Monday, 28 December 2009

Ashdown Forest Walks

We did a four mile walk this morning with four other families and three dogs. Twenty of us over hill and dale in glorious winter sunshine. Frost still on the ground in places, but mostly mud. The starting and end point was The Foresters Arms in Fairwarp. We wound up the walk in the pub for a great lunch. Rabbit and bacon pie for moi.
Three days now we have been walking.
Yesterday we went to Sheffield Park but it was closed, so went on to Lewes for a ramble through its streets and to see the castle. Lovely moon scape for you all to see.
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Saturday, 26 December 2009

Weighing In

Christmas Day was relaxed and fun. John bought a Wii Fit for the family and one by one the girls weighed in to get their BMI and fitness age. David, Kristen and Adam did it too and in the end I thought 'Blow it....what does it matter if they know?', so I did my public weigh-in to a range of comments and laughs. Yes, I am more chunky than I was when I met John (nearly five years now), but the machine says my BMI is IDEAL....Yeah! My fitness age needs work. I am showing 54 for a 49 year old...but that is reversable!
Long walk to Forest Row this afternoon, in rain, for all of us and some people weighed-in again today. Am not prepared to risk a change...certainly a negative one!
Got some crochet done this afternoon, nice to be back at it, my head is full of ideas and I have a fabulous new crochet book to help me learn even more now.

rabbit with carrot

rabbit with carrot
Originally uploaded by hirado_hime

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The night before Christmas

and all through the land, mad women like me are cooking!
In fact I started last night, which is the night before the night before Christmas. This of course does not include the gravy that Hannah and I made and froze at the weekend, or the brasied red cabbage and apple and the brussel sprouts which are ready in the freezer too!
Last night I made pork and chestnut stuffing balls. The smell of which is amazing. They have smoked bacon, garlic, sage, lemon zest, onions and of course pork and chestnuts in them...delicious. It is a fiddly job though and took almost 90 minutes just to get them oven ready. But so worth it.
I got up this morning really glad that job is done as we have 9 people here tonight for a Thai curry (also cooked last night). There will not be as much cooking time today.
Having said that, John is making bread sauce this morning. I know, the sound of it is horrible, but last year I made and ate if for the first time and it was superb. It is a creamy onion flavoured thick textured sauce, served warm with the turkey and trimmings.
At the last farmers market of the year, apart from veg, I bought a lovely stollen covered in powdered sugar. Something we ate when in Belgium that really reminds me of the season. It evens sounds like a Christmasy word!

After my two hour slot at the office (already had one broken down boiler) we are going to collect the turkey.

Then it will be on for young and old. This crazy time when a huge percentage of the population feels the need to eat the same thing, drink a lot, watch a lot of dubious TV and then moan about feeling full and lazy....

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Three Little Maids are we....

These are the little kokeshi that I have been working on for the grand daughters of two of my colleagues. They are about 12cm tall. The first one I made is of Amazonian proportions because I could not read the they look tiny and 'normal', although we all like the original Kozue chan.

The recent snow and ice is causing havoc, but for the first three days it was beautiful powder snow. Now it is crusty slush and last night it took almost an hour to dig my way out of the drive to get to the station.

The rabbit is one that John bravely took to his office Christmas party as his secret Santa gift....Fortunately at least the recipient was a girl...although it may have ended up in a bin on the way home! Who knows?

Friday, 18 December 2009

winter white

Bets are on that it will be a white Christmas in parts of the UK this year. In our part of the land we had 12 hours of snow over night and everything is white this morning. The sun is out too which makes it beautiful. No photos as John has taken the camera with him to Whitley Bay...
The last day of school was cancelled today, so the girls are meeting up with friends to play in the snow.
John opted to go north to see his parents as his father has been in hospital again. The good news is that he comes home today, but we will not be going up for the end of year celebration this time.
Emily's table tennis club had its Christmas party last night which was a hoot. Lots of pizza, all eaten....and everyone (mums included) playing table tennis. A raffle to raise money for the club attrated very enthusiastic participants, one group of lads bought £16.00 worth of tickets and of course walked away with most of the prizes. Hannah and Em did not come home empty handed, which was nice.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The lull before Christmas

Things seem need to tempt fate, but we have had a peaceful few days. We took the girls and a friend to T'Wells on Saturday to do some shopping. John started coming down with something and by the end of the morning was very miserable. In bed for two days after that.
But apart from his ills it was a lovely day and I had a warm glowing feeling as we drove home, laughing and being really silly in the car.
We had our work Christmas lunch at the Griffin Inn in Fletching on Sunday, which I went to on my own.
The food is excellent and it is a cosy pub, with a roaring fire. I want to take John to it now. I had breast of wood pigeon....and lamb. Yum.
The girls put up our Christmas tree when I was out and it looks great. I am off work now for three days and plan to get the Christmas cards up and wrap some presents.
I ordered our organic turkey and pork at the butchers...even that felt festive. So may people were in there ordering food and talking about turkey. Having said that I am very tempted by goose too....
I have not been able to finish the rabbit that I was making for John to take to his Christmas party. There is not enough time.
Last night I shopped, collected the girls and some friends from the school disco, took the friends home, then came with Adam and Ben to the office to get keys for one of our flats. We moved a chest of drawers out of it, which the boys are going to use in their new home (when they get it) and as I was not home until nearly 10:00 did not feel like crocheting. Which is rare.

Friday, 11 December 2009


I have had a day and a half off work this week and just LOVED it. Not that anything special was done. The home insurance policy had to be renewed and that was done with a saving of £72.00 on last year...More Christmas presents were ordered on line and for the first time EVER, I think I am ahead.
I crocheted too. It is becoming something of a passion. I am impatient and need to pace myself better. My head is full of things I want to make and of course, that means I am going to have to make my own patterns. Seems a bit ambitious when I have only just learnt the basic steps. BUT I am working on my own koala at present. He is looking ok, not great, a bit gappy on his lower belly, something to do with the way the stitches are decreased. More research on that revealed that there is another way to decrease way is partially visible so it is time to learn the new method. I always admire the tight knitted look of other people's work and think mine looks amatuer.
I have been talking about doing something with these little creatures and as I have a history of planning and getting fired up about something then letting it fizzle out before anything gets started, I don't want to not do it this time. There has been a lot of encouragement. I am going to have to post pics here for everyone to see and you can tell me what you think. Honestly!
In the meantime John's days as a diplomat are winding down and he is winding up. There has been a fever of activity and he has been seeing lots of people and talking about opportunities for the new year.
All I can say is that I admire his gusto. Wonder if I am biased in any way?

Monday, 7 December 2009


It was my 49th on Saturday....don't feel ANY different. I worked in the morning and had my hair cut short in the afternoon. (Norah Jones was the inspiration for the style).
In the evening I cooked a pheasant with a sausage meat and fig stuffing, wrapped the bird in smokey bacon strips and cooked it in a casserole dish in the oven. On the side I made braised red cabbage with apples cooked in red wine vinegar and mashed potatoes. John opened a bottle of Cloudy Bay and we had a lovely meal - sans enfants who were all out socializing.
On Sunday Em played in her first table tennis tournament and did well. We only went to the morning session, and spent the rest of the day on chores and Christmas cards.
We went to dinner at The Old Mill in Dunnings Road for my birthday night out and again was treated to superb food. Yum...

Friday, 4 December 2009

Very Big News

It is sometimes hard not to tell, but this one has been under our hats for a while now.
John has accepted an early retirement package from the Foreign Office and that means from Jan 1st he is out there on his own.
We are both very excited as a big change like this in life does not come along all that often.
John now has a chance to do something for himself and it means we will be in the UK for a while, probably!! The girls will be pleased as they are not too keen on being uprooted.
As he winds down after 30 years, there is so much to look forward to. The man has a lot to offer.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Winter Concert

John sang in a Winter Concert at the Sackville School last night. (Sackville is the 'other' high school in town, but like Imberhorne, full of talented kids) John's choir sang with the school's choir and on their own and they were brilliant. Medleys don't really appeal to me, but I got quite excited at the wonderful selection of songs from The Sound of Music. It is great to see John get so much joy from his singing. We were very proud.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

First frost

There has been 9 days of rain and wind and storms, until today. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and there is a frost. Beautiful. It does mean however, having to scrape the windscreen of the car, a chilly job!

Apart from that, the birds were flitting around the garden and nothing is nicer on a white morning than to see the robin.

This link has some great shots of British birds.