pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

From a Zoo in Strawberry Fields and Surgery with a Grimsby Town Chairman!

In no particular order, here are the other jobs which I have had over my many years.  The final list of jobs.  I promise.

  1. I worked in a private zoo - I spent the mornings painting old farm carts and the afternoons were spent in the ticket office and souvenir shop.  The owner's son was my boyfriend at the time - but I am sure I got the job on merit!
  2. When I was a teenager I had a job picking strawberries.  Talk about back breaking work!
  3. I was secretary to a very old fashioned  Sir Lancelot Spratt (James Robertson Justice)  character.  He was a maxillo-facial surgeon; totally non-pc, but with a lovely old-fashioned sense of chivalry at times.  He was great fun to work for and sometimes (on a quiet Friday afternoon) he would allow me to scrub-up to watch, and occasionally 'assist',  in theatre.  It wouldn't be allowed these days!
  4. I spent a year working for an ex-chairman of Grimsby Town Football Club. I mean wow, how exciting is that?  Not very!   I have only ever attended a couple of football matches and those were when my husband and I were first courting.  As soon as I had reeled him in I gave up on pretending to like football, much to his relief!

I won't subject you to more photographs of bad hair-styles, don't worry!

I think that completes my ramble down that particular memory lane.

Was that cheering I heard?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Did You Know That...? and Have You Seen...?

I'm afraid that someone has stolen another day away from me, so I haven't got time to do the post I had intended.

However, just for fun I thought I would tell you about some of the more interesting jobs I have had, in between and around bringing up my children.

  1. I worked for a Japanese Oil Company.  On any occasion when a mistake was made we had to go and bow to the person it affected, and then apologise!
  2. I was PA to an Aerospace Projects Manager at Schlumberger and occasionally worked away from the office at air shows, exhibitions and the like.
  3. I worked for a military helicopter 'salesman' in Abu Dhabi.  I always had the feeling that there were 'hidden' deals going on there.
  4. I was secretary at a private Radiology Clinic in Dubai, very few of the patients spoke English and I only had basic Arabic.  It made for some very interesting situations.
  5. I worked at a 'Clap Clinic' as secretary.  That was a brilliant job - off-duty NHS staff know how to have a good party.

To round off, here is a selection of the really bad hairdo's I have had over the years.

I am booked to have my hair cut next week.  Eeek.  The trauma.  Will it be a good cut, will she be gentle and do as I ask, or will I have to wear a paper bag over my head for a couple of weeks until it grows.  Looking at these photos the evidence is there before my eyes... I should have worn the bag more often.

Ooops.  How did that last one get in there?  

It is Owl Wood himself.  Yes, he was a baby too!  Amazing!  He wasn't always smiling either!!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Hitchin' a Ride

Introducing my guest blogger - George

Our Royal Marine Commando Unit was kicked out of Singapore in 1971 and we had no base to return to in UK.  So, given 3 months leave while they decided where our new home base would be, my mate and I took the opportunity to hitch hike around Europe.  

We took the ferry from Hull to Bergen and then it was thumbs  all the way round the rest of Europe, then on to France to catch the ferry back to England.

Surprisingly we found all the people we met very, VERY hospitable, even though we had our Union flags on our rucksacks.   However, when we got to France it had the opposite effect and we struggled to get a lift...  

There is a lot more to tell about this trip, but I want to get this post approved by the censor(Elaine).  So, I'll end it there.  This photograph, which Elaine recently found up,  brings back many happy memories.

I'll bet it does, George!  

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged - Revealing the Awful Truth about My Cooking

Lovely Dom at Belleau Kitchen has nominated me to take part in Food Bloggers Unplugged which originated from A little bit of heaven on a plate .  The idea is to answer some questions to give you, the reader, some insight into who I am and what I am about... 

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
When my younger son Jonny moved to China, a few months ago, I decided to start a blog so that he could keep up with all of the happenings at home.  After the first few posts I was hooked.

2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
Nigel Slater.

3.  Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
A wonderful, handwritten recipe book which my mother began when we lived in Hong Kong.  It has red velvet covers, is battered and worn, and I love it.

4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
My mother's lemon meringue pie!  When I was a child we lived in Hong Kong, way back in the 1960's.   My mother used to make wonderful food, but her lemon meringue pie was sublime.  For some reason I only remember her making it in Hong Kong, not when we returned to UK.

5.  Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
Without any doubt that would be Dom from Belleau Kitchen 

6.  What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
Sorry, I know this is a cheat - but I would like Santa to bring me a cook.

7.  Who Taught you how to cook?
My mother was a brilliant cook and taught me a lot.  The one other person whose teaching I frequently recall, was a very feisty spinster who taught Domestic Science at The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.  She was a dragon with a heart of gold. I often 'hear' her voice asking me whether I am cooking soup, or that wooden spoon which I had left in the saucepan!

8.  I'm coming to you for dinner what is your signature dish?
On a bad day, when my solid fuel Rayburn is feeling sulky that would be a takeaway - on a good day (for both me and the Rayburn) it would obviously be something ambrosial, but for starters it would be spinach soup.  I make amazing spinach soup!!  It all falls apart after that - hence my need for Santa to bring me a cook.

9.  What is your guilty food pleasure?
Without a doubt that would be picking the crust off a freshly baked loaf of bread, leaving the bread exposed.  I frequently have to 'tidy' a loaf afterwards!

10.  Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I grew up 'seeing' names in colour.  I couldn't believe that other people didn't, my parents found it difficult to believe that I did!  This is a well documented phenomena called synesthesia, although I knew nothing of that when I was younger!

Finally ...tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions ... like a hot baked potato...pass it on!

I would like to nominate:

Shu Han @ Mummy I can Cook
Ian@the owl wood
Quay Po@ Quay Po Cooks
Ronna@ Ronna's Blog
Mary@ Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes

Friday, 25 November 2011

Should Have Listened to Gran...

Harry wasn't well enough to go to nursery today.    So, our daughter, Davina brought him over to our house at 7.30am...  

He wasn't really ill, but he just wasn't well enough to mix with other children.  

We had a wonderful morning, but by around lunch time he really wanted to go across to the fish pond with us.  

So we all pulled on wellington boots and coats, hitched up Toby and set off for the short walk across the road.
We played Pooh sticks for a while,  tried to keep quiet while watching for trout (impossible with Harry), looked at the lone swan on the larger pond, counted sheep, and then Harry could contain himself no longer... 
he made a break for it...
and ended up like this!

Should have listened to Gran!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Take 1lb treacle, 18 grains of opium ...

For anyone who may be suffering from a cough, here is a home remedy from my lovely old Victorian (handwritten) recipe book.

For a Cough:

1lb of treacle
18 grains of opium
2oz of juniper berries
2oz of Spanish Juice
1 quart of rain water

To be simmered down in an earthenware jar to 3 gills.

Take a dessert-spoonful on lying down in bed.  (Something to do with the opium?)

A really yummy way to use:

Sheep Trotters

Take one gang of sheep's trotters, put 2oz of heartshorn shavings, one quart of milk and quart of water.  Leave it in the oven to simmer all night, and when used add a little milk and sugar and lemon to your taste.

Mmn.  Sounds tasty.  Almost looks as though it could be two completely unrelated recipes mixed together, but that is how it appears in my lovely old recipe book.

Apologies for such a brief post - we have spent yet another delightful day visiting the aged aunt, and then for a bit of R&R we spent this afternoon filling in the trench which we so carefully created the other day.  

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

For the Boys in Kazakhstan - This is What George Gets Up to Now

This is how George spends his spare time - when he's not digging trenches and soakaways, chopping down trees, etc.

I think Harry may enjoy it more than George does!

Roll on the day when Harry is old enough to be trusted to have the battery connected ...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tired Old Carthorse

One of us got to spend more than six hours driving this thing, excavating tons of very wet clay.  

The other  got to to man the wheelbarrow for six hours, ferrying tons of very wet, extremely heavy clay to a skip.

Guess which job I got.

I am the first to admit that I am not a fine thoroughbred - but neither am I a cart horse, well I didn't think that I was - until today.

At the end of our six hour stint George said 'This is the last wheelbarrow load' - hurrah thought I (I was absolutely cream crackered)... then he said 'Hang on, I'll go and get the second wheelbarrow and we can move the gravel into the trench'...

When that met with a stony silence(!!) he decided that we would press on and excavate the second arm of the trench...  

He's working by himself now.

Jonny, this is the stinky soakaway.


Monday, 21 November 2011


I just watched a large rat meander through the garden, down onto the patio and round to the conservatory area.  I thought our new dynamic duo, Feral Cats inc. were going to sort that problem out!

Needless to say they were both lounging around on a sofa - well one of them  has an excuse, she damaged her leg somehow last night, and has to rest.  The other one though was picked up and 'shown' the rat, then I opened the door and popped her out.  The last I saw said rat was being chased by the cat.

I feel a bit guilty now, but that was why we rescued them from the cats home.

When One is Not Enough ...

After the  initial binge, which lasted three days, my desire to read was sated and I found myself wanting something more satisfying.

I had broken a toe.  One small toe.  The amount of pain and disruption it caused was out of all proportion.  Ridiculous, but true.  I had to keep the foot elevated, ice packs, etc.  a complete nuisance.

Now, boredom is not something I normally suffer from as life around here is hectic (a lot of it spent outdoors)  but reading, much as I love it, was just not enough to keep me occupied.

So I took up some long abandoned craft work and found myself really enjoying it.  I fear I am revealing too much of my personality-type here, but once I had completed one project I had to continue, I was unstoppable.

After three and a half weeks - I was finally able to get a very capacious sandal on my still sore foot, which was wonderful.  I began to play rather less with the craft work, just finishing off bits and pieces.

When I took stock of what I had made during my enforced incarceration I found that I had made:

30 vintage lace lavender sachets
1 gingham dolly bag
2 organza dolly bags
6 fabric origami bags
4 hamsters dressed in 60's/70's style clothing
15 heart shaped pomanders
9 mouse-shaped pincushions
2 pin wheels
24 organza flower brooches
10 dog-shaped fabric brooches
56 fabric birds...

Luckily I was able to take a last minute stall at a small craft fair, which was held in a tiny local church this weekend - so, much of this lot has now been re-homed - much to George's relief.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Some Things Never Change, Thank Goodness

I well remember the fun which my three children had, all those years ago, whenever we acquired a large cardboard box.  They had endless hours of play, using it as a house, a boat, a den, etc.  

When my son-in-law's new chair was delivered to our house, in a large box, it was wonderful to see that Grandson Harry's imagination immediately kicked into action.

Naturally he had to climb in it and when he realised that we were taking a couple of snaps he insisted that he wanted one taken of him inside the box (with the lid down) because to him that was where the fun was.

His imagination took over and as soon as the box was carried across the garden to his own house he got his Daddy to cut in some windows, a door, a spy hole... 

He is still having a great time playing with it, even though he is surrounded by toys at home (and at our house).  The thing which really fires his imagination is this box.  Quelle surprise!

I just wish some of those parents who seem determined to spend a fortune on Christmas presents for very young children would realise this.  You don't have to spend a great deal to stimulate their imagination.  Obviously I am not saying that children should just have empty cardboard boxes either!

One of the other things which my children used to love was taking the cushions off the sofas and turning them into pirate boats, etc.  Harry still has that delight to come - Grans have to keep some tricks up their sleeve for a rainy day!

Friday, 18 November 2011

I Was Always a Little Odd

I think I was about eight or nine when I discovered that not everyone 'sees' names in colour.

I can't even really remember what lead up to this revelation, but I do recall that I was very surprised that the rest of my family didn't also 'see' the colours.

Until then I had just accepted that it was normal.  Whenever I heard a name I would see it in a colour.  My own name, Elaine, was always red, David was a particular blue, George was green, etc., etc.  

Oddly enough it didn't work with words in general, just names.

At first I think my parents thought I was making it up and would ask what colour is this name, or that name.  Gradually they accepted that I was consistent in my answers.  They would almost trot it out like a little party game for a while.

Over the years this sensation, known as synesthesia (a perceptual condition of mixed senses) has faded, although I still have echoes of it.

It still affects me when I am relaxed, eyes closed, and something makes a noise.  Then I get a visual impression of (usually) zig-zag lines and assorted colour according to what sort of noise it is, and how loud it is.

What has made me do a post about this odd subject - well, I was just having a cat-nap when a door blew shut in the wind and set off an explosion of bright white zig-zag lines in my inner eye...

Thursday, 17 November 2011


This church dates from the 11th century, the tower being the oldest part.  The churchyard is woefully neglected - but still wonderful.  The setting is just off the A16, in the tiniest of hamlets, Waithe.

This monument dates from the 14th century, although it was restored in 1861.
The setting is lovely, the churchyard is atmospheric and interesting with huge, ancient trees, the building is very attractive externally with nice stonework

Nothing to dislike so far?

So, why do I really dislike it?  Well, step inside.
Ah, that's nice.  According to the plaque it was 'restored' in 1861 by a loving son, in memory of his parents.

See what you think, and then I'll tell you what I think, and how this church building makes me feel.

Doesn't look too bad so far, does it?

Except that the 'restoration' removed all the medieval charm and replaced it with red bricks and Minton tiles.  Beautifully done, but it looks like a very swish public lavatory.  

Even the beautiful, original arches have been restored to within an inch of their  history.  Red bricks.  Minton tiles.  Sterile atmosphere.

I love old church buildings; places which have great atmosphere because they have been used by countless people.

Every now and again I have come across a church which has a bad atmosphere,  a building which you really wouldn't want to be left in on your own.  This building is not like that.

This poor building has no atmosphere.  It feels bleached, free from 'germs', free from history.  

Step outside and the churchyard engulfs you in gentleness, atmosphere, and history, it is unkempt but not scary.

I won't bore you with another church building for a week or two, don't worry!  I just happen to find them fascinating.

Like any building, some are good to be in, others make you want to leave asap, or have areas that just don't feel right.  

More of these things at a later date.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

This is One of My Least Favourite Churches - Plus: Notes from Home

This church is in a beautiful setting, has lovely old gates, a fabulous (but overgrown) graveyard, and appears to be a beautiful building.

Why would it be anyone's least favourite church?  It has so much going for it... 

I will make a full posting about this really interesting church in a couple of days.  I took lots of photographs today, I just need to go through them carefully.  I promise you it will be worth the wait.



We spent most of today visiting the Aged A.  We had to be there to translate on behalf of the solicitor, so we also took the opportunity to sort out her heating problems, visit the old house, do her shopping, buy her a new toaster (there is nothing wrong with the old one, but it is chrome faced and she thought she might get electrocuted), check on the home help, we made her some food and gave her some company.

She is doing reasonably well at the moment.  She doesn't eat properly, keeps messing about with the heating, throws out bills and any mail which she feels she can't cope with ... pretty much as she was when you left!!

Our reward to ourselves was to visit the church I mentioned.  I've been there before, but I really wanted your Dad's input on it.  I deliberately didn't tell him very much about it, or how it makes me feel. It was really interesting to get his thoughts and feelings.

Toby is still missing Pip.  He sometimes gets up in the middle of the night to check to see if he can find her.  Not surprising after virtually his whole life has been spent with her.  She may have bossed him - but I suppose he needed it at times and he feels the lack of it now.

I have a feeling that the cats will soon fill that void, given half a chance.

Your Dad sends his love.
Lots of love,


Tuesday, 15 November 2011


I thought I would let you meet our nearest neighbours.  They live right across the road.

This pond was only created a couple of years ago, but already it is beginning to look pretty settled.

Normally the pond is busy with ducks, geese, herons, even swans drop by occasionally.  

The little river is called 'Great Eau' and it runs through the trout farm nearby and then on to the beautiful Claythorpe Watermill, before meandering away.
It has lots of fish in it - although none were visible today.

Obviously I had remembered to take my camera today - when I arrived there was just one pair of ducks.  By the time I had sorted out the camera they had flown off!  Camera shy, I suppose.

Toby and I met one of our other close neighbours - John, from next-door-but-one.  He is probably in his 90's, very recently widowered, and a nice man to chat with.

He was in the field when we got there, taking photographs and admiring the colour of the tree foliage.  The number of sheep in the field was 41.  I know this because John told me.

He has worked on farms since the late 1930's, working with animals.  He spent many years as a farm manager, with a dairy herd of 150, as well as a flock of  sheep.  He says it is second nature to count any stock when he sees them in a field!

He's  lovely, so was his late wife Hazel.  She used to teach all the local children to ride and was a stalwart of the village hall events.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Eyes Have It

I became aware that there were many watching eyes, as Sparky, Toby and I took our morning walk in the Owl Wood. 

 Well, I walked, Toby trotted, and Sparky tore up and down trees.  

She's not easy to see, but Sparky is up near the top.
Then she came down, and ran up another one, on and on, around the wood.
Toby made out that he was a truffle pig as he snuffled and poked around the place, occasionally breaking out into a trot when Sparky ran close to him.

As we made our slow way round I was looking at the colours, enjoying the time to really look at the trees and I became aware of many eyes looking at us...

They are kindly, benevolent tree 'eyes'

and once you start to look for them, they are all around.

Then, just to give a bit of balance I took a shot of a very pretty tree dressed with a few remaining leaves

Just have a look next time you are in a wood.  You may be surprised - especially once you 'get your eye in'!!