Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Hospitality”


Here’s my take on today’s #LentChallenge prompt of “Hospitality”.

We were treated to a carvery tea tonight by my lovely littlest brother and his equally lovely other half to celebrate a couple of recent family birthdays. It was nice to sit and eat together as a family and to catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives at the minute. The place we ate at was very hospitable, with plenty of good food and happy smiling waiters. The photo above shows the meat counter where we got loaded up with our slices of meat and our ginormous Yorkshire puddings before we moved onto the vegetables and the rather excellent roast potatoes.

My take on “hospitality” is the sharing that we enjoyed tonight. The sharing of company, the sharing of food, the sharing of stories, the sharing of laughter and the sharing of the cost. Thank you little bro, you’re a star.

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Daybook

Daybook Entry 28th January 2018


For Today 28th January 2018

Looking out my window… one could almost imagine Spring is round the corner. Having said that, the weather forecast is said to go down to -9oC again this week. Brrr….

I am thinking… that the throat infection and flu I had over Christmas didn’t fully go away. I have had a pretty rough night last night and day today with swollen glands, fever, sore throat, aches and pains – oh my word the pains! I have just about had my morning shower (and it’s nearly bedtime now).

I am thankful… for the simple medication of paracetamol and the wonders it does.

One of my favourite things… is seeing the Spring flowers poking their heads up.

I am creating… a film script exploring different angles of “loss”.

I am wearing… my favourite rainbow crocheted blanket round my legs. For comfort more than warmth.

I am reading … “A Game of Thrones” by George R R Martin. Yes, I know. I am one of the 0.1% of the population who has either never seen the show nor read the book!

I am praying… for healing in a world of brokenness.

I am learning… that “showing” and “telling” work differently in real life than they do when writing drama and prose.

In my kitchen… Kevin made our dinner tonight, a lovely chicken “stewp”. It was halfway between a soup and a stew and absolutely delicious.

Post Script… It is four weeks now until the annual brass band “Area” contests take place, and we are well into rehearsals preparing for our performance at Pemberton Band. The “Areas” are qualifying competitions that are held each year in different areas of the country, and the winners of each section go through to a national final held later in the year. The Pemberton Band organisation is in the North West of England, so we compete in the North West Area contest, held in Blackpool. Ours is the first one this year, and the Yorkshire Area is held the week afterwards, with others around the country over the following weeks.

The bands who compete are graded according to their ability, with the best bands competing in the Championship Section, down to the Fourth Section (a bit like the Premier League down to the Second Division in football). Each section has a designated piece of music to perform on the day – the same pieces across the country – which are more and more difficult the higher up the sections they are played in. So, the Fourth Section piece is usually quite straightforward and tests bands on their attention to the “basics” of individual and ensemble playing rather than technical skill and as the sections go higher, the pieces get more technically difficult.  We are lucky at Pemberton that we have two competing bands – the “A” band (mine, which competes in the Championship section) and the “B” band in the section below, as well as a youth band and a training band.

The pieces are chosen by a panel during the summer and are announced at the finals in September  so that all competing bands have the same amount of time to prepare them.  There is always contention about the selected pieces being either “too difficult”, “too easy”, “not a test of skill”, “no music” in them and so on, and some pieces suit some bands more than others depending on the strengths or weaknesses as individual players and as an ensemble. The piece we are rehearsing at Pemberton is called “Odyssey” and it is technically quite a challenge to me as a player even with all the years of my experience. I’ll let you know how we get on.

A moment from my day…

 

Meet Terry, the terrapin. He’s our adopted pet. I wasn’t too keen on him to begin with, especially when we were told that he would outlive us, but when you look at the exquisite detail on his skin and on his shell, how can you not love him? I could tell you about his little “moods” – which is something to behold, him being a reptile and all. But I can read him like a book and I know when he’s hungry, when he’s playful and when he’s bored. He lives in water but we get him out of the tank every now and again to dry him off completely and to allow him room to roam round the house. He is great in the garden when it’s sunny and quite often brings himself back in and heads for his tank on his own. He loves prawns. And carrots (don’t ask how we found that out…)

Closing thoughts… I am so fed up of feeling ill now – I wish this flu bug would just GO AWAY!!!

 

 

 

General/Journal

A Friday View


It’s been another mixed day today so I thought I’d share a few photos with you.

First, my daughter’s car. It’s a lovely little car, almost a year old now, and perfect for her to run around in to work and the gym and so on. I quite like it myself to be honest, especially all the automated features like windscreen wipers that come on on their own when rain is detected. Or the medianav device that connects to my phone so I can listen to my own music without trailing wires all over the place.

One thing it is NOT good art its opening the bonnet to replace the screen wash. Exhibit A…. my dad helping me work the stupid bonnet out and filling the stupid water bottle.

Next, this headline in the newspaper today: Music is good for dementia, which is great news for most of the people I know because we enjoy so much music we have got a huge pool to choose from in later years in case we need it to keep our little grey cells working.

Now, like every good story arc, there has to be an element of tragedy, or disaster, or downright nastiness. My next picture shows a group of youngsters attacking not one, but TWO buses near home this evening.

These kids were goading the drivers and trying to damage the vehicles. The drivers had it well in hand, but even so, it saddens me to think that this is what passes for entertainment for kids like this.

And finally, the best bit of the day, my other band room – Todmorden Community Brass Band. This its the band I conduct on a Friday and where my poor husband gets a load of stick from me as he sits on the top chair as Principal Cornet.


We are currently in our post Christmas spell and we are looking at potential pieces to play in our forthcoming anniversary concert so and over the summer for our outdoor gigs in and around the local area.

So that’s a little peek at my Friday this week. I also did some studying and some work for church but I didn’t take photos of that. I could perhaps share with you a little something I watched as part of my studies if you like?

Go on then. Here’s a bit of Laurel and Hardy from 1928. I hope you enjoy it.

Blogging, Daybook

Daybook Entry – 9th January 2018


For Today 9th January 2018

Looking out my window… I can see the frost on the ground that has still not disappeared from this morning.

I am thinking…that sometimes, it’s the small things that affect us more than the big ones. For example, the papercut on my finger is distracting me beyond measure, yet the sore throat that I thought I had got rid of with antibiotics is now about half-way developed again and until I try to speak or swallow, it is not bothering me at all. And still, that papercut is making me feel utterly miserable.

I am thankful… for the easy access we have to medicine in our world. I know there are places on earth that don’t have ready access to even the basic medical care, so for those people, the throat infection I have had might have proved to bring a totally different outcome than the one I had.

One of my favourite things… is hitting on a great story idea and starting to plan out the characters and plot points to tell it properly. One of my least favourite is editing it once it has been written. Feels so much like destruction for a while, and then it gets creative again, but that initial destruction of an idea is one of my least favourite parts to writing.

I am creating… I made myself a long, chunky scarf a couple of weeks ago and I am trying to create a hat to match it. I am on for my fourth attempt so far (completed and undone to save yarn) and I am still not happy with it. The colours are great, but I just can’t get the right shape of hat. It’ll come!

I am wearing… warm clothes today. It’s not that cold outside, but as I’m still under the weather a little, I am feeling chilly in my bones.

I am reading … “Origin” by Dan Brown. I started it last week but I haven’t really been in the mood for reading since, and I am still only about three-quarters of the way through it. I will do a proper book review when I’ve finished it.

I am praying… for a tiny baby born too small for his gestational age and who is facing some complex health issues; for an old friend who has to face a serious operation in the next few days.

I am learning… to take care of my health. Not easy because I don’t like to say “no” to things, and because I have a tendency to push through things just so I can keep going. I have learned particularly over Christmas that that is not always possible – or advisable.

In my kitchen… we are “budget cooking” at the moment, and the challenge is on to find nutritious and filling yet inexpensive meals for the family. We are eating a lot of inexpensive protein, such as grains and pulses, which turns out to be a bit healthier too. Win win!

Post Script… You may already have a prayer pattern which you use daily, but if you haven’t or are perhaps looking for something different, why not give this a go? It is the Examen prayer as defined by St Ignatius of Loyola and is something I have used quite a bit and I find it useful when prayer is difficult.

St Ignatius of Loyola

Shared Quote… “The beginning is always today.” Mary Shelley

A moment from my day… Just your average Grandma playing about with your daughter’s Navy uniform…

Closing Notes… I am struck again by the valuable contact that I have through the people who come and read my blog. Thank you all for making yourselves known to me and for our conversation and debate we strike up online. Social media has such a bad reputation, but when I make contact with friends through my blog I am minded that we shouldn’t just take a reputation blindly, and be thankful for those times we buck the trend.

 

 

I like to do the Daybook entry now and again, and it is hosted by Peggy at http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.com. Please hop along and have a go yourself if you’d like to link up with her.

Blogging

An Autumn Walk


I went on a walk with my husband today round our local park, Heaton Park in North Manchester.

I have loved this park since childhood. It was my old stomping ground and I enjoyed walking, cycling and sledging round it with my friends on many a happy occasion. We have climbed trees, went conkering, fell in ponds and streams, played football, flew kites, got lost in the woods, petted the horses and the peacocks, fed the ducks, played on the swings and tormented the council gardeners (sorry Dave!)  on the long, happy days of summer – and quite a few in the darkest winters too.

It is a great park, and it has loads to do and see. As a kid, the attraction was the wide open spaces that were adult-free and the endless time that we could spend there. Later on, when I had my own kids, the attraction was the great long pathways and open spaces where I could let them run free or ride their bikes in safety as we enjoyed the fresh air together. Even later on still, I am enjoying the park again for – you guessed it – its open spaces, the chance for clean fresh air and the gorgeous woodlands that take up most of its space.

My favourite bit of the whole park is the area round the boating lake, and this is where we walked today. I took quite a few photographs, but here are a couple of my favourites from today. You can see the amazing colours of the trees as autumn starts to take hold, and the glorious blue skies throw the autumn colours into greater contrast.

 

If you want to find out more about Heaton Park, please click here. For an even better view of it, why not pay a visit yourself? It’s a great place, I promise you.

 

Blogging, Daybook

Daybook Entry – 4th November 2017


FOR TODAY 4th November 2017

Outside my window… the night sky is alight with fireworks and bonfires. It’s that time of year again!

I am thinking… that I’m glad I had my hair cut last week (professionally this time) but I am going to have to keep straightening it until it grows a bit and the curls drop out a little.

I am thankful… for my two wonderful children who have grown up to be such wonderful young adults.

In the kitchen… a new recipe of mine which I have perfected over the last couple of times of trying it, we had pearl barley risotto with chicken and mushrooms. Delish!

I am wearing… grey and blue. Not a reflection of my mood, thankfully.

I am creating… lots of stories! I am about 6 weeks into my Masters degree work and I have got short stories and flash fiction coming out of my ears at the minute. I am loving the creativity of writing, and of finding characters who speak to me so I can tell their stories. I will post some on here, but I have to be careful that I don’t share something which I am going to use as an assignment later or on else I could be caught out by the anti-plagiarism rules with the OU.

I am going… to go for a walk in Heaton Park tomorrow afternoon. Pictures to follow.

I am reading… “Rather Be The Devil” by Ian Rankin for fun, but oodles and oodles of other stuff for my Masters. I’m developing a bit of a crush on Victorian gothic horror at the minute which started out as research but is now turning into entertainment .

I am watching… “I know who you are”, which is a Spanish crime thriller shown on the BBC over the summer. I discovered it yesterday and I am hooked. It is the story of a lawyer who is accused of murder but who has lost his memory of any events before the alleged murder. It is in Spanish with English subtitles, so it needs some concentration (ie, no crocheting or Candy Crush while it is on!) but it is well worth it. Again, something I started to watch for research purposes but is turning out to be an entertainment piece too.

I am praying… in thanks for the safe delivery of a friend’s new baby, for the safe delivery of another friend’s baby in a couple of weeks and for the safe gestation for another friend who has had two heartbreaks in the last year. God is everywhere in creation, and for that I give thanks.

I am wondering… how I am going to get through the next 8 weeks until Christmas. As ever, the family calendar is FULL and if I don’t count studying, I have got 5 days between now and Boxing Day where I am not committed to something or other. I always go through this wobble around this time of year and I have never come unstuck before, but nevertheless, the next couple of months are going to be busy.

I am looking forward to… Boxing Day…!

From the boardroom…I really want to make these this year.

DIY ~~ making string ornaments.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/456974693425566704/

 

I am hoping… Ethan and Megan are having a good time in Scotland this weekend.

I am learning… that I am stronger than I think I am.

Around the house… things are very quiet for a change. It’s weird.

I am pondering… how to present a discussion for my BAP* in a couple of weeks.

A favourite quote for today…

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, you are listening” – Lisa M Hayes

One of my favourite things… is a book and brew in bed before sleep.

A few plans for the rest of the week: church tomorrow, Stay and Play then a pre-BAP meeting in the afternoon then band on Monday, band again Wednesday, Study group Thursday, praying at a funeral on Friday, band Friday night, then Messy Church on Saturday. Yes, it’s a tad busy this week!

A peek into my day…

I sit next to Gareth in band, and this is his “unique” way of keeping his music tidy during rehearsals *ahem*

Postscript:

*BAP – Bishop’s Advisory Panel. This is the 3-day selection panel where my suitability for ordination training is assessed and decided. I will be attending BAP at the end of November and there’s a bit of preparation to do before I go, including (and not limited to) booking my train tickets and deciding on how to invite a discussion around one of the church’s marks of mission.

Blogging, Family

Our Daily Bread


I tried to make bread today. Yeah, I know…bread right?

I have only ever made it in a bread making machine before, but my friend Hils has recently begun to make her own bread and I was inspired to have a go myself after she shared a loaf of focaccia bread with me last week. Hers was delicious. Packed full of sun-dried tomatoes, olives, rosemary, garlic and red onions… I had to try it for myself!

So today I tried.

D’ya wanna see how I got on?

Well let me tell you, finding a recipe for a “standard” focaccia bread is nearly impossible. So many to choose from! With water/without water; with lots of oil/with only a drizzle of oil; with sea salt/with rock salt; with/without toppings and fillings… The list was seemingly endless.

Once I had weeded out the ones I could understand the measurements for, (note to my American friends: how on earth do you manage with cups of stuff??) I settled on what seemed to be a fairly easy one to a) measure out the ingredients, b) understandable terms like “fold” and “knead” and c) wasn’t going to take up the whole afternoon to make.

It turns out the one I chose was by Paul Hollywood and if you know your bread and your bread masters, then you will know that if it has Paul Hollywood’s name on it then it was going to be a cracker. I remember seeing him make this on GBBO a couple of seasons ago and there were certain tips gleaned from there that I remembered as I went along. “Oil your work surface” being the most important – or so I thought.

This is how the first mix went:

Not pretty is it?

I turned it out because no matter how much I “folded” it in the bowl, it was still the consistency of porridge and was sticking to my hands and fingers so badly that I was starting to look like I had webbed feet instead of human mitts.

Pretty soon though, I had a lovely smooth (if very sticky) dough.

Now, if only it had stayed at that consistency I would have been so pleased! But it seemed that Paul Hollywood’s tip of oiling the workbench just made the dough stickier and more slippery in my hands and soon returned to a horrid gloopy mess. I can’t share a picture with you because I was so traumatised and Kevin was laughing so much, between us we couldn’t operate the camera.

Anyway. I managed to get it into a lump/mass/blob of goo and get it back into the bowl after about 15 minutes of wrestling – sorry “kneading” – it on the worktop.

This is what it looked like (please ignore the bottle of gin at this point. It was purely medicinal):

The recipe said to leave it for “between 1 and 2 hours in a warm place, or until it had doubled in size”. Well, to the master Paul Hollywood, he might remember what his goo looks like and be able to calculate what “double in size” actually is, but I’m not a master nor am I Paul Hollywood!

I had to recover, so I took my medicine with me to the living room and caught up with last night’s X-Factor for a couple of hours and when I returned, THIS is what greeted me:

Alleluia!!! It has risen!

I turned it out onto the worktop again (floured this time because my friend Hils said it might be in need of a bit of “dry”) and managed to get it kneaded for about 20 seconds before it returned to its original gloopy/porridgy mess. Now, Mr Hollywood’s instructions said that I would have a “lovely soft dough” at this stage.

Wrong!!

I had the Quatermass experiment going on in my kitchen and I was not winning the fight by any stretch. Not even a gluten-filled one.

Next was to “cut the dough into two equal portions”. Well let me ask you, dear reader, have you ever tried to cut a bowl of porridge in half? With a knife? If you have, you will know that any incisions made are quickly swallowed up, and there is no such thing as a “cut”. Same with my dough.

A little tip for PH when he rewrites his recipe, I would suggest that this stage is reworded to “separate the lumpy, sticky fluid into two blobs as best you can and if you manage to get them equal sizes then well done you!”.

I then pressed the two bits of “dough” (I’ve run out of synonyms for “sticky porridge”) roughly onto two baking sheets and covered them up with two damp tea-towels. I was reminded of what they do at the scene of a sudden or unexplained death. Can’t think why…

Quickly put out of their misery, I left them to it for about 15 minutes (a moment of self-preservation more than anything) and then finished them off with oil, rosemary and sea salt.

They didn’t look too bad going into the oven.

And so there they lay for 30 minutes or so to bake, as per Mr Hollywood’s instructions. More “medicine” for me…

We have an electric oven and the temperature is fairly even throughout it. So how on Earth did THIS happen??

Looks like I got Ebony and Ivory focaccia bread there!

To be honest, after the massive fight I had with that dough at the various stages of mixing, kneading, rising, kneading, shaping and finishing, I’m mighty pleased with the results, even though they are two-tone in shade.

We ate the darker one (tasted really good and the texture inside was lovely, springy and had a beautiful crust – Paul Hollywood would have been proud!) and I have put the lighter one in the freezer for later in the week when I can summon the energy to wrestle with more ingredients to make some soup or something. I might even give it to my friend Hils as a thank you for introducing me to this new fascination of mine.

I can’t see me making bread every day, but after the fight I had on my hands today, I’ll certainly be giving thanks for those who do provide us with our daily bread.