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Rhubarb crumble muffins recipe – Recipes – BBC Good Food.

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I am sorry to say that after a lengthy battle with ill health Mrs Hen has gone to join her mates in chookie heaven.  She was a feisty old bird surviving her first dog attack when she was nursed back to her feet in a cat basket, getting trapped in a pyracantha bush and having to be cut out, a second dog ambush, and then battled with a mystery lump in her throat for several weeks, before collapsing and becoming trapped under her perch.  Thanks to swift action from a very helpful neighbor, she was put out of her misery quite quickly, and now resides in the vegetable patch, buried with some of her friends.  She was our only girl who layed blue eggs, which made her extra special.  I have called my chicken man at Withy Poultry, and asked if he has any more like her.  Thanks to a feature on Countryfile recently, promoting chickens who lay blue eggs, there is now a shortage of such birds, so I am on a waiting list pending a phone call, possibly not till late June now, when Nugget, Kentucky and Nando will be available for collection.  We still have 3 girls left in the flock, so eggs will be on ration for the time being!

Life always throws up awkward moments when you least expect them, and I managed to create two myself in the last 48 hours!  At my age, I should have probably learnt from the first one.  We have been having an internet kerfuffle for the past few weeks, so I was on the phone to BT speaking to a charming lady in an Indian call centre.  I always think of Slumdog Millionaire when I am diverted to a call centre, so when she said her name was Latika, I couldn’t help myself and asked her if she had seen the movie as the co-star was called Latika!  There was an awkward silence, and I had images of a beautiful girl in a yellow scarf and sari looking embarrassed and uncomfortable at the end of her headset!; she didn’t directly respond to my question (possibly not trained by BT to expect customers to be so direct?) so I tried to steer us back onto my internet problem, which I have to say was super efficiently sorted out , and within 48 hours not only had my new home hub arrived, but our monthly bills have been reduced by £30 as they modified out existing contract.   Definitely worth a call to BT if you are on a contract that hasn’t been reviewed for a couple of years, as there are savings to be had.  Then this morning I had an Ocado delivery, and was greeted by a friendly driver, who had an uncanny resemblance to Matt Lucas, only a bit less chubby, and slightly better looking.  I should have just kept my observations to myself, however, found myself saying “gosh, you really look like Matt Lucas!”  Judging by his reaction, he didn’t take this as a compliment so I diverted him by chatting about the weather and the cost of groceries!  Note to self:  Think before you open your mouth!

For those rhubarb lovers, and I don’t think there are that many, the season is booming and I have started harvesting my crop.  I had a little experiment this morning, and made some Rhubarb, Cinnamon and Almond Muffins based on a recipe from the BBC Food website ….  I got a couple of people to sample them and they have received the thumbs up!  Could be rustling up a little crumble over the weekend, however Roast Chicken will certainly not be on the menu for any more of you jokers on Facebook!

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So for the last two weeks I have been asking my middle daughter who is home for Easter from Uni, the same question daily … “Is there anything you would like me to wash before you go back to Uni?”.  Each day I have gazed into her bedroom and observed the” floordrobe” where all her worldly goods are strewn; in fact, one day I found Wilfred (our dog) curled up on a brown fleece Onesie.   He was so well camouflaged  I didn’t immediately notice him there!  I have been getting the same reply each day…. “no mum, I’m fine; don’t need anything washed”.  Until that is of course, just now, one hour before her scheduled departure when she asks if I can wash her hoodie!  She has been earning some drinking money by caring for several small children, and has just noticed there is baby snot/milk dribble down the shoulder!  She is so predictable … the next thing will be a message tonight when she arrives back in Oxford saying she has forgotten her laptop charger or her favorite flip flops or her essential ID!  Note to self …  run through a check list before scheduled departure!!


Well, I just served a nice Sunday roast chicken dinner for one soon to be departing daughter and one that has just arrived back from Spain, as you do when your life is just one big vacation, plus my permanent youngest resident !  Afterwards, we combined our collective Tetris skills, and loaded up Marvin the Mini ready to return to Oxford, filling him up with clobber, home baked goodies including Banana & Blueberry Muffins, Leek & Potato Soup and Chilli con Carne, plus an Ocado shop,  leaving a bit of space for her passenger and his belongings.  All my girls have their daddy wrapped around their little fingers, so it came as no surprise, as the farewell hugs were being shared,  that she managed to extort some cash from his wallet which is supposedly to cover her petrol cost;  I am guessing it will be spent in the pub later tonight!  That is, if she can find it;  just got a phone call from the M25 saying “you know that £30 that dad just gave me ..  did you see where I put it?)!!!  I have spent the last 18 years searching for endless misplaced “it’s not my fault” items!

And so the launderette swings into action again.  As one wheely bag leaves, another arrives home full of dirty washing.  I have failed on the delegation of laundry front .. think it is the control freak in me that finds it hard to let go!

Onto my hot topic of the chooks …  we had a very unwelcome visitor in the paddock yesterday.  Mr Fox!  Spotted wandering around in search of his weekend roast, however, luckily he was intercepted and scurried off back through the hedge.  This has now made me feel very anxious for the safety of the girls.  They have roamed daily, pecking at the grass and scratching about happily for almost 4 years now, possibly on borrowed time  Watch this space…

So the Easter holidays have come to an end, the eggs have almost been eaten and  we will find out if enough revision has been done in the next few months!  Four weeks now till the Leavers Ball which will also signify the last day that any of my offspring will wear a school uniform ever again … end of an era.  Four weeks till the end of the first year of Uni for one, and the third and final year for my big girl.  All change!

P.S.  Just as I was adding tags to this blog, I heard a chicken screeching and managed to once again intercept Mr Fox .. no Sunday roast for you today young man!!!  Fingers crossed no mid-week roasts either!!

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Solar Powered!

Solar Powered!.

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It’s still only March and temperatures have reached the dizzy heights of 23 degrees!  It has been hotter than the Med, and dryer than the Sahara, and I have been so busy in the garden that I haven’t had time to blog.  What with that and desperate urge to stock up on fuel, First Class Stamps and the essential Pimms!   The demand for petrol rose by 85% yesterday and gerry cans by 500% thanks to the panic that has been fueled by the government, even though the tanker drivers haven’t even confirmed they will be striking!   I keep suggesting to my middle girlie that she needs to get her car filled up as a priority if she has any hope of driving home this weekend for Easter, but oblivious to the news, and totally self absorbed, the only fuel she seems to be taking onboard is Sainsbury’s Value Vodka washed down with shots of Sambuca!  She messaged me earlier with the morning after munchies, saying that all she had left in her fridge was cheddar, Philadelphia, parmesan and goats cheese, but I figured it was a bit early in the day for a fondue!


















I sometimes wonder if I am solar powered … I have so much more energy when the sky is blue and the sun is shining.  Even though there is more daylight, poor old Mrs Hen is still not firing on all cylinders.  I spoke to my lovely chicken man who owns Withy Cottage Garden Poultry  and he has suggested that she may have gapeworm.  I have bought some special food for her, which is laced with a chemical wormer which should hopefully treat her .. watch this space.  I have been busy digging my vegetable patch most of the week, in preparation for my big planting session.  Tomorrow I will plant my seed potatoes, and have a delve in my seed tin, and use up some of the packets that have been in there since last Summer.  Reluctant to plant too much, as the dreaded hosepipe ban starts next week, so hydration may be a bit of a challenge this year!

I was invited to a little girls lunch this week with two very dear friends of mine, both teachers, who have broken up a week before their kids, and we ate a some beautiful Herb Crusted Sea Bass. She modified the recipe from the following link Herb-crusted plaice by Richard Phillips – ITV Food.  I have just put the ingredients in my Ocado trolley and I plan to try it out on my family this weekend.  I think there will be a houseful again, as Uni and school terms have ended.  Revision for exams should be on the agenda for the next couple of weeks in preparation for those GCSE’s and the exams that allow you to move on to your second year of University.  Let’s hope year two involves a lot more work and sleep coupled with a lot less cheap alcohol and liver damage!  Oh and there is also a trip to London taking place this Sunday, to attend an interview for  Junior Apprentice for the youngest member of our family!  Looking at the very strict confidentiality agreement that we have to sign, my lips will have to be sealed if she is successful!

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So here I am, on a Tuesday morning just waiting to leave to collect my jet setting daughter from Heathrow.  I learnt over night via Twitter that she was delivered to JFK in a stretch limo, as you do, and from Facebook that she has added some more electric ink to her small but perfectly formed body.  And what have I been doing?? Oh yes … I have just walked back in the house from my latest mission of trying to catch my chicken, Mrs Hen, who is showing signs of being poorly.  I don’t think it has anything to do with the baked beans she ate on Sunday, so I referred to my daily life curing manual and ultimate encyclopedia of life.. GOOGLE!  Loads of other chicken owners, many of them possibly fanatics/nutters from America, post on a chat allotment website and a smallholdings site “the essential tool for Smallholders“, and I think from what they are chatting about she may have ‘Sour Crop‘.  So to cut a long story short, after a mad chase around the paddock, I got her back into her nesting box, managed with the assistance of a willing helper (my husband, who is desperately trying to leave for work in his suit!).  After accidently shutting her foot in the door, I held her upside down by her feet hoping that some foul smelling fluid would slip out of her beak (that’s what the chat room said would happen!), but alas, my tactical chunder stunt wasn’t quite as effective as I had been led to believe.  Another site said put some Apple Cider Vinegar into her water, and give her live natural yoghurt and garlic .. shame for both of us that I hadn’t read this handy tip first!


Anyway, just checked the British Airways  website and the BA182 is due a little bit earlier than schedule, so poor Mrs Hen will have to wait for her next appointment with the in-house vet!!


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Well I have just returned from a wonderful half term holiday break, that was incredible value for money.  I dispatched my husband to the Middle East on business for the week .. well someone has to!  I logged onto Amazon and purchased both Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker, the first two books in this gripping, intriguing trilogy and set out some ground rules for myself as follows:

  • Heating thermostat must be turned up at all times (no husband around to fiddle with the dial!)
  • Do not feel guilty sitting on the sofa with a roaring log fire reading (you are on holiday!)
  • Limit oneself to one fun size bag of Cadburys mini eggs per day (move on to Minstrels if will power fails!)
  • Dogs to be walked at least once a day to avoid a) a mess in the house and garden and b) to avoid deep vein thrombosis from all that sitting!
  • Flexible meal times for kids (small adults!) with a mantra of DIY if any complaints are registered!
  • A maximum of one load of washing to be done on alternate days.
  • White wine permissible as required!
  • Desperate Housewives, TOWIE, Eastenders, Celebrity Juice and Chick Flicks to be watched when not reading

I didn’t realise that holidaying in your own home could be so relaxing.  I ventured out to a shop once to buy a little romantic meal for two to eat on Valentines day with my youngest, and had a girlie dinner in one night with two of my girls, plus my oldest friend and my god daughter.  I rustled up a quick Nigella Curry in a Hurry and dipped some gorgeous strawberries in dark chocolate for dessert.  I was going to upload a video for this recipe for those Nigella fans but I couldn’t get it to work.  Incidentally my husband says I remind him of Nigella; not sure if it is because of her epic rack, or her passion for cooking!

Anyway, I am now totally hooked in the Fifty Shades Trilogy .. not quite the literature I am used to reading; not because of its lack of  intellectual stimulation, but its core theme of sadomasochism which was not a topic talked about in the convent I was educated in!    Definitely not a suitable recommend for the village book club, however, it’s the psychological level that is the most entrancing making the third in the trilogy a must!  Found this picture and it sums up in a few words what I mean:

And then my holiday came to an abrupt end on Friday!  Husband returned from Dubai, daughter and boyfriend returned from Oxford, and the washing machine hasn’t stopped whirring since.  Made a special birthday dinner for my future son-in-law, who has this nasty habit of giving my husband “quirky” gifts  .. this time a poster of the Periodic Table of Sex … thanks Rob (not!!)  And I had even made him some special birthday cupcakes AND a Banoffee Pie!

It’s now Monday, my  holiday is over and it’s back to the real world now!

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Can’t believe it’s Friday already!  I know they say that as you get older, time passes even faster so on that basis I must be totally ancient!  At the beginning of the week I despatched my youngest daughter (15) from her comfort zone in Surrey up to the the big wide world of London.  Initially she was understandably apprehensive, especially because she has been living up there for the week, however judging by what she was tweeting last night, I am considering puttting her room up for rent:


“Coming back to Surrey tomorrow! #boring

“Still going as a business woman!! Just had corporate drinks#poshlyhammered

“Found lots of perfect husband material up in the banking district!”

“Can’t help but think my Dorking life is so dull compared to this”

“I think I underestimated London”


I am looking forward to her supporting me in my care home in the future, when her career as a city Lawyer has taken off!  I am thinking payback time!  On the subject of dementia, I don’t appear to be the only one in the family showing early signs.  During this week my middle daughter has lost, replaced and then found her student ID, lost, paid for a ticket and then found her free bus pass and then there is this all time classic sign of madness.  After cooking a non-student budget, designer lunch of freshly grilled tuna with rice, she sits down to tuck in, when the Uni fire alarm goes off.  Most people who are sane and value their lives, leave what they are doing immediately and evacuate, but oh no!  Mad people scurry to their bedroom with their plate full of food and hide away and keep tucking in!  Maybe a twin room in Sunrise is an option .. come to think of it, I have a husband who thinks he is a dog, and comments as if he is our dog, Wilfred, on Facebook.  Maybe we need a family suite, and with a Lawyers salary that will be possible!


On the subject of madness, I took my mum to the Opticians yesterday, which was an epic mission in itself.  I managed to park on the only patch of ice in the car park, and as she placed her walking stick down as she vacated the car, nearly re-broke her hip.  Then she convinced herself she had never been to this Optician before, and that it had changed locations, and whilst taking her back to the car she had a panic attack, refused to move, and accused me of navigating her to the wrong car park!  On the positive side, and there is always one in my experience from my half full perspective, her eyesight has improved over 12 months.  She had been diagnosed previously with Macular Degeneration; she had been recommended to take Lutein,an important natural antioxidant that may help your eyes stay healthy.  It seems to have worked!

Lutein in a strong dose for M.D.


And then there was the return of the snow, and we are back into the artic conditions that arrived 7 days ago …



I am now looking forward to the arrival of my personal copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, which I shall be devouring over half term!




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It takes a lot for me to leave the Surrey Hills these days!  Most commonly, it is for a flight to somewhere exotic, but today I left the comfort of my own home for another reason.   As George Meredith, famous novelist and poet, quoted at the turn of the 20th Century “Nowhere in England is richer foliage or wilder downs and fresher woodlands“.  I exchanged the ‘snowy’ woodlands for London, as today was a big day for my youngest daughter.  She has work experience this week prior to completing her GCSE’s in the Summer, and she is extremely fortunate to be spending the week in London, based in Inner Temple with my oldest school friend who is a Planning and Environmental Barrister.  What a beautiful place to work from, steeped in history, and set in a stunning location, with unrivaled views of London.



She has a unique agenda for a 15 year old budding Lawyer .. a day at the House of Commons, a day with a Criminal Law Firm, and a day with a City firm of Solicitors, not to mention spending time in Chambers with some Junior Barristers.  I managed to convince her that thigh high stretchy lycra skirts were possibly not quite appropriate this week.  I was so proud of her this morning, dressed in a tailored black suit, with knee length skirt and hair pulled into a bun.  She needed to show her passport to the man at the station, to convince him she was entitled to a child’s ticket!

So that’s my number three on the path of a career (hopefully), and I wonder if it was a coincidence that last night I dreamt that I wanted another baby (which incidentally I really don’t!).

Before I headed back to the Surrey Hills, I darted into W H Smiths at the station to find a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, and sadly they don’t stock it either!  Am now contemplating buying a Kindle so I can download the Trilogy.

And now I am back home, away from the buzz of London, back with my snow bound chickens, and dogs wondering what to rustle up for dinner …  found an interesting packet of Sainsbury’s Porcini Mushroom Risotto Kit that I think I will do something with.. probably without the chickens though!



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