Monday, 26 September 2011

The Great Outdoors...

The tent has had its first outing and I couldn't have hoped for a better weekend considering it is late September.  First stop, Roundhill camp site in the New Forest.

The local animals were completely comfortable with sharing their space with us and Pippin was quite fascinated.

Seeing the ponies roll about joyfully, you just couldn't help but smile.  Seeing them galloping in line, wild and free, made me cry.  I'm daft like that.

For supper, it was a red pepper and chorizo stew with home-baked bread and some regional cheese.  Hearty and warm and very do-able in one pot on the stove.

Waking up to the perfect sunrise, the grass heavy with dew and a quiet that I am quite unused to in London.

Driving just a few miles and finding rivers that remind me of my childhood.  I am too used to seeing just the Thames.

Watching these cygnets gliding up the river after deciding it may be a better option while there is a chocolate brown snout nosing about around their nest.

Coming back and lighting the bucket bbq for a bit of extra warmth and to make hot dogs for supper.

Which were eaten by the light of the lanterns.  Then, tumbler of wine in hand, sitting back to be stunned by the stars.  The sky was full and the constellations were so much more visible than I am used to at home.

I have a wanderlust.  I am making plans to escape London.  I want it all now but know that I am going to need to exercise more patience.  I will get outdoors more in the meantime...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

That sinking feeling...

For a treat with our morning coffee at the flower course last week, we got served a delicious cake which Rachel said was a River Cottage recipe and she was thrilled to tell us it used honey from her own hives.  I always bake for my craft ladies on a Tuesday evening and so having the book decided to give them a honey wholemeal cake too.

Looks nicely risen in the photo above, doesn't it? Not the case... as soon as I took it from the oven it sank before my very eyes and dramatically at that!

It was almost as if it got sucked down!  After the suggested cooking time, I thought it still looked a little wobbly, but having four eggs in it I wasn't that surprised.  Nevertheless I gave it another 10 minutes.  Very frustrating, especially when you are all set to share with what are now almost professional cake-tasters!

The recipe said that the middle would be a dense, honey-filled sensation but I would say it was a soggy mess.  I wasn't too proud to offer a trimmed cake and it was delicious.

I'm curious though, as to what went wrong.  The recipe link above is from an article in The Guardian and I have noticed that there are a few dissimilarities from the recipe in the book.  It uses more butter  (and I thought 300g of butter was a lot, but this version says 350g!), more sugar and the oven temperature is 10 degrees lower.  Oh, and the tin size is 1cm bigger!  I'm tempted to try out this version and see what happens.

Any thoughts on that sinking feeling?  Answers in the comment box please.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sunday stroll...

My plans changed unexpectedly today and so I took Pippin for a long walk along one of my favourite local footpaths.

I forgot to take my camera and so used my phone along the way to record it in photos.  Sometimes I get a bit nervous of walking through the footpaths on my own but thought there were bound to be other people out and about on a Sunday.  I was wrong... I didn't see a single person the whole way.

I love walking along this particular footpath and I really ought to try and do it more often.  I also need to change the setting on the phone not to change the 'film' by shaking the phone!  It was obviously uneven ground because when I got home and looked at my pictures, nearly all of them were taken on a different setting!

It doesn't have quite the same effect in black and white as it did in real life with the sun coming through the gaps in the hedgerow.

The sky was heavy with clouds and the wind was strong and head-clearing.  I'm so glad I made the effort.  It beats pounding the pavements and being tugged along by Pip on his lead.

As it turns out, my unexpected day at home was just what I needed.  Funny how that happens some times.

Saturday, 10 September 2011


...of a cutting garden of my own.

This is my vase of the most wonderfully dramatic flowers I came home with from my day at Green & Gorgeous on Wednesday.  Ali and I spent a fabulous, if not a bit chilly, day learning all about the secrets to growing a cutting garden.  We took cuttings to bring home.

These pelargoniums smelled of Turkish delight. Seriously.  Just like it.
And we sowed seeds that Rachel had collected from the spent flowers of this season.  She said that the cornflowers were speedy germinators and she was right, just two days on my kitchen windowsill and they are showing signs of success.

This is a vase of flowers I picked from my garden on Thursday, from where I threw a meadow seed mix earlier in the year on the patch that was trashed from the chicken run.

Next year I'm hoping to have more than two cornflowers and now know the trick to getting them to have nice straight stems and not the curly ones I seem to have grown.

There is much planning and planting to be done...

Friday, 2 September 2011

A little bird told me...

This little yellow bird.  I have finished making the blocks for Sonny's quilt and so now I need to start thinking about the backing and the binding.  I never worry about these things until I'm well on the way with the quilt top as it usually comes to me as the top is coming together.

As I was sewing, I noticed that although the quilt is predominantly red/grey/black, there were little splashes of yellow dotted throughout.  My little yellow bird is getting told off by the owl here, I think, maybe for sitting on the furniture...

The skulls are wearing dashing yellow neckerchiefs...

And there are a couple of yellow cockerels too.

I'm thinking perhaps this fabric for the binding and I have gone for a medium grey plain backing that will have the addition of some colour from the scrap that came from making the blocks (that is another post, I think).

I can't remember where, but I read recently about using monochrome photos to judge the balance of values in the blocks.  Here is my first draft layout:

I wasn't sure about the heaviness of the top two rows on the right hand side, so had a move around.  This is my second draft:

I still wasn't happy with the top left corner, so a final adjustment was made and I think it is much more balanced.  This is my final layout:

Subtle changes that make a lot of difference.  I think I need to work on taking a photo that is straight!


While we're on the subject of fabric, Julia is having a fabulous giveaway over on her blog.  Go check it out!