Archive | February 2013

Comfort Time


With the bad weather continuing, it’s comfort time in the kitchen. We’ve had all the usual suspects, toad in the hole, see above and roast leg of lamb.  Thank you Sainsbury’s for selling these legs of lamb at a price I could afford for two weeks. It was delicious.


Apple crumble has been a favourite. Apples are so good for us and apple crumble is so tasty.  I like mine with double cream.  How do you like yours?


I did get out a few weeks ago and bought a new cupboard to put my glasses in.  It’s such a joy to go straight to the right cupboard and find just the glass you want. Previously my glasses have been wherever they would fit and I could never find the one I wanted. Now that problem has gone away and I’m sorted!


I’ve enjoyed all the reading I’ve done during the bad spell of weather but I’m ready now for some light entertainment in the garden. I hope my back’s up to it after all this enforced containment!


Bertie’s House


Some of you will have noticed the above picture on my sidebar. It concerns my book ‘Bertie’s House‘, which I wrote under the pseudonym Amanda Marigold.

If you click the link, it will take you to the Amazon store where you can buy the book.

I started writing ‘Bertie’s House’ when I kept a rabbit called Bertie. The book concerns the adventures which Bertie has along with his other animal friends who live in the same street.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter One

A very private person

Once upon a sunny day Bertie sat in his house and surveyed the world around him.  He was on his own as usual, but it had its compensations.  There was nobody to argue with and nobody to tell him what to do and, if he felt like it, he could close his eyes and have a little sleep and nobody would complain.  The housework could wait.  It was much too nice a day to worry about cleaning and who was there to care whether he changed his bed or not?

Belinda was playing in the street.  Despite the weather, she was dressed in her black coat with a fur collar.  She ran in and out of the bushes chasing shadows and playing hide and seek with the sun.  Perhaps she would soon have a snack and then play some more but before she could make up her mind, something dramatic happened…

A fluffy white cloud suddenly turned black and it started to rain.

Belinda didn’t like getting wet so she ran across the road to Bertie’s house and hid inside his shed.  From the doorway she could see how comfortable Bertie was, but she knew she could not get inside his house because the door was locked.  Bertie’s door was only opened once a day and that was in the early morning.  He was a very private person.’

This is a children’s book, but it works for adults too, just so long as you enjoy the simple things in life.

I hope you buy it and enjoy it and if you do, I wouldn’t mind some more reviews on it?


Waiting for baby…

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Just before Christmas, my youngest son David and his wife Michelle moved into a brand new house. It was, of course, very exciting for them and for us as we watched and waited while they house-hunted, chose, bought. They have been living in a rented apartment for seven years while they worked and saved, so to have their own house was a dream come true. It was not easy for them moving in just before Christmas, but the move went relatively to plan and now they are settled and happy.

At the moment they are decorating the nursery, ready for the new arrival in May! Another exciting event to look forward to and another grand-baby for me.

New crib for Sam

Dylan will have another cousin (he already has two).

Watching the young couple planning their living quarters has made me very clucky and brought back lots of memories. When David was born I already had two little boys, so the first thing I heard the midwife say was ‘Mrs. S., you have a hat trick!’ Although I would have liked a girl, I didn’t mind a bit that the baby was a boy because I could pass down clothes and toys and save a lot of money.

When I got married for the first time, in 1970, we were able to afford to buy a small flat (apartment). It was a struggle and of course I would have preferred a house, but since we were both working, the flat was convenient and easy to clean, cheap to run and ideally situated.  We stayed in it for four years until the first child was born.

These days it is much hard for young couples to get started. Mostly they can’t get on the property ladder until they are at least 30 years old, whereas we were 18 and 22, much younger. Mortgages are very hard to come by. When we were married, it was only the husband’s salary that was considered and 100% mortgages were unheard of. My husband was still studying part-time in the evenings and day release so he didn’t earn very much but somehow we got by.

Did you have an easy start or are you still waiting to get started? Was it easy for you to save up for somewhere to live or have you always rented?

The Most Romantic City in the U.S. – Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville, TN Is America’s Most Romantic City According To

Most Romantic City America announced the most romantic cities in the United States today, based on its sales.

According to a press release put out by the company, the information has been extrapolated by

compiling sales data of romance novels and relationship books (Kindle books and print books); romantic comedy movies (digital and DVDs); a collection of romantic music from Dean Martin, Barry White, Luther Vandross, Maxwell and Miguel (CDs and MP3s); along with sexual wellness products, from Jan. 1, 2012-Jan. 23, 2013 on a per capita basis in cities with over 100,000 residents.

Of course, if your romantic gesture involves buying locally, or from any other website, then your city doesn’t gain the benefit of Amazon’s publicity.

For the second year in a row, the top spot goes to Knoxville, Tenn., while “for the fourth year in a row, Miami is the sexiest city in the US, winning the top spot in the sexual wellness category. Cambridge, Mass. and Alexandria, Va. round out the top three.” And according to their data, Boise, Idaho is officially the least romantic city in the US. Looks like the local chapter of Romance Writers of America, the Coeur de Bois has some work to do.

Here’s’s top 20 most romantic cities in the US:

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Alexandria, Va.
3. Miami, Fla.
4. Orlando, Fla.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Vancouver, Wash.
7. Dayton, Ohio
8. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
9. Columbia, S.C.
10. Pittsburgh, Pa.
11. Round Rock, Texas
12. Clearwater, Fla.
13. Las Vegas, Nev.
14. Salem, Ore.
15. Erie, Pa.
16. Everett, Wash.
17. Rochester, N.Y.
18. Clarksville, Tenn.
19. Tallahassee, Fla.
20. Billings, Mont.

So with those words from Amazon, I hope your Valentine’s Day turns out exactly as you want it to:

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Getting through the day – remembering.

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This is a picture of my grandson Dylan and me in the park recently. It looks simple, doesn’t it, but really it’s anything but!

As I get older, I find I have to think more about those simple tasks that get me through the day. I don’t just do them anymore, I think them through so that I don’t have to make too many journeys up and down the stairs or in and out of the fridge etc. For example:

When I get up in the morning, at 6.30 a.m (I’m an early riser, even though I don’t have to be!), it starts off a chain of events, which I need to do in the right order. I get out of bed, visit the bathroom and empty my hot water bottle. Since I sleep alone here, I need that every night during the winter and my cat Patch appreciates it too! Return to the bedroom, put on slippers and dressing gown and get tablets out of the cupboard ready to take with my first cup of tea. Then I go downstairs, taking care not to trip over the cat on the way down. The cottage is still cold at this point. Outside it is dark outside. First thing I do is turn up the heating.

Now begins the kitchen ritual. I get two cups off the dresser, add teabag and milk, fill kettle, switch on, then trot around all the rooms opening curtains. By the time I’ve done that, the kettle has boiled.

I fill mugs and leave to stand and brew. Next I cut a large slice of toast bread and put under the grill. While that is cooking, I fetch butter and marmalade out of the cupboard and put on the side ready. By now the cat is weaving in and out of my legs miaowing. I get her bowl and the tin of cat meat out of the fridge. Fill bowl, watch toast, put bowl down, pick up water (I do this to save too many stoopings down). Change water and put yesterday’s food dish in sink to soak. It’s just like an assembly line.

When the toast is done, remove from grill, turn off grill, put toast on plate and butter. Take teabags out of mugs and discard. Put mugs on tray. Return to toast and add marmalade. Get biscuit out of tin for J.

So now I’m winning! The tea is made, toast and biscuit done, heating on, cat fed. Hooray!

I return upstairs with tray complete with goodies being very careful to negotiate the children’s stair-gate, cat and dressing gown dangling down by my ankles.

If I get to the top unscathed, I give J his tea and biscuit, open his curtains and say ‘good morning’. Then I return to my own cosy nest to drink my tea, eat my toast, take my tablets and read my book for half an hour. I’m not being lazy – I am waiting for the house to warm up. It takes half an hour, then I can go and get washed and dressed.

And all of that before 7.30 a.m.

Getting back to my grandson, I looked at that photo and realised what we had to do to get to that point of enjoyment. It was a similar sequence of events. It took time and thought and planning. I have to take an emergency bag in case of accidents (you can’t see that in the picture). I have to remember his gloves, hat, boots and hanky.

And so it goes on all through the day and as I get older, it gets harder, harder to remember, harder to do. I don’t really know why, it just does!

I suppose it will get even harder as I get older. I might reach for the tablets and find I’ve run out or find the stairs are hurting my knees. Those are the sorts of things I worry about now. I am not really a worrier but every now and then I stop and think.

Does all this sound familiar to you?

A Very English Cake Shop

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At the end of last week, I went to a nearby town to have a walk around in the cold, frosty air. I haven’t been out too much since Christmas because of the snow, icy pavements, cold winds etc. all the joys of winter. It looks great from indoors, through the window, but as soon as you get outside, Brrrr you want to get in again.

However, being indoors all the time can get tedious, so I braved the weather and went out. First stop was this beautiful cake-shop, which sells excellent bread, rolls, cakes and snacks and always does great business.
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I enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate and watched through the window as the world passed by. Here in England we have a very strong cafe culture. It started with tea drinking, but then we got fond of coffee too and coffee bars are thriving. Just lately Starbucks have got into trouble over here for not paying their corporation tax, preferring instead to move their money around in and out of the country with the help of some ‘clever’ accountants.  It isn’t fair and they have been taken to task over it. Now they have agreed to pay corporation tax here as well as enjoying the benefits of trade in our tiny country.

Personally, I don’t drink in Starbucks. I prefer to support the traditional cafes, of which there are many and the individual ones are the best. You can’t beat personal service, in my opinion.  If I go to America, I’m happy to visit American watering holes, but over here it’s British all the way.

What do you think of these gingerbread men in the frieze?  Aren’t they adorable.

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What do you think about this subject?  If you were to visit Rome, for example, would you want to see a Starbucks in the main square? Do you think it’s better for each country to keep its own identity?