Better.

Well, we watched The Interview, of course. Dynamite. Oprah was so good. I was surprised that Meghan didn’t do any research, despite what happened with Harry’s mother. I do get that our “Royals” are not such a big deal abroad, but the sad story of Lady Di I would have though was of global interest. Also surprised that Harry didn’t mention she’d need to curtsey 🙄 to his gran until approximately 2 minutes before she had to! For goodness’ sake. But oh, what a toxic “institution”. The press here are just so racist and spiteful. To wit, the wildly different ways in which Kate and Meghan were portrayed eating avocado toast (Kate praised to the skies for being healthy, Meghan destroyed for causing climate change). To be honest I wasn’t much surprised by most of it, except the press “parties”. Held at the palace! how blatant is that! Poor Meghan and poor Harry (though why he is miffed they stopped paying him is a mystery to me. If you leave a job, they don’t pay you any more!). But the suffering they both went through, without any support, is absolutely appalling. And don’t get me started on Piers Morgan. And I am no royalist. I would much rather we had a republic. Not that I’m a Republican in terms of the USA. Not at all.

I’m feeling better. Since, I’d say, last Sunday really. More energy – though I’ve had to sleep all morning, having tried to stay awake after breakfast and failed. The garden is lovely. The sun is not out today, but was for the last two days, so I went for a ten minute walk on Monday and Tuesday. That might account for the fatigue this morning. Yesterday I defrosted the small freezer, made a delicious chocolate cake (dairy free of course) and repotted a desperate house plant. Oh. Also might account for the fatigue this morning.

The yoghurt maker is going. It’s possible that my niece may have it, she’s pondering at the moment. If she doesn’t, I will Freecycle it.

Have started a crochet blanket in basic granny squares. I have a selection of double knitting cotton yarn in various colours (from Hobbii.de – love their stuff, even though the postage is expensive), so am doing squares, rather than all in one big square, to make it easier and more fun to sort out the colour scheme when it’s done. No rush. A square or two a day is fine. Even though it’s the most basic of crochet techniques, I still can’t watch TV and do it, like I can with some of my knitting. The finished squares (well, not blocked yet) are actually a lovely lilac, but you can’t tell from the photo. I’ve ordered some more yarn, enough to do two more squares and a border, in dark navy. It’ll make a blanket 4 x 5 squares of 6 3/4″ each, so small but useful in the winter evenings. Or even the summer ones, here in the UK.

Loving the Freecycle system. It’s called Freegle where I live. It shut down during lockdown, but started up again yesterday. I had four boxes of books and dvds to give away, which I advertised just before lockdown. The person who wanted them agreed to wait till now, and came last night to take them away! our study looks So Much Tidier. And she brought me several little tiny pots with a sort of dried pellet of compost and some seeds in. Parsley, carrots and peppers. Am going to investigate. Exciting.

Yule.

Pretty pleased with this, to be honest. It’s all gone. We had family round on Saturday night, and it fed six people, then a slice each for hubby and me on Sunday. The little robins had to go in the bin, though. Tried washing them. Didn’t go well. Need to do something different next year . . .

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November!

Did my ironing this morning. All of it. Although I had to do it sitting down, as my stupid back is playing up. Painkillers, ice packs, phone call to osteopath tomorrow to see if I can bring forward the next appointment.

Had the leylandii at the back trimmed, and one of the leylandii hedges at the front cut down by half, so it’s just below the level of the roof of my car, which is an old Ford Ka. The other hedge at the front has been dug up and the stumps ground out. That was quite exciting to watch. Two men, fully kitted up in safety gear/helmets/goggles, with a large noisy machine, took approximately 10 minutes max! Now I just need to get as much of the thuggish ivy out of the soil as I can, weedkiller the rest, and see how it is next spring before I plant some more Photinia Red Robin, to match the little hedge at the front, parallel to the house.

Meanwhile, hubby decided to pollard the willow tree himself. Yes, himself. Worked, hard, all morning, up and down ladders with a saw, despite my bleating about stopping now, and did it all. Cut up the twiggy bits and fitted them all into the green wheelie bin. But he then had (heart) “symptoms”  for three days. I was very worried and a bit cross. It is frustrating not to be able to do the stuff you used to do easily. It is. But still. I’ve had years to come to terms with it (slipped a disc 43 years ago) so I do know how difficult and limiting it is. But harrumph. And of course he’s fine now.

Wasn’t able to knit for a couple of weeks – arthritis in my hands. But I’m ok now and nearly finished the Festival shawl (dark grey Gossypium and white/cream Paradou). It’s lovely and easy enough to knit (though not while I’m watching subtitled Swedish programmes!) and I will be pleased with it when it’s done. Next up, Whelk vest top for hubby, in pale grey Rowan yarn. Need to do a sample tension square, because the pattern is for DK, and the yarn I have is worsted. Not much difference, but enough to check first. Also need to check I’m ok with the pattern . . . . .

Have treated myself, after watching Black Earth Rising, to a cuff earring with two chains attached to a small stud. The heroine of said programme wore one, and looked stunning. I won’t look anything like her, of course, she’s about 6 ft tall, black, muscular and slim. Ah well. I do like it though. Hubby thinks it’s weird. Don’t care.

Christmas – presents all done. Not wrapped yet though. And I need to get my act together with regard to cooking. Planning a Yule Log, so need to practise with an ordinary Swiss Roll (tomorrow). Also need to do a carrot cake and a bakewell raspberry slice. And some mince pies (bought pastry, bought mincemeat, just need to put them together . . .)


May. Love it.

Possibly my favourite month of the year, apart from the autumn months. Finally managed to get somebody in to do the gardening. He does my friend’s garden and spent a morning doing mine. Excellent. Lovely guy, wonderful plantsman, knows his stuff, and did a brilliant job. Next day I did the rest, because he had made sure, unknowingly, that it was now something I could actually cope with. No repercussions except a bit achy in the legs and back.

Thank goodness the weather has improved. I don’t mind the rain at all because it greens everything up. It’s just a joy to me how every spring the green is so fresh. And so different for each plant.

Just had a cup of tea sitting in the garden, in my favourite corner. It’s not a very big garden, at all, just right for me in fact, but there is one small very peaceful corner. Lovely. Breezy, sunny, washing drying on the line. Hubby out playing golf.

The robins have been going bonkers in our garden, warning off potential predators like our cat (who couldn’t give a stuff about them) and more worryingly, magpies. I went out the other day and saw a parent robin sitting on the pavement at the very end of our drive, really close, giving it loads.  Then I spotted a small roundish bundle of twigs even nearer to me, actually on the drive. That turned out to be a fledgling. I approached really slowly and gently, making what I think are soothing, don’t-be-frightened noises, but as soon as my shadow fell on to it, it flew away, shitting as it went. So it could fly after all. But only when some enormous creature approached and frightened the shit out of it. Result, I guess. Next day, saw the cat pawing at something in the undergrowth. Yep, another fledgling. Smaller. So I shooed the cat away and into the house (another indication that she’s not that bothered), and eventually parent robin stopped squawking. But how worrying for the robins. Not a peep out of them now, so presumably the fledglings have got their act together. Hopefully. The alternative is too depressing to contemplate. The blackbirds have started now. I love birdsong, but find the warning “chooks” a bit fraught. Not, clearly, as fraught as the actual birds.

Been doing some knitting too. About to start on a hooded cabled jacket for 3 year old grandson.  Made a little toy owl last night for granddaughter, who loves owls. Will do another one I think for youngest grandson. A different colour. And made a triceratops for another grandson who lost his. And a little jacket for the granddaughter.

Haircut yesterday. Lunch with friend (former colleague). Lovely. Also braved Marks & Spencers, which was very busy and too much for me, so when I got home I ordered the stuff online. Spent some of my Hotel Chocolat voucher on delicious dairy-free chocolate. Yeah.

Ultrasound on my feet booked for next week. Eye test booked for Monday. So what with the hairdo and those two appointments, the maintenance and upkeep system seems to be working.

I’m feeling much more positive and better about things now the bulk of the gardening has been done. It’s a joy to just sit and look at it. Need some more herbs (mint and parsley) and possibly some nepeta (cat mint, she loves it). Also need to wash out all the emptied pots with Jeyes fluid (strong disinfectant to kill any latent nasties). Possibly will do that in batches, as it’s an awkward position to maintain, despite having a hose with a fancy head attachment thing.

This morning I’m just sitting about, pottering a little, and enjoying the quiet and the weather. Lovely.

Chocolate Brownie

Chocolate Brownies

Can be made in one saucepan.

Ingredients

 70g dairy free margarine
100g dark cooking chocolate
170 g castor sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
70 g plain flour
100g chocolate chips
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

greased pyrex square dish.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C gas 4
  2. Take 1 tbsp of the flour and add to the choc chips in a little bowl. Stir so that the flour covers the choc chips (this stops them sinking to the bottom.
  3. Melt the margarine and chocolate in a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Mix in the beaten eggs, then sift in the flour, baking powder and salt: fold in the vanilla extract.
  6. Just before baking, add the choc chips, and stir in.
  7. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Test with a skewer that it is just cooked through (the skewer should come out clean of mixture, although the choc chips will be melted & might stick to the skewer).
  9. Cool in the tin and cut into squares.

For the knitting group I doubled all these quantities.

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