Thursday, 31 July 2014

More Suffolk Delights - Kentwell Hall

Today I'd like to share with you the remainder of the pictures from Kentwell Hall.

One of the most striking aspects of the property is the feeling that it hasn't been restored and curated to within an inch of it's life. There is a much gentler approach to it's ongoing development and restoration, due I suspect to lack of funds, so when visiting you get a real sense of place.

Parts of the house are presented as they would have been in Tudor times, others left as they had been in the Victorian era, and some are 20th century. The overall feel is that the family now living there, who if I remember correctly moved in during the '70s, are doing their absolute best at restoring and maintaining the house and gardens. It is clear that they are struggling but that doesn't impact on the visitor experience in a negative way.

The outbuildings to the Manor include an ancient dairy and a brew house. All of the extended dwellings felt spookily very lived in. See if you can spot the dead mouse in one of the pics.

The site also houses the most delightful 1940s inspired tea room. Don't worry the pic above wasn't taken in there. ( Dead mouse bottom right). It was an absolute treat to sit sipping my Earl Grey whilst listening to some Ella Fitzgerald. Watching the chooks nosey around was a bonus for me too. I'm strange that way. The best though was my up close and personal experience with one of the two resident peacocks. He clearly wasn't as excited as me.

Finally some pics of the strange and wonderfully carved petrified tree that rests at the back of the house. It reminded me of my favourite Enid Blyton book 'The Folk of the Faraway Tree'.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Suffolk Delights

As you will know dear reader the Mister and I sojourned in Suffolk this time last week to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I love getting away for a few days. Hopefully, but not always, enjoying the comforts of a luxury hotel and usually seeing some new places and generally making merry. 

The first night we stayed with some friends, a lovely couple who live in the most amazing converted barn which is smack bang in the middle of golden fields. We think they live the perfect lifestyle. They are an example of where we would like to be in a few years. Not geographically you understand but with their independent and ecologically sound way of life.

My friend Irena Sibrijns is a potter and she has a studio just across the courtyard from the barn where she and her husband live. She works hard to produce beautiful hand crafted pieces that are painted with the most striking and joyful designs.

I'm not being biased when I say that her work is exceptional. You can see for yourselves. All her pieces are one of a kind and made even more desirable by their rarity.

She is part of a craft collective that has a super shop in Southwold. So if you ever venture that way and are looking for something special do pop into Craftco.

The picture below is unfortunately not where we stayed on our second night in Suffolk. But it is a rather grand but crumbling Tudor moated mansion we visited on our second day there. As stately homes go it has all the obvious ingredients, but what made the visit special was the fact we seemed to be visiting almost entirely on our own.

We paid our entry fee and the only other people we saw were a couple who were exiting as we went through the front door. The rooms and gardens were devoid of visitors and stewards. We wandered through at our own pace and looked into every nook and cranny and had the most delightful time. I took LOTS of pictures so I will post a few more next time, (don't want you to nod off in the heat).

Pied Piper Topiary.

Welcome to my latest Google Friend Connect follower Meg, who blogs here.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Harmony & Tranquility

The mister and I have just returned from a few days in Suffolk. We went to celebrate our wedding anniversary and to catch up with some dear friends. We had a smashing time, I will post about that in the next couple of days.

Today I want to share with you an incredibly moving and beautiful film. It concerns an elderly lady who has found a peace and happiness through her relationship with her natural surroundings, in particular the sea.

The film was made by a Faroese filmmaker called Heidrick a Heygum. The film is called a portrait of Maria a Heygum.

I so love the sound of her voice and her delicate language. Click on the pink text to link to the film and if you have time, please watch all of the film, you'll be so glad you did.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Simple Decoupage

Hello all my lovely blogger chums. Just a quick post today because I'm helping out with a local art trail event and have to nip back to the venue pretty soon. I'm looking after the VIP who is launching the art exhibition this evening.

Our lovely son Jack is due to arrive in the next hour too, he's coming to stay for a while. Can't wait as we haven't seen him since February, he's studying for a Contemporary Art degree at Manchester Uni, and has finished for the summer.

Good job I spruced his room up for him yesterday. It's all looking lovely now, especially with the newly revamped freegled cupboard in place. Somewhere for him to put his books and his smalls.

I've decoupaged the top of the cupboard with a little branch of birds and also the inside of the cupboard door on the right with a peacock, both images were free downloads. I haven't tried this technique before and I was a little concerned on applying the first layer of Modge Podge glue over my lovingly painted blue top as it looked very murky indeed.

But I needn't have worried as it dried clear. I put on about six coats leaving time in between for drying out. The images felt well and truly protected. I'm very pleased with the results:

This image above looks very green but in fact it is more a duck egg blue, which I think you can just see in the top pic.

I'm glad it has worked out well as it has given me the confidence to tackle the three small ugly orange pine tables I picked up from the chazza a few weeks back. I'm hoping to paint them and decoupage them with vintage bee hive images. They will be perfect occasional tables for drinks etc. I will let you know when I start those.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Harvested Delights

It's courgette time and that means every day is a courgette day. But that's fine with us, they are free and they are most definitely delicious.

Last night I picked and grated a courgette and added it to my normal Carbonara sauce. It lent a light freshness and subtly changed the flavour and texture.
The night before the mister thinly sliced and lightly dusted a courgette with seasoned flour. The little pieces were then cooked in a small amount of rapeseed oil. Fabulous little appetisers, especially when served with some gorgeously sparkling homemade Elderflower fizz.

I have four 1 litre bottles of the fizz sitting in my darkened pantry, which I'm saving for a little party we are having in a couple of weeks, chilled to perfection, I think my guests will enjoy it.

How are you cooking your courgettes? Let us know. A courgette recipe exchange could ensue which will see us all through the season.

Btw, here is a picture of the yarn I bought at 'Unwind' last weekend, I thought a few of you lovely bloggers would like to see it.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Unwinding in Brighton

I spent a lovely Saturday with two of my knitty chums, Anita and Ann, at the 'Unwind' event held at the Brighton Corn Exchange. We took the bus to Brighton and nattered and laughed all the way in. I'm afraid we were a little bit excitable.

It's a beautiful venue but it was very hot inside and some of the traders were looking a bit pink around the chops. Everyone was in good spirits though. It's a lovely thing to walk amongst a large group of people like that and see a smile on every face. It's the power of yarn and craft.

I suspect know all of us that attended have enough yarn to see us through several projects, but the allure of new hand dyed yarn is irresistible. From what I could see nobody was leaving empty handed.

I bought some Alapaca bed socks for myself and a pair for our son Jack, not that either of us wear socks in bed. They are the best thing though to slip on and poddle around in when Mr. Frost is nipping at your toes. Mark my words as hot as it feels now, he will be back.

I also bought a single skein of yarn, yes just the one. 100% Superwash Merino wool in the most fabulous multi emerald green shades. My yarn was hand dyed by Jon of Easyknits, pictured above. His Nan taught him to knit when he was a nipper and he has been smitten with all things yarny ever since.

After a few hours of coloured yarn bliss, we stepped across the road to Carluccio's and had cappuccinos and strawberry tarts. Unfortunately all my previous restraint was undone as I'm a sucker for his produce and did spend an 'unnecessary' £20.00 on lemon olive oil, pasta and individual ready mixed Campari and sodas, they are just too darn cute.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Eau de Cologne & Roman Chamomile.

Right oh, the mister is watching the footie, chance for me to talk about my projects. I have a couple of the knitty kind on the go, of course, they're perfect for when I have a spare few minutes, great to dip in and out of. One is more urgent than the other and I fear may not be finished on time as I have another project that has moved up the to do list. This needs to be completed by Friday week when our son is coming to stay, as we are short on storage space in our guest room.

Lady Luck was on my side last weekend when my name was pulled from the hat for a Freegled cupboard. The lovely lady who was giving it away only lives a half a mile from my house so it didn't have to travel too far. (Which is one of the criteria for re-cycling the Freegle way).

I plan to give this little beauty a mini make over. Overall it is in good condition but needs a thorough clean inside, a coat of primer and a couple of coats of fresh paint. All of which I already have in the garden shed. The top will be a different shade to the rest of the unit, and then I'm going to decoupage the top with a really nice design I downloaded for free. You'll get to see the image when I have finished the job, such a tease aren't I?

I've only had to buy a couple of things to complete the work, a new handle for the cupboard and some glue for the decoupage work. Both items together cost less than £8.00.

The new door handle for the unit is mother of pearl and chrome and I hope will work well with the colours and image I have in mind.

To the garden now.

We found a delightful herb stall at the Smallholders Show at the weekend. We bought some wonderfully fragrant Roman Chamomile which I have planted up in a wide pot to give it room to spread. I'm hoping it will thrive so I can use it to make some delicious soothing tea. If it does very well I will harvest and dry some for over Winter.

The stall had lots of nuggets of herbal wisdom attached to the plants for sale. I learnt that the Eau de Cologne mint we have cuttings of is perfect for naturally perfuming bath water. Obvious now I know.

The right hand side picture of my trio shows some tiny seedlings I'm especially excited about. When the mister and I went up to London last year to the Buckingham Palace Jubilee celebrations we were given some free Birch tree seeds in a little pack. This is my third attempt at getting the seeds to germinate and I have used them all up now. Happily I have 5 tiny little seedlings springing up. I'm hoping to take them as little trees to our next house. We shall see won't we.

And just because there is so much talk of insects and bees at the moment, here's a bumble for you.

Welcome to my two latest international Google Connect Friends, Dani who blogs here and Amanda who blogs here.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Pretty Beetroots

Thanks for all the advice regarding the monster veg. I think the consensus is cook it and see. Willie has convinced me it might be worth a go, after speaking to his mystery solving cousin Inspector Montalbano in Sicily. Well if he doesn't know who does?

Our first beetroots of the season are a much safer bet on the taste front. So I have roasted them with some fresh thyme from the garden, 2 tbsps olive oil, 1 tbsp honey and 2 teasp balsamic vinegar.

I plan to mix them in with some roasted courgettes cooked on Thursday, (left overs) and then add them to a Greek salad for dinner tonight. I bought some lemon and coriander houmous yesterday it will partner this deliciously.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Evening All - Monster Alert

Just been out to the veggie beds to get some courgettes for dinner, the first ones are just coming through. When I spied a 'cuckoo' in the nest.

Can any of you lovely experienced veg growers explain how such a monster has appeared almost overnight, why it is light green and is it worth cooking up? It is about 12 inches long with a 13 inch girth. No rude comments form you Willie !!!! This is a genuine question. I'll admit it's a bit unfortunate timing following on so quickly from the you tube clip in the last post. Answers please.

Meet The Ancestors

I'm not sure if I've bored told all you lovely blogger folk about my colourful ancestry. Don't worry I'm not gonna ramble on at length. Suffice it to say that I'm mighty proud to be descended from and related to some of our great country's monarchs, royalty and nobility. The fella on the left William the Conqueror just happens to be my 29th Great Grandfather.

Where did it all go wrong for her I hear you ask? As of course I do not possess riches beyond anyone's wildest dreams, and I couldn't be described as posh in anyway. It's that old gender chestnut, yes and alas, I'm related mainly through the female line.

All of this wonderful information was sprung upon me a few years ago and I have it on very good authority it is all true.

No surprises really, but I also have more than my fair share of family rogues.

One of my clan, a Mr. John (Jack) Shrimpton was a highwayman in the late 18th century. He eventually came to a sticky end when he murdered a night watchman, but he seems to have been kind on occasion too.

This isn't an artists impression of him but I figure he may have looked something like this. He used to work a stretch of road between Maidenhead and Reading called the Thicket, a particularly notorious and dangerous road. Seemingly people used it regardless and it was one of the busiest roads in the country with up to 90 coaches a day.

Legend has it Jack met with some bailiffs one day who were carting off some poor farmer to jail for the debt of £6.00. Jack joined with them to the next ale house and offered to pay off the man's debt, which he did. But he then waylaid the bailiffs on their way home and relieved them of his £6.00 with an additional 40 shillings to boot.

The funny thing that has prompted me to write about Jack is that I have just found out there is a bar named after him in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. Obviously I must make a 'pilgrimage' there and soon.

I wonder if I'll get a drink on the house? I expect that will depend on whether he robbed the owners way back in the day.

Anyone offended by a corny double-entendre please look away now.

A bright welcome to Laurie, my latest Google Connect follower who blogs here