Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Hello there. Well, this week there hasn't been a great deal going on around here - not much getting out and about, just a lot of quiet pottering at home. We went from chilly autumn days needing this:
 ...... to some gloriously sunny weather more reminiscent of summer, which saw the girls working in the garden and me keeping them company doing a bit of knitting. L wants a new hat for the colder months and has bravely asked me to provide it - E was slightly incredulous as I've never knitted a hat before but how hard can it be?!!! I'm using a slightly adapted pattern from 'The Gentle Art of Knitting' and I'll let you know how I get on. The wool is slightly splitty (there wasn't a huge selection as our lovely, local yarn shop has closed down) and I have to concentrate REALLY hard - I'm hopeless at tinking, so don't want to make any mistakes. If it's really bad, we can always keep it for snowmen and I'll buy her one instead!
Harriet and Phyllis came to join us and practised their perching:

I had a quiet morning baking a carrot cake:

 A quick trip to the library for some new books. I'm really enjoying the Nigel Slater, as much for his glorious prose as his recipes:
We popped into Waterstones for a coffee and a browse - the smell of coffee and books is a heady combination:
Bought a Cholla loaf at the market just to show the family what mine was supposed to have looked like!
 .... and admired the autumn colours: 
 My Poundland blooms are still going strong - definitely money well spent:
 L made macarons for the first time - I've never tried them before and they were a tad sweet for me. They also didn't quite look like Mary Berry's version!
 Lastly, my new candle, although the jury's still out on this one - I can't decide if I like it or not, which probably means that I don't!
That's all for this week - I told you that not a lot has happened! Enjoy the gorgeous weather while it lasts.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Royal County of Berkshire Show

Well, where does the time go? I certainly doesn't seem like a year since the last County Show but this weekend saw us beetling off to the showground again. We don't tend to go every year - for one it's rather expensive to get in and for another R always complains that it's the same stalls in the same positions selling the same overpriced stuff. I enjoy it though - weather permitting it's a good day out with lots to see and (despite the fact that you can't get a veggie burger at any of the MANY, MANY burger stalls) there's plenty to eat, even if the prices are laughable - would you pay £6 for a pasty?! Anyway, this year E's orchestra were playing and being recorded for the local radio, so we thought we'd go along. The weather was glorious and I was really grateful for my sun hat and rather regretted the wellies that I had to clump round in all day. Here are a few pictures:
There were lots of tractors:
 ...... and animals:

Things to taste and buy:
 Traction engines - we saw the owner open up the front of this one and pop in some foil wrapped baking potatoes for his supper: 
 There was even a dancing sheep show and you haven't lived until you've seen a row of sheep doing 'The Hustle'! Belinda was quite the hoofer!
 We even watched lots of hot air balloons being launched: 

 This one was a solo one with the man strapped in a chair rather than in a basket - not for the faint hearted:
 All in all, it was a fun family day out but I think we may leave it a few years before going again.

Other things that have made me smile this week:
A Sunday visit to the local farmers' market with L. We bought lots of yummy veg including a kohlrabi which I've never tried before. If anyone has any recipes to suggest for them I'd love to hear them.
 Here are the heritage carrots about to be roasted to go with Sunday lunch:
R swept the chimney in preparation for lighting the stove. Yes, he is a man with his own brush and rods!

 Some of our home grown figs:
 My attempt at Cholla - unfortunately, just as it was proved and about to go into the oven, E rang to ask if I could drop her forgotten violin off at school. By the time I had struggled back through the traffic jam, it had swollen so much you could hardly see the plaits! It tasted nice though - a bit like brioche. 
Making Deliciously Ella's ultimate energy bites. Recipe to be found here.
The energy bites were very yummy and virtuous but what's a girl to do when these are back in the shops again?
That's all for this week, I'm just off to pilates to try and work off some of that chocolate! 
Toodle pip for now. x

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Saturday saw our last uni open day, this time in the beautiful city of Bristol. The weather was a little unpredictable with rain one moment and glorious sunshine the next - I lost count of the number of times the raincoats were put on and taken off. Despite this, we had a good day and, more importantly, E liked it, so onto the UCAS list it goes. The architecture was lovely and I would have liked a bit more time to look round the city itself.

We did find time between talks and accommodation viewings to snatch a quick lunch at a Greek deli - I had a mixed platter of pitta bread and dips but it disappeared before I remembered to take out my camera!
I did manage a shot of their interesting light fittings though:
We came across this bit of graffiti and I took a photo thinking it was a Banksy. I did have my doubts, however, as the other works of his that I have seen have been covered to protect them. In fact, when I looked it up at home, it turned out to be the work of another artist - very similar style though.
Other happies this week:
'Good on yer Madge' traybake to celebrate Her Majesty's record as the longest reigning monarch:
 Harvesting some of our fruit. I gave up on the hope of the tomatoes ripening any more in the greenhouse and they are now in with the apples.
 Doing a few more rows of E's Dorset blankie. Just look at all those ends that need sewing in - I'm usually quite good at doing them as I go along but not this time!
 Making apple rings on the pasta drier:
 My bedside posy is still going strong: 
 I was lucky enough to win this beautiful scissor fob in a giveaway held by the lovely 'Josie Kitten'. 
 The 'borrowers' are always taking my scissors and failing to return them, either that or I manage to lose them  at the bottom of my yarn basket. Hopefully, this will keep them within reach! Thank you again 'Josie' - I love it.
 Look who managed to sneak into the shed and snaffle a load of the chickens' food! R caught her and the girls gave her cuddles and a load of extra food on the patio - that told her!
 Finally, using my memento from Barcelona - I no longer have to make paella in my wok!
 That's all for this week. I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of autumn and that the start of term has gone smoothly for all concerned.
Toodle Pip. x

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Wellington Country Park

Following on from 'Waterloo 200' this year, we decided that a visit to Stratfield Saye would be a nice idea. This house and estate were given to Wellington in 1818 as a sort of national thank you for his efforts in the battle. The estate is only about 30 minutes away from us, although we have never visited anything other than the associated park before. The weather on Sunday being glorious, a picnic was assembled and off we set. Well, you know what they say about the plans of mice and men .......... research is a wonderful thing and whilst copying down the postcode for the satnav from the internet, it would have served me well to cast a glance at the opening times! Yes, dear reader, the house closed for the year a mere week before our visit! Were we downhearted? Well, a bit to be honest. Fortunately, the Wellington Country Park is just next door and with a picnic burning a hole in our basket we simply changed venue.
The girls and I had been once before many years ago but I had forgotten how lovely it is. It's rather pricey to get in but there are lots of activities for little ones and a beautiful lake to walk round. I took a few snaps en route:
The picnic before the wasps descended! 

 A grebe which entertained us with its diving skills:
 Numerous pond skaters:
 A small farm. The girls were debating whether or not they were too old for this but I had spotted a donkey and was through the gate before you could say 'second childhood'!

 There was an enchanted forest:
 An impressive collection of dinosaurs:
 ...... and a crazy golf course. R, E and I drew, with L coming a very close 4th!
Despite missing the house and the Wellington collection in the stables (apparently, his funeral carriage is there, made from 10 tonnes of bronze cannon captured at Waterloo), we had a fantastic afternoon and plan to make a return trip next April to see the rest.

Other happies this week:

 I was missing my lunchtime gazpacho that I enjoyed in Barcelona, so made some using this recipe from Jamie Oliver. It was delicious, although it tastes much better in the hot Spanish sunshine!
 My cheap supermarket flowers - enough for 2 vases downstairs and a small bedside posy:
Enjoying the September sunshine after a week of rain:
Still loving my breakfast smoothies, although I think I may want something a little warmer when the cold weather sets in - can you have a warm smoothie?!
You can tell it's autumn when the jigsaw puzzles come out:
The finished article. 1000 pieces in 3 days - we would have been quicker except Hamish kept sitting on it!
Well, that's all for this week. Term starts again on Thursday and, despite having 2 months off, E is doing the homework that she discovered in her bag a few days ago! Enjoy the rest of the week.
Toodle Pip for now. x