Friday, 18 August 2017

From Henry VIII To Dick Van Dyke!

The trouble with committing to a daily blog, is when you have to skip a day or two it builds up!
So here is a potted history of the past few days with Hubby's Australian cousins.
They arrived Tuesday evening and the Golden Cheese Tart went down a treat, even Teen Two enjoyed it ( not usually keen on raw veg) so I am glad to have it back on the menu as I am rather partial to it!
For dessert I did the good old faithful White Chocolate Torte with those fancy caramelised biscuits, usually served with lattes.
I used the china tea set gifted to me from my late neighbours for the first time, and the Ozzies really appreciated the "English" touch and intend to serve some desserts the same way when back home.
Teen Two took the photos for me, the top one rather over exposed and this one too far away, but hey, my photography is pretty poor too, but you get the idea of what they looked like.....this one was part way through the final touches, the raspberries really life the dish I think.
Wednesday morning, with the navy being in the family blood, there was only one place the men wanted to be, at the Dockyard, little did we know the new Queen Elizabeth was coming in, so the place was heaving!!
First visit though was  HMS Warrior, we were able to show them the parts that Hubby made many years ago...
...the next queue to join was for HMS Victory.
Like our US friends, our cousins from down under are always amazed at how old our history is.
To be honest something made in the 1800's seems almost recent ( only the century before I was born!) whereas things built by the Romans really do seem old, and of course we have many things just locally with that sort of age to them.
We just don't appreciate what's around us I guess.
After a spot of lunch, we then went to see the Mary Rose Museum, and also the new carrier of course, but time didn't allow us to see everything, however our tickets are valid for a year so we have no excuse for not going back.
Back home everyone was shattered....but of course even though I was "weary worn and tired" as my grandmother would say, with feet aching from all that walking, it was into the kitchen for me to make everyone a cuppa and then pop the dinner in the oven.
We had a lovely evening and all went to bed tired out!
Thursday was rather gloomy, and also the day they were moving up country slightly.
We took them to see where the first fleet left for Australia, which of course was of great interest to them.
We then went to Southsea Castle, built by Henry VIII where we had a lovely lunch.
It's not every day they will get to eat lunch in such an old castle or one that belongs to one of History's notorious kings!
Nearby is a small garrison church where tea was first drank in England.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye, all the sadder when the last time we said goodbye we knew we would be seeing each other again in a few months...this time its likely we won't meet again, since Australia is such a long way away and we don't have any thoughts of making a return visit.
However, we have enjoyed getting to know them, and social media/skype is an excellent way to keep in touch.
With the family having been waved off, we hurriedly packed an overnight bag and headed up to Coventry.
We had hoped to get there in time to go to the Transport Museum for Hubby, but the traffic was pretty dire, so  we didn't manage to do that sadly, so stopped off at a local Harvester before booking in to our hotel...then wished we hadn't!
The above picture is the seal around the bath...
...and this is the mould on the ceiling!
It is probably our first failure as far as researching online and taking reviewers word for the place being good.
There were many good reviews and one bad review...well I think we must have had the same room as the bad reviewer!
It wasn't expensive but I think everyone deserves a clean environment when going in as paying guests.
Needless to say I will be letting the hotel know my thoughts...seeing as I wasn't asked on the way out!
I cant say I had a good nights sleep and was glad when morning broke.
We headed out to camp to collect Teen One, who had really enjoyed her week.
Before going home we made a detour to Turville, a small quaint village in Oxfordshire.
We had called in to Morrisons for the £3 meal deal and I was delighted to find infused water as one of the drink choices....mmmmm!
Almost as soon as we arrived in the village the rain came, so we sat in the car and enjoyed our lunch, waiting for a dry spell.
We went to Turville because this is where the windmill used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is.

Its quite a climb up the hill...

...and the views were stunning from the top...
...I guess the people who own the mill get rather tired of folk coming up to admire their home, so there is a large fence obscuring most of the view...
...this is the best I could get..and that was with my arms has high as I could reach over the fence!
I don't blame the owners for wanting their privacy, it must be very annoying having their home invaded all the time...
...and the best views really do come from down below in the village.
The walk down was far less arduous and the grey clouds lifted.
We took a short walk round the village, where every cottage was delightful.
A fairly short drive away is Russell's Water, which is the pond that Truly Scrumptious drove her car into.
As Chitty is one of my favourite films it was lovely to visit this places, even though they bear little resemblance to the screen shots!
The journey home was pretty miserable as we hit the rush hour traffic and Teen One nodded off pretty did I eventually!
Back home there is an endless amount of laundry to tackle, so I am hoping for good weather tomorrow...although we wont be home for much of it,
we received a text from family in Ruislip saying they would like to come down for the day, so it was washing in the machine then a quick trip out to the supermarket to get some food in for the weekend then plan what we are going to do with the kiddies tomorrow!
Sunshine would be such a blessing!!




Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Waiting Game

This morning I woke up around 4.45am, felt wide awake, so at 5am decided to get up and have a cuppa, quiet browse online, before getting on with preparing for the visitors due later today.
It was very frustrating therefore to be sat comfy in my chair, with a cuppa a slice of toast, to read the laptop say "Updating....this may take some time!"
By the time I had drank my tea  it was only at 1% so clearly this was going to be a long job.
Instead I busied myself making my usual bramble flapjack...
...a pastry case ready for this vintage recipe...
...with the left over pastry I made Teen Two a red Leicester cheese and pepperoni pie...
...which was no looker, but  I am reliably informed was very tasty and worth repeating!
The laptop was STILL updating, but I had achieved quite a lot and it was still not even my usual getting up time!
When Teen Two was up he helped me with getting the Golden Cheese Pie ready, grating all the carrot ( not my favourite task!) and cheese...
...then he climbed onto the small roof and hosed down the conservatory roof for me.
Its now lovely and clean, with beautiful views out onto the bright blue skies we have had all day.
I spent the morning getting the beds made up, bathrooms cleaned and generally pottering around.
With no real idea when the visitors were coming we stayed home, aside from Teen Two going to the bottle bank for me, we played Rummikub, watched some Last of The Summer Wine, and generally  chilled after the hectic morning.
We now know our visitors hope to be here around 7.30 -8pm, so it will be a later than usual evening meal, but as Hubby isn't expecting to be home till around then its worked out fine.
Teen Two and I have had a bowl of cereal to keep us going!
We are really looking forward to seeing the folks again and spending the day with them tomorrow.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Visitors From Afar

Is it just me or does Monday come round really quickly?
It seems I no sooner visit my Recycled Teenager then its time to go round again!
I felt a bit rotten today, I had no plated up dinner to take her, having been away for the weekend there was no roast for us yesterday, so no left overs to pass on.
She wasn't feeling up to a shopping trip today, which is becoming quite a regular thing....I am hoping she isn't fading before my eyes.
After doing the shopping, I took Teen One's car into Tesco for a valet service.
Not only did it shine on the outside... was wonderfully fresh and spruce inside!
I should have taken a before photo as it really was in dire need of a had a post festival look about it, but for just £20 the "Gold" treatment was well worth every penny and from now on it will be easier to keep clean.
Knowing the crew had rather a job on their hands, I picked up a dozen doughnuts for them to share on their coffee break.
Does one tip car washers?
I wasn't sure but felt they needed some kind of reward.
Tomorrow Hubby's cousin from Australia is coming for a couple of nights, with his wife and their two friends.
We are really looking forward to seeing them again, having met them for the first time this Easter.
Originally Grandma was going to have one couple and we were putting up the other couple, but with Grandma being away on holiday it seemed silly to have one couple alone at Grandma's, so we are doing a bedroom switch for the next couple of nights.
Teen Two can go in Teen One's single bed, we will then move to Teen Two's room, where his single bed can be extended to be a double bed and then one lot of visitors can have our room.
Teen Two's "double bed" has one side against the wall, so that's not ideal for anyone who might be needing to get up in the night, hence the reason for the switch over.
However, our room is the one I pay the least attention to, it gets vaccumed at least every week and dusted when I can write in the dust regularly, but it tends to be a dumping ground, so today those areas had to be sorted and furniture pulled out to ensure it was spic and span.
Part way through the afternoon my late neighbour's son called...with flowers as usual!
I say "as usual" but never take it for granted and always tell him not to keep spending his money on me!
I think I will put one in each of the visitors rooms, nothing like fresh flowers is there.

I felt the need to have something home baked in the cupboard and started with  one of my favourites,
Fruit Tea Bread.
The recipe came from an old family friend and is so quick and easy to make.
10 oz dried fruit
7 oz soft brown sugar
1/2 pint cold black tea
I large egg
10 oz SR flour ( white/wholemeal/half and half)
Soak the fruit and sugar in the cold tea overnight.
Stir well and add beaten egg and flour, mix well.
Pour into greased loaf tin and bake 180 degree 350 F Gas 4
1 1/2 hours.
Improves with keeping....if you can resist it!
Fat free as it is, but delicious buttered!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

"W" is for......

Saturday was an early...ish start to the day.
The Teens were going to a Beach BBQ Bible Study day.
It was being hosted by friends, who have the pleasure of owning a renovated barn just minutes walk from the beach!
Oh what a dream house aye!
However I ought to add, they have also had great tragedy in their life so it never pays to look at someone's life with green eyes.
It's so unusual for Hubby and I not to have the Teens at home with us ( at least one of them anyway) we couldn't actually think of another day when we had both been home without them!
"What shall we do?" we thought!
"What was on that list of to do things when the kids weren't around?"
Well seems there wasn't actually anything on our to do list, other than try and sort out the garage, yet again!
It seems no matter how many times we de junk it, it gets filled up again...and never with a car!
The plan was, to have it empty enough to fit Teen One's car in, but that isn't even vaguely possible with the tumble drier still down there and also a lovely supply of wood for the winter.
It does however look much better than it did and we have a fair idea of what is in there finally!
Freecycle is a great invention and I have managed to give away lots of useful items over the years, but I never cease to be amazed at the thoughtless people you come across through it!
I advertised our old church piano, which has nothing wrong with it, but is never played, our musician preferring the organ.
Having advertised an expensive instrument as Free  it wasn't surprising to receive several requests for it...
...but I also said Collection only...
so why to people then say "can you deliver?"
Just how am I do deliver a piano?
So I add to Collection only...
"will need a van and at least two strong people"
and still I get responses like
"just had a quote for £70, can you do for me instead for cost"
Well £70 IS the cost for that company who you got a quote from!!
Not only do some people want things for free, they don't want the inconvenience of arranging collection!
I thought we had an interested party on Friday, who even said they were moving so had a van that day and would collect it at the end of the move... I keep my laptop near me whenever I am home (not having a smart phone) and at 9.30pm eventually send a message asking how the move has gone, to be told they had taken the van back and no longer wanted the piano!
We had even gone to the trouble of going to church to move the piano into an easy position for them collecting it, to save them time and wonders why we bother sometimes!!
Saturday we were still in the throes of discussing collection arrangement with someone, only to be let down at the last minute.
Looks like this piano will be going to landfill sadly.
The day soon passed and it was time to collect then Teens, then make the long drive up to the Midlands for Teen One's annual camp week.
It was a journey fraught with moments of terror for Teen One.....our sorting of the garage had included a trip to the dump...which included taking some bags of garden waste which had been stored against a wall for a few weeks.
When Hubby picked them up he noticed a ton of woodlice behind the bags.
Well seems there was also a ton that made it into the car and periodically along the journey we heard a squeal from the back seat as yet another louse crawled around Teen One's seat!
At one point we pulled over and attempted to find where they were all coming from....typically we found hardly any, and yet moments later they came out from their hiding place to terrorise her again!
She has had a hate of woodlice since she was little when our old conservatory was full of them and they used to work their way into her toys/art stuff....and dead ones were just as obnoxious to her!
By the time we got there the sun was setting, thankfully the tents were all up and sturdy, but her camp bed cover seemed to have shrunk  since last year and Hubby had a real job trying to get it to fit onto the frame!
We then left Teen One in a distinctly chilly camp field whilst we headed out to a nearby Hilton!
It had been a long and tiring day so we were thrilled to have been upgraded and be able to fall into comfy beds with a hot drink.
We had a lovely night's sleep and felt a tad guilty to receive a text from Teen One at 8.30am to say she had been so cold in the night she barely slept and was going to wear her hoody tonight!
And there we were still snug in bed!
We eventually forced ourselves out of bed and down to the buffet breakfast, where a full English is the order of the day for the men...and I did have one or two bits of it myself, but prefer the muffins, pastries and fruit option really.
The lads then had a swim, whilst I sat by the pool having a read and attempting a crossword.
I did have my knitting with me but just wasn't in the mood....we all need a day off I guess!
The long drive home was tiring as usual, but the boredom broken somewhat by counting how many apple trees we passed on the roadside.
It doesn't seem a year since we were doing that!
I always wonder if one of them is as a result of Hubby throwing out his apple cores years ago... sure he was not alone in doing that so probably not, but its a nice little muse anyway!

Friday, 11 August 2017

An Eventful Day!

I am loving the slow starts we have been able to enjoy this week.
I haven't actually had lie ins as such, maybe a few minutes, but have just spent longer over my first cup of tea of the day, spent longer ( than I should have probably!) surfing the web, took longer to get get the picture, just generally taking it slow.
I took my usual trip to Lidl and was pleased to see a garden storage box in their middle aisles ( the only aisle Hubby ever goes to when he is in the shop!)
It said, "no tools, just click into place"
Well just how hard can it be I thought....yep....THAT hard!!
The Teens and I did our best to be logical, look at the pictures, study each piece carefully....but nope, my blood pressure started to go through the roof, so we decided there was no choice but to leave it for Hubby...well we've got to let him know he has his uses haven't we!

Teen Two helped me in the garden, doing some much needed weeding...

....and he had a little helper too!

Teen One made some flapjack, inspired by a friend who said they had made some with a
 white chocolate and yogurt topping.

I searched for a recipe online and found this one.
It is delicious!

When Hubby came home, needless to say, he didn't need to look at the instructions and in minutes had the unit all put together!

It is really roomy and will fit in the bunny hay/woodshavings, which are bulky and take up too much floor space in our already full up garage,
and there is plenty of room for the garden furniture cushions, in the winter and when it rains in summer, they take a long time to dry out so on weeks like this week when we have heavy rain one day followed by days of sunshine, it will be nice to have somewhere to quickly store them.

Hubby also put up my new gazebo looks sooooo much better!

Hubby thinks The Range have used different fabric this time, so hopefully it will last longer than the last one.

I busied myself with the usual chores and digging out a suitcase for Teen One, who goes to camp tomorrow....I had thought I got the right one out earlier in the week before I rearranged the little attic storage space, but nope...I had to pull it all out again!!
But the BIG event of the day was going to collect Teen One's car!!!
She drove home (with me as passenger) with no probs.
Being an older car it has some knocks and rattles that are a little disconcerting when you have only driven a new car, but it has passed its MOT and been taken back for one of the noises, but our friend's daughter was assured all was well, so Teen One will no doubt get used to the noises too.

Hubby will give it a quick going over to see if there is anything he can do to quieten it.
Its going to be sat on the road for the next week now though, and later next week the "black box" will be fitted.
Do all mums worry this much when their children get their first set of wheels or is it just me?
"The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want."