Into the Internet Black Hole

What? Oh Hello!  Where have I been?
LOST – Lost in a black hole called black-hole– ‘our service provider didn’t organise things properly’… As in, we have moved … all the way to … next door. ‘Oh, yes, it is all organised,’ they said, ‘we will cut your phone off at the old address and have you connected (new line required) and all you will have to do is take the equipment – plug it in – and there you are – only one day disconnected’

They said.

Oh, you’d like to know who? TalkTalk.

Now, I had only recently gone over to them, mainly because BT were being really intransigent. It seemed that I had to take out a new contract with them as we would be moving to a new address, so we would be seen as a new customer … however, as we were already with them at our present address we were not eligible for any of the reduced rate offers open to new customers … because we were a current customer.

UM? So on one hand we are a new customer but on the other we are not? Talk about having your cake and eating it … that is BT – not us!

So we looked around – and took recommendations – and checked prices – and rang and asked questions. And switched to TalkTalk. All went well and smoothly initially, their router arrived, we plugged it in – it worked fine, phone continued as usual … until the move about a month later.

First someone at TalkTalk didn’t actually book OpenReach to come and do the line connection when the move was ordered. Fortunately, as we hadn’t heard anything we chased TalkTalk up. Apparently the notes were there – but the booking hadn’t been made. The operator then said he’d booked it for the day of our move – 1st May. However, we later got an email from Open Reach confirming an appointment to connect us up on the 9th, however we had organised to move out of the old house on the 1st, so the move went ahead. (meaning – 1 week without phone or internet – instead of one day)

On the 9th of May, in the  last half hour of the afternoon slot, an engineer turned up. He connected up everything in the house, went to connect up outside and then told us – he couldn’t. It seems that Open Reach (a different part if it)  hadn’t done some of the preparation work. He said he would report it and that we should see someone within a couple of days, but that we needed to tell our service provider to get them to pass on the problem, and to tell them ‘it needed two men and a cherry-picker to take the new cable through the trees’.

We contacted TalkTalk to tell them, they said ‘we will order an engineer to come to connect you’ whereupon we told them what the engineer had said, they said ‘we will order an engineer’. We were given a booking time, Friday that week – no one turned up at all.

(two weeks without proper internet – or phone.)

So back to TalkTalk – trying to make sure they really understood that it was preparation work that was needed.

Eventually, another (single) engineer arrived, saw the problem – but he DID arrange for the work to be done the following day. Then we should have been connected!  Or not!

 (three weeks without internet or phone connection)

It seemed there was some kind of problem in the actual line further up towards the village. He put in a request for it to be looked into … and nearly a week later … we were actually connected. (four weeks without internet or phone)

Nearly a month after the move! On top of that they have not retained our old phone number! The one we’ve had for over 40 years.  This because … when I eventually got high enough up the ladder to speak to someone who could ask WHY BT wouldn’t let us keep our number – it turns out that the County Council hadn’t notified Royal Mail that the address we had verified two years ago was verified – and so didn’t appear as a ‘proper’ address to allocate a phone number to – unfortunately getting to this point meant that by the time this was sorted out and Royal Mail had added us to the verified address list – we were now so long disconnected that TalkTalk could not now apply for our old number back! You just couldn’t make this up!

The number they have given us is just weird – no location has a number starting with 2 in the whole of the Liskeard area code!  So, rant over – I now face making sure all our contacts have this new number.

wp_20180622_13_27_06_proLastly, just as we get online again, my dear mother, who has been in poor health for a long time with severe vascular dementia, lost her ability to swallow.
Imagine – no one knowing our new number yet trying to call us!
Since then I have been in a different black hole – this one created by the whirlwind of seeing someone very close pass away and organising all that must follow.

So, dear, patient readers – thank you for being there and for reading even though this blog has been beset with long pauses and gaps this past year or so.


I will update on my healing process and other interesting developments soon …

Best Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂


Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You


Making Changes Obvious

I am a creature of sartorial habit – a fashion icon for those who have one ‘look’ for the season – and stick to it.

photo from another day – but you see what I mean

Let’s just say that last week, five days worth of washing saw six short-sleeved black tee-shirts and two 3/4 sleeved black tee-shirts on the line (along with other clothes – I hasten to add) but there’s the thing – I like black cotton tee-shirts – I have many, and usually add a couple of short sleeved and a couple of 3/4 or long-sleeved each year. The previous ones just move down the wearing order – oldest for working in the garden or doing the cleaning, the next  for work-wear (writing / general clean in-house occupations), and the newer ones for venturing outside the environs of our property.

This year I found, to my delight, a pair of black and white patterned trousers, cool, comfortable and not too expensive. I was so delighted that I bought a second pair. Then they went and had a SALE … so I’m afraid I have to admit – I bought a third pair.

This now meant that I could be seen apparently wearing the ‘same’ clothes everyday of the week when out and about. (I have old black jeans I wear for gardening and cleaning, and I like to wear long skirts around the house too)

Ok, got the picture?  Now it may seem to the casual observer that not only does it look like I never change my tee-shirt (who notices whether the sleeves are long or short?) but that I never change my trousers either – as these patterned trousers were very noticeable!wp_20160920_10_19_31_pro

In fact – even I was getting bored with them being black and white – so I had a look at what they were made of (Viscose) and then I purchased a packet of dye* – viscose being one of the materials that will dye properly.  *Not a ‘dye in the machine pack’ this time … as I had a plan.

I wanted burgundy but the nearest they seem to do is burlesque red … so that had to do. I chose one pair to remain white and set these aside! Then I chose the pair to go burlesque red and having got them thoroughly wet and wrung out, added them to the mix first. After the first fifteen minutes of agitation of these I added the second pair – with the hope of a lighter shade. These I also agitated for 15 minutes.

I’m pleased with the results

Gazing at the colour of the dye water I thought it had some life left in it yet and I suddenly remembered I had a white Tee-shirt (yes I had bought a white one at some time – for some unknown reason) – but generally didn’t wear it since it had been splashed by turmeric, leaving a mucky-looking indelible stain near the hem.

I grabbed the tee-shirt – wetted it, rolled it and secured it with a number of tight elastic bands for a tie-dye effect. This also entered the dye and was squeezed and agitated.

After the full time I duly cold washed, then washed the trousers and the, now unrolled, tee-shirt. wp_20160919_10_48_02_pro

I am pleased with the results for the trousers (see above) – I now have three distinct patterned trousers and a tee-shirt I can wear without a grubby-looking stain (albeit probably for gardening 😉 NB: It looks pinker than this photo shows)

So, £2.50 – a change of look – which I hope will dispel rumours before they start 🙂 .

And I learnt something (which usually makes me happy) – as I realised that I had no idea what Viscose was – apart from a material that took a dye well. Now I just hope that the viscose I am wearing was made using the more up-to-date methods of production as the older methods are not too good for the environment.

Viscose is, essentially, made from wood. The old method of changing wood into a viscous material (cellulose) that would make a ‘silk-like thread’ uses a lot of harsh chemicals and a lot of water. [The other name for Vicose is Rayon (a combination of the idea of the sun-rays and the word cotton) and was first advertised as Artificial Silk] Modern methods of production are considerably better, less damaging to the environment – but how to tell how your garment’s threads were made – now there’s a problem!?

Do any of you have adventures with dyeing?

Do you use the machine-wash dyes – or play around?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you


Of Molehills and Microbes

I’m taking a detour away from telling you about the parts of Dr Perlmutter’s book that I want to share with you, to explain a little more why this book and the premise of this book chimed so much with me.

As I said – I am not so much a scientist – as a bit of a science junkie. I love to read scientific articles and learning is my drug of choice. LearningIMG_0384, however, doesn’t only come from books – it can come from observation.

The basic premise of this book is to say that our gut biome – those billions of bacteria that inhabit our gut (to say nothing of those that are so intimately a part of us, of our very cells, that if they malfunction we are unable to generate energy – the mitochondria) are essential to our well-being. That they have to be the right bacteria in the right proportion to each other to produce the health, both mental and physical, that we should have.

All animals require the correct gut bacteria. When we kept goats, shortly after the new kids were born we would find a nice fresh molehill, preferably in a ‘clean’ paddock where the animals didn’t usually graze, and take a nice trowel-ful. This would be placed in a plant-pot saucer and put in the corner of the goat-house or pen. Why? Because this ensured that the kid got the right bacteria – because they knew what to do with this molehill earth – they ate it.

The recently published longitudinal study known as The Life Project, which began studying a cohort of people in the UK in 1946 – with new cohorts added every ten years (until recently) – has flagged up the difference in the microbiome (biota) of people born by c-section* as opposed to those born vaginally. Where the former have a much restricted complement of bacteria in their microbiome – compared to the latter.  (*our rates of c-section run at 26%)

This method of birth, and the expanding use of antibiotics around birth which cause similar skewed bacteria in the gut, have been shown to produce a higher susceptibility to asthma, allergies and other related conditions in their later lives.

The only one of my four boys to have any allergy like symptoms is the one who was on antibiotics for five years to prevent kidney damage. He, literally, grew out of needing them but can be affected by asthma-like reactions to mould and dust and has sporadic eczema. At this late date he is trying to balance his gut bacteria since I read this book. . . we’ll see (he’s being my guineapig)

That antibiotics are good – that they have brought health where there was death – is undisputed. However, how many of you find that there is the time after you have been treated (and cured) by a course of antibiotics where your body seems sluggish – the normal daily routine is often out of step – and only returns after a while. In my experience plenty of live yoghurt always helped to reinstate normal patterns quicker than if not ingested.

Add to these the fact that being brought up on a farm or in the countryside with animals gives a significantly lower risk of developing chronic inflammatory diseases (such as asthma, type 1 diabetes (T1D), multiple sclerosis (MS), and also inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and we have the basis of believing that the contents of our gut really do affect our lives, both mental and physical.

So, just a few reasons that this theory chimes with that which I already had as a basis of my own understanding – and the fact that so many of these physical conditions are demonstrated by inflammation is leading towards a possibility that this could also be what happens inside the brain.

“You must eat a peck* of dirt before you die”  runs the old adage – maybe we ought to emulate the goats and get our ‘old friend’ bacteria from the start – anyone for nice fresh molehill?

Have you any observations that back -up (or refute) the premise that our gut bacteria can affect our whole health?

* In case you were wondering – as was I –  a peck is a dry measure of two gallons)


Find me on Facebook and Twitter @AnnFoweraker


Back to school – with a difference

WP_20160201_12_56_44_ProHere we are – back at school … in this photo, taken on Monday, in the library of community school in Cornwall.

WHY were we there? Not just to sell our books (even though that’s what this picture looks like) no, we were recruited to help the sixth form A level English group tackle the new creative writing element of the English A-level.

Sally Newton, also published by Pendown Publishing, writes Historical Novels. With a PhD in Archaeology she is dead-keen to make sure all the history is correct – though her life-long love of writing fuels the adventures she puts her (real life historical) characters through.

I write contemporary novels, so, as such, I do not have that sort of research to do – though I do plenty of a different type of research – depending upon what my totally fictional characters are interested in, work at or end up being faced with.

While talking to the students, it was interesting to note that one of my contemporarily written novels, ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’, was created in the early 1990s and as such, for the sixth-formers in front of us, was now ‘history’ as it all happened before they were born. In a different era – almost – when the common person did not even own a mobile phone (let alone a child!) and if they did it was a BRICK! Yes, there were computers, and this story dealt with computers, but not as they would know them, and the ‘floppy-discs’ that information was stored on (again – unheard of now) … and, of course, there was NO internet.

Life before the internet really does seem to be a different time. My children were born into the computer-era. We had a computer (BBC B) from when they were really quite small (with 32 KB of RAM! haha! The computer – not the children) By the age of seven our eldest was creating computer programmes to make simple games in ‘BBC Basic’ (the computer language) Then came Granny and her Archimedes (Acorn) computer, running the RISC operating system, much more powerful and the most advanced system at the time! This also found its way into my novel. But even that computer only had 4MB of RAM. It is hard to remember … how slow … how basic.

However, without access to that computer I may never have got into writing properly – for while my writing remained by hand in scruffy old exercise books it was never going anywhere. So when I wrote my first, full-length (never to be published/apprentice-piece) novel in just that way (while keeping half an eye on a toddler potty-training) it was only after I was encouraged to type it up on the computer – and saw the total words displayed (using the amazing ‘words’ function) at 84,000 … and realised that I could do it – I really could write a WHOLE book – that I let myself spend time actually doing that – gave my imagination permission to write – my aspiration permission to think ‘Author’.author

We finished up the day at the school by helping individual students as they tackled the task of writing the first page of a novel; three-hundred and fifty words to convey so much … just what we aim for ourselves.  They were a bright and interesting group of students to interact with and displayed a breadth of ideas that was pleasing to see!

 Have you ‘gone back to school’ for any reason recently?

What were your experiences?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you. 


Find me on Facebook and Twitter @AnnFoweraker


Finding joy in Mindful eating

Mindfulness – yes, you have probably heard this term bandied around in many contexts I am sure – and it does sound a little bit airy-fairy, doesn’t it?

However, mindful eating is some thing that can lead to joy of a sort. How’s that? I hear you ask. DSCF5093cropped

Well, I have advocated eating this way for a while – however not necessarily using that precise word. From my weight-loss notes (under the drop-down from About Ann) when I was on my year of blogged weight-loss we have “have to remember is to give each piece of food it’s due consideration. If we eat knowingly, concentrating on the eating, our bodies are more likely to tell us we are not hungry – as we have already eaten – than when we eat while doing something else – watching TV, or playing on the computer or reading.”  In other words – mindfully – eating mindfully.

And mindfulness comes into play also when I am ‘feeling hungry’. It is so easy to wander where there is food and have a snack, telling yourself that a few nuts are fine, as they are, but not on the third trip in an afternoon!

Mindfulness eating starts with asking questions. Am I really hungry? Well, mostly the answer is no – peckish maybe, but not hungry. Peckish isn’t a reason to eat.

What is driving this peckishness? Thirst? Number one reason for that feeling – have a Non-Carb-loaded drink – ideally water. Tiredness? Take a power nap, or do some exercise – yes, that does help some kinds of tired. Boredom? Find something else to do – or do some exercise to wake up the brain.

WP_20160110_13_15_54_ProIf it is a meal-time, or you missed your last one, and you are truly hungry, first drink a glass of water then take the time to prepare something delicious, make it colourful and healthy with a number of different colour vegetables to accompany your main protein – but keep the carbohydrate loading low.

Sit down at a table – cast aside books, tablets, phones, TV – and concentrate on the food – flavours, textures, colours, aroma. Wait for five minutes before deciding it you need anything else other than a cup of tea or coffee. If you do – keep the carb-loading low with your choice – and concentrate on the food again – use a smaller spoon maybe, savour the aroma and the flavour.

Enjoy your food more – that is where the joy comes into this very everyday activity. Maybe not ‘thrilling’ but an enjoyable experience rather than just a re-fuelling.

Enough about eating – it is making me peckish!

Is mindfulness a part of your daily life?

What do you try to do mindfully?

Do share – you know I love to hear what you think.


Making Lists and Spinning Plates

I don’t know about you – but I NEED to make lists.

I have used the technique of making lists for a long time – I blame my habit of acquiring new (hobby) jobs. Sometimes the ‘things that need doing’ for these disparate groups I belong to all come at the same time. To overcome the problem, of trying to keep all the plates spinning, I write LISTS.I love making list

The list usually has to encompass the usual ‘home-running’ type of thing as well – otherwise I could well forget to make bread or cake when it has run out and only realise I meant to do it when I open the bread bin / cake tin at tea-time.

Because of this anyone coming across one of my lists (usually written on the back of an envelope or other scrap paper) would wonder what on earth the person who wrote the list – actually did.

Today’s list went something like this … Remember delivery today / make WI tickets / make WI BB sign-up Chart / Looe Lit Fest brainstorm chart / LLF Agenda / make WI Extra sign-up / Make Yoghurt / Email XXXX / WI Anniversary sign-up chart / email YYYY / write blog / Prep notes for meeting / Edit next ch Dad’s book / …

I then go through the list and number them in order of importance – with some – like ‘remember delivery just ‘there’ so I do not go out without leaving a note to say where to either find someone else or where it could be left if no-one answers the door …  because … otherwise, I may well forget.

As of writing (2.30pm Tues) I have crossed off – to my delight – seven of the above – and by virtue of this writing now am part way through the eighth – and I do find a JOY in each achievement signified by the crossing out!

I have always written lists when time is pressing and I have a lot to do – it gives me a focus – otherwise I can be known to become a panic-butterfly – doing a bit here and there but not completing a single task. However, I feel I need to write lists more now to avoid forgetting things that need doing – and that can be worrying. More of this effect in a future blog.

And what about you? Are you a list writer?

Do you write list to remember or just to order?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you – Ann


A little piece of cardboard joy

So you will have taken down your decorations by today – or intend to –  won’t you? I did mine yesterday – ‘twelfth night’ – but only because it suited my schedules (not just because I am always confused as to whether the 12th day includes Christmas day or not – honest )  IMG_20160101_140946

Much to my boys’ surprise we had more cards than ever this year. To their surprise because, being of the digital generation, they send a quick facebook message of Happy Christmas / Happy New Year – much as they do one for Happy Birthday when prompted by FB or their on-line diaries.

They laugh and tease me rotten about ‘saving the planet’ by recycling every last bit of paper or card, then joyfully using up these resources to send cards to people at great expense. I can see their point. I could send the money I would have spent on cards and postage to a charity, and send digital messages of peace and joy to everyone instead … if everyone was digitally connected.

Many of our cards come not just to us, myself and husband, but to my mother and father as they have lived here with us for over twenty five years. Many of their friends (those that are left) are not computer-savvy and not available on facebook or even email. It is from them that come the handwritten letters tucked in the card, telling of who has passed away, who still with us, who ill, how the clubs that my parents belonged to / ran are faring etc.

As I collected the cards up five caught my eye, hand-drawn/made cards – and I’m going to share them with you, the first are from a new line in School-fund raising I’m sure. WP_20160105_11_54_51_Pro Once only one child ‘won’ the prize of their design being the chosen one the school had printed in the hundreds in the hope that parents would buy them and support the school funds that way. Now technology means that every child can be the winner – every family can buy packs of cards with the design on that their child made.

Then there are the wonderful creative friends that still find the time to make cards. (I used to make a small number for closest friends – but lately it hasn’t happened early enough and I have resorted to bought cards)DSCF0218

One does elaborate designs all carefully shaded in with dots – and prints them off (the inside of the card is half-covered in a design too!) The other, year on year, finds a new and interesting way of creating a card, frequently using fabric and / or stitching. Both are a treat to receive!

WP_20160105_11_56_40_ProLastly, my pride and joy, a snowman from boys who don’t get to see snow – from my grandchildren in Malaysia – hand made and then hand written by the eldest inside – perfect 🙂 a real piece of cardboard joy.

And that made me think of when my four boys were small and, as I took the decorations off the tree, how designer Christmas trees had come in … and were, maybe, on their way out again.

My tree is pretty retro! As you can see above, no monochrome tree for us – coloured lights and multicoloured baubles abound. This also means that we have had some decorations for over 30 years (quite good policy for reusing rather than chucking) This Christmas I realised our tree may even be coming back in fashion – in a retro sort of way – as I heard Chris Evans on Radio 2 say they had a retro tree – all coloured lights, tinsel and baubles  – and heard someone else say that it was cool now to go retro. It all comes round again eventually!WP_20160105_10_41_26_Pro

These baubles – bought about 1990 – are the epitome of the tree when the boys were young – unbreakable – brightly coloured – spin easily to ‘twinkle’ (which they liked to do) – easy to hang (for small children) and shiny. Every year as I hang them I think of when I bought them all those years ago, when the boys were small 🙂 and that memory makes me happy.

Do you have old Christmas decorations that bring back lovely memories?

Are you modern or retro when it comes to Christmas?

Cards or digital greetings?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you 🙂


Cover-Judging time – Help!

I need YOUR HELP please.

My cover designer has been working on some options for the cover of A Respectable Life – but we can’t agree on which layout would make the reader want to pick up the book most … this is where I hope you can all help.

We all know how important the cover is as, whether we like it or not, a book is first judged by its cover. So … please help me choose – just go to the comments* and say which one would do it for you. (*comments button is on the top right of each post and takes you to a response box – if you have never commented before the post will not appear right away, don’t worry, it will be fed through to me immediately and then appear later) Alternatively, go to my Author facebook Page    (or my FB profile page) where a vote is also set up – via a Like for the one your think will work best. (click on any image to enlarge)

Choice One
Choice Two
Choice Four
Choice Three
Choice Five
Choice Six



























 Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful 2016! will be taking a short break and will return in the New Year – hopefully in a new livery and with a fresh approach… until then

Thank You for reading and sharing with me the past year

Love Ann


Parking machines that make you SPIT!

I really didn’t want to get off on a rant during the festive time –  but during the festive time is when many of us will be out and about doing that extra shopping… so this is a relevant rant.

Our Council, Cornwall, have decided that too many people have been ‘stealing’ from them by passing on unexpired-time parking tickets to other users. To stop this heinous crime they have installed new parking meters at all their car-parks at a cost of £477,144.42 for the 128 machines installed. Yes – nearly half a million pounds – while Cornwall Council’s austerity measures are also cutting hard into essential services!


Advantages to the authority seem to be mainly to do with managing their statistics (according to a reply to a freedom of information request on their website). As well, of course, of reducing their ‘Loss’ from people who pass on unexpired tickets, and alerting them more quickly when a meter has malfunctioned so they can repair it quicker.

Loss? Really? If I, or you, bought a ticket for an hour and stayed in that space for an hour, then that space would be occupied for all that time – if I passed the ticket on to someone else – the space would still be occupied for just that amount of time. But (I hear them cry) it is against the rules – and the other person would have bought a ticket so they have made a ‘loss’.

Now I would like you to consider exactly how often this happens.
It takes, 1, that a person has a significant length of unexpired time – you wouldn’t offer a ticket to some stranger with less than half an hour and 2, you have to encounter that stranger as you are about to leave the car park. They have to be obviously going to get a ticket … and you need to be close enough to wind down your window and offer…. Yeah, not often, I’m sure. certainly not £477,144 worth of ‘lost’ revenue – even over a looong time.

All this aside – my main gripe at the moment is with these new state-of-the art meters. They do not like 20p coins! They tend to spit them out as soon as they are put in.

Picture this the other day. There is a fine *mizzle as I pull into the car-park. (*Cornish misty drizzle to the uninitiated) I take my purse and head for the parking meter. Today I have remembered to take note of my car number plate. Sometimes I do not and have had to go back until I can see it to check – because now – on these new machines – you have to put your FULL  number plate in! (How BIG BROTHER is that I ask you?!)

I put the full set in, letters and numbers in the right order, and start to feed in the coins. A nice new 20p – it runs right through.  Another woman joins the queue. I try the 20p again; same result. ‘Is it working?’ she asks. I try a 5p – it registers and I answer ‘Yes, seems it is,’ and then try the 20p again. It runs right through. I root in my purse for 10ps – all I find is another 20p – an old one – feels heavier, somehow, so I go to try that one … but before I do the 5p tinkles out and the machine resets to ‘Put in your number plate’  GRRR!

By now there are two other ‘customers’ waiting for the meter. I say, ‘I’m sorry – it doesn’t seem to like 20ps’. The woman says, ‘Oh dear – that’s all I have too.’  I have noticed this lately – lots of 20ps about – not so many 10s – perhaps they are all in the meters. It is now RAINING! I bend-down to see the keypad properly to retype my number plate number.

Number plate number displayed, I start again with the old 20p I have. It runs right through. There is nothing for it!  I must resort to the ‘SPIT method’. (I don’t like to do this in ‘company’ – as it were – otherwise I might have tried it earlier) I spit on my thumb and wet both sides of the 20p, insert it into the meter … it runs right through. Grrr!

I try a 5p, it registers. I use the spit method again on the 20p, insert it … it registers!!!!  I put in the other 5p and I have my ticket!

After displaying the ticket I head for the shop … noticing that the woman behind me in the queue is still at the meter… and the two behind her now joined by yet another ‘customer’, all waiting to try their luck at getting the machine to accept legal tender.

I think of all the 20ps inside the new meters stuck together with spit – as I know that this is the wisdom passed on from motorist to motorist at tricky meters
hen the meter spits out the coin – you spit on the coin before re-inserting it!’

I think of the time I have wasted, of the time everyone in that queue has wasted – and how wet I have got – and how unhygienic it is – just trying to pay the parking fee of 30p – and I am very unhappy with my County council – and that was before I found out exactly how much they paid out to inflict this on us!

And … please do not get me started on the other option if a machine won’t accept the coins you have – to use my phone to pay for the ticket!

Have you encountered machines that won’t take your money!

Does it drive you mad?

Do share – a rant shared is … therapy  😉


Converting the Americans

Converting them to what – or from what? You may well ask!

One of the things that the internet has brought us, is recipes from round the world.  Recipes from far flung countries with different climates and different languages do not seem to be a problem – usually someone, somewhere, has taken the trouble to convert the recipe from whatever units it is usually made in – into (nowadays) grams and millilitres. Apart from American recipes!

If you are ‘of a certain age’ you are probably still thinking in ounces and pints for cooking. In fact there are a few recipes I really do not think I could work in metric, so long ago were they learnt that I make them on automatic pilot and in imperial. They are, at least, proper measurements.

DSCF5371I have been looking for a particular type of biscuit to set as a competition for our WIs next group meeting. Now, for the uninitiated, a group meeting is where a designated group of WIs in an area get together for a cut-throat friendly set of competitions and a talk – frequently one that would be beyond the reach (financially) of one WI on its own, though not always.

DSCF5377At these events the friendly competition is usually set to reflect the theme of the talk. Hence – the last one we set up was a talk from a man who had owned a Zoo … the competitions were: Floral – a flower arrangement to represent a wild animal, Craft – a decorative border for the poem Tyger Tyger, by Blake and, Cookery – a Zebra Cake!
Just a few of the entries shown Right>

DSCF5369Now the only available versions of this zebra cake were in American Cups – and using a tin size that is just not commonly in the British cupboard. So a lot of conversion and changing of quantities took place until the recipe worked in metric … and then it had to be converted to imperial and checked again, as some ladies of a ‘very certain age’ only measure and cook in imperial.
Zebra Cake!  my metric / imperial recipe here

I struggle to understand why the Americans use their form of measurements in their cooking. I have heard that it was from when they had nothing to weigh with, that recipes using ‘cups’ were simple enough that any vessel could be the ‘cup’ and as long as the proportions (the cup) used was the same the recipe would then work. Understandable then, if true, but when we live in an age when even ‘sophisticated’ scales, that swap between imperial and metric, are available for small amounts of money – why use a method so random?

Just try getting a ‘cup’ of butter  to be right – or using a different type of sugar to the one specified when you run out of one but have the other in the cupboard (granulated, demerara and caster all give different cup measurements) – or even flour – which has to be ‘fluffed-up’ before making up the cups ‘best spooned into the cup and then levelled off!’ What?!

Looking it up I see that many American Chefs and Cookery writers are trying to convert the Americans to use scales and recipes that are more accurate – but there is a huge resistance – ‘Cups’ ‘Spoons’ and ‘Sticks’ are almost seen as patriotic! (by the way – ‘spoons’ as in ‘a spoon of butter’ – not just spoons of fluid ingredients)

At our next group meeting in May 2016 we have the lovely Anthea Lay who was a competitor on The Big Painting Challenge on the BBC, bringing us an interactive Big Painting Challenge Experience to our WI Group meeting – I’m looking forward to it … but before that I have to work out the cookery competition to fit the theme, and soon – so we can notify the other WIs.

I am after a particular type of biscuit that I saw on the internet, one that can be made to look like an artist’s palette. Can I find it in metric or imperial? Can I coco!

So once more I shall set about converting the American measures into Metric and Imperial. It does mean that I’ll have another recipe to add here eventually – which can’t be a bad thing.

Have you ever tried an American ‘cups’ type recipe without converting it?  How did it go?

Do you *sigh* when you find a really nice looking recipe and see it is all in ‘cups’ ‘spoons’ and ‘sticks’?

Do share your thoughts – and any good recipes too, you know I love to hear from you.


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