Saturday, 14 December 2013

An unexpected visit to the Theatre.

I am not now going to stay with my cousin following her hip replacement.  She had longer in hospital than anticipated, and is doing really well.   As it is so near to the weekend she has her daughter visiting.  I am going up next Tuesday to stay a couple of nights.

Brian had spotted that our local amateur theatre in Guildford - The Electric Theatre - has an intriguingly titled play on this week - The Locked Room.  Hearing I was not going to be away this week he promptly got us tickets and off we went on Friday evening. The play was very well acted and we enjoyed it immensely.

The Electric Theatre in Guildford
Photograph from the Electric Theatre website
Written by a local lady, this was her first full length play.  The story was about an ageing actress from Cornwall, and took place in the 1950's and the 1970's.  The actress had had an illegitimate baby which was adopted at birth.  Her young wardrobe lady was also from Cornwall, the same age as the illegitimate baby was, and thought that she was the actresses long lost daughter.   The story ends with the actress in a nursing home, when 'all is revealed'.  It certainly had me guessing and surprised.

Why is the theatre named 'Th Electric Theatre'?  It has been built from part of the old local Electric Company site.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Surely it's not December?

Is it really December - and the 11th already?  Where has this month gone?

The soup maker that Brian bought and I wrote about last is a huge success.   I can really recommend anyone to get one.  In go the ingredients with cold stock (or cold water and a stock cube) and 20 to 25 minutes later - voilà - hot creamy smooth soup.  If you want chunky - no problem.  Just set to the chunky setting and when finished purée until your desired consistency is reached.  Nothing could be simpler.  So far we have had the leek and potato soup, tomato and pepper, and this week broccoli and blue cheese.    We find that each recipe makes enough to last the two of use for three days.

I went to Wisley for the day last week with a friend - we had a lovely walk round the gardens.  The gardens, as usual looked lovely with the trees changing colour.

It was very windy, as you can see from the grasses blowing sideways, and it was a relief to spend quite a time in the new glasshouse.  The staff were putting up Christmas Decoration s, so some parts were 'out of bounds' .  We were very impressed with the poinsettia Christmas Trees

Because I am waiting to go up and stay with my cousin for a few days when she comes out of hospital after her hip replacement last Friday, I have been trying to get ahead with my Christmas preparations.  Not that I have many because we are going to stay at an hotel for the festivities, but we have cards to write and post, and presents to buy and wrap.  I am still trying to decide whether to put up our small artificial Christmas Tree or not.   I probably will, as it won't seem like Christmas without the tree twinkling in the window.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tomato soup

Last weekend Brian came home with a bag of ripe tomatoes, a large bag of ripe tomatoes.  Can you make soup with them? he asked.  Well, I told him, I can, but it's a very fiddly job.  At which he got all huffy, and said, don't bother then.  So, to prove how fiddly I set to on Monday morning. First I had to blanch the tomatoes and remove the skins.  Then cut the tomatoes in half and remove the pips.  I did a couple, but was just too fiddly so left them in, but did cut the fruit into halves.

An onion was chopped and gently fried in a large pan, the tomatoes added, and all cooked together until soft. Stock was added and all cooked until soft.  Cooled slightly and then put into my new food processor and processed.  To remove the seeds I put the soup through a fine sieve (which took an age to do) and put the resulting liquid back into the pan and added  tomato purée and sugar.  I heated it all through again to make sure the sugar and tomato purée were incorporated. 

Two hours later I had finished the washing up and we had soup for six.  

Brian had to agree, it is a fiddly and time consuming task making tomato soup, but we both agreed it was very very good.

But, because of the time taken, not forgetting the fuel consumption, Brian decided we need a soup maker and set off for town to buy one - he had a store voucher, and it was on offer in a pre-Christmas sale, so it was a bargain.

We have yet to use it, since we only finished the soup today.  Hopefully I will make some tomorrow and I will let you know how I get on.  

Monday, 25 November 2013

Last Year's Christmas present

Last Christmas our eldest son and his partner gave us a gift voucher for tickets to a play at our local Yvonne Arnaud Theatre - our choice of whatever we wanted.   As we did in a previous year, we dillied and dallied, or were too busy to book anything up.   But we decided we really must use up the voucher so a month ago we booked to see September in the Rain.  Mind you driving there in really heavy rain we wondered if the name would be changed to November in the Rain.

September in the Rain is a comedy which relates the story of a Yorkshire couples marriage spanning 40 years through their annual holiday each year in Blackpool each September where it invariably rained.Just two characters in the play which took place on the front at Blackpool. It was both poignant and funny, and the two actors (Claire Sweeney and John Thompson) brought back memories of holidays at the seaside in years gone by.   Very cleverly acted. 

The above photographs by Robert Day and from the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre website

The Blue jug is just about being filled with flowers from the garden - for the last two weeks, Fuchsia Genii flowering in a sheltered spot by one of the greenhouses and a yellow Buddleia.  We have night frosts forecast, so I'm not sure there will be many more flowers.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Birthday baking

We have a lot of birthdays in the family this month. Three in Brian's brothers family and three in ours, plus my friend has a birthday today.

Granddaughter Emily starts the birthday season on the 11th, her father and our oldest son, Matthew,has a birthday on the 19th and his oldest daughter Jessica is on the 24th

To celebrate the birthdays I made a cake because I knew they would be calling  this afternoon. A carrot cake was requested by Brian.  

Going back three months to the end of August and my birthday, I was delighted to receive a new Kenwood food processor to replace the very old Braun I had owned for about twenty five years.  There was no cookery book with the processor, so I searched Amazon for a basic book.  I came across one by the well known Mary Berry, which was highly recommended. It's out of print now, and a hardback copy will set you back £190!    But there was a used paperback edition for sale at a very reasonable £3 odd, and I ordered it straight way.  It arrived within a day or so, and I have to say, it is just what I wanted. Basic simple recipes.

The carrot cake recipe came from this book.  It was a doddle to prepare in the processor, as was the topping. 

The cake was  huge success with everyone, and will certainly be one I will make again.  Sorry no picture of the cake before it was cut, but you can see there is not much left.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Crochet update

This autumn has been quite mild so far, although fairly damp and very windy.   The sort of weather that makes us want to close the curtains, put on the fire, and have supper on our laps in front of the TV.  Then I take up my hook and start to crochet.  I know ... I've been neglecting the crochet blanket all summer, but now I am back to hooking.  I think the main problem is the muted colours, also the wool is an Aran type and quite hard to work.  But I am persevering and hope to finish it in time for Christmas.  I'm till not sure if it will be a gift or not.   Anyway, here is an up to date photograph  of progress.


Did I mention how cross I am that the quantity of yarn specified in the Pattern book  (Patons) is totally wrong?  There are five colours and pattern states need 1x 100gram ball of each colour.   Who checks these patterns?  Fortunately it does not matter that the dye is very slightly different - no one will notice, but I know! I've bought an extra 100 grams of four of the colours and 2 x 100 grams of the granny square borders.  I have decided that I will go as far as I can and then finish.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Never Forget with Poppy trees

Brian and I often pop over to Aldershot, a local Military town.  The last time we were there we were pleasantly surprised to see these poppy trees. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Blue jug update

I was not expecting an flowers in the garden when I returned from my trip to Australia.  I was surprised, therefore, to see there were still some of the Bishop of Llandaff and David Howard dahlias.  I picked them all, and here is the jug on 28th October

Last week I found these few dahlias flowering by my greenhouse.  

I will have to search hard for more flowers in the garden.  We are due to have a frost tonight which I am sure will cut most of the plants back.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Saying goodbye

Yesterday was a sad day for us. Our very dear friend and ex neighbour, Roy, was laid to rest.  He was 91. On my return from holiday in Australia, my husband broke the sad news to me that Roy had had an accident at home, and after a brief illness, had passed away.  His wife Jean, had passed away about two years ago and Roy had lived on his own for that time, mostly fending for himself, with lots of help from his family, and carers a couple of days a week.   Jean and Roy were the best neighbours one could ever wish for. Both were happy to help out in an emergency.  Nothing was ever too much trouble, despite the fact they had five children of their own.  Roy grew vegetables in the back garden, they hardly ever bought them. Also wonderful dahlias in a corner of the garden.  Jean cooked pies and cakes and made bread by hand, but eventually in the bread machine the family bought her. They were devoted to one another and were very content with their lives.  My two boys grew up loving their auntie Jean and uncle Roy.  It was a sad day when Jean and Roy decided to move to a small bungalow when their children had left home.  Fortunately not far as they moved to a bungalow in the village.  We were still able to visit often, but I missed popping round 'next door' for a coffee (it was always coffee).   Now they are both gone but I have some lovely memories of  them.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Memory Butterflies

My sister is,and has been for many years, a devoted member of  Sands South Australia, and also Sands Australia.  When I was visiting recently,  Sands South Australia organised a Walkathon for parents to walk in remembrance of their child.   It was held in a park in Adelaide and there were, perhaps about a hundred people there.   Pauline had organised a raffle with some lovely prizes to help raise funds for the Group.  There was Face Painting and balloon animals and, of course, the walk.  Not a very long walk because, of course, many of the parents had brought small children along, it was probably about half an hour around the parklands.  There was also that great Australian tradition – the sausage sizzle to warm the walkers and helpers – it was a very cold day.    

Pauline had also organised the purchase of butterflies for parents to release in memory of their child, and about forty butterflies were released.  I think they were the Wanderer butterfly, and my sister had obtained them from Queensland.   She collected them from the airport the previous evening and kept them in a coolbox (Esky) over night.   They were all individually packed lightly into envelopes which were closed with a ribbon and easily opened.  Very neat.   It was a very moving moment when the butterflies were released by the parents.

Well done Pauline for all your efforts for that Society.  A worthy cause and I am very proud of all that she has done for them.


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Home with lovely memories

I’ve been back from Australia a week now and it’s been hard adjusting t
o the chilly damp weather here in the UK.  Also missing my lovely family ‘down under’, but it has been good to be back with Brian and my own family here.

In my last post I wrote about the wonderful memorable day wine tasting in the Barossa Valley I had with my sister Pauline and her two friends (now mine as well I hope!).   

I also wrote that a new grandchild for my sister and her husband was due.  Archer Wayde duly arrived the following evening and very early the next morning we went to the hospital to meet the newest member of the family and congratulate the proud and very excited new parents.     A joyous time. 

As well as the new baby, I met two more members of the family I had not met before.  Since my last visit, my nephew Dale has married Wenny and they now have a two years old daughter, Nayla.  

I visited my eldest sister and her husband who live just outside Adelaide.  It was so good to see them both again.    They have just moved into a new unit and are very happy in their new home. 

Another trip made was to Sydney to meet up with our younger sister who made the trip into the city from near Newcastle.  Oh my, the three of us did have a fun time.    We walked and walked, chatted and laughed as if we had not been apart for seven years.  I hope it is not as long before we can get together again.

Emma had to leave early on our last day in Sydney, so after our sad farewells, Pauline and I took a ferry across the harbour out to Manly.  I've not been there before and it was a wonderful experience.   

 Our flight back to Adelaide did not leave until the evening,  but we got to the airport early having decided that we would have a meal there instead of in the city.  We had heard of the fires in the Blue Mountains but were shocked to see the smoke beginning to appear over the city.

More about my last weekend in my next post.

Monday, 7 October 2013


I've been here a week now and just loving being with my sister Pauline and her family.  The journey was not too bad and as I 'don't do jetlag'l I immediately fell into family life here.  My sister has four children, all married, and they and their families have either visited or we've visited them.  Another grandchild is due imminently, and we are anxiously awaiting news of its arrival.

We've also visited a member of The South Australian Pelargonium Club, Roger and his wife Jenny, who grow pelargoniums. We had a nice morning browsing all the plants they grow.

Yesterday we went to the Barrossa Valley, the wine growing region. Needless to say, we tasted a few wines at various wineries. We went with the two friends of my sister who I met in Ireland last year when they were on their European trip.  From L to R: Carolyn, Pauline, me, Anne Marie

We went for lunch at Maggie Beers farmhouse restaurant. Maggie Beers is a well known Australian tv chef, and has written many cookery books.  Lunch was really good in a wonderful location overlooking a small lake.

We're having a quiet day at home today, but off to Victor Harbour tomorrow to visit friends.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Late post

I forgot to upload the following post. I've been here a week now. But since it is written, here it is:-

I can't believe that on Monday I leave for my trip to Adelaide to visit my sisters - well two of them anyway. One lives north of Sydney and we will be visiting her for a couple of days.    I know those three weeks will just fly by - as the time before I leave early on Monday morning is dragging now!  I am so looking forward to seeing all my Australian family again.

I've packed my case today and tomorrow will tidy up the greenhouses for the last time and water the plants. I think the dahlias in the garden will be over when I get back.   I love this time of year for filling my blue jug with red dahlias.  This year I've added orange David Howard and Pooh in with them and I think they look very good together.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Back from one trip and getting ready for another

We had a really quiet time in France. One of our best holidays there I think.  We just relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere of living in another house in another country .  I am sure I've explained that the house we stay in belongs to Brian's cousins family.  It is in a very small and quiet village in Normandy.   They have had the house for several years now and we are so lucky that we are invited to join cousin Sue and her husband Malcolm when they stay there.  We enjoy their company very much.

One place we did visit was a nursery and garden run by an English lady, Alison Sykes.  Alison herself showed us around her garden which was lovely and autumny.  It was hard to imagine that just five years ago it was a field.   Unfortunately the nursery was closed the day we visited, but we hope to visit again.

I loved this display of herbs in the square pots on the windowsill.
We also visited a market and saw these ducklings and chicks for sale.  Something we don't see in our markets any more.

I am now getting ready for a trip to Adelaide in South Australia to visit my family.  I have two sisters and various nieces and nephews who live there, and another sister who lives near Sydney.    I can't wait to see them all again.