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.

31st July 2009

For breakfast had home-baked bread with honey from a friend's beehive. Mmmm! It sounds like the sort of breakfast Mother would make for Joe, Beth and Frannie in The Magic Faraway Tree, except mine was accompanied by a mug of coffee, not a glass of milk. The bread recipe is finally sorted, as the one in the recipe book didn't work at all. This one works for me:

1 cup (to the brim) water (in this instance a cup being a 350ml measuring beaker)
3 cups flour
a blob of margerine
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp dried yeast


As the children are older now they are having to do some schoolwork during the holidays, especially Jonti and Em. They finish their GCSE equivalent this next academic year and it doesn't seem wise to take seven weeks off (seven!!) and then have a crazy rush to get finished, particularly as Jonti needs to finish in time for a City Youth Brass competition in Belgium. Jonti and Em are going to 'Contagious', so they will get a break. Nevertheless, I do miss the holiday art projects we did when they were younger (though Em is maintaining the tradition by having a holiday scrapbook project - all about chickens).

Whilst the children were working I finally completed the first draft of my book Swiss Family Suburban. It's a sure sign that I'm moving into the older generation as I prefer to print off and proof read via a hard copy. To blow away the cobwebs of a morning behind the computer I made some lemon curd from an ace recipe book, Luxurious Jams, by Sonia Allison, where you make jams etc. in the microwave. It turned out a gorgeous bright yellow as Felicity and Verity are giving us 'double yolkers' at the moment. With the leftover lemon I made a lemon cake: Best not to think about how much sugar has gone into our diet this afternoon! At least it's just sugar, not additives and preservatives too.

30th July 2009

Finished cleaning the oven today, as my mum worked her accounts. Wow, "Oven Pride" (as was advertised by Charlie Dimmock) really is miraculous. I left the shelves overnight, coated in the stuff using a toothbrush, and when I wiped it off this morning a years worth of cooked-on gunk just washed off! Though what the link between Charlie Dimmock and cleaning is, I'm not sure. I wish she'd come and tell me why my tomato plant hasn't yielded a single fruit specimen. I think that I should have pruned the top, to keep it bushy and maybe I should have fed it more than the stipulated once a week - though you would have thought a couple of tomatoes would still have been manageable.

The flowers from my birthday have passed their best, even though I changed the water and trimmed the stems. Although I enjoy fresh flowers about the place It's nice to have the house back to normal. I like the simplicity of my summer fire arrangement: I've put pine cones in the fireplace and dried Hydrangeas around the grating. Mum and dad collected the cones on a walk and it's not often they do that sort of thing, so it's even more special because they're hand picked by them. I prefer Hydrangeas dried to the fresh flower. I've just planted an Hydrangea (given to me by my mum) in the garden purely to maintain a supply of dried heads. I understand that the colour changes in relation to the lime content of the soil, lime free soil creating the bluest flower. Our soil is very clay filled, in that part of the garden, so we have a deep pink blossom. Apparently my grandmother, who died just as I was born, loved Hydrangeas and had them in her front garden which was just a few houses up the road.

29th July 2009

Took Great Aunty Hilda shopping today. It does make me laugh when old people do their weekly shop as the actual food content is so low; a couple of tiny tins here and there, two tomatoes and the rest is cake and chocolate. Mind you, that's better than the old lady in the queue in front of us who spent the same amount as my Great Aunty's weekly shop on lottery tickets. That seems a pretty hopeless existence, to me.

Spent the afternoon listening to Faure's Requiem whilst cleaning the oven. I'll be singing this with the Ceramic City Choir in November for the British Legion Remembrance Day Service at the Victoria Hall. This was quite an appropriate piece as something must have died in there considering the amount of carbon on the oven floor. Perhaps that's what they mean by Carbon Footprint. I found the fish slice which we lost, about a year ago, inside the oven door - eek! Mustn't leave it so long next time (although I always say that).

28th July 2009

Again, everyone seems to be complaining about the rain. I like the rain and it means I don't need to water the veg - though it will mean lots of weeding, sooner or later.

I went to check for eggs and the hens are all outside, looking SO bedraggled. They do look comical with their feathers soaked to their skin. Their necks look especially pitiful and thin. I notice that the amber in the Amber Links becomes more prominent. Verity (a Fenton Blue), with her comb flopping over one eye, looks the funniest.

26th July 2009

I think I've nearly perfected my bread recipe to make a lighter loaf - except I have to 'jiggle' the water quantities a bit. Each time I check on the leavening process I think of the quote "Is the bread ris yet?" It's the sort of thing Hannah, from Little Women, would say, but I'm certain it's not really from that book. So, where is it from?

17th July 2009

In previous years it's not made too much difference to the day being my birthday, so today I went out for the day with my sister. Typically, (or not, as the case may be) I miss three sets of visitors with three bunches of flowers! It's always nice to be surprised that people think more of you than you thought. (NB The paper diary this blog originates from being one more of those surprises.)