Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So What's New?...

There was a time when almost every day I learned something new.  It still happens, but now not so often.  Not sure whether my recent discovery is worth knowing about, but at the anniversary we had loads of bunches of flowers given go us, most had those little sachets of 'plant food' to put in their water, but one HUGE bunch, hand tied and sitting in its own (plastic) vase, we left as is.  It was perfect for ages, but I noticed that most of the water had be drunk by the flowers, and lazy me couldn't be bothered to go into the kitchen to get some fresh, so I used some of B's (diet) lemonade from the bottle that he had left on the table.

The plants absolutely LOVED that, and they looked even better the following day, still kept going and only now - four week later - are they ready to be discarded.  Many petals from the bouquet will be collected and dried to add to the multi-coloured rose petals that I have also saved (and dried), to make an almost ever-lasting pot-pourri that will always remind me of that special time.

Must look out for some cherries Hazel, and am thinking about buying a small cherry tree for our garden as the very dark (Morello) cherries will grown in shade (and we have a lot of shade on one border).  Cherries, especially the dark ones, are recommended eating for those with gout.  Dried cherries work just as well.
I've loads of redcurrants in the freezer, so must - like you - turn them into redcurrant jelly.  My mum used to make blackcurrant cordial, always making it up with hot water to give me when I had a winter cold.  She also made raspberry vinegar that served a similar purpose.  Nowadays many cooks use raspberry vinegar in place of balsamic vinegar.

Lovely little comment from Wee Wendy, to whom we give a welcome.  I'm too old to be a Mum Wendy, but you can think of me as a surrogate grandma (or even great-grandma - all depends how old YOU are).

Our daughter has always kept in touch with her school friends Rhea, one came to our anniversary meal.  I hadn't seen her since she was a schoolgirl, but still recognisable.  Think there is a site called 'Friends....(something or other) where we can type in the name of the school we went to and the date we were there, and then school friends might read it and reply.   Tried this with mine, but heard nothing except from someone who went to the school the year after I left.
I'd love to know what happened to my close group of friends (we were four:  Lesley, June, Anne and myself, but lost touch after we were all married).
Most of my friends, still close, were made during my early married life and when we lived in Leicester, although I did make more friends when we moved to Leeds and still keep in touch with those that are still with us (some were older than me), and Gill - being 10 years younger - is the only one who has the strength to visit, and that now rarely, but she managed the trip (a good three hours drive - and sometimes four if the traffic is slow) early this month and says that she now has the confidence to tackle it again - hopefully later this year.  
When we lived in Leeds she always visited us at least 4 times a year, sometimes 5, but then it was only about one and a half hours drive.  A friend of mine who emigrated to Australia with her family told me once that she used to visit her daughter once a week, just for a cup of coffee, and she lived one and a half hours drive away - but people who live in large countries (same in America) have a different approach to distance than we do.

When we lived in Oadby (Leicester) an American couple rented a house for a year close to where we lived.  Think he was on a 'sabbatical' or something.  I remember meeting her in the street mid-morning and she said they were just popping down to Cornwall for the day as she wanted to see Land's End.  She expected to be back early evening as they were going out with friends for a meal.  Well, all I can say is, travelling to Cornwall 'just for the day' would have never entered our head.  For that distance we would go only for a week's holiday. 

Yet, when we lived in Leeds I often used to drive over to Scarborough and spend the day there (all by myself), and even taking 'the scenic route' (very little traffic) it was little more than an hour to get there, and a very pleasant drive it was.
I do miss having my own car, hardly a week goes by when I wish I could just up sticks and jump in a car and go where the mood takes me.  B would take me if I asked nicely, but it's not the same.  We'd probably end up where he wanted to go anyway. 

Enjoyed hearing about your 'animal husbandry' memories Sairy.  You have mentioned you still keep chickens, but do you have other animals as well?  This is another regret I now have as we've always had animals, the first being an African grey parrot that used to belong to my grandfather, but when he died (before I was born) my mother took the parrot and it was a bit creepy as it was a very good mimic and would call to my mother in her father's voice. 
When I was nine we had a little Cairn terrier (Judy), and I also had a rabbit.  Then when we got married, we had budgerigars, and - for the children - I bought a guinea pig, discovering the next day a baby guinea pig in the same cage, born during the night.  That led to an interest in cavies (aka guinea pigs) and started to breed and show them.  This led up to me even judging them in local shows. 
Our daughter had a lovely guinea pig that she took to Alexandra Palace for the 'Fur and Feather' Show (sort of like Cruft's dog show, but this for rabbits, cavies, and birds).  The guinea pig came third which was pretty good considering all the competition, and with that under her belt she was able to sell all the offspring.

A few weeks before we moved to Leeds we bought a Labrador puppy, and with the guinea pigs and the pup, that was about all the pets we had - but enough.  Now we have nothing and I do miss having something to cuddle and talk to (and that looks pleased to see me when I return home - just wish husbands could be like that).

If I was a lot younger and had plenty of time I would aim to breed small Labradors, crossing (and re crossing) with probably Beagles.  Labradors are the best dogs in the world as far as I'm concerned, being extremely loving, the only thing is they are too large for the frailer and elderly folk, but if they were then really small they would be perfect companions. 

A lot of other breeds of dog come in 'large and small'.  Miniature poodles, small collies come to mind.  Maybe one day there will be small Labs.  Let us hope so.

B is still not very interested in eating a proper cooked meal at the moment, but managed to enjoy a big bowl of cauliflower cheese that I'd made for his supper.  The cauli had been in the fridge for over a month (still perfect) and it was a very large one, so as I cooked it all, will have to think up ways of using the remainder I have left.  The thought of adding grated cheese to the cauli, mashing it all together and binding with an egg to make 'cauli-cakes' sounds (to me) almost tempting.  So might try that tomorrow for my lunch.
B tells me there is a working party at the sailing club tomorrow evening, so he is going to buy fish and chips for us to eat before he goes "to save me cooking" he says.  Not sure that I want fish and chips, but any chance of me having food that someone else has cooked for me (even if from the chippy) is a treat.  
We ate at the Barbar Elephant on Monday, so eating 'ready-cooked for me' twice in one week is something to cherish.
Do take a look at the Barbar website (it is the Lancaster one we go to), and am sure you will be impressed with the place.   It really does serve the best curries I've ever tasted, and the service is excellent, they make us feel very special each time we go.

See it is after midnight (ignore the time shown on the posting, they don't recognise BST, so there is an hour difference until we go back to GMT).  Thursday has begun and I just can't keep pace with the days, times seems to move so fast at the moment. 

Tomorrow I'm going to try and find something new.  There are always plenty of things to be discovered that really would prove useful if I concentrated more and didn't take life for granted so much. 
I read recently that banana skins are good for us. Whizzed up with other fruits in a smoothie, but have to say that is one road I'm unlikely to take.  Will probably stick to using the banana skins as a shoe polish (if I had shoes that needed polishing).

Oh yes, one thing.  Due to all the fuss about supermarket plastic bags, and the need to use less of them (or none at all), Tesco are now delivering a lot of the food in small brown paper bags, a bit like the old-style carrier bags (anyone remember these?).  I asked the delivery man if he wanted them returned (he takes the plastic bags back) and he said no - they'd end up on the tip the same as the plastic bags, only suppose the paper ones can be recycled.
Have to say that I'm keeping the paper bags as it saves buying brown paper to wrap parcels when they need posting.  They do have Tesco's name printed on the outside, but once carefully unstuck and unfolded, the printing can be on the inside, leaving the outside 'wrapping' plain. 
Also good for making those 'sticky stuff' fly-papers that I gave the recipe for the other day.  Yes, always something we can do with what other people throw away.  As long as we take the trouble to think first before chucking. 

With that thought I'll take my leave of you, and trot off to get my beauty sleep, returning this time tomorrow (probably). Hope to 'meet' up with you all then. TTFN.