Monthly Archives: December 2014

My husky challenge change of plan

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I’ve had to delay my Husky Challenge until 2016 for a number of reasons, firstly on the recommendation of my GP as I’m not going to be ready (fitness, health wise, positive mental attitude) but also because I need to reach my fundraising total within 11 weeks of travel.

The extra year will give me a chance to get fit and then fitter. I think I was kidding myself I could turn my overweight and unfit body around in such a short time and then push myself to extremes in the cold and then there’s the camping. It will also give me an opportunity to organise some fundraising events that have been bouncing around in my head for a while.

Lots of people have said they’ll walk, cycle, swim, climb Pen y Fan with me – the more the merrier I say! I need to spend the coming months being very strict and structured but I promise I won’t turn into a diet and exercise bore! If I do please remind me!!

I’m really sorry to disappoint you that you’re not having a week without me in 2015 but I hope you will spur me on and push me away from any unhealthy temptation whilst I prepare for 2016.

Tickled Turkey Pot Pie

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I shared this photo

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on Instagram which pinged it through to Facebook and Twitter, where among the likes, ❤️ and favourites there was a one worded comment

recipe?

which prompted me to quickly scrumble up a recipe and a promise to name it after the person who commented.

So, here’s how to make Tickled Turkey Pot Pie

Fry off leeks and onions, add finely chopped carrots and left over turkey
(if you’re reading this at any other time than Christmas use chicken, turkey or pheasant and change the name to Tickled {insert meat} Pot Pie!), add in a pint of stock or stock/wine and let it bubble away whilst you make a white sauce.

Make the all in one white sauce by throwing in milk, flour and butter to a saucepan, stir, don’t let it go lumpy and when all smooth add in some Parmesan and stir in the turkey mix.

Transfer the turkey & sauce to a suitable dish and allow to cool slightly.

Unwrap your Jus-Rol Puff Pastry and put it on top of your turkey mix, crimp the edges and brush with beaten egg, if you’ve got any dinky cake cutters then add a few to the top, cut a hole in the pastry and leave a spare shape out.

Then shove in the oven and prepare your vegetables. When you put your veg on to boil pop a spare shape into the oven to brown off before adding it to the top of the pie.

Take a look at it and take a photo (to show it off as well as the newly acquired Netherton Foundry frying pan and wok)

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Drain your veg

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Serve and enjoy!

Household “translations”

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As I glanced around my home I thought of some of the funny, frustrating, “head in hands” conversations and moments I’m sure most families and households deal with on a regular basis:-

* Effort used to avoid and create excuses not to empty or fill the dishwasher far exceeds actual effort required.

* Don’t let anyone borrow your dustpan and brush – chances are it will come back looking shagged out, unfit for original purpose and beyond economical repair.

* Bring the washing down is just that. Bring the washing down and leave in the kitchen is a far more effective request. Just.

* Pop it in my/your/her room is roughly translated as open the door and put it just in the room.

* Take it upstairs is much like popping it in a room. The landing is large but the space just at the top of the stairs is the most convenient and it’s upstairs.

* Leaving at 8 isn’t, it could be anywhere between 0800 and 0859. Or maybe 0908. I’m going to declare a day of public celebration akin to a Bank Holiday if we should ever leave at 0758.

* Being late is related to 8 above, it doesn’t takes 10 minutes to get anywhere during school run.

* Blindly waving your hand around saying it was there (where?) when looking for something isn’t going to help find it.

* I’m hungry is always going to be I’m hungry for whatever you’re not cooking

* I’m full is obviously related to whatever is being eaten as opposed to the pudding

* I’m just is 45 minutes, 72 miles or anything that doesn’t remotely resemble just now – I’m just taking my bag/this/that to my room takes for ever and a wardrobe change. Or 2.

I might roll my eyes and put my head in my hands but those children of mine do make me smile.

What about your families? What do they mean when they say what they do and how do they interpret what you say?

What day is it?

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Today is Saturday and as far as I’m aware it’s just Saturday, there’s no prefix like Bank Holiday Saturday or Christmas Weekend Saturday, actually I’m surprised there’s not a name for the day after Boxing Day, maybe there is but I just call it the lull.

It’s the lull between Christmas and New Year, the tree has a few lone presents left, the fridge groans with leftovers, the bins and recycling boxes are overflowing and the empties corner looks like it was a good evening. We’ve spent time together as a family, we’ve seen friends and family and now we’re planning what to do next that doesn’t involve a long car journey or anything that remotely could light a blue touch paper.

Whilst everyone has a wind down day I’ve decided to rearrange furniture involving 3 upstairs rooms. Is it seasonal? Is it fun for all the family? Is it a good use of a weekend? Well in answer to all of those questions then I suppose it’s a yes! It’s a pre-spring clean, it’s like changing rooms without the bed moving and hell yes it’s not as if we’ve got anything planned!

Apart from making turkey curry! What about you?

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Five go mad in a mini

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Sounds like an Enid Blyton adventure, well it certainly had the ingredients – 4 people and a dog. Just add in a pile of presents, some British grown tulips, a few wreaths, signed books and you’ve got the picture. Oh yes and the squabbling – choose from how hot or cold the car is, how much space they did or didn’t have in the back, music volume, dog’s breath and that will really make you feel you were there!

What a lovely day, it’s what I call a running away day because that’s what it felt like! I’d said to the girls to be ready at 8 and we will leave at 830am, mmmmmh we left at 9, which isn’t bad going for us! Quick pit stop in Pewsey with mum and steppa, then headed off cross country to the A303 and the stop start of traffic. I can appreciate that Stonehenge is historical but I don’t feel mystical or magical about it. Sorry.

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Next stop was Common Farm in Charlton Musgrove where Georgie signed some books and sent us off on our way with hugs and cheer. Being with Georgie is a tonic.

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Then onto Dorset to have lunch with Sacha, Arthur was in his element exploring the garden and the girls had a vocal game of Monopoly.

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Before heading home via Sally Swannell’s gorgeous house where Arthur passed out infront of the fire and the girls made a big dent in a bowl of chocolates.

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A day like yesterday is needed every so often in my books. Although it was 200+ miles of driving it was fun, filled with people who mean the world to us, spontaneous and impulsive, sprinkled with love and laughter.

That’s what the world needs.

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Back in October I had wrapped the presents, sent them to faraway lands, dropped them in on people we knew we wouldn’t see and put the rest in the box, now they’re under the tree together with presents from family and friends ready for Christmas Day and the straggly days after when we catch up with everyone.  I certainly didn’t feel smug, it was just the sensible thing to do and once I started the “oh that’ll do” I thought I may as well finish it off!

Last night we had a conversation about what we’re going to be eating over Christmas, what time we’re eating on Christmas Day and how long after we will be eating leftovers, coupled with the fact that our Leftover Lunch is later this year and we will have eaten everything!  Oh well, a few bags of Tortillas and some melted cheese it is!  It humoured me because as of last night we had no festive food in the house apart from a Christmas Cake I picked up at the Reading Rockets Christmas Market, the ingredients for mince pies and some Sloe Gin that is a present.

You see this year I am stepping back and I am not getting caught up in the panic that is normal for this time of year.  I ordered a veg box from Riverford as I had a £10 voucher to spend and I just thought well if they can deliver on Monday morning (which happened before 730am) then I can get on with a load of things I need and want to do without having to go actual big trolley shopping.

Big Welsh was delighted to hear I wasn’t getting the frozen parsnips I got last year, they weren’t very nice and I felt like I had not only cheated but I was cheated so there’s no shop bought frozen ready to cook vegetables in my freezer, there will be ready to cook potatoes done by me though as that’s time saving!  There will however be plenty of ice cream and ice.

Loops asked when I was picking the turkey up and I said oh probably Christmas Eve, she was amused by my laid back approach and asked where I had ordered it from.  Oh I laughed, lots!  You see this year I really am rebelling and I have not got a turkey, I’ve not ordered a turkey and I’ve not asked for a turkey to be put by – I’m going to go to the shops (be it farm shop, butchers or supermarket) on Christmas Eve to see what I can find.  If there’s no turkey then it’ll be chicken, if no chicken then it’ll be some meat  else, if no some meat else then it will be something completely different.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love the spirit of Christmas, the happy sentiment of goodwill to all men together with the celebration and traditions that have been handed down through generations but I’m just not going to get sucked in and subscribe to the panic shopping because we might run out of food, because we won’t.

We also won’t go cold, we won’t live in fear, we won’t go hungry, we won’t have to flee our home, we won’t have to bite our tongue, we won’t have to dodge the blows, we won’t worry about who we spend time with, we won’t be looking at our last Christmas, we won’t be in hospital, we won’t be working, but we will be together as a family and whether or not we have lobster thermidore or cold baked beans we will be grateful.

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
― Epictetus

When I was your age ….

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Earlier today I was looking at photos of Christmas past and I was thinking about Christmas holidays when I was the age my girls are now.  Here they are …..

It was in 1978 that I was 9 like Laree. 

I remember getting the Grease Album, some writing paper with a horse in the left hand corner and some Airfix paints.  We were at home in Hurst.  Mum, Daddy, NPG, me and Lara the very naughty black Labrador.  Daddy had given Mum the Evita album and I used to listen to it together with the other scratched records in the cold playroom.

I remember we ate our lunch in the dining room.  Mum was at the head of the table, Daddy was at the window end, NPG was sitting to the left and I was sitting to the right.  Behind me under the window was a shelf, full of glass.  It wasn’t full of perfect glass for long as when I jumped up my chair fell backwards into the shelf and lots of things smashed.  I recall Daddy jumping up and being rather annoyed with me!  He seemed to slow down after that, his body ruined by cancer.

I’d like to think he made a special effort to come downstairs to be with us one last time for Christmas.

Mook is 12 and my 12 was in 1981. 

Wow that was a Christmas and a half!  It snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed.  Then, when there was no snow left to snow it snowed some more!  NPG and I had come home from Malvern to a powercut; we had no heating, no electricity and we took it in turn to hug the night storage heaters and hog the fire!

We used to go up the lane to see our ancient friend Mack who had a generator so we were able to have a hot bath and eat meals by electric light as opposed to candle light.  The electricity did come back on and it then took ages for the house to warm up!  We used to listen to our music on our Sony Walkman and write letters to our friends on Hunkydory writing paper. It was the early 80s and we were just beginning to think we knew it all ….

I can’t believe that my Loops is 15, 15 for me was in 1984. 

I can remember probably every minute of that festive period.  We kicked off the festive season with a memorable party at school; Band Aid was the song of the moment, followed by The Power of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

My then boyfriend and I criss crossed the country using our Student Railcards and I think we learnt every platform, station and train time between Reading, Bristol and Birmingham.  I can recall I had a fabulous pair of tartan trousers that I wore with some black patent leather loafers, the soles were a bit slippy and I fell flat on my back after slipping on the pavement in Birmingham.

Now I’m forty phwoar

Those days of 9, 12 and 15 are memories, but they’re my memories that I look back on with fondness. 

Each time I hear songs from Evita or Grease I am back in 1978, the Human League transport me back to 1981 and Band Aid reminds me of 1984 and my fabulous school friends.

Thank you fabulous friends and gorgeous girls, thank you Wikipedia oh and thank you for the music!