Thursday, 20 May 2010


Or more acurately, gone GCSE marking! Return of scripts 18th June...

Monday, 17 May 2010

Monday's Greatitudes 221-232

So, our apple blossom weekend started with our apple pie under our single, solitary single apple bearing apple tree. And bloomed mightily on Saturday as we drove into the blossom heaven around Loughgall. Imagine fields and hills and stretching vistas of apple blossom. "It's like the vineyards in France," smiled PC, who doesn't compare anything easily to vineyards in France!

This Northern Land is really one to love. I've been to many places, but wanted to stay in none. Nowhere is further than two hours away, but all of life and landscape is here! It's like my favourite quote on wisdom from The Christmas Mystery- travel everywhere and see everything, or stay in one place and watch it all go past!

I'm also grateful that this week I finished my now named "Apple Blossom" blanket. I feel the title justifies the profusion of pink! And the blanket means that I can blog with confidence, having actually crafted something and not just talked about it!

We had a youth service yesterday morning led by fine, fledling folk! Obviously the choice of PC to play my very, very muchly favourite song was also good. This reminds me that there is one week left to Pentecost Sunday and I am still inspired by Lenten times to pray that this house will be a House of the Spirit. And in this house this week I have some unsettling thinking to do, which is good for the mind. All of which only brings strongly to bear just what a fabulous three years I have had living a life of Mrs Riley.

And lastly gratitude for the highly exciting Ardress House where you can feed chickens and be chased by them all in one cobbled courtyard! (And ride your bikes, eat your picnic, practise your reading with tricky signs like fowl and threshing, and play in a park too...)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Finally!


You can forgive the use of what are still "bad words" in this house when juxtaposed with words like "ethereal" and "tangible". There is a mad genius to Roald Dahl, quite apart from the awed fascination with fictitious cruelty that he knows children have!

The strawberries didn't blink an eye at pupils launched into orbit over the school fence, or ears stretched in a prolonged class test! Maybe the fact that it all comes via the DVD version makes that happen. Although they did sit bolt upright at the accounts of Matilda outwitting the Dad at the start- I'm encouraged that they felt such treatment of a parent might be just a step too far! And now that I think about it, in August Jo did ask if there would be a Chokey in his new school!

It has taken us three and a half months to read this chapter book. It felt like longer! Time now to admit to myself that I have lost The Magician's Nephew, buy a new copy (so that Prince Charming's childhood complete set be not lacking- I know...), and finally find out what happens to Digory and Polly at the end...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Before Friday Cake Bake

During Friday Cake Bake.


After Friday Cake Bake.

We're planning an apple blossom weekend, so it seemed appropriate!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Jane Brocket

In the late autumn of 2007 I had resigned from my very safe, fairly prestigious full-time French teaching job and was embarking on a new life as a minimally job-sharing teacher in a most challenging school. I was discovering the sheer relief of less juggling and simple joy of walking up and down the leafy surburban hill that links our house to their school.

One Sunday the lifestyle magazine ran a vivid, inspiring article on a French teacher who had turned her back on teaching to pursue international adventures, and now stayed home and made quilts. And had written a book following the success of her blog. Colour? My word!

So, I got the book for Christmas, discovered the world of blogs, marvelled at the creativity and beauty of homes and lives. And subsequently met Crafting Catherine, and through her discovered the Bean and Niqi and Lorna. And as of yesterday my "kak-handed", remnants of tacky wool crochet blanket is complete! Thanks, June! (And Jane...)

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

On Breaking News

Did anyone else grow up terrified by Boys from the Black Stuff? Does anyone else realise that even in adulthood that scene where they take his children away informs all their underlying opinion about the Tory Party? Will he do?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Monday's Greatitudes 210-220

It's a cold old evening out there in Strawberry Land tonight. I know this to be true because I have just spent five minutes standing in my sock feet at the top of the drive looking westward at a fabulously darkening sky in fruitless search of "the lovely beacon of Venus hanging bright in the cerulean sky". Thanks for that, Armagh Planetarium Blog!

And also thanks to Ridley Scott for nearly my latest night in a while! First a perfectly acceptable evening viewing of the wonderful A Good Year (which, no, seems to have absolutely nothing to do with Peter Mayle other than Provence and a brief comment to writing a book), but then to decide to sit up and just watch the start of Kingdom of Heaven? It ended at 2am. I can see why it failed at the box-office, but my goodness some of those lines should be emailed day and daily to all involved with the Middle East or war at all.

A week is transpiring indeed to be a long time in politics- I'm sure our little politicians are most restless indeed waiting for phone calls from London, and from whom? Democracy is a wondrous thing, and it is certainly making for very good television!

On another wide wide level I have been thankful this week that Mothers Day in America (as in France) falls in May. There has been so much encouragement and blessing from so many beautiful posts, especially this one.

And on a very narrow Tearful Strawberries level there has thus far been no lamentation in this house even with a stinking cold belonging to the asthmatic strawberry whose stinking colds have led to the most hospital admissions. The count is at two bad colds since November's little stay in Isolation, no less, and the lovely steroids are defending the breach in the wall as valiantly as Orlando Bloom.

Thank you.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Book Club and Cook Blurb

So! Yesterday was Friday, and I got home from school, fed fish to my family (thereby just about feeding us fish at least once a week as is my high-minded intention), baked a cake for Book Club and, let's be honest, Friday Cake Bake, and then I went to Book Club and Niqi brought cream because mine was no longer good, and we all ate the cake and discussed the cake and ruminated on possible variations on the cake's sauce.

And we talked about The Eyre Affair as well!

The cake was Cranks' Sticky Prune Cake. I did find it slightly disappointing- I might try more prunes next time, and I will definitely experiment with trying to make the sauce "crisper" like the topping you get on lemon drizzle cakes. Suggestions last night heavily featured stem ginger. All further thoughts welcome!

House divided on Jasper Fforde. I wanted to hate it, and managed successfully right up until I fell in love with Th'ose Boo'k Wor'ms & L&ed in Thornfield Hal'l! Hooked thenceforth! And while I still haven't the courage for the sequels to Scary Girl with Dragon Tattoo and Horrifically Disturbing Experiences, I might have a go at Nursery Crimes!

Our read for June will be Wolf Hall, which will undoubtedly be much less controversial than Thursday Next and Duff-Rolex!

(And tonight the family of one of Matthew's school friends came for tea and brought with them the most amazing pavlova that I have ever tasted. Haven't got a photo of the left-overs yet, but will have to move fast!)

Friday, 7 May 2010

Friday Cake Bake ON FRIDAY!

And I've only gone and left the wretched camera at Lorraine's house! So I just wanted to declare loudly that this week I made Sticky Prune Cake for Book Club and my first Friday Friday cake bake is complete!

Photos and The Eyre Affair tomorrow- bon weekend!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Return to the Beach

Monday's greatitudes 199-209

I was tired and entrenched in my bed and I knew that there was no milk for porridge, no jam for toast. And then I remembered my new bike basket! "You're still in your pyjamas!"shrieked Jo on my return from the hill-top shop. "They look just like sports clothes," I managed to pant through my smiles.

Eventually we made it to the Coast. Where the impossibly blue sky stretched wide above us and the impossibly high sand dunes dissolved under our surfing feet. Where I sat like a mad Queen Canute on my blue deck chair, huddling against the wind, while strawberries dug moats that our Prince made to work. Where it struck me that last time we were there I was full of dread at what the school year would hold for us. But we have nearly survived, and our sanity is mostly in tact!

On the way home we even managed to stop at a supermarket and actually buy some real provisions, so that now we have our daily bread and then some, although I am quite pleased with the meals we have thrown together/I have thrown together over the weekend. I may even allow myself to feel like a proper mother!

But mostly what I'm thankful for right now are the clearest answers to specific prayers that I have known since 2008, our year of living in Job 1-2. Yet, in the spirit of Ann Voskamp's lead, I'm going to give thanks for 2008 anyway. The worst of years, and the best in eternal ways.

So tomorrow morning I'll be cycling (with my new bike basket) up past the hill-top shop and on to the hill-top churches where we pray on Tuesday mornings. And say thanks.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Friday Cake Bake on a Saturday

First blow all cobwebs far out to the Irish Sea as you watch the sun go down on Friday.

Get up early on Saturday and have your first batch of cupcakes on the cooling rack by 9am!

Third take cupcakes to the Finale of Niqi's birthday celebrations chez Catherine and Miss Bennett.

Then cycle home in true Miss Marple fashion to the scene of the crime! This is as close as I have yet come to Simone's great example, and it's probably as close as I will get! But I like it!

For the real Friday Cake Bake visit the boulangerie/patisserie that is Linden Grove!

Excuse Note II

Our Sunday School teachers are all caravanners and as such not around this weekend. So, we had a sleepy negociation this morning and decided that while we would go to piano lesson this afternoon, maybe we wouldn't go to church (and be sat upon by an increasingly frustrated mummy) this morning. We decided that we would have some prayers at home. We haven't managed that yet, but...

I found Jo writing in the dining room,

Mattman typing in the family room,

and a bag of Bramleys in the kitchen! Prince Charming brought them home from the country last night.

So it will be rumble crumble for lunch today, after a well dusted down raclette! Easy; like Sunday morning!