Friday, 26 November 2021

What a difference!


A male Greater Spotted Woodpecker on the feeder this morning.  I always love seeing them visiting. Yesterday I counted over 20 Blue and Great Tits at the feeders, plus more on the ground and the Chaffinches have come back from summering in the wild wood.

K and I saw the GP yesterday and had the results of the scan explained.  Basically, pretty well just typical aging.  He has some blood pressure pills to try for a week and see if they help his circulation.  Then the chiro on Monday, who, RR, used to lecture on BPPV (the crystals in the inner ear problem). Fingers x'd it may be that!

As I said in my last post, I had HAD ENOUGH of those hideous "picture frames" on our bedroom wall. Keith provided me with several chisels which I hammered underneath the inside of the frames and managed to prise them off, though they were reluctant as they had been nailed on, stuck on and then plastered up to.  fortunately just a couple of small holes through the plasterboard which were easily dealt with by our competent tiler and plasterer.

Before . . . and after.  WHAT a difference.  The room looks so much larger.  £80 well spent.

The bathroom is almost finished.  Just waiting for the loo to be fitted and everything that needs taps, having them fitted, and the shower put up.  The plumber was here briefly yesterday, just long enough to fit the sink.  Didn't speak to us at all.  According to the tiler, the plumber will be here tomorrow.  ANOTHER day when I will have to set the alarm, just in case he's here early.  His communication skills are fairly low key, I have to say. I won't show photos until it's completely finished, but the tiling looks amazing - bright and cheerful.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021


 Well, there has been much progress here.  Yesterday the heating engineers came and installed our new Worcester Bosch boiler.  That's a big bill we weren't anticipating to have to consider just yet but the old boiler was old and inefficient and a bit flakey and could go at any time.  Now we are sorted for the rest of our years here and it is a more eco-friendly boiler.

The tiler has been here and plastered the back (outside) wall behind where the loo will be, and done all the tiling. It looks fabulous.  He'll be back tomorrow to do the grouting, and also skim plaster the wall behind our bed.  Today, in our bedroom, Tam and I have to set to and try and remove the hideous painting surrounds made from dado rail, off the wall without causing too much damage.  I fear there will be some big holes though!  By the end of the week we should have our new bathroom up and running and have the house to ourselves again.  We are also replacing the ancient corner sink in the guest bedroom with a narrow modern one.  Keith was very sniffy as he thinks the sink is fine.  He is in a minority of one though!

I am a lot more comfortable since seeing the Chiro.  It was money well spent.  I need to pop into Llandod for some groceries this afternoon as it was a whistle-stop tour of Lidl on Monday, for essentials.  Tescopolis today for cat food and Earl Grey teabags etc.

Enjoy your day.

Sunday, 21 November 2021

A morning out and some apple cake recipes


This is the view from our gateway, looking left.  Not bad is it?  As you can see, we had sunshine today (still have)  but oh my goodness, it is truly COLD for the first time this year and up at Ludlow Antiques Market it was 10 times as cold in places as there was a bitter Northerly wind howling up from the car park. I felt so sorry for the stallholders who had the pitches along that stretch.  One of them was saying she wasn't going to warm up until she had a long hot bath - having been that cold in the past, she had my sympathies.  We just bought a couple of little bits - an old whistle which we hoped might be worth more than we paid, but broke even on that (whistles CAN be very desirable, but unless you are an expert, you have to take a chance.  It was worth a punt at £5.  The pendant I bought with Tam's business in mind turns out to be worth just a fiver more than I paid for it, and for £3 I have a very pretty emerald green paper mache bowl which is on my dresser now.

It took us ages to get through Leominster - there was a long queue of people in the High Street and cars were being stopped near the car park by the river.  Don't know why.  We were in the queue for about 15 minutes.  Whilst in the queue, we drew near to the Almshouses and were amused by a sculpture of a nearly-naked man with an appropriate fig-leaf and a hatchet.  With this saying beneath him:  "He that gives away all before he is Dead, Let em take this Hatchet and knock him on ye head".   Strange!

We missed our turning for the Knighton route on the way there this time, but found the route back that way easily on the return journey (turn right after Leintwardine.) On the way there, we now know to turn right just after the little pastel-coloured Regency Gothic style cottage.  Sorted!

    As soon as we got back I topped up the bird feeders - with this cold weather I think they will be very grateful.  I put a loaf of bread on in the bread-maker and have just pulled out the first of two Apple Gingerbread cakes from the oven.  Here is the recipe:

I never bother with the icing.  It comes from this book, which is my kitchen bible for certain recipes.  


1/3 cup (2 oz/56 g) softened margarine)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I use 3 oz/85 g)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (4 oz /115 g) all purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup (1 oz/28 g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (ground cloves, or I used ginger in this instance)
1 cup applesauce
Confectioner's sugar (That's icing sugar and I didn't bother with it)

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F/170 deg C.  Grease and flour a 9 x 9 inch baking tin (I used a round cake tin with a liner).  

Cream first two ingredients together until well blended.  Beat in eggs and reserve.

Combine next 5 dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add dry mixture alternately to first mixture with applesauce.

Beat only until blended and pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake about 30 minutes, remove from oven, cool in pan on rack and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.


Friday, 19 November 2021

Sod's Law at work!


I was so looking forward to being able to have a lie-in this morning, as all the week I have been setting the alarm because of workmen coming in.  Well, on Tuesday and Wednesday that was a complete and utter waste of time as the Plumber didn't show up, or answer my phone calls. It would appear he's Not Good on communication.  On Thursday I left a curt, Please phone me and let me know when you will be here again" message, put the phone down, and he arrived 2 minutes later.  Now he lets me know exactly what is planned and when, and yesterday we had the chippie here all day, cutting up sheets of plasterboard and boarding in the bathroom where needed.  He was a lovely young man, and used to live just up the road so knew all the local gossip! We had hoped the bath would have been fitted before the weekend, but the carpentry took longer than expected, even though B didn't even stop for lunch.  We were impressed by him and have taken his card and talked about him doing the kitchen fitting in February or so next year.  The Plumber is doing overtime on Sunday afternoon and coming to fit the bath in then.  The tiler arrives on Monday, so it's all happening here.  Can't move upstairs though as there is a bath in our top hallway, so woe betide us if we want anything from the airing cupboard at the moment.

        Where was I? Oh yes, lie-ins.  Would you believe I slept right through the night, and didn't wake until 5.45.  This is unheard of - certainly since we have moved here. Anyway, shortly after that I was aware of a plaintive meowing outside our bedroom door.  It was Alfie, he of the strong paws, who had managed to open the staircase door and come up to remind me that a little breakfast wouldn't go amiss. (The door has warped and you can't shut it on the catch any more.)  I would replace it.  Keith says don't bother.  So of course, I came downstairs and here I am, with an early cup of tea.

        We had a letter from the Consultant yesterday, with the results of Keith's scan.  It gives a reason for his balance problems so now he needs to see the GP and sort out some treatment. It was not, as Keith kept saying, the lingering effects of the Steroids per se.  Sadly his mobility is not set to greatly improve. Now I can apply for the Blue Badge etc.


Yesterday I baked a Spicy Dorset Apple Cake to take up to the farmers up the lane (3 brothers) after one of them cut our hedge for us last week.  So I shall stroll up there after breakfast.

        There was more "fighting" with the awkward bits of x-stitch yesterday, some unpicking and resetting of stitches with Lord of the Rings on the telly in the background, to partially hide all the banging upstairs.  At least we will have a little break before it is kitchen time, but we need to get a plan drawn up and a couple of quotes in.  Chippie not at all sure on the merits of Ikea kitchens - and let's face it, what you save in buying them as a flat pack you then pay out in handfuls for whoever's installing it to put it together.  Probably better to buy them already put together!

        I'm just looking at bath "caddy's"- you know that thing you put across the bath for soap and shampoo and they all seem to have a fitting for a glass of (red) wine! Or a Tablet propped up and/or a mobile phone, and petals in the bath!  Hah!  I don't know about you but I like my wine in front of the tv, not in the bath, which I look upon as the place you get washed!  I must be getting old:)

Thursday, 18 November 2021

When Robins appear, loved ones are near

 This is my best friend Tricia Rennie, who passed away on this day in 2016.  She was 64, taken by Cancer.  She was about 16 in this photo of her on her New Forest pony Nikki.

I have thought of her all day long,  and tears would spring to my eyes. As the years go by I just miss her more and more.  There are memories only we shared, things only she would know.  The number of times I have got up to go to the phone down these years, to ask her something obscure, only to realize she was beyond a phonecall.

We had to go to Hereford today, to look for lino for both the bathrooms, and to check out sinks.  When we got back I got the lino out, but had left the driver's door open to get my bag out. When I came back out there was a Robin in the car!  I know they are nosey creatures and he probably thought this was new territory for him, but . . . how strange, and today of all days. Friends and I were talking about this only last week when one of them had a Robin checking out an extension she was having built.  She said there was an old saying: "When Robins appear, loved ones are near" and she liked to think it was her dad (in Robin form) checking out what she was having done.  Then another of our group said, how strange, this week the postman handed me a parcel with bird-poo on, apologising and saying, when he got back to his vehicle a Robin flew out - leaving a little "present".  Today it was my turn.  Are you familiar with this saying?

  Here is the poem this saying may have come from:


Do Robins appear when loved ones are near?
It's amazing, don't you know?
He visits in the place of a loved one
That's sadly had to go
He comes to show they miss you
Just as you do them
And they too long for that day
That you shall meet again
They're by your side forevermore
And that will remain so
So they send a little Robin
As a way to let you know

(Author unknown)

You will be relieved to know that the plumber and his mate turned up today, and you would never guess they hadn't been here since Monday and he had ignored  my phone calls! I was not in a good place in my head yesterday.  It's just so frustrating.  Yet they are very good workmen and today they've had cupboards emptied, floorboards up, old plasterboard down and banging mightily etc.  Tomorrow the chippie is here to box in piping, and on Monday the tiling begins.  I made sure I knew the programme of events before they left today!  So, it's all gradually coming together.  I refuse to have a shower in that other awful en-suite one though so just washing in the little sink instead!  Tomorrow night the bath will be in and as long as we don't splash, we can have a bath.  Oh that will be BLISS!

Anyway, I did joined-up driving in Hereford today and linked the one bit I knew with the other bit I knew and came out on the roundabout I knew, and sailed out on the Brecon road, so it is gradually falling together.  I had one of those "good driving" days, and even parallel parked in town, with a bus behind me, and did it perfectly without becoming flustered.  The scenery and the trees were so beautiful and again I wish I had a dash cam so I could share the colours with you, and the light on a hillside of the Black Mountains, with cloud descending their crests and a drift of woodsmoke crossing the trees towards them.  Beautiful.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

X-stitch pictures from the past


X-stitch is high on my agenda at the moment - I'm taking advantage of being in the mood to do it (NOT in  a patchwork mood right now) and to finish off a gift.  Here is a beautiful design from the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady book of charts I still have and love.  I sewed it for my friend Annie (who sadly died 5 years ago last March) after she had been widowed.  She and her husband had a couple of beautiful stained glass Dragonflies in their cottage.  The gold-work wings on the one in this design weren't easy to work as the thread wasn't co-operative!  She cherished it and it was by her bed after she died, so her daughter gave it back to me.

Here are the x-stitch pictures I hung on the wall last week.  This first one is sewn by my dear friend G - we started off as penpals when I was about 20, but have been friends for decades now.  I had always hoped to return to Dorset to live, and missed it SO MUCH the early years we were in Wales, but like Devon, it was not meant to be.  Note Kingston (brilliant cider in the pub there back in the day) and Worth Matravers,  our favourite Purbeck walk which went down to the quarries and the sea, and Dancing Ledges. Great pub there too!  (The Square and Compass).

Here's one of mine (I'll have to put my details on the back).  This was sewn in the 1990s - TINY x-stitches as it's very fine Aida.

I can remember sewing this one when all three (small) offspring were in the bath.  They had VERY long baths and as I sat by the sink and sewed, they would say, we're washed now, can we come out now?  And I would say, in a minute . . . until they resembled prunes, they were so wrinkled! I am pretty sure that the pattern was sent by an American penfriend.  She had her heart set on sewing 100 samplers and was well into that number when we were last in touch.

Tom Kitten, sewn for Middle Daughter, to go in her room.  I had a T for Tam too, with another kitten, but that never got worked.

Another lovely one from my friend G.  You will notice the relevance of Kingston or Worth Matravers now!  I vaguely remember a similar design of a blacksmith's shop, which I think I sewed for her.

I absolutely LOVED sewing this.  It was very straightforward and I just love Fungi!

Another present from G and I adore this. Those Foxgloves set the landscape off beautifully.

Finally, what I'm currently working on.  I've made a boo-boo with the top of the trees on the left (e.g. the top straight bar of stitches should be an inch lower) - probably why this got abandoned in frustration a couple of years back.  However, I shall sort it out.  The single x-stitch stitches are in 501 and 502, just a shade apart and the counting and spacing has been sending me mad.  I'll be glad to finish this bit.

I was looking for a new X-Stitch magazine in W H Smith in Brecon recently, but hardly any seem to be on sale any more.  Quilting and card-making were well-represented.  I don't know what magazines folded due to the Pandemic - certainly ones I used to get weren't on the shelves, but perhaps they had sold.  I used to get Cross-Stitch Gold, and there was Stitch, and a more general one called Workbox.  Ah well, I will have to go through the few that came with me on our move - although that includes the dozen or so American "Just X-Stitch" magazines which I absolutely treasure.  I used to buy them when we were on holiday in Dorset, from a Patchwork shop in Blandford.  Oh, I can still remember the absolute luxury of stopping for food at a supermarket in Shaftesbury, and Keith took the kids in to get lunch and I was able to read my new magazines (I got patchwork ones too, also from America).  Happy memories.

Monday, 15 November 2021

What having no bathroom looks like

 I was up early this morning (and of course slept badly last night so had only just dropped off again when my alarm went off at 6.30).  I needed to get the last of the things out of the bathroom (e.g. stuff we had used the night before) and the bath scrubbed clean where the non-slip mat had been.  Not that it really mattered as the bath itself was disgusting with stains that just would NOT come off, though I had tried and tried.

The chaps to install our new Worcester Bosch boiler were due to arrive 7.30 - 8.  They arrived at 20 past and were gone by half past because someone had ordered the wrong boiler . . . NOT ME!  So it will probably be another week before we see them, but at least we still have a working central heating system.  I was a little perturbed that this had happened, but of course it wasn't the engineers' fault but I did expect an apologetic call and an update from the company, which wasn't forthcoming.  When I phoned up this afternoon to see the state of play, the lass was very apologetic and said she would let me know as soon as the replacement was in and let me know when it could be fitted.  I don't know about you, but when I was a secretary I would have phoned the customer up to explain what was happening (and to say sorry), but Tam says things aren't like that these days and the poor girl probably has to combine lots of different jobs. 

This was the state of play when the Plumber and his mate left - an afternoon's work ripping everything out.  I think the stripe up the centre of where the bath was is where they moved the Pink Bedroom wall.  (It widens out there and then there's an approach where it narrows. I think this may well have been where the original staircase came up.  They are back tomorrow and everything starts getting put back in. Meanwhile we are left with the en-suite shower with its extra-sensitive meld of hot and cold (it is VERY specific to a particular millimetre on the control.  The little triangular sink is in a corner of the Guest bedroom and not easy to get to to shave or clean your teefs.  Washing your hands there is bad enough.  So, a few days of making do before we can luxuriate in a bath which doesn't feel like it's lined with coarse sandpaper. OH AND WE DO HAVE A TOILET IN THE EN-SUITE!  I think some of you were worried we were going behind a bush in the paddock!