31 December 2008

Happy New Year

A very happy and peaceful New Year to one and all.

May you be blessed with a good year for 2009, whether it be good weather or good news. May your lives be full of sunshine and warmth, no matter what is happening out in the world, may your world be full of friendship and fun.

Ring in the bells along with the New Year...

Sage and SOH

Brrr - It's a tad cold

SOH came down with a cold the day before yesterday, but still we haven't let it bother us or any of our visiting relatives and friends, just let them knew well enough to stay away from him or his bugs.

Yesterday we had a quiet day, stayed in and around Helston, walking around the shops and exploring the local area as both of us were quite tired and an afternoon of watching the tv in front of the fire seemed to be a good idea. Well the fire didn't quite happen as we really needed some tindling (bigger than kindling and smaller than timber log pieces).

Today we have gone to stay in the caravan with SOH's neice and will see the new year in with them and then tomorrow we go back to our cottage and the log fire which we are determined we will do before we have to leave on Saturday.

Hopefully all of you will have your own celebrations this New Year, with family or friends or both. Though 2009 doesn't start on a warm note, or with a healthy financial platform, I hope that it does improve as the year goes on, and that you all have a great year ahead.

Peace and harmony to you all, as we bid farewell to old father time who will take the old year with him at midnight and open the doors to the New Year.

Wassailing the New Year in

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

We are not daily beggers
That beg from door to door,
But we are neighbors' children
Whom you have seen before
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Good master and good mistress,
As you sit beside the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who wander in the mire.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year

We have a little purse
Made of ratching leather skin;
We want some of your small change
To line it well within.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Bring us out a table
And spread it with a cloth;
Bring us out a cheese,
And of your Christmas loaf.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

God bless the master of this house,
Likewise the mistress too;
And all the little children
That round the table go.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Or you can have a clip here of a dog singing the first verse.

29 December 2008

Cornwall is not just for Christmas

SOH and I are in Cornwall, having a good time visiting relatives and friends and meeting the family and swapping presents. The weather is bitterly cold and the wind cuts straight through and you really need to have big coats and scarves on.

We have a lack of internet connection in our little cottage, a miners cottage in Helston but very pretty. We were greeted with a gift from the owner which was a little chocolate tree and a decorated plate which is a great memento of our stay.

We met up with Sally-Ann from Cornwall-by-the-Sea blog, together with Mike her husband and had a chat over a cup of coffee in the local pub. It was nice to meet them in person, and they were kind enough to offer us access to the internet if we needed it, but this is being done from SOH's neices internet connection.

It has been a good stay and we have a couple more days before we go home, but we have more to do and people to see.

Sage Advice

As this year draws to a close, and the New Year has yet to arrive, I leave you with some words of advice about life in general.

  • Keep Skunks, Bankers and Lawyers at a safe distance.
  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than you are
  • Meanness doesn't just happen overnight
  • It doesn't take a big person to hold a grudge
  • The best sermons are lived, not preached
  • Don't judge people by their relatives
  • Don't interfere with something that isn't bothering you
  • The biggest troublemaker you ever have to deal with is the one that looks back at you in the mirror
  • Sometimes you get and sometimes you get got
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging
  • Do not corner anything you know that is meaner than you
  • Most of the stuff people worry about isn't going to happen anyway
and finally
  • Forgive your enemies, as this messes their heads up
With all blessings to you and your family this end of year, March on Fathertime, March on...

27 December 2008

Saturday Satire - Gardening in Paradise

One day God was walking round his garden in Paradise, when he noticed that the fence separating it from the garden of Hell was broken down in one place. He called over to the devil, and pointed out that the fence was damaged, and said that he felt it was the devil's job to fix it.

"Get lost" replied the devil.

God was rather put out by the devil's attitude and rebuked him, saying "Come now, it is your fence, it is down to you to get it repaired".

"Take a running jump" answered the devil.

This made God rather angry, and he said to the devil "Look here, no-one wants to escape from Paradise, so it must be your fence and therefore your job to get it repaired. If you do not get on with it right away, I shall consult a lawyer and sue".

"And where do you think you are going to find a lawyer?" said the devil.

26 December 2008

Hope everyone had a great Christmas

SOH and I had a good day, we were up late, not getting in from the midnight service until nearly 1am but it was a good way of welcoming in Christmas as the service brought together the worshippers from the Anglican, Catholic, Baptist and Methodist churches in the village and each preacher took his/her part in the service.

After a cup of tea, about 7am we headed downstairs to see to the Wabbit and the Gerbil that are staying with us, both were fine but were hungry for the treats we supplied to them for breakfast. Wabbit didn't see to know what the carrots and cabbage was for; we think their owner simply feeds on dried food with no fresh vegetables for treats.

Afterwards with a cup of coffee, suitably laced with a good tot of Jameson's we set to unwrapping the presents intersperced with telephone calls from family and friends.

SOH and I found to our amusement, we each had brought the other the same present of a money box in the shape of a camper van in the Cornish flag design.. we were laughing at all of our conniving to obtain at wrapping of these as we had even brought them from the same ebay seller.

One of them will be used for saving towards a new television, and the other for a new PC; things which we need but are expensive (even in the sales) and need to be saved towards.

We had bug (prawn) cocktail for starters, Donald for lunch, no turkey for us, served with roasted potatoes, carrots, cabbage and brussel sprouts for SOH. Followed by a lovely homemade christmas pudding which arrived from Zeltus just in time for this year served with cornish clotted cream and flamed with brandy we had a lovely time and it was nice just being on our own.

Today we are preparing for travelling down to Cornwall, so posts might be a little sporadic over the next few days..

25 December 2008

Happy Christmas one and all

This Christmas, particularly when the credit is crunching and times may be difficult because of job worries, rising costs and demands on purses, it is hard to say something that would make your day easier to bear.

So a blessing for all, may you find luxury in simplicity, light in the darkest places, and may you have blessings that endure times of change.

Have a lovely Christmas, and remember these days are the memories of the future.

24 December 2008

A Christmas Poem

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

CC Moore 1779 -1863

Sums it up for me perfectly, I remember this from my childhood, and it still makes me smile.

May your Christmas be blessed with joy and grace no matter where you are or where you are spending this Christmas Holiday

Happy Christmas one and all.

Enya - Silent Night

23 December 2008

Chewets, Shred Pies or Ye Mynce Pyes

I did a bit of research, and there is quite a lot out there - whatever did we do without the Internet I wonder?

From Celtnet Recipes, which by far seemed to be the best source of information :

Original Lady Portland's Receipt for Mince Pies
Take four pounds of Beef, Veal or Neats-Tongues, and eight pounds of suet; and mince both the meat and Suet very small, before you put them together. Then mingle them well together and mince it very small, and put to it six pounds of Currants washed and picked very clean. Then take the Peel of two Lemons, and half a score of Pippins (apples), and mince them very small. Then take above and Ounce of Nutmeg, and a quarter of an ounce of Mace, some Cloves and Cinnamon, and put them together, and sweeten them with Rose-water and Sugar. And when you are ready to put them into your Paste, take Citron and Orangiadoe, and slice them very thin, and lay them upon the meat. If you please, put dates upon the top of them. And put amongst the meat an Ounce of Caraway seeds. Be sure you have very fine Paste.

Modern Version
The mince pye presented here is an evolution of the Medieval Christmas recipe which would have used beef and venison offal with maybe apples; making it essentially a meat-based dish. The version presented here now has more fruit than meat in it and is the precursor of the Elizabethan fruit and suet-based Mince Pie that is essential element of any British Christmas.

600g minced beef
400g minced beef suet
900g seedless currants
2 cooking apples or 3 pippins grated small
rind of one lemon, grated.
1 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground mace
generus pinch of ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
80g dates, quartered lengthways
1 lemon, sliced into rings (the original recipe uses citron, Citrus medica which is a very acidic relative of lemon
1 smal tart orange sliced into rings

This recipe calls for a fine pastry. Celtnet recommends using their recipe for Saffron Short Paest (short-crust pastry). Make enough of this to line the base of a 25cm diameter pie dish and to provide a lid for the pie. This seems to be a similar recipe for sugar pastry but includes saffron and not sugar.. might have to try a combination.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the mince for a few minutes. Tip into a bowl and allow to cool. Once cold add the suet, currants, grated apples, grated lemon and spices. Mix together well and tip into your pie dish. Top with the dates and cover with the lemon and orange slices then add the pastry topping. Bind the bottom and top pieces of pastry together by pressing down with the tines of a fork then prick the surface of the top pastry a number of times to allow steam to escape.

Place in an oven pre-heated to 160oC and bake for about 40 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden browin in colour. Serve warm. Less if you are making individual pies.

According to Celtnet Elizabethan Recipes where I obtained this information, while the beef version recipe is good, if you can hold of minced venison it is even bette.

22 December 2008

All set?

Is everyone set for Christmas,
  • all the cards written and sent?
  • all the presents purchased and wrapped?
  • all the food brought to cook for the family?
  • the drink for the party?
if the answer is no, you may be leaving it too late to have a restful Christmas time lead up... I am just waiting on one present to arrive, but I think I may not get it in time for Christmas so perhaps it can be a 12th Night gift for SOH.

I finish work tomorrow, hopefully not too late in the day, and then don't return to work until the 5th January 2009 so SOH and I are going to visit his family in the New Year (and hopefully watch a rugby game while we are there as well).

Before the big day itself, I have to make some more mince pies, a dundee cake and visit some relatives, luckily most of mine live locally and therefore we will spend Christmas Eve visiting them and taking their cards, particularly to Aunt Lil who also gets a present as my surrogate Mum, and it is usually a good day for all.

A couple of my traditions are :

to attend the village carol service at the local parish church, but we have the methodist and baptists churches attending as well and we will walk home afterwards just after midnight and hopefully it will be frosty and clear.

to have a glass of Jameson's Reserve in the memory of my Dad (who I brought it for in the first place only to find it unopened after he died in 2002) and of my Mum who died in 1992. It is a time to include the ghosts of christmases past, and to their memories.

Finally I can see that Christmas spirit rising...

21 December 2008

T'was the weekend before Christmas

And shopping was hell,
full of shoppers intent on the melee (yes I know it doesn't rhyme)..
walking this way,
then stopping suddenly, causing me to say 'pardon me'
and sorry for causing you to bump into me.
Shelves were emptying quick as a flash,
people were hurrying to pay with their cash.
Freedom I sought, even in the rain
Shopping before Christmas is always a pain.

We are up visiting friends, and they needed to go shopping in the local Westfield Centre in Derby, now SOH knows I see shopping as a penance, but they do authentic cornish pasties in the shopping centre and we wanted to get one for a colleague at work. We escaped after a few hours, but already tempers were beginning to fray as stocks grew shorter and people wanted items - I was glad to get out in the fresh air and the rain, at least I could breathe better, and walk without tripping over the person's feet in front of me.

20 December 2008

Saturday Satire - Body Snatchers

You've heard about people who have been abducted and had their kidneys removed by black-market organ thieves.

My thighs were stolen from me during the night a few years ago. I went to sleep and woke up with someone else's thighs. It was just that quick. The replacements had the texture of cooked oatmeal. Whose thighs were these and what happened to mine? I spent the entire summer looking for my thighs. Finally, hurt and angry, I resigned myself to living out my life in jeans.

Then the thieves struck again. My bum was next. I knew it was the same gang, because they took pains to match my new rear-end to the thighs they had stuck me with earlier. But my new bum was attached at least three inches lower than my original! I realized I'd have to give up my jeans in favour of long skirts.

Two years ago I realized my arms had been switched. One morning I was drying my hair and was horrified to see the flesh of my upper arm swing to and fro with the motion of the hairbrush. This was really getting scary - my body was being replaced one section at a time.

What could they do to me next?

When my poor neck suddenly disappeared and was replaced with a turkey neck, I decided to tell my story. Women of the world wake up and smell the coffee! Those 'plastic' surgeons are using REAL replacement body parts -stolen from you and me! The next time someone you know has something 'lifted', look again - was it lifted from you?

P.S. Last year I thought some one had stolen my Boobs. I was lying in bed and they were gone! But when I jumped out of bed, I was relieved to see that they had just been hiding in my armpits as I slept. Now I keep them hidden in my waistband.

Thought this was too 'important' not to pass on Have a wonderful day - with a joy filled heart
BTW - These same thieves come in my closet and shrank my clothes!
How do they do itHuh?

19 December 2008

and the winner is ......

Thank you all and every one of you that entered to win the waterski-ing westies calendar.

The amount raised in the raffle at the BMW Midland Section Towcester meeting was £73.50 which included the donations as well as raffle tickets sold (see the picture on the right which was written out by Janet & John who host the meetings there).

Which means that there is an outright winner (who guessed £79.00) of the calendar and that is :

I mentioned that there was a link between the number of individual entries (There was 11 entries) and that the Air Ambulance fund will benefit, so and I will put in £1 for each and every one of you for the Air Ambulance fund which will be a drop in the ocean for their finances but will count. Every motorcyclist supports this sort of charity but never wants to be a recipient of their services.

Commiserations to all those not lucky enough to have won but if want to get one of these calendars for yourself (they also do cats, jack russells and hamsters as well) the link to go to is here Paul and Steve would be pleasantly surprised to hear from you.

Trixie, can you email me at wise_herb at btinternet dot com with an address to send it to and hopefully you will get it before the New Year.

Views on Christmas

I borrowed this from Lakeland Jo, hope she doesn't mind

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper definitely, though in the past I have used brown paper and string for a totally different look.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Would love a real tree but settle for an artificial one which I have used for the past 5 years or so.
3. When do you put up the tree? 10 days before christmas, or as late as possible.. sometimes never - didn't last year as I couldn't raise any enthusiasm.
4. When do you take the tree down? 12th night or sooner if I get tired of it.
5. Do you like eggnog? No
6. Favourite gift received as a child? Book
7. Hardest person to buy for? Me
8. Easiest person to buy for? SOH
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No, though I would like one
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, and with handwritten messages
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Embroidered handkerchieves with my initials on, ok to be fair it was many years ago.
12. Favourite Christmas Movie? Santa Clause (all three versions, just love them)
13. When do you start shopping? It depends on how I feel, but not before Nov 5th
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, I figure that someone will enjoy it more than me and the person that gave it would prefer it to be used rather than sitting unloved.
15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Bugs (it's what SOH and I call prawns)
16. Lights on the tree? Yes, white ones
17. Favourite Christmas song? Fairytale of New York, by Kirsty MaColl and the Pogues
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay at Home
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Sadly No
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Constant Christmas Music in the shops from October onwards (September if we are really unlucky)
23. Favourite ornament theme or color? Red - I have red berries, and a red butterfly... but otherwise blue would be my choice.
24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? Roast Beef - a really, really nice piece of forerib served up with home-made yorkshire pudding...mmmm yummy.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Have got it already, nearly a year with SOH and more to come; can't wait for christmas day with him - all together now ahhhhhhh!

Don't forget to put your guesses on the Giveaway post to try and win the Calendar - you have until today at 12.00 Noon GMT. It is open to all and sundry.

18 December 2008

Home Decorating

Putting up the christmas decorations in our house usually involves the absolute minimum.

Checklist :

1 Tree
1 roll of lavender beads on a silver wire
1 roll of silver beads
12 glass stars and tree shaped decorations
2 beaded stars for the top of the tree
6 Candy Cane pipecleaners
1 Door Wreath
1 Door star light
2 Sets of Lights
1 Mantlepiece bough
numerous christmas cards from friends and neighbours

An abundance of love, mixed with laughter and happiness completes the picture.

How do you decorate your house?

Don't forget to put your guesses on the Giveaway post to try and win the Calendar - you have until Tomorrow - Friday 19th December at 12.00 Noon. The more people that enter, the more the Air Ambulance funds will benefit - I will explain in a later post.

17 December 2008

Ever wondered about the 12 days of christmas?

Many of our Nursery Rhymes, like ring-a-ring of roses, have meanings that don't mean anything to today's children, yet still exist in a modern world. I did a bit of research on a christmas carol, which I felt had a hidden meaning but didn't know it. So I present to you, my findings on The 12 Days of Christmas - the Carol.

It has some belief that it is a catchism song, but no real evidence exists on this, however, that doesn't mean it isn't the case and even though you can bend the song to twist many meanings I quite like the idea that the following is the case :

The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.

1st Day
The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings, willing to die in order to protect her youngsters. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve.

2nd Day
The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.

3rd Day
The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Holy Spirit

4th Day
The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels— Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

5th Day
The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

6th Day
The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.

7th Day
The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

8th Day
The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.

9th Day
The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit : love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

10th Day
The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments

11th Day
The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.

12th Day
The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.

Don't forget to put your guesses on the Giveaway post to try and win the Calendar - you have until Friday 19th December at 12.00 Noon. The more people that enter, the more the Air Ambulance funds will benefit - I will explain in a later post.

16 December 2008

The history of the Mince Pie

I love learning about cooking, stems back from hearing my Nan (who used to be a cook in service many years ago) talk about the old style of cooking, and working in the kitchens at Windsor Castle simply added to my love of history so combing the two loves is a match made in heaven. TV programmes such as Tales from the Green Valley, or people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recreating old style foods whet my appetite for more.

So on to the topic of today, the humble mince pie. Not the sweet pastry ones of today, when they were first derived in the medieval era they were known as chewet - which was a fried or baked pastry containing chopped liver and other meats mixed with boiled eggs and ginger. The latter possibly to cover the taste of the meat which might have not stored very well and was possibly getting a bit rancid. For variety, dried fruit and other sweet ingredients might be added to the chewet's filling if the household could afford the luxury of these goods.

The mince pie (or Shred Pie) became a christmas speciality by the 16th century, and in the 17th century, the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and his Parliament Men passed a law that made it illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day. Nb this has not yet been repealed so if you do you are breaking the law :-).

By the mid-17th Century, meat was replaced by Beef Suet and by the 19th Century meat was no longer used in the making of mince pies. I use the vegetarian version of Suet as it helps to keep the pies lighter in texture and taste.

But there is a little bit of me, that would like to try out the 'older' style of Chewet... what do you think SOH might say?

Don't forget to put your guesses on the Giveaway post to try and win the Calendar - you have until Friday 19th December at 12.00 Noon.

15 December 2008

Giveaway Time

I did promise a give-away today, and was trying hard over the weekend to come up with some witty way of writing something challenging.. but haven't managed to come up with anything but the following.

Where the 144 mince pies went, all and every single one was designated to go to another home. 36 went to some friends that can no longer make them, so giving them mincemeat wasn't an option this year instead I just added theirs to the big batch I made on Saturday. 72 went to the BMW Club for the Sunday meeting held at Towcester, something I started to do a couple of years ago as we have a festive gathering on the second Sunday in December.

Finally the remaining 36 are for work, we have a staff meeting on Wednesday that I was 'volunteered' to provide the mince pies for.. then SOH and I want some to take down for his family in the New Year so I still have a few more to make before I can hang up my chef's hat this year.

Anyway, back to what I was saying about Towcester, 32 people came to the meeting, plus 3 helpers in the kitchen and a raffle was held in aid of the local Northampton/Warckwickshire Air Ambulance fund with prizes brought/donated by the members who attended.

Including donations it was a good sum of money and if any of you would like the giveaway, please put a comment to this post with the amount you think we raised (I will give you one clue it was under £100 and over £1 [For the US guys £1 = $1.50]) and the person with the nearest guess will win the prize (if more than one person is closest we will put the entries into a hat and draw the winners name) . All entries to be posted by Friday 19th December 2008 at 12.00pm (so I can get it in the post this week if possible).

I had a contact from one of the creators of the Waterski-ing Westies calendar and now have a copy to give away to one lucky reader of the blog.. I had a look at it and it is very cute and appealing, not to mention extremely functional and useful calendar format. Will make a useful addition to your walls next year.

So let the entries commence and good luck to you all.

14 December 2008

Mince Pies - Stage II

The pastry has chilled nicely in the fridge, turn the oven to 220 degrees C, and the fun factory is about to commence.

1. Take one pack of pastry out to warm up a bit, not too warm as it will go too sticky to roll or cut out.

2. Take out the baking trays, with 12 indents, and liberally grease them with butter

3. Take a bowl full of mincemeat, add a bit more brandy if it looks a little dry, but you don't want it to be too wet.

4. Beat an egg, with some milk in a jug (for brushing on the pastry)

5. Put some caster sugar in a small container (for sprinkling on the pastry before cooking).

6. Get the cutters out, one large for the bottom piece of pie, a smaller one for the lid. I use a star cutter for the top decoration, but you could use anything you like, heart, diamond etc.

7. Roll out the now cool pastry (don't let it get too warm), on a floured surface until fairly thin (you don't want it too thick or at least I don't).

8.Cut out 12 larger rounds for the bases and put them in the tins, put a teaspoon of mincemeat in each base.

9.Cut 12 tops and 12 stars and brush the underside of the top with the egg wash and place over the base and mincemeat. Brush the top with egg white and put the star on top and sprinkle with sugar.

Whooooooo first tin down, only 11 more to go...

10. Put the completed tin to one side, as likelihood is the oven is not quite to temperature and in any case this makes the job a bit quicker.

Repeat actions 7 through to 9 again and by the time you have done this the first batch can now go in the oven, while the second one waits patiently you can do the third tray and so on until you have as many as you need.

When they are ready to come out of the oven, and you will get the most lovely scent out of the baking process... or at least I think I do... they will be lovely and golden brown.. usually takes between 10-12 minutes (longer if your pastry is thicker or you have used shop brought pastry rather than try the pate sucre in Stage I)...

It is important to leave them in the tin to cool, very important step this as taking them out of the tin when they are too warm will just mean they break and you have to eat all the broken ones.. hmmm I think that's right though I am sure SOH will be helping me at this stage lol.

Now when tin 2 comes out of the oven onto the cooling rack, tin 1 should be about ready to take out. I use a plastic spatula to gently ease them out and onto the cooling rack

Serve warm with clotted cream, or brandy butter, or anything you like.. I usually dust mine with icing sugar but I believe some people leave the tops open and create an icing top.


ps - any orders let me know :-)
pps - competition for the giveaway will be tomorrow's post

13 December 2008

Saturday Satire - Beethoven's Music

A tourist in Vienna is going through a graveyard and all of a sudden he hears some music. In a peculiar way, the music sounds vaguely familiar. No one is around, so he starts searching for the source.

He finally locates the origin and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads: Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827. Then he realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony and it is being played backward!

Puzzled,he leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with him.

By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward.

Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar. When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in the reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th.

Later that day the word has spread, and a throng has gathered around the grave. They are all listening to the Second Symphony being played backward.

Just then the graveyard's caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the crowd asks him if he has an explanation for the music.

"Oh, it's nothing to worry about" says the caretaker. "He's just decomposing!"

12 December 2008

The Varsity Match

Funnily enough, after I brought SOH back from hospital yesterday morning, we noticed that the varsity match (Oxford vs Cambridge) was going to be covered on Sky Sports. We actually forgot it was on, and only managed to catch the last half of the game, which Oxford won by a narrow margin 33-29 as Cambridge were fighting back to the last seconds of the game.

I had mentioned it earlier in the year to SOH to see if he would be interested in going, luckily I hadn't actually remembered about it as no way could we have gone to twickenham straight from hospital so it was in our nice warm living room that we watched the game. Perhaps next year we might make a note of it in the calendar to try and get tickets.

But who to support, we live exactly 40 miles away from both Cambridge and Oxford, so both are technically our local team.. it's the same dilemma in the boat race... I have always tried to favour whichever team hasn't won recently as I figure that they need more support than the team which won last time.

The weather forecast for last night was freezing cold, so why didn't I put the car away after I came home with SOH.. instead of which I had to defrost it this morning before I could drive to work..

Though having said that the skies were particularly beautiful this morning. and the scene looking down the road towards the vale would make a glorious jigsaw, just imagine trying to work out the colours for the sky alone never mind the rest of it. It's pictures like this that make me feel quite humble in the big plan of things.

11 December 2008

Mince Pies - Stage I

Today I am at home, in the kitchen making the pastry for the mince pies.. I need to make 144 on Saturday and I want to get a head start by making the pastry today. To give you an idea I will make 4 times the following recipe* as an absolute minimum.

200g plain flour
pinch of salt
125g butter, cut into small cubes
50g caster sugar
1 egg

Sift the flour and salt onto into a bowl leaving a well in the centre. Work the butter into the flour, rubbing it in until the texture is like fine breadcrumbs. In a separate container, beat the egg and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.

I work the ingredients together until it feels like it's about to come together and then I form a loose ball of dough (it's usually sticky enough to hold together very well) and then wrap it in cling film until Saturday when Stage II will commence.

I used to use a food processor to do it, until I broke it two years ago, but it is just as easy to do it by hand and saves on the washing up as well.

SOH is keeping watch over the proceedings, he is a little indisposed after an operation at the moment and not at work so he is keeping me company in the kitchen.

* The recipe comes from a book entitled Practical Cookery by Ceserani & Kinton... I got my copy in 1977 when I started working in a professional kitchen and it has stayed with me ever since. What I like about it is the fact that it shows you all the joints of meat in a particular animal, and how to cut it... just about one of the best books around I think for budding chefs.

10 December 2008


I have always found the smell of lavender soothing and calming.. particularly when I have a headache.. it seems to clear the head and soothe the soul.. so I grow it in my garden and so did Dad.

One of our regular visits was to the Norfolk Lavender Centre, Near King's Lynn and we would always come back with yet more varieties of the plant, some English some French but always Purple..with the odd occasional white one, but the purple ones give the best scent in my opinion.

Some would live through one Summer, and never return, others would grow on year on year into magnificant plants and I save the heads and dry them for recipes, for putting in bags in with the clean sheets etc. and crush it to release the heady scent of Summer once more. I still have some of the plants from when Dad was alive.

The fields around the Centre, in the height of Summer are fields of purple, and a sight to behold for even the most frequent visitors. The heads are harvested and the essential oils steamed out of them for use in the worldwide famous Norfolk Lavender range.

The Centre also includes a visitor centre, shop and a cafeteria and many of the foodstuffs sold include lavender heads as an ingredient. My first taste of lavender cake was here and it was lovely, though to be honest if you don't like lavender then there would be little point in using it in cakes, biscuits or other food stuffs.

I can thoroughly recommend a visit, even in Winter, for those in the region of it as they have some really great lavender products, and even some plants for sale - though it is best to get those in Spring time.

09 December 2008

Some Good News

There will be a giveaway contest on this site soon.. more details to come in the future... but it will be something I have mentioned in one of my posts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It has been freezing cold just recently, and even the central heating has been going overnight as the frost stat kicks in which helps to keep the house toasty warm. Being an old 1930's house it isn't the easiest house to keep warm, and despite central heating the 18 inch gap below the floor in the living room does mean that this room is cool in summer and in winter if the wind is from the North. Yep just like it has been.

Then last night it warmed up, slightly disturbing as this can foretell snow, but not a whiff of the white stuff to be seen.. instead at some point in the wee small hours of the morning the ice came back and left fantastic displays of ice-tracks on all the car windows and paintwork. SOH asked if I had taken any photo's and I admit I haven't owing to the fact that it is perishingly cold outside and I was enjoying a cup of hot chocolate at the time. So you will just have to take my word for it.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to Milton Keynes, for a Mammogram... I last had one of those a fair few years ago and at one point in time it was quite painful in the strange position you were asked to hold - it was a good job that they provide grab handles. Afterwards, I worked from home rather than go back to the office, one of the perks of working in Education is the ability to take work out of the office.

One of my favourite poetesses is Pam Ayres, who wrote this missive on the subject.

Oh, I Wish I'd looked after Me Tits
By Pam Ayres

Oh, I wish I'd looked after me dear old knockers,
Not flashed them to boys behind the school lockers,
Or let them get fondled by randy old dockers,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits.

'Cos now I'm much older and gravity's winning.
It's Nature's revenge for all that sinning,
And those dirty memories are rapidly dimming,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits

'Cos tits can be such troublesome things
When they no longer bounce, but dangle and swing.
And although they go well with my Bingo wings,
I wish I'd looked after me tits.

When they're both long enough to tie up in a bow,
When it's not the sweet chariot that swings low,
When they're less of a friend and more of a foe,
Then I wish I'd looked after me tits.

When I was young I got whistles and hoots,
From the men on the site to the men in the suits,
Now me nipples get stuck in the zips on me boots,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits.

When I was younger I rode bikes and scooters,
Cruising around with my favourite suitors.
Now the wheels get entangled with my dangling hooters,
I wish I'd looked after me tits.

When they follow behind and get trapped in the door,
When they're less in the air and more near the floor,
When people see less of them rather than more,
Oh, I wish I'd looked after me tits.

08 December 2008

The first - of our christmas lunches

Yesterday we headed up the A1 to Greetham and the first of our Christmas lunches, it was blue skies and sunshine on the way up, and very icy on the roads. SOH drove up, so he could have a drink with lunch as this time of year the police are (rightfully) on the hunt for drink drivers. The BMW club Midland Section holds its annual Christmas lunch, ably cooked by two members and willing victims (or was that family volunteers) and turn out 50 beautifully prepared roast turkey and all the festive trimmings Christmas lunches including a choice of trifle or Christmas pudding, for the attendees who pay a meagre sum of £10.00 per head.

This year was no exception, many of the crowd had been coming for years, yet still welcome new people to the ranks, and take care of those who this year have been unfortunate to lose their partners in life and crime by ensuring they were included in the festivities and even going so far as to present one person with a petrol can as he apparently drove his car dry trying to obtain ever more cheaper fuel; luckily he saw the funny side of it and joined in the hilarity.

SOH and I donated some of the raffle prizes, some of which were presents to us from other people but not to our taste and we hoped they would find a better home. One lady won a hand-sewn sewing box and pin-cushion in pink with stars on it and it was her first choice, far better for her to take an use it that it sit an languish in the box it had sat in since it was given to me and I know the friend who gave it to me wouldn’t mind me passing it on if she knew that I wouldn’t use it. The raffle raised over £113 pounds for the air ambulance that we support.

On the drive home, we saw some of the most spectacular sunsets, but as I was driving I couldn’t take the photographs I would have liked, but one bridge near Bedford caught my eye as a cyclist was passing over it and both he and the bridge were in stark silhouette against the magical red sky. The photo I found here is similar but a different scene showing a windmill, but it still is very beautiful sight.

This friday night, we have the departmental christmas dinner, and then on Sunday we have yet another.. is it any surprise that we are not having turkey for our christmas dinner?

07 December 2008


I did an unusual quiz on line, you pick out pictures which appeal depending on the question and then it analysed your responses.

It said :
You're romantic in your outlook with a bit of a taste for the exotic. You love feeling the sea breeze in your hair, sun on your skin. You always take the first dip.

When it comes to art, you appreciate precision and hard work. Nothing is more impressive than real craftsmanship, You love how music helps you unwind and switch off. Music transports you far away from the everyday grind.

You're insatiable, your thirst for affection never drops. You are happy to live highs and lows; you are fiercely loyal and passionate. You like to be a part of the big picture.

When it comes to holidays, there's no stopping you once you have the tast for adventure. It's a chance to explore activities that you don't have the time for in your day-to day life.

You're a bit of a nostalgic deep down. Nothing beats the good times that you and your friends have shared. You're always up for a trip down memory lane.

When you think of freedom, the great outdoors spring to mind. Getting back to nature is a big draw, it's the perfect place to find peace and quiet.

If you want to try it, go here http://youniverse.com/

06 December 2008

Saturday Satire - Confession Time

A retired Italian wine maker went to the village church to make his confession for the first time in many, many decades. When the priest slid open the panel in the confessional, the man said, "Father, I have not been for such a long time. Please will you forgive me, Father?"

"You are forgiven, my son."

"Thank you Father."

"May I ask forgiveness for something else, Father?"

"You may, my son."

"Father, during World War II, a beautiful woman knocked on my door and asked me to hide her from the enemy. I took her into my home, and I hid her in my attic."

The priest replied, "That was a wonderful thing you did, my son! You have no need to confess this."

"It's worse than that, Father," he continued. "She was so, so beautiful. She had long dark hair, and the most beautiful voluptuous body. I found her totally irresistable, and she very soon quickly started to repay me with, erm.... well, you know.... favours."

"People in wartime sometimes act in ways they wouldn't under normal conditions," the priest replied. "If you are truly sorry for your actions, you are forgiven."

"Really? I am really, truly forgiven for what I have done?"

"You are, my son."

"Thank you, Father. That is such a relief to me." said the man. He then added, "I have one more question, please, father."

"What is your question, my son?" the priest asked.

The man answered, "She is getting rather old now. Should I tell her the war is over?"

05 December 2008

Kernow (or Cornwall to you and me)

Cornwall has a strong mining history, not just tin and copper but slate too and some mines are still going although much reduced in their operation but the quality of Cornish Tin is second to none.

Because of its location, South West British Isles it benefits from a milder climate than many other places, and in fact some tropical plants thrive outside whereas other places they have to be grown under glass or be protected from the seasonal frosts. It doesn't mean to say it is free from the risk of snow and ice, just that the majority of time it is milder.

It has a strong sense of heritage from Brittany, and the Breton people, and Cornwall is one of the six celtic nations which include : Northern Ireland, Eire, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Cornwall.

Cornwall is perhaps best known though for its pasties (click for the recipe), usually containing a filling of beef steak, onion, potato and swede with salt and white pepper, and are often referred to as Oggies hence the saying Oggy, Oggy, Oggy which can be heard at Rugby matches. However it's most famous export must be the clotted cream, because much of the area is relatively poor soil and combined with a wet climate it is not ideal for growing many arable crops but does provide for good dairy grazing in turn providing a supply of rich cream which can be used by itself or turned into fudge or ice-cream (Remember the Walls Clotted Cream ice-cream, that lovely yellow colour and rich taste). The trade name clotted cream is now protected under EU laws and cannot be made outside of the county.

Cornwall has its own patron saint, St Pirin (for whom Perranporth is named) we celebrate his day on the 5th March. Not much is known about him, other than he was from Irish stock and is credited with bringing back the art of tin-smelting to the Cornish and was adopted as the saint of tinner.

Cornwall has its literary moments one of which is that Laurence Binyon wrote the famous For the Fallen (first published in 1914) while sitting on the cliffs between Pentire Point and The Rumps and a stone plaque was erected in 2001 to commemorate the fact.

Why this post, well over at BritSpeak, a post was put up about Cornwall and a subtle hint was made as to me putting up some more information including the recipe which you will find over on my recipe site.

04 December 2008


Many of you know me as Sage or WiseHerb, and of course you know that's not my name in real life.

A over at A Changing Life, set me thinking about identities and why we use, and how we use them.

I wrote for a group, a while back, and needed a character to play with. So I created Safara McPherson a fiercely independent character who was a bit of a daredevil and strong person.. completely different from me on most things, notably being at least 4 inches taller! It was due to Saf that I ended up with a motorbike, as I wanted her to have one, as befitted her character. So did some research, went to see them in person, had no intention of having one myself as I considered them way too dangerous and yet here I am 6 years later (almost) with my own bike and travelling 2000 miles in one holiday.

When I needed someone to interact with Saf more closely, Sean Strathern entered the arena of play. Now I admit that this was a bit cheeky, only one other person in the group knew that Sean and Saf were my characters and not two independent writers and it was a challenge to write while thinking like a man (difficult as I had no experience to fall back on only that what sounded different to Saf's style). I sparred with these characters for 6 months before coming clean to the group that in fact they were being written by the same person ie. me, and many of them had thought that Sean was a different writer completely.

The only comment I have to make on the subject was on the piece I was writing it was hard to keep the separation between the two characters, even to the extent that you almost had to push the other character into the background to do the other piece and then swap around.. needless to say my mind was quite bombarded with the ideas for writing for one person while supposed to be writing for the other… it caused many hilarities during the time I had them going..

Sadly now I haven't written anything for months.. maybe one day in the future I will get back to that book in the making.

03 December 2008

WInter's Morning

The weather here has turned much, much, colder with temperatures barely getting above freezing and yet it is beautiful. Blue skies and sunshine, with icicles on the bushes giving them a silvered look, people dressed in warm clothing with scarves and gloves providing that much needed extra warm boost.

Now I am wishing I had my camera with me to take pictures so you too could see how gorgeous a winter's day can be in my neck of the woods..

However, today, like yesterday and like it will be tomorrow, I will be sitting in a training room with no windows out onto that majestic winter beauty, learning all about Sharepoint as we plan to implement it to manage a number of projects including our Intranet... so this post was to remind me that even though walls surround me, the scenery will be there for everyone who can see it out of their windows.

Enjoy your day everyone, travel safely and carefully

02 December 2008

Christmas is coming, and the goose etc....

I had a busy day on Saturday, when we finally managed to lever ourselves up into the day. Apart from the mundane tasks of tidying up, putting some washing on and dealing with paperwork I got on with a task of trialling a new idea for a christmas cake.

I got the idea from Sweet and Simple bakes, as it was their November bake challenge, a chocolate christmas cake my version of it is (with the link back to the original recipe) on my recipe blog and this is the picture of the finished article.

Well I finished the cake on Saturday afternoon, and left it to cool until Sunday when I decorated it.. a thin layer of marzipan, topped with regal ice and then some of this was colour with cocoa and additional decorations added.

We had a slice for tea, just to test it you understand and whilst it looked like a chocolate cake it had quite an alcoholic fruity taste to it.. I brought some into work yesterday for other people to try and had quite positive reactions to it. It did look a little dry, but was in fact very moist. I am not sure you would get this from using a jar of supermarket mincemeat.

01 December 2008

Musical Musings

I saw this post over at Hippocrates got Lost... very good site to visit and it inspired me to post what music describes me...

Arlo Guthrie - The Motorcycle Song - I love being on the bike, despite as sometimes this year the weather has been inclement and we haven't made the time.. next year will be different.

Nancy Sinatra - These Boots were made for Walking I love getting out on the footpaths and hills around where we live, since the dogs died I haven't made enough time for doing this but next year will be different.

Johnny Cash - These Hands - calloused and old....worn but caring.

Enya - Only If - sometimes you have to take the chance, the first step into the unknown to see what might happen.

Enya - Wild Child - remembering the child within, who still likes to be a child at heart but is forced to be an adult.

Enya - On My Way Home - it's nice to be going home to SOH each night.

Neil Diamond - Red Red Wine - one of my favourite drinks

Cerys Matthews - Calon Lan - The Welsh National Anthem to acknowledge my Welsh heritage

Small Faces - Up the wooden hills to Bedfordshire - where we are now

Jethro - St Just, Cornwall - Cornish Proms Trelawny's Men Cornwall, where we want to be in future.

My philosophy on life Monty Python - Always look on the bright side of life

What's your musical life?

30 November 2008

St Andrews Day

You can find out how Scotland celebrates it National Day...click here But Scots across the world from Sydney to Toronto will also celebrate their heritage, with everything from a concert to a Ceilidh.

If I had to choose where I would like to be today, it would have to be the town of St Andrews, Fife.. When I worked at Balmoral I had friends who were at St Andrews University and was invited to visit them. We had a great weekend, and they took me on a tour of their town including the cathedral

Apparently St Andrews got it's name from legend, when an angel appeared to a Greek monk named St Rule or St Regulus and warned him to remove the bones of St Andrew to ' the ends of the earth ' for safe-keeping. St Rule removed a tooth, an arm bone, a kneecap and some finger bones from St Andrew's tomb in Constantinople and brought them to Scotland. Shipwrecked, he came ashore on the east coast of Fife and built a chapel there to house the relics and later removed to the Cathedral.

My weekend was marred only by a rail strike which meant travelling back on a monday afternoon rather than on the Sunday, and to while away the time I spent a few hours in lectures with my medical student friends and even understood the lecture on ketones, though I was thankful not to be asked any questions by the lecturer.

One farmer has cheered up some people by dyeing his sheep blue in celebration of the day.

Happy St Andrews day to all of those who live in Scotland, or to those who wished they did.

29 November 2008

Saturday Satire - Exercise Class

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then try 50-lb potato sacks; and then, eventually, try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (This is the level I'm at now.)

After you feel confident at this level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

28 November 2008

I was asked, and politely too....

MeHereNow tagged me to do this quick meme - though I will be honest I kind of get a kick out of these.

1. Five names you go by:
  • Lis
  • Sage
  • Yul (as in Grinner rather than Brynner)
  • Oi you!
  • Safara (my other ego who I write as occasionally)
2. Three things you are wearing right now:
  • Dr Solomon's socks - had them as a freebie from an IT mtg
  • Burgundy Trainers
  • My piglet necklace - rarely take this off these days
3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:
  • a. Warmer Weather
  • b. A Snickers bar
what can I say from the ridiculous to the cheap...always wanting what I don't have lol

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:
5. Two things you did last night:
  • Cooked dinner
  • finished a book
6. Two things you ate today:
  • Soup for lunch
  • a bowl of cornflakes with a sprinkle of cocoa flakes
7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
  • SOH
  • Someone from the BMW Club
8. Two things you (did yesterday) - changed from going to do tomorrow as tomorrow is a Saturday and I won't make up my mind until I get up.
  • attend a staff meeting
  • Make a fish pie
9. Two longest car/bike rides:
  • Detmold (Germany) to Lake Garda (Italy)
  • Home to Cote d'Azur
10. Two of your favorite beverages:
  • Rhubarb and Blackberry Tea
  • Hot Chocolate - preferably the Green and Blacks Organic made with milk mmmm

27 November 2008

Things to be grateful for

I have an inkling that many of us are not necessarily having a good time leading up to the festive season, what with all the credit crunch and jobs being lost etc., but as it is thanksgiving (for the US at least) this week, I thought I would kick off a list of things to be thankful for.
  • Having SOH in my life, even when he is in pain he is considerate and caring
  • Having a job I like doing, interesting and entertaining
  • Having a garden which is big enough to provide us with vegetables
  • Having friends whose support is there, no matter what
  • Having memories of those who are no longer around
I'm sure there are lots of other things, but I was trying hard not to list material possessions as they can change more quickly than other things.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to the citizens of the US, may your day be blessed with family happiness and joy and your Turkey be done to a turn (just like this ole bird)

26 November 2008

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet Too

I have a love of Winnie the Pooh, and especially Piglet as that was Sam's nickname (owing to the fact that he looked a little like a minature large white pig with his porky little legs).

I have wanted to visit Ashdown forest since I read Christopher Milne's autobiography and found that "Pooh's Forest and Ashdown Forest are identical". For example, the Five Hundred Acre Wood became the 100 Aker Wood and Gills Lap became Galleons Leap. The North Pole and the Gloomy Place are in Wrens Warren Valley while a memorial to Milne and Shepard is in the location Enchanted Place.

Ashdown Forest covers an area of approx. 10 square miles, but despite its name, woodland makes up less than 40% of the total area of Ashdown Forest and it is doubtful whether that figure was ever much higher. Apparently the word “forest” is derived from the Latin "foris", meaning “outside” and in medieval England meant outside cultivation and belonging by default to the Crown. Now I know why commoners have such a hard time.

There is a bridge, Posingford Bridge, located close to Hartfield village, and Ashdown forest where Poohsticks is played and was first mentioned in The House at Pooh Corner. Though it is not known whether the game was first played at the bridge then written into the story, or vice versa.

Poohsticks is a simple game which may be played on any bridge over running water; each player simultaneously drops a stick on the upstream side of a bridge and the one whose stick first appears on the downstream side is the winner. Of course, it is not just any stick, it should be made of organic materials preferably willow and not of any artificial materials. The stick should be be dropped, not thrown, into the water as any player who is deemed to have thrown their stick should be disqualified.

There is a shop in Hartfield village, that is known as Pooh Corner, another place on my list to visit eventually.

Max over at Britishspeak was asking about Poohsticks and it reminded me to mention it in this post.

25 November 2008

Time to think of Calendars

I always have a calendar at home, for SOH and my appointments, and at work for information.

This year, at home I have Scenes from Wales, and at work I have a calendar showing different quilts - and comes with a booklet for making up the different designs (this is way out of my league).

Whilst I was perusing the various different bits of the Mail on Sunday I came across this calendar, the water-skiing westies.. and immediately thought of Sally-Ann, who has Cornwall beside the Sea blog, as she owns a westie called Hamish.

Now I don't know if Hamish has been waterskiing, or even wants to but I think that something like this would be a must for all West Highland White terriers as it is humourous as well as scenic.

I would love a calendar of Jack Russells, but can't find anything half as amusing and I might just have to try and get a copy for the office as SOH-Dad has already brought us a calendar of Cornish Scenes for home.

24 November 2008

Colours in the Garden

We were pleasantly surprised to see a male pheasant,who has the most wonderfully coloured plumage, in the garden this morning, feeding on the fallen pears which have not yet been picked up. The difference in colour between the male and females are quite startling. The female role would be to incubate the eggs and this grey brown colouring would fit in well, while the male is purely there for display purposes.

It cannot be said too much, that they are not the brightest of birds especially where traffic is concerned and many a body lies beside the road which gives the foxes a free meal.

Normally I would have been out there earlier in the year picking the pears up as they can attract all sorts of vermin, such as rats, but it is nice to see that some other wildlife is feeding off the produce of the garden.

Sorry, I don't have any pictures so had to download this one to give the full picture, by the time I organised myself this morning he was long gone as more people were waking up and he decided that there was not enough ground cover for him.

The snow has all gone, in fact it went yesterday morning. Leaving us with just damp rain to come home in; never a good journey on the motorway and with an accident holding us up we took longer than usual to get home.

A long weekend, but a good weekend. We got to meet up with some old friends and have a meal/drink with them and it is always good to catch up with people.

23 November 2008

Sunday Snow

Today, we are in Derby and overnight and now it is snowing... will we get home tonight?

Well SOH is driving and I have full confidence in him to get us home safely, sadly no pics as yet but I will try and get some.

While it is unusual to have snow before christmas, the likelihood of a white christmas is slim to none as they have forecast mild, damp conditions... I would love for SOH and our first christmas to be full of the cold white stuff I think we might have to save up some of the early stuff into the freezer for the big day.

Yep, I finally mentioned Christmas and the Americans haven't even had their thanksgiving day yet.. sorry but it is only next week and now there are less than 31 days to the big event so finally I can feel happy at mentioning it at last and trying for a little festive spirit (or is that spirits out of a bottle!).

Have a great Sunday folks, may yours be blessed with good weather, good food and good friends.

22 November 2008

Saturday Satire - Three Brothers

An Irishman walks into a bar in Dublin , orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finished all three, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender says to him, "You know, a pint goes flat after I draw it; it would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The Irishman replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in America , the other in Australia , and I'm here in Dublin . When we all left home, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days we all drank together."

The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there. The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar and always drinks the same way: he orders three pints and drinks the three pints by taking drinks from each of them in turn. One day, he comes in and orders two pints. All the other regulars in the bar notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences for what must be, a truly great loss."

The Irishman looks confused for a moment, then a light dawns in his eye and he laughs. "Oh, no," he says, "Everyone is fine. It's me, I've given up drinking!"

21 November 2008


One of my aspirations is to make a quilt, I have an embroidery centrepiece (which I am still working on) in the design of a celtic knot in golds and browns and aim (when I have done it) to put a patchwork quilt surrounding it.

Don't hold your breath waiting for it, I am not the faster sewer out, but occasionally when I get a bit of space and time I like to give my hands something to do (other than feed me chocolate and bad, bad, bad sweet things like chocolate).

What I don't know is how to go about making it, and combined with no experience of quilting.. this is turning out to be some challenge.. but first of all I have to finish the embroidery...lol

20 November 2008

Stress Management

A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience, Raised a glass of water and asked "How heavy is this glass of water?" The answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, We won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.

So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, Let them down for a moment if you can. So, put down anything that may be a burden to you right now. Don't pick it up again until after you've rested a while."

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
  • Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
  • Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
  • Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
  • Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
  • If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  • If you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  • It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply be kind to others.
  • Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
  • Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
  • Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
  • The second mouse gets the cheese.
  • When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
  • Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
  • You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
  • Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
  • We could learn a lot from crayons... Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
  • A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.