Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s been a long, tiring week. I’ve not had a good week for sleep but on the other hand, my laptop has been returned fixed and I’ve actually seen people and done things. Swings and roundabouts!

In case you missed them, since last Friday, I’ve shared some of my plans for Lent, on Monday there was miscellany, on Tuesday I shared a recipe for lemon posset, which is so easy to make and very delicious!, there was the usual update on the plot, and a post on how to make elderberry syrup which is believed to help ward off colds and flu.

Here are this week’s links…

Experience: A black pudding saved my life.

I’ve forgotten how to read.

The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community

An Interview with the Black Panther dialect coach. This is interesting, I saw the film last week and while I’m no expert on any dialect, I said that accents were more South  African than the ‘area’ that Wakanda is supposed to be.

Cape Town’s water crisis

I understand the fears. But vaccinating children should be compulsory

Marco Rubio almost got away with his routine. Then he met Cameron Kasky. I really hope that this doesn’t fizzle out but I fear it will…

The casual dining crunch: why are Jamie’s Italian, Strada, Byron (and the rest) all struggling?

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Elderberry Syrup

I haven’t had a cold since since Christmas, clearly my post Christmas resolution to take vitamins every day is having an effect.

I’m aiming to keep it that way by any means necessary and a friend of mine started taking elderberry syrup before Christmas and didn’t catch the lurgy that the world and it’s wife have had since December. He’s so convinced that it’s good for you, he sent me some dried elderberries so I could make my own. So I did.

I used this recipe, with a few changes, I used thyme honey so didn’t use dried thyme, whole cloves because I didn’t have ground and I had a lemon knocking around so in it went.I put half a cup of dried elderberries, two cups of water, a sliced lemon, two tablespoons of ground cinnamon, a tablespoon of whole cloves and two tablespoons of chopped ginger into a large saucepan and brought it to a simmer for about 30 minutes until the liquid had reduced by half. I mashed the berries a bit and then drained the liquid through a sieve and a piece of muslin making sure to squeeze all the liquid out of the berries that I could. Once the liquid had cooled a bit, I added 227g of raw thyme honey (this one) to the liquid and bottled it, it made approx 400ml if syrup.I take a tablespoon (15ml) every morning in shot form which should help ward off the nasties but if that doesn’t work and I succumb to a cold then I’m supposed to take the same amount two to three times a day.

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Allotment Adventures: A sunny day and lots of work

It felt like we really broke the back of the work list this weekend. We’d hired a car so we could get some of the big items off the list. So on Saturday morning before 9am we were up and collecting rubbish from the plot to take to the dump.

Dump run done, we went to Homebase and bought compost, 530 litres of compost to be precise and I had the ‘joy’ of wheelbarrowing it to our plot. At this point, I’m just so grateful that the allotment society doesn’t mind if we borrow their wheelbarrows provided we put them back!

I’d done some quick calculations about how much compost we were going to need and thought that we’d probably need in the region of 1000 litres just for the raised beds so I knew that we wouldn’t fill all the beds, we got four of them carboarded and composted with 120 litres of compost in each one, and then recovered them with weed fabric. The only downside to having raised beds on this site is that the foxes treat any covered with cardboard and compost as a playground. If the beds have plants in, the foxes stay away but if I’m sowing then the beds have to be covered with nets, mulching then weed fabric has to go on, I have learned my lesson….Once the heavy work was done, we got on with the fun stuff. I took the wobbly sides off the brassica bed and Ma made ‘circles’ at the top of the plot for flowers.Because we are going to plant squash at the top here, I thought it would be a good idea to have a separate area for flowers that hopefully won’t get over run by rampant squash! We took up the kale and I put more stable sides on that bed. Here you can see the new square bed, that has been filled with compost, the bed of chard and kale that overwintered (with it’s pigeon protection netting and the new straight sides of the bed. Which will need more compost in preparation for the courgette and patty pan plants that will go in around May time and Ma chopping up old raspberry canes into the compost bin!I planted up my blueberry sticks plants into buckets with ericaceous compost. I was worried that the buckets would be too small but my plot neighbour has bigger blueberry bushes in smaller pots so I’m feeling ok about them right now!I also got on with digging up the raspberries and sorting out the frames, we are going at some point soon, take up all the metal and replace with tidier, less hazardous posts but meanwhile, I stripped out the stuff that wasn’t helping matters and dug up the canes that I’ve been saying need to come up for the last year!The netting came of the broad beans (taking some of the tops with it and I put poles that will eventually be supports for them!)Because I didn’t want to be the only one with sticks in buckets, some of those canes went in a bucket for my sister-in-law and we’ll take them up in March!

The list is looking like we’ve done some work. Like everyone else on the site, I really want to have a bonfire but really need a couple of weeks without rain, after last year’s dry spring, it looks like this year we might get double the rain this year. Next week, I’ll cut the grass, maybe paint the shed and start thinking about sowing some seeds (leeks and peas!) and sorting out the March work list. It never ends but it’s a good feeling, we’re so close to spring.

  • plant the rhubarb crown
  • dig up raspberries at the top of the plot
  • dig up gooseberry at the end of the plot
  • sort out the raspberry frames
  • paint the shed
  • cut the grass at the edges of the path
  • order new raised beds
  • build new raised beds
  • fill the new raised beds with compost and top up the others
  • sort out the sides of the current brassica bed
  • create sections at top and sides of allotment for flowers
  • clear that bed of broccoli and kale
  • prep the buckets and boxes for carrots, radishes and mint
  • put up and secure the cloche
  • trip to the dump
  • bonfire
  • sort out sowing supplies and start sowing leeks etc
  • plant out blueberry bushes
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Lemon Posset

Ever since I had the lime posset at Dark Horse, I knew I wanted to learn how to make it, and Tom was here for dinner yesterday, so it seemed as good a reason as any to have a go.

As it turns out, posset is really easy to make. I looked at a lot of recipes and adapted slightly.

Take 300ml double cream and 100g sugar and place in a large saucepan. Gently heat while stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil for 1 minute. Take off the heat and add 50ml lemon juice and the zest of 2 lemons. Pour into serving cups and allow to cool until room temperature, then cover and place in fridge.

This made 3 servings in my small duralex glasses and was pretty much set, when I put it in the fridge.

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Monday Miscellany

I could divide my life right now into plus and minus columns. Plus, a productive weekend. Minus, my laptop is in the shop for repair. And no, it wasn’t me, it just stopped working. Minus I’ve only had it five months. Plus, it’s still in warranty. Sometimes I feel that my entire life consists of looking for the bright side or the learning opportunity, or reminding myself that it could be worse. This is not a moan about my life, it’s a statement about how not to be miserable about the circumstances I find myself in.““””I ended each day this weekend muddy and tired. On Saturday, Ma and I did a lot of allotment work and I wheelbarrowed 500 litres of compost. Then I visited the Apple Store in Kingston and they still have my laptop, this is being written on my iPad (apologies in advance for any typos). Sunday, I walked with Sarah and Fred and we met May and Holmes and Watson. Labradors will do anything for a sausage! ““””I’m trying really hard not to sound off on social media about gun control in the US, I have many thoughts on it but at the same times look at things the five here are doing and not doing and say ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’ but I have lots of strong opinions about it and I’m praying hard that Americans will do more than offer thoughts and prayers (and the irony doesn’t escape me).

More hopefully, I got my blueberry bushes, which are better describes as sticks. They’re now in buckets in the right sort of compost!“”I also got really caught up in the men’s curling and the stunt skiing on Sunday afternoon at Sarah and Justin’s. I don’t know what it’s called but it was men on skis, going down a ‘stunt mountain’ like stakeboarding but on skis…

My aims for this week are simple. A friend is coming for dinner, I’m going to see the Shape of Water on Thursday, and The Ferryman on Saturday. I will also hoover and clean the carpet! Living the rock’n’roll life me!!

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I’m trying to be a bit more thoughtful about Lent this year.

One of the things that I recognised last year was that I’ve been neglecting my practice of my faith and that I miss it. So Lent seemed like a good place to be more intentional about it.

I’m not giving anything up. I did consider all the usual things, chocolate, wine, gin but ultimately decided that this year I want to add to my life not subtract. So I’m participating in the Grace WhatsApp group this year, I didn’t get to Grace in February and I won’t get there in March (I’ve got the boys that weekend!), so this is a good way to stay connected, I’ll also try to get to the Lent meals but I’ve already got things I’m doing on a couple of them, so we’ll see how that goes.

Until they changed the words (I’m still not over that!), Mass, boring, plain Mass was important to me, Grace is fantastic but I love the repetition of Mass and communion, it’s probably a hangover from all those years of altar serving, when I went to Mass two to three times a week for four or so years. The problem has been that there isn’t a church locally, that I feel comfortable with, I won’t go to an RC church and the CoE churches are either too evangelical or too Anglo Catholic for me, I won’t go to a church that won’t except women can be priests or that pretends to be Catholic, be one and deal with having to obey or don’t.So as a consequence I hadn’t been to communion for an age. I did think about St Mary’s but it’s not happened yet, but I’m working five minutes away from St Pancras Church and they have lunchtime communion on Wednesdays (which is where I got ashed this week). So I’m going to go to communion every Wednesday because I think I need that in my life and my week.

That and a bit more time for reflection are my personal goals for Lent.

Lent shouldn’t be spent all inside my head, so I also need to do more. So every week in Lent, I’m going to donate to the foodbank. It’s easy enough to do, I donate sanitary towels every time I buy some for me. But this will be more intentional, £5 worth of goods every week. I’ll check the list in the supermarket and buy that, no clearing my cupboards (you’d be surprised how many people do), no thinking about what I would buy, but what the foodbank says it needs using my money because it’s less than a bottle of wine, for goodness sake.

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s been a fairly standard week, there were pancakes, I got ashed, went to see Black Panther and had a much more successful work week. Today, I’m going to spend an exciting Friday night buying compost because I know how to live!

In case you missed it, this week I posted the usual miscellany, talked about my visit to East London and Dark Horse, updated you on the allotment and the story of Ma and I in the mud and rain and, did a quick and dirty post about pancake lasagne

Here are this weeks links…also this week I have more opinions than usual, you have been warned….

Last week I didn’t add anything about Trump’s ill informed tweet about the NHS because sometimes you just can’t. But this about sums up my thoughts…

While I’m on the subject of the Idiot in Chief of the USA.

Trump Appears to Defend Accused Domestic Abusers: “Is There No Such Thing Any Longer as Due Process? Way to go Donald…

But this from Colbie Holderness, Rob Porter is my ex-husband. Here’s what you should know about abuse and this from Jennie Willoughby, President Trump Will Not Diminish My Truth are worth reading. It’s pretty clear that Rob Porter is an abuser and he got away with it, even when his victims spoke out because no one cared.

You don’t have to hate cows to want to solve the housing crisis.

Resist a US trade deal. Your life may depend on it

The DUP is a party that loves power but hates responsibility. There won’t be a deal on a devolved government while Theresa May needs the DUP’s votes to stay Prime Minister. I was saying after the last general election because it was obvious, why would Foster take on the tricky business of government when she can stomp and shout and get want she wants without having to do that. If May thought any differently she’s an idiot, personally, I think fine if they can’t compromise, let’s give them direct rule, they can have the same rule of law that England lives under, introduce gay marriage, allow women to have abortions in NI, make them pay their own sodding water rates and watch how quickly they come around to forming a government. But I also think it’s time for Sinn Fein to take up their seats in the House of Commons (maybe they could cross their fingers while taking the oaths about the Queen?)

How many school shootings have there been in the US this year. Eight. I just feel I should say it again. Eight. I can’t get my head around a country that won’t sort this out, and don’t talk to me about Second Amendment Rights, the clue is in the word amendment. You can change the law, you can change the Constitution but you can’t give those parents their children back.

My incurable lung cancer by PHE director. This came to me via work and I agree that not all medical care can be curative and it’s something that as a society we are bad at dealing with and it is difficult for doctors too.

Secular Lent is missing the point of Lent…

“Lent is not about having your best life now,” McConnell told Lifeway’s blog. “Those who observe it believe they are giving up things they want in order to focus on what God wants. There’s little popular appeal in that.”

Religion without God: Alain de Botton on “atheism 2.0.” So I’m clearly not an atheist but this was interesting…

Walking out my grief. This is lovely.

This is a ridiculous ‘problem’. Seriously, the child needs a lesson in gratitude and the parent needs to grow a spine.

If you want to stick two fingers up to Valentine’s Day, try Galentine’s instead. While I applaud the sentiment, no. Not least because the day before Valentine’s Day was Pancake Day! But this is so true…

Currently, around 17 million adults in the UK are single. That’s a third of the adult population. Yet, as Matthew Parris pointed out in a recent column, there is a pervasive and barely mentioned culture of “monophobia”– a widespread “assumption that we can only find contentment in a couple” which, he argued, “has become a tyranny that needs to be challenged”.


Finally, Christina, who is our allotment committee chair and has quite enough to do with that, a plot, a job and a husband has set herself a halloween challenge, all I could think was that we haven’t got the Summer Open Day over with yet!!

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