There is nothing better, on a cool and cloudy, wet and windy evening in August, than a fruit salad.
What would you prefer –
We have had a very pleasant and quiet Christmas so far. Christmas Day itself began at Midnight Mass held this year in St. Mary’s church in Flixton. The Rector handed us all a slice of Christmas cake as we left and when we got home we had some hot mulled wine and a mince pie before going to bed. I was a little late in going to bed as I still had a few presents to wrap which I did after quickly washing the kitchen floor. Yes, I know what you are thinking, but it needed doing and that was the only chance I had to do it!
In the morning we gathered together in the living room where the presents had been put under the Christmas tree and drank a cup of tea while we exchanged our gifts. In recent years our breakfast has been Italian pannetone which is luxurious but light.
For lunch this year instead of turkey we had rib of beef and it was gorgeous! I had a lot of help from Alice who peeled and chopped all the vegetables for me and she also made a lovely lemon sorbet for a starter. We had roast and mashed potatoes, mashed swede, roast parsnips with honey, carrots and brussels sprouts. I had another attempt at making Yorkshire puddings and my usual failure. Why I can’t make them I don’t know but this time they at least were light and in one piece but they were flat like pancakes! I made some gravy which was rich and good and also some stuffing. Why stuffing when we had no bird to stuff? Because Elinor my youngest daughter loves it and it wouldn’t be Christmas for her without sage and onion stuffing.
Richard went to collect my mother who always joins us for Christmas lunch and she brought with her the Christmas Pudding. She has always made her own puddings and they are very good indeed. She makes them in October and they are left to mature until Christmas when they are steamed for two hours. She brings our pudding hot from the steamer and well wrapped and insulated. I make thick custard to go with it and provide cream as well.
The afternoon is spent quietly together, talking and drinking tea, coffee, wine or spirits and sleeping. Richard spent quite a lot of time washing up and loading and re-loading the dish-washer – a seemingly thankless task but a necessary one and I am very grateful to him for doing it.
Mum had invited us to her house for a buffet evening meal the next day, Boxing Day, so Richard and I decided that it might be a good idea if we went for a walk during the afternoon. Neither of the girls wanted to come with us.
We set off for Mum’s house just before 6.00 pm and it was just starting to rain as we got there. She had provided a sumptuous spread for us and had worked very hard. A gammon with orange, chicken pieces coated with sesame seeds, mixed roast vegetables, sausage rolls and a selection of crisps and savoury biscuits. She had also made an apfel strudel and a yule log with chocolate and chestnut filling. The rain was pouring down when we left and continued all night and into the following morning. Many of the roads and fields were flooded but we didn’t have the snow that fell just to the north of us.
Ash Wednesday, Billingford, birds, burdock, church, embroidery, fish, Flixton, food, frogs, Goldbrook Bridge, goldcrest, gorse, Hoxne, ladybirds, Lent, lichen, moss, Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, orange tea bread, pancakes, Porgy & Bess, pulpit, rood screen, RSPB Minsmere, Rumburgh, Shrove Tuesday, St Edmund, St Felix & St Michaels church, St Mary's, tapestry, trees, windmill
This has been such a busy week that I have only had time for two posts.
R had Monday and Tuesday off work and it was so nice to be able to spend more time with him. I always have lots of boring chores to do on Mondays so I rushed through most of them and was ready to go out with R at lunchtime. We decided to go to the RSPB reserve at Minsmere which is about nine miles away. The day was fine and not too cold. We had lunch in the café at the reserve and then walked round the woodland walk. The walk out past the Scrape to the sea seemed a little cold and windswept and we thought that as some damage had been done during the tidal surge in December we would be better off avoiding that walk. It was very pleasant to be visiting during the week instead of at the weekend. It was peaceful and quiet. We didn’t see many birds as we decided not to go into any of the hides and it wasn’t quite warm enough to stand still for long. We did sit on a seat in the sun for a while and watched a goldcrest in the branches above our heads. I tried to take a photo but it flew away and I only got a picture of the lichen-covered branch it had been sitting on.
We saw lots of gorse bushes in flower and tried to smell the flowers (to find out if they do smell of honey) without spiking our noses.
We noticed many fallen trees from all the storms we have had this winter.
I love this picture! Whoooooooooo!!!
A moss tuffet.
Tuesday began with mist and frost but both soon disappeared and the sun came out. R took E to Norwich and they spent the morning there shopping and then had lunch. I had to take Mum to the eye clinic at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital again in the afternoon. She had both eyes assessed and all seemed to be going along well. Afternoons at the hospital are very busy and the carparks are always full. A new carpark, only opened at the end of last year, was nearly full when we arrived and completely full when we left so I think they will have to find some more carparking space before long. It is quite a new building but the architects didn’t make it big enough. It was apparent within a very short space of time after completion that they would have to add to the hospital and they have been adding to it ever since. It is on the outskirts of the city and there is still a little land that can be used for building but not much more, I think. They also assumed that most people would be arriving by bus from the city centre or using the park and ride service. They were wrong there as well!
Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. When I got home I mixed the pancake mixture and then made us a light evening meal of fish and mixed vegetables. R made the pancakes for us; he is extremely good at making them and we enjoyed them very much. R and I had two each and E had four!
Wednesday morning was bright and frosty and poor R had to go back to work. Wednesday is my day for taking Mum shopping in Diss and we managed this quite quickly for a change. The supermarket didn’t seem as full as usual and we were soon on our way back to her house. A beautiful day – everything seemed shiny; mainly blue and green. The first day for months that I have gone out without a coat. After a chat and a cup of coffee I drove to Halesworth to do my shopping and to visit the library. I also drove up to the doctor’s surgery to collect my prescription and then called in at Rumburgh church to change the colours from green to purple as it was now Lent; Ash Wednesday.
The church of St Felix and St Michael, Rumburgh.
Rumburgh began as a Priory founded in 1064 which was later that century given to the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary at York. In 1086 there were twelve monks under a Prior at Rumburgh. It was never a rich priory, as you can see from the variety of materials the church was built out of. It was suppressed in the reign of Henry VIII on 12 September 1528. The church building here is all that is left of the original small priory.
In our benefice we are so fortunate as to have some very talented needlewomen. Below is an altar frontal made a couple of years ago. As you can see we have to drape everything in plastic sheets when the church isn’t being used to stop water (condensation and water penetration) and bat urine and droppings from ruining everything.
Our Jacobean pulpit with another example of our church’s embroidery
The Millenium Tapestry which hangs near the south door. All the kneelers in the church have been covered with lovely tapestries too, depicting the houses, buildings, plants, animals, organisations, families etc. associated with Rumburgh.
The nave and chancel with the lovely Rood screen between.
There was an Ash Wednesday ashing service at Rumburgh that evening but I couldn’t go as I had promised to take Mum to the service at her church at Eye. Mum’s church’s service had a communion as well so I didn’t get home until just before 10.00pm.
A much quieter day on Thursday also quite cloudy. I took E to the surgery at 9.00am for an appointment and then went home for the rest of the day. Did a little gardening and some ironing as well as other household chores. All the ladybirds in our bedroom have woken up now and only two were left wandering about on Thursday. Another quiet day on Friday spent catching up with the housework.
I made Orange Tea Bread on Saturday as we had all been asked to provide some food for a Bring and Share lunch party after church on Sunday. This is to say thank-you and good luck to Caroline our former Reader. It is quite amusing that the first thing we do as a church on the first Sunday in Lent is to have a party with lots of lovely food! R took this photo.
R and I have bought a new really good camera that we can share. We decided to go out on Saturday to try it out and so drove to Billingford, Norfolk just on the other side of the Waveney River to look at the windmill there. Some of the following photos were taken by R and some by me on my smaller camera and one by me on the new camera!
R took a lovely picture of a burdock seedhead.
We then drove to Hoxne in Suffolk to look at the village. Traditionally this was the place where Edmund, Martyr-King was captured, tortured and killed by the Vikings. Nowadays, historians think this was more likely to have taken place at Bradfield St Clare just south of Bury St Edmunds.
This is the inscription on Goldbrook Bridge, under which St Edmund was supposed to have been captured.
The Old Butchery. The window has a lovely etched glass picture of a bull.
We shopped in Harleston on the way home and had an Indian takeaway meal that evening.
Sunday morning service was at St Mary’s church at Flixton. The weather was glorious – already 14 degrees celsius on the way to church and the sun shining brightly. The service was quite well attended and the lunch afterwards was very nice with such a lot of lovely food provided. We had all clubbed together and bought Caroline an i-Pod with case, a bench for her garden, a bottle of champagne and a couple of other bottles of drink for her husband.
When R and I got home we decided to work in the garden all afternoon. We dragged some branches and other bits of plants out of the big pond. I heard frogs croaking for the first time this year and the fish had woken up and were leaping out of the water. This made me think of Porgy and Bess with the fish jumping – we don’t have cotton but R said the grass needed cutting so he tried to get the petrol push mower to start but couldn’t. Fortunately, we have a sit-on mower which he was able to start, so our grass got it’s first trim of the season.
For our evening meal I cooked a tasty low-fat meal of lemon and honey chicken with rice and green and yellow beans.
Frank Pleszak's Blogs
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Author of "A Past Worth Telling"
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'Unearthly minstrelsy! then only heard when the soul seeks to hear; when all is hush'd, and the heart listens!'