Thursday, 22 August 2013


We’re on holiday in Dorset visiting our usual haunts and delighting in the absence of TV, internet, landline and dodgy mobile signal: life is slowing down. But we have popped home for a couple of nights to collect Youngest’s GCSE results. She may not be her sister but we are all delighted with a total (including two taken last year) of 6 As and 5 Bs - even if the As were in the subjects she’s not planning to take to A level! As she remarked, “I got what I deserved, and what I needed to do the subjects I want to do, and I can have higher level qualification in those subjects, but I need the As in the ones I’m not taking forward.”

Not perfect, but perfectly grounded!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Confessions of an errant housewife

I’m in a spot of bother…
When we moved to our corner of Wiltshire we always seemed to be away for the village show and failed to appreciate what an important part of the social calendar it is. However there came a year when we were able to attend. We were amazed at the size, intricacy, variation and popularity of the things to see, but the bit that got me going was the exhibits in the marquee.
The range and beauty of the Horticultural entries was astonishing. The talent of the competitors in the Industrial section was terrific. Wandering around admiring the items on display and chatting to other viewers it became clear that the competition is fierce, and the rivalry in some areas apparently famous. I was hooked: next year I’d join in! Each year I encourage my family to join me.
Each year they decide they’ve nothing suitable or good enough. In vain do I state that it’s the taking part – no I don’t really believe that either. I am quite certain I’m not the only person who thinks at some point “How did that win?” or “I could do better than that”. We are competitive by nature!
Anyway, my point was that this year Husband too would enter some of his veg. There was talk of potatoes, runner beans, onions, courgettes and tomatoes. As we got nearer to the day of entering there were doubts about the tomatoes as there was little chance of ripening before Saturday, but the rest were duly written on the entry form.
As I baked brownies the morning before the Big Day there was some muttering about how to display onions and what they were supposed to look like. I suggested the internet, fountain of all knowledge, with the view that there was bound to be some film footage of how to wrap string around stems. Later the onions were beautifully strung and there were a pair of courgettes that would be suitable. The potatoes were apparently underweight and a bit marked, not perfect white, and whether they would be entered was touch and go, but the nub of my story is those beans.
Produce from the allotment comes home in old supermarket bags, ice-cream cartons and trugs and is generally left as an offering on the kitchen table. Midweek, with a little time to spare and a glut of runners, I set to stringing and blanching for the freezer, and this, Loyal Reader, is where I came undone. The beans had been sorted, some were for eating, but some were for consideration in finding the best, straightest, uniform set for entry in the Show. They are all now frozen.

Next year we will have an advance plan of organisation – the internet advice went further than advising on display… it said we should be growing things specially: nurturing and protecting the special produce. Clearly we haven’t yet taken the whole thing seriously enough.

Footnote: I am much relieved to report that those onions won first prize!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


Things I have thought I should write about while I was away:

The second workshop

The logistics of dealing with ‘independent’ children

How glad I am I’m not a princess – giving birth is hard enough without the world watching

Where to visit on a trip to the Chinon area

How to walk a dog in Hampstead

Supporting your children’s productions

Birthday celebrations

The Ashes

I may come back to some of them, but I can knock off a couple now. The second workshop was much like the first, with three people coming again and two new customers. All seven said they would come again but none want to commit to weekly classes. Need to think about that!

Eldest came home just in time for our trip to France, even managing to wash some clothes needed for the holiday and/or the Edinburgh Fringe. We travelled via the Channel Tunnel staying in Le Mans en route to a little village near Chinon (above). We stayed on a property with three self catering cottages and a shared pool. We would recommend: 

a potter around Tours
Bastille night in Chinon

the gardens of Villandry
Wherever you of course, it is vital that you take Test Match Special with you at all times – we wouldn’t let Husband listen to any of the CDs we’d brought along for our holiday as we needed to know the score…