Stewart says that people from Finland have been to see how she manages her herd in England's warmer climes. She too is very concerned about the future of these lovely animals. SS is from the family that runs Stewart's Garden Centres- the people who opened Britain's first ever Garden Centre, right here in Ferndown back in 1955. This little town certainly has an amazing past.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

La Vie En Rose

Bob's getting over his cough, slowly. We'd decided that we would be Very Lazy on Tuesday [day off] and not attempt anything too exhausting.
Just before 7am [my default time for making the first cuppa of the day] Bob declared it was too early to get up. He brought me a cup of tea, and asked what I would like for breakfast. "Coffee, croissants and orange juice, but we don't have them" I said. I drank my tea, then turned over and went back to sleep. That's unusual for me, but I was still feeling tired. I vaguely noticed him getting out of bed.

When I went downstairs for breakfast, there were warmed croissants in a basket, coffee, juice- and a vase of 15 red roses [and candles!]
I'm feeling very blessed and greatly loved [and yes, he even remembered to trim the stems of the blooms!]
Excuse for romantic interlude listening to Edith Piaf, and dreaming of a holiday in Paris...

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Pedal Power

I feel very strongly about the need for better provision for cyclists. I am pleased that there are more and more safer cycle routes in London these days. Liz, Jon and Rosie cycle to work at UCL each day. We've noticed that recently they have been frequently filmed on their commute. Last week someone posted a clip on Twitter entitled 'Spot The Baby' - there they are at about 1minute 7seconds in!  
And here's "I took some videos ...yesterday, so here's peace and quiet enough for a baby to ride home in!" from last summer.
0:10 / 0:25
How many more such films does Rosie need to appear in before she qualifies for an Equity Card?

Monday, 4 December 2017

"Right" Said Fred...

"Both of us together 
One each end and steady as we go."
Tried to shift it, couldn't even lift it
We was getting nowhere
And so we had a cuppa tea …
I have always been fond of this Bernard Cribbins song. It came to mind this week as I watched Geoff and Bob moving the Christmas Tree. 
Bob constructed the wooden frame in the back garden, and I drew a semicircle on the front drive with string and chalk, as a template for the chicken wire.
Then we put it all together in the lounge, and I made the green felt cover, and pinned on a few squares for effect. Then we realised I'd need to open up the seam and insert a zip, so we could sew on all the squares and then put the cover back on. Carol and Val came round on Friday afternoon, and we sewed strips of squares around the tree.
Over 400 on the tree, and more than 100 left in the box. After Christmas that's going to make quite a few blankets for Romania .
Saturday afternoon, I cleared a space at the front of the garage.
After removing the side gate, Geoff and Bob carried the tree - 6 foot in the air - down the narrow side passage to the front of the house, and put the tree inside the garage. I am really sorry I never got a picture of that part of the story. Perhaps Mags' Boys could recreate this event in Lego for me?
Barry will arrive with his people carrier [sans seats] and help us transport the tree to St Martins this afternoon . Once there we will replace the cover, and festoon the tree with lights, and stand the Knitted Nativity [Knitivity?] alongside.
The Festival begins on Wednesday morning. Expect more pictures of more trees then!
This project has involved an awful lot of people - my friends are always so willing to help despite my ideas being so off-the-wall! Thank you everyone.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Pause In Advent #1 - Just Eight Words

Months ago I read something, and immediately turned to 2nd December and drew a little heart in my diary. In the middle of the heart, I wrote just eight words;Worship Fully: Spend Less: Give More: Love All. I confess that I'd forgotten all about it, and had to google them to remind myself why...
These are the words which sum up the Advent Conspiracy. This will be the 10th year that AC has happened around the world. What started in a fairly small way, as the response of three pastors in the States to the crazy Christmas Frenzy which envelops their nation each December, has become a worldwide movement, working to change the world.
Americans spend $600billion in the run up to Christmas. To provide safe drinking water for the whole world would cost just $30billion. Go figure! as they say over across the pond.

Worship Fully; Because Christmas begins and ends with Jesus.
Spend Less; Feel less stress, and free resources for things that matter to Jesus.
Give More; Give relationally to offer one another presence, rather than merely presents.
Love All; Love the forgotten, the poor, marginalized, and sick in the ways Jesus asked us to.
These are simple ideas, but maybe if more of us really tried to do these things each day, then perhaps we'd discover that Christmas can still change the world. We are going to be looking at these principles at UCF during Advent - it will be good to hear ideas from other people about putting these things into practice.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Oh! Christmas Tree!

It's December, and the press is picking up on stories of weird and wacky trees again. Argos are selling their inverted tree again. 
The theory is that it takes up less floor space, and also is safer for children and pets, because they cannot reach up to decorations suspended from the top.  They obviously have not met Monty the Cat. However I have discovered that inverted trees, suspended from the ceiling, have been popular in Europe for centuries. They were called Trinity Trees, and the shape was said to represent a crucifix - a reminder that Christ was born at Christmas to live and die to be our Saviour. [I have no quibbles with their theology]
These trees are called podłazniczek [pawd-wahz-NEE-chek]
Clearly if you live in a barn, the concept of being inaccessible, six feet above the ground is feasible.
If you live in a very small home, maybe you should consider another sort of tree...

How about this bizarre quarter-tree, which tucks tidily into a corner? Madness! I won't even bother to post a picture of Wilko's white weeping willow - with built in lights! I am not keen on pink trees either.
The press is also having a field day with 'public' trees. In Derby there has been a lot of fuss because the council have cordoned off the tree for Health and Safety Reasons

Strathbungo Council in Glasgow [what a great name!] had that criticism last year, so this year have opted for a closer, neater, picket fence
Sudbury Council in Suffolk returned their tree to Elvedon Forestfor a replacement. When they unwrapped it, it had bald patches and 'looked like it had been through a hurricane'!
Ullapool in the Highlands have repeated their well-received display from last year. Celebrating the local fishing heritage, a 16 foot tree has been created using fishing creels.
We are doing our bit here at UCF - Jenny and Alison, with additional assistance from Steve, Peter and Simon, have got the trees up and all the other decorations festooned round the premises, ready for today's Coffee Morning, and all the other Christmas events which are on the calendar.
The red tree has our 'Names of Jesus' decorations from 2015, and the gold one has the doves and 'Fruits of the Spirit' from 2016. This year's tree is still a WIP. Bob's cold delayed the construction till the end of the week. He constructed it in the garden, then brought it into the lounge through the patio doors, so that I could 'dress' it. And then we realised we'd have an issue with getting it out of the Manse, into the car, and across to the Festival on Monday. The best laid plans of Mice and Ministers gang aft a-gley
IMPORTANT UPDATESp; My GITP costumes are some years old, and I discovered on Saturday that the child-sized angel outfits were a bit tight. Elizabeth at Small Moments had the same problem.  I have just modified the tutorial. Children clearly are getting larger! My apologies if you've had problems too.
ALSO At Thomas Hospital they have been inundated with bonding squares, and do not need any more. Hopefully someone will turn their surplus squares into blankets.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Back To The Past... To Consider The Future.

Blade Runner 2049 was released 8 weeks ago - and most cinemas have moved on to other, newer films by now. But it is a film Bob particularly wanted to see, having been a long time fan of Philip K Dick. PKD's novel 'Do androids dream of electric sheep?' was the basis of the original Blade Runner in 1982 [that film was set in 2019]. We discovered that the Rex Cinema, in Wareham, half an hour up the road, was doing a 6pm showing this week. So off we went.
This was a glorious experience- none of the smart features of Tower Park, Poole, or Vue Castle Mall, Norwich [the two modern multi screen complexes where we usually see films] The Rex has been a cinema for nearly 100 years- having taken over the Wareham Oddfellows Hall in 1920. You can read all about it here.
I loved the lit up sign outside, the single auditorium with scratchy red seats, the staircase lined with B&W photos of the stars of Hollywood in the 40s & 50s. There is a proper bar and you can take your drinks into the filmwith you in a real glass or china coffee cup. 
During the Pearl&Dean ads [and some endearingly sweet publicity for local businesses] you queue up at the front of the auditorium to buy your little tub of locally made premium ice cream [Purbeck Ices. Delicious. I can recommend the Stem Ginger]

After all the excitement of being there, and enjoying the atmosphere [and the ticket price - just £5 each for the over-60s] I was afraid the film might be an anticlimax. It was very clever, and a good sequel to the original. Yes there was nudity and violence [but we were warned in advance] but I am not sure you could properly portray a dystopian future without those things. 
During the 'eyeball' scene early on, I concentrated on my ice cream instead of the screen - I am a bit  very squeamish about eyes. Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and the rest of the cast were excellent. Some strangely unexplained biblical references [one character has "Galatians Syndrome" - which is never properly explained] and two women called Luv and Joi. It was an interesting exploration of what it means to be human. 
There's a good review here. Worth seeing if you like Harrison Ford, or Ryan Gosling - but be warned, you have to wait nearly 2 hours to see HF. There were some very clever lines of dialogue, but I am not giving away any spoilers. I rate this one **** [but definitely ***** for The Rex Cinema]

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Bits And Pieces

Sometimes there are follow-up comments which I mean to add to a blogpost and forget, and they are just too short to merit a whole post. Currently I have a number of such items, and decided to put them all in together.
After the recent post about ice sculptures, Mags asked about my blue drinks. I make a variation of the Swedish Martini, called Blue Moon. 
The colouring is blue curaçao syrup, which is basically colour, sugar and orange flavouring. I buy the Syrup de Monin brand [you often see their syrups in coffee shops, for people who like an added shot of hazelnut flavour or whatever] I get mine from Makro, or Beers of Europe. 

Expect to pay £5-£6 for a 70cl bottle. It lasts absolutely ages, and will colour around 60litres of drink. Ingredients for Blue Moon - combine curaçao;lime cordial; tonic water 
in the ratio 1; 8 ; 16

Next up - Pause in Advent - thank you to everyone who has signed up already, there's still time to join in

Following the recent post on collective nouns, Barbara Anne kindly emailed me from Virginia, to say that her favourite one is "an exaltation of hummingbirds" Isn't that charming?
I know that some of you have trouble posting comments- and it is kind of you to bother to email me. 
Next - this was a tweet from daughter Liz . Our granddaughter Rosie was born in St Thomas' Hospital, London, and we have much for which to be grateful to the staff there. They have just put out this appeal for 'bonding squares'

If you do feel able to knit a couple of squares and pop them in an envelope, I know they would be so grateful.
If you do not have a pattern, then you can use the one which we have been using here for our Tree Project- just keep on knitting till the side of the square is 5" not 4". Thank you [Pattern here]
In case you are wondering about the Tree Festival, it happens next week. Here is a teaser photo- Bob kneeling on the front drive cutting up a large piece of chicken wire. More will be revealed later!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Get In The Picture 2017

I first did GITP in Kirby Muxloe back in 2010 [here and here] and it was a remarkably popular event in the village [although some years it was perishingly cold!] We set up in the pub car park, and had background music, and a team of photographers. People came, dressed up, had their photos taken, and then received details of the website where they could download the pictures.
This has to be one of my favourite pictures, from 2011. Bob, being very pastoral, with Helen who spent much of her life working on farms, tending for the animals. 

It was Helen who received the Royal Maundy from the Queen at Easter this year, and who died only a few months later. How she loved being part of this event. 
It was a great chance to share the true meaning of Christmas in our Village, and we were so glad to work alongside friends at St Bartholomew's, the Parish Church there.
These three Wise Men are Tom the Rector, Alan the Curate and Bob the Pastor.
Here in Ferndown, we have just done GITP for the first time. Slightly different now...
We were still working with the Parish Church [St Mary's] - Tracey their Administrator, and Patches Chabala, the Team Vicar were there to help set up. But instead of a stand alone event, we had a pitch as part of the Ferndown Christmas Lights Switch On last Saturday.
Bob had been asked by the organisers [Rotary Club] if he would provide the PA. Here he is , setting up his kit. And for that, we got two pitches right alongside him, in a prime location outside the Post Office!  One gazebo housed the St M's crew, who were giving out goodie bags [story books, chocolates, details of all our services] and providing free children's crafts. Alongside, we had our gazebo where one side housed a clothes rail, the other side, hay bales and a manger.
Changes from the KM days
1- part of a community activity
2- instead of taking photos on our camera and uploading, we invited people to use their own phones - that way they had the pictures immediately and had full ownership. We did offer to take the picture for them if all their group wanted to Get In The Picture though.
3 - we publicized it on Social Media [7 yars ago, I was not into Facebook etc!]
All that made such a difference
Here's Tracey, Patches and his wife and another friend at the beginning, before things got busy.
And here's three people from the stand opposite ours [The Ferndown Lions] who came over.

The UCF folk were incredible - Steve was there soon after 9 to set up, and Pam at the very end as we finally loaded our cars at 6 - and in between, loads of help, with dressing, and arranging, and chatting, and giving out bags etc. Thanks,Team!!
We calculated that over 300 people had been to have their picture taken. Some had even arranged meet-ups having seen it advertised on Facebook. One lady thanked me, and said she remembered the church stand at the Summer Fete, and how her children loved the stories. Another asked for details of our Youth Activities. Lots of families said they might come along to a Carol Service. And there have been positive comments on Facebook since the event too.
It was incredibly hard work - and we are both still feeling the after effects of a busy weekend. Bob's cough hasn't gone yet. But it was so worth it. 
Whenever my feet felt cold, or my back ached, or my throat felt sore, I just kept remembering that elderly lady I met in Albania.  She told how she could recall a time there when owning a little cross, or speaking about Jesus could get you thrown into prison. She said she was grateful that God had let her live to see the day when she and her fellow Albanians were free to speak openly about their faith."Do not stop doing it - you never know when you might once again lose the opportunity" she said to us. So while I can, with God's help, I will keep sharing the good news.
Thank you to all who took part- and to Chris Duffett for his original inspiration for GITP.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Deeply Dippy

Dippy: silly, especially in a pleasant or funny way, odd, eccentric, or crazy {yep, that probably applies to me]

Well firstly, there's Dippy The Diplodocus, about to start his tour of the UK, having left his spot in the National History Museum, where he has been since 1905...
He begins in Dorset Museum [February to May 2018] and ends in Norwich Cathedral [July -October 2020] so I hope to catch him at one location or the other.
Then there's Deeply Dippy, the Right Said Fred song [now 25 years old]
But I am thinking about Dippy Eggs.
Bob was a bit under the weather on Monday, having had a long and exceptionally busy weekend, and he'd got a bit of a cough - so I decided some TLC was in order, and cooked him a special breakfast of two boiled eggs.
Don't you just love my egg cosies?
My friend Pam knitted them as a gift for me, five years ago. I had lent her my excellent Debbie Bliss "Knitter's Year" book, and she'd done this pattern from it as a thankyou.
But as well as the two eggs, I prepared a whole heap of 'soldiers' for him to dip in.
There are various suggestions about the name
- some say it is because when cut from a slice of toast, they look like serried ranks of soldiers. [serried comes from the French serré meaning close together]
- others say that when dipped in the egg, they look like a soldier with a big helmet on
- others say that in some places [especially Canada] these are called Humpty Dumpty Eggs, and these represent 'all the Kings Men' unable to put things together again.
Some people call them not soldiers, but 'Ladies' Fingers' [Which I thought was either a term for okra, or an alternative name for boudoir/sponge finger biscuits]
The oddest thing I discovered was in Wikipedia, which says the first evidence of this term in print was 1966, although Tony Hancock referred to 'soldiers' for his egg in a commercial of 1965.
So what I would like to know, from you erudite readers, are these things...
What do your family called soft boiled eggs?
Have you come across the term 'Humpty Dumpty Eggs'  in Canada in anywhere else?
If you call them 'soldiers', WHEN did you start using the term?
I only ask because it was my Grandad [who died in 1962] who told me they were soldiers when I was very young. And he muttered about the evils of WW1.  I do not like soft boiled eggs - but would occasionally pinch someone else's dipped soldier and bite its head off.  So Wikipedia must have something wrong somewhere.
Meanwhile, Bob is soldiering on bravely...

Monday, 27 November 2017


A while back, I treated myself to a box of sewing machine accessories from the Internet
This box of 32 generic feet cost the same price as one pukka Janome foot. But sadly, I haven't really had time to try them all out.
Then I spotted this book in the library - and thought it might spur me on to having a go.
Divided into six sections - it's ideal for novice and advanced machinist.
Chapter 1 Essential Kit
Chapter 2 Basic Feet
Chapter 3 Speciality Fabric and Techniques
Chapter 4 Pretty Edges
Chapter 5 Fancy Stitching
Chapter 6 Buyer’s Guide
There are clear diagrams showing how to use the different feet [including the different style of foot designed for the same task]
As well as the basic how-to, there are useful ideas for alternative stitching you could do with some of the feet.
The 'rolled hem' foot can also be used to apply a line of couched embroidery thread.
For the first time ever, I have got the hang of piping [that is the machinists's piping, not cake decorator's, musician's or plumber's piping!]
The 'blind hemming' stitch suddenly makes sense.
I have made some notes to remind myself of useful tips.
For instance, when you are couching cord round a corner, turning when the needle is in the leftmost position will give you a 'softly rounded' effect - in the rightmost, you'll get a 'crisp angle'...who knew?
A thirty minute session just experimenting produced some satisfying results.
Important note - not all the feet work with my machine- some are slightly out of kilter, and the needle hits the foot, and doesn't go through [so I've broken a few en route] But if just 2 of the feet are successful, I am still quids in. I am pleased with my results, but know I need more practice.

I'd certainly recommend this book if you are interested in developing with more complex stitching skills. The machine was out because a friend asked me to turn a piece of stitchery into a cushion cover.

His late wife made this, many years ago, but never finished it off. It was just a piece of fabric with stitching on it.

A niece [who is very fond of cats] is getting married shortly, and he wanted to give her something which would remind her of her much loved auntie. 
What a lovely thought!