Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Berry and the Baking.

We're still living an appley life here with bowlfuls of them dotted all over the kitchen. Some look as though they have come straight from a child's drawing with that perfect pinky-red gleam and two neat leaves hugging close to the stalk; others are full of holes and bruises, the typical warwounds of the windfall apple. I love both as the first makes for perfect snacking, just begging to be bitten into and making me feel rather wicked step-motherish as I entice the children to 'try a bite or two'. The tattered and battered are also perfect in their way as they make great bases for jellies, particularly for fruits which are low on pectin. We have had them all in so many forms including this rather lovely (though I do say so myself) tarte tatin - don't you just love that golden crust on clotted cream? Cornish of course.

I also made a srt of streudel traybake thingy with blackberries thrown in for good measure. This was very popular with the children

as was Nigella's 'damp apple cake' -well, it was mine actually and although the 'damp' of the title didn't suggest anything too promising, I knew Nigella would come up trumps yet again. It was gorgeous and perfect for someone like me who loathes those really dry cakes that stick in the throat with their dusty crumbs. Even better, I stowed slices of the last two bakes away in the freezer ready for the impending return to packed lunches (something else I loathe...well, the making of, that is!)

We managed to pick over 6lbs of blackberries in one session and have made wine with these. For those who have never tried it, blackberry wine is like drinking autumn with a deep richness of colour and a round, full flavour that has that perfumed edge of burdgening hedgerows in warm, rosy sunshine. Just wonderful.

The picture below shows the weather we have been experiencing here. Hardly makes you think of August does it? The light has been so dark and even the usually calm waters of this local reservoir turned decidedly choppy in the blustery winds buffeting its shores.

Clearing areas of the garden has been another project this holiday, though one more usually undertaken later in the year. The poor summer has caused many of our plants to fail and the whole has a green woodland look which suggests summer is long behind, the reality being that it never actually came! By cutting back the herbaceous plants - the loosestrifes, ox-eye daisies, jacob's ladder and so forth - we are hopeful of a second showing particularly if we have an Indian summer like last year's. This dear chap was discovered under one of the logs around the campfire; I quickly placed its cover back to enable it to hide away once more.

Have a lovely Bank Holiday x

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Summer into Autumn.

Not much to be said about the weather, particularly today which is stormy to say the least. Ah well, some pictures of things we have been up to here may suggest a sunnier time than the reality and cheer us all a little I hope. First up? Figs from our tree growing alongside the main pathway to our house. They are not very sweet due to lack of sun (!), but we have dried them to concentrate the flavour and are planning to use them in this year's Figgy Pudding (shh, I haven't quite said the 'C' word have I?). Quite excited about growing our own for such an exalted use!

The breadmaking continues apace. We always make a lot of our won bread here, but the craze just now is to do it all by hand rather than using the bread machine. Not sure how long this will last, but it's a very enjoyable way of passing wet days for now. I must say that we have to be quite organised as a family this size gets through an enormous quantity of breads, though this should even out once everyone is back at school/work next week (shh, I didn't say that either!).

The harvesting continues. Like so many bloggers I read, I so love the autumnal season with its chilling of evenings and lengthening, beautiful dusks where the light gently fades leaving deep silhouettes in its wake and only the soundf of birdsong to break the calm. So peaceful. I also love the hedgerows full of blackfairies (Isabella's variation on a theme), hips, haws and so on. Every outing provides so many possibilities such as this pretty bowlful...cordials or liquers?

And the blackfairies have been amazing, though so much rain means we have to pick like fury when it finally dries up for a while.

Our allotment has been stripped of some of its bounty. We did well for some things such as onions


and cabbages though holey are incredibly tasty.

Our early apples trees have all done well and have provided many windfalls to be eaten as they are or turned into jams, jellies and wines. I love all this!

The windfalls gone too far to use are thrown in for the hens to peck at.

and overall, rain hasn't stopped play...

at all!

Bye for now x

Thursday, 13 August 2009

No Grumps Today.

The grumps have gone thanks to your sweet comments - thank you - and a beautiful long day of sunshine... just the one you understand, nothing too much nor too heady a cup to sip from, but a hot, sunshiney day nonetheless where we decamped from the house to the beach returning home late in the day to collapse full of that wonderful lassitude from a day of fresh, fresh air. A day of playing

of blue skies with the fluffiest of clouds occasionally, lazily, drifting by

of searching for shells for Mummy

that last lazy amble across the beach as the sun gently lowers casting long shadows in its wake. Pretty fields across the water aren't they?

Other than these intermittent trips to the shore the week has been full of making. The holiday jar came up with 'make a cake' and oh, it was delicious ...

and also produced a label saying 'make bread animals' which produced some truly gruesome creatures once the dough had risen!

The rolls Dave also made were so scrumptious - love that word - and so good toasted,
slathered with butter and mint jelly that I have just made another batch for breakfast. Quite fancy trying teacakes at the weekend, though it does suggest a roaring fire and pot of tea to accompany them.

A cushion I sewed for Granny-Mother's birthday. I really enjoyed making this as I just made it up as I went along. No drawing first or planning out...bliss. Dreadful picture as it was a very dull day.

A cluster of houses...

a lighthouse...

and it all ends up feeling very Falmouthian - or that was the hope anyway!

That's me for now.

Have a lovely day x

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Of Fires and Moans.

Hmm, it all started so well, this blogpost which I began thus several days ago now...

The sun has continued and today looks set for another blissful day of lounging on the beach, though truthfully yesterday didn't feel quite so loungy as usual. Somehow I found myself spending more time ambling over rocks than usual as I had a need to search for shells and crabs, neither of which were abundant for some reason. beautiful, perfect tides which stayed balmy blue over the golden sands forming a huge lagoon of long, long shallows where the children could safely play while we swam close by and chatted with them.

Dave and Elias - and several other children who attached themselves to Dave giving him the air of the Childcatcher only much nicer - snorkelled in the calm waters. I had lent my snorkel and mask to a friend and so missed out (nothing to do with the fact that the sea was freezing despite the heat of the sun!). Instead I opted for a leisurely swim which made me regret the loaning as the water was so clear and just perfect for spotting fishes darting through the seaweed fronds. Oh well, today maybe? Remember what I said about beach hair? Isabella is modelling her 'look' just beautifully don't you think?

Ok, that's where I got to and then the sun disappeared... again. It popped back for a brief hour or so in the late of an afternoon sending us scurrying for a stroll in the warmth of its glow armed with bowls and tubs just in case. Hurrah, here's what greeted us.

We did quite well for a first picking, these ones being put in the freezer until we have enough to make the first batch of blackberry wine.

Since then the weather has been a mix of dull - we chanced the beach anyway and almost froze after picking through rockpools full of icy water - weak sunshine and mostly rain, endlessly pouring rain. We left the beach and I lit the campfire hoping to cheer at the sight of its rich flames. It worked and the sun returned albeit late afternoon yet again

Dave and Isabella joined me and we lazily passed the time away chatting as Isabella perched on the little log reserved for her


And today? Well, today I have the grumps due to yet more rain and am aimlessly skulking round the house, grumbling away at the unfairness of life in my bestest Eeyore manner - I do so like that donkey - and dear Davey has taken pity on the children, baking a cake with them to cover my moody moaning (with which they are more than familiar I might add!). Hey ho, I suppose I must go and 'DO' something useful in order to banish the glums...sigh

Normal cheeriness to be resumed shortly (I do so very much hope)!

Have a good day x

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Sun Shone!

No windchimes to show just yet because THE SUN CAME OUT! Hooray! At last! Oh the relief to finally see blue skies, to feel the warmth on bare skin. Wonderful. So, we did what you do when your children are lucky enough to live on the coast: we packed a picnic and headed off to the beach for a long, perfect day of filling rockpools with water...

Spied fishing nets in wait for the tide to reveal the biggest and bestest of pools where crabs and shrimp and all manner of sealife would be hiding.

Completed a pleasing pile of sewing to the sound of the sea crawling over the sand.

Skipped through the shallows in a pretty sundress.

Doggy-paddled for so long I thought Isabella would never warm up again. Amazing what a cuddle wrapped up in a huge towel can do - Isabella was wrapped, not the cuddle you understand!

Tried to jump on shadows, but they just kept skipping away over the soft, soft sand.

Sat and soaked up this view over Pendennis Point.

And generally smiled...a lot!

It was fun and the much-needed sun burned all day. Hopefully today will prove the same and the children can spend another day racing around by the sea, splashing and building castles, and generally having the best of times. Windchimes next post.

Have a lovely day whatever you are up to x

Monday, 3 August 2009

Busy Times.

The rain continues though there have been brighter moments where the sun has shone, albeit without the intensity or conviction one expects from summer. Such moments have been grabbed as a chance to send little ones racing around the garden before bedtime - why is it generally late afternoon before the skies clear a little? No matter, sun slanting through tree tops provides shafts of light through which Isabella spins round and round and round, the camera struggling to capture her hazy halo and tiredness sending her spiralling ever-faster before she finally drops to the dewy grass.

The Spartan apple fanned alongside the pathway is almost, almost ready to eat. It is an early ripener, deliciously sweet and juicy with such a gorgeous red skin. I have a thing about red-skinned apples, the scarlet globes reminding me of a child's drawing in much the same way as the brightly coloured dahlias flourishing in the borders. My ultimate is the deep scarlet of crab apples, but as we were sold an ornamental one despite being told it is a 'real' one, my dream will have to wait a little longer.

My holiday jar has been called into play on a couple of occasions. Lovely to hear so many of you think it a good idea; I have even thought of making one for myself filled with the myriad jobs I need to do around the place, yet never make time for. You know the sort of thing... trim the hedges, paint the path wall, remake the campfire area. All those things that make me feel so much better once they are done and which for some perverse reason I put off doing in favour of things that are unimportant. Maybe turning them into a game will help? Well, the campfire was sorted because Lucy pulled this out of the jar:

The girls helped me remove so much - truly, so very much - rubbish which Lucy and I then took to the dump. Such a great feeling to finally tackle this part of the garden and though there is still more to do I feel we can see the wood for the trees now, so to speak.

The sun shining yesterday made me grab the moment to make mint jelly before the mint patch was sopping wet once more. I have never made this before, but love the jewel colours of jellies so much, the biggest surprise being that it is golden not green. I hadn't even thought about the fact that commercial mint jelly has colouring added, hence the green colour. Why though when it is so pretty just as it is?

Our allotment continues to provide delicious food for us and though it is not as much as we had hoped due to the weather which has stopped us going as often as we would have liked, we have had sweet, sweet carrots, salad leaves of all colours, rhubarb, currants, broccoli leaves, cabbages and potatoes so far with a few onions thrown in for good measure. Many more to come too.

My trip to Trebah Gardens to see a display of my work - this will be the last time I mention it...promise! - was not only very exciting/nerve-wracking, but such a boost as well. It looked so lovely with scatterings of shells inter-mingled with the Ship, Ship Sailing Games and beach bags, and other appropriate things highlighting the door hangings, tea cosies, etc. It was so beautifully displayed and I really felt whoever had done it really 'got' what my work is about and what inspries it.

Not good photos, but I was so conscious of not getting people perusing the shelves into the shot. I am very, very proud!

And today's task? This one will be fun (phew, still no camping as yet!). I have jars full of shells and pebbles to use for this, particularly all the ones with holes in. Hopefully some pictures of the finished chimes next time.

Happy Monday x