Archive | December 2012

Merry Christmas One and All


We are truly lucky to have three wonderful sons and their partners and one adorable grandson, especially at Christmas time, which is so full of memories of Christmasses gone past.  Although our parents are no longer with us and we ourselves are growing older, there is still much joy to be had. You only have to look a little way for it. The pictures today are of a present we received from one of our sons. It was a Christmas hamper, filled with carefully chosen goodies designed to please us. I’d like to share with you what we found in it.

Most of  the foods were handmade and how they found the time to make them all, let alone pack them up, is beyond my comprehension since both have full time jobs! It made me feel very humble.

So to say I was grateful is an understatement because for the last ten days I have been suffering with a dreadful head-cold, one of the worst I’ve ever had with all the horrid symptoms imaginable. Hopefully it’s going away now!! slowly!!


We’ve eaten the delicious gammon and leek pie, which was  filled with goodness and smelling wonderful.

For tea there is mackerel pate, sausage rolls, cheeses, home-made fudge, biscuits and goodness knows what else.

The next picture shows a rolled up knitting magazine for me to enjoy later. There was also a tape measure and another little gadget, which will be handy for my knitting exercises.

Can you see two miniature whiskys?



There is toffee in the paper bag below. We’ll have to watch our teeth on that! One Christmas I had a very nasty experience when I ate some of those tiny silver balls and broke two back teeth.  Ouch! I shan’t be eating those again.


There are gold coins in the gold box, which reminds me that I wanted to tell you that some more buried treasure has shown up in a field very near where the Staffordshire Hoard was recently discovered.



The card brought a tear to my eye!



Thank you for letting me share some of the joy I am experiencing.


Count Your Blessings

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.

Christmas Cribs


Back in 2007 my church in England had an exhibition of Christmas cribs. People were invited to bring in their cribs for display and a small entry fee was charged for the pleasure of looking at them. They were gorgeous and many of them told wonderful tales of family history.

I have become accustomed to showing them again each year because they are so pretty. Do please click on the pictures and read the words.


I know that many of us are struggling with the question ‘where was God last week when all those beautiful children and their teachers were shot’ and there is no answer really: but we must have hope. Without hope we have nothing. We must have hope that the world will become a better place and where better to start than with a new life – a new baby born to save mankind from themselves.


I have to believe that most people are good people.


Please take a few minutes to look at these lovely scenes and try to find some hope in them.













Do you have your own crib? If not, why not get one? make one? During the Christmas period, when we are all so fixed on over-eating and indulging ourselves, why not have a focal point in your room, which when you gaze at it, gives you HOPE.


I want to wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

May your God go with you wherever you wander.


Time to send Christmas cards and decorate the tree.


Yesterday, being Friday, was a good day for Dylan to help me with the decorating of our Christmas tree. Although he didn’t really feel very well, he was very helpful, unpacking all the baubles for me and putting them on the tree, very carefully. When it was finished, it looked very nice. He has already decorated his own tree at home so you could call him experienced!



With help, Dylan was able to put the star on the top too!


…and after all that work, he got to choose a special biscuit.


The cards are quickly filling up the window ledges…

and the dresser …


and I am looking forward to the festivities to come and to sharing them with you too.

I’d love to know how your preparations are going?


Icy Mornings


Ice & Snow

People never tell of ice
Or the snow that glitters nice
Or of the icy crunchy snow
Of that most people do not know
The crunch that sounds beneath your feet
As your sole and ice compete
When in the morning as you wake
You see a single white snow flake
You look out of the iced window
The look out seems so very low
Because the snow fell all night
It has left behind its sheet of white

Helen Windass

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Fire and Ice


Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

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by Robert Louis Stevenson
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,   
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;   
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,   
A blood-red orange, sets again.   

Before the stars have left the skies, 
At morning in the dark I rise;   
And shivering in my nakedness,   
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.   

Close by the jolly fire I sit   
To warm my frozen bones a bit; 
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore   
The colder countries round the door.   

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap   
Me in my comforter and cap;   
The cold wind burns my face, and blows 
Its frosty pepper up my nose.   

Black are my steps on silver sod;   
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;   
And tree and house, and hill and lake,   
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

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How like a winter hath my absence been (Sonnet 97)

by William Shakespeare
How like a winter hath my absence been   
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!   
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!   
What old December’s bareness every where!   
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,   
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,   
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:   
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me   
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,   
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:   
  Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,   
  That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

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These beautiful icy mornings are magical for me. There is something other-worldly about the quietness before anyone wakes up and starts moving around. The air is so crisp and clean.

Here in the cottage garden the birds wait for their food. The robin shows off his red breast and the pigeons chase each other tirelessly around the vegetable patch killing time until I bring their bread out for them.

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Have a wonderful week everyone.


Time to shop for Christmas.


It’s time to shop for Christmas, if you haven’t already!

I’ve been getting out of the cottage regularly once a week for a few weeks now, although my Christmas list is still unfinished.  These pictures were taken in my local shopping Mall yesterday and I thought I’d show them to you today. This year’s theme is stars and I think it works very well, don’t you?


I don’t know about you, but I rely a lot on lists at this time of the year. It’s nice to tick things off when done, then finally one gets to the point where there is nothing left to do.


There is always something, sometimes several things, that get forgotten or lost. This year for me it is the gift tags.  So far I haven’t found the ones I carefully made using last year’s left over Christmas cards. It’s too late now because I’ve bought some new ones.

There are two levels to my shopping Mall. You can see the layout clearly in the next picture. The balcony shops are at the top and there is a lift to the lower floor. This is very useful for wheelchair users, older people like me and mums and dads with young children and pushchairs.


We have lots and lots of cafes here, but they’re not all in the middle of the Mall like I’ve seen in America. Ours are more spread out around the Mall and in the stores themselves. One is never far away from a cup of tea or coffee over here.

The hanging stars in the next picture look better in real life than in the photo, but you can get the idea. Very pretty.

The triangular shaped piece of furniture in the centre is a rubbish bin, which is emptied regularly throughout the day.


These beautiful reindeer are made out of painted twigs with little fairy lights all through. Just delightful.


Christmas is all about giving and the wishing wells in the next pic. are part of the Mayor’s appeal. You can donate to his appeal and make a wish at the same time.


So as we prepare for Christmas let’s take some time to appreciate all the work that has gone into our lovely decorations. They are enjoyed by so many people, especially the children and really help to put our hearts and minds into the spirit of Christmas

Bedfordshire Clangers

So what’s in the pot? Can you guess?

This is a recipe very local… It’s called Bedfordshire Clangers.

Here they are cooking…………

Two little beauties boiling in their muslin parcels.

Every 40 minutes I have to top up the water, so I set the alarm so I don’t forget. Don’t want the puddings to go dry.

After 2 hours boiling, I take them out of the pan, using the string rope so I don’t burn my fingers and set them aside to cool a bit.

Where the string meets in the middle, the pudding will divide naturally. So I will have four puddings all together or two for greedy people. Traditionally there would be meat at one end and jam at the other but I have only meat and onion in mine today. The idea was that you started up one end with the meat, gravy added and then you worked your way down to the jam end which you would eat with custard.

I served mine with mashed swede this time. My son and I love mashed swede with butter in.

It’s advisable to open the dumpling up as soon as possible to let the steam out so it can cool down a bit. We like to pour HP sauce over it. American equivalent would be steak sauce but it’s not the same. HP sauce is available in Fresh Market.

After all that cooking and eating, it’s time for a mug of tea to wash it all down and maybe a snooze.

This is a recipe from Oma’s Kitchen.

The main ingredients are as follows:

1 lb of self raising flour

8 ozs of suet

cold water to make the dough

a pinch of salt

one onion, chopped

a packet of lardons, added to the onion

some fresh herbs to taste


Make up the dough by adding the suet to the flour in a large bowl. Add the water until the dough is pliable (you can roll it out)

Roll out four circles.

Cook the onions and add the lardons.

Put herbs in with the ingredients, either in the meat or in the pastry.

Put the mixture in the centre of the circle and close the dumpling up.

Roll it into the muslin square.

Hint: If you flour the muslin square first, it will seal the dumpling as soon as you lower it into the boiling water.

When you have the dumplings tied up, leave one end of string dangling so you can grab it later on and lower the dumplings into the water.

Get it back to boiling and put the lid on, half cock.

Keep the water topped up and the pot boiling for two hours.

Good luck if you want to try it.

It’s not for the squeamish and it is very high in cholesterol BUT

it is very delicious!