Thursday, 30 December 2010

That was the year that was...........

Well, been a bit of a year, all told. Started off recovering from major surgery from just before last Chritmas, took me several months to get even vaguely right again. There followed a bout of what I now see as depression, although I didn't realise it at the time, and I've since read that depression is often a result of trying to be strong for too long. Looking back, I see this was the case, physically and emotionally, should have given myself more time. Marriage broke up, fell deeply in love, got my heart broken, now in limbo trying to find somewhere to move to still,a nd a job, get my business off the ground and get on with some writing. I found out yesterday that one of my closest friends died, so all in all it's been a pretty crap year!
However - I am strong, and looking to another New Calendar Year with hope and optimism. New people to meet, more laughter, new beginnings, new home, new relationships, more travelling, writing. Want to get back to painting and drawing again, play more fiddle, live on a houseboat, travel the country, sleep under the stars, camp on the beach, spend more time outdoors, do more walking, more reading, listen to more music, meet more people............ so much I want to do,and 2011 will be the year to do it I feel.
My continued heartfelt thanks for staying with the blog through everything this year, it means a lot to me, and I promise to get the photo thing sorted out as soon as I can, will need to take the laptop in and get it looked at.
I'd like to wih each and every one of you all theh very best for 2011, and hope it brings all you wish for, and a bit more.


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Planning a trip...........

I really fancy a trip to London to one of the big galleries, so off for a look around the net to see what's on. Half the pleasure of a trip is in the planning, for me.
Any suggestions?

Monday, 20 December 2010

I know your plane's been cancelled/delayed......

BUT It is an airport terminal building; it is not 'like a warzone', it is not 'like a third world country', it is not 'like a refugee camp'.
Bloody people, make my blood boil. Get a sense of proportion.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Still here :))

Bit of a remporary impasse reached with things various, but I will be back alter on with some pictures and updates I hope. Sorry for lack of postings, all aboutt o gt back to normal, though. Hope everyone is well :))

Thursday, 21 October 2010


.............never ceases to amaze me. Wonderful. :)) Happy :))

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

What makes women happy

- no, I don't know all the answers lol It's the title of a book I've just read by Fay Weldon, and can thoroughly recommend it on lots of levels. I'm hoping to find her biography, Auto da Fay in the library to borrow.
I remember watching Lives and Loves of a She Devil on television - anyone else watch it?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Real magic........

- isn't just about spells and potions, it is in your morning coffee, a gentle touch from your lover, the complex beauty of a leaf, and in hundreds of thousands of other seemingly "mundane" things.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Ten minutes............

'.... the perfect ten minutes are worth living for, and the almost perfect hours that circle them are worth fighting for, and examining, the better to prolong them'

Fay Weldon (slightly adapted)

Friday, 15 October 2010

'Ordinary people'

Do you know, there is no such thing as an 'ordinary' person.............. I have met so many fascinating and interesting people in the last few days; every one has a story to tell, something interesting to share, a good conversation to have, they just need to be talked to and listened to. Give it a try, you'll be amazed as I am at just how wonderfully interesting people are.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Still away.........

Just to let you know I'm still away and forming plans and schemes.....lots of irons in lots of fires at the moment, sot a lot of sorting out to do. I'm in a very beautiful part of the country with lovely, friendly people. Have taken some photos, but still unable to post them here, but working on it.
Hope everyone is well :))

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Off on a jaunt.............

I'm usually an armchair traveller - especially when it comes to overseas travel - I'm quite happy to read books about foreign lands, or watch documentaries and the like. However, I do love travelling in this country, and I'm off on my own for a weekend tomorrow; just to a nearby county, but it's still getting on a train, packing a small bag, arranging accomodation, the lure of the ticket office...........all the things that go to make and exciting few days. Fro me, like the saying goes, the travelling is just as important as the arriving.
I'll report back early next week :)
Bon voyage :)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Late September forage..........

It was the most beautiful day here, so this afternoon I took myself off up the lane to the woods, hoping to find a few earlyish mushrooms; not too hopeful as it's been very dry so far. A good few downpours will soon bring them on, but it was far too nice to stay indoors, so off I went, basket in hand........
Isn't this so much nicer than the green plastic ones now in use in most places, left to get battered and broken, real eyesores I think, around the footpaths. This is just lovely:

I got to the woods, and sadly found a HUGE galvanised gate had been put across my usual thoroughfare, tightly padlocked, and fenced on each side; I could have climbed over, but I was shocked and saddened enough for the shine to be taken off, and turned around and left. This is the other side of that gate, where I would wander for hours, looking for mushrooms, seeing if I could spot a deer or two, just enjoying the peace and quiet and the magic that you get in broad leafed woods:

This has happened because of two old busy bodies in the village with nothing better to do than poke their nose into other people's business. One young lad, with a young family to support and not much work about, was going up to the woods, picking up sticks and branches, cutting them and selling them on to friends and neighbours; he took a little quad bike thing up there, loaded up his trailer and took it off home for cutting etc. Now, fair enough, these are private woods in that as far as I am aware they belong to the Estate, and I don't approve of stealing in any way, shape or form, but the amount he was taking (and from what I saw on his trailer when I met him was all fallen stuff, brash, sticks, bits of branches, certainly not on a commercial scale) would not, in my eyes, do any harm at all. These two women reported him to the Parish Council and were promptly told it was nothing to do with Parish Council business, so it got taken to the Estate, who have now seen fit to take this action with the gate. Thus, it's now been spoiled for many local people; now, I can get over the gate and back again, but not with my wheelie basket full of kindling that I collect regularly every autumn, as I have posted on here; but what about the older folks who took their dogs up there for a run? Surely there is enough to go round for everyone? If these two old nosey doots were in the lad's position, surely they would work as hard as he does to put food on the table and a roof over his family's head? I'm at a loss with this one, and if I see either of them I will tell them my thoughts whether they like it or not. As a result, mushrooms were off my agenda for the afternoon, sadly. However, there was plenty else to look at:

I even fitted in a bit of cloudspotting!

On the way back down the lane I filled the basket with windfall apples from an overhanging tree, brambles, rosehips and the last handful of wild elderberries, which are just about to go on to the stove for the makings of hedgerow jelly.
I hope those two old women can sleep easy in their beds, because I don't think I could.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Proud mother alert................ lol

I was away for a few days, and was told tonight that Bean had taught herself how to cable while I was gone. How impressive is this?

She's very like me - strong willed and determined, and likes to teach herself things, have a go and persevere until they're right. I think I've taught her well :)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Another update.......

.......... is imminenet; things moving along, nothing definite yet, though will post more later.

Hope you're all well, stick with me, normal service will be resumed very soon :))


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Pontack sauce

I've not made this before, but I think it will prove a very useful addition to the store cupboard. Loads of ripe berries in the garden so that's this afternoon sorted I think; best put an apron on too lol

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Bardsey Island apple

I'm very proud of teh fact that my young Bardsey Island apple has produced some fruits this year, only its second year of being here. This tree is a grafted cutting from the original tree on Bardsey Island in Wales; I'm really looking forward to trying it soon, it looks a really lovely apple - will report back. Just for good measure, a picture too of a couple of the the quinces my tree is producing in abundance this year, very pleased with that - top pic :)

Cider apples

These are looking good in the garden at the moment; the Sops in Wine and the Yarlington Mill are both cider appples, the latter being a very local bittersweet variety. The large red crab apples are Wisley, the size of a good cooking apple, with pink flesh most of the way through. The John Downie's fruits are some of the most stunning in the apple world, for shape and colour.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Time to blow teh cobwebs away, so meandered down to West Bexington this afternoon.Big sky, angry sea, breaking waves - just what I needed..........

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The times they are a-changin'.............

Huge upheaval and changes here with me - my marriage has broken up, and I'm striking out on my own, starting over..........
Everything is very amicable at the moment, and I have lots of support from friends too.
So, read on, dear reader, watch this space and follow how I get on with whatever lies ahead............. stick with me, should be interesting!


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Postcard from Scotland............

Dear all,

Having a lovely time up in scotland, very relaxing. Weather has been more than kind :) Enjoying seeing hills and mountains again, didn;t realise how much I;d missed them. No pictures for now , as I'm not on my onw computer at the moment, but will post some when I can. Had the most wonderful day trip to Arran and fell in love with the palce totally; it's even got its own brewery. There will be moe posts about a little purple caravan too no doubt lol. I spent a few days up in Perthshire with a firend; first time I'd been there, it's a beautiful part of the country, and she and her family were the eprfect hosts. Now down In Lanarkshire for a week, catching up with old school friends.........Edingburgh on the way through was horrendously busy, but brought back so many memories....
Getting a good lot of knitting done too, and have invested in a Shetland cobweb shawl kit form Kamiesons. Will put details and pics on Figheade when I get back.
Off outside in a minute with a beer and the Scotsman crossword. Hope all are well, another update soon I hope :)


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

So.........what happened today then?

It's been a busy old day here; main thing is my holiday - I'm off tomorrow for 10 days to Scotland, on my own, for some much needed R&R :) I'll be taking the laptop, so will be on here still, but may not be able to post any/many pics until I get the problem sorted out (I'm on the main PC at the moment)
So, today was and still is being spent runnibng around chasing my tail - shopping for food for the hoardes while I'm away, making lists if vet/doctor etc numbers, buying new knickers (lol - having dyed my best Sloggis purple, now matching teh stairwell exactly.......), packing and trying to find everything I need and want to take. I'm off at 5.30 am.
However, quite importantly we managed anotehr tip run, where I couldn;t resist a bag of wool - a good number of new balls of Jaeger, plus a lot of odds and bits, all very nice wool and useful; even enough of teh brown for a pair of socks to knit on the train tomorrow :))

Hope everyone here is well, I'll try and pop in daily, and let you know what I'm up to (mostly ;) lol )

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The perfect band for me..........

Get a load of this lot !!


More treasures..............

A quick tip trip was required on Sunday morning to get rid of the bottles from Bean's birthday party on the Saturday, so I took the opportunity to relieve them of these rather lovely items. The crock is stoneware, in quite good condition, but needs a good scrub - not a problem! The candle glass is a great size - takes the biggest candles; the mirror is brand new, still with its labels on, and I've been after the miniature tins for a long time for making wee gingerbreads. Cost? 3.00 for the lot. We like a bargain :))

Monday, 2 August 2010

My perfect flower

Here it is, my perfect flower:

It's kitabelia 'Chalice', and it's the most beautiful flower I think. I grew the plant quite a few years ago now, from seed and it thrives in my garden, beside a small white rose, and near to the path so I can see it every time I pass. I love the freshness of the colours - simple white with bright emerald green. It flowers on untilo teh first frost, followed by generous seed heads.
I think there is at elast one other variety of kitabelia, but I need to do some more research.
It would have to go some to beat this beauty, though. What do you think?

Saturday, 31 July 2010


Having a few problems with Blogger here, so sorry fot intermittent postings. When teenaged computing guru gets herself out of bed, I'll get her to have a look for me lol

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Late summer...........

Late summer is one of my favourite times of year; main thing for me is the perceptible change in the light - it has its own unique quality which I find impossible to describe. It's still hot here, but an unpleasant heat, tiring, languid, stultifying, resulting in a lack of much done during the days. I'm busier in the mornings and evenings at the moment, when it's cooler, especially in the kitchen with the stove on 24 hours. I do the basics during the day, and cooking, ironing etc in the evenings.
Much to be done with produce - I'm just about to start on a mountain of courgettes donated by a friend - I think chutney for Christmas presents will be A Good Thing To Do With It :) There is a lot of fruit ripening too, which will be lovely - raspeberries, apples, the last of the blackcurrants and gooseberries, then the crab and cider apples come in ready for the autumn cider fest :)
The garden is very dry and looking a bit sorry for itself; the threatened rain hasn't materialised, and much as I hate thunderstorms, we could do with a good big one to get rid of the sultriness and heavy air.
Thoughts are turning to autumn now, and gearing up for getting ready for winter. I never wish my days away, but living like we do, there's alwasy looking ahead and preparations to be done, all part of the circle.
It's a good life :)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

MrsL joins the 21st century.........

.........and gets a brand new laptop. I'm sure it has bells and whistles, but I haven't found them yet lol I need to ask my children..............

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Summer's End chutney

Thought I'd re-post this as it might help with seasonal gluts of vegetables; use any veg/fruit you have, just keep the vinegar/veg/sugar ratios the same; add spices and seasonings as you desire.
Summer's End chutney

6lbs of fruit/vegetables
3lbs tomatoes - green or red, or mixture of both
4lbs soft brown sugar
1 lb dried fruit
2 pints vinegar
herbs and spices to taste

Chop all vegetables finely and place in pan; add rest of ingredients and simmer slowly for several hours until thickened - when you draw the wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, it should be thick enough not to run in and fill the space made. Stir occasionally during cooking time. Spoon inot hot, clean jars and seal immediately, or leave until cold and pot up then. Label date, and store somewhere cool and dry for about 3 months before using.

Monday, 19 July 2010

A bit like a car boot sale.............

.........without the car and without the boot lol

OH was up in the loft yesterday, and he brought down the few boxes of my stuff left up there; I do this about once a year, and offload some more things - I'm down to only one box now, with my granny's lovely teaset in, so that won't be going anywhere, and a few other small bits and pieces.
It all got put on the bed and I spent a happy half hour rediscovering things :)), sorting through and keeping things out for use.
Also, I did it with a cup of tea to hand :), and no money requried, so all in all, much better than a car boot lol

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Nice haul...............

Quick tip trip this morning yielded these two lovelies for 50p each. I think the teapot dates for WW2, possibly a bit before; the crock is a really useful size, holding 4 pints. Well - I couldn't leave them there, could I? lol

Friday, 16 July 2010

Pink elderflower wine

I have a cultivated black elder in the front garden here, and it has pink flowers in early summer - very, very pretty. Also rather lovely is the colour of the wine it produces, tasting just like the white elderflower, but just look at the stunning rose colour of this:

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Case for Working With Your Hands

This is a new book, and my copy arrived this morning; really looking forward to reading it. By, Matthew Crawford, it is subtitled '- or why the office is bad for us and fixing things feels good'
From the cover:

'A beautiful little book about human excellence' - NYT

'A deep exploration of craftsmanship by someone with real hands-on knowledge. Quirky, surprising and moving' - Richard Sennett

'A superb combination of testimony and reflection, and you can't put it down' - Harvey mansfield

'A stunning indicment of the modern workplace... Crawford points in the direction of a richer, more fulfilling way of life. This is a book that will endure' - Reihan Salam

'A masterpiece filled with surprises' - Dallas Morning News

'No-one who cares aboutt he future of human work can afford to ignore this book' - Jackson Lears

'The best self-help book that I've ver read. Kind of like Heidigger and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' - Slate

Will report back when I've read it - can't wait to get started :)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Thought for a Monday

'Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt'


Wish some people who use the net would heed this particular nugget .......

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Inside out.............

One of the joys of good weather, and summer in general is being able to take jobs outside and do them, either in the sun or in the shade, but out in the fresh air anyway. Jobs seem to take on their own leisurely pace - maybe it's because you're not indoors seeing everything else that needs doing as well lol.
Yesterday I sorted a rather nice fleece for spinning, a Cheviot x, got from a local country show; I chose the sheep and she was shorn in front of me - cost - one British pound. The wool is rather nice, very soft and a good creamy colour.
This morning's job was strigging blackcurrants under the parasol at the garden table - spent an hour doing that, watching butterflies and listening to the birds and bees - the occasional quack, cluck and bleat thrown in for good measure...........:))

Friday, 9 July 2010

Lemon balm wine

This one of my favourite wines of all time; the plant grows brilliantly in my garden, so there's always a lot to harvest over the sumer. The best time to pick for wine is before the plant flowers, and in the middle of the day when the leaves are quite dry and the heat has maximised the volatile oils. It's a lovely job on a hot ummer day for the scent alone :)

1 pint of balm leaves, no stalk
1 gallon hot water (not boiling)
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1 teabag
2 1/2/lbs sugar
1 good tbsp of your chosen yeast - I use dried yeast

Place everything in a bucket, stir to dissolve sugar; cover and leave in a warm place for 4 -5 days, then strain, put into a demi-john and ferment out. Bottle and leave at least six months. Drink very cold.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Playing gooseberry.............

Gooseberry time here - I topped and tailed about 4 -5 lbs yesterday morning. I grow three varieties - one yellow, one green and one red, about 6 bushes in all. Very generous with their harvests, they're one of my favourite fruits for bottling - ready for straight into the pie or crumble dish; sweet, tart, delicious and full of goodness all at once. I still have a couple of pounds or so left to pick, so some gooseberry wine might be made too, and some gooseberry curd, which is really good.
I might need to sort out some more room in the garden to put in a couple more varieties - search out some of the old ones that need to be kept going; I remember reading about societies that held gooseberry competitions, where huge fruits were pitted against each other for prizes and glory. I think this still hapeens further up the country, I'll need to do a bit of research and find out I think - would be lovely to re-instate more things like that, make people proud of what they grow and eat :)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Homemade pasta

I made canneloni for supper tongiht - anyone else get *SO* fed up trying to spoon the filling into those tiny bought tubes that just break when you do it, then taste of nothing when they're cooked? Here's the answer!
I use the proepr pasta flour as I am able to find it fairly easily; however, good plain flour works fine too I've found. I have a pasta machine I use for rolling thin sheets for sutting into tagliatelle etc, but for sheets for lasagne and canneloni, I just roll out with the rolling pin.
When cooked, you can actually taste the pasta, it makes a huge difference to the finished dish, I can assure you. Any extra freezes well, so you could make a big batch, divide and freeeze it to keep you going for a while.
Various things can be added - spinach, pureed nettles, tomato puree etc.
This batch took 7 minutes from start to finish and is very easy to make.

10 oz of pasta or plain flour
3 large eggs
generous tablespoon of oil - olive, vegetable, walnut etc
cold water to mix if required

Mix it all together and knead gently until smooth. That's it ! Roll out and use as required.
For tagliatelle, cut into strips and hang over the back of a chair until needed.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Summer in a bowl..........

I'd rather have raspberries over strawberries any day, and home grown over shop bought. However, nothing comes close to sun-warmed raspberries straight from your own patch, a sprinkling of sugar to get the juices running and a topping of lightly whipped cream :)
Roll on supper time.............

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Strawberry jam

Here is my completely reliable bombproof strawberry jam recipe for sharing:

4lbs strawberries
3 1/2 lbs granulated sugar
juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Hull the berries and put half of them into a jam pan and crush them. Add the rest of the berries, the sugar and the lemon juice. Put over a low heat and leave until sugar is completely and thoroughly dissolved. Turn up heat, bring to a rolling boil and get to setting point. Remove from heat and leave for 10 minutes, put your jars in the oven to heat, then pot up and seal, label etc as you wish.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Thursday, 1 July 2010


During the week I eat breakfast alone, usually in the kitchen, sometimes out in the garden. I like my solitary breakfasts, they give me a good start to the day. Occasionally I'll have just coffee or tea, but I usually have something to eat. I have definite favourites, and am not one for cereals, apart from the odd bowl of cornflakes with very cold milk.
This morning I had one of my favourites, hot buttered cinnamon and raisin bagel with strong coffee.
Other favourite breakfasts: boiled egg (hardish boiled) with toast; homemade bread toasted; smoked salmon and scrambled eggs; egg, milk and honey whisked up together; fresh fruit; Yeo Valley natural yoghurt and fresh blueberries;full English breakfast; eggs and black pudding...........
At the weekends we tend to have poached eggs on Saturday and fried breakfast of osme persuasion on Sundays.
My best ever breakfast was in Paris, back in 1980 - I've never forgotten it - fresh, warm baguette with the freshest, sweetest butter and huge bowls of the best coffee I've ever drunk. I've tried to replicate it several times, but never come close; maybe it's better it stays as a memory :)

What about you, what do you have?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Monday, 28 June 2010

Elderflower cordial

This one is well worth making - summer in a bottle,a nd will keep for a long time, either processed in a hot water bath or frozen in eg palstic milk containers. Drink it with soda or plain water and lots of ice, drizzle it over cakes, use to flavour stewed fruit. icecream, whipped cream etc, mix with gin or vodka..........endless uses :)

1 colanderful of flowers, as much green removed as possible, but I don't worry too much

water to cover


Place flowers in pan and cover withcold water; simmer for about 15 minutes or so, strain, and measure the liquid. Return it to the pan and add 12 ox white sugar to each pint of liquid. Heat getnly until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Leave to cool, then store/process/drink as desired.
Use diluted as squash; also makes lovely summery ice lollies!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Fragrant summer morning

Scents and fragrances are always intensified by heat, and natural heat from the sun is the best of all; the garden smells lovley, everywhere there is a new perfume to smell, a new scent wafting over. In the kitchen too, using nature's bounty at this time of year results in a very fragrant home.
This morning's scents:
Elderflowers - I've made five gallons of elderflower champagne for a fundraising function. The smell of these harvested at mid-day is unbelievable, a true summer perfume and very evocative.
Philadelphus - one of my favourites; I'm fairly sure my mother grew this in our garden in London, so I'd have been very small, but it's certainly a nostalgic one for me, very delicate and feminine.
Blackcurrants - just brushing past the leaves releases their unique and distinctive scent; take me right back to our house in Scotland, picking blackcurrants for my granny, sticky, purple stained fingers and the smell staying with you for hours.
Sweet peas - can't have too many, and their fragrance, from two bunches, pervades the whole house
Roses - all over the place at the moment, love them :) The white one is Madame Hardy, and extraordinary rose - such a pure white, and William Lobb who has stolen my heart now he is flowering, a perfect rose in every sense,the first moss rose I've grown, and fallen in love with him.:)
Honeysuckle - just coming into full blow, and there will be plenty of flowers for wine later too - a true taste of summer in a bottle.....
In the kitchen,the smell of spices in a simmering curry for tonight mingle with the elderflowers in the champagne, and the scent of the sweet peas now inv ases follows me about the house.
Just wonderful. :)