Þam beancoddum – the bean pods…

I’ve mentioned before that I go to a group where we discuss Anglo-Saxon… we aren’t trying to learn it, we don’t have a teacher, and to be honest, I think it’s a bit beyond us! We do have most interesting meetings, though, and we always overrun our time together!

We met yesterday and talked about many things, and then our leader shared this short story; here is the first part, which I’m sure you are familiar with in modern English!

He cwæð: Soðlice sum monn hæfde twegen suna.
Þa cwæð se gingra to his fæder, “Fæder, sele me mine dæl minre æhte þe me to gebyreþ.” Þa dælde he him his æhta.
Ða æfter feawum dagum eall his þing gegaderode se gingra sunu ond ferde wræclice on feorlen rice ond forspilde þær his æhta, libbende on his gælsan.
Ða he hie hæfde ealle amierrede, þa wearð micel hungor on þam rice and he wearð wædla.
Þa ferde he and folgode anum burhsittendum men þæs rices; ða sende he hine to his tune þæt he heolde his swin.
Ða gewilnode he his wambe gefyllan of þam beancoddum þe ða swin æton, and him mon ne sealde.
Þa beþohte he hine ond cwæð, “Eala, hu fela hyrlinga on mines fæder huse hlaf genohne habbað, ond ic her on hunger forweorðe!”

…and here is a version you may be familiar with:

He said, “There was a man who had two sons.
The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

I can’t find a recording of this to share, but here is the Lord’s Prayer:

If you’re feeling spring like…

I’m looking through the delightful 1946 knitting book, Knitting For All, and I’ve come across a chapter I’ve looked at before, entitled ‘The Fascinating Fez’. There is a city of Fez in Morocco, which was once the capital city of the country until 1925 and even now is now the capital of the Fès-Meknès  region. It’s listed as a World Heritage Site and its University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the whole world!

However the fez in the knitting book, is the hat which is so named because that is where the style came from – replacing the turbans Moroccans originally wore. Fezes are traditionally made of felt and are mainly known as being red with a black tassel.

Here is the fez. Just the plain fez, worn as a fez. But that’s just the beginning of the story. With your plain fez, wear a tassel, or if you’re feeling spring like, a bunch of flowers as the girl in the picture above has.

I cannot imagine any ‘girl’ these days decorating a knitted fez with a bunch of flowers, and I struggle to imagine any woman in the 1940’s would! I guess sewing on some knitted flowers might work… maybe…

 The great thing about this fez  is that it’s adaptable; coax it a bit and you can do anything with it. here, for instance, (left) the top is squashed down and rolled – and the scarf has been swathed round like a turban and tied in a cunning knot.
One last disguise for the fez (right). Swathe it round with the scarf, which should be stitched lightly round the lower edge of the fez, and pass the two ends of the scarf through the loop, letting them hang down. Crown of the fez can be high or low as your fancy dictates.

The cunning knot… it all depends on the cunning knot…

My toilet twin!

I hope you weren’t put off by the title of this post; in fact it is a very serious thing – having safe and secure sanitation. We are so fortunate we are completely able to take for granted that not only in our homes, but pretty much anywhere else we go we can find toilet facilities which are clean, secure, private and safe. In many parts of the world this is not so, and particularly for women it is a daily worry and problem.

I donated to a charity called Toilet Twinning, which is just that – you twin your toilet with a new one somewhere to help people have the dignity of proper sanitation.

Here is what the charity says:

Twin your loo and flush away poverty!

2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo. That’s more than a third of the people on the planet.
By donating £60 to twin your toilet, you help those in desperate poverty to have access to a proper latrine, clean water and the information they need to be healthy.
Your smallest room becomes the proud owner of a certificate, complete with a colour photo of its twin and GPS coordinates so you can look up your twin on Google Maps.

…and …

Toilet Twinning funds the work of international relief and development agency Tearfund. Your donation will be used to provide clean water, basic sanitation, and hygiene education. This vital combination works together to prevent the spread of disease. Children are healthier, and able to go to school; parents are well enough to work their land and grow enough food to feed their family. With better health, and more ability to earn a living, men and women discover the potential that lies within them to bring transformation.
Family by family, community by community, nation by nation, we are flushing away poverty.

My toilet is twinned with a latrine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a place called Rutshuru


I just twinned my toilet

I came across a charity which provides toilet facilities in countries where many people have nowhere to go… to go! It maybe a bit of a gimmick in a way, but the idea is that you twin your toilet – you donate to have a toilet facility built somewhere; you can chose which country or you can have the organisation choose.

It strikes me that water and sanitation or lack of it are such a fundamental right, and that lack of them makes life so difficult for people many of whom are already in difficult circumstances, that helping in a small way by twinning or donating a toilet, would really help at a very basic level.

People are forced from their homes for all sorts of reasons, and struggle with difficult and challenging lives… if they have the security of knowing they can keep themselves and their families clean and safe from many sanitary based diseases and illnesses maybe they would have a better chance of a positive life…

  • 2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo. That’s more than a third of the people on the planet.
  • Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other wastewater drain into the world’s waters
  • Toilet Twinning funds the work of international relief and development agency Tearfund. Your donation will be used to provide clean water, basic sanitation, and hygiene education. This vital combination works together to prevent the spread of disease. Children are healthier, and able to go to school; parents are well enough to work their land and grow enough food to feed their family. With better health, and more ability to earn a living, men and women discover the potential that lies within them to bring transformation

I don’t yet know where my twinned toilet will be, but i look forward to hearing from it!!


I will say this only once

‘Allo Allo was a very popular comedy based on a serious drama series set in war-torn France, with the plucky French resistance and others struggling under German occupation. In ‘Ello ‘Ello, there were many catch-phrases which became part of everyday speech, and I’m sure even now there are people of a certain age who will say ‘good moaning’, ‘you stupid woman’, ‘it is I, Leclerc!’ I am sure there are many people who never even saw it and will say, ‘listen very carefully, I will say this only once!’ There were any number of very silly and also very funny jokes, including as you might imagine in a series like this, many ludicrous passwords which the characters used (and misused) in the course of the proceedings.

As children we all had secret passwords and signs and signals, most of which we forgot or misremembered as soon as we knew them; I don’t suppose any of us thought we might actually need passwords… and now, obviously we do. Almost every site we go on now requires passwords – and even as I write this I’m wondering how many other people have written blogs about it…

I have just spent ten minutes trying to change the order for my milkman. I have tried to rationalise passwords by having the same one for everything, even though some sites require capital and lower case letters, some want numbers, some want punctuation marks or other symbols, some don’t wan letters repeated, some want them of a certain length… So all I wanted was to change my milk order for Saturday; the site didn’t recognize my password, then told me I had written it incorrectly three times, then told me as I tried to recreate a new one that I had used that before… and so it went on.

I write them all down – yes I know you’re not supposed to, but surely that is in a work situation, not at home when I’m the only one who uses the computer… Anyway, having sorted that, the site then told me I wasn’t using the correct user name…

I might just leave a note out for milkie…


We haven’t got a heatwave today although it is a lovely, lovely day! It’s so warm that I’m wearing shorts! Who knows how long this will last but it seems right for me to start reading the next book for book club which is ‘Instructions For A Heatwave’ by Maggie O’Farrell, followed in the next month ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ by Joanna Cannon. Both these books are set in the summer of 1976 when there was a heatwave here in Britain.

It was really, really, really, hot… Wikipedia says:

In the Central England Temperature series, 1976 has the hottest summer for more than 350 years and probably for much longer. The average temperature over the whole summer (June, July, August) was 17.77 °C, compared to the average for the unusually warm years between 2001–2008 of 16.30 °C. There have in other years been hotter specific summer months, though.The summer was so hot that it is embedded in the national psyche, with subsequent heatwaves in 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2006 all using 1976 as a benchmark.

So if 2006 was the last really hot summer, maybe eleven years on we’re due for another! I was away in France with friends during that summer, but as we returned at the end of August, I remember hearing a new broadcast, warning people not to go beneath large trees as many of them were dropping their branches because of the heat. When I got home to Weston-super-Mare, my family told me the town had been plagued with ladybirds; there was such a thick carpet of the insects that you couldn’t help but tread on them, and any washing put out on the line was covered with them. Some of them bit and stung people too! The British Entomological and Natural History Society apparently estimated that by late July 23.65 billion of them  swarmed across the southern and eastern coasts of England!

I remember 1976 too as the year I wrote my first ‘proper’ novel; it was pretty dire, but there were a few ideas which I might one day take up and write about again… but maybe not…

I like your sauce! Vintage sauce!

Something which gets me leaping onto my hobby-horse and galloping round and round the room is best before dates; I understand why there needs to be some information on when a product was made and especially some suggestions of when such things as fresh meat or fish should be eaten by (even though your nose and eyes should give you a big hint) but modern packaging these days with its ‘best before’ dates has led to a huge amount of unnecessary food waste. People will throw things away as soon as they reach their best before dates even though they are perfectly safe to eat – ‘best’ means best – not you will suffer excruciatingly if a morsel of this passes your lips the day after…

Preserves – the clue is in the word ‘preserve’; the whole process, millennia old no doubt, is to keep food so it will last healthily and safely; a couple of days ago, I messaged a friend to tell her how much I was enjoying her whisky marmalade – which she gave me in 2012… yes five years ago, and it was delicious! I don’t often have bacon sandwiches, but when I do I have brown sauce, HP, actually; it’s the only time I have the sauce so you can imagine it’s not often used.  As I was closing the lid after dribbling it onto my bacon, I glanced at the ‘best before’ date… 2007… yes, no mistake, 2007…

This doesn’t mean you should pay no attention to bb dates – I opened a new bag of  couscous for dinner last night… It was edible but had a strange musty flavour – that’s because I bought it three years ago and it had got tucked at the back of everything else… It was edible but not very nice, so I threw it away (in the food recycling bin of course!)

By the way the word ‘sauce’ comes as you might guess from Latin, meaning things which have been salted… or seasoned. To be saucy is to be cheeky or suggestive, but the phrase ‘I like your sauce!’ implies that someone has been impolite, rude or arrogant – but sometimes in a joking way, as with me and my title!