I actually don’t like Spam, but lots of people do, including my husband. Spam is tinned pork and ham and it’s produced by Hormel Foods Corporation; in Britain it’s either served cold in sandwiches or with salad or maybe boiled potatoes and vegetables, or fried, or made into fritters…. spam fritters are very popular, but not with me I should say!, Spam was first produced in 1937 but apparently these days there are all sorts of different flavours, including jalapeño, black pepper, hickory and roast turkey! Spam leapt back into the public eye when it was mentioned in a Monty Python sketch, and this led eventually to the use of spam for junk email.

Email and on-line spam is just rubbish (not the luncheon meat Spam, that’s not rubbish at all!) and what is more it is infuriating rubbish, and can be very dangerous rubbish. However real Spam is celebrated; there is a Spam museum, a Spam festival and a Spam jam! Reclaim the word Spam, let’s brand spam as rubbish and just bin it!

Rosie and Jim

When my children were small they used to enjoy watching a children’s cartoon series on TV called Rosie and Jim. Rosie and Jim were two rag dolls who lived on a canal barge called Ragdoll, and they had various adventures as they travelled the waterways of Britain. it was entertaining  and educational; Rosie was always very naughty in a harmless way, and the two dolls were always up to innocent mischief. The narrow boat would stop in various places and the driver would get off and explore the area around wherever it was they had stopped.

Rosie and Jim were created by John Cunliffe and he wrote the first fifty episodes, and also appeared in many of them. Altogether there were about 175 episodes and there were books and games and comics, and other spin-off merchandise.

The family recipe book

Our family loves food and cooking… loves everything about food and cooking, reading recipes, looking at cookery books, buying new utensils or just wanting to buy new utensils, making, baking, roasting, toasting, frying eating… Breakfast, lunch tea, dinner, supper, snacks and elevenses… We love it!

Several years ago as a Christmas present to my cousins we made a cookery book of our mum’s favourite recipes (maybe it’s time to do a book with our dads favourite recipes!) Our cousins are staying with us at the moment so it seemed an ideal time to make  cake, the youngest member doing the baking and me doing the washing up. We talked about lemon cake, a family favourite, but we have several different recipes; my recipe, my cousin’s, my aunty’s, my mum’s…


Carolyn’s recipe

  • 4 oz margarine
  • 6 oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 large lemon, grated zest and juice
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  1. beat all the ingredients except the lemon juice and 4 oz caster sugar together, pour into a greased, lined  7″ x 11″ tin
  2. bake for 50-60 mins 140° – 160° C until risen and golden
  3. pour lemon juice over the top while it is still hot and sprinkle with the 4 oz sugar; leave in the tin to cool

Monica’s recipe

  • 4 oz margarine
  • 4½ oz self-raising flour
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  •  1 dessert spoon of lemon curd
  • 2½ oz granulated sugar
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  1. beat margarine,4 oz caster sugar and lemon curd together until creamy
  2. add beaten egg and sifted flour alternately
  3. Pour into a greased and lined 7″ x 11″ tin, bake until risen and golden
  4. melt sugar and lemon juice in pan, but do not boil
  5. pour over cake while it is still warm and cool in the tin



We are so lucky to have a fab family of lovely cousins and the cousins visiting us now brought not only their good selves and cake-making son, but a selection of ready-made cocktails in sachets which can be popped in the freezer until needed… mmmm, how very nice, a had a mojito last night! As I was clearing away our empty glasses (this morning!) I began to wonder about where the name ‘cocktail came from. I wasn’t sure whether cocktail, meaning a mixture of things, was in use before the alcoholic version became popular, thinking about an actual cock bird’s tail, and how often they are a mixture of colours.

I investigated and found that it is generally agreed that the first written time the word was used in the current sense was in 1807 by an American barman. However, the ide of mixing spirits has a long history of its own. The idea of alcohol being good for health goes back to at least Biblical times, and in the 1600’s in Britain the duty on alcohol was reduced.Water supplies in the cities were so contaminated and the population increasing so dramatically and living in what we would call slums, that disease was rife. It wasn’t properly understood that the water people drank caused the diseases they suffered, and alcohol was used as a preventative and cure… If people didn’t drink water but only gin and beer, they may died of alcoholism but they wouldn’t get dysentery! So maybe the idea of mixing drinks went back to when alcohol was so cheap.

The word cocktail might derive from an actual horse’s tail; a cocked tail was one of the signs of a healthy horse, and there were plenty of tricks for getting an animal’s tail to cock up by unscrupulous dealers, including the application of mustard/horseradish/ginger to a delicate part f the poor creature’s anatomy!

In trying to find the origins for the word describing the delicious concoction of spirits, I came across a very interesting and complete article, which 1798 has been discovered to be the first recorded use of the word; on March 20th to be exact:

Novel thoughts

Reading the Review section of the newspaper today I was looking at what was being written about new books which have been recently published, and noticed the little subtitles heading each review:

  • novels full of elegant insights
  • sensational novel won’t disappoint
  • urgent, necessary and wonderfully disturbing
  • the most unsettling novel of the author’s career
  • daring use of an almost silent narrator
  • consoling fantasies… both popular and critically acclaimed
  • an heir to Virginia Woolf… subtly but surely reinvents the novel

I wonder what might be said about my novels if I were so lucky to have them published and reviewed? I definitely don’t write novels full of elegant insights, nor could any of the be described as sensational, nor urgent, nor unsettling, let alone wonderfully disturbing. I’ll have to read the book to find out how a narrative could be conducted by a silent narrator, and whether i think it is daring or not… I don’t write consoling fantasies, and definitely don’t reinvent novels…

I will have to think what I am trying to do, and what impact I would hope to make by my stories…

Sculpted in sand

Every summer for the last eight years, sand sculptors from across the world have come to Weston-super-Mare to construct the most magical works just from the materials they find on the beach. Each year there is a theme, and so far visitors and Westonians have enjoyed an amazing variety of interpretations of Fairy Tales, The Continents of the World, Under the Ocean, Great Britain, The Jungle, Fun & Games and last year it was Hollywood. For 2014 the new theme is “Once Upon a Time” and the sculptors have taken inspiration from fairy tales, children’s books, myths, legends and modern works such as The Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games trilogy.

The pieces are made just from sand and water, no chemicals, no sprays, no artificial holding agents, just sand, water and skill. I was amazed by the expression and feelings put into the works, and how something as tricklesome as sand can be formed into the most wonderful, and in a way, quite moving, sculptures.

DSCF7386The mouse saves the lion, a fable from Æsop