Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Just had to share this beautiful, beautiful song by Simon and Garfunkel. It's like plainsong with acoustic guitar......simply gorgeous!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas heart for Keith

Final post of the day!

I wanted to use some evergreens from my garden to make a wreath for Keith for Christmas.

Here we have ivy, rosemary, snowberries, holly and a variegated leafed plant that pokes through the fence from next door.

I was originally going to make a circle with the ivy and then add bits to it, but I found this lovely heart shaped base in Next. All i did was cut small pieces of ivy and tuck them in.

The finished piece. I went for simplicity in the end, adding a small sprig of mistletoe (bought) in the middle.

I feel really pleased with the finished thing. Keith loved flower arrangements - he was much better at it than me, having his family's artistic flair - and would have loved the home-madeness of this. We also joked every Christmas about me chasing him for a kiss under the mistletoe, so I just had to add some. Don't think you're getting away with it this year my love!!  ;-)   x x x

A walk in Thursford Woods

Had a day out with Daughter at Thursford Wood, which is owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. I chose this particular one because there is a position for Volunteer Warden going there, and it sounds just the sort of thing I'd enjoy. I've been a Primary School Teacher for over 25 years now and would like to have a complete change of job. I would love to work with nature in some capacity, or maybe with local history. Consequently I've joined several local support groups and aim to begin by volunteering.

So, back to Thursford....   It was very difficult to find as the opening off the main road is tiny. Once there, it has a clearly marked path and info board. As you can see from the pictures, there was a wide variety of trees of different ages, with some spectacular old oaks. I'd love to help take care of it - and the first thing I'd campaign for would be a big signpost to show where it is!!!  ;-)

Christmas puddings

Last week I attempted to make some mini Christmas puddings. I know they should have been made by/on Stir Up Sunday (end of November; week before Advent begins) but didn't get round to it. I found the recipe online at
There were LOTS of ingredients, which seemed to take forever to prepare! Here are some piccies....

Soak the dried fruit and orange zest in orange juice and alcohol.

Chop the pecans, mix with the already chopped almonds, then toast. I burnt the first batch and had to do it again!

Beat the eggs.

Flour and mixed spice.

Fresh breadcrumbs.

The recipe said 'molasses sugar'. Wasn't sure I knew what that was so used black treacle instead.

Add grated carrot to the dried fruit mix.

Now the fun begins! Cream butter and treacle then add eggs, flour and mixed spice. Mix all the rest in and hope your bowl is big enough!!

Spoon into your prepared basins.

Place in baking tray and pour boiling water in, then cover all with foil and into the oven for 2 and a half hours.

All done. Now take out of basins, wrap in foil, and store till Christmas. They smelled delicious while cooking. Hope they taste good!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

2 blogs I've discovered

Just a quick post before I go to bed - discovered these two blogs this evening:

Both are great for those who like reading Amish/simplicity type blogs.

On the first blog I was intrigued by the post on Sept 28th, about knitting looms. I can do basic knitting but I find it makes my thumbs ache. What they call a knitting loom seems to be a bigger version of what I knew as a Knitting Nancy when I was little. I used to make tubular dresses on it for my Sindy dolls, but the bigger ones could make socks! Have ordered a round one and a straight one from Amazon.

On the 2nd blog I found a great post for getting children (and adults too I should think!) to help out with chores. On October 17th the blogger writes about the list she gave her children; lists like this:
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Straighten rugs
  • Stand on a chair and sing your favorite song
  • Eat three grapes
  • Make your bed
  • Say something nice to your sister/brother
  • Wash your nose
  • Make sure there is nothing on couch besides the cushions
  • Clean vanity
  • Wash your hands
  • Read a chapter in the book you are reading
  • Dust livingroom furniture
  • Draw a picture of a butterfly

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Garden updates

I was looking through my earlier posts last night and enjoying all the summer veggie pictures, so I'd thought I'd give you an update of current gardening. As it's November it's a good time for shrub planting. In the front border, behind our little wall, I wanted to plant a hedge of mixed plants native to Britain. I have my two Hawthorns at either end, clipped to lovely neat shapes (but forgot to take a photo!) and inbetween we used to have roses. The roses got old and straggly so I dug them up in  Summer 2010 but, due to hubby's health, never got round to planting anything in their place.

First I had to move a self-sown Lavender to the side border.

Next I planted a Holly that has been growing in a pot in the back garden, having been sown by birds! I then put in a cluster of 4 Beech plants I bought at a local nursery.

These are a Hazel and a Hornbeam that I bought online from the Woodland Trust.

And , finally, two more Hazels. I hope they all grow really well when the warm weather comes again.

As November has been quite mild this year, and the sun even came out the other day (whoopee!) I started some of the jobs needing doing in the back garden. Haven't got a picture of this but I weeded the rhubarb plot - having first peeled back the anti-bunny fence - then added fertilizer (Bunny poo!) and hay to keep the frosts off.

After that I began to clear a space to plant this beautiful shrub my work colleagues bought me. I had asked for no flowers to be sent, since they aggravate my sinuses, so they bought me this in memory of Keith instead. Can't remember what it's called but it looks wonderful. 

Spotted this rather spectacular fungi growing by the bird table.

And, of course, Somebody just had to come and see what I was up to!  ;-)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Keith's eulogy

Here is the eulogy I read at my husband's funeral a couple of weeks ago, along with some piccies that I had showing on a screen as people came in. I have slightly amended the eulogy to preserve privacy e.g. by taking out names of people and places. I have also added notes for blog readers to understand some of the references.

Keith was born in London in 1960, moving to Norfolk when he was about 6 years old.

At Grammar School he excelled at many sports –hockey, cricket, football and sprinting – representing both his school and the county. In 1975 he was very proud to play at the Oval, as part of the Lord’s Taverners schoolboy cricket team.

Keith was also a mischievous prankster with many tales to tell of his escapades at school. For example, one Christmas the sixth formers were told their common room didn’t look very festive so they, quite literally, lifted all the decorations from the school hall. On being found out, they had 30 minutes to return them before the Queen’s representative arrived for Assembly!  Another story told of the time Keith and his friends moved a teacher’s car to the bottom of the sports field one foggy day. On discovering this, the teacher’s language was not exactly scholarly!
As a teenager, Keith caught the eye of a local football talent scout and was offered a trial for Tottenham Hotspur. You can imagine how this went down with his Arsenal supporting father!  [These two teams are rivals that traditionally hate each other!]

Sadly, injury prevented him attending and his interest and time was soon taken up with his friends’ band. Keith travelled with them to many gigs, ‘roadie-ing’ for them. He often told the story of how he was packing guitars in the van one night when a drunken lout began to threaten one of the band members. On rushing out of the van to the defence, Keith tripped but managed to turn into a somersault, landing on his feet in a karate pose. The lout ran!
After a while Keith joined the civil service, working at the local JobCentre. He made many good friends there, and worked his way up through promotion to the dizzy heights of Grade 7. His job has entailed many things through the years, from helping people find jobs, supervising Youth Opportunity placements, helping to fund small businesses, dealing with large budgets for further education and writing speeches for ministers. The civil service supported Keith as he studied for his Bachelor of Arts degree through the Open University and, later, his Master of Philosophy through Warwick University.

I first met Keith just a short distance from this church, in the Church Rooms. Although I lived in a village a few miles away, my school and my best friend were here. We became involved in a performance of a Christian musical called ‘The Witness’ which met in the Church Rooms to pray and rehearse. I got to sing the part of Mary and Keith was one of the musicians, playing his guitar. From this came many musical opportunities to sing and play, along with our friend, at lots of churches and Christian events, including a weekly prayer meeting and Bible study group opposite where we now live!

I fell in love with this handsome man with the beautiful eyes and the wicked sense of humour, but didn’t dare let him know!
In 1982 I went to teacher training College in Lincoln and fate, (or God), gave me the chance I needed – I got the mumps. Whilst in sick bay I plucked up the courage to write a jokey letter to Keith, only to find he liked me too.

By 1983 we were engaged and in 1984 we married – just a week before I had to return for my last year at college! Keith drove to Lincoln most weekends to be with me, and calculated that he spent nearly a year  there himself. His battered Datsun Cherry also broke down on every stretch of the road to and from Lincoln over those 3 years.

For 10 years we lived with Keith’s parents. In 1989 his lively, bubbly Mum died of leukaemia. Keith was devastated. I don’t think he ever really got over it to be honest, and I’m sure many of his later health problems, both physical and mental, stem from this time. We were both thankful, however, that we were on hand to help and support at this time.
 Two years later I was pregnant with our first child. Sadly, she died in the womb, just 4 weeks from her due date. You can imagine the pain we went through. Keith was such a strong support to me and I well remember leaning on him, mentally and physically, as we buried our Rebekah.
A year later we moved into our own home, taking Keith’s father  to live with us. A year after that and our beautiful daughter  was born. Such joy! We both cried at her birth. Keith was so, so proud of his little girl. They played typical rough-and-tumble Daddy/Daughter games, shared bedtime stories, played and had days out. Those early years were very happy times.

I must mention that Keith’s sense of fun and mischief continued through his adult years too. He was famous for telling long story jokes with excruciating punch lines. Who can forget the one that ended with ‘for Hans that does dishes is as soft as Gervaise, with wild, green, hairy lipsquid’? [This was a reference to a popular advert for washing up liquid with the line “For hands that do dishes can be soft as your face, with mild, green Fairy Liquid”.]
Once, on encountering some buskers in Cambridge playing beautiful classical music on their violins and cello, Keith asked them if they ‘knew any Quo’. [Rock group 'Status Quo'] They promptly began playing ‘Rocking all over the world’, earning themselves a generous tip.
Keith was a Francophile, speaking French on holidays there with such a good accent that the locals thought he was French. One evening at a posh hotel lounge in Disneyland, Paris, a bored pianist was playing gentle jazz to the guests. Keith asked him if he knew Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. With a twinkle in his eye, the man picked up some music and played it with gusto! Soon all the genteel clientele were singing along and head banging. After resounding applause the maitre d’ had a quiet word in the musician’s ear, and it was back to the quiet music of before.

As time went on, Keith succumbed more and more to worries, depression and stress caused by his work and his health problems. Let me illustrate how he dealt with this: we had a cute guinea-pig called Ginger. When she was little she would hide in a toilet roll inner whenever she was scared. As she got bigger she could only fit her head in the tube, and was constantly amazed that we could find her. Keith’s approach to all his anxieties was very much like that, except that his cardboard tube was alcohol. The more he worried, the more he drank. The more he drank, the worse his health got, causing more worries.  We tried everything to help him but, as I later learned through Al–Anon, you can’t make someone give up; they have to want to do it themselves. I am very grateful that I could be with Keith in the end, to tell him not to be afraid as God lifted him from the shelter of his tube.

I want to finish by reading a piece from the book ‘The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, aged 37 ¾’. Our hero, like Keith, has been worrying about dying. He consults his super-religious friend who says “I am looking forward to being able to worship the Lord for all eternity. What greater joy can there be than this?”  Adrian thinks ‘Well, of course I go along with that. I mean – yes, absolutely....’
He then asks his wife if she thinks he’d enjoy heaven. The reply – ‘only if they give you your own special corner to moan in.’
Finally, a monk comes to visit Adrian’s church for a question and answer session.....suddenly found myself on my feet. Felt about 6 years old as I spoke.
‘I don’t want to die...’
‘No,’ said Father John, ‘neither do I. Life can be very good. I’m sure Jesus didn’t want to die either. His friends and family, the natural world, laughter, tears, work – he loved it all I’m sure.’
‘But heaven – the idea of heaven seems so...I don’t know...’
‘Adrian, what are you interested in?’ asked the monk, ‘really interested in, I mean’.
‘Cricket.’ I didn’t mean to tell the truth. It just slipped out.
‘So,’ said Father John, ‘for you, Adrian, God has to make sure that heaven is at least as exciting and stimulating as scoring a century against Australia at Lords. Is that your wife sitting next to you?’
Anne smiled and nodded.
‘If Adrian keels over suddenly, my dear, and he’s on the point of death, you’ll know what to do now?’
‘Yes,’ laughed Anne, ‘I’ll buckle a pair of pads on him – quick.’

So I hope that Keith will once again be enjoying all his sports, while playing his guitar to Queen songs. Oh, and watch out God- you never know what trick he’ll play on you too!

Friday, 11 November 2011

A visit to Pensthorpe

Took a day off from all the many, many things that need sorting when your loved one has died, and went to visit Pensthorpe, Norfolk. (England) They're the ones who have hosted the BBC's 'Springwatch'.  I have never been there before, even though it's only about 30 mins from where I live. I always thought it was just a place with different waterfowl but there's SO much more too!!!

Here are some piccies I took:

I think this one was called a Bald Egret.

Black Storks are HUGE!!!

What a wingspan!!

Can't remember what this one was called, but it was flapping it's wings around at the time.

A cute Coot. Or, as  we in Norfolk would pronounce it, 'a coot Coot'.

Can't remember which duck variety this one was either.

A very friendly goose!

I think this one is a Goldeneye.

Such beautiful colouring!

Snow Geese make such a funny, flat kind of honking sound.

White Storks are big too!

This is a Stilt. Stilts are well named for their long, spindly legs which look as if they will snap.

And now for some non-bird pictures......

Glorious Autumn berries. (Pyracantha?)

I spotted a little copse of trees and thought to myself "That looks really magical". As I got closer I noticed two of these Fly Agarics - real Fairy Toadstools!!!

Another fungi I spotted. (Stinkhorn?)

What's that saying? Something like 'When Gorse is not in bloom then kissing's out of fashion'.

Hmmm....guess what tree this is???  ;-)

Oak tree.

Lovely twisty Oak branches.

Another Oak.

I think this is the river Wensum.

And again.

One of the many lakes/meres there.

All in all, I thoroughly recommend a visit! I told the staff I wanted to live there forever but, sadly, they said I had to go home.....  :-(