Shrinking Violet


Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

What is your weather like? (2)

Posted: 21/11/2016 at 22:28

Drove from Tiverton, Devon,  to Minehead, West Somerset this morning.  Roads a bit flooded in places but passable.  Returned this afternoon - just in time, it would seem, since a friend reports that at one time all roads in and out of Minehead were closed, the village of Carhampton was flooded, and it sounds like chaos.  Here, the River Exe, already swollen, has risen about a metre in two hours.  And still it rains (though less heavily, thank goodness!)

Last edited: 21 November 2016 22:28:46

Shrub Identification

Posted: 21/11/2016 at 17:11

Others may be better able to help you, but as a general observation, they don't look terribly healthy.  The first one looks chloritic, so possibly a manganese deficiency?  And the second has dried leaves and grey mould on the leaves.  I think I would loosen the soil around them and give them a good feed, although now is not the best time of year for it.  A growth spurt followed by cold/frosty weather would result in damaged shoots.  But in the spring, I think you could bring them back to health, and then get a better idea of what shrubs you have.

Memories of the past

Posted: 21/11/2016 at 17:06

The library at Boots!  Oh, yes, I remember it well.  I used to take books back for an old lady further up the street;  it was a bus ride away, and quite a treat to have the bus fare paid by her and also the cost of her borrowing books.  She was an ex school teacher and gave me many of her lovely books on nature, which I treasure to this day.


The public library was free.  You had to be 7 to be allowed to join, but because I was an avid reader, my mother applied for me to have a ticket a year early.  I remember the excitement of my very first book.  It smelled of the library.  It had a bright orange cover.  I have no idea what it was, because I never read it - I would just sit and wonder at its smell and colour.  But when I changed it for a book that I wanted, my whole world changed.


We didn't have a TV until about 1963, so it was Listen With Mother (Daphne Oxenford:  "Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I'll begin . . ." and later, Children's Hour with fabulous dramatizations:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Eagle of the Ninth, Phra the Phoenician, The Midnight Folk among others.


For the Coronation we went to my uncle's house to watch his tiny TV.  And all the family contributed to the High Tea afterwards.  Father made the most amazing salad platter, with the crown picked out on a bed of lettuce:  beetroot for the velvet, cut radishes etc for the jewels.  It was a shame to eat it!

Memories of the past

Posted: 20/11/2016 at 22:40

OMG Lantana - you have reminded me about the (fortunately occasional) b****y Rissoles!

Memories of the past

Posted: 20/11/2016 at 21:20

So many memories are stirred by others' experiences!  Yes - frosted windows that did, indeed, look like ferns and leaves, and then I would make a little circle in the frost to look out to see what the weather was like! 


And there was the time when my brother and I were little, both our beds were put into the one room so that the little fire could be lit for Christmas.  In joyous expectation of the event, we decided to use my toy broom and dustpan set (sexist toy!) to sweep the chimney for Father Christmas.  My mother was unamused by the amount of sooty handprints everywhere that had to be cleaned.


The living room had a coal fire, which, when the wind was in a certain direction, wouldn't "draw" so she would hold a sheet of newspaper over the opening to create a draught.  We waited with baited breath for the inevitable conflagration.


Sunday roast.  Monday washday, so cold cuts (beef: nice.  lamb: ugh!) and bubble and squeak.  Tuesday cottage pie with the left-overs. 


Walking to school and back (nearly a mile each way: home for lunch meant we walked the distance four times a day).  Milk in small bottles at school - and oh, the pride of being milk-monitor and piercing the silver tops with straws!  And inkwells and dip-in pens - impossible to grip a pen like a crab's claw and actually write as seems to be more commonplace today. 


Playing games in the street, with no adult to tell us the rules - but a sort of rough justice that prevailed for anyone who "cheated".


Tough times, but lots of happy memories nevertheless!

Strictly is back!

Posted: 12/11/2016 at 20:08

I'm in total shock!  Ed Balls - words fail me (but I haven't laughed so much for a long time )

Christmas cooking

Posted: 08/11/2016 at 16:15

Many thanks for the feedback.  I am drawn to another Kenwood, not least because the bowl from this one will still fit  a new one - how excellent that will be when mixing different things, especially whisking egg whites which requires a spotless, clean bowl,


I also have a (Kenwood) hand-held mixer and a Food Processor, but for some items, the large table-top mixer is indispensable. 


I used to have the mincer attachment but found I rarely used it, relying on the FP. But with the Kenwood, I would have the option again.

Christmas cooking

Posted: 08/11/2016 at 14:04

My cake is now in the oven and will gently cook for a few hours.  The smell as it bakes is awesome, which is just as well since, as I was whisking the last of the eggs into the butter and sugar, the motor on my Kenwood Chef suddenly went "clunk" and electrical smoke filled the kitchen! 


I was able to finish with the hand mixer, and all is now well.  I can't really complain about the Chef - I've had it for over 40 years, having bought it at Staff Sales price when I worked for Thorn Electrical (the parent company).  Now I have to decide if my lifestyle demands another table-top piece of equipment.  There are many more brands on the market these days, so any input about plusses and minuses would be welcome.


Off to make my mincemeat which, at least, doesn't need any serious mixing, other than a good stir or three

Christmas cooking

Posted: 07/11/2016 at 20:14

OK - panic over  Whew!!!  I was all set to make my mincemeat tomorrow and Obelixx asked for my recipe.  We moved last year, and I thought I had done the unthinkable and thrown it (the recipe) away.  But no - even I'm not that silly.  So here it is:


1 lb cooking apples


4 oz Muscovado sugar


1 tsp mixed spice


1 tsp ground cinnamon


1/2 tsp ground cloves


1/2 pt dry cider


1 lb mixed dried fruit


4 oz mixed candied peel, chopped


1. Peel and core apples, chop into small dice (or blitz briefly in food processor)


2. Put into saucepan with sugar, spices and cider


3. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes


4. Add dried fruit and peel; cook for a further 10 minutes (if the mixture seems too wet, cook for a further


    5 minutes)


Leave to cool.  Spoon into polybox and freeze or refrigerate for up to 6 months (though I have had some for a year, and it's still very good)


Note:  the dried fruit can be of your own choosing eg chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, chopped dried figs etc. Just keep the proportions about right.  A few chopped nuts can be added if liked:  I find walnuts work well.    Also: be generous with the spices, which are best ground in a pestle and mortar rather than ready-ground.


Tried and trusted recipe has never failed me yet.  I make a double quantity, some for mince pies and some for mincemeat Jalousie or mincemeat and apple tranche, whichever takes my fancy!

Christmas cooking

Posted: 07/11/2016 at 17:44

Chrissie - I tend to agree with you regarding  it seeming unwelcoming to expect others to bring their own food.  The article, however, was dealing with the etiquette of going to another for Christmas, and that it would be a help to the host to offer, at least, to bring one's own.  (Still not sure how it would work, though.  I could see it being a bit of a bone of contention  What if someone's nut roast took up limited oven space, for example?  Hmmmm)


There is nothing funny about real food intolerances/allergies, and a freezer must come into its own here, with things prepped in advance, limiting the workload on the day.


Good luck!


If all else fails, offer the veggie unlimited sprouts . . .

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