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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Week 45 - Birmingham and Back Up Your NaNo!

As the title suggests, I spent last week in Birmingham, for a work's training course.

I got to celebrate Diwali Day at the office in aid of the Birmingham Children's Hospital.
















Sunday, 1 November 2015

Week 44: Half Term

So the clocks have fallen back (yippee!!) and we are back on GMT, as it should be.

And it's half term! Beloved and I took a few days off to spend with LittleBit this week.

On Monday, we went to the Museum of Policing in Cheshire, at Warrington, where volunteers Peter and Mary kindly showed us around. Better guides, I have never met, anywhere. They were fantastic with LittleBit, extraordinarily knowledgeable, fun, friendly and just lovely. We went into a Tardis, sat in a police car and tried on different uniforms!

We were able to see their collection of confiscated weapons including a shotgun disguised as a walking cane, and they told us a story of some young lads who broke a house window to steal some katana from a window ledge... yup! They've been telling this story for a few years now, and it turns out, it was our house! We do remember that, and now they know who it was! They're pleased to know that we no longer display the swords on the window sill!

It's a hidden gem that we stumbled across by accident, and it's within a working police station, so you do need to book an appointment first, but it's absolutely worth a visit, and we'll definitely be going back!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015


Yes, it's that time of year again... it's almost November, so it's time for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, which I usually shorten to NaNo).

Still not sure? Ok, NaNo is an attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in the thirty days (and nights) in November. It's a target of 1,667 words per day, and it's achievable.


Catch Up: Weeks 42 & 43 -

Between Parent's Evening (went well), and Girl Child's birthday and associated party (both of which also went well), we've been rather busy, hence this post being monumentally late! However, to compensate, I have a few new zoo pics.





The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that this post is being uploaded on a Wednesday morning... fear not, this week (week 44), we've taken a few days of for half term - but more on that next time.







Monday, 12 October 2015

Week 41: The Wirral Way and Norton Priory

If you've had a nosey at the blogs I follow (if you're on a laptop/pc, they're listed somewhere on the right, but they don't show on the mobile browser version) then you may already have found my friend Linda's blog, Somewhere Slowly... One of her hobbies is walking. Not to the shops, but long distances.


One of her favourite places to walk is along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Literally The Way to Santiago, this is a traditional pilgrimage to the town of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, which I first heard of when reading Sharpe's Rifles, by Bernard Cornwell. In the novel, Lieutenant Richard Sharpe and a small detatchment of Riflemen have been cut off from the rest of the British army and they find themselves joining forces with a Spanish cavalry major.

The major has a desperate plan to unfurl the gonfalon (penant) of Santiago (St James) over the holy (and occupied) city of Santiago de Compostela... I'll let you read the novel yourself to find out how they get on, but I've wanted to visit Santiago since I first read this book, and as you can no doubt tell by the slightly worn look of my copy, it's been many years since I first read this book.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Pasta Sauce, Book Club and the Wrexham Writing Workshop

Firstly, I have decided to revert to weekly blog posts. The monthly thing lasted six months, but it hasn't quite been as I had anticipated. So I'm changing it back.

Secondly, this post contains a recipe, a book review, and a bit about a writers workshop that I attended recently.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Bag Making Bonus Blog Post

As promised, I am posting again before next month's post... it's slightly later than I would have liked, mainly due to my having been poorly.

I won't cover all the usual things, I'll save those for the next post (around a week away), this is going to be a how-to about making a reusable shopping bag.
 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

August

Soooo, I'm around 21 days late with this post. I had started writing it, and saved a draft, but to be honest, work got a bit manic and I worked late, a lot, leaving me very little time for anything to blog about, much less time to finish writing the blog!

So, I shall combine my 5th August and 5th September posts, write and post it a little early (and probably a little long), and then add a bonus mid-month blog in September. Deal? Marvellous! 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Summer storms and an Alice in Wonderland reference...

To quote the white rabbit in Alice's Adventures in wonderland, "I'm late, I'm late...", sorry about that. I wanted to make sure I could talk about book-club;

Book-Club:

Last month's group read was The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Where I Live - Post 2 - The Bridgewater Canal

If you remember back in September 2014, I posted the first of my "Where I Live" blog posts, while we were living, all be it temporarily, in Frodsham. 

The Runcorn one, I am, rather surprisingly, having a little trouble with. Although probably not the kind of trouble you would expect. I am struggling to edit it down to be a realistic length for a single blog post... so, I decided to split it down into sections!


Sunday, 7 June 2015

First Monthly Post - May 2015; Eurovision and other parties

Apart from the General Election at the start of the month, and which I have already discussed, May had quite a bit going on!

WALKING:
Firstly, was my mini-adventure with Linda to Llangollen. We camped overnight in the shadow of Dinas Bran and Offa's Dyke, and walked along the canal, stopping frequently at eateries and wine selling establishments.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Election Special...

I can't wait for the end of the month. I was going to include a write up about the election in the first of my monthly posts, but it got a bit lengthy and it's too far away in time! So here's my write up of the election, as it happened. I did try to keep any political bias out of my write up, so apologies if I haven't managed it.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Last Weekly Post...

Rather than continuing with my weekly blog, which tends to be rambling and varies greatly from week-to-week, I would like to try blogging monthly from now on. My first monthly post will be at the end of May/start of June and I hope that it will include regular topics, such as;

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Week 16

On Monday, in the interests of science (and speed after working late), I attempted a microwave dinner (Beloved and Itsy were out for tea, so I was on my own), including a microwavable cake recipe which I have seen posted online a few times.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Back to work

So, post holiday back to work. A week which included a dental appointment (all clear, see you in six months) was never going to have much to commend it.

The weekend, although busy, has been fun though.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Catch Up

So, I missed a week... I had intended to write one and schedule it to be posted while I was on holiday, but I forgot. (Sorry.)

So, we went to Mallorca. We had a week at an all inclusive resort in Cala d'or (which translates into Cove of Gold), and we did as little as possible. It was lovely. Bit chilly in the evenings, and during the day when the wind picked up, but it was mostly warm, it was sunny enough to achieve minor sunburn through factor 50 (reapplied regularly throughout the day), and it was pretty.

I got a few photos from the plane and lots of the beach - so I've added a few at the end of this post.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Monday, 23 March 2015

Week 11, Lent 5

Friday saw a total eclipse of the Sun. Sadly, the best place to see the total eclipse was the Faeroe Isles, which is somewhat further North than we are, so we only got a partial eclipse, but it was very close. There was an event at Wigg Island, and I was able to take some photographs. This is my favourite of those that I took.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Week 10, Lent 4

All else this week has been eclipsed by the loss of the awesome Terry Pratchett.

Even in death, he is more eloquent than I could ever hope to be, so, in memory of him, go, read one of his books. Read all of them. Revel in his genius, and if you are feeling generous, perhaps donate to an Alzheimer's research charity.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Week 9, Lent 3 and Neil Gaiman

NEIL GAIMAN. Yes, the Neil Gaiman, came to the University of Liverpool to open the new Centre for International Writing. And he was fantastic.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Week 8 and Lent 2

Back to work this week. I have made an effort to get out and about at lunchtimes though. I have walked between 1.2 - 1.5 miles most days. I didn't manage on Wednesday, when I took a late lunch to attend a special assembly at school, but I did manage to attend the Friday Nordic Walking Class at lunchtime.


Tuesday's lunchtime walk along the canal.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Week 7 & Lent 1

This week had a lot to recommend it. Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday! In case you don't know, pancake day is one of my favourite days of the year. We had normal pancakes (more like crepes than the fat little ones some people have) with a selection of toppings from the classic lemon and sugar, to sliced bananas and butterscotch syrup and strawberries and nutella. We also got adventurous and made lemon and poppy seed pancakes. I have to be honest, the recipe was for the little fat pancakes and if I'm honest, I suspect it may have worked better as fat pancakes, the flavour and crunch of poppy seed was a little lost on our crepes, but they were still nice!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Week Six

This is the first week I have struggled to blog about. 

The furthest I walked was just over a mile from our house to my parents home, following daughter as she rode her bike. She was staying overnight and cycled all the way there (with no stabilisers). The only photo I really took was of the water tower, because I was too busy trying to keep up with her as she freewheeled down hills and I was terrified she'd fall off and I woudn't be able to catch her!
 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

My fiftieth blog post!

Monday started the week on a high note, when the washing machine engineer came out, and fixed our washing machine! I cannot tell you how pleased this made me! We have since managed to get the wash basket almost empty.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Week 4

I was so good, and started the week so well, with a salad for my lunch... and then, after my colleagues had eaten their equally healthy lunches, someone mentioned chippy teas. Now, for those of you who don't live in the North West of England (other places may do this, but it doesn't seem to be universal as it is here), Friday night is traditionally chippy tea night. It's believed to stem from the Catholic tradition of not eating meat on a Friday, and so a nice cheap source of fish for tea, is the local fish & chip shop. Now, other places (I know from experience) do things differently, but in the NW a 'proper' chippy, will also have a menu of (usually) Chinese food, which it was agreed, we would all peruse, safe in the knowledge that regardless of how fabulous the egg foo young sounds, we're there for fish and chips, and a fish supper is therefore what we will purchase.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Week 3

This week ended with Burns Night on Sunday. I'd love to tell you that I made my haggis from scratch, (love may be pushing it, but heigh ho), that I piped the pudding in and then recited (from memory) the Ode...

We did at least have haggis for supper (nae neeps though... never liked the indestructible stuff), though we did have tatties (of the baked variety), and we also had cranachan, because let's be honest here, we all know that's the best bit!!

Once, many years ago, I served cranachan for afters at a dinner party for some friends. I'd made it plenty of times before, but I was nervous and wanted it to be absolutely spot on, so I'd read the recipe from a book, and measured everything out precisely. Never, ever, again. The recommended amount of whisky nearly knocked us all out for starters, and I think the cream is better for adding vanilla paste. But that's just me. Add to taste!

Ingredients:

  • Pinhead oatmeal
  • double cream (500ml)
  • Clear/runny honey (Scottish Heather Honey for preference)
  • Vanilla paste (if you've a vanilla pod in, scrape the seeds in instead, but the paste is cheaper)
  • Whisky (don't use a cheap blend, be sparing, but use a good one)
  • raspberries or blackberries (aka brambles)
  • Icing sugar (optional)
  • chocolate (optional)
  • mint leaf (optional)
  • shortbread (optional)
  1. Toast the oatmeal in a dry frying pan
  2. While the the oatmeal cools, add the honey, vanilla paste and whisky (to taste) to the cream and whisk until it forms stiff peaks.
  3. Fold the oatmeal into the cream. If you like it very creamy, don't add loads of oatmeal, but I prefer mine to be almost at saturation point and bursting with oatmeal - it's personal choice. [If the oatmeal is too warm, it will melt the cream, so make sure it's sufficiently cooled)
  4. fold most of the raspberries into the mix. It's quite common to use brambles (blackberries) instead, and it is nice. I once ate a cranachan with no fruit in, which needs to go by another name, because it's not right (in my opinion).
  5. I often blitz a few raspberries with a little icing sugar to make a coulis to decorate the cranachan, and then sprinkle some grated chocolate over (I'll be honest, I hate washing the grater after use, so I tend to crumble a flake over it out of lazyness, but it seems to work ok) then add an ornamental whole raspberry and (if you are feeling very fancy) a mint leaf or piece of shortbread to decorate. (if using shortbread, don't add it until you are serving the cranachan or the shortbread goes soggy - learn from my experience).
  6. Leave the cranachan to chill for up to 2 hours & enjoy!
We also had a book club meeting, where we decided that our next book should be Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.

Other than that, I decided to try and knit an ear-warmer for walking class. My knitting skills have deteriorated with lack of use, so after three failed attempts, I bought one. Sadly, the only ear-warmers the shop had, were embellished with tacky giant fake gemstones which are (sadly) rather securely attached. This must be punishment for not being competent enough to knit my own. I shall suffer wearing the tasteless tacky bling thing, until such time as I can knit myself a replacement.
The forest was it's usual, glorious self (with obligatory photo-stop at the Black Lake), and the tacky ear-warmer succeeded in keeping my ears warm, and ear-ache free, so regardless of it's lack of elegance, it serves it's purpose admirably, although it catches on my 'everyday' ear-rings, so I have to take them off for walking now. Never mind!

I did finish A Needle in the Right Hand of God, by R Howard Bloch... a book about the Bayeux Tapestry, which goes off on rather a lot of tangents (Robin Hood, anyone? took me two goes to realise how we'd got to Robin Hood). In fairness, the tangents themselves were interesting, alas, it was not, in my opinion, the most engaging read.

Until next week... a sneak preview of which includes a comprehensive discussion about the tradition of chippy teas, a trip to the cinema, a book review, eating out and girl child's first overnight school trip... I bet you can hardly wait!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Week 2

I knew I wasn't going to be able to make my Nordic Walking class this weekend (I had scheduled my hangover in), so I made a mammoth effort to go for an hour long walk one lunch time. And I did it.

On Thursday I took a slightly longer lunch break (I made the time up) and drove to Moore Nature Reserve where I Nordic Pole Walked just over 3 miles (3.2) all by myself in the howling wind!
My phone took this. Isn't it beautiful? Pity it was so cold.
I think I could get my time down below 45 minutes if I stopped stopping to take pictures though! I will come back with my camera at some point, walk a bit more slowly and try and shoot (with a camera) some of the wildlife. I think they were sent running by the noise of my poles, and I had my headphones in (I spent the first half hour listening to my teach yourself Norwegian audio-book, and the second half listening to "A Needle in the Right Hand of God", which is about the Bayeaux Tapestry.

Earlier in the week I finished reading my book for the Review Group (not allowed to post a review here, will link to it when it's up on the review group site though), and then I read the first of this year's World Book Night choices, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death.

I've quite fancied reading MC Beaton's Agatha Raisin books for a while, I've heard good things, but I've always had something else to read, but when I spotted it on the WBN list, I decided the time was right, and I am very glad that I did. It's incredibly easy to read. The writing and the plot just drag you along. It's well paced, and although I read it quite quickly, it never felt rushed, and she portrays the idea of a sleepy Cotswolds village well. I especially loved the references to other detective fiction, especially Agatha Christie books, nice touch. yes, I know it was on television over Christmas, but it's never the same, is it? Anyway, if you haven't read them, and you like genteel detective fiction, give it a go.

I also finally got round to finishing A Christmas Carol. Yay! A review? Really? You know the story, I know the story... if you haven't read it, you should.

I have also been to the cinema again. We managed to see The Imitation Game on Wednesday. It finished at our local cinema a while back, but a few towns over, in St Helens, they have a cinema (and an oriental buffet restaurant) and the cinema there sometimes shows films at slightly different and also their take 2s are different from ours (and also not on a Thursday at 4pm... just sayin'). I'm really glad that we did get to see it. It wasn't at all as I expected, but it was good!

We have also, this year, seen The Theory of Everything (which is also very good) and Taken 3 (have you seen the first two? So you know what to expect, right? Also, Hollywood... so we know who the bad guy is from the title credits, don't we fellow Brits?), We've also (by we this time daughter and I rather than husband) been to see Into the Woods, which other people have raved over, I thought was a bit meh, and daughter actively disliked it. But hey, we're getting the most of our pay monthly cards here! And all three of us went to see Big Hero Six, which is not just good it is Awesome! I know that it's animated, but that just means that the actors can have bad hair days and the animators have to work overtime! Also, if you get to see it, wait for the credits, there's a section called "Production babies" which lists the name of every baby born to someone who worked on the film during it's production - there's a lot, but we loved that they did that and just sat and "ahh"-ed at it. Other than those we're just basically waiting for the Minions Movie, although we'll go and see anything else that takes our fancy when babysitting (or film certificates) allow!

We did manage to organise a Murder Mystery Dinner Party. It went quite well (everyone made an effort to get dressed up, and seemed to have a good time) and I was rather proud of my efforts with the food. 

For Starter we had a Smoked Salmon Souffle, served with a rocket and pomegranate salad and balsamic glaze.

Main course was roasted Partridge, with gratin dauphinoise, steamed veg and a shallot and red wine sauce (recipe from Good Food who attributed it to Gordon Ramsey). I'll be honest, it wasn't the best red wine sauce I've made, I don't think that I reduced it enough.

I couldn't decide what to do for pudding, so I did a selection platter of four mini-puds. There were a lighter mini chocolate tartlet, two chocolate profiteroles, a mini strawberry and champagne jelly and a mini cranachan.

It seemed to all go down well with my guests, I didn't do it (nor did I guess who did though), and I am looking forward to doing another one, but later in the year!

On Sunday, my hangover wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated, but it was nice to have a lie in. Beloved made lunch and then I went to my writing group, where I wrote very little, but we did have a nice catch up after the festive season.



Friday, 16 January 2015

Week 1

It's currently the end of week two, and I have put off this blog post long enough already.

Firstly, I already told you about the secret wedding, and the rest of week one passed in a blur of work, and very little else until Wednesday, when world events became the focus of all western media.

I don't want to be controversial or start jumping all over band wagons, but I am aware of what happened.

Even the weekend was pretty quiet. I barely read, I barely stitched, I did go to the cinema (a lot) and also did some housework (not too much, didn't want to go all overboard, but some).

This week's been a bit better, but I shall save that for the next post.

I did manage to stick to some (if not all) of my new years resolutions. They're not the sort of thing I'm just going to shrug and say "well, didn't manage today, might as well give up", there the sort where, I didn't manage today, tomorrow I'll do better. And I have been doing.

I made it to my Nordic Walking class again, it was slightly warmer (which means also slightly muddier) this week, but at least I'd remembered my emergency shoes for driving home in!
Excuse the glare, I was trying to capture the sparkle of the tree
We don't think this is a mere in Summer, just an iced over flooded area
I did manage to finish one short story, I've included it on my list of 52 (I bought it, I read it, it's a published book, just a short one) and then went back to my book for the review group I'm in (I had every intention of finishing it in Week 1, truly, but it took me until Monday, which made it week 2). 

I set another resolution too. I shall walk (for leisure purposes - and it includes jogging/running... don't laugh. It might happen) 300 miles in 2015. That's 6 miles per week with 2 weeks off, and I usually do around 3 miles in a Nordic Walking class (it's a leisure activity, it counts), and that's around an hour long (including stops for stretches) so I only need to do about another hour a week of walking, at a moderate pace, not even all at the same time. I made a good start by walking into the village at lunchtime one day from the office instead of driving to the post office, that was 1.6 miles... and sadly the only other walking I did apart from the Nordic Walking class, but, I can make that up with a good long walk round the zoo one weekend!

Anyway. New blog post will probably be up much earlier next week, and I'm going to try to post by Thursdays in future...

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2015 - Week 0

The first few days of 2015 were, according to my old diary, the last few days of week 52 of 2014, and therefore not yet week 1!

Week one eventually started with a secret wedding! I know! The service (at St George's Hall no less) was at 10am, followed by photographs (and champagne) and then the pub!

The rest of the day followed a similar vein, lunch, pub, another pub, evening meal, another pub before catching the train home again!

I had borrowed some filters from my Dad for the purpose... including a sepia toned filter and a keyhole filter...

I rather like the effect anyway! There was this fabulous shot of the signing of the register too... 

One of the photographs which looks slightly less weddingy than the others, is of a statue in the gardens behind St George's Hall which had been yarn bombed (there is a scarf on there to keep him cosy) and had a seagull on his head...

I did discover, during the day, that not everyone knows about the Runcorn Super Lamb Bananas... so I photographed them again on the way home too:
Super Lamb Banana Bridge
Super Smiley Lamb Banana
Anyway - back to work for the rest of the week. But it was a really lovely way to start the new year.