Sunday, 31 January 2016

Lazy Sunday

I haven't taken a service today as the church where I would usually be expected has a very steep path and as I have to decide weeks in advance whether I will take a service I decided not to risk a slippery path and an all too easy fall.  
Caistor Parish Church - but not today!

Instead I went to my own parish church and worshipped in a pew.  This happens about four times a year and I rather enjoy it.  It's a reminder that God loves each of us for who we are not what we do.

And if that's not a cause for delight, nothing is!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Cold

I got very cold today.

I had to go to a memorial service in a nearby parish church.  The church actually has some heating but I know of few Anglican churches which are warm enough to sustain human life in January.

So I got cold.  And as the service was long I got very cold.  It got to the point where all I could think about was that I was cold

Usually when I am in church I control the length of the service.  My congregations seem to appreciate a brisk pace.  I appreciate my lovely warm, pure wool cassock.  Happiness.

But today the service was rather long.  I was in mufti.  And I was cold.  Maybe you have now got the idea that I was cold.  Just in case you haven't, I repeat, I was cold.

But today's joy was coming home and having a mug of homemade soup in a warm sitting room and with a home crocheted blanket around my legs.  And then microwaving my microwaveable teddy bear and curling up in bed.  So now I am warm.  Not cold.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Tasty pleasure

The tastiest pleasure has to be consuming something totally delicious but knowing that there are totally delicious foods in the freezer has to come a close second.  I get that "competent housewife" feeling when I put stuff in the freezer ready for the next time when I have guests.  These days I find entertaining rather tiring but I love doing it and the freezer is my great ally.  

I'm sure there were four fish pies and two lasagnas.
 I wonder where the other pie went?
Today I have been batch cooking.  I've made lasagna and fish pies ready for friends who will be visiting in the next few weeks and I made sure I made enough for me to have a few extra delicious meals.  I also made some vegetable crisps which I've written about on my other blog.

So today's pleasure is knowing that I am ready to invite friends to come for a meal and I won't have to worry about cooking when they come.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Planning

Today was planned - honest! I was going to tidy up and do a little housework.   Claire was coming for coffee.  I was going to make fish pies ready for the freezer.  I was going to try AGAIN to master cable knitting.  I was going to make lasagna, again for the freezer.

But then the phone rang.  It was Maisie, a dear friend from my last parish.  She needed a small favour which took about two minutes to agree but somehow, (maybe it happens to you) we nattered for well over half an hour.  So the housework didn't get done as Claire was due in a few minutes.
The Three Horseshoes, Scotton

Well, that bit went according to plan.  Claire and I have coffee together in each other's homes once a week and catching up on each other's lives meant that the fact that the vacuum cleaner was still in the corner really didn't matter.

After she'd gone I kept thinking about that conversation with Maisie.  She'd mentioned that she was going out for lunch with another friend.  And somehow my shoes found their way to my feet, my arms found their way into my jacket and my car found its way to the pub where I knew they were going and, despite myself, I was joining them for a delicious lunch.

And after a delicious lunch I have to have an equally delicious snooze.

Which is why my plan for tomorrow is to tidy up and do a little housework, to make fish pies ready for the freezer, try AGAIN to master cable knitting and make lasagna, again for the freezer.

And why have a happy smile on my face for today's little pleasure - dropping everything to go out with a friend (and having enough cash to do so).

Monday, 25 January 2016

A Find!

I keep my laundry powder in rather a nice enamel tin designed for the purpose and bought by me in a rather extravagant moment a few years ago.  It came with a simple scoop but that got lost and I've made do with yoghurt pots or old spoons.

Today I was wandering aimlessly around a charity shop and I saw a lovely Eeyore coffee cup and saucer.  Just the job!

Today's pleasure then is the perfect charity shop find!  And now I need to find a pretty plant to put on the matching saucer

Ninety nine years ago


In January 1917 the armies on continental Europe were still recovering from the Battle of the Somme which had been fought from 1st July to 18th November 2016.  More men were preparing to go to France to make up for the huge numbers of men who had been lost in that terrible battle.  One of those men was waiting on a farm in a small Lincolnshire village.  Ted carried on working on the farm and being with his wife Emma who was expecting their second child.  He had been given special permission to delay his departure to join his regiment until that second child was born.

Their elder child, a son, was just two years old and all three of them were eagerly anticipating the birth of a brother or sister for him.  On 25th January Emma was safely delivered of a daughter.

The little girl's baptism was arranged very quickly.  In those days children were always baptised when they were just a few weeks old but Ted and Emma's child was even younger than most as Ted wanted to see this important ceremony for his beloved daughter.

A couple of days later he left for France, not knowing if he would ever see Emma and their children again.  He was a fine musician and so he became a bandsman (needed to keep morale up) and as was usual for bandsmen  he was also a medical orderly/stretcher bearer.  Over the next few years he doubtless saw some dreadful sights as he carried men to the casualty stations but he told Emma nothing of such terrible things.  Instead his letters were of love and enquiries about their son and daughter, the thought of whom sustained him for the next couple of years.  His son was four and his daughter was nearly two when next he saw them.

And how do I know?  That little girl, born ninety nine years ago today, was my mother.  I still miss her.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

An old fashioned delight

My parents both told me that when they were children Yorkshire Pudding was usually served with gravy before the beef ever appeared on the table.  Crafty mums in those days used to say that those who ate the most Yorkshire Pud and gravy could have the most meat, but of course anyone who pigged out on Yorkshires had the edge taken off their appetite.

British style pancakes - big and flat!
That wasn't the custom in my own childhood home but Mother used to make far more pudding batter than was needed and not all of it would be cooked on Sunday.  Instead Mother kept it for pancakes on Monday when she would be very busy washing and ironing and would need a quickly prepared meal.  She would also save any spare gravy from Sunday to eat with the first round of pancakes.

Yesterday I cooked a piece of pork for my lunch and found some pork gravy in the freezer but there was too much of it so I saved it for today.  Before I went to church I mixed some pancake batter and lunch today has been delicious pancakes and gravy.

It was SOOO good.  And any meal eaten whilst walking down Memory Lane has an extra savour!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

A Skill acquired

I mentioned a few days ago that I had been sent some lovely wool and I was knitting a cowl.  Well, the cowl is now made.  As you can see, it will be VERY cosy when I go out on the trundle truck!

To take the pictures I had to find out how to take a selfie using my web cam.  So I'm feeling proud that I have a new skill and I am delighted that I can still learn.

Coffee


A couple of minutes ago I went to the kitchen to make a cuppa and knew instantly what today's special pleasure is - even though it wasn't an "instant" pleasure.


It's the smell when I open a new packet of roast-and-ground coffee.  I keep my coffee  in an air-tight tin once opened but even so, the smell of a newly opened pack is WONDERFUL!  A pack lasts about a week so it's a joy which happens fairly frequently but it is still a delight.

Writing this series of posts about pleasure has become a pleasure in itself.  It is encouraging me to appreciate those small moments which it would be so easy to miss.  I am surprised how often my face is breaking into a smile as I recognise yet another of the little things which enrich my life.

Thank you for reading


Friday, 22 January 2016

A Familiar Delight


Ah, a favourite delight today.  I've been to Mandy's and I've made my first cards of 2016.  One for a guy and three for the gals.

 I love these sessions - good company, a plentiful supply of coffee and cake, four cards to bring home - what's not to love?


Thursday, 21 January 2016

I've just realised!

Today reminds me of a very special pleasure - the pleasure of leisure.  Six years ago, on 21st January 2010, I (officially) retired.  I actually hadn't worked regularly for a year before that as I was ill.

I am not one of those people who wonder how they ever found time to work but I do wonder how I found the energy!  I have a busy life still.  I now cook almost everything from scratch, I knit, sew, crochet, and make cards.  I still take Sunday services and I do some pastoral care.  But everything I do is now unhurried, considered and done with joy.

I had been in paid employment since I was eighteen when I left school and became a library assistant.  Even when I was at college I did some work as a baby sitter, theatre usherette, dish washer and library assistant.  After college I went to Nigeria as a librarian on Voluntary Service Overseas and then had a brief time when I didn't work as I had a couple of months in hospital.  After that I had no gaps.

And now I have a time of leisure, still busy but with time to enjoy the snowdrops in my garden.  Life is good.

Not as light-hearted

I've woken up to a very cold morning here, I think the coldest so far of this winter.  I haven't got dressed yet but that is idleness.  When I do decide to get a move on the bathroom is nice and warm and I shall have a lovely hot shower and then don several layers of clothes.

The reason I've called this post "not as lighthearted" is that my joy today is that I never have to choose between heating and eating.  I can afford both.  I am not extravagant.  I don't usually keep the heating on all day as layering up clothes and having wraps near my chair for when I sit down mean that I can stay cosy without needing to flick the switch.  Today the switch will stay flicked and I don't need to worry.  And that means I can enjoy looking through the window at the beauty of the frost.

But others are not so fortunate.  Their homes are not so cosy and their budgets are tighter.  Some have medical conditions which mean that they feel the cold more.  It is a sad fact that hospital admissions rise in cold snaps.

So I will enjoy my cosy day, but it will be a tempered joy.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Welcome back, mojo!

A very quick joy today!

I went to a dressmaking class today at Jane White Couture Tuition and am now well on the way to being the possessor of a new skirt.  Unfortunately although the spirit was willing the flesh was struggling rather painfully today and I could only stay for about two and a half hours but I can do the rest at home.

So today's pleasure was sewing, whether at home or with others.  It's ages since I made myself a garment and I feel as though I've got something of my mojo back and I've booked another session next week.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Giving and Receiving

I know there are some unpleasant people around but to be honest, I am often amazed by the kindness of others.

This Christmas I joined in a couple of swaps - a Santa Sack Swap and Twelve Days of Christmas presents.

You've already met Linda my lovely new bear.  She came in my Santa Sack with lots of other goodies including this brilliant bag and these gorgeous gloves.

The twelve days of Christmas presents went through to January 5th.  Some of the presents were edible so no chance of them still being around on January 17th!  However, I did a quick nip around the house and gathered these together.  Anything red is great in my kitchen so the little dish and the owl have found a ready home! 
 But a few days ago I admired someone's knitting and the knitter e mailed me and offered me some wool.  She wouldn't even let me pay the postage!  She actually sent me four balls (and a bonus of three facecloths) but as you see, there is a strand running somewhere.  The "somewhere" is the other two balls, now knitted up.  When it's finished I'll reveal it!
And I've got twelve hats ready to send to The Sailors Society - here's a few of them.
And so today's delight is in the kindness of others and the fact that I too can afford to be generous.  I get such pleasure in giving and also in receiving.  Thank you to Linda and Marlene and the donor of the wool.  And thank you to the Sailors Society who have given me the pleasure of giving.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

I Am A Winner!

Don't tell anybody, but I'm a comper.

Not heard the word?  My spell checker hadn't either but it just means I enter competitions. A lot of them.  A Very Lot of them.  And occasionally I win.  

I don't like to do nothing when I sit down to drink a coffee or watch the TV so I have all sorts of activities within reach of my armchair.  Competitions are often on line so there is no cost involved and although the chances of winning any particular competition are slim, enter enough and your personal odds of being a winner aren't bad. (OK, maybe I should get a life.)

Anyway, today I checked my spam folder and there it was, "You Are A Winner".  Quite a useful win of nine "clip and close" boxes.  Wins in the last few months have included tickets for the Proms, for a West End Musical, and life coaching.  Back in 2012, well before I started to get methodical about comping, I won tickets for the Olympics.

So, a special joy for today I know without a shadow of a doubt

I AM A WINNER!

Monday, 11 January 2016

A Guest post by You Know Who

I thought it was about time I did another post so here goes.

It had been 6/7 weeks since I visited my friend.  I had been to Malta for a rest.  On this visit to Caistor I encountered three different feelings – mad, sad, glad.  All will be revealed.

I knew I was in for a busy visit as this was my last visit until well into the New Year.  I drove the usual 18miles and arrived at 8.15.  As usual a pot of tea was on the table.  Whilst drinking this we discussed the day ahead and jobs to be done.  The Tesco delivery came which we both unloaded and put away.  Before the tea pot was even empty my friend was writing down jobs for 2016.  She loves to set targets, not just for herself but for me as well.  Already the list is long.

For my first job I was asked to sort some winter jasmine for one of her friends who lives around the corner.  This wasn’t a problem as I’d potted one up a few weeks earlier but just to make sure I dug another one up.  On my way around to their house I noticed two of my friend’s fence panels had come out of the concrete slots (we had some bad winds in Lincolnshire which caused some damage).    Her friend’s husband knew nothing about the jasmine (my friend had organised it with his wife) but he accepted the gift gratefully.  When I got back to my car I found my toolbox which I carry with me every time I come here and I went and slotted the fence panels back in place.  I will fix them better in the summer.

My next job was to put the real Christmas tree up near the front door.  Last year I struggled to put up the lights when the tree was in position.  This year I was wiser and put the lights on before I put the tree up.  I put it up, plugged it in and hey presto, what nice welcome it made for anyone who came to visit.

I was doing this job when the man from next door popped round to see me.  If ever I want any tools which I don’t have with me, he always does his best to lend them.  By way of payment I help keep his drive and some of his garden weed free and give his wife books which she wants to read.  Once he wanted some Stanley blades which once again came off the back of that lorry!

Next I was asked to sort out the living room.  This entailed hoovering, dusting, polishing – a good general clean-up was called for.  I enjoyed polishing the old furniture and while doing this made a mental note of things to fix – knobs loose on drawers etc – which I would fix on my next visit if I remembered.  My friend went for a ten minute rest as she gets tired just watching me!  I moved various Christmas gifts including a huge stocking full of gifts.

When my friend came back from her snooze everything was clean and tidy in the sitting room.  I hoovered and squared up the hall then a shout came from the kitchen that dinner was ready.  As I’m a common country boy I call it dinner but my posh friend likes to call it lunch.  Lunch was a sweet potato and carrot soup with a crusty cob and this time NO HOOKS were in the soup.  Very tasty.

I put up two trees for her to decorate in the sitting room.  While she was doing this I tidied and folded laundry in the conservatory.  After sweeping the floor in the kitchen, back into the sitting room.  What a transformation my vicar friend had made.  This room was a Christmas treat for anyone who clapped eyes on it.  The first of my feelings was about to rear its head.  I was MAD my nice clean sitting room was like a bomb site with polystyrene, cardboard, bits of rubbish all over.  I didn’t reprimand the vicar: her Boss is a bit powerful with great powers.  He could inflict retribution on me so I bit my lip and kept quiet.  I put all the boxes into the garage.  Another cuppa was on its way.  Before I sat down I pulled some Brussels sprouts for her to have on Christmas Day and then I went in for the tea.  My friend was in the sitting room on the computer.  She was in the recliner chair with her feet up.  She hates having her feet tickled so I moved towards her but I was too slow and she read my thoughts and shouted “Don’t you dare!”.  I don’t know what the people next door must think about what is going on in this house when I am here.  I’ll explain to them one day soon.

Once again I was told in no uncertain terms that I’d forgotten to clean the windows so they were done promptly.  I said goodbye to my friend and headed to the door.  All of a sudden the vicar said Santa had been and he’d left something for me.   I turned around and in her hands was that stocking I mentioned before with all the gifts in.  I was stopped dead in my tracks.  I couldn’t speak, words just wouldn’t come out.  After a few seconds I could feel water beginning to form in my eyes.  The other two feeling were coming up fast.  I felt so SAD that I hadn’t even thought to get my friend a gift as well but then the sadness turned to gladness.

I realised that my gift to the vicar was something which money can’t buy and I hope she’ll cherish it for a good many yyears yet. I think you know what my gift is – the gift of friendship.  My friend held out her arms and we hugged each other then.  I knew I had to get out quick.  It doesn’t do for an old man to stand in front of a vicar crying.  I quickly went through the kitchen and out the back door.  I got to the side of the garage where no-one could see me and all the emotions came flooding out of my eyes.  You wouldn’t think an act of kindness and a two foot stocking would reduce a man of my years to someone crying his eyes out.  I got back to my car and tried to compose myself

Whilst doing this I rang my wife to let her know I was on my way back home.   A few days earlier she had been in hospital to have some injections in her back and for 2/3 days afterwards the pain was bad.  I told her I would do the cooking.  I like to make life as easy as possible for the people who are close to me.  I was cooking pork loin chops with cauli, broccoli, swede and carrots and leeks with pork gravy and topped off with apple sauce.  Yummy, yummy.

After I had phoned my wife I turned the car around and waved to my friend who was standing at the window and I thought I could see her eyes misting over as well.  This is what friendship should be all about.

To all the bloggers especially the ones in the USA I’d like to thank you for all your comments.  My friend and I look forward to hearing from you all.  I hope you have a happy and prosperous 2016 and remember

It’s because of all your yesterdays 
that you can enjoy all your tomorrows.

Take care and God bless

Jack


P.S. I’ll do another post sometime to let you know about the stocking

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Solitude

An odd pleasure this one.   From many people's perspective I spend more time alone than they would find comfortable.  I came home from church last Sunday morning and since then I have been out twice for a couple of hours and a friend called for an hour, a total of about five hours company.  And yet today I have settled for a whole day of very deliberate solitude.

Solitude is more than just being alone.  It involves choice, even if that choice is just to enjoy the quietness.  The quality of solitude changes as one has more of it.

For many solitude is a luxury they just can't have - maybe they live in over-crowded homes or there are demanding children or elderly relatives on the scene.  Others have not solitude but loneliness - although loneliness can also be found in busy places, in other people's crowds.

I could experience my life as lonely but instead I experience it as rich and fulfilling.  A pleasure to be savoured.


Friday, 8 January 2016

No brainer!

Today's pleasure really took no thinking about - the pleasure of a fine day!  It feels as though it has been raining for ever but today I woke up to a dry day.


And so the trundle truck and I went to Brigg, a small market town not far from home which has the great joy of free parking!  It's a great place for me to go as the town centre is largely pedestrianised and trundle truck accessible.  It's got lovely small shops including butchers and bakers and some medium sized supermarkets.  I didn't need much but I did need cash and I wanted some wool to complete a project.  



And I could rejoice in a dry day.  So many in this country are really suffering because of the very wet winter we have had but here in Lincolnshire we've had it wet but only very localised (and predictable) flooding.  Today Brigg was quiet and I could go to my favourite wool shop and my favourite "bargain" shop.  I could enjoy the view of the river.

We Brits pride ourselves on being able to moan about the weather, no matter what it's like, but today I just enjoyed it.



Thursday, 7 January 2016

A quirky joy

Joys don't come much more quirky than this one - it's ironing.


Now before you go and lie down in a dark room trying to recover from the idea of someone actually enjoying ironing, let me explain.



I hate the thought of ironing, the thought of wasting so much time getting so hot and bothered, pushing an iron around so that the creases are a thing of the past.  This morning I went into my tiny utility room and was confronted by two weeks worth of ironing to be done.  I hauled it into the kitchen and heaped it on the table,  Not a pretty sight. And then I set to with the jolly old iron.  There was such a lot to be done that I actually had three mini sessions and I used nearly two litres of water for steam.  I can't stand long enough to iron so I sit and am rather slow.



I'm not one for music while I work so I was silent with time to think.  Ironing is slow and rhythmic and I found that rhythm helpful.  I remembered occasions I had worn the various garments and I remembered watching my  Mother years ago as she ironed for the family.



But gradually the daunting heap diminished and in its place came a stack of lovely things.  My favourite clothes, worn over Christmas and then slung in the laundry basket, are now available again.  My lovely white bedding is fresh, crisp and inviting. And as I worked I realised that, despite myself, I had actually enjoyed my day.



But I'm still not looking forward to the next time!


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Pleasure of 6th January

No, I'm not going to write about those wise men who sought Jesus all those years ago.  My mind is not crossing oceans, continents or centuries.  My pleasure and joy today is so very close to me.  It is my home.

5th January each year I dismantle the Christmas decorations and for a few days my home is, shall we say, minimalist.  Over the next few weeks I shall choose the little ornaments and reminders of joy which will be on show this year, but on 6th January there is very little on display, just a few flowers, and one or two Christmas presents.  My sitting room is as bare as ever it will be.  It is calm, but not impersonal, and each visible surface is clear.

I have always enjoyed having stuff which I have been given.  There in the corner is a chest of drawers which belonged to my great grandmother and on it stands a large lamp from an aunt. In another corner is a Pembroke table which was my grandmother's and the oak bureau which I got for Christmas when I was seven is close by.  Most of my easy chairs and the sofa were my mother's, except for the Victorian chair which belonged to a great aunt.  The only item of furniture in this room which I bought new is the very cheap TV table on which this laptop stands.  

And yet in my home there is harmony and that engenders harmony in me.  Truly my home is a source of deep joy.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Gold

I forgot to include this lovely set in my pre Christmas posts.
When I was a little girl the Christmas decorations went up during the week before Christmas and stayed up until twelfth night.  These days I rely on Jack to help me in putting the decorations up so they were a bit early (17th December) but that was later than most people decorate their houses.
Wise men and a camel

Most people took their decorations down sometime around 1st January but in this house they stay until twelfth night, 5th January.  Just one nativity set remains, but the shepherds have been replaced by the wise men.
Sheep and shepherds back in the fields
Today I have been enjoying another post Christmas joy, the joy of an all-too-rare meeting with someone of whom I said "I haven't seen her in ages" when I wrote her Christmas card.  We met up and had a lovely leisurely light lunch.


When I was in the Girl Guides, many years ago, I learnt a song

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.

The wise men brought gold: today I have enjoyed the gold of old friendship.




+

Monday, 4 January 2016

Joy cometh in the morning - and the evening

There are some joys which it is all to easy to take for granted, the things which give pleasure but they are just so everyday.  Things which we would miss if they were not there, but we hardly notice that they are there.

One of those small joys is my lovely bed-linen.  Years ago I had a little money to spare and I treated myself to two sets of pure cotton duvet and pillow cases.  I can't remember how much I paid but I remember gulping a bit when I handed over the money.  

And fifteen years on they continue to give me great pleasure.  They are pure white and pure cotton with a single line of broderie anglais as a trim.  They have been boiled and washed, dried outside or in the tumble drier and every time I wash them I iron them, a job which takes quite a while!  And then I make up my bed, always with a smile on my face.

For those sheets and duvet covers are pure joy.  They feel so wonderful.  Today I have put a fresh set on my bed.  My bottom sheets (again white cotton) wear out but the duvet covers look as good as new.  It is worth the labour of ironing, worth whatever it was that I paid for them.  They start and end every day and give me great joy.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Pollyanna rides again!


Did you know that the word "pansy" is derived from the French "pensee" which means a thought?  That little vase of pansies and violas has been making me think these last few days.  I've been really lazy and I've been sitting just knitting and watching the world go by but I have been aware of being so happy.


It was not always thus for me.  For a large proportion of my adult life I have suffered from depression and indeed it was depression which caused me to have to retire early.  I have known intense misery which could only be relieved by medication and then healed by time and counselling.  I have huge sympathy for those who are truly depressed for I know it is a lonely place and no-one can truly understand someone else's depression.  I have known what it is to lack the motivation to do anything and the self loathing which accompanies that inertia.  I know that I will always be at risk of that dreadful paralysis and I do not want to go there again.

I know that many people would find my life intensely lonely for I live alone and have no close family.  In any week I will always have at least two days (and sometimes as many as five) when I speak to no-one.  I am disabled and often in pain and discomfort.

For the last few years however I have increasingly known joy.  What is more important though is that I have sought joy and I have found it.  There will always be a few days when it eludes me.  January and February are danger months for me and I am determined to face that danger head on.  I have just checked and there are eighty seven days to Easter so I have decided that I will find each day one source of joy, happiness or pleasure and report it to you

Friday, 1 January 2016

Greedy

I've always been greedy.  When I was a child I was greedy for knowledge.  As a young woman I was greedy for adventures and experience.  Throughout my life I have been a good trencher-woman.  

But now my greed is for joy.  

Today I have been out into my garden and satisfied my greed.

A small vase of pansies and violets.  Pure joy!