Author Archives: Daddybean

Time to get off

The En Famille roller coaster is slowing down now. Will soon be time to get off and get ready for the next ride.  I’m heading out of london on the Paris bound Eurostar, en route to Stringbean’s French family, tomorrow she flies home with me :-)

Whilst excited that she is coming home, it also feels a bit odd. It’s feels a bit odd that she has had this other life somewhere else that we have just glimpsed bits of really. And we have settled into a bit of a different rythym here.

I wonder how SB will about being home, and about the last 6 months, and how she will have changed. And of course we aren’t going to be going back to normal anyway, this is just an interlude before FrenchBean joins us, which is another whole scary kettle of fish.

It’s been hard at times, saying goodbye to SB in France last year was so difficult.  BB has struggled at times, it took her some weeks to settle down, and I will always remember just how tight she hugged SB when we left. But it has also been lovely to see how well it has worked for SB.  Bow happy she is, how good her French is. We are so proud of her and pleased that we felt able to rise to the her challenge.

Time to post, almost under the channel

The Roller Coaster

roller coaster

OK, it hasn’t got a French flag.


A week from now, we will all be staying with Stringbean’s French family, getting ready hug her goodbye, and see her off on the beginning of her (and our) En Famille adventure. There have been plenty of twists and ups and downs along the way, as there should be on a good roller coaster. Sometimes it all seems exciting, other times worrying and there were disappointments along the way.

But now here we are right up the top of the highest climb, not quite like the picture, it feels more like we are poised on the summit,that time has slowed down and we are  just waiting for the drop. For the last couple of weeks we’ve been doing the final organising, shopping, pondering, packing. One last appointment tomorrow morning at the orthodontist and we are done. (Oh and the small matter of a party for 50 or so :) )

Stringbean seems confident and ready for it, and both nervous and excited in equal measure, and she seems to have realistic expectations of the  . When asked why she wants to do it she just says because it is a big adventure, which seems to be the right way to approach it.  When people question about how difficult it might be to live with another family, in another country, when you don’t yet speak the language I think they are missing the point. For it is that that makes it the big adventure that it is. I’m proud of her for taking on the challenge, and I’m pleased that as a family we have  felt able to support her and enable her to go.

It also feels a bit humbling that some other family is willing to welcome our daughter into their family, and to entrust one of their children to us in return. In a world in which there seems so often to be so much distrust of others floating about it feels good to be part of something that is so fundamentally about having faith and trust in other people.

I’m not sure any of us really yet know how we are going to feel once we have waved her off, though Butterbean is the most obviously struggling with it at the moment. Whilst I can know that we’ll miss her and everything, it is so far beyond anything we have done before that it has a sense of unreality to it.  Until it’s actually happened, I’m not really going to know quite how it is going to feel.

But I think SB is going to have a great time. Her French family seem lovely and caring,  and I think she will fit in just fine with their life. And while she is away, we will be preparing to welcome her French sister Frenchbean (well what else!) into home and our lives. Which is another whole adventure in itself.

So, as the roller coaster crosses the summit and you see the big drop in front, both scary and exciting, what else is there to do but lift up your arms, let out a big scream, and enjoy the ride, cos there’s no getting off :-)

Have a wonderful time Stringbean xxx


See How They Grow

We were given this little cooker when we live in Leeds. By neighbours over the road, whose daughter (then about 8 I guess ) said she didn’t need it anymore and would Elinor like it. It looks a bit sad now, but it was much love in it’s day :-) Have been keeping it around until I took a photo with Stringbean with it now. Guess no excuse for not getting rid of it now ….

Stringbean, 18 months, August 2002

Stringbean, 18 months, August 2002

Stringbean, 12 1/12 yr, August 2013

Stringbean, 12 1/12 yr, August 2013




There on the Stairs


SB is out at Ballet class, and BB is doing one of the things she likes best -  pottering around and playing. Yoshi, Terry and the recently purchased Dragon are on the stairs. I’ve no idea what the game is about, there are a bunch of Lego  people up the top.

Later I will probably be annoyed that she has left them on the stairs ;-)

Right now, I’m going to pause, take a snap and enjoy listening to her game for a couple of minutes, and treasure the moment, for those who aren’t here to have such moments themselves anymore.

It will be  ‘Jesse’s Song’ time before you know it.

A Girl With a Plan

As soon as H had headed off to work this morning, BB was agitating for us to find an old top of hers and  sock as she wanted to make and elephant cushion for SB for her birthday. After much rummaging in bags of old clothes, we found a suitable top that was near enough in colour to the sock to be acceptable.

So then she settled down to sew (no time to get dressed of course):





They had made sock animals at Wodensmeet the day before, and she had  a plan in her head  :-) And she pretty much did it all herself, bar a bit of help with tying knots onto the ends of the thread. And she shew me various ‘tricks’ she had learnt making the sock animals as well. I love that she was able to plan and execute this pretty much all by herself :-)

BB is a much more focussed child with such things than her sister, and doesn’t like doing a bit and then coming back to it, so  5 hours later, with just a  couple of breaks for food really, she had a rather cool sleeping  Elephant cushion :-)





P1020199Elephant Cushion










Meanwhile, I had been prising SB out of bed (no mean task, that girls is hopeless at waking up and getting up) She did her normal morning faffing about.  Did a couple of bits of book work - Collins Primary Grammar on Adverbs and the Spelling book. Something, else of which I’m blank right now.  A decent piano practice and then she wanted to bake some cakes to take to guides as it’s her birthday on Saturday. After some umming and ahhing, settled on Banana Muffins as easy and we had a stash of very ripe bananas.

After  bit of toing and froing to the shops – first for eggs, then for cake cases she settled down to bake:


Banana Muffins

And they turned out well, though I could notice the salt in them. We don’t tend to add salt a lot to cooking, certainly not into things like Muffins. But sshe had been following the recipe and it had had salt in obviously. Guides were a bit low in number tonight as some school event on so plenty came home again :-)

She is a good baker, but not very quick. So by the time they were in the oven, and she had done a good tidy up on the kitchen I was desperately in need of lunch. So some quick beans on toast and then BB went off to get dressed and SB disappeared upstairs as well – either playing with Cindy/Barbie or reading a book – she is re-reading the the Stephen Bowkett The Wintering trilogy(that I read as bedtime books a while back) and is on the second book, The Wintering: Storm.
I got on with cooking curry for dinner – including a very nice Moong Dall based on a recipe from a book I bought recently, Hansa’s Indian Vegetarian Cookbook as felt the need for some more inspiration on the recipe front. Hansa’s is a vegetarian Gujarati Restaurant in Leeds. We went to it  a couple of time, though I was never that impressed by the food. But the recipes in this book seem pretty good, and they are fairly simple and practical recipes (and probably simplified/ tweaked for the UK market somewhat)   compared to some Indian recipe books.


Got them back downstairs, SB did a Clarinet practice, BB pottered around a bit in the garden annoying the fish in the pond, and indoors with some Lego. And then before you know it, it was time to head out for BB’s gym.  SB did a bit more book work whilst there, mostly Galore Park Science. I forgot to take in the collection of bits I have to pass back to the Deep Enders who we did see there briefly, as BB has moved up into an older class.

BB also received her Certificate and Badge for the  proficiency award they did before half term.




Then it was home,  for a 30 minute turnaround,  quickly warm up the curry so that SB could have dinner before Guides. Back home BB settled down with Walking with Beasts on the TV, whilst beheading Lego people with a Lego knight. Followed by a bit of a late bedtime as SB not back from guides until past 9pm

‘The Triplets’, 3 Children, 6 Years.

Butterbean, Josie (Patch of Puddles) and Shannon (Going Against the Flow). all born in November in 2004, and hence dubbed ‘The Triplets’

Here they are at around 6 months old at our first Muddlepuddle Summer Camp:


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Around a year old:


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At around 2 1/4:



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And now they are 6:



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SB makes her jam competition entry :)

My elder girl made jam today, with negligible help from me, just some health and safety supervision :) . We have one of those purple leaved wild cherryplums in the garden [and numerous little ones appear that we have to chase after, as wild and widespread as the elders] . They are nearly nearly ripe – a bit sharpish. However, the village craft fair is soon, and she wanted to enter the jam section with the jam we made last year with these plums plus whatever [and it really was as laid back as that!] .

  by Scrumbledelicious

This year we more or less followed a recipe from this book, which I have had for many years and love

She sterilised jars and equipment, picked as many of the plums we could reach [and i sawed a few small branches off that stopped DD1 climbing up to reach a few more] – 1.3kg .

  by Scrumbledelicious

She put these into our heavy pan and covered with 750mls water and simmered until they were all mushy. DD1 and grandad [staying here as an emergency visit as nana has been admitted over the weekend to hospital - frantic is the name remember!] mushed through a colander and took out all the stones. DD1 wanted some bits in the jam, so then added some of the smushed stuff too.

  by Scrumbledelicious   by Scrumbledelicious

She measured and had 1.2l of pulp and water. So she added 1400g of sugar [eek!] and also as much grated ginger as we could [about 40g] from the dried knobbly bit lurking by the cooker [ :blush: ] .

  by Scrumbledelicious   by Scrumbledelicious

Then put on a good rolling boil until we reached jam temp on my sugar thermometer. Since this is the first time she has made jam, I had her trying the different ways of testing done-ness.

  by Scrumbledelicious

At her first call I thought we were prob slightly under, so filled 2 jars [I have a jam funnel, so much easier for her], and then she boiled some more, tested again and was much more convinced. She has a nice jar each of under and over [possibly!] and will try some of each from the not so pretty jars to decide which one to enter.

Historyetc – the romans

I am getting way behind with blogging. the world has been far too busy and stressful, and I have been concentrating entirely on work out of those moments when directly interacting with the girls. This completely workcentric period is hopefully coming to an end, but it is clear that in this economic climate, i just can’t afford not to be a type A person at work,  and that this will eat horribly into my home time.

we did have a really fabulous historyetc nearly a fortnight ago, which I promised to blog! It was a full house, with all the families there. there were also some additions. My niece and nephew, G’s nephew and B with daughter R who came with Michelle, and will hopefully come fairly regularly.

My parents tooke the opportunity to visit friends and play golf – I suggested that might be a more relaxing day :)


At this distance it is harder to remember all the ins and outs of a day, unfortunately, which is why i should have blogged at the time. I thought M and E did really well. They are both schooled, they both want a fair bit of my attention when I am around [understandable] and they are not so used to mixed ages and some freedom in choosing what to do. E settled with me and making the herbal remedies, as did M. However, E was grad persuaded to do more things without me so close, tho always nipping, admiring, hugging etc before moving on. M decided that he was a bit uncomfortable doing more crafts, initially grumping that he had to do schoolwork in half term! and mostly played with G’s nephew. He did say he had a great time tho.

SO, I started with the elderflower herbal remedy and pretty much everyone made this, and at the end of the day, with the 2 R’s I made the rosepetal distilled water

a) elderflower water

The Romans, as Pliny records, made use of it in medicine and in Italy in the medicine of the School of Salernum. Elder still keeps its place in the British Pharmacopoeia, the cooling effects of Elder flowers being well known.

How to make!

Fill a large jar with Elder blossoms, pressing them down, the stalks of course having been removed previously. Pour on them boiling water to half way up the jar, stand the jar in a warm place for some hours. Then allow it to get quite cold and strain through muslin. Put into bottles and cork securely.


washing to whiten and soften the skin
drink as a tea to help with chest complaints
soak linen and place agains boils and afflictions of the skin
soak linen and place against temples for migraine.

b) rose water

the Romans found it prudent to continually spray the audience with rose water, simultaneously making its members smell better and protecting them from errant germs with the rose’s antibacterial properties.

How to make!

2-3 quarts fresh roses or rose petals
Ice cubes or crushed ice
1. In the center of a large pot (the speckled blue canning pots are ideal) with an inverted lid (a rounded lid), place a fireplace brick. On top of the brick place the bowl. Put the roses in the pot; add enough flowers to reach the top of the brick. Pour in just enough water to cover the roses. The water should be just above the top of the brick.
2. Place the lid upside down on the pot. Turn on the stove and bring the water to a rolling boil, then lower heat to a slow steady simmer. As soon as the water begins to boil, toss two or three trays of ice cubes (or a bag of ice) on top of the lid.
3. You’ve now created a home still! As the water boils the steam rises, hits the top of the cold lid, and condenses. As it condenses it flows to the center of the lid and drops into the bowl. Every 20 minutes, quickly lift the lid and take out a tablespoon or two of the rose water. It’s time to stop when you have between a pint and a quart of water that smells and tastes strongly like roses.


Antibacterial for skin infections
tea for digestive disorders or nervous tension
to flavour foods or as a perfume.

Other activities ongoing were making roman pestles and mortars for grinding fruit with clay, making a bulla, making roman coins and some roman maths, dressing peg dolls in a toga, making mosaics – several varieties – sticky felt squares; fimo; happy maize pictures. There were also some really delicious roman foods cooked up.

a) globuli

Globuli Curd cheese, 500 g or about 1lb, A cup of semolina, honey, olive oil.
Press curd cheese through sieve or let it hang in cheese cloth until it’s drained well. Mix with the semolina into a loose dough. Let it sit for a few hours. (Have a sip of the vino Caroenum while you wait). With wet hands form the mixture into dumplings. Quickly fry them in olive oil for a few minutes. Drain and roll in honey.

b)Libum (sweet cheesecake)

Libum was a sacrificial cake sometimes offered to household spirits during Rome’s early history. The recipe below comes from the Roman consul Cato’s agricultural writings, which included simple recipes for farmers. Libum, sometimes served hot, is a cheesecake he included.

Ancient Roman Libum Recipe
Libum to be made as follows: 2 pounds cheese well crushed in a mortar; when it is well crushed, add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour or, if you want it to be lighter, just 1/2 a pound, to be mixed with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with the leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.

Modern Roman Libum Recipe (serves 4)
1 cup plain, all purpose flour
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
bay leaves
1/2 cup clear honey

Sift the flour into a bowl. Beat the cheese until it’s soft and stir it into the flour along with the egg. Form a soft dough and divide into 4. Mold each one into a bun and place them on a greased baking tray with a fresh bay leaf underneath. Heat the oven to 425° F. Cover the cakes with your brick* and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden-brown. Warm the honey and place the warm cakes in it so that they absorb it. Allow to stand 30 minutes before serving.

*The Romans often covered their food while it was cooking with a domed earthenware cover called a testo. You can use an overturned, shallow clay pot, a metal bowl, or casserole dish as a brick.

Also sweet and salty dates – for which I can’t find the recipes. They were absolutely all delicious. I think more enjoyed by adults rather than the children. However, I am really enjoying the addition of some of the food of the time as well :)

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When your hands are too snowy, just do the dance…..

DSCF0536, originally uploaded by Scrumbledelicious.