Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Monday 27th August 2012

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day so my daughter and I quite fancied getting out but as she was going off on the train later to visit her boyfriend it made sense that we travelled at least in his direction..I didn't need much persuading to go to Llandudno anyway..it's a pleasant town with a lovely traditional seafront of grand hotels, a pier and the Great Orme mini-mountain at one end and the Little Orme at the other. 

 There was a mini-steam train on the promenade being run by a group of old men..they were having a great time being all geeky in their overalls and drivers' hats..good hobby to get them out of the house and give their wives a bit of peace! Boys and their toys...

I also spotted (well,you could hardly miss it!) a big new wooden sculpture of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.There's one of the rabbit from the story in the main street and apparently also one of the Queen of Hearts,though we didn't come across her.I forget what exactly but there's some special link to Lewis Carroll in Llandudno and they also have some Alice stuff in Happy Valley park at the foot of the Great Orme. If I find out what the link is I'll revise this later. Ok, here's the Mad Hatter and his cat...

After eating our lovely M&S sandwiches and wraps whilst managing to avoid the cheeky seagulls..or should I now say herring gulls (thanks to Springwatch seabird special I now know a bit more about them) we went for a bit of retail therapy..then a coffee in my favourite Cafe Nero which sell lovely little boxes of chocolate-covered coffee beans..then just got Phoebe onto the train in time.

 Back home my other daughter Sophie had been hard at it, working on her dissertation, so I decided to make her something nice for tea..I concocted a recipe for stuffed sweet potatoes.It worked out well:
I microwaved three sweet potatoes..
scooped out the middles..
softened & cooked some chopped onion and mushroom,
added the onion & mushroom to the scooped out potato...
added an egg, some orange zest and some thyme..
stuffed the empty potato shells with the mix..
topped with small amount of cheddar cheese..
baked in hot oven until "done"..et voila :

All her hard work paid off and she finished her work so this morning I ran her to the university to hand it in for the tutor to look at ...yes, on a bank holiday too! Masters students don't seem to abide by normal student timetables or holidays. She will get the feedback when she sees him tomorrow.As I dropped her off I spotted this magnificent tower of geraniums by the front entrance.. how clever..and how did they do that?!

Eek, late night again..better stop and get myself to bed. Oh yes, just thought you might like to see a scrapbook I made for my friend's daughter's birthday..along with a bottle of glue and a bag of bits and bobs for scrapbooking it made a good present I thought..something to keep her happy and occupied whilst my friend is busy in her shop. Goodnight all.xx

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wednesday 22nd August 2012

I had a lovely day on Monday with my daughter Phoebe. She wanted me to take her to RSPB South Stack and I was happy to oblige. It's the other side of Anglesey from us, a bit of a trek, but well worth taking the trouble.
The sun was shining, the sea was all sparkly and there were acres of land smothered in three colours of heather alongside yellow gorse and lots of other wildflowers.

 Our stomachs were rumbling though, so first of all we had lunch in the great cafe at the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) centre. I love eating there because it must be one of the cafes with the best views in the world. I also love that they have a bit of poetry chalked up on their menu board.

 They have wonderful homemade soup..every time I go I get inspired to make soup like theirs.This time it was fresh tomato & vegetable soup..a perfectly balanced combination of fresh tomatoes with onions, courgettes and carrots and with a hint of herbs..and thankfully NO GARLIC! (Don't you just hate the way so many places put garlic in just about everything..tastes great but no good if you're someone who works in close proximity to other people) The cakes and coffee are good too and they have National Geographic magazines for you to read whilst you eat..if you can tear yourself away from the views.  

Then we walked along the coastal path..the air was soft and pure and so relaxing. We walked down to Elin's Tower which is a lookout post with two telescopes pointing out to sea or onto the cliffs where seabirds nest and down towards the famous lighthouse.

 It also has a list of plants and wildlife to be seen in the area..I was dying to see an adder or lizard but they were far too shy to make our aquaintance that day.Most of all I was longing to see porpoises but we missed them by a few hours. According to the red ticks on the chart below someone got lucky! 

The lighthouse is quite spectacular but my knees weren't up to climbing down the hundreds of steps needed to actually enter the lighthouse.There's a charge to go in as well which put me off a bit as I have been inside it before years ago. It was a good day for taking a photo of it though:

When we went last year it was a really clear day and we could actually see the mountains of Mourne across the sea in Ireland! 

When we got home I was pleased to see that my plan to stop the blackbird sabotaging my blueberry crop seems to be working! Last week he was making kamikaze dashes across the lawn and gobbling down all the ripe berries he could reach on my five potted plants in spite of me chasing him off each time I saw him. Since putting up the discs things have improved.. it is either the shiny underside of the C.D. which is scaring him off or the face of Mick Jagger on the other side! 

   Inspired by the lovely home-cooking at the cafe today I decided to make bread and butter pudding for tea.To make it extra-special I soaked the sultanas in Tia Maria for 20 minutes before adding them to the buttered bread and soaking everything in egg ,milk and sugar mix and then baking. It was perfect..still had the desired wobble factor but crunchy on top. Mmmm.
Okay, I know it wasn't the prettiest pudding- it wouldn't be mine if it was picture-book perfect, let's face it! I am a notoriously messy person.. but with a dash of double cream it was just delicious after all that sea air.

Okay, it's 2.20a.m. and I realise that as usual, when writing this blog, I have lost track of the time..I will leave you with my bargain of the week...five fabulous sunflowers bought at a reduced price of 99p at Waitrose.. I will take them into work and get a couple of lessons out of them so all in all a lucky find..and like a jug of warm sunshine sitting in my dining room right now. goodnight everyone.xx

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Wednesday 15th August 2012

I've been watching a programme on television about Italian cookery..called "Simply Italian".It's been really interesting with practical ideas and most of all, it showed you how easy it is to make your own fresh pasta. The young woman making the programme comes from an Italian family but lives in south Wales so it's been an interesting mix of Gavin and Stacey accents and authentic Italian words..often all in one sentence! That reminds me..we LOVED the book The Food Of Love by Anthony Capella:

 Urged on by my daughter (who went for a short holiday to Rome a couple of weeks ago and is a little bit Italy-obsessed atm) I went to The Range and bought a pasta machine which can make lasagne, tagliatelle and fettucine shaped pasta. We managed to get some organic 00-grade pasta flour from Waitrose..

..but I'm sure normal plain flour would be fine too.The only other ingredient was eggs...(100g flour + 1 egg per person) ..how simple is that! I mixed and kneaded the dough by hand. Rolling the dough (after resting it for 1/2 hour) was pretty straightforward (and good fun) in the machine..getting it thinner and thinner.We stuck to plain sheets this time.


The next stage was a bit untidy, but who cares!..making parcels with two fillings; chopped roast vegetables.. peppers,onions,courgettes..and ricotta cheese and basil.
The second filling was chopped cooked mushrooms, ricotta cheese and thyme and a little cheddar cheese for flavour.A few minutes of simmering in boiling water...


Would we do it again? Yes..it was delicious and we knew exactly what was in it..and had a decided feeling of achievement..but only do it maybe on days with too much time on our hands! Next time we'll do plain tagliatelle with a sauce I think..it'll be much quicker.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Monday 13th August 2012

Well, the Olympics closing ceremony just finished ten minutes ago..not perhaps as good as Danny Boyle's opening ceremony two weeks ago (and did you know he went to Bangor University?!) but some interesting aspects..and a feeling of relief that the games went so well without any terrorist scares and  with Britain doing so well in the medals..so glad for Tom Daley that he got that bronze.Too many interesting and remarkable sights over the past two weeks to list here but I will always have in my memory the sight of those synchronised swimmers like silver sea-nymphs and also the amazing movements of the dressage horses.Competition between humans isn't really my thing but excellence of endeavour to achieve a perfect dive or beautiful gymnastic moves I can live with.
The big union flag I made at work with my clients seems appropriate now!

After our lovely trip to Rhosneigr last week my daughter and I felt we had to return as it's a fabulous place for sunsets over the sea..where we live on the other side of the island faces towards Snowdonia and we just don't get any sunsets there although we sometimes see the mountains lit up as the sun falls. I was a bit knackered after work on Friday but you have to grasp these rare sunny days whilst you have them.We parked at Cable Bay and walked up onto the headland to the ancient burial chamber "Barclodiad y Gawres" and lay on top of the mound over the chamber and watched the sun sinking.It was so still and peaceful and we were thrilled to be watching swallows swooping in and out of the chamber to their nest, as we did last year.Sadly they were too fast to photograph.


It was lovely just to lie on our backs on the thick spongy grass, looking up and enjoying the clouds, having a giggle about this and that...

The next day I nipped down into Menai Bridge town early to catch the last day of the Llandegai Quilters' exhibition at the church in the centre of town. I watched Angelika Monks (a Facebook friend) demonstrating free motion quilting..goodness,she is talented! I was allowed to take photos of the quilts on display.Here are a few...

                             This one (above) was one of Angelika's..vibrant colours.

The quilts were all works of art..I wouldn't have the time or patience or skill required for such work in a million years..hats off to the ladies.

I also loved these organ pipes in the church ..each one beautifully hand-painted..and the organ.The wooden roof was beautiful..it gave me neck-ache just staring up at it..imagine how it must have been for the craftsmen building it!
I came home all talked-out after meeting the fabulous quilter ladies and made myself a Greek salad with grilled squeaky (halloumi) cheese and ate it in the garden..one of the few times I've managed to eat out there this year.Yum :-)

                                                                  Ciao for now.xx

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Wednesday 8th August 2012

It occurred to me this morning that I hadn't managed a trip to my favourite beach since my daughter's Easter break from university...I've been too busy, lessons to prepare,college work, bad weather and so on..today the gods conspired to give me the perfect day..great weather, no work today, no other commitments I couldn't push aside; the call of the sea was irrisistible!
 Rhosneigr is my favourite place on Anglesey..even in the height of summer you can get away from people there and out of season we are often the only people on the beach. Walking through the sand dunes to the beach is always a magical moment for me..I feel a thrill in my stomach..and like a taut wire has snapped and I instantly relax and shed all cares..

..the roar of the sea at high tide fills my head and all negative thoughts just drop away..just the best thing (apart from sex and chocolate of course!) By luck it was high tide today as I arrived with my younger daughter and we both just stood there staring at the sea and saying "wow"..


My mini-me daughter loves taking photos of the waves too..and we both sadly enjoy making corny hearts on the sand!


 I collected some more seaweed and driftwood bits, feathers and shells, for making collages with my clients at work tomorrow, then went home via the garden centre where we shared a piece of Death-By-Chocolate gateau..intensely chocolatey and VERY bad for you but it finished off a perfect day..I almost feel guilty for having such a lovely day when so many people are struggling through life but believe me, my life is NOT at all perfect..we just have to snatch special days in life don't you think? xx