Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Great British Year and CHRISTMAS PUDDING time.

Now do you remember how I recently RAVED about ANNA DILLON and her paintings? post dated 27 October 2013 or you can google Anna Dillon or use this link:

Now in the side bar of her website she mentioned THE GREAT BRITISH YEAR and gave a link, but what really caught my eye was the ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT message....So curious creature that I am I went to have a look.... Hey this was WONDERFUL! Some really amazing , touching, beautiful filming of the 4 seasons in the British Isles, 4 hours of it I have now watched in awe and absolute joy and delight. THANK YOU BBC! I am so grateful for this and all the amateur photographers who helped. It's the time-lapse phtography and filming that makes these 4 programmes so utterly delightful and different from other nature programmes such as Autumnwatch etc.
Alas the I-player versions are no longer available for Winter, Spring , Summer but the AUTUMN one is available until 3rd November: watch it now!

And for clips from Spring see the BBC BLOG which should continue to be available for longer than i-player:

The above was an orchard in summer when the apples are about to be harvested for cider I think?
Our own British weather on Monday gave us such a storm in the night that there were 5 trees down on the way to Aylesbury and I could not present at my event in London. Tracks blocked, no trains into London at all at 7:45 am. Shame.
Still soon cheered up, took a days ' leave and spent it happily with the girls, it;s HALF TERM after all and I would not have worked if I hadn't had a ''booking''.

This was my journey back from Aylesbury station , the 9 miles took me 1.5 hours?

 Can you see the vague rainbow? It was visible to the eye but not on camera?
 There's one of 5?!
 Queues building up , waiting for their turn to circumnavigate the tree.... This is what it was like many times, hence the 90 minutes - but I was listening to Tony Robbins so was a happy bunny.
 At home CHRISTMAS preparations are now underway: MAKING THE PUDDING!
Start by weighing out the fruits and soaking them in Rum and Stout.
 And in Bicester on Tuesday we bought the first Stollen, a hot fave in our home.
 Within seconds only 1 slice left, for JJ? But no by the time he came home t'was all gone.
 This was Tuesday lunch when we got back from Bicester...YUMMY!
 THIS is what we bought in Bicester: yarn for a PASCAL, an amigurumi toy CHAMELEON?!
For Miss E who ''needs'' him for her fancy dress costume for a party Saturday?
Suddenly mum's ''sigh usually dreadful'' crochet was actually ''cool'' and in demand!
How could I refuse? Even though I have tidying/ cleaning- more of this later- and study deadlines!!!
MSc PH remember? More of Pascal soon, I promise.
 Now this leaflet was published in 2004 and so I think it's OK to et you see it by now and it has had many mentions over the years... This will be the 9th year of our home-made X-mas pudding?
 Essential ingredients: cranberries and cherries as well as the usual suspects. Oops, I ate the entire first packet ....Had to go back and buy a second one.
 AND this, which is no longer stocked anywhere in town, I scoured all 3 supermarkets.
In 2005 I made it with ''original Atora'' and it was NOT a success, too fatty.
 And while it soaked for days I watched in delight the GREAT BRITISH YEAR...
 Dis you want to SEE the recipe, then? Here it is:
 That's RIGHT, the aroma fills the kitchen as you steam it for hours on end. YUM!
 The hardest thing is the trivet or heatproof plate and I have broken many small old plates over the years....
In fact at this very moment I am racking my brains to remember what I used last year?
And where are my pudding basins? I make one ''normal'' size and one tiny one, we have the tiny one at New Year's Eve. All from these amounts of ingredients:
 If you do a ''ctrl screenprint ''and paste it into Word, then crop the image and then pull it to enlarge you can READ this recipe?
 I steam my two puddings separately?  The photos are all about the tying of the pleated foil and paper.
 You have to do ti twice: once fr steaming, then REMOVE the wet foil and paper and redo it, then store pudding in cool dry place until Christmas?On Christmas day I remove it all and microwave it for 5 minutes, then serve en flambe.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A quiet ordinary weekend

 Yep, it's almost Christmas and preparations have started! This is a holly leaf sample for a Christmas class I hope to teach in November as well as out own Christmas wreath for this year, if I can make enough of them!
I used a holly leaf pattern from the book:      and tweaked it slightly in using simple picots for the prickles.
 I have been weeks and weeks hunting for the ''perfect'' holly-green! Would you believe almost NONE of the mainstream yarn producers have thought to produce a real dark pine or holly green this year?
I did see one: Debbie Bliss Rialto DK comes in a dark green but at £5.50 for a small ball, is that what we need for a wreath? Then I struck lucky this Tuesday on the market!! 50 p a ball now that's more like it?
The perfect shade but a 2-3 ply so I'm using it doubled.
 It was a joy to see my ''ignored'' bulbs from last Spring are coming up with green shoots!
 I've spent most of the weekend, procrastinating and avoiding my studies by tidying storage and cleaning...
 I don't know if we're ''as everyone'' or ''unusual'' but it seems even though we have a lovely LOT of cupboards in our kitchen, they are filled with rarely used ''rubbish'' or once a year items whilst the daily use items lurk on all the surfaces or in boxes, baskets, shelves and buckets, cluttering the place up?
So I'm sorting out the ''must haves'' from the ''occasionallies'' and the latter are being banned to the garage!
I did also do a wee sample of aran crochet, from Robyn Chachulas BLUE PRINT CROCHET book.
And got distracted by old crochet magazines, flicking through and discovering patterns that maybe I have grown into? I.E. I did not like them years ago, but I DO now?
Anyhow it was also lovely mucking about in the house with two laid back relaxing giggly girls who are starting their half term holiday week. I wish I had the week off too, I feel like a mellow week of tidying and cleaning, watching old movies and daytime tv WITH them !
 Miss E brought out her foxy phone cover which I must have hidden in my subconscious and then replicated without realising it! They are remarkably similar?!
I picked up this leaflet last week and thought we'd all go see this art exhibition in the half term- I DO have 2 of the 5 days off! BUT then when I looked closely it FINISHED TODAY! Oh no?

 So I googled ANNA DILLON instead and found her MARVELLOUS pictures online!
 Boy, I' d be buying some of these when my lotto ticket comes up trumps!
 They are wonderfully abstract yet REAL landscapes with gorgeous colours and shapes, BOLD and brave.
 I had a BLISSFUL hour or so browsing about, isn't the internet wonderful?
I didn't have to brave the rain and wind or drive and use petrol to get to Oxford?
 WOW these are just BRILLIANT aren't they????
 Oh I am in love with these blue mountains?
 And these rocks are almost scary somehow, they look reptilian?
They reminded me of snakes and salamanders?
 AND I know this view! You can see it when you walk the coastal path from Dwygyfylchi in North Wales to Conwy. Hills, rocks and the sea on your left...with moorland and headlands stretching ahead in the distance..
 Miss E was quite the baker this weekend when she made her first ever Crumble: with plums no less and delicious it was too. Miss A made us a steak dinner and Miss E used up some rather brown bananas and made banana and custard muffins from this book:
 There were 12, but not for long! Delicious! It made a refreshing and yummy change from banana cake or banana loaf- both also WW recipes.
 And when the rain stopped for a wee while I walked the dogs at the Prebendal:
 We are lucky to be allowed on this wide open piece of private land?

 the river was high and looked  muddy..

 Pippa loved being there and ran about sniffing and geting excited about rabbits and squirrels, water- voles and ducks..
 And Lucy and Pippa are behaving weirdly with each other again, tails up and quite growly with each other.

 Lucy and I admiring the view, Pippa straining and pulling to go home.
 Bye river, best get home to cook dinner?Lots of thinking and planning got done today.