Saturday, 25 July 2009

Open for Business!

An awfully long time ago two bloggers started writing to each other and discovered that they had much in common. A very special friendship blossomed and much fun and mischief has been had along the way. Dreams were shared and plans were hatched … after months and months of giggling, worrying, dithering and much custard cream eating, they finally get to “play shops”.
Milly and Dottie (for they are our alter egos) would love you to come and take a peep around. We’ve polished our shoes, starched our aprons and swept away the biscuit crumbs and are hiding away in our stockroom - why don’t you come and join us? Here we are.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Red, amber and green (ish)

I want to be looking out of my window and seeing baskets of flowers enjoying themselves in the sunshine. I want to be in my garden reading a book under the shade of the apple tree. I want to be sitting round the garden table eating supper on a long hot summer's evening. Unfortunately, what I have been doing is sitting at my computer gazing out through the window at grey, wet days and soggy washing. If I turn my head just a little to the left I can find some colour but it's not coming from the garden - in a corner of the room is this motley collection of bits and bobs that have been the only sources of eye candy the past few days have had to offer.

I haven't taken many photos recently, but, it's strange to see that those I have taken, all seem to have similar red, amber and green colours in them. A sort of "stop, get ready and go" collection of things I've been up to and enjoyed over the last few days.

Last week I was round at Emma's house again. That magical old preserving pan of hers that had produced vats of elderflower cordial was calling us once more. Emma had been given pounds of blackcurrants by her mother to make some jam. Again we struggled with our measurements and calculations and again (oh dear what will my dentist say?) we trundled down to the supermarket to buy more kilos of sugar.

So we stood and poured and stirred and giggled and waited and waited ... when would we reach sugar boiling point? We managed the most beautifully coloured scum covered brew. We skimmed it and found a jewel coloured potion lying beneath but the sheer quantity of liquid jam made it far too scary to allow it to come to a rolling boil. So we stood and waited and waited. Fear of being covered by molten jam like some kind of sugary volcano erupting led us to take things slowly. oh so slowly. Two hours later, with the crack of some almight thunder and lightening and the reminder that we had to go and collect our children from school we decided to call it a day.

Later on that evening Emma rang to say she boiled it once more and eureka we had jam! Not just a bit of jam, not just a scraping of jam on your toast but jars and jars and jars of the stuff (I told you it was a magic jam). Delicious tasting jam, sweet smelling jam, gorgeously jewel coloured jam that gleams when you hold it up to the sunlight (but this being July in England there is no sunlight, so you'll have to take my word for it).

One rainy day last week on the way back from the morning school run. I popped into the local shop and saw a packet of Fruity Liquorice Allsorts on special offer. I couldn't resist ... but they were too, too sweet for even my tooth and not nearly liquorishy (is that a word?) enough. But they did look so bright and summery next to my nasturtiums that were growing outside the kitchen window.

Finally my green photo, my favourite. Oh I do like this photo for lots of reasons. Not because it's a good photo (it aint) but because I love the green and creams of the enamel tin holding the basil and the vintage bread tin that I found at a local street party. I love the greens and scent of the basil, the smell and taste of summer. I love the pattern and shape of artichokes, I'm fascinated by their leaves and design. I love the fact that for a few short weeks during the year you can find them fresh and cheaply at the local greengrocer and if you put them together with that basil, some bread some olive oil you get my perfect summer's meal. What I really like is that in my "traffic light" colllection of photos, this one says "go", enjoy summer while you can.

PS If Devon Dumpling would like to email me with her address, I'd love to send her a few little goodies to say 'thank you' for her elderflower recipe, eton mess with elderflowers and gooseberries (Emma and I were drooling over this one) - find me some eggs and cream quick!!!!

Friday, 10 July 2009

12 friends, two tents and ten candles ...

Oh dear another whole week has gone by without a new post, any visits to your lovely blogs - I'm so sorry my bloggy friends. It's definitely tail chasing time of year isn't it? So many things to do at school, at home etc- here's hoping that things will calm down in a couple of weeks with the onset of the summer holidays - fingers crossed!
Anyway, back to the matter in hand - those of you who read the last post about Little Sister's birthday might be wondering what was spooky about the entry for "Tent" being under the entry for "ten" in my old French dictionary. Well if you remember reading about our visits here and Big Sister's Birthday, you will understand just why Little Sister said "no" to a birthday party and "yes" to a weekend camping.

It's funny isn't it no matter how much you fall in love with a place, there is always a doubt that the next visit might disappoint, or let you down in some way. We should have known that this would never happen here. Our magical spot was waiting for us, the sun was shining through the trees and our friends arrived laden with food, pressies and more food.

I can't tell you how special this place is. It's pure enchantment - a child's special dream, an adult's weekend fantasy.
We made ourselves at home, once more, in Mr Tumnuss' house,

noting the hot water bottles that had been left thoughtfully for our visit and praying that we wouldn't need them.

We decked the woods with bunting, our children ran off to explore and we took a deep breath. Breathing out the stresses of the week and breathing in the fresh, pure promise of the weekend. There is something about camping, about spending a length of time that makes you appreciate the course of a day, no distractions, just living and enjoying the moment.

No sooner had we settled in than Emma and her lovely family arrived for tea and cake (courtesy of Mrs Sew Recycled). It was lovely to see her two boys enjoying themselves in the woods, experiencing the joys of hanging from rope swings, paddling in the stream, wandering off alone (all very boy's own stuff). We played rounders, we ate, we laughed, we chatted and laughed some more.
An afternoon that seemed to last forever (in a good way Emma!) - one that you would like to bottle and keep by your bedside for those rainy days...

We made a fire although it was far too warm,

we ate our food in the dappled sunshine of early evening and the children drank their summer "cocktails" and devoured the homemade brownies that Little Sister had made the night before.

We took a twilight stroll into the woods, marveled at half finished camps,

stared at strange shapes and shadows and listened intently to the sounds of the evening.

We went to sleep accompanied by some singing campers who had formed another party beside us (but that's another story!).
And when we awoke, Little Sister was ten! Her birthday wish was to walk in the stream before breakfast. Not bad eh, bed to stream in a minute!

An afternoon of picnics, birthday cakes, rounders, three legged races (I have the bruises to prove it), swinging from trees and frisbee throwing.

Time went at its proper pace last weekend and we left our beloved spot late Sunday afternoon. The bunting removed, the crumbs swept away, the laughter silenced but the magic remained.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Ten is a magic number

Happy Birthday Little Sister!
Wishing you a year full of sunlit days full of fun and laughter, dreams come true, friendship and love.
Ten years old already - how did that happen?
It seemed like only yesterday that you were running around with your long blonde hair in plaits like these.

Running around in circles on the beach and refusing to walk in a straight line.

Taking your doll for walks in her pram.
Twirling around in your tutu showing me your latest ballet moves.

I think I was ten when I was given my first French dictionary.

Look what was under the entry for "ten" -

That's a bit spooky isn't it? But as I said my darling, ten is a magic number ...