Off Tomorrow

All being well, i.e. weather and airline schedules permitting, I shall be off tomorrow for another jaunt.

I am keeping my fingers crossed for no more thunderstorms, floods, pestilence or plague.

My not-so-smart-phone may, or may not, allow me to upload details of our progress and to follow some of you here in Blogland, so I hope to be touch over the next week if I can.

Keep safe everyone.

Food Miles

Today's crop fresh from the garden,  picked about half an hour ago.

These will accompany some locally produced sausages from a farm a few miles away.

Not too many food miles for tonight's feast.


This was the scene yesterday.  It persisted down all day long, turning the garden into a mud puddle.

It seems we were luckier than some across the water who experienced flooding and travel disruptions due to the weather conditions.

After a dull start this morning it is now bright and sunny again with blue skies and a few fluffy white clouds dotted about.

We drove into town earlier to do some shopping; gifts for the friends we shall be visiting when we go to Tasmania later this year. It was challenging trying to find things small and light that would fit into our luggage but that are still useful and not "tat".

A pleasant stroll around town and coffee in Costa (I like their coffee and they do a cortado for P,  which is not available in many coffee shops).

I also bought a couple of summer tops in the sales for my trip this week, so back to reorgansing the packing.

Get Packing

As I mentioned in a previous post, I can be a little obsessive/compulsive when it comes to certain situations.

One of these is travelling, which I seem to be doing a lot since retiring.

Although we do not leave for our trip until Thursday, I have been preparing for the past 2 weeks. Ever since booking it actually.

The futon in our spare bedroom is strewn with items that I think I may want to take. Some things get removed from the pile and others replace them as I think endlessly about the potential weather conditions, where we shall be walking, do I need to cover up against mosquitos etc etc etc.

Shoes, sandals, trainers, sun hat are added to the pile then swapped around.

As I don't like dragging a large or heavy suitcase around, everything has to fit into a small case or rucksack so the options are limited.

This trip will be a girlie trip so we shall be dressing up a little in the evenings. Something I don't have the opportunity to do when travelling with P.  

I expect I shall be doing several dry-runs over the next few days, packing and repacking to make sure everything fits into the bag!

A Good Idea?

On one of the hottest days of the year.

I know, I'll dig out that patch of ground in the garden and lay those 8 bags of bark chippings I bought this week.

How to lose most of your body weight in sweat.

Near Miss

Well, three to be exact and all on the way home from my hospice stint this afternoon.

My route takes me along a narrow back road with lots of bends.  The first near miss was a huge dairy tanker bowling along quite fast and meandering across the white line straight towards me.  Luckily I was not driving too fast and managed to swerve in towards the grass bank, but my heart was beating quite fast afterwards.  He was pretty big.

A matter of a minute or so later, a dark blue panel van rounded the bend too fast across the central line and barely missed me.

By this time I was beginning to think that my car was invisible.

Once onto the "main" road I was approaching a line of traffic cones on my left but with room enough for two way traffic. Half way along the line a large digger came towards me carrying a very wide metal object in front which hung over the sides quite a way. I did squeeze over as far as I could alongside the cones but it narrowly missed the side of my car.

I am tempted to give up driving after today.

After The Storm

Well, last night was pretty wild.  The wind was whipping the trees into a frenzy and the rain was lashing against the windows. We couldn't see down to the end of the garden.

This morning is certainly sunnier and warmer but still quite breezy, with a muggy feel to the air.

P swept up most of the debris from the storm and we checked to see which plants were damaged.  Our old pear tree is leaning alarmingly so it has now been propped up with a stake. We shall see how it survives.

We harvested some sugar snap peas from the battered plant and dug up some potatoes. 

Meanwhile, here are a few of the pretty things still hanging on.

Lazy Sunday

We had a late night last night as friends came to supper and we sat around the table talking until almost midnight.

I had planned on joining the usual Sunday morning walk but found out that there is a big cycling event on today and a few of the roads will be closed as a result.

As I am feeling pretty tired I have decided to just stay at home.

Last night's menu was another quick and easy one.

Starter was crab and avocado sundae with sourdough crackers (thanks to Mary in Guernsey for the recipe);  main course was moroccan style pork with spicy couscous, quinoa and bean salad and smoked paprika potatoes; dessert was a summer fruit cobbler (I cheated and used Waitrose cherry scones for the topping) with honey cream.  There was also cheese afterwards.

No wonder I am feeling lazy after eating all that.

Nothing to Report

Today has been another of those where nothing much happened.

It has been raining on and off all day so I couldn't get out, plus I felt quite drained after a couple of days of frantic researching and planning for our girls' trip away.  Just going to and fro trying to get everyone to agree on dates, destination and then making all the bookings wore me out.

P kindly elected to give the house a thorough going over with the hoover as we have friends coming for supper tomorrow evening, plus he popped out to the shops for some last minute ingredients.  He's not too bad really!

This week the Manx Wildlife Trust has been asking the public to report any sightings of butterflies as they have been quite scarce recently. P has seen a few over the last day or so, which is hopefully positive news.  The honey bees don't seem to have been quite as visible as they usually are this time of year either. I hope that is not a bad sign.

So, my apologies for a rather boring post but thank you for dropping by anyway.

Next Trip coming Up

A pretty busy day today. 

Volunteering at Hospice and then arrived home to find messages from our group of girls confirming what they want to do - totally different to the three trips originally proposed!

So, another few hours online getting together details for the trip and then confirming they are happy with it and then booking it.  I am not sure I am really cut out to be a travel agent - too exhausting.

So, in two weeks time we shall be off to Naples, the Amalfi Coast and visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum.

I think I may need a sun hat.

A New Career?

Sunday morning walk with the girls...

 "I fancy another girl's holiday away somewhere"

"Me too, but I can only go the first week in August"

"OK, well that's OK with me"

Me:   "And me."

"I fancy Verona or the Italian Lakes"

"Sounds good"

"But I can only fly from Manchester and only on one of these 2 dates"

"Right.  OK then"

"I would like a week, with a little apartment to share"

"I would prefer 4 or 5 days or I'll get bored"

"What about Spain or Austria?"

"OK. We'll ask the travel agent who did our Rome trip to put something togther. He can get an itinerary for us on Monday"

Tuesday morning:

"Still nothing. Time is getting on. JayCee can sort something for us as she is good at planning trips"

Me:  "Oh right. I'll see what I can do"

5 hours of researching and planning later and three prospective trips sent to the girls for approval.

Now have to wait and see if anyone still wants to go!


Rummaging through the larder this evening I found a little glass bottle of Lea & Perrins Sprinkle n Spice which I had forgotten we had.

Looking at the Use By Date I see it was some time in 1998.

They apparently no longer make this now.

Needless to say, the bottle is now in the glass recycling bin, devoid of contents (unused).

Sunday Morning's Walk

I joined the girls again this morning for another Sunday morning walk.  It was overcast but warm and muggy.

We met up at the car park at the local fishing lakes and walked along the lane and across onto the headlands, with good views of the castle and a yacht race that was taking place.

Once in Peel, we walked along the promenade, crossed the swing bridge and then along the breakwater, watching the fishermen trying their luck from the harbour wall.

We walked back past the lifeboat station and along the quayside to follow the river path inland as far as The Raggatt, where we struggled up the bank onto the road bridge above.

From here it was a good walk back along the road into Peel and back along the coast to the fishing lakes, where the cafe/restaurant had just opened - time for tea and a flapjack after our 2 hour walk.

I am exhausted.

'Tis Surely A Wondrous Thing

To hear a blackbird's melodiously fruity song

To see a summer garden in gloriously full bloom

To smell a fresh-baked loaf of bread, still warm from the oven

To taste the first ripe strawberry of the season, just picked from the garden

To feel the luxury of crisp, clean sheets as you slide into bed

'Tis surely a wondrous thing...
To awake each morning and know the joy of being alive

Just saying how I feel today.

Leave it out

It is possible that I may suffer just a little from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as suggested by P.

I like to keep the place relatively neat and tidy but it is most certainly not pristine.  Our house tends more to the shabby rather than chic.

However, I don't like lots of "stuff" lying around everywhere and prefer to put things away when I have finished with them.

P is currently suffering from a leg muscle injury and has to use heat and ice treatment a couple of times each day. This involves using a hot water bottle followed by an ice pack.  When he has finished with the hot water bottle, he leaves it on the kitchen worktop. I put it away and he shouts that he will need it again in a few hours so just leave it where it is.  Just the sight of it there makes me feel twitchy all day!

It's the same with any medication. I usually take mine then put the pack back in the cabinet until the next dose is due. P likes to leave the pack on the kitchen or bathroom windowsill - to remind him to take the next dose.  I always itch to put the pack away but know that will cause more debate on my OCD.

This little cartoon sums me up quite well....

Fig and Hazelnut Bread

Yesterday,  Wednesday,  I was doing my usual stint at Hospice.  My colleague mentioned that there was a basket of goodies in the staff dining room, kindly donated by the local Co-Op store.

The Hospice regularly receives such donations from M&S and other stores for the staff to help themselves. It is usually foodstuffs that are at their sell-by date and would normally be wasted.

Yesterday's delivery was a plastic crate full of yummy artisan breads.  I chose a fig and hazelnut loaf and we had a couple of slices toasted this morning for breakfast. It was indeed very yummy.  The rest of the loaf has been cut up into smaller portions and frozen.

Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

I have been thinking a lot about dreams lately.  It is a subject that has always intrigued me as I have regularly experienced vivid and sometimes disturbing dreams throughout my life.  Talking to others it seems that there is quite a wide variety of "dream" experiences out there.

What I have always wanted to understand is why do we dream and how are the dreams conjured up in our minds.

Reading through various theories on the subject, it is suggested that, in sleep,  our brains replay fragments of our day and weave them into some sort of story. Alternatively, it is suggested that it is our brain's way of expressing the subconscious thoughts and problems that are suppressed by our conscious minds when awake.

Given the nature of most of my dreams, it seems the latter theory is more likely in my case.  I do tend to keep my "real" thoughts suppressed, in order to maintain peace and harmony in my life. (My childhood was often fraught with rows and bad tempers).  It is therefore possible that all these hidden anxieties and issues flourish in my pressure cooker brain at night.

Perhaps I should scream and shout more when awake?

The Island Games 2019

The 2019 NatWest International Island Games are currently underway over in Gibraltar.  The first Island Games were in 1985, bringing athletes together from different islands to compete and create links internationally. The Isle of Man has a team taking part, as usual, and there is daily coverage of events in our local media. 

The Games are hosted by a different island each time. I think everyone wanted to go to the Bermuda games!

An interesting summary of the background to the games can be found on their website, an extract is reproduced here...

In the beginning of the 1980s the idea of organizing ”The Year of Sports” was born on the Isle of Man, with the highlight of the year being the Island Games.  Islands with similar history, heritage and geography were invited and in the summer of 1985 the first ever games were held. 700 participants from 15 islands participated in something that became an amazing success. The games were originally meant to be held once, but it was decided that the experience had been so good that they all wanted to do it again, this time in Guernsey in 1987, and the rest is, as they say, history.
The NatWest International Island Games has gone from 700 participants, 15 islands and seven sports to 2500 participants, 24 islands and 14 sports. Now it is Gibraltar’s turn to host, for the second time. But since 1987 in Guernsey the hosts has been as follows; Faroe Islands, Aland Islands, Isle of Wight, Gibraltar, Jersey, Gotland, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Shetland, Rhodes, Aland Islands, Isle of Wight, Bermuda, Jersey and Gotland.   Every other year the games are held and the host island gets to choose from 18 different sports. You can put on between 12 and 14 different sports. To get to compete in the games you must either be born to a member island or have lived on one at least 12 months prior to the Games.

The following islands are members of the International Island Games Association: Alderney, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Froya, Gibraltar, Gotland, Guernsey, Greenland, Hitra, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Jersey, Menorca, Orkney, Rhodes, Saaremaa, St. Helena, Sark, Shetland, Western Isle, Ynys Mon and Ă…land.
So far, on Day 1, the Isle of Man is in 3rd place with 4 Gold, 2 Silver and 7 Bronze - behind Jersey and Guernsey.  

It looked to be quite warm over there for the 10K race.

A Sunny Sunday

A beautiful day, although I woke up with a sore head after polishing off most of a bottle of prosecco on Saturday night.

Whilst having my toast and coffee for breakfast, a friend rang and asked if I wanted to join their Sunday morning walk so I quickly dressed and joined them in the St John's village car park. There were 5 of us, ladies of a certain age, and we enjoyed a leisurely hike around the lanes behind Tynwald Hill, then up to the lookout at the top of the Arboretum and back down,  popping into *Harrods*, the local amenity site, to see if there was anything interesting to repurpose.  After an hour or so the walk finished at the end of the Heritage Trail in the tea room, where we shared a pot of tea and carrot cake. We always buy one (large) slice and cut it up to share so we each get a small taster.

I didn't take my camera with me but the views were lovely.

Back home, it was a sandwich and fruit for lunch and a quick tour around the garden to see what is in bloom.  Everything looks  better in the sunshine...

Saturday Supper

This week we bought a pack of 3 chicken fillets as part of a 3 for £10 deal in the supermarket, along with a pack of pork loin and something else which I can't remember now!

Saturday evening I decided to cook it as a sort of curry-cum-risotto, which I made up as I went along, as usual.

In the pan I put about a tablespoon of olive oil, added chilli flakes, garlic, black pepper, turmeric, garam masala and cumin and gently heated. I added sliced peppers, chopped celery and courgette and the diced chicken fillets until coated and slightly browned. I then added some toasted mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia and flax), some sliced mushrooms and rice, with enough hot water to cover.  At the end I added some of the spiced quinoa & bean mix that I bought from the supermarket - frozen and reheated for 2 minutes in the microwave.

This was then covered and simmered for a little while, until everything was cooked through.

There is enough left over to make another meal, so quite good value.

It was quite good.  P has decided to call it my jaundiced chicken, due to the colour imparted from the turmeric.

Clearing Out

For some time now P has been in a serious decluttering mood.  I am not sure what brought this on but it does seem to have started about the time his best friend died at the very tender age of 63 from pancreatic cancer.  Perhaps he feels he needs to get his life in order, just in case?

Over the past few years he has been sorting through items he considers superfluous and advertising them for sale on various local websites.  At first this was all his old garden tools and other "man-stuff" that he no longer needed and then his dad's old commando memorabilia, but he has now turned his attention to the house.

I used to have some interesting old items collected over the years - stuff I found quirky and liked to put out on display.  For example there was an old porcelain slipper bedpan used as a plant pot; a vintage pitchfork that was propped against my kitchen wall next to a spanish wicker bread basket and various other odds and ends.  After a while I realised that these were all slowly disappearing as he steadily advertised them for sale and sold them all off. 

When I protest, he just says that as we don't actually use them they may as well bring in a few pounds.

As long as I am not the next thing to appear on the Buy and Sell website!

Tynwald Day

Friday is Tynwald Day, the Manx National Day which falls on 5th July each year.  Tynwald being derived from the Old Norse word for meeting place in the field.

The High Court of Tynwald is the legislative body of the Isle of Man and is the longest-running, continuous parliamentary body in the world.  It seems that Iceland would have qualified except for a break during WW2.

Tynwald meets annually in an open air ceremony at Tynwald Hill in St Johns, just up the road from here.  The Lieutenant Governor presides and the laws are promulgated by the Deemster (judge). If an Act of Tynwald is not promulgated at St Johns within 18 months of passage it becomes null and void.

These days islanders and visitors gather at the fairfield at Tynwald Hill amidst the fair tents and flags to meet up with each other, watch the spectacle of the open air ceremony,  hear the laws proclaimed and to petition, protest and air grievances, albeit in a controlled process.

The event is full of food, drink, various stalls and entertainment and is usually a fun day out.

I shall miss it this year as I am volunteering in the gift shop but I am sure a good time will be had by all.

All dressed Up and Nowhere To Go

Wednesday is usually my day for volunteering at the local Hospice.

I help out in the office with spreadsheets and databases etc, to keep my brain ticking over and to save the permanent staff some time to concentrate on more important tasks.

I look forward to having a reason to put on some makeup and wear a smart dress instead of slopping around the house barefaced and in comfy clothes.

This week, I had just finished carefully applying sufficient polyfilla and paint to make me feel more confident when the 'phone rang. It was my *boss* from the Hospice telling me that they didn't need me this week.  All that artistic work for nothing!


Pheasant Legs

Some time ago a good friend had been on a pheasant shoot and brought us a bird for the freezer.

At the time, I cooked it and we had the breast which was fine.  It was the first time we had both tried pheasant and the first time I had cooked it so I was a little apprehensive.

The legs were left over so I popped them into the freezer for later.

As we had to defrost our freezer this week I thought I had better use up the legs as they had been there a while.

I put them into a casserole dish, wrapped in bacon, with a little homemade gravy and gently reheated them in the oven. I served them with herb crusted roasted new potatoes and steamed carrot and courgette chunks.

Not too bad, but the legs were a little sinewy and I am not sure I will try them again.

This is a Google photo - NOT our friend!

Wasp nest

This year seems to have been the year for wasps here in our garden.

So far, P has found about half a dozen nests in various places including the bird nest boxes and around the house itself.

Yesterday evening he discovered a huge nest under the eaves, just outside our bedroom window.  Using a very long piece of tree branch that had been brought down by the last storm, he managed to dislodge part of it which fell down onto the patio slabs.

It broke apart and the larvae fell out and were scattered around so he left them for the birds to find as he thought it would be ideal food for the babies.

As he sat outside in the evening sun, he noticed that a colony of ants had discovered the larvae and were dragging them all off to their nest somewhere.

I am certainly not a fan of wasps or of ants but it is interesting to see the way that nature works when humans interfere.

Defrosting time

We can't put it off any longer. The freezer door won't shut properly so it's time to defrost the darn thing.

I hate this job. Finding a place in the small freezer section of our 'fridge to put the fish and meat; wrapping up the veg, bread and other stuff in newspaper and freezer blocks and stuffing it all into a cool bag to squeeze into the fridge along with everything else.  Then the impatient wait for all that ice to melt, helped along by bowls of hot water. Newspaper and towels in the floor to soak up the melt water.

I have heard that you can buy self defrosting freezers these days. Perhaps when our ancient model finally gives up the ghost we may invest in one.

Until then, we just have to put up with this messy job once a year.