When I accepted a commission from The Awesome Hen to write an unbiased review of my new vacuum cleaner, I expected to be pressing the 5 star button right away.This little machine certainly looks the part. It is black picked out with little orange contrasting parts. I can’t fault its cleaning performance either. However, with regret, I must describe my first trial session with it as being only a qualified success.
So … where’s the down side? Well, IMO – reached after a thorough testing, this vacuum cleaner should carry a ‘social ostracism – high risk’ warning tag.
Initially, I decided to conduct a simple performance check by hoovering up some dust & rating the results :
In a trice, there was a beautiful stripe on the floor which I followed up by making several more. It was almost as satisfying as mowing & I am delighted to report that the vacuum’s dust-busting capability is very high.
Growing more ambitious, I then tackled some crumbs on the table but unfortunately failed to take into account that the Agent’s newspaper was also there. The vacuum’s suction capability is really remarkable.
Next, I scored a partial success by cleaning weeks & weeks’ worth of mud from the dog.
She had been sleeping soundly but woke up suddenly in a bad mood, wholly unimpressed by the vacuum’s efficient promotion of health & hygiene within the home .
An experiment with the Agent’s suit failed when he walked off, also in a bad mood, before he was quite dusted
and I subsequently had a misunderstanding with the cat.
It took me simply ages to persuade her to come down from the top of the door and now I’ve just seen that some of the paint-work has bad claw scratches in it.
Weighing up the one pro of the new vacuum cleaner (a cleaner house) against the severe cons (neither the Agent, the dog nor the cat are fond of me at the moment & I have to re-paint the door), I’ve decided to give it a curate’s egg rating for The Awesome Hen’s product column.
Yours having quietly put the vacuum at the far back of the cupboard,
Disclaimer: unfortunately, no disclaimer is necessary as Liberty Hen will receive no financial remuneration from either the vacuum cleaner company or The Awesome Hen for writing this review.Read More
Tonight, Lady E is coming round so we can have a lovely time putting the world – or Castle Coop at any rate – to rights while we drink coffee and play cards.
Doesn’t that sound a nice friendly evening to look forward to?
Yours while trying to find a pack of cards with 4 full suits,Read More
It’s been another busy week here in Castle Coop…
STOP PRESS: APOLOGY!
Liberty Hen is dismayed to discover she erroneously published a rogue issue of The Awesome Hen. She has assured her editorial colleagues that it is she, rather than gremlins or global hackers, who is wholly responsible for this mishap and apologises wholeheartedly to all subscribers for any inconvenience suffered.
Castle Coop’s Clubs & Societies
As January gets underway, chairmen and committee members for our Village Clubs and Societies have been drawing up their agendas for the forthcoming year. Please read this issue carefully for details of new club & society recruitment activities.
Sir Burford Brown (Church Warden) writes:
Please note that as Rev. Rosecombe is holidaying in Devon, St Christopher’s in Upper Coop has kindly invited worshippers from Castle Coop to join its regular congregation during his absence. Extra seating is already available.
I am delighted to report that we on the St. Mary’s Refurbishment Committee are hopeful that the newly installed central heating system, wholly funded by the proceeds of last summer’s fete, will come through this recent cold snap with flying colours. Anxieties have been expressed by some parishioners re the damaged plaster work. Please note that our hard-working vergers are on the case.
You may wish to help us make our church as beautiful as (we hope) it is now warm. There are 2 ways to volunteer to become a St. Mary’s Refurbisher: either 1) enclose a donation – as sizeable as possible please (!) in an envelope addressed to The Chairman (me) St. Mary’s Refurbishment Committee or 2) sign up your skills and join our team! We particularly welcome volunteers with practical skills!
Writing on behalf of all of Castle Coop, The Awesome Hen is delighted to welcome Lady Egality and Sir Plym back from their holidays in Kenya and South Africa; we are relieved to have them safely home again. The Editorial team cordially invite Sir Plym (Sporting Editor) to publish an authoritative account of his first hand impressions of the Cricket Test Match ( England v. South Africa).
Interest has been expressed in the formation of a Sports Club for sporting enthusiasts who would like to attend matches and sporting events under the umbrella of a Castle Coop Sporting Society – to be called (pro tem), I Hengari. If any villager would care to stand for election (Chair, Treasurer, Sec, committee member positions available), please put your name forward to The Awesome Hen in time for next week’s issue.
Brown Owl was snapped for our Newsletter, leading the Church Cleaning Army last Saturday, by Sir Burford Brown (Church Warden). All in Castle Coop (apart from the unlucky ecclesiastical spiders which were efficiently dusted away by Brown Owl), will enjoy the results of the Church Cleaning Army’s labours.
Brown Owl (Chairman of the Church Cleaning Army) writes: As churches do not clean themselves, I shall be coming round the village during the forthcoming week to sign up recruits for the Church Cleaning Army. Ladies, if you are out when I call, I shall leave a card with a form for you to fill out letting me know for which dates during 2016 you would like me to put you down for the rota.
2 New Societies!
Lady Lohmann Brown – our gardening correspondent – is already planning ahead for the Spring Fair and would like to recruit volunteers to help stock the Green Fingers table. A Spring Gardening Society (unrestricted numbers) will meet every WEDNESDAY 2 – 4 p.m. in her greenhouse. Please wear gumboots or goloshes and bring gardening gloves, a notebook and pencils.
Lady Sebright would like to ask for volunteers to help stock the Cake Stall for the Spring Fair. After having received repeated requests to lead a cookery club, Lady Sebright – aka the Mary Berry of Castle Coop – has agreed to organise the Castle Coop Cookery Club which will be known informally as The Hot Cross Buns. Details to be published in The Awesome Hen at a later date.
The Chairman of the Village Hall would like to alert all medically minded Castle Coop villagers that they may attend a series of (4) First Aid lectures to be given by a representative from St. John’s Ambulance. These will be held in the Village Hall on Thursday evenings 6.30 – 8.00 p.m. starting the first Thursday in February).
Please note that a cash bar will be open after each lecture.
The #FridayFitness classes resume next Friday at the Village Hall after the seasonal break – at 10.30 a.m – 11.15 a.m.
If you would like to join in please contact Liberty Hen (acting secretary) – gentlemen as well as ladies welcome. Per ardua ad astra .
As a taster, for anyone thinking of signing up, please see Liberty Hen’s illustrated record of a #FridayFitness class in which The Lunge was the exercise of the week.
Note from our TV and Film correspondent:
The latest 6 – episode version of ‘War and Peace’ (shown by the BBC at 9.00 p.m. on Sunday nights) is being watched (& either enjoyed or slept through) in a great many households in the village. The amount of comment and interest engendered by the series so far have encouraged me to consider reviving our much lamented Friday Night Foyle’s War Club ; I for one have missed our regular meetings & it has been suggested that a new club formed to watch Downton Abbey or the 1972 version of War and Peace starring Anthony Hopkins (20 episodes) might provide some convivial and entertaining evenings.
If you would care to join a new club – virtual drinks and refreshments provided – either as an actual or a virtual member, I and my colleagues – Lady Egality (Treasurer) and Lady Liberty (Sec) on our committee will be delighted to welcome you .
Please let me (The Graf, Chairman, Friday Night Foyle’s War Club (defunct), c/o The Awesome Hen ) know asap if you vote for:
Choice A : The Friday Night Downton Abbey Club or
Choice B: The Friday Night War and Peace (1972 version) Club
N. B. For those who wish to purchase a virtual Friday Night Foyle’s War Club Tie as modelled below by Liberty Hen,
a few are still available at an attractively discounted rate. Please contact The Graf, Chairman, Friday Night Foyle’s War Club (defunct), c/o The Awesome Hen for details
Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,Read More
It’s been another busy week here in Castle Coop…
The Rev. Rosecombe delivered a vigorous & timely address today on ‘Tackling Resolutions with Resolution!” which was well-received by the congregation. This was Trev the Rev.’s last sermon in St. Mary’s pulpit before a temporary break as he sets off tomorrow for a most well-deserved short vacation. He will be away for a fortnight and we all join in wishing him a happy holiday in Devon where he will be visiting family. For information about Church service times, please contact Brown Owl.
Castle Coop was sorry to hear that Liberty Hen was nearly pole-axed by a nasty shock when she stepped on her bathroom scales:
Luckily she rallied enough to stay calm, regroup and think about the problem logically:
And then succeed in dealing with it rationally:
once and for all.
Colonel Pyncheon has been busy trying to decide what to plant in his vegetable patch . He has drawn up some plans on the back of an A4 envelope for Lady Lohmann Brown to take a look at as she has offered to advise.
Liberty Hen has reported a Room 101 (01) on the Home Front
When applied to for advice, Lady Egality suggested using a slow cooker instead of trying to cook everything at the last minute: this advice seems eminently sensible and well worth trying & the editorial team is delighted to publish this advice in The Awesome Hen in case it helps any other tentative cooks.
The following email has been sent out to the Ladies of the Church Cleaning Rota by Brown Owl:
Having been struck by the horrid thought that possibly her set of bathroom scales weren’t broken after all, Liberty Hen has embarked on a new reducing regime:
Lady Egality and Sir Plym, corresponding from overseas in Cape Town, have emailed Liberty Hen to report that the weather is hot in South Africa and they are thoroughly enjoying watching the Test Cricket Match between England and South Africa. Castle Coop greatly looks forward to welcoming back to the village when they fly in next Wednesday.
Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,
The stars in tonight’s clear winter sky are so beautiful, they make me catch my breath…
Yours dreamily,Read More
It has been another busy week here in Castle Coop…
Despite being worn out after all the services he has given to celebrate Christmas, Trev the Rev most hospitably invited all the congregation to attend an ‘Open House’ party to celebrate the year’s end.. His parishioners in Castle Coop were absolutely delighted to attend and a marvellous time was had by all.
Liberty Hen was annoyed to report that she’s been having problems with her wardrobe.
Apparently she initially tried taking a determined approach to the problem …
but was finally forced to accept defeat … & to reach for the Post-Christmas Horrors:
The dreaded Trousers With The Elasticated Waistband.
Postcards landed on the doormats of several houses in Castle Coop sent by Lady Egality and Sir Plym, corresponding from overseas in Kenya. Kindly remembering their many friends and neighbours in Castle Coop, they report that the weather is beautifully hot in Kenya and they are greatly enjoying life on the beach.
Brown Owl, having led the Brownies on a Litter-Clearance expedition after lunch, has sent off for several Brownie ‘Good Citizen’ badges which she plans to award in early 2016.
New Year’s Eve
The Village Hall Committee hosted a Party to welcome in the New Year:
& speaking on behalf of the Village Hall Committee, Sir Burford Brown was delighted to confirm that the evening was a great success. After a delicious fish pie cooked by Lady Sebright and Lady Lohmann Brown, Auld Lang Syne was sung with great gusto as was a version of ‘500 miles’ by The Proclaimers. Several villagers danced until the small hours.
New Year’s Day:
Castle Coopians unanimously agreed to keep a low profile on the morning of New Year’s Day. It is suspected that the energetic and joyful celebrations on New Year’s Eve, were responsible for the deserted street scene.
After spending a quiet morning, many villagers elected to spend a quiet afternoon which they followed up by an early night.
The Editorial Team at The Awesome Hen would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!
The Awesome Hen was sorry to hear that Liberty Hen needed several cups of calming tea after a misadventure which occurred when she decided to take down the Christmas decorations which she and The Agent had been enjoying during the festive season:
Apparently, Lady Liberty was so pleased that she’d actually managed to steel herself to do the dreaded deed…
she made a fundamental error,
by failing to realise that she’d need a periscope.
until it was too late.
Next time Liberty Hen will rope herself to the door.
Yours on behalf of our crack Editorial Team here at The Awesome Hen,
I hope you will be glad to hear that even though 2016 has only just started, already virtuous industry has been reigning supreme in our little house in Castle Coop.
Today I’ve washed the sheets after the last of the Christmas hordes returned to London this morning
& the Agent has cleaned some silver (what???? ) on the Business section of the Sunday paper.
Unfortunately this unusual burst of housewifely hustle & bustle has nothing to do with New Year Resolutions; it’s merely a displacement activity. We set out in cold blood to avoid taking down the Christmas decorations as we both want to look at them for just a bit longer,
Yours having taken an executive decision that ironing the sheets would be taking the pursuit of virtuous industry way too far,Read More
I’ve been trying to decide all day on what I should choose as my New Year’s Resolution.
There is an awful lot of scope so I’ve a dilemma.
Should I choose to resolve to…
or maybe simply try to …
Making New Year’s Resolutions is such an exciting opportunity for self- improvement; I can’t wait to start being my new self! At this rate, by 2017, I shall be an all-round much better person.
How do you go about choosing a New Year’s Resolution? As one only gets this particular chance for personal development once a year, I like to lay out my options in visual displays so I can hopefully make the best possible choice.
I can’t possibly narrow this huge selection of choices down – there are just so many possibilities out there.
In fact, I’m feeling a little shocked now I can see the number of areas I need to work on to achieve any personality improvement at all; I’ll probably need months of professional help, guidance & counselling to make any significant progress. Clearly, it’s way too big a job for me to tackle on my own and therefore none of these options are any good as New Year’s Resolution. Bother, bother, bother.
In the meantime…
Yours, resolving to finish off all the remaining Christmas chocolate now as a preventative measure against falling off the wagon & eating it in the New Year,Read More
Our 10 Great Christmas Traditions:
Christmases in Castle Coop are extremely traditional. Every year the Agent & I celebrate Christmas in exactly the same way.
Our traditional Christmas always involves:
#1. Hunting out the Christmas Decorations by torch-light from the new ‘safe’ place in the attic I find in January and then forget all about during the ensuing year. In the circumstances, the Agent’s sighs are understandable.
#2. Hanging up the baubles while listening to ‘Winter Wonderland‘. (The Agent always puts on ‘Once in Royal David’s City‘ but I fast-forward the ipod as soon as he’s out of the room & put WW on a loop as I like dancing about while I decorate.)
#3. Decorating the Agent’s tree which he chooses with great care, from the Christmas Tree farm nearby:
#4. Wrapping up the presents by a fire which the Agent lights for me in the drawing-room, after he’s spent all day on the telephone trying to contact British Gas because the boiler has broken down:
#5. Untangling the exterior lights for the front of the house (Dutch courage is often required for this task) & then draping the string of bulbs over the wisteria with artistic abandon (an inevitable side effect of all the Dutch courage tots imbibed by both the Agent & me):
#6. Helping to clean & decorate St. Mary’s under the leadership of Trev the Rev & Brown Owl so that it looks simply beautiful for the Carol Service on Christmas Eve:
#7. Over-Eating & Over-Drinking with our dear friends & neighbours to ensure Christmas is properly celebrated by all Castle- Coopians:
#8. Suffering the traditional medical emergency brought on by being totally spoilt (again) by the Agent:
#9. Being felled anew, immediately after coming round, by seeing all the gorgeous Christmas parcels containing candles, scarves, placemats, lavendery lotions & potions, munchies, a coat, a puzzle and a book, given to me by my lovely, kind nearest & dearest!
& finally… Christmas Tradition number 10: Making time to catch up with important global affairs while curled up in front of the fire:
Yours hoping you’ve had a thoroughly festive time full of your own Great Christmas Traditions,Read More
Hamlet: The Dane in a Hoodie!
Last night I left Castle Coop to go out and about – guess what I did!
No idea? Here is a clue: “To be, or not to be: that is the question “.
Yay – you’ve got it! I went to the cinema to see Hamlet, (the Dane in a hoodie), streamed live from the Royal Court with 2 dear friends from when we used to live in Upper Coop who sat either side of me. This version of Hamlet is simply fabulously, wowingly spectacular!
Try as I might, normally, when I go to the theatre, within 5 minutes I’ve lost the plot & am fast asleep.
It is depressingly predictable even if I am way high on caffeine & it’s absolutely mortifying.
However last night, I morphed into a new, greatly improved version of myself for I stayed wide awake for every second – what a result! This most welcome development was entirely due to the sparkling brilliance of Lyndsey Turner’s version of Hamlet. It was completely riveting; Benedict Cumberbatch is electricity on legs! Take a look at the pictures below if you need some hard evidence proving just how good this production is.
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry”. (Act I, Sc. III).
“The play ‘s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”. (Act II, Scene II).
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. (Act III, Sc. II)
“I will speak daggers to her, but use none”. (Act III, Sc. II).
“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions”. (Act IV, Scene V).
See what I mean? If you get a chance to see a live streamed performance of Hamlet at a cinema near you, definitely, definitely GO!
‘To be (a Cumberbitch) or not to be, that is the question’…
Yours knowing that actually, there’s no question about it – I’m signing up immediately!Read More
Good Job, Alexander Graham Bell!
When we returned from walking the dog yesterday, Chick minimus & I found The Agent behaving like a cat on a hot tin roof. He was talking to Chick major who was calling home from South Africa to let us know that he & Mrs. Chick ma have just got engaged!
We put the flags out immediately & thought very fondly of Alexander Graham Bell.
It’s all so thrilling.
HURRAH for wonderful telephone calls!
Yours applauding The Agent who is rushing to find some bubbles so we can celebrate like mad,
A Scenic Walk in the Countryside
I have just taken Martha the dog out for her walk. It is very pretty countryside around here – a lot of visitors come to the village especially to enjoy the scenery as several guidebooks recommend the area for walking.
One guidebook describes a suggested route thus:
This walk is one of three in the attractive chalklands south of the M3 the furthest extension west of the South Downs.
The walk :
It starts in the village of Castle Coop, which lies on the west bank of the River and has an unusual and charming character all of its own, recognised by the designation of much of the village as a conservation area. Castle Coop contains many buildings of special interest, which include the thirteenth century church of St Mary with its Norman chancel and north door, the Malt House with its oversailing upper storey supported on curved brackets and the Mill, an old flour mill reputed to have been working until circa 1935.
The walk, in a figure-of-eight, takes you out of the village around the nature reserve, along the canal towpath, back into Castle Coop, then over the Canal Tunnel and across fields to Upper Coop, to a second church. For those walkers with an interest in architecture, over a dozen of the houses and farms in Castle Coop alone feature in Hampshire Treasures; see Additional Info’….
It sounds quite good, doesn’t it? I couldn’t wait to try this particular figure of eight out and this morning Martha & I lost no time in setting out for ‘a scenic walk in the countryside’.
The photographic evidence:
Hoping you’d be interested (especially those of you with an interest in architecture) I was careful to take several photos of all the sights recommended in the above guidebook, so that I could share everything here in The Awesome Hen. Now, even if you live the other side of the world from us, you can see for yourselves Castle Coop’s ‘unusual and charming character’.
Up-to-date views of the recommended sights on the guidebook’s recommended scenic walk in the countryside:
1. Selfie taken of Martha & me walking past the thirteenth century church of St Mary:
2. Photo taken while we were strolling along the canal towpath:
3. In this photo, Martha & I were striding over the Canal Tunnel and across fields to Upper Coop
4. & finally, here you can see Martha & I posing for this last photo while pausing to admire the 12 or so Historic Hampshire Treasures on our return to Castle Coop.
Which Historic Treasure do you think is the most impressive?
Yours, back at home feeling a little damp but so happy to have been able to share the beautiful Hampshire countryside with you all,
Today The Agent & I have been married for 32 years!
Sir Burford Brown came by and seeing our Anniversary cards, kindly wished us a happy celebration. Then he asked if we’d realised that these days, you get less time for murder & roared with laughter.
We were married at 2.30 in the afternoon and The Agent was late as he went to the wrong church first by mistake. Without realising he was at St. Francis’ church instead of St. Michael’s, he walked all the way up the aisle with his Best Man, only to find another Groom in morning dress already seated in the front pew glowering at him.
10 reasons why I’m glad the Agent realised his mistake & didn’t marry the other bride
(who apparently was extremely pretty) instead of me :
- I like remembering him singing ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ at our wedding.
- I don’t think my life would be much fun without either him or the Chicks major, minor and minimus in it.
- He always brings me a cup of tea in bed on Saturday & Sunday mornings.
- He doesn’t get cross when I wake him up in the night to tell him something I’ve just thought of.
- He doesn’t mind when I burn the supper. I hope that he doesn’t anyway.
- He makes me laugh.
- He showed me how to use the gears on my bike and then showed me again.
- He gives me flowers.
- He didn’t get cross with me when I pranged his car.
- He shows me where the constellations are in the night sky and tells me what the stars are called.
1 reason why the Agent might be glad he married me:
- There are many, many skills which alas, I don’t possess but I do happen to be an excellent remover of spiders. As it turned out, this has come in very handy during our marriage for while the Agent turns pale if he spots anything moving with more than 4 legs, I remain calm. Isn’t that lucky? And…perhaps the other bride might have hesitated at the altar if asked to sign up to 32 years’ worth of arachnid disposal.
Yours hoping that he really didn’t mind too much when I dented the car,
The Castle Coop Week in Focus:
It’s Saturday night and while the Agent is in the Ox and Moose, I am busy noting down the highs and lows of this past week for us all.
The Highs: The Agent had a good time on holiday boating on the Norfolk Broads with his brother, staying on the dearest little boat
& spending a lot of time walking along the beach. The weather was good enough to give him a suntan.
The Lows: Unfortunately he was bitten 3 times by a very nasty, angry horsefly . On returning to the marital nest, he was depressed to notice I’d let weeds get into the vegetable patch.
The Highs: Lady Egality has been busy harvesting a good crop of broad beans and many courgettes with which she is pleased.
The Lows: Roger Federer ( of whom Lady is an extremely dedicater supporter) lost the Wimbledon’s Men’s Final.
The Highs: Sir Plym spent an enjoyable day at Lords watching the Test Match with his brother .
The Lows: England played badly, getting hammered by Australia (although they won the earlier Test Match at Cardiff).
The Highs: Brown Owl has been extremely busy organising the Brownie Revels which will take place during the last weekend in July. The badges due to be presented to the Brownies during the Revels Presentation Ceremony, have arrived in good time from the Guiding Headquarters so she doesn’t have to worry about them getting lost in the post.
The Lows: The mobile library which was due to come to Castle Coop yesterday, was cancelled as John the driver, has flu.
The Highs: Lady Nudge is cruising in the Med with Lord Eftie. Right now, they’re just off Monte Carlo.
The Lows: apparently it is terribly hot.
Trev the Rev:
The Highs: Trev the Rev preached a well – received sermon last Sunday about the Gay Marriage vote, saying he was sure the decision would receive majority support both in the USA & the UK & that among the younger generation it will be overwhelmingly popular.
The Lows: there weren’t any really apparently, except the thunderstorm on Thursday night frightened his dog.
The Highs: Lady Egality has loyally bought most of the cards from my shop. I’m loving it being Pimms season again. Mown grass & bunches of sweet peas are making the air smell summery.
The Lows: I missed The Agent while he was away & the dishwasher has packed up.
Yours worrying how quickly a week passes by these days,Read More