Bit of a tussle

It is Monday 18 th Feb. The weather is in a bit of a tussle at the moment hovering between nice and warm and cold and windy. Despite that we are told to expect a warmer week. As far as I can make out the worst of the weather is behind us as we approach Spring. Well all I can say is wait and see. I am more concerned about any frost we may still get and by that I mean a hard frost lasting days. Why is that I hear you ask? Well after lunch today it became rather warm and sunny so I made the decision to remove the frost protection I had provided for the more susceptible plants we have in the garden namely the Phoenix Canariensis (palms). Last year they took a battering from the easterly winds which brought about a severe frost. We seem to have been fortunate this year and the weather has even been unduly warm. So off I went into the garden and guess what happened? The sun went in and the wind picked up and it became much cooler. No matter it was just cool and not freezing! After I had returned indoors say half an hour later the sun re-emerged the sky went blue and everywhere warmed up again. Just typical of my ‘good’ fortune. One of the bags in which the pebbles had been delivered came in very useful for storing the pieces of bubble-wrap I had used to protect the plants. They can be used again though I did purchase a large roll of bubble-wrap which would last for years.

Hopefully there will be no hard frost in the remaining weeks of Winter. This morning I had taken a longer walk than I had done for months and walked southward to Ainsdale taking the coastal road. I wasn’t that warm even though there was a south to south-westerly breeze. I walked down to the beach there, lovely at any time of year. The tide was just turning as I arrived and was beginning to recede but was still high upon the beach. I didn’t stop there too long because of the wind exposure and turned toward the dunes to make my way back home. It was the first time this year I had taken that route. There was far more shelter from the wind in the dunes though the line of trees and undergrowth on my left afforded the most protection. To my right were the main part of the dunes the other side of which lies the coastal road. By this time the sun had appeared and was warming by back from the right. I met a couple of people walking their dogs and one or two others out jogging. Finally I was back home and having an early lunch as I had skipped breakfast but feeling well and invigorated.

Shirley Anne

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Now the right way up

The upside down cake I had baked yesterday tasted delicious with custard and today I had a little more. I don’t often bake and when I do it is only as a treat both for me and for E. Too much of a good thing ends up not being a good thing. With puddings such as these the weight can easily be put on, not to mention their high sugar content. I will admit to having a sweet tooth so I have to be careful I don’t overdo things. It is a relatively cooler day than it was yesterday so I have spent the day just relaxing. Except for spending a little time preparing a stew I have mainly watched television. I don’t like sitting down too long, it isn’t healthy and besides I am too active a person. However it makes a change to just sit and do nothing.

As for the stew, which will provide three meals, it was easy to make. It is the kind of dish that even the beginner in the kitchen can master first time. We had some frozen pork in the freezer which had to be used so after defrosting it I used it in the stew. Normally I would use stewing steak or lamb but we not keep those in stock as we seldom eat them. So I chopped the pork into sizeable pieces and lightly fried it in oil with a chopped onion then put it to one side whilst I prepared the vegetables. When doing the weekly shopping I purchased large fresh carrots, potatoes and a swede. These I also chopped into sizeable chunks and boiled them for ten minutes before adding the pork and onion. I added salt, black pepper, one beef stock cube and one vegetable stock cube. At this stage I added some frozen (pre-cooked) sprouts and then allowed it to simmer for a further fifteen minutes. Finally I added a small amount of (gravy) browning. That was it, finished, so simple and very tasty on the palette. Very healthy food too.

Shirley Anne

All upside down

In yesterdays’ post I mentioned that this time last year the weather had been very different. It had been snowing and it was cold. Now the weather is all upside down and we are enjoying warm and sunny times. People often forget things like this especially when times are good. We are technically speaking and as I write this on 16 th February still in Winter though by the time you are reading this it is already officially Spring having just passed the Spring Equinox on the 21 st. As it is still winter as I write we can enjoy the puddings of Winter, if there be any. I fancy some of those puddings throughout the year and not just in Winter. Today is a Saturday and E left the house a few moments ago to drive to her group’s meeting. She will be gone for nearly three hours and as sometimes is the case I do a little baking if I’ve nothing else to do, nothing important that is. Anyway, baking is important isn’t it? So I have decided to bake, yes, an upside down cake. Specifically a pineapple upside down cake and something I have never previously baked so I hope it works out. Now there will be an hour or two’s intermission before I continue with the post……………….

Now I am back and the deed is done as you can see in the picture, though at that point it had only just been removed from the oven. It needed to cool down before any attempt was made to turn it right-side-up and make it the upside down cake it is supposed to be! So in the next picture……….

….I turned it right-side-up to make it into an upside down cake. Confusing isn’t it? Now to serve it I will need either custard (preferred) or cream, even ice-cream which we have in the freezer.

Recipe: For the base which ends up on top…Melt 4 oz of butter and mix with 4 oz of soft brown sugar until a stiff paste results. Spread over the base of a suitable baking tin (I use the neoprene flexible baking containers – see top picture). Drain the contents of a large can of pineapple slices or chunks (I used chunks) and place on top of the mixture, pressing down lightly into it. Leave to one side and prepare the cake mix.

For the cake mix place 8 oz of self-raising flour and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl. Rub 8 oz of butter into the flour to form a crumble. Add 4 oz of caster sugar and some grated lemon peel (optional) and toss together the mixture. Make a well in the mixture and put in three or four large eggs (I used three) and an oz or two of fresh milk. Thoroughly mix until a soft but stiff batter results. Scoop out the batter and spread over the pineapple in the base of the baking container. Bake in centre of the oven for thirty or so minutes at 375 F / 190 C by which time it should have risen. Lower the temperature to 300 F / 150 C and continue to bake for a further thirty to forty minutes or until a wooden stick pushed into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven to cool down and when cool place a tray/plate on top of the cake and turn it over. Remove the baking container and hopefully the cake will look similar to the bottom picture above. Incidentally I have doubled the quoted recipe amounts to make a larger cake. Simply halve the amounts for a smaller cake. You may have to reduce the baking time if you use less ingredients. Have fun.

Shirley Anne

This time last year

I was browsing some of the posts which a couple of my readers had been viewing and in the process I found myself reading the post I had written on this day last year. That is 15 th February 2018. It had been snowing though the snow was only a dusting and didn’t last long. It melted on the concrete paths but lingered longer on the grass. By contrast today it is warm and sunny with blues skies and no snow! I had been working in the boiler room or what we now call the gym/boiler room on the refurbishment project I had set myself. I had painted the ceiling and done other work and was about to begin work on the construction of the pit which was to house the new cross-trainer we had purchased. The pit was necessary in order to give more headroom when using the trainer for the ceiling in the room and indeed all the rooms in the cellar are low. Even with the floor being about 200 cm lower than the other rooms in the cellar more headroom was required. When I look back at the work I had done I am glad it was last year and not this! So much more has happened since twelve months ago and it is fair to say I’ve been extremely busy. Although I still find things to do much of the harder work is finished (she says hopefully with tongue in cheek). It’s not that I don’t like work for I do, it’s just that I am not getting any younger and need more rest and relaxation.

Relaxing under a tree

This morning I went for another walk and ended up on the beach rather than just walking by it. I wanted to stay there but knew I couldn’t, there were things I needed to do at home and besides it wasn’t warm enough in the stiff cool breeze despite the sun shining. Later in the day it would become warmer, up to 12 deg C and probably better to sit in out on the patio away from the wind. I was going to take the day off and get that rest and relaxation.

Shirley Anne

Kind words

Apples of Gold (Proverbs 25:6–15)

In the 1950s, Mary grew up knowing she was different from other kids . . . and she hated it. Because she had a cleft palate, she had learned to steel herself against the jokes and stares of children who teased her about her misshapen lip, crooked nose and garbled speech. Mary was convinced that no one outside her family could ever love her . . . until she entered Mrs. Leonard’s class. Mrs. Leonard had a warm smile, a round face and beautiful brown hair. All of the children liked Mrs. Leonard, but Mary grew to love her.

In those days, teachers administered a hearing test in the classroom. Unfortunately, Mary not only had a speech impediment due to her cleft palate, she was also partially deaf in one ear. Determined not to let the children have something else to tease her about, she thought of a way to cheat on the hearing test: She could pass the “whisper test” by covering her bad ear and turning her good ear toward her teacher. On the day of the dreaded hearing test, surely God put seven words in Mrs. Leonard’s mouth that changed Mary’s life forever. When it was time for Mary’s “whisper test,” she clearly heard the words: “I wish you were my little girl.”

Solomon called these kinds of words “apples of gold in settings of silver.” They are words that can erase years of pain and sorrow. They are words filled with love and acceptance. They are words that are priceless to those who hear them.

If someone listened in on your conversations, would their lives be changed for better or worse? Would they hear you speaking about the character flaws of others as if they were physical defects or would they hear that you consider others as beautiful in God’s eyes? Ask yourself if your words build up or tear down. Do your words push others away from you or draw others near? Most important, do they draw others to God?

It’s never too late to dispense apples of gold in settings of silver. Seek someone who is downcast and whisper a word of encouragement. You never know who needs to hear the words, “I wish you were my friend.”

Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

Hawkeye

A dull Wednesday and a little chilly in the morning didn’t prevent me from taking my walk. About half-way along the seafront however I decided to turn inland in order to get out of the wind. It wasn’t blowing strong but I was simply fed-up of it constantly in my face. When I arrived back home E was eating breakfast and I joined her. I did little else for the remainder of the morning but after lunch I told E I was going to do some gardening, specifically to uproot the chrysanthemum or ‘mum’ from one of the little flower beds on the patio. The one shown in the picture taken last summer. Also in the picture are a couple of beetroot plants which have long since been removed. The ‘mums’ itself had taken over the space where they had been but we decided it was too large for the flowerbed. I may decide to place stones or pebbles in the bed to cover the soil and surround the palm tree there and do the same in the other small bed up there.

Chrysanthemum

So where did we plant the mums as we didn’t want to throw them away? Since removing the plum trees there was now plenty of space on the mound where they could be replanted so that’s what we did. I say ‘we’ because I had asked E to tell me where she would like them planted. Whilst out there in the same area we did some pruning and tidying up too. Then ‘hawkeye’ better known as E had spotted a couple of bluebells so I dug them out. We moved up the garden to the greenhouse and E spotted more bluebells which I duly removed. At every step along the way more bluebells were spotted and I spent quite some time digging them out. I wouldn’t mind so much but it had only been two days since I last dug bluebells from the borders! That is how persistent they are. Even so what bluebells remain are only a fraction of what used to grow in the garden. It made a pleasant change to have company in the garden. E doesn’t do much gardening these days but when she does she tends to find all sorts of extra things for me to do!

Shirley Anne

More bells

I mean of the blue variety. I was in the garden on Tuesday morning with the main object of putting some of the left-over pebbles into the raised bed in the area we call ‘The Plot’ at the side of the house. We sometimes refer to it as the secret garden because it hides between the garage and the laurel trees next to the patio. It is accessed through a gate I constructed almost two years ago and is therefore ‘out of the way’. It didn’t take long to spread the pebbles.

Although it doesn’t look a lot there are plenty of pebbles in there. What is left in the bag in the garage I hope will be enough to put in the long raised bed on the patio. Before that can happen I have to remove the cyclamen plants which are growing there. The other plants will be left.

Once I had finished that work I went around the garden borders digging out bluebells. Those which were remaining after the purge a couple of years ago cannot easily be removed for the bulbs are deep beneath the roots of other plants so all I can do is pull out any shoots which appear by digging down as far as I am able. At least now they are manageable but in places they are still quite numerous. I spent only an hour or so in the garden even though there were other jobs I could have done. There is no hurry, I’ve all the time in the world.

Shirley Anne

Winding up

Usually a heading like that would indicate a finishing process, something coming to an end but in this case it is the other way round. I am beginning to get more things done (outside) after the last few weeks of wondering if I could because of the poor weather. It is Monday 11 th February as I write this. I had a really good night’s sleep and was ready for my morning walk. Deliberately skipping breakfast I was out the door just after eight-thirty-five. It was a sunny day though still a little cold at seven degrees but there was little or no wind. By the time I had returned home I was beginning to feel too warm in my winter clothing. E had long since finished her breakfast and was at the top of the house in her workshop. I grabbed a small bowl of porridge with fruit to stem my hunger until it was time for lunch. I had plans to get out in the garden whilst the sun was shining. After lunch I put on my overalls and went into the garage to begin filling a bucket with the pebbles stored there. They had been purchased last year for filling in the lawn feature I had constructed around October.

Although it looks full in the picture taken late last year it wasn’t completely filled. The job was to place another layer of pebbles over the whole area. Two large bags had been delivered on top of a wooden pallet and at my request had been placed just inside the garage to one side. There was enough space to allow my van to be parked but not really enough space to walk past with the van in there. I couldn’t move the pallet because of the weight on top of it. When I placed the first layer of pebbles on the feature I thought most of the pebbles would get used but far from it. Today as I write I have completely emptied one of the bags a bucket at a time and was able to pull the other bag off the pallet. The second bag, in fact both of the bags had been partially emptied during the initial filling of the feature so it wasn’t as difficult to shift with a little effort. I was able to remove the pallet and move the remaining bag of pebbles more to one side leaving plenty of space to walk past. I am now left with one bag two-thirds filled with pebbles which will be used elsewhere in the days ahead. Before returning indoors I hosed the feature to wash the new covering of pebbles. Now it looks as though I’ve done nothing as they appear as they did before I started…….but I know different.

Shirley Anne

The truth behind Brexit

What will actually happen if we stay in the EU and has already been agreed. Check out the Lisbon Treaty if you wish:
1: The UK along with all existing members of the EU lose their abstention veto in 2020 as laid down in the Lisbon Treaty when the system changes to that of majority acceptance with no abstentions or veto’s being allowed.
2: All member nations will become states of the new federal nation of the EU by 2022 as clearly laid out in the Lisbon treaty with no exceptions or veto’s. 3: All member states must adopt the Euro by 2022 and any new member state must do so within 2 years of joining the EU as laid down in the Lisbon treaty.
4: The London stock exchange will move to Frankfurt in 2020 and be integrated into the EU stock exchange resulting in a loss of 200,000 plus jobs in the UK because of the relocation. (This has already been pre-agreed and is only on a holding pattern due to the Brexit negotiations, which if Brexit does happen the move is fully cancelled but if not and the UK remains a member it’s full steam ahead for the move.)
5: The EU Parliament and ECJ become supreme over all legislative bodies of the UK.
6: The UK will adopt 100% of whatever the EU Parliament and ECJ lays down without any means of abstention or veto, negating the need for the UK to have the Lords or even the Commons as we know it today.
7: The UK will NOT be able to make its own trade deals.
8: The UK will NOT be able to set its own trade tariffs.
9 The UK will NOT be able to set its own trade quotas.
10: The UK loses control of its fishing rights
11: The UK loses control of its oil and gas rights
12: The UK loses control of its borders and enters the Schengen region by 2022 as clearly laid down in the Lisbon treaty
13: The UK loses control of its planning legislation
14: The UK loses control of its armed forces including its nuclear deterrent
15: The UK loses full control of its taxation policy
16: The UK loses the ability to create its own laws and to implement them
17: The UK loses its standing in the Commonwealth
18: The UK loses control of any provinces or affiliated nations e.g.; Falklands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar etc
19: The UK loses control of its judicial system
20: The UK loses control of its international policy
21: The UK loses full control of its national policy
22: The UK loses its right to call itself a nation in its own right.
23: The UK loses control of its space exploration program
24: The UK loses control of its Aviation and Sea lane jurisdiction
25: The UK loses its rebate in 2020 as laid down in the Lisbon treaty
26: The UK’s contribution to the EU is set to increase by an average of 1.2bn pa and by 2.3bn pa by 2020

This is the future what the youths of today think we stole from them? They should be on their knees thanking us for saving them from being turned into Orwellian automatons.

And now…..If you really want to know what Brexit is all about click on the link below. It is a magazine called Prophetic Vision issued quarterly and in this edition on pages 12 and 13 there is an article which looks into the Biblical prophecy regarding what is happening in Europe today. You may not realise it especially if you are not a believer in God and Jesus Christ and what is written in Scripture but this is only one of the many prophecies in The Bible which have yet to be fulfilled. Some already have and some are in the process, as with Europe and its future. Click on the link for the magazine article and the picture to see the video.

Video lasts seventy minutes.

Shirley Anne

Finally it eased

I did a swap between days at the weekend. I rested on Saturday but did a little on Sunday instead. The wind had finally eased off and I was able to get into the garden to begin the jobs I had lined-up. First though it was ‘clean sheet day’, I changed the bedclothes and put the soiled ones in the washing machine before eating breakfast. After breakfast I placed one of the duvets in the bath and hand washed it. Have you ever washed a duvet? They are very heavy when wet. Following the wash was the rinsing, all very tiring work. How then to dry it? We have a plastic linen basket in the bathroom and I used that on which to put the now folded duvet to allow the water to slowly drip from it. It took hours for that to happen but as the bath wasn’t needed it could stay there all day. Then it was time to put on my overalls and get outdoors, first of all to replace the flag now that the high winds had ceased and then into the rear garden to saw off the remaining tree stumps at ground level. Four of them stood one to two metres high and two were nearer the ground. My arms were aching somewhat after I had finished. I might decide not to saw through those stored tree trunks I mentioned in yesterdays’s post but take them to the recycling centre instead.

Sawing them is too much like hard work! By the time I had done with the work outside it was almost time for lunch but first I had to hang the washing on the line in the boiler/gym room. Whilst down there I spent some time on the cross-trainer. Time to cook lunch. It was two o’clock and I spent the rest of the day just relaxing and as it was a bright and sunny afternoon I spent some time in the garden.

Shirley Anne