Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Cookery challenge update for July

Warm salad of mushroom and roasted squash

Regular readers will remember I am taking part in a cookery challenge over the year to cook as many recipes out of a recipe book. I choose River Cottage Veg Every Day!   I am still trying out new recipes. The problem is as I try more recipes there are many that I want to repeat, as they become some of our favourites.

Vegetables for oven roasted ratatouille

One of these dishes was the oven roasted ratatouille. The flavour of the vegetables was so good cooking it this way. If you would like to try it see a slight adaption of the recipe here. We used the onions and courgettes that have been growing in the garden. Do you have any favourite dishes to use the produce from your garden?

Lentil Dhal from Downhouse farm cafe

One of our favourite cafes, way out in the countryside, produces a fantastic lentil dhal. I always choose it every time we visit. I have tried so many different recipes to recreate it at home and none have ever been as good. I tried the lentil dhal recipe from this book too and it didn't make the grade either!  Have you ever come across a wonderful dish that you have recreated at home?


 The other participants  in the cookery challenge are:-
Cooking Club

 Lucent Imagery * From River’s Edge Explody Full *Juanita Tortilla

 Sarah x

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A tractor ride through the Downs

 Once a year, before it gets busy as crops are gathered in, the village of Chaldon Herring raises funds for the village hall and church by running annual tractor and trailer rides through the Dorset Downs.

Along farm tracks...... past fields full of barley and wheat,

and towards the sea ....... looking towards the Isle of Portland.

 and in the opposite direction towards Lulworth Cove and the Purbecks.

 The light was fantastic over the sea.........

 But the dark clouds also meant rain and as we turned away from this view back inland, the heavens opened.

It was a very wet group of people who returned to the village!

As I was loading these pictures I suddenly remembered this painting by the famous painter John Constable. He visited this area during his honeymoon in 1816 and this is one of his paintings. Almost two hundred years later it doesn't look very different does it!   Hopefully he didn't get caught in a storm too!

John Constable - Weymouth Bay from the Downs above Osmington Mills c.1816
Wherever you are I hope you had a good weekend too.
Sarah x

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Changes around the home.

I am always changing things around the house or painting things. Although I take photos, I am not very good at doing posts about them - talking about the sea or garden take the priority! Last week I had nothing planned on my day off and so I spent the day cleaning and rearranging things to give more of a summer feel.

The sweet peas and poppies were from the garden. The smell of sweet peas always instantly take me back to my childhood and summers wouldn't be the same without them!

This first project was the redecoration of our daughters room - she choose this very bright pink colour at the start of her teenage years! I had forgotten how bright and awful it looked! With her agreement and choice of colours, we gave it a make over.

This is the same room transformed. It looks so much better now and she loves it too, although it usually only looks this tidy when she is away at Uni!

A while ago I found this cake stand in a charity shop for £5. I have been looking for one of these for years and nearly bought one back in March for £25. I was really pleased to find this bargain. My Granny used to have one of these stands. I remember seeing it laden with a cream tea and chocolate cake - can you visualize it too?  One day I will recreate that image, but I'll make sure that the dog and cat are out of temptations way! I wasn't very popular when I bought it home, but my husband told me last week that he actually quite liked it now it is painted and on display!

Our first dining table and chairs were given to us second hand from my brother when we got married. After about 7 years we treated ourselves to a pine table and chairs, they were all the fashion then! Although it has served us well, it has started to feel very dated, so I bought some Anne Sloan paint and repainted the chairs and the bottom of the table. We also took off the wax off the top of the table to give it a more natural look.It took my daughter and I ages to do, but we have been pleased with the results.


Another bargain we recently came across was this empty herb pots for 50p. I love blue and white china and it looks good on the kitchen window.  I love using herbs in cooking and salads.

Needless to say our home reflects our love of the garden and the sea. So there are different themes in different rooms! I  recently saw the boat and houses and couldn't resist buying them. They reminded me of the colourful little cottages down by the harbour. Where do you get inspiration from to decorate your home?

Hope you all have a happy weekend.
Sarah x

Monday, 22 July 2013

Breakfast on the beach

The school holidays have started and many people will be heading down to Dorset on their holidays. The population  of Weymouth increases by around 10,000 each day in the next six weeks.To avoid the crowds we either visit the less popular areas or go out early in the day. On Saturday morning we decided to go out for a breakfast. Would you like to join us too?

 We took the coast road and headed for West Bay. The views from the coast road are spectacular and we have it almost to ourselves -(we were in the car, my cycling isn't up to this standard!)

It is a beautiful morning at West Bay.

Our destination is the Watch House cafe, it is not easy to find. Can you see it just in the distance to the right of the old Methodist church?

 It is positioned right on the edge of the beach. such a wonderful location. Luckily we are one of the first to arrive. We have the choice of the best outside table so we can sit and take in the view.

I'm sorry you can't join in with the food too,which is all locally sourced. We don't eat much meat, but I couldn't resist the bacon with my poached egg and granary bread. Do you ever go out for breakfasts? When the children were much younger they used to wake up early and in the summer we would go out for breakfast picnics (sorry D & H for producing this picture from our archives!) This obviously ceased when they became teenagers!

It was already 20 degrees centigrade before 10 o'clock -we are beginning to feel hot. Daisy needed a walk in the shade,  it's just as well Abbotsbury Gardens is full of trees and on the way home too.

Thank you for once again  for joining us on one of our outings, it is always wonderful to have your company. hank you also for sharing lots of your donkey stories in the last post, I enjoyed reading them. It good to see some many donkey sanctuary supporters out there too! Finally a big welcome to A. Shipley.
Sarah x

Thursday, 18 July 2013

An inspirational woman

Let me introduce you to Doctor Elisabeth Svendsen MBE. Many of you may have already heard of her and know what she achieved in her life time.

Doctor Elisabeth Svendsen MBE loved donkeys ever since she was a child. In 1969 she bought her first donkey and soon realised they needed company, so this was closely followed by another one. Her life changed when one day while visiting Exeter market she discovered 7 sick donkeys. She tried to buy the sickest one without success. However this convinced her to set up a charity, the aim of which was to relieve the suffering of donkeys and mules and improve the health and welfare of these animals.

The first time I was aware of her work was when I read her one of her book. I was so impressed, how with the support of many others, what she achieved. Today the Donkey Sanctuary that started in Devon has 8 farms in the UK and also rescue centres in Cyprus, Italy and Spain. They run projects in Egypt, Ethopia, India, Kenya, Lamu and Mexico. The organisation has rescued over 14,500 donkeys since it was formed. Donkeys have a long life span and can live up to the age of 30- 50 years in prosperous countries, so it can be a long-time commitment to take over the care of these lovely animals. They currently have 5,000 animals under their care.

The Donkey Sanctuary is based near Sidmouth in Devon and is free to visit, although obviously donations are very welcome.  

All this would be an amazing achievement in itself, but Elisabeth,  having once worked with children realised that donkeys could also help children with special needs and disabilities. She set up another charity "The Slade Centre" to bring children and donkeys together.The donkeys help the children to develop co-ordination, confidence and self esteem. The Slade centre is also based at the donkey sanctuary and this has now expanded to another 6 centres in the UK. I will never forget the first visit we made here.We saw the children enjoying riding and playing games with the donkeys. The joy on their faces was so wonderful to see. Donkeys are also taken to visit residential homes and hospices and bring a smile to many elderly people.

While staying in a hotel in Torquay Elisabeth noticed that it was full of single elderly people not talking to each other. On returning home she set up Donkey Week Holidays in 1982 to allow her subscribers to visit the sanctuary, spend time with the donkeys and also make new friends who had similar interests. These holidays are very popular and still take place annually.

I am in awe of how much she has improved  both of the lives of donkeys and humans- sadly Elisabeth died in 2011 at the age of 81 and this video here is dedicated to her.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a wonderful place to visit so if you are ever in the area I would highly recommend a visit although you may have your heartstrings pulled just like me. 

Do you have any donkey tales or have come across the donkey sanctuary's work?
Sarah x

Monday, 15 July 2013

Summer's bounty

The warmest weekend of the year and the fruit crops in the garden need harvesting.

I used the strawberries to make strawberry jam and the gooseberries made a huge gooseberry fool. What is your favourite summer fruit? I love them all!

The cherries in our neighbours tree look like beautiful jewels and have already attracted the birds.

This weekend was Weymouth Sea Food Festival. The stalls line both sides of the harbour. The food for sale is always spectacular and colourful. It is provided by local restaurants and West Country producers.

The garlic for sale from Isle of Wight garlic farm included smoked, normal and Elephant Garlic We grow garlic in our garden, but it is not to this standard.

The festival also includes cookery demonstrations and we are lucky to have many well known and good chefs in the area. John Wright (on the left),  known for his foraging on River Cottage, demonstrated cooking using sea weed and mushrooms.

The prettiest stall has to go to Nicole Phillips for her sea themed textiles. I loved her sea themed  tea towels.

 The temperature over the weekend has reached 30 degrees. I can't remember it being so hot for many years. We have tried to keep Daisy in the cool, despite her loving to lie out in the sun! Her daily weekend walk has been moved to the evening.

However a walk in the cool of the evening brings its own rewards - such as watching the sun go down over the sea.

I hope you had a good weekend too. Welcome to my new follower Tammy and thank you all for visiting me.
Sarah x

Friday, 12 July 2013

By the waters edge

 A perfect way of spending a late afternoon is to be down at the waters edge .....

 Or to take a boat out onto the water.

Or maybe rowing in a gig boat - or a spot of fishing?

 Or maybe just like me, admire the views and take in everything going on around me.

My husband and daughter went fishing off the end of the pier and caught two mackerel each. Afterwards as we sat on the harbour wall with a take away a local fisherman caught this eel. 

I appreciate every day how lucky we are to live by the sea. I'm glad too, that I can share it with you.
Sarah x


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