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...

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 only😸

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 1😼
Watch fur your humom head upstairs to the sleepin' room then the water room.

Paw 2😼
Follow at several cat's tails distance (alternative method - be bold and fur-riendly an' mislead them wiv your charms an' purrs).

Paw 3😼
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 4😼
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 5😼
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 6😼
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 7😼
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 8😼
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 9😼
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 😊🚶🏽‍♂️🚶🏼‍♀️🐾 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 glacé 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 greatly🤗. 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 😊 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

02/04/2021

Celebrating that Friday feeling

 This is my first Friday off from work (and the Photo Scavenger Hunt) for a little while and it feels soooo good.

To celebrate that Friday feeling, Himself and I are going to pack ourselves a quiet little picnic, boots, camera and dog lead and find a backwater route for a walk. We are avoiding like the plague (sic) any where which may be popular and making sure we choose the path very much less trod.



But before we go - here is my first photo for Astrid's Scavenger Photo hunt - do pop over and visit, you'll find all the regulars and hopefully some new faces/blogs too.


Chocolate

Tomorrow I am baking - I have family coming over to join us for a 'socially distanced in the garden afternoon tea' on Sunday. The first one for many months.  Of course the cake has to be .......


A chocolate Victoria sponge with little bunnies bouncing around!


Have a lovely Friday and a good weekend xx

31/03/2021

What happens if ....

I am sitting on the settee with a mug of tea within easy reach and a sleeping (damp) dog near my feet.  I can smell her .... not pleasant.... she has been in the river and despite the water looking clean - the wiff that keeps wafting up tells a different story. But before I can tell you why she is damp, I shall start from the beginning.
We have/had a large and ugly conifer tree completely dominating the garden. It visibly ate up space and light, drank the groundwater until the soil cracked and shrank, dropped needles and sticky sap, souring the pond water and acidifying the garden. It's biggest sin was the amount of sky it hid from me. Last year we'd earmarked it to go - but things got in the way. The pandemic (who'd forget that) and the baby squirrels (who's rather thoughtless mother first used the conifer as a nursery then abandoned them in the same tree which they then both fell out of...).
We have a tree surgeon friend who came round and eyed up the offending tree, gave us a quote and a date and today he made good his promise.
This morning he, two chippies and an apprentice arrived and within moments of arriving had mugs of coffee in hand and were sizing up their task. Last dregs of brew drained they donned their safety gear and shot up the tree. I have never seen such professionalism and speedy work.
Within an hour the tree was down and chopped into easy to move pieces and all the branches were shredded and piled up into a neat mound of woodchip.

I gave them a second brew as they swept up, a quick catch up then they were gone. From start to finish just under two hours and I have now acres and acres and acres of blue sky filling my garden and my heart💙.  I stood outside and just looked up and I could feel my plants (the ones that managed to survive the falling branches) reach up and feel the air and the sun on their leaves.

Moss had been rather excited by all this activity - she is a complete sucker for boys and their toys (especially noisy toys) so was banished to the house to keep her (and them) safe. So once they'd tidied up and gone, I thought I would let Moss take me on a 'Moss made me do it' walk.

I'd planned to do another one of those - let Moss decide where to go walks and let her take the lead (see what I did there?!?) so why not do it now?
We start by going up the old tram lines, alongside the garages and allotments. Where the geese hiss and chickens run down to the fence in hope of a treat.
At the top of the lines, there is a favourite pathway and I know she will head that way and sure enough, a quick as you please turn to the left and Moss shoots down the path to the gate in no time at all. Towards 'Claire's Field'.
  
As we reach the gate, I peep over - the field is sometimes full of rare breed sheep so Moss has to go back on her lead (she is used to this and did not mind). However, by the time we reach the bottom of the meadow and on to the foot bridge - she is wanting her lead off again and gives me a rather exasperated look over her shoulder.
Across the footbridge and up to the fairy trees - here she runs free as there are no stock and the land is quietly reverting back to it's wild and moorlandy ways.

At the top, the path sneakily winds through a couple of converted farm builds and splits in two - I once again loosen Moss' lead to see which way she wants to go ..... left. 
No mistaking the decision. I nod to myself - I definitely know where she is leading me now.
We cross over and into 'Stone sheep' field and as usual the 'stone sheep' are there. The reason for the name is down to the colour of their fleeces, a mottled browny-grey colour. When the sheep are lying down, the field looks to be filled with boulders until a head pops up and the boulder suddenly turns into a sheep!
At the end of the field, we enter a small and tidy farm yard, where barns are filled with the bleating of tiny lambs and the comforting replies by the ewes.
On the other side, the slightly older lambs are outside in the nursery fields with protective mums watching as we walk by - Moss has no eyes for sheep (actively avoiding eye contact if at all possible) and heads straight for the cattle grid.
An easy and simple leap for her, she has the lane to play in as we head towards her chosen destination.
I love this lane, I have photographed, drawn it and painted it over the twenty odd years of walking up and down it (hell that makes me feel old!!) Moss just loves it for two reasons - there are often sticks that can be picked up and carried and it takes us/her towards one of her favourite spots for running around like a lunatic.
The rec. The recreation grounds, a lumpy bumpy field where playing football at Fifa level is aspired to but not necessarily manged when the pitch has naturally forming potholes ....

Potholes which hold the most glorious wallow-worthy mud, where you can sink up to your furry belly and have a full on mudpack. A place where you can shove your snoot in and blow thick mud-bubbles (yay says the dog, urgh says us).

By the time we reach the far side of the rec, Moss has her lead back on, I know that whichever way she takes me, we will either be on the lane or go through sheep. She chooses the latter and we head through the 'souterills' (we have found out it has a franco-influence and means southern 'something')

Head down, once again Moss refuses to look at the sheep, choosing in the straightest line possible to the far gate. Through the next field we continue, Moss is 'on a mission', she has a plan and I suspect by now she knows who was taking who on the walk and she is going to make the most of it!

Finally we arrive at the 'best gate' - the one that lets us in to the nature reserve, the one that a favourite swimming spot lives behind, the best gate indeed says Moss!
I slip her collar off so that she can swim. Moss runs off without a backward glance straight for the water. Happy dog.
We walk on through the woodlands, plenty of sniffs to be sniffed and smells to be smelt. Then by the end of the nature reserve, I replace the collar and the lead and let her continue her walk. Moss takes up her task and we set off at a cracking good pace. 

Interestingly enough we drop down to the road and we have a short stint on the pavement - I am surprised as Moss does not like this bit. Then, she takes a quick turn and up to some cottages - ah - I know where we are going. She leads me to a door of a lovely friend and she sits wagging her tail. I do hope our friend is in, we have not seen her for a while, so I knock and step back several paces. Sadly to no avail, I have to lead Moss away but delighted that she wanted to visit and did without any intervention by myself.
We return up on to an old lane, away from cars and surrounded by fields and sheep. Then for her final choice, Moss nips down to the river for a final dip before returning home.



4.75 miles later - we sit quietly at home, Moss having had a big drink and a couple of dog biscuits is stretched out, eyes drowsy and nearly closed. I have a mug of tea and a biscuit of my own.  

Today's walk was an interesting experiment - letting Moss lead the way. I wonder if I allow it to happen again - what route would she take? I may wait a while and try it again.