Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Rain, Sun, Rain

This was our village on Boxing Day.
The Fire Brigade, Army, Police and Bay Search & Rescue and local volunteers were amazing.
It seemed like the whole village turned out to try to stem the flow; we bailed and pumped and swept but in the end the water won.

 It's absolutely heartbreaking.
Peoples homes, businesses, shops, childrens nurserys, pubs, community centres and the seniors residential home all under water.

The waters have receded; the river that runs through the village now flows where it should and the  village is busy clearing up and dealing with the aftermath.  We have been blessed with a wealth of help and volunteers; people have bought food, mops, disinfectant and most preciously their time and labour.
Local electricians have been working tirelessly to help people get power back and check all is safe.
The parish council have done a sterling job in setting up a community coordination point at the sports club to organise volunteers to where they are most needed and the parish facebook page has been invaluable in keeping us all informed.
I am so proud to live in this community.

 And as the last few days have been mainly rain free the Environment Agency and services have been working to fill a breach in the embankment of one of the three rivers that border the village and pump water back into the river.
Tonight another large storm is due to hit and so preparations are again underway in case the worst happens.

And me - well after two days of being up to my ankles in cold water my arthritis kicked in with a vengeance and I woke up on the third day barely able to walk; so while Jean-Luc has been out and about helping people; I've spent the last two days doing laundry for our friends, feeding our neighbours cat (they're away in Poland) and moving things off shelves, out of cupboards and off the floor in case the river behind us floods with this latest weather front and constantly checking the flood warnings.  I say this not because I feel heroic or in need of praise but because I feel so bloody useless and angry that my body is so bloody feeble.  But self pit is a luxury we don't have at the moment so as soon as my joints cooperate I'll be back in the fray.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Wet Weather

We had some rain yesterday.

Jean-Luc and I are not flooded but some good friends of us are.
We worked with them until three o'clock to try and stop the water but sadly we failed and we all evacuated to ours.  The water was almost waist deep and the smallest child was piggy backed out by Jean-Luc (their Dad stayed to secure the house and stay there overnight).
 Luckily we had all had showers and got warm before our power went off; thank goodness for turkey and cranberry sauce = sandwiches for all.
We sat in the candlelight, played scrabble and drank wine and hot chocolate.
The Nu even allowed their cats to camp out in our loft bedroom - it's good to know everyone's pulling together. :-)
We all spent today with them pulling up carpet, sweeping out water, moving furniture, throwing out water sodden mattresses and taking photos for their insurance claim.  

We are keeping our eye on the river at the back of our house - it's a field and nature reserve away but water has crept past both those and is now lurking at the bottom of the field.

Fingers crossed that we have no more heavy rain and that all our waterways stay where they should be.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Felicitous Frugality

A while ago I made some flapjacks - and they went wrong.  
I know! How can flapjacks possibly go wrong; even children can make flapjacks.  
Well I don't know what went wrong but I ended up with what could be best described as oaty crumble topping.
I went with the flow and used half of it to make a damson crumble which was delicious.
The rest of the crumble (formerly known as flapjack) went into the freezer for another time.
Yesterday Jean-Luc and I audited our freezers; something we do every couple of months to make sure we use everything and we don't end up with unlabelled containers of 'something' lurking at the bottom of them.
And there was my crumble topping and as I stared at it I was suddenly hit with inspiration.

Damson crumble cake!

I made an ordinary cake mix but added an extra egg for more liquid to offset the dryness of the crumble, then I chucked in a couple of large handfuls of the mix and the last inch of a jar of damson and elderberry jam I made earlier in the year.  Then I bunged it in the oven at 190 and forgot about it for a bit - hence the slightly overbaked top.
It'll never be a GBBO star but it did taste good this morning with a cup of coffee and my much looked forward to christmas reading pile.

How perfect is that cover!
I've recently come across the British Library Crime Classics; a series of murder mysteries from the 'Golden Age of Detective Fiction', which saw its heyday between the 1920's and 30's.  I bought these two as I feel a christmas murder mystery should be read in real book form and I'm planning to work my way through the rest of this classic series.  Oh joy!
These two books may seem a short list but the other ten books are waiting on my Kindle; a mix of tradition and convenience - like so many christmas traditions.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Toast and comfort

Last minute christmas shopping amongst the madding (or maddening) crowds in the pouring rain, followed by a cancelled train; cold and soaked through I finally make it home to find that some of us have looked out the window and gone 'Pfff' and drawn the covers back over their head.

 Yes the Nu really is under there - she'll no doubt emerge for dinner at some point.

In a desperate attempt to warm up I snuggled up in my crocheted shawl with a christmas themed murder mystery, a cup of tea and treated myself to an old favourite from Nigel Slater....
 ...avocado on toast.
I've mashed the avocado with some olive oil and black olive tapenade.
Luscious, tasty and strangely luxurious.
A taste of summer in the grim and dismal winter we've had so far.

The shawl of snuggliness.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


Jean-Luc and I love books, we are great readers. 

Two years ago when Jean-Luc moved into this house we has some book shelves built - four in fact. At the time they seemed huge - four six foot bookshelves; surely they would be ample.

Alas as we unpacked, took Jean-Luc's old university books out of storage and started to double stack the books it became quickly evident that No, indeed they were not enough.
We need more shelf space.
A very 1st world problem to say the least.
I guess the problem would be a lot worse if we didn't have Kindles.
However we still buy books as there is nothing like curling up with a real book as the rain lashes down outside and the wind howls and we can snuggle under some blankets with a cup of tea or coffee and some thick, buttery toast.
And so the problem continues to grow.

So as we contemplate where to put another bookshelf (and that corner of the bedroom seems the best place) I have been, as you may have guessed from the pictures, perusing book shelves and other such lovelinesses.
And I'm thinking, perhaps we should start arranging our books according to colour, like some literary rainbow.

It looks lovely but it's not for us - it would mean splitting up books from the same author and sadly, we're far to bookish to do that; after all, how on earth would we find them if they weren't all huddled together in author herds.
So now, contemplating the likelihood of a new bookshelf, we have to decide which books to move upstairs.
As all good bookists/ librarians know, the placement of one's books is a concise science, especially when thinking about the private and public spaces of ones house.
Do we move the favourite, best loved books, those cheap paperbacks and secret sins we have gathered over the years or those deeply worthy but not often read tomes.
Oh decisions, decisions, the most delightful of decisions.
Bare with us in our time of trial.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Harrogate 2015

Many months ago I went to Harrogate for an amazing day out looking at quilts.
Gorgeous, sumptuous, delightful quilts.

How clever is this.  So painterly.

 Amazing techniques.

Beautiful colours.

 How clever is this aerial view!



 This quilt was my 'Star of the Show', pure magic.

Poppies were very much in evidence.

This was an absolutely amazing whole cloth quilt - all quilted by hand!

 Beautifully understated.

 This one looks toasty warm.

Subtle and elegant.

I love this Savannah quilt; so imaginative and the best use of animal print material I've ever seen.


Stunningly sophisticated.

Beautifully simple.  I can imagine a sick child snuggling up under this quilt.

It was wonderfully inspiring and a little bit intimidating; these quilters are so talented - I really need to get sewing.