Last summer the apple tree in our garden was laden with blossom and then with fruit so much that the branches reached to the ground with the weight. I love the pink amd white and hot summer days when sitting under the tree is cool and shady. An ideal place to read a book, gaze up at the sky through the leaves or fall asleep on a Sunday afternoon. I took so many pictures, but this one reminds me of the dazy, lazy feeling of summer.
Sunday, Sunday a day for taking it slow.I met with the funeral director this morning. Such a lovely man. Its been a family firm since 1832 and we used them for my Dad 5 years ago. He remembered all the details and it was so easy to arrange for Mum because she wanted just the same. We will have a service in the church. The one we saw every week as we took her out and where the bells were ringing the night she died. You can see the steeple from the front door. She will have a beautiful wicker basket with flowers woven round the handles. Afterwards she will be buried next to my Dad in a Woodland cemetery.
This afternoon we went to visit dad and to let him know it wont be long until she is there beside him. His tree has grown strong and tall, an oak. And the wildflower seeds we scattered have taken root and spread. The number of trees has grown over the last few years so there is now a little thicket of them set amongst the rolling countryside. It is on a small rise so you can look down onto farmland and watch the cows in the field next door. It is a peaceful place with birdsong. The dog likes to walk there and sniff about. It is nice to know where she will be.
After we went to visit the pub we will go to after the service. It sits on the canal with narrowboats pulled up alnogside and baskets of flowers spilling over. The Trent and Mersey canal was opened in 1777 and The Star Inn was open at least a century before that. We walked up the canal towpath to the bridge admiring the boats and sat at a table under a big red umbrella to have a drink and watch the world go by. We admired the dog in a life jacket on top of a boat running up and down the roof. The Missus has her heart set on a narrowboat whereas I have yearnings for a motor home. Watching the boats today and the peaceful pace, I might be persuaded, but don’t tell her. Sunday was a day for Mum. We would take her out for lunch and often for a drive. Today it felt like she was with us. We talked about her all afternoon. I havent cried yet. It still doesn’t really seem real. I expect I will. Tonight we are all going out for an Indian meal. me and the Missus, all the boys and girlfriends. It is the first time we have all been together at once since Friday. It will be good to all be together and be family. I think I am going to take a picture of Mum with me and we can have her on the table and drink a toast to her.
We don’t live in a big city. No great metropolis round here. Our city is a collection of six towns, literally. Each town still has its own separate and distinct identity and compared to London or Manchester or Birmingham we are pretty small potatoes. So Stoke Pride today in a local park was something that even a few years ago was the source of huge controversy in the local papers and started as a very tame and feeble event with a few stalls behind the only Gay Club in the area.
Today the sun shone and the people turned out to celebrate in all our glorious diversity. Young and old, gay, lesbian, bi, trans and straight. Big and small, kids, families, black and white. We ran into old friends and drank beer or coffee whilst sitting sedately on a picnic blanket. We danced to Lady Gaga, admired drag in all its gorgeousness and realised that tutus and fairy wings, like rainbows, are alive and well in the lesbian community. I quite fancied a rainbow bandana for the dog but the boys think he is feminine enough as a poodle pooch without any extra adornment.
The usual array of stalls representing community action groups, Health, Police and the City Council were running stalls and giving away freebies. Between us we have postcards, pens, a can opener and an ice scraper for the car. Oh and we won a bottle of sports drink and a beer with a glass both of which I am happy to pass on.
It is fun to sit and watch the community go by. High heels and glam frocks, butch shirts and short hair, boys in angel wings, girls in tutus. Small people in big wigs and lotsa lippy, boys with posing dogs on bling leads looking for a cute companion. There was free face painting, clay to play with, balloons galore and sparkly colourful wind socks and flags flying above the crowds. An afternoon of fantasy and fun. A safe, friendly atmosphere. Raucous sing a long to “I am What I Am”, and like Pride the world over, a moment of joy that this is ‘My’ town, my tribe and I am proud to have been there. My friend T. took this photo because she said we looked like something out of ‘Little Britain”, I see where she was coming from! If you don’t know the series the reference will pass you by but it sort of sums up the ironic humour of the event too.
Well this week has gone well so far. I am sticking with the plan, counting my points and its maki g me focus on portion sizes and what foods are high and low. It all makes perfect sense when you think about it doesn’t it? Fill up with lots of veggies, keep to lean meats and fish, not too much fat or sugar. So far its going well.
I have had some new clothes this week too. I have discovered the joys of eBay fairly recently, sold quite a few things and have now, more dangerously, discovered the art of buying. Being a plus size as they say finding nice clothes that look good, feel good and don’t cost the earth or fall apart quickly is sometimes not easy. The High St isn’t brilliant although places like New Look are good for cheap and cheerful and Monsoon or M and S for the quality stuff. online shopping on the other hand puts the world at your credit card. And eBay means nice stuff at a bargain! I am going fr the middle-aged but colourful, comfortable and hopefully attractive look here. So a jacket from Indigo Moon and some fab new trousers from Quacker factory have made my week. The pale green crop trousers have a bit of sparkly bling on the zips on the calves and a pair of black jeans have some sparkle round the hem. Today a pair of summer trousers arrived that had cost me the grand total of 74p! Anyway I am now topping my eBay shopping extravaganza for a little while to allow myself to enjoy what I’ve got and not overspend. It has given me a great boost though to have some new clothes that fit now, make me smile and I hope look good. I think its hard when you are wanting to lose weight to know what to do about clothes. For a while its ok to carry on wearing the same things but some of my size 24 trousers are now too big and look baggy on which isnt the best look for being smart enough for work. Wearing leggings and bit T’s might be alright on a weekend but it just won’t cut it if I want to look professional!
Having also reduced my income I’m pretty keen not to spend too much on clothes. I love charity shops too but when you are big it’s not always easy to find anything to fit. Having said that one of my current favourites is an Ann Harvey top which came from the Salvation Army shop for £2.50. So I decided that this year my focus for couture is on charity shopping and eBay. It sort of feels like a win win. I make a donation from everything I sell to cancer charities via eBay, I reckon I should share the good fortune. And this way I get to have clothes that fit along the way, I can pass them on or sell them every time I go down a size or two and start all over again.
It is a gorgeous summer day and I spent the afternoon tidying up the garden, mowing the grass ( I daren’t use the term ‘lawn’ under the Trades Descriptions Act), clipping the hedge with some help from son 3 and harvesting veggies.
This is our first crop of carrots, all curly and feathery topped. I wish I could do a scratch and sniff post so you could inhale the carrotty scent as they came up from the ground. I squeal with excitement at every vegetable that materialises. I also picked some tiny baby beetroot.
Tonight we are going to eat tuna steaks with steamed new potatoes, curly carrots and the tiny bettroots just for fun.
And after we are having strawberries and bluebrries which are right now marinading in a couple of spoonfuls of balsamic vinegar. Apparently they taste amazing with balsamic and fresh pepper so we will see. I didnt add the brown sugar as I know the fruit will be sweet enough for us! And psssst Im not doing sugar ( grin).
Food straight from the garden feeds the soul not just the body. Good food shared in good company makes your heart sing. I am lucky, I have both.
Never mind the Baby Boomers and Generation X, my kids are the Harry Potter Generation and as the story reader who became as delighted and in awe of the books as they were, I guess I am sort of that generation too. We waited in eager anticipation for the new copies of each book. After the first two I ordered at least three copies at a time from amazon on pre-order. As they grew to read the books for themselves we couldn’t wait but had to each have our own copy. Summers were a joy of Harry and Hermione and Ron. Mrs Weasley was my magical role model, how I would love her skill with a wand in the kitchen and for tidying up the house.
Each film we have seen together, a family outing, usually the preview showing or on the first day. My eldest though, refused to come. Having seen the first film he retired in disgust, it could never live up to the books and the wonderful readings by Stephen Fry that he listened to nightly. For years after bedtime stories were past he would listen till he fell asleep.
On Tuesday I went with sons 3 and 4 to see the final film, The Deathly Hallows Part 2. I almost didn’t want it to come. It certainly feels like an end of an era. As they are now 18 and 16 its rare to find a film we want to see together at the cinema. Of course they want to go with their friends. But this was special, this was Harry Potter, and that made it a family occasion for the true believers. I thought it was pretty good, I liked they way they did the ending and it was fun to see how the characters had grown up too.
But the best bit is that the books are still here. It’s a while since I’ve read them so I can feel an HP session coming up, although I’m disappointed that I can’t yet read them on my kindle.
What is it about HP that caught the imagination of millions? Good and Evil of course, the wonderful fantasy of school stories and every childs dream of living away from home in a magical place. And then of course there is the magic, the humour, the story of love and loyalty, of sacrifice and bravery. It is truly epic in its breadth and storytelling. JK Rowling you are a very special writer and I thank you for the joy you have given me and my family over the last 10 years or so.
Just when you think that your days of summer fairs, cake stalls and tombolas are over another one comes along. Having spent the last twenty-something years at school events I confess to a little sigh of relief to say goodbye to the PTA and the wanton spending at each stall to ensure goodwill or sponsor the next football team jerseys.
But now we have moved on to summer fairs for seniors. The bottle stall was particularly well attended at £1 for 5 goes. More than one elderly gentleman was observed chuckling down the corridor, zimmer frame in one hand and Liebfraumilch in the other.
Mum was particularly keen on the cake stall where a slice of gateau and a milky coffee were soon obtained and enjoyed. After a slow zimmer amble round the other stalls we were told she had had emough, “I want to go back to my room, what shall I do, I don’t have wheels on?”.
We tucked her back up in her chair and left her to sleep and contemplate her new shoes (last weeks crocs) which are a big hit.
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Digging up our first ever potato crop yesterday was truly like finding golden treasure. To put the fork in and turn the soli over then find a perfect new potato just made me shriek and grin! I dug up just enough for dinner for last night and we savoured every delicious, earthy, sweet mouthful. And yes, they really do taste different. We ate them with salmon, some lettuce from the garden mixed with sugar snap peas, cucumber and mint ( also from the garden). We had a large jug of iced water with lemon and mint, added butter to the potatoes. Heaven.
I love potatoes.The daughter of a friend of mine, who is now in her twenties, asked Santa for a bag of potatoes ‘All for herself” when she was 7. She would have loved these!
You can do so much with a potato. Boil it, mash it, fry it, make chips and fries with it, bake it, add cream and onion and garlic and Frenchify it deliciously.Make Bubble and Squeak ( potatoes and cabbage leftovers English) or Colcannon (Bacon and potato leftovers Irish), Potato Cakes ( Welsh), Champ or Tattie Scones ( Scottish).Use it in an ‘egg’ and spoon race. Play counting games with it. It must be one of the most maligned vegetables, blamed for making us fat when it is a solid satisfying complex carbohydrate which releases sloooow sugars to keep us steady between meals.
This was my first foray into potato growing, there are lots more out there just waiting to be savoured and eaten. The onions are coming on too, as are the carrots and beetroot. So, One potato, Two potato ….