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Saturday, 22 December 2018


I like to have a pot of marmalade in the cupboard for the occasional slice of toast and also for a favorite cake recipe. It is so easy and uses marmalade and a bar of cheap supermarket chocolate. Since my food restrictions I can't eat the cheaper marmalade as it contains fructose so I bought a jar of an expensive brand which cost about 5 times the price of my normal one. It wasn't so much the price but I don't really like it.

Over 30 years ago before we moved here, I would make about 501bs of jam a year from fruit from the garden. I also made marmalade and after a couple of times making it from scratch which was a lot of work I discovered Marmade which is a tin of prepared oranges and only needs sugar adding. It still has to be made in the same way as fresh oranges apart from the work of preparing them.

I decided to try it again this week as it has no fructose in it. I made 7 and a half jars and I was amazed that it came out perfectly. No jars broke when I filled them so the sterilizing in the oven went well. Just hope they keep well now.

The cake should be made tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 December 2018


I have been away for nearly a week visiting friends in Leicester or as I call it, Little India! The first friends I visited are Indian and they lived with me for about 6 months and they are like family.

I have found a way to get there without going through London which is so much easier. Just train to either Stansted airport or Cambridge then straight through to Leicester. Two and a half hours travel and about 5 to 10 minutes between trains. I like trains and this is a lovely journey through the countryside.

 One of the little remote stations we stopped at as it was getting dark.

I walked up the Golden Mile looking in the windows of the many fashion and jewelry shops. There were so many that it just seems impossible for them to survive but they do.

The next day we went back into a huge shop that sold English clothes and bags. So just treated myself to a couple of bargains and a few little things for GD. Then into the two charity shops and they are such a temptation. I just bought a couple of sari underskirts for £1 each and friend bought 2 beautiful scarves for £2 each.

Sadly no Indian sweets this time due to my food restrictions.

Then went to stay with another old friend who like me loves crosswords and quizzes. We also got invited out and met up with some new friends and a few other old friends. So a very enjoyable little break.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Pet's Corner

I wrote about our town park before and this is one feature of it. It is free and open all year and just about 10 minutes walk from my house. Usually the sheep, pigs, goats, llamas and alpacas are in the fields during the day but I think due to bad weather they were brought in to the pens.
I went there with little grand-daughter the other day on the way back from collecting tickets at the railway station. It was cold but bright and we both enjoyed seeing the animals and then going to the water gardens to feed the ducks. I thought GD was laughing at the ducks but she was laughing at me throwing seed to them. She has a real chuckle and it made me laugh too.

Some of the animals. This place is well used by families and a much loved free day out.

Thursday, 6 December 2018


I have mentioned before that I am on a Low Fodmap diet. It is not for losing weight although this year I have lost a stone before I started it due to gastric problems. Fodmap is an acronym and I won't write it out here as it is too long and doesn't make a lot of sense. Basically they are foods we all eat every day and do not usually cause any problems. Up to 18 months ago I ate everything with only an occasional flare up but along with thousands of other people they now cause me severe pain and sickness among other problems.

The gastroenterologist sent me to the bio feed back nurse who I still see and she sent me to a specialist dietician who started me on this diet. It is not for life but just to find out my trigger foods. The trouble is quite a few of the allowed foods affect me so it is trial and error. I am a lot better than I was and will soon start the reintroduction phrase which is quite complicated and takes time and patience.

The things I miss most are leeks, garlic and most of my favorite fruits such as apple, peach and mango. Fructose is an enemy!  I have to buy special jam and marmalade or homemade, no honey and read all ingredients on everything.

I have just tormented myself by making my favourite fruit cake recipe which I can't eat due to the dried fruit. I am allowed either a tablespoon of raisins or cranberries each day but I think the raisins give me problems. I always make a cake for my sister and BIL when I visit so one cake will be for them and one for DD and the freezer. I remind myself that many people in the world go hungry every day so they would be happy with my diet.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Gibberd Garden

One of our days out with our Canadian visitor was to the Gibberd Gardens just a few miles away on the edge of town. Well at least it was on the edge of town but they are building a huge expensive estate just past it now.

The garden was really closed for the winter but they have open days for various events and we went to Autumn colors on the Sunday. This place is well known to us as DS used to do one day a week working in the house on archiving and sorting the books out as he used to be a librarian at school. There had been a spider infestation upstairs so when it was treated all the books were tossed higgledy piggledy. DS used to have lunch with Lady Gibberd and wander the gardens on his own so he felt like all the other visitors were intruding on his space when we went on the open day.  The garden was created by Sir Frederick Gibberd the master planner of Harlow New Town between 1957 and 1984 and is acknowledged as being one of the most important 20th Century gardens in the country.

Daughter in law on the swing.

We are looking forward to seeing little grand daughter playing on the castle when she is a bit older.

I love this lime avenue and the smell in the summer is wonderful.

I took this through the window of the house as nobody lives there now and some Sundays it is open to visitors. On the website the opening picture is of this dresser full of pairs of matching dogs. My dad who came from Glasgow would have called them Wally dogs. They were arranged as an art installation by Freddy years ago and after he died were never moved and covered in dust. Lady Pat couldn't get any body to clean them so I volunteered. I was quite nervous as they had to be kept in the exact positions. So I did one glass shelf at a time and carefully lined all the dogs up in the right order. It took me all morning. I refused to be paid for it so my reward was to be allowed to visit the gardens when they were closed from time to time. I used to enjoy that and the condition was I went in to have coffee with Pat and a chat which was so interesting.

We went in to the tea room for lunch of soup and bread and pots of tea. It was very reasonable and the soups all home made. The others told me they were all delicious but I couldn't eat them due to being on this elimination diet. I took my own in a flask.

It was such a lovely day out and again near to home.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Our Town Park

Mostly a dreary wet day but it brightened up at lunch time so DD and I took Poppy greyhound to the park. We hadn't gone long before grey skies and rain appeared again so we cut the walk short but I took some photos of the information boards.

You might be able to read it if you click on the photo but the map shows it is huge. Apart from the main area there is a footpath that goes under the main road then over the zig-zag railway bridge and the park continues along the river side for quite a long while then there are footpaths and walking areas on the other side.

Freddie Gibberd was the master planner of Harlow New Town. I never knew him but I did get to know his lovely wife Lady Pat. Freddie was secretary of the concrete society which I had never heard of until his wife gave me a book about his work. He also designed the Liverpool Catholic Cathedral nicknamed Paddy's wigwam and if you see a picture of it you will know why its called that!

People either love his work or hate it. Personally I think he did a good job with Harlow as there are so many green spaces and trees. Some people spoil it but that is the same everywhere and not his fault.  It suits me to live here as there are lovely walks and also its easy to get to London on the train. This side of town is near the river, the railway station, the hospital and shops. The main problem is the parking as few people had cars when the town was designed.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Every day Stuff

Not had time to post the last few days as life got in the way. Apart from every day activities, went to a funeral, visited a friend in hospital and having to sort out some things for poorly daughter. Managed to make time for little grand-daughter though. She had a cold so we didn't take her to the soft play room as we didn't want to spread her germs. She loves telephones now and spends ages chattering away into their house phone so I took her for an outing in her pram up to the town to find a toy phone. There are lots of offers on at the moment so we got one half price. She likes it as its not attached and she can drag it all over the room.

I popped in to B & M as I was over that way just to get pea-nuts for the bird feeder. I ended up with a huge bag of mixed bird seed as well plus several food items. You never know what you will find in that shop and it probably won't be there next time you visit so I tend to stock up when I see it. I found some bags of cereal that I can eat as a change from porridge. Whole grain granola with no palm oil or fructose-glucose syrup. One has peanuts and peanut butter and the other is chocolate. I had some of the chocolate one today with banana, yoghurt and milk. I also found a carton of gingerbread sauce so we had some today with a home made syrup sponge pudding cooked in the microwave. It was delicious and just right on a wet, gloomy Saturday.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Garden birds

We get quite a lot of different birds in the garden because I feed them and we are in a good position on the edge of a town. The river is not far away and there is a wood in the other direction and lots of green spaces all around.

Yesterday I could hear a lot of screeching and thought it must be ring necked parakeets but couldn't see them close enough to be sure. Then DD came  in to the kitchen to tell me they were on the feeders so I took some pictures through the window as I didn't want to scare them off. Not brilliant photos but clear enough to see what they are.

Also noticed we need more nuts!

Monday, 26 November 2018

Girls' Day out

While our Canadian visitor was here we visited a huge garden centre called Van Hage about 15 minutes drive away. I took DIL, her mother and GD as it wasn't too far and we felt we wanted a gentle day and not to be out too long.

I rarely buy anything here as it is so expensive but it is good for a look round. The don't just sell plants and gardening accessories. There are clothes, shoes, books and so many other things. Also a miniature railway which goes twice round a beautiful garden, through a tunnel and above a pond. GD loves trains so at only £1 per adult we had to have a go on that. Then there's an animal garden with rabbits, chickens, goats and various other creatures so we all enjoyed that.

Then we went on to Ware which is an interesting little old town on the river Lea. It is best known for the Great Bed of Ware which is now in the Victoria and Albert museum. There is a lovely little museum but it was shut on the day we visited but lots of lovely old buildings to see. Then lunch in a little tea room followed by a walk along the river to see the Gazebos. Nowhere in Britain is there so many in a line on one stretch of riverside. A few date back to the late 1600s and were built to give peace and quiet away from the hectic town lives so nothing changes! I didn't get any photos of the gazebos as I was too busy watching GD watching the ducks. I did get a couple of photos in the town.

Once again a lovely day out not far from home.

Sunday, 25 November 2018


So what brought me to blogging? Back in 2009 my friend invited me to her blog which was private then.  I knew nothing about blogging then but really enjoyed her blog and through hers I found others and also through Google. I was busy working full time and caring for family members at the time but after I retired a friend set my blog up but I didn't know what I was doing. Eventually I learnt enough to post but I still have a lot to learn.

Posting was a bit spasmodic for a long while and then I decided to post once a week and even that didn't last long. Recently however I have had some health issues so sitting a bit more than usual. Added to that I had my first cruise with a friend and posting about that has been good and reminded me of the fun we had.

One project for this winter is learning to use the different features of Blogger. I do enjoy reading other blogs and seeing other peoples lives. I have learnt a lot as well.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Nanaimo bars

I've had this recipe for years and used to make them when the children were young as a treat. I only found out recently that it is a Canadian sweet when I saw a similar recipe on a blog.

The base is chocolate, digestive biscuits, coconut and walnuts. The filling is custardy and the topping chocolate. I think the other recipe was simpler than mine. I can actually eat everything in this but I made it because my DIL is Canadian and thought she would like it. Am looking forward to trying it.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Funeral parlor and friends

A close friend's grandfather died at the weekend. Today she asked me to drive her and her mum to the undertaker's to view him. I thought I would sit in the car but they asked if I would go in with them so I did, feeling a bit uneasy.  I have seen people after they died, but always at their homes and never gone to see them in the funeral parlor.

Actually it was ok. He looked so peaceful and just asleep dressed in a pin stripe suit and his West Ham tie. My friend and her mum were pleased with how he looked and agreed that he looked so peaceful.  The girl who had prepared him seemed quite young and it made me think about this job.

I don't think I could do it but then that's what I had said about being a carer which I did become when the need arose. Both as a job and personally and found it satisfying and enjoyable. The young undertaker did a good job which brought comfort to a grieving family so that must have brought her satisfaction too.

The other thing I thought about was who can be your friend. I am nearly twice the age of this friend and she is younger than my children so people often think she is my daughter's friend which she became through me. I also have a close friend who is 20 years older than me and we talk about anything and everything. I do have friends of a similar age too but age doesn't seem to matter if you are kindred spirits.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Dinner today

I was pleased with how this turned out today as I have had to seriously change my cooking due to so many things I can't eat. The main thing is the onion family which is usually the base of all my meals. It is also in nearly all stock cubes, sauces and flavorings.

I had bought a small piece of Scotch braising steak yellow sticker for 30p so I added some bacon bits. Coated them in ginger powder and flour then put into the slow cooker with lots of root vegetables, peppers, potatoes, soy sauce and tinned tomatoes plus water. It made two meals and the rest of it will be turned into soup with additions. I thickened some of the juice with cornflour to make gravy. It was delicious!

Actually I had already eaten a little bit before I remembered to take the photo.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Three things today

The first thing today was using a voucher from the Saturday paper I buy. It was £10 off a £40 spend at Lidl so I made what was for me a huge shopping list. The cupboard and freezer is now well stocked.

Then when I took DB to the osteopath, I popped into the Sue Ryder charity shop and found this little wooden and metal toy for DGD. I'm always pleased to find quality toys for her.

The third thing was a culinary experiment!  I had seen a recipe for Swede wedges so as i bought a huge Swede in Lidl, I thought I would try it. It was very tasty. I am very limited as to what I can eat at the moment due to being on a modified low fodmap diet so it was quite exciting to have something different.

All in all a very satisfying day.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Forty Hall

While DIL's mother was here from Canada we visited this beautiful park and hall free of charge. I had been looking for free or cheap things to do and found this about half hour drive away. The grounds were beautiful and the hall was interesting too. It is a grade one listed Jacobean Manor house with a very interesting history. It was built in 1632 and has an intact 18th century landscape with an ornamental lake, medieval fishing ponds and streams and a walled garden.

I was talking to a friend about it. He grew up virtually next door to the grounds and his father used to drag them  there every Sunday. All the locals referred to it as Bowleses place as it was later bought by a Parker-Bowles relative of Camilla. My friend said that his grandmother was assistant nurse maid to this family. I never knew about this hall until I found a leaflet then visited and it is so close to us.

The estate is on the site of the former Elsyng palace which belonged to Henry the V111 and was home to Elizabeth 1 and Edward 1V. We had a very interesting time in the hall and a lovely walk in the grounds where we ate our picnic. We did visit the tea room for coffee and I liked the old tate and lyle syrup tins they used as utensil holders.

DIL trying out the rolling pin in the Hall Kitchen.

So apart from the petrol and the coffee a free day out and I might visit again using my bus pass and taking a flask so it will be completely free.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Freebies, newspapers and shopping

I tend mainly to shop in Aldi, Asda and Lidl but Sainsburys is my nearest. I buy barn eggs and tea there and also my petrol which gives me nectar points. I also get points from my Saturday Daily Mail and my sister's Sunday paper. This week has been double up points for various items in SBurys so I treated myself to a deluxe kettle.

I have had my last one, a cheap plastic thing, for years and the lid is crumbling so as there wasn't anything else I wanted I chose this. It boils so fast and uses much less energy.

My other freebie is also due to the Mail as it was free in the Laura Ashley store with a voucher. A very good quality shopping bag.

My son is horrified I buy The Daily Mail but I don't read much of it. I just get it for the puzzles and the TV mag. I think it is the best TV guide as it is has good radio reviews as well. So I think good value for £1. Also this week a voucher for £10 off a £40 spend at Lidl so will have to do some stocking up.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Two visits to Waltham Abbey

We used to visit Waltham Abbey which is a small town and the Lee Valley park quite often but seem to have neglected this for a while then went twice within a month. 

After the cruise my friend stayed for a few days so we drove there as it was such a beautiful Autumn day and walked round the Abbey ruins and into the church. We stopped off for lunch in an old pub and drove back along the valley stopping for a look along the way.  The town has connections to King Harold who founded the monastery and is reputed to be buried in the grounds of the church.

A few weeks later, my DIL's mother was visiting from Canada so on the Sunday we had another visit as it was again a beautiful day. After a wander round and hot chocolate in the tea shop, we drove on through Upshire where we were hoping to have a walk but the paths were not compatible with a push chair so we carried on to Epping Forest visitor's center. A bit of excitement was caused by a large stag running across the road in front of us while we stopped at traffic lights. I couldn't believe how busy it was as most of my trips take place mid week when it is quiet. I should have guessed that a sunny October Sunday would have brought crowds out. it was ok once we'd parked the car and walked a bit.

We have such lovely places to visit close to our homes but often these get overlooked as we travel further afield and only tend to revisit the local treasures when we have visitors.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Cruise Day 9

We woke up in the Maas River cruising toward Rotterdam, our last port of call. The council had provided free shuttle buses to take us into the city center which was helpful. One thing we found with both Norway and Holland is that out of season everything opens late and closes early so we found an internet cafe while we waited. 

We had a walk around the cube houses and found one would be open to the public later so first went to the beautiful Markethall which opened at 10 am. It was an amazing design with apartments all around the market which had beautiful pictures on the ceiling. We found a good supermarket to buy a few goodies to take back. Then over to the Cube House and it was incredible.  Inside it didn't feel like a cube but more like a little old cottage. It reminded me of the crooked house at Southend amusements from childhood trips. Trouble was we had so little time as we caught the shuttle back at quarter to 12. We sat on the open deck as we cruised back up the river to the sea which was a pretty long way. We were really impressed with Rotterdam as we had imagined it to be very industrial and ugly as so much of it was destroyed in the war. The architecture was modern but beautiful.

 Couldn't resist this picture of the cute fruit carvings the chefs created.

Sunset from the restaurant on our last evening.

We went to the on-board cinema again to see "Wonder" based on a true story and it was really heartwarming. Back to the cabin to pack and for one last night. The next day we woke up to the sight of the Isle of Wight. Couldn't believe it was all over.