I am always a bit surprised when I produce something edible. This also comes an immense relief when periodically, dear companions are subjected to my culinary enterprises. Admittedly I don’t help myself in such matters, as with occasional lofty ambitions of originality, I will scour cookery books and serve up dishes never before attempted by my fair hand, sometimes with a quirky take (having added an extra spice or seasoning depending on what fell out of the cupboard) if I’m feeling particularly debonair.
I am pleased to announce however, that this past week’s programme of social engagements, whereby I was personally responsible for all food preparation and delivery, were an resoundingly unnerving success. I even managed to pull off a sunken flourless chocolate cake with a liberal administration of icing and Malteasers, and the pesto chicken was actually ok, despite having singed the accompanying thyme on a scented decorative tealight, lit to mask the smell of my artisan rolls, char-grilled to perfection.
The ultimate triumph, if one might be so bold, was the lemony pud taken home by our guests, to serve as ‘pregnant lady’ breakfast food, along with some jammy thumb buns (as pictured). Sadly it turns out that the size of my thumb was not proportionally equal to the amount of jam administered, so baking produced a volcanic effect, but I have to admit to being rather taken by their ‘oozing wound’ appearance. Indeed I seem to have an unintentional knack of making food that looks like other things.
This is why my butterfly cakes are only served in adult company.
May Day. Cherry blossom, honey bees, the orangey glow of the sun setting on pastures green. Morris Men dancing in the arrival of summer.
With me as their subject.
I was this year’s Kennet Morris Men‘s ‘Valentine’ – the subject of a ritual performed about me for reasons of fertility and well being. So the crops will grow. I like to do my bit.
When the dance was over, the Morris Men hoisted me into the air and carried me aloft back to my picnic bench, (unfortunately wet grass meant I was also dropped rather unceremoniously), where I was thus shielded by handkerchiefs to protect my modesty, and presented with this exclusive pin for my troubles:
May your radishes be fecund and your barley be strong and good!
Yesterday I met up with my dear friend Helen and her daughter (and my adopted niece) Emily, for a visit to see the ‘fishes’ at the London Aquarium. It was wonderful to see them both, and as is always the case, Emily had grown up beyond all recognition and kept me in constant fits of giggles with her exclamations of ‘oh no’ at the sight of anything untoward, and was a lovely reminder of how amazing a place the world is when you have only 2 years worth of experience, and aren’t yet 3ft tall. The shock of the sensation of touching ice was enough to provoke tears, but a hug from Mum was all that was necessary to put everything to right again. These girls have a very beautiful relationship and friendship, and it was great to be part of their world for a day.
Sadly, however, not m/any snaps of our trip were in focus owing to the lack of light, a ban on flash photography, and the adventures of someone who is two, but this is of course by-the-by, and the good news is that no one was tempted by the yellow snow.
I have become a bit obsessed by bread blogs lately. I haven’t yet pursued this avenue of baking, but I am doing a fair amount of research with thoughts to entering a loaf into the Tilehurst Horticultural Association’s annual show. I fear I will face stiff competition owing to last years offerings, but I hope that 3 months of practice will hold me in good stead.
If not, I will be accepting ideas for a ‘garden on a plate‘ – this year’s theme being ‘The Olympics’. I consider that there is more than one way of being creative with a spring onion…
We have a family friend that sporadically pops in to see us for no reason in particular, but often present us with some peculiar find from one of the many car boot sales he frequents. It is often a bit of a challenge to decide what to do with these things, especially on the odd occasion we can’t actually make out what our latest present is, but this week I definitely knew they were candles. They’re a bit naff, but make surprisingly good company, and are working a treat to cover the wafts emanating from last night’s fajitas venture. Even though I washed up and everything.
Please excuse the tiles too. Previous house owners taste. There is no accounting for it…
Sewing machining outside is more difficult than you would think, a washed tissue stuck in your pocket isn’t always the disaster that you think it is, especially when your pen leaks, and cats really don’t like being spritzed. Particularly of note in drought areas.
I have always envied people who have gone their own way and done their own thing. Now ‘the plan’ this year has taken a diversion, I have been handed an amazing opportunity to have a go at it for myself. It is thrilling, all consuming and ultimately terrifying. Every once in a while I am slightly overtaken by a crisis in confidence – is it all going to turn out ok? Am I doing the right thing? Is this what I’m meant to be doing?
The solution I have found is to take myself off for an hour and quite literally air everything. I’m also really lucky that around here, there are so many beautiful places to go.
Basildon Park, my second most favourite place on earth. I am having an affair with the copper beech on the front lawn. In the war when the house was commandeered as an Officers Station, a nurse would meet her true love underneath the tree, and later read his letters there when he was posted to Lyon. When sadly he didn’t return home, she stayed on at the house as a domestic servant to begin with, and then as a volunteer steward for the National Trust, never wanting to let go of what she had left of her fella. I met her in the grand hall where she shared her memories with me. She died last year.
You see, apart from being exquisitely beautiful, it’s not just a tree.
When I go, I’ve decided I want to come back as a bench. They always seem to get the best views.
I have always loved Easter. Possibly even a little bit more than Christmas, and I’m trying to decide why.
Maybe it’s because Easter isn’t quite as commercialised as Christmas, and there isn’t the requisite amount of shopping involved. Also things are open at Easter – including the curry buffet.
Additionally, this time of year sees a proliferation in the amount of cute fluffy things to cuddle. Sometimes Neil stands still long enough to let me.
Indeed, the world just feels like a lighter, brighter more positive place to live in, AND you get to eat Chocolate for breakfast! I also like that the people who make chocolate at Easter are more puritan in their methods, and are less likely to poison this heavenly substance with anything obscene like Turkish Delight or marzipan, as is so often the way at Christmas.
Indeed there are many reasons to rejoice at this time of year, and so today will largely see me light of heart, with a giddy smile, and what might appear to slightly brown tinted lipstick…
I must share with you something amazing! There is a place about a mile from where I live, and in exchange for your details you get a little plastic card, and with that card they let you walk out of the building with up to 24 books/talking CDs/DVDs for period of three weeks (or more). And you haven’t heard the best bit yet….
…it’s all for free!
Along with marmalade, Radio 2, and David Dimbleby, the library is by far one of my best re-discoveries, and I can’t believe that it has taken me so long to re-enter this magical literary emporium, albeit with a slightly misguided 70′s exterior. It brings back incredibly fond memories of being little and cuddling up with the giant crocodile in the corner of the children’s section, catching up on the latest adventures of Topsy and Tim, or finding a new ‘Judy Blume’ in my teenage years and giggling at the ‘rude bit’ which could be easily navigated by the most thumbed page.
My journey back hasn’t disappointed. The same musty smell fills the building, a combination of carpet tiles and decaying paper, and the same lady librarian with the bejewelled spectacles, and the nervous one who takes ages preparing the stamp. There are the same red edged shelves neatly marked with catalogue numbers, the same green and yellow draylon chair that we used to fight for possession of, being much comfier than any of the other plastic offerings, and I was heartened to find that even the old BBC computer still remained in the corner by the wonky blind on which to look up a required title.
This week is a slightly busy one and so I have been forced to limit my account to ‘Brilliant Business Plan’, ‘Bags, Bags, Bags’, ’101 ways with felt’ and ‘The Grown Up Gap Year’, all of which are proving most inspirational, although I am still grappling with the notion of ‘fabric mixology’ in one of them. Liquid mixology on the other hand appears to be second nature, so I am encouraged that it will come in time.
Or maybe I could combine the two and write a book of my own…
Today I put on some tweed, and thereafter felt a sudden need to plan a day ahead that would match my outfit. As luck would have it, a free range mother came wondering past as inspiration struck, and we thus bundled ourselves into my little ‘blue bullet’ and headed for ‘The Vyne’, (a National Trust property near to Basingstoke for those who aren’t familiar), that is both magnificent and magnificently tranquil.
I watched that chicken dig that hole and then hide three worms down it. She then surreptitiously stood in front of said hole with the passing of other hens.
It made me fall in love with her.
And feel very guilty about what we’re having for dinner.
I have a bit of a thing for blogging, but it is rather somewhat of an indoor activity. And I have been mostly outside. Because that’s where the sun has been. You see my predicament.
Whilst not in front of my laptop however the rubble has been cleared from the back bedroom so the plasterer can get in and do his thing (who build’s airing cupboards out of breeze blocks anyway?), the cars are shiny clean, the fence is mostly painted, two veg patches have appeared as if from nowhere, and a daily monitoring of our two seed trays now occurs at around 8:30am every morning in the hope that something green might appear. As yet this is not affirmative, but I am excited at the promise of a seven foot cabbage nonetheless. With a kid rocking some retro velour.
You will also be terribly pleased to know I am sporting a new hair do, this time with slightly more emphasis on the choppiness of the fringe, and with a tad more blonde added. I would be kidding myself if I were to say it looked any different, but a timely lop does have the effect of making me feel that little bit more perky. Happily this appears to have also translated into a discount on my car insurance. Think I now have grounds that an eyebrow re-shape is a totally worthwhile investment…