Friday, 28 February 2014

Year long cookery challenge

Back at the end of February last year I joined Lucent Imaginery  and others in a year long challenge to cook my way through a cookery book.  The book I chose was "River Cottage Veg every day", by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, see opening post here.

Tahini dressed courgette and green bean salad

So looking back at the year how did I do?  Well, unlike Lucent I didn't manage to cook every recipe in the book! I did however manage to attempt about 50 of the 200 recipes. This book has been so well used, compared with the majority of cookery books that are sitting on my kitchen shelf!  Have you ever thought how many recipes there are contained in books in your home? How many have you tried?

Pizza using magic bread dough
I have enjoyed taking part in the challenge and now the majority of our main meals are vegetable based compared with a year ago. Many of the recipes in the book have become our regular favourites. I realised as I wrote this post that I wasn't very good at photographing the dishes! We were too busy enjoying them!

Squash  and puy lentil and rocket salad

This link will take you to the River Cottage site which has few recipes from the book including my mushroom-risoniotto and squash stuffed with leeks. I will still be carrying on trying out new dishes from the book!

 Sarah x

Sunday, 23 February 2014

One thing leads to another

Firstly thank you for my birthday wishes. My week off didn't go quite to plan and I was laid low with this dreadful cold! Most of the things I had planned for the week didn't happen, but I did manage to catch up with both of the children, which was lovely.

Magnolia branch bought in from the garden - the buds have slowly opened .
Flowers from the garden

A change of plan gave me other opportunities instead - I enjoyed  looking through some of my books. My sister in law gave me the autobiography of Edith Holden for Christmas.  Many of you will know her as she wrote and illustrated the Edwardian Country Diary. I have always enjoyed looking at her diary with the wonderful words and illustrations and I inherited it from my Mother when she died.  It was fascinating reading about her story - Edith mainly lived  in the countryside around Birmingham,  but also spent lots of time in Scotland and Dartmoor.  Tragically she drowned while trying to reach some horse chesnut buds.


Do you read books electronically? After much deliberation I bought myself a Kindle towards the end of last year. I love books and always enjoy holding a book in my hand and visiting the library every few weeks. However, I always find it difficult to part with books and magazines. The Kindle, for me, was a good way to reduce the clutter in the house and be used alongside my usual reading.  Our the last few years we have digitalised our photographs too, saving them to the computer with a back up copy on a cloud drive. An unexpected benefit of the Kindle has been the easy access to enjoy all these photos again.

I was looking for a book to read on the train and came across this title. Has anyone read it or any other of Elizabeth's books? It was the picture that enticed me and the thought of escaping (if only though the story) to an Italian castle with a garden full of flowers. This a short description from the book.

"The wisteria was tumbling over itself in its excess of life, it's prodiatry of flowering: and where the pergola ended the sun blazed on scarlet geraniums, bushes of them, and nasturtiums in great heaps, and marigolds so brillant they seemed to be burning, and red and pink snapdragons, all outdoing each other in bright fierce colour. The ground behind these flaming things dropped in terraces to the sea,each terrace a little orchard, where among the olives grew vines on trellis, and fig trees, and peach trees and cherry trees."

In recent years Eliabeth von Arnim work has regain a resurgence of interest since one of her books was given to the servant Anna in Downton Abbey while Bates was in prison. Elizabeth was a hugely popular Edwardian author and wrote 21 books. I for one will definitely be reading more of them!


Having read this book it was wonderful to  pop over to visit Olympia from things and thoughts in Greece and see discover images of the beautiful spring flowers growing in her garden.

So we start another week luckily so far the storm forecast has not materialised today. There have been more landslips in the last week along the coast and when we visited the sea front at Exmouth it felt as if we were driving along the beach as so much sand had been blown on to the road!

At least the sun was shining!

Wishing you a good week.
Sarah x

Sunday, 16 February 2014

When the sun shines

Firstly thank you for all your comments about the storms in my last post. The weather didn't improve at all during the week did it?  It's quite unbelievable how the rain continued to fall and the winds were so strong and now other parts of the country are also suffering! The sea here has continued to lash the shores and the diggers have been out everyday moving the pebbles again - but for today at least the sun came out! 

The claws of a digger earlier in the week at Preston Beach

Finding varying walks that are dry underfoot is getting hard. 

 So two weeks ago we took a chance that the spring tide would be receding and headed for this walk around the harbour.

The fishing boats always tower above you when the tide is high. This fishing boat below still had some dogfish caught in its nets.

All along the south west coast the fishermen have been unable to get their boats out to sea due to the bad weather and so haven't been making a living. One benefit of the adverse weather conditions has been the way communities have come together to help each other out over the past few weeks.

We found the first daffodils we have seen this year, a sight to add much cheer. I was also reminded of the smell and sight of masses of daffodils when I received a question on a long forgotten post showing fields of Cornish daffodils. It brought me hope of better times ahead.

 Back on our walk the coal tits were flying from tree to tree and a home by the harbour was well prepared for flooding.

These last few pictures were taken today.

On Valentines Day a local craft group attached crochet flowers to the town bridge and asked passers by to take them home to their loved ones. It was so wet on Friday that I didn't venture out to see them. I thought it was a lovely gesture, however, and would have loved to have captured it.

The sunshine bought everyone out today - there was so many people getting out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. It's my birthday this week and I have the week off work . It will be good to have a few days off  - get the house more organised, mend some of the broken fences, and catch up with lots of blogs, while I nurse a streaming cold my husband has kindly given me!

Hope you have a good week ahead too.
Sarah x

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Battered and windswept

When I promised some images of the sea in my last post I didn't have anything quite as wild as this in mind! The south -west coast of England has been taken quite a battering in the last week.

Chesil Beach Portland

Our pictures were taken this morning not at the height of the storm, but as you can see the waves were still huge as they crashed on to the shore. (We didn't go to close!)

Picture by Matthew Gordon

This incredible picture taken off the internet shows just how high the waves reached! Waves and pebbles breached the sea defences and homes were flooded. 

The beach road has been forced to shut at times as it too has flooded. The  Environment Agency were out in force on Sunday repairing the damage and moving the pebbles back again before the next storm appears.

Back in Weymouth the Preston Beach Wall has suffered a similar fate, the popular walk along the top of it was covered with pebbles too.

And in between the storms a moment of calm and beauty - such a contrast!

Further south in Devon, the wonderful railway track at Dawlish that we visited in my post Taking the train to the beach, has also suffered from the storms. Part of the railway was left hanging by a thread (click link to see pictures.) 
Dawlish railway March 2013
This railway line is a vital link to the West Country. South Devon and Cornwall will be without railway until the extensive damage is repaired. This track has suffered a similar fate in the past. In 1869 part of the sea wall and track was also washed away in a violent storm. As always I feel for all of those who are suffering the impact of the storms and whose homes have been damaged.

I hope you all not suffering from the worst of the weather. I saw that Australia is suffering from
extreme heat and bush fires. Let's hope this week coming treat us all more kindly! Thank you for your lovely comments and welcome to my new followers Ann @ StudioHyde, Koma, and Jenny at Tumble weeds.
Sarah x

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A winter garden

It's difficult to remember the abundance of summer in our garden in the depths of winter...

Our garden is currently looking so dismal, damp and forlorn that we went to find beauty in Abbotsbury gardens instead.

The branches stand out against the sky and lead your eyes upwards.

A glimpse St Catherine's Chapel is revealed through the bare branches.

The contrast between the white bark of the silver birch and the bright green moss was so eye catching.

The first camellias were already in flower.

and the snowdrops here were more advanced than ours back at home.

Parts of Abbotsbury gardens have more of a sub tropical feel.

We returned home through Abbotsbury village. This is the view from the churchyard.

Back home the sun set turned the garden into a spectacular sight!

We also had a special family celebration this weekend. My brother and sister in law celebrated their 40th  Ruby Wedding Anniversary and we had a lovely family get together. This day meant so much to us all as my sister in law had a difficult year in 2013 fighting illness.

Thank you so much for all your lovely comments in the last post.The overwhelming view was to put the 1960's magazine back in the attic with a magazine from 2013. I will also add a paper copy of the blog post including your comments and some pictures of the house and garden too.

I promise the next post will be by the sea!
Sarah x


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