Monday, 31 May 2010


Ok, I've found a short haired lady icon I like. It's Servalan, evil nemesis of Blakes' Seven, lady of infinite wardrobe and short hair, with big guns. I'm showing my age, but I did love her fighting with Avon ( that's a lady cosmetic provider! But not in a sci-fi series where a box with widgets took up half the story). Me and my dad spent hours in a weird sci-fi fug that my mum just didn't get watching Blakes 7 and the original "v". This lady was a proto Sigourney.

Friday, 28 May 2010

hairless wonders

This week I was shouted at by some boys in a souped up vehicle (shortly, one imagines, to end up in the firty foot drain), who threw the words "lesbian" at me as they sped up the road. Unfortunately, they were going too fast for me to explain the whole idea of sexuality to them, in small words they would understand. Even if i'd held up a copy of "Razzle" and shouted "There's more to it than this, honest!" they'd still not have understood. I wish I could have pointed out to them the remoteness of the possibility of finding a lesbian who has 2 children in the Fens. Or how attractive they suddenly made the prospect of lesbianism seem to one who has a daughter here. God forbid she should be limited to the genepool round here.
The reason for the outburst is my hair, or lack thereof. My hair is currently less than an inch all over, and shorter in places. It is greyer than it used to be, finer than it used to be, and about 2/3 lighter in weight than it used to be. There is none up front, less up top. I am going bald. So I must be a lesbian, for who else would refuse the peroxide lock, the wavy perm, the waist length look? (Small guilty pause possibly, by the weediest boy in the car. Maybe she had (gasp!) CANCER!). No, not that either. Nobody knows why my hair falls out, it could be thyroid disease, or any number of other autoimmune things my body is being tested for, but the fact remains, ladies wihtou hair are WEIRD. And I am very hairless, no body hair and half eyebrows. The first time it happened, I was bereft and wore headscarves and lipstick to compensate, until I realised people thought I was dying and looked sadly at me all the time. Now I just brazen it out, and look strange. But I do have the odd weep in the shower.

Women and hair: we spend years of our lives shaving it off, dying it, tweezing it, wishing it was straight when it's curly and vice versa. With it in the wrong places, we are unsexy. Without it in the right places,we are unsexy. me? I'm sexy when i'm not too knackered from the kids and forget I don't have hair. I struggle to reconcile myself to its' loss, and get a lot of hair satisfaction from daughters flowing locks, but I confess to worrying at how i'm going to approach the Summer months, hatless. I spent an hour looking for sexy short haired or bald ladies on the web and found an odd fetish site (it may come to that yet) or pictures of Demi Moore and that weird one from the Star Trek film. That's it! Ladies who browse my blog: find me a short haired or bald lady I can look at with pride. There's no pic of me, but I might be brave enough soon.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

minature gardens, puffers and spanakoppitta

A frantic weekend here already.
I have a fasting blood test designated for Thursday, so I had already planned to make 2 spanakoppitta to gorge on prior to it. Having thyroid disease and some (as yet unspecified ) other autoimmune disorder is a bit rubbish and as far as i'm concerned a weekend of eating cheesy spinach things was my just and right due.
However, before I could crack open the wine and eat more than the crunchy middle bit pictured here, I was on the phone to the ambulance men and women of Fenland to come see to son, who went from ok to REALLY not ok within about 45 minutes. He developed extreme asthma in March for no apparent reason, and this was his second big and very scary attack. The ambulance man and woman were fab, fast, kind, professional, and extremely glad not to be in Peterborough city centre on a Saturday night. They stayed till he was stable and safe, and what lovely people they were. So Sunday was spent in the FANTASTIC cottage hospital-ness that is Doddington, as the paramedics had advised, while son sat so good and sweetly under the nebuliser mask that I wanted to weep. So awful to see a child so willingly submit to a mask because they know they need it. But he is well now, albeit due to steroids and puffers for weeks ahead, and we spent the afternoon making mini gardens and hosting fairy tea-parties. So much fun, making mini-wee things.

And now i'm going to eat ALL the spinach pie.
The recipe is here: and very fine it is too, if I say so myself. You can't just have a little bit. Probably not authentic, and no specific amounts, but this is how it's made in this house.
1 pack spinach (usually about 250g)
I pack filo (thawed, usuallu about 6 sheets)
1 pack feta
pine nuts to taste
1 sweet onion.
2 eggs
a good glug of double cream.
nutmeg, pepper, oregano.
Fry the onions till soft and clear. Add the pepper, oregano and nutmeg. Meanwhile, wilt the spinach and squeeze as much water as you can out of it till it is pitiful looking and you wonder what you paid for. That's the way of spinach. Crumble the feta and beat the eggs. Mix the whole caboodle together and shove in the fridge for a bit. Find a nice dish. Butter it. Then melt some more butter, more than you think you will need. Place one sheet of filo in the bottom of the dish, the edges over the side. Your aim is to place 4 layers of spinach / cheese mixture on top of 4 sheets of filo, so divide your mixture into 4. After you've spread the spinach mix, fold the overlap sheet down over it, like making a bed, then lay another sheet down. Brush some melted butter on each sheet as you go. Your last layer, you have two sheets left over to scrunch on the top for topping, add liberal butter to these so it's nice, tasty, and bad for you. Bake in the oven for about 40 mins at Gas 6, or until the middle has set and it's nice and crunchy on top. Eat it all secretly by yourself, or with lambchops.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Fen Runners

Just a quick blog to heartily recommend this book, Fen Runners, to anyone with teens who like a read. Or adults, like me, who like a read too. In my days as a kids librarian, a book that treated young adults with respect was always welcome, and this one, a spooky tale of ghosts, maybes and growing up in a small Fenland town is perfect. Eerie, full of sense of space and self, it perfectly captures the area whilst spinning a tale of past and present in the manner of "Toms' Midnight Garden" , only a wee bit scarier. A rare sympathy with the young, and a good yarn to boot. Makes me want to strap on a pair of "Fen runners" , as ice skates were locally known, and seek out the dykes and the monsters therein myself.

And another recommendation that has popped into mind again is this: "Can any mother help me?". It's come to mind since doing this blog, as so many nice ladies have pitched in and sent me goodies. It tells the real life story of post war women who responded to a plea in a womans; magazine, asking "can any mother help me?". A woman was lonely, stuck at home and going crazy, and as a result of the response, women formed a round robin magazine that spanned decades, and covered domestic life, personal life, politics, everything, in the most interesting way. I felt that I knew the women involved after reading this, and it gave a fascinating insight into the situation of women post-war. Read it!

gravel animal mounds, rabid Tory hating and fat quarters

Since my nan passed, the kids have been obsessed with the idea of burial. Every day this week I have found another farm animal that's succumbed to the toytown Foot and Mouth and has been haphazardly buried in the driveway with a ceremony involving sprinkling bits of my best thyme plant onto its' plastic corpse. Of course, they are children and it's an imporatnt element of play to use it to come to terms with things but finding half interred animals everywhere is beginning to freak me out.
Otherwise, I have been restraining myself from waiting in the Budgens newspaper aisle and shouting at Daily Mail readers "IT'S YOUR FAULT!". I've exchanged emails with our one of two Lib Dem councillors who is optimistic that the coalition will work, but really, where do the two councillors now stand in a sea of blue? I really don't think they'll be upholding the left-leaning (as was) principles of the Lib-Dems (as were) now they're in bed together. It depresses me looking at the new cabinet, grinning to themselves. Nick Clegg has effectively overseen the death of the third party. The new push to alter the number necessary to dissolve Parliament strengthens the Tory hands, not to mention the proposed boundary changes and alteration to the number of MP's, both of which seek to ensure a Tory stranglehold for the forseeable. And for this Nick got, what? A few cursory measures agreed, a cabinet seat, and a positive surety that Cameron will dump him as soon as, leaving us with no credible third party at all. Over 3,000 people rejoined Labour in the past 2 days, and I am betting this defection from the Lib Dems will run and run. If he had listened to the Lib Dem peers and pursued a policy of supporting the minority government in applicable measures, he might have have some credibility left. As it is, he is Cameron's fag.
Anyway, nice things. This postcard sent from sweetiepie50, a fellow fenland blogger. How nice to recieve parcels and post from other Fenland ladies, it makes ones cockles warm. I have found it hard settling here after the bustle of London and Cambridge, this has quite perked me up.

And new fat quarters for sons quilt. Suitable dinosaur, tractor and plane motifs with some nice brights and seagulls to boot. I am thinking of doing large pieces this time round, and maybe I ought to hold off till I get my machine. There is a nice freebie pattern on the Michael Miller page with chunky squares that seems doable, the Paula Prass one. Otherwise I might go freehand again.

Finally, (bit of a curates' egg this post) a recipe for a frugal supper that does just as well cold the next day. It's called Briam and is Greek.
Ingrediants: potatoes, x 2 bigguns
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 courgettes, sliced
3 assorted peppers, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
as many tomatoes as will cover the top of your dish
can of tomatoes
thyme and parsley
Plonk a layer of potatoes on the bottom of your dish. Slice them first, using the slicing bit of a cheese grater so they are thin slivers. Add some garlic, some thyme and parsley. then add everything else in layers. Between each layer add garlic and herbs. Top off with a layer of sliced tomatoes and a big glug of olive oil, then add canned tomatoes to the top, spread and seal with foil. Plonk it in the oven for 2- 2 1/2 hours at gas 4. I like to add some feta and parmesan to the top and brown it before eating. This tastes lovely cold too. I like aubergine added to the mix but the kids definately do not, so, heigh ho. Smashing with a lamb chop or on it's own with some spinach. Makes enough for 2 adults, 2 kids, and 2 adults and 2 kids the next day too.

Monday, 10 May 2010

eggs, parcels and boobs

A nice day today to assauge some of the election bile i've been feeling. It's like i've had permanent PMT, i've not been able to talk to ANYONE who's the slightest bit blue without wanting to rip their heads off and- well, I won't even say it.
So, some nice things. Bantam eggs. Look at this lovely lot, all different shades and slightly different sizes, a quid for a dozen at the farmers market. They have a much bigger ratio of yolk to albumen than normal hen eggs and as such make the best scrambly egg for the kids. But they are almost too pretty to use. The one at the front is a wooden toy egg, the kids keep trying to trick me.
And a parcel for me from Angela at the Fenland Textile Studio, who has very kindly sent me not just the CD she promised me of the V and A quilt exhibition, but lots of quilting magazines, freebie thread and material to boot! I suspect that, just as when you are trying to give up smoking and someone is always there to offer you a fag and a beer, when you start sewing and quilting there are kind ladies who pop up touting swatches and fat quarters, knowing that you will get hooked. Thanks Angela!
And then 2 hours without the kids. A whole 2 hours with them in a free creche courtsy of our Surestart Centre (PLEASE don't cut them, Cameron, you t**t). They had a lovely time, and I tried very hard to concentrate on the work and not on the tea,coffee and biscuits. I am getting free training to be a breastfeeding peer support worker, the rates of breastfeeding are terrible here and support is sorely needed. I will never forget the midwife who sneakily gave firstborn a bottle without my say so when I hobbled to the loo. If I hadn't have been attached to a drip, and weeping already, i'd have brained her. Thankfully support was available from a peer worker, so he got going despite her efforts. You can't beat boobs. Although I wasn't too sad to hang my boobs up, metaphorically (let's face it, if I did hang them up, they'd look better now), after 3 years of constant milk producing, from one kid to the other without a break. I am very glad I did it, not least because the money I saved on formula can now be put to much better use buying bits of fabric. And pretty eggs.
Just look at this ad arguing for greater rights to breastfeed in public. Of course, it's not from the UK, but Oz. And this one, just fab. We've a long way to go.

Friday, 7 May 2010

pillowcases, votes and wishful machines.

Well, it's a good job i've been practising being frugal, as we enter another Tory era. They were not kind to me last time around, with lots of job loss, pain, and an 80's spent listening to my mum cry and scrape together meals from anything left in the cupboard. I am utterly unconvinced by the "compassionate" conservatism Cameron is touting. Still, we maybe get the government we deserve. I truly feel that many people have started taking for granted the things Labour have given us. A period without tax credits, family credits, help for the elderly, help for the poor, and cuts in education, health and everything will maybe open up eyes again. Those young people who have grown up taking all these things for granted will experience a rude awakening as they are told to "get on their bikes", and there will be precious little safety net for the middle classes if they come a cropper. This article about the Council Cameron touts as being the model of Compassionate Conservatism says it all. Don't be old, sick, or unemployed, people.

It could have been so different: we are now such a media entrapped country that I honestly believe Labour lost because Gordon simply isn't "media". He's a bit portly, he's got a wonky eye and a weird grin, and he couldn't ( and rightly, wouldn't) roll out his family for the press every 5 minutes, as Cameron did. I feel very sorry for him, he seemed almost a man out of time to me. I tried listening to him on the radio, and avoiding tv, and without the media spotlights he came across as a good orator and deeply principled. The principles I will miss in future.

Anyway, enough already. Onto making stuff.

Pillowcases! My local charity shops punt them out at 20p. As a result I have amassed this fine collection of vintage and cheapo cases. Poor daughter is going to be in pillowcase dresses till she is 18.I am particularly keen on making this dress out of the racing car pattern. I am looking at patterns, I want an adult pillowcase top! Someone find me one, please. Suggestions for easy-sew pillowcase patterns win a quilt made by me and finished in, er......2050 probably, if the last was any guide. Which leads me nicely onto.....

I must get a machine because handsewing takes too long! The elderly ones I have amassed are beyond help, my mum has offered me £150 of filthy lucre towards a new one providing I do all her seamstress jobs. SO i'm on the lookout. Currently veering towards Janome, but as a complete and utter novice suggestions keenly garnered. I will need it to be idiot proof, with easy instructions, the worlds' easiest bobbin loading, and threading, and good support and servicing. It's an investment though, i'll be needing it to sew cardboard into clothing after a few years in the new regime.......

Saturday, 1 May 2010

quilt 1, done

Finally finished, the everlasting no-pattern-scrap-insanity quilt. Constructed from scraps, charity shop pillowcases, and old clothes, backed with an old fleece and bound with an old sheet. Randomly put together into a sort of rectangle sized for a cotbed, and wadded with cheap stuff from Dunelm.Quilted with charity shop embroidery thread and sewn by a madwoman who had no idea what she was getting into.

Things I have learned from this:

Next time, i'll use a pattern

Next time, the pieces will be a uniform shape and size, not any-old-wonky

Next time, all the pieces will be of similar material. Stretchy pillowcases and old silk ties are hell to join together.

Next time, i'll use a ruddy sewing machine.

More than three beers means you have to use the seam ripper.

Still, i'm proud of it, my first made thing of size. Now son wants one. By Xmas, maybe.