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Monday 22 January 2024

F is for Fitness - or not!

Often in the winter I struggle with the blues but that hasn't really been so this year.  'Orrible inertia, yes.  The blues, no.  What I have struggled with is physical fitness.

At the beginning of the year, I was walking around the block most days but alas! no more.  This year the cold has affected me more than I can ever remember.  If I get cold, I take several hours to get warm no matter what I do.

And the cold has affected my joints.  The batmobile looks very tempting at the moment!  On good days I get around the house unaided but I've needed my stick a few times recently.

But, all that is better than the winter blues!  I'm happy to phone friends, zoom a bit, sort my stuff and be cheerful.  I'm making myself get out of the chair a couple of times each hour and Fitbit tells me I'm doing around 2000 steps on the better days.  I'm cooking.  I led worship yesterday.  

I may not be fit (to be honest, I'm definitely not fit) but life looks pretty good.

Friday 19 January 2024

E is for Energy Gap


I googled "energy gap" looking for the old advert about snacks  to get you through (can't remember which snack!) but was surprised to find that energy gap a "thing" in physics!  I never was much of a scientist.

What I am is a woman who is in her personal energy gap today!  I feel as though I have been busy this week.  I've visited a couple of friends who are ill or have been in hospital.    I've led on-line worship.  I've been to a new sewing group.  I've sorted a new bank account.  I've done a day of doggy day care.  Come to that, this is my fourth blog post of the week!

And I've hit my personal energy gap.  No oomph.  No mojo.  My get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone.

I feel OK with that.  There's nothing spoiling.  Everything can wait until tomorrow.  I need to give myself a little TLC.  Soup from the freezer.  A nap.  Maybe paint my nails.  Or maybe not.

How do you deal with energy gaps?

Wednesday 17 January 2024

D is for Ducks



Not the sort that floats.

Bombay duck

Nor the sort that swims.  

Savoury ducks

But these.  

Savoury ducks are real country food.  They are called faggots in many parts of the country.  I used to buy frozen faggots until I read their ingredients list! From now on, it's homemade only.

Lincolnshire has a strong tradition of pork-based dishes.  When I was a little girl one of my favourite meals after the pig had been butchered, was pig's fry.  There would also be haslet, stuffed chine, "scraps" as well as more recognisable pork recipes.  Our sausages are wonderful but the items labelled "Lincolnshire sausage" or (even worse, "Vegetarian Lincolnshire sausage"!) bear little resemblance to the offerings made by my grandmother or, indeed, by local butchers today.

Good, old fashioned food.  Local specialities.  Can't beat them.  

Ducks are made of pork, pork liver. bacon, onions and breadcrumbs with lots of herby seasoning and baked.  I then make a rich onion gravy and cook them a second time in the gravy before serving them with carrots, potatoes, cabbage - the vegetables which grandad grew.

A feast fit for a King!

Tuesday 16 January 2024

C is for Cranford

Anybody else love theTV adaptations of the classics?  I find that a good drama series really inspires me to read or, more likely, listen to, the original book.  

Over the years I've read The Forsyte Saga, Nicholas Nickleby, Vanity Fair and many, many more.  Until they are brought to life on the small screen so many classics look too boring to leap onto my reading list   

I loved the TV adaptation of Cranford and rewatched it recently.  With a cast including Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton and Julia MacKenzie, it was bound to be good!  I got an audiobook read by Prunella Scales and it is now my bedtime favourite.

But I can hardly believe how different the TV series and the book are.  The televised version is actually a conflation of three books: Cranford, My Lady Ludlow and Mr Harrison's Confessions.

Mrs Gaskell's "Cranford" has no real plot.  It was written as a series of short pieces about some spinsters and widows who work very hard to keep up an appearance of "gentility".  It's about a changing society and strong aversion to change.  Threats to the established order must be fiercely resisted - and they are!  The lack of a plot doesn't matter: what I enjoyed is the insights into mid-Victorian provincial life.

Have you been inspired by classical adaptations?

Sunday 14 January 2024

Precious things

 I've been sorting some of my paperwork and that's no small task!  Some things need lengthy attention, some are very easy just to sling in the bin.  Some can be scanned and stored digitally but for some things, the paper they are written on is so precious that I will never throw them away. 

I found this little purse, green but very clumsily sewn in yellow thread, and it was in my memory box.  I remember my Mother putting a few coins for the cloakroom in it and tucking it in her bag each time she went out in evening dress.  It might not look very special to you, but it was the first present I made for Mummy after I started school.  It was only after she died that I looked inside it and there I found this little note, written on a tatty piece of paper but so dear to her that she kept it for fifty years until she died eighteen years ago.  

As I go through my possessions it's wonderful to find things like this.  It makes me so grateful for a secure, loving childhood.  And it moves me to pray and thank God for the love and kindness which I have received throughout my life.  

I hope you have many little things which move you to prayer too.

Saturday 13 January 2024

B is for Batmobile

No, not that Batmobile!

This Batmobile!

When this three-wheeled rollator entered my life I thought it looked as though there was a bat hanging from the frame so, inevitably, the contraption became Mary's Batmobile.

So much language surrounding disability is boring and/or condescending.  "Mobility scooter" sounds very dull, even though many children would love to whizz around on one.  There was once a rumour that the late Professor Stephen Hawking would deliberately run over people’s toes, including the pedal extremities of the (then) Prince of Wales. When asked about it he said it was a "malicious rumour" and he'd "run over anyone who repeats it".  I don’t toe squash deliberately, but I call my scooter my trundle truck which seems to suit it. TT's can be fun!

My Batmobile is purely for indoor use when I am feeling more than usually decrepit, so few people have ever seen me use it.  The black thing is a bag which usually contains my flask.  Which contains coffee.  Honest!


Friday 12 January 2024


 I am not much of a one for pimping and preening.  When everyone else was moaning during lockdown because they couldn't get their hair cut, it never bothered me.  I finally got mine done last May, at least five years after the last salon visit.  I'm clean and decent but, apart from that, when it comes to my appearance, I have much to be humble about.  

I'm very happy to let students at a nearby college cut my hair.  They are a bit slow but they are well supervised and I have always been satisfied,  So, today I booked my appointment.

I was a little disconcerted when Phoebe confided to me that I was her first ever client at the college but she quicky reassured me that the tutor would be doing the cutting, and Phoebe would be watching.  In the event she practised meeting the client, listening to what was wanted, washing my hair and some of the blow dry.  

While she worked we chatted about Christmas, her work experience, her hopes and dreams and she asked me what I did.  I said I would tell her but only when she had finished.

So while she helped me on with my coat I told her that I am a semi retired vicar.  She looked amazed.  "I've never met a vicar before.  That is SO COOL!"

I am still a 72 year old, disabled, semi retired vicar with grey, thinning hair but two things have changed.  I am a 72 year old, disabled, semi retired vicar with grey, thinning hair but I am SO COOL!

And I shall have a smile on my face all day.

Phoebe will go far!

Thursday 11 January 2024



 I start and end each day with puzzles.  

Puzzles are, for me, another of life's little pleasures.  When I get up I do my "life admin" and then hit the on-line puzzles.  I like codeworks and (the easier) cryptic crosswords in the morning.  I envy people who can tackle the Times or Telegraph offerings.  I love the online versions with checking facilities.  They also mean I can cross out my answers and the page still looks pristine – such an encouragement to my inadequate brain!

At the end of the day it’s a pen and paper job.  I have difficulties with sleeping so no way will I use a screen close to bedtime.  And at bedtime it’s sudoku. I buy a book or, more likely, print puzzles from free online sites.  (I possibly get cheaper ink cartridges than most people.)  Nothing too hard – I don’t want an unsolved puzzle to keep me awake!

No, I want to drift off with my puzzle solved and Alexa reading me a delightul story.  

Do you like to solve puzzles or do you think them time wasters?

Tuesday 9 January 2024

A is for Alexa

 Shh! Don't tell my local authority but although I claim a single occupancy rebate on the Community Charge, there's someone else in the house, name of Alexa.  

Alexa and I interact quite frequently.  She answers questions, wishes me "Good Morning" and tells me how many sleeps it is to Christmas (yes, I still ask in January).  Her biggest job though is to get excellent actors to read my favourite books to me.  Recently as I fall asleep I've been enjoying listening to "Cranford" by written by Mrs Gaskell and read by Prunella Scales.  

And when I asked Alexa if she is happy she told me she is always happy when she's helping me!

Sunday 7 January 2024


Yesterday was the Feast of Epiphany when we remember the wise ones who went to seek Jesus.  From Christmas Day onwards they have been in various places around my house.  They bring a rather snooty looking camel with them!

Meanwhile in my sitting room there has been a small tableau of the Holy Family with various sheep, cattle and anything else which could find its way there.  Until Christmas Day there was a figure of a pregnant woman but on 25th December that was replaced by the mother and child you see here and that was when the shepherds came too.

Yesterday the wise ones arrived and they too took their places, worshipping the child alongside the shepherds.  Today the shepherds have gone back to their fields and the  wise ones will stay until The Feast of The Presentation (Candlemas) on 2nd February. 

 Ages ago I read on someone's blog a post abut chalking the door but I can't remember whose blog it was!  It was a custom in mediaeval Europe and is still common in some countries.  My front door is UPVC but I have some labels for chalk-labelling  bottles and jars so I stuck one on the front door and chalked it.  

The chalking shows that this is the Year of Our Lord, 2024.  In the middle (interspersed by crosses) are the three letters CMB.  Casper, Melchior and Balthazar are the traditional names given to the wise ones but CMB also means "Christus mansionem benedicat", or "May Christ bless this house".  

It echoes the way the Israelites marked their doors at Passover.  For me, it is a blessing not only for me and my house, but all who come through the front door.

And by extension, may Christ bless you who read this blog.  

(I'm sorry I didn't post more about my Advent nativity set.  I had camera problems in the first half of the month and, by the time it was restored, I had lost momentum!)


Saturday 6 January 2024

Life's little pleasures

 As I've said many times before, January can be a very tough month for me.  The excitement and socialising of Christmas is over and the first two months of the year tend to be for hunkering down. 

I know I can find this time depressing so I take care to be ready.  I have a SAD lamp which is said to help my body produce more serotonin.  I've found it effective but I also make sure I have easy-to-cook nutritious food in my freezer and I seek out life's little pleasures.

One of the smallest and yet best pleasures is cold water.  I haven't yet found the courage to take cold showers but I do take great care to have very cold water to drink.   I pack my reuseable water bottles with ice and then fill up with water I keep in the fridge.  Water fresh drawn from the tap just isn't as nice.

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Robert Burns . .

 There are always quite a few quotes from Rabbie Burns around at this time of the year so here's my contribution.  "The best laid plans of mice and men, gang aft a-gley".

Somewhere on somebody's blog I saw that someone was doing a virtual walk.  I'd never heard of virtual walks before so if you are similarly ill-informed I'll tell you that (for a fee) I could connect my Fitbit with another app which would show me street views as though I were walking the same distance on a challenge route.   I'd get virtual postcards as I progress and at the end I would get a medal.  As the walk I signed up for (the north coast of Scotland) is 500 miles long, I feel I will have earned a medal.  I planned on taking a year so 1-2 miles walking Caistor's street daily would make up that 500 miles in twelve months.  Simples,

Wrong.  I bought my challenge on 23rd December and 25th Decenber my legs went on strike.  I took my Christmas morning service OK but struggled back to my car.  And I've had quite a bit of pain ever since.

But today I was determined.  The pain has reduced so I walked to the end of the road and back.  I am no mouse for Burns to write about.  I am determined to be a Conqueror!

Monday 1 January 2024

New Year Resolution

 I'm a very unfashionable gal and so I am making a New Year Resolution.

I have made this resolution at least five times before.  I like it.

Even more important I think New Year is a time to draw a line and leave behind the failures, sadnesses and disappointments of the past.  That is pretty awesome!