Monday, 29 September 2014


As I chowed down on my cob of corn, chin dripping with melted butter I was reminded of this recent article in Sunday Times by Mrs Mills. I bring it to you now for those lovers of a double entendre......

A reader had enquired to Mrs Mills how to tell the ripeness of sweet corn as their wife insisted you could tell by gently feeling the swollen cob. Whereas the husband felt a firm grasp and a peel back from tip was a better guide. There was also a query that ripeness could be guaged by crushing the seed to see if it produced a milky fluid. Mrs Mills, that sage oh so wise, settled the debate by claiming they were both right! A translucent milky fluid should indeed come out if pressed hard; the cob is overripe if thick and white. If you have pulled back the husk to soon an elastic band round the husk will keep it going til it's, er, ready. 
I decided to see what others in the know suggested.
Jane Grigson offers further advice on how to prepare said cob by standing it upright, held at a slight angle and to scrape done as hard as you can. You should continue to do this more vigorously to get the last bits ( kernels I believe) and juice. Apparently it can be done quite rapidly too.
The BBC Gardening guide tells you that the corn is pollinated by the make flowers shedding onto the females tassels.Ripeness is indeed down to milky juice.

Any body else care to comment?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

University - the to do list

I love a list. Even looked to see if any university had compiled a check list of a what to do next and what to take. Sadly not. So I give you my list, for what's it's worth. 
What to do next-
1 finance, hopefully this long sorted out before results day. Actually starting a children's Bond or some other saving scheme when they were born would have been a good idea. Talking through budgets and living costs is essential
2 student bank accounts. There are lots out there so choose wisely. We have got 2. One for all fees accommodation costs etc and the other for living expenses and where wages, if we get another job, will be paid into. This was a tip from students. 
3 work. Update your cv and register with as many local temporary staffing agencies as you can before you go.also register with uni job shop to pick up extra hours
4 buy your resources or at least order before you go. When it comes to books second hand is better and so is the library. You could even wait until you get there and see what current students are selling off
5 insurance check your parents policy covers you away from home
6 transport. Even if you can drive and have a car I really wouldn't bother. A bike is good and low cost. Most unis have free bike maintenance courses too

Our list below is based on self catering halls. Some things are new, other items from home. We have done sweeps of Wilkinsons, mainly for kitchen utensils, Aldi, lidl and Sainsburys for the rest. All supermarkets have student related offers on. 
Our list is based on the likelihood will be that you will share a kitchen. Why not get to know each other on Facebook beforehand and share items. Most universities have FB pages for halls.  So do you really need 6 colander & 6 pan sets? 
As Shera likes to cook we are taking following
Wooden spoons
Plastic spatula 
Slotted spoon 
Tin opener
Bottle opener/ corkscrew
Large sharp knife
Small sharp knife
Frying pan
Large saucepan
Pizza tray and cutter
Tala measure , love these 
Mixing bowl or as Shera said Sangria bowl
Baking tray
Bun tray - call it the gbbo effect but baking is really popular in unis. Its a great way to make friends and good fundraising activity too
A cookery book. Even though my daughter is pretty good in the kitchen we got Nosh for a Students which has budgeting advice and what to have in your store cupboard too

Crockery - we already a spare set
Pasta/salad bowl 
2 high ball glasses
2 wine glasses
3 mugs of normal, large and extra large size. For soup apparently " but don't we have bowls? "? I ask.
Permanent marker pen to label your milk, pizza etc

Cleaning stuff
Rubber gloves
Multi purpose spray
Washing up liquid
Lots of bin liners. Can't emphasise that enough
Lots of cleaning cloths 
Same goes for tea towels. If you gave ever been in a student flat don't touch the tea towel!
Toilet brush and cleaner
A clothes airer an essential items
Laundry bag

On bathroom front if you have an en suite chances are a bathmat will be pretty useless. You are also very lucky.
On toiletry front I did a sweep of the usual stuff daughter uses. Plus condoms. Let's not be prissy here
Bag to be able to cart stuff home in like dirty washing

Bedding, and changes of bedding. Dark colours work better believe me.
Blankets or fleecy throiws or both
Mattress protector and topper

As the fire alarms in halls tend to off at all hours make sure you have something warm, quick and easy to get into. You could be stood outside in middle of night for sometime

Passport style photos- take them with you. You will need them for so many things

Passport and or drivers licence. Not only to enrol but If you need work you need I.D. Don't lose it!

A folder of important stuff . Like student finance letter, your AS12/ucas offer letter. Course and accommodation related things. A place to keep passport

I did a flow chart of what money comes and when and also when it goes back out again. Apparently this was useful. Visual learner see

On the clothes front, be sensible and remember to take a coat. See earlier comment about fire alarms. Also it might be warm in September but it quickly turns to autumn so pack wisely. You can always take other clothes at a later date. We also packed work attire. Smart black trousers and shirts not forgetting footwear.
Storage boxes to go under bed. We have these already so there are just going to be uplifted, full of shoes, and taken.

A lesson in how to wash clothes always helps. We've already got ironing sussed.

Chargers, laptops, speakers etc goes without saying. 
Tvs we are trying with just a laptop fir streaming tv. If it doesn't work out then we will order one. Most seem to manage

On food front we will do a big shop when we get there rather than try and find additional space in car. 

Some home comforts such as cushions, fairy lights ( even for boys) bunting, a favourite item and photos go well. Remember notice board pins too

Grandparents often want to help out and a good tip is to suggest gift vouchers. Either for supermarket shopping which can fe topped up on line. Or for clothes or toiletries at a later date. There are so many sorts at the check out these days and could be a welcome and timely gift. 

I'm sure there are plenty if things you could add to my list. We had lists of items on a notice board that we could add to as we thought if things and tick off as we got them. 
Please add your comments below

The list was compiled from advice from friends with students already in situ, colleagues in accommodation at my university and common sense. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Growing old disgracefully

As I readied myself for an evening of social engagements the lovely dress I wore recently to friends wedding was sadly lacking something that I had forgotten to remedy since the last outing. Having the right bra! At said wedding the strapless contraption I wore was so tight that half way through the day I ended up taking it off. Free boobing was in that day and I didn't care.
This evening was slightly different as there was a need to be demure and proper in the first half of the evening and party party lady later. He man pointed out that freeboobin was not an option, in a sensitive manner I might add.
After much faffing with tit tape and several other options I found an old forgotten wonder bra. Bright pink! Amazing cleavage! The lovely keyhole feature on the back was overcome and bra straps concealed. Heman managed to convey a look of " shes going to do this anyway " with "you look great mum"  I decided the delicate orange spaghetti straps of my dress could take the wider fuchsia pink bra straps. Extra tit tape applied to keep in place. Cardigan donned for the demure bit and off I went.
Needless to say the cardigan had to stay on all evening.  I got hotter and hotter in the restaurant aware of the cleavage rising like mounds of dough. Spillage occurring and not in a good way. I was also a acutely aware of the noise tittape makes when you move and it rips from the fabric.  I am clearly applying it wrong,.
I arrived at the party still wearing cardigan. My friends didn't think anything of this as it was now a bit nippy (get it?) with the Indian summer failing to show with several ladies donning extra layers outside. A few dance moves later, aided by some fizz, the cardigan HAD to come off. I can only say the look of horror on my friends faces as they clapped eyes on my escaping boobs will stay with me for a while. Despite this I continued to dance in usual fashion, lots of arm waving etc without a care in the world.
I loved that bra. I love the dress. But I can't breathe in it with a strapless number on and bra less means it looks like I have packed up to go South for the autumn. Where is the pertness?  *wails
Advice please most welcome.

University bound

She-ra is university bound. Got her first choice. A happy bunny. The guest room is accumulating stuff that will be needed at a rapid rate.
I am so pleased for her but clearly will miss her too.  Who else will I be able to do these things:
- speaking a made up Scandinavian language every time a new scandi drama comes on
- kitchen disco dancing
- supreme cake baker and kitchen messer upperer
- a go getter try anything once which inspires me to do the same
- that 'look' when you both just know
- whole conversation conducted in Irish, Welsh, Geordie.  We are none of these
-fashion guru. Apparently I am no longer capable of dressing myself and need her advice, whether I want it or not
- the same can be said of my make up. Don't get me started on eyebrows
- a great dog walker
- fellow binge TV viewer. Yo! Mr White Orange is the new black.

I could write a long list. Bon Voyage beautiful daughter. I am so very excited a
for you and damn bloody proud.