Saturday, February 26

Spring has sprung!

At last, at last the spring flowers are here.
We took a trip to Dunham Massey in Cheshire today.
The sky was sunny and blustery...just how you want a spring day to be when it's nearly March and it's about to come in like a lion!

We bought ourselves National Trust membership last year.
 The new snowdrop walk at Dunham has quite a reputation already, so  we went off to see the results.

They stretch in magical swathes under the trees and the petals shine and almost glimmer in the light.

In clumps as well
and all sorts of shapes and sizes.
I'm no expert on the different types, I just want to see the beauty of them, both singly and in crowds.

This triangle of trees and snowdrops takes your breath away.
Pure white bark of Japanese birch underplanted with hundreds of snowdrops.
The regimentation of the layout of the trees against the scatter of the flowers..just beautiful.

but as we say in Befast.."there's more"!

lawns full of scillas with their ice blue flowers...

                                      early miniature irises of all hues...

all pushing their way through the dead leaves of the old season of autumn.
New life from old.


and even more to delight the eye.

And of course it could only be spring with daffodils.
These early miniatures dancing through it all in the winds.

What else could I do after that......apart from a nice cup of tea....
but buy a couple of pots for the garden.

Three different miniature irises in the bud.
Grow little plants grow!

Thursday, February 24

handmade olympics event 7

Well would you believe it....the rabbit lamp did good as they say in the cartoons!

It came second in the event. So, thankyou to all those who voted for it. 337 voted for it  in all and we definitely know that we don't have that many friends or relatives !


Tuesday, February 22


An unexpected treat last weekend after a very busy week. We were booked into a hotel that we used to frequent in the past.
It's one of those areas that holds happy family memories.
We first took our two children there when one was five and the other barely four.
Much to the surprise of the friend who kindly drove us up to the Lake District, (we had no car then ), we stayed in a simple wooden mountain hut .........

..based in a farmyard on a hill between Ambleside and Coniston. He was appalled,
"you'll never survive"!
Yes it was basic, but it was all that we could afford at the time. And we were determined to give the kids a bit of a holiday over the Easter weekend.
I suppose it was really because it was so basic that they, and we, will never forget it.
Cows grazed around the hut and peered in through the gaps in the elevated floor at the back where the two bedrooms were.
The farmer came over late afternoon of our first day, to make sure we had all that we needed. He was rather merry as he had been to a wedding, and proceded to pour money into the gas meter.We didn't complain! It was very cold that Easter.

Every morning after breakfast we made our way down the hill to a cafe at Skelwith Bridge. There was a potbellied stove already lit and we sat around it as we drank coffee, while the children had hot chocolate and cakes.

I had a recipe from mum made with oats, cereal and cocoa which I grew up calling "chocolate fudge", ( possibly because the icing on the top was so thick). But at the cafe it was called Sid's Special. And for ever more that's what we called it, as Alan's dad was a Syd albeit with a "y".
Sadly, although the cakes were delicious this week, they no longer make Sid's Special. Nothing lasts forever.

Both the children were given some money to spend in the rest of the shop. Mostly they came back with a little sweet shaped like a honey bee and cover in striped paper with gauzy wings attached. That was the special treat!
But somehow it really was.

We always seemed to follow the well worn path up from the cafe toward the Skelwith Falls.

And so it was last week. We walked the circular route around the Elterwater Lake.

The scenery is stunning and it seems that in all the years of us walking here, nothing has changed . There is  that magic sense of continuance.

Of eternal hills and water and those ancient lakeland trees still standing majestically firm and comforting in their bulk.

Yet even when age causes a tree to crumble, it seems that new life springs out of that decay.

The river meanders at this point slowly towards the falls, with rushes on either side giving hideaways for the water fowl that inhabit them.

Nosy sheep stare blatently at us...waiting for lambs to be born. In those early years we were often privilaged to see them at the mountain hut in the hours after birth. And that was such a good experience for two children from a smokey town.

I need some information from a nature blogger to enlighten me as to what these fungi are. Also the names of the mosses which were so abundant this time. More than we had ever seen on the dry stone walls.

I'm sure that the expertise of someone like the Donegal Wildlife blogger will know, though perhaps the photos are not of a high enough standard to be able to distinguish them.

Then it's up and over the hill....

past that wooden shack...

back down again to the river at the bridge.....

and across the water is a wooden house.

When the children were small an old lady lived here with many, many cats. She made marmalades, jams and lemon curd. Each time we were there we went and bought some pots and hoped that not too many cat hairs would have made their way into the mixture!
Anyway it was delicious.

Now just in case you are interested, here is the recipe for either.....
chocolate fudge a la Mary Mac.
Syd's Special a la Skelwith Bridge Cafe c.1970's
(same thing)

1/2lb. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 cup cornflakes ( or similar cereal
1 cup porrige oats
cocoa powder

1. melt butter in a pan
2. add all other ingredients
3. press into a greased tin
bake at 150  for approx. twenty minutes
ice immediately with fairly thin chocolate water icing
made with icing sugar, cocoa and  a little hot water
mark out in the tin in squares
leave until cold
cut up and enjoy
"Sydney's Special"!