Friday 31 August 2012

A Cotswold Village

A Cotswold village like so many others nestling in the hills and deep valleys
The light playing on the honey coloured stonework creating dancing and flickering shadows. Stone houses, some built in the 13th century - hundreds of years of history steeped within their walls 
The sun glints on the window panes, a curtain flutters. All is still, quiet, just the rustle of leaves and the sound of bird song. A peaceful day 
Was it really less than two weeks ago that we walked these same sunlit, dappled, stonewalled lanes; the light sparkling, but the mood solemn; the only sound, a mournful toll from the old church bell?
This is the spot where our friend was laid to rest; here amongst the ancient yew trees in a peaceful churchyard. Her last journey, a coffin of woven wicker, fresh flowers threaded through it by her friends from their gardens. In our hearts we silently bid our sad farewells. Time stood still, for centuries this village has witnessed it all before. A dog barks, a child laughs, a rose opens - time moves on, but memories linger
Bobbie - a 60s girl

Thursday 30 August 2012

Cumbria - The English Lake District

This post is dedicated to lovely Olympia who likes mountains, and who very kindly gave me the Liebster Award.
When staying in the Lake District we prefer the far Western Lakes; they are quieter, more remote, a feeling expressed by the words of Lakeland poet, William Wordsworth 'I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o'er vales and hills'.
We enjoy staying in this beautifully converted barn with a magical pathway leading to Black Combe Fell. 
The visit was brief with only a two night stay. Our thoughts immediately turned to Wasdale, reached down a long, narrow, twisting road, passing through ancient woodlands until Wasdale Head looms into sight revealing it's breathtaking scenic beauty.
The head of Wasdale sits at the foot of Scafell Pike which soars off to the right of the picture, and at 978 metres - 3,209 ft it is England's highest mountain.
The distinctive Lakeland Hardwick sheep and her black lamb. She is looking rather comical without her shaggy iron grey coat. These sheep are an integral part of the mountains in the Lakelands. They are the hardiest of British sheep, well adapted and robust enough to survive the inclement winter weather and terrain.
Mr. Ram was huge.  I have never before seen a sheep so big that it walked all around the field on it's knees!!! 
At the head of the dale is a small community with a shop, an inn, a few farmsteads, and a tiny church.
The church of St. Olaf. The roof timbers are said to have been taken from a Viking ship. Several of the graves belong to people who have sadly lost their lives climbing in the surrounding mountains.
A very small memorial light in the leaded window showing Napes Needle on Great Gable a magnet for fell walkers and rock climbers.
I regret that I cannot hand the Liebster Award on; I am far, far too fond of you all, it would be impossible for me to pick just 11 blogs. Please forgive me - 11 Questions?
1.   Which is the most boring book you've read?
      I have read two chapters of The Hare with Amber         
      Eyes by the exquisite ceramicist Edmund de 
      Waal, but I am having difficulty getting into it. 
      However, H informs me that it is a wonderful book
      so I intend to persevere.
      You can explore Edmund de Waal's site here
2.   Which movie made you cry your eyes out?
      Sometimes my eyes may become moist but I
      never cry my eyes out when watching a film.   
3.   Do you like "Friends" and if so, which character do 
      you identify with?
      I have never, ever, seen a single episode of 
4.   What do you find more relaxing, going camping or
      staying at a 5 star hotel?
      Neither - small friendly, family run hotels for me, 
      like the one above.     
5.   What is the ideal way to spend a work free day?
      Relaxing with the family.
6.   Coffee or tea?
      Both, coffee when chatting with friends, tea when 
      we have been out all day, and are then dying  
      for a cup of tea.
7.   What is the best present you have ever received?
      Could not possibly name my best present. The
      grandchildren have all made and given me so
      many wonderful things over the years. However, 
      perhaps my most exciting present is currently in 
      the pipeline, but keeps being cancelled due to 
      circumstances beyond our control!!! For this
      present everything has to be correct and in order.
      You will all know what it is eventually. 
8.   Have you ever been given a really bad haircut and 
      how did you react?
      No, I have been going to my hairdresser for years
      and she knows how I like it. 
9.   What colour is your car?
      Metallic Black.
10. When is your birthday?
      Virgo is my sign.
11. Do you use a camera or your cell-phone to take 
      Camera only - my mobile phone is very basic
      and has no camera.
first image courtesy wikipedia

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Marrow Lemon Curd/Lemon Trifle

This is a delicious alternative to traditional Lemon Curd. Marrows are in season now and cheap.
3.5lb marrow, peeled and seeds removed yields 2lb of marrow flesh.
5 lemons.
2lb granulated sugar.
4oz butter.
Chop marrow flesh into small pieces. Steam in water till tender.
Strain off liquid and blend it until smooth. Put the puree into a large pan with the sugar, butter and finely-grated rind and juice of the lemons.
Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved then bring to the boil and simmer the curd for about 30 min, stirring frequently. Pour into clean, warmed jars and cover. 
Delicious in sponges, spread on crusty bread or in tarts.
I am going to put some in a lemon trifle. Using Savoiardi or similar, Italian lady finger boudoir biscuits, or simply some madeira cake. Spread with blackcurrant jam and place in flat bottom dish. Generously sprinkle with Lemoncello and top with Marrow Lemon Curd and thin layer of custard. Leave in the fridge overnight to give the liqueur chance to soak in well. Before serving add a layer of fresh whipped cream finally topped off with fresh raspberries. 
First stage ready - trifle sponge fingers split and filled with blackcurrant jam, sprinkled with Lemoncello and then spread with the Marrow Lemon Curd, put a thin layer of custard (not shown) and place in fridge overnight.
Next day topped with fresh cream and raspberries - all ready to eat..............

Monday 27 August 2012

Dr. Ludwig Guttman - 1899 1980

Sir Ludwig
'Hands up' all those who have heard of Dr. Ludwig Guttman. No! but you have all heard of the Paralympic Games.
It was Dr. Guttman, a German neurologist who founded the games whilst working at the famous National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire.
Previously he worked at the Jewish Hospital in Breslau, Germany where he later became their director. However, as a Jew, he left when life became impossible for him and his family, and emigrated here to Oxford. The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) negotiated with the Home Office on their behalf and donated a sum of £400 (around £20,000) in today's money) to help the family establish themselves. The family stayed with Lord Lyndsay, CARA Councillor and Master of Balliol College, Oxford whilst Dr. Guttmann did research at the famous Radcliffe Infirmary in the Nuffield Department of Neurosurgery.
In 1943, he was asked by the British government to found the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital where he was appointed Director. His strong belief was that sport is an excellent method of therapy, using it to help build physical strength and also self-respect.
The medical issues he could deal with, but his biggest concern was how to overcome the widely held belief both within the medical profession and amongst the general public that patients once paralysed faced a pointless future, and that it was impossible to integrate them back into society. 
He achieved this by changing the way they were treated much to the contempt of his fellow surgeons, doctors, and nurses.  He had the patients moved regularly to avoid pressure sores, and prevent urinary tract infections developing. He exercised very firm control over the patients cajoling them into doing physical and skill based activities. Sports such as Archery improved their mental wellbeing, and learning new skills, such as woodwork, clock and watch repair and how to type. These skills would ensure that they would be employable when returning back into the community.
He introduced an annual games event. Year after year the number of patients taking part in the Stoke Mandeville Games increased as the number of sports on offer grew. Word spread amongst other spinal hospitals around Britain and to other countries until in 1953 a team arrived from Canada for the games. By 1954 there were Australians, Finns, Egyptians and Israelis, and so today's Paralympics were born. 
The Paralympic symbol
The Paralympic symbol for the London games
Dr. Guttmann received worldwide honours along with an OBE and CBE from the UK. In 1966 he received a Knighthood from the Queen.
In June this year a statue of Sir Ludwig was unveiled at Stoke Mandeville as part of the run up to the London 2012 games.
So let us all remember Dr. Ludwig Guttmann's extraordinary pioneering work as we enjoy watching the exceptional sporting skills of the brave men and women that will be on show at the London Paralympics commencing on 29th August 2012.

Many of you will be aware that here in the UK our letterboxes and telephone boxes are traditionally red.
However, following the London Olympics a funny thing has been happening to some of the boxes.
This is a tribute gold letterbox, representing the fact that we have a gold Olympian living in our midst. Our man with the golden medal is rower Peter Reed, who has two gold medals, one from London and one from Beijing - congratulations to Peter.
all images and some information from wikipedia, British Paralympic Association, & BBC documentary

Sunday 26 August 2012

Flower Quiz - Impatiens glandulifera - Himalayan Balsam - Policeman's Helmet

courtesy wikipedia
The Impatiens glandulifera, as its common name implies, was introduced from the Himalayas in the first half of the 19th century. It is a member of the Impatiens family - Busy Lizzie - but has now become a very invasive species of weed in several European countries and the United States.
It was promoted back in the 19th century as having 'Herculean proportions' and 'splendid invasiveness' meaning that ordinary people could buy them for the cost of a packet of seeds (poor man's orchid) to rival the expensive orchids grown in the greenhouses of the rich. Within 10 years, however, it had escaped from gardens and began its journey along the river systems of many countries.
Every single plant is prettily covered in a mass of pink flowers which in turn produce fat healthy seed pods, every plant yields a harvest of approximately 800 - 1000 seeds. These are dispersed far and wide as the ripe seedpods shoot them off just like a catapult up to 7m (22ft) away. Once the seeds land in the rivers and ditches they can remain viable for two years, and are transported further by water.
Ripe seedpod 
ready for me to press and activate
The shinny hard black seeds were held on the central column - about 12 of them. The seeds are a good size, hard, strong, robust and are now scattered all over my kitchen!!! Time to get the vacuum cleaner out. However, you have to admire the ingenuity of nature - the seed pod is a very clever design. It took the lightest of pressure for me to activate the catapult mechanism.
You can see all of the seed pods developing on this small stem. However, these are just about to meet their doom. They will be well and truly munched and crunched before they are disposed of safely.
Marijke Gina & Sarah all got the correct answer. They all know their flowers very well, do give their lovely blogs a visit.

Quickie Guess the Flower - answer tonight

A very pretty flower, but thank goodness it does not grow in my garden!!!
Answers this evening.  
I am 100% confident that if Paul sees this he will guess correctly. However, he may be off having a Bank Holiday Weekend adventure.
Comments giving the correct answer will be shown tonight.