Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Monday, 4 November 2013
I needed to go to IKEA today. When I say "needed to" I mean it was on my list of things to do and I had a window of opportunity today.
Ethan had an inset day and Dave was in charge (of Ethan just in case you assumed he was in charge of me). This meant that when I left work I had some time before I needed to have food on the table and I didn't have the encumbrance of a school run.
I was going to return a lamp which had a couple of non-existent screws. At the customer service desk I discovered that the time of the school run is the perfect time to hit IKEA. There was no queue.
Instead of just giving me the screws and washers I needed the assistant gave me a refund and sent me off round the store to find a replacement lamp. I told her that this was dangerous because I would be sent before temptation with the very likely outcome of me spending money.
I darted around the store using all of the shortcuts available to me. I see it as a bit of a game to figure out the shortest route to my destination and outwit the store designers that want customers to "experience" IKEA. I didn't want an experience, I wanted a lamp.
Despite my deft avoidance of temptation I walked past a couple of plain throws, one red and one white. They were a fleece material with fringing. I didn't like them as throws and I don't need or want throws, but I was tempted. They were just £3 each. Just £3!
I started to think about how I could use them if I bought them. Christmas concerts are coming up soon and the throws could well be useful for the creation of any costumes that are needed by my children. The trouble is that I don't know what those costume requirements might be.
I picked up one red and one white and carried on in search of the lamp. I had those throws, just in case.
Am I the only one who does this, who has a loft full of stuff that I might need, one day, maybe?
I put the throws down before reaching the checkout, but only just.
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Friday, 11 October 2013
I had heard that my neighbour's building work was going to start this week but, as I hadn't seen removal vans, I had hoped the rumour wasn't true.
This morning however there were clearly builders on site. This was just one of the vans parked on double yellow lines near a busy junction during the school run.
I asked the driver whether our neighbours were still living in the property and he told me they were. I don't really understand this because at some point their house is being demolished.
The noise is how I imagine tinnitus to sound. Have a listen.
There's also the vibration. Sitting or standing in the house I can feel a vibration in my feet. I assume my house is being slightly shaken.
Saturday, 28 September 2013
Vic and Nyree have asked for this recipe and this is as good a way to share as any. I'm going to tell you how I made it and also tell you about the bit I left out. It's a Jo Wheatley recipe.
- 300g soft brown sugar - I think I used a mixture of light muscovado and golden granulated.
- 250ml sunflower oil - I used corn oil because that's what I use in muffin recipes so it's always in the cupboard
- 3 large eggs
- 150g self raising flour
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- pinch of salt
- 250g carrots coarsely grated
- 150g pecans chopped (I put them in a bag and bashed them with a rolling pin)
- zest of half an orange - I use a zester and then chop the zest because I think you get more zest this way than if you use a grater
Orange syrup (I didn't do this bit)
- juice of half a large orange
- 20g caster sugar (if I had done this I would have used granulated)
- 400g cream cheese - recipe says full fat and that's what I used because if you've having cake I don't see the point in low calorie stuff but I guess you could use low fat version
- 100g icing sugar - you can reduce this quantity if you want slightly less sweet frosting and I did use less
- zest and juice of half an orange
- pecan halves to decorate if you can be bothered - I couldn't
- Grease a rectangular tin 20cm x 25cm or thereabouts. Line with baking parchment and grease the baking parchment. This is always a faff but better to do this than have a cake that cannot be removed from the tin.
- Depending on how long your oven takes to heat up, and how long you take to mix things, preheat oven to 180˚C for a non fan oven or 160˚C for a fan oven. If you have a gas oven it's gas mark 4 or for an Aga you're on your own.
- Mix the sugar and the oil. I used a mixer and wasn't quite sure what this should look like. I stopped when it looked like it had combined.
- Add the eggs and mix until smooth. I mixed this for quite a while but it wasn't ever really smooth, more smooth-ish.
- Fold in flour, mixed spice and salt.
- Add grated carrot, pecans and orange zest and mix until combined. The point here is not to mix the living daylights out of it, so use a spoon and be gentle.
- Spoon into baking tin and cook for about 40 minutes. Check it with the skewer test. Jo uses a wooden skewer but I use a metal skewer. I don't know which is best or even whether it matters.
- If you are going to do the orange syrup (which I didn't) then while the cake is in the oven, heat the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has reduced by one third.
- Brush the warm cake with the orange syrup and then leave the cake to cool.
- While the cake is cooling you can make the frosting by beating cream cheese, orange juice, icing sugar and orange zest together. Beat this for quite a while until smooth. I think I might have beaten it for too long as the mixture was sliding around the metal bowl without leaving a trail on the bowl. It was also struggling not to slide off the top of the cake. The orange syrup, being sticky, might help with this.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and decorate with pecans if you want to.
- I cut this into 12 slices but I was told the slices were quite big (I thought they were just fine).
Saturday, 7 September 2013
I've just sent this email to my MP.
Dear Eric Pickles,
Michael Gove has reportedly insisted that children need their own bedroom in order to be able to fulfil their potential. He expressed concern for children from poorer families who were forced to share a room.
Iain Duncan-Smith has pushed ahead with the implementation of the "bedroom tax" which insists that children under ten should share a room and children over the age of ten are required to share a room where the children are of the same gender.
Can you please tell me what the Government policy is in this regard. Is it that children from poorer families should expect to fail to reach their potential, or is it that children from poorer families should be given every opportunity to fulfil their potential?
I look forward to your clarification on this issue.
Ann Cardus (Mrs)
Monday, 22 July 2013
Monday, 15 July 2013
This is a very simple recipe with just three ingredients and tastes just like the chocolate mousse I remember from French restaurants I visited as a child.
This makes eight portions so you will need eight ramekins.
- 220g dark chocolate - if you don't like dark chocolate then substitute all or part with milk chocolate
- 140g unsalted butter
- 4 eggs, separated
Melt the butter and chocolate in a bain marie (bowl resting on a saucepan of simmering water but without the water touching the bowl). This is done more quickly if butter is cubed and chocolate broken into pieces.
Add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring constantly. If you want to add extra flavour, then do it now. You could add a couple of tablespoons of rum, brandy or espresso coffee or maybe some orange zest.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Using a metal spoon, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
Keep folding until your boredom threshold is reached or preferably until it's beautifully combined into chocolate yumminess.
Spoon carefully into ramekins.
You can freeze these in advance but they take so little time to prepare I'm not sure it's necessary.
I don't believe in luck but if you asked me, I'd say I was lucky.
Last week I messed up my diary for Thursday evening. I had arranged for Tesco to deliver groceries and, at the same time, I'd arranged for Ethan to have an assessment in Shenfield.
Dave was working in London so I didn't have a backup plan.
At 7 o'clock I put a note on the front door apologising for not being in and at 7:10 we got in the car to go to Shenfield. After dropping Ethan off I was told that I didn't have to stay while he was being assessed, so I decided to nip home. At home by 7:30, I sat in the car waiting.
At 7:35 Tesco turned up, we unloaded the groceries into the house and I was able to return to pick Ethan up just as he finished his assessment.
It could have been different and that's how I know I'm lucky. Although I don't seem to win the lottery much...
Thursday, 27 June 2013
I'm not the "praying kind" but today I heard about a group of people who might well be described as angels.
My husband went for a walk on the south coast today with his dad. They try and do a number of "man walks" every year and it's an opportunity to enjoy the countryside and shoot the breeze at the same time.
Today they were walking near some cliffs and a man wearing a high visibility vest approached them and started a conversation. He was a Beachy Head Chaplaincy volunteer.
About 30 volunteers take turns patrolling the area near Beachy Head looking for those who are seeking the only solution they believe is left to them. Their lives are desperate and they are looking for the exit door.
Beachy Head cliffs stand 530 feet high and are, at the same time, a beauty spot and the world's third most popular suicide location.
Last year this volunteer chaplaincy team saved the lives of 305 people who were despondent. In May this year they saved 39 lives but one body was recovered, In April they saved 25 lives but two bodies were recovered.
I don't know how one talks someone out of a pit of despair but I admire greatly those who try and succeed.
You, like me, had probably not heard of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team until today. If you'd like to find out more, click here.
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Thursday, 20 June 2013
I was wandering along the HIgh Street today and was approached by a man with leaflets.
He said "Can I give you a leaflet about personal training?"
I told him he was would be wasting his leaflet.
He replied "I appreciate the honesty but can I ask if you've had a bad experience in a gym?"
I told him I hadn't had a bad gym experience.
He asked "But you do train?"
I responded "No."
"Oh" he said "but you look quite fit."
I laughed and laughed and laughed, didn't take a leaflet and carried on walking.
Monday, 17 June 2013
As we came back to the house I spotted Ethan's scooter left visible in the garden just waiting to be stolen.
I told Ethan he should have tidied it away securely.
Later we left the house and when I returned, on my own, I noticed Ethan's scooter had still been left out. Ethan had ignored me and hadn't tidied it away despite my threats that it might be stolen.
So I hid it.
When Ethan came home I congratulated him for tidying away his scooter. He looked to the place where there had been a discarded scooter and found a void. He was worried. It had been stolen.
"Can we phone a non emergency police number?" he asked.
"What, because someone was silly enough not to tidy it away and left it in full view?" I replied. "I don't think so."
We talked about how much the scooter was worth to him and whether he would be prepared to pay a reward for its return. I offered to create a poster and Ethan agreed that he'd pay £20 to get it back.
I said that if he gave me £20 then I'd get it back to him (obviously via my links to the criminal underworld). It was a deal.
Ethan went to his room and looked in every nook and cranny and managed to scrape together £19 in change. His Dad lent him a pound.
He came to me and gave me the handful of coins.
I came clean and we did a different deal. He could have the scooter back and most of the money but I'd keep one pound and donate it to a local charity. I also said I'd "steal" anything else that might be left in unsecured location and he wouldn't get it back without a donation to charity.
He thinks he's learnt his lesson. What do you think? Should I have kept the £20? Am I too evil for words?
Thursday, 30 May 2013
Hannah goes to a new school in September.
It's a scary prospect for me because I'll be losing my little girl, but she seems very relaxed about the whole thing.
The school is doing its utmost to try and make her feel welcome before she gets there. There have been netball and hockey sessions for the new intake that Hannah's attended and athletics sessions we've opted to miss. There's a welcome meeting and a taster day to look forward to in June and Year 7s start a day earlier than the rest of the school, allowing them to get lost and make mistakes without an audience of older children.
The one thing the school has done so far though that has impressed me is to encourage the current Year 7s to write a penpal letter to the Year 7s of September.
The letter Hannah received was beautifully decorated and full of useful information like:
"Do your homework as soon as you get it."
"Have an emergency £5 in your bag for emergencies."
"Don't roll your skirt up."
and, my personal favourite:
"Don't do your blazer buttons up because people will just stare at you."
Hannah's penpal also included her telephone number and email and she'll be the one showing Hannah around the school on the taster day.
Hannah's still very blazé about the whole thing but knowing Hannah's penpal put time and effort into the letter and probably does care about Hannah, makes me a little less intimidated by the whole experience.
Friday, 24 May 2013
The horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich this week has shocked the World. It has done this for two reasons.
The nature of the attack as described is an unimaginable horror, but we don't have to use our imaginations because so much has been shared by the media. What we have seen and heard has also shocked us.
I have tried to avoid the coverage but I've seen enough to know I wish I hadn't seen anything.
The perpetrators of this crime were seeking publicity and they were given exactly what they wanted. This makes me feel physically sick.
I believe that the crime should have been reported and the victim named, with the family's consent. I don't believe the murderers' crimes, faces or voices should have appeared in any media outlet. Police should have taken all recording devices they could get their hands on from the scene and pictures, video and voice recordings should have been taken for evidence but removed from the public to prevent publication.
Some people seek fame for selfish reasons and choose to apply to Big Brother or one of the many talent shows. This might offend our senses but it is relatively harmless.
Others seek fame for a cause or a belief, and when that's a cause that seeks to promote violence and hate then I think they should be denied the martyr style coverage they seek.
I think Drummer Rigby's murderers were seeking to inspire others to undertake similar acts. It's a lot harder to achieve this without a name, a face or a voice. I recognise there will be those who will argue that free speech is more important and I am normally in favour of free speech, but not this time.