Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Cakes and cuppas

The road to Hell is paved with intention says the proverb........

So I was going to emulsion D3's bedroom into a neutral, in current fashion, rather bland colour but I got too many invitations out so H1 has done the job instead of just doing the gloss (do not tell my father but H1 always glosses & I always avoid the gloss as I am useless at it-drips run up the brush & my hand.)

Instead of a decorating twirl I have had a social whirl.

Ly picked me up & we walked Seaton Sluice beach- port to the De Laval family of (Van Brugh's design) Seaton Delaval Hall.

C invited me the next day.... while M knew I was coming so she baked a cake (& sang the song!)- wow! A Victoria Sandwich cake as light as a feather. Apple & mint tea with M at long last. The Ladies visited the Border Minstrel and followed that with a visit to 'Tenth Avenue Cakes' at Seaton Delaval roundabout. Cupcake heaven- and designs of cakes for every occasion- a 5 foot high Harry Potter cake takes the biscuit! I shall be like a house-end shortly.

I have finished reading 'The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake' by Aimee Bender- what a dysfunctional family and though interesting, not necessarily my cup of tea- even if it is about an autistic boy.....
I am Bookcrossing it- to travel wild- where shall I leave it to be found?

Oh my goodness! A transAtlantic phonecall from an old friend- we golden oldies just pick up where we left off! Years just disappear & we natter as we always did.

Now I am halfway through Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help'- I taught about Rosa Parkes as well as singing & dancing my way through the Civil Rights movement of the 6os - unputdownable- I have made a mistake picking it up- I have got to go settle myself with a cup of tea and my book!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Vegetable boxes! The excitement!

I can just hear you all saying, "What?!"

Last week's veg. box had the usual...potatoes, orange carrots (not the pale shop bought ones!), onions, a savoy cabbage, half a white cabbage, parsnips,...... all local (what, in terms of fuel/energy consumption, is the point of using companies from the South of England?), all seasonal, all organic so no chemicals- and deposited at various, local to you, drop off points for you to collect.

Forest Gump said,' Life is like a box of chocolates- you never know what you are going to git'- the same applies to your vegetable box! We also got a BEETROOT! Agh! H1 doesn't like beetroot or so he declares .... what to do with it? So I scrubbed it, boiled it for an hour, cooled it, skinned half & served it with a 'dinner' (in roast potato sized pieces)- H1 declares that it was nice- bit vague but positive at least.

Next night I made up a recipe & served it with grilled sea bass- WHAT A HIT!!

Simmer together
half of a cooked beetroot (in macedoine sized cubes )
1 desertspful marmalade
1 " sugar
juice of an orange

This week's exciting extras in the box?- I admit I had to confirm my guesses via Google Images- celeriac and Jerusalem artichokes! So lots of us are consulting for recipes; I will let you know the results.....

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Costa tragedy

We forecast this; on the Costa Classica it took 8 days of passenger complaints before we had an emergency drill; eventually it happened (chaos- not like Thomsons where we drilled before we left the Tyne) and only after we came through a typhoon in the South China Sea. The president of Costa was onboard so he was presented with the complaints of over 1000 passengers- and he was horrid to the Scottish lady who presented them. I wrote to Costa , ABTA and Mail on Sunday (where holiday advertised & seen) as we all felt the cruise had contravened the International Maritime Law- but Costa dismissed our complaint & the other 2 did not even reply.

Heck! Mornings greet us with diamond glittery frosts, frozen bird baths and crisp white rooftops and pavements. Jack Frost is painting our garage door even if it is double glazed- remember the days of ice inside the windows? vests, liberty bodices, chilblains? I can not imagine what life would have been like in medieval Tynemouth Castle above the rivermouth and with a wind off the North Sea fresh from the Russian Urals......

Or in Tynemouth Priory (burial place of kings) in monk's robes & getting up for Matins in the early hours- aagh!

The Fish Quay was busy when we walked in bright sunshine on Saturday.

The river was full of traffic- lots of cargo ships off the mouth- waiting for a pilot?high tide? or a berthing time before coming in?

Admiral Lord Collingwood looked on as the RNLI lifeboat drilled- or was it the pilot boat... too far away in the sun to see. I double clicked on the photo & could read 'PILOT' on the starboard side closest to me (and you!)

The North pier was less long this time but more exciting as waves came over the breakwater from out of nowhere.

The Customs House was where the TV series '55 degrees North' was filmed. Robert Westall wrote and set a lot of his books in this location.

The Black Middens- nicknamed the Widowmakers by fisherfolk in the area- disappeared as the tide rose and the afternoon darkened into evening.

We mooched up to Wallington too but I forgot my camera so I can not show you Hilda Almond's plaque in the sweetly scented, hyacinth,cyclamen,climbing geranium and amaryllis filled conservatory. Next time! The walled garden echoed crisp under the feet of the volunteer gardener cutting back & tidying borders which will burgeon forth but right now do not promise much. The carpets of snowdrops were already drifted across the lawns- I ached for even a Brownie to capture the snap...

I have finished 'When God was a rabbit' -to be read on both sides of the Atlantic methinks. A wee bit contrived to be up to the 2012 view of relationships of all types? Anyway it has been Bookcrossed so where will it go from me.........?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Our FirstFoot, H1, was tall (not really!), dark (well greying somewhat) and handsome;he stepped over the threshold as Big Ben chimed its last into the New Year armed with his fuel (a matchstick), food (a sweet mince pie), drink (wee bottle of whisky from his stocking) and silver (well actually a pound coin!)- so we hope that will bring us good luck in 2012.......

Christmas was announced by a trip to D3's for mincepies and mulled wine before a gang of us walked the Enchanted Forest (park!) Crinolined ladies strolled with parasols and lit with bulbs;

ice designs dripped gently reminding us of the warmest winter season on record while the bandstand was empty of last year's bear but festooned with hundreds of lights.

We dressed the tree to our usual vinyl carols; decked the hall with boughs of holly & tinsel and hung the mistletoe near the front door- only I am not allowed to kiss all and sundry in 2011! Wait till next Christmas!

K reminded me of the Solstice- & already I have had to reset the porch light to go back a bit as the daylight is getting longer- hurrah!

Christmas was strange as I couldn't go to crowded places but we managed Fenwick's window/Mark Toney's super-duper icecreams and I was given my own special & wonderful carol service at home- flute, solos, candles, sermon, readings, carol sheets- magic & tearful.

Christmas morning was heralded , not by angels but by a phonecall telling of a romantic engagement- C&B have decided to tie the knot! Fizz! Pop!

Sausage sandwiches at D3's, free range turkey and stuffing with all the trimmings and charades and bingo- like no other bingo you have ever played before! Our little family is the best & I look forward to welcoming C to it!

We two had a quiet New Year- we thought the fireworks in London on telly were fantastic. The firstfoot was cold outside but would have been colder if he had had to stand outside in today's weather- howling, window blasting rain and fence breaking gales.

Now the year of the Olympics in Britain and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee commences.........

I have changed bits of my life- so I have at long last ordered a veg box from local organic growers for weekly pick-up.
I am looking at what else I should do to destress my life.
I have eaten no chocolate over the festive season as I have gone right off dairy stuff.

No matter how many rose hellebores I have planted, my Christmas roses have refused to come up pink...... till this year!

MY garden remains unkempt as my health restrictions, the weather and busyness has stopped my usual leaf gathering and pruning. This overgrowth has not stopped the bulbs from peeping out to check on whether we have snow- none so far!

I have finished my Boxing Day book-'One Day',(an interesting way of mapping out lives) lent by B. I have now started on Barbara Erskine's 'The Warrior's Princess'.

I received lovely gifts- lots of things which remind me of the most important of life's lessons- just what a wonderful nuclear family and kind friends I have-all the visitors and especially & including those who do not visit while nursing the tickly coughy cold going around.

Meanwhile we attempt to ensure a daily strut/stroll in fresh air- Bolam was filled with sun and birdlife.
Trawlers bobbed alongside the Fish Quay while canine exercisers pulled at leashes,a seal swam along the shore by the Widow Makers (rocks near the Tyne mouth)and families with Santa's scooters and prams pushed against the gale; Collingwood smiled as H1 yelled his disbelief into the wind at how long the North Pier was.

There- I am back - at least this week- but who knows what next week will bring?