Food, Leisure

Thatcher’s Needle, Diss

Yesterday I met an old friend in the Thatcher’s Needle, Diss. It is a very convenient place for us, half way between the two and cheap food. Word to the wise here – there may be no bad choices in that cheap food will keep you alive, but sometimes being kept alive is not the main reason for eating.I decided on the Chicken Club (forgive the fuzzy photo!)

What arrived was disappointing. A decent sized dinner place, half of which was chopped undressed salad greens (not a problem, nice to have salad with a club sandwich).

Let me describe the club.

Each slice of bloomer bread was half the plate. Each, just in case there was any moisture in them to help you eat, had been lightly toasted. Not enough to go brown, just enough to go dry.

It was unbuttered, again not a problem in itself.

On top of the first slice was one rasher of bacon, and one slice of tomato. about half the bread was bare.

Then the middle slice of dry bread

Between the second and third slices of dry bread were two thumb sized pieces of chicken, each about a quarter of the size of the slice of bread, and each topped off by a small Midget gem lettuce leaf (like one leaf taken from the middle of a midget gem lettuce.)

I asked the manager how this could be eaten as was and he apologised, saying that they should have been some mayo. He took it back to the kitchen and it returned with, I kid you not, one tiny smear of mayonnaise on each slice of bread.

Luckily there was plenty of mayo on the table, so I slavered it on – enough to make the bread edible. I think I missed the meat as it was so small.

No bad choices – I knew it was cheap –  but the next time I will be asking my mate to meet elsewhere.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, the staff were really nice. Helpful, polite, apologetic and charming. Clearly this is how Marstons make enough money to keep paying them.)

My mate had a baked potato with tuna filling, which she ate without complaint.


Red Riding Hood – Rock n Roll Panto

Every year for the past 18 years the Wolsey theatre in Ipswich puts on a Rock n roll Panto. This year it is Red Riding Hood. I went to the late show last night (9pm curtain up to 12.15) and it was a complete riot. The caste were on for the second time and were clearing having a good time. They only have a couple more to do until the end of the run and it is sold out).

Voices were strained – they have done over 90 shows (!) but the singing was brilliant for all that.

Literally laughed til I cried a couple of times, possibly at bits that were unscripted.

It had everything you would want a Panto to have – plenty of contradictions of statements issued by the caste (“Oh no he didn’t!”) and indications of danger of which caste members were unaware (“Its Behind You!”)

The Dame was a delight, as raucous as a late night show allowed, the audience joined in right from the start, the musicianship was en pointe and the set was astounding.


Still not sure what Jack Frost was about but he had us in fits.


Go every year. Bit of a brightener in January.

Little Loves

Little Loves

I’ve seen other bloggers write about their weekly “little loves”, and I have always found them charming (and sometimes inspirational) so here are some of mine:


The Picture of Dorian Gray – we read this for our book group this month and, whilst I can’t say I loved it I will acknowledge why it was a classic. To enjoy this book at all you really do have to murder your inner feminist. Women do not come out of this book well. At all. But get past that (forgive Oscar Wilde, it was a book born from his homosexuality and the times he live in) and you are left with a complex narrative based on two key assumptions – that beauty masks evil and that a magical painting can take the ugliness of the evil Dorian perpetrates leaving him youthful and lovely. Even these are now thoroughly debunked. In an age of plastic surgery such giveaway marks could be wiped away for as long as the money lasts!

The “loves” I refer to here are the many ways in which Oscar Wilde draws your mind to acts Dorian Gray undertakes to bring other people down, to destroy them, to end their place in society. When I first read the book I was left with a clear image of him taking people into opium dens, getting them hooked, engaging women in prostitution themselves………… none of which is actually described! Just as a cartoonist can bring to mind a face, full of expression and humour with a single line, so Wilde leaves you thinking he has described something when in fact he never said a word about it.

Worth a read but remind yourself that he did not live in our age, our world. Be glad of his writing and that we have all moved forward.


My shameful indulgence, the Real Housewives of Anywhere. This time it was the end of the Sydney show, and I have watched the series between laced fingers. These women really don’t like each other, they lie, belittle each other, disrespect each other and heaven help anyone that calls them out on their bad behaviour! As with the epic New Jersey Housewives, this one had me on the edge of my seat with tension. I tell myself I am watching for the dresses and the scenery, but. No. Its the stress.And the feeling that my life is actually really nice and I love my friends.


A group of friends come together every couple of months to experiment with food – new ingredients, new techniques, new approaches etc. My cooking skills are severely limited, so some of my challenges are everyday meals for the others! My new Little Love is Arancini. it is an Italian rice based thing where you take the leftovers of any dish, (bacon and mushrooms and peas work really well), mix them up with cooked risotto rice, roll into little balls, cover in breadcrumbs and fry.

(perfect “on-the-go” food)




Fludyers Felixstowe

We went out for a midday lunch today and decided to go to the Fludyers in Felixstowe.

Fludyers Website

It is a really old inn right at the end of the promenade at the seafront. Before it was bought by the current owners and refit their website used to say “we are a stone’s throw from the sea, and sometimes not even that!” which I thought was lovely. There is a decking patio with several tables to sit and watch the sea. It is raised up above the cars so is nicer than some of the alternatives. We have sat there in the middle of winter, summer evenings, autumn sunsets, many a Sunday morning and watched the sea go by.

They have a promotion on during January that we thought not half bad. 2 courses for £20, 3 for £25 INCLUDING 2 glasses of wine!

I had the chicken and avocado salad for a starter (over £7) and then the slow roasted pork belly (over £17 on menu) so to save cash on the menu as well as getting  175 glasses of a decent (OK bottom of price list but still fine for lunch) wine. The Mister had sweet chilli chicken wings followed by a duck hotpot. Every single mouthful was a delight, and we were far too full for pudding, even it it would only be another fiver (nothing on the dessert menu was a fiver).

No evening meal either as we were both still full.

Not a bad choice At All!


I have not been paid for this review, but, you know, if you felt you HAD to……………

go to contact page!


(EDIT  23/01/2018

In fact it was such a good deal we are going again today for lunch!- Dawn)


BBC Food and Farming Awards

Every year the BBC honours excellence in food and farming, and every year I try and take note of local winners so I might try and buy from them

Link to BBC website

Do please nominate if you can, these awards are excellent for giving attention to excellence, something that we can all appreciate!

Categories are:

Food producer

Drinks producer

Street food

Future food

Farming Heroes

Best shop / market

Best cook



Choose Theatre

I love the theatre. I am part of an amdram group that put productions on a couple of times a year. Our next show will be the 100th show!

I used to do leading lady parts, but now I am consigned to the older, housekeeper, mature wifey, comic roles. Not that I mind, less to learn with all the fun of the rehearsals and productions. One of our cast even wrote us a play that we did last year, and it was really well received.

Chelpin Players

I usher at our local theatre, the Wolsey, and get to see all the shows for free!

Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich

The Mister and I also go and see several West Ends shows a year, although I also go with my daughter and other friends occasionally.

Here are some I have seen:

Would you recommend any?


Spending time with family

Something I have done in the past, and will do again, is to go away with my daughter for a long weekend somewhere in Europe. She is amazing at finding really good deals on flights and hotels. She loves a bit of luxury so we never go less that four stars, but she loves saving money so we only ever pay two star prices.

She has also inherited, from her dad, a love of being organised, so that all I have to do is turn up. She has tickets, itinerary, directions, instructions on how to use the local public transport systems and a few phrases. Nothing could be easier.

Also inherited from her dad is the ability to get up at first light to make the most of the day. I might chunter a bit about an early start, but it does mean we get to see things without half the tourist population in the way. So we saw the Little Mermaid statue at about half seven on a Sunday morning, but it was delightful to have her all to ourselves.

It is lovely spending time with her as a grown up, with her in charge.

Mother-daughter time is always precious, but these weekends are something else.

Where have you gone with your grown up kids?

Friendship, Interests, Leisure

Book Group

I joined a book group about six years ago. There are about a dozen women in it at any one time, and we each host every month (except august, when the group go to the Theatre in the Forest to wach the Red Rose Chain do some Shakespeare, and December, our Xmas meal.


We have tried various ways to choose a book:

Each host chooses their own

All picked from one Mann Booker list

Pick a genre out of a hat and choose from that

All picked from shortlisted prizewinners of literary prizes

All picked from a selection of lists, winners only


Generally we found it just better to let our Book Club Leader (a very organised lady called Sarah) make up a huge list from a mixture of the above and we pick from a hat – throwing back immediately any that we veto.

Whoever is hosting provides nibbles (cold cuts, cheese, breads etc) and drinks, and we spend about an hour discussing the book, led by questions from our host. We are not exclusively female, just no man has yet asked to join.

It is a great group, meeting every month and always open to having authors visit us (Ruth dugdall has already done so)

We were even featured in our local press:

Link to East Anglia Daily Times


book group