Friday, 12 September 2008

Dust and grime and the ubiquitous charity shop trend

Work continues and by the weekend there will only be a shell left. The dirt is piling up, but now that it is happening I feel a bit excited about what will arise out of the rubble!

EG where we live, boasts 6 charity shops and as many cafes, two of which are chains. Today yet another charity shop will open its doors, directly across the road from a sister/rival cause.....obviously people in this country buy so much that the unwanted, replaced 'stuff' can drive this multi million pound trend. One does not even have to buy a wedding dress London, Oxfam has a shop that sells brand new, off the rack dresses for about a 10th of the price, all off-loaded from stores with excess stock or shops closing down.....

I am not knocking them, I am an avid fan of the charity shop and buy clothes, books, sometimes jewellery and things for the house. I also donate any unwanted items, especially children's clothes, that are in good condition that might have a second life somewhere else. Who needs retail shopping???

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Men at Work

The kitchen/utility room has long been an issue in the house. It is not big enough for 5 of us in there at once, is old and not very practical. Since getting here in March last year we have been planning to make this very important space in the house a more family friendly area and we are somewhat nervous as work starts this week.
It means five weeks with no kitchen, no downstairs loo, no sink, in fact a hole really. The loo, washing machine and dishwasher are being relocated into a space taken from the garage. That will free up the utility room and then the wall between it and the kitchen will be knocked down and the new kitchen put in there. There will de French doors opening onto the patio, and even Bosley will get a new door!
We have been moving things out all weekend and have set up a temporary camp in the dining room, the fridge is in there, as is most of the food. The microwave oven will be in the conservatory and we will wash dishes in a bucket. Our neighbour has lent us two gas rings to cook on and if the rain would stop for a while we could use the barbeque!!
John has managed very cleverly to arrange go to the Middle East for 10 days on a business trip and Hannah is off to Holland soon for a 6 day Art Exchange.....Adam, Emily and I will be left with the mess for the entire time....

Friday, 5 September 2008

First Day of School 2008 - 2009

The girls started school on Thursday. Hannah goes into year 8 and Emily into year 7, she is now in high school. They looked very smart when they headed off yesterday and last night came home with lots of news and they seem to be happy to be back with all their friends and teachers. Posted by Picasa

Blackberry season

Just after getting back from the holiday I was walking along the bridle path and noticed the blackberries looking very ripe and ready. The next evening I took a small bag and collected almost a kilo of them. Not unlike kuwa, 桑, they make great jam, jelly and go well in pies with apples. I want to freeze some this year for those cold nights when a hot crumble goes down really well after dinner. Crumble is a desert. Fruit, like apples, apricots, rhubarb (ok, not a fruit but still used in deserts), strawberries and of course blackberries topped with a crumbled mixture of butter, brown sugar and flour. Nuts or oatmeal can be added for extra crunch. Superb hot with custard and or icecream!

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The Farne Islands

We visited the Farne Islands while up north. Off the coast of Seahouses (the town's name) they are low lying rocky islands home to tens of thousands of birds and less than a dozen humans. I had hoped to see puffins, but it was not the season.

The Farne Islands is also where Grace Darling lived with her father who was a lighthouse keeper. She is legendary in the area for rowing out with him during a storm to rescue stranded passengers from a ship that ran aground on the rocks.

Monday, 1 September 2008


What a wonderful place for a week's holiday. A small town at the foot of a hill with a reasonably intact castle on it. You can climb through the castle rooms and it is great fun. There is a river running through town and it is minutes walk from stunning beaches. The weather was not good! Rain daily, but in the end, none of us were bothered by it. We walked along the beach to the next town, Amble, but were foiled by the river which separates the two towns. We spent ages digging, as one does on the beach, in the rain and the girls rolled down some very impressive sand dunes. I intend to blog and add photos so that you can see this lovely part of the world.
Our cottage, the Old Coach House was delightful, clean, well equipped, tastefully decorated and the landlord supplied wine for us and sweets for the girls as a welcome! The cottage is the one with the blue door.