Marooned in the Modern World

In conjunction with my book "Swiss Family Suburban" this blog is from my diary; the diary of a wife and mum in a world where neither is valued highly. Beth Bill.

21st January 2011

Matt helped me to dust the hens with Red Mite powder & Louse powder. Not all the folk around here bother with such a modern approach, but I don't feel as confident to deal with problems as they do and I think that prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately this also meant that Matt got covered too! It's definitely a two man job, even if you wait until dusk when they are getting a bit sleepy. The Brown Links and the Amber Links are easily manageable at any time in the day, but the Fenton Blues are such nervy birds they aren't easily catchable until dusk. They really are beautiful birds, their feathers remind me of a female pheasant, but they aren't easy to manage because of their nervous temperament - I'm not sure I'd choose them again for that very reason. I think that they are named Fenton Blues because they lay blue eggs. At least that job's done for the next six weeks.

17th January 2011

I've made a startling discovery! Did you know that interior design on a budget is called homemaking?! I was scrap booking some photos of the day David and I painted our third hand kitchen table (I really enjoyed spending the afternoon together, so it got scrap booked) and I wanted to find an image of the paint tin we used. It was a small tin of Heritage eggshell paint, called "William Morris Blue". This was fitting as I absolutely love William Morris' designs (although his ideals were out of my price bracket). Imagine my surprise when the number one hit was a picture of my very own (third hand) kitchen table and chairs, taken from this blog! I realise that, although people visit this site every day, it is probably more to do with having the right flag words. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise.

Observation: I know that many men have a real creativity when creating their pad, but I notice that any artistic flare seems to be directly related to the amount of money spent. I've seen some guy's houses which are really beautiful, but no money has been spared in the creation. Also, although the interior design is amazing there is rarely a sense of 'home'. I really think that it's a woman's touch that creates a home. N.B. I realise that this is a totally non-p.c. statement, but I guess it's a very non-p.c. blog.

12th January 2011

Last night we started back to choir rehearsals. This spring we'll be singing Faure's Requiem, Le Cantique de Jean Racine & Messe Sollennelle by Vierne - YUMMY!! What makes it SO extra special - or even more extra, extra special is that my daughter is singing them alongside me. The music is just sublime, which just about makes up for us having to wear a truly awful jacket as part of our choir uniform. It absolutely buries Em. When she first tried hers on we had such a hoot as she'd never seen (or heard of) shoulder pads - very Dallas/80's. Of course, they were swiftly removed. Hopefully, because we're singing a requiem we might just be wearing a plain black dress, which is a little more palatable.

This all has such a lovely symmetry to it. I joined the choir over 20 years ago when my piano teacher/ friend invited me along. She is now Em's teacher/friend and we all sing together. The fact that we're singing such a beautiful programme is the cherry on top. Even Jonti will be keen to listen, as the last movement of the Requiem plays in the final episode of Morse - when Morse has his heart attack. Some years ago we did a Morse excursion around Oxford and Jonti and I stood on the very spot Morse collapsed. I'm not sure we were supposed to walk on the grass - oops! What really made the day was that, coincedentally, we saw Kevin Whately filming an episode of Lewis just by the Radcliffe Camera. Whaa hooo!

7th January 2011

Today is the twins 17th birthday. It seems that they've suddenly grown up! I guess it's fitting, therefore, for this to be the first year that they won't be celebrating their birthday together. Em is going to visit friends at the Wirral and for a Wedding there and Jonti is happy to content himself with a take-away with his younger brother. We did get the morning together but that was quite hectic as Em was having her hair died pink! We did the family party and birthday cake last night as this is one tradition that can't be skimped. We've never really gone in for the huge pressy thing (finances being only a part of the reasoning for that) but the children have always expected a home made cake with some stunning artwork/design by dad.

In previous years my sponge cake has always looked really flat - even though it tasted fluffy enough. I've tried all sorts of things to make the cake rise properly: I've weighed the eggs to correspond to all other measurements, I've sieved and sieved the flour, I've bought expensive flour - all to no avail. This year I had a brainwave - perhaps the mix simply wasn't enough for the tins. Hey presto! By using 1.5 x mix the cake was huge. It's only taken me 17 years to find it out. The only problem is that, now the cake is properly risen, there isn't a flat surface for David to paint his designs on!

This year David painted a picture of Pumpkin Jack for Jonti (who loves "The Nightmare before Christmas") and for Em he painted a picture of our doggie. One of my favourites is when David painted the Fucshia Flower Fairy, when Em was 7. (Wow, 10 years ago!) I'm thinking that I'd like to make an album (or scrap book) of all the different cakes for their 18th birthday. I'm a few years missing though. I'm thinking they're in amongst all of David's photographic reference material, which means wading through hundreds of photos in the loft.