Archive | September 2014

It’s pickle time at the cottage.


It’s pickle time at the cottage so I’m putting my cares and worries away for a little while to wallow in the smell of salted vegetables and vinegar. Yum!

We always make mustard pickle at this time of the year and I have to add here that this is really Jim’s forte. I am just a helper. The ingredients are mainly, shallot onions, cauliflower, marrow, runner beans, a little flour and mustard and vinegar. We use the ordinary sort of malt vinegar, not the one with spices in it, but that’s just a personal choice.


The vegetables have to be prepared and salted, then left overnight with a tea-towel over the top. This process extracts the excess moisture. In the morning, the vegetables are washed off and put in a large pan to cook. When cooked (imagine delicious smell), they are thickened with a flour paste mixture and then put into prepared jars for Christmas.

Here they are, all ready to give as gifts (just need the labels)  and to eat ourselves:


Now, isn’t that a nice way to spend an afternoon?


Celebrate Mabon


I love everything about this time of the year when day and night are brought into balance with the Autumnal Equinox. All our endeavours in the garden have come to fruition (hopefully). Some things have done better than others. This year, in my garden, we have had a bumper crop of runner beans and tomatoes. The tomatoes have been slow to ripen, as usual, because the sun has been hiding but indoors, on the window sill, the tomatoes are happy to turn red and we have been enjoying their fruitful taste for a few weeks now.

The blackberries are also ripe and tasty.

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The harvest moon is one of the most splendid things we can ever hope to see, isn’t it. It hangs in the night sky like a great big heavy ball, full of abundance and ready to pop. Who could not wonder at such a spectacle.


I think that at this time of the year we all have an overwhelming urge to thank somebody for all this abundance, but who to thank? God is the obvious choice, but are there many Gods? After all, there are many Saints and we can pray to which ever one we choose depending on our circumstances.  When I took up Wicca as my main religious interest, I took a deeper look at the Gods of old, of whom there are many. Whilst retaining the God I was brought up to worship, I no longer see him/her as the only one. I am drawn to the Goddess Freya, a Norse Goddess who seems to call to me sometimes. Perhaps it is my Viking roots, who knows.

‘Freyja : Sometimes known as Freya or Frea, was the daughter of the sea god Njord in Germanic mythology and sister of Freyr. She was an important fertility goddess and a member of the Vanir, one of the two branches into which the Germanic gods were divided. After a war, the Vanir seem to have been supplanted by the younger Aesir, who were led by odin.  When peace was agreed between the two sides, Njord went with Freyr and Freyja to Asgard, where they lived with the Aesir as a token of friendship.’ taken from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology by Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm.


I think the most important thing about harvest time is that we must share what we have with others less fortunate than ourselves. We mustn’t keep it all but spread it around. Spread the love too. We all need it. Most of us have something in our lives which is giving us trouble. Perhaps if we share the trouble, it will lessen and not be such a burden on our shoulders. I need to take my own advice for even in my idyllic world there is trouble. My eldest son has recently lost his home and finds himself homeless, living on a beach in the south of England and this is giving me a lot of grief. Many times in the past he has returned home to the cottage but it never lasts. He no longer wants to live with his aging parents and we, for our part, need a quieter life now. He cannot find work and he has no proper address. It all seems very hopeless and yet when I look at the fruits of nature, I think that maybe tomorrow or the day after, the fruits of his life will appear and he will be whole again. He has troubles in his mind and these are very hard to cure, if not impossible. The troubles are not visible. If he was missing a leg, people would feel sorry for him, but when there is nothing to see, the help doesn’t come. We all turn away because none of us knows how to cope with it. His situation has done untold damage to the family in general and to those other people who love him too.

So back to Mabon, this time of celebration. A time of stability perhaps and a link to the past when we all lived in smaller communities and it was incumbent on us to help our neighbours. In this day and age many of us don’t even know who are neighbours are.

I refuse to be discouraged in my life and will carry on as if all is well. Perhaps if I do that, I can sow seeds of happiness for the future. In the Wiccan year, we are also coming up to New Year, which starts after Halloween. It is a good time to be thankful and look to the future.

I wish you all a joyous Mabon.


The Vine Moon – Bind us together!

Union Jack waving


At Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, which this year falls on a Monday – next Monday, the 22nd September, we are at the point in the year when we celebrate the last harvest, the best harvest of the year – truly a cause for celebration.

I love Autumn and the harvest, particularly when all our work and efforts come together in a glorious binding together time. We gather our gifts together and share what we have. What better way of celebrating and we have done it like this for many years.

Yet this year I find myself fearful that the Scottish people, our neighbours and brothers in arms are contemplating breaking the ties that bind and taking off on their own. They feel (many but not all) that they will be better off without us down here in England. I for one will be sorry if they go their own way, yet there is a bit of me that says ‘if they want to do that, let them’. Tomorrow they vote, all 4 million who have registered. Some are still undecided. We await the outcome. The English people, though also part of the Union and without our own parliament exclusively for us, unlike our Scottish neighbours, have not been included in the vote. We have hardly been consulted and yet we will be expected to comply with the wishes of the majority up there whatever the outcome will be.

I am justified in feeling proud to be British. I am English too and proud of that. I don’t really separate the two. We all live together on the same set of Islands. We share trade and brotherhood. What’s wrong with that. If Scotland hives off, the Queen will still be Queen because ever since the Union of the Crowns of 1603 – when James VI of Scotland also became James 1 of England, precedes even the Union of the nations of 1707. Perhaps Scotland, once separated will want to become a republic. What a shame that would be and what would happen to the Queen’s properties in Scotland? Our noble Queen who has been such an example to us all has kept out of the debate recently, except to advise the Scottish people to think carefully before voting YES.

Our politicians have been promising changes if Scotland stays in the Union. I don’t agree with this. Why should we bribe the Scots to stay? They should be begging to stay if you ask me. How can a country the size of Scotland hope to do better than if they stayed in the Union. We are already subsidising them in many ways and per capita each Scot receives £1,600 more than we in England do. We are in a time of austerity and that applies to Scotland too. They think they are rich but they are mistaken. If they split off then they will be required to pay back their share of our National Debt. Their first Minister, Alex Salmond, has said he will default on the debts if asked to pay back what they owe. How does he think he will ever be able to borrow money from anyone ever again if he defaults on his debts here?

The main issue seems to be the currency. Scotland, once hived off, wish to keep the pound. That would mean that they as a foreign country would not have their own currency. How ridiculous. When asked what he would do if the banks refuse to make that path easy for him, was unable to answer. He refuses to answer because he doesn’t know. For sure several banks in Scotland will move their head offices to England. There will be job losses and a run on the bank. If I had money in a Scottish bank, I would have removed it weeks ago.

If Scotland want to join the European Union, they would have to reapply. The process would take at least five years and they would have to adopt the Euro. Then they would have to do what the European Union says and not Westminster so they still wouldn’t be free. There is no freedom these days. We are all answerable to somebody.

They want to remove the trident missiles from their shores. Wouldn’t America have something to say about that? Again, it would take years to put that into practise and how would our defense look then? We could be over-run with terrorists and immigrants from all over Europe, entering Scotland and moving down into England through the back door. Scotland would have very little defense at all. They could not depend on the support of the British army, such as it is and they would have to build a whole host of warships etc. That would all take time and money. There is not time where defense is concerned.

The Scots think they own the oil in the North Sea. Actually it belongs to the United Kingdom. If Scotland is no longer part of the United Kingdom, they they would have to renegotiate for the oil and there is nothing to say that they would get all of it. In fact the sea would probably be divided up and they would only get some of it. Since Alex Salmond thinks the oil revenue is their salvation, what plans has he in place if they don’t? and what will they do when it runs out?

Perhaps we in England we would have to put in border control and issue passports. That would interrupt trade.

Talking of trade, perhaps our government would add import duty onto all the crates of whiskey we import or maybe we’ll get it from somewhere else. I’m told that the Irish have good whiskey too.

If I was a pensioner up there, I would be very worried. At the moment their pensions are paid from a communal pot. We are apx 58 million people here, 5 million in Scotland. They would have to fund their own pensions in future.

Perhaps I will stop there. I could go on and on and on about it but like everyone else, I will have to wait and see and wonder what lies in store.




What are ‘we’ making this week?


When I was at the recent Fibre East Festival in a village near here, I had a wonderful time looking at all the yarn, fibre, spinning wheels etc., but I felt a bit sorry for Larry because he wasn’t doing anything like it. He came round with me, gallantly and seemed to enjoy it. However, little did I know that he was taking it all in, especially the weaving looms. He was quiet about it while we were there, but when we got home, he went onto and bought a book on weaving. He read the book twice and a week later a beautiful Ashford weaving loom arrived. After that there was no stopping him and already he has made some beautiful things.

Here is the loom:


He has mounted it on an old bookcase so it hangs and when he sits in the chair, he can have it on his lap and weave away comfortably. This was the first thing he made. It’s a beautiful table cloth for a small occasional table. He made it in blue and white and it’s ever so even. He said I could have it as a tea towel, but it’s much too nice so it’s on display.

On top of the cloth is my weekly project. It’s a baby blanket for my new grandchild – due next February! Strictly speaking it’s a step-grandchild because he/she will be born to Larry’s youngest son Brad and his wife Morgan, who live in North Carolina. We are both very excited about the new event to come.

I am working on the border at the moment, as you can see. I’ll show you again when it’s quite finished.


Now back to Larry’s work. The second item he finished is a beautiful scarf, which he made in an all wool ecru. Here it is, all ready for the cold winds to come:


Each item Larry makes, he tests himself to do a little more intricately. In the scarf above, he has introduced a small pattern – two vertical lines down the sides. Lovely isn’t it.

The next item was a scarf in another all wool product. This one he found a bit more troublesome because the yarn was fluffy and hard to manage, but he finished it just the same and I think it looks lovely.


and lastly, because he had quite a bit of the grey yarns left over, he made a chair back for himself, which will no doubt help to keep his neck warm.


While Larry was weaving, I was finishing off a wall hanging, which I started at the beginning of the summer in my Patchwork Club. Here it is:




We can certainly do with some peace in the world at the moment!

What are you working on at the moment?


What am I making this week?


I’ve just recently finished a patchwork quilt for my bed, see above. After working on Larry’s American themed quilt at the beginning of the year,

dscf1805 I was ready for something ‘girlie’ and this is the result. It’s pink, red and flowery!!! Of course since I’ve finished it, the weather has turned warmer so I haven’t actually used it yet but the time is coming.

It was hard to get a picture of the quilt because it is quite big, but in the end what worked best was Larry holding it up for me. You can see his feet at the bottom!

So now I’m (almost) ready for the colder weather.

What about you? have you started squirrelling things away for the winter yet?


Dylan update – September 2014.


My little grandson Dylan is on holiday this week, in Wales. He’s having a great time judging by this picture.

Holidays are so necessary in our busy lives but it is hard for some of us to afford them these days. Larry and I have been having days out this summer rather than weeks away and I’ve enjoyed it very much. After buying the new car in May, it made sense to be careful for a little while and although holidays can be fun, they can also be a lot of work, what with the packing, planning, navigating etc.

I’m not sure if the wetsuits were really necessary! but I’ll leave you with some more pics of the happy family enjoying their summer break:

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Barbecuing in the rain!


Sorry about the quality of the picture. I haven’t mastered my I-phone camera yet!

Larry has been in England over a year now and is still very much enjoying his life here. Here he is barbecuing in the rain. Look how much weight he has lost since he’s been living in England! He is really slim now and looks much better for it. I have been quite strict with him because he admits to eating junk food when he was in America, living on his own. I don’t really know what junk food is. Food is food, right? However, I suppose it is obvious that some foods contain far too much sugar and fat for our health.

Next month we are going to the doctor’s for our annual check-up and it will be interesting to see how Larry’s blood tests come out. For the last few years he has been borderline diabetic and took tablets to readdress that. Here in England, the NHS (National Health Service) does not give preventative treatment for that condition so when L had his blood tests, obviously the results were good because he’d been taking the tablets. However, now he’s had a year without those tablets and only been eating the food I’ve been giving him, I’m keen to find out what the difference will be. Do you take any preventative medicines?

Actually, we have had a lovely summer but over the last week or so it turned cold. Now this week we are going to get a heatwave. Our weather certainly is changeable!


Roman Verulamium





A week or so ago Larry and I went to St. Albans in Hertfordshire to visit the museum of Roman artefacts. St. Albans is a city about 15 miles north of London and 15 miles south of where we live so it made for a nice day out.

I wanted to show Larry the museum because it contains some extremely old and interesting articles. In the picture Larry is admiring one of the mosaic floors, which was unearthed when the old Roman town of Verulamium was excavated. It is almost intact, which is amazing considering its age.

Verulamium was one of the largest towns in Roman Britain and we can learn an awful lot from studying the artefacts which range from the large mosaics you see here to the small objects of everyday life.

Verulamium began in the late Iron Age when it was known as Verlamion. The later settlement of Verulamium expanded to become a very large town and it flourished for four hundred years from around AD50.

If you would like to read more, you can click here. If you want to test your knowledge on Roman Britain, go to the fun section on their website and see how much you really know. The more you delve, the more fascinating it all becomes.


I consider myself very lucky to live in a country with so much history going on all around me.