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...

30/01/2022

Signs

There have been delightful signs of spring.

The unexpected lambs spotted in the field with their waggling tails as they suckled.

The still tightly closed, but full of promise, Snowdrop buds all over my garden and in the hedgerows.

Crocus flowers just beginning to open in the gardens at work.
Seedlings magically appearing overnight in the glasshouse.
Skies are still grey and wild,
the winds still howl as Storm Malik gives way to Storm Corrie and the rain hammers down, 
but there is still promise.
Yesterday we drove over to Eldest and his lovely partner and spent the afternoon with them,
chatting and catching up...
...exploring their lovely little town overflowing with history,
and quirky and unexpected sculptures.
We wrapped up but probably could have worn a lot more as we followed the trails.
My fingers soon felt chilled to the bone as I tried to take photos,
so they are few and far between.
Storm Malik was reaching it's peak as we went past one of the many reservoirs near by, 
we stopped to watch the boiling and violent water with the spray whipping wildly in the buffeting winds.

Once again the weekend has slipped unhesitatingly to an end before we are ready for it to finish.
We have filled most of the hours, so shouldn't complain,
but a day or two more
would not have
hurt!


Hope your week is a happy one🤍🤍🤍🤍


And hello to my latest followers,
welcome to my little corner of the world xx

25/01/2022

Drink tea, bake cake and walk - sounds good to me.


 I thought, while I wait for the dried fruit, nuts and spices to gently simmer on the stove I would pop in and say hi. I can just about detect the first of the warm boiled fruit cake fragrance drift into the lounge. I'll check it in a while and probably make myself a mug of tea.

Any hoo, I'd been waiting for something interesting to land in my lap giving me something to waffle on about but life has bumbled along gently and quietly and I realised that if I waited for that amazing story - I might never write about anything!  Life is more about the normal daily things than the unrealistic 'insta' moments which foster false reality.

I'd worked the Saturday and to be honest I was really tired after a fairly hard going week however I'd set my heart on a walk and Himself was more than happy to oblige (as was Moss). So we took to the hills and parked up behind Kettlewell, Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales.  Our route is one we have walked since before we were married and has many happy memories for us. Kettlewell is about 300 years old and is thought to be a derivative of the Anglo Saxon word - Chetele Welle meaning stream or river.


The path started in the village and crossed the river Wharfe and turned up towards Starbotton - a village that for years I thought was called 'Star Bottom' which is rather sweet but it is actually more likely to have evolved from 'The place where the stakes come from' - Stauerboten - in Old English. 

The path gently follows the length of the river much to Moss' delight and despite the chilly temperatures she threw herself in to the water and grinned from tip of nose to end of tail. The valley is full of ancient fields with plenty of stiles and stone barns full of sweet smelling hay or old rusty tractors. I always try and peep in if I can - wondering at the stories these old walls could tell.

We stopped for lunch on a steeply wooded bank - the breeze was rather sharp and could cut right through our clothing so hunkering down in some mature trees was a relief. We ate cheese salad sarnies and sipped piping hot tea, swiftly followed by chunks of fruit cake - hence me baking more - we have run out and in this house that is a 'national disaster'!

There was a steady stream of walkers, mostly families or groups with dogs and on the whole everyone passed by with good humour. Occasionally we'd mutually have to call our dogs in and lead them up to prevent any silly dog behaviour. 

At the furthest part of our path we'd reached Starbotton - a picturesque hamlet which can get very busy in the tourist season - I feel for the locals, probably they need and dislike the hordes of holiday makers in equal measure. We crossed through the village and headed back towards Kettlewell on the opposite of the valley.

This time the path rose high up on the flanks of the hills giving us glorious views both up and back down the valley.  The breeze was once again rather cutting and we took the first opportunity we could to shelter from it by sitting alongside a small wild little wood full of twisted hawthorn, rowan, holly, hazel and ash. The last of the tea swallowed and the final two squares of ginger cake scoffed, we set off again through the woods and back down towards the village.

In all it was just under six miles and enough for me - the fresh air and walking certainly did my head good but I was ready for a freshly brewed mug of tea back at the van before setting off home. However, before I could drink it - I decided to create my own 'insta' moment! 




18/01/2022

Silverdale Gingerbread Brownies

Today is a day for catching up on mending and sewing, washing and baking. 

Mid morning, I fancied a mug of tea to go with my next repair - fixing a small hole on my thermal leggings. As I was sipping the brew I could smell the fruit cake as it quietly simmered on the stove. A heady fragrant mix of spices, fruit, treacle and butter. I thought now is a time as good as any to share the latest new-to-me recipe.
On the quest to find tasty baking which is simple and easy and quick - I tried another gingerbread recipe. This one is a Mary Berry version and I have halved the quantities and cooked it in my new brownie tin (which was a rather excellent chrimbly gift from my folks).
You pour the batter into the dish then gently lower the grid into the mix before placing in the hot oven. Then, when it is cooked and slightly cooled, holding the handles (they can still be hot so I use a tea towel to grasp them with) give them a gentle 'wobble' until the brownies shake free.

On Sunday I filled our large baking tin with the sticky and succulent gingery squares of brownie goodness and took them with us as we met up with Youngest. The plan was to leave them in the van to come back to when we'd finished our walk and needed that much needed energy boost.

When we arrived at Youngest & GF they'd already made us mugs of tea and it seemed churlish to turn them down so Himself collected the tin of gingerbread brownies and we nibbled and slurped and chatted as they got themselves ready. Himself and Youngest seemed to eat a number of squares (at that point I hadn't noticed the wholesale scoffing) !

We set off and arrived in Silverdale - the gentle beautiful rolling landscape of the lower Southern Lake District. We loaded our bags and set off for our walk which was sublime.

When we finally returned to the van in almost total darkness, we cracked open the gas cooker and brewed mugs of steaming hot tea and once again the tin was opened and passed around. Again several squares were devoured - probably did not even touch the sides!


So, on Monday when I was getting Himself's lunch ready for work - I was rather surprised as the lack of gingerbread brownies .... cue making more today. 

I have reduced the quantities (I do query my wiseness seeing how they seem to vanish) and added more spices - so really although a Mary Berry original it has now morphed into ...

'Silverdale Gingerbread Brownies'

  • 137gms syrup
  • 137gms treacle
  • 112gms light brown sugar
  • 112gms butter
  • 225gms self raising flour
  • Heaped teaspoon ginger
  • teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs

Temperature 160 deg C or 140 deg C for fan ovens

I used a brownie tin (approx 30cm x 20cm ish) can't measure it accurately as it is presently in the oven!

  1. Preheat oven
  2. in a microwavable bowl weigh out the syrup, treacle, sugar, butter and spices. Gently warm until the butter has softened enough to stir into the syrupy sugary gloop (alternatively use a pan on the stove to gently melt)
  3. mix well, add flour and beaten eggs and pour into the lightly buttered brownie tin
  4. bake for 30 - 40 minutes - I have a fan oven and I find that 30 minutes is enough. You will know your own ovens and may have to adjust accordingly - but do use a skewer or tooth pick and check if the batter is fully cooked.
  5. take out and cool.
The recipe did mention that it is better the next day and we noticed that the squares were definitely squidgy-er and gingery-er.

Hope you give it a try - they are simple and tasty and seem to have a really good vanishing trick up their sleeves .........


#52newrecipes


 

17/01/2022

A Monday of many colours (not just blue!)

Today is supposed to be 'Blue Monday' - which was created by a travel company to boost sales during a rather dull January ... there is - apparently - nothing medically or scientifically proven yet it is still touted as an actual 'thing' and looking out the window now, I wouldn't mind a bit of a BLUE sky to admire as it is rather dreary and grey out there. Any hoo.

I have been wandering around inside my head deliberating a theme for today's post. There are a number of stories that are rumbling around and I've been rerunning them to evaluate their 'story-ness' worth.

I have toyed with the one where the postmistress and I laughed conspiratorially together behind the curtain of the photobooth, where the rather boring and essential task of having an image taken for a driver's license turned into a moment of shared silliness with a stranger. However, when I tried to write it - it was not as funny and the act of typing it lost the spontaneity and immediacy of the situation.

So I wondered about our most enjoyable walk - the  one we did yesterday with Youngest and his lovely GF. However, as beautiful the views were or how gently mild the weather - it was just a walk. Nothing outstanding. Nothing earthshattering. Just a gentle good humoured trundle around the hills, along the coastline and through a nature reserve with lovely people. One that leaves you with a happy heart but not necessarily a story.

On the baking front - I've tried something new, which I will share, just not right now.

The blanket is almost done, the border is the final push and then the last few ends to weave in.
So.
Lots goes on, life rolls forward, days lengthen and clouds fill the sky. 

Nothing really worth waffling on about.

And in the interest of 'eye candy' I took the blanket in the van yesterday as we drove up to the South Lakes and with the 'assistance' 😆(I use that word hesitantly!!) of Youngest - I took a photo of said blanket draped on a wall. 

So if you'll excuse me I have a date with a crochet hook, a mug of tea and a blanket on the settee - speak to you soon xx

11/01/2022

Today is Tuesday

The crows above my head are cawing and cackling with what appears to be delight. They tumble and turn, buoyed by the light breeze and warmed my the gentle hazy sunlight. For the first time in a few days, the clouds have broken and slivers of blue slide behind the breaks. As the day wears on, the sky becomes more visible and by the time we set off for our walk, the day feels fresh and bright.  
Moss sets her shoulders and pulls me up the hill, normarily I would rein her in but her keenness is infectious and we all yomp up the lane only stopping to catch up with folk we'd not seen for ages - conversation gushes as we both start and finish each others sentences - as we had done in a time prior. We make plans to catch up properly.
We continue up the lane, through the playing fields at the top of the hill then along through the sheep fields - looking for any calves in the neighbouring pasture. A small herd of Highland coos  over-winter up on this ridge each year and as January slides into February - shaggy calves appear looking not dissimilar to oversized teddy bears.
Down the other side of the hill we join the path which takes us through the nature reserve. Moss can not get into the river fast enough. All the streams are full and flowing merrily and 'Sagar's Lake' (a heavily silted mill pond) is full with bathing ducks. The bulrush heads seem to float above their straw-coloured stems. There is very little sound apart from the distance rumble of traffic, our footsteps and the occasional bird song.
The further along the nature reserve we walk, the clearer the skies and it feels pleasantly mild and wonderful to be out. The reflections in the mill pond capture me for a moment and I pause to take a photograph and preserve this precise minute.
At the far end of the nature reserve is a busy little cafe - well frequented by dog walkers and families, Youngest and I don masks and purchase three take away teas. Then, Youngest, his Girl, Moss and I sit and watch the ducks on the upper lake (another millpond renovated in the late 1980s) as we drink steaming hot strong tea. 
Tea drunk and the sun gently sliding back behind slivers of thin cloud, we set off back home. We stick to the footpath alongside the road back into the village - I am plotting another mug of tea, there is lunch to be made and Uni work to be done. I also have things to do and a blanket to get on with.
It is growing and feels heavy and warm on my lap as I add rows -  now over half way there - it should not take too much longer to get to the end and then a few bordering rows to finish. There is a double bed waiting for it😊 

Hope your Tuesday was a good one, gently getting you ready for Wednesday xxxx
 

10/01/2022

New recipes for 2022

 Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Simple and warming - I used the BBC good food version. However, I did my usual and adapted it slightly. The original recipe states to add all the cauliflower to the cheese sauce and blitz it to a silky smooth texture. I kept several of the larger florets to add to the pasta as we both like cauliflower to eat. The sauce does take on an elevated texture and taste and this is how I'll do from now on. I have made it about four times so far and it keeps well and rewarms nicely the next day.  General consensus it is a keeper!

Out of 10? definitely a high 8 or even a 9!


Sticky Toffee Pudding

Now. Say goodbye to your waistline and hello to 'pass me another slice please'! The full size recipe is quite generous so I reduced the amount to two thirds. If you are using uk ingredients make sure you use this treacle - not promoting it but I have made it with a different product and it was not nearly as nice. If you are in the US  - have a read of this regarding treacle.

I used the Mary Berry version and like the macaroni cheese I have repeated it several times, including turning in into 'brownies'.  I made the sauce a little thicker, cooking it a bit longer than the recommended time to thicken it and instead of using pouring cream, I used double and dolloped on a generous amount just before serving. Youngest has served his brownies with ice cream instead of cream and confirmed that that too is rather delicious. They are best eaten warmed.

This particular recipe is vastly more simple than the usual varieties making a rather soft and light 'cake' which is absolutely delish!!

Out of 10? Certainly a 9 or may be a 10 due to it being easy and quick and oh so tasty indeed!


Cheese Toasties (For Sandy)


These vary from family to family and it is one of those recipes that you can put your own stamp on - ours tend to be a simple one with a couple of slices of red pepper, mushroom, tomato seasoned well then doused in grated cheese. I sometime spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the inside, Youngest often uses green pesto and Himself likes to add sweet chilli mango chutney - so you see - 'you make them your own'.

I have added a couple of links HERE and HERE for different suggestions and HERE for a page full of rather posh versions.

We also have under the grill toasties (aka cheese melts or open melts) which although contain very similar ingredients are quite different. 

The bread is toasted on one side only. On the untoasted side, pile on your chosen ingredients and top with cheese, season well and place under the grill until all melted and golden. 

Both these sandwiches make brilliant lunches and when eaten with a thick homemade vegetable soup is perfect for a wintery weekend meal.


Thanks to Youngest for the toastie and brownie photographs.

#52newrecipes

09/01/2022

Slow Sunday

 

Soggy grey Sunday

Silver skies and soft sunlight

Rain

Sitting by a crackling fire

Crocheting a warming blanket, the hook sliding through the yarn.

Sipping tea

Chatting

Making cheese toasties 

Walking

Laughing at such a muddy face

Drinking more tea with shortbread biscuits

Baking a sticky toffee pudding

Gently sautéing onions for cauliflower macaroni cheese

Listening to the radio

Smelling the scent of a gingerbread spice soy candle

Not a bad day, gentle and restorative.

Hope your Sunday was good to you too xxx


I will post the macaroni cheese and sticky toffee pud recipes shortly - both worth it 😊


05/01/2022

Wintery walk

Our festive break seemed to slip by without hesitation then suddenly we landed on the last day. It was only fitting that we took ourselves for a walk - the first and last one of our holiday. 

Weather and commitments meant that we had lots of lovely 'dog-loops' around the village starting and ending from home but we'd not managed to get our boots on and sling a rucksack on our backs and head off into the hills.
Tuesday was the day and we headed into the Dales. And found snow!
The air was bitingly cold and the light breeze just sliced through so we very quickly added more layers and kept moving to keep warm. 

We found a small naturally formed ledge which basked in full sun and protected us from the breeze so we stopped and had lunch as we watched our breath swirl around. Tea, sandwiches and biscuits were consumed while Moss either 'sunbathed' or sniffled around the snow.
Our trail followed the narrowing valley where we crossed the stream on an icy covered footbridge, the path suddenly rose sharply upward. As we climbed, the snow became thicker and the path icier and slippery in places.
After the steep pull we landed on an 'alp' arriving at a derelict farm house and barns. It is one we have visited before and affectionally call the 'Barn Owl Farm Barns' as the last time we were there, there was a family of Barn Owls nesting in one of the barns.
There is still tangible evidence that it was not so long ago that the farm was a family home, filled with people living and working in a beautiful but isolated area.




I wandered around carefully, the floor boards although all there - had a certain soft feel to them and I was not taking any chances. I took several photos before returning outside to find Himself and Moss playing in the snow. We continued along the farm track and I took a photograph of the farm at the end of their lane - on a beautiful summer's day, I could imagine how wonderful it would be to live there however it would not take much to get cut off and feel very isolated.
Our walk took us up and back over to the other side of the valley and we walked along the ridge back down towards the van. 
The late afternoon sun, as it slipped down, turned the snow from a brilliant twinkling white to shades of brittle cold gold and blue. It was beautiful but really cold and we knew we had to keep moving and get back down into the valley before it was too dark.
Back at the van and seven and half miles later, rosy cheeked and 'frozy toed' we felt gently happy. Being out on a crisp wintery day with glorious blue skies and soft golden sunshine had done us a world of good.