Thursday, 30 May 2013

Cookery challenge update

I have been taking part in a years cookery challenge to try cooking all the recipes in one cookery book. The book I have chosen is " River Cottage Every Day" by Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall (see my previous post here.)  

Unfortunately I have only managed on average to try one new recipe a week- so I still have a long way to go but we have enjoyed all of the dishes we have tried.  What has impressed us most with these recipes is the blend of different flavours and textures that make the vegetable dishes so tasty and interesting.


Beetroot and walnuts with a yogurt dressing.

  
Sweet potato, puy lentil and rocket salad


 Curried egg, lentils and parsley rolls

We have always enjoyed eating lentils and Hugh has included them in many of his recipes. I would never have thought of adding them to sandwiches and they were delicious.

As it is heading towards summer here we have started to try more summery dishes one of the more wintry dishes we dishes we really enjoyed was Wild mushroom stoop. It falls between a soup and a stew and we thought it was much more tasty than most meat stews we have taken.

The other participants  in the cookery challenge are:-

Cooking Club
 Lucent Imagery * From River’s Edge Explody Full * Christa to the Max *Juanita Tortilla

  If you are interested in joining, please contact Lucent Imagery- you can start at any time.

Have you tried any new recipes or cook books recently that you have enjoyed?
Sarah x

Monday, 27 May 2013

A sub tropical garden with breathtaking sea views

Over this weekend we visited a Sub-tropical garden on the coast nearby at Abbotsbury. It felt as if we had travelled more than 10 miles (16km) from home as we walked among the exotic plants much more common in exotic locations.


We have been here before, although it is many years since we last visited and we didn't realise until recently that dogs are allowed in. The gardens were established in 1765 as a kitchen garden for the nearby castle (which is no longer here). With its mild climate the Gardens were a popular place to grow the many plants and seeds discovered by plant hunters in the 19th century. Like many large gardens it declined after the two world wars and brambles and thick undergrowth were cleared in the 1960's when the restoration began.

The magnolia walk is new since we last visited and as you climb the hill the view gets better and better....


At the very top it opens out into this breathtaking scenery. I could have sat here for hours looking at the sea!


Weymouth and Portland is in the far distance, the bank of shingle is the Chesil beach, and the salt-water lagoon is known as the Fleet.

The sheep and lambs were too busy to admire their surroundings!

 In the other direction is West Bay (Broadchurch) and Lyme Regis.

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Back in the woodland area of the gardens, azaleas were in full bloom and the trees towered over our heads.


The lily and fish pond with lush trees and undergrowth stretching as far as the eye can see.


This beautiful bleeding heart plant was thriving in the shade of the walled garden.

This will be the first of many visits we plan to take here and I'm sure you will be invited along too! Sometimes it is so easy to overlook visiting places that are nearby, does this happen to you too?

Have you visited Emma at Emmie and Emma at home ? She is a textile artist and maker and I have admired her work since I first discovered her many, many months ago. I asked her whether she could make me a
Westie felt brooch and this is what she sent me, isn't it lovely? It looks so like Daisy.



As we were sitting in the garden with a coffee this afternoon a squirrel appeared on the trellis. I wish I had followed Nina's example and had a camera to hand. By the time I had got the camera the squirrel was long gone, but it didn't stop Daisy looking for it! A few weeks ago at lunchtime an adult fox quite casually wandered across the lawn. Twinkle, who is a tiny cat, was in the garden at the time but was luckily fast asleep under the horticultural fleece that was covering some seeds in the vegetable garden. Also, recently, I was having difficulty in getting water out of the rose of a watering can. I took off the rose and gave it a hard shake, assuming it was a snail that was blocking it, and to my surprise out fell a newt !


As many of you have noticed I have changed my banner and background I felt like a change! I hope it hasn't confused you! Welcome to my new followers Primroses and Petticoats Teresa Maria at An Amateur's ventures on lifeLuisa,Angels door, Lilan, Yonks, and Danielle. If you have a link that I haven't added please let me know.

Congratulations to Carolyn from Draffiin Bears who wins my giveaway book by Joanne Harris Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure. from my French link party post Thank you for those who took part I'm sorry you couldn't all be winners.
Sarah x

Friday, 24 May 2013

Sun setting over Southsea

My daughter has just finished her second year at Uni and I went up to stay the night with her and help her pack everything up. I don't how she ends up with some much stuff! We took an evening walk along the beach at Southsea, which is less than 5 minutes walk from where she has been living.

 

It was lovely to see the string of light bulbs lighting up the promenade. We used to have these in Weymouth until they re-designed the seafront for the Olympics and replaced them with laser lights that project their rays across the water. They might be modern, but it is just not the same - sadly a campaign to bring back the old, much-loved, light bulbs did not succeed.

Southsea pier
Southsea's Victorian pier was put up for auction in December with a guide price of £192-210,000 - but there were no interested parties. A local community group would like to take it on, but it needs to be restored and made safe.





The following morning I couldn't resist taking this photo of some more beach huts in candy colours.

Thank you for sharing with me your experiences of France in my last post, I did enjoy reading them.
Wishing you a good weekend.
Sarah x

Friday, 17 May 2013

Memories of France


France


I am joining Anita at Castles crowns and cottages to take part in her link party, so pack your bags and join us in a journey to France!


 When I think of France I immediately think of delicious food,wine, fascinating people and places, beautiful language, amazing architecture and lots of artistic inspiration.


Although my first picture was of the Eiffel Tower we will leave the delights of Paris behind for others to mention and concentrate instead on places close to the sea, (did you expect anything else from me!) My first memory of France was visiting the South of France in the early 70's staying in a motel near Frejus. The sea was so warm - the photo must have faded over time as it doesn't look the Mediterranean blue that I remember ! The beach looks deserted apart from me standing at the waters edge.


Four years later we returned to the South of France, but this time rented a chalet up in the hills above Cannes. It was amazing how popular the stretch along the coast had become in just a few years. We sat in traffic jams to get to the beach, only to find everyone squashed together like sardines. For once I much preferred the attractive villages in the hills away from the crowds. There it was just the company of olive trees with the sound of crickets, and the smell of lavender. The smell of lavender even today takes me instantly back to those hillsides.....



Tourrettes-sur-Loup

A school day trip to Boulogne was my next visit where we practiced the French we had learnt at school, and bought French food to taste and take home. French baguettes, cheeses and croissants weren't common-place in England then!

My husband and children's first encounter with France was a long coach trip to Disneyland Paris, which didn't show them much of the true spirit of France.A few years later we had a chance to appreciate this in Brittany with its amazing shoreline, Celtic connections and the  traditional music all of which reminded us so much of Cornwall.

A French fisherman launching his boat in Brittany


View over Concarneau Bay


 Traditional Breton costumes

Rather than  revisit the busy South of France, we also took the children to the less crowded Languedoc region. The colours, architecture and warm climate were wonderful and also the wine from the grapes grown in the region were very good too! 

The wine from a small local wine producer  was only a short walk from where we were staying.


Collioure

France is such a huge country and there are still so many other places I long to explore... do you have any favourite places? I also enjoy reading books about France and those that have followed their dream and made a new life there, these are among my favourites :-

A year in Provence - Peter Mayle
Extreme pale rose: A very French adventure by James Ivey
Narrow dog to Carcassonne - Terry Darlington
The Olive tree - Carol Drinkwater
C'est la folie - Michael Wright
Chocolat - Joanne Harris


I have just finished reading Joanne's Harris book titled "Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure" which is a 3rd book in the triology  following her book and  the film "Chocolat". It bought back for me the scents, colours and tastes of France. I hadn't read the second book but  this did  not detract from the story. If you would  be interested in winning this book please leave me a comment mentioning it and I will pulll out a name at the end of the week.

Thank you for taking this short journey through France with me. There are many others taking  part in this journey so if you still wish to explore see other participants postings see Castles crowns and cottages. If you haven't visited Anita's blog before you will discover a wonderful world of inspiration, music and artistry  Thank you Anita for arranging this great party and allowing me to share my memories of France with you.
Sarah x



Monday, 13 May 2013

Down the lane

The weather forecast on Sunday was for rain, as it was bright and sunny after we had finished our breakfast we decided to get out before the rain appeared! Our plan had been to take a short stroll on a beach nearby but the admission charges for car parking had increased to £5 since our last visit and so our walk was only with distant sea views.

A traditional Dorset barn in the distance.




This is the etched glass window in the little wooden church close to the edge of the cliff showing the beautiful scenery around the church.






Wishing you a Happy week.
Sarah x

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Linda's tree

This is Linda's tree - we planted this magnolia in our garden to remember my friend Linda who died of cancer at the age of 32, eighteen years ago. It was only a few feet high when we planted it but it has grown into a magnificent tree that brings us joy and reminds me of our friendship.



Linda is on the left  - I am on the right.

Daisy enjoyed the shade of the tree


Over the past few days the trees at the bottom of the garden have been transformed by the stunning blooming apple and cherry blossom. We only have a short way to go to appreciate their beauty.



This bulb selection I bought from Lidl back in September, for less than £3, has been flowering for over a month starting with blue hyacinths and blue anemones and has been fantastic! I hope they will be selling some more like this in the Autumn.


We have had a week of almost constant sunshine and you can almost see the plants growing before your eyes. May has to be my favourite month of the year! What is your favourite month?


Welcome to my new followers Merisi's Vienna for beginners,  Gracie Saylor,  Richard ,Blue Borage, and Moonlight that you for joining me.
Sarah x

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Beach huts

Like VW camper vans I also have a love and fascination for beach huts!  Luckily with around 23,000 beach huts in the UK, I have plenty of opportunity of photographing them and maybe dreaming of owning one, one day! I recently featured some beach huts in one of my posts and from the comments received its clear I'm not alone in admiring them!

I started to wonder how long beach huts had been part of our beach scenery and this is what I discovered.....

At the end of the 18th century sea bathing became very fashionable. King George III while visiting Weymouth in the 1790's decided to take a dip in the waters of Weymouth Bay. At that time men and women swam in separate areas of the beach. Bathing machines were towed out to sea by horses. To preserve their modesty people would enter the machine, change their clothes and then enter the water on the other side. King George's dip in Weymouth Bay is still remembered in Weymouth today with his statute and a replica of the bathing machine used.



As time went by and fashions changed and in the Victorian era the shape of the hut changed from an octagonal to more of a box shape



As mixed bathing became acceptable these bathing machines were no longer required and  many were just left abandoned on the shore. The wheels were taken off and they were transformed into the first beach huts changing on the beach was still unacceptable. As the popularity of going to the seaside grew - so did the number of beach huts . New ones were built or old buildings were converted to provide not only somewhere to change, but also to have a brew up or picnic, without the sand in the sandwiches. They also provided a shelter from the rain! The views over looking the sea are always spectacular whatever the weather!



The oldest beach hut in the UK is in Bournemouth in Dorset dating back to 1909 -  it is very similar to the ones above. Bournemouth has over 200 beach chalets ans some of them have been painted in different shades of a single colour. I'm surprised they haven't been used in a paint advertisement. Do you like the different shades?


Although some beach huts are privately owned, many are still owned by councils and are rented out on a long term basis, while others can be rented or a daily or weekly basis.


Dorset used to hold the record of having the most expensive beach huts for sale, but one of these below in Shaldon in Devon has now taken the record  - it was recently for sale for £245,000 see here


More colourful beach huts at Dawlish Warren

I started this post about a week ago and then discovered that it has been a popular subject this week! I saw BBC's Countryfile last weekend featured the history of the beach hut and in the latest copy of Coast Magazine is a selection of beach huts where you can stay!



We have extended weekend with May Day bank holiday on Monday and hopefully the weather will stay dry! Wishing you a good weekend and thank you as always for all the lovely comments you leave me.

Sarah x

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