Sunday, April 29, 2012


I was catching up on some blog reading and read this post from Flossie Teacakes, which mentioned the new Village Haberdashery online shop. And it looks lovely. Not only stocking sewing supplies, but knitting too. And some lovely yarn at that, and flat rate shipping. I may have to indulge at some point.

Kind of reminded me of this sign - spotted on Staines High St outside our local haberdashery.

I have acquired a new toy. A Kenwood Chef. It's actually  my Mum's, and is about 20 years old (we think) but she wasn't using it any more, and I had been thinking about getting one, so the obvious thing was to take over hers! This was one of the reasons I took the car with me when I went to visit her before Easter.

This is an all-in-one sponge cake in progress - one of those easy ones where you just bung flour, sugar, eggs and marg. in a bowl and whizz it together, throw in oven and voila...

 a cake! The friends we had over for afternoon tea seemed to enjoy it.

 There were some leftover mushrooms from last week's veg box too, so I made a small quantity of soup and whizzed it in the blender attachment (remembering to put lid on so it doesn't go all over the walls).

Very tasty.
I've been busily knitting away on the nephew's Intrepid Jumper - it's in the round so hardly any sewing up to do, thank goodness. I've done the body up to the sleeves and have almost finished the second sleeve now. And amazingly I'm in good time for his birthday at the end of May. My other project is a secret at the moment, but I'll post about it once it's finished.

And these are two pictures I took last week on my way to a meeting in the City of London. They're the tulips at the end of Cheapside/ right by St Paul's Cathedral. I loved the colours, and the contrast with the fairly harsh City architecture alongside.

 I was also treated to a superb lunch in the restaurant at St Paul's, which I'd highly recommend.

The OH bought a copy of the BBC Pride & Prejudice on blu-ray this week and we've been enjoying watching it. Although I can recite chunks of the script from memory it was very different viewing - the colours are much more vivid and you can see more of the detail. It brought back fond memories - it was originally broadcast when I was 16 and I videoed all the episodes, and sat down to watch the first when I was "home alone" having been left to keep an eye on the house, the cats and my Gran whilst the rest of the family went on holiday. I'd never read it and didn't know the plot, ended up getting completely hooked and stayed up until 3am to finish watching it! Sadly, now being a middle-aged woman with job meant an all night viewing was no longer possible so it had to be watched over several evenings!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Garden at the beginning of April 2012

OK, I'm a teensy weensy bit late with Garden at the Beginning of April - it's 21st today! Oops. We had some friends over to see the garden last week, which meant I got less time to be online doing blogging things.

Things are brightening up a bit - the Aubrieta is flowering along the edge of the raised bed and more bulbs are in evidence.

 I'm very impressed with the purple variegated tulips I planted last year - they're called Blueberry Ripple.

And this is a Dicentra I got on special offer at Homebase - it soon made itself at home and started flowering like mad. I love the shape of the flowers.

I've made some little paper pots out of newspaper to plant seeds in - the idea is that they biodegrade when you plant them out in the ground so the roots aren't disturbed by transplantation. They're very easy to make.

 And the apple trees are full of blossom! I keep a record of what I do in the garden each weekend and looking back, a year ago it was 25°C - bit of a contrast with today, which was 11°C! I am also amused by the torrential downpours we've been having ever since the hosepipe ban started. The garden is looking very happy with it. I was looking less happy when I got soaked on the way to the station one morning.

I've been exploring some gardening resources online. I already used the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website  - has some useful tips, but I'm not a member so there's a limit to what I can access. I've also joined the Gardeners' World website, which has a forum a bit like Ravelry and videos of how to do things (you have to watch adverts too). Incidentally, the OH has been buying me Gardeners' World magazine for a year now and it is SO MUCH better value than any of the British knitting magazines - for a start it costs less, and it actually has quite a bit of content, articles, how to do things.
And there is always just googling for things. I found this blog post helpful, good pictures of how to prick out Amaranthus seedlings as I wasn't sure if mine were big enough. How on earth did anyone learn to garden and/or knit before the internet?!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Clumber Park

Oops, missed the beginning of the month again for the garden picture, as I was up at my Mum's for a few days. Work has been a bit mad lately, we have various projects on the go, and although I've taken a couple of days off and there's been a few bank holidays (the last three weeks at work have been a 4 day, a 3 day, then a 4 day week, and this one is another 4 day with Easter Monday off), I've ended up working late so have accumulated yet more flexi-time so need to take more time off! Oops. I am massively behind (again) with reading blogs etc, although have done some catching up over the Easter weekend.

 The OH was going to take a picture of Garden at the Beginning of Month as I'd left him and Monkey in charge of the garden whilst I was at Mum's, but I'd also taken the camera with me. So it'll have to wait for next weekend. In the meantime, these are some of the things I got up to at Mum's.
Obligatory photo of Sweep looking cute:

We visited a newish garden centre, at Floral Media in Caunton.

 It was absolutely amazing, they do a lot of their own propagation so you can buy plants in a variety of sizes and it was so cheap (I may be biased by living in Slurry Surrey, which is hyper expensive for everything). I ended up buying rather a lot of plants (good thing I'd driven to Mum's instead of taking the train). Purchases:
 That lot is about £25 worth of plants, which would have been about £80 at least in Slurry Surrey. They also had a lovely tea room with fab cake, and views over surrounding fields and a wildlife area. And cool ideas for kids parties - including flower arranging parties!

There was a bit of a gardening theme to my entire visit, as we then went on to visit Clumber Park, which has opened its walled gardens to the public. Clumber is somewhere I visited a lot when I was small, but the first time I'd visited in a while. Whilst the main house (think Downton Abbey, this was the country estate of the Dukes of Newcastle!) was demolished in 1938, the lake, parkland, chapel and gardens are still there. The walled gardens are amazing, absolutely huge, with a 450ft glasshouse (only half of which is open), where grapes are grown.

 The old potting sheds are open, with rows of the old tools and equipment on display.

The walled gardens were divided into sections with other walls, presumably to increase the number of south-facing walls so more crops could be grown against them?

 Forced rhubarb! We bought some. It was yummy. Apparently they grow over 100 varieties of rhubarb here. I had no idea. I thought rhubarb was rhubarb.

 And orchards as well as vegetables. Makes my gardening look a bit pathetic, doesn't it?! It did bring home to me just how many people somewhere like Downton Abbey (obsessed with Downton, me?!) must have employed. Clumber these days is relying on volunteers, which is why there is so much grass in the walled gardens!

And back on the site of the house, with views across the lake, and towards the chapel.

And that's enough gratuitous pics of the English countryside for now. Clumber is just off the A1 between Newark and Doncaster, so I'd recommend a visit if you're journeying north or south.

Normal blogging service will be resumed soon! I didn't get much knitting done whilst I was away, that's the downside to driving there.