End of the line

I’m not continuing with this blog. If you have been following my musings and would like to continue please follow this link.

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Merry Christmas from Rufus, Buster and Moi

  

Can’t believe it, Christmas Eve and I’ve mowed the lawn! it’s been bugging me for a while. I didn’t spend too much time on it and I didn’t trim the edges but it looks much better.

Ham sandwich for lunch, then we’re off to see Star Wars followed by a bite to eat and a few cocktails at TGI Friday.

Merry Christmas

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One Week

 

Tis a week before Christmas and all round the house
Nothing is stirring, not even the mouse
The tree is up, the presents are wrapped
Mince pie, mulled wine, time to relax

Christmas has always been a much loved and looked forward to time for me, the build up, lists, decorating the tree, putting up the outside lights, happily spending most of Christmas and Boxing days preparing food, and always striving to make it perfect. However I now set the bar a little lower, I still enjoy a bit of shopping, a little baking, card sending, present buying and wrapping, but don’t get stressed if it doesn’t go to plan, and say to myself “What is the very worst thing that can happen?”There have been a few Christmas disasters – underestimating how long the turkey needed to defrost one year and having to stand it overnight, on a stool in front of the open oven set on its lowest setting. And the time when, after one too many sherries I dropped the roast potatoes on the kitchen floor, a fairly clean floor, but nevertheless a floor regularly festooned with all manner of human and canine detritus. I quickly scooped them up, wiped them with a tea towel and put them back in the oven. My girls were about 6 or 7 at the time and my mother and an aunt were with us that year but no one knew and no one was ill. I confirmed two things from that encounter – life is much less stressful after a few sherries, and a bit of muck doesn’t actually harm you.

The last couple of years Christmas day has been completely stress free, as we have treated ourselves to dinner out. We return home replete and spend the rest of the day relaxing. I do a quiz for my family  – identify TV advert slogans, identify well known company logos, charades, my version of articulate, and this one which I introduced last year –  familiar objects from unfamiliar angles. How many can you identify? Answers below.

I love decorating the Christmas tree, and it has to be a real one. I’m not OCD but…. I put the decs on the tree in the same order every year! I start with my favourites at the top and front, then the rest. Over the years I have acquired lots of decorations, sentimental, old, new, modern and traditional.

Birds Collage

These birds were my mum’s. When she started to downsize her Christmas trees she gave me some of her decorations. I don’t know how old these are, I would guess at over 50 years, I remember them from when I was a little girl.

This is all that’s left of her lovely colourful baubles.

A fairy has a hard time up where the tinsel glitters

A wand of gold in one hand and a fir tree in her knickers

I bought this lovely fairy in a garden centre sale a few years ago

  

  

along with these other favourites, they were bargains

My grandson made this when he was little

    

My daughter bought these whilst on holiday

  

And some fun ones

How do you decorate your Christmastree, do you have a tree, do you have favourite decorations?

How well did you do with the pictures? I think I made them too easy :-)

a box of oxo cubes, a pineapple, a bottle of milk, an iron, the dogs’ water bowl, spaghetti

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Two Weeks

 

Two weeks before Christmas, Isn’t it exciting
Wrapping, baking and lots of sighing
Presents bought, fairy lights checked
Time running out, the house to be decked

I love mince pies and every year I do my own mince pie survey, it’s really just an excuse to eat loads of them!

Tesco finest all butter with Courvoisier, £2 for 6: Lovely pastry, generous delicious filling 8/10

Co-op luxury mince pies all butter with brandy, £2 for 6: Very nice, crumbly pastry, tasty generous filling 8/10

Mr Kipling £1 for 6: very tasty 8/10

Tesco 89p for 6: not bad 5/10

The co-op truly delicious mini mince pies £2.50 for 12: These little beauties are gorgeous, 3 topped with chopped pecan nuts and glaze, 3 with a pastry star, and 3 with whisky butter cream 10/10

Aldi crumbly all butter with brandy £1.15 for 6: Very tasty but the pastry is too crumbly, nice filling 7/10

The Co-op Loved by us £1 for 6: Quite nice 6/10

Greggs £2 for 6: Made in store. They are delicious. With a good sturdy shortcrust pastry and generous tasty filling, they taste just like home made 10/10

In a recent survey of mince pies Greggs came out above Fortnum & Mason at £13.95 for a box of 6. Mind you they are beautifully packaged and would make a lovely present for a mum or a favourite aunt

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Three Weeks

 

Three weeks before Christmas and all round the house

Everything is rousing, even the mouse

Cards written and posted, overseas first

Need presents and food, my head’s fit to burst

Here in the UK some charities post out packs of Christmas cards in the hope that people will send in a donation. They are prints of paintings by artists with disabilities, and some of them are very nice, but for many years I returned them because I didn’t particularly like most of them, and felt guilty about keeping them.  One year I did send a donation but now I am of the opinion that if they send them completely unsolicited then I shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping them and not making a contribution. 
Do you receive them, do you keep them, do you donate to the charity, how do you feel about them?

 

 

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Threes

Bad things come in threes. I try not to be taken in by sayings, but over the last couple of weeks we have had three domestic problems. The first was the washing machine, it wasn’t spinning and draining and despite my son-in-laws best efforts to research online for a fix, none was to be found so we bought a new one. 

Not to be outdone by a washing machine the dishwasher decided to play up. It got to the end of the cycle, I opened the door and was greeted by the smell of dirty water and a well of dirty, greasy water in the bottom of the machine. On went the marigolds, checked the filter, then, cloth in hand I bailed out the water to investigate further, couldn’t find a way to see under the filter, so checked the pipes, no blockages so what next? As a serial optimist and one who hopes that things will miraculously repair themselves if you just keep trying! I set the machine on a different programme and – voila it worked, so it wasn’t the pump, perhaps it’s just that programme that’s faulty, I will try it on that one again soon.
Now the central heating boiler is making a very loud alarming noise, like a huge wind machine blowing through it. An engineer is coming to look at it tomorrow.

So, kismet or coincidence, I prefer the latter……….

 

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Ugly Veg

My carrots could be famous! well ok not famous on a national scale, more like here at chez Pollywaffle. 

The carrots I grow on my allotment aren’t neat or straight, they are crooked, strange and some have been downright rude, resembling all manner of body parts – boobs, bottoms and, ahem, dangly bits. My daughter tells it as it is, she says they are mutants! 

I was reading an article recently how Asda have announced they will be extending their wonky fruit and veg range which was rolled out in 25 stores at the beginning of the year. Labelled “Beautiful on the Inside” the new range features crooked carrots, knobbly pears, wonky spuds and more, all sold at reduced rates. Jamie Oliver has long been a pioneer of healthy eating, he says “If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load. There’s no difference whatsoever in taste or nutritional value. This is perfectly good food that could and should be eaten by humans.”

And he’s so right. My carrots don’t look pretty, but they taste dam good, they have just grown wonky. There are only a few left now, and a few cabbages and some parsnips, the sweetcorn has finished, the brussels and swede were dismal failures, but the purple brocolli is looking good.

The mutant carrot was about to take over the kitchen, the Assasins Creed, dinosaur and canon ball lobber surrounded it on all sides, but to no avail, the carrot was just too strong, only one thing could stop it in its tracks – 

yes the mighty peeler and my worn out chipped little knife with which I can cut, peel, slice               and dice anything, almost with my eyes closed, without cutting myself!                 This monster carrot was about to become part of a shepherds pie dinner.

 

One of my favourite meals

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Scent

Scent, described as “a distinctive odour, especially when agreeable” was originally a hunting term from the Latin sentire – to feel, perceive, sense. I like the word scent, It’s not used much nowadays, I suppose that’s because it’s old fashioned, having been replaced by perfume. I adore perfume, it’s important to me, I couldn’t be without it, I wear it most days. I also use body spray from M&S and Next. I like trying new perfumes but my all-time favourite is and always will be Chanel Allure.

The reason I have this little cluster on my chest of drawers is twofold, I like the decorative bottles, and it reminds me of perfumes I have used and liked, should I want to buy them again!

Perfume is evocative, like music it captures moments from the past, nice memories of people and places.

My mother had one of these spray bottles (didn’t everyone then?)
Evening in Paris was an easy one to remember my mum using, it was such a significant blue bottle. Then came Coty L’Aimant and later she loved Estee Lauder White Linen.

I think the first perfume I used was 4711, there have been many since then – Tweed, Rive Gauche, Anais Anais, Chanel No’s 19 and 5,  Tresor, Youth Dew, Eternity, Lulu which I loved but my boyfriend at the time thought it was too strong! It didn’t stop me using it though! More recent ones are Coco Chanel, Coco Mademoiselle, and my current favourite Modern Muse. I’m also using Gucci which smelt great when I tried a tester but I can’t smell it at all when I use it! I’m sure the testers are extra strength.

I read recently that a perfume called “Suddenly Madame Glamour” from Lidl is a very good likeness to Coco Mademoiselle. Both have notes of bergamot, rose and jasmine, both come in glass bottles of pink liquid topped with white lids and both are packaged in white boxes with gold trim.

Independent tests carried out by the Perfumers Guild found that 90 per cent of women who took part actually preferred the ‘fresh citrus and floral notes’ of Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour over Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, with guild founder John Bailey saying the former’s ‘alluring, exotic Oriental accord’ made it a ‘timeless, affordable and classic fragrance’. 

Read more at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2849602/Yes-4-bottle-perfume-smell-good-Chanel.html#ixzz3rB6UIlNa

So I took myself off to the store to try it out. It is a very good likeness and I’m not sure I would be able to tell which was which. There are a couple of significant differences in usage though – I use more than just a couple of sprays so it won’t last long, and with good perfume you get that lovely lingering scent the next day on scarves, collars, gloves etc., that doesn’t happen with this one, however it does last all day, and at £3.99 a pop compared to £54 (and rising) for the real thing I can cope with no lingering aroma! I have bought two bottles.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” – Coco Chanel

A tad dramatic maybe, but coming from someone so iconic and stylish it ably emphasised how indispensable perfume is. Chanel No. 5 is one of the most popular fragrances of all time, a bottle of it is sold every 30 seconds.

“Where should one use perfume?” asked a young woman.
“Wherever one wants to be kissed” replied Coco Chanel.

But that doesn’t mean poured on, there is nothing worse than being in close proximity to someone who smells overwhelmingly of a cloying fragrance. Perfume should be delightful and intoxicating, and as far as the opposite sex is concerned, only smelt by someone a little bit closer than is polite!

What is your favourite perfume, how do you feel about perfume, how important is it to you, would you use a cheap one if it was a very good copy of an expensive one?

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Bygone Days

A blog I was reading the other day had an old photograph of a young girl on a motorbike probably circa 1950’s, which put me in mind of a photo of myself and my cousin J sitting on my father’s motorbike dressed up in our auntie Margaret’s clothes. We loved rummaging around auntie’s bedroom.

Me riding pillion circa 1956

Aunty Margaret

Auntie Margaret was my mum’s sister. She worked for WH Smith at their office in Leeds, she always had nice clothes and lots of accessories. Her bedroom was an Aladdin’s cave of goodies. My mum had nice things too, but auntie was able to afford little extras. She never married and I often wondered why, because in those days most women married and had babies. I’m sure it wasn’t for the lack of suitors. One day I plucked up the courage to ask. She replied that there had been a couple of proposals but she didn’t want the responsibility of another person and preferred to stay single.

My mother’s family lived in Leeds and we would visit at Christmas, Easter and during the summer.

Grandma

I only knew one grandparent. My father’s parents died before I was born, my mum’s father died when I was a baby and I only have vague memories of my grandma.

We lived in Peterborough so the journey on the A1 was quite straightforward. Mum sat in the front of the sidecar and I sat in the back. Our 1 case was strapped on the back. That journey seemed to take forever. When my father bought a car I thought we were ever so well off! The journey was more comfortable but still took forever! Even when the M1 was built my father still preferred to use the A1. When I was older, maybe 11 or 12 I would go up for 2 weeks during the summer holiday. I have a vague memory of being put on a train at Peterborough and auntie Margaret meeting me at Leeds. I don’t know if it was a direct journey or whether I had to change trains at some point. My stay was divided between auntie Margaret and two other aunties.

Auntie Margaret's house

I loved Auntie Margaret’s house, probably because it was so different to ours, having four levels! It was a two up two down back to back terrace house with a cellar and an attic, and a small neat garden. Steps led up to the front door whilst a smaller staircase led down to the cellar. Entering straight into the lounge there was a small kitchen on the left with stairs down to the cellar. The lounge was a lovely room with a big bay window that let in lots of light and sunshine. Auntie had her dining table in the bay. A door from the lounge led up stairs and curved round to the first floor with a bathroom and auntie’s bedroom. Another door led to more curved stairs up to the attic. From the attic I could see for miles, rows and rows of cobbled streets, terraced houses and washing strung across the streets. And I could see the rag and bone man with his horse and cart calling out that familiar “Ragbooone”l.

I enjoyed visiting auntie’s neighbours, or taking the bus into the city to meet her during her lunch break. Sometimes I would meet her from work and we would go to the pictures. She would also take a day or two off work and we would go to Roundhay park or visit her friends and elderly relatives.

Gt Auntie Annie

The only one I can remember was great Auntie Annie who was profoundly deaf and used one of those huge hearing trumpets. She was very old, very kind and had a terrific sense of humour. 

Me, auntie Marjorie and cousin J

Me, auntie Marjorie and cousin J

Auntie Marjorie’s house was a two up two down with an attic. Cousin J’s room was on the first floor and I slept in the attic, it was great. J and I spent our time talking, experimenting with make up and going into town to meet auntie Margaret during her lunch break.

Auntie Clara’s house was in Guisley, a lovely cosy semi det that was back to front. It was down a lane, so the front door and hallway were at the back of the house overlooking fields, and the side door and porch were at the front off the lane. Directly opposite was a cemetery with a high stone wall. From upstairs you could see almost all the graves. The room I shared with my cousin M overlooked a grave with a beautiful white stone statue of an angel, I always thought she was my guardian angel. Cousin M’s brother, cousin D had the middle bedroom because he needed the space for his amazing railway set that he had built. It was awesome but he wouldn’t let anyone operate it, we could only watch. 

Me, J, M & D

Me at the front, cousins J, M and D

Holidays with auntie Clara always involved walking into Ilkley, over part of the moors, a picnic, then catching a train back or vice versa, train there and walk back. On our return we would often have fish and chips for tea. She taught me how to prepare fresh crab. 

Me, autie Clara and Pauline

Me, auntie Clara and my friend P. She was one of 7 children, her father and my father met during the war and remained friends. The family couldn’t afford annual holidays so she sometimes went to Leeds with me. 

Happy days.

 

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Paris

Feeling so very sorry for all those lives suddenly ended, and for the families and friends whose own lives will never be the same again.

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The Dolls House Garage

 

A few months ago whilst browsing in a dolls house shop I saw these real stone tiles and decided that, despite the cost (2 boxes = £37),  they would be perfect for the garage floor.

I started by placing them in situ to make sure that I had enough, which I did, just.

Some had to be cut, a job I wasn’t looking forward to, I couldn’t afford any breakages as I didn’t want to buy another box.

I used the Stanley knife to score the tiles, then the saw to cut through. I only broke one, which I put at the back.

I spread PVA glue on the floor, put the tiles in place and used toothpicks as dividers but then ………

as I was taking this picture I realised I didn’t need spacers to keep horizontal tiles in place – doh! I could gauge the space between each tile, I just needed a straight even space between the rows, for which I used these highly technical torn off pieces of cereal box ……

After painting a solution of half PVA glue and half water over the tiles they were ready for grouting.

Job done

Ready for the porsche now!

 

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Remembering

 

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Sunday

Sitting with my feet up, a glass of Asti in hand watching Downton Abbey. The trailer said it was going to be the series finale, I was devastated that tonight’s episode will be the last one ever!! But they have just announced there will be a Christmas episode. I thought it strange that such a popular series wouldn’t have a Christmas episode.

It’s been a bit of a busy day, morning walk with the dogs. It’s getting very slippery under foot now. I slipped over the other day, I was climbing over a stile and my foot just slid from under me, thank goodness I was holding on to the top of the fence.

I don’t clean my boots very often as they just get very dirty every day, but this morning I decided to give them a quick clean.

Catching up with emails, followed by a bit of work on my dolls house. 

Ham sandwich for lunch, over to my allotment for some carrots and parsnips for dinner.

A bit more work on the dolls house

prep time, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots

mmm 50 minutes in the rotisserie, cooked to perfection

potatoes and parsnips cooked in the Actifry

Frozen Yorkshire puds, I like cooking and usually do everything from scratch, except these, I’ve tried but I just can’t get them to rise and taste as good as these little beauties.

put it all together

       

with sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce

gravy

 and of course a glass of my favourite fizz

Hope you’ve had a good weekend

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Family And Birthdays

Just realised I have reached my first year blogging anniversary

Last Friday we journeyed to St Helens to stay with relatives for a few days, celebrating two birthdays while we there, my son-in-law and an early celebration for my grandson, and I finally got to visit Liverpool. On previous visits we’ve been snowed in or doing other things. I can’t believe I forgot my camera! so once again I bought some postcards of places visited, and scanned them! Reason No. 1 to return.

Liverpool, probably best known as the home of the Beatles

The Three Graces

On the left the Royal Liver Building, opened in 1911, is the home of the Royal Liver Assurance group, set up in the city in 1850 to provide locals with assistance related to losing a wage-earning relative. Today the Royal Liver Building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city and is home to two fabled Liver Birds that watch over the city and the sea. Legend has it that were these two birds to fly away, then the city would cease to exist.
Along with the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building they comprise the Three Graces.

Didn’t take the Ferry Across the Mersey: Reason 2 to return

Albert Dock

Albert Dock
the brilliant Tate Liverpool gallery of modern and contemporary art
the Maritime Museum
lots of lovely shops and eateries

There were 7 of us and only two knew the city well so we decided to stay together which unfortunately meant that those of us who wanted to go to the cathedral were outvoted in favour of shopping: Reason 3 to return.

all those shops and the only thing I bought was a cheap and cheerful pair of pyjamas, but I had bought two, not one, but two pairs of boots in Manchester the previous day!

 There were some very good buskers

Back home on Monday, blood test on Tuesday for cholesterol.

My gorgeous grandson’s 12th birthday on Wednesday, he is a delight, even when he’s rehearsing  to be a surly teenager!
We celebrated
Lovely daughter and myself drove grandson and his friends to a trampoline park

waiting for dodge ball to start

after working up an appetite with all that jumping they were ready for a burger

IMG_0112

and what better way to round off the day than with a visit to Hotel Chocolat

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Rufus’ Diary

The weather is starting to get chilly in the mornings and SL is wearing her winter coat. Some mornings she wears her gloves and hat, but she usually takes these off after about 20 minutes.

The horses are wearing their coats too

We meet lots of friends on our daily walks. This is Percy, he is SL’s favourite, he is brilliant, he’s only 2 and full of life, he always chases around with Buster and me but he can never catch us. He has been very well trained, he sits and waits, and returns to his owner when told to.

This is Henley, he is also about 2 and loves running around with us. SL likes him too.

We only met Harry and Treacle recently, they don’t usually do this route, their owner’s daughter was walking them this day. They are so sweet.
There are others we meet, SL is going to try to get photos of them.

This cute sheep is a doorstop. I’ve taken a liking to it and want to keep it near my bed but I know it will be put back in the study soon.

 I can pick it up another time though because they know I won’t chew it, I just like collecting things.
We’ve all had a lovely weekend visiting relatives in St Helens, and SL finally got to visit Liverpool.

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