Wednesday, 17 January 2018



Thanks for popping in.

Fortnum & Mason is such a well known shop in Picadilly, London.  It's always a treat to visit the beautiful store but when some of their wares arrive at your home, all elegantly packaged, it is so exciting that I thought you might like to have a look.

Take this box of chocolates, for instance.  Beautifully turquoise with gold picture and lettering . . .

. . . the box, once opened, reveals a delightful picture inside the lid, with the chocolates neatly enclosed within the waxed paper which is sealed with a bee sticker.  The little booklet showing the selection,.
 advises to keep them in a cool, dry, secret place to enjoy them at their best!

Sitting in little frilly cases, they do look very tempting in fact it says on the card -'Temptation has never been so tailored to your taste buds'.

A large tin of cookies, again looking resplendent in turquoise and gold were equally gorgeous.  I think my favourite was the salted caramel but they were all exceptional.

Even the jars of jam had little messages on the inside of the lid saying the contents was the cream of the crop.

Another treat, this time from Lavolio, arrived in this pretty tin.

There's a glimpse of what's inside through the waxed paper.

Coated in the thinnest, crispiest sugar shell, inside are different nuts surrounded by chocolate, all hand made in Italy.  Scrumptious!

Many thanks, you know who you are!

I know we are all trying to cut down on packaging but on a special occasion it really adds to the excitement.


P.S.  for some equally exciting treats pop over to see Mrs Tiggywinkle on A Shropshire Patch.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Crochet Collage


Thanks for popping in.

Looking back to last year's woolly makes, I was surprised that quite so many items had come off the production line.  I haven't been able to squeeze them all into the collage.

Most of the blankets have been given away, I'm pleased to say and I hope they are keeping someone cosy somewhere.

I've just finished off another small knee warmer made from all the little bits of wool left over from other projects. It's turned out the way it has by serendipity.

What shall I make next?   Not sure yet.  Exciting though!


Friday, 12 January 2018



Thanks for visiting.

It's time for another talk, this time by a speaker who used to work for M&S in the cheese, bread and wine departments, is a Cheese Judge and even was made Cheese Personality of the Year by the British Cheese Board.

There is a wider range of cheese in Britain compared to France.  Local cheese Barkham Blue handmade by Two Hoots Cheese has won best cheese many times.  Cheese Shows are at the Bath and West Showground in May, Frome Show is in September.  Cheeses are tested using a cheese iron, taking a sample for tasting and then plugging the hole with the remaining cheese in the cheese iron.

M&S has 4% of the food market, Tesco has the biggest share at 28% with the other supermarkets in between. Newcomers Aldi and Lidl are liked by suppliers as they pay well and promptly, their share of the market rose last year to overtake Waitrose.

France has a reputation for good bread but there isn't any difference between their crusty bread and that of Britain but only in how they sell it, France having fresh crusty bread available throughout the day.

M&S, with a lower market share and usually being used as luxury top up shop, looks for innovation.  They were the first shop to bring in avocados and £10 meal deals. Prior to the 1970s  they didn't have changing rooms.  The shop gets 80,000 customer complaints a year and the speaker gave some hilarious examples!

Milk is produced on the West side of the country, half is consumed as drinks or on cereals straight away and the same amount is bought each week, in the proportion 10% full fat, 80% semi skimmed and 10% skimmed.  Cream on the other hand has half of its annual sales at Christmas, with squirty cream selling best around valentine's day!  Cheese sales are the same amount throughout the year although the types of cheese vary.  An average British person consumes 9kg cheese a year compared to the Greeks 24kg. 55% bought in Britain is cheddar made in blocks or small rounds.  If the label says 'traditional' it has been made on a farm like Montgomerys or perhaps from Wookey Hole Caves.

Cheese is made by concentrating milk by a factor of 10, it is warmed up and soured over a 2 hour period, rennet is added, cut into cubes and the curds and whey separated. It becomes acidic, it is rare to get food poisoning from acidic food unlike unpasteurized milk which could cause TB.

A wheel of parmesan costs £1,000.  The whey is fed to pigs which are made into Parma ham.

Stilton is only three months old, the same age as soft cheese.  Producers will start to make their stilton for Christmas in September at which time they won't know how much to make.  It's best not to buy stilton between Christmas and Easter as at that time it will be either too old or too young.

Gruyere is the best cheese for cheese on toast.

Cheddar matures over 2 years and is judged by putting some in the hand and smelling it, whilst other cheese is tasted and then spat out like wine tasting.

Cambozola was designed for people who don't like blue cheese. Saint Agur is the most consistent blue cheese. If a cheese tastes rubbery, it is too young.

These are my notes from a highly entertaining talk, you needed to be there to hear all the hilarious asides.  Very informative too.


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Majestic Buildings


Lovely to see you.

Amongst all the University buildings and memorials, Portsmouth boasts some statuesque buildings.  The Guildhall in particular, looks very grand although a lot of its detail was lost during WW2 and it had to be rebuilt.

Charles Dickens sits outside to celebrate the fact that he was born in Portsmouth.

The New Theatre Royal seems to have had a chequered past but was reopened in 2015.

St John's Cathedral, seen from Victoria Park, brought back memories for me as I sang there many years ago with my School Choir.  Related to that visit,  I remember there being a toucan in the aviary in the park, sadly he was not there this time!

The Portsmouth Museum is crammed full of interesting room displays, decorative arts, including the very detailed work by William Wyllie RA, and items relating to Arthur Conan Doyle and his creation, Sherlock Holmes. There's a great gallery for children filled with old computers and games which they can play plus another room with football memorobilia and pool/snooker table.

This Christmas 1950s sitting room brought back so many memories. In fact, we got so carried away with nostalgia that we totally forgot our suitcase that we'd parked near the exhibit and only found out when we reached the reception where someone had queried whether it was part of the display!

Great fun!


Monday, 8 January 2018

A Spot to Eat


Thanks for visiting.

Even though you've eaten an enormous Christmas dinner, an ice cream mountain, biscuits and chocolates galore just the week before, a whiff of sea air makes you rush for the nearest cafe.

The Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth Gunwharf Quays area supports emerging artists and has an amazing space for workshops and paticipatary events.  The  Southsea based artisan bakery and patisserie has a delightful café there.

Of course this seaside area has all sorts of tea and coffee spots.

The Waterside café is right under the Spinnaker Tower with brilliant views over the water which would please any ferry spotter.

Not everyone wants the formality of a café and here in Victoria Park the diners are happy al fresco in the aviary.

As the sun sets on the historic ships, the Ship Anson public house right by the Dockyard offers a cosy retreat after all that exploring.


Friday, 5 January 2018

A Breath of Sea Air


Thanks for popping in.

The country narrowly missed out on it being a White Christmas this year but since then the snow has been making itself known all over the weather map.  Luckily for us, we've managed to escape.

After our wonderful family Christmas, which included those overseas joining in on Skype, the delicious feast, thoughtful gifts and general excitement, Mr CK and I did manage an escape to Portsmouth, just for one night, to walk off those extra calories along the beach.  It was very cold but so bright and sunny with no rain at all.  Amazing.

With the Isle of Wight in view across The Solent, the ferries back and forth vied for position with the hovercraft and catamaran, all heading for the Isle and back again.  Even Brittany Ferries' huge car ferries stride out majestically, their passengers waving madly.  There's so much for the landlubber to see.  Squinting, I tried to spot Queen Victoria's Osborne House but I could have done with a large arrow pointing it out on the Island.

We walked past Southsea Castle and to the Canoe Lake before retracing our steps passing the outlet shopping centre, Gunwharf Quays, to the historic dockyard, admiring HMS Warrior, HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Centre gift shop.

The Spinnaker Tower

Southsea Castle

Southsea Castle

HMS Warrior 1860

HMS Victory
The nice thing about staying the night is watching the sun set and enjoying the Christmas lights.  The Guildhall looked magnificent with an ice rink in front.

I'll be back with a little more of Portsmouth next time.


Thursday, 4 January 2018

New Year at the Park


Thanks for popping in.

Coo, what a breezy old day it's been, the trees were whooshing about and leaves scooting past at the Park by the Shops.  Gardeners were planting up the beds for a good display in the Spring, it only seemed five minutes ago that they were installing the Summer bedding.  A never ending planting job.

A quick dash inside, revealed plenty of cosy people enjoying some light refreshments away from the wind.  Luckily the door to the little cinema was open so I can show you what it looks like, that's only half of the 60 seats available. Isn't it gorgeous, it turns every film into a special experience even  Murder on the Orient Express which is on at the moment.

Outside, this truck was parked up.

Despite the gales, you couldn't have squeezed another fisherman on the banks of the lake.  That's dedication.  I wonder why they were so keen?  They must be desperate for a change from all that left over turkey!

I'm keeping my eye out for some Spring shoots, come on you daffodils, we know you are there somewhere.