Saturday 28 November 2020

Autumn has Almost Finished

.....many leaves have now finished tumbling to the ground. Don't be sad, it is Mother Nature's way of protecting her trees, and making sure that they survive the coming winter and beyond. If the leaves stayed on the trees during the winter months, and new ones didn't appear in the Spring, then our lovely trees would have no way of processing food for themselves. 

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens

And all up in the vale,

From the Autumn bonfires

See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over,

And all the summer flowers,

The red fire blazes,

The grey smoke  towers.

Sing a son of seasons!

Something bright in all!

Flowers in the summer,

Fires in the fall!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Along Memory Lane

Eldest son, a Geologist, lived with his family in Norway for several years - a country that we always enjoyed visiting and loved. On our first trip over to see them, I recall going to the local supermarket with my daughter-in-law, a visit which made me smile, but one which I also found to be confusing. Everyone, apart from me, was wandering around filling their baskets, seemingly oblivious to the various extras sitting on the counter tops and along the shelves. So grab yourself a shopping basket, I will take my camera, and join me on an "expedition" around the aisles of Helgø, a Norwegian Supermarket. 

I wonder what British Health & Safety Standards would think of an adult stuffed polar bear sitting on top of a counter selling cooked meats and pâtés?
There must be a storyline here, but I have no idea what it could be.
Did the supermarket owner buy a taxidermy 'job lot'? Or was he a frustrated collector whose wife wouldn't allow him to keep them at home!
The cheese and wine counter
It wasn't just the stuffed animals, but also the scenic dioramas that accompanied them.
This is a revamped old post - the picture quality is poor - they were taken with my first small digital camera. 

Friday 20 November 2020

Relish Small Pleasures

We are now two weeks into our second lockdown. The first time round Spring was in the air and there was a certain amount of novelty to it. This time, winter is creeping in, and with Christmas on the horizon it’s hard to imagine how it will be celebrated.
The news about the vaccines has given us more hope for the future, and we should all be grateful to the many scientists who have toiled away during this difficult period to find a solution for the world’s current plight. Seemingly the Oxford solution is just a matter of days away from an announcement, but they have already stated that their vaccine is particularly ‘encouraging’ in adults over the age of 70years. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94% effective in the over 65s’ - this scenario was something that had previously had a large question mark hovering over it. 

The departure of “Dom” from Downing Street too is good news, but perhaps the less said about that the better. 

During the last few days the weather has been dull, and gloomy, but we took a chance and booked Thursday of this week to visit a National Trust garden. Luckily their gardens are still open, but you must book your slot online - the dates for each week are released every Friday morning. Yesterday, the day of our visit, was a perfect day, blue skies, a slight nip in the air, but clear and bright. We visited Tyntesfield in North Somerset, a Victorian Gothic Revival house with extensive gardens and parkland, and just a stone’s throw from Bristol. Originally called Tyntes Place, William Gibbs, purchased it for his growing family in 1844. He completely remodelled the exterior of what was a simple regency house into the Gothic extravaganza that exists today. All of the interiors were richly decorated and furnished by the country’s leading craftsmen.

Unlike several of Bristol's successful businessmen, Gibbs did not make his money on the backs of the ‘slave trade’. His fortune was made by importing ‘guano’ from Peru, a country which granted him the sole monopoly on all trade with Europe and North America.

"You expected to be sad in the fall.

Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and..... 
their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light.
But you knew there would always be the spring,as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.
Family chapel, the design of which was modelled on the flamboyant Gothic architecture of Sainte Chapelle in Paris.

Thursday 12 November 2020

The Joys and the Perils of Modern Technology

Modern technology is supposed to make life easier, but does it in fact create more  problems for us all to solve!  I received the following message on our Apple computer when I endeavoured to do some printing via our HP printer.

When something like this happens, I just don't have a clue as to how to deal with it. My husband immediately jumped on the fact that the day before we had coincidentally received a telephone call warning us that we had a problem on our computer - a scammer. We reassured each other that they could not possibly know what was taking place on our computer.

The next step was to look on an Apple forum discussion page where I found pages and pages of people all experiencing the very same problem - many, particularly business people, were extremely angry. 

Apparently HP said that they had unintentionally revoked credentials on some versions of Mac drivers causing a temporary disruption for those customers. "We are working with Apple to restore the drivers, and in the meantime, we recommend users experiencing this problem to uninstall the HP driver and use the native AirPrint driver to print to their printer."  

I, personally, have never heard of a native AirPrint driver, and suspected that my printer is far too old anyway for that advice to be applicable.

A few people had managed to resolve the issue, but they all had varying and different solutions as how to do it. However, why should computer owners have to correct a problem that had inadvertently been imposed on them - why couldn't HP or Apple resolve the issue? 

In the end our eldest son came to our rescue. We shared screens and after 30 minutes with plenty of new downloading etc the problem was finely resolved. What a relief, that's one less thing to worry about.

Friday 6 November 2020

The Day Before Our Second Lockdown

The end of October was wet and windy - but even so the Autumn colours persevered and hung on. Currently the November weather is glorious with wall to wall sunshine all day long. To make the most of it we packed a picnic and drove across the R. Severn and into the forest of Dean. An ancient forest used by the late Anglo Saxon kings, and after 1066, by the Normans, as their personal hunting ground.

Making our way to the edge of the forest and close to where the English/Welsh border meets, we walked up to what is called Symonds Yat Rock - well known for its far reaching views across the Wye Valley.

In the 18th century a boat tour down the Wye was a fashionable alternative to the European Grand Tour. 
Tourist alighted from their boats below Colwell Rocks (seen top right), now an important nesting site for Peregrine Falcons. The lady's wearing typically long dresses of the day, and the men in suits would then tackle the steep climb up to Symonds Yat Rock "
where a view of great grandeur displayed itself".
The river resembles a giant snake as it loops around the far end of Symonds Yat Rock. However, Its scenic journey now begins to change from pastoral to more residential as It flows through several tiny hamlets and along the side of the romantic remains of Tintern Abbey. 
The rivers long journey from Wales is now almost complete once it arrives in the ancient town of Chepstow. In Chepstow it will join the mighty R. Severn's estuary flowing out into the Bristol Channel and then into the Atlantic Ocean. 

It was a perfect day - not a cloud in sight,

if only every day resembled this, 
but would we still appreciate perfect days such as this, if they were?

The shocking pink berries are those of the Euonymus europaeus - European spindle tree. It inhabits the edges of forests, hedges and slopes, and tends to thrive best on nutrient rich, chalky and salt-poor soils.
P.S Our very late Indian Summer is still here, and long may it continue.

Monday 2 November 2020


In my kitchen I always have a bottle of Worcester Sauce. It is such a useful condiment that enhances the taste of many simple dishes. I sprinkle it on scrambled eggs, cheese on toast and use it to add extra flavour to soups and casserole dishes. A glass of plain tomato juice with a few drops of the sauce gives it much more depth of flavour. 
It is one of the constituents of a Bloody Mary (cocktail) famously invented at Harry's Bar, Paris, during the 1930s, but do you know the sauces background?
The city of Worcester, where it was conceived, is a short drive from where I live. It was produced by two local chemists, John Weeley Lea and William Perrins, who first put it on sale in their shop in 1837. Almost 200 years later, Worcester, is where it is still produced, but the origin of the recipe remains a mystery. The story goes that Lord Sandy, a local aristocrat, who had been Governor of Bengal, visited John and William's chemist shop and asked them to make the sauce from a recipe that he had found in India. The two chemists decided to make an extra couple of bottles for themselves but neither of them liked the concoction and discarded the bottles to their cellar. A couple of years later they rediscovered the bottles, tasted them, and found the sauce to be very tasty and very much to their liking.
Although the ingredients are listed on the bottle, the exact recipe has never been fully revealed, and still remains a closely guarded secret.
Without any advertising the sauce quickly became very popular, and was soon a coveted item in many European kitchens.
In 1839, John Duncan, a New York entrepreneur, ordered a small quantity of the sauce. Within a couple of years he was importing large shipments of it in order to keep up with the demand. Today Lea & Perrins is the oldest commercially bottled condiment in the U.S.A.
Cebollas encurtidas 
Pickled Onions
These pickled onions are a condiment that is used in Mexico and Ecuador. They take no more than five minutes to make and taste delicious. They are the perfect addition to have with your Tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas. But they also make a tasty topping on a Greek or Caesar salad, a curry, a tagine, or added to your chosen filling in a baguette, or sandwich etc.
All you need are two ingredients - a fresh lime and a small red onion.
Slice the onion very thinly, then squeeze all of the lime juice over it, and leave to macerate over night. The onions turn a beautiful shade of cerise and completely loose their acrid bite. Very simple, easy, and tasty.
 Lea & Perrins posters via Wiki