Tuesday, 30 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - T

T is for:

The turrets and towers of Dunster Castle, set on a tor amongst the trees. Dunster is a little town near Minehead in Somerset. There has been a castle there for more than one thousand years. You can read more about it here.

and some tiled roof tops

Thanks go to Mrs Denise Nesbitt and her team who host ABC Wednesday. For more looks at this week's letter, please click here.

Where does the time go?

Well, so much for being determined to a post each day through November. I began well enough but slid into lethargy last week and now, here we are, the very last day! Where does the time go?

It wasn't actually lethargy - I have been very busy and consequently very tired and I'm afraid blogging is the first thing to go whenever that is the case.

I had a telephone call late last Tuesday afternoon asking if I could take my mother to the hospital the following morning for a blood transfusion. We needed to be there for 9 am and as she had to have 2 units of blood, would be there most of the day. Of course that meant a double journey and also re-arrangement of plans already made. No problem as Mum is priority at the moment. The journey takes 35 minutes but I had to allow for morning traffic and the fact that Mum is slow, so we left home at 8 am. When I got Mum back home there was a letter waiting for her to say that she is to go into hospital for her operation on 14th December and will be in for about 5 days. So at least we know when and I now know that I have (now) 2 weeks to prepare for Christmas.

So, I have made lists, bought cards and written most of them - they will be posted later this week and made a start on the gift buying. I have made 4 Christmas cakes - one for a charity stall, one for us and the other 2 are gifts. Yesterday I put the almond paste on each of them and will decorate them over the coming 2 weeks.

Funnily enough, I think I will be more organised this year as I have found in other years, when my time has been limited for Christmas preparations (for various reasons), that most things have gone swimmingly!

Finally, an apology to those of you who aren't so organised - I'm not bragging - honestly!

PS - I just checked and I did 20 posts out of a possible 30 so not too bad.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - S

While we were in Vancouver earlier this year we visited Gastown and were intrigued by this lovely Steam Clock. According to Wikipedia it was built in 1977 and is powered by a steam engine.

As you can see I took this video of it at 4 pm. I had to put it on YouTube as I had difficulty uploading it to my blog.

Thanks to Mrs Denise Nesbitt and the ABC Wednesday team who host this each week. To see more of the letter S, please click here.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Getting Organised - Part 2

Following on from yesterday's post I have begun making lists and actually did a bit of Christmas shopping today. This week I shall make the cakes that I want to give this year. Last year, with the house move and being away for a month just before Christmas I made none so I really would like to make up for it this year.

So I have made a start!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Getting Organised

Having been given the news of Mum's imminent operation last week I realised a couple of days ago that I really should get on with some preparations for Christmas. Mum will probably be in hospital for about 5 days and I will want to visit her (the hospital is about 40 minutes' drive away), but once she is back at home I will have to be on hand for her, to make sure that she is OK in every way. The easiest thing (for me) would be for her to come and stay with us but I have a feeling that she will want to go straight back to her own home. Understandable. If that happens I will have to spend most of my time there for a few weeks. When I mentioned coming to us she just replied "well, we'll see nearer the time". Wherever, I will have a lot less time to do much about the forthcoming festive season.

So, the first thing is a priority list and then I will make the most of my time over the next couple of weeks, because once Mum does go into hospital, she will be my priority. In any case, everyone will understand if certain things don't happen and there is always next year!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Out for a walk with my daughter recently, at her home in Stratford on Avon, on looking up to see if the rain clouds were gathering, we saw that some "wag" had decided to adorn the statue of William Shakespeare!

Thanks go to the SkyWatch Friday team who host this each week. For a look at skies around the world, please click here.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Update on Mum

On Monday afternoon, after weeks of tests and scans, my Mum was finally given the news we had been dreading. She has bowel cancer. Again. She was first diagnosed 24 years ago, had an operation and was successfully cleared of the disease, not needing any other treatment. But she has it again. It is not the same cancer but a new one and her doctor said she is very unlucky to get it a second time.

At 88 Mum's general health is very good. She has difficulty walking, managing short distances with a stick but her heart is sound and her BP mostly normal. So she is to have an operation and the doctor says he is confident that all should go very well.

Mum is quite pragmatic about it all. I have to say I feel fairly confident about the outcome, if a little anxious. But it has to be done and quite soon. She is very anaemic and that has to be dealt with initially but the operation should take place within the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - R

Russett reflections of the reeds and ripples on the lake (not a reservoir)!

Thanks go to Mrs Denise Nesbitt and her team who host ABC Wednesday. For more looks at this week's letter, please click here.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Shoe Boxes for Christmas

I recently read about "Operation Christmas Child" and have been filling a couple of shoe boxes - one for a boy of 2-4 years and one for a girl of 5-9 years. The deadline for handing over the boxes is 18 November. When I looked at the web site and saw the looks of pleasure on the children's faces as they opened their gifts I was very moved and it made me determined to take part. This charity has been operating for 20 years, where on earth have I been?

In the coming year I will make or buy gifts in readiness for the 2011 deadline.

I have to wrap the boxes in Christmas paper then fill each one and take them to the drop off point in our town by Thursday. It is amazing what you can fit into a shoe box!

Blog, Twitter or Facebook

I have been blogging for over 2 years now. I managed to get to grips with it fairly easily and time gave me more confidence. Much more recently my son in Australia asked me if I would consider joining Facebook as it would be a good way of keeping in touch apart from our weekly telephone calls. I did join but I don't really understand it and don't find it easy at all. Now I am wondering if I should try Twitter.

Any thoughts anyone?

Friday, 12 November 2010

Pride of Britain

Husband was out on Wednesday evening, playing skittles, a fortnightly team event, popular here in the South West of England. (to be honest I'm not sure about the rest of the country). I wondered about watching a now annually televised event "Pride of Britain", knowing it would be quite an emotional programme. I decided I would begin to watch and if it proved to be too much (I seem to be more emotional as I get older and I've always been a "weeper") then I would turn it off.

I did stick with it and found it fascinating to hear the remarkable stories that were told that evening of such bravery and courage, not only adults helping their fellow men but of children too, being so brave in the face of serious illness and disabilities and yet fighting on, not just for themselves but for others too.

I have watched the programme in other years and knew what to expect and I am glad I saw it through to the end.

I know I have already mentioned Susan Boyle this week but the whole event was opened by her singing with a young choir, which was perfect.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Skywatch Friday

Yesterday afternoon Husband and I decided to go out for a walk. The weather was beautiful and it just seemed a shame to stay in. The sky was very clear and it was colder than we had anticipated. We were out for about an hour so by the time we reached home again the sun as setting and I actually felt quite chilled.

Just as we were about to go inside I happened to see this newish crescent pale moon.

Thanks to the SkyWatch Friday team. For more looks at skies around the world, please click here.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

My Sewing Lessons

I am thoroughly enjoying my sewing lessons every other Tuesday, from 6.30 pm until about 9 pm. I am still very much a "greenhorn" though. I did warn K, my teacher and she is very patient with me and I am not the only one, after all they are lessons, and we are all there to learn.

Last week K asked me to put the zipper foot on the sewing machine so that I could stitch along some piping. I had already used it at home during the day so felt quite confident about it.

K came over to check. "Well, that's a first" she said, "you've put it on sideways"!

Well, it caused a laugh anyway and after all, don't you learn by your mistakes. I do hope so!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - Q

Q is for Queen
HM Queen Elizabeth II

The following words are part of Queen Elizabeth's 21st birthday speech, on 21 April 1947, when she was still Princess Elizabeth.

"I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong".

She became Queen in 1952 and was crowned at her coronation in June the following year. I imagine Her Majesty had a few qualms on that day.

The following picture shows detail of her beautiful gown. What a quantity of stitches there must be in a piece of work of such quality.

Do you suppose they ate quiche and queen cakes at the party afterwards, or queen of puddings. Maybe they danced the quick-step or even the quadrille.

She is still, at 84 years of age, devoting her life to the service of her people and I heard on the news at the weekend that she has just become a member of Facebook!

The following video captures some off-duty moments.

Thanks go to Mrs Denise Nesbitt and her team who host ABC Wednesday. For more looks at this week's letter, please click here.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Time to Sleep

Our friends left after the annual firework display last evening. A good show, it lasted for about 20 minutes and heralded the carnival celebrations in the town.

Husband and I cleared up then sat down to watch the final episode of "Downton Abbey", a period drama we have been watching for the past 7 weeks. Following that was Piers Morgan's interview with Susan Boyle. H went on to bed but as tired as I was I stayed up to watch it as, along with thousands of her fans, I am so glad for her that she is living her dream. What a wonderful voice she has. It is always a pleasure to hear it.

I went to bed around mid-night and then I just couldn't sleep which is not like me at all. I got up again and finally, finally, went back to bed at 3 am and slept.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

What about the Rice!

Friends came to lunch today. I decided to cook roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables. For dessert it was to be rice pudding, raspberry meringue roulade and sticky toffee pudding. The meringue dessert had to be made first and while the meringue was cooking I prepared the rice pudding to go into the oven immediately after the meringue came out. I rinsed the rice and left it to drain, prepared the dish and put the sugar and nutmeg in then measured the milk into a saucepan to be warmed through a little later.

So, eventually, the milk warmed I poured it into the bowl and then popped the prepared pudding into the oven. I always cook it on high for about 20 minutes then give it a stir and then turn the temperature down to cook the pudding for another hour. Once that was done I had a couple of telephone calls to make. Husband looked into the oven and remarked how good the pudding was looking. Great. Phone calls done I went back into the kitchen to carry on with the lunch preparations and there on the worktop was - yes you've guessed it - the rice, still draining!

Out of the oven came the pudding bowl, in went the rice, back into the oven and cooked for the usual time. All was well!

Our friends duly arrived, we all had lunch and Husband had a funny story to tell!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Carnival Time

This time of the year in our part of the South West of England is Carnival time and it has become known worldwide now. The first carnival of the 2010 circuit took place last night in the town of Bridgwater. Over 100 carnival clubs take part and the carts they design and build vary in dimension, theme and success. They can be up to 100 feet in length, 16 feet high and 11 feet wide. They are all illuminated, some of the larger carts using up to 30,000 separate lights. Seeing them approaching out of the dark night is quite a sight to behold. The carnival will come to our town on Monday and from tomorrow the carts will begin arriving and taking their place ready for the procession. At about 7 pm on Monday the music will begin and fill the night air. Husband and I will stroll up the road to see that procession which will begin at 7.30 pm and will last for about 2 hours. You can read more about the carnival here.

This picture of one of last year's carts was taken from a website and is not my photo. Click on the image for more detail

Tomorrow, Sunday, in the early evening at about 7 pm, there will be a firework display, on the beach, which is now a part of the carnival celebrations. We have friends coming to lunch so hope they will be able to stay and watch the display from our windows. Last year, our first year in this apartment, we were unable to see it as I was going to Australia and husband took me to the airport - 2 hours drive away, so this year it will be the first time we have had such a grandstand view.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Skywatch Friday

We have lived in our apartment for just about 1 year now and there has hardly been a day when we haven't had a lovely sunset. Some more spectacular than others, particularly when the volcanic ash cloud was hovering over the UK back in April, but even so, always a joy to see. We believe we have some of the best in the world.

The following images were taken on 23 August this year between 19.16 hrs and 19.19 hrs.

Thanks to the SkyWatch Friday team who host this each week. For a look at skies around the world, please click here.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Just lately, well most of the spring and summer if I'm honest, I have found it increasing difficult to "blog".

It is partly a time thing because I seem to be so much busier now than when I originally began blogging. Apart from my usual chores/duties and vising my mum about 4 times each week to help her I also have a new hobby - sewing - which I am enjoying immensely. However I am not a "natural" so whenever I decide to do some sewing at home (as opposed to being in sewing class) it is a slow process. I have some knitting on the go and 2 birthday cakes in the pipeline. Whatever the reason or excuse, the longer it has gone on the more difficult I have found it to get back into the swing of it - and I do miss it although I have managed to keep in touch and fairly up to date with most of my blogging friends.

Well, yesterday, I paid a visit to Pam's blog at "Life with our Lad" and there I read that this month is NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month.

To take part in this I have to publish one post each day through November.
So, I've decided to try to do this and hopefully will get back into the swing of it again. I should be able to find something to chat about after all, with all these new things I am doing. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Halloweens Past and Present

Before we moved to our first floor apartment we always had lots of visitors at Halloween. I did encourage it by decorating our porch not only with a carved pumpkin but also with spider webs and spiders (not real, you understand) a witches broom and hat, a black cat and some bats. I always had the treats ready bagged up, including mini chocolate bars, party whistles, streamers and maybe plastic bugs, spiders etc and a sprinkling of Halloween confetti. The callers came from about 5.30 pm through to about 9pm and I really enjoyed seeing the kids all dressed up, especially the little ones and of course always appeared impressed and/or scared. All great fun.

Last year was our first Halloween here and, of course, being on the first floor, we had no callers. I have given most of my Halloween decorations away.

Daughter and grand-daughter were with us for the weekend. They went home on Sunday evening but, as it was Halloween, before they left grand-daughter, aged 6, wanted to dress up and go "trick or treating". She had decided to be an executioner so she donned black leggings and T-shirt and a black cloth bag over her head with holes cut out for her eyes and mouth. Armed with an executioner's axe she was ready and off they went. First call was to our son and daughter in law and their girls, two of our older grand-daughters. The girls were kind enough to then take her out to knock on some of their friends and neighbours' door and Imogen had a lovely time. They (the family) were a bit taken aback with her choice of costume - being more used to witches and even fairies! Whilst they were out I prepared tea and realised I had forgotten to make cake. Just in time I remembered some "Halloween" biscuit cutters, so I set to and made a small batch of "spooky" biscuits for their return. "Cool" said appreciative grand-daughter.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

ABC Wednesday - P

Pandas After The Earthquake in China - click on each picture to enlarge it.

The earthquake was right in the area where giant pandas live.
Most pandas in this area were rescued, particular attention was given to the babies, all the pandas were scared. The photos were taken right after earthquake and during rescue effort care. All the pandas were released back into the wild and it was noted that all of the bears stayed together.

People rescuing pandas

Giving them milk-

After meal

Look at these babies!

Staying here maybe safer...

These pictures are too cute to not share ... don't you agree?

All these photos were sent to me in an email recently so I have no idea who the photographer is.

For more looks at the letter P, please click here. Thanks go to Mrs Denise Nesbitt and her team who host ABC Wednesday each week.