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Saturday, 26 December 2020

Water, water everywhere

but no people so easy to social distance. Walking is so restricted at the moment not just because we are in tier 4 but also the footpaths are so muddy and many are flooded. I was desperate to go a bit further than the tow path on the river so planned mainly to walk on roads which go nowhere except to farms or the odd house. I planned a circular route along to a village then by lanes and a farm track to the next village and back up to the river and home. 

I hesitated at this footpath thinking it didn't look so muddy but a closer inspection showed it was.

Easy walking on the tarmac.

Another bit of paddling and just about squelched through.

Lots of well marked footpaths around here. One sign pointing to the turkey farm.
I had intended to walk up this lane to the river and then home but as I inched through the water, it rose higher and higher until it was nearly over my wellies and just before the little bridge I was aiming for, the stream was pouring over the footpath. I had to go back to the main road which I had just crossed from the village, then cross back as there is no footpath on this side of the road. I walked up to the roundabout then along the road home. I was pleased in the end though as a beautiful red kite was low overhead really nearby until it suddenly dived behind the trees. Another bird was higher up and further away but I couldn't see if it was another Kite or a buzzard. 
This made me smile. Someone had tied these little scarecrows with masks on to their fence.

 I was surprised to see this little aircraft in somebody's front garden. There is an airfield nearby where they take off and land but have never seen one in a garden. Still lots of birds and berries around too. Always feel better after a good walk. This one according to Google was about 4 miles.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

What's cooking

 Felt like some pudding yesterday so tried out a recipe I have had for a while. It is rocky road cooked in a mug in the microwave. My usual rocky road is very popular but it is really for sharing otherwise I eat too much. I must say I was very disappointed with this version as it was so dry and the marshmallows spilled over the mug and made a terrible mess which was hard to clean. That recipe went in the bin.

Apart from that I have stuck to old faithfuls. Cheese scones, fruit scones and bread pudding the last of which I haven't made for over a year. I make a huge quantity and usually take it to our bible meetings to share with a cuppa afterwards. As all the meetings are on Zoom I decided to take some round to a few people who I know love bread pudding. They are all about my age and the men particularly remember their mums making it when they were little boys. It was done socially distanced with the parcel left by the door and me standing at the end of the path. They all live within walking distance so no illicit traveling.

Through another blog, I came across a guy called John Rogers on Youtube who does walks mainly in London and the outskirts. I found one where he walked from Chelmsford to Maldon along the river. In October before restrictions kicked in I took the bus to Chelmsford and walked along the river but not so far. I am planning the whole walk next year when there are longer hours of daylight. I like to have some outings to look forward to. 

We are in tier 4 now so will be staying close to home. 

Monday, 14 December 2020


 When I was a child I loved jigsaws. DB did too so we did the occasional one when we were married then as time went by two children were added to the family and DB's uncle often came to stay. In the winter we would buy a large puzzle of about 3000 to 4000 pieces and we would all tackle it on the dining room table. More time went by Uncle died, the kids grew up and the jigsaws ceased. 

Then a couple of months ago my friend bought us a jigsaw with a picture from the 50's which was our childhood. I loved the picture but also really enjoyed assembling it. I forgot how relaxing it is. So I ordered one from Amazon as we were in lockdown but it didn't come until today. After lockdown I found a country scene puzzle in a charity shop. Then this morning I did my early morning shopping in Asda and as The Works looked empty I popped in to get some diaries. They had loads of jigsaws and I didn't intend to buy one until I saw "Amsterdam Canal". A few years ago I had a great weekend in Amsterdam with a good friend and all the memories came back so it came home with me. So now I have 3 more jigsaws to keep me busy through the winter. Sadly DB can't cope with jigsaws now so I get to put the last piece in.

I now have to find a larger board for the 1000 piece puzzles.

Monday, 30 November 2020

Frugal and splurging

 It's been a mixed bag this month. I have been doing all my usual frugal things plus filled my rucksack again last weekend with windfall apples from waste ground. I cooked some and they are in the freezer and fridge to be added to my porridge most mornings. Then I made a lovely puddingy Dorset apple cake which DB loves. I also tried a new recipe I found on a a blog for apple and courgette loaf. I added walnuts to this as I had some I wanted to use up. 

I went to Lidls last Monday at 8 am hoping to get one of their veg boxes but they didn't have any. I saw them in the Lidls near my daughter's in September when we were staying near her. I wouldn't have used them while we were away so left them for somebody else. Before I went to Lidls I downloaded their app all ready to use. I did a large amount of shopping to avoid going again for a long while as I have to drive across town for this shop. I was so cross with myself as in the end I forgot to use it. I did make a phone query as to whether it could still be scanned as I had the receipt but they said no. I did suggest their staff enquire if we had the app as other stores ask if we have their loyalty card. They said it wasn't possible. I watched the program about Lidls the other week and part of the reason they can cut prices is because the employees are so fast in everything they do. 

I did get a very large chicken as a special offer, jointed and froze the parts separately. Then the carcass simmered away in the slow cooker overnight and made 8 portions of lentil, sweet potato and butternut squash soup. One of the breasts made a meal for two with lots of roast veg. 

On the other hand I have bought quite a few things on-line. I used to have a four wheel shopping trolley for years before it finally fell apart so I replaced it with a two wheeled one. I find it really makes my back and shoulders ache and as I live close to the town I prefer to walk for shopping unless I am visiting Lidl or Aldi. This week I noticed a black Friday deal for a very nice 4 wheeled trolley nearly half price with free delivery. I took the plunge and ordered it yesterday before the deal expired. 

Most of my walks have just been nearby along the river side as the weather hasn't been brilliant. A couple of weeks ago I thought I would do the golf course walk as it was closed due to lockdown. It was beautiful on the course and not a soul about.

The trouble was when I got into the field to walk down to the river it was so boggy I was sinking up to my ankles and it was very tiring. Thank goodness for wellies. The last time I did this walk the field was covered with daisies and now it resembled a lake in places so I had to skirt right round the edge of the field. 

The next field had loads of strange mounds. Not sure if they were molehills or just a result of being waterlogged. 

It was a relief to get on to the tow path. 

Sunday, 15 November 2020


 No I'm not talking about covid. Just things in general. I drove up to a little village a couple of miles away so I could have a walk and also buy some stamps and envelopes in the little village shop which I thought had a post office. It turns out the post office closed about 10 years ago although the owner told me there was a post office in the village hall at certain times. I got chatting to him and he told me he lives in North London. So that was the second change after finding out about the closed post office. Years ago a local would have run it. I knew the street he lived in as DB lived there as a child. If there was no traffic and no accidents he could probably do it in half an hour but as the roads are the M25 and the North Circular that is very unlikely. 

The other change I thought about was here I was aged 70 walking miles and climbing stiles for fun. People did walk for fun when I was young but I didn't know many and certainly not my mum or any of her friends. We did walk because we didn't have a car and sometimes couldn't afford the bus fare so walking was a necessary evil. I am very grateful that I have the choice and the health and strength to walk when I want to. Generally nowadays other walkers I encounter are older people too who have the time.  

It was a beautiful day and an enjoyable walk. 

Another change I thought about was my diet. There were so many foods I had never tasted as a child which I eat regularly. We did have tinned salmon but never tuna. I had never had an avocado or aubergine. This week I made a lentil loaf. I used to make it often when I was feeding a family but this week was the first time for ages but I do eat lentils on a weekly basis. I'd never even seen a lentil. My experience was probably different from a lot of people as my mum didn't like cooking partly because she had a big family to care for and not much money. My dad would have been horrified if she'd given him dinner with no meat. Rice was for rice pudding and we never had pasta. One meal my mum did cook which I loved was minced meat with onion, carrots, barley and dumplings. I still make that so some things don't change. 

Monday, 9 November 2020


I thought it was about time I did a post and not much happened so how have I spent the first week in November?

A couple of afternoons DS and little GD called for me and we went over the town park. Although pet's corner is closed, some of the animals are in the fields and GD loves them. She thought it was hilarious when two goats climbed up on some piled up pallets and clashed horns. The colours of the trees are beautiful.

 I walked along the river a few times. One day I walked to a small industrial area that has two apple trees growing on some waste ground. I only took the windfalls but they were good and I filled my rucksack. I spent one evening preparing some to have a go at making apple butter which I had in America but never seen here. I found several recipes so picked the easiest and cooked them overnight in the slow cooker. I blitz them in the nutribullet and then thickened them up on the stove top. I don't think it is exactly the same as the one I had in America but it is nice. 

DB had some problems with his desk top so before the lock down I drove 10 miles to leave it with a friend who looks after our digital devices. I stopped on the way back in the Lee Valley to have a walk. It was drizzley but mild.

I saw Great crested grebes, parakeets, cormorants and many other birds but the bittern hide was closed. I have seen the bitterns in the past though. 

I took GD out once to the park and another time to a pond to feed ducks. They have all been poorly so she hasn't been to nursery for a couple of weeks. DS had a covid test at the end of October as he was coughing but thankfully it was negative. 

I made apple and cinnamon scones and baked apple pancakes.  I am also sorting out some paper work. So along with all the other daily activities I have been busier than I thought. 

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Further afield

Although I enjoy walking near home, I am a bit limited at the moment due to the amount of rain we have had making the fields so muddy.  The farmers have  ploughed  the fields and not reinstated the paths yet so more sticky mud which is hard going. There are places I can walk with wellies such as the tow paths but I really felt I needed a change of scenery so with mask on and bus pass in hand I bravely took the bus to another town. Actually there were only 4 other passengers nearly all the way until one other man alighted. On the way back there were six of us. That was good for the passengers but not very cheering for the bus company. It is a lovely 50 minute journey through pretty Essex villages. 

Although I have been to this town lots of times I have never walked along the river so this was the plan. At first I thought it wasn't as pretty or interesting as our local river but as I left the town behind it improved. It was good to have some socially distanced chats with fellow walkers and some cyclists although not too many people around. It was such a beautiful day, I felt it was too good to waste it indoors. 

 I was particularly pleased to find the boat in the next picture as DB used to build these. They are fibreglass which he had a part in but as a cabinet maker, his chief job was building the interiors. 

I really enjoyed the day and find in these times of restrictions, I get quite excited about small excursions. I have plans to walk more of the river but the longest walk will have to wait until next year when we have more daylight again. 

Monday, 19 October 2020

Today along the river

 It was such a beautiful Autumn day I just had to get out and walked for about two hours. I was watching a kestrel and as it disappeared, I turned around and there was a red kite right overhead being mobbed by crows. There weren't many people about but I did see a man with three dogs and we stopped and had a socially distanced chat about walking and dogs. 

I think this chap has sat here a bit too long!

It is supposed to rain tomorrow so glad I got a good walk in today. DD was supposed to come to stay this week. It would be her first visit back to this town since she moved away last July although we have visited her several times. Due to Essex being put into tier 2 that is now on hold. We wont make plans next time but as soon as we are allowed DS will go and bring her straight back. 

Saturday, 17 October 2020

An Autumn walk

 I love Autumn and although it was dull today and very wet under foot I did enjoy the walk. Lots of berries - snow berries, hips and haws. Reed buntings, a jay and pied wagtails flying about. The bull rushes were so bright and velvety.

The trees are starting to change colour and shed their leaves.

The child in me enjoyed splashing through the puddles.

Lots of interesting fungi

There are plenty of apples around in public areas but I have frozen some and no more room in my downsized fridge freezer. Foraging gives me great pleasure. There is just something sweeter about this fruit. I never did get around to making rosehip syrup as I learnt it was so difficult to process them. I meant to do elderberry syrup this year but while I was deciding which bottles to use and where to get them the moment passed.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

After the rain

I had to wear wellies for a walk along the river but even wellies were no good in the flood meadows now.

British Long horns in the Flood Meadows.

I walked across this field a couple of months ago. I have seen people canoe across it in the winter.

The swan and just one young one came across looking for food but I had none. I don't know where the other youngsters were. It was very peaceful along the river bank due to the heavy rain earlier. No cyclists to dodge. 

This morning I had my second hair cut since lock down. I went very short in case things are shut down again. I felt sorry for the hair dressers as they work hard anyway but now with all the extra cleaning and restrictions its even harder. 

I also went to a friend's for a socially distanced lunch and a chat so a very enjoyable day.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Darling Baby Mine

 This is the title of a book which I finished reading on holiday. It is by John de st Jorre who has written loads of books but this is probably the only one I would read. I found it in a charity shop before lock down but put off reading it because I thought it might be depressing. Once I did start it, I couldn't put it down. It's a wonderful heart warming story if also sad at times and brilliantly written. 

John and his brother were brought up by their father as they assumed their mother was dead. John had this image in his mind of a laughing woman who he felt sure was his mother. His father didn't talk about her and although plenty of photos of his family there were none of the mother or her relatives. It was as if she had never existed. 

John writes of his life as a child in the war and gradually he gets clues that his mother is alive. It's not until his father dies though that he does anything about it. 

He has quite an amazing life himself. He graduated from Oxford where he was recruited into the secret Intelligence Service better known as MI6, working in Africa for 3 years then becoming a foreign correspondent for the Observer. He covered the Nigerian-Biafran conflict,1973 Arab-Israeli war and the Iranian Revolution amongst many other things. 

I think this is my first book review which gives you some idea of how much I enjoyed it.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

A week away

 We had a week in Clacton so that we could visit DD and DB's family. The weather was wonderful so we made the most of it as we knew it would change towards the end of the week. We took DD to Frinton as although she has lived nearby for over a year this was her first visit. The tide was right in and coming over the prom. It was very busy and lots of people sitting outside the beach huts so we didn't stay there for long and walked back along the greensward which was spacious. It was lovely watching people picnicking and flying kites. 

Another day we went to Brightlingsea which I love and again DD had never seen. She loved it too. The tide was right out so we couldn't swim as it is on the estuary and we didn't want to walk through mud to reach the water. There is a small beach with a natural sort of paddling pool so I had a paddle with surf shoes on as it was muddy but very soothing. 

There was a large car boot sale nearby on the Sunday morning so we went to have a look. I came away with plenty of goodies for little GD including a stack of books, a piggy bank and 2 v-tec first computers. These last two just £1 each and working perfectly. I couldn't resist a jar of home made gooseberry jam in aid of the air ambulance.


I didn't take many photos as usually this is something I do when I am alone. I did take these when we visited DB's niece. In the end we couldn't take DD due to the rule of 6. The niece is an animal lover like the rest of the family and has a French bulldog, a rescued squirrel, 3 pygmy goats and recently acquired 5 runner ducks and 3 blue chickens. This apart from the fish in a 6ft deep pond. Her sister was also visiting with one of her 3 dogs.

The runner ducks moved in a few days previously so were quite shy and hiding in their house. 

It was good to visit but good to get home too especially now the weather has turned so dramatically.