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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Ode to February ... how was it for you?



I grew up in Northern Ireland, where we have proper winters with frosts and sometimes snow and cold, cold nights. And I like it that way. I like having seasons. Life would be boring without them ...

And this February we've had a flavour of full-on, proper, old-style winter weather. In London we've had some wintery cold courtesy of weather systems blown in from continental Europe, and then we upped the chill quotient with some skiing in Andorra. The ski season in Europe this year has been really good. They told me in Andorra that it arrived a bit late, but, when it came, it really delivered.

It's been fun muffling up for lots of outdoors activity. I skied with Emi, up and down, those lovely mountains every day. In the late afternoons on the way back to our hotel we'd stop off by some snow-logged fields and play. We built snowmen, we made snow angels and we waged snowball wars. None of it was wildly new or out-of-the-mould, but it was totally brilliant. And it carried a sense of doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing in this season of the year.

Indoors I've been curling up with my needles, enjoying some really good drama on television.  Did you watch Taboo? Whaow! We've enjoyed comfort food, and celebrated the simple pleasures of the everyday with bowls of steaming soup, spicy chai tea (Twinnings - delicious) and cupcakes aplenty.

So here's to March, and the simple pleasures of the everyday!

All the best,

Bonny x

Friday, 24 February 2017

The quiet after Storm Doris ...

Yesterday we really had to batten down the hatches and lie low while Storm Doris passed through town. She was a bit of a hell-raiser, old Doris. Normally I find windy days rather exhilarating, but Doris was on another level.

After the school run I normally take the WonderDog for a run in the park. Yesterday the sky was that steel grey colour that always comes before rain, and I decided to give it a miss. The WonderDog came into the kitchen with a hurt expression on his little doggy face, but within 2 minutes the heavens opened. I offered him an open door to the back garden, which he shrugged his shoulders at and immediately thought the better of his sulk.

Then this morning, in a moment of perfect blue-sky calm, we went for our usual jaunt around Walpole Park, and this is what we saw :

I'm so glad that I wasn't under that tree when Doris split it in half.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Heart Yarn Bag

Why not use some of your left-over yarn to make yourself a Valentine's Day gift with this heart motif yarn bag? You could use it as an extra small handbag, or make it for a little girl. I'm sure she'd love it in pink!

I designed this bag to hold my ball of yarn when I'm working on my feet. Often when I'm at yarn fairs, or teaching, I find myself walking around trailing yards of yarn in my wake as I try in knit on the go. I noticed that many of my clever neighbours at the yarn fairs get around this problem by using little yarn bags, suspended from their wrists that neatly hold their yarn as they pace around. And this is my take on the yarn bag.


I decided to combine the knit panels with some tweed that complimented the colour and texture of the stitch-work, and then I made an acetate lining to go inside to keep everything ship-shape. If you're not keen on sewing you could simply knit the side and bottom panels and forego the lining. It would still totally work. Just read on for my pattern:

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Steamy, Moonlit Andorra la Vella ...

Now, at the risk of leading people to believe that I've morphed into a vampire, who only ventures out a night, I have to 'fess up to being out and about in the moonlight here amidst the snowy mountains of Andorra. To be fair I've been up since the crack of dawn piste-bashing with Emi. But after a hot bath and a good dinner it's quite magical taking to the merrily lit streets of Andorra la Vella for a spot of nocturnal sight-seeing.

Many of the hotels still haven't latched onto the idea that Christmas has long since been and gone. There are Chrimbo trees and fairy lights aplenty. What is it with ski resorts and their year-round Christmas obsession? I love Christmas as much as the next girl, but by the middle February I'm more than ready to move on.

In Andorra La Vella, the capital city of this tiny principality,  you never get very far away from the sound of rushing water. Rivers tumble down from the snowy peaks, and race through town with a thundering velocity. And every now and then you come across a hot spring sending up great plumes of water vapour into the chilly night air. As you stand and admire the scene you begin to notice just a hint of sulphur hanging in the breeze and adding to the atmosphere.


It's an amazing thing to see a steaming river, especially as this one is just a skip, a hop and a jump away from Meritxell Avenue, the main shopping street where luxury label boutiques vie for position, and the cool crowd parade around in their designer finery.

There's a hot spring further down the street that feeds a huge stone trough where the water temperature is a constant 70ºC. You can stop and dip your hands/ feet/ whatever you want cooked in it, but it's uncomfortably hot - and that's coming from someone who likes her baths lava hot!


I understand the science behind hot springs, but I still find myself standing back and marvelling at the incongruity of steam in a snowscape. It's easy to imagine how delighted our early ancestors must have been with places like this. In a cold, wintery climate, where everyone spent their lives balanced on the edge of hypothermia, it must have felt like a gift from the gods to come across a steaming hot spring rising out of the frozen ground.

All the best for now,

Bonny x



Saturday, 11 February 2017

Boulogne-sur-Mer in the moonlight ...

Do you ever go out for a moonlit stroll? Do you like to wander solitary beneath the stars?

It's one of those activities that you could be forgiven for opting out of. But for me, travelling as I do with the WonderDog, it's a bit of a necessity. When a dog's got to go, a dog's got to go ... if you get my drift.

Sometimes I negotiate r-e-a-l-l-y hard to see if someone else will step up to the plate and do the honours. On Thursday we pitched up in Boulogne-sur-Mer shortly before midnight. It was a cold, joyless night with a cruel wind whistling around the empty streets. After a late room service dinner the others pleaded various (lame) excuses for not venturing forth, and I had to take the WonderDog for his post-prandial ablutions. But here's the thing: the moment I stepped out into the moonlit streets I realised what a HUGE favour they'd done me. This little city by the sea is so atmospheric after dark.

La Porte Neuve, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
La Porte Neuve, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today, a dull, bitterly cold, grey day in February, I'm all about brightening up the outlook with some yummy cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and the very brightest sprinkles I could find.




Carrot cake is a really easy cake to make. It's pretty much guaranteed to turn out deliciously moist due to the water content of the carrots. You could make this recipe as a sandwich cake with the cream cheese frosting serving as a sandwich layer in between, and on top. Alternatively you could make it in squares. 

Emi's school is having a cake sale this afternoon, so I'm going down the cupcake route to max-up the number of units for the punters.  

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Selfridges rocks the Granny Square ...

I'm not sure what's going on down at Selfridges on London's Oxford Street, but it looks like they're doing a homage to the Granny Square!

This gloriously colourful window caught my eye this morning as I was scampering past (late) for a meeting.