Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Boxing Day

A beautiful walk along the River Hamble Estuary on Boxing Day.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

While Shepherds Watched

Christmas is always a time for thinking back and remembering our childhood Christmases and, as we get older our children's Christmases too.

Much of my childhood and my daughter's childhood was spent in Cornwall and I just loved the Cornish carols composed by Thomas Merritt sung by the choirs and played by the village bands. I have searched YouTube to find any but this is all I can find - a version of While Shepherds Watched....

Back in 1988 when my daughter was four and at infant's school she wasn't allowed to take part in the nativity because she wanted to be a shepherd, not an angel and was told that girls are angels, boys are shepherds. I can still see her face as she sat on the teacher's knee watching but not taking part. May be it should be 'While a would-be Shepherd Watched'!

I hope you all have a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Presenting Christmas Presents

I don't have that many Christmas presents to buy (very small family) but I do like wrapping the few I do buy.

They look really nice displayed in this old trug (I have more for sale on my website if you are interested).

I love cyclamen and it is so lovely to see growing flowers and bulbs at this time of year when everything is dying outside in the garden.

I've also been buying eucalyptus for Christmas displays. We used to have a large tree at our old home but this year I've had to buy sprigs from the local florist.

Other greenery has been collected from the garden ready to be displayed, perhaps in a wreath.

I don't know the name of this shrub (perhaps you can tell me) but it looks pretty in this enamel jug.

I bought this crown from an antiques fair last year (though it isn't old). Does anyone know where I can buy more? I have searched everywhere to no avail.

Sunday, 5 December 2010


I have blogged about this poem before when I bought the picture but it is several years ago and I love it so much I thought I would share it again especially as I have now put it another frame and hung it on the wall. It was written by Wilbur D Nesbit (1871 - 1927) and it obviously has the similarity to Kipling's 'If' poem written in 1895 about Man. I have copied the poem below and would be interested to hear what you think.

If you can smile, and share another’s gladness
Though yours may be denied, and still rejoice;
If you can bravely face regret and sadness
And let no bitter accent tinge your voice;
If you are free from bias and fault-finding
And make your creed the olden Golden Rule;
With neither fear nor doubt your vision blinding,
Can live each day serene, and sweet, and cool –

If you can bar out envy from your spirit
And keep the little jealousies away;
If when some gossip starts, you do not hear it
Unless at once you rise and ask fair play;
If you can let good sense determine pleasure,
Can look upon yourself with honest eyes;
If you can give your full friendship in full measure,
And find your life the stronger for its ties.
If you can desire below your duty
And find in work and study much of joy;
If you can turn from artificial beauty
To that real charm which never needs alloy;
If you can help where you know help is needed,
And even make your silence sympathize;
If you can let unkindness go unheeded,
And always see God’s sunshine in the skies –

If you can fill your soul with gentle kindness,
And hold your faith no matter what may come,
Let neither greed nor pride blight you with blindness,
Nor self-love all your finer motives numb;
If you can love, and hope with rare believing,
Can shun the dross, and ever seek the worth,
Then you will find life’s fabric you are weaving
Means Womanhood – God’s greatest gift to earth.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Sunny St Lucia

Did you miss me? I've been away to the warmer climes of sunny St Lucia and couldn't believe the temperature when I stepped off the plane yesterday morning. People coming into Gatwick were dressed in thick winter coats and hats and all I was wearing was a thin t shirt and cardigan! We then had to wait nearly half an hour for our car to be brought to us and I vowed I would never ever complain of being too hot ever again!

Because of hurricane Tomas our hotel had been closed and only re-opened the day we arrived. Our transfer from the airport was by boat because of damage to the roads but this was brilliant as we got to see all the coastline from the south to north of the island.
The hotel is used a lot by honeymooners and is advertised as being the perfect romantic holiday destination. Champagne awaited our arrival and after a very long day's travelling (8 hour flight) sitting by the pool drinking it was bliss!

This entrance to the pool was feet away from our room. One day we all sat round the bar area in the pool under the verandah in a cocktail competition. We had to concoct our own cocktail, taste each one and score them. All 21 of them! I came 3rd with my 'Cranberry Kiss' of Cointreau, Southern Comfort, Orange juice, Cranberry juice, Champagne and crushed ice. As you can imagine most of the cocktails had rum and coconut cream liquer as part of the ingredients and I tried to work my way through the whole list!

The food was wonderful and I have just got on the scales this morning to face the damage! One evening there was a beach barbecue and entertainment.

They say there is nothing more boring than hearing about other people's children, holidays and diets so I won't bore you any longer .... now where did I put my Slimming World book?!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Winter Warming Soup

I made this Broccoli & Stilton soup last evening and it was delicious (I had lots of compliments). It is taken from the National Trust's 'Soup Bible'. Here is the recipe if you are interested as it is very easy.

350 g/ 12 oz broccoli
2 tblsp butter
1 large leek, white part only chopped
1 small potato, cut into chunks
1 pt hot chicken stock
1/2 pt milk
3 tblsps cream (I used single)
115g / 4 oz Stilton, crumbled
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Break the broccoli into florets and discard tough stems. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Cook leek until softened but not brown. Add broccoli and potato, pour in stock. Cover and simmer for 15 mins until vegetables are cooked.

Cool slightly then liquidise. Add milk and cream. Season. Reheat then add the Stilton and serve when it is melted.


Monday, 15 November 2010

Birthday (part 2)

The part 2 was going to be photos of prezzies but I have left it so long that now most of them are eaten, used etc. However, here are some vintage themed ones I can show...

This is an amethyst muff chain which I shall wear as a necklace (a muff was a cylindrical piece of fabric, usually fur, which was open at both ends to warm the hands and hung around the neck).

This dairymaid's yoke looks good in the kitchen and is certainly a talking point along with the double oxen yoke I also have.

I love this large old earthenware French bowl.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Birthday (part 1)

Yesterday was my birthday and my husband and I had a wonderful day in London. Firstly we visited the Wallace Collection which is an historic house with 25 galleries displaying French 18th century painting, furniture and porcelain and world class armoury. I took loads of photos (because unlike in some places you are allowed to). Here are just a few...

Stunning examples of just some of the many pieces of 18th century Sevres porcelain in the house.

This is actually a work table!

This is taken from a tapestry and he really appeals to me as does my favourite picture in the house of a 'Strawberry Girl' by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

They have a lovely restaurant here too and for my pudding I had the biggest, creamiest most divine creme brulee I have ever tasted!

Do go if you are in London, it is well worth a visit and free admission.

We had booked seats for 'Jersey Boys', the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and it was brilliant.

After that we had a gorgeous meal in China Town, then home on the train. What a lovely day!

Monday, 25 October 2010


I managed to finish painting the stairs in time for the new carpet and am very pleased with the result.

I also managed to finish the blind which I'm pleased matches it really well. Underneath the window I have placed an old cast iron bistro table with a marble top that my mother decided she no longer wanted and it looks really good there.

We had finished decorating the dining room but I felt it was a little dreary so I have been trying to introduce some red into the room. I painted this picture frame French Grey (my favourite F & B shade) and think it looks great with the toile de jouey. The bookcase also got a couple of coats of the paint.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Uppark House

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Last weekend we visited the National Trust's Uppark House on the South Downs. It is a really interesting Georgian house which was rescued after a major fire in 1989.

A careless workman who had been working on the roof left a blowtorch alight and this was the result. 150 firemen from three counties tackled the blaze and when it was deemed safe to do so people entered the building to salvage what they could. 4,000 plastic dustbins full of debris containing artefacts were marked according to which room's items they contained.

Six years later the house had been restored and it is just amazing what survived and the quality of workmanship to restore things to how they were.

Another interesting story from this house is that in 1825 its owner Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh married his dairy maid. He had heard her singing in the dairy and proposed to her! He was 70, she was 21! He told her that she could take her time to answer and that if there was a piece cut out from his mutton at dinner he would know that her answer was yes. She was sent to Paris to be educated before their marriage and upon his death the whole estate was left to her.

In the National Trust shop I bought this book 'The Soup Bible'. The first soup I have made is Thai Chicken Soup and it is absolutely DELICIOUS. If you would like the recipe let me know and I will email it to you.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Cooking, Sewing and Painting

I have been making cushions and hearts from Hungrian grain sacks to sell in a gallery which is opening soon in Lee-on-Solent.

We have ordered a new striped stair and plain landing carpet and, because the stairs are to have a runner, I have been sanding and repainting the sides of the stairs.

I also decided to make a co-ordinating Roman blind for the hall window at the bottom of these stairs.

All that hard work had to be rewarded with cake - Lemon Drizzle Cake and Date and Honey Oatmeal Cake.