Monday Miscellany: Fall Back

Happy Monday!

The clocks went back on Saturday night and it was so lovely on Sunday morning to wake up and have it be light. I know there has been a campaign to keep us on BST but I think we should all be on GMT all the time. I prefer lighter mornings to darker nights, and this time of year is always a bit ‘dead cat bounce’ for me winter is still coming but it’s a tiny reprieve to be able to wake up when it’s light.

the weather has turned distinctly autumnal

We’re also about to go into the worst part of the year without having any real solutions or a plan about how the country copes with COVID. I’ve been working from home since March and am likely to stay that way into next year. I’m not going to pretend it’s not hard or that there aren’t advantages or that I’m not aware of how much more difficult this time has been for others. My history of SAD and of having a period of depression has really given me coping strategies and I do feel like I’m in a good place but I’m back in therapy because prevention is better than cure. For the moment that’s every other week, right now it’s just a check in but there are some things I really need to work on for me, the exercise, I have in hand but I am missing my people.

This time of year is the time I see more of the family, we have five family birthdays from August to December and Christmas, so we’re together for birthdays and babysitting and Christmas. I miss it. I love my family and the eldest nephew is about to enter teenager-hood, the youngest is at my favourite age and missing out on that time is tricky but I also miss my brother and sister-in-law and the times we’re all together just hanging out (and I’m missing out on the new puppies cutest stage!). Add to that, I haven’t seen Sarah or Christelle for ages, and under the current Tier 2 conditions, if Jo does come home, I probably won’t get to see much or her or T. I do see friends nearer to home but it takes arranging and I can’t offer any help to some friends who have had the most rubbish year and are without family help right now. Usually, I would babysit for them and they would do Thanksgiving next month but that’s probably out. I also have a couple of friends who are about to spawn and cards, baby clothes and pictures can be sent via the post but baby cuddles can not. To add to the horrorI probably won’t get a haircut before Christmas either!

My birthday celebrations

These are absolutely first world problems, I still have lots to be thankful about and having established the habit of counting my blessings until I’m blue in the face, I know it has, and continues to help, my resilience in the face of a miserable time but I am sad for the things I have missed this year.

One of my coping mechanisms is this blog because it gives me some structure and something to do, so let’s change the subject and talk about that! If you didn’t see them last week, I wrote about a book series I adore, the allotment and Sausage and Kale Stew. There was also the usual links post and some music.

This week, I’m going to work on spending more time outside the house when I’m not working. I’ve canned 6 kilos of tomatoes and I’m pretty much done with serious pressure canning for a while, I may do the odd batch of chicken stock but that’s about it. I have a batch of chilli jam to make but then I think I’m done until January/February when (assuming we can still get seville oranges) I’m up for a couple of rounds of marmalade making!

I’ve seen people preserve more!

This week is also a time for some work, work thinking about Christmas. I know it’s a sin to think about Christmas too soon (the earliest it’s permissible is 5th December!) but it’s that kind of year. Usually the work Christmas party is already booked and I’m just collecting menu choices but this year we are having a virtual party and there are goody bags to send. So last week, I ordered 23 sets of cookie decoration kits! I can say no more, I don’t think anyone I work with knows that I blog but just in case, my lips are sealed!

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Sunday Music: Tom Lehrer – The Vatican Rag

Tom Lehrer has published all his music on his website this week. So it’s time to poke some fun at the Church with music

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Friday Links: Just agree to feed hungry children

Happy Friday!

I’m afraid that the world is not in a better state than it was last week and seems to be slightly worse. I’m seeing lots of people I know (and some I don’t) really struggle with the state of it all and being home so much. For me, I take some comfort because I have actually been through worse, I’m spending more time being thankful for how lucky I know I am right now and that’s helping. However, that doesn’t mean that the state of the world isn’t terrible and I’m not upset about it…

So here are this week’s links…

The government’s secretive Covid contracts are heaping misery on Britain

Boris falls into Keir’s tiers trap and goes full delusional over TfL

Boris Johnson should backtrack on free school meals. But the damage is done. There was a time when we used to joke that the only time my mother used a certain word (begins with C rhymes with Hunt) was about Tony Blair. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not keen on Mr Blair but I almost feel that we deployed the C word too soon. Because compared to this useless cabinet of cockwombles, Tony Blair stands as a champion of moral rectitude. If you can find £50 million for an imaginary garden bridge and £12bn for a test and trace system that doesn’t actually work. You can find it to feed children. Frankly, I don’t give a monkeys why they are hungry, you should just feed them. If they are hungry because their parents are neglectful (highly bloody unlikely) then social services should be dealing with it. But that will cost more money than bloody providing them with meals in the school holidays.

This is fantastic, How Many Meals?. Type in your MP and it’ll tell you now many free school meals their expenses would pay for?

Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin. John Piper is not someone I agree with theologically or politically but this is important. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions but he has a point and he’s a conservative thinker, so it’s good to know where evangelical Americans could end up…

We live in a terrible world and I’m about to put this on the wall next to my desk and thought it might cheer some people up.

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Sausage and Kale Stew

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe, I’ve made it a couple of times and it’s great and pretty much a store cupboard recipe for me aside from the sausages. Although I don’t have chilli flakes so I left them out and it’s better if you use really good sausages (obviously, use what you can afford but I used the ones we bought from The Amble Butcher when we were away) and I used more kale than in the recipe because I love kale and have lots of it!

I’ve eaten it by itself but because I liked it so much I made it for Ma and that time served it with rice.

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Allotment Adventures: The Makeover Begins

This weekend, we started the revamp of the plot. After we had walked to the plot three times, me with wheelbarrows of woodchip, Ma with all the cardboard and other things we needed!

We took apart the two beds next to the rose garden and pond. Then we set about making an established bed taller. That done we planted garlic in it!

Ma started to clear the big squash bed, and I started at the back of the plot, where the new compost bins are going to be, we also moved one of the bins. That makes it sound much quicker and easier than it actually was. There was much swearing and I was pretty broken by the end of the day!

But it looks much better. I’ve ordered the compost bins, so fingers crossed, we’ll get them this week and put them up next week. Eventually, we’ll woodchip the whole of this path because it’s slippery and over grown and if you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I love woodchip!

We also started to build another bed but the drill ran out of charge!

The big squash bed is going to make three smaller beds and will be filled with overwintering onions and shallots. I also need to order and sow broad beans, but they will probably go at the front of the plot.

  • My must do plan for the next few weeks:
  • Build the compost bins
  • Finish splitting the big squash bed
  • Sow the onions, shallots and broad beans

Once I’m done with that, we’re going to have a weeding blitz. There is grass everywhere on the paths and it really needs dealing with.

That done and we’ll be at least into mid November and I start moving the gooseberries and splitting up rhubarb. Then we’ll be back to rebuilding beds.

There is lots to do and it’s really nice to have made a start.

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Reading Squee….

2020 has been a terrible year for my reading life. It’s not that I’ve not been reading it’s just that things I would usually gallop through, I haven’t had the emotional energy for.

I have listed the books I’ve read this year and just updated this year’s reading list. My reading has been mostly about comfort and I’m fine with that, so lots of easy reading, lots of re-reading and very little in the way of difficult or ambiguous endings, I’ve also yet to finish The Mirror and the Light! There have been a couple of new books that have broken through my fog and I read one last week.

I mentioned back in April that I’d re-read The Queen’s Thief series and this month the final book arrived, I read it in 24 hours. It’s so good. I’m going to re-read the whole series again. Every time I re-read them, I notice something new. They are technically YA but that is more about them not being explicit than the characters as there are things in the book, you only understand as an adult.

There are lots of twists but they aren’t that surprising when they come because you realise the clues were always there in the story, it’s more of an ‘ah’ moment. I’ve inflicted them on godchildren 2 to 5 and am working out when I can inflict them on Ms. T and Oli because they are so good. I’ve also inflicted them on Sarah, Fred and anyone who I think might enjoy them they weren’t such a hit with Christelle…

They are considered and beautifully crafted books and everyone should read them.

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Monday Miscellany: Tier Two

So on Friday night, London went into Tier Two. What does that mean for me? Well Mum isn’t going to come over mid-week unless she hires a car but she will and can continue to come over at the weekend. We are in a support bubble so that is allowed, if the allotment was near her house, I’d go to her! Also at the weekend, she comes over and goes home first thing, so the buses are pretty empty. But we’re not allowed to go into anyone’s house or meet them indoors, which puts Christmas at my brother’s in doubt. We’ll see.

Other than the government not having a sodding clue and the rising COVID numbers, it was a pretty good week. I’m settling into an autumn routine, the desk has really helped me focus on work when I’m working. I am taking time to exercise but what I need to get my head around, is getting outside more during the week. I’m managing it at the moment because we have a work walking challenge but I’m naturally a pretty good hermit!

Other good things, a great day’s work on the plot, and yesterday Kathy and her eldest came for a visit, which was lovely, I’ve not been able to spend time with either of the Baxter children so it was lovely to see this one in such good health, it’s been quite the year for them!

This week, is more of the same, work, exercise and the grown up stuff we have to do, like laundry and hoovering and enjoying the last week of light(ish) evenings before the clocks go back!

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Recommended: Altruist Dry Skin Repair Cream

I’ve already written about my love for Altruist Sun Cream aka the magic unicorn of sun block.

They have a moisturiser which is amazing. I had a persistent patch of dry elbow (just my left elbow for some reason!) which moisturiser wasn’t touching, after two days of using this, I didn’t. I use it on my hands, my feet and my body, in an emergency on my face and it’s been brilliant. It’s all purpose and £5 a tube.

It’s a small thing but going into winter, especially this one, I need to moisturise more and I need things that work, if they work and are well within my budget, that’s even better!

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Friday Links:

Happy Friday!

It’s been an ok week, I’m still wrestling diaries at work and my listening choice for work from home has taken a bit of a diversion to 6Music. It’s usually Women’s Hour that scares me off and then I go back for WATO and PM. In other news, Ma and I now the proud owner of a wheelbarrow, a strimmer and 400 litres of woodchip (there wasn’t any free stuff at weekend!). The allotment is going to begin it’s transformation for next spring at the weekend!

The pond

National Grid warns of short supply of electricity over next few days. File under ‘what fresh hell is this’, my pessimistic side thinks we’re in for more of this as the winter continues….

The invisible hand of the market won’t protect our food or fields

A ‘circuit breaker’ in England will work only if test and trace is urgently reformed. The govt has had six months to form and execute a plan and it’s ponced about giving money to it’s mates…

Don’t blame the government for its handling of Covid. It’s our fault, apparently. It’s not about the lack of planning, it’s the fault of the common people. Seriously, they are the most morally corrupt and incompetent bunch of shysters…

Dominic Cummings allowed to avoid backdated council tax on second home. Tell me that anyone else would have got away with this?

As the tide of coronavirus swells again, Boris Johnson heads into a perfect storm. There’s a Kipling poem, that I feel sums this up. Of course Kipling wrote this after WW1 but it’s apt.

Britain’s Covid-19 strategy simply adds up to many more jobless people

The most common ways we’re wearing face masks incorrectly

Celebrate the House Meal, the Go-To Dish for When There’s No One to Satisfy but Yourself. Mushrooms on Toast is pretty much my go to but Christelle and I used to have this thing that involved mince, oxo cubes, leeks and mozerella that was amazing!

Baking won’t get me through a Covid winter but a bossy, breathless Melvyn Bragg just might. I’m a long time fan of In Our Time, I cheered when it restarted last month!

How to make this winter not totally suck, according to psychologists. It’s what you’re mother (or at least mine!) has been telling you your entire life…

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Green Tomato Chutney

What do you do with a couple of kilos of green tomatoes?

The last of the tomatoes

I usually leave them to ripen and I did that for quite a few of them but you get to the stage where you need to clear some space and everyone had mentioned green tomato chutney (except my friend Jonny, who isn’t keen!)

I wanted a recipe that didn’t use apples and this one from Lovely Greens, fitted the bill and looked really easy. The hardest thing was chopping a kilo of onions!

It took a hour or two for it to reduce down to chutney and I will confess, I did not water bath the jars. While I’m more than happy to do it for compote, salsa, tomatoes and pressure canning for things like stock. I don’t for most jams, marmalade and chutneys (yes I know and I’m prepared to risk it!)

Ready

It made about eight jars and it’s delightful, I’m not generally keen on pickle but this is lovely and not to harsh, Mum really likes it, so I’m happy!

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