feasting ~ the Coronation celebration

Did your Coronation day go well?

Our Saturday morning began much like any other but an hour earlier than usual as we had to prepare for little Freddie coming at 9am. Once he steps over our threshold it is full on as he whizzes around from one game to another….and we try to keep up. Never having had a boy of my own I am not used to playing at diggers and Paw Patrol and I feel much more at home when he turns his attentions to the Sindy kitchen cafe that we still have from the 80’s that my two girls played with.

Being an important day, like Christmas and Easter day, I refrained from doing any washing – not that I haven’t still got a few loads to do from our Scotland visit but I do like to keep some days sacred. It doesn’t bother me that other people do theirs but I do like to keep the weekend free of those kind of chores if I can – it makes it more special like a Sunday dinner.

As we played the Peppa Pig Monolpoly game for the umpteenth time this year (it is a big favourite and well worth the £8 I paid at Christmas to amuse all the grandchildren) we had the TV on to try and see some of the Coronation – what a shame about the rain – it was dry outside here. I love the whole pageantry and spectacle and enjoyed the bits I saw – it was so British and for some a once in a life time event – it is what we do well – I would have been terrified myself on show with the whole world looking on. I am sure Charles will be good king – I hope he gets chance to continue with his favourite pastimes of gardening and painting now his role will be much more demanding. Kate as always looked so natural and poised as if she had been born into the role.

I did manage at last to get the seeds sown the day before – now fingers crossed they germinate quickly. I have trays of cosmos and zinnias in different varieties and also calendula and petunia and I started off the courgettes and basil. I never have much luck with the basil but you never know.

Just before lunch the sun came out and Freddie and I went into the garden – whilst I checked and watered the seed trays he watered the outdoor tubs with a little watering can (not that they needed water but he does like to be helpful). The garden is looking much more passable now but there is still more than a few afternoon’s work to be done – but that will be another time.

After lunch and the Royal Family had made their appearance on the balcony we had a walk to the village and that is when it did rain here and we had to shelter in the local Co-op with our ice-creams until the worst had passed.

Once home DH entertained Freddie whilst I made the filling for the individual quiche bases I had baked blind the day before and popped them in the oven. I sprinkled the top with a little parmesan cheese and added half a cherry tomato for colour. (Neither were in the recipe)

We then decorated the tray bake sponge cake I had also baked previously. I can’t think of any child that doesn’t like to bake and decorate and Freddie did his half with chocolate and sprinkles and much serious concentration whilst I spread the cherry curd on the top of mine and then coated this with coconut. The cherry curd is quite tart which I prefer to using jam and goes so well with the sweetness of the coconut.

I had decided against making a trifle or any scones in the end and instead made a simple fresh fruit salad – well DH did all the chopping – both green and black grapes, oranges, apple and strawberries.

Meanwhile, Freddie helped me lay the table and we went out to gather a few fresh flowers from the garden for the little jug – he chose forget me nots, wallflower, grape hyacinths and some dandelions and then arranged them to his satisfaction! All I did was cut some of the long stalks down.

He carried all the dishes of salads to the table and then suddenly remembered that when we had the Easter family tea he had made little place cards with his cousins Little L and Sweetie and wanted to make some more – there was no time to make new ones but luckily I had kept the ones they had made at Easter so he was happy to use those. So we had an Easter Coronation table but Freddie was happy with that!!

Finally, mummy and daddy arrived and we all sat down to tea and admired his handiwork. We all agreed the individual Coronation quiches were delicious, I served them with shredded little gem lettuce, homemade coleslaw, beetroot, cherry tomatoes and new potatoes topped with butter. I will definitely be making the recipe again – as you know I substituted watercress in place of the spinach and added a few chopped spring onions. The tarragon flavour certainly came through and wasn’t overpowering -I didn’t have fresh which might have been better so I was careful not to go overboard with the dried.

After mummy and daddy and a very tired little Freddie had gone home we just collapsed on the sofa and watched a few of the highlights of the procession that we had missed. I did wonder if behind the palace facade last night when the media presence had all packed up and gone if the Royals were all having a really good knees up and letting their hair down.

Today we will be recovering and if the weather holds going for a walk.

creating Christmas * day 1

December 1st – the day my Christmas preparations begin. It will be a simple Christmas for us this year but already most days on my calendar up to the 25th are spoken for….not sure how that happened!

I have started my Christmas countdown, not with an advent calendar – (we are sparse on those here this year – so I will find my little homemade one from years ago to put out on the mantelpiece), but with a Christmas treat – a day out. We actually went yesterday because we had a free entry voucher and it was the last day to use it. Many of the properties are closed now for the winter season but we found that Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire was still open and not too far away.

We took homemade mushroom soup in a flask with chunks of bread and cheese. It was a very cold day so this made a good warming start to the visit. It is a fascinating place showcasing what life was like for the cotton mill workers in contrast to the affluent mill owner and his family. Styal village cottages were built for the mill workers and are still lived in today. The family home was originally a holiday home that they then lived in full time when the mill was built next to it. The complex is in a wonderful setting and quite different to many of the mills set up in grimy Manchester at that time.

The family were Unitarian so the house itself was very plain and simple compared to most National Trust houses where wealth is most certainly on display. I just adored this beautiful little writing desk.

We spent a pleasurable four hours there wandering around the house, the mill, the gardens and the village and afterwards dived into the cafe to warm up with a large cup of hot chocolate. As they close quite early we had to skip the Apprentice House but we have been round there before – I remember it was very bleak and cold inside and was set up to house orphaned children that worked in the mill and many ran away.

As we had a free entry voucher it seemed only right to donate something by buying a few things from the National Trust shop. It was hard to decide on just what as there were some lovely things on sale. In the end I chose a pack of National Trust Christmas cards and two fat quarters of the cotton fabric woven at the mill and printed locally. I intend to make a Christmas stocking with it – maybe not this year – time is feeling a bit on the short side already.

On our way home we called at John Lewis in Cheadle to order the TV table that we had decided on. We have quite a few vouchers for John Lewis so it cost us nothing. We bought the TV quite a while ago – it was bigger than our old one and has been balancing on the IKEA children’s table we bought for the grandchildren to play on when they come. Delivery will be next week. I am trying to persuade DH to also buy the little cabinet that I saw and is part of the same range….watch this space.

Today we have to go to town to pick up a few parcels from Next. We have been invited to a party on Saturday night and I really don’t have anything to wear. We have very few dress shops in our town now so to save having a trip out to Meadowhall, our nearest shopping mall, I ordered a selection of garments online which I have never done before for myself. I am keeping my fingers crossed that something will look OK and fit.

I have a present to buy too – it is a 30th birthday and I am not sure what to get – I am hoping for some inspiration when we get into town.

dear diary >> another day, another birthday

Goodness don’t the years roll by. Another birthday has landed today, another year older… though probably not any wiser.

I was up and about at 6am to enjoy the cool air in our back garden. Breakfast outdoors is quite a novelty for us as normally it might be too cold, cloudy, wet or windy – today it was just right but even as I type the temperature is increasing and very soon we will be scuttling back indoors to cool off; our living room being the coolest part of the house once the sun moves round.

Some friends are coming round early to beat the heat. I have decided against making the fruit scones I had planned – it is far to risky to put the oven on – the kitchen will be like an oven soon enough. What a shame we cannot bottle this heat for the winter months to save on our bills!

I had a complete overhaul at the osteopath’s yesterday – my back problems are not doing too badly but in the course of conserving my back I have managed to do something to both my shoulder and knee whilst bending and over reaching. Added to which my neck is so tight and this has affected my jaw and I have woken up a few mornings with it a bit displaced. My lovely therapist worked on everything yesterday to try and bring some relief to the discomfort but I find any movement at the moment quite difficult. Walking, which was good for my back is now aggravating my knee, the cat / cradle exercises I did daily for my back are not possible because of my shoulder. I feel I am falling apart and learning to moderate my activity and movement to prevent further problems is a struggle.

DH, meanwhile, stripped the beds yesterday then washed and ironed the sheets and duvet covers. My contribution to the housework is limited to the dusting and writing a shopping list.

Our improvements in the home and garden and to life in general continue. If you remember Improvement is my focus word this year – some improvements are bigger than others but all of them have added quality to our life in some way. Painting the greenhouse has been on the list a while but often when we have the time the weather is against us. This week DH managed to apply 3 coats to the front and one side but has had to lay his brushes down at the moment due to this intense heat. It now matches the shed and I love the transfromation. It should also preserve the wood at the same time.

The back garden has a few pretty corners amongst the mess. I planted bush tomatoes, cougettes and potatoes this year as well as a few varieties of salad leaves and radishes.

Thank you once again for all your lovely comments – both those of well wishes for my ailments and for the hand made cards. And yes Sue we learn just how much we need our backs to be good and strong and in working order – I am slowly learning how to use mine better. It is not easy after giving it a lifetime of abuse…too much gardening, bending and sitting at computers.

My computer time is limited now so I am using the time to post rather than comment or answer comments at the moment. Normal service might well resume one day!

Have a good day x

dear diary :: February already?

Hello everyone.  How are you all – I have missed you, it has been a long time and life here has been no less frantic than when I abruptly abandoned my blog?  Of course every day I have intended to write a post….but we all know what we intend to do and then what we actually do can be quite different.

For those regular readers you will remember I had to make a hasty departure up to Scotland during the Christmas advent to survey the storm damage to the cottage.  The wind had taken the felt, on the flat roof kitchen extension, clean off and we had to find someone to come and re-roof just before Christmas and you can imagine the long list of people in the area waiting for a roofer to do repairs for them – so many properties affected.  If this aggressive weather is not due to climate change then I don’t know why it is getting progressively wilder.

Roof sorted, we returned home just in time to sort out Christmas. 

And with a long list of to do’s I set about completing the Christmas plans.  It seems an age ago now.

I had cards to finish making, writing and posting, presents to wrap and some for my friends still to make – this year I chose to make Florentines and found some pretty wooden bowls by Habitat to put them in. I had to make them the day before Christmas Eve so they were nice and fresh.

We had very simple decorations this year no more than the mantelpiece and a bowl of dried orange slices and we never did buy a tree; by the time we came back from Scotland there were only a few days before we were setting out to go up to my daughter’s house for Christmas and buying and decorating a tree for two days of pleasure seemed a little ridiculous.

Our wider family all got together for the first time in goodness knows how long for Christmas Day at my sister’s house (she has now got the most room) and we tried hard to keep it a secret from my mum just in case someone caught the virus beforehand and we couldn’t go. It was hard to surprise my mum as each day when I rang her she would say ‘don’t you know what you are doing for Christmas yet?’ and I would always reply ‘ no as we are not sure if we will be locked down’.

The grandchildren all had the most wonderful time and my mum was so happy to see us all.

I iced the Christmas cake so the three grandchildren could have fun decorating it all by themselves with some little figures and sprinkles. And they made a good job too it was quite delightful though I think most of the sprinkles were eaten before they got anywhere near the cake.

We all managed to dodge the Covid virus but DH and I did come down with a cold / flu virus the day after Boxing Day, as did my brother and little Sweetie.  Why just the four of us out of a gathering of thirteen people we will never know. 

So that was our Christmas and thank you all for your lovely greetings and messages.


Meanwhile January has been spent catching up with myself and planning.  It is always a job I look forward to as the New Year begins and listing everything down tells me we have more plans than time.  Nothing changes!

My focus word for this year is Improvement.

I intend to improve one area of my life each month – everything from health to wealth, two of the areas which need a good overhaul.  Some areas do overlap and once I make an improvement I will obviously have to review and keep it going in the coming months….that is probably the harder part.

January is always a busy time here with birthdays. One of my oldest friends reached the grand age of 80, though she doesn’t look it, so I had cards to make. I was a bit stuck for ideas but settled on this one using up scraps of fabric.

My mum reached the even grander age of 96 and we had a trip up to see her and take her a chocolate sponge cake with fresh cream inside and chocolate on top, her favourite.

Little Freddie celebrated his 3rd birthday and I organised a little tea party for him at home with a jungle theme. It was mainly immediate family – my two daughter’s and their partners and his two cousins, Little L and Sweetie who came and they helped him unwrap the presents, play party games and eat the party food. Sweetie, who is almost the same age as Freddie could hardly wait to play with all his new toys and as soon as they were unwrapped and admired and he had moved on to the next one she would edge nearer and nearer to try them out for herself, hoping no-one would notice!!

We had so much fun making these party hats from Tesco – I can certainly recommend them. They were easy to decorate even for the little ones – each person chooses some eyes, ears and a mouth from a selection to stick on and create your own little character.

I made a jungle cake which again was super easy with some little jungle animals and dessicated coconut dyed green with food colouring. The log effect around the outside of the cake was created with some chocolate coated wafer biscuits sliced in half and stuck on with melted chocolate – it saved me mixing up some buttercream for the sides.

I found some jungle animal and foliage pictures on the internet to print out and stick onto card for decorations and to stick on the front of each party bag with their names (which I have obscured). The party bags contained a few chocolate coins, and other jungly bits and bobs and these cute little hand puppets peeping over the top I discovered in Poundland (£2 each and made from recycled bottles) and they were a big hit.

Currently we are back in Scotland enjoying a break for a few days.  There are improvements to be made here at the cottage, weather permitting and if the weather is bad then it is the perfect place to sit and do some more planning. But I will tell you more about that another day.

Bye for now x

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