July is not that far away.

It will be July all too soon and it’s time for another message from Mel.

Break, Eat, Picnic, Nature, RecoveryWordPress bloggers have been a tremendous force for good in recent months encouraging another to STAY AT HOME, STAY SAFE, STAY ALERT and FOLLOW THE DIRECTION FOR EVERYONE’S PROTECTION.

It is a joy to see the blogging community have all been doing their bit in helping each other through these hard times. We are very excited about an event ahead that we hope will help you to build more bonds with fantastic bloggers who make a great contribution to the delightful WordPress blogging community.

2020 flyer

In the last BAKE-OFF post, we told you about the BAKING CONTEST. But the second feature of THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 is:

THE SUMMER PICNIC

Many of us are still having difficulties finding baking essentials at our supermarkets. We don’t want to leave anybody out of THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF, which is why we are all hosting a virtual picnic to coincide with the BAKING CONTEST.

If baking is not an option for you at the moment…or else you are not that keen on baking at all, could you bring along something else to our SUMMER PICNIC. It could be your homemade lemonade or sangria, it could be a dip like hummus or guacamole. Perhaps you make a fabulous coleslaw or potato salad. Indeed salads of every variety would be welcome because it is summer and we are all trying to be healthy.

We would love an international flavour to the SUMMER PICNIC. Do you make spring rolls? Tacos or fajitas? How about pakoras or bhajis? We would love any type of tapas, mezes or canapes. Pickles, chutneys, jams, curds or any other preserve are all welcome.

Undeniably all three of us have a sweet tooth, so we welcome sweet contributions. Do you make trifle or ice-cream or any other sweet treats?

Authentic, Food, Vegetables, Fruits

 

What do we need you to do?

Please send a photo of your bakes so it can be featured in The Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off 2020 to:

crushedcaramel@gmail.com

It would be great if you could start making picnic treats now and send the photos in as soon as possible! But the BAKE-OFF and the SUMMER PICNIC will be held in just over seven weeks time. If you want to send us the recipe you followed or a story about what you chose to make, we love all of that. We want to share you as a blogger as well as your bake to the whole of WordPress!

Of course if you would like to create your own post about your picnic creation – please do so, and please mention THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 SUMMER PICNIC and invite your blogging buddies and followers to get involved.

(If you have any questions at all – please feel free to post your questions in the comments of any of our posts and we will try to get back to you as quickly as possible.)

Tomorrow

Yesterday the clouds put on a free show.

Thank you to everyone who sent such kind wishes. It was so greatly appreciated and made the day a little easier to take. Yes it was only another day. We have have had over 1000 of these days. But something deep inside of me told me this was going to be a particular tough one. It did turn out to be a tough-un. I am still not 100% sure why that should be the case. Maybe on previous birthdays we have had a special trip out as a distraction. Who knows but it feels like I learnt a little more about myself yesterday. Its also clear that I still love my partner and this grief journey has still got a distance to go.

Spending the day with our son without any outside distractions did tell me one thing. It’s so easy to get complacent in life. To think your hitting all your marks and targets. I assumed I was giving our Son the attention he needed. Yesterday disproved that. He needs and wants more quality time with me. He will get that… His human world is a very sparse place at the moment. Since the lockdown started in March he has had so few interactions. One telephone conversion with one of my sisters, a brief chat with his health lead, a couple of nice email exchanges with friends and his online dialogue with teachers. That’s it in over two months. When I’m invited into his world then no ifs or buts, I need to go. Not only is it a responsibility, it is an honour. No guarantees that those invites will keep heading my way.

It’s now the next day and we move on. Changed probably yes. But still moving on.

Battered Rose

This rose bush was here when we first moved in. So it’s at least 18 years old. Given the state of it even then, I suspect it’s been here much, much longer. The changes it has seen over those years. Some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. It’s in a really annoying place. Right next to the front door. Constant pruning required to stop your arms and legs getting lacerated just trying to get into your own home. I dread to think how many times it’s been smashed and broken by washing machine and furniture deliveries. It’s regularly attacked by the local wildlife and pets. So yes it’s had a challenging life.

Yes it’s a tad battered. The roses are never perfect these days. Always a little worn at the edges. The foliage is getting a little thin in places. But it’s still here. Just like we are. I can’t speak for you but in my case I am so like this bush. A bit old. The body has taken one too many hits. Definitely battered and a little frayed round the edges. You could even argue that I’m starting to take root. But currently I am still here. Still trying to live. I will give thanks for that.

No Rose Show yet

No jokes today. No script. Let’s just see where this takes me.

It’s the very early hours. It’s my partners birthday. Once I’ve finished I will close the iPad for today and hopefully I will see you tomorrow.

These are strange times for all of us. But to be fair it’s been a strange time for our little family since 2016. That’s the year the world stopped and changed for us forever. Those six weeks from hell. We lost my mum and our Son’s beloved little nan on the first day of that period. That day started as a fun birthday for me and finished in heartache. Almost straight after the funeral my partner wasn’t feeling great and went into hospital overnight for routine tests. The next day having come to pick her up, I was taken to one side by the Doctor to tell me that things where bleak. She only had a 5% chance of surviving the month. Zero chance of making it to Christmas. She was deteriorating rapidly and she wasn’t really conscious. The following conversation with an 8 year old will haunt me forever.

She never fully regained consciousness. We had no more conversations. I can’t even remember the last one we had. Three weeks later I was telling the 8 year old his mum was dead. 2016 and those six weeks from hell.

This day in 2016 I had just given my partner a plant, a Yorkshire White Rose. She had always wanted one. I wish I had bought it so many years earlier so she could have enjoyed it. Since then it has always bloomed in time for her birthday. Not this year. The bad winter has set things back. It’s a few weeks behind schedule. But it will get there. It’s a hardy soul. It feels like one of the few life bridges which didn’t break in 2016. A link to a world now gone but certainly not forgotten.

So now I will focus on our Son. Yes there might be a few tears but hopefully if I do my job right then there will also be smiles. Let’s be thankful for those wonderful times. Let’s remember those other times when the world changed. Changed for the better. Our first date. Our first night in the new house. Finding out those pregnancy results. Holding our baby. Our first family family holiday.

Wonderful, loving times.

So that’s it. Take care and remember that this is still a wonderful world. No more words today. See you tomorrow.

The ship

Dad what’s the date?”

That’s a relief not missed mums birthday.”

Thankfully still not here yet.

Don’t mind missing your birthday like I did last year. To be fair you forgot it as well. Luckily I remembered sometime during the day.”

It’s not the first time I’ve forgotten that. My sister gives my a Calendar each year with all the family birthdays marked on. She even puts mine on just in case.

When his mum was still running our ship (she was good at that) it was all different. She would carefully map out the birthdays. Make sure we made each one special. Now I just focus on our Sons.

The ship analogy is a good one. Mum was definitely the captain. Charting the course and organising. Son was the special passenger who occasionally would help mopping out the ship. The passenger who would happily drop anchor miles from anywhere. Dad was the slightly confused crew hand, who tried to look important but could never remember where he put his sword. After mum joined a much better ship in the sky, our boat was rudderless in very turbulent oceans for far too long. Thankfully we avoided the rocks. Now the special passenger and confused crew hand try to jointly steer the ship.

We both really like this boating view of our home. Son summed it up perfectly.

Dad we are probably going round in giant circles in the ocean. Never going to find that island paradise at this rate. Maybe we should put the clearly most sensible in charge. That will be the gerbils”

He is not wrong there.

Gluten and dairy

Sorry having to milk the red flowers. They don’t last long and then that’s it for another year. Sadly shopping comes round much more frequently.

Another weekend shopping experience to be quickly forgotten. Yes we are always thankful to get some stuff. Things like bathroom rolls (toilet paper) and soap are getting easier to find. Finally some popcorn. Ok it’s just salty but we can add honey to it. But then the inner grump comes out in me.

So many items we take for granted are now becoming a luxury. The words out of stock, no alternatives, unavailable are becoming such a frequent part of the wonderful shopping experience. In terms of our Son it applies to a number of his favourites

  • Tomato ketchup (has to be Heinz)
  • Pasta
  • Skinless sausages
  • Baguettes
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Mini fairy cakes
  • Tinned carrots
  • Corn on the cob.

For me it’s the gluten free and IBS friendly alternatives. Yesterday I drew a complete blank. Yes you could get a few glutenless meat sausages and a couple of soya based meal options. Not great when you are trying to be a veggie and soya blows you up like a balloon. No dairy free milk option except Soya. Not one single gluten free bread based option. Looks like I’m trying to bake my own again – the last one ended up painted and used as Jurassic World play island… Yes we got some jacket potatoes but they look like they have just been used as projectiles in the latest Highland Games, then sent to the army range for target practice.

So unless I can find some super expensive options on Amazon then this weeks meal options will be another challenge. I’m ok, I can just walk around looking permanently pregnant thanks to my inflamed IBS. It’s more of a challenge for our Son with his set eating patterns. Moving from them causes so much anxiety for him.

Dad I’ve got an idea. Let’s just have a week eating crisps and chocolate. Wash it down with full sugar coke. Not good for us but at least it will be fun.”

I’m so into this idea. Yes I will end up very round. Having a body that looks like the perfect figure. A 6. But is that not a better option than looking pregnant from dairy and soya intake. Decision made. Where’s that family sized packet of potato crisps.

Windy with a hint of muppets.

Please remind me not to try and take a closeup photo during a wind storm. It’s not easy. It’s been a typical Yorkshire May Day. Two jumpers (sweaters), woolly hat and retrieving garden furniture from the farmers field.

A fantastic blogger did a wonderful tribute to me by doing a post on her site, in my writing style. It’s funny reading about yourself in someone else’s words, finding out what I had done. Thank you Chelsea, you do me so much better than I do.

Chelsea’s post is so apt and spookily close to the mark. Outside eating with a hint of muppetry was definitely yesterday’s theme. We had decided to mark the start of the week off with a barbecue. Unfortunately the old bbq crumbled over the Yorkshire winter. My first attempt at building a replacement one didn’t go to well and rather scarily was built next to the oil tank. So when yesterday came…

Dad why don’t we just move the George Foreman grill outside like we said we would.”

No let’s have fun and build a fire on the lawn. A proper barbecue.

Not sure that’s a great idea. It’s a bit grey and very, very windy…”

Yes it was blowing a storm but surely man can overcome the elements. So yes we built a rather fine temporary fire structure at a much safer distance from the oil tank. I was quite impressed. It was loaded with what we had in terms of coal and wood.

How are you going to light it.”

Matches…. This is where the plan encountered its first problem. Yes we did find three matchboxes. A remnant from fireworks night. Unfortunately the boxes where full of used matches. Don’t you just hate that. I managed to salvage one complete unused match and one snapped one. So here goes. Problem two – the wind. Instantly both matches were been blown out. Problem three – living in a house with oil heating and an electric oven. We don’t need to light a fire so the house is bereft of spark generating options.

Ok Bear Grylls what are you going to do now. Time for the George Foreman yet.”

Spiriting up my inner Bear I located my camping flint and tried to create fire. Thirty minutes later – nothing.

Dad I will fetch the George Foreman. I’m starving.”

Too late, it started to rain. So eventually it was an indoor George Foreman feast. Today’s heartwarming life lesson

Once a Muppet, always a Muppet.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to one of the worlds most beautiful places, Switzerland.

This week is a little different. A transport theme. Switzerland is renowned for it’s staggeringly efficient public transport system.

Riding on the train, boat, bus or cable car is a visual delight. Just sit with a drink and take in the views. All the photos from here on are taking from the comfort of the passenger seat.

It’s one of the few countries where you really don’t need a car to travel. Bus, train, boat, tram and cable car all link seamlessly.

The system is completely integrated. As you approach a train station, look out the window. Watch the all the connected buses, boats and trains coming in at the same time. Everything links up.

It runs to precision timing. Living in the UK that thought is mind blowing. If a train is listed to leave at 11.59, then watch the station clock tick round and unbelievably it does leave on the dot.

All the announcements are beautifully delivered in German, French, Italian and then in English. Sometimes traditional Swiss singing is even provided onboard.

In all my time I only ever experienced one late running train here. I was on platform at Spiez waiting to get to somewhere deep in The Alps. The PA announced that a mountain rockfall had blocked the line and the train would be delayed. The PA promised an update within 5 minutes. In the UK that would block the line for weeks. Quickly followed another announcement saying that specialist teams were already on site and the train would be be delayed by 20 minutes. 20 minutes….. Then guards walked up the platform apologising for the delay and making sure every passenger had a revised connection schedule. When the guard spoke to me, he phoned the other station to ensure a connection would be available for me. Unbelievably I did eventually arrive at my destination only 20 minutes late. My bus connection was waiting. Simply staggering.

My partners mum always loved to get to the top of at least one Swiss mountain every time she visited. It reminded her of the days she would walk in The Alps with my partners beloved Dad. Unfortunately as she got older her mobility declined and she became very frail. Yet thanks to the wonders of Switzerland she managed to keep making those mountains journeys. A bus (or tourist road train) would pick her up from the hotel and take her to the station hub. Then trains would take her to the bottom of the mountain. Finally either a pulley train or cable car would carry her to the top. Here she should would sit in the restaurant, drink coffee and just look at the view. That meant so much to her.

Until next time. Stay safe and be happy. And finally travelling on a boat is such thirsty work….

It’s almost time….

The wonderful Mel has come up with this flyer for something you won’t want to miss which is happening in July.. Soon the fun will start all over again…..

You are invited!

18/19th July 2020

Last year Gary the creator of A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his Partner and becoming a single parent, had an amazing idea. Gary said, “Why don’t we have a bloggers’ bake-off?” Melody the creator of Caramel (Learner at love), thought that was a fantastic idea so started planning with Gary. We asked the spectacular kitchen guru and baking legend Jeanne, the creator of A Jeanne in the Kitchen, to be our celebrity judge…and voila!

The 2019 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF was an amazing blogging event. We loved every moment of it and were thrilled with the response from other bloggers. We have been looking forward to the 2020 BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF ever since.

However…this year many bloggers have reported challenges in obtaining baking essentials such as flour, eggs and baking powder. Do not despair! You will be delighted to hear that as well as the BAKE-OFF for all who are able to bake this year, we are also hosting a virtual summer picnic on WordPress.

That means that as well as the baking contest, there will be an international virtual picnic and we are asking all of you to bring something along! More details to come!!! Oh we are so excited!

Cue the annoying picnic song!!!

https://youtu.be/jrliJnmYomI

Another week

It’s one of those days. Wet, windy and damp one minute. Then sunnier, even windier and wetter the next minute. At least the rainwater tubs are filling up. Can’t believe that they were empty. EMPTY – this is Yorkshire….

Another week has come and gone. Another week of schools version of homeschooling. So what did we learn this week.

  • Apparently the school has one of the best online teaching systems in the country. It’s frightening that many schools are struggling to get any systems going. But what do you expect when the government tries to control everything about education. Strangely it never saw the need for online education. Why bother when it’s so much cheaper to cram ever increasing numbers of kids into overcrowded classes.
  • Even with a school iPad and online systems, we have run out of pens, pencils and coloured markers. We only stocked up in February…….
  • The new school trousers (3 pairs) which were bought the week before the lockdown started, now don’t fit. So we managed one use out of those. Money well spent.
  • Clearly using google translate doesn’t necessarily get you the right answer in French lessons.
  • Drama is the most appropriate name for the subject. Here every lesson in Drama ends up as a right DRAMA.
  • Music is largely based around the GarageBand app. Has there ever been a more frustrating learning based app. It looks so easy on YouTube to produce professional sounding music compositions. Not in this house. So far we can just about get a drum to beat. It’s the same sound regardless of if son is trying to do a rock or classical composition. Not quite what the music teacher wants.
  • Clearly the half term weeks holiday should be renamed the half term do school projects and homework week.
  • What’s this new trend of getting parents to join in with PE lessons. This week I got to show my prowess in the hop, skip and jump (Triple Jump). I can now rename that as the hope, skip, fall over and hold my back in agony jump.
  • Some teachers are starting to get our son and others never will. One lesson he is still waiting for a house point. He’s only one of two other kids who has not been awarded one this year by this teacher. Apparently even getting 93% in a test doesn’t constitute being worthy of just one point. Maybe I’m missing something. Another frustration is that every September the teachers all change as kids move up a year. So all the progress of developing a relationship is lost. The ironic thing is one of the few teachers who doesn’t change is the one who doesn’t get him….
  • Food Technology is so much easier when it’s home based. It’s all theory so no need for the parent to stress out about finding food ingredients and suitable containers. Also no need to deal with the inevitable school bag food spillages. It’s 2 months since the last incident and his bag still spells of garlic.
  • When I was a kid magnetic fields seemed so easy to understand. So why now do they seem like some strange Harry Potter magic.
  • Apparently some lessons are best undertaken in short 10 minute spells, punctuated with a few games of Crossy Road.

So yes we can tick off another school at home week. Some parts still don’t work but many elements do work. Here’s the key thing. The current approach is determined by the school. You take all elements of the package. Take the good and the bad. True homeschooling allows you the flexibility to address those elements which are not working. But that’s a debate for another day. Let’s settle for just ticking off this week. Job done now let’s move on.