Monday, 17 November 2014

Kielder Observatory

Oh my gosh! I have not been on my blog for ages; today I have the lurgy cough, cold and sore throat that is going around so I had time for a peep----- 10,000 hits! That is something that has stirred my thoughts- so maybe I will start again if people are interested enough to come on to read old writings?

For H1's birthday D3 and P bought us (what it is to get included on someone else's gift) a delicious meal at the Hollybush Inn in Greenhaugh then a midnight ticket each for the Kielder Observatory; Kielder has the recognition of being the 3rd most 'dark sky' in the world and the darkest 'dark sky' in Europe. Through 3 different sized telescopes and guided by expert staff and volunteers, we looked at details on the Moon (2 days after a full moon that night so bleached some colour out of the planets), Jupiter, Milky Way, Andromeda galaxy etc. exciting! So was the eco loo- sawdust and all! We saw moons and rings around Jupiter. You have to book- and early. Imagine being able to see the Northern Lights from here; I have seen them swirling like dayglow curtains across the night sky years ago when we were at a B&B with friends up in the Borders- magnificent is the only word to describe what I saw.

Today's rain and cold has replaced yesterday's fog; I am going downstairs to snuggle up on the settee and watch some television while clutching a box of aloe vera tissues;

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Should I?

I am wondering whether or not to continue my blog....

One puts so much stuff down that just anyone can read- I look in the statistics at the 'audience' (that is the countries) where some one is reading my blog- and I worry.

Admittedly my blog is pretty boring- my garden and the area- but I am wary.....

I am busy too so

all these summer flowers I snapped & did not get them into my blog when they were in full bloom are now well and truly over and gone

Meanwhile we have gone into Autumn with a vengeance; to be truthful by mid August the trees had lost their Summer sparkle and the leaves were dry and already curling; the county died early. The heavily berried shrubs and trees suggest a hard winter is coming.

Crisp leaves lie deep on pavements and cardigans are being replaced by coats. Children are throwing stones up into chestnut trees to bring down conkers and dinners are being cooked in the slow cooker.

The Equinox has been and the nights are definitely drawing in with the days getting shorter, darker and colder.

Winter is coming.

Saturday, 30 August 2014


The sun is peeping over the horizon and the sky is streaked as if lit by a night fire. Time moves on....
Now the soft glow becomes a harsh demanding eye.

A few nights ago I spent hours slicing up a christening cake; that and the arrival on our screens of the Great British Bake Off made me think.
Celebrations are a minefield and the choice of type of cake is a small but significant part of the celebration. I remember my dad talking about his mother baking fruit cakes then putting them in a biscuit tin with fruit like apples and burying them in the garden to store them only lifting them and opening them over the months in order to swop the wizened apples for fresh ones and reburying the tin until the celebration day arrives.

I am such a Northerner- I love moist fruit cake preferably with a chunk of cheese.

We went to a wedding recently where the layers consisted of different cheeses surrounded by mountains of butter and piles of savoury biscuits, providing yet another course after dessert.
Our latest wedding presented a (colour coordinated) mauve shaded 7 layer confection of which the mother of the bride confided the bottom 3 layers were polystyrene!

At weddings now it is popular to have layers made up of different types of cake; eg lower layer of fruit then above this balances a plain cake like a Madeira (which I dislike) and a chocolate cake. The difficulties are that nothing keeps as well as a fruit cake- so chocolate and plain cakes tend to be dry. The cakes' compiler also has to have a sturdy enough lower cake to support the upper layers so nonfruit cakes (even with columns inserted) can be dryer in order to be firm enough to hold up the weight above.
I wonder how they do it in the USA where I believe they often have cakes composed of ice cream?

It is traditional in England to keep the top layer of the stacked cake, to be used in years to come as the christening cake of the first baby! Certainly we followed tradition but I baked another celebration fruit cake as back up- just in case!

I invariably had marzipan stored in my cupboards for a forthcoming celebration cake eg Christmas- only to find my youngest sister had raided the cupboards while babysitting and the cupboard was bare of marzipan. I brush apricot jam on to the cake before covering it in rolled out almond paste; the timing is crucial as it has to be left long enough for the marzipan to dry out so as not to discolour the white icing. After undertaking a 3 year icing course, my mother's creations in Royal icing were spectacular. My Christmas cakes' snow scenes leave a lot to be desired!
These days one has to be so careful- I suppose because of the age of our offspring we have had the pleasure of a lot of weddings and christenings and all the cakes have been different and cautious! It is traditional to put nuts in celebration fruit cakes but we don't because so many guests these days have nut allergies- and because H1 doesn't like nuts in food! Similarly due to egg allergies and pregnant guests' , we have not iced with royal icing which contains raw egg white. Royal icing goes rock hard too. Sometimes we have left off the layer of marzipan due to the nut content- but at least that can be peeled off not ingested. Rolled out icing is the way to do it!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Finished at last

A Peace rose we inherited with the house; so old and gnarled, folk say we should cut it down- but it is too beautiful and flowers abundantly year after year so why would I get rid of it?
I am pleased to announce that at last I have finished 'Bring up the bodies' by Hilary Mantel after 8? months of attempting to read it- or rather after months of attempting to find the time to read it or anything else. I will Bookcross it if no one among friends and relatives wants it; get in touch if you want possession of this novel about the life of Thomas Cromwell at the time of Anne Boleyn; this book sequels Mantel's first Thomas Cromwell tale called 'Wolf Hall'; I had not realised Wolf Hall was the home of the Seymours; when I was advised to read her next book I did wonder where the title 'Bring up the Bodies' had come from not realising it was the call from the Tower when...... but I will leave you to discover that for yourself.

I am moving on to 'Philomena'; I saw the film quite a while since but weeks ago a friend offered the novel to me as the last reader among The Ladies, suggesting that the book was very different to the film so here we go!

hydrangea head

Sunday, 20 July 2014

You wouldn't believe me

Not a lot of people sit in their garden in July sipping a cup of broth then a Christmas pudding with ice cream- but we did today! We are clearing out the ancient freezer as we do regularly in case it breaks down or will not restart when I defrost it next. I make 3 Christmas puds and though we have the big one on Christmas Day the two smaller ones we eat at some point later in the year- but time was pushing on and it would be a waste to have the last of our festive fare go mouldy- it was beautiful if I say so myself.

We have run around so much this week- in fact for the last few weeks- so the garden was thigh high in grass, weeds etc in the borders.

Going to visit the Aln Valley Railway was interesting- all these men slogging away to create something from nothing- boys and their toys.

We have been to the Theatre Royal to see 'Black Coffee',  Agatha Christie's first play and Hercule , Jap, Hastings were all in there. We thought it was much better than 'The Mousetrap'.

We were fortunate to miss the rain when we went to see Heartbreak productions do Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' in Jesmond Dene; the evening got cooler after a hot day but it was a smashing night.

We also watched friends get married in Las Vegas- via Livestream; it was as though we were there!

Yesterday we spent several hours at a barbecue; the joys of British weather meant one of the guests brought a gazebo/marquee so if rain threatened the roof appeared overhead to stop our Pimms from being diluted- however the rain was fleeting and light and the fire meant we could stay out & enjoy good food and great company till almost midnight..

Right now I can hardly move as I have gardened since 2p.m. and have just showered as gardening in your shorts gives you hacky filthy knees!

Outside the clouds are pink and lit by an evening sun; folks forget that up North we have summer light in June/July pretty well right through the night.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Restaurant reviews

A dear friend reported that he and his wife liked my 'reviews' of afternoon tea in  venues in Newcastle and requested that they would like me to do some recommendations of restaurants & cafes in the city too. Wow! That gives me a licence to eat!! Well someone has to do it!

We tend to eat at the same place frequently- do I want those places which are already packed due to popularity- to get too full for us to get in?!

We have eaten recently at La Vina (Grey St) , La Tasca (Quay Side) Piccolinos (on Trinity Gardens near Quayside/Law Courts) all of which I have reviewed on Trip Advisor- none were among the best places I have eaten in. We do quite like Zizzis if we are going to the Theatre Royal. We have not found any faults with Basilico in Gosforth. I have not been to Jesmond Dene House in ages for lunch or dinner because in spite of their reputation, years ago I had 2 very unsatisfactory lunches there. Eslington Villa has to be one of our best rendezvous'  still over many years. Maybe we might have a go at Jamie's, Browns, and some of the new places opened recently as well as Iguana, Café Rouge etc which we have not been to in for ages. Whilst I think Barluga is overpriced for tiny portions, last weekend someone advised me to try upstairs so maybe.....  Of course I like the coffee rooms at the Tyneside Cinema but I told you that a few blogs back. I heard drastically poor reviews of afternoon tea at the Baltic last Sunday- expensive, poor and take no regard for food to which one is allergic or unable to eat due to pregnancy (both of which had been rung in days before guests attended).

For a reasonably priced lunch in town I like Cloisters at St Mary's Cathedral and Coffee Bean downstairs in Old Eldon Square. For a coffee 'Johann's' in Fenwicks is central. I used to like the vegetarian restaurant 'Supernatural' but sadly it is no more.

woman bishops

Well done to the Anglican Synod who finally voted in the possibility of female bishops; apparently Pope Francis of the Catholic church said last weekend something along the lines of the church having married priests-  at last; Lots of people said Hallelujah- but lots also said what about women priests?

Imagine recognition of equality coming to the Christian churches?! What about other religions too?

Watch lots of spaces............

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Halcyon days

I do not care what anyone says.... this is the second warmest summer on record. and what a glorious day today has been.

6 of us taking turns to push the pram while walking in 29degrees to Dean and Daniella's to sip Fentiman's rose lemonade and nibble a variety of grub; the healthiest of us nibbling avocado and prawn salad while jealously watching those who ate pizza, chicken sandwiches and sausage rolls (you all know who the 'Sausage Roll and Sweet Mince Pie Queen ' is.

Walking back we called into a pub and bumped into a young friend with whom we could catch up over a real ale.

Later we left the house full of runners and baby feeders and drove to pick up a friend to head to the coast for a barbecue. What a fantastic barbecue! Beautiful food, a lovely garden, lots of chat conducted in glorious sunshine and best of all with dozens of old friends.....

Life is good.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Grand parenting

Yes it is grand; being a grandparent means you do things with your grandchildren that you would never have done with your own children- eg allow them to eat chocolate and biscuits or visit cafes.
Pressures of time, education and discipline mean parents have to say 'no' at times and move on to the next 'project' or educational activity which will be beneficial in the competition held daily at the school gates- the casual , dropped in comment about how your Charlie has just swum the length of the pool and got his 25 metre badge or your Sophie has just got her Grade1 piano grade (with distinction!); it starts with the arrival of the first tooth/first crawl/ weaning/first steps and continues through university grades to their job

Grandparents have no one to compete with- and don't care anyway. You too are in your second childhood; in this child's eyes you are an expert train driver, tractor loader,

fish spotter


sand castle builder

farmer- you are an expert at talking to animals
and about animals

story teller

cake maker and drink provider.

You love and are loved.


H1 has not left the sofa for what seems like eons.

I love tennis, I have been to Wimbledon Court No.1 , I have seen the Williams girls singly and doubly and I enjoyed the Men's final.
We had 4 days watching bikes fly up and down the Yorkshire Dales while the crowds were so deep and appreciative- so British!
Now the World Cup is occupying the screen - it seems all night , every night, 24/7. Admittedly even I had to sit down and watch the beating Brazil took from Germany but tonight the Netherlands has had to play Argentina without me because I have had a sickener....
I have just seen a trailer giving the dates of The Open- you know and I know H1 is an addict to the hitting of little, white balls with sticks

Oscar Wilde said 'golf is a good walk spoiled' and I have to agree with him.

It is no good! I have had enough sport to last me through 2014. I may have to take up knitting.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Jungle fever

Once again I am thwarted! I am back after two weeks away 'nursing' a relative and enjoying looking after a toddler 24/7 (Heck! Exhaustion!) The garden is like a rain forest.

Meanwhile at home H1 doesn't know the difference between a rose and a redwood so everything has just taken off..... but we keep getting torrential downpours (back in the Tropics again!) so I cannot get out there with my machete- well secateurs- and hack everything back.

On Saturday I came in soaked and we gave up and went to the Tyneside Cinema to see 'Belle'. I have always wondered about that painting- Two richly dressed girls in the 1700s but one black and one white- at a time when slavery happened in Britain; I had looked up some research but when I read reviews for a film I was determined to view it. We learned more about the details of 'the Zong' case and recommend the film (though do take into account dramatic licence).

We went to eat at La Vina- Spanish style , pleasant ambience but raw pork which was sent back- & was recompensed with a recook, being taken off bill and a free drink but I couldn't stomach any more.

Yesterday part way through hammering back the Montana clematis the heavens opened again. A dash inside meant we watched some television. I found 'Common' really disquieting; I imagine joint inclusion means less research- but how when even solicitors can hear who actually has committed the crime (in the group), how can they say it was a joint enterprise- and how can the law not abandon the red tape protocol ?

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Grumpy Old Woman

Am I turning into a grumpy old woman? Yes! lack of sleep and a trip to Tynemouth convinces me I am.
What do I think is rude or what do I dislike?

CATS- someone else's on my garden /car. I do not have a pet pooing in my garden or scratching my car again so I do not want anyone else's! I am allergic to cats- they make me/us all ill.

DRIVERS on slip roads who think they can just come straight onto the main carriageway without stopping

CYCLISTS who just go through red lights.

PEOPLE who do not say thank you- eg when you move a pushchair for them or move over to let them pass you on the pavement or open a door for them.

SINKS full of dirty dishes in water so you have to empty the bowl to start washing up

OWNERS who let their dogs perform/&leave dog muck on beach, grass, countryside- I do not let members of my family leave their excrement why should owners leave theirs? or those that put the poo in a plastic bag then dump the bag on the path , fence or hedge.

LAMINATE floors- cold, noisy, unwelcoming, dateable

POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION- I am a feminist and have always been a feminist;  and believe I/we women can do things equally- I do not want your help to get me where I want to go . Do not patronise women.

LABELS in clothes especially bras which are irritatingly scratchy.

USERS of 'a' in front of a vowel when it should be 'an'. Say an hotel, an icicle etc


HEARTBURN, reflux and indigestion- makes you worry that you are having a month long coronary

WOMEN who do not wash their hands when they have been to the toilet- well men too.

MOBILE PHONE users- in cafes, restaurants, public transport, the quiet carriage- usually loudly! I am with some places in USA which are banning them in public places. Folk who cannot enjoy their own company so have to get their mob out to occupy themselves.

DRIVERS who do not signal

PARENTS who quote their kids exam results; do you really believe kids who got 2:1s or firsts did a lot of work?- many do not but get them given. University grades mean nothing.

PARENTS who live their dreams through their kids.

LITTERBUGS who just hoy chewing gum on the pavement.

SPITTERS who hockle- eg footballers

SMOKERS who stand outside doorways so one has to fight a way through their smoke to get into a building.

LEYLANDII the most boring, overgrown, dark, allergic, lazy boundaries which take up half your garden and kill off neighbours' and your daylight. They grow beyond many owners height and care.

LAZY people.

BARBECUES- how to get charred sausages which are pink inside and give you food poisoning; me cooking inside while H1 is out by the bbq with a can of beer in the sunshine and with my guests

Yep! Grumpy all right!

What annoys you?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Afternoon tea

While D1 is off work we have been trying to take her to places she has not been to before. Mainly for afternoon tea! This phenomenon used to be common in Britain- but faded out only to enjoy a revival in the last few years.
We received vouchers for afternoon teas in various places eg hotels so have started to grade them as we visit.

In the past I have been with friends to

Horton Grange- the worst afternoon tea I have imbibed in. Dry madeira cake I remember!

Hilton (Gateshead)- great view over the Tyne and Quayside; reasonable price for a pleasant tea.

More recently I have nibbled at........

Eshott Hall- Ok value with beautiful snowdrops, stained glass windows on the stairs, red squirrels, and tiny cakes (which were much of a muchness- maybe because there was a group of about 12 of us)

The Grand (Tynemouth)- currently £10.50? lovely views over the sea, good sandwiches (you choose out of selection of fillings on offer). not such good scones!

Beamish Hall Hotel- large, beautiful dining room. reasonable price; fillings and cakes change each month.

Jesmond Dene House- more costly than the others above and put an automatic 10% on your bill which I will not pay unless I choose after considering the service! However 3 good scones(plain with cream & jam, cheese, fruit), tasty sandwiches (& like Grand and Beamish, staff are helpful when it comes to allergies to ingredients) and 'different' (if rather sweet) cake selection.

We did not 'do' afternoon tea at Bayberry Hollow in Tanfield village but loved their food.

I have had mixed reports of afternoon tea at Doxford Hall;
Eslington Villa does not do such delights.
I hear I should try the White Monk's teas in Blanchland but I need to space the teas out or my waistline won't fit into my waistbands and they are tight as it is.

Washingwell Woods

How many times do I visit someplace and whilst wandering I think of all the things I am going to say on my blog- then time, activities, visitors take over and I forget what I was going to write about?

I remember walking up and down the same piece of path in the heat while trying to work out which way the map was showing- while the paths did not agree with the cartography!
We eventually got directed through woods which fortunately provided shade; there were not as many bluebells as in the woods along the banks of the Wansbeck but there was none of the mud either.

We circled the lake before heading to meet another friend at the Community café in Whickham; I do like the garden in which it is set ; lots of groups in the area each plant up a patch of this hillside Hermitage garden.

H1 and I dashed down to the Customs House to watch 'Get up and tie your fingers'; an excellent sung/acted tale of the lives of women who cut and packed the silver darlings as the shoal travelled down the North Sea coast of Scotland and England. I remember seeing the lights of the herring fleet off the coast when I was up in Seahouses; I don't think the herring fleet exist now. The story of the storm and subsequent impact on the fishing village reveals just how dangerous sea fishing is.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Wandering along the banks of the river Wansbeck


It has been hot and gloriously sunny; normally I sleep with my windows locked on the sneck so there is a wee bit of cool air drifting in to the room; for the last few nights I have had to get up around 4 a.m. and close the windows tight as the birdsong has been so loud.

Last week the ladies plodged through the circular clarts fromHartford hall via Humford Mill (in the woods at Bedlington) swinging from branches to stay out of the mud on the footpath.

The River Wansbeck was high; the valley sides were carpeted in bluebells while the air was filled with the pungent smell of wild garlic


It is a good job I walk to accumulate my 10000 steps as I am having an 'eating out' spell; we heralded the summer sun with afternoon tea at Tynemouth's Grand Hotel (would you believe it was the former hunting lodge of the Duke of Northumberland?); we've been out to celebrate a friend's retirement with an Indian meal; the sunshine tempted us to have the family round for a barbecue- we played boules and garden quoits at which I admit to playing a thundering last round! I was as proud as this peacock which we met at North Acomb Farm when we went to buy supplies at the farm shop.

Our walk at Linz Ford raised a hot sweat which needed that glass of Fentiman's Rose Lemonade..... The buildings around the medieval fulling mill and leat have been updated yet hold their history.

It seems the weather forecast is going to be accurate- an early morning sea fret through which the sun will eventually nibble through..... I think I will go back to bed and see if I can sort out my biorhythms.

Monday, 12 May 2014


After 9 weeks my visitors have gone; I confess to being a bit sad but I am getting my life back again. My visitors were D1, her husband and new baby- and due to having a baby who entered the world traumatically and who refused to lie down-  life was hectic as we all did shifts through the night in particular to hold her up asleep. I felt privileged to watch her change, focus, smile and establish herself in the world. At last they have left us (sob) and I have cleared up the house and now what?

My garden is a tangled overgrown mess so..... I went into attack mode.  I did not have the time to put in my spuds- which apparently should be in by Good Friday; I wouldn't care but organic homegrown potatoes taste so much better than shop bought veg. The daffs and tulips are over and dead headed; Bluebells fill the borders and the hedgehogs are unseen but something is gobbling up the hedgehog food I am putting out. Probably blinking horrible magpies!

We were invited to a night-time barbecue by D3 recently- and while drinking Pimms and noshing homemade burgers and salads I watched a fox running along the top of her fence; this dog or vixen was a healthy golden brown with a bushy brush- not a grey, mangy urban fox.

I filled the garden  bin so much that we had to make special trips to the 'tip' and 2 days solid work by H1 and myself has tidied it up a bit- but I really wish the stotting rain would stop so I could get out there and get cracking on the borders.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Still working on things

Still working on helping D1 and husband with their snuggle-buggle baby who sleeps curled up on someone's chest but NOT on her back in a Moses basket or babybeanie or anything else you can mention... will she sleep on a cocoonbaby? She has wonderfully powerful vocal cords which can keep going for hours unless snuggled or fed!

Meanwhile I have joined the W.I. and have really enjoyed the ladies I have met, the Zumba and the talk on Garden Design which I went to. I never thought I would join up (I could never be so old!) but decided to investigate....for now I just wanted the pleasantness without having to organise ( I have organised in so many organisations in my time- from the Toddler Group I set up, to the PTA I initiated , Governors etc- now I just want to relax & join in ).

D2 and offspring have gone home- the house is still full- but seems empty without them.

We sent in our joint selfie and donation for continued research to Breast Cancer Campaign- with all these daughters, grand daughters and nieces, I hope the research helps their generations- it worries me that breast cancer will hit them as it did me.

Text  CURE     to 70660 to donate £3 to Breast Cancer Campaign or what about to Movember if prostate cancer has affected your family?

Sunday, 23 March 2014


I won't be blogging for long as sleep time is so important.

Our grandchild is fun! She will not sleep on her back; these days there are so many (often contradictory) rules given out by the professionals- but we have also tried the traditional remedies for screaming too. She will not lie on her back eg to sleep in her Moses basket- so we all take turns in staying up to have her sleep more upright -on our chests. Could it be reflux? Everyone has given the parents- & grandparents- remedies but she screams on. The Expelair (on full) works whereas the  'white noise' 'machine' does not.
Currently there is a hush because she is with her mummy being fed while her daddy sleeps & we cook tea/ do the washing etc

We will get there.......

Monday, 3 March 2014

Welcome to the world little one

'The best laid plans of mice and men aften gang astray ' according to Rabbie Burns and certainly the arrival of another baby in the family caused all of my plans to disappear out the window! Heavens! She is gorgeous!

Before her arrival we managed to go to the 'Customs House' in South Shields twice; first to see 'Tyne'- a play with wonderful music/folk/song/pictures/acting and scripted by a eclectic mix of writers- Julia Darling, Tom Hathway, Alan Plater....and others. A story of our river through history and into the future- I could not get tickets when it was on at the Live theatre last year- and it is sold out, I hear, at the Theatre Royal- after last week at the Custom House.

Did you know I was a fan? of Joe McElderry?! A really canny Geordie lad- with an amazing voice; he says he will produce another classical cd sometime soon. His band (drummer) was too loud- but the part of the show Joe calls 'Juke Box Jury' where a member of the audience shouts out a song they'd like to hear him sing- he just sang any he knew and sang wonderfully- with no drummer so we could hear the glorious sound of his voice. The audience though was something else! I have never seen as many tattoos and dancing pints in plastic pots!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

I must......

I must improve! I have to get down to writing every day..... but life is so busy- and that is not just me hiding behind excuses.

I could have hit the computer this morning but a clear blue sky and a gap before a birthday lunch with friends meant time was on my side- and the garden is really getting to me; I managed to prune roses -I am trying a new pruning time as I normally snip in November but so many gardening books recommend that northern roses should be cut back in late Feb /beginning of March so I am giving that schedule a go this winter;after that I took out a hydrangea,  resited it and planted a scented sarcococca in the sheltered corner I had freed up.
Even now as I try to focus on the screen - I can see sunlight on nearby brickwork and my resistance is weakening; shall I get changed out of my 'party' clothes and get out there? but it was spitting on a few minutes ago.

Admittedly I have been 'deterred'- I have had a lot of visitors staying ; then one by one we all consecutively went down with a bug and in order to avoid the baby getting this virus, my bucket and I stayed in bed well away from everyone.

Oh, oh white paintwork outside is bright  and beckoning me. I must not look......

Upon recovery I went to a family birthday afternoon tea to Eshott Hall; the Hall is a country house which has been gentrified since we went trekking around Northumbria for the best venue for a family wedding reception. We tested/test via afternoon teas and a browse but often we have been wedding guests too. We walked across from the car park admiring the magnificent drifts of snowdrops and were delighted by the red squirrels scampering  up and down & nibbling on the bird feeders! The 12 of us were sat in a lovely room (we could see other parties sipping tea in  different rooms eg the drawing room/the library etc) around a large circular table.; the gluten free 3 tier plate was brought first then the general tray of sandwiches and another of cakes. We 'inspected' the function suite, toilets, and glimpsed candles being lit in the intimate sized dining room. For a smallish wedding (though the venue said 100day and 120 evening guests- hmm?!) this is a very nice setting. Photos taken on the staircase, with a beautiful large leaded window behind, would be beautiful.

The sky is pure blue, the sun is out, the wind has dropped and I'm off- secateurs in hand to prune a clematis Montana which has got out of hand- and further round the fence a dry, crisp, browny clematis- maybe a jackmanii? needs my attention.......

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Film Review4-August:Osage County

Did I show you the orchids I got courtesy of  'Surprise Surprise'?

January's flowers
Oh what can happen between a family which includes 3 daughters! Three sisters can be so different- and often two can gang up against  the other one. Meryl Streep played a mother drugged on prescription medication and I felt for the eldest daughter who had marital problems of her own let alone that of sorting out her mother. Sometimes distance from the family can be so liberating.

February flowers from Bunches

Now which films to see next? 'Dallas Buyer's Club' is getting good reviews......

I am limited in activities at the moment so to keep myself busy

I thought I would knit- first size and plain- aaaagh! the pattern refers me all over between 4 cardigans-and I am not really a knitter (and too busy to learn at this age/stage) but I am going to look up old patterns on the internet to get a truly simple one.

Mud caked boots drying out

Recently we did do a little exercise... merely walking around Bolam Lake- clarty to say the least but up North we have had nothing like all the flooding the South have had; people always think the North gets bad weather but on the whole our weather is So much better than down south- well.... I better go watch Countryfile and check out what is going to hit us!

I do need some advice.... I have grown hyacinths in pots-a heavenly fragrance pervades right through the house BUT they lollop all over the place; any ideas what I have done wrong that they hang out of the pots- I hear Alan Titchmarsh suggests pushing florists' wire down the stem of each- how much time does he have on his hands? Mine get tied up with ribbons and that is about their lot! After flowering they will get dug into the garden to flower outside next year- well worth their price!

Film Review3 Mandela

I have been reading Nelson Mandela's 'A long walk to freedom' for a while- well it is a tome; I have to keep taking breaks so haven't finished it even yet. There were a lot of criticisms of the film - being too long/how do you condense a long book/how do you condense a lifetime/ make this a television series etc; we thought it was excellent as it was and is relatively true to the book as far as I have read.
It does show how  'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. It also highlights why de Klerk and Mandela were deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize....

Film Review 2-12years a Slave

The reason  the Northern Yankees and Southern Confederates went to war? To carry out Lincoln's policies including the abolition of slavery?.... This film is based on a true story- like 'The Railway Man' and is harrowing. It shows what can be carried out in the name of economics (how to run a plantation on the cheap) and cruelty administered on the basis of the colour of human skin. The film reminds the audience of how easily freedom can disappear.

The Railway Man-Film Review1

There were some really good films to be seen in January; before I knew it, we were almost into February and we had been too busy to go to the pictures due to the pressures of family, social life, rehearsals and production.  'Nil desperandum- we will go before they all disappear into the archives!' Thus we worked out a schedule between The Gate and Tyneside cinemas to see most of the films we had missed- some of these we saw back to back with a quick slurp of coffee in between- or a meal at the Tyneside Cinema which we both think is great.

The Railway Man      I had read of Northumbrian Eric Lomax some years ago and had wanted to see the film when it came out. Much of it was filmed in Northumberland which, of course, made it more interesting; it is harrowing and combined with two of the other films we saw, it convinced me of how cruel the humans can be to each other. Was the location for the filming of these Burma railway scenes actually to be found in Burma? It looked a beautiful place. I know many of the local people were forced to work on the railway too. I cannot imagine Eric Lomax was easy to live with preoccupied as he was with the horror of what he had seen and endured. Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman disappeared into the characters they played.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Be clear on Cancer Campaign

BCOC Breast70 banner- 1 in 3 women
A national campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer in women over 70 is now running from 3 February to 16 March 2014. The Be Clear on Cancer campaign tells women over 70 that if they see any change to their nipples, skin or shape of their breasts they should see their doctor straightaway.

Recently a friend of mine announced that now she was 70 yrs old she can no longer have routine mammograms; You can! You just need to ask for it! Check it out with your GP. Ask to be referred for a mammogram- when even in just a little doubt do not wait- go see your doctor- and don't take no for an answer.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sniffling and tired

Yep! I have managed to avoid it so far but nose running like a tap.

The family has all disappeared, clearing up after the onslaught done, my ironing finished (well mine- H1 has still got his to do), pantomime & prompting over for another year ......

I have finished reading 'The Queen's Vow' and started on a strange but interesting book given to me by D2 for Christmas- 'The Fishing Fleet' a non-fiction about girls who went over to India in search of a husband in the 1700s and 1800s; fascinating how many English men went in the East India Company/Civil Service/Indian Army and how many girls found more men available in India than in England. English families set up in the subcontinent and lived in India for generations never to return till after 1947 and Indian independence. I had a relative who we think (after watching Alistair McGowan's 'Who do you think you are?') may well have been Anglo-Indian.

I am not used to this spare, quiet time and do not know what to do with myself

Monday, 13 January 2014

Surprise Surprise

At last we have had permission to say we can tell people we were on the television programme 'Surprise, Surprise ' for all the recycling you contribute to charities I donate to. That was the time I blogged about being in London but we were signed up to silence.
The result/reward was beautiful flowers sent regularly- gorgeous but a real Surprise, Surprise!

Everyone seems to be spring cleaning- or Spring organising and hoying stuff out- sorry! that is Geordie for throwing your unwanted things away; I spend my time going to a) the Cancer Research shop with large bags of clothes, books  or white elephant stuff for selling for charity b) the local Infirmary with magazines (for clinics) and gift bags (to put patients' drains in), c) a High Street café which is saving used stamps for the local Hospice d) my optometrist's shop with spectacles for Vision Aid Overseas
It will all slow down a bit when everyone finishes tidying up after Christmas. A winter sun sliding low through the window, highlights the dust and clutter; thus the clearouts.

I admit to gallivanting out for meals and occasions and celebrations for births and a Baptism- ooh! and something really exciting arrived in the first post after New Year-an invitation to a wedding. We had so many weddings last year (like buses- there are none then they come all together- probably due to the age of our offspring and their friends) that we did not expect to receive any invitations this year;  the babies are now starting to arrive- all surprises- most people seem to be avoiding finding out the gender of the baby before birth- I wouldn't want to know- would you? I reckon life has too few nice surprises these days that boy or girl and their name has to be one of the best left.

Then did I mention our rehearsals for a pantomime?

What little spare time I have I read- currently 'The Queen's Vow' by C.W. Gortner- about the early life of Queen Isabella (and Ferdinand) of Castile (Spain); in the late 1400s.

If I clear out a drawer I might reward myself with a chapter.......

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all.

Britain is forecast floods and gale force winds this weekend; I understand that when sun, moon and earth are in line the tides are high- why call them spring when they are not seasonal but two weekly? Is it because the tide level springs high?!

So tonight is a new moon- 3/4th January- and just after midnight is the best time to see a shower of meteors.
Tomorrow night you need to get binoculars out (it will be a very dark night since the moon is tiny) and get a look at Jupiter- you should be able to see four of Jupiter's moons.

The kitchen wall is being stripped of last year's 'remarkables'; so what will 2014 bring? I hope it is a good and healthy year.

We are consuming weird meals as we eat our way through all the ingredients left from the festive season; Christmas and New Year visitors have left us; the beds are stripped and out on the line to dry in gathering winds.

Now I am going to research what a neap tide is- and tackle a basket full of ironing.