Two broken bones

Two broken bones – not mine, but just a short while after this photo (which I posted a couple of days ago) was taken, my poor daughter slipped over and broke her right wrist in two places. I guess we must be thankful for small mercies – she is left handed.


Neither her father or myself are left handed, and yet two of our three offspring are. Apparently when one parent is left handed, the chances of their children being so is around 50%. When neither parent is, that possibility shrinks to just 2%.  For two right handed parents to produce two left handed children is highly unusual. I always knew my children were amazing! 

Whilst I never insisted that my children do things with their right hand (as they did in Victorian times by tying the left hand behind the back or rapping knuckles with a ruler), neither did I make concessions to left-handedness. I never bought special scissors or cutlery, or allowed them to eat with their knives and forks in the wrong hands as some left-handers do.  It seemed no hardship for them, they simply got on with doing things the way they were shown but with the ‘other’ hand. My son played cricket and still plays guitar right handed after being taught by right handed people.  

It is thought that in left-handers the right side of the brain will dominate. Since this is the side which controls imagination and creativity, it’s not surprising that they are reputed to tend towards being artistic. It’s certainly the case with my son, though less obvious in my daughter. 

Have you heard the term ‘southpaw’ applied to left-handers?  I have used it jokingly when talking to my children but had no idea what it meant. Now I know: it comes from the baseball arrangement where is placed in the diamond facing  east to avoid the afternoon sun. A pitcher who is left handed will have his pitching arm, therefore, towards the south – hence southpaw. Since I have no understanding of basketball rules, I’ll have to believe what I read – ( 

So, my little southpaw, if you’re reading this, I hope you will be feeling much better soon X

Sunday snippets

Flowers from son and family one week old today and only just opened but definitely worth the wait.


It snowed AGAIN last night, and not just a sprinkle this time. It’s not awful, but I wouldn’t want to drive in it and I’m glad that I wasn’t coming home from daughter’s today. It’s gone  a lot colder too – the wind is howling down the chimney. Fortunately we hadn’t planned on going anywhere. I should have been writing – that epilogue remains no more than a title but I just couldn’t face sitting at the computer not knowing what to type. I have to sort this out!

It felt like a cooking morning but I was limited as to what I could do because I have no room in the freezer. When do I ever have room in the freezer? The thing is, I like to cook/bake so I fill it up and. Then next time I get the domestic goddess urge, I’m stumped! I made a caramel cake. I’ve had a jar of caramel flavour hot chocolate in the cupboard for some time now. Granddaughter chose it when we were shopping but neither of us was keen on the taste so it’s languished unused for several months. You’ll already know that I hate waste….almost as much as I hate snow! I added 6 teaspoons to a basic sponge mixture, and another 4 to icing sugar. The attempted swirly pattern on top looks a bit messy but I’m sure husband won’t complain.


Whilst it was in the oven I decided to make cookies as I recently found a recipe that sounded nice.  Thank goodness I’m used to improvising….. I didn’t have the required prunes so I used dates. 2tbsp of  wheat bran was called for but that’s not something that I buy so I used porridge oats instead, and there is no way that I’m going to buy a tub of cream cheese just to take 2tbsp out of it. I substituted thick Greek yogurt which I always have in. Walnuts are something I always have so no problem there. The other ingredients were standard – flour, eggs and fat. It’s Slimming World weigh day tomorrow so I’ve just had a little taste but Oh Yum! They were, as cookies tend to be, rather splodgy in shape which matters not one jot, but then I had an idea. I used a star shaped cookie cutter whilst they were still soft. To the trimmings I added a few chopped glacé cherries and extra nuts.  I’ll buy some tiny marshmallows and make rocky road bites for when my son and grandson visit on Wednesday.


There were a few cherry tomatoes  and a green pepper in the fridge which needed using so I made a black bean sauce and a tomato and basil sauce and froze them (a bit of wiggling around and I just managed to squeeze them in). They’ll do  to add to chicken in due course


I also made a chicken dish ready for this evening – red pepper, leeks, a sauce made with cornflour, wine, garlic and ginger and chopped chicken but forgot to take a photo. Youll note that I skipped swiftly past the mention of Slimming World. My plan was to lose 9lb through the 9 weeks of February and March. Make that 2lb….if I’m lucky. Oh it’s such an effort. 🙁

Finally, it’s a good job I left my daughter’s when I did. She sent this picture of the lane this morning. It’s a better picture than the one I posted yesterday!




Another day in Shropshire


Despite the promise of more snow today we awoke yesterday to a gloriously sunny spring morning.  Not that you’d think so from the photograph but it’s the best of a poor bunch. We were up, breakfasted and out walking Luca along the winding lanes that meander higgledy-piggledy up and down hills soon after 9am. I realise that for some readers this is not an early start but bear in mind that I was viewing this as a short holiday,  thus expecting a leisurely lie-in!

Back home daughter introduced me to Alexa. In case you missed the television adverts Alexa is an interactive device that responds to verbal commands. Daughter tells me that ‘she ‘ answers questions such as what the weather forecast is for a certain area, gives the news headlines for the day (or historic ones if required) and plays radio  stations as instructed. There’s a lot more to her talents but I’d lost interest by then but I soon got the hang of asking her to change Virgin radio to Smooth each time daughter left the room! Alexa is a bit gimmicky for me so I’ll not be buying one.

Lunch was eaten at The Novello Lounge In Telford, a quirky place of clashing styles and excellent bistro-style food. The ‘Superfood salad’ open sandwich (served on ciabatta) with goats cheese did not disappoint.


After lunch I was telling daughter that I’d seen  trailer for the new Peter Rabbit animated film. Did she remember the Beatrix Potter books I used to read to her when she was a little girl, I asked her. She did, of course, and we spoke animatedly about her favourite characters, Peter himself, Apply Dapply and Pigling Bland. “Oh, I’d love to see the film,” she said.

3 P Rabbit

Now she might have been (half) joking but I said that I would too. We popped home to let Luca out and then… … …yes, we went to the matinee showing, but only after we’d bought some sweets to take with us including Parma violets. Remember them?

We had a fab time. Have you been to the cinema lately? You probably have so will be amused at my surprise … leather recliner seats with a foot rest and our own little table. I’d no idea since I’ve not been to the cinema in ages. We treated ourselves to hot chocolate to go with the sweets (what an indulgence! Back to the diet today). It was like being out with my little girl again.

In the evening I’d planned to look through Delicious Magazine which she had bought for me (two magazines in two days – unheard of; I usually pick them up from the gym for a small donation, returning them once read)  but it was a little difficult as I spent the time pinned to the sofa by Luca who had decided that I was pretty much an expert in the tummy-tickling department.

After yesterday’s lovely spring morning we found that it had snowed during the night – only lightly but with more, plus high winds promised, I decided to come home early. The snow blew around on the way home but nothing much materialised. The wind however was quite scary at times and it had clearly made its mark in the night as I came across several large tree branches, and one small entire tree, in the road.

Now I’m off to prepare a VERY light lunch.






Shropshire sojourn

I’m visiting my daughter for a few days, getting reacquainted with lovely Luca the dog and the cats, Viktor, Willis and Austin. I forgot to bring (actually forgot to make)  the fruit cake I’d promised! Oh dear.

The journey to Shropshire is not without its frustrations. There are more changes of speed limit en route than I’ve encountered anywhere else in the country, and I’ve travelled a good deal of it, driving many thousands of miles year on year during my working life. In one particular stretch of road the limit changes eleven times within a couple of miles. Now maybe I have this wrong but I thought that the primary purpose of speed limits was safety. Having  fallen foul of these varying limits on TWO occasions recently I find that I am concentrating more on the speedometer than I am at the road ahead…surely not the idea. In one particularly notorious stretch, the speed limit changes from 30 to 40 to 50 and back to 40 in less than 200 yards. In another spot, unbelievably, a single post sports two signs….a 30 AND a 40!! Unfortunately it’s not feasible to take a photograph when driving, nor is there anywhere to stop, but I kid you not.

Daughter cooked sticky honey and mustard vegi sausages with smoked salt.They were delicious. The strange looking oblong things are pitta slices and underneath the potatoes are slices of caramelised onion.


On the way here I stopped off in Bridgenorth (a little town of which I’m really fond) and bought a few bits and pieces including daffodils and walnut whips for daughter (such sophistication) and a copy of the latest Good Housekeeping which had a little ‘Recipe and home ideas’ booklet with it. I love this idea – a floating flower centrepiece for the table.


It’s a definite for the next Ladies Dining Group lunch in April. In case you’ve not seen me mention this before, the LDG is a group of six ladies who get together a few times a year for food and chat. Our lunches (either prepared by one of us or at a local pub) last for around five hours whilst we put the world to rights. The group has an interesting dynamic with a variety of careers and home circumstances. It came about when one of the women who knew the other five of us invited us all for a meal several years ago. Each of us knew at least two of the others but now the rest are friends too.

This is probably the last time I’ll stay in daughter’s little 1850’s cottage. They’ve just sold it and are off to a larger, more modern house about half a mile away from where they are now.




There’s nothing fantastic about plastic

I accept the usefulness of plastic and the fact that we’d be pretty lost without it in a modern world but I do wish that, where alternatives are possible, food manufacturers would use them. Plastics are used in every phase of food production but for years now there have been questions over their safety. In some countries the phthalate chemicals used in packaging have been banned.  Many believe that Bisphenol and phthalates, chemicals contained in many plastics,  are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” In other words they affect human hormones.  When foods are wrapped in plastics or microwaved in plastic containers, these chemicals can leach into the food. Fatty foods like cheese are particularly susceptible. Until a few years ago all peanut butter was sold in glass jars but since most manufacturers have changed to plastic jars I now buy an organic brand which still use glass.

In America, The Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has warned consumers that various kinds of harmful chemicals can end up in food if microwaved. Have you noticed how the plastic on some containers breaks down when microwaved? They begin to look as though they’ve been rubbed with sandpaper and tiny fragments break off. Some of these will inevitably end up in your food.

Back in the days when I took lunch to work (I no longer work full days) I refused to eat food that had spent hours sweating in a plastic container. Sandwiches were wrapped in waxed papers since I am not keen on cling film either, and salads and the like were transported in glass or ceramics. I’d read around the subject and made my decision. However, in the interests of a balanced post I freely admit that Cancer Research UK is adamant that plastics do not present a health risk where food is concerned.

Nowadays I use glass storage containers, I freeze and cook food in glass and, when drinking bottled water, I will only buy that which is sold in glass bottles, such as Voss. I do occasionally utilise plastic containers for short term use, but I separate the food from contact with the plastic.

Of course, our over consumption of plastics is much in the news of late for another reason. Who can fail to have been moved by pictures of sea creatures choking on what they mistakenly assume to be plankton, or becoming entangled in plastic waste. It is estimated that in excess of 12 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the oceans every year and in the same period Coca Cola produces 100 billion plastic bottles. Why?  There are calls for a deposit scheme for plastic bottles, but why?

Why not just use glass?






And still it snowed

All afternoon and into yesterday evening, the snow kept on falling. A friend who lives in the nearby town of Alcester sent me this photograph of the main road which runs from her town to ours. It’s not terribly clear having been taken from the cab of a digger working to clear the drifts during the afternoon (she works for the company), but it’s easy to see that it looks impassable. I can’t imagine that the pub on the right did much trade yesterday.


Fortunately we have had no more snow today and the forecast is that it should slowly begin to melt. There is already evidence of this as the cars outside our house are beginning to emerge from their frosty tombs.

I wonder what my blog readers in other countries think of the British preoccupation with the weather. In our defense, such levels of snow are rare and we are just not geared up to cope. The grit lorries do a sterling job but there are just not that many of them. Should our councils buy more ready for use when required I wonder, or are our council taxes better spent on services that are routinely required throughout the year? I think we have to go with the latter and resign ourselves to the occasional inconvenience caused by a heavy snowfall. The last seriously bad winters were those of 2010/11 and 2011/12 and, to be fair, this one hasn’t been particularly bad apart from a few very unpleasant days.

Personally, the biggest effect has been on my social life! A hair appointment cancelled on Thursday, no gym (closed) and a lunch party cancelled on Friday, today’s planned trip to Worcester (still looking for that dress) deferred until some unspecified later date and another lunch with friends tomorrow put off until the end of the month. Three free days – unheard of!  Yesterday I tried to write – the book’s epilogue is still stumping me so today I am not even going to think about it. Some sewing is likely (small alterations here and there and a hem to stitch) and I’m going to make a few greetings cards ready for forthcoming birthdays, a wedding and a soon-to-be-born new baby. Then it’s make a cake time. Just so you know, we don’t necessarily eat all this cake I make – sometimes I give them away.

The National Trust has a new Afternoon Tea book out and the Daily Mail has reproduced some of the recipes in today’s Weekend magazine.  I have the requisite ingredients for some of them so I may give them a try.  I could do some ironing but that’s quite unlikely!

If you’re reading this from one of those countries that’s basking in warmth and sunshine, spare a thought for us here, and to the rest of you, stay safe and warm and remember that though it may not seem that way at the moment – spring really is on its way.


Because I can’t think of what to write…

The snow continues – eight inches of the horrible stuff this morning! Fortunately it’s not that deep generally but the wind has made it drift and thanks to the barrier formed by the rose border, it’s ended up settling on our garden path.

I should have been going to a friend’s lunch party today but, as heavy snow was forecast for today, she cancelled it yesterday morning which meant that I didn’t need to make the chocolate and lime cheesecake that I’d promised to take. This, in turn, meant that I didn’t need to go to the supermarket last night to buy the limes which I forgotten to get earlier in the week when I shopped for the other ingredients. I’d probably have popped into Asda as it’s the closest store, even though its not somewhere I shop regularly.

As I haven’t written a post for a week I thought that I should make the effort but subject matter eluded me. I decided to just make a start and see where it took me. Now I’ve mentioned Asda I think I’ll continue the shopping theme.

It’s rather unfashionable nowadays to say that one doesn’t like Aldi and every now and then when I feel pang of guilt for not trying to be more economical  I go to Aldi with the intention of doing my food shop there. I really do try to muster some enthusiasm but find it such a thoroughly dispiriting experience selecting items from cardboard boxes and negotiating the cabbage leaf-strewn floor that I invariable end up buying a couple items and quickly leave to resume shopping elsewhere. The aisles are narrow, the choice limited and the lighting harsh. The staff are conditioned to scan produce so quickly that customers are left with the choice of either throwing the whole lot into a bag with no thought of packing like with like, or dumping it all back into the trolley from whence it just came, to move three yards to another counter where it all comes out of the trolley again to be repacked.  And why do they insist on heaping the middle aisles with disparate odds and ends of dubious quality. From slippers to saucepans and bicycles to books, what a mish-mash. And as for the clothing – it looks like the church jumble sale after an hour’s rummaging. I’m not suggesting that there’s nothing there worth buying, I’m sure there is, but really, who has the time or inclination to plough through it all when they’ve come in to but something for tea? Most surprising of all is that several items that I regularly buy are priced are the same as, or in the case of the small eating apples I bought, more costly than in Tesco! As one might expect, those advertised comparison baskets are very carefully selected.

I expect there are nicer, tidier branches and I’m sure that Aldi sell perfectly nice lobster or champagne (or so various surveys tell me) but what I want is to be able to trust that the carrots I buy on Monday are still OK by Saturday. Unfortunately my (albeit infrequent) experience is that one needs to be very vigilant when choosing Aldi fruit and veg. The plain fat-free yogurt was good enough but I’m not prepared to endure another Aldi shopping trip just to save a few pence on yogurt.

Nearby we have Sainsburys which is a nice shop but there are too many items that I want to buy that it doesn’t stock, ditto Morrison. So most of my shopping is done in Tesco. Here I can get everything I want and our local branch is very spacious. I like space; I like Tesco.

From time to time, when I have enough of it (i.e. time),  I’ll drive further afield and do my shopping in Waitrose which is most definitely a favourite. Although more expensive, the quality is outstanding – similar to Marks & Spencer – and the fruit and veg last very well.  M&S is about to close my local store so we’ll have neither nearby. On holiday in the Lake District I shopped in Booths. Wow! You lucky Northerners.

If a large shop is required and I’m short on time I’ve occasionally ordered from Ocado and boy is it impressive! The delivery driver once texted to ask if he could come twenty minutes early, the quality of fresh food was superb with long ‘use-by’ dates and the packing was perfectly arranged like with like. The trouble is that I don’t want my shopping delivered reguarly. I’ve heard women say that they don’t like food shopping. I simply can’t identify with that because for me, choosing the food is the next best thing to eating it!