Home Comforts and the Things that Matter the Most….

I don’t think I was the only one watching the final of The Great British Bake Off last night! It was rumoured  that there were 14.5 million viewers.

Over the last twelve weeks we have watched the ups and downs in the baking tent. We have sympathised with the poor quivering bakers when things went horribly wrong; collapsing gingerbread houses,’informally’ iced biscuits, Genoise sponge that could be ‘wrung out like a flannel’ and  cakes that would ‘bounce back if thrown at a wall’ were displayed for all to see. We have marvelled too, at the triumphs; glorious displays of intricate bread structures; towering and utterly scrumptious looking chocolate cakes; an imperious blue peacock cake; regal tea-party delicacies; brilliantly puffy, squidgy, billowing meringues; glossy eclairs….I could go on and on…….

I love to cook and I love food, but what is it that attracts us so much to programs about baking? I think it is about much more than food alone. A lot of the time we are attracted to food because of the memories certain dishes evoke and the relationship we may have had with the person who first prepared them for us. No matter how I try, I cannot replicate the way my Devonshire Grandfather prepared bread and butter! Wafer thin slices of bread were buttered with the best butter and laid on a china plate like the most exquisite lace;,and I have never been able to make porridge quite like my Cornish grandmother which simmered over-night on the Aga and was served with lashings of fresh unpasturised milk, (or sometimes clotted cream!) Of course, these dishes were never Michelin starred, but I never forget those memories, and I have such fond memories of all the meals I watched being prepared as I was a child. I think it is about pleasing our friends and loved ones too; how long do our children take before they look in the fridge when they come home? Not long whatever their ages! And as a mother, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your children, or grandchildren, eating and enjoying nutritious food that you have prepared for them.

My nephew is now a talented chef, and I look back at the time he spent cooking with my mother, sister, and me, and I now take delight in his success.

Cooking evokes such passion. Shortly before my Mum died she sat up in bed and discussed the merits of putting parsley in Cornish pasties, and butter in the pastry. As I look back at the times she was happiest in her later years, it was when she was in the kitchen following new recipes and preparing for family gatherings.

As we sit around a table with family and friends, whatever the conversations or discussions, how can the mood not be lifted by the arrival of a steaming bowl of pasta or a lovingly prepared roast dinner? And after a long, hard day and with winter approaching, how about a bowl of chicken soup to beat the unwelcome chill wind?

                 To quote a favourite Jewish proverb:

                                          ‘Worries go down better with soup.’

There is something intangible in the process of cooking – a need to do one’s best, to create something delicious; an emotion that wells inside us that is more than just about serving up the best cake, it’s about connecting to our primeval instinct and the need to provide food for everyone.

We welcomed a new beloved granddaughter into our family this week! She is truly a blessing and already very much loved. We now have nine grandchildren; each and every one of them is a star in our family universe. After some very hectic days of work demands and a possible house move to think about, I was definitely feeling frazzled, but looking at my new granddaughter ( she was born in America but I could see her thanks to modern technology!) put everything into perspective. Safe in her mother and father’s loving care, and with adoring brothers and sisters waiting for her at home, she has a wonderful world waiting for her. These occasions are momentous and put everyday cares completely to one side.

I put some time aside and took my six year old granddaughter to visit the Roald Dahl museum yesterday which was another enjoyable interlude. I love the fact she  has become fascinated with this author and all his wonderful stories, especially as when her own dad was young, the house we lived in backed onto Roald Dahl’s garden, and we could glimpse his writing shed. After looking around we spent an enjoyable time making up a recipe for a potion to get rid of witches! We have high hopes of winning that competition with our Sticky Sicky Witch Shrinking Potion! I am afraid to say I cannot give you the recipe as it is top secret!

One recipe I will give you is the granola recipe I made up for my granddaughter who loves cooking. Enjoy!

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Thinking about home and frazzled days, here are some lines that resonated with me this week:

‘Even tho’ we walk the diamond studded highways, It’s the country lanes and byways that makes us long for home.’    from  Old Photographs and Memories by Jim Capaldi.

‘If the notes we play are wrong, Let it be our favourite song.’  from ‘Even More Mine’ by Rita Wilson.

I’d love to hear your about your favourite memories of the foods you loved as a child!

Blessings to you.

Lyn

The Value of Every Life…

I was listening to the news this week and heard the story of a lady who is battling with an aggressive form of leukaemia. She is young – aged just 23, and is married with a young daughter. She desperately needs a stem cell transplant and her sister in Nigeria is the only suitable match. She was elated when she received the news that her sister was a 10 out of 10 match, but hope turned to despair when her sister’s visa application to visit the country was rejected. According to this lady, the Home Office said it was not satisfied that her sister would be a genuine visitor to the country and would not have sufficient funds to support her visit. Also the Home Office appeared to be worried that she would not return to her own country after her visit, despite the family pledging funds and the sister announcing she would be returning home to care for her own young family after the procedure.

Of course I do not know all the details of the events here, but it got me thinking about priorities and how situations are evaluated. Do we miss the ‘big picture’? Surely the issue of utmost importance in this story is saving the life of an individual; one who is every bit as important as you, as me, as the Queen?

The is more then one life at stake here too. There is a little girl who needs her mother. A husband who would be bereft. A whole family who may never be the same again if this request is turned down.

 Human lives are more important than petty rules. How many times do we hear the words ‘I’m just doing my job’ or, ‘If we make an exception here we will have to do it for others too.’ So what! And what if the worst happened and the lady’s sister stayed a while. Would it be so bad?

Why cannot common sense prevail? If a life is at stake and a possible cure is available surely it should be given with no questions asked.  Just answers given. Positive answers. Arms should be outstretched to welcome all the help that is offered. If we saw a person drowning we wouldn’t ignore the lifebelt on the riverbank would we? So what is the difference here. Just petty rules.

In this life we all deserve an equal chance. We deserve to be cared for and healed without conditions.

I’m closing with two quotes from Dr. Seuss. They may sound lighthearted but to me they are also profound.

   ‘Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!’

        ‘Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple.’

Blessings to you.

When we lose a pet…

Notes from Dove Lane

dog-in-heavenYesterday there was an awful occurrence on the street where we live. A lady was out walking her dog when a car  drew up beside her. Suddenly someone jumped out of the car and  seized her dog which they then bundled into a sack. It was only because the lady screamed so loudly that the thieves dropped the bag and sped off. Thankfully this time no harm was done but this was a totally heartless act.

Most of us love our animals and the pleasure they bring to their owners is immeasurable. We could never contemplate the above. I started thinking about the bond most of us develop with our animals and how much we miss them when they are gone.

Recently my son and his family lost their beloved dog after she had given them many years of loyal companionship. Always there with a welcome whenever we visited, she…

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When we lose a pet…

dog-in-heavenYesterday there was an awful occurrence on the street where we live. A lady was out walking her dog when a car  drew up beside her. Suddenly someone jumped out of the car and  seized her dog which they then bundled into a sack. It was only because the lady screamed so loudly that the thieves dropped the bag and sped off. Thankfully this time no harm was done but this was a totally heartless act.

Most of us love our animals and the pleasure they bring to their owners is immeasurable. We could never contemplate the above. I started thinking about the bond most of us develop with our animals and how much we miss them when they are gone.

Recently my son and his family lost their beloved dog after she had given them many years of loyal companionship. Always there with a welcome whenever we visited, she is still sorely missed by all of us.

I remember our family Scottie too; a real character who made up for his short stature with a very audible presence! Also, he could hear the rattle of a biscuit tin lid from a hundred yards away! Never really trusted off the lead, he led us a merry dance, but was a very humorous character who only ever sat on his own chair, and once ate my son’s dental brace. We said goodbye to him in very sad circumstances but he wagged his tail to the end.

I must also mention my sister’s dog, a dear old Staffy who came from a rescue center and was much loved. She had a wonderful temperament and never got cross, even when violently attacked by another dog.

Here is a poem for all our four legged friends,

and especially for Roxy, Winston, and Queenie.

All God’s Creatures

For all kinds of creatures who’ve passed from this place
There’s a land up in Heaven with plenty of space
For shaggy dogs and fluffy cats,
Long eared rabbits, hamsters and rats.

There are hutches and baskets, pillows and rugs
And plenty of angels to give out some hugs.
There are grassy meadows for the cows and the sheep
And a shed lined with hay where the horses can sleep.

Nosebags are stuffed full of carrots and oats
And for cold winter evenings there are fur lined coats.
And here every dog can jump and run
And every cat stretch out its paws in the sun.

Happiness reigns and there is freedom to roam
And room for all in this Heavenly home,
Yet once in a while in this menagerie
They’ll remember home, and you and me.

© Lyn Halvorsen

Lost in a Dream…

Where do we go when we dream?

Dreams fascinate me. I am not a dream expert but I keep a dream dictionary beside my bed so that if I have a particularly vivid dream during the night I can look it up straight away. Most of the experts seem to give interpretations that are far removed from what one might expect a dream to mean. Sometimes the explanations are comforting, but sometimes baffling, or even a bit worrying.

I do notice that if I have been working hard on a project until a late hour I am almost exhausted by the morning, as various dreams have been swirling around in my head all night long. So I guess this must be natures way of sifting through all the clutter in my brain and trying to put it into some sort of order. Why I would dream I was standing in the rain though, in a pair of threadbare pajamas, who can say?

Some dreams are unsettling; for me, dreaming of a stormy sea is common, with huge overpowering waves thundering towards the shore, cutting me off from the mainland. Snakes feature often too, and swimming in treacle. And don’t lets mention the toilet dreams.

But some dreams are good. Sometimes I can wake up and feel like I have connected with loved ones, both near and far away. I remember a very clear dream I had a while ago. I was playing with my little grandson who lives far away from me and we were having great fun together. It was real; certainly real to me.

                                          In My Dreams

I saw you in my dreams last night
I picked you up and held you tight.
We were underneath a sunny sky
Happy together; you and I.
You chuckled as I watched you play
And I wished I could have stayed all day.
But we both know that we were there,
Sharing a moment in time, somewhere.

The following words are attributed to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Maybe all poets are led by their dreams:

What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in your hand
Ah, what then?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Just one more dream poem before I go….

Garden of Dreams

Once I dreamed I was in a magical wood;
A carpet of bluebells where I stood.
The nightingale sang to the velvet night
And set a myriad of stars alight.
And the lofty trees bent their branches low
To fold me in their arms below,
In that peaceful land of sleep.

And alone amidst the scented flowers
I felt the peace of the night-time hours
Settle round me like the softest cloth;
A tapestry woven with the spirit of love.
And I tumbled through a mystic land
Until daylight led me by the hand
Back from that peaceful land of sleep.

© Lyn Halvorsen

Dream well and blessings to you….Dreaming.jpg