Saturday, 29 September 2012

Cookery challenge for September

This month’s challenge was:
Party drink –  it could include fruit drinks/syrups, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, milkshakes etc. It’s Spring in the southern hemisphere and Autumn in the northern so let’s celebrate with fun drinks. 

I always enjoy participating in the challenge as it allows me to try something new and also to share my success or failings with others. Sometimes when the challenge comes through I immediately know what I want to do and this was definitely the case this month. My choice this month was to make Limoncello.  Rosemary made a lemon trifle and used some Limoncello in her dish.  I discovered that there were many recipes on the internet for this drink and so this months challenge was just the push I needed to try and make some!

I have been very busy recently, and I suddenly realised a couple of days ago that I hadn't left myself much time. After I left work I visited our local shop and asked for a bottle of Vodka. I was served by someone I recently met at a friends party and during our conversation I told her that I'd had a bad day at work.  I hope she didn't think I was going home to drink all the bottle - this thought didn't occur to me until after I had left the shop!

Limoncello originated from Italy and is a lemon liqueur drink made from the zest of lemons.

The recipe I used was as follows:-

Limoncello Recipe
35cl of Vodka
3 lemons  (scrub, wash well and dry)
400 ml water
250g white sugar

Peel the zest from the lemon very thinly using a vegetable peeler making sure there is no white rind attached as this will make the drink bitter.

Pour the vodka in a sealed container, add the rind and seal and leave in a dark place until the colour leaves the zest (the time in recipes seems to vary from 4 days up to  2-3 months). Remove the zest.
Then make the syrup using the water and sugar boil the water first and add the sugar, continue cooking until dissolved and then cool. Add the 2 mixtures together and return too a dark place for at least 2 weeks. It can also be frozen.

Obviously I have only completed the first part, so I will let you know how I get on, hopefully it will be ready for Christmas.  It can be drunk slowly to help aid digestion before dessert or added to lemonade. It can also be splashed on to ice-cream, or used in lemon puddings or cakes.

Thanks again to Lucent for running the monthly cookery challenge, if you wish to join next months challenge please contact her.

Lucent Imagery (cooking club founder)

Sarah x

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A walk on Dartmoor

Thank you so much for everyones congratulations to my son and daughter in my last post. It was much appreciated. Whenever we visit Devon we always try to have a walk on Dartmoor (one of our National Parks). Depending on the weather it can be either extremely beautiful and peaceful , or very bleak and desolate. The thickest fog we have ever encountered has been here, high up on the moors and was quite frightening to encounter. 

It is a landscape of sweeping moorland and craggy granite tors, where you can walk for miles without seeing a road or a tree. In the valleys you will find meandering rivers and streams, some of which are crossed by clapper bridges (an ancient term for a simple bridge consisting of one or more flat slabs over stone piers).  The most famous one is at Postbridge pictured above.

There are many legends and stories about Dartmoor with the devil features in many of them. The book "The Hound of the Baskervilles" by Sir Arthur Conran Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) is based here, as is the book and recent film "War Horse". We walked to Wistman's Wood on our recent visit. It is a fascinating place, one of the last remnants of a primeval forest. The oak trees are extremely old but none is more than 15ft  (4.5 metres) tall, some growing out of the rocks and boulders that litter the hillside.

 Dartmoor ponies, cattle and sheep roam the moors.

Vixen Tor is one part of the moor that public access is denied. It was fenced off by the current owner in 2003 and many attempts have been made to allow public access. One of the legends is that it was the home of a woman called Vixana who would lure travellers to death in the surrounding boggy ground. Maybe it is just as well you can't get close!

This cross called Windy Post is an ancient waymark ( possibly about 500 years old) on the track from Tavistock to Chagford and Ashburton. For several hundred years pack horses with bales of wool would have come this way.

Unfortunately we missed the Tour of Britain cycle race by a couple of hours as the route passed over the moor. There is lots more I could say about Dartmoor but it will have to wait for another time. If you are interested this short video will give you the spirit of the place far better than me.

Finally a big welcome to my new follower Bec from Two Worlds meet the coast .

Sarah x

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Down in the heart of Devon

Dortmund  red climbing rose

Back in 1997, when our daughter was five, we rented a holiday cottage in Devon. This week she celebrated her 20th birthday and we returned back there for the 14th time to celebrate her birthday and also our sons' graduation from the University of Plymouth. It was a proud moment to mark his years of hard work.

Once you have found a special place it is difficult not to return, particularly when there are so many wonderful places just waiting to be explored. However our year seems incomplete without a visit to Little Forda.

Although we live on the edge of a town and  fields are only 5 minutes walk away, it is not the same as living in the country. This location on the edge of Dartmoor is so far away from the city noises and the night skies show a mass of stars, so visible away from light pollution.

There is layer upon layer of memories and fun times spent over so many years. The children helping to feed the chickens, leading the donkeys into new pastures, being woken up early in the morning by the sound of the cockerel, planning our next exploration on the moors.

We have visited in all seasons apart from the depths of winter.Our hosts have always been so welcoming and friendly. Is there anywhere you return to again and again like we do?

Today back home again, we awoke to rain and it feels so cold. Autumn has definitely arrived and with our daughter returning back to Uni we need to readjust to a quieter life again. The garden had produced a glut of courgettes in our absence and a bowl of home-made courgette and cheese soup was just the ticket! The first time I saw this recipe I wasn't sure about the addition of the cheese but I highly recommend this simple recipe, especially on a cold autumn day.

Cheese and Courgette soup -Serves 2
150 g courgettes cleaned and sliced
1 onion chopped
1 medium potato peeled and diced
500ml vegetable stock
100g grated cheese
Place vegetables in saucepan with stock bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend, put back in pan, reheat stir in cheese and serve,

Looking forward to catching up with everyone through your blogs!
Sarah x

Friday, 14 September 2012

Music created by the wind

 In Dorset every two years we have a festival called "Inside Out" that promises extraordinary events in extraordinary places - and it always manages to match this billing! One of the events this time was  "Harmonic fields", a sensory journey exploring the music created by the wind using 500 musical instruments!

The site for Harmonic Fields was in a disused quarry on Portland with views overlooking the sea.

The music created was simple and pure, The sound and tempo being dependent on the strength and direction of the winds.

 Some of the music reminded me of the sound of the cow bells in Switzerland and Austria.

Other sounds were very loud. There was a string over the top of this drum and with your head inside the drum (as illustrated by my daughter) the sound was similar to thunder.

The final finale was an amazing symphony of sound with so many instruments gathered together. 

I discovered this video (not taken in Portland) so if you are interested you can experience what we heard here. It was an unique and unforgettable experience. Have you listened to music in any unusual places?

Wishing everyone a good weekend, and thank you as always for your lovely comments and stopping by.
Sarah x

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Paralympic Sailing

Having done a few posts on the Olympics from Weymouth I had to include one of the Paralympics too! Unlike the Olympic Sailing the Paralympics were much quieter. All the races took place inside Portland Harbour which was further away from the shore and you could only watch from a distance.

This time there was no ticketed event and I felt sorry for the competitors that they did not have same huge crowds watching them. Although we watched the games every evening on TV I never saw anything televised about the sailing.

 If you are interested in seeing some more photos of the Paralympic Sailing events look here. The sailing was cancelled on the last day of the competition as there was no wind, so the results of the previous days determined the winners.  The final results were Great Britain and Netherlands came joint first and Australia was third..

The end of the Paralympics in Weymouth was marked by hundreds of school children dancing along the Esplanade dressed as sea creatures. It was such a colourful spectacle. Members of the local bowling club stopped to view the children going by.....

The end of the paralympics seems to bring an amazing summer of celebrations to a close, with first the Jubliee and then the Olympics and Paralympics. As a family we have all enjoyed watching both games and I hope the legacy of inspiration, hope and friendship will continue, it will certainly be a summer to remember!

Sarah x

Sunday, 9 September 2012


A few weeks ago I did a post about sunsets, so here is one this time showing the sunrise.

These pictures were taken at the weekend, when as usually happens, instead of sleeping late, I wake up early ! This particular morning instead of lying in bed trying to get back to sleep,I decided to get  up and see the sunrise. I am so glad that I did.

The water was so still and calm, however the roads by the harbour were full of seagulls scavenging and fighting for the leftovers from late night take-aways!

This is the lookout at the end of the stone pier. If you go up the steps and look out over the sea you feel as if you are completely surrounded by water - you could easily imagine you were in the famous scene from the film Titantic!

This time of the morning is always busy with fishing boats heading out to sea.

The stone pier walls were built in 1879. The photo shows the first rays of the sun shining on them and also on  the rocks close-by.

Is it just me or do you enjoy reading the names on boats and wondering how they got their names ... any guesses for how this one was named - it is one of the training boats for the sea cadets!

Back down the harbour to a different view from earlier.

There are advantages and disadvantages with every season and one benefit at this time of year is being able to witness this wonderful sight at more of a reasonable hour without it being freezing cold outside!

Hope you have all had a good weekend too and  hello and a big welcome to my new followers Jan and Jenny .

Sarah x

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A walk in an English Jungle

One of the walks I have always wanted to do, is to walk the Undercliff from Seaton to Lyme Regis. The undercliff was created by a number of landslips. The first one occurred on Christmas Day in 1839 when 20 acres of farmland fell 300 feet. Two leading scientists were in the area and it was the first landslide recorded in Britain.

Lyme Regis Undercliffe

They called the detached land that fell away Goat island and it became a very popular excursion for the Victorians. The farmers soon realised that they could make some money out of it and started charging the visitors and providing teas! Since the 1950's this area has been a nature reserve and has Britians largest self-sown Ash forest. It is a challenging walk through the wilderness, with the path having many twists and turns throughout its 7 mile (11km) length.  There are no diversions off the path and the walk takes about 3-4 hours.

This house was abandoned but nature has found a new use for it.

It is so different to other coastal walks in Dorset with only a few glimpses of the sea, although the sound of the waves crashing against the shore can still be heard in the distance. 

Our path took us through dense vegetation, the tall ash trees and oaks providing shade from the sun and the undergrowth being covered in bracken, ferns and ivy. It has been called England only jungle.

We didn't see or hear as much wildlife as we expected. We watched a few silver-washed fritillary butterflies and we tried to get a photo of them, but they were too fast feeding off the nectar of one plant and flying onto the next one.
 However this ringlet butterfly was more obliging.....

There are over 400 species of wildflowers that have been recorded in this area alone!

Clematis vitalba (Old man's beard)
The land is home to badgers, foxes and adders, as well as the butterflies, we even caught a glimpse of a buzzard overhead.

Part of the French Lieutenant's Woman was filmed here. The film crew found this such a difficult terrain to work in that they produced  T shirts with the slogan "I hate the Undercliff ". We found it a wonderful place to be and I would love to do the walk again in the spring. At the end of the nature reserve the the land opens out and glimpses of the Cobb at Lyme Regis can be seen.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Gardening in August

It's quite a time since I shared any pictures of the garden and these were taken in August so I am a bit late showing you them .....

As the season progresses in some areas of the garden the colours become bolder with the bright yellow of the rudbeckia and the scarlet flowers of the runner beans.

I still love the more muted colours too, like these oregano flowers much loved by the bees.

  The white flowers of the Cosmos Purity, which survived the slugs and snails and provide so many flowers over such a long period.

The Japanese anemone flowers from August to October, they can be invasive, but I do love them.

Finally a combination of colours in our gravel garden  -Sedum (ice plant), with Knautia macedonica (Crimson flowers) and pale cream yarrow.

Do you have a favourite flower that is flowering at the moment? It is lovely currently seeing spring flowers appearing on the blogs from New Zealand and Australia that I visit. Welcome to my new followers  NataliaBobbi,   A breath of fresh air,  Oh so vintageNice day at Rosies and Geraldine.Thank you everyone for leaving me all your lovely comments I really appreciate them.
Sarah x


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