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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hopes, dreams and sheer delight

Back at the beginning of the month I wrote about the joy of a whole new month ahead of me, a month of hopes and possibilities, a working towards who I want to be.  IT's now the end of the month and I've been reflecting on how I've spent those thirty days.  

I certainly haven't been idle.   My other blog chronicles many of my efforts at over-coming The Mess but I have had many things in which to delight.  I met up with an old friend of thirty years ago and we laughed our way through a very leisurely lunch. I've made cards and done some sewing.  I've been to the theatre and had days out at Normanby and Lincoln Castle.  I had the fun of winning a giveaway and I developed hook cuisine.

But most of all I have seen my garden take on its summer shape, thanks to Jack's labours.

So what treasures does July have in store for me?

If the heat today is kept up I shall be in a perspiring heap but maybe July will bring the glories of my garden to perfection, some sewing may get done and I shall listen to a few books.  I have no doubt that there will be much to delight in.  

Saturday, 27 June 2015


I do like Caistor.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I do like Caistor.  It's a small town with a real sense of community.

Next weekend is the street party and the 10k run, but this weekend is the scarecrow trail and open gardens.

I can't remember when scarecrow festivals first became popular in these parts but it can't be more than about ten years ago and they can be great fun.  Here are just two of this year's offerings.

I'm wondering if they will reappear next weekend for the street party's theme is "Caistor goes Mediaeval".

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Further into the parcel

A few weeks ago I was the lucky winner of a Minnesota themed surprise parcel and it has been great fun.  I’ve been snacking my way through part of it but some has had very special attention.  Jack’s attention, no less!
Jack the Lad

Now, to understand this you have to understand that I am “generously proportioned” and any woman reading this will know what that means.  And so that lovely tee shirt “Wild Minnesota” could be the means of Jack sharing in the fun of the parcel.  I hope Sam approves!
Another gift in the parcel was Spam.  Now I have to admit that I have memories of Spam, or more specifically Spam fritters for school dinner.  It was not my favourite meal so my eyes have always been carefully averted from that particular supermarket shelf. 

First I checked on Wikipaedia and found that it was definitely a Minnesota “thing”.  However, a check on a couple of supermarket website soon revealed that the Spam usually eaten in the UK is from Denmark.

Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I decided to look at Spam in the tin.  And more than that, I decided to eat it.
Spam and tomato sandwich with soup served British style

It happened that after Jack’s visit I was shattered and needed something very quick so a Spam sandwich seemed just the thing. Spam and tomato to be precise. 

And I really enjoyed it!  I don’t think it will be a frequent addition to my repertoire but an addition it will be.  I’ve wrapped the rest of the contents of the tin and frozen them so it will reappear soon.

Thanks, Sam, for the Spam.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

I'm back!

Well, you all know what I was doing yesterday - typing that very long post by Jack!  I knew you'd all find him wonderful.  Modest little violet, isn't he?  I have to say that my recollections of some incidents aren't QUITE the same as his!  

Anyway, my garden looks a lot better for his ministrations.  He also gathered elderflowers so I shall be making cordial tomorrow.  I'm also going to try freezing a few flowers so I will be able to give winter guests a flavour of summer.
Porc au hook

Bless you!
Yesterday's lunch was porc au hook served with a jacket potato, steamed vegetables and swede and carrot mash.

And Jack wanted to leave you with a blessing (for which he borrowed my gear!).  

Friday, 19 June 2015

A guest post by Jack

To all the people who follow this blog you already know my name - Jack.  I’m a 72 year old man and am still married to the same girl for the last 47 years.  We have two kids, one of each, who in turn have given me two granddaughters and one grandson but today this post is about someone else.

I first met this person when I swept her chimney approx. 14-15 years ago.  Whist having a cuppa I mentioned about the size of the garden and what a job it must be to keep it tidy.  Without hesitation she said, “Well, why don’t you come and help me then?”  Since then that’s what I’ve been doing for the past fifteen years.

One of my first jobs, apart from keeping the lawns in good nick, she had a tumbled down dry stone wall at one side of the large vicarage.  When I finished rebuilding we both thought it looked a hundred times better. Also on that side of the house there was a pile of logs open to the rain etc so I built a cover around it to keep the logs dry because I was the one who split them, filled the baskets, filled the coal scuttles so she would have enough to last a week. 

One day in her wisdom she asked me to make her back garden dog proof. I acquired two gates which she never asked where I got stuff from. I told her it came off the back of a lorry and no more was said.  The veg garden at the back was big and every time I put something in Fido the dog would dig it out, so a fence was put around this as well. We had everything in that garden – rhubarb, gooseberries, blackcurrants, runner beans, dwarf beans, leeks, onions, spuds, brassica, radishes, marrows – you name it, we had it.  One year she put some spuds out for me to plant.  We left them near the fence and went in for a drink.  We forgot about Fido.  When we came out Fido had mixed 1st and 2nd early and main crop Pink Fir Apple seed potatoes.  We sorted the best we could and we weren’t far wrong when we dug them up later.

At the bottom of the veg plot were two big apple trees.  And who was the first woman on earth?  – that’s right, Granny Smith.  I was given a net of daffodils and told to plant them around the trees.  The next spring when they all came out she was so happy because I’d planted them to spell her name.  I knew I’d got some Brownie points that day but the next job I did I lost the lot.

She asked me to plant a cherry tree and showed me where to plant it.  Off she went out.  On her return I knew I was in for a reprimand when I saw her face!  It was in the wrong place – she wanted it put at the bottom of the garden near a small patio I’d done with a seat on it.  She could sit here in the evenings and reflect on past times.  I found out later that the tree was in memory of her dad who I never met.

For the next few weeks I was planning how to get the Brownie points back.  I’d got something in mind so the next time she went out I put my plan into action.  At the other side of the garden were two large weeping willow trees.  Around one of these I put a wooden seat.  When she came back I made her close her eyes.  She saw my handiwork on the seat.  I’d put a buttered scone on it and there was a gin and tonic.  My Brownie points had been restored.

I forgot to tell you about the time when Fido arrived.  What a job we had to get him out of the car!  I put on thick gauntlets and threw a towel over his head: this was the only way we could get him out.  But Fido soon worked out what a good home he’d come to and he was soon jumping in and out without any help.

My person took in one more dog, what a sorry sight it was.  It looked so frightened and at the least bit of noise it ran out of the way.  The poor dog was a female and had been used for breeding all her life. The kindness and affection my person showed it healed the (emotional) wounds.  Sadly that dog didn’t live very long but her last months were made better by the tender loving care and the kindness shown her by my person.  Just one thing though, the poor dog had enough problems without the name my person gave it.  She called it Dibley – what a name for a dog!

I did many things at the vicarage, none more so than when her mum came to live with her.  I’d already been doing her mum’s garden so she knew me quite well.  Her mum was in a wheelchair so I set about making things easier for her.  I made ramps to get in and out of the house and handrails were put in certain places.  I built a large patio outside the French windows so her mum could sit out with her daughter on warm summer evenings. 

When her mum passed away I went to her funeral.  My person and her sister asked me to stay behind as they had something for me.  They gave me an envelope and inside was a cheque and a letter thanking me so much for making her last years so enjoyable.  This part of the blog has after all these years brought a tear to my eye. No-one has ever said so many nice things about me.  I’m just not used to it.  Normally they just take the mickey out of me which I don’t mind as long as it makes them smile and be happy.  That’s what my person’s Boss put me in this earth for.

One night I got a distressed call from my person – could I come over as soon as possible.  When I got there I could see why!  A few weeks earlier we’d been discussing ways to keep the weeds at bay.  We decided on bark chippings.  I thought we were getting seven bags but we got a bulk lorry load, about seven tons. It had been tipped out on the drive and she couldn’t get out of the house..  It must have been the worst day of the year, it was chucking it down. I got stuck in and after an hour she could get out of the front door and off she went to a meeting.  After two hours more she could get her car on the drive.  Job done?  No such luck there was still 3 ½ to 4 tons left.  I eventually got rid of it all.  Never again!  That first night I was soaked to the bone and well ready for bed1

My person asked if I would look after two churchyards for her as no-one in the villages would do it.  I did it for many years but after putting petrol in the car and the mower and giving my brother a little for his help, I was well out of pocket but life’s not all about money.  When my person retired I retired from the churchyards.  A letter of thanks from both the church committees meant a lot more to me than £sd.

My person moved to a bungalow and O boy! what a lot of hard graft I’ve done there!  I’ve cut down and dug out a leylandii hedge, put fences up, built a patios, helped to put in a new kitchen, built a large raised bed, put up a new shed, dug up the lawns, landscaped with gravel and slabs, put in a water feature, assembled flat packs, decorated, spring cleaned, cleaned the windows, dog walked, helped to put a personnel door at the back of the garage and still the list gets longer.  On my last visit I put in nearly four hundred plants.

My person always feeds me and just lately I’ve been given soup with metal in, and lemonade that takes your breath away.  I think I must be a guinea pig to try out new things.  I’ve had plum and apple chutney, gooseberry jam, plum jam, red and green tomato chutney.  I have to collect elderflowers for her so she can make cordial.  I don’t have much of this.  One year she gave me something called Rev Up, a drink she had made.  I daren’t ask what was in it but I had a small amount and couldn’t speak for about two hours.

Sometimes she’s a bit crazy with the garden.  I have to plant broad beans, peas and beetroot among the flowers.  I think when we reach a certain age our brain does funny things but for the last fifteen years her brain has been like that and it’s getting worse.

Well I could tell you a lot more about my person but I won’t as she may ask her Boss to sort me out and then where would the other people who rely on me be?

To all of you who read this blog or whatever it’s called, please keep sending your comments, my person looks forward to hearing from you.  I hope you’ll all see now why I feel so honoured and so humbled and so very proud to have my person call me her FRIEND.

Good luck, good health, and God bless

Monday, 15 June 2015

15th June 2015

It might not look like a special date but for a Yellowbelly* with a sense of history it's a truly historic day.  Eight hundred years ago, on 15th June 1215 the barons of England forced King John to set his seal to the document we know as Magna Carta,  Copies of that Great Charter were sent to the cathedrals of the land and two of the extant originals are held by the cathedrals of Salisbury and Lincoln.

The processional King John
King John cut down to size and munching castle cake
So today the trundle truck and I went to Lincoln and saw not only Magna Carta but also the Charter of the Forest which was actually more important to the common people of England.  

King John's great seal
A modern Magna Carta

Lincoln Castle was in festive mood today.  King John had returned leading a procession.  Once at the castle he was rather cut down to size.  He was forced to set his great seal to the charter prepared not by barons but by local school children.  

And everybody enjoyed a very special cake which was free to all visitors to Lincoln Castle on this very special day.  

Castle Cake
*A Yellowbelly is someone born and bred in Lincolnshire.  I qualify!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A lovely morning out

I had a great morning out on Friday.  I went out making cards which is one of my favourite things to do.  I go to Mandy aka Dunholme Crafter.  She's a total hero as she is having building work done at her house at the moment but still she had time and energy to have two of us in for a morning's crafting.  (Her blog is a lacking up-to-date posts at the moment because of the building work but it's worth a look at and a drool over.)

Anyway we cracked on and made six wonderful cards in less than two and a half hours so here's my creations.  

The first three involved using a sparkly paste and stencils.  Actually each involved two sparkly pastes (in fact the fuchsia involved three) which are applied with a spatula and contrasting card which is layered so all in all they are a good play time for Big Kids.

After that life got more serious - but not a lot!  

These two use stamping and coloured paper and card.  Mandy uses Stampin Up products which co-ordinate beautifully so it is easier to make really lovely cards.

This last one is based on one which I had admired on Mandy's blog and she provided the materials to let us play around with her idea and come up with our own creations.

So I had a lovely morning out and have come home with cards for all the occasions I need them for this month.  Not bad eh?

I'm putting this is very small print as I know some people go cold at the mere sight of the C word but Mandy has said she'll be making C*******s cards soon.  Just thought I'd mention it as there are only 193 days to go!

Friday, 12 June 2015

The Parcel

There was a card through my door yesterday.  A card from Parcelforce.  A card telling m that the postie was sorry to have missed me but a call at the local post office would be A Good Idea.

So today the trundle truck and I went up into Caistor and we came back with this.  A parcel from America, from Minnesota.  Sam from A New Frame of Reference organised a giveaway to celebrate the first anniversary of her blog.  I've read it almost since she began, which was a few weeks before I began this blog so I was very interested in her "mystery" giveaway of a gift basket of all things Minnesota (but she stipulated that she would not be packing a lake).  
I e mailed Sam earlier today to tell her that the parcel had arrived and told her that opening the parcel would be the start of my Sabbath delight today. I brought it home and even made sure that I didn't look at the customs declaration! Sam said she wouldn't ruin my surprise by telling me about the things she had sent before I had opened it - thank you even more Sam!  

But this is what was there.  Everything was packed into the pretty basket inside the box and the first thing I was aware of was coffee - a wonderful pong!  There is a mixture of things with which I am very familiar  (Spam, Post its, Scotch tape), things with which I am sort of familiar but in a new variety (tee shirt, coffee, granola bars), and things which are novelties to me like Minnesota cultivated wild rice (which is black!), salted nut rolls and Lucky Charms treats.  Some these will be sampled tomorrow.

It was a fun box to open and I imagine it was fun for Sam to compile.  She said that once I had opened it she would explain some of the items so I am looking forward to that.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Hook Cuisine

I managed to send an e mail to my computer-techie-type-chap as I didn't want to telephone on a Sunday but he phoned me and gave me instructions which I followed carefully (even the bit I had to do all on my own a couple of hours later) and now I am back.

But what you really want to know about is Jack.

Jack came and worked his usual magic.

I've got a veg patch full of Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, French beans, peas, carrots and leeks.

My herb garden flourishes with balm and mint and chives and parsley and a new chili plant.

The tubs are planted with geraniums, lobelia, asters and begonia and you can see the obelisk which will soon be covered with runner beans

And the beds are filled with stocks, cosmos and nicotiana.

The strawberries are looking good and the fountain sounds wonderful.  

All in all we look set for a wonderful summer here at Frugal Follies.

And Jack got Hook Salad for lunch by way of a change.

He has agreed that he will write a post - sometime!

Oh dear!

This time the "oh dear" doesn't concern Jack's digestive system, rather it is an "oh dear" because my pooter is having a hissy fit.  This means I can't upload photographs and writing new posts is difficult so I shall save the details of Jack's latest visit until I can include piccies.  I am waiting for the computer doctor to call me.  

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


It's OK.  Everything in my world is wonderful.


Despite my fall from grace (see I am in disgrace) Jack telephoned last night to give me due warning that he will be here tomorrow morning.

And I want to let him know just how much he is needed, so today I have fetched these.

Actually I think that the real reason he is coming back is you, Dear Reader.  He doesn't do computers but his daughter does and he likes to read what I write about him.

I have suggested that tomorrow we do a joint post.  You'd all like that, wouldn't you?  (Comments would be much appreciated here.)

And I've promised it won't be hook soup for lunch tomorrow.

Monday, 1 June 2015

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

I love newness!

I’m not talking about new clothes or new cars or other big things.  I’m talking about new little things.

A new notebook, a new pack of coffee, a new loaf to cut into.

And a whole new month.  

I think it’s the big kid in me.  I’m no good at remembering to say “White Rabbits” but I find the first day of every month exciting. 

A month is such a good period.  There’s enough time to do significant things but not enough time to run out of steam.  Each month I create a new month planner headed with "I have thirty days to make a difference, 30 days in which to move my life a bit nearer to how I want it to be".  I write my hope list – not a to-do list for that would be to court failure.  Hopes are exciting, the stuff of dreams.  To-do lists suggest a certain driven-ness. 

This month my hopes include things like spending time on the swing in the garden, visiting Normanby Park, having a day at the seaside, making a skirt.

And at the end of the month I do a review.  My review of May had such things as my Staycation, a new hair-do, my first visit to the races, making three bags.  None of these is important EXCEPT that each has brought me joy and that is supremely important.

Enjoy June.