Thursday, 31 March 2011

We're all going to the Zoo..... NOT

I have just read Sian' Blog and it has reminded me of a Zoo story but this time it didn't happen to me, it happened to my cousin and his wife.

This was way back in the early 70s when CB radio was THE thing to have. My cuz and some friends formed what became a CBers club and they went on several outings and day trips. One of these trips took them to a zoo. I have no idea which one and it really doesn't matter.

Most of the club members were young or had young children and a day out was really great fun. My cuz has a way with children and they flock to him, I suppose it's because he is still just a big kid himself. Anyway, they went to the zoo and most of the children were clustered around my cuz and his wife as they walked around looking at the animals

"Oh, look in there at the monkeys" says my cuz as he stops and fiddles with his camera. His wife who is two steps behind him turns to look at the monkeys as do the children. Wife suddenly realises that two of the monkeys are, well, engaging in some monkey business, just as one of the little girls asks "Why is that monkey bumping the other monkey's back?"

"I've no idea," says wife, "perhaps he has a tummy ache. Oh look at the Zebras aren't they beau---" her voice stops as she realises that two of the Zebras are indulging in horse-play. She grabs the hands of the smallest children and with a hiss of her husband's name to get his attention she marches off saying "Let's go and see some snakes!"

My cuz has missed all the action and doesn't understand why he and the children are trotting through the zoo to go and look at snakes when he knows his wife cannot stand them.

The children are suitably thrilled by the snakes and can shriek at each other with glee while Wife explained to Cuz just what had been going on.

She said that it seemed as though every animal in the zoo suddenly decided that the moment was right for a bit of rumpy-pumpy and they all waited for her and the children to stand and look.

When we travelled on the Severn valley railway many years later we gazed out of the window and realised we were passing the safari park. "I wonder if they have monkeys with tummy ache in there" said my cousin and the rest of the travellers looked on in amazement as we laughed for three miles!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Fish Pie! Mmmmm

Today I decided to make fish pie. We don't have it often because I always think it is going to be more trouble to make than it is. I found a recipe ages ago and my rule is that the first time I make it I do it exactly how it says in the instructions. This tells me what it should turn out like. The second time I usually fiddle a bit and make notes on the recipe sheet. Sometimes we decide that we never want to eat it again EVER after the first tasting but usually I get a second go. The fish pie was delicious the first time but could stand a bit of tweaking.

I realised as I gathered the ingredients that the recipe is for 4 to 6 portions so I texted my cousin and said "fish pie 2nite 6pm" He answered quickly to confirm they would be with us so I could happily tweak the recipe and everything was ready to go by 4.30pm. We had curly Kale, carrots broccoli and cauliflower with the pie and I sprinkled a little grated cheese over the top before I popped it into the oven for the final cooking.

My problem is that as I still don't have my sense of taste back properly I had to wait for Mr M to come home to taste the pie. He was a bit late so it was back in the oven and it was too late. The verdict was 3 Wows, four excellents, and three "compliments to the chef".

I have to admit that trying to lose weight AND keeping Mr M on a sugar free diet has honed my cooking skills and my 20 years in the catering business has certainly been put to the test over the last year. I feel so much happier when I cook things because I know what is in them. The amount of 'hidden' sugar that manufacturers put into food these days. Almost everything that is low fat has extra sugar and salt to compensate for the lack of flavour. Mr M gets his sugars by eating fruit so I try to ensure that everything else is sugar free. This means that we have to use sweeteners and we come up against the Aspartame problem. So we try to use fresh foods because that is easier.

After dinner we got talking about crafting because my cousin has a business that sells the machines and tools to do wood carving and pyrography and was exhibiting at the NEC last weekend (I was able to get in free because of this) we were discussing my cuttlebug and various other things and he was asking me about laser cut wooden embellishments and stuff like that - let's just say that I have quite a selection now.

Then suddenly it was getting late and they had to go home and I have to go to bed because I have to take Little Miss to school in the morning.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

New Chickens!

Last week we purchased two new chickens. I would have liked them to be rescue hens but when we looked at the logistics of collecting rescue hens from either Builth Wells, Swansea or Bristol it made more sense financially to drive just ten miles and buy two new point of lay pullets than to drive for an hour to Swansea or bristol or two hours to Builth Wells and then give a donation which would be the equivalent of buying the hens.

I thought long and hard about it but decided that next time I will get rescue girls.

Here is Noisy examining the camera closely for food potential.

Anyhoooo, we have two young girls now to keep company with Noisy. I bought one from each pen so that all three would be a stranger to the others giving them a level start to life.

One is an Amber Link

the other is a Rhode Island cross.

Amber is very bright although still a little nervy. She is very bossy and immediately began pecking Noisy and trying to show her who is boss. Noisy just side stepped out of the way and gave her "the Look".

Chicken Licken got her name because the first time she experienced the Food-from-the-window she ran away because she thought the sky was falling in.

I should explain. Our house is built on a hill so the front door is level with the pavement but the ground falls away so there is a cellar under the back of the house and the garden ( that's what we call the 18' x 15' area at the bottom of the steps) is another level down so when I open the kitchen window I am 15 feet above them and when I throw out the crusts from Miss Em's sandwich Noisy rushes around grabbing them as fast as she can while the other two stood looking at her as if she was mad. They soon realised that tasty stuff fell from the sky every time the window opened and now they are all like greyhounds across the garden every time we open the window. Mr M cooks noodles especially for them ( the man who doesn't like pets eh?) and I hide my smiles when I hear him telling Noisy to "look behind you, bird brain".
They soon settled in - every book you read gives you a different way of adding new birds to a coop. I followed my grandmother's way. I waited until their bedtime and put them all into the house together and shut the doors. They settled down to sleep and when they woke up they thought they had always been together and I have had no trouble at all.
To my delight on Thursday one of them laid their first egg. it is very light brown in colour so could have been either of them. I suspect Amber will produce cream coloured eggs but can't be sure. anyway it was a typical first egg. Quite small, half the size of the one that Noisy produced the day before. I said thank you for laying an egg when I collected it, as I always do.
I had heard a great commotion in the garden which was why I went down to look. Noisy always yells when she lays an egg, as though she has never seen one before but for some reason who ever produced the new egg must have set the other two off because they were all very excited and yelling.
I like to think they were all calling me and saying "Look! Look! an egg! look we found an egg! an egg! in the nest box! we went it and sat down and when we stood up THERE IT WAS! AN EGG! Look! an egg!"
I scattered some corn and they soon forgot to yell. I could watch them for hours they are fascinating and all the local cats hate them and stay out of my garden because the girls attack cats.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Story-telling Sunday March

This picture was taken at the OK Diner, Leominster when we were having a birthday treat for Mr M's birthday.
This year Mr M and I have been married thirty years. Isn't that wonderful?

We met at the wedding party of my cousin's daughter in 1980. I was newly divorced and picking up the threads of my life again. I had been to camp with 56 Girl Guides 5 Ranger Guides (3 of them doing their leadership training) and 3 adult Guiders. I arrived home to an empty house because Mum and Dad had gone to the wedding. I showered and washed a week's smoke out of my hair - in those days it was long enough to sit on - and fell onto the bed wrapped in several towels. My daughter was walking Offa's Dyke Path with the Rangers and both my sons were at Scout camp in the Brecon Beacons.

I had reached that point where I was almost asleep but still aware of what was going on when Mum and Dad arrived home. Mum came up and knocked on the bedroom door to "make sure you are alright".

"Pat is so glad you are going to the party tonight," she said, "I told her you would go early and give her a hand"

I kept the groan inside me. I was sooo not looking forward to a party. I really hate walking into a room full of people, even if I might know some of them. In some cases because I might know them. However, this was my cousin and as she is the oldest of all the cousins in this family it is she who must be obeyed, because she is always right.

I found something to wear, I brushed my hair and put it into a plait because it was still damp and I have never had a hairdryer. I went out to my vehicle and realised that I still had three tents and all the cooking gear and the storage boxes for the food in the back.

AH, I didn't tell you did I? My vehicle was an ex-ambulance. because my ex took the car when he left my dad tendered for an ambulance and for several years the kids and I travelled around in what was an old minibus - fantastic!

I digress.

I decided that I would cover it all with a ground-sheet and just go. I arrived at my cousin's house and as I walked up the path to the front door I noticed this rather good-looking blond young man sitting on the wall smoking a cigarette. I smiled at him and he smiled back.

Until that moment I had always scoffed at those books that said "her heart leapt as he smiled at her" because mine did! right into my throat.

This is the confession bit.

I thought to myself (as a newly divorced, single, free to love 'em and leave'em liberated woman) I fancy some of that.

I went into the house and he followed. It turned out that he had been best man at the wedding (no argument from me there) and was now nicely drunk because he had done the speech and everything. I was introduced to him. We all went to the party, which was being held in a pub somewhere across town. Everywhere I sat he was visible. If I went out for a breath of air he was there too.

Somewhere around midnight everyone went back to my cousin's house and the party continued. We sat on the patio and there he was next to me. We talked and very soon discovered that we could finish one another's sentences. By 3am we were lying side by side on sunloungers watching the stars slide past the guttering on the roof and discussing the universe.

By 8am I was totally smitten.

He was driving my cousin to Weymouth that morning, together with her newly married daughter and son-in-law. He asked me to go too and insisted that I sat in the front seat next to him. I had told him about my children and my divorce and he was still there. My cousin found a cafe and while she had to go visit someone she deposited us there. Mr M muttered something about "back in a minute" and he too disappeared.

He was gone for the longest half our of my life.

When he came back he said "Come on, let's walk along the sea front" I thought, "you can't come to the seaside and not go on the pier" he said "you can't come to the seaside and not go on the pier" so we did.

I thought "You can't come to the seaside and not go on the beach" he said "You can't come to the seaside and not go on the beach" so we did.

I started to think you can't come to the seaside and not..." he said "We'll have an icecream cone" and looked at me. "You just thought that didn't you?" he said. "Yes," I said and we both said together "and it's not the only thing."

Two months later we found somewhere to live together, My children asked for this as their Christmas present, and eight months later we got married.

I still get that little flutter of excitement when I see him after a day's work. We still finish each other's sentences, we never get tired of each other's company and there is still so much we have to say. My children adore him and come to him first if they have a problem. My daughter asked him to give her away even though her birth father was to be at the wedding because "You have always been a better father than him"

This story has been brought to you through Story-telling Sunday. Devised by Sian why not take a look at all the other stories