I can’t post a bear picture as a header because I’m incompetent. Julia sent me these two pictures but I can’t get them to load into the media file so I just dropped them into the text. It’s a fascinating study in how a bit of knitting, a few stitches and a bit of imagination ends up as a teddy bear with a distinct personality of its own.
She has posted these pictures on the Mencap Facebook page, so there’s a chance we might be seeing a few more of them about as lockdown progresses.
Sooty is one of the best known bears, and he has been helping charliecountryboy retain his sanity during the lockdown. I use the term ‘sanity’ in a fairly loose sense, as you will have realised if you’ve read his blog before.
One of my favourites is Pooh, the bear of very little brain, and an unfortunate name. We have a copy of The Pooh Cook Book upstairs. Julia bought it. I’ve never actually read it, as I suspect it isn’t really a cookery book, just going through the motions.
I’m fairly sure that the humour I see in the title was unintentional, unlike the next book, which has a confusingly similar title.
It is, however, quite different, being a book of Thai cooking compiled by a woman nick-named Poo. It apparently means ‘crab’ in Thai. She’s really called Saiyuud Diwong, but that wouldn’t sell as many books. Let’s face it, Cooking with Saiyud Diwong wouldn’t actually rate a mention here.
“For I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.” A. A. Milne
On the first day of the trip (which was also Christmas Eve) we went to Saxmundham for a few last minute supplies and enjoyed a hectic half-hour of being bashed by shopping trollies and delayed by senior citizens before joining a queue to get out of the car park.
That is the Magic of Christmas.
As an aside, although the town fought off TESCO for years they seem to be quite enthusiastic about it now they have one. They also have a Waitrose just across the road, but there was no fight about that. The leader of the original anti-TESCO campaign was Lady Caroline Cranbrook, which could probably form the basis of a PhD on class bias in modern supermarket shopping. Things have never been the same since posh people ran out of money and could no longer afford butlers to do their shopping.
It’s interesting what they say about local food in the article, but I’m fairly sure that families with jobs and kids find supermarket shopping faster and easier than visiting individual shops. The quality might not be the same but I’d rather spend time with the family than trekking round shops. That’s not the fault of the shops, it’s the fault of modern life and my priorities.
I didn’t take any pictures in Saxmundham.
I did take some at Snape Maltings, a large complex of concert hall, antiques centre, shops and tea rooms. There is also a sailing barge and various other things to have a look at, though it was getting on a bit and we didn’t have time to look at everything. Even if we had wanted to stay we were made to feel unwelcome in the antiques centre where the man on the front counter put a barrier across the stairs and announced loudly to his assistant that he was going to close as soon as the place was empty.
There were some nice things in the antique centre cabinets, but many of the prices were concealed, which always annoys me. If you want to sell stuff, show me the price. If you want to annoy me, turn the price ticket the wrong way round.
We looked round a craft shop and a fancy goods shop, which were both nice, with some interesting things. Sadly, a lot of stuff in the craft shop was made abroad, and cheap, which makes it cheap giftware rather than crafts. The stock in the fancy goods shop was also often made abroad, but wasn’t cheap.
Garden sculpture – rusty steel with words cut into it. Yours for £550.
We also had tea and carrot cake in a tea room. It was upstairs and access was difficult because the tables were close together and inconsiderate people were sitting so that the gangways became impassable.
It’s times like that when I seriously consider becoming registered as disabled so I can plough through blockages like that making loud comments. Julia, as you would expect, is against this idea. She points out that it’s taken her 30 years to stop me making loud, rude, comments about people and doesn’t want to let me slip back. Slightly more reasonably she also points out that being lazy and irritable with a limp and a bad finger isn’t actually being disabled.
I suppose she has a point.
Various shops at the Maltings
Selfie in a teapot
New use for a phone box
The other notable event of the visit was nearly falling off the wharf into the river whilst taking photographs. There were some interesting bits and pieces along the top of the wharf (well, I find ferns and rusty bits of metal interesting), but I got a bit too close and I’ve always had a bit of trouble when looking down. I also seem to have a balance problem when looking up to take pictures of towers. The difference is that there’s nothing to fall into when you are looking up at a tower.
I stumbled slightly and dropped my stick. This was awkward as it got under my feet. For an instant I teetered. Then I recovered my balance and pretended nothing had happened when Julia arrived to pick up my stick.
Make chicken stew. It’s in the oven. Several hours late.
Soup? Er…just about to do it. Veg are ready but I need to wash a pan as I’ve been storing compost scraps in it for the last few days. Yes, I need to empty a bokashi bucket.
Curry. It won’t take long.
Living room – I’ve moved stuff round, which is related to tidying, though not closely related. More a cousin than a sibling.
Hoover. Perhaps tomorrow.
Meanwhile I have washed up and done the recycling, which I’d forgotten about. I often forget the washing up, though not as much as Number Two son, who is a world class amnesiac. Also watched darts and discussed the finer parts of sports marketing and sponsorship with Number Two son. Had bacon cobs with mushrooms for lunch.
Cut up plastic bottles to make poppies. (and give me an excuse to re-use old photos of poppies).
It was Tuesday so we went to a care home to make Christmas decorations. It’s not quite the jet-set lifestyle which my younger self anticipated, but it’s better than sitting in a bus shelter with a plastic bottle of cider.
We made garlands, table decorations and baskets. No doubt you are now stepping back, amazed, at the breadth of my talents, but that might be a bit premature if I’m honest. I have no talent for floral decoration, I merely have stronger fingers than the average lady of 80 years, so I can set things firmly in the oasis.
It’s actually amazing that two bin bags of garden cuttings (bay, rosemary and holly) and a box of dried poppy heads and statice harvested during the summer can do when added to a selection of second-hand baskets and willow hoops.
Fortunately, Julia and our neighbour Angela, do have some talent with floral decoration so it they made up for my deficiencies and the afternoon passed off without problem.
On the way there we drove through an industrial estate built near woodland, and saw a Jay on the footpath, which I’m always happy to see.
The way back was not so kind to us, with broken traffic lights and a traffic jam. A 30 minute journey took us an hour and a quarter. As I sat in the queue I couldn’t help thinking that life with a bottle of cider could well be less stressful…
“A friend of mine used to say, ‘You cannot change the past, but every moment is an opportunity to change your future.”
― F.E. Higgins, The Eyeball Collector
We are having an indoor sort of day today. It’s grey and drizzly outside, with a moderate wind and temperature down around 4° C, so you can see why indoors seems good.
They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, but on a day like this I’d dispute that. The right clothes will keep you warm and dry, but it won’t necessarily cheer you up, and it’s cheerfulness that’s lacking on a day like this.
Inside we have a plentiful supply of good humour. We have been planning for December, making party invitations for the Christmas Party, practising belly dancing (not me!), rehearsing songs and making picture frames (by covering plain frames in pieces torn from paper napkins).
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One of the group, who I will allow to remain anonymous, wrote some song lyrics on flip chart paper whilst it was on the floor. You know how permanent marker goes right through cheap paper and stains what is underneath? Well, it’s not a great problem when it goes through to another sheet of paper behind the first one. But if you are resting on the floor you end up with a hieroglyphic design on the floor, and that can be a problem. Julia has managed to remove most of it, but we now have a patch of very clean floor…
This afternoon we will be making pom-poms ready for wreath making.
I used to work for a market-leading company you know. Suit, briefcase, company car, expenses. I even had a Filofax once…
I was very pleased with myself last week after the gingerbread baking session.
Obviously I should have known better, pride going before a fall, and all that. Or, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18) for those of you who prefer your quotes accurate.
To put it another way, whilst having a second go to make sure the recipe works, I had a bit of a problem and the biscuits were not as good this time. I won’t bore you with details, but I will have a bit of a rethink.
Then I tried making Grantham Gingerbread. They are a traditional biscuit, first produced by accident in 1740, and not really like a gingerbread at all, being light in colour and sweet in taste, with not much ginger flavour. That will be something that changes before the next batch.
Grantham Gingerbread dough
Mine turned out looking suitably cracked, but rather flat, at which point I remembered that I should have used self-raising flour rather than using the plain flour I had just used in the gingerbread men.
Even so, some had risen and had honeycomb centres, so they weren’t too bad.
Based on a post in Pies and Prejudice (a fine food blog, though modesty prevents me mentioning who writes it) I had an unusual salad with my lunch today – nasturtium leaves and flowers, feral rocket and a cultivated sorrel leaf.
Foraged nasturtium salad
Julia and the girls started to assemble the poppy project ready for November, using the poppies made by using the bases of plastic bottles.
Poppies made from plastic bottles
Poppies and corn wreath
We had enquiries about Men in Sheds, an educational visit for next spring, renting the room, apple pressing and a forthcoming visit (the teacher wants to know what we have planned – I’m not sure she is expecting the answer “nothing” so I’d better get thinking).
At the end of the day, we had unexpected visitors, which was pleasant, and gave me a chance to offload some biscuits.
That’s about it.
I’ll be going soon, just need to get down on my hands and knees to find out what is jamming the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.
With nine visitors with learning difficulties and our normal Wednesday six, we had a lively day as everyone decided there were no strangers, just friends they hadn’t met.
Today’s pizza count was only 14, but I had to prepare all the dough myself, ready for topping (it’s a long story featuring a glitch in timing). Actually I made dough for 18, but we only used enough for 12, and took my two emergency gluten-free bases out of the freezer. I used the extra dough, with a selection of olives and fresh-picked rosemary to make a loaf. It’s quite good, though the flour is just cheap flour, rather than strong white. I didn’t take a picture, just made a cheese sandwich. It was good.
My arthritis is now playing up, as kneading the dough for 18 pizzas is not quite what the doctor ordered. Strange how when you’re young and healthy you don’t look at a pile of pizza dough as a challenge. How things change.
The keets are looking perky, and several of them are exhibiting a tendency to have a go at flying. The grey one is actually developing a taste for showbiz by the look of things and Julia says it’s almost impossible to put your hand in the pen without it throwing itself at you for selection.
The woodpecker came back to the feeder, the sun shone, a mistle thrush did its stormcock act in a tree top and all in all it was the sort of day that makes it all worthwhile.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Things that went badly – checking up on allergies. Things that went well – emergency gluten-free pizza bases, new friendships, Gemma’s felted teddy bear (made with alpaca wool).
It’s been days since the past post – sorry about that. I’ve been locked in a cycle of work and sleep that doesn’t seem to have left time for anything else. Well, to be accurate I suppose work, sleep and staring at the TV in a trance-like state. I can’t tell you what I’ve been watching but I’ve failed to see the end of a lot of it.
After one day, where we had a group in, meetings and ran a craft session we eventually left the farm at 10.30 one night, only to be stopped by a neighbour who wanted to know what we were doing.
“Going home.” I said.
It wasn’t the politest of answers but after 13 hours at work I’m not the politest of people. Actually, I’m considered “direct” at the best of times. In my world “direct” is good and saves time but other people don’t seem to see it that way. .
So, to sum up, since we’ve last blogged we’ve had 50 kids in for a day on the farm, the Quercus group, a project meeting, a craft session, Men in Sheds, done enough paperwork to choke a hippo, made sloe gin and had a day off to do personal stuff including sorting the Great Car Purchase Debacle.
Going back to the old hamster analogy, I feel like a hamster in a wheel that’s been put in a cider press – not only going in endless circles but being pressurised at the same time.
I’m going to put some effort into relaxation over the weekend and hope that normal service will be restored next week.