The plan was to remain at home today, gardening, cooking, cleaning, anything but most certainly not going out.

So we went out. 

We decided to take our charity shop items which had been steadily accumulating over a few weeks to our favourite charity shop in Wellswood, a rather pretty area of Torquay, about a mile from the harbour.  Here is a collage  (above) of the area, which has a village atmosphere, these photos having been taken at various times of the year, hence some with daffodils and some with autumn leaves.

I really love this charity shop. Well, it styles itself a ’boutique’, and rightly so when you see some of the lovely things it has for sale.  And the window displays are wonderful. Today, one window had everything to do with baking, books on how to make cupcakes and pretty retro-looking tins, all kinds of pretty things. I just wish my photographs could do their window displays justice but there is always a lot of reflection on the glass.  Here is the left hand window …

and here is the right hand window …

I wish you could have seen the dress in peacock blue, black and brown, unusual colours to put together, but it was gorgeous, believe me.  And how beautifully they have displayed these clothes, with flowers and accessories in complementary colours.  I  had a quick look in the shop while husband disposed of some books and other bits and pieces, but didn’t find anything I really wanted or needed (not the same thing!)   I certainly didn’t need anything but had I spotted something beautiful, I might’ve wanted it, ha ha! 

We then popped into the Co-operative (for those outside the UK, a chain or supermarkets that started life in Rochdale by the Rochdale Pioneers, where customers became ‘members’ and gained dividend on what they purchased, i.e. it was a co-operative, owned originally by the members) and I bought an Extra Mature Cheddar and Jalapeno loaf.  I have to say that Co-op bread has been a revelation to me.  I’m not keen on supermarket bread, but the bread we buy in the Co-op is excellent (their own bread, I mean, not other producers’ bread), especially their Ancient Grains wholemeal sliced loaves.  But today I wanted something a bit different, something from which I could construct a quick, tasty and easy lunch.

We then strolled back to our car and on a wall close by I spotted pretty cyclamen growing …

When we returned home it was almost 2 pm and although we’d had bacon & tomatoes on toast for breakfast (one of our occasional treats for we usually have porridge for breakfast, with golden granulated sugar – just a sprinkle – for husband ,and with golden syrup for myself) we were quite hungry.  And so I sliced the bread and we had that with hummus for myself, chutney for husband, and cheese – St Agur, Somerset Brie, and Gruyere – grapes, strawberries, chunks of cucumber, and a few crisps.

This is the type of meal where I concede that a few crisps are acceptable.  We seldom buy crisps, they are a totally unnecessary snack and usually have too much salt, but in summer it is nice to have  a few with salad or with bread and cheese, as above.    A packet will last us the week.  The black grapes are delicious right now, and the strawberries are the new season’s English strawberries, a little bit more expensive than the Spanish imports but certainly worth it, no hard core to cut away.  We enjoyed our lunch on trays on our knees in the sitting room with the Saturday papers.

This has been a bits & pieces post, nothing much happening but the kind of day we often have, dropping off items at the charity shop, buying a tasty loaf, and enjoying a light, easy lunch.  We enjoyed our stroll around Wellswood – as with the majority of areas of the Bay, it’s hilly, and so our legs got a work out.

Of course, once again no work has been done, but, hey, does it matter? 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

 

4 comments

 

After a week filled with fun-things-to-do (lunch on Easter Monday with our family; two visits to the Zoo; meeting a friend for coffee; visiting local garden centres, it was time yesterday for more ordinary things:  supermarket shopping and a visit to the podiatrist. 

Our first port of call was Lidl.  My goodness, how this supermarket has changed since we first started going there, perhaps eight or nine years ago.  I can remember our first visit, it looked more a warehouse than a supermarket, it had no visual appeal whatsoever but we were willing to “give it a go”.  When we walked inside the first aisle was filled as far as the eyes could see with stacked cases of fizzy drinks.  That – or so we thought – set the general tone of the place and husband said, “I don’t think we’ll want anything in here!” He was about to turn around and walk out but I was more optimistic; I said, “We’re here now, we might as well have a look!”

And with that we took a trolley (they didn’t have baskets then, they assumed that their prices were so low you’d want to fill a trolley!) and when we came to the checkout – for we had bought a number of items, “Just to try them …” said husband, much more enthusiastically after he saw the prices! – we were amazed how little we had spent.

Lidl is no longer like that.  It still has excellent prices but it has become a much smarter place, with tall elegant chiller cabinets which wouldn’t look out of place in Waitrose, and with the cabbage and cauliflowers arefresh asparagus and figs.  The only giveaway that this is Lidl are all the ‘dump bins’ which run down the aisles containing all manner of cheap items of clothing, electrical goods and so forth.  Indeed, we’ve bought some items from these bins ourselves and have found 99% of them excellent.  And the first aisle is no longer filled with fizzy drinks but fresh fruit and veg, just as in the mainstream supermarkets.  Seeing fresh lemons as you enter is much more encouraging – for us at least – than plastic bottles of lemonade!

But to return to yesterday ….

We stock up on our cleaning products in Lidl.  Dishwasher tabs, salt and rinse aid; washing machine liquid detergent; foil; loo rolls; kitchen rolls; facial wipes; cotton wool pads (for makeup), even toothbrushes.  My goodness, where else can you find two excellent-quality toothbrushes in a pack for 69p?  We once had an electric toothbrush but we actually prefer manual, and at 69p for two we can renew them often, not because they are like Christmas trees, but because of any build-up of bacteria.  We also buy lovely fresh salmon in Lidl, plus Bellarom Arabica ground coffee, and their excellent nuts – bags of brazils, cashews, and mixed nuts (for nut roast!)

I also bought flowers in Lidl’s – tulips for the sitting room and roses for our bedroom …

 

Just some of the tulips in a large bouquet, the rest are in a vase in the kitchen

From Lidl we went to Waitrose, not that far away.  From perhaps the cheapest store to the most expensive.  Here we buy fresh fruit, veg, meat, and dairy products.  Also, having a My Waitrose card (for those outside the UK, a type of loyalty card) we are entitled to a free newspaper and free cartons of coffee each, so we thought that instead of having our coffee in the supermarket car park, we would buy a round of egg & cress sandwiches and drive to the nearby Cary Park, where we could enjoy our drink and sandwich in the sunshine.

Some time ago, I wrote a piece for the local paper about Torbay’s parks and gardens and this is an extract from that piece:

Cary Park, given to the then St Marychurch Local Board by Robert S Cary, is one of the smaller conservation areas of Torbay, but as we all know, nice things often come in small packages and Cary Park is one of them. Today it is green oasis with an avenue of majestic chestnut trees; it is hard to imagine that before the building of the Parish Church of All Saint’s (built 1868-74) and the inter-war housing developments, this whole area was once simply a large field where, in 1854, crowds gathered to attend the first Torquay horse race and, in 1893, the Devon County Agricultural Association held its 21st meeting.

The chestnut trees are looking lovely right now, with their white ‘candles’ just appearing. 

The park is in three sections, the first being above.  After walking through this section, you reach the second section, just a short distance from the first (between are houses, apartments, and a couple of roads, but even the roads here are elegant and tree-lined.  There are also, opposite the park, tennis courts and a bowling green.)  One white cherry blossom tree was looking spectacular …

 

The second section of the park has a purpose build children’s play area.  I only took a distance shot of this play area, which has lots of lovely things for little ones to clamber over and climb upon.  Again, many lovely trees.  To the left, out of shot, are large apartments for the elderly, and on the right, again out of shot, all-weather tennis courts. 

Once through this second section of park you reach the small third and final section.

All Saint’s Church, Babbacombe

The walk through the park had a purpose, for as well as enjoying a stroll in the spring sunshine; we were on our way to my podiatrist/chiropodist.  I’d not been to her for two years, keeping my feet trim with a battery-operated foot file, but even so, and using a special foot cream every day, there comes a time when my feet need a little rofessional attention.  It was lovely to sit there while my friendly and very professional podiatrist ministered to my feet, and once I’ve painted my toenails with a pretty shell pink polish, my feet will be sandals-ready for summer! 

The podiatrist has her ‘shop’ (a surgery?) in a parade of shops in the village of Babbacombe, and there are some really pretty shops close by, one of them a rather nice baker’s shop with a very attractive window display …

And also a shop selling re-cycled, painted furniture and various items which seem to be on-trend (an awful phrase, I know, but I’m too lazy to think up something better) such as apple boxes, things made from chicken wire and so forth … Perhaps, and because they seem to be everywhere, those old boxes are actually being manufactured from cheap timber and painted to look old?  Whatever, I won’t be buying them. Once something is ‘everywhere’ I certainly don’t want it. 

I apologise for the poor quality of this photo, but the sun was shining on the shop window and therefore making it difficult to photograph items in the window without reflection from cars and passers by. 

While in the waiting area in the podiatrist’s I noticed some shelves where some 2nd hand books were available, not priced, but you could give a donation to a local charity.  I looked along the shelves, several John Grisham, Lee Child, fluffy romances, and I was about to sit down when on the very bottom shelf something caught my eyes …

 

Jean Trumpington was born Jean Alys Campbell-Harris in 1922 into a fairly wealthy family that  lost its money in the stock market crash of 1929.  She was privately educated, left school at 15, and became a land girl in the 2nd World War.  She began her political career in the early 1960s and became Mayor of Camridge in 1971.  In 1980 she was created a life peer, choosing the title of Baroness Trumpington of Sandwich.  She has served in two Conservative governments as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Dept of Health and Social Security and as Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.  You never know where you might find a little gem of a book, do you?  Often in the most unlikely places (furthermore, it’s in mint condition, as if someone has been given it as a present and passed it on right away!)   I am thoroughly enjoying it, a delightful, easy read about a life lived to the full. 

We then returned to our car, retracing our steps through the park, my feet now feeling wonderful, and made our way home. Then began the business of putting all the food away. (I might add that because we were out for quite long time yesterday, visiting both supermarkets and the podiatrist, I took a freezer bag with me for the dairy and meat products, and any frozen items.)

Even though we were only shopping for food and so forth, and visiting my podiatrist, nonetheless it was all enjoyable.  I’ve said before, and I will say it again, we really can’t complain about shopping when our shops are filled with lovely things and, for the most part (if we are careful and don’t overspend) we can afford the things we need. 

Enjoy your weekend.

6 comments

I have had another most enjoyable day. 

This morning I met a friend for coffee in what we call our ‘local’.  No, not a pub, but a lovely sea front hotel. 

Photo taken in summer a couple of years ago

My friend had a soya latte decaff and I had a cappuccino.  It was served with biscuits, but we shared the biscuits, each taking two home with us, and then sharing them with our husbands.  Aren’t we kind girlies?  It’s a lovely place to meet, no parking fees, a comfortable lounge or an attractive conservatory in which to sit and chat, and reasonably priced coffee, our kind of place.

When I returned home I heated up chicken curry I had made yesterday, so that was lunch easily dealt with. 

(Photo taken in January, but today’s was a similar chicken curry)

I then suggested to husband why not make use of our newly-acquired Zoo passes, and have a walk around the Zoo  again?  I fully expected him to say, “No, we’ve been once already this week …” but he was quite enthusiastic, and so I changed my town shoes for some boots, easier for walking around a zoo, and off we went. 

As we were approaching our car on our drive, our son, his wife and our little grandson were in their car, just going out.  They stopped to chat (they live only around the corner from us) and they said they were going for a walk around the local farm trail.  When I said we were going to the Zoo (again!) our little grandson said he wanted to go with Granny and Granndad to the Zoo, so they changed their plans and we all went.  We met them there, as we took both cars. 

Paignton Zoo is really quite large and I think you’d have to have a lot more stamina than we have in order to see it all in one day, all 80 acres of it.  And so we decided to see another part today, a different area from where we visited on Tuesday. 

First of all we made for the Reptile House so we could see the ‘crocodiles’ although I think they are actually alligators, dwarf caimans.   This is a large building with quite deep water filled with fish (not sure whether the alligators and caimans eat them, but perhaps they don’t feature on alligator menus? 

I’m not sure whether this chap is a dwarf caiman – he seemed large enough to me.  I would add there is glass between him and me!  Nonetheless, I’ve never been as up close and personal to anything like this before! 

Of course, we found lots of play areas for our little grandson who had a great time.  We also visited the meerkats and there was also a porcupine in their enclosure.

I had seen meerkats before but I had totally forgotten how small they are.  

We did a lot of walking around, up hill and down dale, as it’s a very hilly site. The baboon island was specially constructed many years ago – if you look carefully, you an see the baboons on the rocks.

I think we spent about two hours in the Zoo, and apart from sitting for about 15 minutes at one of the play areas, we were walking all the time.  By the time we returned to the car we were really tired, but in a very pleasant way, having had fresh air and exercise. 

After not having visited the Zoo for at least a decade or more, we have now been twice in two days!  There are so many more animals to see, we will certainly return again before too long. 

The flamingos, taken on my previous visit in June 2006

4 comments

We enjoyed a quiet, relaxing Easter weekend, and yesterday we all (i.e. husband and myself, our elder son, his wife and our little grandson) were invited to our younger son’s home for lunch where younger son and his lovely girlfriend/partner made us all a gorgeous lunch.  How lovely to be with our family, all very relaxing and most enjoyable.

Today, Tuesday, we thought we’d make the most of a lovely spring morning and we drove to our local garden centre, only a couple of miles from our house.  It has the most lovely setting, with open views of Devon’s lush countryside. 

Husband was on the hunt for some grass seed to cover bare patches in various parts of our garden (mainly the grassy banks at the front of the house) and I was on the lookout for my favourite summer bedding plants – pink and white cosmos and pink and white antirrhinums.  

Then we saw a lovely shrub, Exochorda, The Bride, with beautiful white blossom.  Its blossom is almost over, but it’s best to buy plants when they are flowering – then you know what to expect the following year! 

Otter Nurseries has it’s main garden centre close to Ottery St Mary in East Devon, but we are fortunate that in recent years Otter Nurseries bought out a local garden centre, and so we have a branch (pardon the pun) of the lovely Otter Nurseries on our doorstep.  It is not ‘just’ a garden centre, but in their nurseries they raise many of the plants they sell.  There is also a very nice café, with both indoor and outdoor eating spaces, and yes, we did stop for coffee and scones. 

No doubt we will be visiting this garden centre again before long and so I will resist the urge to show more plant photos today.   These three photos were taken this morning, a typical Devon April morning, with hazy sunshine.

We then returned home, unloaded the car with the plants, plus compost, fertilizer, and the lovely shrub, and then decided – as it was such a lovely day – we would go to the Zoo!

The entrance to the Zoo (with grass roof) as seen from inside the Zoo

Yes, we have a Zoo right here in Paignton!  www.paigntonzoo.org.uk   It is only a mile or so from our home and, strange as it may seem, with such a wonderful ‘attraction’ right on our doorstep, we hadn’t been there in over ten years! 

There is quite an expensive entrance fee (well, they have a lot of animals to feed, never mind paying the staff, the vets, gardeners  – for it is a botanical garden as well as a zoo – and so forth) so it is more economical  to purchase a pass for the year and this allows as many visits as we like – we could go every day if we wished – plus entry to Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.  Well, we don’t need a pass to Newquay Zoo as we don’t think we will be visiting there, but Living Coasts will be fun to visit, especially with our little grandson.  There are lots of penguins there! 

Paignton Zoo started life as the private zoo of Herbert Whitley, a shy, eccentric millionaire, and in 1923 it opened to the public.  On show in those days were monkeys, bears, bison, zebra, hyena, baboons and many birds.  Of course, a lot of people don’t agree in principle with zoos; they think it is cruel to keep ‘wild’ animals ‘caged’.  But Paignton Zoo is very much into conservation and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a global network of zoos working together to support the conservation of species, habitats and ecosystems. 

The Zoo covers roughly 80 acres with some 2,000 animals, but we only visited about 1/3rd of the area today.  There is even a little train which takes visitors around baboon island, but the Zoo was so busy with visitors today we thought we’d leave that little treat for another day. 

We first passed one of the lakes were we saw a Dalmation Pelican fishing, and then saw him (or it? Or her?) scoop up a small fish in its bill and swallow it whole. 

There are baboons on this island; they are difficult to see at first and then you can see them leaping from tree to tree with consummate ease.

This is just a small part of Baboon island 

From Baboon island we walked to the big cat area and saw these …

… just feet away from us, through thick glass (of course!)

Then on to see the Lemurs …

and finally, for today anyway, old Mr Silverback himself …

He was some distance from us, I’ve used the zoom facility on my camera, please don’t think he was as close as this.  But what a magnificent creature he is. 

We have certainly enjoyed our day.  Not only a visit to our local garden centre but also to Paignton Zoo.  Furthermore, we had the good news that our grandson has been accepted for his parents’ school of choice for when he starts school in September.  And, finally, Mrs May, UK Prime Minister, has announced that she will “go to the country”, i.e. that there will be a general election on the 8th June.  What a day it has been!

 

 

 

 

17 comments

We have been enjoying a quiet, restful day. 

The last few weeks have been busy – or so they have seemed to us:  searching for a washing machine and then a tumble dryer;  going out to lunch on a couple of occasions with friends;  going out to breakfast a deux (sorry I can’t manage accents); plus the usual shopping trips for food, visits to garden centres, and walks in an attempt to keep fit. 

As well as all this, researching my next article, trying to keep on top of housekeeping, letter writing to some friends who do not use the internet, cooking, looking after Barry-the-dog,  and all manner of other small jobs.  And so, as it has been too chilly to work in the garden, today we have done absolutely nothing.  It has been bliss.

Yes, I know; it’s not healthy to sit around all day, but sometimes it’s better to do that, just to rest, eat when we feel like eating, have cups of tea, and watch television than to engage in frenetic activity.  Once in a while it doesn’t hurt to rest, provided you don’t sit around all day, every day.

We are not great TV fans.  We don’t watch soaps; we have never watched Dr Who; we don’t watch reality shows.  We haven’t to clue what Broadchurch is about and we’ve not watched the American version of House of Cards.  We enjoy history programmes but sadly rather too much drama and too little history now seems to be the order of the day.  I say bring back David Starkey and Simon Schama and let’s have a bit less of ladies-dressing-up.  However, we have enjoyed the recent historic buildings restoration programme, where Cardigan Castle won the Restoration of the Year Award by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.  This series was led by a presenter who didn’t wave his arms around like a windmill, it had knowledgeable experts who explained about the various restoration projects, and all without an over-intrusive sound track.  Indeed, it was the very model of a modern historic houses programme. 

And so it came as something of a surprise when we found ourselves engrossed in the American series, Homeland.  We began watching the first episode on Netflix and are  now totally hooked.  Indeed, we have been watching it all day long, with breaks for lunch and supper.  And as we are only half way through the second season we have loads more episodes to watch.  I never thought we’d enjoy a series about the CIA, but boy, is it good. 

Now you might be wondering why there are photos of tulips decorating today’s post?  For no reason other than April is the month for tulips here in the UK, and while not all our tulips in the garden are in flower yet, and it’s far too cold for me to venture outside to take photos of the ones that are in bloom, I thought instead I would show you some we’ve had in the garden in previous years, and some in the house, too. 

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, do have a lovely Easter Day tomorrow. 

Happy Easter, everyone.

 

 

17 comments

Hello, there!  Barry Powling here.  I’m the grand-dog (as opposed to grand-son).  My mummy and daddy have gone to Bath today on the train and I was told that I couldn’t go.  I’m not too sad about that because although I’ve only heard about trains, I don’t really know what they are but as I can’t chase them I’m not really interested.  Imagine having to sit on something you can’t chase.  How boring!

I am a Patterdale Terrier, originally a working dog bred in the Lakeland area of England.  I have no idea where that is, but I expect there are lots of lakes (obviously!) and perhaps plenty of rabbits to chase!  I was born in Barry in Wales, hence my name.  Sad to say, my name always causes some amusement.   The joke is wearing a bit thin now.   “Ho Ho, Barry, what a funny name for a dog!” People say when I’m being introduced.   How would they like it if I laughed at their names? 

Granny looked up Patterdale Terriers in her book The Observer’s Book of Dogs. This was a present on her 10th birthday from her Granddad, so she treasures it.  She says, “The photo in the book looks nothing like Barry!”  Maybe we Patterdales have changed a bit since this book was published 72 years ago?  The photo looks more like a little Fox Terrier, with its wiry coat.  My coat is smooth and shines like glossy paint.    

Indeed, Granny has been Googling Patterdale Terriers and has found out that we are a “type” of dog rather than a “breed”.  Type? I don’t much care for the sound of that!  But Granny says we are a culmination – whatever that means – of working terrier breeds indigenous to the United Kingdom.  “Indigenous”?  Doesn’t she mean simply “Genius”?

I enjoy being with Granny and Granddad as they talk to me!  Well, Granny does.  Granny uses the same tone of voice when talking to me as she does to anyone who is male, whether it’s Granddad, her two sons, her little grandson, or me.  So sometimes Granddad can’t tell whether she’s addressing him or me!  She says that all males are much the same regardless of age or breed.  They just need simple, clear instructions and rewards for good behaviour!

Of course, when I’m here, I am very well-behaved. Well, unless a cat has the temerity to stroll through the garden. I can’t abide cats, pesky things.  I can’t understand why Granny likes cats, she even talks to them!  Imagine a grown woman of reasonable intellect bending down and saying “Hello pussy cat, what a dear little cat you are!”  I heard that once she had a couple of them living here!  Ugh!

My purpose in life is to guard people or property.   I wasn’t trained to do this, it’s a natural instinct that we dogs have, handed down through generations of dogs.  But barking – which is compulsory – can be exhausting, and after a barking session which Granny and Granddad don’t seem to appreciate, I need a lie down to recover.

I love it when I help Granny in the kitchen. Today she’s been making fish pies.  I can’t say that’s my favourite meal as there’s no meat in it, but she sometimes gives me a little piece of cheese when she’s been grating it for the sauce.

Later on …

I’m up and about again.  I’ve had forty winks, but that is all I need and I’m up and raring to go again.  I had a good barking session, too, because some men arrived to bring Granny’s new tumble dryer.  I have absolutely no idea that that is, but she was angry and said if I wasn’t a good boy and stopped barking she would put me in it and switch it on!  And then she said she was sorry, she didn’t mean it, and she was going to toast some hot cross buns!   And after I put my head to one side in an attempt to look appealing, she gave me a tiny piece.

I’m tired again now. I’m no longer a teenage dog and I need to rest more often, a bit like Granny and Granddad.   And Granny’s chair in the study is so comfy.  I am now going into the sitting room with Granny and she’s said if I’m good I can sit with her on the sofa and watch a film on Netflix, providing, she says, she can find something suitable.  I hope it will be 101 Dalmations, that’s my favourite film!

I have enjoyed chatting to you all,

Happy Easter everyone,

Barry

 

 

19 comments

There is nothing nicer than, on a spring or summer’s day, enjoying lunch out of doors.  We are fortunate insofar as we have some shade over our garden table, not full shade, that would be gloomy, but sufficient to make it a pleasant place to eat without being blinded by strong sunlight.

NUT ROAST

For such a meal we enjoy nut roast with various salads and new potatoes.  A nut roast is so easy to make, and I expect many of you will have your own recipe for this, but here is mine.

You will need a loaf tin, at least 500g capacity, and first I grease and line the tin with baking parchment.

INGREDIENTS

250G of Mixed Nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews)

100g (or 4 small) shallots, finely chopped

400g can of chopped tomatoes, drained

3 eggs, beaten

150g strong cheese, Gruyere or mature Cheddar, grated

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage 

1/2 teaspoon dried mint, or a teaspoon mint concentrate

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 vegetable Oxo cube, or a teaspoon of bouillon, or 2 teaspoons Soy sauce 

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

This might seem rather a lot of ingredients, and only a small amount for some of them, but once you have made this recipe you will be able to adapt it to your own needs, seeing what you can omit and even what you can substitute, perhaps.  If you don’t have thyme, for example, use Oregano.

METHOD

1.  Put the nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast them gently until golden and fragrant, taking care not to burn them.  Remove to a bowl and leave to cool

2.  Whiz the nuts in a food processor or grinder until finely chopped (the mixture should be loose, not a puree)

3.  Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. 

4.  Grease and line the loaf tin with baking parchment

5.  Into a large bowl combine all the ingredients:  the ground nuts, chopped shallots, tomatoes, beaten eggs, grated cheese, herbs, vegetable Oxo (or the bouillon or Soy), lemon juice and seasoning.  

6.  Mix thoroughly and scoop into the prepared loaf tin.

7.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, in the centre of the oven, or until firm and golden. 

8.  Cool slightly, then turn out onto a serving plate and peel off the paper.  Nut roast can be served hot or cold.  If I am going to serve it cold, I allow it to cool in the tin for longer than if I’m serving it as a hot meal, to ensure it doesn’t fall apart. 

If serving hot, serve with a rich tomato sauce or gravy, if serving cold, serve with mixed salads and new potatoes.  Here I also served coleslaw and a Waldorf salad.

Until next time …

 

 

32 comments

It has been the most glorious blue-sky day here in sunny South Devon.  We decided we would visit a local garden centre as we needed compost and also a new pot in which I could plant some dahlias (whenever I plant them directly into the garden, they are always eaten by something, not sure what, perhaps snails, but not a trace is left.  We’re now going to attempt to grow lovely Bishop of Llandaf dahlias in a pot and then cover the soil with sharp sand to put the little blighters off!  There are plenty of weeds, why don’t they cultivate a taste for them?  

The drive to Jack’s Patch Garden Centre is a pleasant one, and while this is definitely not a nursery garden but a garden centre (i.e. horticultural supermarket) the plants are always high quality.  Husband wanted an acer and so we bit the bullet and paid quite a lot of money for one, but oh, it’s so pretty!   I just hope it will thrive in our garden.  We intend to keep it in a pot (not the one it’s in, but as it grows we will plant it in a larger pot).  Here it is in the foreground of this photos (below).

We bought ericaceous compost for it, and will keep it watered in dry weather, and put it in the shade when it is very hot, indeed it will be treated like royalty, so let’s hope it responds to doesn’t keel over.

We didn’t stop for coffee at Jack’s Patch but motored on, across the Shaldon Bridge to the village of Shaldon.  We parked our car and walked along the promenade to The Clipper Café where we had coffee …

Not the most beautiful of buildings – hence a smaller photo – but from the balcony overlooking the river, the views are really pretty.  The headland in the distance is called The Ness (or “nose”.) 

On other occasions we have strolled around Shaldon where there are some very pretty properties, many with small gardens which give onto the sands …

and some are around the village bowling green …

 

Some line the river front have pretty walls into which they have planted seasonal flowers …

And some houses are truly elegant …

From The Clipper Café we walked to Homeyards Botanical Garden, which is on the hillside overlooking the village.

You mightn’t be able to read the above, but this garden was created by Maria Laetitia Kempe Homeyard in the 1930s. Her husband was the creator of the cough medicine, Liqufruta, and on her death in 1944 she gave the garden to the local council.  It opened to the public in 1955.   It is a lovely place from which to catch glimpses of the River Teign through the trees and the town of Teignmouth on the far side of the river.

This area of the river is known as The Salty as it is tidal, and here you can see it at low tide. At high tide the sandy area mid-river is covered with water.

The pond in the rill garden

From here we made our way back to our car, down a steep road (well, it is rather hilly in Devon!) lined with pink flowering cherry trees …

Before reaching the car park we scrambled up a grassy bank so that I could take a photo of Teignmouth through the trees …

And everywhere, the pretty pink cherry trees and banks covered with primroses …

While we were in the botanical garden we chatted to a volunteer gardener and he mentioned that the tulips in the parterre of Oldway Mansion in Paignton were currently looking spectacular.   As Oldway Mansion, once home to the Singer family of sewing machine fame, is fairly close to where we live, we thought we’d park and take a look on the way home.  Sadly, this lovely building is currently empty – it used to be council offices – until a decision is made on its future.   But the council are maintaining the gardens and they’re looking lovely right now …

Perhaps I’ve put rather too much information in this post!  I could have saved the various places we have seen today for different different posts, but no, I thought I’d show all the places instead.

My final piece of good news was that on Saturday I picked the winner of the Grand National!  It was so funny!  Younger son phoned and said “It’s the National today, would you like me to put a bet on for you?”  Well, truth to tell, we had quite forgotten it was the National so I quickly opened the paper, and looked down the list of runners and riders.  I don’t know the first thing about form or anything like that, but one name stood out:  One for Arthur.  My dear late uncle, my mother’s eldest brother, was called Arthur, so I thought why not?  It came in at 14 to 1.  Not sure how much we gave won, we only put a small amount on the race just for fun, but at least we will have covered our bet!  (And when I say “we” I mean husband and myself, not the royal “we”!)

Now to make supper. I hope you have had a good day, too.

Until next time …

 

10 comments

 

I am starting this post with one of the lovely tulips which are now flowering.  I didn’t make a note of the variety but all my tulips bulbs (with the exception of some we were given as a present) are from Sarah Raven; I just love her varieties.  Her bulbs are a little more expensive than those in our local garden centre, but I think they are worth it.  I love the peaches and soft colours.  One variety, yet to open fully, is coffee-coloured.  I also love the very dark purples, such as Queen of the Night. Not as keen , though, on scarlet and bright yellow, and I have a whole tub of those which were a gift, but even though the colours are garish, they are truly magnificent blooms but, as I say, not really to my taste. 

So why have I called this a “lazy” Sunday?  Simply because I have done a minimal amount of work and I even whipped through the pile of ironing in under 40 minutes. 

It has all been put away and is now in our wardrobe and airing cupboard. 

Husband cooked us boiled eggs for breakfast, plus toast and marmalade and coffee, after having collected the Sunday paper from our local shop.  Meanwhile, I made our bed, went around the house opening the windows it being such a sunny, mild day, and hung out some washing, items which don’t require ironing and which I could, later, simply fold and put away.

It really has been the warmest spring day so far, and we had our first lunch of the year outside …

I had a nut roast (home made) in the freezer which I used, plus new potatoes and a mixed salad and coleslaw, nice and simple.  Although we are not vegetarian we both love nut roast either hot as a roast lunch, or cold with salad. 

This afternoon, while husband cleaned the car, I sat in the summerhouse and read.  It was lovely in there with the doors open to the garden, and so peaceful. 

You can just see the trunk of the walnut tree through the summerhouse window

I am thoroughly enjoying Louise Walters’ book, A LIfe Between Us.  I enjoyed Louise Walters’ first novel, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase and she has self-published this, her second novel.  There are some excellent novels which have been self-published, but of course, some not-so-good, too, because anyone can now become a published author. 

This book is about Tina and her twin sister Meg, who tragically died in a childhood accident.  That makes it sound grim, but it is a lovely read over the generations: Tina as a young girl in the 1970s, Tina as a married adult,  and Tina’s aunt Lucia and her brothers, Edward, Robert, Ambrose and William.  It says on the cover: 

“As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edwards, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all.” 

I couldn’t have put it better myself and I think this accurately sums up this well-written and well plotted novel.   If the description hadn’t caused me to buy this book, then the beautiful cover would most certainly have won me over.   

As my post title says, this has been a rather lazy Sunday, and I feel all the better for having rested and am now ready to face the week, with perhaps a trip to a garden centre.  We won’t be visiting any historic houses or having a cruise down the River Dart until after the Easter weekend and the tourists have gone home and children have returned to school for  the start of the summer term. 

And finally, the tulips which have opened and photographed at dusk …

I can’t wait for these peony tulips to full open, I think they will look magnificent. 

Until next time …

 

20 comments

Unless we engage the services of a cleaner the only alternative is cleaning our homes ourselves.  I know that if I had a cleaner I would be scurrying around, cleaning before he or she arrived, making sure that they didn’t have to pick up used tissues (not that I  leave those lying around, but there’s always a first time), underwear, newspapers, wet towels, and having coffee or tea ready for his or her arrival. 

Even though I could, at a pinch, afford to engage the services of a cleaner, I quite like the activity myself.  Yes, I have arthritis, which means some jobs are more difficult now than they once were, but overall,  and with all the modern equipment we have at our disposal these days – vacuum, steam cleaner for hard floors, more  cleaning products than we can shake a whole forest at, never mind a stick – as well as a nice end product (a clean and tidy home), it’s good exercise as well.

Husband was out this morning, helping our younger son with some home maintenance, and so I had the place to myself.  Rather than swanning around in my housecoat, drinking endless cups of coffee, reading the paper or blogs, I was up, showered and dressed (and yes, wearing makeup and hair freshly washed and blow dried) by 8 am.  After our breakfast, husband drove off to our son’s home, and I switched off my computer and started work.

I started in the kitchen.   Yes, it’s ‘dated’ now, installed in 1985, it will be 32 years old this year!   But it does the job.  Indeed, it’s a well-organized space.  I quite like our kitchen even though it’s north facing and is a little dark, mainly because of the walnut tree outside and my choice, three years ago, of black flooring, but we are considering painting the cupboards even though this will be a long and laborious job. 

Our kitchen overlooks our back garden, and the table is just large enough for us for breakfast, lunch, and supper.  The new white washing machine (Whirlpool make) stands out like a sore thumb (the dishwasher – which can’t be seen here – is black, as is the oven, sink and hob) but never mind, it does the job for which it was designed. 

I  removed all the things from the worktops, gave them (the worktops) a good clean, and then put everything back after I’d washed all the things which could be washed, plus cleaning out the toaster and bread bin, and the ceramic jars in which I keep the wooden spoons, etc, went through the dishwasher with the breakfast things.  The windowsill was also cleaned, and the fridge, and then the floor and, finally, the table was given a polish. 

I think these will be the daffodils’ last hurrah, but my goodness, aren’t these a delight, lovely creamy ones with deep apricot centres (from the supermarket earlier this week.)

I then moved on to the shower room – all the usual things were cleaned, the shower, the basin, the loo, and also the windowsill and the shelves. The two white ornaments (one of which is useful for makeup brushes) were washed – I use a little soft brush to get into the crevices (I also washed the makeup brushes.)

I don’t keep all my makeup on the shelves but in a lidded basket, and toiletries such as toothpaste and shampoo are hidden away in a cupboard, not only as they aren’t attractive items but also for the sake of hygiene.  Towels were changed, the floor was washed, and then I moved on to the hall …

Husband had vacuumed the stairs and landing only a couple of days ago, so I only had to dust the furniture … I changed some things around recently, and instead of framed photos of my husbands parents on our little Sutherland table (which are now upstairs in the bed sitting room)  on the table are some Oriental carved wooden figures (inherited pieces.)

(This photo is an old one, I’ve since changed the lampshades, but the desk remains in situ)

Once the hall was vacuumed and dusted, I stopped cleaning and prepared lunch – cold chicken, new potatoes and a green salad so that it would be ready for when husband returned from our younger son’s home. 

I then cleaned the sitting/dining room.  It is a reasonable-sized room (by UK standards, I mean, about 28ft by 13ft) with a square arch way dividing sitting from dining area.  When our sons lived at home, we had the dining table ‘up’ all the time and ate at this table each day, but now we’re on our own, we use the dining table as a sofa table and only put it ‘up’ when more than the two of us are having a meal. 

This is just the dining end of the room.  The camera angle foreshortens the look of the dining area, which is a decent-sized space.  The two Chippendale-style dining chairs belonged to my late uncle (we had the seats re-covered about ten years ago) as did the two marine paintings on the far wall (and which I had new mounds made last year.) 

I dusted all the furniture, changed the flower water (on the bookcase is a posy of freesias – small, delicate flowers but with such a wonderful scent), and vacuumed the whole room. 

Tomorrow, I will clean our bedroom and the study (but not the bookshelves … that’s a job too far at the moment!) and then, if I’ve the energy, clean the upstairs rooms (guest bedroom, bathroom and bed sitting room.)  As these rooms are not over-used, they just need refreshing –  a quick dust and vacuum. 

When husband arrived home we had our lunch, and then sat in the summerhouse with cups of tea while I watched Escape to the Country on the small TV in there.

It seems a bit silly, really, devoting a whole post to a morning’s housekeeping but, as I say, unless we engage the services of a cleaner, this is something we all have to do, and therefore cleaning takes up quite a large portion of our lives – unless we want to live in squalor, that is!   And there is some satisfaction to be gained, is there not, in seeing our homes looking clean and fresh?

Enjoy the weekend!

24 comments
12315