Monday, 27 July 2009

About food and wine, with the usual mix of crafts, flowers and books too!

OK, so these carrots and beetroot wouldn't win prizes, but I grew them myself, it is the first time I have grown them and they were delicious. These aren't the sum total of my crops I hasten to add... I had picked beets before and never thought to take a photo of them, but yesterday was so pleased with the little carrots that I put the two that were left from the previous day's baking in the oven alongside my carrots - all of which tasted so fresh and delicious, as the growers amongst you will know. We had them simply cooked and served with tiny new potatoes, fresh garden peas with mint, and thick slices of roast gammon glazed with honey and soy sauce. For pudding, our own gooseberries in a crumble with custard.
And no, this isn't a HUGE glass of wine, just a normal sized one.. it's the bottle that's very small. For reasons I won't bore you with, I can no longer drink alcohol as much as I used to. Not that I was ever a tope, well, not in the last twenty years anyway, and in the last three, that has gone down dramatically to less than half a dozen glasses a year probably. Which is why I buy these little bottles, since Himself prefers red and I prefer rose - and I don't appear to have an 'e' with a thingy above it for the accent, but I know the drinkers amongst you will know what I am talking about. Now it's not very often I drink red, in fact I had a mouthful a couple of weeks ago and that's been it since the last time I drank it, many years ago, and had too much and was, shall we say, a little poorly in the night? Since then, I haven't touched a drop of the red stuff. But we bought a small bottle of red the other week, a British wine called Silver Bay Point, and this red was the first one I have smelt, where I could actually smell red berries, raspberries and redcurrants predominantly. Usually wine to me smells... well, wine-y with no distinctive smells at all. So I bought the above rose and it has such a pretty colour and the smell... well, it's like those scented sachet boiled sweets that were around in the 50s and 60s, still are I believe in some places. It even tasted slightly of them as well, and I loved it, to the point I felt it deserved a plug and a pic.

Vanessa, over at the 'doyoumindifiknit' blog had suggested I put up some photos of my old crocheted afghans. I had commented on being surprised that they were actually considered vintage and saleable. Well, things are only saleable if you can find someone to buy them of course, and I wouldn't sell this one. It is HUGE. Covers a double bed with overhang, and was even made so that three of the sides overhung but the fourth sat at the top of the bed... do you follow me?

Anyway, it is made of four ply wool, slightly mohair-ish but incredibly soft, and I made it probably almost thirty years ago now. The wool, which was on cones, was given to me by an old friend who no longer had a need for it, and although I hadn't done much crochet back then, in fact don't think I had done any for years, I could see that the colours would make fab granny squares. So I began to make multi-coloured granny squares, and when I had an awful lot, I sewed them together, took some very dark grey wool, and crocheted the edging, four inches deep on one edge, twelve almost on the other three. I am thinking of taking this off and redoing it... but over winter, when the idea of a wool afghan on your knees is more welcome than in summer. Although having said that, it is pouring down with rain here today, so not very summery.
It is incredibly warm, quite heavy and so, so snuggly and soft.

This one is smaller, more colourful, still soft and snuggly though, and again, made with the wool on cones, but this time, just going around and around, not separate squares. It is being modelled by my lovely husband, and I'd have perhaps done better to have photographed it on a day when there wasn't a strong wind blowing as he was in danger of being lifted off the ground.

But it's colourful don't you think?

Isn't this lovely? Actually I don't like the plant at all, eryngium is it called, bluey purple thistley thing. We had lots of it down the bottom of the garden, but got rid of it, and then this smaller plant arrived, about 25 metres away from where the original plant was, and whilst I don't much like it, I do like the look, the colour, the texture of the flowers.

And knowing I love daisy type flowers, some of you won't be surprised to see these!
Anyway, enough of the horticulture, time for books I think.

Prue Leith is a name most people know, but usually associate with cookery. However, she is a good storyteller as well. I have all four of her books, and two of them have been connected with gardens and gardeners. this one, 'A LOVESOME THING' is about Lotte, who gives up her job as a successful architect to study horticulture and garden history, and having gained her degree takes herself and her children off to the beautiful Maddon Park estate where she gets the job of restoring the gardens and estate. There is much history attached to it, over the years left to its own devices, much of this has been lost or overgrown, and now it has been brought by a millionaire who aims to restore it all. He has more passion and money than knowledge... she provides the latter and together they set about restoring the estate.
THE LONGSHOREMAN is a non-fiction book, a mix of autobiography and natural history by Richard Shelton, taking the reader from streams to rivers and ponds and beyond, from his childhood to adulthood, with some eccentric characters met along the way. The cover attracted me, then the drawings inside, and it was one of those impulse buys not regretted.
THE HOUSE BY THE SEA is the second book I have read by May Sarton, an autobiographical work set out as diary entries, as was the first. In this book she moves to a house on the sea coast in Maine, from inland New Hampshire, and at first finds it hard to adjust to the solitude, her creative side seems to lie dormant for a while. But gradually it returns. I love the black and white photographs, especially of the views she has from her house, of the sea in all its moods. She is a lady who is the perfect hostess when friends come to stay, is happy with people, but equally happy in solitude.
So this is me for this time. I hope the weather is as you want it to be... I'd prefer a bit of dryness as I want to sow some more seeds in my raised bed, but after non-stop rain since dawn, which followed on from heavy rain last evening, I doubt I will get around to doing much in the garden this week, which is set to be sunshiney and showery. Enjoy yours, whatever you are doing, and as ever, thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The usual mixed bag of crafts and books and rambling

Well, it's a very wet morning here in North Norfolk, and it's Tuesday.... which is probably obvious to most of you, but after a few days staycation it has taken me several hours to catch up with what day of the week it is.

Now, there's a word for you, 'staycation', and as an aside, just who is it who makes up these new words for our vocabulary? A 'staycation' is rather obvious once you know the meaning. In recent times of financial crisis it has been reported that large numbers of people are preferring to holiday in this country, rather than go abroad. And then there is a smaller number who are opting to stay at home, to sleep in the comfort of their own bed each night, to sit and appreciate the beauty of their own space, the area around them where they live, which often gets taken for granted and not looked at that closely. So a 'staycation' is when you vacation by staying at home.... as the meerkat says, 'Simples'.
Well, some of us have been doing this for about ten years, for various reasons and we just had a long weekend of it, which included breakfast in the summerhouse, a picnic in the summerhouse where we packed the basket with goodies and books and crochet (for me) and spent the afternoon, enjoying the total peace and quiet... well, apart from the blessed seagulls, though some would say that added to the impression of being in a beach hut!
Anyway, not much was done for three of the four days other than lots of R and R... the fourth day made up for it with the start of the demolition of the humongous pyracantha hedge which goes halfway across the garden, separating up the areas, creating a quiet, contemplative green-planted only room behind. As we get older, the chore of cutting hedges begins to get too much, and so we decided this was one hedge we could do without. Cutting it out is a mammoth job, piling it up in the aforementioned green quiet space easy, getting rid of it all will be the tricky bit!! That was yesterday, and Himself has gone back to work for a rest now, leaving me to catch up with emails, blogs, letters and the like.

I first crocheted as a little girl, and in my teens crocheted a waistcoat, and then crocheted some baby girl dresses when I was pregnant, but somehow my over-active, ginger-haired little tyke didn't suit them, and at that point, not thinking there was much you could crochet for boys, I gave it up, apart from the odd crocheted square from leftover wool, turned into blankets for cat baskets. Then in the 90s I made two large crocheted afghans/bedcovers, which I now realise are quite saleable..... amazing! But this year I have really taken it up again, and spend almost as much time with the hooks as the knitting needles some times. The above is from leftover wool, and will be a cushion cover, making the fabric back out of denim, slightly smaller so that the edging sticks out, like a frill kind of thing. It will be used on the garden bench, which is the same shade of blue almost.

Then I finished a pair of socks in self-patterning Sirdar Crofter, which is delightfully soft. I also used the same wool, only in pinks and purples mainly, for a pair of fingerless gloves for Devina in the recent knitting and crochet swap I took part in. I love using the wool, for the softness of it, and watching the pattern develop.

This is one of my extravagances, hand-painted wool... I have two skeins of it, one this colour and the other deep purples and blues and maroon too, and so I bought some of this much cheaper Stylecraft four ply, which is incredibly soft to handle, and will crochet either mixed colour squares, or self-coloured, which are easier and quicker of course, no fiddly ends to sew in and so on. But I like to have a simple crochet project on the go, to pick up and leave at will, when I am in the mood, and this fits the bill. I also have a basket of odd balls of doubleknit, which I shall use in the same way.

And before moving onto books... a quick plug for Sarah at whose website was a godsend for someone like me, whose eyes aren't as good as they were, and whose hands sometimes not as steady. Cutting out felt hearts and flowers can be a pain, in more ways than one, and so to find someone selling good quality, thick wool felt flowers and so on, at reasonable prices, was such a treat, so thank you Sarah.

Well, it wouldn't be a blog from me without mentioning books would it. I am working my way through Debbie Macomber's 'Blossom Street' series of books. Set in Seattle, Blossom Street is a newly-rejuvenated area just a little way from the riverside, and amongst the shops are a wool shop, a florists, a book shop and a small cafe, and it is the people who own these establishments, or work in them, who feature in the books. This one, 'Twenty Wishes' is about several of the women who own, or visit, the shops who are all widows and how they transform their lives, by making a list of their wishes. They are nice, easy reads, good to break up the heavier reading I sometimes get into. Alongside is 'The Hours' by Michael Cunningham, which was made into a film with Meryl Streep, and spans the decades from 1920s London to 1990s New York. The book is one of a set of ten called THE PERENNIAL COLLECTION, one of those special offer sets available from THE BOOK PEOPLE which I sometimes can't resist!

These are two of the heavier books.... the Nicola Humble book is all about women's fiction, books for women and by women/men, but aimed at the female reader in the inter-war years, a subject which I am particularly interested in. Not the lightest of reads, it's one of those that has footnotes on every page, sometimes taking half the page, but worth the wait from the library definitely. The Victoria Finlay book is a richly decorated little paperback, all about the history of gemstones, where they came from, how they were discovered, and whilst I have no interest in jewellery, I am fascinated by fossils, the unearthing of gemstones, that kind of thing. As with most books like this, I tend to dip in and out of it as and when the mood takes.

So this is me for now, hoping you all had an enjoyable weekend and thanks, as ever, for dropping by.

Monday, 13 July 2009

On finding beauty where you may.

I'm not a doll person really, my thing has always been teddy bears, and I still have one given to me when I was about ten I think. At the moment, my 'hug' (the official name amongst beary people for a collection of teddy bears) numbers about forty... now that may seem a lot, but the majority of them are between six inches tall (or less) and eight inches so don't take up much space. And whilst forty may seem a lot... it is about half of what I used to have. The rest were packed into huge boxes and given to a children's hospice a couple of years ago. I decided then, that if I were to buy any more bears, I would concentrate on bear artist bears, but haven't bought one for many years now, but below are a couple of examples. LULU on the left and LUCY LOCKET on the right, who has a mechanism which turns her head. I also love squidgy ones too, and have a couple which sit on the floor of my workroom, beiing more than eight inches high. But all of them are beautiful in their own way, and in the case of the bear artist bears, the amount of workmanship that has gone into them astounds me sometimes.. not to mention the imagination!

I also find beauty in fabrics and yarns, in colours and textures, and those of you who read my blog regularly will know I had been amassing pinks and oranges, plain and fancy, for a snuggly I had intended knitting. Well, dear readers, the thing got so darned heavy I knew it was going to be impractical as a comforter - you'd never crawl out from under it without the aid of a tow truck, that was assuming you hadn't melted away under the combined weight and heat of course. Plus knitting it was also becoming somewhat of a feat of endurance, no need for gym visits this week then. Not that I go anyway, but if I did, well, I could have saved myself some money whilst making this. Thankfully the weather had cooled down last week, and I was able to crack on with it, and once I realised it wasn't going to be fit for the original purpose, and I had decided to make it smaller, I wanted to get it finished. It now is finished and sits on a newly-painted, very pale pink directors chair in my workroom, ready for when I want to sit and check out a pattern book, or read a bit of poetry, or plug myself into some relaxing sounds for a meditate, all of which I am wont to do, when the mood strikes.

Yesterday morning a huge cavalcade of old scooters, Vespas and the like, drove through the village, en route to Sunny Hunny (Hunstanton) presumably. They were of all ages and colours and boy, did they bring back memories! Had I been quicker off the mark I could have photographed them, but at the time I heard this unusual noise as they approached, I was in the midst of cooking Sunday lunch - for those of a culinary bent this was slow-roasted pork cooked on a bed of carrot, butternut squash, onion, garlic, onion, fresh thyme, lemon thyme, pineapple sage, ordinary sage, mint, parsley and seasoning, with some elderflower cordial watered down a bit. I often use cider, apple juice or wine, but fancied a change, and as it turned out, when all these bits and pieces were mashed and the liquor drained off, there was a lovely sharpness to the resultant jus... too posh to call gravy, sorry but I have to be a bit cheffy here. I served it with fresh garden peas and broccoli, and new potatoes. Pud was apple and blackberry pie by the way.
Anyway, the scooters were followed by two chaps on elderly motorbikes, hardly a Hell's Angel chapter, more a sentence really.
But the sight and sound brought back such memories of the Sixties, when my first 'boyfriend' was David, who had a motorbike. Now he was a friend who was a boy, well young man, rather than a boyfriend. He was gay, the first time I had ever encountered one, and as you might imagine, back in those days, and living in a small parochial place, he rather stood out and came in for a bit of a hard time on occasions. He was a hairdresser, so not only did I get a brilliant friend, but one who cut hair for free too! Of course, when my father discovered I was going out with a biker, he was not amused... that turned to puzzlement when he heard David speak and it became obvious I wasn't his preferred choice of partner.
I don't like the word 'gay' applied to homosexuals, and I don't much like that word either, but what else do you call them? Anyway, I have had three such friends over the years, David was the first when I was 16... and I quickly learnt that when on a motorbike, you DO NOT lean into the curve when you go around corners! Then there was another David, this time one who was in the Royal Navy serving during the Falklands. He and I had such a hoot when we spent a morning in Harrods, after that particular crisis was over and he was back home.
Then there was Stephen, who was/is absolutely gorgeous looking, a talented musician and really nice chap. None of these friendships are a part of my life any more. The first David ended up moving away, the friendship with the second David just sort of fizzled out and with Stephen... well, that was down to a jealous partner who seemed to resent me, our friendship, so for the sake of peace and quiet for Stephen, we let the friendship drop. But I miss it, they were all great friendships but his was the best. Just because they didn't last longer than a few years doesn't mean they were any less valid or important as those friendships which stand the test of time and are with me from schooldays, or my early twenties, to the present day. Some friendships last a lifetime, others are a mere interlude in our lives, but each was special in its own way, just not permanent. I find beauty of a kind, in such deep friendships, no matter how long-lasting.
And of course, there is beauty in flowers. Yet another little bouquet from the garden, this time containing red valerian, deep magenta lychnis (campion), nigella both in flower (blue) and the lovely ripening seedheads, lavender, clove-scented pinks, heuchera flowers, alchemilla, marjoram, cosmos and cranesbill.

'A thing of beauty is a joy forever' so they say... cut flowers like this don't last forever, but the memory of such a thing of beauty, like friendships, lingers on.

Friday, 10 July 2009

On being a blogaholic, on a work in progress, something else pink and more garden pics

I heard recently that there are several questions you can ask youself to find out if you are addicted to blogging, amongst which are the rather inevitable ones, do you blog every day, do you read other people's blogs every day? Well, based on those two, and several others I won't bore you with because you maybe all heard the radio programme anyway, I am sad/pleased to say I passed/failed!!! Actually, truth be told, I don't blog every day, and nor do I read blogs every day, but I still think I am addicted, just a little bit! Maybe we ought to have a bloggers anthem... do you think Status Quo would mind if we pinched their 'Rockin' all over the world'? and changed it to 'Bloggin' all over the world'.. I can hear you now singing the chorus, 'and I like it, I like it, I like it........'

Seriously, it does amaze me that people find something new to talk about every day, and to my mind, it takes real skill to make a daily blog fun, interesting, innovative, fresh. One of my favourites and the one I always, without fail, read most days is that of Vanessa, who I am sure many of you will know through her blog - I love her photographs, and how she can find magic in simple things, like colourful buckets and spades yesterday. Just seeing the photo brought back memories of childhood for me, and a shop across the road from where I lived as a little girl, which was in an Art Deco parade within metres of a sandy beach, and during summer the outside was festooned with buckets, spades, beach balls in nets, plastic windmills and so on.

I don't get out much, as regular readers and friends will know, so I have to rely more on my imagination than real life to stimulate my blogging brain. I thought I would show you my latest craft project, which is fine to do when it has been cooler, but with the temperature creeping up into the seventies today, I doubt it will be picked up as already it is quite heavy.

Remember the stash of pinks and orangey wools I was gathering like a squirrel gathers nuts? Well, I finally got around to winding some small balls and picking up the long circular needles (not knitted in the round but it's the only way to get 160 stitches on needles!) and starting, grabbing a ball of this, with a ball of that, and seeing where it led me. You can just see some of the fringing at the edges on the above photo, which is created by leaving a long tail, of about eight inches, of wool when starting and ending rows.
This picture is especially for Seashell Cosmos, who has bears who make ice cream, whilst I have bears that just like to sit around looking cute! Or trying to climb into the work basket for a snuggle down in the work in progress! I put a comment on your ice-cream making bears posting SC.

I recently had a blog of pinkness, and couldn't resist - well, I could have, had I tried hard enough - showing you the latest addition. Isn't this mouse mat gorgeous? You can just make out my pink laptop underneath it, which some may consider taking pinkness too far, but it is a beautiful colour and cheers me up. The mouse mat came courtesy of the lovely Clare (or CLURR if you're of a scouse persuasion) at and is so pretty.
Time for garden pics again... two hostas, untouched by slugs and snails and other nasty creatures who seem to find them irresistable as a rule. I took these last week, and only now noticed they have produced lots of flower spikes, and whilst the bottom one still looks pristine and unnibbled, this one below has been got at, with small holes in the foliage. Nowhere near as bad as it has been in the past, though with heavy rain expected again tomorrow, maybe that will encourage the little blighters out again.

This is a little tin birdie house which stands outside one of the conservatory windows, so I can sit inside and watch the little birds come to feed of the dish, which is just below the house itself. We are plagued with horrible wood pigeons, who thankfully find this too awkward to land on, but as much as I might hope someone would actually move into this des res, nobody has... maybe too near the house.

This of course is Buddha, one of my leaving gifts when I gave up my job in a local hospice back in the nineties. A bit pock marked now, but his smiley face brings out a grin on mine.

And there you have it... my last blog of the week, don't all sigh with relief now. I hope if you visit before the weekend, that you have a good one, despite the rather dreary weather forecast. Well, some might find it dreary but I, being a bit strange, am looking forward to it!
Thank you for visiting.. oh, and the latest I have on Kate's husband Brian is that he is stable, but will be in hospital a 'wee whiley' as she put it!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Gardening, crafting, reading, eating.... my weekend.

We have this lovely crocosmia in the garden, 'Lucifer', such a vibrant red, and set against a backdrop of tall, dark hedging of pyracantha, it really stands out. We also have a mini crocosmia in an ambery shade, and they are among our favourite plants because they come back year after year and require little attention, just the deadheading you do when the flowers have gone over. The astilbe is one of two, the other, like the crocosmia is a mini version, and really this larger one, which is many years old, needs to be taken out of the large pot it's in and planted near the pond. Each year there are less flowers, and it gets stressed out without lots of water, so planting it in some moist soil alongside the pond, would suit it better I think. But I love the featheryness of the flowers, and the contrast of the pink and green is pleasing, gentle, a contrast to the crocosmia which is definitely more in your face.
Down at the bottom of the garden we have a contorted/twisted willow, which I bought for a pound, a sad looking twisty twig in a pot. I bought it home, repotted it into a bigger pot, and it grew from this foot high miserable twig to a three foot handsome twisted walking cane twig. So, we planted it in the ground several years ago, and it is about ten feet tall, and beautiful. But... it seems to be in a bit of trouble, with the amount of foliage reduced by almost half this year, lots of dead twisty twiggy bits, and I am thinking it has come to the end almost. Should it be pruned, cut down... will that encourage more growth or kill it? I may just take it out and replace it with a rowan, or something of that ilk, something providing interest all year round. The willow, in winter, is just a collection of twisted branches and stems, but in its own way, I find that beautiful, and interesting, and if we ever have decent frosts, it looks even better. Were it nearer the house and more visible, I would leave it as a holder for fairy lights in winter.

I like to mix my reading between the make believe and the factual, as you can see. The JG Ballard is one I had been meaning to read, one of those books you hear about but never get around to buying or reading. Can't say I enjoyed it, such a disappointment really since most people I know who have read it, had nothing but praise for it. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood, but I found it a bit of a trial to read. Not so the Debbie Macomber, another of her books set in a small New England community.. I seem to be drawn to books set in that area, Anita Shreve being a favourite author of such books. 'The Monk Who...' book is about... well, what it says on the jacket! It's one of those self-help (in a way), feel good, change your life sort of books, about a hot shot lawyer who had a near fatal heart attack in the courtroom, which event caused him to re-evaluate his life and go on a spiritual odyssey to an ancient culture. Not to everyone's taste, and probably this was the last of this type of books I bought. I do have quite a few, buying into the culture that was prevalent a few years ago, and still is, that if you change this or that about yourself, your life, then you will find fulfillment and so on. To some, a load of boloney... to others who believe it, a real life-changing experience. I thought, at the time, that I needed to change things to make me a better, different, person. I realised though, that I was ME, that basically, although I have many faults, I was happy with this person, and that no amount of reading books would change me. Only ME could change ME, and only if I wanted to, only if I was willing to put in the great amount of work it would need to bring about a new ME. But you know, I am changing as I get older, without doing any work. I am still bossy, still controlling, though have found it easier to let go in certain areas. I am still happy with me, but there are certain parts of my psyche that won't change, but it all makes me who I am, the person my husband fell in love with, the person my close friends love too, so why change? But still, the books are interesting to read sometimes. For a change.
Matthew Kneale's book, ENGLISH PASSENGERS, was another of those books people said I should read, and whilst saying I should do anything is like a red rag to a bull and is likely to (still, at my age) make me do the opposite or not do what they say I should at all, I got it, and again, can't say I was particularly enthralled, and doubt it will be read again. Fannie Flagg's book, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE, another of those 'You must read this' books, was worth the read, and the second reading too.

I love to pick flowers from the garden, usually at the weekend, and this is the latest bunch, of crocosmia, deep purple dark-chocolate smelling buddleia, feverfew, curry plant, an anonymous one which has black stems and white flowery bits (some sort of elder I believe, maybe), delphiniums, long stemmed lavender (because it is struggling to get its flower heads above surrounding plants and catch some rays) and large daisy flowers too. They only last a few days indoors, longer at the moment because the temperature has dropped so much, ten degrees down on last week, but they give such pleasure, don't they, flowers? Especially when you have walked around like the lady of the manor, in your flowing skirt and straw hat, secateurs in hand, trug over the arm, picking and choosing carefully, just which flowers will grace the hearth or table.

I have again been making a small knitted bag, this time in palest green wool with a jazzy lining. I love it. I think I may make some more and sell them, or try to... maybe even set up a separate blog to sell my hand made crafty bits. I had intended having a stall at a local fete or something, nearer Christmas, when folk would be looking for reasonably-priced gifts maybe, but I have lots of days when I feel a bit woozy in the head, and don't feel safe, and sometimes not well enough to be left behind a stall or anywhere for that matter. So a little webspace, blogspot, would be easier. In some ways at least. But this is the finished bag below, and as I make them, I try to think of different uses for them, to try and broaden their appeal.

We had a delicious apple pud at the weekend. Desserts using apples, fresh fruit in general, are my favourites, and when I can use our own from the garden, well, that's even more satisfying. But, if I want Bramleys, I am having to buy them at the moment, and so I made a toffee apple pudding. Not one for the calorie/sugar conscious amongst you, so you have been warned!
You make a sponge with 3oz melted butter mixed with 7 fl oz milk, a beaten egg and a tsp of vanilla extract, added to a bowl containing 5oz self raising flour, 4oz golden caster sugar, a tablespoon baking powder and pinch of salt which you mix together to a smooth batter. On the bottom of your pudding dish you lay two peeled, cored and sliced Bramley apples (or any other cooker), then pour the batter on top and smooth with a knife. Then you pour 250ml of boiling water over 5oz soft, dark brown sugar and stir until smooth. Pour it over the pudding mix, scatter over a couple of ounces chopped pecans and bake for about 40 minutes until risen and golden, at 180C/gas 4. When you dunk the spoon in to serve, the bottom will be covered with ever so slightly tart apples and a rich toffee-like sauce. It is delicious served warm, with either a pouring custard, cream or good vanilla ice cream. ENJOY!!!
And finally.... just a serious note for a moment. I heard from Katie (calico kate) this morning, that they had another emergency with her husband Brian last night, which resulted in his being airlifted from local hospital, to Glasgow Royal in the early hours of this morning. I won't go into details, but I know Katie won't mind my telling you, so could we all send healing thoughts? Thank you.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Just a bit of this and stuff, and some news stories for your comment.

This is one of those haphazard bits of planting that abound in our garden. We have this small, oblong bed alongside the terrace and in spring it is full of mini tulips, with pointy petals of vivid orange and red, and green leaves striped with deep reddish brown. When they have gone, the wayfarer appears... don't know it's proper botanical name. It was taking over, as these things do, so husband removed it. As you can see, not all that successfully. But the brilliant thing is... that once the tulips have gone we put a wooden tub there, wherein grows the dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff', and these remaining shoots of wayfarer grew up around it. He asked did I want it removed, but I rather like the juxtaposition of the bright yellow flowers and green foliage of the wayfarer, against the deep almost black foliage of the good old bish. So it stays.
This is SIDNEY BEAR, a present from my husband for the tenth annniversary of my transplant, back in the mid-90s. He was, like most bits of statuary you buy, pristine.. but now he is mossy, and bitty. Birds use him as a stepping stone onto the bird bath, at the foot of which he reclines, sometimes covered in wild violets and ivy, other times I clear it away so he can see, and be seen.

Another of the daft bits I have around the garden is FLOWER POT FAIRY... no explanation of the name needed! She has an alpine in her little pot, but I am always forgetting to water it, and it's not one of these that seems to like being deprived of water, so it shrivels up and you are hard put to see it now. Note to self... maybe plant something else?

Chocolate crocosmia. Well, I had heard all the hype about how yummy it smelt, that it did indeed smell of good, dark chocolate, and even though I don't eat dark chocolate, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the enticing smell of it. So after wanting one for years and never getting around to buying one, this time I didn't resist when I saw it in the local garden centre. And it does smell divine... no plug intended for a certain chocolate brand honest, though if anyone from the company should be reading this, all donations gratefully received! We also have a large, old, very dark purple-flowering buddleia, one of many in the garden, which also has the most delicious smell of dark chocolate, no wonder we have happy butterflies and bees! And how do I know they are happy? Well, because they're smiling of course!

In amongst knitting for the swap I am taking part in courtesy of Melanie, I did a bit of hand sewing. Allow me to introduce you to PEGGY PINNY. I know, mad woman naming a pinny.... but she is for those times when I may have a little hand washing to peg out, or just some towels, and don't want to bother with the peg bag. I stuff the pegs in her capacious pocket you see. She is made from a piece of calico I had lying about, with felt applique and contrast stitching around the edge. Just a bit of madness..... I blame it on the heat myself.

Round Britain on a plate, is the title of the below still life. Here we have produce from ESSEX, WORCESTER, LINCOLNSHIRE, SOMERSET... and Norfolk. That'd be my contribution then, the lettuce, from my raised bed! I know there are some of you, and you know who you are, who will be able to show pics of plates full to bursting point with your own harvestings. Well, I only have a high raised bed and two lower ones.. the latter have climbing beans and purple sprouting broccoli in them, but rest assured, I shall be showing them off when the time comes! May not be much, but 'tis all mine own.

Several things I saw in headlines today, or heard on the news, caught my attention. One was that two police dogs allegedly died from exposure to heat after being shut in a police car outside a police station in Nottinghamshire. When they are banging on about us not leaving pets unattended in cars in this heat and so on, a bit of an embarrassing situation this. At one of the local country shows around here, the local police were patrolling the car parks, checking to see if any dogs had been left in cars, and if they had, then they had the powers to break the windscreen and take the dogs to the RSPCA creche on site at the show. Do you think a member of the public would have got away with breaking into a police car to rescue their dogs?
It seems that fresh calls are being made for the prescription charges to be stopped, that this is just another tax really, because the money goes into the government coffers rather than to the NHS. And since we are soon to be the only part of the United Kingdom who has to pay, is it time they were dropped?
Ronnie Biggs seems set to end his life in prison, or in hospital, since Jack Straw refused him parole. Was he right? His argument is that Mr Biggs has shown no remorse, that he hasn't served his sentence for the crime committed. Is this still relevant to a man who is old, and frail and in bad health? Should his family be allowed to have him in a home nearer to where they live?
You can't escape the Michael Jackson news stories either for they seem to still dominate our news programmes. Do you think there is too much fuss being made? Should the news have been reported and then that's it.... move on, there are more important issues to broadcast?
I would just like to say it was sad news to hear that Mollie Sugden had died yesterday.. what a wonderful Mrs Slocum she was!
Hope I have given you some food for thought....enjoy the rest of the week and have a good weekend ladies, and as usual, thanks for dropping by to both my blogs this week.