An overdue update…

Hi everyone –  I know I have been away from my blog for far too long – this Summer has been really action packed and after our main holiday in Scotland, my birthday (and a wedding anniversary), a few weekends away and all that unexpected hot weather life here is gradually getting back to normal and I feel I am now able to devote some time to blogging again and here is a quick update.
For most of the time our finances have been up to date and by that I mean bills paid, statements balanced and any outstanding matters attended to (well almost as I believe my to do list is increasing again) I will confess that I have overspent in the grocery shopping and have not been as rigorous as I started out at the beginning of the year, (one or two extra magazines have also found their way into my trolley); the garden has had a good going over in respect of weeding, feeding and watering and inside I continue to examine every drawer and cupboard and justify the contents to myself or else out it goes to spend a new life elsewhere.
During the hot weather I had a mad hand washing day of all my daughters clothes that she had not got around to doing.  These have now been pressed and taken back to her own house – so yet another free drawer and Laundry room – I am just loving the space I am creating all around me.
The house is in desperate need of decorating but it is much easier to look after at the moment as most things have been allocated a place and a quick whip round usually gets each room back into a reasonable state.  Asking friends around on the spur of the moment is not a daunting prospect now and this is exactly what I did to celebrate my birthday.
Over the Bank holiday weekend we went to stay with my mum who lives in Yarm near Middlesborough and we had a great day out on the Saturday at Eggleston Hall near Barnard Castle.  The house isn’t open to the public but there are some well kept gardens and a plant Nursery with good quality plants for sale.  The old church is now a ruin and forms part of the garden trail.

Churchyard Eggleston Hall

There are many graves dating back to the 1600’s with some very young occupants…

Gravestone Eggleston Hall

Some of the graves stones form a little path which winds through the ruined church.  It is a very tranquil place and slightly overgrown like a Secret Garden.
Continuing along winding paths in the gardens and through many archways we eventually came to the Kitchen Gardens and Nursery…

Rudbekia

where we spent a long time admiring the beautiful late summer colours.  I especially like the Rudbekias and the vibrant Montbretia.

Montbretia

This is a shot of the little stream flowing down through the Kitchen Gardens – the Candleabra Primulas that cover either side of the stream bank are now over but it must have looked quite spectacular when they were in bloom.

Eggleston Hall

This is very much a productive garden and it is no surprise to discover the white painted Beehives in one section of this Walled Garden…

Beehives Eggleston Hall

The vegetables are grown decoratively in boxes laid in gravel with espalier trained apple trees forming a low hedge around the edge.

Kitchen Garden Eggleston Hall

On the Sunday we had a drive over to Saltburn and had a stroll along the busy pier.

Saltburn Pier August Bank Holiday Weekend

Along the hand rail at one side there had been an explosion of Yarn Bombing…with delightful shrimps…

Yarn Bombing Saltburn Pier 3

…a keen sunbather…

Yarn Bombing Saltburn Peir

…and a very pink Octopus.

Yarn Bombing Saltburn Pier 2

We lunched at the wonderful Real Meals Deli where the food is freshly prepared and you can design your own lunch from almost anything they have on the menu.  I decided on a ploughmans with some local cheeses, homemade organic bread and pickle.  Afterwards we had a quick walk around the town discovering a few new shops tucked away that we hadn’t come across before.
Last weekend we were at home and I organised a ‘Detox’ weekend.  Only fruit, vegetables, brown rice, pulses and beans, nuts and eggs were consumed with a small amount of Goats and Sheep’s cheese.   This was not about fasting but rather cutting out any unhealthy foods; cakes, biscuits, crisps, fats and processed foods and increasing the healthy ones.   I also bought some digestive aids – supplements and herbs – as I really need to get my sluggish digestion working better and from past experience this is the best way as I find I am often eating too much wheat and cows milk products which I feel don’t really suit me.  I also need to get back to losing a little weight – it has crept up a few pounds over the summer and although I don’t feel I have been eating anymore than usual I have been doing less exercise.  Of course not having a Thyroid gland at all and being totally reliant on the medication Thyroxin doesn’t help as taking too much or too little disrupts the metabolic rate and weight gain and a sluggish digestive tract can be a side effect of this.
Before we began I searched through all my healthy eating books and photocopied any recipes that I liked the sound of.  I then made up a folder and tried out a number of the recipes.  My favourite new dish was some Watercress and Baby Leek Soup and the Quinoa and Bulgar Wheat stuffed Beef Tomatoes accompanied by a large green salad.    I will post the recipes later for anyone interested.
It is now midweek and I am easing back into more usual eating patterns but I am continuing with the large bowl of fruit for breakfast and no wheat bread in my diet.  I am also trying the lactose free milk to see if this has any effect on my digestion.  From my last focus on healthier eating I am still eating an apple a day at elevenses and drinking only water or herbal tea in the mornings at work.  Since the weekend began I have dropped a couple of pounds although the waistline refuses to shrink!!
Well I must go now and see what a delicious new meal I can create tonight.  We have baby aubergines, courgettes and peppers so my guess is something Mediterranean.
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Still Summer lingers…

 …on these peaceful shores,
Nor yet she quits her rose-erected bow’r;
Tho’ oft in many a dew-drop she explores
Her beauties fading in each passing hour!
John Carr

September

 L1010079
 This week is back to school week and as is often the case a true Indian summer, but as summer is now starting to slip away the nights are getting noticeably cooler and darker and you can spot the odd leaf already starting to change colour.  September will be full of many changes as the transition from Summer to Autumn slowly takes place.

My Art Journal ‘Celebrating the Year 2010’ was all about the things that I love, the things that make me who I am and below is a section taken from the month of September entitled Chic Shacks which reflects my passion for old shacks, pavillions and tin chapels.

Holiday Chalet Calver

Chic Shacks

‘There is something very comforting to me about coming across an old ‘shack’ in the English countryside.  My grandparents had such a weekend chalet at Calver in Derbyshire where we would go for the day as a treat. 

My love of these places extends to Cricket Pavilions and old tin Chapels like this one we came across recently at the Bridge of Dee in Scotland that is still in use today. 

Tin Chapel at Bridge of Dee

Although in decline they are experiencing some kind of revival but sadly the temptation to modernise and develop these places often leave them bland and faceless and lose that run down quality which is so endearing.

One of the best places to see some of the most cute and creative old chalets is on the park at the Fitties in Humberston, four miles south of Grimsby.  Now a conservation area and one of the best examples in the country of these customised holiday chalets, recently saved by the local council from private developers after the provision of electricity made them far more desirable.  They are a collection of old train carriages and prefabricated houses with that ‘edge-of-the-world’ feel.  Many owners have trimmed their little English castles with the accoutrements of suburbia, from stick-on leaded lights to picket gates and fences.  It is these ramshackle dwellings that best capture the spirit of living close to nature and by the sea.’

September is Heritage Open Days (in Scotland Doors Open Days) each weekend and it is a chance to view many of these places that are normally closed to the public. Have a look at their website for a list of events in your area www.heritageopendays.org.uk/

Have a great September – what are your plans?