Thursday, 31 December 2015

By the sea

Hello! It's been a while but I wanted to drop by to mark the end of 2015 and to wish you all a Happy New Year!

On the last day of the month I'd usually be sharing Scavenger Hunt photos. However, as I've not managed to collect them all this time, I thought I'd share some photos from a walk earlier this week instead.

We had a lovely, quiet Christmas with family and friends and, thankfully, survived all the gales and rain with only some minor flooding at the bottom of the garden. My heart goes out to all those who were so badly affected.

With blue skies forecast for once, I headed out to Lytham to meet up with an old friend. It's a pretty, genteel little town at the mouth of the river Ribble, only a few miles south of the bright, brash lights of Blackpool.

Streets of lovely (and pricey) houses.

And lots of places to wine and dine. We lunched at Ego to gather our energies for a walk north along the coast to St Anne's.

First a stroll through Lowther Gardens to see the Shrimper, dressed in traditional 19th century costume.

Plus the ubiquitous wicker statue - there seems to be one in every public space these days.

Then, back to the shoreline, following the curve of the estuary to where it opens out into the Irish Sea.

There were lots of wading birds along the shoreline.

My identification of waders has always been a bit ropey but I think these are Turnstones. I could hear lots of piping out on the mud flats and will definitely be taking my binoculars next time.

This is looking across the mouth of the estuary towards the coast leading down to Southport.

On the other side, a glimpse of the White Church, otherwise known as the Fairhaven United Reform Church. It opened in 1912 and its Byzantine style was the result of a competition to design a 'distinctive architectural feature'.

Less striking but still interesting, is Station Cafe Bar which is in an old railway carriage. A coffee and mince pie to warm ourselves before the walk back to Lytham.

Journeys end. The light fades so quickly this time of year and the windmill was already lit up by the time we returned. There's a free museum in the windmill which is open during the summer months: Chickpea and I will definitely back to explore. Lytham is a lovely little town and made even better by the chance to catch up with an old friend.

Well, that's it for another year. I'll be back, probably at the weekend, with a crafting project.

A very, very happy New Year to you all. xxx

Monday, 30 November 2015

Photo Scavenger Hunt: November 2015

Well, it's Scavenger Hunt time again and I just about managed it. Not that it was a particularly tough one, just that I've struggled with the lurgy the last couple of weeks. Thanks as always to Greenthumb for organising it. Here's my entry.

A stranger: A single stranger walking by this water feature outside Sheffield railway station.

Looking down: A cuddly husky watching the shoppers going by at the Christmas market in Manchester.

Pop culture: Old records made into coasters. For sale on the Christmas market in Manchester.

The weather: Rain and hail as sunlight hits the top of the postbox. Typical English weather then.

Big: An enormous poppy in Manchester Victoria railway station.

Sign: It feels like this one should be in the December Hunt but I did see it in November: Father Christmas greeting visitors to the market.

Bottle: I couldn't resist this bottle purely because of the name. Sadly, the drink inside it was less exciting than the ingredients sounded. It had a very weird, almost cheesy, aftertaste!

Out & about: Autumnal colour in Sheffield.

Hat: A woolly hat made of fondant on one of the amazing cakes on display at the Cake & Bake Show, Manchester.

Hole: Lots of holes in this metal fence.

One: A single, perfect fly agaric toadstool. 'A fairy should be sat on top of that' commented someone I showed the photo to.

Whatever you want: Not the best photo but definitely one of the most exciting events this month. A cormorant on our local lake! I thought this was a once in a lifetime event then, on Saturday, lo and behold there were two! Probably sheltering from all the rain and gales that have been sweeping across for days and days.

If you've been inspired, head over to the Scavenger Hunt site to see the other entries and to see the list for December.

I've been very absent from the blogging world this month. Too much to do and a bout of the lurgy. I'm now starting to see the light at the end of the germ-filled tunnel so, hopefully, I'll be back soon. Have a wonderful week everyone. x

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Photo scavenger hunt: October 2015

It's the end of the month, which must mean it's time for the Scavenger Hunt. Not surprisingly, my photos have a very autumnal feel about them and several were taken during our walk in the woods last weekend. Thanks as always to Jill at Greenthumb for organising it: here's my entry.

Question: The split in this tree trunk looks just like a question mark.

Cream: The inner flesh of a horse chestnut case.

Number: 28. The number of starlings gathered on this telegraph pole.

Lattice: Wooden trellis at Tatton Park.

Familiar: Our usual path through the woods.

Ring: Ring, ring goes the bicycle bell.

Today: Pumpkin-spiced latte and an apple and walnut muffin - the taste of autumn.

Down: This stag was having a snooze down in the long grass at Tatton Park.

Writing: Letters carved into a tree.

Many: Layers and layers of fungi.

Broken: A wall which has collapsed.

Whatever you want: This little fellow was munching on a monkey nut. A lady had just brought a bagful and there were squirrels running in all directions with nuts in their mouth. Some ate them straightaway whilst others were burying them for later. This one was so cute with his white tummy.

I missed taking part in the Hunt last month and am so glad I managed to get my act together this time. If you'd like to join in with the November hunt, head over to the web site where you can see the categories and this month's entries.

Hope you all have a great weekend. As I mentioned last time, we're heading into the city for pizza and James Bond. Maybe a pumpkin cocktail or two as well :) x

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Divil's nose

Today I thought I'd share with you a sweet treat for Halloween. And I have to be honest, it's purely because of the name: my Great Grandmother called it Divil's Nose!  It probably goes by different names around the country but this one seems to be unique to the Wigan area where she grew up. In fact, I found out that it also goes by the name of Singing Lily, possibly in honour of the Wigan lass, Lily Brayton, who was an actress and singer in the early 1900s.

But what is this Divil's Nose? Well, actually, it's what I've always known as a Chorley cake: a layer of raisins between 2 layers of pastry. A frugal dish born of a time when you had to use up every last scrap of food. The ingredients are simply:

Leftover pastry
Currants, or other dried fruits
A knob of butter

Roll out the pastry into a round. Put the dried fruit in the centre, sprinkle with sugar and add a knob of butter.

Run a wet finger around the edge and then fold the edges of the pastry into the centre.

Turn it over so the folded edges are underneath. Roll out until the fruit shows through. Put on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven on 160C/Gas 3 until lightly golden.

Serve as it is or, as we used to when I was little, spread with butter. Mum said mine was a bit thin and I'd browned it too much! Oh dear. It didn't stop her having a piece though :-)

However, she had no complaints about my second version. I wanted to spice it up a bit and, as Chickpea isn't keen on currants, use a different dried fruit.

Instead, I used chopped dates and soaked them in a good splosh of dark rum. Then I spread it out over the pastry as normal.

My pastry was a cobbler mix and already on the damp side. As I folded it in, the extra moisture from the rum made it tear. For this reason, I didn't bother to roll it out but just plonked it on the baking tray.

Rather more rustic in appearance but, oh so good! We actually preferred this version as the rum-soaked fruit made it moist and the cracks in the pastry made the buttery, sugary juices ooze and caramelise on the top. Yum yum yum! I'll be making this version again.

So there you have it, 2 versions of Divil's Nose. What is it called where you live?

I'll be back on Halloween but not with anything spooky: it's Scavenger Hunt time. In fact, I don't even know if we'll be doing anything Halloweeny as we're meeting a group of friends in Manchester for pizza and James Bond! I do have my pumpkin head boppers at the ready though...

See you on Saturday. Almost the weekend. Hurrah!