Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Week In View - Christmas 2014

My Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergia truncata) has not been well for sometime. I've had it for over 20 years and it has grown from a small cutting to a large plant that usually flowers profusely at the end of November. It was re-potted earlier this year and hasn't been happy since - this November there were very few flowers. Then, this week I discovered that the main stem has rotted through near the base, just above the level of the compost. I have taken some cuttings. I know it's not the right time of the year but it has always been such a beautiful, reliable plant and I don't want to lose it. I hope that with some tlc the cuttings will thrive and will be around for another twenty plus years.

These lovely homemade mince pies were a gift from two little girls that I sometimes help with their maths homework. It was such a lovely surprise when they gave them to me and they tasted as good as they look. I love mince pies; they are one of my favourite Christmas treats.

Christmas has been a quiet and peaceful time in this home, with lots of time for knitting and reading. I've started to knit a shawl in some purple chenille yarn that I bought from Texere. The colour is beautiful - rich and luxurious looking. Yesterday we had the first snow of the winter but cozying up on the sofa, with my knitting and  a glass of red wine, I was snug and contented.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Grand Day Out - Hanbury Hall

N and I were both off work so we decided that we would take the opportunity to go out for the day to get some fresh air and exercise. We both love the Worcestershire countryside at this time of the year and, as it would be dark at about 4 o'clock, thought we'd stay local to admire what can be found on our doorstep. The weather was not promising with showers and high winds forecast so mostly indoors rather than outdoors was preferred.

Hanbury Hall is one of the few grand houses open to the public during the week before Christmas so we decided to go there for a stroll around the gardens and park (as much as the weather would allow) and to have a look inside the house.

As the photograph shows the house is beautiful, built in 1701 by the Vernon family. The National Trust have restored the interior to the William & Mary period; there are some terrific wall and ceiling paintings in the hall and staircase, and some very fine furniture. Sadly the upstairs was closed so we only got to see the downstairs rooms. The house was decorated ready for Christmas so it was all very atmospheric.

We had a long stroll around the gardens, which have also been restored by the National Trust. It was cold and showery so we retired to the tea room rather than exploring the park, but I would like to go back again to take the walk from the park up to Hanbury church.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Week In View

This week I have been under the weather and haven't been doing very much except sleeping and reading other people's very interesting blogs.   Even my favourite things - knitting, reading, baking - raised no enthusiasm and needed more energy than I had to give.    So, my world this week has been one of eating comforting food (I have rediscovered the pleasure of instant hot oat cereal eaten with sliced up banana and a spoonful of honey) although later in the week I felt well enough to visit one of my favourite shops, The Cotton Patch, where I bought some Christmas fabrics and a new Omnigrip ruler.    The fabrics are being made into a table runner.
The beautiful, bright red Poinsettia is adding colour to what have been dull days around here lately.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Saturday Baking

I've spent a very contented Saturday mostly doing what I like best - baking, going for a stroll and reading.

Baking first.  I finally got round to making two things that I've been planning to make for ages:  Spinach filo parcels and a coconut cake.

Here they are on the cooling rack in the kitchen:

I found the recipe for the Spinach parcels on the Internet on the site.  They came out very well and I ate a couple with salad for my Saturday evening supper.  The recipe for the coconut cake comes from my "Perfect Afternoon Tea" recipe book.   I haven't tried the cake yet but I've made a couple of things out of this book and they have all been very good, so I think this will be too.  The cake has certainly risen nicely and smells delicious - it has grated lemon rind in it as well as coconut.

For my Saturday afternoon stroll I walked around Robin Hood Cemetery.  That sounds very morbid, but it wasn't really.  The cemetery is very green with lots of trees and it was  peaceful and quiet, and also quite interesting.  I found some of the Commonwealth War Graves that are in the cemetery and the grave of Thomas Turrall, who won the VC in 1916.    I also saw a pair of Jays as well as lots of squirrels.
The book I've been reading, and hoping to get finished in the next few days, is "The Bastard of Istanbul" by Elif Shafak.    I haven't enjoyed it very much so far but I'll see it through to the end. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Yarn Along and Conkers


On my needles - "Pin Up Queen" sweater in Drops Cotton Light
Reading - Flambards by K.M. Peyton.   A childhood favourite that I am re-reading and enjoying very much.

Took my daily walk in Cannon Hill Park.   Despite the unseasonably warm weather the autumn is really here; the park keepers were busy sweeping up fallen leaves and digging over the flower beds.  Squirrels were busy burying their winter stores.  Cannon Hill Park truly is a gem and we are so lucky that we have such a beautiful place on the doorstep.     I have decided to go there more often for my walk.    I stopped for a sandwich and coffee in the Cannon Hill Tearoom.   I usually go to the MAC  for refreshments and this is the first time I've been to the Tearoom.   I preferred it to the MAC, which gets very busy and full of "yummy mummys".  The Tearoom has a nice, old fashioned feel to it and my coffee and sandwich were tasty and very reasonably priced.

Shiny conkers in the park - a sure sign that autumn is here 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

“When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows