Saturday 30 May 2015

Costa Brava cliff top walk ... and the hermit crab derby ...

This afternoon Emi and I headed off with the Wonder Dog for a last walk along our favourite cliff top path. I've written about it before, but it's such a joy I could wander happily along it every day of my life and never get bored. The sea changes every day, and the cliff tops are home to a rich array of plants and animals. Every time we venture up there we find something new.

This is where we started, up above the port just behind our home.

Friday 29 May 2015

The stone witch of Girona ...

Yesterday morning Emi and I set off on a mission ... to find the famous petrified witch of Girona who'd been really, really bad back in the day when the powers that be took a really, really dim view of that kind of behaviour.

Girona's stone witch, high on the cathedral tower

Monday 25 May 2015

The ancient cork forests of Sant Feliu de Guíxols ...

Yesterday morning we set off for a walk through the cork forest that clings to the dry barren hills on the other side of town. 

It's an ancient place where development is prohibited and the wildlife flourishes. 

For many centuries the cork industry was one of the stable sources of income that fed generations of people here in our little village. They peeled great sheets of bark from the trees on this dusty hillside and dragged them back into town to fashion into a multitude of things: floats for the fishing nets, life vests, elaborate decorative and devotional objects, and of course cork stoppers for wine bottles and oil amphorae. 

Sunday 24 May 2015

Chartres blue ...

We arrived in Chartres in the early hours of yesterday morning, exhausted by our mad dash out of London. Emi's exams over, we were hungry for the open road and the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. Spain was calling us home, but, en route, we decided to stop off to sample a bit of Chartres blue; a blue that was created in the 12th century using a secret formula, known only to a trusted few, and lost forever on the completion of the great cathedral. Truly, there is no other blue quite like Chartres blue ...

Friday 15 May 2015

Happy Friday!

Gosh it's good to see you, Friday. It feels like an age since last we met ... .

It's been a l-o-n-g week over here at Talk-a-Lot Towers. I've been busy with work assignments and Emi has been revising for exams, which are due to take place next week. He's been a great little soldier, throwing his shoulder to the wheel and just getting on with it, but it feels tough on a chap who's only 9 to be stuck indoors grappling with revision, especially on those wonderful afternoons when the sun's been shining and the great outdoors has been beckoning.

And all the while I've been watching my new rose to see its first bloom. It's a much anticipated event - a bit like that kettle that you keep watching, which never seems to boil.

I fell in love with this rose back in the dark days of late November, and bought it on impulse when I stumbled upon it in the garden centre. It's called Munstead Wood in honour of Gertrude Jekyll's garden. And I've got high hopes for it as a pot pourri rose. This is what they promised me it would like:

Thursday 14 May 2015

Spring into Summer Socks ...

Have you had a pyjama day recently?

I rarely get the chance to spend all day in my jim jams, but when I do there's nothing I like more than a pair of the softest woolly socks to team with some fluffy slippers as I take things easy ... really, really easy. So if you're looking for a suitably indulgent pair of socks to team with your Uggs, then look no further.

And the good news is that they're really easy to make. Moreover using double knitting wool instead of 4 ply, and knitting on 4 mm double pins turns them into a super quick project that you could easily knock out over a wet weekend.

Want to give them a go? Then read on for the pattern.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Marmalade Biscuits

It's Sunday afternoon. We've finally got the homework done - yeah! The sun has put in an appearance. Mr B has cut the grass and there's that great spring smell of a freshly cut lawn. It's pretty fabulous outside, and I can feel a nice cup of al fresco Rosie Lee with one of my very best marmalade biscuits coming on. 

Now I know I've gone on in the past about how much I love marmalade (my middle name is Paddington). But, honestly peeps, I've got the very best Clementine and Cardamon Marmalade known to man - and I'm always keen to use it in everything, and at every available opportunity. It really is that good. 

And these biscuits with their subtle notes of cardamon and allspice, and the chewy bits of baked clementine from the chunky-cut marmalade are really very good, very good indeed. In fact they're just perfect for dunking in a cup of tea in the garden on a fine spring afternoon. 

Would you like to try one?

Saturday 9 May 2015

Jug cover ... with sea glass beads ...

Are you geared up for lemonade season?

It's always the simple things in life that matter most. And one of my favourite summer pleasures is a glass of ice-cold lemonade, sipped in the shade of my London plane tree on a hot, sunny day. It's even better when you make it for yourself. I've worked out own recipe using xylitol in place of sugar so that it's kinder to our tooth enamel. You can find my recipe for pink, homemade lemonade that won't rot your teeth here: The Very Best Homemade Lemonade

But the problem with enjoying that precious glass of anything outside is the flies. There's nothing quite like a dead bug floating on the top of one of those lovely bubbles to put you right off. So I've made this jug cover, weighed down by threaded shells and sea glass that I've beach-combed, to keep those pesky insects at bay:

It's pretty easy to make ...

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Apple blossom in Cider Country ...

This 'ere be Cider Country ... and I be a Cider Drinker ...

Yes, that's right, I'm channelling my inner Wurzel!

There are few things in God's good earth that are more beautiful to a cider-drinker's eyes than the apple blossom in May. And this year, I am happy to report that the apple trees are looking especially marvellous. I know that this doesn't guarantee a bumper crop, but, hey, it's a start.

Want to take a look around the orchard? Come on, I'll give you the grand tour:

Sunday 3 May 2015

Stonehenge ... epic!

There are few sights that are more commanding than this one: 

As I drive out of London, on my way home to Devon, I look forward to seeing it on my right as I make my way across Salisbury Plain. It marks the half-way point of my journey.  Sitting in the traffic on the A303 I often ponder the mysteries of those stones.  How did they get there? By means of one of Merlin's magic spells? Coincidentally by the movement of the melting ice-sheets  - glacial erratics, I believe is the term ? Or were they put there by the muscle-power of a race of men whose culture and beliefs have been lost across the span of time that separates their world from our own?

As you can see it's a place of mystery that inspires you to think outside the box of your everyday existence and to forget about the traffic.