Wednesday, 16 October 2019

I’ll be blowed if...

I am going to let some bugs, flour and water get the better of me!

This is the state of play this morning.
If you peer close enough the bubbles are there, the starter has doubled in size since I fed it yesterday afternoon.  I admit it doesn’t look very appetising, however I am determined to crack on.  The rule book has been chucked out of the window, we are now operating under LL Law.  These are my homegrown wee beasties so I am going to carry on feeding them until they seem more perky.

My son, a chef poured cold water on my attempts saying they gave sourdough a good try only to be disappointed time and again.  Well, all I can say is, his mother is made of sterner stuff, as well he knows!
Onwards and upwards.  Today’s ‘divide and rule’ operation.  The spare starter will be added to my usual bread recipe as an improver.  I had hoped by now, to be on the cusp of making the sourdough bread this time. However I am nothing if not patient (that’s a fib, pig-headed, more like), I am determined to not let it beat me.  Got an awful feeling I will be kissing a lot of leaden-loaved princes, however I’ve kissed worse!

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Ludlow’s a funny...

place, so many people you bump into know exactly where you live.
It started before we even got here when I sent a friend the details of this cottage.  She is a potter and lives in York.  As soon as she saw the details and the address she said I was walking past and saying to Derek, what a lovely peaceful backwater.  She was here bringing some pots to a local gallery.  Then Viv from hens teeth 
came to visit and said her sister had been here the year before visiting the ‘Secret Gardens of Ludlow’.  Our garden was featured: sadly not any more as Ellie has worked her magic!?!
Then in town lots of folk who you get into conversation with enquire and then follow up with
‘Oh yes, we’ve been to your cottage for dinner!
Just this morning in the woods we got chatting to a couple from Australia, Ellie is a huge icebreaker.  Over the course of our conversation they asked where we were in Ludlow, only to say
‘Oh yes we were invited in to see the property which was up for sale!  We well remember the Orangery and the Garden Room!?!’
All the way from Australia and what were the chances of us talking to them and finding out about them having been in our home five years ago.

This is the photograph they took of Ellie.
Lovely, lovely people in an increasingly shrinking world.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

My heart threatened to...

 burst out of my chest.  With supreme willpower I kept
it under control, only just!  I leant into hubs who could without even looking feel my pain.  Tears hung meniscus-like undecided as to whether to fall. 
I gripped his arm for fear of melt down.

It all started so well.  We settled Ellie with her special soothing sound machine, we left with the minimum of fuss.  Off up the hill we trolled complete with cushions for the hard seats in the Assembly Rooms.  I am, at the best of times a fidget, I just can’t sit still, the desire to move is exacerbated by the rigor mortis-type stillness of all who surround me!  The film took me quite a while to get into, this added to my fidgets, the seats, my worn spine and my general 
pain-in-the-arseness all came together to make me think...
let me get out of here!
Am I pleased I didn’t.

The pain, the frustration, the sheer drudgery of his life doing a  boring job, looking after a demanding mother and having to hear her slagging off his, in her view pathetic attempts at painting.

Sitting in the gloom, the mother of an only child, a son, the horror hit home of the power a mother holds over a dutiful son.  The ghastly thought drew me in, settling me better than any soft seat.  Suddenly I was there, experiencing his frustration, the  sheer unending toil of appeasing the one woman in a weird way he loved.  All his pictures were for her, to win her love.

By the end I was in pieces. I sat stock still as the audience got up and started shuffling out.  I didn’t want to move for fear of stepping back into my cosseted life.

If you get the chance go and see 

‘Mrs Lowry & Son’

Saturday, 12 October 2019

All the...

gear and no ruddy idea!

The dog is proving hard to train.
The sourdough starter just isn’t proving a success.

For most of my life I have been blessed with enthusiasm, vim and vigour sailing through impervious to life’s knocks.  Always managing to bounce back with a smile, a mental dusting down and the thought life is too blooming good to be down.
How flaming ever...
this blooming sourdough starter is  being as cantankerous as the dog, not paying the slightest bit of notice to what I say!  I ought to own up here that at gz’s suggestion I sent off for the book.  I invested in the vessels for the woman about kitchen’s essential sourdough must-have equipment.  Ditto the shallow beehive type all singing, all dancing bread proving basket complete with shower cap type hat, a brush and a strange looking fork thingy!?!  All I’m short of now is the cauldron and the pointy hat.
And still the latest brew sits as sullen as it would appear sodding sourdough starter knows how!
The last lot after much pratting about feeding, weighing, splitting and dividing I thought was ready to go?  Wrong!
I did the float test dropping a spoonful into water and blow me down with a feather with leaden boots it sank.  While I did three laps of the ceiling, hubs was left with the arduous task of cleaning out the square sided howsyourfather, (featured in a past post) containing the shit to a blanket consistency sourdough starter.  With the correct stuff, the next batch would be a breeze... wouldn’t it!?!

I ought to say here I might help myself if I actually sat down and read the book before venturing forth.  Which I am ashamed to say I didn’t, not a lot of hope some might say?

Friday, 11 October 2019

The vet fell in love...

with Ellie.

‘If I didn’t have a collie of my own I would gladly take her!’
No chance I thought.

He was bowled over by what a sweet dog she is.  David the vet is a lovely Yorkshireman, he has no idea that he is now my latest squeeze! I have a soft spot for men of Yorkshire as my grandfather was from Keighley.  He didn’t stand a chance, poor man.
He won our hearts by coming out of his surgery saying hello and asking us if we minded him having a look at her outside.  Ellie wasn’t very impressed as he checked her over.  He then took the lead and walked her off which also wasn’t well received.  In we went where he did all the usual checks.  Sounded her chest, he looked at her teeth and gave her the thorough once over.
I mentioned her eyes were very often sore-looking and her muzzle was on occasions red.
He looked into her eyes with a torch and observed that when the nurse came in she sniffed her as opposed to watched her as she went by.  We have been sent home with instructions to look into her eyes in a darkened room to see if her pupils are dilated in the gloom.  She may have problems with her sight, although she does seem to catch her tennis ball, so failing her reading the eye chart we have no idea as to how much she can see?

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

I’m bored...

Ellie is being a princess.
The sourdough cheffette i.e. me isn’t doing it right, although the starter doesn't seem to notice!
The dog behaviourist came yesterday and you wouldn’t believe the things we’re doing wrong?
Himself gets grumpier by the minute, his usual charm isn’t working on the dog.  In recent times it has worked on the dogs he has met in the past... present company accepted of course!
This having a dog lark seems to be working at total odds to what even in today’s paper the experts say how much they enhance your lives!?!  Our partnership is rapidly needing marriage guidance.  He will I am sure willing give me custody of the dog as she just doesn’t seem to trust him.  A gentler man you couldn’t wish to meet.  Meanwhile me, a barrel of noise, larger than life and with exuberance oozing from every pore
of the ancient old bod, she somehow seems to love.  Weird or what?  He gets fed up, I get cross at his expression which Ellie picks up as he scowls when he thinks neither of us are looking. She watches him like a hawk.

Is it any wonder I’m b o r e d ?

Monday, 7 October 2019

I am now about to...

embark on the quest for the perfect sourdough recipe.
All this because of the conversation I had with the GBBO nearly contestant.  
And all these years I had been put off doing it because I thought owning a sourdough starter was a bit like trying to harness a ginger beer plant.  The blooming thing grows and with the growth comes some sort of malevolent other worldliness that you are quite frankly scared to turn your back on.  All these oft repeated pearls of wisdom I trotted out from my usual no-nothing position.  Is it any wonder folk quickly mark my card as a daft tart?
I feel suddenly like a born again something or other(?),a new mum crowing and gloating over her new born as if the first woman to have ever given birth. 

This is my creation just three days old... isn’t it just the most beautiful thing you ever clapped eyes on?
I will bore you rigid with its progress as it grows and has babies of its own...

Saturday, 5 October 2019

‘How do you do...

Blankly I looked at him and said
I have a way with words.
We were walking away from a masterclass on the hoops you have to jump through to get onto Great British Bake Off.
All I said was that looks an interesting bun... like you do to strangers on the next table!?!
Not only did I get the full lowdown on GBBO I got the advanced sourdough starter recipe.  Alright I did drop into the conversation I was a finalist on Masterchef many moons ago... but still!

Then on the way up the hill I said to a couple who were loading up their van with garden cuttings

‘Putting the garden to bed for winter?’

We fell into conversation, this time I blame the dog, folk do talk about how lovely she is... not me sadly but the dog!
Off we trot up to the pub, purely for her sake you understand?  Socialisation’n’stuff.

They happened in a little later and joined us; all through the conversation Hubs antennae was twitching as to me inviting them around for supper.  I do have previous!  He is on strict instructions from me not to let me do it.  As I pronounce this stern directive, his mouth opens and closes and then he weakly says
‘How can I stop you once the invite has been issued?’
Good point!


Thursday, 3 October 2019

Where to start...

we don’t seem to do things in halves, well to be more exact I don’t seem to do things in halves!  In my wisdom I thought it a good idea while Ellie was safely in the kennels we ought to use the time to go and see my dearest friend/‘Mum’ down in Kent.  Now for those that read my blog may remember the heartache caused by my love and worry for Audrey who for the last three years has been making a very good attempt at dying and I ought to say failing!  My health was suffering as a consequence.  We were developing into a typical mother daughter relationship with daggers drawn, oozing with love but drawn all the same!  Husband and all friends who could see the toll that our move to Hythe was having on us both, suggested we move away. After much soul searching I agreed and strange to say the knock-on effect of my relationship with Audrey was an immediate improvement.
Audrey celebrated her 95th birthday in September and still is hanging on by a thread, still in her own flat, still very mentally agile, however her body is being ravaged by three years of virtual constant diarrhoea.  Any lesser mortal would have thrown in the towel long ago.  My love and admiration for her knows no bounds.  Her reception of us moving was just as so many had said... positive and happy for us to enjoy our lives.
Back to my cunning plan...

‘Would it be an idea for us as Ellie is safe to shoot off down to Kent while we can?’
Himself looked at me with a wind pain smile, all the while thinking left hand corner (North West coast of Scotland) to right hand corner (South East of England), the woman must be mad!
On paper seems okay, especially as 40 years ago I set off to do just that: to drive up to start my new life on a croft in the Highlands in my little Morris Minor, the sole driver, cat meowing in the back all the way.  Err... trouble was I was forty frigging years younger, a mere bagatelle!

We did it, me taking cakes, biscuits, pressure cooker to cook for the ‘boys’, my crofter old neighbours.  Then with a day back home in Ludlow in order for me to do more baking to take, we set off to Kent.  Audrey was okay, but very frail, having luckily two reasonably quiet loo days.  The visit was a success, she loved seeing us.  We were going to take her out for lunch, maybe a step too far with her tum?  She called the shots on that decision so we had a picnic in her sitting room, talking and catching up all the while.  I think we both knew as we said goodbye this might be the last time.  I, of all her friends am the only one who she can talk frankly with about dying, her other chums say they want her to carry on to get her telegram from the Queen.  She is ready for the off and who can blame her?  We talk on FaceTime most days and keep up with all that is going on on our lives.  If I could be a tiny bit as tenacious and brave as her I would be happy!

My old croft in the Highlands

Monday, 30 September 2019

I feel like a...

time traveller... from this 

a little light tapestry in the garden of the cottage...
to this, the glorious weather we had...

to this, 

one damp dog home at last after this morning us picking her up from the kennels.

As you can see she wasn’t very impressed with the shower given to her as a welcome home present... boy did she niff!

Friday, 20 September 2019

‘Your face is on...

the tea towels you can’t cancel it now!’
was said to Lady Di on the eve of her wedding day.

Yesterday morning sitting up in bed I said to Hubs, let’s cancel the holiday and stay home, that way Ellie won’t have to go back to the kennels.  His reply was we must go, I knew he was right.
We took her talking up what a lovely time she
would have.  She was pleased to see Emma and with all the strength I could muster we said goodbye in a light hearted tone.
I saved my tears for the car driving home.
This morning the house seems strangely quiet without after just four weeks, a vital member of our family.

If the weather closes in as it can so easily do in the Highlands, we could always come home earlier than planned!?!

I’ll be blowed if...

I am going to let some bugs, flour and water get the better of me! This is the state of play this morning. If you peer close enough...