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Everything Blackpool

Here is a little list of what we have done this weekend in Blackpool with my friend Karen

Walked along the prom
Cuddled a donkey on the beach - and been leaned on in return
Danced a rhumba on the floor of the Tower Ballroom - by copying the couple next to us
Laughed and groaned at the jokes on the comedy pavement
Had fish'n'chips at Harry Ramsden's
Gambled away our tuppences in Coral Island - and donated our winning tickets to people who were collecting them
Bought rock and candy floss
Watched Strictly with a take-away and some Cava
Drunk innumerable cups of tea and talked for hours.
Looked at all the tableaux illuminations with a very excited six-year old.

Oh and in case you are wondering, that tower in France that looks like the Blackpool tower?
It is the Trifle Tower.
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Quilting triumph!

Today I finished my hand-made quilt.
It has taken me at least 5 years and every stitch was hand-sown.
Now it has pride of place, covering the double bed in the spare room.

Of course, it may be a little too fragile to let anyone actually sit on it or sleep under it, but it looks fantastic.

What achievement are you proud of this weekend?
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A busy weekend

Thursday was our wedding anniversary so we took the afternoon off and headed off to Chepstow to stay at a swanky hotel for a couple of days.
I had a swim/ steam room/ jacuzzi session while Chris did some serious reading/ napping.
We had a v posh meal (although I was middle-class enough to ask for flutes to drink our Prosecco out of).
Friday it rained a lot but we walked all over Chepstow castle anyway. Had lunch in a nice pub overlooking the river and then wandered round the museum before hitting the charity shops and indulging in a hot chocolate.
I then had another swim etc to work up an appetite for another lovely meal.
Saturday we drove to Baglan and experienced the wetness of Baglan Bay before Chris dropped me off at St Katherine's church for the 50th anniversary of Great-Grandad Pitman's funeral.
He now has his own wikipedia page here.

There were about 20 bell-ringers there to commemorate him, six of whom rang one of his peals.

I met most of my Mum's cousins (Josie, Mike, Geoff) most of whom I hadn't seen since I was a child and had a good chat with my second cousins Russell and Anthea. There is definitely a family resemblance amongst us all - I kept looking across the hall for Mum and seeing someone with her hair or her eyes, but it was someone else.

Chris re-joined me for tea and cake in the church hall at 3 before we headed home.

I think the peal was successful - it was still going when we left.

And then we got home and had a lovely Saturday evening at home.
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More on FODMAPs

I am still working my way through the list of high FODMAP foods to see which set off my digestive troubles and which don't.

Apples, onions, apricots, pears and houmus all cause problems.
Garlic, peas, broad beans and nectarines are all fine.

On Friday morning when I was safely working from home, I tried some lactose-free milk to see if it is the lactose or the caseins as well that are the issue. It was a very strange experience. I had a little in a cup of tea and then later in the morning I had some in a cup of coffee. My brain was sending out danger signals saying "This is not food. This will upset your stomach" and it was right. I even felt slightly nauseous while drinking the coffee.

So that's a no then.

I have tried a small amount of roquefort again and that was ok.
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Very behind on reading

For the last 2 weeks I have hardly read lj. I did a "catch-up" last weekend which took me from -160 to -100 posts and I've just done from current to -60.
What really cool post should I have read?

Since going to Bletchley Park with Emma a couple of weeks ago, I have been immersing myself in WW2 via Black Out and now All Clear. I still find the screwball rushing around rather irritating - even more so now I understand central London geography a little better (just get out and WALK!). I have more sympathy with the historians trying to protect each other especially Eileen who is constantly roped in to help out other people.

We watched the first 3 episodes of The Bletchley Circle and found it very enjoyable. My granny, who loved mathematical puzzles (such as number theory) would have loved it.

Yesterday we went to Farnborough Air Show, courtesy of free tickets from work, which included lunch and viewing of the air displays from the comfort of the company chalet. I took a couple of adequate videos on my phone of various fly-bys and stunts from some ancient planes.

The F35 hovering in mid-air and then flying sideways before rotating on the spot was incredibly impressive. It did look impossible.

I have been watching the political changes with a mixture of bafflement and incredulity. I never thought the conservatives would have a second female Prime Minister before either of the other parties had one. And who knows what the Labour party is going to do to itself next.
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Chocolate + strawberries = ?

For the past few days, Chris and I have had a small bowl of strawberries after tea, using up those that are soon going to go off. There is a full basin in the fridge of perfect ripe strawberries and a carton on the windowsill of those that need to finish ripening.
At the weekend, I asked Chris to pick up some dark cooking chocolate and yesterday I had great fun with a bain marie. The result was chocolate coated fresh strawberries, which were absolutely delicious.
I took a few to work today and everyone who wanted one said they were delicious.
So this evening I created a few more and also some chocolate coated crystalised ginger on the side.

Happy sigh!
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Exciting things!

Chris is enjoying his new job so far.
I have won us 2 tickets to the Farnborough Air Show in July and I have just been rummaging through the website. It looks like we will have a wonderful day. And it is just possible that those tickets may include some corporate hospitality - Leigh in HR said details are to follow.
My Mum has emailed me to say that 20th August is the 50th anniversary of my Great-Grandad's funeral and his local tower (at Baglan, near Port Talbot) are planning to ring one of his major works. It will take about 3 hours.
We are invited, however we are hoping to be away on holiday - more details once we work out what is feasible.

And in gardening news, the strawberries are ripening daily - I have picked 3 bowlfuls in the last week - and they are delicious.
The courgette seeds that germinated at the weekend now have primary leaves about 3 inches round and are working on their next leaves.
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Fruit cage is finished!

I feel so smug. Even 5 years ago, I would not have considered trying to do this.
And I have picked 4 full-size strawberries, which means we are already equal to last year's harvest.

There has been more gardening today. Chris has finished mowing the lawn and I have planted out the rest of the sweetcorn and the 3 campanula plants I bought yesterday.

I have also finished sewing the seam for the underneath layer of my quilt. My next move is some very gentle pressing and then I'm ready to tack the 3 layers together.

Now to rule the world before tea...
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Strawberry news

Our first two strawberries have started turning pink. Given that, like the rest of the UK, it looks like we are going to have a bumper crop this year, I have put hay around the base (I couldn't find straw). I have now half-constructed a low level fruit cage as well. I bought 10M * 0.5 M of plastic-coated chicken wire and this is enough to wrap around the sides. I used the old rusty 2M plumbing pipe that we were going to take the the dump as the basis of one side and various bamboo canes for the other. For now I have put translucent plastic sheeting over the top but tomorrow I'm going to buy some plastic mesh as Chris has pointed out that it will probably be too hot and dry under there for them.

In other gardening news, I have bought 2 grow bags and planted out 5 tomato plants.

There is plenty more gardening I would like to do, but that is enough for today with my recovering knee and ankle.

Missing everyone who is at Wiscon at the moment.