Friday, 31 July 2015

Photo scavenger hunt: July 2015

Time for the monthly Scavenger Hunt. Lots of the photos this time are from my holidays at the beginning of the month. Here's what I found.

D is for...: Devil! Apparently this statue outside 33 Stonegate in York, is not a sign of demonic activity but is the traditional sign of a printers! Don't look too closely into his eyes - it's supposed to be unlucky...

Wide: A wide expanse of sea and sky off the coast of Scarborough.

Edge: The edges of tiles embedded in the wall of Scarborough Castle.

Cylindrical: The lighthouse at Scarborough.

Feelings: Of intense concentration as Sue prepares to hoopla the pinata at my 4th July BBQ.

Mysterious: Strange markings on the cobbles leading up to Scarborough Castle: I'm guessing they show where each cobble fits.

Weed: Masses of clover in the polka dots on my lawn.

Joke: A joke shop in Scarborough.

Pile: Lobster pots in the old harbour, Scarborough.

Speed: Letting the train take the strain on the journey home from our holiday in York. ('Let the train take the strain' was the strapline for a series of adverts for rail travel)

Night: Evening light over the Lendal Bridge in York.

Whatever you want: This one is for Kezzie! A Tardis on Scarborough harbour.

Thanks as always to Jill at Made with Love for organising the Scavenger Hunt. You can see the other entries and the categories for August on her web site.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Scarborough Castle & milestones

Well, I did promise you more photos from my holiday at the beginning of the month but you've had a bit of a wait. With being back at work and spending most of my day in front of a PC, I've not felt like blogging in the evenings: the call of the outdoors has been too strong. Today, though, it's cold and raining so it's a good time for a catch up.

We'd never been to Scarborough. I was expecting all the tacky tourist tat shops and amusement arcades that you find in a typical British seaside resort. However, I didn't know it had a small fishing port.

Lots of fishing paraphernelia piled up on the quayside - I love the colour of the nets.

And seagulls nesting on every available ledge. We were thrilled to see that this one had a cute chick.

I was even more thrilled to see a lighthouse - I love them! One of the things on my bucket list is to see one of those red and white stripey ones. Or any lighthouse in New England, partly because that would mean I was actually in New England.

I also love castles so our target for the day was a visit to Scarborough Castle. It was built in the 1150s though the promontory it stands on had been occupied for centuries before that.

This is all that remains of the 12th century keep as a result of attacks during the Civil War.

There are wonderful views over the quieter North Bay...

...St Mary's church (more later)...

...and the touristy South Bay.

You'll notice that the sky is much greyer than when we arrived. It actually started to rain as we were looking around so we took shelter in the cafe for lunch of a warm pasty. With chutney. I thought it was just a strange quirk of this cafe but, no, we saw people eating pasties with chutney in other cafes. Is this a Yorkshire thing? I've never seen this odd behaviour in Lancashire!

Anyway, back outside, we continued exploring the site using the audio guide.

The grass had been left long except for mown pathways. The chimney sweeper moths loved it. Chickpea was less keen as it played havoc with her hayfever.

The remains of St Mary's chapel which was built on the ruins of a Roman signal station.

Meadow pipit

More remnants of the Roman signal station.

Remains of one of the castle buildings.

Pyramid orchid

If you're in Scarborough, it's well worth a visit, particularly with the free audio guide which brings it to life.

Heading down the hill towards town, we stopped briefly at St Mary's church.

It's famous for being the last resting place of Anne Bronte.

And finally, you can't come to the seaside without visiting the sea. Feet in the water, breathing in the fresh, salty air...

...and listening to the sound of the incoming tide. Aahhh, can you feel the tension easing away?

I'm not sure what I thought of Scarborough. It had a scruffy, faded air that so many of our once-grand seaside towns have, but it also had its surprises. In any case, we had a lovely day out and I wish we'd had more time to explore. However, York was calling us back for our final evening before going home.

I'll be back on Friday with the Scavenger Hunt which includes more photos from our holidays.


This post marks a double milestone. I've now been blogging for 3 years and it's my 300th post!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Gooseberry harvest

This weekend has seen the great gooseberry harvest. I planted the bush a couple of years ago and have had virtually no fruit since then. However, this year, for some reason, every branch has been laden with berries, with the weight making the branches arch to the ground.

I'd completely forgotten it was a red gooseberry too so it was a surprise to see the berries change to a lovely rosy hue. There were still quite a few that haven't changed yet but patience is not my strong point and I decided this weekend was the moment!

The thorns on gooseberry bushes are pretty lethal and it doesn't give up its bounty without a fight!

I battled on and picked a very respectable 792g (1.75lbs). But what to do with them? I've been looking at my cookery books and magazines and had come up with a shortlist. One which caught my eye was curd, partly because I've never made curd.

Curds usually seem to be yellow but the pureed fruit gives a clue to what colour the finished product will be.

Chickpea described it as watermelon and, in reality, it's a slightly brighter pink. Though, thankfully, nowhere near a medicinal colour!

I was a bit worried I'd overcooked it but no, it's a perfect light, creamy consistency. And it actually tastes like curd too, creamy but tart - success! There are a few recipes online but I couldn't find this one which is from the June 2005 issue of delicious. magazine. Just in case you'd like to give it a go, I've copied it out below, though I halved the quantities to make sure I had enough berries for another recipe - you can double it back up if you have lots of berries. Now I just need to decide how to use it. What's your favourite way to eat curd?

Gooseberry curd

450g gooseberries
25ml water
2 large beaten eggs
50g diced unsalted butter
225g caster sugar

1. Top and tail the gooseberries.
2. Place in a pan with the water and simmer until soft and pulpy.
3. Press through a sieve into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool slightly.
4. Beat in 2 large eggs.
5. Add the butter and sugar.
6. Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon or you should be able to leave a trail on top of the mixture.
7. Pour into sterilised jars - this makes 3 small jars. Cover the surface with a waxed disc and cover with either cellophane held on by an elastic band, or the jar lid.
8. It will keep up to 1 month in a dark cupboard or 3 months in the fridge.

In other gardening news, I've been harvesting more radish and purple mangetout. I thought the mangetout would change colour when cooked but, no, they stay this vibrant purple.

I'll be harvesting the first of my yellow courgettes to eat tonight.

And we've also had the first strawberries from the hanging basket I bought for 30 days wild. They won't win any beauty contests but they taste lovely and sweet.

In other news, it was my Mum's 70th birthday this week! Ten of us went out to a restaurant last night to celebrate. That's probably why we're all having a quiet day in today. I've just started reading 'To kill a mockingbird' - shockingly, I've never read it before. With all the publicity around Harper Lee's latest book, it seemed it was about time. I've also been doing my latest jigsaw and some crochet. A domestic weekend then with a bit of excitement thrown in.

Hope you're all well and enjoying your weekend. x

Friday, 10 July 2015

On the York Cat Trail: part 2

I'm so glad you enjoyed part 1 of the Cat Trail. Nice and refreshed after lunch, we're ready to head off for part 2. By the magic of blogging, we have teleported to the other side of town and are standing in College Street by the Minster.

Before we see any more cats, we're going to head down this little side street to visit Treasurer's House which belongs to the National Trust.

The house dates mainly from the 1500s, with changes through the years, though a wall remains from the original building of the 12th century.

Frank Green, a wealthy industrialist, owned the house between 1897 and 1930 and it was he who handed it to the National Trust. It was the first property to be given to them complete with all its contents.

Lots of dark, masculine decorating. Frank never married and he seemed very fond of dark greens and teals.

Outside there's a pretty garden.

With lovely views of the Minster.

However, let's not dilly-dally too long as there are more sights to see and cats to be found.

Next up was no 7, Bob, sitting above a vegetarian cafe. Hmm, methinks that might not be the best place for him to hunt for scraps!

Down St Andrewgate, past the lovely doorway of the former Drill Hall (now a shop).

Situated between 1/2 (yes, there really is an address of 1/2!) and 1, are cats 5...

...and 6.

Then another two in quick succession on Colliergate: no. 3...

and no. 2. This was the only one to be a carving rather than a sculpture.

There are some great street names in York but this must be the best! The plaque above the street sign says that it translates as 'What a street!' but other sources say it means 'neither one thing, nor the other'. It's the shortest street in York - only a couple of metres - and used to be the location of the pillory.

Another great word we came across was snickelway, which is a short passage or alley. It sounds an old word but was actually invented in 1983 as an amalgamation of other terms. In any case, some of them have great names like Mad Alice Lane, Hornpot Lane Nether, and Mucky Peg Lane! If only town planners today were so inventive :)

Anyway, back to the trail. Cat no. 1 looks as if he's emerging from the wall like an apparition. Fitting really as he's on the wall of the Golden Fleece which claims to be the most haunted pub in England!

Next door is the 17th century Sir Thomas Herbert's House (photos and history here) with this lovely carved timber detail. You're constantly in danger of bumping into people in York as your eyes are drawn upwards to all the details on the buildings.

Opposite the ghostly cat is probably York's most famous street, the Shambles. It's usually crammed with tourists but I took this later in the evening. Many of the buildings date from the 14th and 15th centuries and would have housed butchers. They are deliberately close together to minimise the amount of sunlight as the meat would have been hung outside. The channel down the middle of the street is the drainage system!

Here you can find cat 21, Fortuitous, and... no. 8, who is on the wall of York Glass who sell York Lucky Cats: Chickpea couldn't resist and bought this pale pink one (because of the colour, not because it's the cat for October as her birthday is in May).

At the top of Shambles is King's Square where cat no.4 is stalking a pigeon.

A lovely glimpse of the Minster as we walk up Low Petergate on our way to the next cat. There's actually a cat on this street too but I seem to have completely forgotten to photograph it, despite ticking it off on our map - if you do want to see a picture, you can find it here.

Walking along Stonegate, there are more interesting details to catch your eye, like this mermaid which looks like she originally came off a ship.

And this lovely stained glass and carved detail. The book hanging in the doorway says 'Holy Bible 1682' and shows that it was once a bookshop.

And that brings us to our penultimate cat, no 19, Gordon. For the last one, we need to retrace our steps along Stonegate...

...and circle around the back of the Minster. I've shown you glimpses so far but here are a few more shots. It's difficult to get a clear view as it's surrounded by other buildings. However, there's no hiding how impressive and beautiful it is, particularly when bathed in the early evening sun.

We took the bus into town in the evenings which dropped us off right by the Minster and, one evening, the bells were ringing - I think they were practising. I thought of Kay and how much she would have loved to hear them so made a little video.

And last but not least, here she is, our final cat. no.18, sat by a Victorian lamp on Gillygate.

I hope you've enjoyed the rest of the trail. I'd highly recommend it even if you're not a cat fan as it's a lovely way to see the city. Next, I have a day out at the seaside to share with you. x