Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Sleepy Eyes

Oh, oh, the weekend was lovely- I have much to tell, tales of trimmings bought from Libertys, tea taken in the company of David Walliams, and much more! But my eyes are as heavy as lead- I worked till 7:00 last night and was in at 8:30 this morning, and have just returned from a trip to a place called Makro....a strange and wonderful discount warehouse style place. I have 90 washing tablets, 16 loo rolls, 160 tea bags and 48 creme eggs in my living room waiting for homes!

So tonight, instead of little sips of tea, it is little sips of Horlicks, and off to bed for me. Tomorrow I will tell you all about my London adventures.

Good night, sweet dreams!

Friday, 22 February 2008

Things To Spend £5 On

I found myself with a free lunch hour on the very same day that the second-hand-market is held in town. So what could I do, but go for a wander? It is a lovely market, because the stalls selling vintage linens and jewellery and all kinds of nick-nacks are intersperesed with those selling perfect juicy oranges and brown speckled eggs.

I looked in my purse and found £5 and decided to devote it entirely to frippery and pleasure. Firstly, I visited my favourite stall, one that sells jewellery and vases and all little bits. They have a shoebox filled with old photographs and postcards, and I sifted through it wondering who all the people were. How long had they taken choosing out their outfits to be photographed in? Who had they rushed home to show them to? And how had they come to be here, mingled in with so many others? It was hard to choose just one, and part of me wanted to carry off the whole box, but in the end, the one that spoke to me was a misty black-and-white picture of a young woman, perhaps in her twenties, and taken, I suspect, in the 1920s. It looks to me as though she may have embroidered the collar on the blouse she is wearing, and I wonder what else she made with her needle? What happened to that blouse? Her picture may have drifted away from her family, but for the 50p I paid, she can be part of my family of black-and-white ladies.

I picked out a bar of creamy swiss chocolate for 55p, and then spent the rest of my money on flowers. I got two bunches of tiny narcissi, 'Sol', which have a wonderful delicate scent. I also bought a bunch of larger daffodils, and have put the two together in the same vase on my windowsill.

All that, and change in my pocket too!

Now let me recommend two books to you, and warn you off of another! The two I must share are 'The War-Time Stories of Mollie Painter-Downes' which is published by Persephone, and I devoured in a day. If you like Mrs Miniver, you will love this. The other is a sumptuous picture book called 'Parisiennes: A Celebration of French Women' and is full of vintage photographs of the most elegant french ladies, going about their daily lives. I don't often feel so violently about books, but when I finished The Rose of Sebastopol, I wanted to throw it clear across the room! Perhaps if it had been mine and not the library's, I may have. I loved it, could not put it down, got up early to read it, and went to bed early with it, loved every part of it....except the end. The first blow was that a chunk of the book is reading group discussion notes, so the end of the story comes before you expect it. The second is that the whole point of the story is the search for a particular character, and you are left not knowing if she is dead or alive, and who else survies, and what happens.....the whole point is missing! I suspect we are meant to infer certain things, but I do not like to have it all left so undecided!

I must bid you adieu for now, because I want an early night. Tomorrow, the most scrumptious day beckons- a trip to London, tea at Claridges, and then Wicked! Have a delicious weekend!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Misty, Misty Mornings.

Before I start, a little assortment of pictures that I have taken recently. Most of them are mentioned in the post below. They are not the best quality because they have been taken on a camera phone (our proper camera's batteries have died!) and once or twice, I was leaning through railings at precarious angles taking them!

A week or so ago, we had a few days of brilliant spring-like afternoons, which really lifted my spirits. They started with misty, misty mornings, flourished into beautiful spring days, then as the light began to fade, the temperature dropped, and the mist quietly fell again.

I have walked through the park forming posts in my mind, and letting myself drift away with the mists. Somehow, time seems to have vanished....into the mists of time! And I have not posted for longer than I meant to. I have had lots of tiny little adventures, and they all seem linked to the mists somehow. So, time for a cup of tea in your favourite mug, and I shall start.

On Friday, Mum and I went to our favourite nursery, in a little town called Tiptree. It is such a soothing place. Just walking amongst all the flowers and plants is delicious. It is in the middle of the countryside, and you can sit in the conservatory with a home-cooked lunch, or just a cup of coffee and look out across fields and hills. We held a council of war there two days before my wedding, so we could make a final list of flowers to make the next day. But on Friday, we just sat and chatted and caught up, and it was wonderful. When you buy your cup of coffee, they ask you if you would like hot milk, cold milk, or cream. After sitting and watching the clouds roll across the sky, we each chose a plant to take home. In one of the greenhouses, we came across some primroses that had the most heavenly scent. They are a variety called Primlet, and they are as frilly and fluffy as a ballerina.

On the way home, we drove through the back roads, when suddenly I realised that we were near Tollesbury, where my great-grandfather lived, and a friend who I did my a-levels with lived. Mum took the turning, and we had an impromtu visit to this delightful little village on the estuary. We parked and walked past a gate that had a sign saying 'beware of the geese!' and there was a man selling fruit and veg from a van by the edge of the street. We wandered into a proper bakery, where we bought a squishy white loaf, a bun ring, and an apple and raspberry tart for £2.30! The tart was half price, because it had caught slightly in the oven. From then on, we referred to it as our 'Caught Tollesbury Tart'!

We spent the afternoon together knitting (me) and sewing (her) and chatting and drinking tea. Such bliss!

On Monday the mists were both a blessing and a curse; in the morning, I left the house to scurry off to work, when I stopped, quite transfixed. A spider had made its web on Carl's wing mirror, and where it was misty and cold, it had frozen. Suspended, it sparkled in the early morning light. I had to stop and take a photograph before I could carry on to work. However, that evening, my lovely friend Lisa was going to visit, but the mists were so heavy she did not feel safe driving, so I missed her lovely company.

Every morning, dear Carl leaves for work at about 7.20, and I like to turn down the bed and fling open all the windows, becuase our dear little flat does suffer terribly from damp. When I threw open the bedroom windows yesterday morning, it was so misty that the mist drifted in through the window! Another moment when I should be sucrrying about in readiness for work, but I was stood transfixed by the mist.

This morning, I was out and about earlier than usual. Today, I got to visit the library in Colchester, and my lift was leaving my library at 8:00, so I walked into work with Carl. On the way, I stopped to snap some spring flowers in a neighbour's garden, and the little cascade of flowers that looks like a waterfall to me. You would not think the A12 is a lovely place to be in the morning rush hour, but it really was. All I could see was heavy mist sitting on the fields, with stark bare trees hovering in and out of sight. On some fields, the mist rolled about, and in others, it just hung there. It gave such a beautiful ethereal feel to it all. The visit itself was really good as well, I got a lot out of it, and have determined to take a day off work in spring and spend a day exploring Colchester, just to myself. Just outside the library in Colchester is a church, and there was a delicate haze of purple crocuses hovering amongst the grass, and I could not resist snapping a photo!

I had to work late tonight, and I had my book group as well, so I now find myself sipping sleepily from a cup of tea whilst typing away. I have a lot of ideas drifting around my mind, like the mists. I have booked a whole week off work at the beginning of April, just to play. Idly, I am planning things to do. Books to read, afternoon teas to partake of. Places to visit, knitting, sewing, baking. Playtime! I have a pile of books on my desk that I have been thumbing through. There is one that has given me an idea for some homemade stationery (that I think might make nice gifts, too) and another called 'World Vegetarian' that makes me want to start cooking. A crochet book that I initially thought I might send back has two or three patterns I can't wait to make. It feels like I am budding with inspiration, just like the new banner at the ever lovely says. It is a lovely feeling!

I am sure by now your tea must be cold, I have rambled on so long. I shall not wait so long before my next post, and will keep it shorter! I still owe you the recipe for the rum and banana bread and butter pudding I made from (thanks for visiting, quince!) and on Saturday, I am off to Claridges for afternoon tea, and thence to the theatre to see Wicked!

I hope you are all having a scrumptious week!

Friday, 8 February 2008

Mellow Yellow

Mellow yellow.....the colour of the crocuses that are scattered across the grass in the park, the daffodils smiling on my windowsill, and the golden tint to the pancakes I have been cooking.
It seems some catching up is in order! As always, when I am busy, I find the days just fly past. I have been busy with lots of little bits this week. Dad came out of hospital, which is great news, and also, my pancake curse has been lifted at last! I have always been able to make those little drop pancakes, but proper crepes have eluded me.

Until Sunday, when I decided to get in some practise for Shrove Tuesday. I used a medium sized omelette pan, so the crepes weren't huge, but they were crepes, and they worked, which is good enough for me! I guess a pancake recipe is a pancake recipe is a pancake recipe, but this is what worked for me:

2oz plain flour
1 egg
150mls milk

Utterly scrumptious with lemon and sugar, or as dear Carl enjoyed his, with a melted bar of Terry's chocolate orange!

The photographs show the daffodils that are cheering up my windowsill, and the other thing that has been taking up my of a different kind....a nappy cake!

One of my best friends went on maternity leave today, and we had a collection for her, and we decided to make her a nappy cake for her gift. In essence, it is 90 nappies and some baby bits such as a bottle, blanket, booties and so on, wrapped and folded to make a cake! She loved it which I was really pleased about.

It is quite late on Friday night as I type this. I have just finished a glass of a babycham glass of course...and I am enjoying the still of the evening. It is rare I have the energy to be up so late, so I am savouring it while I can. I think I will be a sleepy head tomorrow!

I will leave you with the pictures for now, and the promise of the recipe for the banana, rum and pecan bread and butter pudding that I made this week. (Anita, it is an American recipe! I had to convert it to English, and I know just what you mean about codes! Rather fun though!)

I hope you are having a lovely Friday night, wherever you are.

Friday, 1 February 2008

A Wander Through The Web

Oh, oh, oh! Curses upon Vista! A slip of my finger and I navigated away from this page by mistake, and lost my whole post in the process! I had just finsihed an inventory of the websites and blogs that I read most often. I had mused upon how we must all have a different persepective of the internet, and how even one person may use it in different ways. It was a good post. And now, all gone! I think I shall have a cup of tea, regather and start again.

At work I use the internet a lot; we subscribe to a variety of websites such as Britannica, Times Online, Grove Dictionary of Art, and so on. It is a quickly accessed source of reliable information for me at work.

But at home, it is a different beast altogether. It is where I vist friends, purchase rather more books...and coathangers than I should, and read blogs. The blogs I read tend to be about craft, cooking, creating, or a combination.

Let's start with my homepage, through this, I found the lovely Tash at and also The first blog I ever found was and through her Apologies for the lack of punctuation, but the little .s and ,s seem to want to join onto the web addresses! I also enjoy who I am lucky enough to work with, and have been reading before she wrote her book, and having read her books, somehow enjoy it even more. I love to visit and have a beautiful flower hair barette made by Alicia. I stop off at who I met through taking part in a swap, and through her found My newest blog finds are and and a friend at work introduced me to

The list does not look as long as before, so I am quite sure I have missed some blogs off. Apologies if I have! As they come to me, I will add them on. Of course, I also like to visit the blogs of people who leave me comments on my blog.

Other websites I like to visit include amazon, ebay and the bbc. I buy my wool from and still visit even though we are married now. I like to go to and also and find tasty recipes at (the spring fish pie is delicious in particular)! Oh, and I like to visit for my Jane Austen fix.

I think that is it for now....except another musing, on how strange it is to think about something, or read something, or hear it, and then see that someone else has posted about it. Strange in a happy, serendipitous way though. It makes me feel in tune! I have been thinking about how it is citrus season, and how clever nature is to provide us with Vitamin C just when we need it most, and how I should really get some blood oranges when Yarnstorm posted about blood oranges. Just the nudge I needed to go and buy some! Delicious!

So, where are your favourite spaces on the web? To me, the internet is almost like a tea room, with pretty tablecloths and the clink of china and glass, where I talk about crafts and food and the seasons whilst chatting with friends. What is it like for you?

Apple Scone Ring

Yesterday afternoon, I was curled up on the sofa reading 'The Little Lady Agency And The Prince' and sipping hot lemon, wiping my nose and listening to the t.v. in the background. They suddenly announced that 'Flog It' was coming up next, and would be shown from Chelmsford!

Sometimes I can think of nothing worse than sitting through an antiques programme (we ALWAYS had to watch Antiques Roadshow when I was a little girl) but more often than not I love to see antiques, and as it was coming from here...well I whisked into the kitchen, and while the whistling kettle was boiling, cut a slice of apple scone ring, then took a tray back into the living room to enjoy the show.

I like to see our town as seen from someone else's eyes. The Shire Hall where they filmed is just a few steps from the library front door! They showed a little bridge that I walk over most days on the way to work, and the train station where dear Carl waits for a train to take him to London (along with 10,000 other people, according to the tv people!).

This apple scone ring is quick and easy, and perfect for an afternoon sipping tea and reading, or watching antiques programmes.

You will need:

Radio 4 to listen to
A pretty pinny
1 medium cooking apple, or a couple of granny smiths
8oz self raising flour
2oz butter
2oz caster sugar
1/4 pint milk
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to Gas 6, or 170 oC

Peel, core and grate or chop the apple.

Sift the flour and baking powder together, and rub in the butter.

Stir in the sugar, then apple.

Add enough milk to make a soft dough.

Pat out with your hands to make a disc about 8 inches across, and a quarter inch thick.

Score into eight wedges, and brush with milk.

Bake for 20-5 minutes.

Delicious warm from the oven, but equally nice with a cup of tea the next day, with Flog It!

Daffodil Days

I must confess that I have borrowed the title for my post from the lovely Alison at but it was just the perfect title for my I hope you don't mind Alison!

Wednesday was not a good day for me. I woke up with a cold, having just got over the one I had before Christmas. I had worked till 7 the night before, and was due in work at 8.30. My very first customer yelled and swore at me, and the only good thing about the situation was that I just made it to the back room before I began to cry. I felt fragile all day long. My nose grew redder and redder where I had to keep wiping it, and before I went home, I popped in to tell my boss (who I had already cried on once today about the yelling man) that I was not going to be in tomorrow (Thursday).

On the way home, I picked up some magazines - Eve, Country Kitchen and Easy Living, and treated myself to a hot chocolate. I sat in Starbucks, sipping and reading, and there was an article in Easy Living about what to do when someone you know has depression, which was very useful, in light of my Dad. It struck me that it was useful in light of myself as well. Not that I am suffering from depression, or anything like it- it is just that I think we could all be kinder to ourselves, and if we were to treat ourselves like we treat others, then we would all be happier. For example, getting out in the fresh air, gardening, eating nourishing, nurturing food. Something we would do for a friend in a heartbeat, I think....but for ourselves, well it is easier to take the quick or easy route.

To get to the bus stop, I cut through Marks and Spencer, and they had daffodils in! Oh, how I love daffodils. A year or so ago, Alison posted at Brocante Home a list of Puttery Treats for February, and one of them was to buy daffodils as often as you buy milk, something I have done since. I treated myself to three bunches, which are now decorating my living room and bedroom, and they really lift my spirits when I look at them. They are not open yet, but they will be soon, and I love following their progress. One of the most perfect things I have ever heard was the soft rustle of a daffodil opening, and that papery brown behind the trumpet coming loose.

February is such an odd month for me. I at once do feel slightly despondent- the weather turns colder, Christmas is long ago, and spring seems equally far; and yet at the same time, I love it. I love the opportunity for nurturing that it offers, the brightness of crocuses and daffodils coming up are such a contrast to the cold hardness of the ground. Perhaps what I am trying to say is that you need February so there is something for the spring flowers to contrast against.

They say it will snow this weekend. I am at work tomorrow, and today I am cosied up in my living room, sipping tea and hot lemon and visiting my favourite blogs and websites. Casper, our dear little snake has just this very moment shed his skin. We have known it was coming for a week or two, and I looked up just now to see his tail disappearing into his hiding box, and his old skin draped about like tinsel.

So, a new skin for Mr Casper, and a new month for us. I like when a winter month starts cold, it feels really fresh and new. This February, I am going to be working my way through the puttery treats prescribed by Alison, and making an effort to nuture myself and those around me. I am going to start by making some carrot and coriander soup for lunch- good for body and soul! I am going to putter about, take things gently, and look forward to all the good things in this month. I must plan what to wear to Claridges on the 23rd, and start knitting on a little Easter project. I would love to hear if any of you have scrumptious ways of enjoying February.