Tuesday, 24 April 2018

That Makes My Skin Itch!

Family conversation on What'sApp...
Steph and Gary posted a picture of two glasses of honeymoon champagne.
Liz posted a picture of her office desk, saying "Not jealous at all". 
Bob commented on her computer "Mildly envious.
Jon then posted a picture of his desk, "Liz's is tidier than mine". 
I posted a picture of my desk, adding "And mine!" 
Liz said "That makes my skin itch!"
Here is my dreadfully untidy desk
There really wasn't much workspace, I must admit. But on Friday, I got up early, and prepared for the Supply Agency to ring. For the third day in a row, no call...[well, it was only the 4th day of the new term] So I set to, determined to sort things out.
Doesn't that look better? Everything is just where I can reach it. I hope Liz's skin will stopped itching now.
I have also dealt with a whole load of obsolete filing - much shredding of agendas and minutes etc. The recycling bin will be very full on Wednesday.
I re-discovered my packet of WW2 postcards which I bought in IWM North last August. I've stuck them along the shelf temporarily - but I shall probably send them to people in a while.
Bob didn't post a picture of his desks in the family conversation [he has two- one at home and one in his church office]
But I'd already taken one of him working earlier in the week.
I am not surprised that his desk is tidy, but how come he manages to get a rainbow too?

Monday, 23 April 2018

Still Turning...

Last week, Bob's sister Denise and her husband Kevin dropped in en route to their holiday. It was so good to see them. In the past month we have seen 16 different family members, which is lovely, considering we are all so busy, and so spread out across the country. 
We got to talking about TV and the fact that like us, D&K like the "Eurocrimes." Denise is a great linguist, and probably doesn't need the subtitles as much as I do. We were talking about 'Spiral- the French cop drama which returned to BBC4 in January after a three year break. In France, the series is called Engrenages, which means 'gears'. I prefer the English title, as I love spirals...
Being a Maths geek, I'm fascinated by the way that the Fibonacci sequence occurs in so many place in nature, in the form of a spiral

 The patterns in sunflower seeds, ferns, snail shells, romanesque cabbages, galaxies, the DNA structures, cobwebs...

Truly wonderful.
I like using spirals when I am doing creative stuff too. It is so much easier to doodle or to crochet a spiral rather than to  make perfect circles!
There's something wonderfully organic about the way this shape just grows and increases.
Some people produce messages in spiral form.
 Above- two alternative versions of a favourite Bible passage. One starts at the edge, the other at the centre. Below, an interesting presentation of someone's New Year Resolutions.

I'm not sure if 'Shetland' comes into the Eurocrime category - but up in those northern isles, there are some amazing ancient Pictish carvings, involving intricate spirals.
My birthday gift from Denise and Kevin was a silver necklace. It is lovely [thanks D&K]The leaflet in the case says the design was inspired by these. Shetland carvings.
Everywhere I turn, I seem to find spirals!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn...

When Bob sold his motorbike, it left a huge space. Well two actually- the first was in his lifestyle, he no longer had the opportunity to go out and enjoy a ride, tune out from all the things on his mind, and just burn up the miles...and the second, a huge space in the garage. 
But then he found a woodturning lathe, on sale locally. The gentleman concerned was in poor health and could no longer use it, so was selling it, plus loads of tools, for an extremely good price.
Bob loves old tools, he loves working with wood, and it seemed a good purchase. There was now room to house it in the garage and he had a new hobby to replace biking. Wood-turning
But he needed to learn the skills - so for a combined birthday-and-Christmas gift, I arranged for him to go on a wood turning course. He loved it. It was a whole day, one-to-one with a master craftsman.
He was taught basic techniques, and tool maintenance, and he came home with some practice pieces, including a lovely bowl and some blanks to work on. The bowl is now at Cornerstones, and has been much admired.
His first task was to build a new lathe-stand, fit for someone tall - it is important to work at the correct height. But finally, the lathe was up and running. Bob's first solo effort was another wooden bowl. Obviously, it had to be for a very special occasion. 

Isn't it lovely? I have made a poster and put it up in the garage, over where Bob works at the lathe. It is a picture of some vintage tools, and this verse from Jan Struther's lovely hymn

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled 
at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, 
at the noon of the day.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Happy Birthday, Ma'am

The Queen is 92 today [that makes her just 3 months older than Jim-next-door]
Here she is cutting a previous birthday cake with Nadya H.
Whether or not you are a Royalist, you have to admit that she has a very full diary for a nonagenarian.
As Matriarch of her family, she's got a lot going on at home to keep her busy, quite apart from Royal duties.
Her husband Philip has only just left hospital after a hip replacement.
One grandson is due to get married next month - and the other should be announcing the birth of his third child any day now.
Those are all good news stories.
On a less happy note, her favourite corgi, Willow, had to be put to sleep last weekend. Willow starred alongside HM and Daniel Craig/James Bond in that amazing Olympics Opening Ceremony.

She announced yesterday that she hopes Prince Charles will succeed her as head of the Commonwealth. She has been a great champion for this fellowship of nations, and I hope peace and harmony will continue to be the order of the day with this one.
Weddings, babies, illness, pets, concerns for one's children...these are all features of ordinary family life with which many of us will identify. May Her Maj be blessed with a birthday full of live, love and laughter. I hope they won't expect her to blow out 92 candles though!
Long to reign over us, happy and glorious, God save our Queen!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Card Sharp

I love the Sue Ryder Charity Shop on the edge of Fakenham. This is where I bought that sheet music. My other purchase recently was a plastic bag full of greetings cards.
The bag was quite heavy, and cards front and back showed this track through a snowy field. 
The info said that Norfolk artist Columbine Winstanley had produced a range of paintings showing the beauty the English countryside for the Quality Card Company
The bag wasn't sealed - so I took out the stack and looked - there were various different designs. They were printed on high quality card, and were blank inside. And the bag was priced at £1.50.
I queried this at the till, and was told the low price was due to the lack of envelopes - so I happily handed over a £2 coin.
When I got back to Cornerstones, I checked out the contents.
Six different designs - three landscapes; the field, some cheerful looking cows, and an empty swing under some trees - but the majority were 'floral' snowdrops, irises, and a bunch of autumnal fruits and foliage.
I think they are lovely
I counted them - 80 altogether. I've purchased bought some white C5 envelopes online. The cost per card&envelope comes in just under 2p . Bargain!
I have already used some as notelets - writing beautifully with my fancy new fountain pen.
But I plan to use my BigShot diecut machine to print off some 'sentiments' [happy birthday, best wishes, with thanks...] to turn others into regular greetings cards.
I send quite a lot of cards in the course of a year - some posted, others hand-delivered. It is good when I can plan and make a card specially [eg for Steph & Gary's Wedding] but on the other hand, to have a stack of good quality ones ready-to-go is always useful. I wonder how long this CS bargain will last me?

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Bouquet Garni

Do you remember The Herbs - a children's TV programme from 1968? It was written by Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington. As with many TV programmes, some of the script was quite sophisticated - I suppose that encouraged adults to sit alongside the children and watch with them [never a bad thing]
There was Lady Rosemary, Bayleaf the Gardener, Parsley the Lion, Sage the Owl, Dill the daft dog, Sir Basil and Constable Knapweed.
I have never considered myself much of a gardener - but I have realised that I am not too bad at growing herbs [although I never seem to manage to get anywhere with basil or parsley, however hard I try]
I wandered out into the garden after lunch yesterday and realised I had a reasonable crop of eight herbs. Bob said I should also include the wild garlic in my list - we have a patch of rampant ramsons - but they are nothing to do with me, they came of their own accord. They bring my total to nine. Here is my 2018 crop thus far
Clockwise from the top
mint [label hidden!]
wild garlic
golden thyme [not to be confused with Golden Time, which is a manic Friday afternoon activity in many Primary Schools]
common thyme
lemon balm
That's really not too bad, for someone who struggles with cress on a flannel,is it? Some potentially good flavours to fling into my summer recipes. I also have quite a few young nettles, but am unable to convince Bob of the merits of Nettle Soup, so I cannot really count them as a cooking ingredient [yet]
Do you grow your own herbs ?
Which ones, and how do you use them?

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Cup Final

Despite the good efforts of Hugh F-W et al, we are still astonishingly bad about reducing the number of disposable coffee cups which end up in landfill. 
It is two years since HFWs battle bus hit the streets to alert people about this.
2.5 billion cups a year currently go to landfill in the UK
However, I do believe that at last we are beginning to make some progress. A charity called Hubbub, founded by two guys named Gavin Ellis and Trewin Restorick [yes, honestly!] has organised two cup-recycling projects in Manchester and London. The Hubbub website goes a lot further than cups, and is worth checking out. There's a useful guide to switching to a reusable cup. Here's their infographic showing the benefits of recycling 'disposable' cups. The cups put in their #1MoreShot bins in Manchester went to make tubs and garden furniture for community gardens.

Waitrose have been giving free coffee to Loyalty Card holders for some years now- but last week announced that although they are continuing this scheme, customers will need to bring their own cup in future [but if you forget, you can buy one instore for £3]

A number of coffee chains have at last started giving a discount to people who bring in their own mugs - Pret being the most generous! Bob and I have been working really hard to change our habits in this respect. We make a pot of coffee at breakfast - measuring the quantity carefully for two mugs then - and enough left to fill our two reusable travel mugs. That way we not only avoid buying a disposable mug- we also avoid buying overpriced coffeehouse brews! Our travel mugs came from Starbucks, and we are very pleased with them, Liz tells me hers is from Robert Dyas. 

Next week we'll be at a conference organised by the Southern Counties Baptist Association - he's doing PA, I'm doing catering . The SCBA has made a point of asking all those attending to bring mugs for their hot drinks, and their own water bottles - both of which they will be able to refill throughout the day. 
Have you switched to a reusable mug yet?