Saturday, 23 September 2017

Brrrrr . . .

It's a bit damp and a bit chilly and ever so dull so thank goodness for this.

Saturday paper, hot cuppa tea and the fire (fan heater tarted up really) on.
This is the life.


Good morning from sunny Baslow in the Peak District.  It's chilly but lovely and I'm on holiday.  I've been looking forward to this for so long, I can hardly believe it's here at last.

First of all, the cottage.  It is bijou, tres, tres bijou, but delightful.  It's actually half a cottage really and the other side is empty, I think.  I'll take a photo later on.  Maybe they have plans to do it up once this one takes off or maybe it belongs to someone else, I am not completely sure, although the garden and front path are shared.  There's steep stone steps to a cellar and equally steep wooden stairs to the bathroom and bedroom, both of which are a jolly good size and the bed is enormous and very, very comfortable!  The stairs are just a bit too steep and narrow for comfort and with a turn at the bottom so I will take them carefully and use the hand rail.

The kitchen looks good - fairly well supplied with tools, etc, and I have brought Thermione with me so I will cope fine.  In fact, I shall put a loaf on to knead soon because fresh bread is one of the joys of my life and there's a little freezer in the kitchen as well as a bigger one in the cellar so it will stay fresh.

It's not really a Thermo-sized kitchen so a bit of a squash.  Never mind!

It was an OK journey but a lot longer than I expected (in terms of time) because there were hold ups on the A1(M).  Maybe I should have gone M1 but you never know, do you?  Just as I drove into the national park it started raining and, because I was late, I got there just as school was out, just what I didn't want to do.  Of course, there was no parking anywhere close by so I popped off to guess where.  Yes, the Chatsworth Farm Shop!  It's developed since I was last there (which has to be well over a decade ago now) and is a great experience, despite the crowds.  I can see that I will eat well this week and I can also see that frugality will fly out of the window.  Well, I have saved up so that's OK, I'm not spending what I haven't got.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do today.  I'm feeling rather tired so maybe I will just get into the car and follow my nose, seeing as the second star to the right will have gone to bed.  It's actually virtually impossible to get lost in the Peak District as there are so few roads and anyway, my sat nav will sort that out.

A few more photos, taken in rather dull light.

View from the front door.

Autumnal tints showing - this will be a colourful week.

Friday, 22 September 2017


All ready!  Well, all bar actually putting the last clothes in the case, the ones that are over the sofa.  I just need to go over the route once more and that's me done and dusted apart from loading everything into the car.  Phew.

It's a very autumnal day today; cool, misty and with a slightly smoky smell.  Really nice, in fact, and I hope the sun will come out later as driving in the rain won't be nearly so pleasant.  Still - what will be, will be, and the most important thing is that I'm off on holiday, leaving when S gets here to take over.

Better go and check stuff, I suppose.  And the kettle has boiled so you know what that means.  Coffee!

Thursday, 21 September 2017


Good morning, everyone.

You know those days when you seem to be bustling around for hours, yes not doing much.  Well, that was yesterday!  However, there is now a stack of things waiting to be packed, the kitchen is comparatively organised and I'm nearly ready so maybe I achieved more than it seemed.

On Monday, Beth brought round a bucked load of final pickings from the allotment.  Courgettes, squashes and apples.  No potatoes as I have my own and no runners because ditto.  The other stuff has been given out to lovely people who have helped Beth and me with the allotment as neither of us have been able to give it much attention in recent weeks for differing and very valid reasons.

I shall take courgettes and a squash with me but the apples really did need dealing with.  Some were bad and needed chucking while some were far too small so ditto.  However, there were a number of sound ones, some more than others.  I sorted out six to take with me - they have a lovely tangy/sweet flavour and I think they are Coxes although Beth can't remember.  Anyway, whatever they are, they're worth having and it's very exciting to get a small crop the year after it was moved.  The other fruit trees didn't yield anything this year.  The plum and pear got caught by a late frost and the redlove had apples but they all dropped, sadly.  Still, in gardening there's always hope so we look forward to next year.

The other apples were peeled, cored, cut into wedges and blanched for the freezer although I was naughty and used some to make an apple and strawberry crumble for lunch.  It was delicious and there's some left over for today.

Amazingly, the Ruby Ann strawberries are still cropping.  Not loads as there are only four plants but enough for a picking now and again.  Also in the garden, the runners are all over and done, as are the montello tomatoes, but the sungolds are still going strong and I shall start on the potatoes today.  Not bad for a summer's effort.  The garden is starting to look bedraggled now so I need to set aside a couple of mornings to give it the annual autumn haircut!

In the late afternoon I went over to Beth's for dinner and to say goodbye to Alex.  He's off to university on Friday.  When I think back, his life journey has been astounding and inspirational.  Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, non verbal until around five after losing all his developing language in a typical 'crash' at around 14 months, attending a local 'special school', the only pupil ever at that school to take KS2 SATs and getting level 4s and 5s, despite not having done the mainstream curriculum, transferred to mainstream secondary to enter Y9, getting all his GCSEs including English, Getting all his A levels with high grades and now . . . off he goes into the next phase of his life and education!

The autism hasn't gone away, of course, it is pervasive and lifelong and creates 'issues', but wow, he has done so, so well.  And so has Beth.  I'm so proud of them both.

It's sad, very sad, to have to say goodbye and not have him around but changes happen and life moves on.  I just wish there weren't quite so many changes happening right now.

I need to get a move on.  By the end of today, I want to have everything packed and by the front door, ready for loading tomorrow.  I want to have a neat and tidy house for my lovely house sitter and for the cleaners so that I can watch An Extra Slice this evening with a clear conscience, always a nice thing to have

But first - of course - coffee . . . as always!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Good morning!  It's chilly (socks and dressing gown chilly) and dark and lovely and peaceful.  It's almost officially autumn now, summer is past, but I want good weather for next week!

I dashed into town to the bank after seeing a payment that I thought I didn't authorise - but it turned out that I did.  How embarrassing is that?  Never mind, I did the few bits and bobs I had been intending to do this morning, including withdrawing my holiday spending money that I moved over from savings, so that's OK.

I went into Foyles and found a lovely little AA book of the Peak District so it will be my constant companion next week.  I also got some deep fitted sheets for my parents, John Lewis being one of the few shops that sell them at a reasonable price.

Things are nearly ready now.  I have to prep the guest room and get a few things in, finish my piles of stuff I am taking and keep the house tidy.  That's about it really, apart from planning the tuition for the first week in October.

Should be a nice day!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Morning, everyone.  I overslept just a bit this morning, waking at six, which was rather nice.  The heating had clicked on so it felt cosy but means it must be quite chilly out there.  It's obviously been raining, the wind is blowing and I am glad to be snug and warm inside with no need to go out whatsoever.

I have nice warm toes too.  I do have slippers but am not terribly fond of wearing them really and they are getting old.  The pair I bought to replace them didn't fit comfortably at all and I haven't really worn them.
So I invested in some sock-slippers (or do I mean slipper-socks).  In other words, socks that have a non slip sole and a nice fluffy turn over at the top and could pass for slippers.  They're snug and cosy, soft and fluffy inside and easy to walk in and I love them.

My printer certainly took a battering yesterday.  I completely sorted out my route to the Peaks yesterday including enlarged printouts of any tricky bits and I even 'drove' the roads up there using Google road view.  How did neurotic route finders like me ever cope before Google was born, eh?

It did help though.  I am sure there's some deep, psychological reason but I have a real fear of getting lost in the car.  I tell myself I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am for a while and I know the sat nav will give me clear instructions once it stops trying to get me onto the M1 but it doesn't help the fear much.  What has helped is seeing that some tricky looking junctions are traffic light controlled and that there are very clear road markings too.  I will laugh at myself once I am there, I know I will.

This looked horrible on the map but perfectly manageable now I've seen it!  Just a shame the roads don't REALLY have their names marked on the surface in large, white lettering!

Today is gathering things together day.  All the bits and bobs I am taking will find their way to one place in the living room, all the clothes I am taking will be washed and ironed (if necessary),stacked up and I will wear rags until Friday.  I will top up with petrol.  I might even be very good and clean out the car, you never know.

All part of the fun!

I made a really nice crumble on Sunday.  Mind you, it is hard to make a crumble that isn't nice, isn't it?  This was strawberry and apple.  The strawberries were leftovers from the day before and the apple was an old eater that was looking wrinkled and unappetising.  The topping was a plain and simple basic one: butter, flour and sugar.  So tasty!

I'd better stop now.  I need to do some Facebook adminning and then start the day's work.  That should keep me warm, even if the heating didn't!
Have a great day.

Monday, 18 September 2017


Good morning, everyone.  I hope you all slept well.

I'm on the last lap before my holiday now.  My house sitter is all arranged and I am creating lists.
Food to take
Equipment to take
Things to buy
Things to pack

The last two are self evident, I hope.  I don't take a lot when there are laundering facilities but I do like to take things like my lovely big, white towel, etc, so I make a list.  When I get there, there's a little village shop a few steps along the road but I will take my first night's meal with me, I think.  After all, it is holiday!

When it comes to the first two, it's a bit more complicated.  Don't laugh - I always take Thermione with me on self catering holidays.  I am so used to having her around and now I have the Cook-Key, I can load it up with my favourite recipes (it's a bit like a Kindle for cooking, I suppose).  I also like to take two sharp knives because I cannot bear using blunt knives.  I will give them a good sharpening before I pack.  Then there's things like one loaf tin as I can't expect a holiday cottage to have one, tea towels (my experience is that there are never enough tea towels), poly bags, cling film, etc.  I see no point buying new packs when I have plenty in drawer or cupboard.

I apply the same principle to foody things.  There's no way I am going to buy new packs of things like salt, pepper, sugar, herbs, etc, when I already have plenty at home.  I doubt I will eat out much of an evening as I much prefer snuggling down at home with telly, a good book, some knitting and a glass of the chilled dry white stuff and anyway, eating out on your own isn't a lot of fun.  I've paid out for a very comfortable little cottage and I intend to get the most from it.

Yesterday I went online to plan my route.  The AA route finder is very handy here.  You can input the roads you want to use as well as the destination and it gives detailed directions that you can print out.  I'm joining the A1 at Baldock (using the cross country way, via Bishop's Stortford) and then across to Mansfield, Chesterfield and Baslow from Newark.  It looks simple enough and the signposting seems clear enough.  What with that and the Sat Nav, I should only get lost a few times!
I could join the M1 and go that way but I know the A1 and it's a good road nowadays so I will risk it!

Not long now!