Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Lake District

I have committed the unforgiveable- I wagged it from my writing class to go to a birthday celebration; I am stuck; I am writing between genres & even writing to the one I prefer is coming out childish rather than for children.

We went to join 'The Gang' at the Lakes via coffee at the Sharrow Bay . We mooched round Keswick and lunched & coffeed (again). Our B&B was a delight again- with new owners who were somewhat surprised to have all nine of us- but they managed wonderfully. The meal at The Farmers was poor but Saturday's meal at the Derwent Lodge made up for it. We walked round Crummock Water, Buttersmere and LowesWater with the biggest, packed lunch and smashing weather. We also did just 7 miles in the Newlands valley.

With all these scones, packed lunches and evening meals I am looking for a missing waistline

The snowdrops have now gone over as have the crocuses but the daffodils bob golden and gentle in our borders welcoming in the hour which did a spring forward during the night; the days will be longer now; the sun is coming back- as is D3.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Gibside beetroot cake recipe

200g Plain Flour
3/4teasp baking powder
3/4 teasp bicarb
3/4 teasp cinnamon
1/4 teasp salt
175g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teasp vanilla essence
300ml oil
225g grated beetroot
Mix dry ingredients. Mix eggs,vanilla & oil; mix into dry ingredients; fold in beetroot (yes bright pinky purple).
2lb loaf tin.180 for 40mins then reduce to 170 for 20 mins. Ice with an ordinary glace icing when cool. Mmmm!

Alice in Wonderland 3D was a very good alternative to rain and was enhanced by a trip to Frankie & Bennys. P&I sat in the car at Bolam sheltered from the rain watching a host of birds coming down to feed on seed; sunshine drew us out to walk round the lake to view swans, moorhens, geese and ducks- all feverishly showing off to attract a mate. Wallington walking group has also left the utility full of clarty boots drying.

Don't the birthdays of our children cause us adults to feel the age too? balloons & special treatment at Avanti helped us all feel happy & have a lovely night. I wish I got as many greetings!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Deer, Daphne and our Lord Collingwood

England is covered in snowdrops; multicoloured crocus are carpeting lawns eg at South Gosforth roundabout- multicoloured except in my garden wherein I planted a mix 2 years ago but this year they have come up mainly purple!

H1 could see why Admiral Lord Collingwood has always been my hero after attending a talk on him this week; the Discovery Museum has an exhibition on him at present for the 200th anniversary of his death; a Northumbrian to be so proud of- and who loved his country and his county!

Gibside provided P&I with lots of forestry clearance, 3 deer sightings, the best cheese scones- and once again we had their beetroot cake; I dislike beetroot but this is delicious- why don't the National Trust sell this recipe- how to use up beetroot (ugh!) and local produce (without air miles); I shall blog it for you.

We walked from & to St. Oswald's Tearoom near Heavenfield (my favourite place) amid snowdrops particularly near Middle Brunton woods.

P cooked 'The Ladies' a beautiful meal; where do women get husbands who do much of the cooking?- and have the kitchen completely cleared up by the time the guests have gone; I think I should put H1 in in part exchange. When I used to do dinner parties I couldn't even get H1 to do the wine- so last minute & silently (& under pain of death if his weeny contribution was not made)), he used to put white wine in the freezer then forget about it till the bottle cracks all over the freezer.

Carlin, Palm and Paste Egg Day are the Sundays coming up- I need to learn how to cook the traditional carlin peas which used to get put out in North East pubs on this day. What design should I think up for my pace egg?

I planted my Christmas gift from M- a Daphne- in the garden; it was giving the garage a beautiful perfume.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Mothering Sunday

Linked to the Feast of The Annunciation, to Lady Day, to when folk went on an annual visit from daughter churches back to the Mother (main )church for services: also when offspring 'in service' (or agricultural labour) were given time off once a year and went back to visit their families particularly their mothers (& picked wild flowers en route for home for a gift). Now rather commercially exploited.

D2 rang several times. D1 visited. D3 packed a picnic & we went awalking round Greenhaugh. Northumberland is drifted with snowdrops; we saw an adder dozing in the sun under a hedge row (that is early in the year). We took on getting through a herd of winter-coated heifers- with 2 new calves- quite risky. We were 'attacked' by two labradors. Then encountered Thorneyburn church of St Aidan's where we stayed for a lovely Mothers' Day service & got spoilt- chocolate & flowers! We visited the Holly Bush pub; with great hospitality and a fire we were reluctant to leave - and will go back. Hitting more urban areas a large fox crossed in front of the car giving us an 'I avoided you-you didn't avoid me' look.

Gifts and tea completed a brilliant weekend.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Illumination of Hadrian's Wall

What a weekend!

Look up for more information on illuminating the Roman Wall too.

On Friday night I wrote the checklist for gear for the big day; rucksacks, thermals, torch, hat & gloves, watch (to be synchronised), book, umbrella, mobile phones (as requested -fully charged),cameras, sunglasses, drinks/flasks, sandwiches, boots/socks, fleece & Gortex waterproofs (yes! How did the Romans manage without Gortex?), money for T shirts (If this is only going to happen once in a lifetime- and every 1600 years then I want a T shirt to show I took part and to leave to my descendants!!).

D1 dropped us off at our muster station (The Copthorne Hotel) wherein we met our leader, Dan; we were provided with hot drinks (watch how much you drink as you don't know where you will be so where you will be able to perform your next wee!) & sandwiches, badges, luminous yellow jackets, waiver forms (we had already filled in all sorts of forms); Dan gave us (cell 3) lots of training on setting up our gas burners. We 3 of 'station 32' donned our Tshirts. I could not believe the nationalities there to take part- S.African, Belgian, Norwegian, Australian, New Zealanders, Canadians, and from all parts of the UK- and everyone chatting to everyone- we were all so proud to be a part of this event. Dan gave us our locations then walked us all to said locations whereat we awaited delivery of the burners.

OH my goodness- so we couldn't get a place at Sycamore Gap (D3's favourite location in all the world) BUT we were placed at the TYNE BRIDGE So iconic and so Novocastrian to be beside the original Roman Pons Aelius. By 4pm we had set up & tested our burner opposite the Slug and Lettuce. People were wonderful- we were visited by so many folk- locals (including Paolo) and visitors,hens and stag parties, tooted at by cars including fire engines and limos; there were photographers from all over the world who came to take photos once we set the flame going at 6.45pm; we saw the beacon light downstream of us (St Peter's Basin) on the bend; then the beacon at the Millenium Bridge - YAY! Then us... then the Copthorne - we could see the Roman candles (hessian wrapped & dipped in wax) in between (flames every 250 metres). The helicopter came whizzing in very quickly from Wallsend's Roman fort of Segedunum (we did see the fireworks there along the river); we all danced at the helicamera wherein the pilot was probably working out if he was goin to go under or over the Tyne Bridge! We could see several flames up and down the north bank of the Tyne - the Roman Wall is in mid Newcastle city and under buildings so the illumination followed the Roman Heritage Path along the Tyne then followed the Wall itself. As requested, we told everyone what was happening- though many already knew & had come to take part/chat/take pictures. Eeh! We had someone mooning; and the Malmaison moved the Millenium burner 'off their land'- Don't they realise this is the start of British Tourism Week and they might benefit from this event? Boo!

Apparently the illumination idea had been mooted 2 years ago & really started on 9 months ago; there were major discussions on the timing of the event- if it happened later at night in the dark, there were more remote parts of the Wall where folk would have difficulty getting off safely so it was decided to wait till the sun went down but it would not be completely dark.

We switched off our burner at 7.10pm , waited for it to cool before packing it up; Dan checked us out. We waited ages for a pickup of equipment before joining a freezing team 31 to walk back with our gear to the Copthorne where we got Fair Trade goodie bags mainly from Traidcraft including their lovely ginger cookies, Divine orange chocolate (Lent has been temporarily abandoned) and Cadbury's CDM- Thank you to all those contributors. We taxied home elated & exhausted.

There were news teams there from all over the globe- including China; Willington High School in Wallsend are twinned with a Chinese school; also the Chinese are looking at it because.... what the British do on March 13th 2010 , on Hadrian's Wall, China may do on the Great Wall of China sometime.

Criticisms? I have heard Segedunum was a bit disappointing & disorganised: no pick up of equipment after 'cool down' so freezing- we gather there was only one van for every pickup: nowhere to chat about the experience at the end- refreshments finished very early so illuminati just had to go home.

I am so thrilled D3 applied for this and feel so lucky to have been chosen to take part in the illumination of Hadrian's Wall.

Can I tell you about Mothering Sunday tomorrow?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010 and Hadrian's Wall

I am trying to improve my frequency at blogging..... the road to Hell is paved with intentions......

Yesterday I treated myself to a cuppa with M before I got writing; and my writing homework was done early- not done that for ages.

Another day of blue sky; H1 says the temperature is 10 degrees. It was great to meet again with the walking group; we had scones in, & walked from, Shepherd's Dene (a really lovely retreat centre) in Riding Mill and returned there for afternoon tea. I love the poem on Northumberland read near the start of the walk; to hear it again check out D3's with your speakers on.

We are so excited! D3, H1 and I are illuminati; we are going to be part of the illumination of Hadrian's Wall on Saturday. We will leave the home guard here to do what home guards do best while we take part in the 1600th anniversary of the Roman Wall kind of losing its light- by lighting it up again. It has been on Country File and various other tv programmes.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Where's me wenches?

I am the world's worst blogger, I know; weblogging should be done regularly & it is almost a week now but I have been sooo busy- feast or famine....

Wonderful Wednesday to don walking boots and meet up with the gang; C took us on a walk from the Crown Inn in Humshaugh & by Haughton Castle- myriads of snowdrops and lots of catching up en route; I really enjoyed today except later I don't think my writing did so well- the criticism was honest but there was little positive- why do I always get the wrong handle on the homework?- basically I am museless & would rather write children's stories- I'll probably find at a class for that I am not as good as I thought! We called in at North Acomb Farm for sausage of various kinds- gluten free, pure beef and farmhouse for the hordes coming for the weekend.

Thursday saw me at a Climate Change day at a local high School- our kids were SO well behaved - I was really proud to be with them; my teacher's blood rose at the behaviour of some of the others but D1 kept me & my mouth in check.

I baked a rhubarb crumble, an apple crumble, 2 plate mince pies (& of course 4 little sweet mince pies for D3- the Mincepie Queen), a milk chocolate cake (Bero of course), a veggie chilli con carne; by Friday lunchtime D3 had a halfday so we left H1 at home for a meeting and headed to see beautiful snowdrops and Lucky Spot Stella McCartney's crystal horse (again) at (muddy) Belsay Hall; yes , we did go via the raspberry pie & scones at the Blacksmith's. I do feel it is my duty to support England's (especially Northumbrian) rural economy by eating scones & drinking tea.

Saturday saw a flurry of hairdressing & bed making , visits to Central Station & the Sage, Angel of the North , beautiful Grey's Street etc., to show visitors our wonderful city. After the 16 were fed & watered,they departed in minibus for a ghost evening with Captain Jack at the Castle Keep and various hostelries while we went to a Team Kenya fund raising night of music. Both events were considered great fun and good birthday celebrations. I believe the 'Birdy song' and an amoeba dance were particularly brilliant. After a Sunday English breakfast & the birthday cake folks departed to the deep South while others came to pick up their cars; dishes washed (lots of glasses!),beds were stripped, washer and television on (the latter disguised snoozing) interrupted by a quick visit to TGI FRIDAY's.

The week starts again with a lunch with the Ladies at the Widdrington Inn and a LOOOOOOOONG walk along Druridge beach. While Time and tide (and creative writing homework) waits for no man- the washing & ironing will wait.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Blue skies, shining at me....

At last! Sunshine and blue skies- chilly but a beautiful Monday. The Ladies went a-walking on a Metro walk through Sunderland but we got lost and missed a Metro station & lunch so got off at Monument & went to the Coffee Bean on old Eldon Square. We found snowdrops all over- I am so cheered up; is that because I have had fish (smoked mackerel) for tea and hit the fish oil tablets recommended by a lovely (dentist) lady at Sunday's 60th? Ugh! I don't like fish to eat and loathe the smell in the house after cooking it. The fishermen at Seahouses would never eat mackerel because they reckoned they fed at the end of sewage pipes- yet their flesh is so white.....

Tuesday has arrived with more blue skies and sunshine. I have coffeed at Dobbies with M. and met J&J in Corbridge for lunch- being a virtuous girl I refused pudding aaaagh! the Italian puds looked gorgeous but I am thinking thin (again). Also checked out furniture & coffeed at Starbucks as we met with D1. My life is such a social whirl. Instead of being this whirling Dervish I should be doing my homework.

I am so excited at buying potatoes to chit today; also rhubarb to put in the garden when it finally defrosts enough to dig; apparently something in rhubarb can prove beneficial in the fight against breast cancer so I shall have to make & eat lots of rhubarb crumble.

Yesterday was St. David's Day but H1 dashed off to play down the fairway so missed the daffodil buttonhole I normally give him and without this bit of Celtic luck he didn't do so well on the golf course and bridge was cut short by a gas leak.