Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Whatever happened to the sunny weather? I'm sitting here writing in a woolly jumper and thick socks - I can't believe that it's July. For the past few years it seems as though we've had some glorious weather in May and June (ie. 'exam season') which peters out into dismal gloom just in time for the summer holidays. Perhaps it's just me only remembering the bad bits, but it does seem a trifle unfair when the much longed for summer is anything but sunny.
Anyway, moan over. E is now back from Germany having enjoyed her tour and we've spent a couple of days just pottering about at home.
Hamish has played dens with a dressing gown and dining room chair:
 I made a cardamom cake. Recipe to be found here. Annette's looked much better but it is a delicious recipe.
 We went for a walk in the gloom - just look at that sky!

 If I can't have actual sun, I'll settle for sunshine on my table:
 I played with my patchwork stars:
 Rippled a bit more of E's Dorset Blanket - at least it's keeping my knees warm!
 ... and made East African Wilderness Sweet Potato Patties:
Recipe to be found in this book or here:
There's lots of yummy spice grinding to do which makes the kitchen smell divine and the cayenne makes them lovely and warming. I'll be onto winter stews next if things don't buck up!

After my last post, a few people asked for my favourite breakfast smoothie recipe. To be honest, I just tend to throw things in on a whim but I took note of what I was doing this morning and it involved milk (I usually use almond or soya but any will do), a banana, some oats, a tablespoonful of chia seeds, a small handful of spinach or kale (you really don't taste it!), a handful of forest fruit berries from the freezer and a medjool date. You can omit the forest fruits and add a spoonful of cocoa if you want that chocolatey hit. Somehow smoothies seem to really suit us for breakfast - E doesn't really like eating a huge amount first thing but this slips down just fine, L is pretty easy to please as a rule (just don't show her a mushroom!) but likes to eat healthily and I tend to feel a bit sluggish if I have toast or anything similar. R still opts for his toast and cereal but will happily have some smoothie if I make too much. All in all, they're a real winner.

Anyway, I think I'll round up the girls and we can go for another walk in the gloom. It's L's graduation on Friday, so I'm keeping everything crossed for some sunny weather! Enjoy the rest of the week.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Well, hello there! The first week of the summer holidays found us driving back and to to Portsmouth every day. E had a week's work experience at the Mary Rose Museum and so, to save petrol and money, I bought an all attractions ticket and spent the week loitering around the historic dockyards. The weather was kind and there was such a lot to see that I had a lovely time. 
After dropping E off, I generally started the morning with a pot of tea in Boatyard 7 and then chose my main attraction for the day (some, I enjoyed so much that I did them twice!). Lunch was a picnic in the Porter's Garden followed by a bit of patchwork and then another potter round the dockyard before collecting E and driving home again. She had a fantastic week but was very tired and fell asleep in the car every single journey!
R has wanted to visit for years but never managed it and E didn't get to see anything except the Mary Rose, so I feel another trip during the holidays is probably on the cards.
Here are a few photos of my week:
The Victory:

The bell of the Mary Rose:
 The Mary Rose herself. Next year she should be dried out completely and the ducts will be removed, allowing a much better view. The sense of history is spine tingling though. My favourite part was a hands on exhibition where you were allowed to handle a bit of the original deck.
 The cafe where I had my morning pot of tea and a little read of my library book:
 Spinnaker Tower:
 The Warrior:
 The Porter's garden:
Time for a little patchwork:
 Beautiful stained glass in the museum: 
 Taking the water bus to the opposite side of the harbour and going on a WWII submarine:
 My favourite fact of the week was that Nelson used a Spork! After losing his arm he used to give them to his friends so that they could invite him round to dinner, safe in the knowledge that he would be able to eat. I also learned that a cannon is only called a cannon on land - on a boat it's referred to as a gun and the cannon balls as round shot. My favourite artifact from the Mary Rose was a beautiful backgammon board, however the rooms were kept quite dark and flash wasn't permitted, so the photos were rather dark and out of focus.
If you live near enough to visit and have never been, I would heartily recommend it. After spending an entire week there, I would happily go along again with R and E when they go.

Other happies recently include:
Another trip to Cambridge:
 .... and buying a blender. I am now Queen of the breakfast smoothie!
 It has really revolutionized our breakfasts. Not only are they actually 'delicious and nutritious' ( a phrase which normally instills fear into E's heart) but they really do keep you going all morning without a single hunger pang.
Anyway, that's all for this week. E went off to Germany on tour with her orchestra this morning - after a 5:15 drop off I'm starting to flag slightly, so a cup of coffee might be in order. Sadly, I can only drink decaff but, bizarrely, it does still seem to wake me up! I'm looking forward to catching up with all your lovely blogs.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Here Comes Summer

 Well, we're nearly there. Term ends next Wednesday and it can't come soon enough for any of us. The last few weeks have involved many university open days - some more successful than others - along with the usual end of term events and deadlines. Daughter number 1 came back home after finishing her Law degree at Oxford - she was so exhausted by the end that I think she was just relieved that it was all over. I seemed to be more upset than she was as we emptied her rooms for the final time. The last 3 years have just flown by and it only seems like 5 minutes since we were dropping her off for her first term. I was so lucky that she went to a uni only 30 minutes away and it was never any trouble to nip up with forgotten items (coats for the Michaelmas term and bedding being the most memorable!) or just to see her and take her out to lunch. I'm not sure I'll be able to do the same for E, especially as her current favourite appears to be Durham which took us a good 6 hours each way at the weekend.
Anyway, here are a few photos to sum up the last week or two:
Admiring the views from L's rooms for the last time:

 Having Vegetable Dumpling Soup for lunch at our local Tea Bar:
 L finally being able to relax with a non-Law book and falling asleep in the sun:
 Buying a Medlar tree for a friend's birthday:
 Having an Origami moment with the girls - mine is the deformed yellow one!
 Durham Cathedral:

 Enjoying a Lebanese meal before heading to our B&B for the night:
 Getting a brief glimpse of a ripe strawberry before E swooped in - I can net them against the birds but have yet to find something to keep daughters off!
 Enjoying this week's blooms:

 Going for a walk on Greenham Common with L. These cows looked very happy in the shade:

 Making Elderflower Cordial. Our tree hasn't recovered from R's pruning last year and only had a few blossoms right at the top where I couldn't reach. These were overhanging the wall of a local church - I hope they don't mind!

Finally, R is having a go at making some wine. Meet Morrison (as in 'Vin'!) which is currently fermenting quietly in my kitchen. It's quite companionable sitting there glugging quietly to itself. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Like the rest of the UK it has been rather hot here for the last few days. It does feel muggy today though and the barometer is swinging round to rain, so I'm hoping for a storm - I do love a nice bit of thunder. I'm just off to bottle my cordial then do the ironing and watch a bit of Wimbledon. Enjoy the rest of the week.
Toodle Pip for now. x