Tuesday, 29 July 2014


On Friday afternoon, Kate and I dodged some stormy weather and visited the gardens of Beeleigh Abbey which is close by for both of us.

The Abbey was first constructed as a monastery in 1180 so really has some history attached to it. During the 18th C the building was apparently used as a public house but by the late 19th C the building was in a ruinous condition and it wasn't until 1912 that a Captain F.W. Grantham began restoration work. Then, in 1943 the abbey was purchased by William Foyle owner of Foyles Bookshop.

I first visited Beeleigh Abbey about 30 years ago when Kate was a little girl and I got myself a little job, just a handful of hours a week, working from home for the owner at that time, Christina Foyle.
Occasionally then, I was able to see the gardens and sometimes fortunate enough to go into the house and the abbey. It is a really lovely building and whilst the current owners, Catherine and Christopher Foyle now allow the public to view the gardens on specific open days, the house remains private and closed but that is understandable, after all, it is there home!

On this visit we missed seeing the peacocks that used to wander across the lawns. We did ask the lady  at the entrance but she said that the last one had passed away recently.

The housekeeper who used to work there for Miss Foyle told me once that she used to cook fillet steak to feed to the the foxes. The idea being that if the foxes were happy and well fed they would leave the peacocks in peace.

Whether this actually really worked or not, I have no idea. Although at a guess, I would think most foxes at that time residing in that vicinity knew exactly where they'd be heading for dinner.

The new owners have spent quite a lot of time restoring the garden and it was lovely that we could spend a couple of hours just wandering in the peace and quiet.
A small marquee was in the garden where we were able to sit and enjoy a cup of tea and some homemade cakes.

Here are just a few photos so that you can enjoy the gardens with us!

I thought I'd finish this post by showing you Kate's scarf that is now my scarf.
Remember, she wasn't keen!
Well, I really love the colours of this one and I'm looking forward to wearing it when we do have some cool evenings.

I've still got some sewing on the go and some knitting on the needles but, as we are having such a lovely sunny, lazy, summer, everything is on a go slow!

Sunday, 20 July 2014


Recipe Ingredients

4 peaches
1 tbsp castor sugar
punnet of raspberries
50 grams icing sugar
homemade sponge flan using 2 egg mix
a couple of spoons of warmed apricot jam
1 pt custard 
Hundreds and thousands

Recipe Method

1. Poach peaches with castor sugar for 10 mins then cool, skin and slice.
 ( Don't worry if the skins don't come completely off and they go mushy!)

2. Sprinkle icing sugar over the raspberries and leave for 20 mins

3. Make your sponge flan, remember to use a tin that you haven't used in yonks but make sure it is  well greased and floured!

4. When your perfect sponge flan is cooked, let it cool slightly and tip it out onto a wire rack.
 (Don't worry if half of the flan remains stuck in the tin, just hook that out with your finger and eat it!)

5.  Stuff, or should I say place, your broken pieces of sponge flan into a dish and drizzle the warmed apricot jam over the top in a frantic action.

6. At this stage you should sieve the raspberries and icing sugar through a fine sieve to make a coulis  
but to be honest at this stage why bother. Why do one thing right when the rest is all so not right! Spread the raspberries over the jammy sponge.

7. Spread your peach slices or mushy peaches over the top of the jammy, raspberry, sponge.

8. Conceal the whole lot with a covering of at least 1 pt of custard.

9. Finally, sprinkle with hundreds and thousands and pop in the fridge to hopefully set.

And so there you have it, a

de- constructed 

fresh peach sponge flan with raspberry coulis

I'm thinking of applying for master chef, what do you think?

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Firstly I'd like to thank Hawthorn for nominating me for a Liebster Award this week. This is still w.i.p. but I'm hoping to spend some time on it this afternoon while I'm sitting outside in the shade.

Our family have had a busy week, my son Robert celebrated his birthday on Monday and today is my grand daughter Charlotte's 8th birthday.
So a very happy sunny birthday to them!

I made this indulgent strawberry, cream and chocolate cake for Rob's birthday.
I used Lurpak from their new baking range, for the first time, recommended by my friend Diane and it turned out to be an exceedingly good, delicious cake.

I've knitted a few rows here and there this week and have now nearly finished this scarf which I was making for my daughter Kate but when I showed it to her on Monday ......... well, you know that look?
As it goes, I really like it, so she won't be getting it!

What could be better, on the hottest day of the year so far, I thought, than share some summer colours from my garden.


Sunday, 6 July 2014


Coral coloured roses for our 35th wedding anniversary!

Waiting for this sunflower to burst fully into flower.
A gift from my grandchildren that arrived in a tiny pot, with just a couple of spoonfuls of earth and looking more like a trailing variety as it wound itself around the outside of the pot.

Home sown sweet peas, with such a lovely perfume,

that I'm cutting and bringing inside and popping them in these pretty vases that were presents on my special birthdays.
This one, on my 21st birthday,

and this one, on my 40th.
So not only do I get to enjoy my sweet peas but also I think about the people that gave me these lovely gifts.

The start of a new knitting project, another baby blanket, this time in Drops Fabel.

Spending our Sunday afternoon with our grandchildren as the two girls celebrate their birthdays with their friends at their "Frozen" themed party and joining in with the singing of "Let it go!"

Fortunately the party planner, Elsa, remembered to pop into Tesco on her way and pick up the cake!

Hope you all have a lovely week ahead of you!

Sunday, 29 June 2014


I can't believe a week has passed already since our holiday. Last Sunday we were driving up through Germany and Belgium en route to Calais for our ferry home. Golly, a lot of washing has been pegged out to dry since our return!

We had a really lovely week by the lake at St Wolfgang in Austria. We stayed in a great hotel, the weather was pretty good and oh, it was just so peaceful, so relaxing. Most definitely, perfect!

Further along the lake at St Gilgen we took the cable car up into the mountains. The views were stunning!

We spent a great day in Salzburg!

And when the rain came, just like Liesl and Rolf, we ran to the summer house for shelter, (not to sing "I am sixteen going on seventeen", we're a little to old for that!) but guess what?
- on our occasion, the summer house was locked!
We both stood under the trees until the trees couldn't hold the rain back any longer and then had to run back to the car, a little wet!

While we were in Salzburg we also visited the Red Bull Hanger. I found this on trip advisor before we went away and we were so pleased we went, it was really excellent. The building itself is amazing, the exhibits are brilliant and it's free to visit. It's not in the centre of Salzburg but close to the airport and Michael and I both recommend it if you have the chance to go there.

Back in St Wolfgang, the little steam train took us right to the top of the Schafberg. It was pretty cold up there but again the views were just stunning!

We did quite a lot of walking and my socks were much appreciated by my feet. It's all very well walking along a steep path upwards which, we did when we walked the Pilgrim's Way to this little chapel.

 But, at some point, we had to walk back down this very steep path.  I had to curl my toes up into my socks to stop them stubbing into the toe cap of my boots. Ouch!

However, once back on the flat, all pain diminished and in sight was a very nice hotel that sold very nice, cold beer.

After quenching our thirst we had an excellent lunch and after plenty of people watching we continued our walk to St Gilgen. Fortunately the ferry was able to return us to St Wolfgang so that meant I could do a little shopping while I was there!

We were also in Austria because we were going to my second cousin's wedding so, after our week in St Wolfgang we made our way to a place called Hollersbach in the Kitzbuhel where the wedding was to take place on a dairy farm.

When we arrived the day before the wedding we were asked if we would like to pop and see the cows. Absolutely we thought, not realising what this would entail. Well, this windy road is the clue and the only way it could possibly go was up!

And up, and up, and up, and up ..........it went. It was actually more path than road and although I have no photos to show, mainly because I was a little on the scared side, I can assure you that though the road was windy and steep, the drop was even steeper!

Once at the very top, the view was incredible, simply breath taking. The silence was broken by just one sound - the jingle, jangle of the cow bells!
These cows spend their summer months up here grazing and the cheese made from their milk is made up on the mountain too. We felt so privileged  to spent time some time there with them and I think they were quite amused to have so many people with them at milking time.

It takes these cows three and a half hours to walk down to the farm to their winter cowshed and this is where the wedding took place the next day. It was a wonderful!

Congratulations to Beth and Anthony, the very happy couple!

Monday, 9 June 2014


Shield your eyes folks, my socks are finished!
They are a pair, although they don't look it and once they're hidden within my walking boots I think they'll be perfect!

I've had a weekend of getting things done and I was pleased that I was able to give these pj bottoms to Kate. All she has to do now is put a little t shirt top with them. I really must thank my friend Diane for helping me as I've never made anything like this before. Our original task was to make these up in half an hour. That for me was never going to happen but they're finished now, I enjoyed making them and hopefully Kate will like wearing them.

 On the Drops website I found this scarf which I thought would be something easy and quick to knit. It only uses 2 balls of Drops fabel which I picked up in the sale. It made a change to make something like this and I finished it last night. I've got some more yarn to make one for Kate, different colours though.

I wasn't sure how to photograph it, neither  was I quite sure how to wear it but I got there in the end.

Despite the threat of flooding in Essex we were lucky here, quite a storm Saturday morning but then bright sunshine and again on Sunday. It was just nice to potter about, be able to bbq both days and sit in the garden into the evening. We were joined by the family yesterday and it was just nice to sit, relax and chat together.

Hope you all have a bright and sunny week!

Thursday, 5 June 2014


After last night's rain the path was soft and slightly squelchy underfoot but the sun was shining as I set off for my walk this morning.

Although this is right on my doorstep now I have been coming to this stretch of river since I was 16 years old. Infact, this is where I first met Michael's family.

We had both stood at the top of my road waiting for his brother  and his mum to collect us for our day on the river. I can remember being very nervous especially as Michael was happily telling me that his mum would really like me but not to expect too much from his brother.
"Roger, doesn't talk much!" he had said.
He was actually right on that count but funnily enough through the years that followed although Roger was always quiet and I was always the opposite, our friendship rumbled along quite nicely and when he passed away a few years back, I knew I had lost my best mate!

Michael's family had use of a caravan just up the river slightly from where I was walking this morning. They kept a boat there moored on the river which they used for water skiing and that was what I was to do on our first meeting, my first and last water ski lesson.

The family thought because I was a good swimmer I would be able to ski, in reality, that was not the case! Having struggled into the wet suit, I seemed to spend an eternity of embarrassment being dragged along on the end of the rope, my bottom never actually leaving the water. Roger, who didn't have the patience of a saint, drove the boat up and down the river, muttering and mumbling while Michael gave encouraging words of comfort.

I was quite relieved when my ordeal was over and we could return to the shore for tea. I vowed from that very day I would stick to swimming, just plain swimming!

It's funny what you you think about when you're walking isn't it?
Sometimes, it's planning the day ahead, sometime a memory jumps to the fore.
What do you think about when you're walking?

Before heading home for my breakfast this morning, I decided to take a detour for a short while along the canal. There was enough of a breeze that as it whirled around the masts that continuous whining sound could be heard.
I noticed the water lilies have plenty of buds so they should be out soon.

Hope you have a happy Thursday!