Monday 31 October 2022

In limbo

 I am still without a car, since last Thursday. Thankfully Tam and J took me grocery shopping in Llandod yesterday, so I am all stocked up again with perishable things.  (Plenty of tins in and stuff in freezer).  I phoned the garage again this morning and the part STILL hasn't been delivered. The Courier has really let them down, and they are apparently waiting for spares for other cars they have down there. Let's hope that they've given the Couriers hell and I will soon be mobile again.  I need to go to Brecon soonest to sort out a bank card, amongst other things.

    Tam brought me a goodly bag of crab apples yesterday, so I have been scrubbing them clean and cutting out any bad bits, and now my kitchen is smelling wonderful as I've been stewing them up for jelly, with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in.

    There are curtains up at the half landing window to deal with any draughts, as Tam couldn't get the traditional sash catch in brass that I wanted (will go to Hay for that).  I was pleased to find the exact home for the lovely Dunelm curtains I had hanging in my office at Ynyswen.  As they had cost £70 or so I didn't really want to charity shop them or have the bother of trying to sell them on Ebay.

    The light fitting over the door has a problem (loose connection Keith reckons) so changing the bulb didn't help, but we do have a new functioning pull cord bathroom light.  The old one was Bakelite and ancient and J said that the ends of the wiring were too short and had just been haphazardly jammed into the fittings and the whole thing was hanging in there by the skin of its teefs as the ancient plaster beneath it was breaking up.  The joys of old houses.

    I've just been watching an Escape to the Country from 2014, set in Shropshire, where a lady of mature years from Woking wanted to move and have her own concert hall and room for her grand piano.  The 3rd property they looked at was one we knew.  It was next door to Bryn-y-Cagley Hall, which we wanted to buy SO MUCH a few years ago. (The vendors of Bryn-y-Cagley had done this barn up to live in, as it was all on one level). Of course, we couldn't sell, and still couldn't sell when it came back on the market again a couple of years back.  With the benefit of hindsight, it was probably for the best as it did have a very large garden, with over 70 David Austin roses, a very productive mixed orchard, masses of soft fruit bushes etc.  It was also a long way away from our offspring, so perhaps we were meant to be here.  

    I have also found out today why Ghengis has been going out in the yard, and then lurking behind the Wheely Bin until I go and open the door, when he trots safely across.  There is another young black and white tom about the place - Alfie has had a couple of set-to's with him this morning.  He's well fed, so I think comes from the farm up the hill where they feed their cats but sadly don't appear to neuter the boys.  Sigh.  I have chased him off but he's been seen several times through the French windows.

    Right, I had better go and put the crab apples in the jelly bag overnight.  I may use the pulp again to cook up with blackberries and sloes to make Hedgepick Jelly too.  Watch this space. 

Sunday 30 October 2022

Chocolate Gingerbread Recipe


This made two x 2 lb loaves.  I have added some of the varieties for it.  Recipes from Sonia Allison's Home Baking Book, which I've had since 1983. 

Serves 14 - 18


1 lb (450 g) plain flour  (FOR CHOC version only, reduce to 14 oz (400 g)

(FOR CHOC version only, add 2 oz (50 g) cocoa powder)

6 rounded teaspoons (tsps) ground ginger 

2 rounded tsps mixed spice

2 1/2 level tsps bicarbonate of soda

8 oz (225 g) golden syrup

8 oz (225 g) black treacle or molasses

4 oz (125 g) dark-brown soft sugar (Muscavado)

4 Grade 3 eggs

1/2 pint (275 ml) cold milk

2 tablespoons cold water (FOR CHOC version only, make this 4 tablespoons)

    Well grease and line a Yorkshire pudding tin of about 11 x 9 x 1 1/2 inches (or grease/line two x 2lb loaf tins).  Set oven to 300deg F (150 deg C), Gas mark 2.

    Sift first 4 ingredients into a bowl. Put fats, syrup, treacle and sugar into a pan and melt gently over a low heat.  Do not boil.  Beat together eggs, milk and water.  

    Make a dip in the centre of the dry ingredients.  Pour in egg mixture followed by the melted mixture. Stir briskly without beating, making sure you work in all the flour, etc.

    Transfer to prepared tin(s) and spread evenly with a knife.  Put into oven and bake 1-1 1/4 hrs or until well-risen and deep brown, and a thin metal skewer, pushed gently into the centre, comes out clean and dry. 

        Leave in tin for 15 mins, then lift gingerbread carefully out on to a wire cooling rack.  Put into an airtight tin when cold and store in a cool lace (warmth tends to turn a gingerbread mouldy).  Remove paper just before cutting.


Marmalade Gingerbread - Make as basic version but halve the quantity of treacle and make up the weight with chunky orange marmalade.

Fruity Gingerbread - Make as basic version but after sifting dry ingredient into bowl, toss in 4 oz (125 g) raisins or sultanas.

Date Gingerbread - Make as basic version but after sifting dry ingredients into bowl, toss in 4 o (125 g) finely chopped cooking dates.

Double Gingerbread (which I often make) - after sifting dry ingredients into bowl, toss in 4 oz (125g) finely chopped preserved ginger, well-drained.


Here we are having sunshine and showers, and my favourite curtains from my office at Ynyswen, are now keeping any winter draughts at bay on the half landing window.  A x-stitch picture of a dragonfly I had sewn many years ago for my friend Annie (and I got back from her daughter after Annie's death) is now hanging on the half-landing wall, with my other x-stitch pictures.  J is just fitting the new pull switch cover to the ceiling and we have light again.  It wasn't checked by the Electrician employed to check all the electrics last year and when I asked him what about if the light pull broke (which of course it did a year later) he said it was easily fixable.  Well, yes, except that the wires had been cut off very short and more or less bunged in the appropriate bits and since the internal fitting was Bakelite it was probably put in when the house was first electrified!  It wasn't very safe, so just as well the cord broke when it did.

I hope you've all had a good weekend.  If anyone has contact by email or similar with Weaver of Grass (Pat), I know her blogging friends are worried about her, so if you've heard anything, please let us know.

Saturday 29 October 2022

Good Neighbours


Here's an upstairs through-the-dirty-window photo of our mostly-Holly hedge - it turns to Ivy on the right, and is beloved of the insects.  Our neighbour did a very good job of trimming it.

Then he sent one of his brothers to clear this bottom paddock for me. I was absolutely delighted.  I have asked him how much I owe them, but he said to see his brother, so I think it will be payment in cake again.
Below is one of two Chocolate Gingerbread cakes I made yesterday.  The other one is for us as Tam and J are coming later on today and staying over.  I have a list of jobs for them to do to - things I cannot manage like replacing the light-pull in the bathroom, and a replacement catch for the landing sash window.  Dare I mention gutterings?!

As I had the oven on, I made a batch of Chocolate Chip cookies - haven't made them in years, but Morning's Minion mentioned them recently and I just had to make some.  Doubles up as treats in case the children at the cottage next door come trick or treating tonight.  I don't think they will, but they are staying the weekend (parents not together any more) so just in case.  Shout out if you would like recipes for the cake.  The CC Cookies are from the BBC Good Food listings on line.  I think they called them old fashioned ones or something.

I am really so pleased at the farmers helping us out.  Gosh, the awful one we lived next door to in Carms wouldn't cross the road to spit on you if you were on fire, and there were a couple of extremely disrespectful things he said to me about our daughters, which had I ever repeated them to Keith, he'd have killed him.  Truly.     Everyone is just so friendly and helpful round here.   I walked down into town this morning (it's about a mile and a half) to get Keith's paper, and was dreading the hills-all-the-way on the return journey.    Would you believe that the same neighbour who gave me a lift the other day, was passing again, but before I'd left town, and brought me back home again.  Talk about good timing!

    I have just about decided on one of the blocks for the cushion covers, so will go and do some cutting out I think.  Watch this space.

Thursday 27 October 2022

A swift tah-dah moment


I have sadly come to the end of my tote-bag embroidery.  I enjoyed it so much.  Just straightforward stitches, and it worked up quickly.  Now I can use it when I go down the town for bits and bobs. 

    I am currently without a car. I had to leave it at the garage this morning as it had been making a bit of aa whining noise, and then there was a slight burning smell . . . NOT what you want! They needed to order a part (the filter for the air-conditioning I think it was), and am hoping that is much cheaper than the Alternator, which had first been mooted as a possible problem.  The burning smell is probably the fan belt.  Let's hope.  Not sure if I'll get it back tomorrow as it's dependent on when the courier delivers it. Fortunately Tam and boyfriend are here at the weekend so if we are sans car all over the weekend, we have some wheels if we need to get out.

    So, another bill to add to the bill for the septic tank being emptied next week, and the bill for the annual service of our new heating boiler.  They say things come in threes.

        There is currently a lot of hedge trimming noise as our very kind and helpful farmer from up the lane is cutting our hedge and reaching as much as he can in the bottom paddock to set it to rights.  A bit less Rhododendron too . . .  He is even taking out the waste-of-space shrub outside which gets is doing nothing but growing in the wrong place!  I will then have to dig out the roots.  I shall bake a big cake for him (and brothers & Mum) tomorrow as a thank you.

    Keith is now back to pretty well normal - or what passes as normal - though his legs feel tight from the PD, which isn't good, though goes with the territory.  I've found a 2nd bottle of Tonic Water in the house, so have given him another glass-full to see if that makes any difference.  You never know.

    Let's hope we get the car back tomorrow but it depends what time the courier delivers the part.  I started walking home today (about 1 3/4 miles - with big black clouds rolling over the hills) and was very lucky, as I had just laboured up the hill past the school, to be picked up by a neighbour so I was spared all the other hills between there and home!


Tuesday 25 October 2022

Embroidering happily

 Gosh, Tuesday already.  Rubbish day here, so I have taken the newspapers and the recyclables bin up the track to the end.  If anyone is thinking of seeing Mrs Harris goes to Paris, I can recommend it.  A film with a feel good factor.  Whilst I'm not (nor ever have been!) into haute couture it was lovely to see some  50s fashion.  The Lost King next . . .

Here are a couple of not-very-bright photos of the pre-printed linen tote bag I bought at the Fair for £6. Of course, I have enough embroidery floss to last me two lifetimes, so no need to go and purchase any.  I began work on it straight away, just simple embroidery stitches and the colours of my choice.  I had forgotten quite how much I enjoyed embroidery.  Around the edge it reads "Morning has broken, like the first morning" and "Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird." Who'd have thought anyone would ever have made a pop song out of it but Cat Stevens did.  Can just hear him singing it.

This was where I got up to last night.  I'd have sat and sewed all night long!

The fabrics chosen for the cushion covers for the living room.  Each is half a metre.  They tie in nicely with the curtains.  Don't know which block patterns I will use yet.  I want to get them done before we have guests at Christmas.  Good value at 3 for £15.

I thought these were a bit of fun too, so will get these sewn up soon, but in non-stripey material - just what I have here (plenty to choose from). £6.  The biggest expenditure was on a kit for a friend. I was  disappointed to see no book stall at all.

I don't remember sewing these Pot Marigold seeds but they have come up all the same, orange and yellow ones, and a real ray of sunshine on a dark day.

More wild fungi - the Giant White Funnel,  Leucopaxillus giganteus, which I found keeled over at the edge of a driveway locally.

Well, I had planned to go for a walk after writing this. Sunshine has gradually been replaced by grey clouds and now of course it has just started raining.  I need to cook up some blueberries to go with Keith's breakfast porridge, and then I may just look up some patchwork blocks for the cushions.

Keith has been knocked sideways by whatever made me croaky for a day, and has been sleeping very badly - his legs have been in spasm at night.  I looked up to see if anything could be done and someone suggested Tonic Water, so he had some before bed and slept almost right through.  Let's hope it did work (so can be used in future) and that he's on the mend now.  He was walking up and down the kitchen before breakfast and not reduced to going round hanging onto the furniture which he has the last few days, because his balance was so badly affected.  It's been such a worry to see him like this.  

Friday 21 October 2022

Malvern Autumn Quilt Festival


I took myself off to the Malvern Quilt Festival yesterday.  It's not so much fun on your own, but at least you can go round at your own pace, and linger where you want to.  The weather wasn't very nice - a really heavy cloudburst-type shower on the way there and steady rain a lot of the way back, but fortunately whilst I was outside at the Fair, it was dry. I believe most of these mixed-media textile art pieces were by Nikki Parmenter, of Cheshire.  Very skilful and imaginative.  


"Fade out One"

"Fade out Two"


This was made by another artist - loved the detail on the parrot and the Passionflowers.

Two beautiful colourful quilts.

An entry in the Machine quilted competition.  

Beautiful Lotus design, which has been beautifully coloured with fabric paints.

I should have read about these Lockdown quilts.  The Rooks and the colour-way were a feature in all of them, so I don't know if it's a group effort, where some of the blocks were given to incorporate.

Above and below: entries in the Traditional Quilt section. Gosh, the hours of work which went into these.  I think the red and pink one was titled "Insanity" or something similar.

The border on this one was very imaginative.

Had to be done - one of the WOW quilts as a backdrop for a stand.

More quilts made as backdrops for stands.

I bought some fabrics for patchwork cushion covers for the sofa, but from a different stall.  The local Hereford patchwork shop Doughtys was there with some real bargains, and they were doing a roaring trade.

Finally, all sorts on this stall. Kits for penguins, polar bears, dawgs, wabbits and brooches.  I bought a little kit for making 3 different sized slinky kitty-kats and a birthday present for a friend too.

So, all in all, a good day out, though the traffic was bad coming back through Hereford, and I was glad to get in.  My back has been sore the last couple of days, and Keith is still knocked sideways by whatever bug we have had the past few days.  He is really struggling to get around and like me, has a sore back.  We'll be glad to be over it.  I shall be abandoning him late afternoon to go and see Mrs Harris Goes to Paris with some friends.

Have a lovely weekend.  Kitten news soon . . .  I have booked not one, but TWO . . .

Wednesday 19 October 2022

The Church of the Holy Trinity at Bosbury, Herefs


I popped in this church at Bosbury on the way back from Malvern recently - Pam got dragged round too, though churches are not her no. 1 for visiting . . .  This church dates back to Norman times and is somewhat substantial as the Bishops of Hereford were the Lords of the Manor here.  They would visit to collect revenues, and to go hunting.  The clerestory and side aisles were added around 1200.  The Bishops' Palace was built nearby, on the site of Old Court Farm.  

It is interesting as - like the church at Ledbury - it has a completely separate Bell Tower (below), which was built about 1230-40.  The leaflet about the church suggests it may well have been built for use as a refuge during Welsh raids.

A tale of two fonts - the one above dates to about 1200, whilst the one below, according to the written card, is from the original Saxon church, and was found in 1844.  I love the hops draped across it.

The rather splendid Jacobean pulpit, somewhat restored down the years.  The carved panels are possibly Flemish and show the Adoration of the Magi, the Agony in the Garden, the Crucifixion and the Flight into Egypt.

This was the massive door which once secured the Bell Tower against all comers.  It still looks pretty stout, but was replaced in 1909.

Beautiful fan vaulting on the Rood Screen and Loft, and below, a better photo of the carving.

Sorry Billy, forgot this photo, but it was very gloomy in the church so not a great deal of detail for you.

The ceiling of the Morton Chapel - I missed taking a photo of the Perpendicular style windows.  This was endowed by Sir Rowland Morton following his wife's death in 1528.  Sadly the stained glass windows were likely destroyed in the Civil War or at the time of the Reformation.

A classic marble memorial to the Brydges family dating to around 1742 and 1744.

Now we come to the Harford Memorials, and Pevsner is somewhat scathing of that dedicated to Richard Harford.  He states equivocally that they are NOT by the same sculptor (John Guldo/Guildo/Gildon/Guldon of Hereford).  That below is John Harford, 1573.

Then below, "a home-spun version" of Guldo's (or Guido's or Gildon's) elegant tomb.  Whilst motifs might be the same, there are two "uncouth caryatids, like Adam and Eve.  In the spandrels the big leaves spout out of the mouths of heads far too big in relation to the rest."

It has been suggested that this other monument was an Apprentice Piece, of the "School of John Guldo".

Quite the ugliest Green Man I have ever seen, with teefs like tombstones and an unfortunate haircut - his ears are like drop-handles from a piece of furniture too!!  I am at a loss to understand its inclusion at such a late date too.  

I wondered if these were fragments of Medieval glass, re-used in this lancet window.

If you wish to delve deeper into the History of this church, this link gives an excellent essay which tells you more about the people involved with the church, including the Hereford sculptor. 

Hunkering down here today, as I was awake half the night with a croaky throat I couldn't clear, and I am wondering if I "caught something" from our visitors last week, who - bless them - had just been to a very large funeral, or else the coughing woman in the row ahead of me at the talk on Snodhill Castle last Friday, passed on her germs.  These days it is difficult to tell cold from Covid . . .