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I am not a fan of Halloween. Pumpkins, dressing up and trick or treating leave me cold. My children were at first appalled, and are now resigned, at my attitude. They were desperate to go trick or treating when little, but I would shout: “No! It’s an American thing, it’s not English! It’s like begging! And we don’t do pumpkin lanterns in Yorkshire, we do turnips!”

Quite often I persuade m’husband to take us all out for a late tea so I can avoid trick or treaters, but this year he’s away for the weekend. I spend so much time out of the house I was desperate to stay in, for once, so I begged a couple of sons to hang around and hand out sweeties. They mumbled acquiesence, but then slunk off with friends leaving me to juggle sweetie tin, front door and a couple of excited dogs (Pippa is here to stay for a few days).

The first knock came from a little boy, about four years old. I picked Pippa up, told Sparky to shut up and brandished the tin. Unfortunately Sparky took exception to Little Boy’s painted face and ghostly costume and barked at him with great vigour. I ordered her back inside, apologised profusely and handed over extra sweeties in compensation. A few minutes later I was out in the back garden, fetching in the washing, when I saw Little Boy being taken next door. He steadfastly refused to approach the door, say “Trick or Treat” or touch any of the sweets. I’m assuming his Sparky experience will put him off Halloween for life.

Anyway, in a few hours Halloween will be over and done with, and hopefully Farmville on Facebook will swap those ghastly spider, jack o’lantern and scary mansion gifts for lovely Christmas things. I am a big big fan of Christmas. I could be the Ghost of Christmas Present. I decided to get in the mood this week by playing some of the Christmas songs on my iPod whilst driving along.

Favourite Christmas tracks:

I believe in Father Christmas – Greg Lake

Silent Night – as sung by Sinead O’Connor

Stop the Cavalry – Jona Lewis

What’s yours?


I had a stomach bug this weekend. I actually cancelled a class, which I have never ever done for illness. Spent the day curled up in pain, in bed or on the sofa, then got myself on my feet for the following day’s work but staggered round with backache due to all the lounging the previous day. Now trying to work out how to reschedule the cancelled class, or else no pay.

And then, Of Course, m’husband came down with bug shortly after eating chicken pie, mashed potatoes and carrots. And, OF COURSE, he had to have it so much worse than me and is currently on his second day off work and thinking about a third if he doesn’t manage to eat anything today. Is he going to lose any money? No.

It must be lovely being employed.

I made a batch of blackberry and apple jelly. Usually this is a simple task for me. I simmer my fruit for an hour, then strain it through the jelly bag.

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I never, ever squeeze my jelly bag, but this time the darned stuff came out cloudy. Why, I shall never know.

Then I filled up my jam pan, added sugar, and brought it to a rolling boil.

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But on this occasion I got overambitious and overfilled the jam pan. Result, hot sugary liquid all over the cooker top which took me bleeding ages to clean off.

I’m taking a break from blackberry and apple.

Cute Nephew tries out his badminton skills at our annual August Bank Holiday picnic.

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Playing aeroplanes with grandma out in the field.

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SIL wanted to play too, but Baby Brother was having none of it.

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All a boy needs – a stick and an adoring grandma.

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Onions have done well this year, apart from the silver ones which didn’t grow very big and, in many cases, went mouldy in the ground. Note to self: next year write down the varieties so you know what to avoid in future.

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I need to pick that onion flower and save the seeds for next year.

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Both runner beans and Italian beans have scrambled eagerly up the canes.

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The Italian beans look beautiful both in and out of the pods.

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Sparky has a rest while a son and I pick blackberries.

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The view would be better without the industrial pipe bridging the water, but it’s not bad.

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Son and dog admire the poplars between playing fields and river.