Monday, November 28, 2011

Going Home

The 100 Word challenge is a picture again this week. As an expat torn between two worlds, it evoked all sorts of emotions. I think it was the greenery reflected in the window. After reading you can go and see what it did to the others by clicking on Julia's Place.


Going Home

She always talked about going home. The cottage, a copse, rolling hills, cousins dizzy with happiness and freedom. We slept in the summer house. I'll take you there one of these days.

The children grew up. Three adult fares were out of the question. But she needed to go home.

It wasn't in the depths of the country after all. She found it just past Watford, near the M25. A 1950s semi, quite a big garden with a few trees and a rotting shed - the summer house?

The place was all wrong. But home isn't a place - it's a time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Not The Carrot Tsimmes

Yes folks, two badges today. This week's Recipe Shed is all about stews and casseroles. I thought I'd kill two stews with one carrot and link this week's kitchen fiasco to Working London Mummy's One Ingredient Cooking Challenge (there's a prize) for November, the one ingredient, always simple and family friendly, being the humble carrot.

A word about tsimmes. Another traditional Jewish Ashkenazi (European) dish from out of the shtetl. This one is a favourite on Rosh Hashana (New Year) because of its sweetness (for a sweet year geddit?). What I never knew is that there are two types of tsimmes. The basic one is a baked concoction of carrots, sweet potato and dried fruits all glazed in honey or syrup. I'm not partial as I generally don't like the taste of dessert in my mains. However lots of people make it and love it. Here is Martha Stewart's tsimmes to show you what I'm talking about.

The other tsimmes is more like cholent. A sweet casserole of meat, potatoes, carrots and dumplings, slow cooked for many hours. I like this one better because of the potatoes and dumplings but I don't cook meat so what's a girl to do?

I call my version Not The Carrot Tsimmes because I make it more salt and peppery than sweet (although I do put a bit of sugar in it as it goes well with the peppery taste).

Not The Carrot Tsimmes

Cut into chunks - one aubergine, one onion, 4 carrots, and two potatoes.
Fry them over in a big pot with plenty of cooking oil, salt, pepper (lots), and ground cumin.
Add about 3/4 L of hot water with 1 heaped tablespoon of demarera sugar dissolved into it.
Bring to boil and simmer while you make your dumplings.


And now a word about the dumplings. I don't mean the oriental type which are wrapped parcels of filling. I mean the traditional floury balls cooked in broth or gravy. All my recipes called for binding the flour with suet (what we call shmaltz). I should have subtituted this with butter or margerine but I had neither so I used oil and made them far too loose. This meant that my dumplings all fell apart in the stew. On the one hand I didn't have any dumplings to serve but, on the other hand, my tsimmes had a lovely thick gravy. Anyway here are the dumplings just after I put them in and before they disintegrated. Notice the chopped fresh coriander inside.


After finding your own dumpling recipe and adding them to the pot, let it simmer for at least an hour. Mine looked like this.


Adjust the seasonings to your taste. I added more pepper as I like it peppery with just a hint of the salt and sweetness coming through. I served it with rice.



That's an effigy of my Grandma in the background who may have made propper tsimmes and who I'm sure would not be looking at my re-creation with pride. Oh, and unlike Big Chief Recipeshed, I forgot to sprinkle some more chopped fresh coriander over the top to make it look professional. Although they probably weren't that big on garnish in the shtetl.

And for my final confession - I picked out the carrots and displayed them prominantly for the photo as the One Ingredient Challenge (with a prize) is for a carrot recipe. Before I ate it for lunch I put most of the carrots back and picked out more potatoes and aubergine because I don't really like carrots that much. I hope I win :) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#TheGallery Something I'm Proud Of

The title says it all. This week's prompt from Tara for The Gallery obviously had me thinking about photos of DD - so much to be proud of there. On the other hand, when you're handed such perfect material you'd have to be pretty stupid not to end up with a lovely, happy, beautiful three year old. And I write about her a lot - obviously as this is primarily a Mummy Blog. So I started to think about other things in my life that I'm proud of.

In the end I chose the thing that took me the longest time and required the most amount of work. And, after being an academic C+ all my life, I finally, at the age of 38, got myself an A grade. Granted, it's not a very exciting photograph but I'm very fond of it (the paper not the picture of it).


This is the soft copy of my MA dissertation. There are a couple of hardback copies somewhere in the Intitute of Education, London University library but I couldn't afford another hard copy for myself. It's called: Reading Preferences of Bilingual Children - The Implications for the General Promotion of Reading. Basically it hypothesises that if bilingual children prefer reading for pleasure in one of their languages over the other (where the children are equally proficient in both languages, the two languages hold equal status and suitable books are readily available in both languages) and we can isolate the factors that encouraged the children to make their language choice, we will have a valuable tool towards promoting reading for pleasure among children generally.

The feedback from the examiners included the recommendation that I should get my findings published. I was so chuffed I promptly did nothing about it and it's sat in my bookcase gathering dust ever since. However, the real irony is that having discovered how to teach reading more effectively, getting the MA enabled me to leave school teaching and teach at college level, where all my students can already read. Remember the Peter Principle? I'm living it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Writing On The Wall

Has a whole week gone by already? Julia threw me this time by offering a choice so it took me a bit longer than usual. The prompt is a celebration of 400 years since the publication of the King James Bible. Choose out of three well-known phrases from The Good Book:

the powers that be / the apple of his eye / the writing on the wall

This piece may be a tinsy bit autobiographical, but with a large exageration factor. Enjoy and then go to Julia's Place to see the other entries.


Come in my lovelies. Shoes off by the door please. Nephew Major I'm giving you a plate to eat your ice-lolly over. I don't know why your silly mummy bought you one just before coming to Aunty's house. Minor, go wash your hands, I don't want the park all over my white sofa. Becky, I've put a plastic mat on the carpet for Little One to play on - he's not crawling yet is he? TG for that...

Becky, your sister is insufferable...

Shhh Leon, she's pregnant. Things will have to change around here. The writing's on the wall.

It took less than two years.


Btw - I did not commission the featured artwork for this post ;)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tracks Of My Years: Three Songs I Have Loved

This post is a result of being tagged by Liska, who is New Mum Online. The original meme was started by Mammy Woo (see the badge) as Music Therapy by sharing the lyrics that have touched your soul over the years. As with all memes, it didn't take long for peeps to 'make it their own'. I particularly enjoyed Anna's choices, I think it may be a generational thing :)
However, Jen at Mum In The Mad House used to have a regular Tracks Of My Years meme - this was my first TOMY post.  My choices are definitely tracks of my years.



Back in the 1960s and my SAH Mum (was there any other kind?) always had the radio on in the kitchen. This is one of the first tracks I remember hearing regularly and even knowing some of the words to. It was recorded by The Seekers who were my Dad's favourite group. I didn't see the film till many many years later but the song, Georgy Girl, is one of my earliest musical memories.



1976 must have been the height of easy listening. It was wall-to-wall Radio 2, even for the young and trendy. I loved it. We had songs like this...




And one of my all time favourites...



Well I was 14 years old in 1976 and this was my idea of love and romance. I had visions of singing through life with Capital Radio providing the background music. I don't apologise :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

#RecipeShed Roast Aubergine with Falafel, and Tehina Sauce

Recipe Shed was a challenge this week as the theme was roasts and I don't cook meat. Then I remembered this dish that I had in a restautrant about two years ago and loved. Obviously others also raved about it as it has become somewhat of an Israeli favourite, appearing all over the place with variations in presentation and extras. It has all the ingredients of a national dish: roast aubergine, falafel, and chopped salad in lemon/olive oil dressing. So without further ado...


Roast Aubergine on a bed of Israeli Salad, served with Falafel and Garlic, with Yogurt Tehina Sauce.

1. Roast your aubergine, a whole garlic, and some cherry tomatoes (oil and salt)
in a very hot oven for an hour until the aubergine is collapsed to a creamy texture inside. From this -
To this (after half an hour I turned the aubergine over and added some fresh coriander) -

2. Meanwhile make your salad - chop 1 tomato and 1/3 cucumber (UK cucs) with some onion. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and salt/pepper.

3. Also prepare your sauce. Mix tehina paste with natural yogurt, chopped coriander, salt/pepper, lemon juice and ground cumin. To taste is the best guideline I can give you for amounts.

4. Put the salad on a flat dish. Slice the aubergine lengthways and lay it on to of the salad. Mash the flesh a bit with a fork to break it up. Arrange your falafel, the garlic and cherry tomatoes on top. Drizzle with the tehina sauce.

NB1 - This time I bought the falafel balls but you can make your own from scratch or buy a packet of falafel mix.

NB2 - I am no food photographer and next time I'd probably try a neater presentation but it really did taste delicious. You can squeeze the garlic over the top and discard the peel.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

#TheGallery The Usual Friday Magic On 11.11.11

It was 11.11.11. It was supposed to be the luckiest day of the year. The day that most looks like corduroy, according to The Guardian (was tempted to link to the article but you can google it). I had  been looking forward to it for months - I can't quite remember why now but surely something special would happen. And, in the end, I spent it much like any other regular Friday. However, even regular Fridays have their own little bit of  magic. For a start I turned this...






into this...






Go over to The Gallery at Sticky Fingers to see what everyone else did on 11.11.11.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Last Chemistry Lesson Online

Death by chemistry lesson is a subject dear to my heart as I did, in fact, nearly die from a chemistry lesson once. Not, as you might imagine, from the chemicals or other laboratorial hazzards, but from sheer boredom.

This week the 100 word challenge has stretched to 150 words to accommodate the extra needed for dialogue. I've discounted the prompt: Are you sure it should be that colour? as instructed. I've also not counted the two names of my interlocutors as they are purely functionary. Click on Julia to read the other entries.
Computer: Online-Chemistry-Final-Lesson-The-Litmus-Test
Lara: I hate this.
Computer: Is there-an-adult-present
Lara: They're out so let's just get on with it.
Computer: I-repeat-is-there-an-adult-present
Lara: Okay, my mum's here.....[whispers] not.
Computer: There-are-two-cups-in-the-kit-one-contains-deadly-acid-the-other-an-alkaline-solution
Lara: Yeah, yeah.
Computer: Take-two-strips-of-litmus-paper-dip-one-strip-into-each-cup
Lara: So what do I need the other strip for?
Computer: Miscomprehension-repeat-instruction
Lara: Sorry, no time. [clicks 'next']
Computer: The-acid-shows-pink-the-alkaline-solution-shows-blue
Lara: Hmmm what colour is this?!
Computer: Drink-the-alkaline-solution-to-prove-the-litmus-test-is-accurate
Lara: No clue, it's all one muddy colour.
Computer: Abort-experiment-immediately
Lara: And forgo my final grade? Not likely. [clicks 'next']
Computer: Are-you-sure-it-should-be-that-colour [blue light flashes]
Lara: Stop flashing, dirty old computer [drinks one solution]
Computer: Are-you-sure   It-should-be-that-colour [blue light flashes]  Are-you-sure

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Blogging Charter

Where there is community there are customs, rituals, and conventions. Nothing enforceable by law but unwritten rules nonetheless. Recently in the blogosphere the community of parent bloggers has been hit by yet another scandal of epic proportions. Not an attack on the rule-breakers in the usual mild manner of naming and shaming, boycotting and stalking (quite hard to achieve simultaneously), bitching and revenge. This time the very rules themselves were challenged.

The overwhelming  reaction was that there are no real rules and that you can do what the hell you like on your own blog - as long as you don't harm anyone else. I was left feeling somewhat bereft. No real rules? I went to a Public School for girls, I'm Jewish, I'm a teacher, I'm a Virgo for God's sake. What is my life if not a collection of rules and regulations to live by?

Luckily Michelle at Mummy from the Heart has come up with a Blogging Charter and tagged (read challenged) me, amongst others, to come up with my own. As I think it's about time someone (or someones) took charge around here, I am only happy to oblige.

The Blogging Charter - A set of rules to blog by for the individually and independently challenged

1. Blog Content - Most blogs have two purposes, to record the lives of you and your family for future enjoyment and to fulfill your dreams of being a writer for fame and profit as well as entertaining the masses. Therefore your blog must be first and foremost of interest to PR reps, literary agents and, ultimately, film producers. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Potty-mouth always seems to succeed as does a lot of sexual reference, preferably under the influence of alcohol. The most successful bloggers are those who sell their family, boss or colleagues up the river in the hope that their husband can give up his job in order to manage their multi-million pound blog empire.

2. Dedication and Frequency - Try to blog at least once a day, more if you can. The idea is to keep your blog at the top of everyone's 'latest posts' blog list. If you've nothing to say post a cute picture of your child (wipe its nose first for Gawd's sake) or a flower from your garden (if possible with one perfect dew-drop). In addition you must spend a few hours daily reading other people's blogs and leaving comments. Sooner or later they will feel it rude not to visit you and leave similarly inane remarks at the bottom of your posts. Remember - traffic is money. If you're worried about the adverse affect on your family as you neglect them in favour of your beloved laptop, keep in mind that no child ever died from too much Blue Peter and eating fish-fingers and oven chips for supper.

3. Advertising - Google Adsense will pay you tuppense ha'penny for messing up the aesthetics of your blog with irrelevent and obscure plugs that no one reads. Far more impressive is to bag real companies that your readers patronise anyway such as John Lewis, Lego and Next. If a company offers you affiliate advertising rights, this means that you advertise them for free and if someone remembers to click on the ad on your blog when they order, you get a payment - if they bother to tell you. Bottom line: a blog filled with adverts is ugly, irritates your readers and compromises your credibility as a serious writer. So what? You also have bills to pay.

4. Reviews and Freebies - Many bloggers receive freebies in the form of toys for their kids, personal gifts (cosmetics, bags, etc...), household appliances, and even holidays. In return they have to use the freebie and write about it favourably (including a disclaimer swearing that they are impartial). Why shouldn't you get these too? As soon as you have a follower on your new blog, google PR reps and directories and send every one an email begging to review anything for their clients. You can also contact companies directly. You will officially be called a Blagger. Yeah, so? Precisely. And don't worry about driving the PRs mad as they will get you back by clogging your email with offers to delight your readers by telling them all about their products - for the warm, fuzzy feeling of it all.

5. Memes and Tagging - Memes are basically blogging chain-letters which you pass on by tagging a few blogs at the end of your post. There is usually a nice badge which makes it all look terribly smart and official, and 'says' - I'm part of a whole blogging thing. It's not just me indulging my ego with journal entries online, it's a whole professional movement with conferences and awards, and stats/rankings and memes with badges. And it's terribly important to be involved otherwise you're just not blogging right. So if you like someone telling you what to write in your own blog or if you are yourself a control-freak, memes are the way to go.

6. Statistics and Ranking - Blogspot has it's own built-in stats. They bear no correlation (directly or indirectly) to the number of visitors to your blog. The 'All Time' pageviews actually go down as much as they go up. If you're bored you can sit and click on 'Home' at the top of your blog 200 times and smugly watch your stats rise. Be sure to display your all time pageviews prominently on your blog. The people who claim not care about the stats as they write only for themselves (what does that mean anyway? That I'm positively altruistic?) usually also advertise their Wikio rankings (in three different categories), Klout Score, Tots100, and any other website that will play the numbers game (expats, travel, professional dog-walking clubs, life coaching, etc...).

7. Comment Etiquette - You comment on my posts enough times and you'll shame me into commenting back. It'd be rude not to. That's the name of the game. Did I mention that traffic is money? Sometimes you do have something of  great interest to add to a particularly informative or entertaining post. Don't bother - if you know so much why waste it on a comment for someone else? Better to write your own post.

8. Publicity - Facebook for your real friends, friends of friends, and anyone else within six degrees of separation who's not savvy about newsfeed and privacy settings. This could run into the thousands. Twitter is good for reaching total strangers, befriending them (following) and infiltrating their already functioning community. With the nifty application of RT, #ff, reply, #anyandeverythingremotelyconnected, etc... you can become a minor celebrity in the blogosphere. Try to tweet a link to your posts on an hourly basis.

9. Sharing and Crediting - In publishing and academia it's called plagiarism. In primary school it was called copying. On facebook it's called sharing and, it seems, in blogging as long as you credit your source, you can nick anyone's ideas as much as you like. In fact, if you link back to their original post on the subject, they will be positively flattered and eternally grateful. All in all an essential tool for sourcing content for your blog.

10. Guest Posts Carnivals and Linkies - Think about it... group publicity for your blog. Duh! A no-brainer, it'd be rude not to.

So there you have it. The Blogging Charter. You don't have to stick to the rules and I fully appreciate that there are those who revel in anonymity, shunning any form of praise or even recognition.

I'm tagging the following people for this meme:

Clever Clogs over at the Biggest Best Blog Ever
I've never read her blog but she is the World Top Blogger with thousands of readers and, if she does it, she'll have to link back to me.

Anyone else who sees the need for a bit of decorum in the blogosphere.

This post has been featured in The Boy And Me's ShowOff ShowCase as an example of a post that did better than expected. The link will take you to other posts that surprised the author. It has also been linked to the Blogaholics Blog Party by Here Come The Girls. Again. the link will take you to other Blogaholics at various stages in their recovery programme. Thank you to both of these blogs for providing the opportunity to link.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gefilte Fish

Recipe ShedThis week's Recipeshed theme is seafood. Well I do fish, but I don't do seafood. And tbh, although I love eating well cooked fish, I don't often cook it myself as I'm a bit scared of it. I have a number of quick things to do with a tin of tuna and I can buy vacuum-packed smoked salmon from the deli along with the best of them. But it's Recipeshed innit? Gotta be something special...

Made into balls


So I thought I'd talk about gefilte fish. The recipe is very approximate because I'm not actually going to make it and neither are you. I have made it in the past. When I worked for a caterer in Jerusalem we made vast quantities of both the Polish (sweet) and the Lithuanian (peppery) kind every week. My mother and all her generation made it regularly. Nowadays most people buy it ready made or in a jar from the Jewish Deli. And the photos are Google Images.


Along with cholent, kugel, tsimmes, and beigels, gefilte fish is a quintessential Jewish food, albeit an unlikely delicacy. A dense doughy concoction of chopped and boiled white fish. Why would we? Well it's tradition innit? Originally a collection of all the leftover bits of white fish (mainly carp), minced up, mixed with breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper, and stuffed into another fish. Gefilte means stuffing in Yiddish - now you know why. Eventually the stuffed fish was left out and the fish stuffing, or gefilte fish, was made into balls or a loaf which is sliced to serve.

This is what you do: mince your white fish with the ingredients mentioned above. Then you form balls and drop them into boiling stock (made with the fish heads, carrots, celery, onions, parsley, salt, and loads of sugar or pepper, depending on your ancestral affiliations - see above). Let it simmer for about two hours. Serve cold with a little carrot hat on each piece. The old joke goes: How do gefilte fish keep their carrot hats on when they're swimming about in the water?

Bought in a jar
And if all this isn't delicious enough, you can leave it in the fridge overnight covered in some of the stock so that the stock cools to an aspic jelly. Either you like the jelly of you don't. Many people discard the stock. I like to reheat it and drink it as a fish consomme - a sort of bouillabaisse if you will.

The traditional condiment is chrain - chopped horseradish, beetroot, white vinegar and sugar. You can see it in the photo of the sliced gefilte fish above. Also best to buy it.

So there you have it - what we and hundreds of other Jewish families serve as an hors d'ouvres for a truly festive meal. And... we love it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lest We Forget

It's the 100 word challenge again curtesy of Julia's Place. I haven't been blogging very much over the past few weeks but I seem to have got 'into' this meme and find myself waiting for it (even nudging Julia on Twitter for the prompt) every Monday night. Last week was pure fun, this week's prompt is a little darker.

'Lest we forget' is an oft used phrase among Jews as most of our holy-days are about remembering challenging times. There's an old joke: how do you define a Jewish Holiday? - They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat. But there is one subject we don't joke about...

History and yet a part of my life. Peers without grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins. Friends' parents sobbing behind closed doors. Children who are replacements for beloved families lost. Roles they can never live up to. I know them.

Born only 17 years after, I've spent my whole life trying to squash those 17 years smaller. Watching every film archive, reading every book, trying to get closer. Why? Because I was bequeathed the collective memory to carry and safeguard lest we forget. I remember something I never experienced. We all do. Like stories of your babyhood you remember only from the repeated telling.

(100 words not including the prompt)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nervous Breakdowns Are Offensive

I should have added the word 'apparently' to the end of the title of this post because obviously I don't think nervous breakdowns are offensive. But what do you do when you tell someone you're heading for one and they're offended? Before anyone starts getting worried, I won't be having a nervous breakdown because having recognised the fact that I'm totally overwhelmed by obligations at the moment, I'm re-organising, de-cluttering, and generally off-loading that which I can no longer deal with.

Some of it is my fault, not just regarding too much procrastination over essential tasks and some lax time-management, but also too much volunteering. Or at least being persuaded to help out in all sorts of community spirit type committees and actions.

Here's a short story to illustrate the point. Many years ago in my single days and sharing an apartment with D, we went to the inaugeral meeting of a new Synagogue started by our group of friends. The purpose was to establish a working committee and deal out the various jobs. "I don't care what we do," said D as we walked to the meeting, "but we're not doing the Kiddush." I absolutely agreed with her. The Kiddush was the pits. Essentially it is providing light refreshments for the whole community every week after the Saturday morning service. It involves shopping, setting it all out and clearing it away afterwards. You get a budget to work with and everyone supposedly helps with the clearing up, but it's a lot of work nevertheless.

"Now, Kiddush..." started the chairman of the meeting. Both our hands shot up before he'd even asked the question. On the way home I asked D, "what just happened there?" Neither of us could explain but we were stuck with doing the kiddush for the next two years.

In my old building I somehow found myself on the building committee even though I was only renting. It's a thankless job. You have to organise the cleaning of public areas, organise the maintenance, collect residents' dues, manage the building's bank account, deal with insurance, etc.... The neighbours start avoiding you because you are always asking for money and you start avoiding them because they always have a complaint. When I moved to my present home I swore I wouldn't get involved. It took them less than a year to recruit me.

When I was pregnant I resigned from the building committee but this left only one person doing everything. I tried to persuade him to call a meeting and deligate some of the burden but instead found myself persuaded to only deal with collecting the money and taking it to the bank while he took care of all the maintenance, cleaners, etc...

A new family moved in and I begged my co-worker to bring them on board but two years later he still hasn't spoken to them. I managed to find another resident to collect the money but I still had to go to the bank as the new guy's name isn't on the list of people who can deposit cheques into the account. And, he is very laid back which still left me worrying about who hasn't paid up and asking people when I meet them on the stairs. Of course people should just pay but they don't, you have to chase them.

My life has changed this year. The savings have run out, I am taking on as much work as possible and I am still earning less than I need to reach the end of the month. DD needs more quality attention from me. I'm fed up of living in a tip because I always have something more urgent to do than clean the place. On top of all this, I did something to my back a month ago and have lost hours of productivity through being in pain and having to lie down.

This week I took a sick day from work. Teachers don't do this unless they are dying. If you work in an office and desperately need a mental-health day you take one. However, if you have 40 students waiting for you and another teacher will have to cover for you - well you just don't do it. I was genuinely sick with an inflamed throat, no voice and coughing for England. But I have no doubt that I would not have felt so physically ill if I hadn't been so mentally overwhelmed by the backlog of work.

When I find myself being short tempered with DD because I have too much on my mind, sommats gotta give. So today I took the cheque-book and various other bits of paper and receipts round to my co-worker and returned them to him. "I can't do it any more," I told him and his wife, "I'm heading for a nervous breakdown, I just can't do it at the moment."

Reader, he was offended. The truth is that no one has spare time and our building is particularly problematic. So he has to call a meeting and find some other suckers to take on the job for a while. It would be much easier for him if I were to continue to suffer. It was a hard choice for me: offend my neighbour or have a nervous breakdown. I chose my sanity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Poverty Trap

Remember this?

Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and  plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot!

Ah, those were the days when any half-pint shnip could go into the newsagent's with his pennies begged for the Guy, and buy a box of fireworks with which to burn, blind, and otherwise maim himself without first applying for a permit (in triplicate) from the 'elf'n'safety. Mum would bake potatoes in the oven and then slip them, wrapped in foil, into the ashes around the bonfire when they were done. Dad would light the taper and hastily retreat: "It hasn't taken, shall I go back and check it's alight?" No, the man on the telly said, "never return!" A handful of friends and neighbours warming their frozen fingers on mugs of hot chocolate ready to gasp, "Ooooh!" at the Catherine wheels, jumping jacks, rockets and, of course, sparklers for the kids. Don't forget that pets don't like fireworks - are yours safely locked indoors? The days before we all wanted to be American and the Hallowe'en hype took over. Anyway, enough nostalgia and on to the 100 word challenge from Julia's Place.

It is to write a ditty in the same style (21 words, rhyme, rythmn) as the one above, including the words - In winter we shiver. I must admit that I went to bed in a huff last night: it's too restrictive, I'm not a poet, not fair..... However, I read some of the other entries (click here) and realized I needed to lighten up a bit. Once I'd started I couldn't stop. As usual I've not counted the prompt words so my total is actually 25 words each (I wrote three entries, not one poem of 75 words). And thank you Google Images (fineartamerica.com and sydneydailysnap.blogspot.com) for the photos.

In winter we shiver, poor people dither,
Heating's expensive alack.
But up at the top, there's a charity shop,
Where thermal's become the new black.



In winter we shiver, poor people dither,
Heating's an extravagant cost.
Buy nought to eat, indulge in heat,
And think of the weight you'll've lost.





In winter we shiver, poor people dither,
Choosing is the thing.
Give in to heat cravings, blowing all your savings,
Or hibernate until next spring.