30 June 2008
The difference between
one has a clanger, the other a pasty.
A cornish pasty is made with potato, onion, steak and swede; cooked inside a shortcrust coating with a thick twist so that the miner could eat his lunch without his dirty hands on the main part of the meal (the twist was to hold it and throw to the pixies in the mine afterwards, thus ensuring the miner's safety).
A clanger, on the other hand was eaten by a ploughman, or agricultural worker and taken into the fields in the morning with a jug of ale. It is bacon, onion and potato at one end and either apple or jam at the other and dependant on which end you started on you might have your desserts before your main.
I brought SOH a clanger from his namesakes bakery in a local town on saturday, something he had never had before and he enjoyed though I don't think they are a patch on his cornish pasties. These ones were baked, but traditionally they would normally have been boiled.
Personally I don't like either variety very much as I am not that keen on pastry unless it is in small doses, but it is nice to have something still local and traditional even in today's modern age.
OK they are not very big, but they are the first beans that SOH and I have grown by ourselves and we are very proud of them.
The Polytunnel seems to be an ideal climate for them, though it does seem to be a bit hot occasionally it has a fair amount of shade in the afternoon and the beans have grown amazingly fast in the time they have been in. The outdoor beans are so far behind that you wouldn't believe the difference. So here is a picture to prove the point.. (Actually they are planted about 4 weeks behind, so there is every opportunity for them to blossom). The Courgettes are doing well with lovely yellow flowers enticing the bees and butterflies into the tunnel and that will be helping the beans to flourish as well.
29 June 2008
About 2 months later on, I acquired some snails (from another neighbour) and had a few bits of wildlife (water beetles, water boatmen etc) who moved in to the free location. The irises bloomed and so did the fish eggs apparently as I noticed some movement in the water and stayed to watch carefully to see what else had moved in.
I hadn't actually intended on being a fish keeper, but todate out of the 20 fish that I acquired this way, I have 11 good sized fish in the pond and though I have lost a couple on the way by means of suicide (they jumped out of the water and onto the side), cats fishing at the side and the odd case of missing tail - nope I am still clueless on how that happened unless they chewed one unlucky fishes tail off.
So the 11 remaining fish are now swimming around in clear water, they have shelter in behind some pond grass and some pebbles (actually large rocks) and it is a pleasure to see them looking happy after a fairly stressful day.
25 June 2008
What to do with your old books?
Some of the books are never meant to leave, occasionally (very occasionally) I might lend them to close friends that I trust will look after them and keep them safe until they are rehoused on their shelves.
Others are on a transit only, either picked up cheaply from a second hand shop, or given to me by friends to pass on when I had read them; some are purchased as part of the book club I belong to and I have to buy them but they don't belong in the category of 'want to read again'; some are impulsive purchases, reading the back cover made me want to buy them but having read them they fail to grab my attention.
So what to do with them? I don't want to throw them away, nor do I want to send them to a jumble sale/charity shop where they might languish on shelves only to be later pulped for recycling when they don't go (though that conjours up the thought - would that be correctly labelled as pulp fiction?)
Well finally I have found something which is intent to amuse as well as pass on some of these books to other readers namely book crossing (click here for more information). Each book is given an unique id which is put on a label and set adrift in a location which is registered on a database and other readers can look up a location and find a book. Sort of like a free treasure hunt I suppose.
If you find one of mine, be sure to let me know.
The ones I released to go travelling today are :
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luiz Zafon
- The Discovery of Chocolate - a novel by James Runcie
- Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
24 June 2008
Do you remember?....
It's work safe, for those concerned - just humerous.
Cheers Bro, I enjoyed reading this.
The I's have it...
I am : getting older and no wiser
I think : like I am still 7
I know : very little compared to some people
I want : to have an outdoor hot tub
I have : a lot to be happy about
I wish : people would stop carrying knives
I hate : violence
I miss : my parents, you never know how much you love someone until you lose them
I fear : going senile... what was I on about :-)
I feel : with my hands as well as my ears
I hear : sounds that sometimes others miss
I smell : the world outside and want to be out in the fresh air
I crave : chocolate
I search : for the perfect solution to every problem
I wonder : at the innocence of the very young
I regret : the loss of innocence
I love : SOH very much
I ache : to be free to explore the world I live in and not chained by bills
I am not : judgemental
I believe : in freedom of speech
I dance : with two left feet
I sing : like I dance only with two deaf ears
I cry : quietly at the sadness I see around me
I don't always : think about what I am saying
I fight : with pillows :-)
I write : longhand with a pencil and ramble on even when I have a word limit
I win : when I lose
I lose : when I win
I never : hold a grudge, life is too short to keep the anger going
I always : have a good sense of humour even at the blackest of times
I confuse : morals with good manners
I listen : with my eyes
I can usually be found : nose in a book
I am scared : of spiders even the small ones
I need : a purpose in life
I am happy : when I am not stressed
I imagine : life with no worries
23 June 2008
the Summer Solstice - how was it for you?
I love watching the sun rise in the morning, and generally I like to be up early for the longest day, but not this time. Cold wet and generally cheerless, the wind whistled through the trees at the back of the house and all I wanted to do was to curl up on the sofa and watch the rugby, so at 8am SOH and I watched New Zealand beat England convincingly it was as though the England team was wearing concrete boots.
Ah well now that the earth has tipped back on towards the winter solstice the days after may calm down and offer us just a hint of Summer.. it would be nice, but then again it may be just another damp year.
The Great British Driver
En-route to work, there is a short stretch of dual carriageway linked to two roundabouts and two large businesses sit on either side of the road; both of these businesses have a water feature and have been the obvious source for a pair of swans to mate and bring up their swanlets (yes I know they are really called cygnets but I prefer our family name for them).
Well Pa and Ma Swan decided that they needed to take their family over to the other side of the road to the alternative holiday pond and toddled towards across the edge of the road, Pa in front followed by Ma and then the Swanlets all in a line.
This is a busy bit of road and instead of being impatient, the drivers all stopped to allow the swans free passage even waiting for the smalled swanlet to stand up again (he was obviously tired half way across the first double stretch to the centre reservation). I have confidence that the crossing of the second half of the road will be equally as successful as the first and that they enjoy their holiday at the other lake.
It was refreshing to see drivers giving way to these majestic birds, as they are somewhat ungainly on their feet (unlike on water) and take their time when out for a stroll.
22 June 2008
all is not happy
With the flock of sheep in the field behind the house, in fact decidedly unhappy I suspect. I noticed that they were behaving oddly the other morning. Instead of grazing peacefully, the sheep were walking purposefully in a line astern of one another; I looked for the farmer who could potentially be the cause of this behaviour but it was unlikely to have been him as it was only about 6.30am.
Instead the cause turned out to be a young fox who had strayed into the field, probably looking for an easy meal, to his dismay the sheep started to herd him and one fox was no match for 30 sheep all stamping their feet and being vocal at their disapproval of his presence in their field.
While I watched, he retreated into the shade of one of the trees trying to hide from the sheep but these are no ordinary sheep these were supermum sheep out to protect their youngsters from becoming the fox's next meal and they were out to get him.
It was like watching a battlezone, first he tried one manoevre to get him out of their sight, but one of the observer sheep soon had him spotted and a platoon or 4 or 5 other ewes soon turned him back. This went on for about 10 mins before he finally admitted defeat and legged it; heading for the hills and his foraging.
20 June 2008
Plagiarism - is it a problem?
Apparently (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), many schoolchildren ~16 are encouraged to copy from web sources, but not to worry about referencing them. This leads to a problem when they get to an undergraduate University as they believe this is the 'normal' way of learning and doing assignments/essays. When students go to UK universities and FE/HE colleges the assessments are run through checking systems such as TurnItIn (TM) and of course results in some disappointing scores for some students not to mention an increased amount of work for the teaching staff to address the issues involved.
If the problems are still not addressed correctly then at Postgraduate studies the problem is even more serious and can involve dismissal from their studies.
Is it really a huge problem as was inferred in this discussion?
I know that information is easier to find and research for on the internet, with many households having access to broadband, and certainly the way most people work (write) is to use a computer and cut and paste information into their document to use. So would it be better practice to ensure even at the earliest age that our scholars are encouraged not to do this cut and paste, but to be taught how to reference correctly to eliminate the issue; without putting them under too much pressure too soon.
Over to you, if anyone would care to comment.
19 June 2008
the weekend is fast approaching
The idea is that people have put caches of small things into containers (big and small) and you can hunt them down; no prizes for getting the most/least etc.. just the fun of exploring the local countryside.
If it is going to absolutely chuck it down then I guess we will have to do something else instead and I have no ideas at present.
18 June 2008
I was in my late teens and working with much more experienced staff in the kitchens so was the butt of many a kitchen joke (lesson learnt - go with the flow and laugh at yourself). The work was hard, but enjoyable and I did learn quite a lot - having a chance to try things out that you had never tasted before was good. How to cook venison, in a variety of ways including roasting, casseroles etc. How to kill a lobster; (lesson learnt - I like cooking it seems despite the fears of my domestic science teacher) I was hopeless at this, despite my ability to despatch a rabbit, I hate killing things which are sentient - quite why I eat meat I am not 100% certain as it does touch my conscience.
We had a number of social occasions during the stay, not least of which was the scottish country dancing held every Saturday in the hall down by the stable block. Attended by the attending scottish regiment which my first year was the Black Watch and yes it is true (and was demonstrated) about the correct dress when wearing a kilt. (lesson learnt - persuading two left feet to dance; Once I knew what I was supposed to be doing I actually enjoyed the set steps of country dancing) Twice during the 12 weeks of duty, they held a Ghillie's ball where we had to dress up and was more formal that the dance at the stables; I even got to dance the dashing white sergeant with the Queen Mother, Prince Charles and Andrew and there can't be many people who can say that - just wish I had the photo's to prove it though I do have a pre-picture somewhere as we glammed up in the staff quarters.
One year they arranged for half the staff to take a coach trip to the Bell's whisky distillery, I love whisky so this was a real treat for me to see how it was made and the tasting afterwards was excellent as was the half bottle they gave to each member of staff.
Another year was to go to the Baxter's jam factory where we were treated to tea with Edna Baxter and her sons and had a personalised tour of the factory; we felt like we were important visitors as they made us feel really welcome and to this day I still like their soups and jams.
I was lucky in that we did get an occasional couple of hours off, and the stables staff let us take the fell ponies out on the surrounding hills. Quiet apart from the grouse spooking the horses underfoot leading to a number of falls and long walks home as the ponies made their own way back.. one reason you were not allowed out on your own.
After three years, I didn't want to go back to London and enquired about a job in Scotland - I would have been happy to work on the Estate in any capacity but they didn't have any vacancies at the time so regretfully I returned to London and left the following March to start work in IT; do I regret it, no I had a great time but living in London took it's toll - I am a country girl at heart and living in the city was stressful no matter how good the job so it was time for a fresh start.
17 June 2008
Some escape the drudgery of work, some escape all together.. it seems my escape has led me straight into another 'jail'.
If the mice* would care to run another experiment on another subject, I can suggest a number of tasks I wouldn't mind doing: namely
- sitting in the sunshine reading my book
- riding my motorbike to the coast
- having lunch with SOH
- meeting up with friends to catch up
Oh well... another time perhaps.. back to the chain gang for me now.
* for those douglas Adams fans out there, this is a reference to the Earth having been run as an experiment by white mice; a nod to those labs who commonly use these as their test subjects. A nice thought but not yet proven.
16 June 2008
Anyway, I came across my exam certificates and my old school reports which made great reading on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Some of the funny comments were :
XX will never progress in needlework unless she first learns to sew
Handwriting is untidy, and needs to pay attention to what is taught in class
XX has the ability to do the work but does not always show willing interest
XX is a slow but enthusiastic pupil
Others were even less favourable comments.. including the ones which after half a term missed through illness said I should have tried harder duh!!
Still it was an amusing look back at my school days (best forgotten) and some thing were as accurate then as today proving I didn't get any better (or worse).
Note : I have updated the post on collective nouns if any of you are interested in the answers then click here
So Saturday was a frantic tidy up the dining room table and paperwork - it seems to constantly be a source of messiness as everything gets put there to deal with later. Everything was planned to the last minute and gave me an opportunity to have a relaxing coffee before the first guest arrived at 1pm.
No such luck, as the first of many arrived dead on 12pm; still never mind I had the majority of the work done in time and the last few things could be done later after the meeting. I organised the partners with a cup of coffee and the living room whicle the committee met in the dining room and after 2 hours we had wrapped up - if a meeting goes on longer than 2 hours you are probably going over old ground in my opinion.
The bbq was a first for the new grill unit, which was duly wheeled out on to the grass and lit with the obligatory burgers and sausages making their appearance. Together with Coleslaw, potato salad, fresh sald, rolls and roasted new potatoes it made a great social opportunity as it is usually me travelling to Nottingham for our meetings as the majority of the committee live up that way.
Afterwards we sat and chatted in the late afternoon sunshine while the lads fixed the airfilter on SOH's bike and the tail-light issue on my bike, and a horn wiring problem on another bike.. great idea of the girls leaving the blokes to do bikey things while we had drinks (not driving see) and munched on the goodies (doughnuts).
A good day was had by all
13 June 2008
How does my garden grow?
We planted four different varieties, Scarlet Emperor is one of them the other is a white flower and one has mixed flowers; I can't remember what the other variety is but I will get back to you on this.
The carrots seem to like it in the tunnel as well, alongside the onions which are enjoying the atmosphere; they were planted together as rumour has it that the onions will keep away the carrot fly and so far so good. We hope to thin them out a little soon or we will not get any nice sized ones for us.
We have two varieties of carrots, Autumn King and Early Nantes.. funny enough the former are growing better than the latter. The onions are white lisbon here but we have some red onions as well just because they are sweeter when cooked and make nice onion gravy.
The rest of the garden is growing well, I am pleased with the honeysuckle as I transplanted this last summer and this year it has really taken off, it seems to like its new location and is one of the scented varieties.
The flowers are coming out on the geraniums, these ones are orange in contrast to the blue of the lobelia's and will look stunning when they are both out in flower. I am hoping that the smell of the geraniums will deter the neighbour's cat, but so far no luck with this or the curry powder.
I didn't set up to have a particular theme in the garden, most of the flowers I like are in the blue range, but SOH likes Oranges and Purples so these have been added along the way. Sometimes it's nice to have a different perspective on life and it can be fun to try new things.
One flower I am delighted with is the snapdragons I planted last year, and they overwintered so the display this year is beautiful (and note they are not blue!) I planted it next to the lavenders and they are about to flower so I will harvest that later in the year for more scents/sugars/wardrobes.
12 June 2008
What I am doing?
- Val McDermid - The Last Temptation
- Andy McNab - Immediate Action
- Ken Follett - Triple
- Ken Follett - World without end (still ongoing since Dec)
- I Claudius (Audio Book)
- Enigma - all
- Depeche Mode
- Andrea Bocelli - Cieli di Toscana
- The Apprentice - I loved this programme
- Casualty - am an Addict and a I Love Charlie fan
- Rugby - Union, League or 6 Nations etc not proud
- NFL - new season is no so far away now and have tickets to the NFL match in October at Wembley
- WWE - got to have some vices
- Street/Road Wars, Police Interceptors etc..
- Tidying up
- Organising the study
- Out on my motorbike
11 June 2008
Collective Nouns (updated)
When I was at school, a few years ago than I care to remember, we used to have a test on collective nouns seemingly every week, but then again my memory might be failing.
The Questions would be to fill in the missing gap
- A ............. of sheep (Flock)
- A herd of ........... (Cows)
- A ............. of bees (Swarm)
- A Pack of .......... (Dogs)
- A Murder of ....Crows...............
- A ....Gang......... of Elk
- A String of ....Racehorses.....................
- A Mob of ......Kangaroos.............
- A ....drift ..........of Hogs
- A Leap of .....Leopards.....................
- A ....Richness ........... of Martens
- A Bevy of ..Otters.......................
- A ....Span........... of Oxen
- A ....Crash.......... of Rhinocerouses
- An ...Ambush.......... of Tigers
- A Marvel of ...Unicorns..................
All are mammals (this time).... maybe my next one will be a different species.
10 June 2008
Some of my roads have been paths not of my making, but of other people; some paths have been purely my choice, some have been great with wonderful experiences, others dark and lonely paths where it was never certain whether I was going forwards or backwards.
You learn quickly, and with age and experience proving valuable lessons, that you cannot return from where you came from, but you might find that your path crosses familiar grounds again in the future; giving you hope that you can fix what you broke or finish what you started but those chances are like moon dust – don’t count on them coming around again in this lifetime.
Some of the things I have done, I have not been proud of; the people that I hurt unintentionally as I transited through their lives clumping around on feet of clay as I could only see my path in front of me stretching away with a desire to move on. Now I only feel sorrow at the pain I might have caused in my passing their way.
Some of the things I have done, I have been proud of and have lasting memories of times, people and places that endure even years later; I wonder if they remember me?
Some of the people I have met along the way have inspired me to try harder, to live with risk, to love and to hate (luckily there have been more of the former and less of the latter). Each has left an impression on my soul, even the bad memories had good points and some of the good memories have bad points.
Either way, I have made my choices, I cannot turn the clock back, any more than I can stop the tide from coming or going … so where I go in the future I know not only that I am going places.
This post is inspired by the write-away contest over at Scribbits
Time for another post with Pictures
These posts will highlight some of the places I have visited and if you are in the area you may like to take a look for yourself.
Valle Crusis (Valley of the Cross)
This is the view of Eliseg's Pillar or Croes Elisedd (Welsh) when you approach from the Horsehoe Pass, a couple of friends and I (on motorbikes) had envisaged visiting both Eliseg's Pillar and Valle Crusis Abbey but when we rode down the road we passed by the pillar and parked at the Abbey.
Not content with just visiting the Abbey as our original goal was to see both, we walked back up the road a few hundred yards (with full motorbike gear on) and saw that this tree had been hiding the pillar from our view.
This picture is taken from the roadside, where you could park (had you known it was the space to see this piece of Welsh history).
The Pillar gave the valley it's name Valle Crucis. Apparently the pillar was originally erected by Cyngen, Prince of Powys for his great-grandfather Eliseg and was mentioned in records as far back as 1200AD but is believed to have been erected at some point in the 9th Century AD.
During the 17th Century, the cross was defaced and broken by Cromwell's troops; hence the 'pillar-shape' now.
Originally it would have been much taller (twice the height) and with a cross on the very top (that would have put it above the tree and made it easier to find it).
The inscription on the sign doesn't give any more away that I have put above, but if you would like more information then click here.
Valle Crusis Abbey is also well worth a visit if you are in the area, it is a cisterctian abbey of the 13th Century and extraordinarily peaceful and quiet when you are in the grounds of the Abbey.
It doesn't take much imagination to perceive how it must have looked with the Monks, in their white habits, purposefully doing their tasks.
Cistercians were an enclosed order but also self-sufficient with lay-brother running farms to provide all of their needs close to the Abbey itself.
Although many of the building are now ruins it still retains a majesty that time has not eroded
09 June 2008
What a weekend
Saturday - went to the opticians and found out that my prescription was not sufficient any more.. guess that's part of getting old.. I need glasses for reading and for using when I am on the computer.. which is maybe why I am having so many migraines... though my distance vision is good still so I don't need it for when I am driving.. when I checked I last had them tested in 2003 so it was well overdue to get them done. I ended up paying £175 pounds for two pairs of glasses, one with a blue tint as I see better when they have a light tint on them (for the curious.. it cuts the yellow light out making everything whiter and I have an intolerance to yellow light).
Sunday dawned bright and sunny (as forecasted) and we drove up to Silverstone for a day's motor racing with a free event the Renault World Championships.. it's my second trip to Silverstone the last time was a vip weekend courtesy of BMW which I won somehow and we had a chauffered car take and pick us up.. this time we had to drive ourselves but the event was free..
It is a mixture of different racing including the Clio, F3 and 2.5 plus a parade of historic cars.. the sun shone down and we enjoyed a great seat just opposite the pits and finish line.. only problem is now my arms are burnt.. not badly but enough to make me aware of the need for more protection next time; SOH faired less well... I did try to say it wasn't a great idea to sit there without his shirt on.. but give him his due he isn't complaining either and it must hurt.
05 June 2008
The house needs to be sorted out, we have a bbq planned for the 14th June (keep your fingers crossed for good weather as I don't think I can do an indoor bbq).. and this weekend we have tickets to the Renault World Series at Silverstone which we want to go to not to mention a local farmers' market (is that apostrophe in the right place I wonder?) a whole heap of ironing and cleaning to do as well..
So my question of the day is how do I manage to get everything done (and no getting out of it, it has to be done by the 14th) and still have time to relax?
Answers please, no time and space contiunums for this blogger...
04 June 2008
I've been busy...
It's not finished by any means and I do plan on adding the other recipes I have listed but if you see something you fancy then please be my guest and add to the comments and I will try and find it a bit quicker.
03 June 2008
A British Summer's Day
Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind the rain. In fact I love the smell of rain on a warm day when the sun is out and the rain is drying fast but at the moment it is more like a cool spring day and it is drizzling a fine mist of rain across everything outside.
I know the plants like it (even need it) but at this time people don't stop to chat, or say hello in case they get wet. You can't sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee and the newspaper while listening to the birds sing. Coats are having to hang up (or umbrella's) bringing the dampness inside and making the day seem even greyer.
Roll on the real start of Summer - surely this is enough of the joke now :0)
Book Club Choice
The book this time was the Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs... I can't say I found it interesting or enjoyable as it simply didn't do it for me .. but very few of the group managed to finish it which was interesting.. and most of them skipped to the end to find out what had happened to the principal characters before skimming through the rest of the book. Not a raised voice to be heard as we discuss the plot's weaknesses and style of writing, just good humoured and obviously a nice glass of merlot to drink while we chat.
Everyone takes it in turn to bring along 3 books for the group to choose from, this time we had Anita Shreve (Light on Snow), Rose Tremain (The Colour) and Andrew O'Hagan (Be Near Me) the votes went 5 to Anita Shreve and 3 each to Rose Tremain and Andrew O'Hagan. So we will be reading Light on Snow for our next meeting which is 21 July ( as anyone will realise this is 7 weeks from the last meeting).
02 June 2008
I am lucky in that my employer is relaxed about a) hosting the service at work and also ensuring we can go during their time.. no mean thing in this day and age when nose to the grindstone seems to be the order of the day.
I enjoy having a chat with the team managing the volunteers, they spend their days travelling from site to site and seeing no end of arms and needles, but still have a smile and make you feel at ease no matter how far some of them have travelled.
I wonder how other countries manage their system and whether it is better in comparison to ours which provides resources for the National Health service.
Update : apparently they have rescheduled this for the 16th June .. wished I had known before walking there to find out. Still on the 16th I can still go as that day is free in my calendar :-)