Monday, October 11, 2010
Well I haven't really been away but last week the computer decided to play silly beggars and only work when it felt like it!!
A definite go slow....
Some days it worked perfectly, others it wouldn't even load, yet others I could, very frustratingly, see all my pages but had no reply boxes and on other days no colour, no pictures, no clickable boxes at all and some days just a white page!!
This didn't just affect Spark, but all my computer right down to e-mails which wouldn't send!!
Seems it was a 'google' problem and not just me it was affecting. They seem to have fixed it now and hopefully it will stay that way.
I'm Sparking now for the first time in ages and not wondering if the pages will all be there and it's lovely. I HAVE missed everybody.....it's been sooo frustrating I had withdrawal symptoms!! LOL!
It's sooo good to be back with all my very special friends.
Friday, October 01, 2010
Last night was our annual Womens Institute Group Rally (If you've seen Calendar Girls, you'll know what the WI is!!) when various small groups get together for a spot of fun & friendship.
There was a good turnout.
The hall was full to overflowing with old friends, new faces and lots of laughter and chat.
The white clothed buffet tables were overflowing with homemade titbits and anticipation was in the air as the competition entries were admired, the results announced and the cut glass bowl presented.....we didn't win but it didn't matter, we'd had fun putting it all together!
The entertainment is always a surprise and last nights certainly was when the speaker announced was Father Amos, a Methodist Minister.....I'm not sure what any of us were expecting but it wasn't what we got!
He was very charismatic and very, very funny, reeling jokes and observances off at an alarming rate.....he had us in stitches and finished his repertoire by saying he'd never had so much fun and didn't even feel intimidated being the only man in a room full of over a hundred women!
Supper followed with delicious homemade savouries, cakes and biscuits washed down with lashings of tea or coffee.
Time to chat, traverse the room and catch up with old friends and gossip or even to make the acquaintance of someone new.
Then another surprise.....more entertainment!
A husband & wife duo 'Bob & Kathy' who regaled us with a variety of songs along a folksy, country, sea shanty type theme.
They were very good, Bob played guitar and they both sang together, their voices complimenting each other.
We had a right good sing-a-long with some well known ones like 'Travelling light', 'The streets of London', 'Haul away Joe' and ' Irene, goodnight Irene'.
Then it was goodbyes all round, shouts of see you next time and we were out into the dark cloudy night, the grass wet with dew to reach home just as the rain began.
There was an enthusiastic re-telling to my, not really interested but I'll listen to be polite, DH followed by a mug of steaming low calorie hot chocolate and then bed.
The only trouble was I couldn't get to sleep.....lol.....I had the refrain 'Irene, goodnight Irene' echoing around in my head until the wee small hours!
It's still there today.....lol.....I keep bursting into song!!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I've spent most of this morning peeling and cooking buckets of windfall apples and plums for the freezer. I sat in the conservatory to peel the apples and was entertained by a flock of squabbling starlings as they noisily stripped the berries from the elder and rowan trees at the bottom of the garden.....it got me thinking about autumn.....well, reminiscing really.
Mother Nature is always bountiful and gives away her produce to man, bird and beast alike, and a lot of it is free for the taking.
When we were children one of my favourite outings was the autumn 'free harvest' as my grandma referred to it.
It was always dad who took us, organising us with the right clothing to keep us safe from thorns etc. mam always stayed at home to get the pans, jars, bottles etc. ready.
Wild raspberries and brambles came first, the raspberries weren't too bad to get at but the best brambles always seemed to be above a ditch and very high up so dad had whittled himself a long curved stick to reach up and hook the briars to pull them down for us.
We ended up tired but happy with stingy scratches, purple fingers and mouths and lots of plump berries which mam made into jelly. She hung the boiled fruit in a muslin bag suspended from the legs of an upturned stool overnight before measuring the juice and adding sugar to make the jelly.....so yummy!
I used to love to put the little waxed paper discs on top before the lids went on.
I remember the dog knocking the strained juice over one year and all our hard work was wasted! The stain on the floor stayed a long time too!
Next came crabbing for apples, those little hard green and red bitter fruits which made a delicate pink tinted jelly. Some of the redder apples belied their sourness and I can still screw my face up at the thought of sinking my teeth into one.....oooH... the taste lingered for ages and set my teeth on edge and that was after a warning from dad not to eat them or you'd get bellyache!
We stripped elderberries from their stems by running a fork down them, they were made into cough syrup or jelly.....never wine as mam & dad didn't drink, we boiled up rosehips with sugar to make a nutritious vitamin c syrup which tasted gorgeous on rice pudding, mam also made what she called 'hedgerow jam' using hawthorn & rowan berries in with anything else she fancied. It was an acquired taste shall we say and she usually ended up eating it herself.
We went into the woods to a tree which dad said had to be kept secret.
A walnut tree.....we picked the fruit whilst still green. Some were allowed to dry into the familiar nuts we know and others were pickled in their soft green cases.....I don't to this day know what the pickled ones taste like as I don't like vinegar but dad loved them.
There was also a cob hazelnut bush we picked, I did like those green but they were just eaten like that and not pickled.
We walked quite a long way to visit the wild garden of an old cottage which had fallen down to find little sour green gooseberries, soft yellow pears and victoria plums.
We also used to dig for wild garlic bulbs and in spring the flowers and leaves were added to salads, it didn't make your breath smell if you ate it that way.
And dad often came home from work with his emptied dinner bag full of mushrooms, some as large as dinner plates!
Big changes eh!
Anyway, enough of memory lane for today...lol....
In my youth everyone harvested the hedgerow, it was a free source of food. Nowadays the birds and beasts take the lions share, there is still the odd human who feasts on Mother Nature's bounty but the supermarkets are too convenient these days!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
It's been a busy week one way or another.....
At the beginning of the week, Sunday, Monday & Tuesday, I had three very welcome visitors.
My eightyfour year old, but very sprightly, Auntie Wynne and two of my cousins, Elaine & Margaret, whose mothers were my aunts sisters. My dad was her brother. She is the only survivor of that generation being the youngest of fifteen siblings.
I hadn't seen any of them for over a year as they live in Wales so it was very nice to meet up with them. A good time ensued as Auntie Wynne regaled us with tales of what she and our various parent had got up to in their youth.
We laughed a lot, reminisced and generally had a fun time.
Margaret, Elaine & Auntie Wynne.
The only blight on the visit was a slightly throbbing & aching tooth so on Wednesday morning I visited the dentist to find I had an infection under my front tooth.
Luckily we caught it early so it hasn't had chance to form an abcess.
I was given medication and a mouthwash and apart from a slight twinge every now and again.....mainly when I'm eating as I forget and bite down.....it seems to be fine.
Wednesday afternoon I visited with a good friend who's been poorly and is now on the mend. We had a good long walk along the cliff tops with her dog Cindy.
It was fine but very blustery, the wind at times stopped us in out tracks but I really enjoyed it.
Cindy enjoying herself on the cliff top walk.
Thursday I cleaned the house, washed the windows and did the laundry, stewed windfall apples for the freezer then worked in the garden tidying and deadheading the fading summer plants.
There is still a lot of colour left in the borders even though autumn is upon us.
heleniums & fuschia.
chinese lanterns & echinacea
heleniums & japanese windflowers.
iceplant 'spectabilis red'.
Friday I visited the beautiful victorian gothic house Carlton Towers, home of the Dukes of Norfolk and host for a Womens Institute Festival of Flowers & Craft entitled 'Northern Inspiration'.
The imposing character of the house couldn't distract from the beautiful work on show.
Each item, ranging from tiny embroidered keyrings, handmade cards and scrap books through to king size patchwork quilts, paintings and clothes had been made by one of the Federation's Yorkshire Institutes members.
The long drive was worth the effort as we met up with members of distant institutes we only see at events like these. It was fun chatting, reminiscing and admiring all the wonderful exhibits from some very talented ladies.
Here are a few pictures I took.....which don't really do them justice!!
a beautiful beaded cockerel.
tiny lace shoes.
vibrant autumn leaves watercolour painting.
this stunning black & white themed handsewn quilt incorporates a square designed and sewn by every institute in the Yorkshire Federation.
elaborate embroidery incorporating goldwork and trapunto.
So far today, Saturday, I've done a grocery shop, visited with my mother-in-law, walked the cliff top & shoreline with my son, Sparked and now I'm going to make a big mug of hot chocolate.....low calorie of course!.....and curl up with a book I've just taken out from the library.....an exciting looking historical novel I can't wait to get my teeth into!
All in all a very enjoyable week.....apart from the tooth!!
Monday, September 06, 2010
I've been down to my Chapel's 'Knit, Natter & Stuff' group meeting today.
As a group we ladies raise money for 'Water Aid' which is dedicated to putting a well in every village that doesn't have a water supply and also supply items to various charities for distribution throughout the places which need a little material help (most of ours go to Africa where we support seven orphans).
This month we've begun the annual Water Aid Children's Shoebox Appeal, we're covering empty shoe boxes with Christmas paper and filling them with little everyday items we take for granted but which the recipients view as much, much more.
Each box contains knitted items we've made.
Socks, a hat, gloves & scarf set, a teddy bear or other animal, a shawl or a blanket together with a material shoebag and a small blackboard and chalks for use in school.
Everyday items of toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, talc, flannel, sponge and a hand towel are added as are items of underwear, bibs and small books.
Each box is neatly labelled for a boy or girl and the approximate age of the recipient required.
All these boxes will all be shipped out in October to ensure they arrive in time for Christmas with the addition of a small gift-wrapped toy, a ball, crayons, colouring book, pencils & sharpener and a card.
Today we received photographs of a shipment of some of our efforts arriving in an African village where the children had become so excited that they'd had to shut the school until the shipment had been unpacked.
Beautiful photographs of underpriviledged children with such hope. Their little faces a joy to behold, wreathed in smiles, and with tiny thumbs upraised to the camera as a gesture of thanks.....it makes me feel very humbled.
Today and everyday I give thanks to God that I am blessed with everything my life requires, not just material but spiritual too.
I'm blessed with family, friends, happiness, good health and a nurturing caring environment.
Isn't it a pity that the whole world can't be this way?
wrapping the empty boxes
awaiting collection for shipping
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