Wednesday 30 August 2023

Greening up.

In our previous home we lived a fairly green life with air source heat pump, solar panels and organic food from the garden. No such pattern in our present house. But yesterday we started to improve the situation by getting solar panels fitted to the south side of the roof. I was looking forward to the scaffolding going up, thinking that it would give me easy access to inaccesible parts of the wisteria and other rampaging growth. There is a lot of scaffolding in place, but, would you believe it, none of it is quite where I need it! The scaffolders are coming back today to take it all down.
Three panels here, with the wisteria just out of my reach!
Then a long run on the main body of the house.
And a final three panels at the far end. I'm hoping that the massive oak tree in our neighbours' garden will not cause us too many problems. It throws down a great deal of debris!

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Fig streusel

This small paperback is one of my favourite recipe books but I hadn't made the fig streusel before. It is an easy crumble, and, as I do with most recipes these days, I cut down the amount of sugar and butter without harming the end result.
Next time I shall cram in more figs so that the centre will be really juicy. I also think I should have put more of the streusel mix on the bottom layer, less on top. so that the figs were visible (as the recipe book suggests!) My offering looks very plain.
But it tastes good!

Saturday 26 August 2023

Recipe book

I've harvested a good crop of figs and looked through my recipe books to decide what I should make with them. My Aunt Elsie gave me a blank recipe book one Christmas in which she had written some of her favourite recipes and tips; how to clean silver, how to soften tough beefsteak and a recipe for Tournedos Rossini - you can tell which one of us was married to a surgeon! Come on, Auntie, fillet steak, fois gras and truffles have never featured on my shopping list!
This summer my dear friend, Dot Horner, a farmer's wife in the Yorkshire Dales, died unexpectedly. She was a wonderful cook and would always spoil me with home made biscuits or cake whenever I was home. We would sit down to supper in which ever house and spend the evening in laughter and reminiscence. I shall miss her very much. In Aunt Elsie's recipe book I have a favourite Yorkshire curd tart recipe from Dot's mother-in-law, also called Dorothy. Both Dorothys would save their beastings, or curds, for me so that I could make the recipe. Today I made it with cottage cheese. What an evocative book this has now become, it contains so many recipes from friends and family who have died.
Dot and Michael working together as they always did.
I got sidetracked and still have to deal with the figs!

Saturday 19 August 2023

Kingston Lacy garden

This week, on a perfect summer's day we walked round the gardens of Kingston Lacy, a property owned by the National Trust. Some families had brought picnics and were enjoying the spacious and peaceful grounds; it would be a different story at the beach in such glorious weather!
The deep borders were a blaze of colour.
It is not allowed to walk through the Japanese Garden but we could look from outside the fencing and enjoy all the details, the dry stream bed, the tea house, winding step pathways and the bamboo deer scarer, all very lovely.
The history of the estate is well conveyed in the buildings that housed those many gardeners who did all the hard work, the head gardener's office and the bothy where all the gardeners gathered and one young lad slept overnight to keep the fire going that warmed the walls in the glass houses. What an effort, but what pride they took in their work. I love places like this.
Our grandson listened to the message on the telephone in the head gardener's office. What a clever way to learn history!
The bothy, with it's fire constantly lit, must have been a welcome place for the gardeners to take a break from their work. I liked the kreel with a few manky-looking socks dangling from it! So shocking to see how many of these men were lost in the First World War and sobering to think that while we were enjoying a peaceful and happy day others are still experiencing bloodshed and war.

Saturday 12 August 2023

Old skills

We are on grandparenting duties and it involves reviving old skills. On the days when the weather puts castles, moats and speedboats in sand out of the question, not to mention, "Nana, come in the sea!" we are busy with other activities that haven't been called on for years. Kite flying - how do you get the blasted thing to behave properly? We had plenty of wind but the kite was intent on swooping in an attempt to sever heads from shoulders. The grandson loved it!
When we had exhausted ourselves with that we walked around Hengistbury Head, stopping for a while to admire/covet the beach huts at Mudeford. Unlike most of the Bournemouth beach huts the ones at Mudeford permit the occupants to sleep there. The huts are usually passed down through the families and rarely come on the market. When they do, don't ask the price - it's eye-watering!