Bits and pieces

I won the Christmas raffle prize at slimming World. Our group leader does one of these herb & spice ‘crackers’ each year and I’ve always coveted it. I could, of course, make my own, or even just stock up on new jars but it’s just not the same as winning!


The ‘S’ in the middle is for star anise. I don’t think I’ve ever used it so look forward to trying it out. Apparently it is the fruit of an evergreen tree which is native to southern China and is mostly used in savoury dishes.

Our dedicated Slimming World group leader is running our usual Monday class on Sunday (Christmas eve) morning. The next class will run as usual the following Monday (New Year’s Day). All designed to keep us on the straight and narrow – though she’s not unrealistic! I think attending on New Year’s Day is a perfect time for a new start (and I’m sure to need it by then).

We had an unexpected overnight visitor last night. Youngest granddaughter decided that, at seven, she is now brave enough to stay over without her big sister (who has always been happy to stay unaccompanied). It was lovely to peep in late at night and see her fast asleep. They always look so gorgeous, don’t they?  I recently wrote about Elf (on the shelf). He came with her so we had to think of an adventure for him. Quite what he did, we have no idea, but he was found this morning driving a Playmobile dustcart and eating a happy hippo wafer biscuit. Granddaughter seemed happy with that.

I finished work yesterday for a thirteen day holiday. HOORAY!! Although we’re only closed for two days, because of how my work days fall, I’ve only had to take two days annual leave to get almost two weeks off. This morning eight of us gym ladies met for coffee and mince pies.  A couple of glasses of Bucks Fizz, shortbread, chocolates, macaroons and sausage rolls later, we got around to the coffee and mince pies!  We also had a secret Santa with restrictions ….no chocolate, no alcohol and a budget of £4. It certainly tests ingenuity! I received a useful shopping bag which folds up into a tiny package that fits into even a small handbag. If only I remember to take it with me! The boot of my car is always well stocked with shopping bags but do I remember to take them into the supermarket? Rarely.

My night-cramps have improved, though not completely disappeared. Peculiarly, it mostly attacks my shins or across my instep. Rarely does it occur in my calves which is, for most people, the common place.  Whether or not my four-pronged attack is working (see below) or I’m just going through a better phase, I really don’t know. The banana, in case you’re wondering is a source of magnesium, a lack of which is thought to be a cause of cramp. The Epsom salts are reputed to help. The hot water bottle is probably the greatest help. As soon as the warning comes (I feel a tightness in the muscle) I make sure the bottle is in the right place and it really does seem to ward it off. Fortunately by the time it’s cooled,  my legs seem to have relaxed. Who knows – perhaps it’s all in my mind.







  1. Happy to read that you have started your vacation. You did well to get 13 days off for just two days of your annual leave!

    I love that spice gift! Daughter and I had fun trying to come up with different spices to spell Chanukkah and Happy New Year! We were stumped for some of the letters, but she looked up online and we found the names of some herbs and spices for y, u, and k. 🙂


    • Haha, I think that “Christmas” was possibly easier. Glad that the internet saved the day!
      I think it’s a really nice gift idea for someone who loves cooking.


  2. What a lovely prize!
    I, too, am plagued by cramps, mainly in my calm muscles. But if we’ve been out for a walk, and especially if I’ve walked downhill (more than uphill) I get cramp from my big toe up through my foot and up the front of my leg, and that is awful. I fall it front-leg cramp. I don’t think it’s quite the same as shin splints, but it’s still painful. And if I move awkwardly in bed, sometimes cramp in the instep of my feet, too, for example if I try and push the h.w.b. to one side and suddenly, camp in my foot.
    Margaret P


  3. Well done on your win.
    I regularly get cramp, especially in my toes. I had it in the top of my thigh the other day, boy did it hurt.
    I am have been having trouble commenting so I hope you get this ok.
    (Marlene – Simple Living)


    • I did get it ok, Marlene! I’ve had cramp in my thigh too, and I agree…it’s very painful. By the way, I corrected my post. Bananas have magnesium (and potassium) in, not calcium. I know that so don’t know why I typed it wrongly!


  4. Lovely gift you received. Try the star anise in chicken soup next time you make it. It enhances the flavours magnificently. Merry Christmas to you and yours from Canada.


    • I wI’ll certainly try that…sounds great! A very Merry Christmas to you, Jean. How lovely to know that I have a Canadian reader.


  5. Hooray for starting your Christmas vacation! The spice cracker you received looks amazing. Sorry to hear about your night cramps. I liked your comment of “perhaps it’s all in my mind”…I can identify with that as I’ve had back spasms and my husband thinks it’s “all in my mind”. Hopefully, you can rest and relax a bit over the holidays and enjoy all the festivities. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Pat


    • Hi Pat, I’m sure that it isn’t all in our minds. The trouble with pain is that it’s invisible and doesn’t attract the sympathy that, say, a cut finger might! Have a wonderful Christmas.


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