Search This Blog

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.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Cruise Day 8

Didn't think I would be posting photos today as a very quiet day at sea recovering from sickness. My friend felt well enough for breakfast in the morning so went to reception and picked up some tablets for me. I took one and managed to get dressed but went back to sleep so I knew the pill was working as when I had them once for vertigo, I couldn't stop sleeping. I managed a cup of tea in the buffet at 10 am then went back to sleep but did manage to go for lunch of sorts. I really fancied marmite on toast! We had the marmite as we had saved a couple of cute little heart shaped pots from breakfast one day. But no toast was forthcoming although C tried every which way. I settled on a white roll and marmite in the end.

I found a lovely book in the library called "Nellie - letters from Africa" with a memoir by Elspeth Huxley. C told me it was the account of Flame Trees of Thika and Nellie had been played by Hayley Mills. I had never watched it so after the holiday borrowed the DVD and enjoyed it very much. I only managed to read about half the book and had to put it back in the ship's library but have found a copy on World books and ordered it along with "Out in The Midday Sun". This is the account of the adult Elspeth back in Africa.

So apart from reading and sleeping we did listen to some music in the lounge. It was a formal dinner and I ate quite well then we went to the show called End Of the Pier. It was very good but I was so tired I had to leave before the end and go back to bed with another pill just in case!

Well actually there were one or two photos as I perked up a bit. Just a few of the ship and one of me fully recovered after dinner.

We loved the decoration on the walls and the lamps. C in the lounge and her beautiful crochet. We did like the Astoria very much.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Cruise Day 7

We reached Bergen about 7am and after breakfast went ashore. It rained all day on and off which wasn't a surprise as it is known as umbrella city and rains two thirds of the year. We walked up to the town via the Hanseatic area of old wooden houses. Of course we had to pop in to a few shops with very good sales.

We decided to visit the Hanseatic museum first as it looked so interesting and it was. This was an old house which showed what life would have been like for the apprentices, journeymen and managers of this trading association. They weren't allowed to have any naked flames in this building so not far away was the place they went to warm up and have a hot meal. It must have been freezing in the winter although they did have beds enclosed in cupboards.

Not only was the museum interesting, it had free lockers, a drinks machine and a place to eat your own food. We were able to leave our bags and walk round to the other house past some interesting antique shops.

We found another seven eleven and bought very good cinnamon buns for 1NK each which is about £1 so very cheap for Norway. We took these back to the museum and sat out of the rain with a hot chocolate. We had intended to visit the fisheries museum but thought it was near to our ship so left it until later then realized it was too far in the time we had left.

We really wanted a cafe at the top of a building to get some good views but could not find one.  The visitors centre had quite good views but was packed. The fish market was near by and very colorful. I bought some reindeer meat vacuum packed to take back to my Canadian DIL as she misses moose. There was also whale meat but I couldn't buy that! Something we both enjoy is thrifting as C calls it so were pleased to find a huge shop hoping to buy something authentically Norwegian. C found a heavy pewter ladle in a presentation box. It was so heavy we wondered how she would get it back to the USA. She did though!

We left Bergen about 5pm and stood on the rear deck taking photos until we felt too cold and wet. We went into the buffet for our usual snack to tide us over to dinner. We noticed they had Clam chowder which I had never tasted but hoped it would be served at dinner. C decided to have some in the buffet and I wished I had too as we never made dinner! The sea was very rough so we went back to our cabin and lay on the beds. I was very sick and although C wasn't sick, she thought she would be if she moved. We found out the next day only one person had made it to dinner.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Cruise Day 6

We did get to Flam finally after our detour but did not have a berth so needed to have a tender to take us to shore. The one excursion we had booked was the Flamsbana a spectacular railway journey up above the fjord. We stopped briefly at Klosfossen waterfall for photographs. We then carried on to Vatnahalsen hotel where we had been promised coffee and the most delicious waffles. We didn't think much of the waffles as they were dry and it was a bit of a scrum helping ourselves. We did enjoy the journey though and the hotel was a lovely old building.

As we were here for the day we wanted something light to eat but being Norway it was so expensive. We found some street food with sheltered tables so C had lamb sausage in a roll and I tried the reindeer. It was delicious and we had lots of little sparrows lined up for the crumbs including a couple of brave ones which took it from our hands.

We decided on a walk after lunch and it was beautiful along the river to Brekkefosse waterfall and back down the other side. Much to my delight we saw a Dipper in the river which was the first time for years.

We did a little shopping then and a wander round the railway museum which was very interesting and had a nice little gift shop. One thing we did notice about Flam was a lack of locally made crafts for sale. It would have gone down well there.

We had the tender take us back to the boat where we visited the buffet for a light snack to keep us going until dinner which was not until 9 pm so by the time that was over we were ready to retire to our cabin.