General Slothfulness (do you see what I did there….?)

Ah, it’s all sloths with me at the moment.  Actually this is a word of encouragement to any of you who believe that you are ‘Not Ready for Christmas’ – whatever that means.  In order to encourage you this is where I’m up to:

1.  Today, I made my Christmas Cake – it’s just about to go in the oven.  I soaked the fruit for 24 hours in brandy and skipped the month of feeding.  Tomorrow I shall marzipan and ice it and on Tuesday I shall decorate it.  I have chosen a simple decoration so as not put any pressure on myself.

2.  On Thursday, I made my Christmas pudding.  NOTE:  I did it over night in the slow cooker saving both gas, electricity and anxiety about the pot boiling dry.

3.  Tonight and tomorrow, I’m going to wrap my presents whilst watching ‘Holiday Inn’ (I saw ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at the pictures so I can tolerate a bit of deviance!)  There will be sherry

4.  This evening, I’m going to make a new Santa Sack for the Father of My Children who is coming for Christmas.

5.  At some point I will clean the house.  The Boys can tidy and clean their bedrooms and change their sheets ready for guests

6.  On Monday morning, I will place the ham in the slow cooker with a load of cider and herbs and let it cook itself until I come home.

7.  On Tuesday, I shall buy vegetables and any extra supplies needed for Christmas Lunch  and Tea

8.  On Tuesday evening, I shall collect the Aged Parent from London.  I’m hoping that this will avoid any horrid traffic and then we can relax on Christmas Eve.

9. On Wednesday evening, I will stuff the turkey if I feel like it.

10.  If anyone finds fault with my house, its state of cleanliness, the homely nature of the food or the fact that someone is going to have to share a room with a hamster, they can bugger off.  I can guarantee that this won’t happen.

11.  Remember that Christmas is about sharing time with your family and friends and not a PR exercise to show what a wonderful host and entertainer you are.  Whatever you’re celebrating, fill the next few days with joy, love and gratitude and you won’t go far wrong.

12.  Sherry.

Christmas Spirit

Christmas Spirit

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And the winner is……….

It’s Sloth – a modern sloth not a prehistoric sloth .

Thank you for all your mad ideas and I’m almost flattered that you might think I could make a Christmas Corkindrill!


Sara could you please email you address to asap and I’ll get it sent out to you.

Sloth Christmas

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CHRISTMAS QUIZ – What has WH got on top of her Christmas Tree in 2014?

Now don’t shout at me, I know this is a bit late but, as you will all be painfully aware, I’ve been a bit crap since the end of the summer but I am attempting to make amends.

There is only one prize this year and it is a small but wonderful WH Christmas Pudding which should serve two gluttons or three moderate people. It contains everything, nuts, beef suet, gluten and possibly some residual DNA from one of the Three Wise Men.

You have 24 hours to answer the question and I will post the pudding to the winner on Friday afternoon, First Class.

So what does the Wartime Housewife have on top of her Christmas Tree?


It can be found in the tropics.
It used to be as large as an elephant.
It shares an ‘order’ with armadillos and anteaters.

Off you go,

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It’s a Wonderful Life

I’m SO excited. Tonight I’m going to the cinema with Mrs Cecil. to see ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Made in 1947 with James Stewart and Donna Reed, it is a tale of family, self-sacrifice, thwarted dreams, wickedness, despair and angels, with love of different kinds triumphing over everything.  Directed by Frank Capra, the story is heart-rending but never repellently schmalzy and is full of humour and humanity. James Stewart is not only a terrific actor, he is also rather gorgeous and he and Donna Reed perform a compelling two-hander that leaves one feeling somewhat wistful for more elegant and decent times.

I watch this film every Christmas, whilst drinking a large glass of Bristol Cream (with the decanter on hand in case of emergencies) and sob pitifully as I wrap my presents. This will be the first time I’ve seen it on the big screen. Hurrah!

I have put a large box of tissues in my handbag.

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings

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Be Prepared at Christmas – previous articles that you will find useful

Here are a few previous articles that you may find useful.  I know I do!


You should be starting to think about making your Christmas Cake, Pudding etc now and the following articles give excellent recipes for just such delightful activities.

Christmas Cake:          Cake     Marzipan     Icing

Christmas Pudding    Advent Sunday is on 25th November  this year and this is the day on which you should make your Pud.

Mincemeat:                 Traditional   With real meat! 

Baked Ham

Chocolate Truffles


Shopping for clothes


Last minute ideas

Christmas Lists

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Sunday Poem 219

I love this man so much.  This poem seems long but the lines are short!

Books make good pets – by John Agard (b. 1949)

Books make good pets
and don’t need
going to the vet.

You don’t have to keep
them on a lead
or throw them a stick.
They’ll wag their tails
When you flick
Their dog-eared pages.

Books make good pets
and don’t need
going to the vet.

One curious look sets
them purring
on the cushion of your eyes
as if to say dear browser
you’ve picked me up before
and thrown me aside
but I have more than nine lives
and no need to keep twiddling
that piece of string

Books make good pets
and don’t need
going to the vet.

They’ll burrow their way
through the dust of your mind
nibble at old ideas
to let in the new
and you don’t have to empty
any droppings on a tray.
No thank you.

Books make good pets
and don’t need
going to the vet.

They’ll hibernate
in the shell of their covers
and patiently wait
as long as centuries
to be rediscovered
in their own good time
when some reader rolls them over
on their cracked spine.

Books make good pets
and don’t need
going to the vet.

They’re easier to care
than tropical parakeets
and sometimes come in pairs
but they prefer to breed
in stacks and piles.
You don’t have to feed
them sunflower seed
and just about anywhere
will serve as a nesting site
and from the perch of a shelf
they’ll help you take flight
among the branches of yourself.

Books make good pets
and don’t need
going to the vet.

They’re as colourful as goldfish
in all their stillness
And believe me this is no whim
Books can glow and swim

in the bowl of your imagination.

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Last Posting Dates Christmas 2014 – from the UK

Services Dates
International Services
International Economy (formerly known as Surface Mail)
Monday 29 September Africa (except South Africa), Asia, Australia, Caribbean,
Central & South America, New Zealand
Tuesday 30 September Far and Middle East (except Hong Kong and Singapore)
Tuesday 14 October Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, USA
Tuesday 4 November Cyprus, Eastern Europe, Greece, Iceland, Malta, Turkey
Tuesday 18 November Western Europe
International Standard (formerly Airmail) and all
International Tracking and Signature Services
(formerly Airsure® and International Signed For®)
Wednesday 3 December Asia, Far East (including Japan), New Zealand
Thursday 4 December Australia
Friday 5 December Africa, Caribbean, Central & South America, Middle East
Monday 8 December Cyprus, Eastern Europe, Greece
Tuesday 9 December Canada, Poland
Friday 12 December USA
Saturday 13 December Western Europe (excluding Greece, Poland)
International Standard HM Forces Mail –
British Forces Post Office® (BFPO)
Friday 28 November Operational BFPOs
Friday 12 December Static BFPOs
UK Services
UK Inland Services
Thursday 18 December 2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
Saturday 20 December 1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For®
Tuesday 23 December Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®


Christmas post box

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The Archers: an institution in danger?

I’m sorry if this article is a little irrelevant to my international readers, but I’m afraid the plot lines of the 60 year old radio soap ‘The Archers’ could bring the mother country to its knees.

The ArchersI have been listening to ‘The Archers’ on and off since I was seven.   Because of my mother’s illness, I used to miss a lot of school and consequently I spent the occasional week staying at the home of my class teacher (imagine that happening now without the input of a social worker!).  We had a lovely evening routine; I would get into my nightie, and come down for a cup of Bournvita, served in a green utility cup and saucer, whilst we listened to ‘The Archers’, then we would play Scrabble until bedtime.

‘The Archers’ was about as far away from the life I knew as it was possible to get, and I was entranced by the antics of the young David and Shula, of Walter Gabriel, The Grundys, Phil and Grace, of Brookfield, Grange Farm and Lakey Hill.  Boarding school put a stop to my enjoyment for the next eight years and then being young and wild kept Ambridge from me for a few years more.  But then in 1987, being in full possession of my own radio, with no interruptions, I found them again and have been listening ever since.

The longevity of a programme like ‘The Archers’ is based upon change, development and relevance to the audience and Archers’ fans are a fiercely protective of their characters and storylines.  We listen to it because we are attached to the characters and care about what happens to them.  We have watched the Archer family grow, fight, marry, divorce and die and we have enjoyed, drama, humour , tragedy and sometimes the mind numbing routine of the minutiae of village life.  We know it’s not real but the programme represents twelve minutes a day of escapism and a good continuing story, which, because it is radio, doesn’t prevent us getting on with other things.

But we will not have the piss taken out of us by the writers and producers who are trying to turn ‘The Archers’ into a rural version of Eastenders.

They played a very dangerous trick when they killed off Nigel Pargetter in 2011 and lost a lot of listeners.  The accident that killed him was completely out of character and there was some suspicion that Nigel had been knocked off because he was one of the ‘posh’ ones in the series, and there were murmurs that the new writers were simply trying to shock their listeners in the 60th anniversary year.

Nigel was indeed posh; posh, eccentric and rich.  He was also kind, loving, loyal, innovative and ecologically aware.  More importantly, he was very, very popular and a genuinely positive voice in the ongoing tale of country folk and actually more representative of what is actually happening in rural communities than anything you’ll find in Emmerdale.

Now we are being presented with major characters,  Ruth and David selling up and moving to Northumberland, Peggy getting increasingly frail, Helen in an abusive relationship (again), Debbie in Hungary being sacked, Tommy and his bloody sausages going to Canada and now, to top it all, Tony has been crushed by a bull and may possibly be left paralysed.

It’s too much, too quickly and it’s foolhardy.  Archers fans do not want daily death and destruction, we do not want drama at every turn and we certainly don’t want shocking out of our loyalty.  We listen because the cast is wonderful, the storylines are believable and entertaining  and we’re not left feeling slightly grubby for enjoying it.

Is it possible that The Archers is perceived to be elitist in some way?  Is it possible that the views of 5 million listeners are being discounted  as ‘too middle class’?  And, and this is a long shot, is it possible that the longest running soap in the world is being surreptitiously wound down?

Pull yourselves together Production Team and remember who you’re writing for.

The Archers - archive

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Sunday Poem 218

The Poplar-Field – by William Cowper (1731-1800)

The poplars are felled, farewell to the shade
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade:
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.

Twelve years have elapsed since I first took a view
Of my favourite field, and the bank  where they grew,
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade.

The blackbird has fled to another retreat
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat;
And the scene where his melody charmed me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie as lowly as they,
With a turf on my breast and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

‘Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Short-lived as we are, our enjoyments, I see,
Have a still shorter date, and die sooner than we.

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Important quote about the Arts

“The Arts are not takers of money,
they are givers of dreams.”

Jenny Lee – former politician and wife of Aneurin Bevan (father of the NHS)

The arts are as necessary to the world as air and water.  Art, in all its forms, is not a luxury but a human need.   Everything we have is designed by someone, whether it is our computer keyboard, the chair we’re sitting in or the knickers we’re wearing.  Every culture on earth has music in some form or other and dance is a universal formal of expression from joy to grief, from storytelling to political protest.  Painting, drawing and sinking our hands in clay entrance us from cradle to grave and the arts provide an outlet for emotion and expression that heals and revitalises.  To cut arts funding is to dismember the body and amputate the soul. And that is all.

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