Monday, 30 January 2012

Finding early signs of spring

In the garden in the last week the  crocus and snowdrops have  suddenly started to pop up and say hello!

So as part of Making winter blog hop how about getting outside and looking for signs of spring? I was quite surprised what we managed to find! We took our daughter back to Uni on Sunday and managed to have a quick walk around Upton Country Park in Poole on the way back. Although the snowdrops were not yet in flower, we discovered other early signs of spring.

Hellebores and the amazing colours of the dogwood

Witch hazel with its spicy fragrance and spidery flowers

One of my favourite winter shrubs daphne odora.The fragrance is wonderful.

Winter flowering cherry- this can flower on and off from November to March.
 A beautiful pink azalea.

The spring snowflake.
So in a short walk we managed to find six signs of spring, how many can you find?

My posy from the garden this week is Bergenia - something that grows well as snails shelter in it and don't eat it! It's other name is 'Pigs Squeak', which is meant to be the noise you get by rubbing your thumb across the shiny leaf!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The three lighthouses of Portland

Our walk this weekend took us to Portland Bill to walk around the three lighthouses. I love lighthouses I think my fascination with them started when watching the story of the Eddystone lighthouse on Blue Peter when I was a child.

Portland has had lighthouses assisting shipping for the past 300 years. There is a dangerous stretch of sea three miles out from Portland where a number of tides meet. As you drive down towards Portland Bill you may see white waves crashing together out at sea and this tidal race is where many ships have come to grief. There is also an obelisk was built in 1844, before the lighthouses, to warn ships of a low shelf of rock that goes out 30 metres under the sea bed.

When the first lighthouses were built, they were built  in pairs (high and low) so that mariners could establish their position by taking bearings from two points. These 2 lighthouses were replaced in 1906 by the famous tall red and white lighthouse. Fortunately the older lighthouses have been preserved, the lower one is a bird observatory and the higher one is now holiday accommodation.

From left to right -Higher Lighthouse, lower lighthouse,Portland Bill lighthouse,.obelisk

I was trying to capture the waves crashing against the shore

I am not so brave or fool hardy as this person!
I love the shape of this one!

When my children started school in Reception they had a Wendy House which had 2 floors and was like a lighthouse and they learnt the story about the Light Keepers lunch.

 I found this version of the story on You Tube, made by Downsview Special School for BBC Children in Need, it is a lovely piece if you have time to look!

The lighthouse at Portland Bill was demanned in 1996 and the monitoring and control of the station is now run from Harwich.What a shame there are no longer lighthouse keepers although their lives must have been so hard at times living in such isolation.

Hope you are having a good weekend too!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Being creative and making things

I have a confession to make, I love being creative and looking at all the beautiful things everyone makes on their blogs, but my efforts are usually not very good, apart from gardening and cooking!

I used to go to a craft group once a week and we would do lots of different activities e.g, glass painting, making cards, flower arranging painting, drawing, quilling, but my end products were always bottom of the class! Somehow the vision in my head never quite matched the reality! So although I am interested in making things they won't appear very often in my postings.

Last summer I bought a lovely wooden bench for the hall from Bridport Vintage Market ( I will be writing about the market in a future post, as it is a great place to visit.)

 Just before Christmas I saw this picture below, in a John Lewis magazine showing a matching blind and cushion cover and decided this is just what I needed to do for the hall.

So last weekend I bought some material and attempted to make a seat cover and tab curtains. My daughter was home from Uni and between us we actually managed to make something quite reasonable!

We got out the old Singer machine that once belonged to Mum

My daughter learnt how to use the old machine

The finished articles

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Making Winter bloghop - Gladys' Queens Pudding

I have been waiting all month to join in with the making winter bloghop being held by Silver pebble and Mrs Thrifty. The idea is to share cosy, comforting wintry creative activites with one another with the aim of really appreciating this time of the year.

I have chosen one of my mother in laws favourite recipes which I am sure many of you have cooked before. It is Queen of Puddings.  We love having this pudding at this time of year as it is warm and comforting without being too heavy. It is both economical and as it was originally created in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace also a dish to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Year!


1/2 pint of milk
1oz (25g) butter
2 1/2oz (62g) white breadcrumbs (2 slices)
1 tablespoon caster sugar (to add to breadcrumbs)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
2 eggs
4oz (100g) caster sugar

Mixture cooked in oven and set
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 350F, (180°C).
Mix breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Boil milk with butter and pour over breadcrumbs mixture.
Allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Separate eggs and add yolks and vanilla essence to breadcrumb mixture.
Pour into a greased dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Meringue added before putting back in oven

                                                                      When set melt jam in a small saucepan over a low heat and spread over mixture.
Whisk up whites of eggs stiffly.
Add remainder of sugar to egg whites and pile mixture on top of pudding.
Place in oven  for a further 10-15 minutes until topping is golden brown.
Can be eaten warm or cold although I prefer it warm.

My helping!

Replace half of milk with cream
Add some fresh raspberries on top of the jam
Use cooked rhurbarb instead of jam to make Rhurbarb Queen of Puddings
Replace vanilla essence with grated lemon rind.

I looked at some recipes on the internet before publishing this and was quite surprised that most of them had used more eggs and more sugar, breadcrumbs, etc. This recipe serves 4 do you think we have bigger appetites and eat more than the previous generation and recipes now take that into account? I hadn't noticed this in recipes before!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Winter's walk at Lulworth Cove

It is still feeling dismal and damp here, yesterday we went to Lulworth Cove it would look beautiful in better weather but it's quite nice having this tourist spot almost to yourself.

Stair Hole

 This area is part of the Jurassic Coast that runs from East Dorset to Exmouth in Devon. It is well known for its rock formation. Stair Hole is a miniature version of Durdle Door that I have showing on my blog's title.

There are some wonderful walks along the coast path and over the hills but today we just took a more leisurely route down to the sea.
The shape of the cove is just like the shape of a scallop shell.

And what did we find on the beach -some empty scallop shells they are harvested from here by local divers who sell them on to local restaurants. 

I love the way the light is shining on the water from the direction of the entrance to the Cove

 There were still fresh fish and shellfish for sale despite it being so quiet.

These buckets ans spades hanging from the tree always make me smile.

 I hope you had a good weekend too!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sarah Raven's flowers

The latest catalogue has just arrived from Sarah Raven's kitchen and garden. I have been following her advice for many years and have been lucky enough to attend two courses she has run at River Cottage. It brightens a cold winters evening looking through the lovely colourful pictures of all the things you could buy!

I am particularly taken with her cut flower mixes and I will buy one but which one to choose.....

Quite a number of years ago I did grow a wonderful mix of flowers (see below), but subsequent attempts have not been quite so successful. I think there must be a invisible sign in our garden saying " Gourmet food free for all slugs and snails this way."

With gardening there is also the hope and dream that things will turn out well, sometimes this doesn't happen but if you don't try you will never know and you could miss out.

I have found that the advice Sarah Raven gives is very reliable as she is constantly doing trials on different plants.Although I can not afford to buy everything from her you can still find some of the plants she suggests at a cheaper price locally. Does anyone else like Sarah Raven?

Below are my flowers picked from the garden this week - hellebores lenten rose.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Wassailing the Apple tree

Yesterday we went to Lyme Regis to join in the celebrations of wassailing which is a traditional ceremony usually performed on Twelfth Night to drink the health of the apple tree and raise the Sleeping Tree spirit and ward off demons. Traditionally this would be in the orchards but our ceremony was outside the Museum in Lyme Regis and performed by the Uplyme Morris Men and it was good fun.

I apologise for the accompanied barking in the clip above. Daisy couldn't understand why men were dancing and hitting sticks and had to be removed to the back of the crowd!

It was bitterly cold so there are not many pictures of the sea at Lyme Regis on this occasion..

We got out of the cold to have a coffee and enjoy views of the sea in the warm instead!

Today it is still cold and windy but we still managed to get out and had a quick walk around the Nothe Gardens and harbour in Weymouth. 

 I hope you had a good weekend too x.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Dawn breaking over the sea at Osmington Mills

It's quite chilly this morning I have just come back from a walk with Daisy and my face and hands are tingerling but it was such a beautiful morning and had to share these pictures with you - apologies of this being the same theme as the last post but this time we have the sea!

 I love the shapes of the rocks down on Osmington beach the one below reminds me of a whale.

Daisy enjoyed the beach too!

Now I must get on with housework and shopping, but at least I had a good start to the day!


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