Monday, 30 May 2016

Black Dogs and Dazzle Ships



I'm not into comic books really so I was a little surprised to find out that Dan was taking me to Kendal to see something to do with The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival. Comic artist Dave McKean (who I confess I'd never heard of until Saturday, but it turns out I have seen some of his work before, such as Coraline by Neil Gaiman) has produced a comic book for 14-18 NOW on the subject of  the artist Paul Nash. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a bit will have heard me talk about Paul Nash before here, when we went to Atkinson in Southport, and at The Whitworth in Manchester the day I fell down the stairs at the train station.

The most well known piece from 14-18 NOW is something I'm pretty confident most, if not everyone, has seen in pictures if not in the flesh - Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red aka the poppies at the Tower of London and now on tour. If you've been to Liverpool recently you'll almost certainly have seen Sir Peter Blake's Everybody Razzle Dazzle, the Dazzle Ferry too.The purpose of these artworks is to offer us a new way to explore and be connected to World War I, a century on. There are plenty of events this year in various locations around Britain, and of course for the next two years. 

It was a video and music performance which made for a very intense and emotional hour, there was the a short Q&A with the artist and then a chance to buy a limited edition of the work before the official release of the graphic novel in October. I was blown away by the artwork and how it discussed the issues of mental health and in particular PTSD, it gave me another insight into an artist I love and a peek at an artist I hadn't considered before.

For anyone interested there's a major Paul Nash exhibition at Tate Britain from October 2016, if you're not interested in that then I can offer you the chance to stay at my house one weekend looking after the buns so I can go to see it instead! 

Sunday, 29 May 2016

A Nice Cup Of Tea



We had a little stroll to the beach this morning, on days like this it makes sense to ditch the car and head out on foot if we're heading out at all. It's a gorgeous day which means people! We had a couple of things to buy and it felt like yonks since we'd been to the beach together so we headed off. Another reason for the walk was to investigate a new to us tea shop. I have heard of this place before and it seems very popular, but we'd never been until someone informed Dan that they served suitable for vegan (sfv) treats. So it seemed sensible to check for ourselves. 

Alice's Tea Room is a little bit off the usual streets if you're in the centre of St Anne's but it's still only a short walk from the train station, on St Alban's Rd. Even though we were out quite early it was nice to get away from the crowds, it's going to be a busy on on the beach today. 


Inside it is small but packed with cute things all on the Alice In Wonderland theme.



The cafe has been extended and there's a small outdoor area too, under an awning so there's protection from the sun. What more could you want?



Well, for a start, the tea is made using tea leaves, not a bag, which gets a nice big thumbs up from me. Soya milk is always available and everything comes in very nice mis-matched china, and in a proper nice old type cup, not a mug. AND there's root beer *hooray*! All very lovely. There are many exciting looking cakes, but the sfv choices today were a chocolate brownie or raspberry and vanilla cake. We both went for the cake, an excellent choice. 


To tempt you further, next door is the nice-looking Pipan At Home which sells all manner of cute and jaunty things for the home, it's not open on Sundays so we'll just have to make another journey to Alice's to have a look around there too! 


Friday, 27 May 2016

May Round Up

This month has been a big one for us, we haven't boosted the savings as much as we would have liked but we spent a lot on our day at CentreParcs, and there were quite a few gifts to buy - although I was able to save money on postage as I saw someone who could deliver two gifts on our behalf. The main progress we've made is with the grocery budget. 

A couple of months ago Dan suggested we increase the grocery budget as things were getting a little tight. For the last two months I've had to use the grocery budget to ease the budget in other areas and we've been really impressed with how much we've been able to stretch things without any pain. In fact, things have felt far more luxurious.   Since March these are the things we've started to make instead of buy.

salads and dressings of all kinds, houmous, baba ganoush, tapenade, falafel, bread, pitta, breadsticks, torillas/wraps, flat breads, potato cakes. Munchy bits like roasted seeds, dukkah, dips, popcorn, treats such as scones, cakes and biscuits. More meal based things like roast aubergine (bit of a failure), bean burgers and sweetcorn fritters (a new favourite based on the very nice ones from M&S). I've also made more soups and smoothies, I have these for lunch and breakfast most days.

There are a lot of these things we like but didn't buy very often as they were a bit more expensive, now they are affordable and in the main are made with things we have in the pantry all the time. There's also very little waste, and what waste there is goes into the compost bin. This week we've eaten the first few bits of veg from the garden - radishes and spring onions, there are good signs of life with other things we've planted too. Father dropped off some raspberry canes this week so there may even be a little bit of fruit later in the year. The ship is turning around and things are changing and becoming clearer. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Calm


I did indeed make down for a nosey at the beach huts. Good timing too as it started raining not long after I got home. None of the huts were open so I have no pictures of the interiors.

Dan is having a seven year itch at work and his desire to move towards a different career is getting stronger. It will almost certainly mean a huge pay decrease, but he is starting to look seriously, rather than the half-hearted searches he's been doing for the past year or so. He has also landed an interview to join the scrutiny board of something or other, so we shall see about that.  

The itch to move to living as he really wants intensified when we found out a very dear friend has cancer, she has three sessions of chemo left, poor lass. We would both like to visit her when she can deal with it, but she lives overseas so I think Dan may have to go on his own. 

For my part, I'm thrashing around trying to work out what I want to do, I feel something, but what that something is I don't yet know! For this weekend it will be perfecting pizza bases. 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

All The Silver Linings

Spurred on by the baba ganoush success we tried roast aubergine the other night. For me it will be the first and only time, Dan liked it a lot and took what I didn't eat for lunch the following day. 

I think my window dressing duties have been taken from me, I was asked to "help" so I did but all my suggestions were declined. So that was a short lived pleasure, one less thing to have to think about though. 

Some five years after everyone else read it I finally got round to reading 


I think I didn't read it at the time as I was just so fed up with everyone telling me I should read it. When I saw it at the charity shop I nearly didn't buy it and considered checking to see if the library had it instead but then I thought "give some money to charity you tightwad" and splashed out a full pound. I'm glad I did as she is spot on with everything so far, I think it helps that we are the same age and (seemingly) from a not dissimilar background. 

I left my milk bottle at the shop yesterday so I have to venture out for it today, it all adds to the amount of weekly activity, and it's another nice day so I can wander along to have a look at the new beach huts.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Freebie And Bargain of the Week


I can't remember if I mentioned it, but we went to CentreParcs last week, just for the day. My parents and brother plus family were on holiday there and there was a significant birthday to celebrate, so we went up for the party. Yes, I think I did mention it as we were arranging the cake, which was delicious and very, very pink!

Poor old Dan was exhausted he drove there and back of course, but then had hardly a minute to himself with the two older children, there were lots of races, piggybacks and playing football. Still, it's nice to be liked. I spent quite a lot of time exploring and chatting with the toddler, and played with the baby. 

Anyway, my mum and other brother came bearing gifts! Firstly, Easter eggs, yes it's that long since we've seen everyone. Secondly four home magazines - my mum loves a magazine! My brother passed the book Chavs onto us too. It was mainly for Dan but I'm reading it at the minute. 

The giant couscous was the bargain of the week, 23p a bag from the bargain shelf at the supermarket. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Purple Peril

I've never had much success with aubergine. I've eaten it in restaurants a few times with varying degrees of enjoyment but I've never really done anything exciting with it in my own kitchen. We went to Lancaster on Saturday and when we were walking through the street market we had a look on the fruit and veg stall. BARGAINS GALORE! I was restrained as we didn't need very much but I did buy a nice looking squash for 80p and three aubergines for £1. 

I decided to make baba ganoush. I'd never eaten it before so I could class it as new food of the week. I used this recipe from Aine Carlin (also reproduced in the book Keep It Vegan). I got cold feet part way through, when I scraped the flesh into a bowl, it all looked a bit too much like bits of fish so I cheated and stuck it all in the food processor rather than mashing by hand s I didn't have to look at it. 


For a nice looking picture see the link above, I haven't drizzled with oil or anything, it's just a bowl of smoky gloop. Despite my initial doubts it's actually delicious! Full of flavour and the texture is very pleasant.


A nice lunch, home made houmous (the larger and lighter of the two gloop piles), the aubergine next to it, a bit of salad and a Dan-made pitta!

The holiday is over today, Dan has just cycled off into the distance and I have a nice long to-do list, happy times. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Small Outdoors


I've mentioned before that I/we haven't done much in the garden this year, with having the roof done we didn't want to sow anything in case the scaffolding caused any damage, and I'm glad we made that decision as the poles were all over the veg bed. 

Yesterday was the first time we went out to face the mess. And it was a mess, but there was also some good news. Flowers I thought I'd never see had started to appear, we've had this white dicentra for a couple of years and it has never flowered, I thought it had died, but here it is! It is in the area of the garden where I did quite a bit of cutting back last year so maybe that extra bit of light and space has done the trick. It looks beautiful anyway and I'm very happy. 


We spent the rest of the time sorting out the veg bed, as you can see it was rather weedy! It was lovely to spend a bit of quiet time in the sun just doing something small but worthwhile.


There's still a long way to go, but now that job is out of the way it all seems positive, rather than just making amends for something we didn't do. We also stuck some seeds into the ground - mooli, squash, pak choi, beetroot and sunflowers. We have some pots to fill so we'll investigate them sometime next week. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Just One More Thing...


It seemed a bit daft to pass up this necklace when I saw it in a charity shop this week, it rounds off my grey, black and orange wardrobe perfectly!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Not Just Buses


I tend to describe Preston as the worst city in England, but it is nearby so I'm attempting to embrace it a bit more and venture further than the beautiful bus station. Plus we wanted a nut roast. 

It was a gorgeous day so we set off with a vague idea to get some brunch (we're still on holiday) and take another look at Nothing Happens, Twice at Harris Art Gallery. After a small amount of tweeting around someone told us they would supply brunch so we dropped in to Ravenous on Cannon Street which was a great success then to the gallery then for a stroll around Avenham Park which is only a couple of minutes from the train station and main shopping area, but feels like another place. 



Couldn't see a thing when I took these, so I'm happy with the way they turned out! the building in the background used to be a hotel but is now a local authority building. 

The park leads to the river, which is great for a walk and it forms part of the 21 mile route of the Guild Wheel


 We crossed the river via a footbridge that looked very much as though it was an old train/tram line then crossed back further down back through another area of the park and past some beautiful buildings, sad to see some of them were empty or underutilised as they were clearly once very grand. 


It turns out there's a whole area of gorgeousness just a stride from the centre of the town. 

the former school of art
We have had a look at the map and there are some nice walks and more days out to be had here. And we managed to get hold of our nut roast too!





Monday, 9 May 2016

Third Time Lucky



I really wanted baked beans for brunch, so I used a tin of butter beans instead of haricot. They were just the ticket, there's no sugar added in the recipe I used which was just what I was after (we also like our beans thick and claggy! More water would make a smoother sauce). Dan made some tofu scramble (another first) and we ate it with some nice malted bread Dan baked yesterday. Delicious. 

Both recipes are from Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin. 

Holiday Bed

our walk home from Lytham on Saturday

When I woke up this morning it really felt like I was on holiday. The room was warm, the bed was fresh and comfortable and I was so relaxed (even though I hadn't slept particularly well). 

That is pretty much where the holiday feeling ended. 

I came downstairs to discover Big Grey had been digging in the litter tray so the room was stinky to say the least.

We went out for brunch when we were in Liverpool and I had some amazing home made baked beans, so I wanted to make some myself. I tried the first batch last night, the sauce was ideal but the beans were cracky and not soft at all. Not to be put off, as I would have been in the past, I soaked more beans overnight and simmered them this morning ready to make another batch for brunch today. Same problem. So it has all gone into the bin, not impressed*.  

I have to spend the morning posting parcels, collecting parcels, buying birthday cards, trying to find decorative things to stick into a cake, not eating home made baked beans, and lots of other little things that take up time but have no real positive impact on anyone's life. And I have to return a book to the library


I saw this on the "new books" stand a few weeks ago and decided to give it a go. I confess I haven't read it all, but have soldiered through most of it. I understand the premise, I understand why it is as it is, but I just can't get on with it at all. If I wanted to hear about blokes** complaining about their boring lives I'd just talk to my mates, I don't need to read about it. I think book reviewer is another to add to my list of careers I'm not suited to

Hmm, looking at this whinge I'm starting to think maybe it's me that's in the wrong not everything else in the entire world. Who'd have thought! Time for another cup of tea and to restart the day. 

* I've soaked and cooked beans dozens of times with success so this is a new one. 
**or anyone else

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A Day Out In Sheffield


We had decided ages ago that yesterday would be the day to go to Sheffield, so Dan made a picnic, we got into the car and set off. Nearly three hours later we arrived. In Sunderland. 

We had very briefly been to Sunderland before, but we only saw the beach and The Stadium of Light, I have to confess until that day I didn't even know Sunderland was near the sea. But it is and it's lovely!

A beautiful day, but very hazy. Towards Roker, from Seaburn
We started off at The National Glass Centre which is part of the University of Sunderland. We didn't really know what to expect but we both really enjoyed it. It's a small venue, right on the river but with some really nice exhibitions. I particularly enjoyed the history section (which is most unlike me) because I found out all about Pyrex, which was made in Sunderland, another thing I did not know. 

The Winter Gardens
We wandered into the centre for a nosey around the Winter Gardens, Mowbray Park and then to the little bonus boost of the trip the Civic Centre (designed by Sir Basil Spence, Bonnington & Collins, 1968). Needless to say that was one of the best things we saw all day. 

points everywhere!

I say one of the best things because even though we took a picnic we did leave space for cake, and we found cake at The Good Apple Cafe on Derwent Street. I can't praise this little place highly enough, well worth a visit if you're in the area. It is a vegetarian cafe, but when we visited all the cakes were suitable for vegans.


I had a nice cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake, Dan went for a carrot cake muffin.


It's a small place, with only 7 tables but it packs a lot in (including Mackie's haggis and cracked pepper crisps)! I was pleased to see that they also offer a suspended coffee service, which meant we could pay an extra £2 and if someone in need of a warm drink came in they could have one for no cost, at the end of each month if there is money in the kitty left over then it is donated to a local group to help people directly which is great. 

We have also have come away with a courgette & lime cupcake and a peanut butter blondie. Well, Sunderland to St Anne's is a pretty long drive!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Non-Stop Shop

Jo and Marlene, I will be posting your fabric tomorrow, Angela, if you read this I still have your Noah's Ark should you wish to forward an address to me. 

After discovering my fondness for orange clothing the other day, guess what I spotted in the charity shop yesterday? That is correct, for the sum of £1.99 I picked up another orangey top. This one is from Great Plains, which made me think £1.99 was a bit on the inexpensive side but what do I know?


The shopping didn't stop there. We went to Freeport to stock up on nuts and seeds and while we were there I decided to nip into The Works. I've started have smoothies for breakfast and we thought we might be able to find a book with some good recipes.



We did indeed find one and I was over the moon to find the latest Aine Carlin book in there too for £5! Along with recipes for food this also has a section on homemade beauty products too, fantastic! After a quick flick through the recipes in this book look right up our street so the menu plan may be getting a bit of a jiggle.

The purse is away for a while now. 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Wardrobe Revamp

What I have learned today -

1. I really like coral/ orange.

2. I don't buy tops very often, but when I do they come from Oasis. 

3. These photographs are really bad, like pre-digital photos where you always managed to chop someone's head off!

As I mentioned last week I did some clothes shopping. This is what I have sorted out for this inbetweeny weather from what I now have. 


The new tops are the white t-shirt, and the two black tops on the right hand side.  The plain black one is kind of shiny and is a "formal t-shirt" apparently. 


Woolies and stuff, I do have another black jumper but it must be in the laundry basket (it is also from Oasis!). Confession, the mustard cardi is 5% wool, but I've had it since my pre-vegan days. The black jumper is a polo neck, I bought it about 10 years ago and it's like new, I love it.


 Frocks! I've just washed them so they're a bit crumpled. 


Skirts and leg coverings. 


Accessories.


More accessories, featuring my Twin Peaks inspired things (the cherry pie brooch on my cardi is also a Twin Peaks one).


My bag and old lady purse.

Oh, I didn't do any shoes. I'm not putting shoes on my bed. At the minute I'm pretty much exclusively wearing my croc wellies, you can see them here.

Bank Holiday Fun

I must first say a hearty thank you to Jo from a whole plot of love for nominating me for a Liebster Award. It's really nice to know someone is reading and I really appreciate and enjoy reading all your comments. It's quite funny really isn't it how some of us enjoy poking around in someone's cupboards or looking at what they've bought from the charity shop. 

Here are the questions Jo left for me and the others - 

1. Favourite season?
Probably Autumn
2. Do you eat breakfast?
Almost every day, sometimes I like to have two breakfasts
3. Starter or pudding?
Hmmm, starter
4. Favourite childhood author?
Before age 12 probably Roald Dahl, after age 12 George Orwell (we read Animal Farm at the start of my second year of secondary school and it changed my thinking forever)
5. Seaside or countryside?
Seaside! I love the fact that the countryside exists but I don't really want to spend any time in it
6. Favourite beverage?
Nice cold water
7. Do you have a pet?
I have two pets, one white and brown English, and one grey German lop rabbit
8. Favourite way to serve vegetables?
In tempura batter
9. Do you grow your own?
I try!
10. Dark, milk or white chocolate?
Dark

Having said all that, I have been looking around and I think everyone I would nominate either has an award already or has made it clear that they do not wish to participate in blog awards. A forum I used to spend a lot of time on used to do a Friday Five and I always enjoyed that, so I open these questions out to anyone who may wish to answer them, either in a comment here or on their own blog. I know, that's a rubbish way out isn't it. 

Here are my questions, just for fun - 

1. If you had another superpower what would it be?
2. And what would be your superhero weapon?
3. Have you ever danced around a maypole?
4. Would you rather be out in the cold or in the rain?
5. What can you see if you look to your left now?
6. Have you ever taken anything from a skip?
7. Can you skip (with a rope)?
8. Have you ever been on a pogo stick?
9. Have you ever eaten Ikea meatballs?
10. If I gave you £5 (or equivalent) to spend on yourself, what would you buy?

Enjoy today whatever you do, I am going to Turf Moor to watch Burnley v QPR.