Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Somewhere Cool

We nipped out to see Dan's dad on Sunday, just to check he was managing on his own while his wife is away. The house was sill standing bu he had attempted to cook a ready meal by putting it in the oven, but using the microwave instructions, needless to say, i didn't end well. 

Little Barista in Burnley was the obvious choice for lunch, and for a change it wasn't absolutely packed so we were able to get a seat. The manager even commented it was nice to see me in regular clothing rather than the many layers I usually wear when we go to the football! It was so hot we thought a good place to cool off would be on top of a hill, so we headed up to see the Singing Ringing Tree, one of four Panopticons in East Lancashire. Sadly, the Hollywood style Accrington sign never came into being, I think it would have looked amazing.

the view from the top with Burnley below

The tree is made from steel pipes, when the wind passes through them they produce their special tunes. 

oh look, a football ground!

Atlas Obscura has some more information and great pictures. It's worth adding to the itinerary of your once in a lifetime holiday to Burnley. 

Friday, 25 May 2018

Happy Mundane

There's nothing like a period of good weather to appreciate living here, big blue skies, sea smell, and the ability to escape to my peaceful garden. I've enjoyed this week so much we've cancelled our plans for the Bank Holiday weekend and we're going to stay at home - other than a small visit to see my FIL who is on his own this weekend, he's not recovered enough from his operation to travel to an event so we're going to look in on him.

The week got off to a great start when the rhododendron was finally extracted, chopped up and taken to the tip. 

It left a large hole, luckily we had plenty of old lawn to fill the hole in again. 

A few plants from elsewhere in the garden have slotted into the space, everything looks a bit forlorn at the moment, but if the forecast rain turns up today it will be a great help. Last year I found a couple of shriveled looking things on top of the soil, next to the compost bin, it was generally agreed in the comments here that it was a peony, so I planted it. 

I was prepared to wait for years before seeing a flower, but here it is!

The beach was amazing this week too, the tide was very low so there was plenty of space to wander, although I always head for the old pier. 

As we've cancelled our planned trip out, which was in part to look for clothes, I bought another dress from the charity shop. It turned out the dress I liked had quite a few holes, so I could take it for the cost of a donation as otherwise it would go into rags. 

The seam has come away in a few places around the arms, but wundaweb has done the job. I just love the print.

Home sweet home, and no traffic jams!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Food At Home, Food Elsewhere

We had a mini holiday last week, so we got out and about a bit, on one occasion I even made a picnic, well, I slapped a thick layer of houmous onto a baguette and shoved some salad into a tub - progress. 

I picked up some reduced asparagus, I roasted it and served it with pesto pasta.

I attempted to make sweet potato crisps with the spiraliser. When they worked they were lovely, others remained a soggy mess. 

Stuffed mushrooms with assorted other bits. The mushrooms were stuffed with the chopped mushroom stalks, a shallot and more of the panko.

A tomatoey pizza type thing with garlic mushrooms, peppers, and shallots. Dan made a lot of bread at the weekend. 

Haggis with potato wedges and loads of gravy!

Finally, for the home based food, w had the leftover haggis with some chipotle, stuffed into some field mushrooms with sweet potato and stir fried veg. 

We went to Llandudno on Wednesday, to see the band James, let's say no more about that. It did mean we could go to Barnacles for a falafel kebab! The place had had a bit of a revamp since we were last there and it looked great. I was also pleased to see paper straws in use and there was a nice condiment container on each table with bottles of assorted things, rather than the individual sachets used before. 

On Friday we went to Ambleside, for no reason in particular, just to get out and about. I took the fancy sounding picnic I mentioned earlier, but we went out for a sweet treat at a cafe Dan had heard about, Ghandi Cafe. How pretty is this jug of water?

We shared a pudding, although I don't think we'll share next time! The cafe is vegetarian but everything, or almost everything, has a vegan version too. We went for raspberry and lemon cheesecake with Grasmere gingerbread base. Grasmere gingerbread is the best, so it took about 3 seconds to decide. It was served with vanilla ice cream. 

The cafe is quite small, with seating for maybe 12 people, so we were very happy to grab a table. We decided a small walk to the lake was probably a good idea afterwards. 

A pretty perfect week, other than the two hours we won't speak of again. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

Graphic Content

Spurred on by ripping my last pair of leggings and having to go to the charity shop in a not quite dry dress last week, Dan has insisted on a shopping trip next weekend, so we're off to Hull. In that way having nothing to wear generally just means nothing that goes together, I had a sort out this morning. 

On the way out is a jumper I don't wear often because it's only useful in really cold weather, but takes ages to dry, and a crop cardi that has developed a hole and has started to unravel despite my repair attempts.

Three dresses, I just don't like how I look in them. The red one makes me feel like a small child getting ready for a stuffy birthday party.

The suit and the flowery skirt are too big, the black and white one I only wore last winter when I forced myself into it. 

I know I said we're going shopping at the weekend, but I have already made a start, oddly it was at Tesco, not somewhere I'd normally find myself but there you go. Does my bum look big in this? Yes, my bum IS big, and this skirt is lovely. 

I never thought I'd wear a jumpsuit, but sometimes you just have to do things differently. Plus, when I think of jumpsuits I always get a Nineteen Eighty-Four vibe. If I ever had to dress up for World Book Day I'd go as O'Brien (Richard Burton version obviously).

I also bought this a couple of weeks ago and whenever I wear it people stop me in the street to talk about it. I don't know if it's still available but it's Marimekko at Uniqlo.

I think these three things will get a lot of wear over the next few months, and I'll be back shopping second hand soon.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Pots Of Fun

Almost a year and a half ago the living room window fell out, after no small amount of faff someone came to repair it yesterday. I decided to get out of the way and in to the garden. 

I didn't want to start something big in case the window guys needed me for something, so I chose a mini project that had been on the list for quite a while, I refreshed the pots that live in the pebbled area. They'd just been left to get on with it, so after a couple of years they were looking pretty shabby. 

It ended up being a slightly bigger job than anticipated, I thought I'd just be putting extra grit on top, but it turned out that there was more moss than plant in some cases, and more roots than anything else. I ended up covering the path with quite a pile of waste for the compost bin. 

Plants were untangled, I rescued a couple of tiny pieces of mint and a few chives that were swamped by weeds. The helpful arrows are for chive location!

Dan has been a big help recently, he's been sorting and sifting the former lawn that's just been stacked up at the bottom of the garden for a couple of years, it's broken down beautifully and was great for refilling the pots. 

Speaking of home improvements, does anyone remember the new bathroom that was being fitted a couple of months ago? There's a reason I haven't posted any "after" pictures! 

Monday, 14 May 2018

I Eat A Lot

I pack in so much food, and here are a few things we've been eating in May.

Falafel pie, made from a packet mix sent to us by our friend Em, with avocado, roast veg - I assume they had some kind of flavouring but I can't remember, and some panko coated squash. The breadcrumbs have been in the pantry for months. probably since last year, so it was time to start using them. 

Fried rice with tofu and the rest of the panko squash, which was delicious.

Coconutty curry with the remaining tofu. 

Loads and loads of sandwiches, my favourite being these mushrooms roasted in soy sauce and paprika, delicious hot or cold (if you can face mushrooms, which until a few years ago I could not, and I know a lot of people are the same). 

Mixed beans in jerk sauce with quinoa, which was delicious too, luckily there were leftovers.

At the weekend we visited our favourite street food van twice. We had this delicious black bean, mushroom, cashew and millet burger, with tamarind chutney and all manner of other things. 

We also ventured into new territory by trying some noodles!

All rounded off with ice cream! Dan had malted coconut milk and mine was almond and plum. 

Five tins of carlin peas remain in the pantry. 

eta: apologies for the amount of times I said delicious!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Please Be Seated

On the way home from the charity shop yesterday I passed by a shop I rarely visit, but luckily a few pieces of furniture were on the pavement outside. 

Two very familiar-looking chairs. I got home as quickly as I could, dumped my shopping, and nipped back to buy them. 

They're a match for my dining table and chairs! I knew we'd see some eventually, but I was more than surprised to find them less than a mile from home, at a shop called "Rustic Living"! The owner of the shop was as surprised as me that I'd found a match. 

Thankfully they're not very heavy so I was able to carry them home myself, even if I did get a couple of funny looks!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Freebie And Bargain Of The Week

A real mixed bag this week.

Two pans, with lids £5

Last week a gorgeous set of Stellar pans were donated to the shop, I said to the manager that I could do with a couple of pans, but didn't need the full set so I'd keep an eye out for some. When I went in on Wednesday I was told I could buy this pair for a fiver, as they'd split the set up to sell to some other customers. I was delighted! The small pan hold 1.5l, the large 3.5l, ideal for my needs. 

Lubaina Himid, Inside The Invisible (2002)

Dan went to London on Thursday for something to do with the local elections so I was on my own for a couple of days. Thursday I just went to the charity shop, nothing to report there, but on Friday I decided to go to Preston to see the Lubaina Himid exhibition at Harris Gallery

Avenham Park
I also had a wander around the town and to the park, where I did have the misfortune to see someone remove their clothes, but you can't have it all can you? Hot weather can lead to unusual sights!

When I was at the gallery I happened to get chatting to a member of staff who told me about a free print symposium the following day and that I should get my name on the waiting list, I did and spent all day in a wonderfully temperature controlled room hearing six fantastic artists speak about their work and process. I didn't take any photographs, but just imagine some people standing on a stage talking and you've got the idea. There was also lots of free tea, coffee and biscuits!

Dan collected me after the event and we went to Waitrose for some groceries, he had a voucher for 10% off which was great, while we were there we picked up a free magazine, paper and although we didn't take advantage of the free coffee (I'd had more than enough) we got a till spit for a free bottle of juice, which Dan nipped back in to collect. 

John Stezaker, Untitled (Film Portrait Collage) XXIII (2007)
On Sunday we started to move a massive pile of earth onto the garden, it's what used to be our lawn, which has now broken down into a beautiful compost, a great money saver. We also went to Manchester to The Whitworth (free entry) to see the John Stezaker exhibition. We'd seen some of his work earlier in the year at York Art Gallery and it was great to see more. The works are made of old photographs and postcards put together to make something uncanny and wonderful, see more here.

We decided to treat ourselves to brunch, and when what I wanted wasn't available I upgraded to something else, we'd already paid by this time and although we offered to pay the difference in cost it was declined so I saved £1.50. A busy time, but one full of fun things, and I hardly even mentioned the weather!

Lubaina Himid Hard Times runs until 3rd June at Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, free entry.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Festival Season

You don't have to know me for very long to know how much I am in love with the idea of the Festival Of Britain, including the scepticism of a lot of the British public. I know if it happened now I'd roll my eyes but enjoy it anyway. 

A friend sent this to me, I love it. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Less Shopping, More Spiralising

I'm avoiding the lure of pay day shopping, I don't want or need anything, other than some clogs, so I'm doing somethings slightly more productive - weeding. I've decided to share my mum's view about weeding, to see it as relaxing and as a focused task where the joy is only revealed afterwards. There is, of course, also the blossom to enjoy

and I found a little sign of life dropped into a flower bed yesterday

In similarly useful yet mundane tasks I made some crisps! I am a bit of a snacker but I'd never really thought about making snacks like this before, plus I am sick of having a bin full of crisp packets - most of them not mine, but collected from the front lawn or the beach. I simply spiralised two spuds, using the wide blade, putting the potato onto the spiky thing on the flatter side works best. 

I tossed the would-be snacks in just under 1 tbsp of oil and some chip spice (2 parts paprika, one part garlic granules, one part onion salt) and spread them out onto a baking sheet. I experimented and did half on a tray without parchment paper/silicone mat and half with, my advice would be to use some kind of sheet/ paper/ silicone, it lead to far less sticking and associated scrubbing. 

I cooked them for 7-8 minutes each side at 200C. Delicious!

It's all go around here.