Friday 17 November 2017

Growing up with Paddington & Paddington 2

Marmalade sandwiches all round!  Paddington is back in the cinema but before I get to talking about the film, I want to take you back in time.  Not far, just a couple of weeks, to half-term when we were in London.

Lucas happened across a mention of a props exhibition for Paddington 2 at The Museum of London while reading 'First News'.  (An excellent introduction to tough news stories for kids.). I looked it up online and discovered that not only was there an exhibition, there was to be a talk the next day by Karen Jankel, Michael Bond's daughter, all about growing up with Paddington!

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Well, hello again

Well hello again, little blog!  It's been far too long, I don't think it's ever been quite this long.

So what's been keeping me away?  Oh, this and that.  Life continues a-pace, Lucas is growing up far too quickly--he'll soon be taller than me.  I have been reading loads, dabbling in learning Italian with Duolingo, and crafting little bits here and there.  I've recently re-discovered the joy of cooking (although not the joy of washing up) and have been enjoying digging up old recipes and introducing them to Lucas!

I have given up trying to grow anything other than a child--I managed to kill a bowl of succulents this year--and as a result my little apple tree in the garden seems to be thriving on being totally ignored.  (I fear that if I attempt any mulching, pruning, spraying or any act of gardening kindness that it will die on me.  I've got form after all.)

I'm not going to promise any sort of posting schedule, but I'm around, still dipping in and out of everyone's blogs--I never stopped reading!--and occasionally posting about lovely Bristol things, food, books, and crafts. is everyone?!

P.S. I switched back to Blogger, after a sojourn on self-hosted Wordpress, and totally forgot to download a copy.  So... there's about a year missing from the archives.  Ooops!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Cake

Oh my… this cake was a bit of a triumph.
Not too sweet, spiced just like an apple pie, and sporting a glossy, luscious salted caramel buttercream.  This cake got two thumbs up from everyone at the inlaws BBQ, especially Dave as I baked it with him in mind as a welcome home cake.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Up, Up, and Away!

Trapped in town by the craziest Balloon Fiesta traffic ever, we abandoned our plans to head out to Bedminster (or even up to Clifton and the Downs) to watch the mass balloon ascent and ended up with some of the best views we’ve ever had of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Thursday 6 August 2015

Bara Brith

Bara Brith might seem like an autumn or winter sort of bake, but for me it is good at any time of year when you need something comforting and homely.  That makes it perfect for the rain we're being plagued with at the moment.  It really feels like autumn; I've spent my evenings huddled under a blanket with a book and a chai latte for company. Comfort food is absolutely required, diet be damned!

There are two schools of thought on Bara Brith: a tea loaf or a yeasted bread.  Your allegiance seems to be based on the very first bara brith you ever tasted. My Bara Brith falls into the tea loaf camp as I can't recall ever having a bready version.  It seems to me that it would be like Starbucks fruit toast, which is very nice, but not my idea of a Bara Brith!  Apologies to those who love the bread-style version!  The tea loaf version, aside from tasting gorgeous, has the advantage of not requiring kneading and can all be mixed in the same bowl leaving you hardly any washing up!  The recipe is very child-friendly,too, if your little one(s) likes to join you in the kitchen.  I made Lucas do 90% of the work.  He's beginning to mutter about child labour...

I should also add that Bara Brith travels very well.  I took a huge one to Cornwall last year when we went on holiday--very good toasted towards the end of the loaf--and I can imagine tucking into thick slices around the campfire.  (Should camping be your thing.)

Bara Brith, my way

450g mixed dried fruit
300ml strong black tea
175g brown sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
zest and juice of one orange
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
450g self-raising flour

To top: crushed sugar cubes, pearl sugar or jam sugar

The night before: put the dried fruit in a large bowl, pour over the tea and give it a good stir. Cover and leave overnight to let the fruit plump up.

Next day: preheat the oven to 140C fan oven / 160C conventional.  Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

Add the sugar, syrup, zest and juice to the mixing bowl.  Mix well. If your brown sugar was lumpy let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve.  Beat in the egg.  Finally sift the flour and mixed spice together into the fruit mixture. Beat together.

Spoon into the prepared tin. Give the tin a few bangs on the worktop to remove any air pockets and level the top.  Sprinkle generously with the sugar topping.

Bake for 1 3/4 hours, checking after 1 1/2 hours. It's done when a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Book Review: The Earth Hums in B Flat

Young Gwenni Morgan has a gift. She can fly in her sleep. She’s also fond of strawberry whip, detective stories and asking difficult questions. When a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, she resolves to uncover the secret of his disappearance and return him to his children. She truthfully records what she sees and hears: but are her deductions correct? What is the real truth? And what will be the consequences – for Gwenni, her family and her community – of finding it out? Gwenni Morgan is an unforgettable creation, and this portrait of life in a small Welsh town on the brink of change in the 1950s is enthralling, moving and utterly real. Mari Strachan’s debut is a magical novel that will transport you to another time and place.
I am not known for having my finger on the pulse of book releases, but even so I can’t quite believe that The Earth Hums in B Flat has been out since 2009 and I’ve only just discovered it!

Friday 31 July 2015

Month In Pictures: July

Here we are again, the end of another month.  It's hard to believe that we've had almost two weeks of the summer holidays already! (I've even managed a whole day Without Getting Cross.  Parents, you know how big a deal that is during the endless holidays!)

So July was pretty cool...

Top: The month kicked off with Bristol Pride. I've never seen the parade before, so we watched it from Dave's office window which gave us a great view. Where on earth do people get these huge flags?! 

Two willow whales have taken up residence in Millennium Square for the summer, The ocean they're swimming in is made of plastic bottles and bubblewrap, collected after the Bristol 10k.  It's a beautiful piece of art, with a big message behind it.

July also saw me baking my first (and last) wedding cake.  I was honoured to do it, and so thrilled that the happy couple loved it, but I was a nervous wreck by the end of it.  I'll stick to making fun cakes for the family that I can plaster with flowers to hide mistakes!


Middle: The Bristol leg of the Shaun in the City trail started this month.  While I find Shaun tremendously irritating--Gromit is just lovely though--I've still really enjoyed hunting down each Shaun with Dave and Lucas.  I'm hoping that we'll get a few more next weekend!

We seem to be spending loads of time at the Harbourside this summer. Last year we were all about Tyntesfield, but this year the marina and the brightly-painted houses have caught our eye.  This pic was taken on the same day as Pride, when there was a small regatta in the floating harbour.  Lush!

My partners in crime being 100% them. They're totally bonkers but in the best way possible.  Love 'em.


Bottom: I splashed out on one of my favourite Gromits from the trail two years ago. Shipshape and Bristol Fashion now lives on my Welsh dresser and is often joined by a bunch of peonies.  I love them, even though they don't always open.  I could be doing something wrong, though??

We've spent rather a lot of time at Friska this month.  I might have a slight addiction to their dirty chai, but that's okay as all their food is dead healthy and delicious.  It all balances out, I'm sure!!

Lucas and I went to the aquarium and found Nemo.  He was right there in the tank (along with Dorie and the yellow tang whose name escapes me).  I bet lots of other aquariums have a Nemo tank...


In August I'm looking forward to our summer holiday in Cornwall.  We're going to a different farm this year as our usual one was booked solid--although yay for our favourite place doing so well!  I need to unearth my swimming costume as it has a pool.  Farm holidays have certainly changed since the days of the Famous Five!!

There'll be pasties, cider and far too much ice-cream, plus fresh eggs collected by Lucas.  Should be awesome.

Talking of ice-cream, I keep hearing about a gelateria on Baldwin Street. I must go and look for it... I haven't had real gelato since we went to Venice for our first anniversary,

So how was your July?

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