Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Change Of Address

The clocks changed last night, and in my mind, that means we are in autumn properly now. There is a big storm coming our way, so as soon as the shops open I will be popping out to stock up on some essentials like milk and teabags, but also some cosy treats like a big bag of new tealight candles and apple juice to serve hot, steeped with Earl Gray teabags.

It feels like I have had a few storms lately - you will have noticed that I have not been posting nearly as much as I would like - Dad had another stroke about 4 weeks ago now, and has been in hospital ever since. It feels like my days are a long round of work and hospital visiting, which is leaving me tired right out. But, the good news is that Dad is not in any danger now, we are just waiting and hoping he will be able to talk properly again, and swallow properly again sometime soon.

Another change - I can't quite believe I have finally made the decision, but while I fully intend to carry on blogging, and to ease myself back into blogging more regularly (I have missed it so much, and so many ordinary days filled with wonderful little moments, like my satsuma peel falling into the shape of a tiny rose, or a candle-lit pancake breakfast have gone un-shared), I have decided that my time with blogger is at an end for now.

I have (I hope, successfully!) imported this blog to wordpress. I will be leaving Little Sips of Tea up here at blogger, but new posts will come from wordpress.

So, if you would like to come visiting, please say hello to me at

And please, if you too are in the path of the storm (be it the winds and rain that are headed our way, or something more personal) then batten down your hatches in either a practical or comforting sense, and take care of yourself.


Monday, 23 September 2013

Suddenly Summer, Suddenly Autumn

After the long winter we had this year, Summer seemed to arrive very suddenly - almost overnight. There was no gentle warming up to summer; it was as though she was determined to make up for her lateness with her brilliance. And just as suddenly, she has slipped away, like Cinderella as the clock struck midnight.

Suddenly, it is Autumn.

But what a strange autumn so far. I love autumn, it is the season I feel most at home with, and look forward to every year. Somehow we have missed the early morning misty starts to the day and the cool crisp air, and moved straight to the dull gloomy days, where it looks like it should be cold, but it is too humid still.

Perhaps I am being impatient. After all, the leaves haven't really started turning and falling yet. But I do hope that we still get autumn 'proper'.

On a cool grey Sunday, where it is suddenly autumn, there is really only one thing to make for lunch - soup. This is my staple autumn/winter comforting soup. I am sure I must have posted the recipe here before, but just in case, here it is again.

Throw a walnut of butter into a large saucepan and set to melt and gently bubble. Meanwhile, chop either 1 large or 2 small leeks, then throw into the butter, stir round, and let meld gently together.

While the leeks soften and become fragrant, peel and chop 2 parsnips, 2 carrots, and 1 large or 2 small potatoes. Throw them all into the pan with the leeks.

Add boiling water from the kettle to cover the veg, and stir in either a chicken or vegetable stock pot (those jelly-like alternatives to stock cubes).

Bubble away for 15-20 minutes, then shake in some peas or sweetcorn - or if you are feeling decadent, both!

After a minute or two of bubbling, carefully blend the soup. I do it quite roughly, so there is still some texture to it. You can add some milk at this point if you like, too.

This will make enough for 4, easily. It has a slightly sweet taste from the carrots and parsnips, and feels warm and comforting. If you want to make it more substantial, you can add in some pasta, or shredded cooked chicken, but more often than not, I love it just the way it is.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Wednesday Surprises

I had one of those delightful impromptu lunches today, with my lovely husband. We suddenly realised that we were both free at the same time, and in close enough proximity to meet. We walked through the city hand in hand, chatting about our mornings, and running a mental list of Where To Eat.

I discounted several, and then Carl suggested Stewart's. Hmmm. Stewart's.... I hadn't been in for over a year after several bad experiences, so I was a bit hesitant. was nearby, and is an independent teashop, and a pot of tea was just the very thing I wanted. So, we went. And oh, oh, oh, I am so glad I gave them a second chance! They changed hands about a year ago, and it is so much better, right from the moment you walk in. I didn't realise that it is Chelmsford's oldest tea room, although thinking about it, that does make sense, as the other three are much newer. It is tucked away down Tindal Street, all tall and narrow, but quite charming.

My sandwich came with a little ramekin of salad and some homemade coleslaw, and my ceylon orange pekoe was leaf tea rather than bags. A really refreshing lunchtime break, and I shall definitely be going back. I was intrigued to see that they are offering a scone workshop on Saturday - I wish I could go, but we already have an engagement. I must remember to keep my eye out for their future offerings.

If you fancy taking a pot of tea there sometime, here is their website

My second surprise started off a little less welcome...when I left the office to go home, I realised that I didn't have my keys, and was locked out! And even worse, I had my dear friend Annastasia visiting before we went to burlesque class together. In previous days, I might have panicked and fretted, but instead I decided that the universe was telling us to have a picnic in my (communal) garden, so I picked up a few bits from Marks and Sparks, and we sat on the grass eating our picnic quite merrily until Carl came home and let us in!

So, two surprises for the first Wednesday in September...I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A Little Sip of Something New

While I may be ready for seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness, blackberry picking and snuggly blankets, it seems that Mother Nature has other ideas. Not that I am complaining, really - after the long winter we had last year, some extra days of sunshine are welcome indeed.

However, the sunshine hasn't stopped me thinking ahead to warming drinks for when the temperature dips. I was in a little sandwich shop just across the road from work on Monday, when I spotted some tiny bottles, about the size of my index finger, with intriguing flavours labelled on them. Lemon and Ginger, Peach, Pear and Honey, Apple, Ginger and Spice, and Rhubarb, Apple and Cinnamon. I picked one up for a closer look, to discover they are little bottles of concentrate to make hot drinks with - each one makes 15 cups. So somewhere between a liquid herbal tea and a grown up Ribena!

At £3:00 each I decided that it was a very affordable treat, and took the Rhubarb, Apple and Cinnamon back to the office. although it was too warm, really, I couldn't resist trying a cup - and really enjoyed it. I like the idea of having a little line of these bottles on my desk, and it feels almost medicinal to prepare, as you pour out a teaspoon of liquid for each cup.

If you want to try them for yourselves, go to

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The First Day of September

And suddenly, September is here. I was out late last night, visiting a friend, and came home as the clock was striking midnight, and August slipped away.

I love September. To me, it is the coming of autumn, that back-to-school feeling, the promise of leaves to come falling and whirling from the trees like confetti in the air. Cosy comfort food and hot chocolate, hot water bottles and pumpkins and conkers and acorns....and all things lovely.

For the first time in a long time, we woke up when our bodies were ready, rather than when the alarm went off. It was blissful. Over the first cup of tea for the day, Carl suggested a trip to Hylands park. It is a short drive away, and one of my favourite places to walk. As it was the first Sunday of the month, the Farmers Market was on which made it even nicer. I bought a book of parlour games from the second hand bookstall there, and then we took a gentle walk down to the lake, stopping to lay under a tree for a bit, and look up at the branches silhouetted against the sky. The first little hints of the coming autumn were there to be seen - scattered green acorns on the ground.

After our walk, we drove to the nearby farm shop to buy the first of the new season apples. We came home with bags of Katy and Festival, and the biggest Bramley I have ever seen. I love the farm shop. We used to go more regularly when we lived a little bit closer, but we have been starting to go a bit more often. This is the perfect time of year to start shopping there, as the apples start to appear, and the big bins are filled with corn-on-the-cob and pointed cabbages.

Then home, to a pot of tea and a blackcurrant flapjack. I used the vintage cup and saucer I brought back from Aldeburgh this year. The saucer is an elongated shape, so the cup sits on one side, with space for your biscuit on the other. We drank our tea while we watched 'The Moving Finger' which is a Miss Marple mystery - and we watched the older version, filmed in the 80s, rather than the newer one.

While I sipped tea and watched Miss Marple, I wound all of the wool in my stash into balls, which was very therapeutic, and all the balls are now sitting in a wicker basket, along with the two crochet blankets I am making. There is the ripple stitch sea-coloured blanket which I have not done any work on for some time, and then the giant granny square blanket in different shades of green which I have started more recently.

Tarragon pork for dinner, and then a bath with the new issue of The Simple Things magazine, lit by candles.

Now, sitting in the dimly-lit living room, with a pile of print-outs about September and autumn from Brocante Home, that I have collected over the years. Making plans for hazelnut being my signature autumn flavour this year, and looking forward to cosying up our home when I have finally finished the big declutter.

All that I have left to do now is the Narnia (our walk-in-wardrobe-closet), the storage boxes under our bed, and the bookshelves. I am still enjoying the process, but starting to be very, very ready to be finished. I am at that point where it feels like I have come so, so far, but still have a fair way to go. I think the flat will look done when the Narnia and under the bed are finished, but I am looking forward to a proper sort out of the bookshelves. I am going to leave it for last, as I am looking forward to our home looking finished.

A gentle start to a September, full of plans for new books to read, a special wedding, a trip to the Aldeburgh Food Festival, and starting to plan for Christmas.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Rainy Saturday

I feel like Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole this week....almost like I tripped over on Monday, did a forward-roll, and somehow ended up in Saturday! I have been working long hours and coming home tired, but wanting to continue with my decluttering. I haven't made as much progress as I would like this week, but I have recognised that it is better to do a little than burn myself out.

I have been falling into bed with The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (actually J.K. Rowling) and reading until my eyes are gritty and heavy. It is a curious book - I enjoyed it - and didn't guess who the killer was - but it took a long time to read. Perhaps it was because I was falling asleep sooner than I would have liked, and haven't had lunch hours to read in, but it did feel slightly slow-moving. I hope that she writes another though!

And so to today, Saturday, at last, Saturday. It almost felt like an autumn morning when I walked into town earlier. It was damp and almost raining, the sky all hazy and smudged and blurring into the moisture in the air. While I was in the bank, the rain drops which had started to fall tentatively, almost as though tapping you on the shoulder to catch your attention, suddenly came down in a torrent.

I took myself into town to change my library books, buy some toiletries, get my eyebrows tidied up, and have a bit of a wander. I returned The Cuckoo's Calling to the library and collected the first novel in the Phryne Fisher lady detective series. It is set in the 20's, and I have watched and enjoyed the tv series (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries).

I treated myself to a soy milk hot chocolate with hazelnut syrup and a giant bourbon from the Costa at the train station, which is close enough to home for the drink to still be hot when I got there.

Now I am settled down with a pot of tea (the hot chocolate is long gone, alas!) and the window open. The rain is falling so finely now you can hardly see it, but it's perfume is filling the air, and when the cars drive by, you can hear the rain on their tyres. I think there are few things more lovely than a rainy Saturday afternoon and nowhere to have to be, or to go.

I am watching Kirstie Allsopp's Home Style that I recorded the other evening. I have said it before, but I do love Kirstie. IT seems this series is basically things that have not made the final cut in her previous series, but I am still enjoying it. This one is about hosting gatherings - and definitely has an understated Christmas feel to it. Out of curiosity, I searched for 'Kirstie Christmas' on amazon - and she has a Christmas book out in September, hurrah!

Talking of Christmas - I am designing my cards at the moment, and starting to think about gifts. I want to make the majority of them again this year, so it makes sense to start early, so I can have the enjoyment of making them, rather than it being a rush. I brought home a magazine which has given me some ideas, but what was a bit frustrating was that a craft punch they have used, and has given me lots of ideas does not appear to be available to buy any more, oh dear!

I am babysitting my godchildren this evening, so will be taking my new library book with me, as well the crochet blanket I am working on. Bur first, I have a few more hours of Saturday afternoon pottering to enjoy.

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a scrumptious Saturday.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Once In A Blue Moon

Ps Don't forget to peek out of the window tonight - not only is it a full moon, it is a blue moon!