Sunday, 30 November 2014

Photo Scavenger Hunt: November

It's the end of November and time for the monthly scavenger hunt, organised by Greenthumb at Made with Love. I have to say that I really struggled with some of the categories this month, though I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe it's just because I've had more limited time for taking photos?Anyway, this is what I managed to find.

N is for...: Nattering. Just in case you can't read it, the sign says 'Beware all ye nattering women, witches and thieves'!

12pm : Saturday 22 November. Having a latte and muffin in Manchester before the cinema.

People : The crowds enjoying the Christmas market in Manchester.

Look back : To September and a previously unpublished photo.

Joy is...: being with your friends.

Out and about : 7.25am, Monday 24 November. OK, I'm stretching it a bit here but I had just come out of my front door and was about to get in my car. I loved how the sunrise was creating stripes of colour in the sky behind the tree.

Paper : Paper lampshades on the Christmas market.

Window : Looking through the window of the Black Bull pub in Haworth.

Hair : Chickpea's hair lit up by the sun.

Funny : A record by one of Britain's funny men, Benny Hill, spotted in a charity shop window. Go here to watch him sing the classic 'Ernie (The fastest milkman in the west)'.

Something you found : A tennis ball at Tatton Park: I found it, the dog clearly didn't!

Whatever you please : Yarn-bombing in Preston.

Even when it's a struggle, it's still great fun taking part in the scavenger hunt and I really look forward to seeing what the new categories will be. If you'd like to take part, head over to Made with Love to find out what December has to offer. You can also see the brilliant photos taken by the other entrants.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend. We hosted our Lancashire evening last night and had a brilliant time - my sides were aching from laughing. More on that another time. Today is a much quieter day to recover and I'll be heading out shortly to enjoy a walk under the clear blue skies and sunshine before the light fades. Only 3 weeks before the shortest day and then the light will start to return again - I can't wait. x

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cookery book challenge : weeks 37-40

I'm a bit late with this but it's time for another update on my cookery book challenge. It was a mixed bag with only a couple of recipes that I'd make again.

Week 37 : The French Kitchen - Joanne Harris & Fran Warde

Chickpea groaned when this was pulled out as 'not another boring French cookbook' - our experience of them hasn't been great so far. However, I've made several recipes from this before and I always use its recipe for tarte tatin.

Pork with Apples and Blackcurrant

The most difficult part of this recipe was sourcing blackcurrants as they weren't in season even though the description said 'a wonderfully intense concentration of autumn flavours'. I had to settle for tinned blackcurrants in a light syrup which was ok as you had to cook the blackcurrants in sugar and water anyway. Well, I thought it would be ok but we were distinctly underwhelmed with the whole dish. I won't be making this again.

Week 38 : Easy pasta - Delphine Lawrance (editor)

I could probably eat pasta every day of the week so I'm always looking for new recipes to try. This collection has a few twists on standard dishes and I've used it several times. It would be easier to say which recipes we didn't want to try than those which we did, and you can't ask for more than that of a cookery book.

Aubergine and sausage penne with red wine

Chickpea loves aubergines and I love sausages (actually, we both love sausages) so this was an easy choice. Full of flavour and one I'll definitely come back to. The original recipe by Fiona Beckett can be found here.

Week 39 : Tarts with Tops On - Tamasin Day-Lewis

Found in a discount shop and hardly used. That isn't a comment on the book but mostly on my aversion to making pastry.Having said that, I did make her sweet potato pie a couple of years ago (see here) and the pastry turned out beautifully. As well as her own recipes, there's a chapter of recipes from other people and it was one of those that we ended up choosing.

Claudia Roden's filo triangles with minced meat, onions and pine nuts

The mince filling was flavoured with allspice and cinnamon which worked really well and would be worth doing in another dish. However, the filo pastry was tasteless and didn't add anything. I served it with Roasted carrots with Middle Eastern spices from the Tesco magazine which was yummy and definitely one to make again.

Week 40 : Tony and Giorgio - Tony Allan and Giorgio Locatelli

Given to me by a neighbour and apparently accompanied a TV series. As the two chefs are British and Italian, the recipes are a combination of both. I enjoyed the writing at the start of each chapter as they shared their food memories but, otherwise, felt uninspired.

Spanish omelette

This recipe was chosen purely because I had some leftover veggies and goats cheese which needed using up. Although it provided the inspiration, I didn't actually follow the recipe as I've made Spanish omelettes so many times before. One I know I'll make again some time.

And that concludes this update. We've already finished the next 4 weeks and that will be the penultimate challenge post. Yes, we only have about 4 cookery books left to review! The time has gone by in a flash and I'm really proud to have stuck it out to the end.

One last photo. I had a day off yesterday and harvested the last of the carrots. There looks like a lot here but they're all really small - the worst harvest I've ever had with carrots. I don't know what went wrong given that we had such a lovely summer. None of them will go to waste though and I'll be using some of them at the weekend as we're having friends round to celebrate a very important date in this part of the world....

Happy Lancashire Day! Today commemorates the day in 1295 when Lancashire sent its first representatives to Parliament and there'll be celebrations all over the county. I have an evening of hotpot and merriment planned for Saturday.

Of course, not forgetting that today is also an important day on the other side of the Atlantic, so Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends too.

I'll be back on Sunday with the Scavenger Hunt. xx

Sunday, 23 November 2014

An afternoon in Haworth

It's that time of year when Christmas markets are springing up everywhere. I've been to two in the last week and the first of those was last Sunday. Me, my parents and Chickpea took a coach trip to the pretty Yorkshire village of Haworth, famous for having been the home of the Bronte sisters. None of us had ever been before so didn't know what to expect. I have to say that the entertainment advertised in the coach brochure didn't materialise and I also didn't end up taking many photos: Haworth is very small and the grey day didn't make for the best light conditions. I do have a few to share though.

After the coach dropped us off, we followed the path up to the top of the village, past the allotments. Right down in the bottom of the valley is the railway station where you can take a steam train along the Worth Valley. We'd intended to do that as Dad had fond memories of watching them puffing through our long-since-disappeared village station as a boy. However, you can see from the photo just how steep the valley is and he and Mum decided it was just too much of a climb: mental note to take them back in the summer but to park closer to the station (or park in Keighley at the other end of the line).

The path takes you past the graveyard though none of the Brontes are buried here - they're all (except Anne) buried in a vault under the church.

This is the only photo of the church to survive the gloom of the damp, grey day. It was rebuilt in the late 19th century though so would have looked different in the time of the Brontes. On the left of the picture are the school rooms...

...where Charlotte Bronte once taught.

Next door is the parsonage which is now a museum. I didn't take any photos of the house but you can see several on this web site along with photos of the interior.

Following a short but necessary stop (!), we continued on towards the centre of the village.

Past a lovely shop window.

To the top of Main Street. We had a look round Rose & Co Apothecary which has the most beautifully restored interior - you can see photos here.

Then we wended our way down the steep high street, popping into the various gift shops...

and peaking through open doors.

The local brass band provided atmosphere.

Towards the bottom of the hill, you can see the park where the Christmas market was to be found.

A modestly sized market though they did have a stall selling my favourite gluhwein which was lovely and warming on a chilly day :)

After a wander around the stalls we climbed back up Main Street to the Black Bull pub, where Branwell Bronte spent much of his time, for a late lunch before heading for a last quick look around the shops and then back to the coach. We enjoyed our visit though I think we were all disappointed with the size of the market and the lack of promised entertainment (and I don't know where the responsibility for that lies). However, Haworth is a lovely little village. If we were to go back, we'd make sure we went on the steam train and did some of the walks on the moors. The coach took us back a different way right over the top of the moors and down through some very narrow, winding roads - I'm full of admiration for how coach drivers can thread their vehicles through the eye of a needle. There was a very sticky point when we met a bus coming in the opposite direction on the bend of a very narrow road with cars parked down one side - I felt like applauding after watching both drivers manoeuvre their way out of it!

The Christmas market in Manchester yesterday couldn't have been more different. We were in the city to meet up with friends to see the new Hunger Games film but came in early to have a quick look round. After the film (very good), we headed over for a hot drink - more of that gluhwein! We're intending to meet up again in a couple of weeks to do the market properly so I'll save photos for then, though if you can't wait, have a look at our visits in previous years here and here.

Today has been a much quieter day with food shopping and housework. Later I'll be making more progress on my crochet blanket while watching Strictly. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. xx

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A scarf and other yarns

Today I thought it was time for a ta-dah moment as I've actually managed to finish something! Although, can it be a ta-dah moment if you've shown the item in the opening photo???

In any case, I present to you my Miyu scarf...


It was actually quite a relief to finish as it hasn't been the easiest of patterns to follow. I think that's probably why it's taken me a good year to get around to completing it.

The pattern was free on the internet and advertised as a perfect introduction to lace knitting for beginners. Well, maybe. There are 28 rows to the pattern and lots of yarn forwards and 'knit 2 togethers' which meant you really have to concentrate so as not to go wrong. I went wrong lots of times and it was an absolute pain to undo. I think I prefer a pattern with more of a rhythm that you can just relax into and not have to think too hard.

I do love the finished result though and the yarn was lovely to work with. It's Rowan fine lace, shade 924 (Patina) which is made of baby alpaca and merino - so soft and cuddly. And it takes less than one ball too.

Since finishing it, I've started another couple of yarny projects.

The first is a pair of fingerless mitts. I bought the pattern and yarn at Yarndale last year but have only just got around to starting it. I hope I'm not the only one who buys things and then takes months if not years to actually make anything!

Both the pattern and yarn are from Fyberspates and they had the most amazing stand with hanks of yarns hanging all along the wall in gorgeous jewel colours. I couldn't resist this yarn which is Vivacious in Spiced Plum.

Having said I like a simple pattern, I've challenged myself again as it's knitted in the round and I have to insert beads as I knit. Well, who needs an easy life?!

The second project is a blanket. I've wanted to make one for a while but haven't been able to find the right project. I love granny square blankets but they make me lose the will to live with all the colour changes and ends to sew in. So, I've decided to join in with Lucy's crochet-a-long and make her cosy blanket. The yarn pack arrived earlier this week and I'm already absolutely loving it! The colours are gorgeous and the yarn is crocheting up really well. I've not used Stylecraft before but am impressed so far.

So that's what I'm up to, along with an embroidery and a couple of quilts. I might need to start another project soon too if I don't find a present tomorrow. We're going on a coach trip to a Christmas market and I can't wait - I'm so excited! I won't say any more as I'll be telling all, hopefully in the next week. I'm also hoping to find a few photos for the scavenger hunt as I don't have a single one yet - gulp!

I'm off now to make dinner before settling down to watch Strictly and to crochet a few more rows of my blanket. Enjoy your evening and the rest of your weekend. x

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday walk

As the weather turned out much better than expected today, I couldn't resist the opportunity to head out for a walk. The first part of the walk took me along my usual route by the golf course.

There are still lots of berries on the trees to feed the birds over the winter. Combined with the white lichen, the whole effect looked *whisper it* quite Christmassy.

 This little multi-coloured leaf glowed amongst the grass.

The unseasonably warm weather seems to have persuaded this elder that it's already spring as it had lots of new growth.

My Dr Hessayon guide tells me this shrub is Euonymous europaeus 'Red Cascade'. I've never seen one before and it was really striking with its bright pink and orange flowers.

In fact, I was surprised how many plants were still in flower.

Reaching the end of the path, I wasn't ready to turn back towards home so carried on across the railway line.

Loved this little gypsy caravan sitting in a field behind a farm.

The horses were far too interested in one of their friends at the other end of the field to pay any notice to me.

On the far horizon, I could see Rivington Pike which we walked up earlier this year (it's the small bump which you can just make out, though it was clearer in reality).

And this was where I eventually turned for home with the autumn sun already low in the sky. It seems such a bonus to still be having warm sunshine and blue skies well into November- long may it continue. Well, at least at the weekends when I'm free to enjoy it.

Otherwise, it's been a fairly quiet weekend and I made progress on a couple of projects, including this winter embroidery. I want to do a little more stitching before it's time for bed so I'm going to have to love you and leave you. Enjoy what remains of the weekend. x