Week of 7 August

The wind whispered through the wheat ears and our shoes crunched on the gravel as Jeremy and I strode out on the Cherhill White Horse walk. This part of Wiltshire has small, undulating fields of differing green and brown hues. A random beam of sunshine turned the wheat golden and gave grassy patches a lemony and limey tinges. At least behind my shades it did! We finished the day at Avebury; expensive car park! I blagged a used ticket off someone leaving as I had no change for the machine! We got to the café in time for scones and tea. Goodo! The girls behind the till looked exhausted. I can only guess they had served hundreds of tea and scones before ours!

A high point this week, haha, was going to the open air roof top spa at Thermae Bath with Shirley and Carole. The weather forecast was dubious. We met in the wet at the Holborne Museum and after looking around and having lunch we moved onto the Spa. With cloudy but dry weather predicted late afternoon we firstly tried out the indoor pool before venturing to the outdoor one. Then blue sky emerged and the sun shone on us for the remainder of our session there. What luck! No cameras allowed so I can’t show you my yummy chocolate brownie in their café. I had a hot chocolate drink too served as a glass of hot milk and a mini jug of melted chocolate on the side. Delish!

Another high point was a trip with Sue, Marion and Judy to Highgrove Gardens – yes the third time this year! We met at Lyndseys , a café in Tetbury, before the tour and I had a chilled millionaire slice. It had beads of condensation on so not fresh obviously! In Highgrove Gardens, the delphiniums were over and had been chopped back but the foliage gave structure to the beds which had varieties of pink flowering plants. Still looking good but June is best, I’ve decided. We ate there after the tour and had a Gardener’s Tea: half a sandwich plus scone with jam and clotted cream. I waddled back to the car!

Well, my MINI and I have been on an adventure this week to the coast starting at Emsworth where I visited my  ‘secret seat ‘ at the end of a road called ‘The Fishermans’, and whilst drinking my take out coffee, a lady joined me there. ‘’ It’s bait to the soul’’ she said. Bait? Must be the fisherman’s wife!! It’s her ‘hidden bench’ and she loves the view too. Then a second woman came down the steps. ‘’I’ve locked my mother in the car’’ she said dramatically ‘’so she can’t wander off’’. She plonked herself down and gazed out as we were. Another in need of feeding her soul…..

Stayed at Langstone overnight and then visited Bosham followed by the stunning mosaics at Bignor Roman Villa.  Here I have a slice of Victoria Sponge taking in the view of the Downs. It was a perfect summer day!  Then on the way home I stopped off at Chawton and popped into Jane Austen’s house.

Such a shame that the Saturday Aqua classes at the Regency Leisure Club have stopped. Most of us on off-peak have cancelled our memberships and going elsewhere. Still Marj, Anne Marie, Chris and I met for a cuppa and natter at the Discovery Centre. I had the first slice of their lemon curd cake with a white icing topping. Very nice!

How do I get on with the oxygen and juicing therapy when I’m away you may be wondering? I’ve found Bioglan Supergreens/Green Boost – dried ingredients to add to spring water as a temporary fix til I get home to juice fresh cauliflower, broccoli and beetroot. And the oxygen concentrator is too bulky to travel so I really hope that deep breathing exercises will help….

 

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Week of 31 July

Ever been to a tea room inside a reclamation yard? We did – Barrs Yard in Hungerford. The outlook from our table was garden salvage – rows of plinths, statues and pots. We had a sense of being in the garden of a stately home…Luckily, Mum didn’t want to purchase anything as most was too big for my car boot and much was bigger than my mother! Honesty cookery school own it but the cakes aren’t made by the students although my Mini Matcha Cake could have been – it was a particularly unspongy sponge! I think my eyes fell in love with the pink icing!

This week, Marion and I had a catchup at the Discovery Centre. We walked round the lake and saw plenty of mallards and coots but none of the less common but more interesting birds – pochards, grebes , etc – they’re either on holiday or miffed that the centre no longer sell duck food. But we were very happy with our huge slices of delicious home made coffee cake…

A high spot this week (haha), Julia and I went to the National Trust’s Vyne property to walk around the platform on the roof looking down over the chimneys as work was being undertaken to renovate the roof. The workmen below us had the hard hats presumably incase a lax visitor drops the contents of their handbag over the edge. I guess a lipstick dropped at height becomes a missile. And of course before leaving we enjoyed a cuppa and I had a scone complete with Rodda, NT jam and a delinquent wasp high on the smell of sugar. I took home a lovely bunch of dahlias fresh from their garden.  Not pilfered by the way…

     

So Shirley, Karen and I met up at the Tollgate Tea Rooms on the A46 towards Bath. It was lovely meeting up for lunch but luckily none of us had soup for our waitress was a dead ringer for the Julie Walters character in ‘Two Soups’! But it was all part of the quaintness of the place! Karen was on her ‘lunch hour’ and with the dire weather it was great to just stay and chat.

It was lovely to see Nina and Chris for coffee this week. It seems like ages since we had a natter. Nina had made some delicious flapjacks. And I got to catchup with Penny at the Christian Aid coffee morning where I was helping out. I was asked if I could help out on the cake stall (of course not!) with Sonya which meant I had first pick of the cakes and purchased a delicious coffee cake to take home. It looked very professionally done and the baker hadn’t skimped on the icing. Nice!

The lemon drizzle traybake (bottom left of the photo was very tasty too) – lots of lemon and lots of drizzle! The coffee morning raised £468! Amazing! The bric-a-crap table did exceptionally well – it was like watching bees round a honey pot. No wonder we raised so much!

You know, Jeremy and I hooked up this week 19 years ago at a curry night; we belonged to a walking/social club. It was 2 Aug 1998. The date would have been my father’s birthday but he had died the year before. I remember wondering if it was prophetic….And did you know, spiritually, the number 2 is of union…

Week of 16 January

We were in Malta this week.  I love the island – the architecture, the quaintness, the ease you can get around, the sea views….  We stayed at Sliema at Hotel Fortina and had a room with a sea view and its own ‘conservatory’.  We pulled back the curtains and there was floor to ceiling glass and 2 rattan chairs.  We had a great view over Valetta.  It was colder than normal for the time of year;  Greece and Italy had snow and the cold weather had reached Malta too. We used the buses to get around and walked a lot including some lovely walks along the coast.

So, coming to the cake eating: at dinner one night I selected the radio active cake!! It was green and very shiny – they must have used a lot of syrup glaze!

Then we ate at a Thai restaurant and had carrot cake!  But my favourite place was Caffé Cordina in Valetta.  I had a Rainbow Cake:  layers of cake covered with white chocolate cream (looked better than it tasted) and Jeremy had a Chocolate Devine: layers of biscuit soaked in coffee liqueur and covered with ganache!

Back home, we did a 6 mile walk on a cold but sunny afternoon starting and finishing at the Discovery Centre in Thatcham.  The lake was frozen over with a few patches of water for the birds to swim  in.  It was striking as the sun set.  We made it before the café closed and shared a piece of homemade Victoria sponge with a jam filling. Always a good choice….

Also this week we said goodbye to Paul Cowen our vicar at St George’s Wash Common who is to be the Chaplain to the Bishop of Oxford.  80 people had afternoon tea in the church hall;  the spread of home made cakes was incredible!  The room was decorated in red and yellow as a nod to Paul’s favourite football team – Watford.