Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Story of Beatrix Potter

I was delighted to discover that Sarah Gristwood's new book, The Story of Beatrix Potter, was available through our library.

Sarah's book was a pleasure to read, full of interesting facts, but presented in a way which was both familiar and reader-friendly.  Having read other biographies about Beatrix Potter which were quite 'dry' and factual; this came as a surprise and I was immersed in the story of Beatrix's life and love of nature and most especially, the English Lake District.  

How I long to revisit the Lake District and to venture into those areas she knew and loved!  

The morning ticked away slowly and before I knew it, the book was finished.  It is a long time since I have enjoyed a biography this much.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in knowing more about one of the world's greatest children's authors and illustrators.  

I must draw your attention to the watercolour of Esthwaite Water on page 54 of the book, which is absolutely beautiful.  In case you can't get your hands on a copy, you can see the picture here.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Whitby Lemon Buns

One of the joys of the cooler days of autumn is a chance to get back into the kitchen and do some baking.  I stumbled upon a recipe for Whitby Lemon Buns and I was eager to try it.

They are fairly easy to make, particularly if like me, you have a machine to do the kneading.  Then, all you need is patience, as you wait for them to rise.

I iced them as soon as possible (I did have to wait for them to cool first!) and finished off with a sprinkling of lemon zest.  They seemed a little 'doughy' to us, but they were much improved (no pun intended!) the next day.  As there are only two of us and there were ten of them, I opted to put six in the freezer.  I can thaw them and quickly mix a little more lemon icing when we fancy one with a cup of tea.  

I discovered that the recipe originates from Botham's of Whitby, so I plan to pay a visit next time I'm in town, to see how they compare.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Wire

A weekend stroll in the park seemed like a great idea and I imagine, one that was shared by lots of other people, as it was packed with cars and finding parking was a challenge.  We eventually found a space outside the park and walked back.

One of my favourite spots to visit is the allotments, so we headed down Allotment Lane.  I miss having a garden, so I'm always curious to see what other people are growing.

Visitors are not actually permitted to enter the allotments, so we did a lot of peering over fences and through the wire.

Some of the patches were very overgrown and neglected, which was a surprise, as my understanding was that people could only keep their allotments if they were well tended.  Some had neat rows of produce waiting to be harvested.

A quiet spot to sit and enjoy the peace and watch the wildlife - most appealing, if it were not on the other side of the fence.

I had to be content with being on the wrong side of the wire, when I would far rather have been in there harvesting the fruits of my labour.  Still, it was a pleasant day for a walk and it made a change from my usual route.

Friday, 23 September 2016

(Still) In The Frame

Those readers who have followed my blog(s) for a while may recall my coastal cross stitch sampler, which I started in 2008.  In all that time, it has been on the frame and has moved up and down as I worked my way around this large sampler.

With full-time work commitments, there were long periods when I left this piece untouched and then I would pull it out and work a little.  I could spend hours working on it and only complete a tiny portion of the design.

Finding myself with time on my hands this summer and the weather being far too hot for strenuous activity, I decided to set myself a challenge.  I started working on my sampler on a regular basis in early July, with the goal of completing it during the course of the summer. 


'When autumn dulls the summer skies,
And paler sunshine softly lies...'

V.O. Wallingford - The Cottonwood Trees

When I signed off for a blogging break in late June, I had not anticipated being gone this long.  This has been the hottest summer on record and the combination of high temperatures and high humidity have been challenging.  I reached a point where any kind of activity was too much to cope with and I had no desire to sit down and blog.

Even the arrival of autumn with yesterday's equinox still saw the temperature hit 30 C.  I had been wondering when summer would end, but that may have been this morning.  The temperature dropped to 16 C with wind and rain and I was caught out without a coat and inadequately dressed, so I was glad to get home and have a warming mug of soup.

These photographs were taken down at Lake Ontario this morning.  I've noticed a change in the quality of the morning light during the past couple of weeks.  Today was somewhat overcast, but there was a slight hint of sun in the clouds on the horizon.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Oh! To Be In England

I've been dipping into the Darling Buds of May series over the last few weeks.  I'm currently reading Oh!  To Be In England.  There is something hugely comforting about the stories of family, friends and the countryside as described in the H.E. Bates' stories.

Spring and early summer are filled with memories of primroses, bluebell woods and the early morning dawn chorus, which sounds completely different here.  The rhythm of the seasons is missing for me and with it the traditions of May Day celebrations, harvest festivals and the usual calendar of events.  Even once in a lifetime celebrations like the Queen's Diamond Jubilee of 2012 and more recently, her 90th birthday celebrations.  It is at times like these of national celebration when I feel most out of place.

The H.E. Bates novels are full of love, laughter, pride at being English and a sense of place, which is what I love about them.  I know that it is not possible to recapture the England of a bygone age, but I hope that it will be possible to find my way home.

I'm taking a blogging break now, so I won't be around for a while. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

In The Kitchen

I wish that I could claim to have been busy in the kitchen this week, but I can't.  The summer temperatures have been soaring and the humidity has been unbearable.  The last thing that I was planning to do was baking.

These photos are of some of the baking that I did before the mercury started climbing.  A delicious quiche, which we sliced up and took on a picnic.

Chocolate chip cookies and bread sticks, which are perennial favourites.  

Who can resist bread fresh from the oven and still warm?  I have been using the breadmaker during the heatwave, but sadly, it doesn't do breadsticks.