Maureen Ditchfield’s Classic Trifle: Accept No Substitute

Mum was a master in the art of trifle making.  Granny’s trifle dish came out on high days and holidays and the recipe has remained the same since the 1960s.  I make no apologies for the fact that nothing here is made from scratch, because it tastes absolutely wonderful. Every mouthful reminds me of Christmas with Mum and Dad in Cefn Road, with the electric bars on the fire in the front room smelling all funny because we only used it at Christmas.


First you need a glass trifle dish.  Preferably granny’s, passed down through the generations.  You’ll also need:

A packet of boudoir biscuits

A tin of raspberries or strawberries in syrup

A tin of custard (not the low calorie stuff)

A jelly (proper cubed one, not powder) usually with one cube missing in action

A carton of double cream

Hundreds and thousands


Layer the biscuits in the bottom of the trifle bowl

Put the jelly in a jug and pour in half a pint of boiling water

Allow the jelly to dissolve

Make the liquid up to just under a pint using the juice drained from the tin of raspberries.  If you haven’t eaten a cube of jelly, you can make it a full pint.

Put the raspberries on top of the biscuits then pour over the jelly.

Allow to cool and set (preferably overnight)


Pour over tin of custard

Whip the double cream and dollop it on

Sprinkle with hundreds and thousands

Share (if you have to) or have it for breakfast the next day like my sister used to (and probably still does).

Thanks Mum – it’s a winner








Developing A Thick Skin


There comes a time in your life when you just don’t care what other people think of you. At the grand age of 54 (and a half) I’ve reached it!

These are some of the things which have led me to this conclusion:

  •  I was in the gym today, having a cappuccino and reading a magazine; in other words, not actually exercising. Did I feel the need to offer an explanation? No.
  • I don’t care who sees me without make up
  • I buy what I like to wear – whether it be in fashion or not.  In fact I have a wardrobe full of what could be deemed as inappropriately fluffy items of clothing which make me look like a hamster, but so what!
  • I sing out in choir, whether I’m confident I know a piece or not, I don’t mind getting it wrong.  It’s not a crime, it’s a song.
  • I wear ugly shoes for walking.
  • You can’t make people like you, and if they are gossiping about you, then at least they are leaving someone else alone.
  • I buy loads of things from charity shops and don’t care who knows it.
  • I blog (gotta be thick skinned to do this!)
  • When I feel the need to wear sequins, I do, whether it’s Christmas or not.
  • When I feel the need to stay in my PJs, I do.
  • I don’t feel peer pressure to have an extra drink, stay up late, have the latest phone, run a marathon or whatever.
  • I don’t brush my hair very often and don’t care how wild it looks.

Why on earth it’s taken this long, I have no idea, but it’s a good place to be.




Giving Up. Anyone Looking For A Frock?

Having tried so hard to get to a healthy weight and achieved just a couple of pounds weight loss, today I’m wondering why I’m bothering, and thinking I should just give up.  I’ve been feeling like this for a few days and yesterday did a sweep of my wardrobe and piled a whole load of dresses (one never worn) ready to take to the charity shop, accepting that I’m never going to get into them again. I don’t know why my motivation wavers so much, as I have really good health reasons for needing to get the weight off, but I really cannot get my act together.  Why is it so blimmin’ hard? Answers on a postcard please……..

PS anyone looking for an evening dress in size 10 or 12 ask me now, before I take them to the charity shop!  The one pictured is from Coast, size 10.  You’re welcome to it!queen elizabeth 2012 014

Living Like Elle Macpherson

A few years ago I read an article in a magazine about a journalist who was given an assignment to live like Elle Macpherson for a month – including eating like Elle, exercising like Elle and enjoying countless beauty treatments.  I don’t know why, but this idea stuck with me and I thought I wonder what it would be like to get into ‘Elle’ mode and would it make me healthier,  more glamorous and more hip.

DSCF1827 crop

Well for starters, I’m only 5ft 2 and a bit chubbier than I’d like, so that part of being an Amazonian supermodel obviously isn’t going to work for me, but then looks aren’t everything are they, so what else could I do?  Let’s take this step by step.

In the gym this week I decided to channel Elle, so joyfully working out at Zumba, exuding a Zen like aura during yoga and carefree jogging on the treadmill (in the absence of a sandy beach you understand).

Next, the kitchen.  Now as you know, I have a new cold press juicer, so this is absolutely what Elle would have – fresh juices every day.  I’ve also had lots of fish and vegetables.  So far so good.

What about glamour? What would Elle wear?  I think my silver office flats and combat pants do the trick nicely teamed with an oversized boho bag.  I can tick that box then.  Very hip.

Shopping.  Does Elle go to the supermarket?  Maybe not, but I floated round Sainsbury’s picking up coconut oil, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit and a very expensive piece of fish.  I did gulp when the man on the fish counter said £9.29 but, Elle would buy good quality fish wouldn’t she?

Next beauty treatments.  The best I can hope for here is a hairdo (booked!) and some DIY aromatherapy.  I’m sure Elle would approve.

So does this work as a strategy for health, fitness and glamour? No idea, but I had fun doing it!

Shabby Chic Upcycling

Well, I’ve pinned so many upcycling projects on Pinterest that it was only a matter of time before I took the plunge and had a go myself.  I decided to upcycle the boring pine chest of drawers that sits in my office as I wanted something pretty to store my aromatherapy bits and bobs, as well as crafty stuff.  All in all it took about three hours and cost nothing at all.  I had some very pale blue paint leftover from the kitchen, some gold paint out of my Christmas decorating box and a bit of leftover sandpaper and that was it.    It was beautifully sunny in the garden so time for action!


It dried in superfast time and I painted on a few starfish to give it a bit of a seaside shabby look.  I agree it’s not the most professional looking artwork – but hey – it’s a start!


The question is, what can I upcycle next?


Blogging for money?

Lately I’ve been asking myself if I should acquire my own domain and start blogging ‘professionally’ as it were, with the aim of eventually generating an income.  I have this internal tussle every now and again, as the ex business analyst in me says, ‘you could do this if you put your mind to it’.  However, since I left work, my inner hippie has been growing stronger and she says ‘who needs money?’.  So therein lies the dilemma.


Now, there’s no doubt I could use the extra cash to fund my travels plus clothing, beauty and scented candle lust, but lately I’ve been thinking about what I would actually lose by earning.  So here’s my thought process.  See what you think.

  1. I have enough to live on,  why would I need more?
  2. Would more clothes, shoes and holidays make me any happier?
  3. Currently, I answer to no-one, and after thirty years in the corporate world, that feels pretty good.  Do I want that to change?
  4. I have total freedom to blog or not to blog as the mood takes me – do I want that to change?
  5. I write what I like, not what fits a particular genre.  Would that change?
  6. Would blogging still be fun if it was a job?
  7. How would it affect my other hobbies and charity commitments?

What difference would money make to my life?

  1. Would it make me healthier? Nope, but I could afford a juicer.  Not going to fix my heart though is it?
  2. Could I travel more? Yes, no doubt about it.
  3. Could I spend more on ‘things’? Yes, but what happens then to the thrill of the charity shop bargain?  Don’t I have enough ‘stuff’ in my life already?
  4. I could give more generous gifts – but do the people I love really care about that?
  5. Would it make my garden better? Yes – I could buy more plants and maybe a greenhouse.  I could go to garden shows.
  6. I could afford to go to the theatre.
  7. When I was earning really good money, how did I feel? Ah yes, I remember, trapped, stressed and sick.  Nothing to recommend it then.

Now I’m not suggesting for a minute that earning from my blog wouldn’t be bloody hard work and that it wouldn’t take a huge amount of effort which may not even result in success.  The thing is, if I’m even questioning this I should stick to blogging for fun, right?  I retired for a good reason and I just need to remind myself  of that now and again.

Do You Know You Have a Facial Twitch?

On Saturday night I faced the question: Do you know you have a facial twitch? No shit! Really? Well, I never knew that!  Yet another helpful person pointing out something I’ve lived with since childhood and that I can do absolutely nothing to control.

It started when I was about seven and I was forever being told off by my parents for my twitchy nose (think Nicole Kidman in Bewitched but a lot less attractive). I have a deviated septum so I tend to ‘adjust’ my face unconsciously to help me breathe, especially when under pressure, just as I was on Saturday night, on stage in front of an audience of 400 people all looking in my direction.

It’s been pointed out many times over the years, by some people who are just stupid ‘you look like a f***** rabbit’ from one charmer in the pub, to ‘did you know you have a nervous twitch?’ from a counsellor helping me with depression years ago, who quite frankly should have known better.

I’ve never let it hold me back professionally or personally, never shying away from making presentations or singing in public, but just occasionally, when someone points it out, it touches a nerve.  So readers, if you know me personally, no need to tell me.  I know.