Sunday 31 May 2009

St Ives

We have been on holiday to St Ives in Cornwall at least 1 week every year (I once managed to get the family to agree to 4 weeks!!). It sort of feels like our place now - the place where we can enjoy each others company with no outside interference. It really felt like that this time as the kids spend a lot of their time when we are at home with their friends now, so it was great for us to be totally together this week. They may be grown up, but they still loved digging in the sand, rock pooling and playing cards on an evening outside of the tent. I love camping. I am an outdoorsy sort of person and the fact that you get to live virtually outdoors 24 hours a day is very appealing. Hubby says I would make a good gypsy!!! We were blessed with good weather at the start of the week, ok weather midweek and then great weather at the end of the week. I am now sporting a very healthy looking tan (and a bit of a burnt tummy!!! When you have a big tummy, its very sore!!). Any way, these are a few of my photo's.

One of the reasons I love Ayr Campsite (pitch 74 Claire - in the far field) is the view from my tent!! Simply stunning and very peaceful.

I told you that she dances everywhere. Is it Street Dancing if you are on a pier?
Are we weird because we have a "favorite grave in the whole world"?? We often wander back through the grave yard after a day on the beach (we have a bit of a thing for looking for war graves!) and we found the grave of Alfred Wallis - famous St Ives artist and fisherman a few years ago. I believe his grave was "tiled" by the famous potter Bernard Leach.

I love rock pools and the water around St Ives is very clear.

Porthmeor beach with the tide in around 7pm. The silvery light was stunning and the waves very spectacular.

Traditional "calendar" shot of the Sloop Inn - always far too crowded to be enjoyed in summer.

I thought that this boat in the harbour looked eerie on the very still water.

Walking up from the harbour on our last day. We didn't leave until 5pm as the weather was very hot and we didn't fancy being stuck on the M5 with everyone else.

Ive already booked my pitch for next year.

Thursday 21 May 2009

A very merry "Un Birthday" to me!!

This morning I had a lovely surprise before I went to work. The postman arrived with a parcel for me. I had taken part in Mel's first ever swap and it was my first ever swap too. I was worried that I hadn't put the right kind of things/enough/decent quality items into the parcel I had sent to Becki (who will be appearing in my sidebar when the PC behaves!!!), and when her parcel arrived my heart sank. I said to my hubby that Becki would certainly be disapointed with the parcel I had sent, because her gifts were totally out of this world!! (turns out she was delighted with them - phew!!!) I was utterly thrilled to bits. I felt as if the sender had known me for many years - and not for less than a week by blog!! The theme of the swap had been Roses, and the box was wrapped in this sumptious paper.

I did remember to take photographs before I tore into it!! The box contained Cath Kidston toiletries, a fabulous heart, a great mug (how did you know that the handle had broken off my work mug last week?), a cute little tin - great for pins, a sweet pottery pomander, napkins,and a vintage postcard (how did you know that I have collected postcards since I was 8 years old??!!!). I was so giddy!! Then just as I was clearing away the wrappings, I discovered the best gift of all - a fantastic vintage embroidered table cloth!! I will use it all summer. Many many thanks Becki - you are so generous and you have really made my day. This swapping malarkey could become an addiction - its better than a birthday!!

Tuesday 19 May 2009


We are waiting for visitors to arrive. I don't have a big family, but what bit we have seems to have spread far and wide. My Aunt and Uncle have lived in Holland for well over 30 years now, but manage to get back to Yorkshire fairly often for visits. They are only staying a few days as they have friends and old neighbours to see in Oundle, Northants which is where they lived prior to their big move. The Dancing Queen has kindly offered them her room as it has a double bed in it, but also because it gets an "Aggie and Kim" style clean up - which she thinks will last her another year when they have gone!!! I thought I would show you a photograph of it while it is reasonably tidy as it is normally A TIP!!!! She is camping out in the spare room which we turned into a teenage "lounge" recently. We did this so that they could entertain their friends away from the fuddy duddies. The young man has moved back into the smallest bedroom in a high sleeping bunk bed. This just has room for his bed with a chest of drawers underneath, a wardrobe and a cupboard. It used to be my sewing room/ironing room/general dumping ground, and got exceptionally untidy. By re purposing these rooms, they seem to stay (reasonably for us!!) tidy most of the time.

Sunday 17 May 2009

The Sunday Kitchen

I had a go at this recipe from yestedays James Martin's Saturday Kitchen:
(I quite fancied James Martin up until I saw him on a program over Christmas where he was entering a classic car race, then I went right off him. He came over as a lot of a MCP). In true Diane style, I didnt stick to the exact recipe (Morcombe Bay Prawns are a tad difficult to get hold of in our Asda!!). Instead I used Salmon and made my own breadcrumbs and I served it with a stir fry of green beans, baby corn, bean sprouts and the stem from the broccoli (ie whatever I happened to have in the fridge.). I also experimented with a sauce made from bought Chilli dipping sauce heated up with Creme Fraiche. I initially thought that this might be a bit too much with the cakes, but it was delicious. I shall be making these (in one form or another) again. I made the Rissotto last night and left it in the fridge overnight. If there are only 2 of you, you could eat the rissotto one night and make the cakes out of the leftovers the day after.
The dancing queen (in red) and her friend decided that they wanted to learn how to make Pizza from scratch. I can never usually get her into the kitchen, but her friend was very keen and they now want to make it a regular thing, After much hilarity, complaining about onions, and flirting with boys on MSN whilst the dough was "proving" , they produced 4 beautiful and very edible Pizza's. Last photo was taken by DQ - she's so much better with the camera than I am. If you get chance, please visit her new blog (Beckytography in my sidebar and leave her a comment - she would be thrilled - Thanks)

Saturday 16 May 2009

Under my Umberella, ella ella hey hey hey

Hubby and I only had a very short window of opportunity to enjoy each others company today, as he arose very late from a night shift, and had to be back at work for 5pm. It was also lashing it down with rain. What to do? As you know, a bit(or a lot) of rain doesnt put us off enjoying the great outdoors, so we decided to go for a romantic amble in the rain. We live in what used to be affectionately know as the "Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire" (stomping ground of Arthur Scargill!!) We have our very own "Workers Stately Hall" - its a couple of miles from where we live and lies in the pretty village of Wortley which nestles in the foothills of the Pennines (the right side of the Pennines Gilly!). Wortley Hall was up until 1951 the home of The Earls of Wharncliffe, but like so very many sons and heirs of that time, the last Earl lost most of the family fortune gambling and drinking. The Hall was bought by the Trade Union Movement, and I think it is owned to this day by some sort of Co-operative movement, but as Unions lost power (and fee paying members) in the 1980's, they started to use it also as a hotel. Initially, it was a little bit shabby as they seemed to have moved in with the fixtures and fittings still in place. These days, its a splendid (but still in a shabby chic sort of way) place to visit or stay.

We parked our car at the top of the drive way and walked down passed the gardeners cottage and row of "laundray" cottages (now privately owned). We turned into the stables.

These are currently in a bit of a derelict state and awaiting repair, but they have enormous potential.
The view from the front of the hall, standing on the Ha-Ha is amazing. South Yorkshire isn't famous for being beautiful, but I hope that I am starting to change your mind.

The Hotel entrance has the same view over the Ha-Ha. Look at the Palm trees Noelle - we could be in Cornwall!! The side viwe of the hall overlooks the very well kept gardens. They employ about 4 gardeners and it shows. They do tours of the gardens some evenings and weekends, but you are allowed to wander around them for free at any time.

The Rhodedendrons are starting to bloom and look spectacular.

I love this little gate that overlooks the parkland.

This is the entrance to the Ice House which used to get filled up in winter with ice from.........

the pond - can you see the rain drops? It was bouncing it down and we were the only ones there. It was beautiful and the smell from the Azalea's was hanging very heavy in the air.

The kitchen garden is now being used by Heeley City Farm (Sheffield) Gardeners. They grow organic vegetables and herbs here to use in their cafe. I would LOVE to work here, but unfortunatley its only on a voluntary basis and with 2 kids wanting to go to university, I am still a wage slave.

This is the "hot" border. When I went on the tour last year, the gardener said that they plant exotics in here. They never water it, so whatever they plant has to be able to survive a drought - not that they have had to put it to the test for a few years.

Don't you just love doors like this.

The Hall and its contents are so amazing and quirky - you won't find anywhere else in Britain like it. Its contents are so diverse. We peeped into the Breakfast Room - which they still use for guest breakfast. The room is almost exactly as it would have been when the Earls family lived in it - except it has a very exquisite vase with Trotsky's face on it on the mantlepiece!! Most of the old fittings remain - I love the shutters behind the window.

We went in for a coffee - just so that I could show you some of the interior. This is the staircase in the hall. They were hosting a wedding today and some Bridezilla has had the staircase festooned with flowers - totally unneccesary in my opinion.

The wedding reception was going to be held in the grand dining room - it looked really pretty. The most amazing feature in this room is the ceiling which is really ornate. You can't really tell from this photograph, but if you double click to enlarge it, you can see more of the detail.

I told you that they had left most of the features in place - here are the bells that used to summons the servants. I am watching (and totally enjoying)the re runs of Upstairs Downstairs on saturday mornings, and I couldnt help thinking about the servants having to scurry up to the rooms when these bells rang.
If you find yourself having to/needing to/wanting to come and stay in South Yorkshire for any reason, I insist that you don't stay at a hotel owned by a chain, but stay here at Wortley Hall for a totally unique experience. They have some old fashioned chintsy bedrooms, some modern boutiquey ones and a couple of holiday cottages near the stables - all really nice (Ive done a tour of these too!!). They also do a belting Sunday Lunch. You don't have to be a resident to enjoy this, and you don't have to book - they just keep fitting folk in - all very Yorkshire hospitality and great value for money as you would expect.

I really enjoyed my rainy date with my fella under my umberella - and apart from the cuppa (which was purely for blogging purposes) it was totally free!!

Friday 15 May 2009

5 minutes of sunshine

The rain here today has been of biblical proportions - a full teaspoon of water in each and every drop!! Hubby and I took advantage of the brief 5 minutes of glorious and hot sunshine that came out at 6pm to perform our evening rutual of snail and slug hunting - oh yes, we know how to party on a Friday night!!. Hubby takes the "hunting" very seriously. Its slightly on par with big game hunting to him. I'm sure he would use a shotgun if I let him. After i'd seen what they had done to my delphiniums, I might let him!!

We were not the only ones slug hunting. He's a cute little fella - even if he made me jump!!

Blogging does make you look at things differently - Ive never taken a photograph of rain drops before.

This stuff takes me right back to my childhood - Cuckoo Spit!!

I noticed how these beauties........

have very quickly turned into these beauties. Before I blogged, I would have just thought them dead.

I only ever plant flowers and shrubs that are blue, green or cream - so how on earth does this happen!!

Any way, after 5 wonderful, glorious, delightful moments in the sun, we noticed a HUGE black cloud and then heard the rumble of distant thunder. It was however great while it lasted.
(as I blog, the sky is getting darker and the rain is lashing down again).

Hassleback Potatoes

I love the humble spud. It's such a versatile ingredient. I discovered Hassleback potatoes a
while back and these are now incorporated into the menu now and again. You need to use smallish new potatoes. They look a bit tricky to cut, but the trick is to place them on a dessert spoon and cut slits into them. This stops the knife going right through (although the ends sometimes fall off). Place them into a roasting tray and spray each one with oil. Cook in oven on 200 for around 35-40 minutes. About 10 minutes from the end of cooking, I pour a couple of spoons of melted butter over them along with a couple of crushed cloves of garlic and return them to the oven.

They open up beatifully during cooking and go great with chicken etc. They also make impressive (but cheap and easy ) party food.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

This summer there won't be a cloud in the sky.

I'm patiently waiting for summer to start. Tonight, I have put the heating back on and I am watching the rain bounce down. However, the weathermen have promised me a summer hopefully to equal 1976 and I do like a soundtrack to accompany my summer. I remember most summers by the songs that played on the radio when I was younger. Mungo Jerry - in the summertime takes me right back to Blackpool Prom in the late 60's. Anything by the Beach Boys makes me want back comb and peroxide my hair into a bushy bushy blonde hairdo. I remember David Dundas with "I pull my blue jeans on" and Queen singing "Best Friend" the year I left school in the summer of 1976. My daughter always makes us a CD to play in the car to drive to our holiday destination. Last year, the first track on the CD was "Lost in France" by Bonnie Tyler - we had bought a satnav to avoid that very problem!!

I fell in love with this song a while ago - the chorus makes me feel like I am 17 years old and have fallen in love for the first time. As the very talented (and I think quite tasty, but I really dont know why) Mr Glen Tilbrook says, "This summer there won't be a cloud in the sky". Wishing you all a summer of love, fun, happiness and most of all SUN!! Turn your sound up, click on the link below and take a listen.....

Sunday 10 May 2009

Sunday Sewing

Had a very pleasant Sunday morning sat in the warm (for a change) air watching the young man and his cricket team. Unfortunately, they lost. I didn't need any lunch because they had been cooking bacon butties in the club house, so I sat and embroidered what I hoped would flower in my garden this summer. Ive also made a very fattening Rhubarb and Strawberry fool for after tea. The Rhubarb is from my garden, and I stewed this with sliced strawberries and sugar to taste, then when it was cool, whisked it together with whipping cream. Ive topped it off with a bit of crumbled flake. Things taste so much better when you have grown them yourself.

Saturday 9 May 2009


Hubby has a weekend off, so we decided to get out and about instead of doing the housework (Aggie and Kim will be round here soon at this rate!!). Ive read a lot about Southwell in North Nottinghamshire which isn't too far away from us here, so we thought we would venture down there. It is an absolute little gem of a town. All of the houses are stunning, dripping in Wisteria and have huge gardens. It has an enormous Minster which is beautiful. The choir boys were rehearsing and listening to their angel voices brought a tear to my eye. The shops in the town are full of beautiful crafts/clothing (Labels for Less was worth a look in) and hubby's favorite was the old fashioned sweet shop. We also renewed our National Trust membership for the year as we think we will recoup the money easily this year as we are holidaying in this country this year. We visited the NT property " The Workhouse" which is a very sobering place. Its where they used to house the poor in Victorian times. When families entered the Workhouse, they were split up, and often would not be reunited. The walls were so high that parents and children might never even glimpse each other again. A male visitor with triplet girls aged around 5 years old, plus another sister aged around 2 years old thought that this might be advantageous!! Southwell is a super place to visit (with a disproportionate amount of tea rooms and cafe's for its size I might add!!). I cannot believe Ive never been before. Anyway, it well worth another visit - just after pay day next time.
PS Please take a look at Beckytography over in my side bar. My daughter has decided to start up a blog using some of her photographs.

Thursday 7 May 2009

School Recipe Book

I have literally hundreds of pounds worth of cookery books that I have bought or have had bought for me, but the book I use most of all is my old school cookery book. I feel lucky to have been taught to bake and cook "properly" not like they are taught today. My daughter was not even allowed to take it as a subject at school as it was over subscribed!! We were taught theory, practical, nutrition, economy,presentation. We used to have to write timeplans (which I hated, but timing is so essential to cooking a meal). I had the very best Home Economics teacher - Mrs Mannion who modelled herself on Margot from the" Good Life". She used to bring me her old copies of Goodhousekeeping and I was thrilled!! Using my old school recipe book, I have been able to cater for most events. My daughters 1st birthday party featured "Bunnies on the Lawn" from this book (Lime green jelly, with tinned pears placed on top, marshmallows for tails and chocolate chips for eyes!!!). Tonight I made "Rock Buns" from the very first page (you can just see the very 70's paper that the book is backed with). Some of the writing is smudged as we used to write with fountain pens!!! Here's the recipe as it is written:

Rock Buns

8oz SR Flour )
4 oz Margarine ) Bowl

3 oz Castor Sugar )
4oz mixed dried fruit ) Plate

1 egg (standard) )
1-2 dstpn Milk ) small basin
1. Collect eqpt, ingredients and light oven.
2. Sift Flour into bowl
3. Rub in margarine
4. Add Sugar and Fruit
5. Mix to a stiff consistency with egg and milk
6. Place on a greased baking tray in 10 mounds
7. Bake for 15-20 mins at 400f or Reg 6 gas (200 c these days!!) until golden brown.
8. Leave to cool on a wire baking tray.
I was reading my mums old school recipe book the other day - one of the recipes was for "Baked Stuffed God" . I think it was meant to be "Cod"!!!!

Wednesday 6 May 2009

The Deer Shelter.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a full day out (and some). A small selection of the exhibits are inside, some are in the park itself, and some are in the Country Park at the side. One of my favorite bits is the deer shelter. It was once (as you can guess) a deer shelter, but they tasked James Turrell to turn it into a magnificent "sky space". Its wonderful and very surreal to sit inside the building looking up through the open square in the roof and see the clouds, or sun or rain. It gets a bit busy sometimes, but on a quiet day, its great to just sit here and clear your mind. Then walk back up the hill to the excellent cafe. You can read all about it here:

His exhibition of sculpture in "light" in 2006 was out of this world. If you ever get chance to see any of his work, you wont be disappointed.


Ive changed my "comments" as some of you have struggled to leave me a comment in the past. Let me know if this makes a difference. If you cannot leave a comment, could you let me know by email. Many thanks to all who leave a comment or gets in touch. It makes such a difference.

Monday 4 May 2009

As Larry Grayson would have said...........

What a grey day!!! Can't you just tell that it's a Bank Holiday!! Making the most of it, and never ones to let the weather dampen our spirits, we "Kagd up" (put our kagouls on) and went for a walk around the very pretty village of Tissington in Derbyshire. We didn't hit too much traffic en route - just in Bakewell where everybody seemed to be. We did one of the walks from the website that I mentioned a few posts back. We had never been to Tissington, and it was a complete suprise to us. Hubby managed to skillfully guide me away from the Craft Fair in the village hall and towards the old railway track (The Tissington Trail) where we started our walk. Afterwards we drove to Ilam which I discovered was not too far from Tissington and was where Rosie (Corners of my mind on the sidebar) walked earlier in the week and I was keen to take a look at it. Ilam is gorgeous and we are very keen to go back again and do a walk around there. We called back in Ashbourne for tea, and now are home again, bathed, Jammies on and ready to watch "Ashes to Ashes" which we all love.

Hope you all had a good bank holiday.
On a culinary note, I had a go at the Shallow Fried Asparagus in lager batter that "Cooking with the Jones's " had blogged earlier in the week. It was sooooo tasty and we will be having more of this over the next few weeks. The lemon mayonnaise went perfectly with it. The kids loved it too. I love you bloggers for the inspiration I get from you all. You stop me being a stick in the mud. Many many thanks. xx

Friday 1 May 2009

Pizza for my Sweetheart

Tonights Pizza turned out sort of heart shaped!! I always make my own pizza - I imagine I am some Italian Mama!! I make a tomato sauce with roast vegatables whizzed up with a tin of tomatoes (and hide all the veg that my kids don't like in here!!!) Add the cheese and whatever else is lurking aroung in the fridge. Tonight it was pepperoni, onions, bacon, sliced onion and herbs from the garden. I like my pizza's with everything on, my favorite toppings are artichokes and anchovies. Enjoy your weekend everyone. Hope the sun shines wherever you are. xx