Thursday, 31 July 2014

Gold in the floorboards.....

Last Saturday was lovely when my special FriendH came to visit (we go back more than 45 years as friends). Normally I go to her's but this time she came here...eventually, as she got lost and Hubby had to go out to find her hahaha. Son just happened to be popping in for a cuppa (which doesn't happen often) and she was thrilled to see him, he stayed for lunch with us too. Daughter said she'd pop in if she could and she did mid-afternoon with R and O. O was a big hit with all his magic tricks. Daughter left the children here while she went to collect E so when she came back for the other two FriendH got to see her too. As usual there was non-stop chat right through till after dinner when she had to leave. Really lovely :-)

Sunday evening we were invited to the wedding reception of some SERV (blood runners) friends of Hubby's. The venue was Isaacs on the Ipswich Waterfront, a fabulous old building which used to be a malt kiln and before that a big part of the wool trade being right on the dock and near the custom house. Today it's a very lively venue for pub, food, live music events and receptions. The weather was perfect for the outside bbq and hog roast then upstairs bar for the band and dancing.

Tuesday lunchtime I spent with BFriendM at Felixstowe Ferry having lunch right beside the river Deben. What a wonderful life I live eh?

Tuesday night I was sucked into watching a programme about Hatton Garden the diamond market of London and possibly one of the most famous diamond and gold markets of Europe. I say sucked in because I was just flicking channels and paused as my beautiful engagement ring was bought in Hatton Garden where Hubby (then my boyfriend) and I went and chose our diamonds and designed the setting (with help and advise from the jeweller) which was then hand made just for me :-) It was a huge investment for us but no doubt we were at the very lowest of spenders compared to their usual customers, but we were made to feel welcome and assured that nothing was too much trouble for them.

The programme turned out to be really interesting especially the recovery of potentially 'lost' gold. There is a business specially set up to clean jewellers workshops more thoroughly than you could ever imagine, then all the damp dirty cloths and vacuum cleaner contents etc are taken away for processing (mostly incinerating I think) and the value of the molten recovered gold is given back to the jeweller minus a hefty commission.....a lot of work but they were talking in thousands of pounds!

And of course we are still gathering plums!!! I've tried a few new recipes (not all successful) including a microwaved plum and ginger butter (thickish but not a butter) I have also given loads away, but mostly they've been frozen to worry about another time.

Tonight our art group have a little end of term bbq hosted by Sue, and I need to take a contribution. So excuse me as I need to head to the kitchen and bake.....something containing plums. :-)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My way (#12)....

Over the years I seem to have developed some very definite ways of doing things and usually it's for a very good reason, so I thought I'd share. 

However, this post isn't about one of my tried and well used methods it's about two new ways I've found for my annual soft fruit preparation problems.

A couple of months ago we harvested a great crop of cherries, this is unusual as the birds would normally get them all, so I actually got to cook with some of them. Then there was the problem of getting the pit out without a dedicated gadget. The amazing google came to the rescue and I discovered that if I pushed the cherry onto the pointy end of a small icing nozzle it worked well, although it did splash quite a bit so the cupboard doors and white tiles looked like they had chickenpox!

And now we are gathering plums that are ripening by the bowlfull daily (very early this year). These gorgeous golden plums get really soft when they are ripe so we eat lots but need to get lots into the freezer for cooking with later. I wanted to de-stone them before freezing but ended up with the most unsightly squashed mess which would be fine for jams but not much else. This time google or asking friends for suggestions didn't solve the problem.

The plums were open frozen on a tray, then I bag and label. I half thawed as many as I needed. Sharp knife cut them in half working around the stone one side, then a melon baller scooped the stone out of the other half. The trick is to catch them before they thaw too much.

I'd buttered and sugared my baking tin and left the plums in the dish to completely thaw, then covered them with a good layer of semolina to soak up the juice, add sponge mixture and bake!

What's your way?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Chasing my tail.....

You know what it's like just being on the normal hamster wheel of life just getting through the usual stuff with a few extra good things thrown in to make me happily busy but nothing really different enough to make me think "oh I must blog that".

So there were friendsL&K to stay last weekend and a lovely pub meal out with them Saturday night and most of Sunday morning getting Skype to work on their phones.

So there has been the daily ritual picking of the ripe plums and checking the unripe ones and gathering up all the rotten fallen ones.

So there has been the weekly(ish) ritual of cutting back the rampant vines that grow at an amazing rate this time of year, so all stem and leaf growth without fruit on gets a regular lop to give the fruit a chance to grow beyond the size of petit pois! I live in hope :-)

So there was manic-motor-Monday...Hubby's car had a battery problem and coincidentally Daughter's car did too! Hubby called out his service guy and Daughter called out the RAC and my car was out giving her lifts and we had a visitor with a toddler and new baby (mmm baby cuddles) in their car all on the drive at the same time as next door had both their cars out and a van delivering something hahaha.

So there was the lunch by the river with my x-work team. It's been five years now since the department closed and we still meet up, isn't that special. :-)

So there was Hubby's friend here most of Tuesday for Hubby to fix his laptop. All fixed he went home switched it on and not fixed so here again most of Thursday too. Fingers crossed it really is fixed this time.

So there was a lovely craft morning with my neighbourT and four more of her friends. They are all into natural wool processing, spinning, weaving and dyeing. NeighbourT had a pan on the hob doing some dyeing experiment which I must remember to ask about, be very interested in seeing the finished result. This is a regular monthly gathering and they all bring lunch but this time I had a house full of people myself to feed so left the crafters to it.

So there was the appointment letter for 1st August for the Renal Unit, I was referred there in February. My doctor did an instant referral when one of the numbers on my blood test dropped but obviously the Renal Unit don't consider it urgent so that's good.

So there was my Wednesday night out which should have been a bbq at friendsM&P but friendM had major electrical problems at her holiday cottage she needed to get sorted which made it very late so we had Chinese takeaway instead which was also lovely. Actually they had to abandon the holiday cottage electrics until the morning and an electrician could come and still it took about six hours and new light fittings and a replacement switch all while paying holiday makers arrived and settled in, thankfully they were in very good humour about it all, but friendM was pulling her hair out!

So there was our regular art group on Thursday evening, followed by fun at Olive's bar.

So there has been lots of laundry going through the machine while the sun is shining, making the most of those solar panels. There had been children and water play and lots more towels needing washing too.

So there was the hottest day of the year so far (Friday) and I'm cooking a full roast dinner for us and Daughter, M and children, because we haven't had a proper dinner here for ages and Daughter got a bargain leg of lamb. I also made a baked bean roast for E so standing frying onions etc too. Seriously far too hot to have my head in the oven but well worth it when we all sat down to eat, yummy!

So there has been lots of violent storms this week with amazing lightning displays (I never seem to look out of windows at the right time tho) and really loud thunder and plenty of water but hasn't affected us at all thankfully. Although each storm has increased the need to clear up the plums on the ground again!

So there have been lots of power cuts in the house with something throwing the main trip switch far too often. Hubby thinks he's isolated it to an outside water feature/pond pump problem and has been doing lots of trial and repair on it all. Thought for one horrid moment some of the paving would have to be dug up, phew it didn't but a close thing and not fixed yet!

And finally there was the annual bbq for Hubby's Wednesday night bowling league. Very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. :-)

A pretty normal week then!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Theatre : Galileo....

Last night we were at The New Wolsey Theatre for a professional production and proudly telling my friends that just a week ago my granddaughter was performing on this stage :-)

A new musical play
Book, music and lyrics by Martin Waddington.

'A Battle of Wills Fought Across the Heavens'

When Galileo pointed his telescope into the heavens, what he glimpsed turned our view of the universe upside down. His family and friends were thrown into turmoil, while he came into direct conflict with the might of the Catholic Church - and the dreaded Inquisition. Would the light of science be allowed to shine into the future?

Neither of my friends are really into musicals so I'd been asked to drive and had they had warned a husband that they might get a "come get me" call at the interval but we all thoroughly enjoyed it, the singing was excellent, almost operatic in some parts, the acting faultless and we learned more about this great man.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Home alone......

Early Sunday morning Son arrived to collect Hubby and both head off to his house in Wiltshire to get some decorating done, they'll be away till Tuesday night.

Before they had driven off Daughter and O had arrived with more laundry as her broken washing machine which was fixed is broken again! They stayed till after lunch and headed home with clean wet washing.

Monday was our usual monthly coffee morning. Obviously setting it all up on my own was a bit more effort but no problem really. Not many this time just six adults, two children and me. Our nails appointment in the afternoon was cancelled as Mary is quite unwell, she'll phone me as soon as she feels better to rearrange. So I got on with filling in the gaps of the paving by the front door as we get a horrid amount of ants coming up every year so I'll cement this escape and they can work their runs through to the grass areas. With our next door neighbours away and Hubby away too I was on fish feeding and plant watering duty for both houses.

Tuesday and I was looking forward to the day to myself as I'd so much I wanted to get done. I did manage ironing about 90mins worth, gardening some much needed plant moving that had been growing over the tarmac, and returning to the concrete I'd done yesterday as I needed to wash and scrub off the messy bits, lots of hard scrubbing, then this afternoon I discovered the ants had found a tiny gap and had come through en mass and mostly mutated into those flying ant things arrgghhh, so even though I was trying really hard to not kill them just divert them I flipped and covered them and the hole in bleach....please don't think badly of me it's right by the front door!!!
Anyway all this activity was constantly punctuated by neighbours chatting, phone calls, face booking, texting and talking wedding cakes with a friend that makes for a friend that will need one next year.

And tonight I'm out with friends so Hubby will get home before me.
I've not felt home alone at all really :-)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Tea at the palace.....

...Kensington Palace as paying visitors, and it was a mug of tea with my sandwich lunch :-)

My 2ndCousinM has spent nearly six weeks travelling around Europe with her friend ending with a few days in London, so Hubby&I with sisterS&bilK met the girls at Kensington Palace.

We had a lovely mooch around the exhibits chatting all the time, then to the cafeteria for lunch, still chatting, then out around the gardens and through Hyde Park to find the Albert Memorial Statue and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, which is actually more like an oval running river for paddling in.

The girls wanted to head off to Harrods so Hubby decided it was time to head home (he doesn't do posh shopping).
We all had a really nice 4+ hours together. We had driven in to Newbury Park then used the underground, so when we got back to our car we made a quick stop to see bilA as he only lives round the corner. Quick cup of tea then home.

Very proud grandma moments.....

We're coming to the end of the school year and although my grandchildren are home educated they attend various extra groups that run term time only, so we have a little group of performances that we look forward to.

Thursday evening E's choir had their concert which Daughter and I both went to (thanks to Hubby offering to entertain and feed O) and really enjoyed, they came on after the guitar group and the junior percussion group. The choir had quite a varied programme of songs and they all looked the part too.  Friday evening, however, E had her South Suffolk Youth Wind Band concert at the same time as R's Wolsey Youth drama group's performance, so Daughter went to E's and my friendKK and I went to R's. It was great seeing these young performers on a real theatre stage. The whole evening was Shakespeare based and R's group did "How many Shakespeare plays can we fit into 10 mins), so a lot of very abridged dialogue and running around all done with great humour. R only had a few small parts to play which she did very well although I know she was a bit disappointed at not having a part a bit bigger....but friendKK and I both enjoyed it, as did the young dad who sat beside friendKK who was there on his own to see his daughter and was obviously not used to theatre going, so KK went into her usual befriending inquisition and had his whole life story in 10 mins!

We dropped R home. (along with the big bag of dried washing) and went home and friendKK came in for a cuppa but as it was such a lovely warm evening we went straight outside again to the garden with cold drinks. Hubby joined us out there soon after as he'd been out on a blood-run. KK went home and we came in then I noticed the video Daughter had uploaded to her flickr account. E is a percussionist and of course spends most performances running between instruments at the very back of the orchestra and because she is small can be heard but often can't be seen. Well during this concert E and another slightly older lad were right at the front and played a difficult xylophone duet AND Daughter was in a really good position to capture it all on her phone. IT IS AMAZING :-) very very proud of her. Daughter said the applause went on and on for a long time!!!

Saturday morning Daughter then went to see R perform with her other drama group. Unfortunately I couldn't go to that as I was on my way to London, however Daughter said that R was brilliant in the two different sketches she was in and "owned the stage" in one of them :-)

How wonderful that they each have special talents and the opportunities to use them and really  enjoy using them as much as we enjoy being entertained by them, I can't stop smiling and showing off to others... I'm a very proud grandma :-)

Friday, 4 July 2014

One gone but all back.....

Well R went home and actually I can't really remember what we did over the weekend, just the usual housework stuff I think. Sunday evening Hubby went off to Kentwell in my car to bring our Tudor campers home. They unhitched the trailor tent on our drive then went home.

Monday morning and hubby was outside bright and early moving the camper to the sunniest spot and opening it up to dry out. Daughter arrived back with my car loaded with all the family and towing the old caravan she's been given. M mostly spent the day upstairs "at work", the three children mostly spent the day on the sofa with laptops, Hubby and Daughter spent their day emptying out the now dry camper and closing it up, then pressure washing and scrubbing and toothbrush-in-the-nooks-and-crannies cleaning the caravan which ended up looking sooo much better. I seemed to spend my time running around after everyone else, getting lunch sorted and cleared away and getting the washing out the camper done for Daughter and making the teas of course.

Tuesday......they were all here again, which was lovely but I can't actually remember if there was a reason or not???

Wednesday on O's request we went shell hunting (he wants to add to my wall) so having been a bit disappointed by the lack of shells on Felixstowe beach we headed to Shotley beach as recommended by friendA. We didn't actually head out till quite late but thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and collected loads, plus Daughter used loads to create a labyrinth artwork to leave there (I hope people enjoy it).

...then heading home with O totally distraught when he realised he'd left his 50p coin on the sand and we couldn't go back to look for it, we had of course offered to look after it for him but he had insisted on keeping it so a tough lesson learnt :-( 
So to lighten the mood we stopped at our local farmers food hall/garden centre/restaurant as they have a huge bouncy pillow that O loves, they were also given the choice of one refreshment thing each so small box of biscuits for O, ginger beer for R, choc chip icecream cone for E and tea for Daughter and me plus a flapjack with mine. Then they dropped me at home and not long later I was out again to meet my usual crowd for a pub meal where I got drenched by s full glass of white wine knocked over by friendM yuk yuk yuk.

Thursday started with all my night before clothes going through the wash so they no longer smelt like a vineyard. Later O stayed here while E had a percussion lesson and after that Hubby was happy to entertain O while I  went to E's choir concert with Daughter. It was all running a bit late so home just in time to grab a very quick bite to eat then dash out to my art group evening.

Friday Daughter had to come over with O as her washing machine had died, three loads later they went home leaving about half of it still wet on the line. I'm going to see R at the theatre tonight (performing with the youth drama group she goes to) so I'll drop her dried laundry off when I drop off her daughter.