Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Italian Job

We got a surprise call on Friday night from Terry & Yvonne who said 'Get dressed up Italian style we are going to cook you an authentic Italian meal for your anniversary'. This sounded lovely. So the next evening, off we went all dressed up like a mafioso and his moll not knowing what to expect. We took our Italian phrase book with us from our Italian lessons and some cantuccini. All that was missing was a violin case.
We arrived to a 'bueno serra' and the dining room given over to red and white gingham cloth and little candle holders, Dino on the hi fi and the garden with twinkly lights - it was the perfect Italian atmosphere. The meal was out of Gino Decampo's book and started with a dip followed by a tagliatelle with a red wine beef ragu with little tiny peas. It was delicious. It was accompanied by cheesy focaccia and followed by a real raspberry polenta cake with a raspberry coulis. We had lots of fun and was a thoughtful anniversary present and very much appreciated, and cooked great.
This started our anniversary weekend with a bang and, Monday, we decided to go to Amerton Farm for a wander round and pick up some home made bread and a look at their crafts. Then we carried on down the road to the small village of Salt, which originates from the Saxon word 'Selte' which means salt pit or salt works where we had lunch at The Holly Bush. This pub is the second oldest licensed pub in England. Pubs first got their licenses in 1670 under the reign of Charles ll but this hostelry has been there since 1190 (it is mentioned in the Domesday Book) as it was a stage coach stopping place on the highway from London to Liverpool which is now the A51. They serve the biggest onion rings we have ever seen and a delicious home made cheese cake. It was a different and interesting weekend trip and we really enjoyed it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There's a Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose!

Or a series of unfortunate coincidences...Molly was incredibly quiet yesterday afternoon and sat on top of the radiator in the hall. We took no notice for about an hour and then began to worry. Mainly because Molly never sits anywhere for longer than ten minutes at a time and she is very rarely in of an afternoon. What was up? I'll tell you what was up - a mouse, a tiny mouse which eventually ran from under the radiator and up our curtains. Hell, what's a person to do? Scream? Run? Panic? yes, we did all of these things before forming a plan to rescue him from the Big Bad Pussy Cat. It was a real Tom and Jerry afternoon which ended up in a real Laurel and Hardy evening.
We managed to drape the curtain through the window and force the poor shell shocked mouse outside. We heard him plop onto the bushes and hoped he made a full recovery. Molly meanwhile was locked out and watched through the glass door with utter horror as he went free.

It didn't end there though and, unless you believe in coincidences, you are never going to get a grip on this...

We are cat sitting this week for Elle C (Little Mama), and we went to sit for an hour with her to calm ourselves down and watch Masterchef with a nice cuppa. Now ,as we closed our neighbours curtains, a mouse ran down them , a little tiny mouse!!!! Oh my, this was too much to take in we couldn't believe it - wouldn't believe it - how? - did we bring it with us? - had Molly brought one round to Elle C? - did we bring one round to our house from Elle C's earlier ? We will never know but, we did chase it around the house a lot, opened the back door for it to run out when it made it to the kitchen, but, in the end, totally disappeared somewhere and we spent the evening with our feet up. Elle C, meanwhile, took no part in any of this and only wanted a cuddle from two nervous wrecks. Oh, well, fiddle dee dee, tomorrow is another day. I suppose the mouse will have the last laugh!!!

Breakfast at Blackroot

Who needs Breakfast at Tiffany's when, right on our doorstep, we have the Blackroot Bistro set in the heart of our park.

We woke up to the most beautiful Indian Summer's morning, and decided not to waste it but go and have a full English brekkie with scenery, so we did.

The views were beautiful, and so was breakfast.

We may do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lost and Found

Autumn Days full of mist and mellow fruitfulness or something, or ... well, I have found two brand new shiny conkers fresh from the big chestnut tree this morning and it has made me go all poetic. Two 'V's of geese just went over practising their flight and calling - I just love that sound, it is my very favourite. It says " time to quilt, time to enjoy the fire glow, time to make soups, and crunch leaves." All the things I love start coming with Autumn so bring on those conker contests, let's feed those birds, collect pine cones and I'm off to look for red toadstools with white spots.
P.S The damsons have arrived from Sarah's orchard, thousands of 'em... and the postie has just delivered our first Christmas movie this year ready to put away for chilly afternoons. What a great day!
The Saving of the Green - We Lost and We Won!
Some might say what's in a name? We say lots, we called ourselves, Terry, Yvonne, Sarah, Bri and me The Village Idiots, and we were. Next quiz night we are going to be oh, I don't know, we'll think of something brilliant. It should be a night to have fun as well as save the village green from builders and it was fun. Even though we didn't win the quiz, we did have THREE WINS on the raffle. Champagne for Sarah, hair voucher for Yvonne (Bri didn't think he could use it) and chocs for Bri - Now that was embarrassing but not enough to stop them getting their photos in the local paper and us all promising next time to try harder and, as Yvonne wrote on our score paper - See Me!

Found...Bri's great granny has been found and here's a turn up, we think she comes from the Channel Islands. She is still under investigation but the evidence (the marriage certificate arrived today, her name was Lizzie Lefebvre) is pointing that way!
Also found was Bea and Bobby, the cat and kitten who went missing yesterday and the neighbours all came out to find them. Bea was in the sub-station (I remember Molly doing that), and Bobby, the kitten, had just plain wandered off into the nearest bushes. It took all day to find them and part of the night - they were lucky this time...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Garden Spells

Thanks go this week to my little pear tree for delivering a second helping (around another 30 or 40 pounds) of delicious pears from the top branches. We couldn't reach the very top layer but, to our pure delight, the next morning, after a very cold night, they had dropped to the floor. A couple of weeks ago, the little tree seemed to be throwing pears at me to let me know it was ready for me to pick them, which I thought was really odd, as I have just been reading a book called 'Garden Spells' where a little apple tree kept throwing apples at people, and when they ate them, it showed them a future event that would change their lives. It was a good book as it was an unusual magical story which I really enjoyed. Fortunately the only thing my pears told me was to put them in two new recipes I have found, one being an Italian Country Pear Cake, the other, Pear Frangipan Tart. I have also found another new recipe to use up apples from the plot which is Apple Parkin. I still have the frangipan one to bake, but the others are hot out of the oven and looking and smelling good. But, the proof will be in the eating... Oooh, I just thought I bet the pear cake will go really well with a glass of pear cider which I have also just discovered.. pearfection!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Roll Up! Get Yer Fresh Produce Here!!

Summer Days, Drifting Away~~~

It is now the fag end of the growing season,
however, we are still collecting a bounty of veg and fruit when we get the time to go down to the plot. Unfortunately, this year we haven't been able to spend as much time as we would have liked down there, due to the lousy weather we had, making said wedding cake, going to quilt fairs and, of course, work, but we have still managed to grow some good stuff. The courgettes, have, as usual, been prolific. (Note to self not to grow so many next year). We have had more beans (both French climbing and dwarf) than we could eat, loads of apples, pears (90 pounds so far and we have only cleared half the tree), raspberries, which are still coming thick and fast, swedes, another 12 pound courgette, really large onions, potatoes... the list seems endless!!
There have been some lows, however, not least of which is the tomatoes again succumbed to the dreaded blight - next year we have resolved not to grow them on the plot but to use space in the poly tunnel up by the Social Club.
The red cabbage and brocolli which started out so promisingly, ended up as pathetic weedy things which we had to pull up -my New years resolution is not to grow any thing that requires netting as it is ineffective as the butterflies and every other insect can get through it as the holes in the mesh are too big.

How to Catch A Molly ~~~
Take one tethered Ferret to get one Molly - in at night. Anyone with a cat will know they don't do curfew well. Molly has to be in before the moths fly or else we won't be able to get her in at all. It has become a real game trying to think of different ways to outsmart her at coming in time. Knowing how she feels about Ferret getting any fuss from us, we decided to use him as bait under the tree, like Big Cat hunting. It worked. Tonight, that is. Tomorrow, we will have to think of something else. Being black, we worry about her being out in the dark, even more so since we saw her sitting on the car park and a car drew up and pipped and she just sat there totally unperturbed. The lady kept pipping - no joy - Bri had to go and get her, how embarrassing was that? Very. Everyone now thinks she is deaf, not daft.

Wedding Cake Walk - Part lll

Uncle Bri's Very BIG Adventure (and Plum's too)
We really crossed the border this weekend when we ventured Oop North to the wedding. To every one's amazement, including ours, we didn't get lost, and Bri got us there safe and sound. We had instructions from the AA (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous) and we followed them to the letter and ended up at a garden centre...
He got us back on track, and we made it to the beautiful country church down a long lane with time to spare. In fact, we arrived so much on time, on seeing the totally deserted church and grounds, we almost panicked and thought that we may have gone to the wrong one. We then spotted the beautiful flowers around the arched wooden gates and knew we were right. The ceremony was lovely and our little great-niece, who has just learned to talk, cheered and clapped all by herself when our nephew ( her uncle) said 'I Will'. It was a wonderful moment to remember. She was so good on her first venture into church. The Reception was full of fun and the day was a really happy one. The cake, however,succumbed to its fate and was cut into lots of pieces as I watched the knife go in. It tasted good though!
We decided, however, not to tempt fate by staying over and followed our cousin home... it was dark, and we can't be trusted!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wedding Cake Walk Part ll

Aunt Plum's Big Adventure (Bri's too, of course)
Well, there are just four days left to our nephew's Big Day, and the cake is done, in the box, and ready for collection to go to the florist. Phew!! I really did it, what a learning curve, but now I have calmed down a bit, and can almost sleep I can reflect on an adventure never to be forgotten and I think I'm glad I did it! The worse bit for me is yet to come. It will be when the Happy Couple pick up that knife and I shall have to stop from hurling myself onto the table to stop them from cutting it. What has got me through it, though, was Bri and my family's unwavering faith in me and my memories of my Dad always saying to me, " just do your very best", and my Mom always telling me, "you can do it". I guess they were all right, and so I thank them...
P.S What I really learned, was making a cake for tea is one thing - a Wedding Cake completely another!!