Thanks to Natalie at Threads and bobbins for creating the series, Sunday Sevens. Here’s a quick update on my week.
This week the long awaited reflective dog jacket I ordered for Riley arrived. You have to admit it looks fantastic on him!
This Wednesday was Valentine’s Day. David and I took a trip to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to hear the RLPO perform passionate pieces of music. The auditorium was full! My favourite pieces in the programme were Prokofiev’s retelling of Romeo and Juliet and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2 performed by Chinese pianist Zhang Zuo. It was a lovely night!
At the Philharmonic Hall
For the past five years David has wanted to purchase a table lamp created by Hebden Bridge based artist, Hannah Nunn. We just couldn’t justify the cost, however this week I noticed there was a seconds sale being held for only a few days. The lamp David had had his eye on for so long was half price! We decided to order it. A few days later we took delivery of the lamp. It doesn’t look much unlit, but once the bulb is switched on the etched design comes to life. It is a fine addition to our bird inspired living room. What do you think?
This weekend I purchased some potato chits to plant come spring. I bought maris peer potatoes. They are new potatoes to me, but I have read that they are good in salads, much like the maris bard. Even though we had blight on our potato harvest last year I will continue to try and grow ‘our own’. I will document how we go with these second earlies.
This week I have managed a good 39 miles, bringing my overall total so far to 235 miles. It hasn’t been a bad week of walking. I’ve enjoyed a few good walks to work with the sun shining and the scent of spring on the air. Monday I thought, would have been a perfect day to go wild swimming. So I walked to work, smelling the air, hearing the birds singing and dreaming of slipping my cool body into an even colder body of water. It made my spirit soar! Spring/Summer can’t come quick enough!
Christine and Riley
David and Riley
Riley at Otterspool Prom
Snowdrops by Otterspool
David and I have also embarked on many evening walks with Riley as well as taking him on a good three mile walk today around Otterspool. We have all enjoyed the exercise, Riley and myself most of all. 🙂
Well week three has been a much more enjoyable week. I think the sunshine and 25°+ temperatures have helped raise the mood.
With a bit of forward thinking I was also able to plan my posts and managed to gather enough photographs and subjects to hopefully make the post more informative. Let me know your thoughts.
Day Fifteen: Thursday.
Last year I didn’t have much luck with growing my own vegetables. I tried growing peppers, green beans, spring onions and tomatoes. All perished. The only success of the summer was the maris bard potatoes, and I got two harvests from them!
So this spring I decided to get the same variety in the hope of getting a bumper harvest of gorgeous new-potato-type earlies. However, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’. I planted the chits in March/April and waited for the plants to grow and the flowers to appear. This year nothing happened, save the plants in the grow bag yellowed and some died. I watered them during the dry spell and decided on Thursday to rummage in the soil to see if there were any potatoes grown. There were, but they all looked like this!
I was so upset! What had happened to my lovely potatoes? After doing some reading online I found there could be a number of reasons my potatoes looked like they had acne.
The spots could be a nematode, or microscopic worm.
There was a lack of moisture in the soil during hot weather.
The spots could be early blight, a fungus spread by rain and hot temperatures.
I suppose you only learn as a gardener if you make an attempt at growing. Perhaps last years harvest was a fluke? I have centurion onions growing in a bag too. I wonder what they will look like come harvesting?
Have you had a diseased riddled harvest? Let me know your stories.
Day sixteen: Friday.
All week, our female blue-faced parrot finch (Forrest) has been laying tiny white eggs. This got me thinking, how is an egg actually made? So I did a little research.
The egg as we know it is assembled inside out! The yolk comes first and is released via the oviaries. Fertilisation (if applicable) occurs once the yolk is released. The yolk then passes along the oviduct where the albumen and membranes are created. Calcification occurs at the shell gland and this produces the egg shell. Shell production can take up to 20 hours and the whole process lasts around 24 hours!
If you are interested to know more, then follow this link here, and here, and here.
Since 2015, when I began participating in 30 Days Wild, I have grown borage for bees. This year has been no different. I harvested the seeds from last years plants and sowed them this spring. Right on cue for June the new plants have begun flowering. The bees love them and they are also my something blue for 2017!
Day Eighteen: Sunday.
Having never picked our own fruit before I was very excited to try! I found a local farm, Claremont, on the Wirral, who have a pick your own season. So David and I visited this weekend. On arrival we opted for two small punnets and headed towards the field where hundreds of strawberry plants were growing. The farm was very busy with families. We chose our row and began foraging among the strawberry plants. We found big juicy fruit, the smell was delicious!
Having filled our punnets to the brim we took them to the farmer who weighed the harvest and the cost was £6 for the two punnets. I thought it was reasonable, with the guarantee that the fruit is fresh having picked them straight from the plant. We will definitely visit again.
Have you picked your own? What fruit do you prefer?
Day Nineteen: Monday.
Nicky at Too Lazy to Weed wrote a wonderful blog about plant pots for pollinators an initiative by Butterfly Conservation. They offer a planting guide for beginners and ask for participants to log their pots on a map and state what plants you have for pollinators. I have numerous pots and plants for pollinators so it wasn’t difficult to participate in.
Here are a few pictures of some of the plants I have in the yarden for pollinators.
Bumblebee on Dahlia
Honey Bee and Passion Flower
Some pollinator friendly plants are:
Perhaps you can plant a pot for pollinators and help out our hungry insects?
Day Twenty: Tuesday.
I’ve decided to showcase two bees who have been seen visiting the yarden. 1. the leaf-cutter bee and 2. the honey bee.
The hive is structured with a queen, worker bees (females) and drones (males).
Prefer simple, open flowers.
Carry their pollen in baskets on their hind legs.
Day Twenty-one: Wednesday.
The Summer Solstice. Last year I got up at 4 am and listened to the dawn chorus. This year since having a long day at work, (and I mean a loooong day at work). I decided to look for alternative ways of celebrating the solstice.
Solstice is the Latin for ‘sun seems to stand still.’ Some see the solstice as the beginning of summer, whereas others see it as midsummer. The sun is at its most northerly position (and at winter it’s the most southerly). The solstice occurs due to the tilt of the Earth at 23.5°. In summer the Earth is tilting towards the sun and for the UK the summer solstice means approx. 16 hours of sunlight, the longest day. During the winter solstice the opposite occurs (approx. 8 hours of sunlight), meaning the shortest day.
Thought.co have some good ideas on how to celebrate the summer solstice.
I can’t remember where I saw it now, but I read that making a herbal brew was also a way of celebrating the solstice, so I decided on attempting a rosemary tea.
Rosemary is full of antioxidants (supports the immune system), has vitamins A and C and is helpful in boosting memory. Shakespeare in Hamlet, (act four, scene five,) has Ophelia saying (in her maddened state), ‘there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.’ It can also aid relaxation, ease anxiety and help digestion. So I thought I would give it a try.
Ingredients (makes one small mug):
I used two tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (cut fresh from the yarden).
One cup of boiled water or 250ml.
Leave to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
Strain and drink.
I decided to drink the infusion whilst listening to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based of the William Shakespeare play. I listened as a muggy day turned to a cooler evening.
The infusion created a green tea. Rosemary is a very aromatic herb and the tea was very florally. I think I preferred the music to the drink.
What is your favorite herbal drink?
What a diverse week, week three has been! From failed potato harvests to gorgeous strawberries! I have tried to share new experiences and facts I’ve learned.
What random acts of wildness have you enjoyed doing this week?
I wasn’t going to participate in this weeks, Sunday Sevens, devised by Natalie. Having been a full week at work, I thought there wasn’t much time for anything else. However I have a few updates which may interest you. So here’s my week!
Wild Swimming: Sunday saw David and I head for the Lake District to walk among the Rannerdalebluebells and to have my first swim of the new season in Crummock Water! I hope there will be many more swim/walks to come.
Wild swim at Crummock Water
I.Ding a tree: This week, on my walk in-between bus stops to work, my olfactory receptors have been under assault by a rich, sweet scent. A Path I take is flanked with hedges that have white blossom. I didn’t know what species of plant it was, so I went in search of answers. I Used the Woodland Trust’s British Trees ID, and discovered it was a Hawthorn Tree. Most commonly found in hedgerows and also known as the May tree as it blossoms predominantly in May. If you would like to know more about the Hawthorn follow this link for videos and useful information.
#walk1000miles: With leaving for work a little earlier so I can walk longer between bus stops and getting back into a routine on the treadmill means my mileage for the week has been 28.8 miles, which is my best yet! Bringing my overall total to 453 miles!
Collecting: While counting the petty cash at work, my boss, Sue and I have been scouring the 50p’s in the hope of finding more Beatrix Potter coins. During the week, we struck lucky and found a second coin!
Beatrix Potter 50p
The Kite Runner
Book I am reading: I managed to get through The Lonely, it seemed a story about nothing as everything was alluded to. I have now picked up The Kite Runner. I bought the Kindle version last year and forgot all about it, until this week when I was thinking about what book to read next. I am enjoying it so far, the narrative is well written.
Nestle Plan Bee: Recently I thought I would try Nestle’s Shredded Wheat – Honey and Nut cereal. I was excited to read on their packaging that they have an initiative of offering free wildflower seeds with any purchase.
Did you know, that 97% of UK wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930’s.
70% of UK crops depend on bees to survive.
Since 1990 the UK alone has lost 20 species of bees and 35 are considered under threat.
With the help of initiatives like Nestle’s, we can all do our little bit for bees and other pollinators. All you need to do is go to www.nestle-cereals.com/uk/en/plan-bee, buy one of the three cereals with the offer, and enter your details along with the cereal box’s bar-code. My seeds took a week to arrive and I was over the moon! I just have to find some space in my yarden to plant them now! 🙂
30 Days Wild: If free seeds from cereal companies wasn’t enough, I received my Wildlife Trusts’s 30 Days Wild pack on Friday. Among the goodies was a huge wall poster, stickers and a small packet of free wildflower seeds! I also ordered a pack for businesses as I liked the face masks featuring a fox and bunting which will grace the yarden. I am excited for this years’ 30 Days Wild. I cannot wait to see what wonders I will discover! June is only a few weeks away! Have you signed up?
Cooking: I had a culinary melt down this Saturday. I just didn’t know what to cook! There are so many recipes online, but I didn’t want to cook any of them! I was just in a funny mood! So while I was crying, David stepped in and rustled up a reasonably quick vegetable masala. The microwaved potatoes coated in turmeric and garlic were a revelation!
The Yarden: To finish off this post, (I’ve seemed to have waffled on longer than expected). I will share some photos of the yarden. The aquilegia has bloomed yet again and has many heads for the visiting pollinators. On Friday David and I were cleaning up from feeding Hoppy (the pigeon) and her friends, when the friendly cat that has been visiting the yarden walked along the wall and jumped down to say hello. She is a very friendly cat, a bit too friendly! We watched, as she trampled my cat mint, rolling around in ecstasy. We think she has a human family as we only see her around 7pm of a week day. I’d hate for her to be a stray and homeless.
I thought I’d participate in this weeks Sunday Sevens devised by Natalie. Here’s some of the things I filled my week with.
Gardening: David and I spent three hours in the yarden yesterday, it was tiring work. I replanted some bulbs and re-potted my honeysuckle into a bigger pot. While David pruned the jasmin and passion flower, I sowed wildflower, poppy and borage seeds for the pollinators come summer. We also planted some maris bard chits in the hope of harvesting (once again) our own grown potatoes. While we worked, the song of a blackbird was a joy to hear.
Reading: This March as part of my continued participation in the Year in Books, I have been reading The English Girl by Katherine Webb. I may not be on course for my 40 books in the year but I am managing at least 1-2 books a month.
The English Girl
David Tennant with Olivia Colman
TV: The third series of Broadchurch has recently started on ITV. David Tennant reprises his role as moody detective, Alec Hardy. It’s made me realise how much I have missed seeing him on the small screen!
Walk 1000 miles: My tally for this past week has been 18 miles, bringing my total from 1st January to 12th March to 230 miles. My miles are mainly made up of city walking and exercise. I’m very much looking forward to long summer walks in the countryside which should boost my final total come December.
Eating out: This week has seen me out and about in Liverpool. On Tuesday I met up with my ‘boss’ for a catch up at Leaf, (you can read the post here,) and then on Thursday after a Dr’s appointment I enjoyed a nice tea-cake and coffee with Mum at Costa.
Where there’s tea, there’s hope.
Mum at Costa
Baking: David has taken over the kitchen! He has been baking cakes! He attempted a lemon drizzle cake, the result was a very moist cake! I added fruit with mine, blueberries being my favourite at the moment. 🙂
Lemon Drizzle Cake
So there you have it, my week in pictures. Did you get up to anything fun? I wish you a good week ahead.
It was a lovely start to the week, with bright warm sunshine (much needed if you ask me!) When it is warm I like to sit out in the yarden, I take Artie with me. Being outside gives him more stimulation than being stuck inside the house. However I have created a nature yarden, meaning I have lots of visiting bees and butterflies, lots of stalking opportunities for Artie! While I was digging up my second crop of maris bard potatoes for my vegetarian roast dinner that evening, Artie was sitting amongst the flowers watching the bees.
I acted too slowly. I was busy marvelling at all the potatoes I had grown! From the corner of my eye I saw Artie lunge at a bee who had entered a foxglove. He must have knocked the poor bee down into the foliage as I couldn’t see her. I left Artie sniffing in the undergrowth while gathering my harvest.
On coming back into the yarden, Artie suddenly darted from the greenery, rubbing his paw against his nose. Jumping about like a jack in a box ‘You’ve been stung!’ I cried, scoping him up and taking him into the house. I called for David’s assistance. Then proceeded, a half hour long endurance, of trying to hold Artie down while David tweezed the bee sting from his nose. I got covered in scratches for my endeavour.
Afterwards when Artie was sting-less and enjoyed some cooked chicken, seemingly none the wiser for the upset. I stood shaking like a leaf. My nerves had been shot! ‘Pets are worse than kids!’ David exclaimed while I tried to regain my spirits.
Needless to say Artie is back to his ‘wild’ self again. He is siting in the last rays of the Sunday sunshine.
Have you had a pet who has had a too close encounter with a bee?
Forgive me for returning to the great British obsession, the weather, but the UK saw its hottest day of the year (so far) on Tuesday! In the NW of England the temperatures soared to a very sweaty 31°c! The Spanish Plume the meteorologists had predicted had finally arrived! Though only for three days! On Tuesday evening as I wrote my post about the numerous animal sculptures that have graced the UK’s cities, David and I sat in the hottest room of the house. Outside the window I watched as the sky darkened as the last rays of the sun dipped beyond the horizon!
During this little snippet of summer, I was out counting the butterflies that visited the yarden, in the Big Butterfly Count. The count runs from 15th July to 7th August 2016! I don’t know whether it is because the alleyway between the houses has become overgrown with wild flowers/weeds but I have seen more butterflies flutter past this year, then any other! Predominantly the most common butterfly has been the small white. There has often been two (I don’t know if it’s the same couple) twirling in their dance of attraction before the male attaches himself to the female! They are a joy to watch!
One evening David and I were giving sugar water to this tired bee when in quick succession a small white and a red admiral fluttered crazily past! I quickly noted my sightings on the phone app before watching the satisfied bee fly off energised!
This week saw me finish my latest book, Sam Baker‘s The Woman Who Ran, inspired by Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. At first I struggled to get into the story. It seems to me that many published novelists nowadays are or were journalists. I don’t know whether that is a good thing or not! I persevered and soon the story warmed up. The narrative was atmospheric in its description of the Yorkshire Dales. The characters were a little difficult to understand but you got to like them in the end. The finale, touted as being explosive, ended more like a whimper. I didn’t understand why the main character would act like she did in the face of opposition! Anyway, it was enjoyable. I’ve not read this author before, perhaps I will in future?
Have you read this novel? Any thoughts?
I was going to end today’s blog with an update on Troy but there hasn’t been much improvement. Then I remembered the lovely selection of bramley apples given to us by one of David’s friends. So I decided to finish with them. I have acquired all the ingredients so next week I shall be busy cooking apple pies, or variants on a theme!
I can’t believe how quickly the first week of 30 Days Wild went and now I am finalising this post at the end of the second week! I am enjoying reading other bloggers’ adventures, and The Wildlife Trusts, 30 Days Wild app, of 101 random acts of wildness, is really inspiring me to learn more about the nature that I see around me.
Day Eight: Wednesday.
Wednesday was World Oceans Day. Highlighting the plight of the seas and collaborating for a better future. I was unable to get to the coast but I still managed to celebrate the diversity of the oceans. It was a day of cooking and baking bread. I shaped these granary loaves into sea turtles (recipe here). I’m no artist but I am pretty happy with how they turned out. What do you think?
In the afternoon I opened the app for the Great British Bee Count. I thought with the amount of bees flying about the yarden that I could do a timed count. I set up alongside a popular plant and started the one minute timer. Sadly, all the bees must have known and only one mason bee made an appearance! Typical!
Day Nine: Thursday.
I turned to the wildness cards for inspiration. I downloaded the cards from the email pack The Wildlife Trusts sent when I signed up for 30 Days Wild. (I wish I had asked for a mail pack as they sent a cute little ‘I love wild’ badge! But such is life!)
I picked the sketch up close card. If my sea turtle bread rolls were any indication, then this activity could go horribly wrong, but I had to try. So I grabbed a piece of paper and sharpened a pencil and sat down to draw one of my favourite garden birds. The dunnock.
Some interesting facts on the dunnock (hedge sparrow):
Has a fine bill due to preferring insects and beetles than seeds.
Is a ground feeder.
As their diets are similar to Robins, can come into conflict if food is scarce, usually losing out to the more aggressive Robins.
Their nests are often parasitised by the cuckoo.
Most are polyandrous (female has more than one male mate) or polygynous (males have more than one female mate).
Day Ten: Friday.
I let David chose today’s ‘wild card’. He chose keep a note of wildlife. List the species that you see from your window. I decided to spend an hour watching the yarden after the evenings dinner. Here’s what I saw.
House Sparrow (x1)
Hover flies (many)
Small white butterfly (x1)
Cinnabar moth (x1)
Spider (garden) (x1)
Herring gull (x1)
Day Eleven: Saturday.
During 30 Days Wild, I have also been setting up my camcorder to record for an hour a day. Below is the ‘highlights’ video of the species, mainly birds visiting the yarden.
Day Twelve: Sunday.
With the flowers having fallen, it was time to haul up our potato plants. We have found that it has not been easy to grow our own vegetables. However, David and I were overjoyed that we got some kind of harvest! Below find pictures of us celebrating our maris bard potatoes!
Maris Bard potatoes
For the evening dinner we boiled some of our harvest and had them with a vegetarian roast. They were delicate and creamy. They tasted all the better for having grown them ourselves.
Day Thirteen: Monday.
Sadly the weather has taken a turn for the worse, even this poor buff tailed bumblebee was having trouble today. David rescued her/him from the yarden floor and the jaws of Artie and fed it some sugar solution. After a while it perked up and flew away. Later on I saw another bee busily enjoying an oriental poppy.
I also managed to do another bee count, in between the showers. Within a minute I got a tally of three!
I decided to write a short creative passage around wild swimming. I didn’t intend for it to become so morbid… sorry!
On a frosty winter’s day. Erin dipped her toe into the water and shivered as the delicious cold touched her skin. She often wondered if her sister had felt the same sensation before she slipped eternally into the dark abyss. Perhaps her depression had steeled her against the cold? Either way Erin gasped as she stepped in.
‘What torments brought you to these waters?’ She thought, finding herself waist deep in the lake. ‘If only I could have helped.’ She swam through the icy water towards a small island, a tangle of tree branches and sandy shores.
During the summer holidays, Erin and her younger sister, Elise used to swim out towards the island. The warm waters suspended their sun kissed limbs as they splashed headlong towards an adventure of exploring over rock and under root.
Erin, felt her teeth chatter as she breaststroked through the choppy waters. Erin didn’t mind, she was a strong swimmer. Elise too, but on that fateful day she chose to succumb. ‘It’s very easy to get cramp,’ their swimming instructor had prophesied. ‘If you don’t respect the water or your ability, tragedy can happen.’ Erin swam on until a man’s voice from the lakeside beckoned tensely.
‘What are you doing?’ She turned, noticing her funeral garb heaped on the shingle shore. The waters caressed her breasts, stroked seductively between her legs. She saw Josh standing at the lakeside. In his hand he held the length of his black tie. His shoes discarded.
‘I’m okay!’ Erin called through the drizzle. She looked at Josh as she treaded water. She felt the love Elise had felt for him. Watched as he disregarded his mourning clothes and lunged into the lake. His arms were strong as he crawled towards her, while she felt cradled in the waters embrace.
Erin recalled the last time she and Elise swam together in the lake. Elise had been no older than eleven. They both lay on their backs looking up at the blue cloudless sky. Swallows skirted over the water catching flies, and laughter tinged the air with joyful exuberance. Elise had been so full of life. Her death remained inexplicable.
‘Come back to shore.’ Erin felt Josh’s arms embrace her. They were becoming shrouded in a mist that rolled down from the mountains. ‘You’ll get hypothermia.’ Josh reached for Erin’s hand. They swam alongside each other back towards the shore.
Erin’s body ached with the cold as she walked out of the water. She looked into Josh’s dark eyes that searched her face for a reason. ‘I just felt like a swim.’
‘In this weather?’ She felt Josh’s warm lips on hers. ‘I don’t want to lose you too.’ He threw his jacket over Erin’s shoulders before hurrying her towards their hotel where Elise’s wake was winding down. With luck, Erin’s disappearance had gone undetected and they could creep inside unseen.
A warm light flooded from the hotel doorway, and bathed their heads in a golden glow. Josh took Erin’s hand in his and they both walked into the light.
I have taken things much slower this week. Perhaps a bit too slow. Most days haven’t been really ‘wild.’ I have enjoyed doing the creative activities, like molding bread into turtles and even drawing the dunnock, I found relaxing.
I wonder what discoveries week three of 30 Days Wild will uncover? At some point, I am hoping to go looking for moths and perhaps a wild swim will feature, who knows? I hope you will join me in my forthcoming adventures…
This past week has been very uneventful! I have been scraping the barrel, trying to find things to post for this week’s Sunday Sevens, devised by Threads and bobbins.
This week our yarden has been graced with the arrival of not one but two dunnocks! At the beginning of the week we could hear a male singing for a mate and near the weekend he brought his conquest to the yarden! It has been lovely watching them flit about the plants, sifting for insects and grubs. I hope they bring their fledglings in the following months.
Below you will find two videos of them both. The video of the female shows her shaking her tail in preparation for mating, she seems a right floozy, although the male seems to just want to look for food!
Okay, I know I am cheating by posting videos but I really don’t have many photographs to share with you.
I’ve been doing a lot of cooking this week. On Monday I made a carrot and lentil soup and on Friday I made a chickpea and vegetable pilaf. Both of which I never took a photo of! Then on Saturday I remade a One Pot Mexcian Quinoa but I have already blogged about this, here. However I did take a picture of David’s dupiaza which he cooked last Sunday.
On Tuesday I fell in love.
David and I visited his brother and sister-in-law, who have a delightful son, Ewan. I was surprised when he crawled over to sit on my knee and then proceeded to poke me in the face. lol.
I can’t wait for him to start talking, there is so much I can teach him! 😀
I have recently, been enjoying the rerun of the BBC productions of The Hollow Crown. The four feature length films are adaptations of William Shakespeare’s history plays, comprising of Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 & 2 and Henry V. I missed them the first time they were aired in 2012. If you have not seen them, you can view then here, for the next five months. I would highly recommend them, even if you don’t like Shakespeare. I find that I appreciate his writing as I age.
Potatoes are growing!
Even though the weather has returned briefly to winter this week, the sun has been out quite a lot in Liverpool. On Saturday, we took stock of the yarden. The dahlia which I thought was dead has new shoots coming from its tubers and the clematis that David’s mum gave me has at least two buds on it, and still growing! We may have had failures with the french beans and spring onions (blame Artie for that!), but the maris bard potatoes are growing from strength to strength! Fingers crossed we have a harvest!
To be honest I’ve been in a grumpy mood all day, equally mirrored by the foul weather. Why is it that when a bank holiday beckons the weather turns dire? Anyway, I tried to keep the depression at bay by making a gorgeous dinner of curried red lentils. I’ll do a further post on this in the future.
To raise my spirits I took a snap of the daffodils I bought yesterday. They are unusual as they didn’t have the usual signature trumpet but I can’t find online what type of daffodil they are.
This past week I have embarked on the You with Jamie Oliver app. It’s all about positive changes you can do, one little step at a time. You are set daily/weekly challenges. Previous one’s I have had were, ‘the best part of the day‘, ‘what makes you happy‘, and ‘think positive.‘ You take a picture to symbolise the topic. One was to show ‘beauty around you.’ So I took a picture of a Passion Flower.
Honey Bee and Passion Flower
This past week however I have found it rather difficult to be positive, what with the boiler being serviced and a leaking pump found! It made us £300 the poorer, though come the winter we will hopefully be toasty!
This weekend has been fun. We had planned on going to Chester Zoo before our membership ran out, but the weather was dodgy so we spent the weekend at home.
It was Saturday after 4.30pm which I really enjoyed. With the radio cranked up as Classic FM’s Saturday Night at the Movies, celebrated Hans Zimmer’s music. I embarked on chopping vegetables and cooking the evening dinner. I used and adapted Jools Oliver’s Wholesome Vegetable and Bean Soup. My volumes are to serve three people.
1 large leek
2 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 x 400 g tin of borlotti or cannellini beans. (I used borlotti beans)
1 litre low salt vegetable
Hand full of barley
35 g baby spinach or kale (I used kale)
150 g frozen peas/ green beans. (I just used a handful of peas and 75g of green beans)
Freshly ground black pepper
Start by preparing the base of your soup. Peel, roughly chop the carrot and potato, trim, wash and roughly chop the leek. Peel and very finely slice the garlic, chop the onion and then pick and finely chop the rosemary.
Heat a lug of oil in a large pan on a medium heat, then add the rosemary. Fry for a few minutes, then add the chopped carrot, leek, onion and garlic. Cook gently for around 15 minutes, or until soft, stirring regularly, with the lid on.
Add the beans (drained), chopped potato (small,) and a hand full of barley. Then finally add the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes – add a little more stock or water if you think it needs it. (Leave the lid on.)
Finally, add the spinach or kale and chopped green beans/peas, and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the greens are cooked but still vibrant green. (Keep the lid on.) Have a taste and season, if needed, then tuck in.
Serve with bread… I was requested to make Focaccia.
Wholesome Vegetable and Bean Soup
The recipe for Focaccia was taken from an Asda seasonal brochure.
250g of Strong White Bread Flour
1 level tsp salt
7g of easy bake yeast
2tbsp of reduced fat olive oil
On red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Chopped sprigs of fresh oregano, (I used some from the garden!)
Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl
Pour in the oil and used 15ml of tepid water, mix the ingredients together to form a soft dough
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and begin to need, adding more flour until the dough is of a smooth texture.
Place the dough in a bowl and put somewhere warm for 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
While the dough is proving, chop and fly the red onion and garlic. Leave to one side once cooked.
Chop some oregano and leave to one side
Once the dough has risen, knock back and then flatten into required shape.
With your finger press small indentations into the top of the dough and then sprinkle the onion, garlic and oregano on top.
Put in a pre warmed oven at gas mark 6/200° and cook for 30-35 minutes, until golden.
Remove from oven, and serve.
Sunday was a lovely early Autumn day. The sun shone and David and I spent over three hours in the garden, cleaning and pruning. I planted some of my bulbs, of Aliums and Snake Heads for the coming spring. Fingers crossed they grow!
Artie enjoyed spending time in the garden and in between terrorising the bumblebees and honey bees, he relaxed taking in the sun.
We still have many birds visiting the feeders, and not an hour goes by that numerous Goldfinches are seen feasting on the Sunflower/Nyger seeds.
The week commencing 20th April was taken as annual leave, and the sun smiled happily as I embarked on my week off work.
I did some weeding in the garden and watched Artie sniff and hunt for flies. I then replanted (in bigger pots) seedlings I had growing of poppy and other seedlings which I later found out were coriander. (Looks like I didn’t need to buy the one from Lady Green!)
After working in the garden I then sat and relaxed with my Kindle and soaked up some sun while it lasted.
For dinner I made a vegetarian sausage casserole with lots of vegetables. It tasted very herby!
Vegi sausage casserole
First thing this morning I booked ‘our’ place on the Chester Zoo member’s event, of seeing ‘Islands‘ before it officially opens to the public. (Well I hope the booking has gone through!) There are some perks to being a member after all! 🙂
Mum and I had intended on taking a trip to the Maritime Museum but I felt a little unwell, so we decided on visiting my brother Stephen and to see my nephew Aaron.
Back home, in the afternoon I spent a little more time sunbathing in the garden and enjoyed a strawberry and Bliss desert, swilled down with a small measure of whisky. It didn’t seem as hot in the sun as yesterday and I grew cold quickly as well as feeling tired.
Bliss and Strawberries
For dinner, I had bought some Jersey Royals (potatoes) so had them with smoked salmon and salad… gorgeous!
A lazy day today. I sat in the garden and watched Artie chase flies. I noticed that a Blue Tit was happily gathering moss from nearby gardens and flying to a bush in another. I thought that Blue Tits only nested in boxes or crevices but after doing some research I found that their nests are cup sized and can be anywhere! I also found out that the females are the only ones that make the nests, so it was a Mrs Blue Tit who I saw!
For dinner I made a spaghetti bolognese with Quorn Swedish style meatballs. I even used freshly cut oregano from the garden! It is always a very satisfying dinner.
spaghetti bolognese and Quorn Swedish style meatballs
While it was St George’s Day, William Shakespeare’s birthday and World Book Day, I did very little indeed. I did the usual sweated for 20 minutes on the treadmill, had a coffee and chat with mum before having lunch.
In the afternoon Artie and I spent a few hours sunning ourselves and listened to the visiting Goldfinches and Blue Tits in the nearby trees while Classic FM played on the radio. I discovered that the seedlings I transplanted on Monday, the poppies had withered but the coriander was still looking strong!
For dinner while David had a pizza, I made do with Quorn bacon, beans, egg and chips.
Quorn bacon, eggs, beans and chips
In the evening as the setting sun washed everything golden, I sat listening to my favourite performance of Mahler’s 6th Symphony, the andante.
Was the last of the ‘good’ weather of the week. It has been simply splendid to have such lovely summery weather for the week off work!
David had taken a day off work and so we headed the 1.5 hours towards Wakefield to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We arrived after 10.30 am and paid the £8 for all day car-parking. We then spent the next five hours walking the fields that were filled with sculptures of bronze, stone, wood, all kinds of materials. We walked literally miles, my poor feet ached!
The sculpture park is amongst the grounds of Bretton Hall Country Park which has nature trails as well as art instillations. We took a leisurely walk around the Upper Lake and spent some time amongst a Bluebell wood and old Victorian ruins.
With gloomy looking clouds encroaching, David and I headed back to Liverpool, tired but having thoroughly enjoyed our day out in Yorkshire!
I am already planning the next day out!
The weekend came and went too quickly and it was time for me to head back to work. It has been slow for me to get back into the old routine but a long Bank Holiday weekend is near which sustains me!
On this dreary, rainy morning, David said to me that, ‘I would lie in bed all day listening to the Classic FM’s Hall of Fame countdown’. I did indeed lounge for the first hour of the day. I wanted to hear who was at no. 300. It was Henry Litolff with his Concerto Symphonique No. 4. I snuggled with Artie who suckled, but by 10am I was up and have not stopped since!
Firstly I made a start with the laundry and then onto the glass/window cleaning in the house. The dining room table is always the first to get a once over!
I then paused for an hour for a chat and a coffee with Mum. Then after lunch and after David had annoyed me for not eating, I carried on the cleaning. I cleaned the bathroom and bedroom before disinfecting Artie’s cat boxes and the rooms with vinyl floors. While I left David with the vacuuming, (a chore I despise!) I checked on the plants in the garden and refilled the fat balls for the visiting Starlings and Pigeons. The Dwarf Rhododendron is flowering and the Flame of the Forest is living up to its name!
I then did 20 minutes on the treadmill and really put up a sweat before making a start on the evenings dinner. I cooked Aldi’sAtlantic Side of Salmon with lemon, tarragon and cheese crumb. We had this fish for New Years dinner and it was very filling, so I thought it would be ideal for Good Friday! I served it with Aunt Bessie’s roast potatoes and salad. It was scrumptious!
Atlantic Salmon with lemon, tarragon and cheese crumb
Now that the end of the first day of Classic FM’s Hall of Fame draws to a close with Handel’s Xerxes, I am finally relaxing with a toasted hot cross bun (that I was craving yesterday) and a wee dram of whiskey.