A Lockdown Bake-Off


To combat the boredom of lockdown, where almost every day is identical, I suggested we had a bake-off. (This had nothing at all to do with the fact that I hate cooking dinners and thought it would be a good way to involve other people). Everyone agreed (there are five of us) and we decided we would have it at 6:30pm (dinner time, which was a complete coincidence) on Saturday. As everyone involved is an adult, they had to buy their own ingredients, but they could use stuff from the larder if they checked with me first. (I was loath for my bag of flour to be wasted unnecessarily in case it couldn’t be replaced.)

I issued the rules via WhatsApp:

So, to clarify the ‘rules’ for Lockdown Bake-off:

Each individual will serve a dish at 6:30pm on Saturday.

The dish will have 5 portions (or more).

The dish can be prepared in advance, but late entries will be abused.

You may refer to a recipe but you cannot ask for copious amounts of help from another individual so they feel like they may as well have baked it themselves.

You need to buy/check availability of ingredients in advance (like, today!) You can use one hob ring, one oven shelf (unless you cook when no one else is cooking). Any other equipment must be prebooked. (I am prebooking the microwave.) The dish must use at least some raw ingredients (ie, it cannot be a ready-meal or takeaway dish) Please say what your dish is by Friday (so I can see whether I need to cook something else for dinner!) You can cook either sweet or savoury. (I am making smoked salmon blinis with Hollandaise sauce.) If your dish has meat, there must be a veggie alternative. You may not use ingredients that people are allergic to (Quorn or Penbritin) We will all allocate marks for each dish (to be decided but will include taste, presentation, interesting value) The winner will be awarded a prize (Husband to provide).

As the day approached, there was a little manoeuvring amongst the contestants. Bea announced she planned to make Baked Alaska. Husband worried that there might not be space in the freezer (I assured him there was) and then it transpired that it clashed with the dish he planned to make. Bea chose a different dish. Jay kept his dish a secret, and did not appear to buy any ingredients, until the very last minute. As in, the very last minute.

Two hours before, and the tension was palpable. There was an issue with tinned tomatoes having added basil which ruined the taste (they are now in a mug in my fridge). My kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it (not a rare event) and there was a little jostling for room and tension over the allocation of serving plates.

At 6:30, we all sat at the table. Forgot to say Grace due to the excitement. First up were my blinis, which looked better than they tasted, but the hollandaise sauce didn’t curdle, so all was okay. Then we had three main courses. There were veggie tacos, with a kick in the smokey black beans (tasty, and served with freshly made guacamole). Then a spinach tart, with rocket garnish and balsamic glaze—all very professional. Last up was Jay’s goulash, served in ramekin dishes with rocket garnish (stolen) and a hunk of freshly baked bread.

Then it was Husband’s turn. This was worrying, as he doesn’t cook, ever—not since the day I was in labour with child number two many years ago, and he cooked Bea pizza complete with melted polystyrene base attached. He was serving dessert, but we were worried, especially as he disappeared into the garage, then ran to his study with something stuffed up his jumper. We discussed in low voices how to avoid eating his offering if it looked too unhygienic, and pondered as to why it was being prepared in his study. We waited.

Husband returned, carrying a tray of sugar-glazed sundae dishes (I mention the sugar-glaze, as this was the main skill involved). They looked very pretty. We do not actually own any sundae dishes—he had ordered them specially—we now own six. He then brought in a tray of toppings, and a tub of ice-cream. There were crushed Crunchie bars, and mini meringues, and raspberries and strawberries (I checked the fruit had been washed—and which sink it had been washed in). All seemed hygienic, and was, to be fair, very tasty. The only cooking involved was heating the jar of salted caramel sauce in the microwave, but to be honest, that suited everyone.

We then completed the score sheets, added the totals, and awarded the prize of a bottle of Prosecco to Bea (who pointed out that she owned it anyway as it had been a birthday gift—so I guess it’s a good thing no one else won!)

Following the success of this, I am considering suggesting we have a sewing-bee, or a hairdressing competition (they were surprisingly unkeen on this idea!) We could also try a ‘clean-off’ whereby everyone has one room to clean, and then we each judge each other’s efforts. I think this one is my favourite. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Hope you’re managing to have some lockdown fun too.

Take care.
Love, Anne x

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******

Invisible Jane continues tomorrow. . .

***

Here is the score sheet, in case you want to copy:

Lockdown Bake-Off Score Sheet

Name of dish:
(To be completed by cook)

 

Score (To be completed by other contestants. You must award one dish at least 9 points in each category.)
Marks out of ten to be awarded for:

Is it edible?

1.

2.

3.

4.

Does it look nice?

1.

2.

3.

4.

Does it taste nice?

1.

2.

3.

4.

Is it ‘interesting’?

1.

2.

3.

4.

Is each portion a uniform size?

1.

2.

3.

4.

How much skill was involved in creating the dish?

1.

2.

3.

4.

Would you like to eat this dish again?

1.

2.

3.

4.
Other comments:

Being Positive in a Surreal World


Being Positive

Hello and how has your week been? Things are very odd, aren’t they? I keep reminding myself that this has happened before, with the 1918 Flu epidemic—I just wasn’t around to experience it. We have had epidemics before, and they passed, and one day things will become normal again. ‘Normal’ feels very precious, doesn’t it?

Have you been personally affected by the virus? So far, although I know of friends-of-friends who have had the virus (in various degrees of severity) no one in my immediate circle has caught the virus. Which means it all feels a little surreal, and the main impact on my day to day life is the government directives rather than the actual virus. I have stopped watching the news—other than the headlines, because I find it rather depressing. There are too many discussions about things that are going wrong, the worries that people have. These are very real, and I don’t want to suggest otherwise, but I find I can only cope with so much horrid stuff at once, so I limit what I watch. I certainly ignore any headline with the word ‘could’ in it. Too much dire speculation. In fact, I find the most interesting news are the simple stats, with no commentary at all. I found a good link: worldometers  

Worth bearing in mind when viewing stats, is that normal flu deaths average about 17,000 in the UK each year. So although covid-19 is worse (because everyone needs hospital help at the same time, and hospitals cannot cope) the mere numbers are not as scary as they seem.

However, there is a lot that is rather special. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, everything seemed scary/unreal at first. Gradually, God taught me to live in the present, to notice lovely things about ‘now’ and to leave the future to him. I cannot reassure you about the future, because none of us knows what that will hold, but I can tell you some lovely things about the present. I look outside at the spring flowers, the squirrels bouncing around, the chickens wandering round the garden…

Now, one challenge is shopping. I am shopping for my household (currently 5 people) plus my mother, plus random neighbours of my mother who give her their shopping requests. These requests tend to be very specific: ‘4 conference pears but only if they are ripe’. As they are isolated at home, they have no idea how impossible some of these requests are. I expect they think I am rather tardy/stupid when completely the wrong food arrives. So far, they have been too polite to say anything. I wander round the shop in a complete muddle, trying to juggle different lists and remember what I wanted myself.

One mistake was mentioning to Husband that I was having trouble finding tinned tomatoes. Every time he leaves the house now, he manages to return with tins of tomatoes. I have no idea where he’s finding them—some are very odd varieties. I keep telling him we are fine for tomatoes, but it seems to have become lodged in his brain, it’s like one of those nightmares where you open every cupboard, and each one is full of tomatoes. . . or perhaps you don’t have that nightmare?

I do sort of enjoy shopping now. True, it was disorientating at first, when I popped down for milk and there was none, of any kind, in the shops. But now I go expecting to not find things, and it’s a nice surprise when things are back on the shelves. This is due to the supermarket staff, who are being rather wonderful. Let’s face it, I doubt if any of the cashiers and shelf-stockers previously saw their work as a vocation. And yet there they are, risking all the customer germs, dutifully working so we can eat. When I went down today, there were queues outside, and they were allowing people into the shop gradually: one out, one in. What a hassle for them, yet they were incredibly polite and cheerful, trying to keep us all safe. Inside, I could see them wiping down baskets between each customer, washing their hands, doing their best to be as germ-free as possible.

I could of course list all the other wonderful people: the medics, the bus drivers, the teachers—so many people who are risking their own health to keep the country going. Personally, I think it’s rather marvellous.

Have you found it hard to keep track of the days? With everyone working at home, every day is very similar. I find some of the online conference things help, and some of my normal activities are now continuing in a virtual world. You have to be careful to remember when you are on camera though, I have seen a few mistakes (the worst one being a woman who took her phone to the loo and everyone on the conference call could see her!) Most churches have some sort of virtual service, and we sat round last Sunday and watched our old pastor from New Jersey preaching (I think he was in his basement!) Thankfully, he wasn’t wearing his pyjamas, which most people working from home seem to do (or maybe that’s just in my house). If you want to tune in next Sunday, the link is here

We also watched our UK service online. The link is Here

Both pastors are doing their best not to look like they’re making a hostage video! They are mostly succeeding…

One of the best things for me, is the jokes spinning around the internet. I think some of my isolated relatives spend all day sourcing hilarious memes to send. Here are a few of my favourites:

 

There is also lots of useful information among the scaremongering—you just have to check the source. My understanding of how viruses work is growing—did you know that there are different degrees of infection? So, if you have very slight exposure (maybe one person coughs near you on the street) then your level of infection, and therefore your likely illness, will be slight. However, if you mix with several people carrying the virus, you will have a higher rate of infection and therefore be more ill. The correct term is ‘viral load.’ This means even if you are all in the same family, it is worth isolating ill people, to limit the infection (don’t think that because you all have the virus, you should all sit round watching telly together — you can add to each other’s infection.) Interesting huh? It also means our medical staff, who will have lots of exposure to the virus from various sources, are very much at risk, and therefore very deserving of our admiration.

I hope you are finding some happy things among all the chaos. Take care—and wash your hands!

Love, Anne x

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Trying to be ‘Normal’


Trying to be ‘normal’

Yesterday, Bea brought home a friend she wanted us to meet. I knew this was a fairly big deal for her, and so I was very keen that we shouldn’t embarrass her. Usually I consider that I have earned the right to be embarrassing to my children due to suffering through their teenage years when their clothes and hair and general attitudes were often not what I had hoped for when they were 5—but not this time. This time I was keen to be ‘normal’.

Now, I would say that housework is not my forte. Basically, I hate doing it, and although my kitchen is hygienic, you might find dog hairs on the floor and dust on the window sills, so my first task of the day was to tidy the house and wave a duster around a bit. Unfortunately, Husband (always to be relied upon in these situations) had helpfully decided that this was the day he was going to empty the loft of important papers from 20 years ago, and put them into bags ready to be recycled. The whole of his office resembled a rubbish tip. We had an argument (always a good start when guests are due).

I then began to wipe surfaces in the kitchen, when I noticed an unpleasant smell wafting under the utility room door. We have one of the outside cats in there, in a cage, because she has pulled the ligaments in her back legs (fell out of a tree) and the vet said she mustn’t climb or jump, and I have no idea how you stop a cat jumping, so I have put her into the old dog crate, which is big enough for her to walk around in, but has no opportunity for jumping. She is very cross, but the ligaments are healing, so all is good. Except yesterday, she had dirtied her bedding.

I attempt to open cage door and remove dirty bedding without cross cat escaping, and am about to shove dirty bedding into washing machine, when I hear a shout from the garden. Husband is yelling that the cockerels have been fighting.

I have several cockerels, hatched last year. Until now, they have lived fairly peacefully alongside each other. Cockerels will sometimes live for several years in the same flock without incident, provided they have sufficient space and females. However, sometimes you hatch an aggressive bunch, and then you can only keep one. I hurried into the garden.

One of the cockerels was clearly suffering, having been attacked by one of the bigger ones (his brother actually—chickens are pretty nasty creatures). The bird was obviously dying, and in pain, so I quickly killed him. When chickens are dead, the nerves in their bodies continue to function, making them twitch, so it can be hard to know they are completely dead. I didn’t want it to suffer, so to be sure I chopped off the head. (A chicken with no head is definitely dead, though bizarrely they can still run around!)

Looked at time: daughter due at house with friend at any moment. The cockerel had been a big bird, and it seemed wrong to simply throw him away (waste of a life) but there was no time to do anything with him. So, I tied up his legs, and hung him in garage, to deal with him later. Sent Bea a message: “If you give friend a tour of the house, don’t go in garage because there’s a dead chicken hanging from the ceiling!”

Bea replied: “What? You are meant to be trying to be normal! Dead chicken hanging in garage is not normal!”

I felt she had a point.

The rest of the visit went okay, and we liked her friend immensely. I have no idea what the friend thought of us, but hopefully we appeared to be relatively normal.

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

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 I am excited to tell you that my new book, Sowing Promises, is now available. A sequel to Ploughing Through Rainbows, it is also a stand-alone book and my best one yet (though I always think that!) A family saga, set on a farm, it is all about a family coping with unexpected happenings. . . and trying to be normal.

Available from an Amazon near you, and if you buy a copy today it will still arrive in time for Christmas–it makes a great gift for someone who you want to make smile.

UK link HERE

US link HERE

Amazon Germany HERE

 

Road Trip!


Road Trip!

I have received feedback from my family about posting my blogs about our October road-trip in the wrong order. I will therefore start at the beginning:

Saturday 28th October

Flew from Heathrow to JFK, New York. We were using airmiles, and as it was a treat, we were in the business section. This was comfortable but fairly boring, as everyone else seemed to be working (hence ‘business section’ I guess). I have no idea who the man in the photo is, my selfies often have random people in them.

  We picked up the hire car (not the one we had actually ordered—are they ever the same?) and drove to Woodcliff Lake in New Jersey. We used to live in New Jersey, when my children were small, and we planned to spend the first few days visiting old friends, looking at places we remembered and generally being nostalgic.

I should tell you first about breakfast. We ate in a diner. Diners are one of the best things about America. They are generally privately owned, and they have booths, and endless coffee refills, and food which is amazingly delicious and arrives in super-huge portions. The service is always friendly and efficient in a sort of laid-back, we have all day, sort of way. There is often a bar, where a group of ‘regulars’ sit each morning, eating their breakfast and chatting, and the waitress knows everyone by name and what their order will be. There is an overhead television, with the sound turned off, showing the news of the day.

We were still on vaguely UK time, so we arrived at The Ridge Diner at about 6:00 am (many diners are open 24 hours). We sat there, in a booth, feeling like we had properly arrived, we were back in the US. I ate banana and pecan pancakes, which arrived with a side of creamed butter and maple syrup. Husband ordered corned beef hash, fried potatoes and eggs. You could have fed a whole family in England with what arrived. It was perfect.

   Another stop was to Ramsey TJ Maxx. This is a shop I visited lots when we lived there, as it was a good place to buy clothes for the children who shared my dislike of shopping and who were not, it should be said, the best-behaved children in the world when it came to shops. In fact, it reminded me of the time when the boys discovered that if they went to Customer Services and said they were lost, it would be announced over the tannoy, and they took great pleasure in hearing: ‘Could the mother of Emm and Jay please go to the service desk. . .’ We would be in a shop, I would look at a product for one second, glance down, and they would be gone. I would sigh with resignation and shut my eyes, waiting for the announcement: ‘Would the mother of. . .’ You get the picture.

Anyhow, this visit was stress-free, and I replaced my ski-jacket, which I had bought there 22 years earlier and the zipper has now broken. (It had a good innings!)

   We also had a quick look, for old-time’s sake, at ShopRite in Ramsey, where I did the weekly shop. They used to have tiny shopping trolleys for the children to push (you can imagine how that went—an idea from someone who did not have children! The shop was full of children filling trolleys with stuff they fancied, or racing up the aisles and bumping into things). They now have much more sensible child trolleys, where they sit in a pretend car in the front of an adult-controlled trolley.

Ah, lots of happy memories.

We visited friends, and went back to look at our old house, and ate way too much food. Then we set off, Pennsylvania next stop. I will tell you about it in my next blog.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a happy day.

Take care.

Love, Anne x

We spent October on a road trip, driving through the Eastern States of America. We had a fabulous time!
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Thank you for reading. If you enjoy my travel blogs, you will love my travel book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. Available from an Amazon near you.

UK Link:

Here

 

US Link:  Here

Buying a Bed


Some advice for Bed Salespeople (and others).

Bea needed a new bed, and so, with our suitcases barely unpacked from holiday, off we set. We went to the large shops spread along the Purley Way near Croydon, because many years ago, whenever we wanted to buy furniture, it was always worth braving the confusing dual-carriageway packed with cars, to visit a range of large, out-of-town stores. However, rather shockingly, the super-busy road, and the overly-full car parks had sort of disappeared. Instead of joining throngs of people, we were sometimes the only customers in the shops, and the car parks were empty. Where were all the shoppers? Has retail in the UK really deteriorated to such an extent so quickly? Or did we simply visit on an unusually quiet Saturday? I don’t know, but it was a little worrying (and I shan’t be buying shares in any retail businesses).

However, what I really want to tell you, is about the range of salespeople that we met (in the nearly empty shops). Some were so much better at selling than others, and I found this to be a good learning experience—so if you ever sell anything (such as books) take note!

We visited one shop and began to wander around, looking at furniture in general. Bea spotted that some of the furniture had chips, or was broken. The furniture was pretty, but the quality was fairly awful (and not particularly cheap). We were never approached by any salespeople, and we left pretty quickly. If you want to make a sale, it’s a good idea to approach potential customers before they leave!

The next shop we went into had a good range of furniture, and we were offered help (which we didn’t, at that stage, want). We tried a few beds, and discovered that beds vary a lot in softness, and some are like sleeping on marzipan and others are so hard, you may as well sleep on the floor and save the money. There were mattresses so thick that they doubled the height of the bed, and others which looked more like a thick duvet. You could buy two slim mattresses, and zip them together to make a double, which would suit the couple when one likes marzipan and the other prefers floor. Bea was very decided on her views of sleigh beds and wooden headboards and cushioned headboards. I found some lovely bunk-beds, reminding me of when she was little, but she was not even slightly interested in those. We then needed some help, and a salesperson came, but she looked cross. I felt that she thought we were wasting her time, and that really the answers to our questions were very simple, and we should have done more homework. I didn’t like her at all. Customers like to be smiled at, even if you think they are annoying! We left.

Another shop had very good quality furniture, and we saw several items that we might like to buy. We were very quickly accosted by a salesperson, who asked if we needed any help. We said no, thank you, we are just looking at the moment. However, salesperson was very persistent. She gave us information about the sale items, which was useful but long (and we are quite good at reading, so would have probably found the information eventually) but at least she was trying. She then asked what we were looking at, and proceeded to show us what was in stock. Which stopped us browsing other items (and we were interested in several things). Salesperson left, and we attempted a conversation about size of rooms and space and design. Salesperson returned, and joined in the conversation (despite not knowing the size of our rooms!) and then took us to see another piece of furniture. It was too difficult to make a decision, we felt rushed, and so—even though there were items we liked—we left. Sometimes customers need a little time and space to think! If they are looking at something (or reading a few paragraphs of a book) leave them alone.

Our final shop also had a range of furniture, and we were again approached by a salesperson soon after entering the shop. However, when we said we were just looking, he moved away, and hovered nearby, pretending to adjust display cushions. When we had a question, he was on hand to answer, and he knew the answer and spoke with authority, so we trusted him. He suggested a few items, and then again left us to discuss them. We liked the products, and he gave us the help we needed so we bought something.

There were a few fun aspects of buying a bed. Like the woman who we saw lying on a bed, with a pull-along suitcase next to her. I wondered if she had moved in, she certainly looked very comfortable. So did the chubby Chinese boy, who was asleep on one bed with his mother telling him to wake up, it was time to leave! There was also a coffee shop, and so we stopped for a quick cake and coffee, which is a lovely thing to do when you’re out with your daughter, and so much more fun than shopping. But we did buy a bed too, so it was a successful trip I feel.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a successful day too. Take care.
Love, Anne x

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Forget Brexit, This is Scary!


I am holding my breath and waiting to see what is going to happen next. . . Husband has retired! Well, to be fair, he has retired from the partnership of his firm (after about 95 years) and is now doing slightly different work. But it does mean that his hours will be less, more like those that most other people work. For the last 95 years, our entire married life, he has been working from about 7am each day until late in the evening, and his phone has been permanently attached to his hand during any time-off, in case the financial world should collapse without him. Well folks, forget Brexit and global warming and anything else that might be giving you nightmares: Husband is no longer holding the fort!

So, you might be asking, what are the implications of this at home? How was the first week of having a not-busy-every-second-of-the-day Husband at home? Let’s put it this way, I know how it would feel to be married to a small tornado.

As you know, my ‘job’ is writing. After sorting the ducks and chickens and cats and dog, I aim to be at my desk by about 9am every day, and start writing. This really does not work too well when within five minutes someone is offering tea, and then five minutes later asking if you need any shopping, and then five minutes later suggesting that the lounge needs repainting. My desk was in a corner of our bedroom. It feels unreasonable to lock a person out of their bedroom. My desk is now in the ‘guestroom’ and if we have any visitors they will have to share our bedroom. It seemed easier.

One thing is for sure, it’s not going to be boring. His extra time began straight after our holiday. By the end of the first evening, before we had even moved the suitcases to the bedroom, let alone unpacked them, he was discussing where we might go next year, and which would be good dates. The family all refused to discuss possible dates, saying that 12 months was too soon to commit. By the end of the second day, he had suggested a few months living in the Italian Alps. The third day he suggested we replace our rather decrepit Fiesta. I then banned him from any more big decisions for 48 hours. The following day he suggested a month in the US. Then spending February in New Zealand. Then adding turrets to the front of the house. (Okay, I made-up the last one, but you get the idea.)

There is of course, a potential book in this situation. I have started making notes. Possible titles are:

Caution: Man Retired
Enjoying Being Retired
Remembering Why You Married Him: The story of a retirement
How to Get Away with Murder
How to Hide a Dead Body
Serving a Life-Sentence: A Wife’s Story

I will let you know which one I decide on.

I hope your day goes well, and you don’t have any unwelcome interruptions. Take care.
Love, Anne x

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anneethompson.com
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Random Choirs


Random Choirs

One thing I miss, now my children are all grown up, are the school concerts and choirs—well the ones from when they were older anyway (I do not, even slightly, miss the cello concerts of 5 year olds, when I spent an hour hearing all my favourite songs being massacred). So, when Bea suggested I might like to go up to the Royal Academy to hear her work-choir sing, I was excited to attend.

It was a lovely sunny evening, and Bea managed to find me a seat right at the front, and someone kindly bought me a glass of white wine, so things were pretty perfect from the start. We sat in the courtyard of the Royal Academy (beneath what look like giant zombies, but we’ll brush over that weirdness). The evening was a variety of choirs, from a variety of workplaces, who took it in turns to sing 3 songs each. There were choirs from UBS, and Channel 4, and The Telegraph, and a London council, amongst others. Apparently, there are musical people, who go around, and teach choirs at all these businesses. Now that must be a fun job!

It was unusual to be watching amateurs sing—usually I am either watching children, or professionals. These people fell into two categories. There were those who were happy performing, and they focussed on the music, moving slightly as they sang, making eye-contact, and smiling. Then there were the others, those who clearly were not too excited at the thought of singing in public. I guess that they loved singing, but going to choir practise after work and singing with your work colleagues, is very different to then performing to a whole bunch of people who you don’t know. They looked distinctly worried—they stared at the conductor the entire time, and stood as still as statues, while singing. They also, where possible, huddled at the back. I decided that I had a lot of respect for these people, it is very brave to sing in public.

The choirs wore a variety of clothes. The UBS choir had tried to coordinate outfits, with most people managing to wear black and white, though the odd individual managed to sort of keep to the rule but still look different (reminded me of school days again). Other choirs were completely random.

There were three different people who conducted. They were incredibly enthusiastic, and tended to have very wiggly bottoms, which gave you something to watch if you were bored. They were accompanied by a brilliant pianist on a keyboard, who even managed to continue playing when all his music blew away.

Another bit of added entertainment were the children. There was the little boy on his Dad’s lap, who was obviously watching his Mum and who sang every song along with the choir (and his Mum was easy to spot, because she basically sang directly to him the whole time, which I found very touching). Then there was the three-year-old who I’m guessing recently started ballet, who found a space at the front and treated us all to a wonderful impromptu dance, as lost in her own world, she responded to the singing. There was also a toddler, who was quite determined that he was going to get onto the stage, and was almost crushed several times when he stood behind the wiggly-bottomed conductor (always fun to see other people not managing to control their children properly).

An unwelcome distraction, which annoyed me intensely, were the two women who stood right at the front (next to me) and then had a chat in very loud voices. I was itching to complain, but knew my family would be cross with me, so I photographed them instead. (But have since decided that I should not put the picture on here, as it’s easy to make enemies, and harder to repair damage afterwards—but they were very rude.)

Son 2 and Husband met us after work, and we all had dinner before coming home. What a lovely evening.

I hope you have some nice treats this week too.

If you enjoy reading about families, you will love my new book, Ploughing Through Rainbows—why not buy a copy? Set on a farm, it’s full of humour, but also shows the tensions that arise when adult sons make unexpected choices. Susan and Tom raise beef cattle, and have to cope when one son decides to be vegetarian. Another son gets into debt, and then Ben, the youngest, tells them that he is gay…

It’s available from Amazon,  link below:

UK link

US link

India link

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading.
You can follow my blog at:
anneethompson.com

There’s No End-Date to Parenting…


Sometimes, it can feel like you spend ten years teaching your child to be independent, and then twenty years wishing that you hadn’t! When your children are young, you long for them to be strong-minded, independent people who don’t need you anymore. But then when they are adults, and start to make their own decisions about how they will live, that can bring a whole different set of problems.

Meet Susan and Tom. They are farmers raising beef cattle, and their four sons are independent adults. But then they start to make life-choices that their parents find challenging, and Susan and Tom begin to wonder what their own role should be. One son announces he is a vegetarian, one son gets into debt, one is unfaithful and then one son tells them that he is gay.

Before writing the book, I spent a lot of time listening. I listened to farmers, and learnt what it means to raise cattle.

I also listened to parents who had learnt their children were gay, and to gay men and women who are discovering what that means in today’s society. One of the groups that finds this most challenging is the church, and so I also spent time listening to what people in the church think and feel. One aspect that came out (excuse the pun) very strongly, is that sometimes, neither side of the traditional Christian viewpoint seem to actually understand how the other side feels. It seemed to me that there was a lot of talking, of proclaiming of views, and very little listening—because of all other issues, this seems to be the most emotive.

 I wanted to write a ‘nice’ book—something happy that my readers would enjoy (after a few years of learning about, and writing novels about, psychopaths, I still find that my easy-read fun novel about an infant school is the one that people want to buy a second copy of, for their friends). Writing a funny book set on a farm seemed like a good idea. Introducing potentially inflammatory issues was a little trickier. I hope I have achieved a good balance and produced a book which will make you smile whilst also giving food for thought. I worked very hard to represent differing views fairly, and my hope is that by the end you will have heard each viewpoint very clearly whilst not being sure what my, the author’s, view is. Personally, I fell in love with some of the characters, to the extent that when the book was finished, I immediately started to write the sequel!

I hope you think it is a jolly good story and you will recommend it to a friend.

Please buy a copy, and let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

anneethompson.com

Ploughing Through Rainbows by Anne E. Thompson

Available from Amazon as a Kindle book and a paperback. UK link below:

paperback link

Kindle link

Trip to Blakeney, Norfolk


This year, we decided to go away for Easter. Usually we stay at home, and I attend roughly a million different church services over the Easter weekend, and then on Bank Holiday Monday, I spend all morning making scone dough, and all afternoon cooking scones and serving them to about 90 people who come to our house for a country walk and cream tea. It’s usually exhausting, and I love doing it. However, last year I was aware that all my children, who have grown up, returned home for the Easter weekend, and I spent the whole weekend not seeing them. Which seemed wrong. So this year, we decided to go away.

I booked a house with HomeAway—an online cottage rental service which I have never used before, so it was all a little scary. However, we needed a 5 bedroomed house, with an enclosed garden, that would allow me to take a dog, so there weren’t many options. I found a house in Blakeney, and we loaded the car with the dog and my mother and a lot of bags, and off we set.

The drive took about 6 hours, because the Dartford crossing was terrible and we stopped on the way for lunch at Castle Acre. We found a pub—The George and Dragon — next to the road, and the dog sat under the table, and the food was okay.

We arrived at the house. The last house I had booked was bit of a disaster (it had sewage coming out of the drains) so the family was slightly worried about what we would find. The parking place was outside the house, on a blind bend, so that wasn’t great. But the key-safe was where the instructions said, and the key fitted the door (these are all things I worry about) and we went inside.

The downstairs was great. There was a little hallway, with stairs lined with bookshelves (excellent start). A through-room led to a long kitchen, and it all looked clean, and there were hot-cross buns and local beer and a tea tray waiting for us, which was lovely. There was also a tiny sitting room, with a door handle that fell off when we opened it. But we could manage without a door handle, so no worries there. Then we went upstairs.

 

 


The top floor had a large room and a bathroom, with lovely views across fields. We (I) decided that Emm could have that room, when he arrived, as he was taking a holiday from work. On the floor below, were 4 other rooms. We took a room with an en suite bathroom, Jay took a double room, Mum took a twin room. Which left the remaining room for Bea, who was arriving at the weekend. It was a child’s room. With bunk-beds. And Mr Men books. I was worried about this. Bea (works in a posh bank in the city) wasn’t really used to rooms like this (not since she was 5 years old, anyway). The boys assured me it would be fine. But I was worried.

Thanks for reading. I’ll tell you more about our trip tomorrow.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels, which are available in bookshops and Amazon.
Anne writes a weekly blog – why not sign up to follow?
anneethompson.com

 

If you enjoyed this, you will love my new book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. It will make you laugh, and you can read it for free if you have a kindle.
Available from an Amazon near you, UK link below: