Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

After a gap of nearly 30 years since his own father married, Prince William is marrying Kate Middleton (or Catherine as she really is) this Friday, 29th April. I remember very vividly the last "big" Royal Wedding with Prince Charles and Diana Spencer as they got married 4 days after I did!. Yes my own wedding was 25th July 1981 and they married on the Wednesday, 29th July. My dear Hb and I were on our honeymoon at the time and all the service, which we watched on the TV in the hotel lounge, was dubbed into Spanish. It was very memorable and very funny.

Without stating the obvious, sadly Charles and Diana's fate seemed sealed from the start. She was the same age as me too (her birthday was 1st July). At the beginning I felt slight pangs of jealously that she had infinite wealth whilst we started our married life in a rented flat with me still a physiotherapy student. Nearly 30 years later I know that I am the one who was truly blessed and I will be celebrating my Pearl Wedding with my darling Hb in July.....sneak peek...we are going on a rather special break for this and I will take the camera with me..!!

I honestly wish this couple the very best. They do seem very suited, they have been together for a very long time now and Kate appears, unlike the poor naive Diana, quite at ease with all that will be expected of her. She also appears to have a man who genuinely loves and respects her.

I do like to buy a little something to commemorate these occasions and you all saw my Cath Kidston Royal Wedding tea towel in another post but here it is again.
But look what I managed to find in good old Mark's and Spencer's...

It's made by a good Staffordshire pottery, I do like to support British firms for this type of souvenir. It has got both their names on and the date of the wedding at the back.
It's also a rather large square cup and is more like a mug size which suits me well.

One other fun thing I bought is the limited edition Oyster card which is being sold just this week. It will join my Tutankhamen one which I showed you all in this post.
We are lucky enough to be celebrating my daughter's future father-in-law's birthday that very day, in the evening. We have also been given a bank holiday here in the UK to enjoy the celebrations.I shall be tuned into the TV in the morning to watch the pomp and ceremony of the Wedding on the TV. We are pretty good at staging these things, I am sure it will be wonderful. I shall drink my tea from my Royal Wedding tea cup and saucer and later we will drive down to Kent to continue with some more celebrating, but of the birthday kind.

I also found this on the front of my favourite tonic to go with my Bombay Sapphire...you know what I shall also be drinking to help with the celebrations!

I hope you all enjoy the wedding too, wherever you are in the world, and I really do wish this couple a happy, long life together. I can heartily recommend marriage. Like William's mother I was a 20 year old in July 1981 taking her first steps with her new husband and it really was the best decision I ever made in my life. I have a feeling they may well be blessed, lets hope so.


Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Warm Easter wishes

It's that wonderful time of year when we celebrate new life and this year, as Easter is so late, we seem to have been very lucky with the weather here in the UK.
Blossom has bloomed everywhere and there has been real warmth in the sun. It has reached the dizzy heights of 26oc in the afternoons for the last week and it feels like I am on holiday abroad. I finished work yesterday and I am now off for 2 whole weeks. The forecast is that this glorious weather will last all the way through the bank holiday weekend.

My garden has been bursting into flower, I can almost hear my plants growing and the warmth has made everything grow so quickly.

Just  look at my azalea which came into flower this week. It has a beautiful fragrance too.

And the fresh new leaves on my acer ............

and on my hosta (below)

I would  like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to my blogger friend Teje. She had a recent giveaway to celebrate writing her 100th post and I was the lucky winner. Just look what arrived in the post.

She makes beautiful quilts and this is a notebook cover. Please take a look at her blog and say hello. She lives on the sunny island of Crete and is such a creative and kind person.

Thank you Teje (and Nero)

Easter also just has to mean an excuse for lots of this....

and this......

And your children just never get too old for these do they.....
there are lots of goodies inside and every year I still have to put in one of these little cheerful friends.

I have also been making some cards..

Wishing everyone a peaceful, chocoate filled, hopefully sunny, Easter break. I hope to be having lots of garden time and lots of cups of tea outside. I shall be continuing to tidy up my garden. Billy will no doubt be helping....?

Hmmm not sure if that is called helping or sleeping!

It's been just so extraordinarily hot this afternoon that even Billy had to seek shade under my deck chair. It reached 29oc in the sun on my patio!  I  hope the sun is shining on you all too and if not I will blow some of ours your way. I would also like to dedicate this little Easter poem I found, to all of you, my great blogging friends.
Easter needs a garden

Where its peace and joy may grow,

Like daffodils that brightly bloom

Above the melting snow.

So find a little time each day

That you can set apart,

To cultivate some flowers

In the garden of your heart.

And then, throughout the busy days

Your happy heart will sing,

And to the people that you meet

You’ll be a breath of spring


Have a very Happy Easter Everyone, warm wishes to you all.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Monday, 18 April 2011

A promise fulfilled

If you remember I wrote this post about the promise I once made my daughter many years ago that I would happily make her engagement cake. Tom proposed to her at the summit of Scout Kinder in the Peak District on 11th December last year. We were due to have a family celebration the following weekend but this was cancelled due to the heavy snow we had during the coldest winter the UK has endured for 30 years.

They decided they did not want to miss out on a celebration and last weekend they finally held their party to which I took the promised engagement cake.

Well here it is................

My theme was red hearts on a white cake.

I spent days cutting out a multitude of different shaped hearts so that I could have a play with some designs. I also decided that as well as a central plaque I wanted to make a heart "explosion" which would come out of the cake. I attached sugar paste hearts to wires which I then "corkscrewed" using a pencil. Some hearts were also painted silver with edible food colouring.
Now whilst working on this I had one of those "light bulb" moments and decided that to make a permanent reminder I would add a  special twist to the cake...I would make a precious metal clay silver heart pendant which would match some of the icing hearts I made. I had great fun making this at home, rolling out the clay and firing it with my blow torch.

I then polished it and added a silver jump ring.
Here it is next to one of the icing hearts.

I tied a red ribbon to it and hid it amongst the "explosion " heart spray I made.  I also bought a silver chain to hang it from.

The evening before the party I made up my traditional (and very simple) all in one sponge recipe. It was left to cool overnight and the next morning I sliced it open and sandwiched it together with a thick layer of home made vanilla butter cream and my favourite shop bought raspberry jam. I like strawberry jam with a plain vanilla butter icing but Milly loves raspberry so that is what I used. I never scrimp on my fillings as I like my cakes to taste as good as I hope they look.
I then had the task of putting my plan together.Luckily it all went well and after a few hours concentrated work it was finished.
If you look above you can see the silver heart hidden amongst the heart explosion.

I then put it carefully into a cake box (always essential if you are transporting cakes anywhere) and we drove down to Essex with it in the boot of the car.

Milly and Tom were delighted with their cake and Milly was so touched by the special pendant. We had a wonderful party and everyone enjoyed getting together to celebrate their engagement. I nearly forgot to capture the cake cutting moment so apologies that the photo I took is not brilliant. Tom was wearing a hat as it was a "hat and slippers" party -  it is not his usual apparel! And yes together with that lovely dress Milly really is wearing slippers!
Milly spoke to me the next day and said she had been wearing her pendant on the chain and loved it. I think my idea of a reminder in silver was good as by then there was also virtually no cake left.........she is the biggest fan of her Mum's home made cakes ;0)

Wishing the pair of them a lifetime of love and happiness and here's to 28.7.12

Bye for now,

Jane x

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Spring cleaning and planting

As we had such a glorious weekend last week I decided that it was time to start my gardening spring cleaning. My garden is very tiny and most of my plants are grown in pots. That means that come the spring it is time to start thinking about cleaning them.

I am not sure if I am just a little obsessive but I like to give them a good scrub with warm soapy water. Out came the bucket and scrubbing brush and I set to with a few of the pots. And yes I even clean the crocks I use as drainage!

It was good to see them drying in the wonderful sunshine on the path.

This year I have decided to try my hand at growing ranunculus and arum lilies. I have bought both of them as young plants in the past and thought that they would be interesting to try to grow myself. The Internet is so useful and I was able to look up how deep to plant them. I also needed to know what way up to plant the ranunculus. They are very odd little bulbs (they are actually a type of rhizome).

They are like little bunches of bananas and I found out that they needed to be planted with the "bananas" facing down. The lilies were easier as they have "eyes" where they shoot from so obviously these face up.

I was delighted after a few hours to have 2 pots of lilies and 4 pots of ranunculus all potted up. I then put them amongst the sunny south facing border I have and let them settle in. In the background and at the front you can also see my hostas beginning to shoot up. Also the foxgloves are springing to life.

You may also be interested to see how my chilies are doing.

Here they are 2 weeks ago

And here they are at the weekend..I have potted on some of the bigger plants and made some "cloches" out of empty soft drink bottles as they do need to be kept warm until the weather is much hotter here.

So my spring cleaning produced some newly potted bulbs and my planted chili seeds are already decent sized little plants!

Tonight is "The" engagement party and I am just about to start assembling the cake....I shall be back next week to show you how it turned out.
Just to give you a little sneak peak.......

 Have a wonderful weekend enjoying yourselves,

Bye for now,

Jane x

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Plucky little plants

Last autumn I planted up a couple of pots with these bulbs and plants to give me something cheerful to look out at from  my kitchen window and back door during the gloomy winter months..

I tucked the bulbs inside, covered them in a big blanket of compost and then topped the pots with  pretty violas, primroses and autumn colour foliage plants.

When planted up they gave a welcome bit of autumn colour in the garden as it faded from its last blaze of summer glory.

This was one of them last October.
Within weeks we started to get some heavy frosts and the flowers got frozen solid.
And by early December everything was covered with a thick blanket of snow.

I started to doubt that my pots I had planted could not really survive such conditions. I knew the bulbs would be safe as they just doze away tucked up in their bed of compost.

I have been so amazed that not only have my pots survived but have flourished!

Here is the same pot in early March with the primulas in full flower and the tips of the daffodils just beginning to poke up.

And again a few weeks later with the daffodils in full bloom.
The tips of the tulips then started to peep through

and just look at the tulips this weekend...

Even my poor palm was like this in December,

And here is the similar view one month ago

and this below was us this weekend...............
For the last week we have been basking in some glorious warm spring weather here. It has reached 24oc and in my sheltered garden this weekend it felt so hot that even Billy retreated to the shade at times. I have cut the grass for the first time this year and we were  even able to have our  lunch and cups of tea in the garden in the sunshine. You can guess who also loved us being outside....

How amazing is nature and how resilient plants can be. I am so pleased I planted up a few bulbs last year to give me some colour until I am able to really get growing again. They really are my plucky little plants. I will soon be able to start filling those empty pots with summer plants soon. I plan to also try growing these...

So my grass had its first haircut, the bees started humming again and Billy was back outside loving the sunshine.

Oh bliss!

Bye for now,

Jane x