Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas ...

I'm all cosy and snug with my nearest and dearest here on the Costa Brava. Our tree is up, our presents are wrapped, the turkey is stuffed and set for roasting, and there's nothing left to do but enjoy the moment.

Well, seeing as I've got everything under control, how'd you you like to step out with me for a moonlit stroll around my pueblo? They've really pulled out the stops and put on the Ritz with lots and lots of Christmas lights. Come on! You'll hardly need a coat. After the recent winter storms the weather's turned benign.

Sun set over the bay in Sant Feliu de Guíxols

Friday, 23 December 2016

Harbour fix-ups ...

It's a quiet time of the year down at the harbour, with not so many boats going out every night. But that gives the fixer-uppers an opportunity to get ahead. There's been a lot of activity mending nets, painting hulls and doing refits.

Early morning at Sant Feliu de Guíxols harbour

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Super-chunky-knit cushions ...

Super chunky knit cushions - pattern follows : dog - an inimitable one-of-a-kind!

I bought some of this ultra super chunky wool a while ago. I'd noticed that other people were getting into all sorts of knit-something-in-a-day projects, and I was curious to see how it would work out. So I ordered some colours that struck me as harmonious without a very clear idea of what I was going to do with them.

Now I have to confess that this kind of knitting is not really my thing. I'd never advocate using the resulting textile for anything other than upholstery. It produces a knit that's just too chunky and unwieldy for my tastes: think Axminster carpet as opposed to 2 ply cashmere ... . Wear it and you're likely to melt in any environment that boasts even the most rudimentary heating system, and, even if you're as thin as a pencil, a padding of this ultra super chunky knit is guaranteed to make you look like a bear who's ate all the honey and is heading off to hibernate.

But where it does come into its own is for seat cushions. I'm a big fan of sitting outside on sunny days right through the winter months. I love to be outdoors with fresh air and winter sunshine. When I'm skiing I love how they cosy up the patio seating with throws and cushions and padding. And this is where ultra super chunky wool comes into its own: if you're looking for über insulation it's the real deal. For seat cushions that are guaranteed to keep your rear end cosy in the depths of winter it's the business. Added to which whatever you make will knit up in super quick time.

I knocked these together in just a few hours. You could have a whole new suite of patio cushions knit and sewn together over the course of a stay-at-home Saturday.

Just read on for the patterns:

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

All set for Christmas ... Costa Brava style

You know you're a grown-up when you're the person who has to deliver Christmas. And this year I'm the designated adult. All of Mr B's siblings and their families are coming to us for Christmas Day. And out here on the not-so-sunny Costa Brava finding an ostrich-sized turkey to feed them all with is proving to be a bit of a challenge ... .

Friday, 2 December 2016

Oxtail soup ... the ultimate winter warmer

It's turned really chilly here in London. The days are bright and clear, with blue skies and sunshine, but once the sun goes down it gets s-o-o-o cold.

At this time of the year, as the nights draw and the cold strengthens, I turn to hearty food: soups and stews are the things I want to cook most. And there's nothing better on a cold winter's night than a steaming bowl of oxtail soup. It is the ultimate, luscious, warming, comfort food. Mine gets cooked all day in the slow cooker, filling the house with its tantalising smell. By nightfall the meat is falling off the bone, and the liquid is a rich, deep chocolatey brown ... ambrosia in a soup bowl!

Given that there are only three bears who usually sit down at my table every night, this recipe has been calculated to feed three people. You can big it up if you've got more folk to feed. Just read on for my recipe:

Oxtail soup