Friday 30 September 2016

Backed Into A Corner

After weeks of niggly detail, I finally felt that I was making progress, as I started to outline the boat in the corner of this design.

It was also a relief to my eyes, as I worked on some stronger colours, which made it much easier to see the stitches!  Although I have a good light with a magnifier for close work, it was far too hot to sit under it to work, so I had to work during daylight hours when there was adequate light.  I persevered and the boat and netting started to come together.  It took eight days to finish the boat - this gives you an idea of the amount of detail.

Thursday 29 September 2016


The feast of St Michael and All Angels is known as Michaelmas and falls on 29th September.  Traditionally, Michaelmas was celebrated with the Michaelmas goose, but it was also considered the last day when blackberries should be picked.

Each year, I think about the tradition of serving blackberries on this day, but I struggle to find any worth buying, as the commercial ones lack flavour and are often not nice to eat.  This year, I had an idea and searched the Crofter's website, where I discovered a recipe using their Blackberry spread.

I tweaked the recipe a bit, but followed most of it, omitting the nuts and the ground cloves, adding sultanas in place of raisins, using milk instead of buttermilk (and less of it) and adding extra baking powder, as I mixed this cake in the food processor.  The result is a beautifully moist and delicious Blackberry Cake and you can find the basic recipe here.

The icing of the cake was my decision and I opted for vanilla buttercream.  I've received compliments on my baking in the past, but none like these - it was described as my best cake ever!  I can only add that this cake is the perfect flavour for autumn with the combination of seasonal fruit, spices and vanilla.  It tastes great with a cup of tea!

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.