Thursday 24 September 2015

The face that launched a thousand reprimands ...

The other day I was doing some research in the Basilica of Sant Feliu in Girona when this face stopped me in my tracks. She seemed to be looking straight at me, and she didn't seem too pleased with what she saw ... .

Saturday 19 September 2015

Crockpot apple butter ...

My house smells wonderful at the moment. If I could bottle this aroma and sell it as the essence of autumn I think I'd make a fortune. Jo Malone would definitely be interested ... .

I've been busy with my crockpot making apple butter, and the waft of spiced apple is everywhere. Emi came home from swim club and remarked on it before I'd even got the front door open ... .

And happily the product of all this industry tastes as good as it smells. I think apple butter is a Dutch or an Amish invention, and it's really worth trying. You can use it like jam on toast or muffins. It works beautifully as an applesauce substitute with pork or cold cuts, and you could also serve it as an accompaniment to some nice strong cheese.

The secret to making this delicious apple butter is to cook the apples very slowly over a low heat without letting them burn. So you see the crockpot is the ultimate gizmo to spare you toil and trouble. If you've got one, you'd have to be crazy not to use it.

Anyway just read on for my recipe.

Thursday 17 September 2015

A casual jumper inspired by the beach ...

If you're in the market for a super fast, super easy project that you could complete over a weekend, then this is it! And if you wanted to make it even easier and even more straightforward you could stick to just one colour and save all that messing around with different colours and darning in of loose ends that comes with stripes.

I've made it for my favourite sassy eleven year-old, who's about 4'11", thin as a pencil and a bit of a tomboy. It's got a short body length that's designed to skim the top of her jeans and, with a white T underneath, it should look relaxed and casual.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

The quiet of the cloister ...

In the heart of the ancient Cathedral of Santa Maria sits a beautiful cloister. It's a quiet place, hidden away from the bustle of the outside world, making it a perfect spot for peaceful contemplation - just so long as a bus-load of tourists isn't in the vicinity. Luckily, the morning I stopped by, I pretty much had it to myself. Sitting in a quiet corner, admiring the way the shadows played across the ancient tombstones that line the floor it would have been easy to convince myself that I'd slipped through time into another age. 

The Cloisters, Girona Cathedral

Friday 11 September 2015

Pressing late summer flowers ...

The weather here in London has been a little bit glorious these past few days. Sadly it's not set to last into the weekend, so we'd best make the most of it while it's here. The Wonder Dog and I decamp to the garden when the sun shines. We set up shop on the terrace just outside the kitchen where we spread out our work in the shade of a parasol and enjoy the good times.

Yesterday morning it was so lovely that I was inspired to chase around for the last of the summer flowers to press. There's not a lot happening in my little back garden right now. We've been away all summer and it's looking a bit lacklustre and neglected, but I still managed to find a few colourful blooms to add colour to some handmade cards.

Here they are:

Tuesday 8 September 2015

The Apple Harvest ...

Last weekend we had a go at picking some apples - as you can see! The weather was glorious on Sunday, and we all mucked in.

If there's one thing that makes my heart sing at the end of summer it's the apple harvest. We usually have loads of apples. Our trees are heritage varieties from Devon, where the emphasis is on working apples for cider or cooking, rather than sweet dessert types.

Sunday 6 September 2015

The Dalí Theatre Museum, Figueres ...

The other day we took young Emi up to the Dalí museum in Figueres. He's only nine, but I thought he might get a kick out of the way the great Surrealist Master liked to depict the world around him.

I'd expected young Emi to find Dalí fun, and he did, but he also found some of his work deeply creepy (his exact words). He loved the funky museum, however, without any qualification. It's a great big boisterous building that poses all sorts of questions with its design elements that are guaranteed to have you wondering what Dalí was on about. In short, the museum in Figueres is as much a work of art as anything that it houses. Its ... well, it's like no other building I've ever visited.

Friday 4 September 2015

Great Motorway Drive-by sights ... Carcassonne

 Most of the motorway miles I notch up tend to be drab and boring. Motorways are all about getting there fast with little to see along the way, but every now and then they snake past something sensational that makes me want to exit at the next junction to go off and investigate. Of course, this motorway proximity probably doesn't help the ambience of the place in question. I mean three lanes of traffic battering along in either direction won't enhance the chorus of the wild birds or add a whole lot of sweetness to the air.

The other day I was bustling along down the A61 that runs from Toulouse to Narbonne when I saw this loom large on the near horizon:

It was Carcassonne, the beautiful walled city of the Cathars.

As luck would have it, I was in the passenger seat with my window down and my camera to hand. Normally all the wonderful things appear on Mr B's side of the car when my camera is in the boot and all the windows are hermetically sealed against the rain.

And so I was able to spend a happy 30 seconds snapping away as though my life depended on it.

I'm not sure what the other motorists thought, but who cares when you've got something so sensational passing you by on the near-side.

Usually we rely heavily on in-flight entertainment (my legendary lasts-from-Belfast-to-Barcelona playlist and the loop of endless Scooby Doo movies for the troops in the back) to make our motorway miles go quickly, but this was one occasion when we were happy to slow right down and enjoy the scenery.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Tuesday 1 September 2015

The end- of- summer blues ...

We've got a bad case of the end-of-summer blues out here in sunny Sant Feliu de Guíxols. It's all about to end tomorrow when we return to London for the start of the new school term. And none of us is looking forward to the transition. Emi's back at school again on Thursday. The weather forecast for London is less than stellar, so we'll be back to living indoors again, and to all our old routines within a matter of hours of arriving.

As the journey home beckons I can't help but think about another family ... .

Down on the beach there's a sailing school run by an inspirational couple. They've got a young family but that hasn't stopped them living the dream. During the European summer they're here, earning a living doing something they love. But, come the end of September, they pack everything away - all the little one-man dinghies, kayaks, windsurfers. Then they jump on their yacht and sail south to a little corner of the Caribbean where they open another sailing school for the winter.

Their children, who are home-schooled, are fluent in Catalan, Spanish and English and seem to be up to speed with everything else too. Moreover, having spent their lives around lots of other people who've come from the four corners of the Earth for sailing lessons with their mum and dad, they've got loads of social confidence.

I'm a rubbish sailor, and I'm sure I'd die of sea-sickness on the journey, but there's a part of me that envies them their lifestyles and admires their courage in choosing the path they've chosen. I think it was no less of a thinker than Confucius who said: do what you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life. And this couple appear to be the living embodiment of that philosophy.

So on those cold, grey winter days that lie ahead I'll think of them following the sunshine and doing what they really want to do, and I'll try to draw inspiration from their example.

All the best for now,

Bonny x