Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...

06/05/2021

Hello

 If you wonder where I am at the moment - I am here .... Kitchen Garden Diaries 


I have not abandoned my blog - far from it, my stories are there, they just need to find their way out and through my fingers on to the keyboard, in the meantime - please pop over and see where I have been working since January - hope you enjoy xxx




26/04/2021

Breathing

 So, I dropped off the radar.

When not working, we've been going on micro-road trips almost every weekend. For us, at the moment, road trips don't mean we are doing overnighters, we still come home at the end of the day once we have squeezed every last drop out of our adventure.

We love to walk the quieter paths and the less trodden routes and we have learnt over years of walking that the casual dog walker tends to turn back soon after their dog has relieved themselves - the evidence is the give away ๐Ÿ™„ and the day-tripper-walkers (especially now) tend to keep to the 'honey-pot' places where there are easy to pootle along pathways, with outdoor cafes and obvious beauty spots to visit. Good for them and hopefully good for struggling tourism post the pandemic drought.

We've not travelled far either, we don't have to drive miles and miles to find quiet trails in cool woodlands or to find panoramic views, there are so many places to visit locally that very quickly become 'off the beaten track' with a little effort.

Having Zeb (van) has elevated our walks to micro-adventures. The delight of pulling up into a parking space and while we are getting ready for our day's walking, listening to the kettle whistling a merry tune. The pleasure of sipping freshly made piping hot tea while we fill the flasks and lace up our boots.  And the relief (and I do mean relief) of being able to nip to the loo before we go and knowing that when we return from our walk we can use the bathroom, wash our hands, pull off our hot boots and slip into a change of shoes. Bliss.


And we've agreed food tastes better when cooked and eaten outside.
Yesterday we walked over a fairly high and isolated moorland ridge littered with limestone pavements, it made for tricky walking as we picked our way through the slabs and, today, despite feeling like I have been through the wringer - it was a good adventure.
Even the most heart-breakingly beautiful view is made better by tea and a dilly dog. Talking of tea and dilly dog in the same sentence, when we stop for our brew and a biscuit or two, so does she. We get out flasks for us and water for her. 
On Sunday we munched our way through Anzac biscuits and she tucked into gravy bones - we need the energy boost and it only goes to reason that she does too ๐Ÿ˜Š

There is something restorative in the simple pleasures of hugging a mug, sitting next to your man while watching the sun go down.  

These photos are just a small selection from our walks and micro-adventures over the last couple of weeks since lockdown has been easing.  



So, a tentative toe has been dipped back into blogging, it is not that I have nothing to say - I always have some story or other.

It is not as if I've not done anything, not been anywhere...it is just when I start to write a post - nothing happens ... ... ... except me staring at the draft page then shutting down the laptop or deleting what I have written.

I will return to blogging, blog hopping and commenting, but at the moment - life is busy, I am still grieving for a small and furry and my personal time is precious - stay safe, enjoy life, have adventures big and small and don't wait for 'things to get better' you have to grab the moment and make it yours, make it different, make it better - and do it RIGHT NOW.




19/04/2021

Mending

 Slow stitching, walking miles, talking, gardening.  




'She was only a bloody cat'.
I miss her. Terribly.
All I want her to do is come home.

thank you to everyone who sent kind words and love, to all the emails and virtual hugs, I will get round to replying to you - thank you x

14/04/2021

Be careful for what you wish for

 Remember I said ....


If I have a shower without that cat it would be a miracle?


Yesterday we buried her.

12/04/2021

A how-to in 9 easy paws - for cats only๐Ÿ˜ธ

Dear fellow humom-owners of the blogisfur - 
Pepper here, paw to keypawd, here to advise you how to have purrfect domination over your slaves. Iz pawed this 'specially fur you all! I shall continue my quest for total domination wen Iz be in charge...... I share wiv you now my most recent thoughts.


How to take a shower with your .... Humom
The step by step manual 
(or should that be paw by paw CATual...?)

Paw 1๐Ÿ˜ผ
Watch fur your humom head upstairs to the sleepin' room then the water room.

Paw 2๐Ÿ˜ผ
Follow at several cat's tails distance (alternative method - be bold and fur-riendly an' mislead them wiv your charms an' purrs).

Paw 3๐Ÿ˜ผ
Observe befur making your move, confurm that your humom iz goin' to stand under that water sprinkler in the bath. The obvious claws is gettin' towels an' a dressing gown.

Paw 4๐Ÿ˜ผ
Slip in as your humom steps into the water room. If you'z caught, don't fuss, just accept your fate - play in to their simple nature to believe you, then as they turn, slip back in an' hide SUPA-QUICKS, they will have fallen fur your fur superior intelligence an' invisibility skills.

Paw 5๐Ÿ˜ผ
Remain hidden til too late fur your humom to shut you out - this is wen your humom has shed her pelt and is stepping into the shower. (extra points if you can jump into the shower at the same time to enhance the element of surprise...!)

Paw 6๐Ÿ˜ผ
Note triumphantly when your humom sighs an' gets on with the shower. Now is the time to get to watch the water splash and bounce.  More points here if you attempt to catch some of the bouncin' water - this is fur level 6 ninja-kitty.

Paw 7๐Ÿ˜ผ
Avoid gettin' too wet, not nice bein' a soggy moggy but do leave foot prints on the bath edge, basin, window ledge and kitty-litter seat lid. Fur additional effect - shake any wet stuff off your fur and sprinkle it it everywhere.

Paw 8๐Ÿ˜ผ
Hide quicks under the chair by the heater wen humom grumbles an' gets out from the wet and rubs down wiv a towel (she does that to me when Iz been in the rain - then she gives me a treat, not enough to be worth the indignity, Iz just let her think it is)

Paw 9๐Ÿ˜ผ
Now iz the time to jumps back into the bath and lick up any of the warm and wet water in the bottom - this is the reward for all that stealth n stuff.  This is why we ninja-kitties do this sorta thing!

If..... if I ever have a shower without that cat - it would be a miracle. 

This is the cat who thinks all water in cat water bowls is beneath her and can only drink out of a running tap or she will expire!! So the two bowls in the kitchen, the one in the back yard, the two in the garden and the one in the bathroom are not suitable..... however post shower water puddles in the bath and the garden pond are the only things that she can drink from ......  what goes on in that fuzzy little despot's head, I will never know.

The last few days, as I alluded to in my last post, have been filled with walking. I'll shall go through the photos and find something interesting to share ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿฝ‍♂️๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿผ‍♀️๐Ÿพ have a lovely start to your week xx




11/04/2021

Farm

 

Three days straight of glorious escapism walking - so many paths revisited or explored anew - we have walked miles and miles. Most paths at some point go through farms as we make our way up onto the more isolated moorlands.

And at this time of year nearly every field is full to bursting point with lambs - this little school of lambs were definitely playing 'king of the castle' and although I did not manage to capture them - there were so many little bouncing lambs experimenting with the 'springs in their legs' as they leapt up and down with obvious enjoyment.


linking with Astrid's Scavenger Photo Hunt - do pop over and see what the others have done. Right, I'm off out, despite the overnight snow, we're going to head for those hills again. I'll catch up with blogs later once I am home - enjoy the rest of your weekend xxxx

08/04/2021

Never fail sponge

On and off I have used various Victoria sponge recipes, not really sticking with any particular favourite. Then last year, when I had a houseful of hollow legs when we all retreated home to hunker down and wait out the pandemic (little did we know that over a year later we are still restricted one way or the other), I rediscovered a recipe I'd used for many years and then somehow forgot about it.

I still have it written down from when I first started using it .... senior school 'domestic science' classes.  Written on thin school lined paper with no margins (a constant paper shortage meant we had to write from edge to edge and waste nothing) in a sloping joined up script - neat for the teacher in charge. Very different to the random erratic scrawl I favour now.

The weights and measures are in ounces and cups - which I find odd, I thought that I grew up with the metrication system, so I wonder if the teacher herself gave us the recipe..... hmmm, I can't remember. I have since altered and amended it to grams, however I will write down both for you.

The pictures are from today, one cake is for for Youngest and GF to take with them as they return to uni and the other to 'pay' for another dozen eggs which appeared at the back door - I suspect this may become an annual tradition which started last year during the lockdown.
Never Fail Sponge
  • 140 gm (5 oz) butter 
  • 170gm (6oz) sugar
  • 225gm (8oz) self raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100ml (1/4 cup) milk
Heat oven to 190 deg c
Beat butter and sugar well, add eggs one by one. Beat well, gradually add flour and milk.
Drop into lined/greased baking tins and bake for approx 20 -25 mins (until skewer comes out clean and the cake has a light 'bounce' on the surface when touched.
For a chocolate cake - swap out 2 generously heaped tablespoons of cocoa for flour.


If you are making it for guests (remember those strange things we used have visiting us years ago??!) it is great with whipped cream and strawberries, but for an every day scoff-it-with-coffee cake - jam with a goodly layer of thick glacรฉ icing is perfect (not too runny otherwise it just vanishes).

If you look at the original recipe, you will notice that I have made alterations both handwritten and on today's typed version and true to my cooking style, I do it differently again!

I use butter not margarine as the original recipe calls for - I think it was due to sanctions and restrictions that butter was deemed a luxury and school cooking classes thought margarine was an acceptable alternative.
I melt the butter in the microwave, stir in the sugar - who wants to beat butter to a pliable consistency when a gentle stirring in of the sugar to a softened yellow gloop is so much easier.

The added cocoa - if you do the 2 tsps as I have written - you get a pale slightly hot chocolate flavoured cake - however if you want a cake that screams chocolate! 2 tablespoons of the heaped variety is more your scene. And I never add salt - butter has salt in it. Full stop.

So, there you have it - a simple and reliable cake recipe, one I have used for xxxxx number of decades!

Right, need to go and 'parcel up' Youngest's cake, they are packing the car and I want to make sure it goes with them.

06/04/2021

In which we go walking ....

Firstly thank youfor your lovely comments, I do appreciate them greatly๐Ÿค—. I was asked if I knew a good sponge cake recipe - yes I do, I will share it with you soon I promise (just need to take some decent photos). The chocolate one I made for the Sunday picnic-in-the-garden was scoffed before I remembered to take a picture!


Not sure what the weather is like where you are but spring has teased us with a couple of warm days then immediately invited winter back in complete with brittle cold winds and snows. Shame on you spring - this is not funny.

We attempted a walk yesterday and cut it short. Despite being wrapped up, it was just not enough, so we sheltered on a sunny bank and shivered whilst we decided that we would take the next path across to the other side of the valley and return back to the van. The valley had a fast little stream flowing through the centre of it so we needed a permissible path across with a bridge before we could return.  Once back at the van, we used it's bulk to hide from the strong breeze and put the kettle on - it was such a blessed relief to be able to have a hot brew before heading back home.  The photograph above was taken on the way out - you would never guess it was such a bitterly cold day!

Today we tried again, this time a local walk. Although there was a threat of snow showers, the bright blue skies and softer breeze called to us so we took the hint and booted up and set off.

It was still cold but nothing like yesterday so we persisted. Eventually we arrived at a little woodland which has a 'secret path' around the far edge with a couple of little benches sited with lovely views. We stopped at one and watched as a snow-shower drifted through the valley. You can see the start of it behind the tree on the left side.

We decided to stay in the woodland - using the trees for shelter. The snow continued to drift up the valley, getting heavier.
Then it got heavier .... and heavier - we were now getting pelted with snow pellets and the other side of the valley vanished.


Himself sat and watched the snow - appreciating the vanishing view and the swirling snow flurries. 



We watched the view reappear with a dusty white coating. 

When it stopped, we left the shelter of the woodland and dropped down into the valley, following the river until we reached another young woodland. Here the sun broke through the clouds and it was beautiful. Buds and new leaves just shone out with such positivity and hope.


Moss seemed impervious to the cold and threw herself into the stream at every opportunity with such a happy face and silly grin. (Idiot dog!)

Now we are home, she is fast asleep on her bed, her feet twitching as she dreams while we hold mugs of tea and appreciate we managed to get out today. We are lucky.


04/04/2021

Big skies

A savoury pasta sauce is quietly bubbling away in the kitchen - one I have made before (52newrecipes) and the scent has just reached us.  I attempted a post yesterday, written several paragraphs, included photos, however was not happy with the underlying tone I'd managed to weave through. My blog is not a place for me to rant, it is a place where I share things that have warmed my heart, made me smile, made me feel positive - things and people I love.  So yesterday's wafflings felt jarring and ugly and quite petty - so everything was deleted. There is enough discordance around for me not to add my rather sour tuppence worth. And breathe ....

The temperature said 9 deg c but it certainly felt cooler, the sharp breeze definitely saw to that. We celebrated Sunday with our first family get together for what feels like years. We sat in the garden, appropriately distanced whilst swathed in blankets, coats and hats, hugging hot water bottles and mugs of tea as we ate chocolate cake and nattered.

We did a 'practice run' yesterday, following the sun, watching where the breeze was slipping in and it was a warm and sunny day. Today was so not that - it was bracing, it was fresh but it was with family ๐Ÿ˜Š so the warmth was of a very different kind - one we have missed for what feels for so long.


Friday was a lovely day -  a rare blue sky, one so big and so deep that it reached from horizon to horizon and filled my eyes and my heart. 

We packed the van with a packed lunch, flasks, dog towel and nibbles, camera, coats and boots and we found ourselves a quiet back water path. We knew that the first bit would probably have a number of folk and there was - so we stepped around them and soon left the well trod path for a lesser quieter one. I have been asked if we are afraid of folk due to the pandemic - No, definitely not afraid - even now, we just dislike crowds and have always avoided them if possible. Today was no different.


In the base of the flat flat glacial valley, a wide shallow stream burbled over rocks and pebbles, Moss of course took the direct route and plunged into the chilly waters. We took the more sensible (or boring if you are a dilly dog) footbridge over the crystal clear stream then continued upward on to the valley sides.

Himself and I stopped on the crest of a small hill and looked back over the view we'd just walked through. The colours of the valley are turning a delightful spring-like green. Trees are still bare but the grass and the hedges are developing hints of a delicious fresh growth. 

We drank tea and ate lemon drizzle cake while we listened to the warbling trilling songs from the skylarks. It is only the males that sing, defending their territory and advertising their availability to the lady larks - it is a wonderful melodic saga which fills the sky and heralds spring.

Mugs drained, crumbs brushed away we start our walk again, dropping down off the crest into a moorland field full of rushes and wild grasses. We could smell the 'green' of the sap filled leaves and stems as our boots bruised the grasses along the path.

In places the hillside oozed spring water and cows had made muddy quagmire patches. Himself and I carefully hopped across while Moss took this as the perfect opportunity to top up her mud levels.....

Our path took us alongside huge boulders which seemed have been inscribed with giant runic lettering. The stones were warmed by the sun and rough under my fingers.  The path slipped in and out of visibility, wound round reeds and thickets of moorland grasses, leading us further up the valley. A hare dashed out and flew up and over the hill in a blink of an eye - we marvelled at the speed this magical creature - a special moment.

Ahead of us a stoically square farm house sat solidly on the valley bottom, surrounded by nursery fields full of lambs and ewes basking in the sublime spring sunshine. Moss had to go back on her lead, which she cheerfully did as soon as she realised that there were woolly monsters which lived in the field we were just about to enter.


The closer to the farm house we walked, the younger and smaller the lambs. Until we reached the buildings and in the small nursery field alongside the house were tiny twins and triplets sleeping snuggled up to their mother's fleeces. Protected from the still chilly breeze and warmed by the sun.

Through the buildings and out the other side and a couple more long fields full of sheep then suddenly it was just us again so Moss was set free. At the side of the dry riverbed we stopped for a brew and sandwich, the water runs beneath the stones until there are floods then it fills with a roaring torrent of dark mud coloured seething water, however today it was empty and quiet. 
Our lunch was accompanied by the evocative cries of the oystercatchers (I though of Jill), curlews and the distant bleating of lambs. We'd seen no one, apart from the masses queueing at the ice-cream van at the beginning. 
Across the riverbed, then up the bank on to an isolated single track road, this was the first time we saw a fellow walker, a quick covid 2 step and a mutual nod of appreciation acknowledging the precious space.

The off the road, up the opposite side of the valley and the beginning of the return walk - this time along the ridge of the hills. The sun had warmed and the chilly breeze just lazily drifted along.

We stopped at a waterfall for Moss to have a drink and a bit of a wallow. It was both eerie and fascinating listening to the water crash on the rocks a long way down below our feet.
It was a long way down ..... it would be very difficult to get out again without some help.

Higher up where the cervices open out and are less deep, Himself dropped himself down into the stream bed - Moss was not happy and watched him very carefully - only relaxing when I called her and held her tight.

After we explored what we could, we returned to the track and continued along the ridge.  We did not say much - we were just happily absorbing the atmosphere and the air and the sky.


Then finally, reluctantly we'd finished our walk - so at the van, we cracked on the kettle, got out of our boots and fed Moss. Drinking piping hot tea and watching a couple on their mountain bikes going up the path we'd just come down, we agreed that this walk had been amazing. It had been healing, it felt real and it soaked into us and made us feel so so much better.

We have missed this so much - and this walk helped top up the batteries - here is to many more wonderful walks as life becomes easier. Hope you can get out too xx