School Puddings – Loved them or Loathed them ?

We were out the other evening, and for some reason we started talking about puddings we ate at school or when we were young. Now most people at the event were in their fifties, so we all had similar experiences of ‘school puddings’ and certain culprits kept being recalled.

Tapioca was mentioned. I shuddered!  Indeed this ‘frog-spawn’ of a milky dessert was my very least favourite. OK OK! I didn’t like it AT ALL!  I once sat in front of a bowl of it ALL LUNCH BREAK, age 7,  because I wouldn’t eat it! It meant I missed the whole lunch playtime – that was a big punishment!

And that was before I ever knew WHAT tapioca was or where it came from.  I mean, how on earth did we get to eat this stuff. I know it is a staple in some parts of the world now, but which native Brazilian first thought  ‘Oh, I’ll try eating the mashed up roots of this cassava plant’ – and died! (containing cyanide producing enzymes, it is highly poisonous!)  Then the next person thought – ‘OH, perhaps I can wash the ‘badness’ out of it’ .. but still dies.. then the next thought – perhaps if it is washed AND cooked it’ll be ok…. and it was, (and, by the way, this process is really complicated ). How on earth? But here we are – what is a staple (like potato or rice is elsewhere) – is, in this country, a dessert we call tapioca, a name derived from the original name of tipi’óka in the Tupi language of South America. (more on Cassava and tapioca here and here)

Other desserts that bubble up in my memory from the depth of childhood are: Semolina, with a blob of so-called jam in the middle, banana custard – fluorescent yellow with the odd slice of browning banana here and there, red jelly so firm that your spoon bounced rather than cut it, rice-pudding swimming in a watery white liquid freckled with yellow globules (of butter, we hoped) or so thick it stood up on its own with a burnt flavour skin broken up into little bits throughout it. It’s not that I really dislike any of this group of puddings, unlike tapioca, it’s just the school versions.

I do remember one pudding that was good at our village primary school, apple pie with a very sweet, though rather thick, crust. We only had this when the apples were in season and it is quite likely that it was made with apples from the tree in the headteacher’s garden (attached to the school) as sometimes a child or two was sent to pick up all the windfalls there.

I have great difficulty thinking of any other school puddings that I actually liked or looked forward to – and this may be an age thing. Having a scout round the internet I find that message boards populated by ‘young things’ going to school in the 1980’s, reporting many favourite puddings – with the likes of cornflake chocolate crunch, butterscotch slice, chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce, or even, arctic roll. I don’t ever remember anything like this – nor do the message boards of those of us in school in the fifties and sixties.

Mind you, the eighties would be when the school catering had been put out to tender by Maggie Thatcher’s government and so had to attract the customer, incidentally the same time that the ‘meals’ were turkey drummers, pizza and chips and rated as far poorer, nutritionally, than in the 1950s. (Just the stuff Jamie Oliver campaigned against 2004 onwards)

So, what era do you fit in to and what are your memories of school puddings? 

Which one did you loathe ? Which did you love?

Lets compare notes – go on – share your thoughts – you know I love to hear from you!


Confession of a serial Resolution breaker (proper edition)

(apologies for the edtion posted earlier  – I pressed the wrong button while still editing – hence the errors and unfinished condition – hope you enjoy this one more 🙂 )

I never used to be a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, they never lasted very long – I guess I was a serial resolution breaker – so much so that I used to keep them secret. A bit like when you pull the chicken wishbone and you mustn’t say what it was you wished for – or else it wouldn’t come true.

Now, isn’t that a funny thing – and I’d never thought about it before today. Why on earth would we break a small bone from a chicken in this way and make a wish. Now, if the information I’ve just found on the internet can be believed (LOL) it seems that this practice of snapping the wishbone to make the wish is extremely old in western culture – going back at least to the Romans and before them to the Etruscans (more good Etruscan info here).  Whereby, the Etruscans (800 – 400 BC) were great readers of entrails – particularly the liver it seems – and also would save the furcula (wishbone) of a sacred chicken for people to stroke when in need of guidance from the gods. The Romans, it is suggested, picked up this idea but then, through fighting over the bone, developed the breaking of the wishbone to bestow the favour upon the winner.

Reading up about this I now know we’ve been doing it all wrong! It seems that the wishbone should be cleaned and set out in the sun to dry for a few days before being broken in the wishbone contest – no wonder my wishes didn’t come true!

I remember my father telling me that back in the East End of London, when he was young (we are talking 1920-30s here) IF a family had a chicken as a meal the wish bone would be cleaned up, wrapped in foil and stood on the mantelpiece. Neither of us is sure if this was for luck…  or just to show off that they could afford to eat a chicken!

OH! Where was I? Ah! New Year’s Resolutions, last year was the first time I told everyone about a new year resolution, that being to lose weight. Now, whether it helped me keep the resolution or not I am not sure – I do know I had some good cheerleaders along the way!

Whichever, encouraged by this I made more than one resolution for this year and in doing so thought long and hard about how I would frame them as it is easy to set up a resolution that is doomed to failure merely by how it is framed.

My resolution last year was only to lose weight  Almost by accident I had hit upon the best sort of resolution – one framed in such a way that it is easier to achieve (I did not say how much or by when – so even if I’d only lost a few pounds by the end of the year I would have made it!)  As it happened I lost two  and a half stone, enough to feel good, comfortable, and be slimmer than I have since before I had my first child – and all before Christmas. (more here)

So, when I said to myself ‘I shall resolve to make sure I actually get to bed before midnight’. [This resolution because I am an ‘owl’ and find I write better late at night  – but my Husband is a ‘lark’ and so we get up at 7.30 therefore, if I am to get a reasonable night’s sleep, important for helping keep weight in check, I must get to bed before midnight.]

I realised I needed to make the resolution both firm and flexible – so I did not have to rush Cinderella-like away from a party crying ‘I must not break my NYR!’  So my reasonable resolution runs ‘I will get to bed before midnight at least 5 out of 7 nights a week’

Completely doable! So far so good. So far every week I have met my target (just!) And that’s it – I have been getting enough sleep and the only exceptions have been because we were out at an event that ran on late – or it was late by the time we got home – but that certainly doesn’t happen more than 2 nights a week so my resolution stands!

So, if you have already broken your NYR it could be that you needed to frame it in a firm but flexible way. It’s not too late to re-frame that broken resolution now – as a reformed resolution breaker I can tell you, kept resolutions feel good at the end of the year!

Did you make any resolutions this year?  Have you made and broken any already?

Are you a serial resolution breaker – or a keeper? What is your secret for keeping resolutions?

Do share – I love to hear from you!


Don’t let Google’s ‘Shopping’ fool you in the future!

What do you do when looking for a particular type of item – one you might not find easily in your local town? Do you put the item in the search on Google and get every listing that mentions it (or even something like it) or do you get to the items quicker by clicking the ‘Shopping’ button on the top bar and have only the relevant items shown – which you can then sort by button for price or relevance and whether it has free shipping or not?

For instance if you go into Google now and search for  ‘Slate Plates’, then click ‘Shopping’ on the top bar and, when those listings come up, tick the box at the side for ‘Free Shipping’ – annmade slate plates figure pretty high, if not top. This is because they are the best value quality slate plates out there with free shipping – and that is their natural or organic search listing.

After the Google’s new system comes into place in February the same search will not feature annmade slate plates at all – because as a small business I cannot afford to pay for inclusion in this listing.

And this from a company that said ‘paid inclusion listing’ was evil!

The ‘previously’ savvy shopper who ignored the Ad-Words because they knew they were paid for, and short-cut the trawl through the general listings by using the ‘shopping’ button, will now be presented with, what is in effect, a whole bunch of Adverts. The question is – how long before they realise.

The rules that govern ‘paid-for-inclusion-listings’ are not the same as those for adverts – they don’t have to explicitly state that these are adverts!

More – Google have quietly been slipping ‘Shopping results’ in the line of the general listings. Well, these were general listings and so that was fair enough. They are getting us used to clicking on these and expecting them to just be relevant natural or organic listings – however, in the future they will be the ‘paid inclusion listings’ masquerading as organic listings.

Google once claimed that ‘paid for inclusion listings were evil’. Now that it is answerable to shareholders it dances to a different tune – ‘make money, make money, make money’ – regardless of fairness, equality or Google’s own original aims and values.

Ok, Ok — I have a vested interest. I am a small-business owner – and it is the internet that has enabled my small business to reach all corners of the UK with my products – never mind just the UK – I have sold my slate ware to Australia, America and many EU countries too. Without the internet annmade slate ware would not have sold anywhere outside Devon and Cornwall.

It is the same for so many other small businesses – often niche, interesting, craftsman based businesses. The internet has allowed these businesses to flourish because people out there want these items and because of the internet they could find them easily. OK, so they will still be there – but much harder to find.

And this comes on top of Facebook’s new policy of not sending postings from pages you have deliberately liked, to you – instead encouraging the page holders to pay to promote their post to their followers – again hitting the little people hardest. (If you want to help the little-folk whose pages you have ‘liked’ then, if y0u actually get a FB posting from one of them, share or comment or at least like the post, as then FB’s algorithm sends it to a few more people on the list.)

It is a sad day for you the customer though, when your choice is curtailed by one of the very exponents of ‘free internet’ and a sad day too for all new entrepreneurs and people with an idea for a business that needs to serve a wide area to thrive.

We shall all be poorer – and I don’t just mean financially.

How do you feel about this? Does it feel like Big Business is trying to be the ONLY business out there? Is Google turning sour? I love to hear from you – do share your thoughts!

more information on what and how Google will try to fool you into thinking that these ‘Paid for Inclusion lisitngs’ are not Adverts but organic listings.


A bit of a dust-up!

I write this having taken down all my Christmas decorations and packed them away. This was followed by dusting away all that had accumulated since the decorations went up – that’s a good three week’s worth – and in this house that is DUSTY!

Not because I usually dust every day ( Hahahahaahaa! *picks up self from floor*) no, just because old houses, especially those with coal (anthracite grains) fired boilers and wood-burners, seem to create dust at an unbelievable rate.  However, with every surface bestrewn with cards, beads or tinsel you couldn’t see the dust to worry about it …. so I didn’t HAVE to dust it! (HURRAH! sometimes I wish it was Christmas for longer)

As I was packing away said cards I came across the round robin Christmas letters, tucked behind the crocodile (not a real one), and took time to read them properly, as all I’d been able to do was to give them was a cursory scan when they arrived, such was the manic pace in the house pre-Christmas. They ranged from a third of a page apology for not writing more – but the year had been so horrible there was nothing good to write – to a full, small-font, three pager, complete with photographs, from family on the other side of the world. Given the time to read them, I was glad to catch up with old friends (yes, some of whom we have not seen for YEARS!).

Am I complaining? Hardly! I am also one who sends an update with a Christmas card to selected people – a single sheet of largish font with pictures to break it up a bit, and each year I wonder if it is well received or not.

This year, for the first time, I received a few hand written cards  with a p.s. saying ‘thanks for the update – it’s nice to know how everyone is getting on’ … and that is the answer I shall continue to work by.

In the press, however, there has been a bit of a dust-up* over these letters, largely spiked by Lynne Truss (author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves) who wrote a series of satirical replies to christmas round robin letters broadcast on Radio 4- which would give anyone pause for thought before sending their own missive next year.  [*did you see that .. how I linked the dusting to the letters  – haha!]

However the blog The Middle Class Handbook has suggestions about how to pitch the Christmas update so as not to offend – and I think I broadly agree with these pointers. Briefly: statements of fact without embellishment, not too much about the offspring, both good and bad in the mix, something funny if possible and, above all, don’t be smug.  I’ll be checking my own carefully next year. 🙂 And I think I’d add to this list:-  send to selected people only – not just one with every card sent out regardless of recipient.

So, did you get any or these round robin Christmas letters? Did you appreciate reading them or not? Do you send one – and why? Let me know your thoughts and feelings –  I love to hear from you!


Happy New Year and a Gift for YOU

Happy New Year ! – my opening salvo for 2013 is a glance back over the past year in pictures ( all the newspapers and TV programmes do this – so why not here – and I bet these are different – no Jubilee or Olympics here ( except Doglympics :))

So here are a few of Your Favourites and a few of Mine

Side view Jan 1 2012

I didn’t feel brave enough to even post the ‘before’ picture until well into 2012 – but it’s an apt start to my reminiscences of 2012 as this is the biggest thing in the year for me – to find a round-up of how I got there, losing 34lbs on the way click here:

Side view Dec 1 2012

In April Bonny, my Dog, made a you-tube Doglympics Video for me which 344 people have liked and I share again now as it’s fun!  🙂 [if you can’t see this video on the emailed version click on the title and it will take you to the blog proper where it is available]

I liked my slug study from 2012 ( though if you don’t like slugs you may not) – the ‘great year for slugs’ was headlined on the national news just before Christmas – but I got there first 😉 Intrigued? Read more here 

And 2012 was also the year of the lichen – loving all the wet. more here:

Then there was my favourite kitchen gadget of 2012 – still used nearly everyday – and how many gadgets can you say that about? more here:  where you can see a video of it working!

Finally, a surprisingly popular blog which finished by asking what this little bottle was – have a look here to find out if you, too, are curious!




So, there we are – a few of my favourites and a few of yours from 2012.  Have I missed your personal favourite – do tell me in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

So it is time to Wish YOU All the Very best for 2013 – may it be peaceful, prosperous and happy for everyone!

And a reminder – that you still have until January 6th to claim your Christmas gift from me – thank you for following and commenting on my posts – Details Below!


I hope you all had a great Christmas – and now things have calmed down a bit here I have decided to give all my readers a present – your choice of one of my e-novels – from me – to you – free 🙂  

It doesn’t matter what kind of e-reader you have or whether you have one at all – you can still request one of my novels and it will be sent to your email address. If you have an e-reader ask for the right type of file for you (mobi for kindles – epub for most other e-readers – or pdf)  if you haven’t an e-reader just ask for a pdf version and you can read it on your computer!

Just go to my other website (BEFORE the 6th Jan 2013) and click into CONTACT ANN – there carefully enter your email address  and request the BOOK TITLE  and the FILE VERSION (MOBI / EPUB /PDF) you would like  – one e-novel free per person as a gift !  [before the twelfth day]

Your choices 🙂

The first time it happened it felt like stumbling across another avenue to an ancient monument, but this one pulled at more than just his head, there was a tightness in his chest, the lights twinkled and flashed inside his mind, the intensity giving Perran a firework of a headache. Following the line – years later in the early nineties – leads him into Liz Hawkey’s ordered life, and together they discover the source of the line.

A story of family, love and loss, Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life.

Click here to read the first three Chapters


Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder enquiry, drug raid and abduction.

DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.

This is a love story set in the early 1990s which combines the historic Cornish love of the sea and smuggling with hard faced twentieth century crime and detection. The perfect blend for a woman’s crime novel.

Click here to read the first three Chapters


Faith Warren, married mother of two, is a secretary in a newspaper office. It wasn’t what she’d hoped for, but her dreams of university and becoming an author were lost long ago. Telling stories to entertain her lifelong friend on their journey to work and back is all that is left, until she tells The Story.

The real trouble began with the minor characters, just unfortunate co-incidences, but when do you stop calling them co-incidences and begin to wonder what the hell is going on – and how it can be stopped

Click here to read the first three Chapters

Don’t forget to ask for your Christmas pressie of an Ann Foweraker Novel before the twelfth day – January 6th! 

And I’d love to see your review of your choice of my novels too! Please send them to me here on my blog, for inclusion on my website, or post them on my pages on Amazon 😉 (just search for Ann Foweraker in Amazon Books) or do both! 🙂 Thanks, and Happy Christmas!




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