mEAndering, out and about, sEAsons

eggscellent…

Easter is here…

Happy Easter 2017

I don’t know about you but I am ready for a few days off work to gather my thoughts and wind down a bit.  I don’t usually buy ‘Easter paraphernalia’ but couldn’t resist this little pottery hen – only £1.50 from our recent visit to Tadcaster.

Last weekend we had my lovely mum come down to stay for a long weekend and it coincided with the gorgeous warm sunny weather.  On the Saturday we took a trip out down to Cromford Mills in Derbyshire and after a little light lunching we decided to have a walk up to the village of Cromford.  I hope I have managed to capture on camera a feel for this delightful little mill village built around quite a steep hillside and all centred around the mill-pond.

The village with its historic workers houses  is now protected by a Conservation Order and is a good example of housing built during the Industrial Revolution to encourage people to come and work in the mills from the surrounding countryside.

I liked this higgledy – piggledy vegetable plot and garden just beside the road leading to the village – it reminds me of the ones we saw in France crammed into any nook and cranny – I must remember to go back in the summer for another look when I am sure it will be full of vegetables.

Here is mum – she is 91 now (and she won’t thank me for mentioning that!) – still as active as ever and loves going out – we have a job to keep her in.  Unfortunately, the little tea shop in the picture was closed for the afternoon.

As you enter the village just off the main road you come to the market place – it was a bit noisy for us  – the sunny weather had brought all the tourists out and bikers – so we headed off to a quieter corner and started climbing the hill just to the rear of the Fish and Chip shop.  This little lane runs around the back of the Mill Pond.

It starts with The Boat Inn the local pub – one of many in this village – must have been for the thirsty mill workers.  Look at the quaint little opening window on the upper left – this type of window is typical of this village as you will see as we go on.

Halfway up the hill we came across the Post Office always good to see one that has survived – that bright red box a symbol of English village life, continuing despite the modern ways we are adopting to kill them off!

A short distance away is the famous bookshop – Scarthin Books.  Click the link and have a browse on their website. This out-of-the-way little shop expands like the Tardis  – with books, old, new, antiquarian and children’s – they have events, publications, gifts and a vegetarian cafe!  Sadly we did not have time to make the most of our discovery but definitely will have another visit soon.

Turn around at the bookshop and you have this delightful view across the Mill Pond below complete with very photographic swan.

At the crest of the hill now – it is interesting that there is layer upon layer of houses squeezed into the hillside – I expect the delivery men must have fun delivering large items here.  This little round bay is again typical of this area – rather a French feel don’t you think?

I had to have a snap of this window box – the restricted colour range make it work so well against the black painted window box.

We are now about to descend the hill as the lane winds down and narrows at this point by these cottages.  Is this Canary Creeper – I wasn’t sure – does anyone recognise it – it certainly brightened up this shady corner.

I don’t usually go peeping into people’s windows but as we passed this one something caught my eye  – the window was extremely dirty and on further inspection I was amazed to see a disused room spilling over with tiny baskets.  I quite like the resulting atmospheric picture.

At the bottom of the hill again now and back onto the busier road.

Cromford

Turning to the left we followed the road around the front of the Mill Pond it was here we realised that the empty cottage with the room full of baskets was part of this Basketware company!  Note the large black pipe suspended above the gate opening.  Follow it further along the wall to the right…

and it continues to the old waterwheel.

 

Beyond this we came to the Mill Pond and saw the earlier swan’s mate – nesting under the Willow tree.

Just having a change of position.

This is the view now looking back across the pond to where we had just come from – I must say that the hill we walked up does not look very steep at all from this view-point.

You can just make out the bookshop from here and the male swan still paddling away enjoying the weather!

We arrived back at the market place again and decided to go and seek out the original mill workers houses on the other side of the main road and up yet another hill.  Cromford was only a tiny hamlet when Arkwright arrived in 1771 and to attract workers to his mill, like many other famous places such as Saltaire in Yorkshire, he built housing and facilities to form the village we see today even including setting up the market.

All the way up the hill the 3 storey terraced houses (where the originals have been preserved) have one of these little opening windows within the larger main Georgian styled window. 

I was quite intrigued by them and presume the reason is because they needed to have some form of ventilation within the large fixed windows.  As you can see they are not sliding sash like the modernised house next door in this photo.

This is the street of original mill workers cottages – such low doorways and I expect very low ceilings but oh so cute.

In and amongst a cluster of cottages on our way back into the centre of the village we came across this  – a stone lined pit sunk into Cromford Slough named the Bear Pit by the locals.  It is a great piece of hydraulic engineering constructed in 1785 by Sir Richard Arkwright to regulate the amount of water feeding the mills.

In one of the nearby gardens was a majestic Magnolia tree in full bloom.

Cromford Mill

We walked back to the mill and finished our tour with a homemade ice-cream.

We drove on to Wirksworth a small nearby Market town to find a cafe for some refreshments.

We found a few notable things to mention  – one being the Blacks Head, a pub in the corner of the Market place – now having a new sign – the previous showing a rather controversial picture of a grinning black man with turban.  Delving into the history of the pub it is probable however, that the name is just a shortened version of a name once used in the past – the Blackamoor’s Head.

Following a lane leading back down into the bottom of the town I took a photo (sorry for the poor light quality) of this well clipped tree which is unusual as  I think it is Beech.

Happy Easter 2017

That was the end of our afternoon – we had left home intending to visit Lea Gardens but as you can see we got a bit diverted and never made it!!

Have a lovely Easter x

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sEAsons, trEAsure

the nicest thing about the rain…

…is it stops eventually!  AA Milne

Daffodils

Don’t you just love the Pooh quotes – they always make me smile – the rain hasn’t stopped here all weekend – so no gardening possible for me –  I even had to go shopping in the rain this afternoon something I dislike doing on a Sunday but needs must.

I had a number of items to look for mainly for the caravan – a doormat, various sticky hooks for the keys and other items that require hanging and a small dish drainer.  You have to be quite creative in a caravan as space is tight.  I headed to Wilko’s as this often good hunting ground for such items and I wasn’t disappointed- though the dish drainer came from Sainsbury’s.

Then on to Boots as I had a few toiletries on the list – I use Liz Earle’s shampoo and conditioner – a bit pricey (for me) but I like the natural ingredients and it suits my hair and scalp.  I find you need very little to get a good lather so it goes a long way.  I took advantage of the double and triple points coupon I had been sent by post this week.

As it is Sunday my usual health food stores are closed so I had to go to Holland and Barrett for some Aloe Vera juice- to help my digestion (should have thought better of eating the sprouts we had with our meal on Friday – they tasted very odd and shortly after my digestion was, shall we say, a bit disturbed and a bit nauseous, and hasn’t fully recovered all weekend).  They had a half price offer on so I added in a tub of vegetarian gravy powder.

 

Finally, I popped into TK Max and found a small decorated box to keep my bits and pieces in on the bedside table and this unusual little white enamel pot with a stainless steel lid that I can keep cotton wool in at the caravan.

 

On my way to the till I spotted a lightweight duvet jacket with hood for my granddaughter.  It folds up into a really tiny package and I thought it is one of those handy items for the summer that you can squeeze into your handbag on a day out just in case of a shower or cool breeze.

 

With Easter in mind –  I picked up a cute little decorated box in Wilko’s for £1.50 and I will fill it with coloured paper straw and hide some little bite sized Lindt bunnies in there to give to my granddaughter.

 

Also in Wilko’s I spotted a rather nice glasses case which I need so my reading glasses don’t get damaged in my handbag.  My last one wore out ages ago and I have been without since.

So quite a fruitful shopping trip – although in terms of spending maybe I have spent a touch more than I intended – but they were all fairly low priced items and I did avoid stopping in Costa for a drink so saved a bit of money there.

The bowl of daffodils above arrived by post and were a surprise from my granddaughter for having her to stay overnight last weekend – (I think my daughter might have had a hand in this as even though my clever little 2 year old can work an iPad with no trouble I am not sure she has yet mastered internet shopping)!

Apologies for the quality of photographs it was quite dark in the house when I returned home after shopping and I am a bit short of time, but no doubt you get the gist!

Thank you for all the tips and hints about eBay in the comments.  It looks like I need to watch out for a few drawbacks.  I must say I am quite daunted by it all even though part of my job is to train people on our computer software programs and I maintain the software at work –  I am not a savvy online shopper.

being thrifty, fEAsting, hEAlth, healthy eating, meal planning, sEAsons, trEAsury

menu plan monday…

It is definitely that time of year when every magazine you look at has eye-catching headlines such as ‘Best Year ever’,  ‘Your time to shine’,  Make 2017 your year of change’  – I can never decide whether this is motivating or suggests that we are lacking a certain amount of satisfaction with our lives and are left wanting more or different.

The start of the New Year does seem to bring with it a desire to change many aspects of our life that we are disappointed with and of course we all begin with such good intentions but often by the time we are midway through February we have slipped back into our old habits and the resolutions we made become a distant memory.

If I were to make a list of all the things I would like to change it would be so long I wouldn’t have a hope of fulfilling them all this or any other year.  So then I start wondering why I want to change and I can only say to try to make my life feel better – less stressful – more as I imagine it could be – certainly happier, healthier, perhaps a little wealthier – plenty of me time, family time – a well run house, a glorious garden and even some room for creativity.  Of course I then have to wonder why on earth I am not already living this perfect life!

However, in my Economy mode I am whizzing straight past all the magazines with such appealing headlines – I already have a subscription to Country Living magazine (Xmas present) so for as long as I can hold out that is my lot.

This month I am concentrating on compiling Menu plans – mainly for our evening meal at present and then I will deal with my lunches later so I don’t make things too difficult for myself all at once.  I am aiming for low-cost, no waste, nutritional meals using seasonal fruit and veg as much as possible and also using up items from my store cupboard, fridge and freezer.  See the list here.

I have laminated my Good Food – Get 5-a-day every day chart of seasonal winter fruit and veg – this tells me all the British grown fruit and veg and also those items from further afield that are in season and therefore should not be too expensive.  Blueberries and Strawberries are not on the list so I will use up any frozen berries to go with my natural yoghurt for breakfast.

 

dsc08065

 

My menu plan this week uses up a few items already in my stock cupboard but most of the veg I will have to buy fresh as I only have celery, carrots and onions left over together with some rather soft radish and a bit of dubious broccoli.

The sprouts, parsnip, leeks, cabbage and beetroot are all in season and British, the Sweet potato is also in season although not grown here.

The items not listed as seasonal are broccoli, green beans and mushrooms.

I am introducing 3 new recipes this week –

  • Vegetable Stew (substituting Sweet potato for the Butternut squash – this will also use up the remaining leek from the Stroganoff on Tuesday).
  • Spiced Chickpea bakes
  • Herby Brown Rice Salad

From my choice of fruit and veg I am told that I will be enhancing my Beta – carotene intake effective against viruses and bacteria, Vitamin C  for my immune system and phytochemical that help the digestive system.

I am looking forward to making the new recipes – if they pass the taste test then I will put them into my recipe binder – if not they will go straight in the bin so I am not keeping recipes that I will never make again.  Any modifications I will add notes to the recipe for next time.

I will be going shopping tomorrow night so will then know just how economical my shop is (or not!) in financial terms – bearing in mind the cold weather a warming Vegetable Stew sounds just right this week.

Have a good week.

 

 

 

 

being thrifty, fEAsting, meal planning, nEAtening, rEArranging, recipes, trEAsury

The Friday Feast…

A weekend at home at last – I felt so exhausted this morning that it took quite a while to get myself into gear – so my Friday Fling today was a sit down job and I went through a pile of magazine cuttings labelled ‘Home and Cottage decor’ and threw away any unwanted articles and outdated pictures.

Once I regained some energy to tackle my Friday Tidy I concentrated on getting my kitchen back to a presentable state and in the process I checked the fridges for leftover food.

I am always looking to be as Thrifty as possible and I hate waste so I make Friday my use it up day.  I was quite pleased with myself when I discovered there was nothing to throw away – in fact I was worried that I might not have enough food to make an evening meal but I always enjoy the challenge of making a meal from whatever I have leftover.  We have had some strange concoctions over the years!

In the Fridge

I found a few sticks of celery, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a bag and a half of carrots, some sweet potatoes and 1 egg.  I also needed to use up the end of the jar of tomato paste and the very end of some cheddar cheese.

In the Vegetable Rack

I had onions and a new bag of baking potatoes.

In the Store Cupboard

I had a bag of mixed nuts getting to the end of the best before date and a few slices of bread in the bread bin.

After looking through my recipe folder I decided on a Walnut and Tomato Slice – a recipe which surprisingly incorporated all the above items – I should also have put in a red pepper but I had to make do without.  I baked the potatoes and had peas from the freezer and made a little gravy.  I left the sweet potatoes for tomorrow to make soup with the full bag of carrots and more onions.

This was the result and below is the recipe.

Walnut and Tomato Slice

4oz Wholewheat breadcrumbs

4oz Walnuts ground (though mine was a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds).

2 Stalks of Celery chopped (I actually used the left over 4 and it was still fine)

1 Onion finely chopped

4oz Carrot finely chopped and part boiled or steamed.

1/2 red pepper chopped

1/2 tsp Thyme

1/2 tsp Sage

1 free range egg, beaten

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

1 tbsp olive oil

Ground black pepper

a little salt to taste

2 Tomatoes thinly slice (I used Cherry tomatoes cut in half)

1 tbsp Sesame Seeds (I used a sprinkling of grated cheese as an alternative).

  • Cook the onion and celery together in the oil and add the red pepper until soft.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs, nuts, herbs, salt and pepper, tomato paste and egg in a large bowl.
  • Add the onion and celery mixture and bind all ingredients together. 
  • Turn mixture into a greased loaf tin and press down (Tip: place a greased strip of greaseproof paper running along the bottom and up the two ends of the dish for ease of turning out after cooking).
  • Arrange the tomatoes along the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds or cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at Gas mark 6 (200C or 180 Fan Assisted) remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
    Serve hot or cold

It was delicious and could be adapted depending on what you have available – next time I might throw in some mushrooms.

Have a good weekend – lets hope the weather is fine.

 

fEAsting, meal planning, recipes

The end of the week budget meal…

Otherwise known as the ‘throw it all in and use it all up’ and see what you get!

By the end of the week I find that I have an assortment of bits of vegetables that are leftover and not wanting to waste anything I either adapt a recipe or just create something new (a bit like they do on the TV programme ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ when presented with an assortment of items).

This is what I had left today to use up – I named it Hearty Chickpea Stew – it was quite delicious and very filling.  I will definitely make it again.

From the fridge or vegetable rack

  • 1 Leek
  • 2 small and almost sprouting onions
  • A few ends of celery
  • A handful of new potatoes
  • A medium sweet potato
  • 4 small carrots

From the store cupboard or pantry

  • I can of Chickpeas
  • a few slices of bread

Plus a few staple items

  • Add 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 Kallo Tomato Stock cube, a scoop of Tomato paste, salt and pepper and a pinch of mixed herbs.

To make

  • Gently cook the onion , leek and celery together in the olive oil until soft.
  • Add chopped / diced vegetables
  • Add Tin Chickpeas (well rinsed)
  • Add stock to cover veg, tomato paste and seasonings
  • Bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes

Serve hot with crusty or speciality bread

 

fEAsting, meal planning, nEAtening, organising, rEArranging, trEAsure

That Friday feeling…

It is definitely Friday again and my day off but this was the scene in the kitchen that awaited me this morning!  It seems that on my day off I have been voted the chief washer upper without even realising.  Everyone else had eaten breakfast and made sandwiches and then gone to work leaving their mess behind.

The fridge was also in a bit of a muddle after a busy week.

But a few focused minutes sorted this out.


After sorting out the fridge in the kitchen I went on to clear out my other larder fridge that is in our laundry room and holds our fruit and veg.  This is the left overs from the week and I need to think of a recipe that will use up all the items in the picture for our evening meal tonight and lunch tomorrow.

I have four Little Gem Lettuces, a few button Mushrooms, 2 Tomatoes, 1 courgette, 1 yellow and 1 red Pepper, a bag and a half of carrots, a head of celery, 1 sweet potatoe, a bunch of Rhubarb and a Bramley cooking apple.  In addition I have a bag of potatoes and a few onions.

In my store cupboard I have red lentils and cans of green lentils and beans.  I also have eggs, nuts, tins of tomatoes and of course pasta.

So any of you foodies out there got any good ideas?  Any suggestions welcome.

Just one more thing – well done Patak’s for your smaller sized jar of Korma Paste.  I have always had to buy the larger size but then sometimes it goes out of date before I can use it all like the one on the left that I have just found in the back of the fridge. This 4 serving version on the right which I found whilst in Scotland is just enough for two meals for us and will not be wasted.

mEAndering, out and about, trEAsure

Just a perfect day

On Saturday we had a lovely day out in Shrewsbury the weather being unusually dry and sunny after a week of never-ending rain although there was still that nip in the air.

A view of the Dingle in the park

We had lunch in the Good Life in Barracks Passage off Wyle Cop – one of our favourite vegetarian restaurants which we first discovered in the early seventies and their varied menu and quality of food is as good now as then.  If you like vegetarian food and are keen to try things like Nutloaf (the walnut and rice is the best) accompanied with a whole range of different salads then I can recommend this place.  I don’t have a picture although you can Google Image it and this is their website address –  www.goodlife-shrewsbury.co.uk.

Afterwards we visited my mother in law in her care home and had a lovely day together.  Before we set off for home we had a browse in Paperchase and Vinegar Hill and then found an independent stationery store called Write Here on the high street – find them at  www.writehere-uk.com.

Browsing amongst  the cards and stationery products, which is one of my favourite pursuits, I suddenly came across and fell in love with my new purchase – let me introduce you to the Lamy Logo.

When I went into the shop I didn’t even know I wanted a fountain pen but in the end I couldn’t bear to leave without one!  I would normally prefer the finer nibs but after being able to test drive a medium, a fine and an ultra fine I settled on the medium as this was the one that allowed the ink to flow on the page and didn’t feel scratchy.  The sales person  had the patience of a saint as I tried to decide between the selection of finishes, nibs and ink colour – it was already 5.30 on Saturday afternoon but he was as attentive as if I was his first customer and nothing was too much trouble.  So thank you very much Mr Write Here – I hope I didn’t make you too late for your tea and by the way if you didn’t realise before I absolutely l o v e my new Lamy it fits perfectly into my filofax pen holder. Ink pens are so much nicer than ball point or gel pens and I am convinced I make better notes!

Just a perfect end to a lovely day.