Saturday, 28 January 2012

Days of being a tourist in my own village

We've got a houseful again, and it's great having friends and family to stay. And not just for the sheer pleasure of seeing them, of catching up on all the news and having a laugh either.

No, it's seeing where I live through their eyes. The mundane, the usual, the places and things I know and love but perhaps take for granted suddenly become different .

For example, I love the view from my kitchen window. It changes every day according to season, to light, to the mood of the weather.Every morning as soon as I wake up I look out while the kettle 's boiling and I scan the horizon....

But last weekend, our visitors arrived on Friday was dark. When one of them wandered into the kitchen the next morning , it was light and as he looked out of the windows he literally jumped."Wow, I didn't expect this" he said, and I felt lucky all day.Lucky to be able to wake up every
morning  and drink in the view.

Similarly, a walk around the village with my friends  and seeing it through their eyes makes me fall in love with the place all over again.It's only small..there are 26 houses and a church.It's a conservation village, set in beautiful countryside.I know that. I love this place.But I appreciate it even more after friends see it for the first time.

Would you like a quick look at what I saw this morning on my quick solitary walk in the sunshine?

Here's our 12th century simple yet so serene.....

Our mud thatched wall around the church is rather rare....

Obviously posting a letter is a regular event. Our village postbox is very old, and has the tiniest slot to post  cards and letters through .I actually have to fold some cards in half to post them, and it's always muddy by there...but when some American friends virtually had orgasms  about "the most darling little Victorian post box, "I glowed with pride..

I love where I live......and being a tourist in my own village reaffirms that love every time.

I wonder what makes you look differently at where you live?

Today's track, 'Tourist by Athlete' I must have seen this band at least ten times live and they always give a good performance-always a joy to watch them.


Monday, 23 January 2012

a chocolate pot day

We've just had a lovely weekend with old friends coming to stay. Jenny, Phil, Dave and Bridget  arrived from the West Country on Friday night and we did nothing but laugh,eat,drink lots of prosecco and wine,plus go on some long walks.

Normally I  suppose I'm rather a slapdash cook, I usually forget to buy one vital ingredient which is frustrating when I live three and a half miles from the nearest shop.So this weekend, I was highly organised...which stunned everyone (including me) ..and it was such a relaxing weekend.

I'd cooked for the rather filthy weather...rainy , cold and blustery. Warming casseroles and boozy crumbles, homemade soups and the like which went down well....what I call homey food. The sort of food that you can put on the table and everyone can dive in .

Now there's nothing I like more than delving into cookery books ..I adore cookbooks..I've got quite a few and I'm such an easy person to buy a prezzie for. OOH, a cookbook....thank you! But I'm no Masterchef or Cordon Bleu cook.

However this is the book that I use time and time again...for the tried and tested , the recipes that never ever fail well as the ones which I can adapt easily when I do forget that vital ingredient!

It's full of handwritten recipes I've scrounged from family and friends and old family favourites which haven't been written down before.

This was the pudding I made on Saturday night....

As you can see from the date, I've been making this since 1994 - it's so easy and everyone likes it. Dot is my friend who lives a couple of houses away from me.Now she is a cordon bleu cook...and can knock up anything from a the perfect souffle for two, to a hunt tea for a hundred.She's amazing...and I 'm planning at some stage to  lock her in her own  kitchen , chain her to the aga and refuse to let her out again until she teaches me some of her skills and more of her recipes.

Anyway, I decided to make these chocolate pots for Saturday evening.After all, what could go wrong? Well, there was just one small problem - I couldn't find the little glass pots that I serve them in. I couldn't find enough little ramekin dishes either. Now I'm not blaming Mr Thinking of the Days -but he has been reorganising my kitchen cupboards recently!

 While I was frantically scanning the kitchen  for them and mouthing a few expletives ....Jenny pointed out my expresso cups and saucers.So that's what I used...

 I added some of the shortbread biscuits I'd made on the Friday on the side too. I haven't done that before either. but I will from now on....So here's chocolate pots cups


8 ounces dark bitter choclate
1oz butter, cut into pieces
4 eggs
2-4oz of ordinary chocolate


1.Break the chocolate into a bowl and melt in the microwave for a minute or two.

2.Seperate the eggs.When the chocolate has melted , beat in pieces of the butter and the egg yolks.

3.Whip up the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the chocolate mixture.

4. Ladle into small glass pots , ramekin dishes or even expresso cups (!) and put in the fridge for a couple of hours.

And that's easy....and you don't have to add ordinary milk chocolate either.Much richer flavour if you don't. You choose!

And this post's track....It's "End of the Movie"from Stornaway...... I love this band -interviewed them back in 2010, and adore their album Beachcombers Windowsill.Played it on the i pod on Saturday night and now Dave does too....

Sunday, 15 January 2012

It's a new day, a new dawn and a new allotment....

It was going to be an easy going Sunday morning....get up late....potter about a bit....go out with my good friend Laura . We were only going to buy some potatoes from a nursery to chit and that would be it. Job done,with a  lazy Sunday afternoon to look forward to.

But it hasn't quite turned out like that. My mind is now racing, I've got a piece of paper out and I'm trying to draw the future.

Mind you, I hadn't even managed to get out of the house today and I'd already been distracted.And spent some money. I blame Fiona from  

She'd put up a blogpost about what she'd just ordered from Thompson and Morgan's online sale...Sungold tomato seeds for 20p? I couldn't resist....and also managed to find myself ordering cheap salad leaves, some runner beans plus some poppies I had no intention of buying.

I eleven o clock I'd picked up Laura and we were on our way to Brookside Nurseries , north of Leicester ,to get our potatoes for the coming year. It's where I've been going for the last three years for potatoes. So many different varieties , so tempting - so we both bought far too many.

First Early favorites for me are Arran Pilot, Rocket and I'm also going to try Lady Christl...but it's the salad potatoes which really get me going.....such as these, as well as Anyas and Charlottes

And that's why we've now found ourselves sharing a new allotment. Because we'd bought too many potatoes!

And onions...

Now getting an allotment in the UK in most areas is not easy.Some people have to wait for years on a list and wait for someone to die or become too incapicitated  before they can take over a plot.

I had to do that myself for one of my allotments...three years I was on that list. And I love it's a single row of about thirty or so plots set between two rows of houses in town. It's fenced and a real suntrap ..and last year I grew pounds and pounds of peas, broad beans , french beans and tomatoes there.

But I have another allotment which I share with Laura. It's not far from my house, it's in a windy, at times god forsaken field, which we share with rabbits, muntjaks  , allotmenteers and other  wild animals.

In my bit I grow fruit - blackcurrants, gooseberries and raspberries.I also grow potatoes and garlic.

Laura's American so she's got a blueberry thing going on, and she  loves artichokes ( or fartichokes as I call them). Not that I'm saying she has a problem in that department you understand, but the last time I went to France and the whole family had some - let's put it this way, we could have gone from Limoges to Nice only using about 10 litres of petrol. Definitely wind assisted.

I'm digressing again  though. Back to the nursery and a trolley full of potatoes, garlic , and Laura with the onion sets....

.I happened to mention that I'd heard there was half allotment plot going spare in the field. Laura's face lit up, and the next thing I'm phoning Monica ,who runs the allotment society ,to find out which allotment it was. Not that we're picky mind, but there are plots and then there are others. As with buying houses it's all about location, location, location. But at this stage, this was merely an enquiry as to which one it was.

Monica then gave us the good news. It's the plot right next to ours. Mainly covered with black plastic. We said Yes, and that was it. Until we had a little wibble and asked ourselves if perhaps we were taking on too much.

We took a detour on the way home - to our allotments.  Yes, allotments - in the plural.We've not only agreed to take this new one on, but we've seen Monica and already paid up our subs.

This wasn't quite what I'd had in mind when I got up this morning - but hey, it's a new day , it's a new dawn and a new allotment. And it's feeling good..

The only thing is, I haven't yet seen Mr Thinking of the days to tell him the good news yet.....

Guess what today's song is? I 've always adored her ...Nina Simone....


Friday, 13 January 2012

Days when you just have to take a photo

Anyone seeing me this morning at about half past eight at the end of the garden wearing pjamas, a cardigan and a pair of my husbands boots (well,  I couldn't find any of my shoes by the kitchen door) may have wondered what I was doing.

I was taking a few photographs.

I love looking at photographs - ones that others have taken that is. I marvel at the artistry, the way they have captured the light, the essence of a person, the quirky clever shots, the atmospheric mood.

I love my daughter's photos...she has an eye.Well luckily she's got two....but you know what  I mean. She knows instinctively what will make a great photo - she snaps away merrily and quickly then comes up with great shots.

I don't. I've always been utterly useless at capturing life through a lens. Honestly. My parents bought me a camera for my thirteenth birthday.Nothing fancy, just the bog standard camera from the time.

That week I went away on a school trip. These days schoolchildren bugger off to France , to Germany to Italy as a matter of course and more and more I know are suddenly jetting off to places like Australia and Canada. On  school trips!

Anyway, back to my school trip ...ooh the glamour, it was to Twycross Zoo. Yes, a zoo, not all that far away really either  even though it seemed as if we were travelling to distant lands back then. It did take ages, and my friend was sick at the back of the coach.

But I digress.The thing is, I took loads of photos with this new camera, and when , weeks later , they were all processed, I had endless shots of headless animals, wire fences, my fingers and the pavement. Not one decent photograph. I was mortified but my parents and brothers laughed their socks off .

And that's the story of my photographic career .Obviously I've taken pictures of my children and  my family over the years - even  amazingly  managing to keep their heads on in many ...but that's about it really.

 Since I got an i phone though I've been taking quick shots...which you've seen here on thinking of the days....but this morning, as I looked through the kitchen window, I felt I had to  capture what I was seeing.

So I found my daughter's old Samsung digital camera  in the drawer, rushed out in my pjamas to greet and photograph this morning from my garden......

And good morning to all of you too! What photos have you  been moved to take recently? Show me your view from your garden.....would love to see your photos..and get some tips of how to take a proper photo....

Today's song is "Pictures of You" by the Last Goodnight ....

Sunday, 8 January 2012

days of thinking and doing

New Year, new ways, new thoughts....there's so much to mull over isn't there?

After the hiatus which I hate (see last post) the New Year brings a breath of fresh air, there's new possibilities in that air and there's a chance to do things differently.A clean slate to write on ...

That's the theory - my mind is alive , thoughts are dancing....but the bodywork is lumbering sluggishly behind. I've got to get rid of that post Christmas slump and lumpy bits which seemed to arrive after the festive overeating.

But there's no new Years resolutions for me  girls and boys.Oh no....I've got previous...and don't want to set myself up to fail and feel sad when I break one (As I did last year and the year before!)

I will be taking on something new for the year though..a gardening and food challenge) which I 'll tell you about later....and I have given myself a talking to about what I would like to achieve this year. Sowing the seeds....

However, it's all very well  isn't it to make grand plans....they've got to get off the ground off first. So in that spirit, I've started sowing some other seeds 

Early I know - but I'm showing a little faith, having a little gamble if you like (inspired by @lialeendertz) ...and I want to make sure I'm going to have broad beans on the lottie earlier than ever.Well, they'll be living in the dining room first obviously - I mean, it's warm for this time of year, but not that warm. So my darling Giant Exhibitions.....I want you to do your very best.

I've  sown a few tomato seeds too ...they're on one of the windowsills in the kitchen which i will grow on in my plastic greenhouse which arrived on Christmas day courtesy of Mr thinking of the days.

And I've got so many rocket seeds, I'm trialing some under a cold frame in the garden.Risky, but I'm on a roll this weekend.

And now, with a heart full of good intentions ,

 I'm going out.....not on the road to hell, but to the allotment....

Are you growing anything early? Am I being a bit premature?
And today's track ?Well it's an incredible live version of Tears for Fears "Sowing the Seeds" .I've always adored  the song, but unfortunately have never seen them play live. Do sit and watch this- such a quality performance here backed by a full orchestra.It's quite set me up for the day.....