Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Well, here we are in Half Term and very relieved to be here. It seems that as children get older and hit the 'exam years' the terms become more and more fraught. Holidays give a much deserved break, even if most of them seems to be taken up with coursework and revision. On Sunday, however, we left all that behind and set off for London. L is now doing her Bar course and had booked for us to have lunch at her Inn of Court. The buildings were beautiful and there was a film crew filming a series called 'Grantchester' there - we had to run in quickly between scenes! Lunch was very pleasant - there was a talk beforehand about nuclear power, followed by winter vegetable salad with pesto dressing, wild mushroom risotto and then blueberry tart with ice cream. I couldn't eat a thing for the rest of the day! Here are a few photos of our visit:

As it was a Sunday, we drove into London rather than taking the train and happened to park near Dr. Johnson's house. There is a lovely statue of his cat, Hodge, in the square. Apparently, Hodge was 'a very fine cat indeed'!

Other things that have made me smile this week:
A cup of coffee and a slice of lemon and orange cheesecake, recipe to be found here. It was delicious but only as a once in a blue moon treat - it must contain a gazillion calories!
My new diffuser - freesia and wild pear:
Snatching a patchwork moment:
Seeing Fergus in the garden - he hasn't been around for a while but has made a welcome return. 
A cup of Red Bush tea and a few ripples:
E making L in pancake form!
Lastly, an antiques fair at the racecourse:
I was very restrained and didn't buy anything but it's always nice to have a poke round. 
Anyway, that's all for this week - tomorrow we're off to London again (I know, twice in one week!) to see 'The Importance of Being Earnest'. David Suchet (Poirot) is playing Lady Bracknell, so I'll let you know if he manages to carry it off! Enjoy the rest of the week.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Apples, Morris Dancing and a sheepish Ta-Dah!

Another week, another 'Apple Day'. This one, again local, was slightly more exciting than the last. As well as the usual apple juicing and tasting, this one had bees, basket weaving, animals and Morris Dancing! After watching 'The Wonder of Bees' with Martha Kearney this week (did anyone else catch this?) we quite enjoyed seeing the beekeepers. It was the Morris Men that we found the most entertaining though - who could fail to be cheered by all that bell jingling and stick bashing?! R wanted to buy a heritage apple tree for the garden - we already have 3 apples, 2 pears, 2 cherries, a crabapple and a plum, so, as far as I'm concerned, we're all set on the fruit front. Far be it from me though to stand between a man and his budding orchard! We got to taste the apples first, in order to make an informed decision, and we actually came away with not one but two trees - a Pitmaston Pineapple that, surprisingly, does taste of pineapple and a Ribstone Pippin. They're quite small at the moment so let's see if they manage to survive the attentions of Bambi et al.!

Other happies this week:
My new bunch of flowers:
Driving through Burnham Beeches to visit a friend for lunch. We used to live near here; it's a national nature reserve in Buckinghamshire and great for walking and cycling. I stopped the car and had a mindfulness moment with the sun slanting through the trees and Vaughan Williams' 'The Lark Ascending' playing on Classic FM - blissful.

Deciding to get my old rocking chair down from the loft (easier said than done!). I'm very attached to this as R bought it for me when I was in hospital having just given birth to L. My only problem with it is the colour-I'm not that keen on the orangey pine. It doesn't look too bad against the duck egg blue of the wall but I'm in 2 minds whether to paint it or not - what do you think?
A quiet moment with this month's CH and I, a cup of tea and a slice of Nigel Slater's Apple and Orange Cake, recipe to be found here.
This week's purchases at the Farmers' Market - the celeriac went into cream of celeriac soup and the fennel is for a veggie paella for later in the week:
Finishing L's winter hat. I have to confess to having slight issues with the size of the brim - it was slightly larger than necessary, so has to be worn turned up! Sadly, this means that the ribbing is hidden but L doesn't seem to mind (or is too polite to comment!) and it is very warm. R, however, thought it had a 'touch of the Smurf' about it!
 Finally, I'll leave you with a photo of Hamish pondering on the sofa:
 Like Winnie the Pooh, sometimes he likes to sit and think but mostly he just sits! 
Wishing you all a happy week.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Monday, 12 October 2015


Greetings! Earlier in the year I visited a beautiful fabric shop in Wallingford in Oxfordshire to buy some material for my Apple a Day mini-quilt. At the time I was too embarrassed to get my camera out in the shop but I did promise to be braver if I ever went again. This week saw me doing a return journey to buy some fabric for a festive table runner - I know, I know, I shouldn't even mention the 'C' word before December but, as I'm not the World's fastest sewer, I thought I should plan ahead! This time, I was indeed courageous and out came the camera.
It was a little tricksy getting a view of the outside owing to a large lorry inconveniently parked. This is the best I could manage:
Some shots of the interior: 
 They have an entire room dedicated to that 'C' word!

 ... and even a space for workshops:
It's a lovely shop if you're ever in the area but be warned - it would be extremely easy to get completely carried away and spend a fortune. Here are my purchases - I was proud of being so restrained! 
There was just time for a quick coffee before driving home. I actually took a photo of my flat white as the girl serving it was incredibly proud of the pattern on top - apparently, it's much harder to do on decaff!
 I'll show you my table runner when I've done it - hopefully in time for this year!

Other happies this week:
My little haul from the farmers' market:
I normally can't bear goat's cheese but R bought this one and I didn't mind it too much. It was a blue variety and the blueness overpowered the goat! One of the squash went into a 'pumpkin' and tomato laska - recipe to be found here. It really was scrummy and I'll definitely be doing this one again. The Romanesque cauliflower was delicious in some macaroni cheese, not to say colourful, and the damsons went into a crumble. The recipe recommended not wasting time stoning them but, as E has braces, I spent a merry hour prizing the little blighters out! 

L's hat is coming along. She spent the weekend in London with a couple of friends from uni and came home having dyed her hair with henna. It looks great but I'm not sure the colour of the hat will complement the new 'Weasley look'!
Lastly, this week's library books. More of the gorgeous Nigel Slater, this time about fruit and it's just as good as Tender volume I.  I was initially disappointed with the Rick Stein, thinking his veggie chapter was a little lacking. It was only on closer inspection that I realized that there was lots of yummy stuff in the mezze section, so I'll forgive him! 'Howards End is on the Landing' is about author Susan Hill's year of refusing to buy any new books, rather rediscovering her own collection. Sounds like a great idea to me - there must be hundreds in L's room alone that I haven't read or have completely forgotten the plot of. I've been known to get most of the way through a book before realizing that I've already read it - does anyone else do that?
Anyway, that's all for this week. I'm just off to catch up with a few of your lovely blogs.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Sunday, 4 October 2015

David Starkey

Well, haven't we been blessed weather-wise this week? Everything always seems much more cheerful with a bit of sun and this week has been better than most of the summer. Long may it last, although listening to the forecast it's supposed to rain tomorrow!
On Tuesday, historian David Starkey came to our local theatre to promote his new book and give a talk about the Magna Carta. As E is a budding historian and has read quite a few of his other books, we went along. It was a bit of a rush, following hot on the heels of a parents' evening, but well worth it. After listening to him on Radio 4's Moral Maze, where he seemed to have been employed as a sort of professional 'Dr. Rude', I was a little apprehensive. In the flesh, however, he was polite, intelligent and funny and the  90 minutes flew by. As it was the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta this year, he was pondering on the wisdom of sending the Queen along to the commemoration ceremony. As he pointed out, it was the second biggest humiliation for the monarchy in British history and he wondered whether we would be sending her along to any commemoration of the execution of Charles I! Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed it and E came away proudly clutching a signed copy of his book.
 Given the absence of Seville oranges in the shops at this time of year, and with R hankering for more marmalade, this week I thought I'd give this a go:
 It turned out to be quick, easy and rather nice. I think I'll still make the real thing in February but this will certainly do for the rest of the year - I didn't miss all that peeling and shredding one little bit!
Another make this week was Deliciously Ella's Sweet Potato Brownies. These had a bit of a mixed reception. I didn't mind them but the rest of the family weren't so keen. To be fair, I think part of the problem was the name - calling something a brownie raises expectations, and the 'sweet potato' in the name wasn't selling it to my lot either. Had they been called 'sticky date traybake' or something along those lines, I think they would have had a better reception.
  Other happies this week:
Still enjoying some colour in the garden:

 A dog walk with a friend:

 Our local Apple Day -  in terms of being an 'appley jamboree', it still didn't live up to our memories of Cambridge Apple Day in the Botanical Gardens but it was an improvement on last year:

Lighting the stove for the first time this autumn:
 Lastly, yesterday we rescued a few more hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust:
 I still can't understand how people are allowed to get away with treating them like this - I would have thought the RSPCA (or should that be the RSPB?) would be all over them. Poor little chucks.

 I'll leave you with the autumnal view from the bedroom window:

I have enjoyed our little Indian Summer - here's to more morning mists and sunny days. I'm just off to the Farmers' Market, so have fun this week whatever you have planned.
Toodle Pip for now. x