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Archive for November, 2011

George Osborne is apparently going to announce today that 260,000 2 year olds will be allocated nursery places, especially targetted at deprived areas. This sounds like it will result in children in poorer homes being given great education (a whole extra year at school!) and impoverished parents being able to get back into employment earlier.

But will it work? I can see there’ll be a benefit for parents already back at work – they’ll bear less of their childcare costs. And childcare may look more affordable for someone getting a full time job. But in our parish, I can’t see many full time jobs available and barely any of those part time jobs that someone could do in between dropping a child at nursery and returning to collect them 3 hours later. One friend would love to work during the school day (and year) but very few jobs are that flexible, unless they’re in a school. So perhaps that’s the government’s plan – employ all those unemployed parents in the nurseries that will be expanding.

It’ll be a good break for some knackered (mainly) mums but then it supplies the message that a 2 year old is better off in the hands of a government run nursery than at home and out and about with their family. I think that this was what the communists did. Aren’t we heading for the ultimate Nanny State? Am I missing something, or is this just something that the Chancellor is announcing to deflect attention from the horrors of the economy? I note that it’s been used as the headline in the online Telegraph site and doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the Guardian. Hmmmm.

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This recipe is cheeky because it involves minimal scone faffing ie rolling and cutting. And it’s cheekily zingy with strong cheese and a dose of spice. It’s also cheeky because it’s not that square, but I liked the alliteration for the title.

Ingredients

  • 1lb/450g self-raising flour
  • 2tspns baking powder
  • 1tspn salt
  • 1tspn smoked paprika (or paprika, or 1/2tspn chilli powder)
  • 4oz/100g butter
  • 7oz/200g grated cheddar (preferably mature) or other strong hard cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Milk

Place flour, baking powder, salt and paprika in a mixing bowl. Add chopped butter and rub in until butter chunks are the size of smallish gravel. Stir in grated cheddar. Break eggs into a measuring jug and whisk, then add milk to make up 10floz/300ml of liquid. Add to the flour and stir in to make a soft dough.

Place dough in lined or greased small roasting tin (around 12″x9″/30cmx23cm). I just press it in lightly and it doesn’t always become a perfect rectangle and is often square-ish (hence the recipe title). Cook in a preheated oven at 230ºC (Gas 8, Fan 220ºC) for 15-20mins until the scone is golden, well risen and no longer doughy. It sometimes looks a little crisp on top but that’s fine. Turn out to cool on a wire rack then cut off squares or rectangles to eat as you like.

Didn't manage to get a pic of this before most was consumed!

This scone is fabulous on its own as a snack, but is also delicious served with soup or cold meats. It keeps 4-5 days in an air tight tin and is also very good toasted (which is how we ate up the remainder yesterday). It’s extremely fast to make so is a very useful recipe to have up your sleeve if you have only half an hour’s notice before lunch guests show up.

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We had a Messy Church planning meeting in the Vicarage this morning. We’ve been thinking through the crafts for the next few months, so we can make sure we have all the materials ready. In the process we came across this great clip of Aussie music teacher Jon Madin showing you how to make a rubber glove bassoon. We are *so* going to make these. Bet you can’t guess the bible passage, mind. It was a bit of a stretch…

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Dine with the Vicar’s Wife?

The folk at Come Dine with Me left a message on the blog last week:

Come Dine With Me are casting in Wolverhampton! Want the chance to show off your culinary skills and win £1000? Apply now! Email rebecca.dibley@itv.com.

But I don’t think they actually read the blog or they’d know that the chances of me hosting a civilised dinner at the Vicarage are completely zippo. I can’t think what the viewers (and other diners) would make of meal in our house. The food is generally pretty tasty (tho’ presentation leaves much to be desired) but it’s the interruptions that might prove challenging – our front doorbell rarely has a quiet night.

It might be gentlemen of the road wanting feeding, laundry doing or lifts to Birmingham, children wanting garden time or bikes mended, others in need of cups of sugar, help with the electric or merely calling to let us know about something going on in the parish. Sometimes it’s members of the Vicar’s small group coming over to study the bible, or anxious teenagers coming for extra forms for their parents to sign for a youth group outing. Or maybe it would be the chap with the small building company who brings us old fence panels as fuel for our woodburning stoves, keeping us warm and saving him landfill charges.

And that’s just the front door. The phone sometimes goes too… So I don’t think I’ll be responding to Rebecca Dibley. If you’re near Wolves you could though.

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We had a fun evening on Monday night. Wildchild came over and carved pumpkins with us. Then callers came round in silly costumes and we showed them our works of art, got them to tell us jokes, plied them with sweeties and gave them tracts about how Jesus is the light. It seemed like we were doing door to door evangelism from the comfort of our own home – and noone refused to listen to us or slammed the door in our faces. Although there was a teenage girl who claimed not to speak English in order to avoid the joke telling. And we weren’t so sure that she would be able to read the tract, although we hope someone in her family can.

The last callers (at 9pm) had to negotiate getting to the front door knocker round Gone, who’d deposited himself on the doorstep. He wasn’t drunk (tho’ a little smelly, I’m sorry to say), so although they were young and without an adult, it was fine.

Works of art in the Vicarage window

Yesterday I read a few thoughts from Christians with different approaches to Halloween but I think all of them fell into the Resurgence‘s ‘Redeeming’ category. Dr BexL at the BIGBible Project  had loads of good ideas and Kevin on his blog and Dan on his blog had useful stuff too. We at the Vicarage were glad to have seized this new opportunity to talk to our neighbours and bless their kids. Our only regret this year was that we forgot to hand out invites for Tuesday night’s Messy Church. But we’ll remember next year – this new festival is only set to grow in the UK.

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The Vicarage is cold. My feet are numb as I type this at lunchtime as bright Autumn sunshine streams through the windows but fails to warm anything in the house. I have many different techniques for keeping warm – lighting the woodburning stoves, feather lined slippers (not currently on my feet – hence the chilly toes) and gilets amongst them. But the daily essential (even in the summer, I’m sad to say) is a scarf.

The other day I caught this video which gives 25 different options for tying a scarf. I hadn’t realised there were so many. I think I wear a variation on the Basic Loop. How about you?

[HT India Knight]

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