Thursday, 29 January 2015

Changes in Blogger


There have been lots of changes in Blogger since I first started using it in 2009.  Some of them were unacceptable to me, like the invasive comments of anonymous commenters and I couldn't find a way of stopping them arriving. I asked Blogger, but like so many other websites these days, it seems they are not that interested in communicating with their bloggers. Nothing was done and some of those comments are still on my older posts unless I sit there for ages and delete them all individually. What worried me most was the future posts. How could I stop being pestered by these people, hell bent on trying to sell me all sorts of things I didn't want or just muscling in on my space to get their products across. They use ever more crafty ways to get on here.

I moved to Wordpress and for a while that seemed to solve the problem. I no longer worried about those anonymous annoyances, but Wordpress is different to Blogger and I missed my friends. My most loyal followers on here stayed with me when I moved and for that I was and am grateful, but recently I have felt more and more like returning here.

Coming back I find some differences.

A lot of the blogs that I used to follow are no longer active and I can't find a way of deleting them.

The 'Follow Me' gadget is no longer available, neither is the 'Follow' tab at the very top of the page and many people seem to have moved over to Google + or Network Blogs or whatever took their fancy. I dabbled with Google + and it is quite fun, something like a cross between Blogger and Facebook. If you look on my sidebar you will see a gadget that you can use if you want to follow me on there. If you do, you will get my blog posts and also posts I put just on Google +. Everything seems to be linked these days, doesn't it!

People no longer seem to want to comment much. Perhaps it is because everyone is using I-pads these days and it is not so easy to type anything on one of those things. I am on my Laptop as I write this and enjoying using the keyboard instead of my magic wand on the I-pad. It is much easier to write on here.

So changes abound, some for the better, some not so good.

For the better I find that some of my 'old favourites' are still here and blogging regularly and that makes me happy. I have tried to keep up with my old friends whilst blogging on Wordpress, but it seems a bit difficult to comment on blogs here when people don't take the trouble to look elsewhere occasionally.

It is easier to upload pictures on Blogger. At some stage I will run out of space and need to upgrade and I will do that when the time comes because I find that my blogging world has become important to me.

Wordpress seems to cater more for the professional person. I know that is a generalisation, but true nevertheless. I used to like the templates on Blogger for cottagey people like me, but there don't seem to be many over them over there.

So here I am back and hoping to pick up the pieces of where I left off.

What do you think about the changes? Have I missed anything out? Am I missing anything vital?

Star

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Snow is forecast...

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There has been a lot of hoo-haa in the news about the snow storm in America and now over here in England, we are told we will be getting some snow too. For most people, this is bad news, but for some it is very exciting. I'm talking children now.

In her book 'Village Affairs' Miss Read is describing how her class of Infants react to snow in Fairacre...

'Cruel weather,' said Mr. Willet. 'My greens look fair shrammed. What with the weather, and the pigeons, and all them other birds, I sometimes wonder why I bothers to grow them.  If I had my way I'd stick to root crops, but my old woman says we must have a bit of winter greens, so I doos my best.  'Tis a thankless task though, when the winter's like this.'
'As long as we don't get snow,' I said.

Mr. Willet looked surprised.  'You'll get that aplenty, my dear, and afore the week's out too.'
As usual, he was right.

It began during the dinner hour, while the children were tearing about digesting, I hoped, steak and kidney pie and pink blancmange.  Hilary was on playground duty, and I was cutting up painting paper for the afternoon sessions, when the classroom door burst open to reveal a knot of panting children, proudly displaying the spatters of snow on their clothes.
'Snowing, miss! Ennit lovely? It's snowing! And it's laying too.'

They were much too excited to have understood the different uses of the verbs 'to lie' and 'to lay', and anyway I have almost given up hope of any success in that direction.

I contented myself with telling them to let Miss Norman know that they must all come in to school.

They clanged over the door scraper with enough noise for a mechanized army, and I went to the window to see the worst.

The snowflakes were coming down in great flurries, whirling and turning until the eyes of the beholder were dazzled.  The icy playground was white already and the branches of the elm trees would soon carry an edging of snow several inches deep.  Across the playground, sitting inside the window of my dining-room, I could see Tibby watching the twirling flakes as interestedly as I was doing.

The snow hissed against the glass, but that sibilant sound was soon drowned in the stamping of feet in the lobby and the excited voices of the children.  I could see we were in for a boisterous afternoon.  Wind is bad enough for raising children's spirits to manic level.  Snow is even more potent a force.

I judged it best to give out the paints and paper as soon as the register had been called, for it was quite apparent that my voice could never compete with the drama that was going on outside the windows.

'You can paint a snow scene,' I said, working on the principle that if you can't beat your rival, you join him.

'What like?' said Ernest.

Our Fairacre children are chary of anything involving the imagination.  If I had told them to paint the tasteful arrangement of dried flowers and leaves, concocted by Amy and kept on my desk, they would have set to without a word.  But to be asked to create a picture from nothing, as it were, filled them with dismay.'

Did that passage from Miss Read's book stir any memories of your own childhood in snowtime?

Star

Sunday, 18 January 2015

My Memoirs - 1961 - The Big Doll


This is a picture taken in approximately 1961 when I was ten. From left to right are: Sheila Parker, me, my big doll, Julie and Suzanne and in the background, shielding her eyes from the sun is my neighbour, Trudy who was about two years older than the rest of us here.

We are in the front garden of my house in Lime Avenue and the picture was taken in honour of my big doll, who had just been refurbished. I came by that doll through my mother's job. At the time she was working in a children's home for girls. There were eleven of them in the home and they had arrived there through unfortunate family circumstances. They had many toys but not enough love and sometimes this manifested itself in the destruction of the toys in their possession.  I am sure the staff did what they could, but only as time permitted and there was never enough love to go around. I on the other hand was an only child, given plenty of love but suffering from the fact that my parents didn't get on and were always arguing and sometimes fighting. This was a particularly trying time in my life because my mother had just started a divorce with my father on the grounds of cruelty. Looking at the picture above, it is hard to believe that so much was going on in the background of our smiles. 

In just one year on from when the picture was taken, my parents would be divorced, my father would leave the house to return to his family home temporarily and my mother and I would be asked to leave our home because it was a Council House and we only rented it. Since mother and I were both of the same sex, we had to leave in order for the house to be allocated to a larger family. Had I been a boy we could have stayed. That's another story for another day...

Getting back to the doll; my mother, who was a domestic help in the children's home, found the doll in pieces in the boiler room in the basement.  It had been put there to be destroyed, burned in the big furnace as a broken remnant of sadness. I expect my mother felt sorry for it. At the time, those dolls were very expensive to buy and way beyond the purse of most people. I expect it had been donated to the home by a business or a wealthy organisation, but it had ended up in pieces, discarded.  My mother brought it home for me. I expect she felt guilty about that but the alternative was unthinkable and presumably the home were not prepared to have it mended. 

I remember the day we took the doll on the bus to the dolls' hospital to be 'fixed'. I was embarrassed to be carrying such a large doll on the bus and mother and I got lots of funny looks because the doll did look so real, at the time. Nowadays there are 'reborn' dolls which look even more real but back then the doll looked as real as could be. The doll was put back together. I think mother had to buy a new leg or arm. I can't quite remember, but in the fullness of time, we went to fetch it and bring it home. Mother decided to buy her a pair of shoes. No dolls shoes would fit so we took her to the shoe shop and she had a pair of real, cheap shoes. Then she came home, taking up a large part of my bedroom, but I was pleased to have her and all my friends were really jealous, I expect.

To mark the occasion, the picture was taken and that is why I am looking so proud of my new acquisition. She remained with me for many years until I passed her on to my niece for her to enjoy. My niece is now a mother of her own with two little girls so I expect my doll is still being loved and admired. She was definitely worth keeping.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Leek and Potato Cheese Bake


Brrr, it's really cold here today so I thought I'd make a warming dinner of leeks and potatoes with cheese. The ingredient list is at the end.

Method: For three people

Wash and cut up the three leeks and boil in a little water until soft, about 10 minutes.



Choose three large potatoes, peel and slice thinly. I used King Edward's potatoes.


Grease a casserole dish with butter (generously).


Take a moment to gaze out of the window and watch the snow gently falling:




Slice up 8 ozs of strong (mature) cheddar cheese, leaving a little to grate over the top later.


Layer the potatoes, leeks and cheese in the casserole dish, omitting the water that the leeks have been cooking in and adding a little pepper at each layer. You won't need salt because the cheese is salty enough!



Light the oven to Gas 3 (or whatever that is the equivalent). While the oven warms up, make a white sauce using one pint of whole milk and two tablespoons of cornflour.


When the sauce is thick and ready to pour, pour it over the casserole ingredients until they are all covered. Sprinkle the grated cheese on the top.


Cook the casserole at the top of the medium oven for two hours until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are soft when poked with a skewer.



Serve the casserole with your choice of green vegetables or salad.

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Recipe Ingredients:

3 leeks
3 large potatoes
8 ozs of strong cheddar cheese (I use Farmhouse)
knob of butter
1 pint of milk
2 tablespoons full of cornflour
green vegetables to eat with the casserole (I use green beans, frozen in the summer).



Star

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Millie is choosy!


Millie is a choosy cat. Sometimes she likes to snuggle up with J: and sometimes she likes to snuggle up with L.


Occasionally she likes to sleep on her own...




but most of the time she likes to sleep on my lap!


I hope you're all wrapped up well for the cold today?

Star

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

My English Garden - December 2014

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Hello everybody, I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. New Year still to come!

I am loving my Christmas present - a new shed! I'm so delighted with it, I could almost eat it, if you see what I mean.  It has been invaluable for putting the excess Christmas food in during the last week or so and the extra milk which I ordered over the Christmas period. The shed was put up a few weeks ago, but I wasn't supposed to go inside it. I cheated! Still never mind, it didn't spoil anything and now, every morning, I go up the path and peek inside to check on my geraniums, which are over-wintering in there. The baby ones, you've seen before, I keep indoors on the window sill but I don't have enough window sills for all the others. At the last count there were over twenty of them!

The shed is going to look grand when the lilac bush comes into flower in the Spring and I will be popping back to show you when the buds are evident.

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This is the view from the inside, from the door. Geraniums on the right and at the back?

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Here's a closer look:
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Four chicken nest boxes! Yes, I'm going to get some more chickens in the Spring. I kept chickens before, for ten years from 1990 to 2000 when their housey fell to bits! Now it's time to have another go, I feel. I miss my hens a lot and can't wait to get some more.

Here are some more pics around the garden this week:

View from the inside of the shed looking out, south:

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The woodpile:
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The holly:DSCF2118

Pots of herbs by the back door. In the large pot are bluebells. I had to move them to make room for the new shed.

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I think you can tell how excited I am, can't you.

Did you receive something nice for Christmas?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Book Review - Snowfall in Burracombe by Lilian Harry

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This is a delightful book and just right for this time of the year. As you know, I love all things 'village' so this book was perfect for me.

'In the village of Burracombe, nothing stays secret for long and behind the peaceful, rural charm, there's always a scandal to uncover, a newcomer to the village to set tongues wagging, a happy occasion to celebrate or friends to help their neighbours through the tough times.

It's December 1953. As the village prepares for the festivities, for many people a happy Christmas is by no means certain. For Stella Simmons, recovering from a car crash, the winter wedding that she and her sweetheart had planned seems impossible.
Elsewhere in the village, Jackie Tozer is dreaming of America and Hilary Napier, who thought the war had robbed her of her chance of happiness, has to ask herself if she could ever imagine leaving her life at the big house for the sake of love and adventure.  The darkest time of the year finds everyone asking questions with no easy answer.
As snow falls softly on the village, and everyone wishes for peace and joy, Burracombe proves once again that there's a always a surprise around the corner.'

so say the jacket cover! Lilian Harry has written numerous books, but this is the first one of hers that I have read! I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to you. I counted 60 characters in all. Far too many for me to remember so after reading the first chapter, I started making a list.  I wrote down the character's name, who they were and who they were married to or in a relationship with. Perhaps if I had read other books in the series, I would know by now, who is who, but I didn't. I found this book in a charity shop and pounced on it! Do you make lists of characters when you are reading?

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I have just completed two more doggie blankets for the Battersea Dogs and Cats home. I hope I can get them off in the post in time. I expect they won't mind if they're late arriving. There is a blue one and a purple one. I'm using up my stash nicely!
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Have you noticed how busy the delivery men are? It must be a very stressful time of the year for them. I hope they all get a bonus like the bankers!!! This year, here in England, we adopted the Black Friday nonsense. I say nonsense, not because it is a waste of time. If you can buy a TV at a very reduced price, then good for you, but I don't like what I see on the television with regard to the behaviour of many of the shoppers. Frankly, it was disgusting. I would much rather we adopted the Thanksgiving Day that you have over in America. Following on from Black Friday is Cyber Monday and yes, we have that too now. Those two days of sales have caused havoc with UPS etc.

Tomorrow is the 12th so I'll be posting my Christmas cards and putting up the Christmas Tree. I'm looking forward to doing that.

What will you be doing tomorrow?