Sourdough…And Surprises!

And this is how it all began…the surprise being that it actually worked!

I am joining in with Chef Shoko of http://The Canadian Cats and Da Phenny over at http://easyweimeranerwordpress.com and this is my offering..

There seemed to be a thing here for making sourdough bread in the wake of the pandemic as yeast took on the scarcity of unicorn tears. I was footling about on the internet and I saw someone say how you could harness natural yeast, feed it with flour and water and lo and behold you have your very own thriving, bubbling yeast colony, ready to add to a multitude of wonderful recipes. If the first bit works…

The jar on the right (George) is ready to use, you can tell from his bubbles, and when you open the jar, there is a pleasant, yeasty smell.

Now. Generally I am fairly easily discouraged when it come to my baking ability, but I persevered with this because the whole idea of making something out of nothing appealed to me…

I followed a basic recipe where you use 400g flour – so far I have only used bread flour, to roughly 7 and a half fluid ounces of water, with 12 – 14 g of starter.

A useful hint is to “autolyse” the flour and water – basically just stir them together and let it sit in a warm place for an hour or so…this lets the gluten in the flour absorb the water and do its stretchy thing.

Then you can mix in your starter, cover it up and leave in a warm place to prove. You don’t get as much rise as you would with traditional yeast, that’s why it’s left longer. Some people leave theirs up to three days, I find overnight is generally good.

Now you can start playing…through trial and error I discovered bun tins work best for me, also, grease and flour your tins before use, that way it comes out easier.

This was one of my earlier attempts. Not long enough in the oven…

Sourdough bread is more close textured than usual bread, something to do with the gas given off by the yeast and expanding..

I should also mention it’s a wetter dough too but don’t worry about it, just flour your hands and pull it about to shape, or scoop into tins – whatever. You’re aiming for a stretchy dough that is almost translucent. I had to enlist the service of Mr.CC as I have pulled a muscle weeding..

And there you go. I have discovered you can add stuff before you bake like poppy seeds…I must also say sourdough has a unique chewy crust, so to get this, put a little dish of water in your oven to make a steam effect.

These are poppy seed and cranberry…Don’t forget, a wetter dough means a slightly longer cooking time. I seem to be averaging 35 minutes with these little buns. Test by tapping on the bottom – if it sounds hollow it’s generally done. I tip mine out and let them have two minutes extra just to make sure they are cooked inside.

Then enjoy! They freeze well too and I promise you will feel positively prehistoric in your baking triumph!

“Tulips From Amsterdam”…Well, My Garden…

Isn’t it funny how standards just gradually slide… away…. I say this because I have spent the last four days in my gardening trousers and dressing gown. I did get some funny looks when I ventured out, but..strange times.

We have been lucky with the weather so I have been out in the garden. I love renewing my acquaintance with the flowers of every season as they come through and at the moment it’s tulip time.

Ice cream anyone..these ones remind me of raspberry ripple!

I will spare you my rendition of “Tulips From Amsterdam” by the immortal Max Bygraves, but my grandad used to sing this song to me when I was a little girl, and it’s one of my earliest memories, walking round the gaden with him and admiring the silky petals and vibrant colours of these popular flowers.

These orange ones are fabulous, paired with the white…

Grandad had a fondness for the red tulips, I always thought the black stamens resembled spiders’ legs, but when I grew up and got my own garden I planted some tulips bulbs of my very own as a matter of course.

One for you Grandad…

Now. Although tulips are generally associated with Holland they actually originated from the Ottoman Empire – modern Turkey – where they were cultivated from a native wild flower for the pleasure of one particular sultan in the 16th century.

This year’s Suffragette Corner….

The word ‘tulip’ comes from the word for ‘turban’ or ‘material’, I think, but the shape of the petals and their silky texture always remind me of harem pants…the bulbs were imported from Turkey to Holland where they became so popular and sought after they created their own economic bubble.

I love the purity of white flowers…

They were even used as currency at one point, although I am pleased to say I buy my bulbs at a much more reasonable price, but you can see why they were – and still are – just so popular! Look…

These frilly edged ones are known as parrot tulips, the purple ones are as rich as velvet…

“Stay At Home…”

Firstly I must say that I hope everyone is safe and well. I confess I thought this staying at home thing would be easy, plenty to keep me engaged… here is a little break down of my past week.

Day 1:

Make list of everything that I need to do, then notice the sun is shining so get sidetracked and go outside where I end up moving three azaleas and planting some radish seeds.

Day 2:

Look at list. Make cheesecake. Eat cheesecake while binge watching so much “True Blood” and “American Horror Story” I feel my brain has turned to mush and will probably slide out my nose if I bend over.

Day 3:

Look at list. Think about doing at least one item on the list. Go outside. Find garden gnomes and instruct partner to repaint said garden gnomes. Argue over what to call garden gnomes. Him: “No, you can’t call them all Dave!” Me: “But why not? They all look like Daves!” Settle on compromise of calling one Dave and the others after the cast of “True Blood”. Dig large hole at the bottom of the garden and eye partner speculatively till he retreats nervously indoors.

Dave…

Day 4:

Look at list. Throw list away. Make trifle. Eat trifle. Go upstairs to tidy bedroom, have a little sit down on the bed and fall asleep, only to wake up and find not only have I drooled in my hair but I missed “Gardener’s World” too.

Day 5:

Decide to go out. Make comprehensive list of everything we need. Go to shop. Discover list is at home and return with pickled beetroot and cat food, neither of which were on the list.

Day 6

Go through music on phone. Play “Crank That ” by Soulja Boy Watch “Crank That” video on YouTube. Learn steps of dance to “Crank That”. Practise steps in front of mirror. Show assembled cats my version of “Crank That” by Soulja Boy. Run after cats as they flee in horror from my “cranking back”.

“Perhaps if we keep very still she’ll just run straight past us…”

Day 7:

Tidy wardrobe and throw old clothes away. Realise you don’t know when you’ll be able to get out and buy new clothes so retrieve previously discarded clothes, carefully replacing errant woodlouse outside.

Seriously though friends, I write to raise a smile in these difficult times – it can help, as does gardening. If you don’t have a garden, try growing something from your fruit or vegetable scraps – I have a thriving celery plant that has its origins in a large supermarket..The sense of achievement is lovely, as is the sense of looking after something living and growing.

Check out some book lists – various libraries around the world are offering thousands of books to download for free. Do something physical – not necessarily “Crank That”.. – just something to get the blood moving.

My version of a sourdough starter…

Eat if not well then at least inventively… A few ideas at any rate. And of course, look after yourselves.

A Mere Trifle…!

 

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It’s enough to make a cat laugh when we’re in the kitchen…

 

Now, bear with me friends as I don’t often do this sort of thing (mainly because I don’t know how and since my technical support – i.e. Alex – is still at university this is a sort of seaty-pantsy thing with the help of my lovely friend Jean from the Canadian Cats who is doing a fab new thing with the help of the equally lovely Da Phenny and Neilson…  In Puursuit of Flavours    where the idea is to share a recipe.

So here goes..I’m afraid it was just Alex’s father and I who did this as the cats were still in hiding..that will be explained in my next post.

This is our take on a recipe adapted from the truly wonderful Mary Berry, white chocolate and cherry trifle. You can make it more gown up with the addition of a suitable liqueur, or change it up by using plain sponge instead of trifle fingers…basically just make it up as you go along.

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The ingredients…

Put your fingers – the sponge ones – at the bottom of the bowl then make your jelly and pour it over, cursing as the fingers float…summon partner with fork to hold them down while you pour over the rest of the jelly.

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We used black cherry flavour jelly.

Pour over the totally delicious cherry pie filling…cut tongue licking the lid of the can…

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Get distracted by pain in tongue and burn chocolate in microwave (I didn’t think it was possible but somehow the chocolate became one with the bowl..)

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Alex’s father unleashed his inner Gordon Ramsey and took over, melting the chocolate over boiling water, then you combine the melted chocolate with the custard. In the absence of either child or cat I took over the onerous job of ..um…licking the bowl.

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So..custard on top of cherry filling..what next? Ah yes! Cream…

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Whip the cream till it’s standing in soft peaks – make sure you sample it plenty of times to make sure the consistency is just right – then smooth it over the top of the custard. Then you can decorate…go wild… we stuck with the cherry theme..

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However…we felt it needed a little something else so we added crumbled chocolate…

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Then eat. In moderation. Of course.

I hope you enjoyed our contribution to In Puursuit of Flavour, do go and have a look at the other featured recipes.

 

There… And Back Again… Eventually.

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My recent lack of organisation and spiritual malaise – my grandiose excuse for a massive dose of writer’s block and butterfly brain – seems to be catching and spreading…

I live in the East Midlands, in Nottingham, and I have written before of my love/hate relationship with this city. Sometimes known as “The Queen Of The North”, Nottingham was first mentioned in the Domesday Book as “Snotingaham” – “the place of Snot’s people”, appropriate perhaps for the founding of one of the country’s biggest and best teaching hospitals. We have a healthy literary heritage too, D.H.Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe, to mention a couple; and prior to 2015 the city even won awards for its public transport systems.

Right. Note my use of the word prior. Now, as you know, Alex is at university in Loughborough, a distance of roughly twelve to eighteen miles depending on which route you take. A distance which should at most, take forty minutes, dependent upon route and transport – possibly even shorter as the crow flies. A mildly arthritic and directionally challenged crow should still reach Loughborough in a reasonable amount of time.

Last week Alex invited his father and I to attend “Proud” which is a talent showcase for the LGBTQ+ community at the university, and which Alex and his boyfriend have hosted, in drag, every year for the past two years. This year’s was set to be particularly important and emotional as Alex had arranged it all himself and it was their last chance to do it as they both graduate in June.

Obviously we said we would attend.

Currently, the East Midlands is both flooded in places and suffering from a rash of roadworks which can reduce the city’s traffic to a standstill. Knowing this, I factored in plenty of time for our journey as we don’t drive and are reliant on the buses. Also, I have to plan journeys quite carefully as Alex’s father suffers from a similar form of anxiety to myself that needs every eventuality planning for. [ “What if we meet vampires?” “We won’t, but I’ll take extra garlic just in case”… well, maybe not that extreme but you get the idea.]

Anyway, we caught our bus at the perfectly acceptable time of 4.45 pm, allowing plenty of time to get into town and make the connecting bus to Loughborough. The bus was bowling along quite smoothly until Alex’s father uttered the immortal words: “We’re making good time.” From then on, the outward journey was jinxed. Nottingham was not going to let us go without a struggle it seemed… At one point, it took us fifteen minutes to cover a thirty yard stretch of road. If I had been by myself I would have left the bus and run, possibly roaring, as it would have been quicker, but Alex’s father is suffering from a tendon injury and is limited as to how much distance he can cover.

I saw our chances of making the half past bus rapidly receding. However, we reached the stop and got off, still in plenty of time for the next bus, due to the extra time I had factored in, then we waited. And waited. I began to run anxiously back and forth between the stop and the corner, catching sight of the ominously bubbling Trent river and an electronic sign that flashed certain villages on this route are not being served due to flooding.

B&*@$%ks!” I thought, and returned to Alex’s father to say perhaps we should consider the trains and send a reassuring text to Alex. Thankfully, at that moment, the familiar jolly yellow bus appeared and we all boarded with various grumbles from the other passengers. I asked the driver one question: “Do you think the buses will be on time coming back?” And that was it, he selected me as his travel buddy, directing a running commentary over his shoulder to me, about how it had taken him over an hour to get from one point, he’d only done this route as a favour, he was never doing it again, was it always like this here? All of which made me feel quite… anxious.

When I’m nervous – or cross – I laugh, which can be confusing apparently – and Alex’s father thought this would be a good time to tell me about this dream he’d had where he was bidding in an auction and woke himself up by yelling “Here!” Of course, this tipped me over the edge into hysterical snorting laughter, tears and mascara running down my face…

We made it to Loughborough though. The enforced sitting had stiffened Alex’s father’s leg to the extent where he could only move at a weird kind of hobbling hop. So. There we are, me hair flying wildly, grubby-faced, sweating and rattling with crystals, roaring (inside) accompanied by Alex’s dad, hunched in pain, yelling every other step, running through Loughborough. We’re a joy to know…really…

Then Alex rang me. “Where are you?!” “I don’t know. Loughborough, somewhere.” “Well how far away are you? I don’t know how much longer I can hold the show!” “I don’t know! It all looks different in the dark! We’re running past some rugby fields!”

Just then Alex’s dad bellowed “I see it!” and the triangular roof of the students’union hove into view, beguilingly lit in purple neon. “We’re here! Bye!” I shouted breathlessly and took off again. We crashed through the doors and into the main lobby, eerily deserted, then straight ahead we saw the venue. I pushed the door open – Alex’s dad had diverted to the bathroom – and elbowed my way as unobtrusively as possible down the central aisle, right to the front, where we were seated with the Vice Chancellor of the university, the chaplain, another guest and Alex’s boyfriend’s father who greeted me jovially: “Ah, you’re here, V.I.P at last!” I replied loudly, waving my arms all encompassingly, narrowly missing the bottle of wine: “Yes, terribly sorry, the traffic was a little challenging!” And sat down, taking a large gulp from the glass he had thoughtfully poured for me and spilling most of it over my trousers.

Alex’s father made it back and we enjoyed a pleasant evening of entertainment, songs, jugglers and dancing, then it was over and we had a little time for chat and explanations. We were asked if we were staying over and I replied quite indignantly that no, we had to get back for the Girls, which upon reflection makes me sound like the madam of a nineteenth century bordello. I also remember telling Alex’s boyfriend’s father about how I got lost in Wilko’s that morning, although admittedly it was quite a funny story… culminating in my mother having to ask the security guard to look for me. [“And how old is your little girl Madam?” “She’s forty &*&*…”]

Now, this lovely man, who had climbed Everest, and been on safari listened bemusedly while I told him how I got lost in the kitchen section, patted me consolingly on the arm and gestured towards the stage. “You should be up there!” he said and wandered off..later I did wonder if he meant cleaning… or performing…

We said our goodbyes and left, knowing that we had to factor in time for roadworks, limping and rain, but fortunately we made good time, even stopping for a brief restorative glass of wine at a pub near the bus stop while we waited. Alex’s dad troll-hobbled to the bathroom and I laughed, catching the disapproving glares of several girls who obviously thought I was a dreadful person for laughing at the poor chap…but then we were on the bus home.

Into the city centre then the bus back to our house, to be greeted by four furry disapproving faces…””Where have you been?!”

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“And what time do you call this, then?”

Storm Crows…

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Yeah… I’m watching you…

How many of you out there have that friend – we all have one, I’m sure – that is a wonderful friend, a good friend, but somehow always manages to carry an air of drama with them…

Let me explain. I first met this particular lady about three years ago, and although by nature I am quite solitary and don’t actively court friendship, I felt a natural affinity to this lady, as she did me, and from a few tentative ‘hello’s’ we developed a friendship. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a genuinely nice person, caring, funny, a good friend to have, but on every occasion I have spent any length of time with her my day afterwards has gone steadily downhill. Nothing major, just a series of little incidents that all coalesce to make what set off to be a good or at least an ordinary day into something you’re glad to see the back of by the time you climb into your bed and seek refuge under the duvet.

I’ve heard enough about “psychic vampires” to be aware of the steps to take to “protect” yourself against them – I am generally rattling with crystals and surrounded by an aura of essential oils – patchouli is my favourite at the moment – besides which I am usually quite a cheerful person. But it doesn’t seem to matter where we meet or how long we are together, the day spirals steadily downwards after our meeting.

The worst incident culminated – indirectly through her – with me having an enormous row with my partner, triggering my first ever migraine attack and a worrying spike in my blood pressure which had my concerned doctor monitoring me for a week.

After that, I am afraid to say I consciously avoided my friend, shocked as I was by the fallout and attachments she carried with her, like tin cans tied to the tail of a stray dog…

Perhaps I am just not a very good friend to have, but I met someone else who regarded her in somewhat of the same light, and we agreed the title of “storm crow” was an apt description. Apparently the tradition of seeing crows as harbingers of misfortune may have its origins in Greek mythology, where a crow brought bad news to Apollo and he turned its feathers black in punishment…

So then. What to do when faced with a friend like this… run stealthily away (roaring optional) arm yourself with the power of positive thinking…or chuck a handful of birdseed at them?

LOOK! “Mr. Sagittarius is Here!”

Mr-Sagitarrius-Mallon-FB“Is she here yet Lily?”86183695_3180852228628363_3708799058614157312_n“Yes! I can see her now!””Thank you Lily – wonderful!”Look everybody! I would like to welcome a special guest to our blog today, the lovely Marje from Kyrosmagica. It’s great to have you here, the first stop on your new book blog tour!img_20170205_090149_185-author-photokyrosmagica-black-on-white1-e1523295724272Thank you very much for stopping by to tell us about your new book – help yourself to tea and cake!84089025_1531202207027206_2373041625145278464_nWe’ve known Marje a couple of years now, and I know Lily in particular has been looking forward to seeing you again.86188645_1569892723177481_1101913631185960960_nLily and Marje were first introduced by our friend Gary, from “Fiction Is Food” blog, when Marje needed a black cat model during the creation of her first Y/A novel, “The Curse Of Time.”Lily’s picture and one of a tourmaline crystal, taken by Alex is featured, among other things, in Marje’s new book, “Mr.Sagittarius.” Please will you tell us a little more…”We’re listening!”86177135_173845187276092_7426235506913968128_n[Marje reads:]

Who Is Mr. Sagittarius?

And what is his connection to twin brothers, Harold and William?

When Harold dies, he leaves a simple memorial request

Will his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the magic of the garden ensure that she does.

A magical story expressed via poetry and prose with photographic images.

It sounds fabulous!Being a cat mother I sometimes come into contact a little closer than I ever really wanted with the Natural World, but I know that you have a wonderful eye for detail and a way of capturing the beauty in even the smallest creation of Mother Nature. Likewise, living with a family of four sister cats I am interested in reading about the sibling relationships – please don’t slap Ting, Tooty, not while we have guests… so I am very much looking forward to reading “Mr.Sagittarius” for myself!Ooh – could I ask anyone who is on “Goodreads” to add “Mr.Sagittarius” to their “To Read” list and I must also mention that Marje is very kindly donating the first month’s ebook royalties to the Australian Bush Fire Appeal, please follow the links at the end of my post to buy your very own copy.Marje – I hope you don’t mind, but the Girls wanted to ask you a question, and as the oldest -“And most intelligent!”- Charlie felt she should be Spokesfeline…85090693_2587970881491009_6472501507320184832_n

Charlie asks :
“I notice there is a poem called ‘Life Lessons From Cats’ with my sister Lily’s picture. What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in Feline Philosophy?”
Marje :
“Hi Charlie.
Your sister Lily’s photo with Buddha is really cute. That’s such an interesting question regarding feline philosophy. Cats teach us much about the world in which we live. I’d say the most important lesson they impart to us daft humans is to nurture a curious spirit. Without a curious spirit, life would be very dull.
Unfortunately, having a curious spirit can be dangerous sometimes, so I’d say don’t forget to combine a curious spirit with a state of awareness, so no harm comes to you when you’re crossing them pesky roads. That’s especially true as I lost my dear ginger tom cat Chester to a road accident.
Chester
Chester was as curious as any cat can be. I miss him so much. He was such an adventurer and very popular with everyone, probably because he had lots of fascinating feline tales to tell!”
That’s a lovely answer, Marje, thank you very much!
It’s been wonderful to see you – no, Lily, you can’t ask if Marje would prefer a sparrow or a mouse to take away, something sensible – please take our good wishes with you for the next step in your tour and every success with your new publication!

Follow Marje’s tour:

Happy New Year!

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Perhaps a little late, but here we are – 2020, perfect vision, a new decade, the Roaring Twenties again… and I find I have taken the roaring part quite literally to heart.

Regular readers may recall I was searching for that little je ne sais quoi, the little added extra, a flourish, if you will, to add as I get off the bus and run away. The running away part is definitely catching on, I’m pleased to say.

On my journey into town the other day I noticed several ladies leaping off the bus and running onwards to their next destination. Not so much men though…come on chaps! Where’s your spirit of, um, adventure!

Anyway. I was with Alex in Asda, just before Christmas, actually, and it was packed. Thronging with desperate last minute shoppers – “Well, why won’t she eat that? She ate it last year!” – “Please stop doing that, Mummy’s very tired and Santa won’t come if you carry on being a little s&*t!”- and all I wanted to buy were the staple supplies of any conscientious cat owner, three different types of wet food and four packets of treats for the Girlies’ stockings, and I found myself welling up with frustration at the mass of humanity seething around me.

I couldn’t help it. I let out a little roar. Alex looked at me, concerned and more than a little alarmed at the unusual noise I produced. So I did it again. And was mildly gratified as one family shot me a wary look and moved to another queue…

I opened my mouth again, preparing.

No Mum, don’t! Look! We’re here now!” Alex interrupted hurriedly, and we paid for the shopping and left.

Then I added in a roar as I ran away from the bus and actually found it quite liberating… Alex was … horrified. Then my mother came for dinner the other week, and afterwards, Alex, his boyfriend and I walked her to the bus stop.

Having seen her safely aboard, I began to run off. Puzzled, Alex’s boyfriend gamely followed me, as did Alex with a look of grim resignation on his face.

Why are we running?” his boyfriend enquired.

No reason,” I replied, then I gave a bit of a roar too.

Ah! I see!” he said, giving a bit of a roar too and throwing himself wholly into the spirit of things…and although Alex ran with us, he declined to roar…

So. Happy belated New Year, everybody, and may you enjoy the new “Roaring Twenties” in every sense of the word!

                                                                                  *

Look what’s happening next week – we have a guest! The lovely Marje from Kyrosmagica is coming for a chat (and maybe tea and cake) to kick off her blog tour with us and tell us about her new book!  We’re looking forward to seeing her and hearing all about it as it’s a magical mix of short stories, poems and photographs… and perhaps even a cat!

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Organite And Organisation.

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That came out of nowhere… readers – they got me. Just when I thought I had successfully escaped the onslaught of germs a chest infection crept up and got me, gleefully destroying all my carefully laid plans, trampling all over my neatly written lists and positively p—-ng all over my timetables for blog posts, shopping, relative visiting…

Oh well. Man plans and God laughs. Perhaps I should invest in some more Organite. This combination of resin, crystals and natural materials is reputed to help balance and strengthen a person’s energetic field, giving protection too against EMF’s.

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Thank you Liz for the models x

Organite can also help to intensify meditation, boost plant growth and disperse negative energy, giving strength and purpose to intentions and visualisations. Orgone energy was originally discovered in the 1930’s although the idea of a Universal Life Energy is obviously not a new one.

Everything – from a teacup to a tangerine to a terrapin – is made of energy. Wilhelm Reich established the idea of orgone in 1930’s although in Chinese traditional medicine it is known as “Qi”, in Ayurveda it’s “Prana.” Reiki, of course, uses these energies to help heal and repair imbalances in the body.

Organite can come in any shape, as long as it contains a mix of organic and non-organic materials to simultaneously attract and repel the bio-energy. It generally contains a mix of flowers, crystals, metal shavings – all encased in a petro-chemical resin. Then these shapes can be used in healing and maintaining good health. Different people respond differently to Orgone as some feel it immediately as a warm tingling sensation where others may notice an improvement after sustained use.

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Basically though, Orgone can help with better sleep, higher energy levels, balanced moods, increased resistance to illness and spiritual and psychological growth so Life can progress in an orderly and organised fashion. Allowing for cats, of course…

On the night before Christmas Eve, Charlie was thoroughly over excited and spent her time chasing either Ting or Tooty up and down the stairs to the extent they were sick…Lily became strangely obsessed with the parsnips, who were just sitting innocently on the side minding their own business till she started rolling on them…Charlie had to sit on my knee to open her present and got thoroughly over excited again on Christmas Day and when my mother joined us for dinner Ting decided she would rather spend the day in silent contemplation in my bed.

Tooty disappeared on private business – I think she moonlights as a spy, possibly – and despite feeling like I’d been kicked in the chest by a rhino I managed to cook the dinner, make a beautiful pumpkin pie and an extremely nice trifle thanks to a recipe by the amazing Queen Mary of Berry.. as well as managing to enjoy half a glass of red wine and my rescued parsnips – which were very nice, roasted with herbs, salt and covered in gravy…

So. Now I just need to extend this organisational ability a little further…polish one completed manuscript, finish a second, catch up with my WordPress friends, redecorate the bathroom and – breathe!

But here’s to 2020 friends – love to you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me! xxx

In Sickness…Theirs…And In Health…Mine….

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I don’t know how the present weather is affecting the rest of the country, but here in the East Midlands, the rain has not only flooded the surrounding farmlands and countryside, but also seems to have created a fetid fug of soup like flu symptoms that just seem to be trapped in the bowl created by our natural geology, just circulating endlessly…

Now. Don’t get me wrong, I am not unsympathetic to people who are ill… but I do feel quite strongly they should keep their germs to themselves. It started with a hat trick of grandmas… my mother, a confirmed and dedicated smoker, generally has a smoker’s cough, but on this particular day it seemed a little more…vehement than usual.

You’re going to be ill, aren’t you,” I observed, with trepidation.

My mother is a retired nurse and a Yorkshire woman to boot, consequently she is as stubborn as hell and the worst patient ever.

No, don’t be – hrgghhh! – stupid Samantha – bleughhh-ahh!- I’m fine!”

The dogs laid back their ears and retreated to the kitchen. I did likewise.

Then my partner’s mother had the flu jab and promptly caught flu. I had just run home from getting off the bus, contemplating how to add an extra flourish to my run away with a squat, or a forwards roll, perhaps, when-

SAM! SAM! MAM’S NOT WELL!”

What do you mean?” I enquired, more than a little alarmed because she is getting on a bit and has had a few health problems.

“’ER EYES ARE ROLLING AND SHE’S BREATHING FUNNY!”

I decided this necessitated further investigation and trotted round, curbing an arbitrary impulse to attempt a vault over the gate, and ran upstairs to have a look at her.

Are you all right?” I enquired cautiously, poking my head round the door.

Hrrhhha wahhggrr!”

Ah. Let’s sit you up a bit…”

I helped her sit up and her chest eased a little and I sent my partner back to our house for eucalyptus oil.

A cup of tea, essential oil inhalant and a laugh later, I am very pleased to say she was looking a lot better.

Then, although not known to me personally, I heard that Alex’s partner’s grandma was ill too – I spent some time with the Wishing Tree in my garden, asking for help and healing from the Appropriate Places.

Then I went to my mother’s yesterday for dinner, we were watching “Countryfile” and I asked her for the television guide so I could check something. She sneezed in it, closed the pages and offered it to me.

No, I’ll let you keep that,” I said politely, as the dog sneezed in Mum’s face, triggering another coughing fit.

I returned home to be greeted by the mournful face of my partner, mouth breathing, wheezing and coughing… I thrust paracetamol, honey and echinacea at him, seized my sage and thyme infusion and ginger capsules and fled upstairs.

So. I have been taking powdered ginger in capsule form for about a month, I gargle with sage and thyme infusion, have a spoonful of honey every day, a pack of sanitising wipes to hand and I have anointed myself liberally with patchouli and lavender essential oils, hoping that their overpowering scent will fox any particularly persistent germs.

Just in case though – I have my lovely doctor on speed dial…

*

On a serious note, friends, look after yourselves in this season of illness, and I hope you’ll join with me in wishing my wonderful friend Jean at The Canadian Cats all the very best for a speedy recovery back to full health. Get well soon, Jean, love from all of us here xxxx