Saturday, 29 August 2009

Birthday Boy

It was Ds birthday on the 26th but we have managed to make it last until the weekend.

On Wednesday, the day itself, I gave Douglas a bottle of the best whisky in the world.. its from Edradour, the smallest legal distillery in Scotland. We went there whilst in the area for his 40th Birthday. I got him some un-chill filtered whisky, which I like too! It will probably last him about 6 months.

On Thursday, D went to see my parents, who gave him a very funny card, a cuppa tea and some biscuits, some lovely home grown tomatoes and some home (or neighbour grown) plums - seen here in his hat.

Also on Thursday, he received a special delivery parcel from Sandy, his step mum. Ages ago, when we went up to Scotland for Ds mums funeral, we saw Sandy knitting some socks and she very kindly offered to make a pair for Douglas.

About a month ago, we carefully measured Ds feet and calves, and passed on the measurements, so in the special parcel was the first sock of the pair! The wool Sandy is using is very thin and as you see brightly coloured... she has made one, the other is still in production! (they are taking her longer that she thought.. but its worth the wait!)

Douglas was delighted to get the first of his socks.. and said it fitted like a glove (or should that be a sock?)

Last night, Friday, Douglas and I went out for a meal to celebrate his birthday. We went to a Tapas Bar in town and had a really wonderful meal.

Douglas said he would give it 4/5, the point being lost for not having crispy Patatas Bravas but they were one of my dishes anyway, so I have revised his score upwards to 5/5 lol.

The menu was diverse enough to give me (the fussy veggie) plenty to choose from, and D on his renal failure/diabetic diet plenty to eat as well. Suiting both of us down to the ground is no mean feat!! The waitress was very pleasant (and pretty) and the food came quickly. The cocktails were beautiful.. I had a Mojhito and D had two!

After a really nice evening out, we wobbled our way home on the tram, watched some good stuff on TV, then, realising it was midnight, took ourselves to bed and slept like two logs :-)

Photos of D in his lovely kilt and lovely Sponge Bob Square Pants T-shirt will follow soon.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Guess who came back??

You got it.. Crunchos has this morning popped round to have a cup of tea and a natter with my Mum (Dads out).

After the chat, she (the cat, not my Mother) found a nice cushion and decided to make sure it would make a good place for 40 winks.. I think the cushion passed the test!

When I phoned my mum, Crunchos had her ears perked up.. I think she knows that she is being a bit of a naughty puss, and should be testing cushions in her own home, and not that of my Parents :-) Being a cat though, I doubt she cares for rules...

Crunchos will be escorted back to her real home again in due course. I have the feeling that this is not the last my parents will see of her :-)

(Anna walks away singing.. And the cat came back.. and wouldnt stay awayyyyyyyyyy....)

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Cat update

Crunchies humans have been found!!!!!!

Before we start... Crunchy is really called Binos (dunno why)

I think her name should be Crunchos to represent her traumatic week and re-naming! Anyway.. here is the story.

Crunchies humans have 2 dogs and 2 black and white cats, which they take to Ireland with them when they go- and then 2 torties called Cola and Binos who stay here and a friend comes to feed them.

There is an Alien Cat who lives fairly close by called Cato (with this link, look at the film called A shot in the dark). Cato obviously knows when this family go away, and he goes through their catflap, burglarises the food, and sprays, which terrifies the 2 torties. (ahhhh) So that is why Crunchie Binos (aka Crunchos) ran away.

When the cat feeder person found that Binos was missing he was very worried, but he didn't tell the owners until Thursday. They were so upset that they came home from their holiday early, to try and find her! No sign of her, but on popping into Tescos they saw my poster and rang my answerphone.

Binos then turned up briefly on Sunday morning at her real home, but was very stand-offish and hissed and spat at her owners!!

It's a great relief that she has owners who value her. Apparently she doesn't usually leave the house except to dig holes, which is why she has not been seen by my parents before.

My mum told me that next time Crunchos teleports into their house (or comes to visit) the darling little moggie (who is 13!!!!!!!!!!!) will be wrapped up in a towel, and gently marched back to her real home a few doors away lol.

How lovely there has been a happy ending.. and that Binos/Crunchie/Crunchos has already got a loving home.

Next time the family go away.. guess who has offered to cat sit??

Thats right...... my mum and dad :-)

Monday, 24 August 2009

Recipe post!

On Sunday, Douglas and I decided to make use of my new veggie recipe book I had acquired via a recommendation from a colleague at work.

We made sweet corn & Kaffir Lime leaf fritters and a tomato/chilli jam to have with them, and they were GORGEOUS!!

Next time, however we will make them slightly differently, so I thought I would write out the recipe with our amendments in. The recipe says serves 4, but as I had these as a major part of my meal had about half of them.

The flavour of the Lime leaves is not very distinct, so I don’t think I would put them in next time – as I’ve put in the recipe, Id use chives instead.

Chilli Jam

This takes about 45 mins to cook, so make it first.

I have halved the ingredients that the book gives, because you really don’t need much with the fritters. I used just a few teaspoons and have a whole jam jar of left over relish! Its really nice, and will keep, so I wont be wasted.

250g (1/2 lb) Fresh tomatoes
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 chillies (birdseye)
1 clove of garlic (more if you are a garlic lover)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
100g (3.5 oz brown sugar)
40 ml (3.5 fl oz) white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon of salt

A Photo from the net. Mine looked MUCH nicer than this, and my chilli jam was darker and more spicy!

Chop the tomatoes up roughly, take out the pithy stalk bit. Put in a food processor or liquidiser with the garlic and whiz it until its fairly smooth.

Put the tomato mix and everything else into a saucepan, and gently bring it up the boil, taking care to stir the sugar in to dissolve it.

Boil it on a gentle heat for about 45 mins, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. When its reduced and gone all sticky (bit like the consistency of a shop bought relish) take it off the heat and let it cool down.

Sweetcorn Fritters

275g 9oz sweetcorn (canned or frozen is fine)
65g 2.5 oz plan flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (if making this in advance, leave this until you are ready to make the fritters. Stir it in at the last minute)
1 egg (lightly beaten)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons lime juice
4 Kaffir Lime leaves (very finely chopped) I put mine into a small pot, and attacked them with the scissors for a while whilst watching TV.
If you don’t have these leaves, get a small bunch of chives or a couple of spring onions, cut them very finely and put them in instead.


Mix everything together (oh, not the flour or baking powder yet), then put about half the mix into a blender/food processor and whiz it up till its smoothish. Mix this mixture up with the rest of the sweetcorn, sift in the flour, and just before you are ready to cook, stir in the baking powder.

Fry them in a frying pan with a little oil until they are golden brown on both sides. You could make them in batches, and store the rest in a hot oven until you have cooked the lot.

Serve with the chilli jam and some nice crisp lettuce.


I think about my DDDMILs love of food, and her recipe blog. I think she might have liked this one...

( DDDMIL is Dear Departed Dreaded Mother in Law) I think she would have liked that too! lol

Sunday, 23 August 2009

In reply to Crunchy Comments

TDAIL.. I also have bets on Crunchy staying with my parents lol. Its obvious that they have fallen in love with her, and over the weekend, when they asked me to get some cat biscuits for her, Douglas and I chose a MASSIVE bag of them rather than a skinny little box full. (sneaky laugh lol)

John.. The reason that they don't want a cat is that they want to have some more long holidays like their trip to NZ which was for six weeks. Its would be very hard on the cat, and hard on them leaving it for so long.

Having got two cats myself, I know that its not just the practical side of things, but its the emotional tug of heart strings that makes you have much shorter holidays, and worry about them whilst you are gone.

I know that TDAIL (The Dreaded (actually much loved) Aunt in law knows all about the problems of having pets as she has dogs. Dogs at least you can take with you on some trips - cats although smaller are less portable!! lol

Douglas and I visited parents and Crunchy at lunch time Saturday. Shes very happy, wandering in and out of their house as if its hers.. given the chance, she sneaks up to their bedroom, curls up and goes to sleep on their bed :-)

She adored her biscuits and now turns her nose up at the wet food lol. I know that when/if she is put up for re-homing she will make someone a lovely companion.

Now getting ready for a BBQ this evening.. I'm having sweetcorn fritters and tomato chilli jam and some veggie sausages! Yum!! D having some kind of marinated lump of meat (not so yum in my opinion) Im sure he will enjoy it.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The cat came back and wouldnt stay awayyyyyy..

Old Mister Johnson had troubles of his own
He had a yellow cat which wouldn't leave its home;
He tried and he tried to give the cat away,
He gave it to a man goin' far, far away.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

The man around the corner swore he'd kill the cat on sight,
He loaded up his shotgun with nails and dynamite;
He waited and he waited for the cat to come around,
Ninety seven pieces of the man is all they found.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

Ok.. enough of that.. you can read the rest of it online if you wish! The song was written and is sung by lovely Rolf Harris and all will become clear as you read on.


On Sunday my parents found a cat outside their home. She looked very miserable and yowled a lot at them, and of course they stroked it made a bit of a fuss of it, and fed it (as any cat lover would do when looked at with those lovely eyes!)

Of course, Moggie knew she was onto a good thing. She had found some humans to be nice to her, and feed her, so she hung around. About 2.30 on Monday morning, my mum woke up hearing some very strange noises. It took her a while to work out that it wasn't my dad snoring.. it was the cat!!! Somehow it had teleported itself into their house through the locked cat flap and was demanding all the normal catty things ( love me! feed me! give me a nice cushion!)

My parents have a cat flap as for many years they had a beautiful ginger puss called Olly who is now in the Elysian Mouse Hunting Fields of Heaven. RIP dear Olly!

Monday morning

Moggie got taken to the local vets, who looked her over, scanned her looking for a microchip that might identify who her humans are. Sadly she is not chipped so no joy there. The vet said its best not to feed her, and she will get fed up and go home. My parents put the cat out at the end of their lane (its a very quiet road) and it toddled off..

Monday afternoon

Guess what? The cat came back. More yowls and unhappy cat noises were heard, and in the end Moggie got what she wanted (as before.. feed me love me, feed me some more and then leave me alone to let me sleep)
Moggie also got to spend some quality time snozzing on my parents sofa, and generally being happy. By now, my mum had started to ask around at the local cat shelter, and putting a thread on the local forum with a photo.


The local forum came up with a possible lead for us.. at a fairly nearby Sainsburys, someone had posted pictures of a dark tortie cat that was missing. I called the Sainsburys branch (three cheers for the Internet for the phone number!) got the telephone number off the poster about the lost mog, and called the owner, who with high hopes, gave me her email address so i could send the photo over to her.

Sadly, a few moments later, the owner of missing cat Fudge emailed me back to say Moggie wasn't hers.. so the search goes on.

Tuesday night

Moggie again teleported into my parents house through the closed cat flap. They don't know how she does it.. its either magic or brute force of pushing the cat flap open. Frankly, I prefer the former :-) because cats are Magic!!


With her wonderful computer skills, my mum designed and printed out various sizes of a "Found" poster with a picture of Moggie and their phone number on it.

Moggie is on a waiting list for a place for the local cats shelter, where Billy and Lilly came from.. my mum emailed the boss of the shelter, mentioning our two cats in her message. Amazingly, a year and a half after we got them, this lady remembered us, and remembered Billy and Lilly too!

I know that Moggie will find a good home, if not her original one, eventually.. I will keep you updated as the saga of the Cat who wouldn't stay away continues.

*Thursday Morning update*

The cat formerly known on my blog as Moggie will hereby now be called "Crunchy" after the credit crunch! (No, it will Not be known as the Cat formerly known as Moggie! lol)

Monday, 17 August 2009

60th Birthday Party

On Saturday, Douglas and I went to Lichfield to our friend Pete and Lins.

Pete had his 60th birthday whilst on holiday, so he had a birthday party on Saturday.

I woke early, did some shopping, a bit of house tidying (it has to happen now and then) had a bit more sleep, then we set off, via a rather nice garden centre to get a couple of plants as gifts.

We got to our friends at about 2.30, and had a really good time. I spent quite a while assembling the banoffee pies as my contribution to the feast, then kept an eye on some sausage rolls whilst they cooked. Lin was rushing around like a mad thing trying to be sociable and get everything sorted, so I was only too happy to help out.

I thought you might like the recipe for Banoffee Pie

Its incredibly simple.. the only technique you need to know is how to whip cream.


Pastry case base (either make, or buy it in)

1 can of Campbells sweetened condensed milk (or, even faster.. their caramel, which is in the same place in the supermarket)

1 small pot of double or whipping cream

A small amount of chocolate to grate over the top once its all done.


If you have managed to find caramel, open the tins.. if you have only found the sweetened condensed milk.. DO NOT OPEN THE TINS!!

To make the condensed milk into caramel takes two hours. Put the tins in a saucepan and cover them with water. You need to boil the UNOPENED tins for two hours, making sure that they dont boil dry. If they did boil dry you would have a very dangerous and nasty explosion in your kitchen!!

When your tins have cooled down, open them, and you will find the contents have turned into caramel!


Either make or unwrap your pastry case. If you make it, bake it blind and let it cool down.

Cut up your bananas into discs and fill the case with them.

Open your tin/s and spoon out small spoons of caramel in blobs over the bananas - it will slowly sink through and spread over the bananas.

When you have used up all the lovely gooey caramel, its time to whip your cream into stiff peaks, and spread that all over.

If you wish, you can add a tiny bit of instant coffee to the cream, or a bit of TiaMaria.

Leave in the fridge for an hour or so before you serve it.. its nicer cold.

Grate some chocolate over the cream just before you serve it, and prepare for a very rich, gooey and delicious desert that is incredibly easy to make!!


We stayed overnight, had breakfast with the other guests sitting in their lovely garden, and went home soon afterwards.

What a lovely weeekend!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Saturday n Sunday

The weather was lovely over the weekend, so at last we were able to attack our lawn with the mower. It was very hard work as it has been a few weeks since we have had a dry enough spell to cut it. Poor lawn looks hacked rather than mowed now, but I will go over it again soon, to tidy it up.

We also managed to do some weeding, but they grow so quickly its hard to keep up with them! I think this Autumn I will get some weed free membrane for the veg patch, and hope that the convolvulous etc does not poke its way up through it!!

Saturday evening we had invited our friend Dangerous Dave to come have a BBQ with us. He arrived at about 7, and we had a very pleasant evening. We have decided that he and Douglas must be twins (or at least brothers) as they have so much in common! Examples. of this.. . they are both food snobs and adore cooking with top quality ingredients, both self confessed Grumpy Old men who enjoy shouting at the TV, both say "Yes Dear" to their partners.. common taste in music.. and the list goes on!!

On Sunday we went to John Lewis in town in search of a new washing machine, as ours, after ten years hard labour, has very nearly given up the ghost and refuses to do a wash without the door being pressed, and the cycle nudged on at increasingly frequent intervals.

We found a perfectly good one in the Clearance section. There is nothing wrong with it.. it was a cancelled order, so that arrives on Wednesday, when the old one will become Weee and will be taken away! Hmm lets hope they have a Waste Carrier Licence I will phone John Lewis later this morning and find out!

A long weekend.. with busy bits! (this is Fridays bit)

On Thursday evening I got a call from my little brother whose babysitter had let him down, and could I please please sit on the kids for the evening? To ensure that Thos and Kt had a good night out, and didnt worry about getting home quickly, I offered to have all three little monsters here for the night :-)

Half an hour later, Thos and Kt arrived with all three kids in their PJs, ready for bed! They were very excited, and I was delighted to have them - after all, they are the major reason we moved here from Bristol in the first place! It was also lovely to have company, since poor old Douglas had been "captured" by the hospital again on Wednesday due to reoccurring infections.

I took this, and sent it to Douglas, to cheer him up a bit!

If you click this and make it bigger, you can see Leos normal crazy grin that he puts on for photos :-) It runs in the family!

On Friday morning I fed all three kids, then rang KT, and arranged to take them all into town and meet up with her, as Martha was due some treatment for her poorly leg at the Childrens Hospital (she has a special infusion of Skele-grow) As with the other hospital, everything takes hours longer than you want it to, so I left Martha with her mum, and took the other two (Leo and Carlo) on into town to keep them occupied for a bit.

In the centre of town, there is a smaller version of the London Eye set up. Leo and I were keen to go on it, but Carlo being a stubborn 5 year old, wouldnt. A little later, we saw some bungee trampolining, and both kids were very enthusastic about that, so I let them have a go. Taking photos of two bouncing kids with a mobile phone camera was challenging.. but here is what I manged!

The wheel.. and top right, part of a nephew!

Leo bouncing with the wheel in the background

Happy Carlo

After the bouncing, and a quick shop, the boys and I went back up to the hospital and through the maze of corridoors to find KT and Martha.

All this time, I had been keeping a careful eye on my mobile, as the Drs had promised that they would let Douglas escape Friday morning, so I was waiting for the good news that his release papers had been signed!

Sadly, with all hospitals, things never seem to happen quickly. When the boys and I eventually got to the right bit of the hospital, Martha was still waiting for treatment to begin. the boys and I sat in what looked like a waiting room, wating for KT to come out so I could hand them over, go home and wait for Douglas to be ready.

As we waited, the Sister of the ward told me that no, it wasnt a waiting room, and that I and the boys couldnt stay there, and the boys could not spend the day in the room with Martha as there wasnt enough space, and having a lot of visitors meant more risk of infection. As we were gently escorted into the most dreary, depressing and bare of waiting rooms (no books, no magazines, nothing to occupy kids or adults there at all) I realised that these rules put KT into a very difficult situation. How could she split herself up into two places.. one to look after Martha and make sure she was ok, and the other two look after Leo and Carlo.

Aunty Anna stepped in to save the day.. I took the boys away with me, and organised to meet up with Kt and Martha at about 5pm when they had finished.

By then it was about midday, and Douglas had phoned to say he had escpaed, so I trammed back to the car with the boys, drove straight up to the hospital, picked up a very happy bouncing Douglas and we all went home for lunch.

The whole family were re-united at about 6.30pm, by which time Douglas had been out shopping, and come back with pizza, so we were able to feed all three kids before dear Douglas drove them all home!

As you can imagine, Douglas and I had a lovely peaceful evening, snuggled up on the sofa happy for him to be home, and us to be together again. Zzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Oakleaf Circle Camp (part 2)

Amongst many friends that we look forward to seeing on camp each year are two of the Dagda.

Firstly, Aussie - who is head Dagda. When I first met him many years ago at my very first ever Pagan camp, I was terrified of him. Apart from Douglas, I had never knowingly met any Pagans, so seeing a tall bloke in a leather waistcoat and huge Mohican hair style was alarming. This view of him was squashed almost immediately, because after he had finished giving Douglas a huge hug, he gave me one too, and when he smiled, his face lit up, and I saw a really lovely person with an odd hair do, rather than some scary rocker/punk guy who would eat me for dinner!

Aussie. Here he is, having been up all night on duty, having 40 winks. If you look carefully, you will see Bernies "Shiny" hung up between two candle lamps, with a lovely cloth behind. What a lovely way to honour a departed Dagda.

This is Dangerous Dave – Douglas and I see him a fair bit as he lives about half an hour away from us. Here he is, in Fort Dagda with his son, Baby Dagda.

Both father and son are proudly wearing their shinies! Some members of Oakleaf Circle made the baby shiny when they found out that Liz (Daves partner) was expecting. How sweet!!

Oakleaf Circle are hoping to raise £100k to buy some land that we can use and camp on whenever we like. A Trust fund called CAWL (Countryside and Ancient Ways Legacy) has been set up for this purpose.

Aussie is a talented welder, so he made two barbeques (at camping chair height) to sell for this fund. Douglas and I decided to buy one as his birthday present! It has a frying pan plate on one side, that can swing out away from the hot coals, so temperature can be regulated.

Eggy Bread cooking on Barbie! Yum Yum Yum :-)

Oakleaf Circle Camp last weekend (part one)

Every year towards the end of July, Douglas and I spend a weekend with friends at a Pagan camp in North Yorkshire near Ripon.

In previous years, we have set up a tent along with everyone else, but D really isn’t well enough to camp due to his various health problems, so we found a nice B&B somewhere called Bewerley Hall Farm.

I packed the car when I got back from work on Friday, collected Douglas from work at 7pm, and after a quick stop back at home, we were on our way. We arrived, pretty tired, at our B&B at about 9pm. Douglas would have loved to drive over to Camp, but the call of our bed was louder!

After a good breakfast (Douglas had more or less full cooked, I had some grilled tomatoes and lots of toast, as I don’t like the other bits) we set off to camp, and arrived at about 9am. It was lovely to see lots of familiar faces again, and we soon settled into our camping chairs under the gazebo known as “Fort Dagda

Oakleaf camp benefits from the protection of the Pagan security group known as The Dagda. Douglas and I are good friends with many of this group – and I know that if Douglas was in better health, he would become a working member of the group, going round many Pagan festivals, helping to check tickets, do lost property and generally keep order in a friendly but firm manner. As things stand, I think we happily count ourselves as “friends of Dagda” as we are accepted into their group (the Gazebo known as Fort Dagda) and generally “hang out” with them.

At midday on Saturday, the Dagda, and members of Oakleaf circle held a ceremony – a Stilling - to mark the passing of one of their dear friends, a bloke called Bernie, who was also known affectionately as “Wrinkly Dagda”.

The Dagda, friends and family processed to the Stone Circle, Aussie (of Dagda) carried Bernies ashes at the front, the urn being wrapped in Bernie’s Shiny (fluorescent security jacket). Along the way through camp, people turned, stood and paid their last respects to this much loved member of their community.

Once at the stone circle, the urn was placed on a makeshift altar in the middle, and for several long minutes of silence, the only noises to be heard were carried to us on the wind, from the sheep in nearby fields, and other members of the camp, drumming and generally having fun just a field away.

Pete, Bernie’s son stepped into the centre of the circle, and very slowly turned round to look, one by one, at everyone present, silently acknowledging their presence before scattering some of his fathers ashes into the waiting wind.

After an opportunity that some took to say a few words in remembrance, then Damh the Bard (a Druid who is also a bard, much loved by many on the camp, who was booked to sing for us that evening) stepped forward and slowly started clapping. I was a little confused until he started singing, and slowly everyone else joined in with the steady clap, keeping time as he walked round the circle and sang a beautiful song which befitted the solomn occasion.

A large flagon of mead was then passed round for everyone to take a sip and toast the passing of their friend. The mood in the circle lifted as the booze went round, which was fitting, because Bernie, like most of the Dagda, loved his drink.

After a fair bit of chatting and some lovely hugs, we filed out of the circle, and left the family to plant an oak tree, with Bernies ashes at its roots.

Later, after Dahm the Bard (aka D the B) had sung, (as ever, his songs were beautiful and moving.. hes fab!!) people played drums, sang and danced round the camp fire, but I was pretty tired so headed back up to Fort Dagda to meet up with Douglas.

I took a few photos of people playing with fire Poi and fire twirling sticks. We dont take photos on camp as a general rule, because some people are not "out" as Pagans in their normal lives, but the ones I show you now are ok, as you cant see any faces :-) .. other than D the B anyway!!

Damh the Bard in the marquee