Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Quick Update on Tom

For those of you who have left comments or e-mailed me about Tom - thank you, you are all so kind. He has been very, very ill and last night we thought we'd lost him, I mentally said my goodbyes and shed a few tears but this morning things are looking a bit brighter for him - we aren't out of the woods yet, we are still awaiting the results of a couple more blood tests, if those are clear, he may be in with a chance. There is a little window of hope opening at the end of that tunnel.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Poor Tom

Poor tommy the tank is very sick. He's at the vet's surgery, attached to a drip to stop him getting dehydrated, and has been since Friday lunchtime. We may be able to bring him home tomorrow, but the vet still has concerns. They think he has some sort of bacterial enteritis but the worry is that it may be viral and if so this is going to be a problem because of the other two cats. At the moment the other two seem to be ok. He still has some tests to undergo tomorrow and we will know more then.

In the meantime the house just isn't the same without him.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Making Marmalade

Last Friday we decided to make some marmalade. We'd bought 3lbs of Seville Oranges the day before from The Country Larder at Trentham Gardens. It took all morning as the peel had to be chopped really finely:-

Then it had to cook for two hours before adding the sugar and lemon juice:-

Then it was returned to the heat to reach a 'rolling' boil before we could test to see if the setting point had been reached. Then the jars and lids had to be sterilised before we could add the marmalade. The finished product looked so colourful:-

Paul designed and printed out the labels on the computer and these were added once the jars were cool. We kept a little tester dish in the fridge to try with toast the next morning - it was delicious.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Two down, one to go!

There is a saying, isn't there that Everything comes in Threes. Yesterday we found out that the ball valve in the header tank, which is up in the roof, was leaking and the overflow outside was dripping onto the garage roof and leaving a damp patch just near the front door. We went to the local DIY shop this morning to buy replacements and when we got back the washing machine, which I'd left on whilst we popped out, had leaked all over the floor because a seal inside had come loose. So poor Paul, who still has marking and planning to do ready for starting back to college tomorrow, ended up mending the washing machine and then sorting out the tank in the roof. I'm extremely grateful that he is able to do a lot of these jobs because it would cost a lot to call out an engineer, but, ever the pessimist, I keep wondering what is going to be the next thing to break or stop working.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Visit to Nottingham

On Wednesday we went over to Nottingham to visit our friends. We set out about 9.30a.m. and drove through Ashbourne to Belper and then towards Ilkeston. There were a couple of places on the way where we had to divert because of road closures so the journey took a little longer than expected. We stopped at the Bottle Kiln at West Hallam for a cup of coffee and a look around their art gallery and shop. We saw some beautiful things but I was very good and resisted the temptation to spend some money; the coffee was lovely and very welcome.

We arrived at our friends' house just before noon and had a good natter about various things before lunch was ready. Our friends are both excellent cooks and the food was very good. We had an onion quiche, with new potatoes in mayonnaise and a salad of dressed spinach leaves followed by a berry fruits trifle. Here is the first course waiting to be served -

After lunch we had a walk in the park near their home and then more chatter and laughter until it was time for us to say goodbye.

We were enjoying ourselves so much that we left it a bit late and set out for home at the same time as the rush hour so we were held up once or twice getting out of the city - especially on the Brian Clough Way; but we were home for 7 o'clock and our kind next door neighbour had been round to feed the cats and switch lights on so that it looked as if we were at home. It is such a blessing to have good friends.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The last few days

On Sunday we decided to drive to Leek over the Roaches past the 'winking man' and on to Buxton. There was still a lot of snow around on the hills but Buxton itself was wet and slushy.

We had a wander around the town, a mug of coffee and a muffin in the shopping centre and then walked up to the Pavilion. There were some beautiful orchids in the glass house.

Then we drove back over the hills via Earl Sterndale, into Hartington and back towards home. The views were spectacular.

Today we decided to drive over to the Air Museum at RAF Cosford to see the new displays but when we got there we were diverted by the police because there was a security alert at the air base and museum. We ended up for lunch at Norbury Junction and looked at the canal boats instead.

Oh well, boats instead of planes. The lunch was very tasty but the weather was very cold.

Off to Nottingham tomorrow to visit some friends one of whom is just starting up a blog - so watch this space for a link.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Weather Report

Well, after the spring like weather of Saturday and Sunday this is the state of the garden today. The cats are not liking it at all; for some reason they think it is my fault.

You have to admit though, that this weather is more normal for early February.

Off to have some warming soup for lunch. I just hope the council have gritted the roads well so that it doesn't take Paul over two hours to get home from work like it did when we last had a downfall like this.

Monday, February 05, 2007

High Peak Trail Part 3

Sunday was such a beautiful day. We had decided that we were going to walk a further stretch of of The High Peak Trail this time from Middleton Top, through the Hopton Tunnel and on to Harboro Rocks. We managed to park at Middleton Top even though by the time we arrived it was getting very busy and people with huge cars with cycles on the back were struggling to park; luckily our little car slips into the smallest place.

We donned boots and coats and set out on our adventure. This length of the trail was far busier than the stretch down to Cromford and we had to watch out all the time for joggers and cyclists. Query - why don't cycles have bells any more? This walk went past quite a few quarries and the scattered remains of buildings and earth works associated with the old lead mines and lime burning industries. We saw farmsteads nestled in valleys and in the distance the glittering tranquility of Carsington Water. We slowly but surely made our way up to the top of Harborough Rocks - it was quite easy to get up there on well trodden paths - the views were spectacular - although, on the horizon was a strange, thin layer of yellow cloud - I'd never seen anything like this before.

As we came down again Paul was busy taking shots of the coal mine below us - I turned and saw this view which I took with my new camera - I'm quite pleased with it:-

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Visit to the Garden Centre

Today, after a much needed trip to the supermarket - the cupboard, fridge and freezer were bare, and even worse we were down to our last four sachets of cat food - we drove out to Bridgemere Garden Centre to buy tomato seeds and compost. Even though it was sunny in Stoke as we drove out towards the Maer hills and through to Woore the mist was swirling across the road. Of course we hit the coffee shop first whilst it was still fairly quiet and then had a wander around the new spring time displays. We hadn't visited since just before Christmas and everything had changed. We also had a walk around the gardens there which, by then, were looking lovely in the bright sunshine.

We bought two types of tomato seeds, the popular Moneymaker and a plum tomato variety called Incas. These are now potted in plastic catering cups with holes drilled in the bottom so we will await the results. The best plants will be nurtured in the conservatory before planting in the green house later on.

We managed to do a little bit of work in the garden after sorting out the seeds and I discovered a daisy on the lawn and a dandelion in one of the beds - both in flower and Paul spotted a Peacock butterfly and noticed rose buds on our yellow rose. In February? I don't expect to see these things until much later. To quote one of my heroes Christopher Hill - 'The World Turned Upside Down' - well it has in our garden anyway.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Grey, Grey

For the past week I've been feeling rather low but can't put my finger on any particular reason. For five days now I've had a sore throat and tickly cough which has just about driven me mad and I keep wanting to curl up and sleep. Today it has finally turned into a cold so I'm sitting here with eyes streaming. I've just seen a grey squirrel dancing and prancing across the lawn but, of course, by the time I'd got the camera out and set up it had disappeared. The weather outside is grey and misty so I'm going to add a poem that I wrote, nearly five years ago. I actually wrote it in November and the inspiration came whilst I was walking in Longton, my nearest town. I wandered down The Strand, into Times Square, under the railway bridge and across the old St John's churchyard to home. When I got home I wrote this:-


Grey, grey windswept day,
when all life’s colour is washed away
by drizzling rain and misty gloom,
where, in the street, there is no room,
for anything but monochrome.

Urban seagulls swirl and dive
over naked trees looking half alive.
Pigeons shelter beneath dripping eaves
above damp pavements where sodden leaves
turn from russet to monochrome.

Umbrellas turned against the rain,
then blowing inside out again
as their owners rush towards their day
in concrete boxes bleak and grey
and a life in monochrome.
©Rosie Pursglove 2002

I think it sums up how I feel today. On a lighter note I was amused yesterday by the headline:-
'Man pulls car with ears' - ok, I know, you've guessed - my first thought was why would someone build a car with ears? Doh.....