Monday, 27 February 2012

Shrove Tuesday pancakes

I can only stay a few minutes as I am in the middle of a good book lent to me by Sh! 'Cross Stitch' by Diana Gabaldon. 17th century Highland life......The MacKenzie and Fraser clans... I think we will get to the Jacobite rebellion......

Did you have pancakes last Tuesday? The day in the past was to eat up your perishable food (& get shriven/blessed) before the fasting & abstinence of Ash Wednesday and the 'giving up something ' for Lent. I made pancakes for us all; from the Bero book of course (you can still buy them online- everyone should have one!!) We had traditional fillings: lemon and sugar, golden syrup (Tate & Lyles- what else?), Nutella chocolate spread (with chopped banana), jam (homemade by yours truly), mmmm!

Wash the kitchen floor before you start!!!!!!!


4oz (100gm) Bero plain flour
pinch salt
1 med(size 4) egg
1/2 pint (250 mil) milk (I use milk & water)
2oz (50gm)lard (I use olive oil)

Mix flour & salt in bowl; make hollow in middle & drop in egg
Mix with wooden spoon
Add liquid gradually until all flour worked in.
Beat well
Add all remaining liquid
Leave to stand (maybe several hours)

Melt oil/fat in frying pans till HOT
Dribble a circle of batter from mug or jug from centre of pan out; tip/circle pan till batter has spread to edge

You may not be able to toss the first pancake (bit stuck?) but once the pan is 'oiled' you should be able to take pan in both hands (maybe having loosened the first golden side of pancake) and TOSS up in air so pancake lands other side up back in pan- return to heat to cook that side then serve on a warm plate- put your chosen filling in & roll up. EAT!!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Snowdrops and Stir fry!

You can not possibly lead the exciting life I lead!
No I don't live there! Lady Mary does.
Tonight we are having a stir fry composed of chrysanthemum greens,namenia and green mustard with lots of garlic and some chicken! The veggie box surprises and educates me every week!

Last week we walked the Snowdrop Walk at Hawick Hall. To be truthful, we sat a long time in the beautiful tearoom supping soup and watching the various assortment of coal tits, great tits, blue tits at the bird station outside the window.

Then we braved the blast of icy northern winds piercing the sunny tracks through the woods; frozen little mitts = camera shake!

We mosied among carpets of aconites and snowdrops before viewing cyclamen in the more formal garden immediately outside the tearoom.

It was freezing!But the hall looks majestic whatever the weather.

The leafletting on the night of the black ice worked- it helped by whipping up support for the Big Walk; 500+ people turned out to show their feelings & wishes to protect the green belt around the north of Newcastle and in particular to try to preserve Gosforth Park Nature Reserve; but will the Council be persuaded into developing brown field sites before developing green fields unnecessarily?

We walked the Ouseburn corridor, spotting a kingfisher en route; Jesmond Dene, Armstrong Park, Heaton , the Cluny, behind Seven Stories, stopped at the Tyne Bar down by the Ouseburn Barrage, walked along the Tyne looking at my city then stopping at the Pitcher and Piano to watch the Millenium Bridge traffic & after our demonstration we called in at the Eye on the Tyne (disappointing -H1's burger had unannounced chilli mixed in with it- for a man with great reservations regarding food this did not go down a treat- in fact it did not go down at all- he took it back!) When I look along the river at the Sage(Concert Halls), Baltic(Gallery), all the bridges I wonder if P&K in Menorca and A, & R&T in Australia recognise their city roots now?

The Theatre Royal celebrated its 175th anniversary with displays in Grey Street... a stilt walker, MacBeth's witches, Fagan and his boys, the Ugly Sisters, a birthday cake and fireworks on the hour each evening this week.

Crocus are popping out all over my garden & everywhere else- a trip through Backworth village is so worthwhile- and there are crowds of daffodils which will be wonderful to see in the next 2? weeks.

Ly & I walked the Long Sands again today; what were those crazy lads doing plodging up to their waists in the North Sea? Brr!

Talking of crazy- who else but D3 could be thrilled with a compost bin for a birthday present (she did get other gifts!) and yes! I know it is blurred but excitement makes for leaping up and down like a mad dalek!!

I confess- I would be thrilled when I too get a hodgepod ( from Blyth Wildlife Rescue) for the hedgehog which hoovers my garden nightly.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


I was just thinking the other night....... bodes bad that , doesn't it?!

D3 and I were delivering leaflets in the dark (while trying to keep upright on the black ice); we were alerting locals to the BIG WALK which is to let the Council know how we feel about the massive & unnecessary development on our green belt.

What is it about me that I do all the daft things I do- collect magazines for local clinics & surgeries, specs for Vision Aid Overseas, stamps to buy guide dogs, gift bags for a ward in RVI where patients have to carry their drains, books which I bookcross, teach the next generation- and if you stand still long enough I will recycle you! Is it about tidying the place? or as H1 scornfully tells me that I am crusading- to save the World? There is a folorn hope! But Mother Teresa said ' every little drop eventually makes an ocean'......

I live and love the NOW but.....

I love tradition so I love history, genealogy and the past generally but..... I believe in the future- thus I try to make it better for future generations- even if I am not going to be there to see it.

I guess I would have been like Admiral Lord Collingwood who, though back in Northumberland so little- when he was here at home he (& his wife) always had acorns in his pocket which he planted to provide oaks in the future (for the shipbuilding of the English fleet).

I can not remember it off the top of my head- but I really like the brass plate set in the pavement at the top of Grainger Street in Newcastle about 'My past is my present to your future' Does anyone know what it actually says?

This week's veggie box contained lots including a butternut squash (and Jerusalem fartichokes) so I am after recipes agin!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Kindness and sleeplessness

So many nights when I can not sleep past 5 a.m.Could be because my cold has returned with a vengeance & I can not breathe. Lots of it around......

Meanwhile A. came to visit bearing beautiful flowers and a Marion Keyes book- D1 has always read Marion but I only discovered her books latterly.

More excitement the next day when a delivery arrived of a profusion of pink blossoms from D2 and M.

In the are waiting with bated breath...... the hyacinths from D3 are blue and the whole house is drifted with their heavy perfume. So heavy the heads have had to be staked up!

D2 has been on a jewellery course- working with silver- who knows where she gets her creativity from- it ain't me or H1 ! My mother's side ,I think. My maternal aunt was a handpaintress for the famous Maling pottery. Anyway do not look at the scraggy neck of the wearer! D2 and M came to see the Thespians perform at the weekend (brilliantly , I might add! totally unbiased view!) and J. left this necklace as a gift for me. See? I told you I was a lucky girl......
J has been asked to make some for bridesmaids so if you want a necklace (all differently commissioned designs....) let me know.

In the darkness looking down the Close the ice gleams silvery in the light of the full moon.

I am going back to bed ..... to sleep.... perchance to dream .... of summer?..... probably to read.

In the garden I detect signs that Spring is just around the corner....

Friday, 3 February 2012

Spring cometh?

Unsure of that as we are forecast snow tomorrow!If it does come my daffodils are going to get 'burned' as their spears are all optimistically up about 5inches. There are snowdrops out in the garden- but it is too blinking cold to venture out to take a photo for you! We need to get to Belsay which is drifted with snowdrops and Hawick Hall which has a wonderful snowdrop walk - and (if you like it....I don't) cups of Earl Grey tea since he and his wife lived & offered afternoon tea hospitality here.

The skimmia is starting to flower where no plant has boldly gone before.

Indoors my orchid (a gift from D2 from Kew Gardens so many years ago) is flowering AGAIN.

Friends have brought 'spring is coming and you will be gardening again soon' gifts- daffodils and a tray of blueberries and raspberries(ooh! you're my favourite!)Not just any daffodils and fruits but M&S......

Meanwhile the family divas tread the boards in 'Maud of the Rings'- while I slave away over a hot stove to provide meals to keep them flouncing! It is such an excellent production that my contribution has been worth it.

The leak has temporarily disappeared out of sight but it has done that before lots over 4 years.

I realise I do not sit at this computer properly thus the shoulder ache at times;perching on the edge of chair with unsupported arms was just what I taught teenagers NOT to do! I shall go relax with my book-I recommend 'The Help'- I couldn't put it down. I have now gone back to my 'younger-days' author, Anya Seton (of 'Katherine' fame) and her 'Green Darkness'.

My hyacinths from D3 have been withholding their colour enfolded in green darkness- I reckon hyacinth blue but who knows ?........any time now......I can't wait for that heavy , heavenly perfume to fill the house.