Thursday 29 May 2008


It was my birthday yesterday!

On opening my cards, it struck me how different people see me, judging from their choice of cards!

My Mum gave me this lovely, lovely eco-friendly (there was a whole essay on the back of the card) card from here, with the words 'make a wish' inside.
My aunt sent me this! I've not looked like that for a long time... although, I like to think I often feel like that...
My lovely friend sent me this. She obviously thinks I appreciate fine design (I do). It is a Wedgwood design and I learnt from a time-line on the reverse that Charles Darwin was the grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, did you know that?
Another friend sent me this one, which had me howling with laughter...
Then No2 gives me this.
Long gone are the days with homemade cards or 'to a special mummy' cards. Now it's just adolescent humour. The inside revealed a list of nagging...

We spent the day in Whitstable with a good friend and her son. It rained. The wind blew a gale.

We had lunch here.

I had smoked herring to start, followed by a smoked haddock and crayfish fishcake. Both were delicious.

The restaurant sits above the fish market and oysters are their speciality. I don't think I could ever eat an oyster...

The boys were happy throwing stones on the beach, but we got miserable from being cold (I was so underdressed, I had to buy a sweatshirt...from White Stuff...darn!), that we abandoned the plan to spend the whole day down there and came home!

Tuesday 27 May 2008

First Harvest...

Having left my wheelbarrow out in my garden on Saturday, fresh from lugging bags of compost from the car, I reckon we have had 6 or 7 inches of rain in the last 2 days, as it is full of water. My garden was in desperate need of a thorough soaking instead of the half-hearted spray from the hose that it gets most evenings, if I can be bothered.
Yesterday I set out to collect my first harvest of the year in the form of broad beans. I sowed the beans last autumn and planted them out in March. Having pinched the tips out to try and prevent black fly (thanks, Jamie Oliver, for the tip!) I collected a colander of pods, plus my morning eggs.
Nestled inside the velvet-lined pods were these little beans.

Exactly what was needed for a radish and broad bean salad from my new favourite cookbook - Ottolenghi, the cookbook.

It was delicious, made with just simple ingredients (although I had to omit the preserved lemon) - radish, broad beans, red onion, coriander, lemon juice and olive oil. Nice and colourful too...

Wednesday 21 May 2008


The last of my tulips have faded and are ready to be dead-headed and allowed to die down.

I have had a steady flow of flowers since March when my first tulips came out.

These purissima tulips complimented the pheasant's eye narcissi perfectly (I'm not sure about the rogue deep pink must have got muddled up somewhere along the line!)

They were followed by ballerina, a lovely lily-flowered variety which picked out the centre of the narcissi.

Then came the drama of the parrot tulips which start out green and wavy.

Only to burst open in a flourish of colour.

My favourite one this year is the peony-flowered angelique which has sat serenely underneath the drift of white blossom on my clematis montana, which has so many flowers on it this year I have done a number of double-takes thinking it had snowed again.

Closely followed by this explosion of red and white, carnaval de Nice...

Monday 19 May 2008

Happy Campers...

We didn't want to come home this morning.

Our weekend away to Belle Vue Farm in Wiltshire, courtesy of Featherdown Farm Days , with my lovely friend and her 2 little boys, has been wonderful. I could get used to waking up and peeking out of our tent to this view.

Or walking through fields filled with cow parsley and buttercups.

Even the dandelions had a relaxing presence to them, dotted about and getting blown away in the breeze.

We had tractor rides through fields of gentle-eyed cows.

We were woken by a particularly vocal lamb.

And I could admire the Belle Vue chickens, who are fond of flamin' hot Monster Munch as fed by No2!

We got back to basics, cooking on the wood-burning stove and tucked into delicious omelettes (our eggs!) and banana pancakes.

We sat outside and played charades and other silly word games; I could handsew my quilt and play at the same time, listening to the birdsong in the background.

In the evening, by candlelight, we sat cosied up to the stove with tumblers of red wine and some Green & Black maya gold chocolate and chatted for hours, with Pippin at our feet.

Oh, and we had some visits from these lovely damselflies.

I can't wait to do it all again in August...

Thursday 15 May 2008

It's a monster...

I had the shock of my life on Tuesday when I went down to collect my eggs and let the hens out for a run. I'm not sure who, but one of the girls had laid an enormous egg. It almost had a join in it as though 2 eggs had fused together.

I had to crack it and there inside were 2 yolks. My first double-yolk!

Stupidly, I forgot to cover the bowl and it stayed on the worktop all night. By the morning, it had a nasty skin on it so I had to throw it away instead of making some delicious scrambled eggs...

We're off glamping for the weekend. I hope it doesn't rain all weekend, but I think I have packed for every eventuality - suncream, wellies, umbrellas...

Tuesday 13 May 2008


Today Tom would have been 15.

He filled my life with colour and so now I have to find colour elsewhere to get my fix.

Fortunately, my garden is willing to be my colour dealer. These tulips are a good example.

After school we had a party. Six of his cousins, my two sisters, my parents and my great-aunt all came for barbecued burgers and strawberry meringues.

I made sparkly dragonfly biscuits.

And birthday cupcakes

And then we let off a rainbow of 15 balloons from the garden.


Monday 12 May 2008

Professional finishing...

Yesterday I had my first outing into Blogland. There were several species of butterflies in my tummy as I travelled into Islington to meet up at Loop.

I attended a workshop called Professional Finishing, kindly arranged by Alice. There I met, in the flesh, Ali, Val, Monica and Kristina, who has yet to get blogging (come on, Kristina!). I may be the fastest knitter in the West, according to Ali, but you can read about the day over at the fastest bloggers in the West, here and here.
What I wasn't expecting was being showered with gifts.
Alice gave me the most fitting mug for my morning coffee (beautifully packaged too...)
Val gave us all a set of her fab stitch markers
Ali had made us all a gorgeous linen pouch and one of her wonderful stamps
I was hugely embarrassed at having gone empty-handed, but no-one told me of any Blogland, thinking on my feet, I let them have a Moo card! Generous, huh?
My big purchase of the day was a pair of darning needles that came in their own little holder. The perfect reminder of how professional finishing can make your long-slogged-over knitting become something worth wearing. I think I may be inspired to make something to wear other than a hat now...

Friday 9 May 2008

The End of Rationing...

It's over.

It has served me well because I have been very strict with my rationing of it. I would only use it if I was going out. Even if it was having lunch with a girlfriend or shopping for things other than food.

This pot of body cream was a frivolous purchase last summer in New York. I was browsing the perfumery hall of Saks 5th Avenue and got caught up in the strong pound versus weak dollar mindset that seems to fill my head whilst in the States. It is crazy that a product that has London plastered all over it is cheaper across the pond. So while I would never spend £44 on a tub of of body cream, I could quite happily splash out 85 bucks on a pot!

Worryingly though, look how much is left in my perfume bottle...

...good job it's my birthday at the end of the month!

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Perfect Partners...

The bluebells are out in abundance. It feels a bit gratuitous to post a photo of them now as I've seen alot already around Blogland... but I'm of the opinion that there's never enough bluebells.

The perfect partner to bluebells is cow parsley; great swathes of it appear almost overnight, softening the roadsides, even here in my part of London.

Bees busying themselves in the blossom seem to go together nicely...

Ladybirds are good partners to have around in the black fly wars that will rage in my garden soon - their larvae are even better at devouring those pesky aphids.

This was the perfect partner to take the edge off of my sunburned nose this morning. You'd never imagine plastering your face in yellow powder could have such an instant effect in reducing the Rudolf look that the first day of sun has on my fair skin. Take my word for it!