Week of 17 July

What a great week! It started in Matlock, Derbyshire.  Jeremy and I visited Kenneth, Helen and Sarah who were holidaying there.  I can tick 2 places off the bucket list: Haddon Hall (I used to collect porcelain of the same name so the house held some mystery for me).  It’s a delightful Tudor house with many original features and I can tick off the beautiful Trentham Gardens, Stoke which we had passed many times over the years.  Some of the original house remains but it is just that – remains…

Whilst in Derbyshire, we visited Bakewell and looked out for the original Bakewell Pudding.  It actually looked inedible and very un-photogenic and no wonder Mr Kipling covered it with icing and stuck a cherry on top:)

        

A tea shop amongst the shopping village outside the Trentham Garden entrance had a great display of cakes.  We abstained, having had a cooked breakfast and going only for Americanos, but the double decker salted caramel gingerbread cake looked fab!

I met Jenny and Julia in Basingstoke’s Willis Museum and enjoyed a cuppa and slice of lemon drizzle cake before seeing the Angie Lewin exhibition.

One of the nicest days this week was Pauline’s garden party when the sun decided to make an appearance. Mum and I, along with 25 other ladies, enjoyed tea and sandwiches plus scones that even Nadia would  approve of!  No need to cut a perfect scone in half she says just break it apart!  Pauline’s scones were therefore perfect…..

So the week ended today with Lindsey and I going to the Global Retreat south of Oxford at Nuneham Courtney.  We had a day of meditation with a tour of the fabulous Georgian house and extensive grounds which just 3 gardeners keep immaculate.  I’m not a great fan of Indian food but their vegetarian lunch was delicious.  A nice chilled end to a lovely week.

Week of 10 July

Had a great day at Fairford today.  Jeremy and I took chairs and picnic and sat outside the perimeter fence at the end of the runway.  Yes, the cheap seats!  We parked in a sleepy village and walked across the fields, beside the river and through a posh estate built round some lakes.  We had drizzle and low cloud which affected some of the performances.  But my favourites were there – the Red Arrows and also their American counterparts –  the Thunderbirds!   Great flying displays! It was the best position at the end of the runway as the aircraft went directly overhead!  Nice walk too!

Mum and I went on the Jane Austen trail this week and found 3 of the 24 ‘Bookbenches’ travelling to Steventon (her birth place), Overton and Whitchurch.  They are beautifully decorated each by different artists and will be auctioned after the end of August  We had tea in the Gallery in Overton and Mum had coffee cake and mine looks like cheese on toast but it was actually carrot cake.  Disappointing – you need to see before you buy….

     

I was in Thatcham and popped into the Mug and Brew and had a slice of Lucy’s tasty coconut, lime and mango cake.  That’s what a slice of cake should look like….Also this week I helped at the Falkland WI coffee morning and bought Pauline’s (my reiki practitioner)  lemon butterfly cakes with homemade lemon curd. Delicious! I enjoyed one in the afternoon watching the tennis.  It’s been a sporty week (on telly that is) what with the Tour de France too.

Another cake highlight this week was the arty crafty ladies afternoon tea at Esseborne Manor.  Jenny, Judy, Eileen, Gill, Fenisia and me. The food there is superb and I can recommend it highly.  We had our fill on some lovely savouries, scones and pastries.

It would appear that quite a lot of cake got consumed this week……

Week of 3 July

We’ve been to Russia visiting Moscow and St Petersburg this week!  We had a great trip organised by the Russian Tourist Board with just one blip – we arrived in Moscow and our driver wasn’t there to take us onward.  Luckily the couple standing with us in the hour long customs throng were also staying at our hotel – The Best Western Vega – but on a different tour!  So we shared their taxi!  How lucky were we!

It was hot and sultry when we arrived but the Russian weather then became un-seasonally wet and chilly….We saw all the key sites  of Moscow by coach and had walking and metro tours.  The latter is very easy to use actually and artistically fascinating.  I  enjoyed walking in Red Square, the Impressionist collection in the Puskin Museum and I enjoyed sheltering from the rain listening to the high standard of licensed buskers in one of the underpasses. The rain was torrential at one point, so inside the Kremlin we were very glad to get into its cathedrals and armoury with its magnificent collection of valuables which were even more interesting knowing it was torrential rain outside!  There are no drains so the pavements are just running rivers.  Never been so wet!

We took the Sapsan (”high speed”) train to St Petersburg and in the day light we saw the endless forests and waste land punctuated by hamlets of woodern houses of varying levels of dilapidation.  Some hamlets had great mobile masts but not all had street lights nor tarmacked roads.  Even in the sunlight the stations we glided through belonged to towns that looked grim. But then we got to St Petersburg.  We came out of the station and thought we had arrived in Paris!  The BA check-in lady said to us ‘are you going to see the White Nights? – pop group? armoured horsemen? No, she meant the long daylight hours.  And yes we saw the sun still shining at 10pm in St P.

St P looks and feels European.  There are endless roads of beautiful buildings of the early 18th century built by French and Italians for Peter the Great.  The canals add to the attractiveness of the place.  It is magnificent.  The sights are stunning.  In our free time, we walked lots and soaked (different context this time) the place up returning back to our hotel, the Demetra Art Hotel, some 10 hours later….

Included were tours of the Winter Palace and Summer Palace (1 hour drive away)  which if you are familiar with them are sumptuously decorated and not to be missed. We chose to go to the Faberge museum.  Also, we did a canal cruise and we queued to see inside the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood – another amazing interior.  Nearly saw spilled blood in the throng trying to buy tickets to go in…

So to food,  we ate at a range of places.  The hotel buffet in Moscow, a canteen restaurant inside a supermarket with the locals, at a window in a wall where the locals order hot dog which came with a really, really nice cup of coffee – the best I’d had for ages actually. In St P we ate in local family run kebab restaurants, in a Russian Italian chain restaurant and snacked at open air snackeries trying cheese bread (bread with cheese inside) and potato pie (bread with potato inside).  However, there were few opportunities to eat cake.  In the Moscow hotel buffet they served little squares of traybakes for desert.  In the supermarkets there were more biscuits than cake on offer.  But I did spot this selection of special cakes in a supermarket (left) and at breakfast in St P we could choose a little traybake or even scrumptious macarons…. heaven……

    

Week of 26 June

Jeremy is recovering well after wounding his head when he took a tumble on Scafell last week.  I recall that afternoon on our return trip to A’n’E the 3 black cats running out in front of the car; he was lucky, lucky, lucky – it could have been a lot worse…..

We popped into to the Mug and Brew this week and shared a Millionaires Slice.  All the cakes look lovely there but a traybake is easier to cut into 2 portions!  I went shopping (unsuccessfully) for a new soft fabric cap for Jeremy to protect his head, but driving home spotted a cap in the middle of the road!!  I pulled over and waited.  No one collected it so I took it home and washed it -it has been really useful! .Here he is looking very pensive…and suffering with his bruised back…

                                 

While I was in Newbury I had a coffee and raspberry macaron at Paul’s.  Lush!  I recall attending a mastercass last year in making macarons with Gill and Pam and chose raspberry with raspberry filling.  I think they do look quite professional…

On the subject of macarons, we had our St George’s ladies do Esseborne lunch this week.  It is always delicious and they too make very nice macarons which get served with coffee at the end of the meal.  They got consumed too quickly to get a photo…Looking forward to afternoon tea there next month….

On the subject of afternoon tea, I had a cream tea to complete my tour of Highgrove Gardens.  Yes, again!  I got the only ticket left in June as I really wanted to see Charles’ National Collection of Delphiniums .  They were fabulous – some 7 foot tall and quite a girth to them too.  The secret has got to be in the compost. It was splendid to see the garden at this time of year.  Looking forward to going again….  No cameras permitted.

Mum and I had a cuppa at the Hillier Garden Centre today and shared a tasty slice of raspberry and lavender loaf.  She had the fit of giggles as I took this one so a nice one to finish the week on!

 

Week of 19 June

Well a week of ups and downs!  The temperature for one: 30 to 14 degrees (a windy Windermere yesterday)!  Also, Jeremy went off walking the Lakeland fells to recharge his batteries, so lots of ups and downs there too and unfortunately on his last fell of the week – fell…so we had an unexpected tour passing the Sellafield plant to Whitehaven A & E.  He had his wound glued together and some strips applied plus his hand was xrayed and found to be OK.  Bizarrely, 3 black cats ran out in front of our car on the  journey from Greendale to Whitehaven and back and even Jeremy thought that was an omen…

Here he is, the following day at the Ravensglass miniature railway café – you might just be able to see the strips on his head.  We shared a lush lemon meringue pie before heading off on a leisurely ride to Boot where we lunched.  Lakeland Lamb Henry – delicious! We stayed in a cottage in a remote part of West Cumbria close to the beautiful Wastwater.  I stayed for 3 nights having got the train mid-week and thoroughly enjoyed the ride from Lancaster. Some beautiful scenery.  It sparked the idea of a Favourite Journeys page.

                   

Earlier in the week I had a blood test at Basingstoke Hospital and so I had a slice of Lemon and Poppy Seed cake in the Blue Café. Very nice! Then there was the lush Victoria Sandwich at The Saddlebacks Farm Shop with lovely views over the fields but a swarm of little black insects attached themselves and it wasn’t such a pleasant place after all….Then today Marion, Judy and I went to the West Woodhay Garden Fair and I had a slice of cherry filled Victoria Sandwich. Scrummy…..

Hopefully there is less drama next week….

Week of 12 June

This week started in the New Forest at Milford on Sea.  We had a blusteringly blustery time! We stayed at the Beach House Hotel which we knew previously as Westover Hall.  It’s an Arts and Crafts House with magnificent pre-Raphaelite stained glass with views of The Needles. (Even on TV in our room we could gaze at the flashing lighthouse and crashing seas!) We fought the wind along the fast disappearing and still crumbling away coast path to Barton on Sea where we stopped at a caff for a cuppa to refresh ourselves.  The flapjacks were minute and disappeared in 2 bites….too quickly to photograph….

On the return we walked along the shingle beach across prohibited areas prone to land slides….  Jeremy forged ahead and I stumbled along behind trying to avoid getting my feet licked by the sea on the narrow parts and keeping one eye on any potential land fall…..It was hard work on the legs but dessert made up for it. We had  a fab sharing chocolate fondue for dessert at dinner….

Next day,  we got blown along the coast path from Milford to Lymington which meandered through a lovely nature reserve where we spotted many species including humanoids with large dogs and lens.  Or was it the other way round…We watched to ferry to the IOW which I recall getting many years ago.  I recall thinking at the time that one day I would like to walk along the footpath through the marshes.  So I am even ticking off things that I had forgotten I wanted to do…

 

I met with Marion and Judy at The Pineapple Palace and we had some delicious chocolate and orange cake sat out beside the river complete with hissing swan and cygnet. Then at a NGS afternoon with Mum at Dunsborough House, I had a slice of coffee cake.  Someone had put a lot of effort in decorating the top.  All in aid of charity.

  

Mum and I got a private tour at Dunsborough House as their website had advertised the cornflower and poppy meadow.  However, it was out of bounds to the public (I agree – why advertise it?) So I asked a gardener if we could see it as cornflowers are my mother’s favourite flower. So Jose obliged and walked us through the private area of the gardens but said the meadow wasn’t as good this year due to the earlier dry season we had.  Apparently, the cornflowers in his own garden on site are much bigger – thought it best not ask to go round his house…

On the craft side I have joined a team knitting a map of Newbury.  Yes you read that right!  We are starting with small beige squares for the background and later we add knitted landmarks.  No, I don’t expect our house will be on it!

And I have signed up for anther online Future Learn course on Mental Health.  Going to hypnotherapy has sparked my interest in the mind/brain. This has been the most interesting one so far as the comments show such a diverse group of people studying together.

Oh and the total for Christian Aid in Wash Common is £2.000.69 (which includes the gift aid element of those gift aided donations) .  Not bad for just 15 collectors…..

Week of 5 June

This week started on the Isle of Wight! Julia and I wanted to see Osborne House and grounds – Queen Victoria’s estate.

We spent a few hours there exploring, reviving ourselves with tea in the garden, (no, the lady behind has not collapsed…..) before heading to our hotel, the devine Albert Cottage Hotel which was once a royal residence.  We supped on delicious blanc-de-blanc and dined on fine food, walking it off along the prom at Cowes the following day until the wind was too much and we turned tail.  We visited Whippingham and Victoria’s finely decorated church and can recommend the Folly Inn too, situated on the River there.  The rain arrived as predicted as we drove up to the Brading Roman Villa and we dived in doors to look at the well preserved mosaic flooring and enjoyed the homemade cake and scones!

I’m posting this from Sandbanks Hotel as the last couple of days have been spent in Dorset.  It is a strong on-shore wind and the grey sky has kept the tourists off the beach…I spent the last 2 nights with Sue in her new holiday home at Burton Bradstock, a sleepy town near the coast at Hive Beach where the National Trust have a wonderful café.  Another windy spot….We explored Bridport and in West Bay we identified key Broadchurch (the ITV drama) locations; we stopped there for tea and Dorset Apple Cake at Sladers Yard an interesting art gallery, returning to West Bay to have  dinner at the infamous fish restaurant – Riverside.

             

The second day we spent in Abbotsbury at the 600 year old swannery (more Dorset Apple Cake) and the tropical gardens.  Both were thoroughly enjoyable and we whiled away a few hours at both. On the way to Sandbanks I stopped off at Monkey World to see the orang-utans – just incase I don’t get to Borneo….One of the babes was so cute and spent a lot of time doing roly pollies on the grass but then I noticed some juveniles using rolling techniques to descend from the top of their structure.  I took it to be an innate movement…

This week I got my hair analysis results from Freddie the White Witch detailing my food allergies and the food types my body craves.  What was interesting was the hair she requested from the back of my head above my neck was new growth this year, (it fell out from there if you recall) yet the results revealed I should eat more fruit, peppers and live yoghurt (which I have been this year but I didn’t historically).  Umm.  The foods to avoid were all additives and preservatives (found in processed foods I would have eaten once) plus white bread and rice which I’ve not eaten for ages…..Off to eat some yoghurt and fruit…..

Week of 29 May

Holiday over! Back to work on Project All Clear! Back to the Oxygen Therapy and I started the Juicing Therapy this week using the Silvercrest Slow Juicer that Which recommend.  I have been juicing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, apples, ginger, brussels and beets and its great – no bits, pure juice.  So the idea is I juice on a regular basis throughout the day – when I’m home that is……  The therapy, if you follow it to the letter, suggests juicing (and drinking) on the hour every hour to flood the body with the essential nutrients.  I have created a new page on the Juicing Therapy under Wellbeing and Complementary Therapies with the anti-cancer recipe from Jason Vale the Juice Master!

A highlight this week was a trip to London. Jeremy and I had to go to apply for our Russian Visas at an office near the Barbican.  It wasn’t as time consuming as we anticipated probably because we had all the paperwork completed correctly!  We had time to take in Trafalgar Square, walk down the Mall and back through St James’ Park, have a late lunch in St Martin’s Crypt and then head home as he was due on a night shift.  An errand that turned out to be a nice day!

In spite of all the cruciferous vegetables I am consuming, I had some treats this week and consumed some delicious cake. Mum and I went to the Tea Cosy and I had a slice of their chocolate cake.  Yum! The Tea Cosy really is the best place for delicious cake.  Then Penny and I met up at Mocha Choc where we indulged in large slices of Sylvana’s Orange and Almond (gluten free as well)!  They will be sadly missed when they leave for Gibralter.

                

I also met Shirley this week for a catchup in Hungerford  for coffee and cake at Eden’s Baking.  It’s run by a lovely young man and Shirley had a slice of his chocolate cake and I had an orange cake. Scrummy!  And we still had room for lunch too (after our walk along the canal that is)….

The Christian Aid week donations are still coming in and the counting continues – just 4 more red bags to get back from volunteers and I’ll be able to give you a total for Wash Common…..

 

Week of 22 May

Jeremy and I went to Corsica and Sardinia this week.  It was fab, fab, fab!  We started in Sardinia having flown into Olbia, an attractive town, where we stayed for 3 nights.  One day we travelled out to the beautiful Costa Smeralda, a beautiful coastline with hidden coves of turquoise water.  We stopped at costal tourist towns with marinas, designer shops, cafes and bars.  We ventured further another day to Alghero, a picturesque fishing port with its cobbled narrow streets again full of bars, cafes and this time coral shops. Here in the north of Sardinia, the arid landscape is untamed and sparsely inhabited made up of granite outcrops and wild grasses.  Some vines, olive groves and animals were spotted though.  The supermarkets had a great choice of breads, meats and cheeses predominately locally produced.  (No cake got consumed here in Sardinia but we did enjoy the Italian gelato…..)

Then we crossed a sparkling royal blue Med Sea to Bonifacio, Corsica with its Haute Ville perched on the cliffs.  After exploring we went on further to the capital Ajaccio where we stayed for 4 nights. This island appears greener as trees grow on the granite outcrops giving it a more lush and less arid look.   As we travelled it seemed more inhabited yet we still saw deserted beaches and inviting coves of turquoise sea.   No cake got consumed here either but on a half board basis we didn’t go hungry……

It was a lovely week and so nice to combine both Islands which are very similar geographically and historically but have differences to each other and to their respective motherlands…

Week of 15 May

I write this whilst being attached to my new oxygen concentrator! This week, rather spookily, I was sent this link to an article in the Daily Mail (you know you love the Daily Mail…).  It’s about someone in a similar situation and she too is on an oxygen and juicing therapy. My masticating juicer arrived this week too and I will tell you more in a later post.  I agree the positive mental attitude is very important though I prefer to continue with my 80% plant based diet rather than go vegan like her….

http://dailym.ai/2rgSZwM

And then there was the BBC2 programme on Wednesday night this week: A Time to Live. Very moving! There’s a frequently used quote by American writer and civil right activist Maya Angelou, ‘’My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.’’ Very topical!

So I have started the oxygen therapy this week (see new page on Wellbeing, Complementary Therapies). I am using my concentrator for 30-60 minutes a day and have already noticed that I have more energy than normal. Everyone should have one…Though that was not the reason why I purchased it. On the subject of energy – hate to think what the leccie bill will be like next time round….Hayho!

              

So to the matter of cake: this week I went out with Marion, Lindsay, Judy and Janet and we had afternoon tea at Waddesdon Manor – Rothchild’s gaff. Shame about the rain as it bucketed all day and so we didn’t see the cerise tulips in the parterre garden close to but only from an upper window. The garden still looked exquisite as was the afternoon tea. It comprises a savoury plate and then a tier of sweet fancies. A visit to Waddesdon is not complete without a purchase from the wine shop….

Mum and I had coffee and cake at the Yew Tree garden centre, before going house to house for Christian Aid.  Here’s Mum with a slice of lemon cake. This is Christian Aid week though I’ve seen little advertising to say so.  I’ll let you know our total in a later post.