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Lyndsay....an occasional housewife and full time mother. Ours is a life of seaside picnics,cooking & crafts.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lemon Heaven & Manic Street Preachers

One of the great things about living in Torbay is that,when you think youve seen it all,you havnt. There is always some undiscovered gem of a place just waiting for you to visit. With this in mind,we set off to Brixham. Just 5 miles down the road,we tend to overlook Brixham and have often thought it to be just a fishing town with a few colourful houses. However we were surprised to find that if one takes a detour,there are a number of really lovely beaches on the outskirts of town.

We found one such place where a steep descent was rewarded by a pretty good latte in the windswept beach cafe. The name of the place escapes me now,but it had the added attraction of local seals,one of which appeared in cameo,only to resubmerge once the camera was out! Philip took each girl in turn for an explore round the headland while I chatted to some children who were entertaining the cafe owners soppy dog!

And so on we went to Brixham itself. I often find it to be a strange old place. Theres something distinctly un glamorous about it,despite its obvious charm. Maybe its the smell of the fish...or the mock up of the Golden Hind,I dont know. But theres no way Im ever paying £3 to go on a stationary pirate ship,thats for sure! Soon lunchtime was upon us,and as tempting as it was to sit on a bench with fish & chips,we decided on a cafe called Lemon Heaven (on the recommendation of an old lady who told us of its suitability for kids) Lemon Heaven must have the most varried menu in Torbay. Seriously...if you are a ceoliac,vegan with a nut allergy,this is the place for you.
 Good value too-Poppy had a babychino with marshmallows for 65p!

The mysterious old lady was right about the child friendliness of the place. We had no problems with high chairs or space,there was a little collection of toys and books and the menu was really good. The girls had little pitta bread dippers with a side of fruit and a lunchbox to share-beats me why they always choose the thing in the cardboard box,ever hopeful of a free toy perhaps! I had a nut roast,purely because its something I can never be bothered to make at home. I was dissapointed though as it was really dry. As dry as Ghandi's flip flop,one might say... So I looked on in envy at Philips Goats cheese salad; which delivered far more than the menu suggested.

All in all,Lemon Heaven is a fabulous cafe. There is an obvious desire on the part of the management to run the business ethically and there are lots of community notices around. There are also lots of photographs of  Buddhist monks and newspaper cuttings about the Dalai Lama to pass the time en route to the toilet. We couldnt help but laugh at the stack of notices about switching off lights,minding heads,please ask for this and that. Ironically,the one thing we needed notification about (the lack of facility to pay with debit card??!!) was the one thing they decided not to advertise! I found it impossible to complain in the presence of organic food,so poor Philip was sent out in pursuit of a cashpoint.

Whilst on his travels,he passed a street preacher who was busy belting out an obscure Biblical story to the passers by-Philip thought he was reading from the Gideon bible,but the content didnt sound too New Testament to me. I guess he put his own spin on it! We talked a bit about the frustrations we have with this kind of evangelism. The thing that bothers me is the harm that it can do. Who knows how many of the people who walked passed,had their spiritual journey hindered by the sight of this well meaning but essentially stupid approach? 

Its the same with the Jehovahs Witnesses,who recently graced my doorstep. I have no idea of the numbers of converts they recruit,but I doubt its in any way comparable with the amount of people who stiffen their resolve against the 'Church'. And how on earth are we to bring in His Kingdom when we have lunatics bellowing in the street and pious old ladies knocking on doors? They certainly werent satisfied with my credentials anyway-it seems an encounter with the living God is nothing when compared to the power of their 1970s 'kids- playing- with- lions- in- earthly-paradise' propoganda. But anyway,I digress....

The day was still young so we got back in the car and drove off to Berry Head. Now this place was a revelation! I cant believe we have been here two years and yet weve only just discovered it. A short walk from the carpark is the remains of a fort from a time that I cant recall. Poppy didnt seem too troubled by the cannons still on display so we sidespetted the cafe (for now!) and pushed on to the lighthouse- which Philip tells me is the both the tallest and the shortest lighthouse in the UK. Tallest in that it is the highest above sea level,shortest in that it is just short.

Quaint as it was,it seems the lighthouse was long since resigned to its diminutive stature- it pailed into insignificance next to the amazing panoramic views from Berry Head. I dont think Ive ever been so impressed with the sheer beauty of the sea. (Not since visiting the Gower Peninsular anyhow) From there we could see for miles. Philip loved spotting the cornish and dorset coast. I actually loved the vast stretches of nothingness,save perhaps the occasional miniture boat. Best of all though,if you look closely,you can see the light of Portland Bill,114 miles away! Its hard not to put your life into perspective when faced with such a sight,particularly for myself,born there 31 years ago. I guess you could say I've come a long way,well,114 miles at least..

Friday, 20 August 2010

Worship,Wasps & The Winking Prawn

Believe it or not,we actually had a sunny day fairly recently! I cant quite recall when,but it must have been one day last week. We were all very keen to get to the beach and so decided to make a day of it,and make the journey to Salcombe. We had only been there once before,and I recalled with some amount of residual stress,my attempts to breastfeed a wriggling baby while perched on a rock. Surely,this visit would have to be an improvement.

the sea monster
On the way there,Philip and I took the chance to have our first proper conversation since his return from camp. We talked about his work and how important he feels it is for young people not to get stuck in desiring the big emotional experiences of God. Worship is something we think about quite a lot,largely because we dont really feel a part of this 'worshipping generation' that is so much about about singing and often little else. But,more of that later...

When we arrived at South sands (or was it north??) the tide was as far in as it could be! Some determined Fathers had dug out trenches so that their wives could have small cresents of dry sand to sit in. Most however were happy to bide their time and were just glad to have bagged a spot on the popular beach. Philip and Iris managed to secure the last metre square while Poppy and I carried our things.

One of the benefits of having toddlers rather than babies,is that we no longer have to cart around half of mothercare with us wherever we go. Sometimes we get over confident however and set off on these trips without the necessaries. This was one of those times,and the missing ingredient was mine! Yes,we had remembered everyone swimming kit,apart from Mums! The water was freezing cold,so I wasnt too upset not to swim-but id have felt a lot happier in my vintage swimming costume (TU@ Sainsburys!) Philip didnt help matters by suggesting I wear his shorts under my top! I insisted this would make me feel ugly and androdgenous,to which he replied "But thats how I feel all the time!" I couldnt really argue with that kind of logic and so on they went-shudder!

Once the tide had retreated,the beach was really lovely. We played in the sand,paddled and climbed the rocks (Well,they did,I read a book!) Seamonsters made,our bellies were soon telling us that it was lunchtime. So we walked across to the only available eatery,The Winking Prawn. To be honest,I was keener on the the cafe than the beach,having eaten here before I remembered how fabulous it was. The views from the patio are amazing and though the menu is small,we had no trouble finding things we wanted. We ordered the warm goats cheese salad and a blue cheese and fig chutney baguette,plus two sides of really good chips. I was pleased to see that Philip had been tempted by the local ale,as by this point,a cold beer in the sunshine was just the ticket.
The only downside to The Winking Prawn (apart from the disconcerting name)was the huge population of wasps. Now, I think of myself as someone who has respect for most creatures (I even saved a slug from being decapitated today) but the wasp is really something else. Ever since Poppy was stung by one a few weeks ago,Ive had a policy of zero tolerance towards the hienous beasts. If they touch me,they die. If they so much as hover near my child,they die. Well I have never seen a place more inhabited by wasps! Such is the magnitude of the problem,that the staff had made rather quaint wasp traps from recycled bottles. Of course,the sight of  the little fellas floating around,does rather put you off your lunch,but it did mean that I managed to avoid murder.

 Heres a rather haunting image of my husband trying to trap one of the wasps in the trap. They were so determined not to fall in that it became rather disturbing viewing. Of course,the wasp doesnt have the sophisticated thought processes necessary to regret being tempted by the sweet goo,but I did find myself feeling a bit sorry for it as it tried desperatly to avoid falling foul of the same fate that had met his brothers. Gotta wonder at the point of them though,what was God thinking? Maybe theyre like fallen bees,they used to be creative and purposeful but now they spend their time causing pain. I wonder if anyone has done a philiosophical study of the wasp?

So...we put aside thoughts of genocide and trundled over to the beautifully kitsch ice cream van. Poppy deviated from her usual honeycombe and plumped for chocolate. Philip and I would not make such a mistake! Iris didnt seem to notice that she was sharing with me and proceeded to make an almighty mess all over herself. Just as well  it was time to go. In the car on the way home,there was little time to talk of worship,sung or otherwise. For our eldest proved herself to be firmly entrenched in Freud's anal phase..." Iris,say poo poo Iris" "Poo poo" "HAHAHAH! Iris said Poo poo!!!" "Iris can you say bum bum..." and on it went...all the way home!

Thursday, 12 August 2010


One more sleep til hubby gets home and my attention has turned to his welcome home meal. Being a vegetarian myself,the best he can hope for is a fatted enchilada,but I dont anticipate any complaints. The girls too are very excited to see him and Poppy was keen to make something for Daddy aswell. Weve long been admiring the blackberry patch on the walk to Paignton Zoo,typically we grab and run,but dessert in mind,we decided this morning to pluck in earnest...

and what a heist we managed! In fact I doubt there are any blackberries left-at least not any under 6' high! I really surprised myself with my tenacity and was amazed that noone beeped the strange woman scalling the banks of the Totnes Road. How liberating to claim our share of Gods bounty...and how exciting to make our very first flan!


Back at the ranch we welcomed our friends Miriam,Eli & Thea round to play. Miriam and I had a lovely Latte and a Pecan Danish. We talked a little about conformity,particularly in relation to children starting school and being exposed to ' the system'. I remembered how depressed I was to register my childrens' births,how desperately I wanted to bundle them up and run away and live in a caravan away from rules and regulations. It seemed so gut-wrenchingly poinant that the beautiful names we had given them would one day be branded on household bills or worse. We thought about our own inate rebellion and how much of it could be used by God.

It will come as no surprise that I have had my run ins with authority, perhaps all eldest children do. But I have been surprised to find that submission to God is not nearly as hard as submission to man. There has been no force in my Christian journey,no cynicism for my creator. Being a part of Christianity on the other hand is another matter and I rebel continuously against the culture of the church. I have had to ask myself why? Why,when I have the Christian 'ideal' (husband,kids,chance to stay home) do I care so much for those who do not? I am so insensed by homophobia within the church that it has become a burden to me and the only way I can understand it is to think that God wants to use my independent spirit to challenge those who have do harm to the Gay community.


I recently read an article by Anne Rice,the author of Interview with a Vampire,who publically disowned what she called 'quarellsome christianity'. On her facebook fan page she said this “For ten ...years, I've tried, I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.” Rice remains devoted to Christ but said she would longer be associated with Christians who are 'anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-artificial birth control, anti-Democrat, anti-secular humanism, anti-science, and anti-life in the name of Christ'. Powerful stuff indeed!

 I wholeheartedly feel Rice's pain but what a pity she was not able to surround herself with like minded people. (I often joke that Im off to join the Lesbian Quakers when church gets too self righteous for comfort) Luckily for us in the UK,we are spared a lot of the hideous fundamentalism and conservatism that so depressed Rice. There will always be those who put legalism ahead of the gospel,but in the main,it is possible to be both liberal and Christian. The Bible in its deliberate obscurity,demands that we all study and contemplate and measure what we hear from other Christians against what we know of Gods nature and the example of Jesus in the Gospels. And here I will stop,before my inner rebel takes hold!

Instead I will close with the words of my own baptism- so,so encouraging when I feel,as I often do,that Im on my own in a great sea of injustice:
" Let us not grow weary in well-doing,for if we do not give up,in time we shall reap the harvest" (Galatians 6:9)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Jam Tarts & Justice

Us Eley girls have been having a strange of time of it this week. Life sans husband doesnt suit me so well and the girls are definatly missing the rough and tumble playtimes with Dad. Luckily weve had Nanny around to help out and entertain. Weve had some highs (a ride on the vintage bus,picnic at the beach and a fab pampered chef party) but weve also had a big low that,try as I might, I cant seem to shake off.

Yesterday we were really looking forward to escaping the rain and hiding out in our favourite fish and chip shop- Scoffs of Paignton. Id long been singing the praises of this place since we first tried their admittedly yummy chips. And so we settled at a table,put Iris in the slighly doddery looking highchair and Nanny gave the order to the waitress while I took Poppy to the toilet.

The next thing we know Iris is slipping down and becoming trapped in the highchair! It took four of us to free her from the cold- war-esque contraption that was folding furthur in on itself. Horrible.

The ordeal continued when I 'approached the pass' to complain to the head chimp.  Most people hearing that a child had been hurt would have shown some concern,but no,this Jeremy Kyle reject launched into a full scale grunt fest in which I was told 'I have people like you in here every day' and 'If you cared that much for the baby,youd have noticed there werent any straps'. He clearly thought I was lying or exadurating,despite the shop full of witnesses.

So,what do you do....? Well...we went home and made some tarts!

Having never actually made tarts before,I was a little unsure but we still had some shortcrust pastry left from the pampered chef party so I thought Id give it a go. I have to say they were really rather good! There was none of that icky taste of a shop brought tart or that shiny glaze that has always put me off them. Even Poppy,with her ever growing list of unacceptable foods,managed to stuff down four! Or should that be scoff...??! 

As is often the case though,sugar was only a temporary solution. My rage continued;the destabilising effect of being without my husband only hightened the bad feelings,the sense of injustice. Should I have confronted him? Should I have just sat down and had a nice quiet lunch??! Would he have dared to speak to me like that if Id had the back up of my big, strong (allbeit slightly dippy!) man?

And what is the godly response....? As I stood in front of this hideous man and accused became accuser,I had a real sense of Gods presence-a feeling that He knew where the blame lay. This man had not only put my little one at risk,she also belongs to God-and vengence is His. No,it was right to speak up and Id have done it for anyone elses child.

So often we feel God in the peace,but when he comes in anger,the rage of a parent defending their child,its always an unsettling feeling. And yet its a feeling we should encourage. This world,beautiful as it is,is unjust. And until that day when He returns,and justice flows like a river,its up to us to fight for His children. Of course,once we allow our heavenly Father to step in,we must also step back-and eventually forgive. I'm not there yet,I can still see the image of my childs squashed face trapped between tray and chair leg,and were Jeremy Vine to call me and ask me to slag them off on his lunchtime show,I have to say Id do it! But I KNOW that the chip-fat chimp will pay, one way or another.  He is still shovelling chips,whereas we have starlight strawberry tarts!

Starlight Strawberry Tarts

250g ready made desert shortcrust pastry
strawberry jam
handful of sliced strawberries
sugar stars to sprinkle

Bake the case for 15 mins on 190 then fill and return to oven until strawberries are soft.
Leave to cool!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Rocket Cafe@Seabreeze- Torcross on Slapton Ley

After weeks of illness and trial,FINALLY we have a day together!  Given the rains,Slapton Ley probably wasnt the obvious choice but we had a hankering for a quaint cafe and a windswept stroll. The almost biblical weather added to the ambience on the ferry over the Dart and the littlies enjoyed a bit of duck spotting out of the window.

Slaptop Ley in itself has little to offer besides a row of holiday lets,the occasional eatery and of course the tragic wartime story that looms large even now. Hundreds of lives were lost in WW2 when a ship was sunk in a training excercise just off slapton sands. Infact,I think it was the most lives lost in any single incident during the war,800 or so if I remember rightly. A resurrected tank sits on the edge of the carpark in memory of the dead.

Anyways...on to happier things...The strangely named Rocket Cafe is a gem of place. Whitewashed and trimmed in french blue,it is every bit the seaside experience. We were greeted by a rather nervy fellow who ensured we had all necessary paraphenalia for the kiddies and informed us we were still elligible for the breakfast menu,welcome news indeed! We all made use of the books and games-there seemed to be some copies of the guardian going around,but alas they didnt filter through to us.

We settled upon two cooked breakfasts-one meat,one veggie-and a basket of croissants with apricot jam for the girls. I enjoyed my food,but still recovering from a nasty virus,I didnt have much of an appetite,so was happy to dish my fried potatoes and beans out to the girls. Philip tells me,the defining part of a really good full english is the sausage. And on this occasion,hurrah,the sausage was good!

I had a really good latte and Philip had tea. A waitress was soon over to clean up a gigantic spillage,which was just as well,considering how wet we all were from the rain. Rather charmingly,the food came out on slates and both girls were fascinated with the retro ketchup bottle! I on the other hand, enjoyed the knitted tea cosies and vintage vinyl tablecloths.

Conversations were mainly child led,as is the trend of late; or in appreciation of the food. We all agreed it was a fine place to eat and excellent value,given the overall experience was so good. The four of us ate for £20 and although there was mention of cake,it came to nothing,given the fullness of our bellies.

And so,we could find no reason to linger any longer,and it was back out into the rain,for that windswept stroll. Poppy busied herself building a slate home for her pony,while Iris shook handfulls of tiny pebbles. We all enjoyed Mr E's stone skimming efforts,but I felt a dismantling of the forementioned pony palace would have yeilded better 'skimmers'...but what do I know of these things? There are some matters us Mums should stay out of,and stone skimming is one of them.

On the way home,with both girls falling into a soggy slumber,our minds turned to those things weve been pondering of late. I raised the question of why we neglect the celebrate the Motherheart of God,something thats been weighing on my mind of late.

Why do we only think of God as Father and how helpful is this,particularly in an age when so many fathers are absent or,dare I say it,emasculated? Its always been helpful for me to think of God as Mother as I was raised by and around strong women. Its also theologically apt,God is creator and what is a mother if not a creator of life?

We agreed that early church,in attempt to cleeve a new identity must have omitted much of the feminine from scripture. Certainly they would have wanted to disassociate themselves from the Pagan cultures just as the God commanded the Israelites  to set themselves apart from the Egpytian gods of their 'host' nation and the idol worship of the Canaanites. So in attempt to propell Christianity forward,how much of the feminine has been lost? And how can we go about finding it...I think more tea is needed!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

All Homemade

The House of Eley continues its creative persuits,with me being probably the least accomplished of us all. Nevertheless,here are some of MY finished projects that adorn the nooks and crannies of our home.

I did this for the nursery when Poppy was a few weeks old. It was a baking hot easter in 2007 and I remember rocking her in the pram as I mixed the paints.

Poppy's footprints in clay (10 weeks old)

In honour of our move to Torquay

Iron Mountain in Abergavenny. I spent the best part of three days staring at this view while I was in labour with Poppy-best as in,it was the best part.

Ink drawing for Iris's 1st birthday.

St Ives-we had a lovely unexpected holiday there in February 2010

My prototype felt birdie-the painting of Goodrington Sands is by Mr Eley,of course.

Made by Lena