Saturday, 21 July 2018

Outing to Hope Cove

Yesterday we went with our friends from the walking group to Hope Cove on the South Devon coast. In all the years I have lived in Devon (all my life bar the first two years) I have never been there! It is such a pretty place. Judge for yourself.

01 Welcome to Hope Cove

Our friends had been there many times, and took us to their favourite haunt, the Cottage Hotel.

02 Cottage Hotel Entrance

We had hoped to sit on the terrace to drink our coffee but there was a strong sea breeze and in spite of the hot sunshine, it was really too cold, so we sat in the bar and were served with several cafetieres full of the most delicious coffee – I drank 4 cups! We decided to stay put and have our lunch, and explore afterwards. The food was more than excellent, and very reasonable too.

The place was quirky and fun. On the way to the bar we passed several interesting things, the first being a small snug made like a ship’s cabin, with a porthole showing a famous ship that had gone down, all in 3-D so it looked as if you were actually looking out of the porthole.

03 Cabin Snug

04 Cabin Snug Porthole

As is usual in hotels, there were various display cabinets with goods for sale, but here, these objects were a bit more unusual. This cabinet contained a selection of antique silver objects.

05 Antique Silver

In another cabinet housing various vintage objects, I found this lovely Art Deco tea service.

06 Art Deco China

A beautiful specimen of coral.

07 Coral

On a shelf in the corridor was this attractive glass globe vase full of shells.

08 Bowl of Shells

The bar, which was made out of half of a real boat!

09 Boat Bar

Beside the bar was this framed photograph showing the actual boat used to make the bar.

10 The Story of the Boat Bar

In our area of this informal dining area was a lovely laser-cut map of the area, cut from two different types of wood.

11 Map in Dining Room

Before lunch I went for a wander and a little exploration and found the formal dining table laid up for the evening meal. Both this room, and the bar where we ate, had magnificent views out over the sea.

14 Formal Dining Room

As we left the hotel I took this picture looking out over the sea.

15 The Sea from Outside the Hotel

The beach, seen from the hotel terrace.

16 The Beach from the Hotel Terrace

The sea wall.

17 Sea Wall

The most adorable little Methodist chapel.

18 Methodist Chapel Exterior

Just inside the door was this decorative but functional display of hooks! I thought the shapes they made were so attractive.

20 Methodist Chapel Hooks

The chapel.

21 Methodist Chapel Interior

The acoustics were amazing and we all sang a couple of hymns together. I think it is lovely that this little church is called “Hope Methodist Church.” It was so beautifully maintained, and spotlessly clean inside, with fresh flowers.

A gorgeous house with balconies.

24 House with Balconies

Hope Cove is on to levels. The roads between are very steep and narrow.

25 Looking Up the Hill

An intriguing old door.

26 Old Wooden Doors

What looked like a couple of beach huts on the cliff just above the lifeboat station.

27 Beach Huts Above Lifeboat Station

Lovely sandy beach!

28 Beach

The village square, complete with the obligatory seaside shop, selling buckets and spades, flip flops and all the paraphernalia associated with seaside holidays, and bringing back so many memories of childhood spent at the seaside, when it never seemed to rain.

29 Seaside Shop

Now the delights of the village began to reveal themselves. It is a village full of quaint old thatched cottages, some going back many hundreds of years.

30 Thatched Cottages 1

In this square, all the houses seemed to have at least one animal perched on top of the roof, made of straw. Apparently this is how the thatchers sign their work! I love this first one with a mother duck and her babies.

31 Ducks on Thatched Roof

There is even a rabbit!

32 Rabbit on Thatched Roof

A pheasant and an owl. Pheasants are a common motif on thatched windows.

33 Pheasant and Owl on Thatched Roof

An adorable little narrow street, passing between some ancient cottages.

34 Thatched Cottages 2

A more grand residence, but still sporting its thatched roof!

39 Thatched Cottage 2

Roses round the door! What more could you ask?

40 Thatched Cottages 3

I love the rough texture on this ancient piece of thatching.

43 Old Thatch Texture

The tiny village hall. I  love the little picket fence in front.

44 Village Hall

Finally, a group photo. From behind!

47 Group Portrait

Thursday, 19 July 2018

This and That


Another busy day. I had hoped to complete my cooking yesterday but there were various visitors during the day and that put my schedule out so I had to do it today as the chicken had defrosted.

I made a Middle Eastern chicken tagine with saffron and hard boiled eggs. Unfortunately I didn’t photograph it. I will try and remember to do so when I serve it. The cooking today was freezer fodder so not served up attractively enough to photograph anyway. This recipe had instructions to colour the peeled hard boiled eggs with water in which saffron had been steeped, but this didn’t work – perhaps my saffron isn’t as yellow as it should be; I’ve noticed a distinct lack of colouring from it before. Anyway, I added a teaspoon of turmeric to the water and that seemed to do the trick – they came out a wonderful rich dark yellow! The chicken is served with the eggs between the chicken pieces. I cut the eggs in half longwise. Finally, the dish is sprinkled with blanched almonds fried in olive oil.

I didn’t want to waste the turmeric liquid so I decided to go ahead and make some bulgar wheat as well, to go with the chicken, and I added this coloured liquid to the stock in which the bulgar wheat was cooked, making it come out a nice yellow colour. Once cooked, I added pine nuts fried in olive oil and soaked raisins.

These dishes have now gone in the freezer.

I also finished making yesterday’s vegetable soup by blitzing it in my high-speed blender. It is utterly delicious – it really makes a difference having a decent stock as a basis for it, and this time I used the bone broth I made last week. I’ve made a huge bowl of really thick soup which will need diluting with further stock when it is served, but in the meantime in its really thick state, it takes up less room in the freezer.

Very Thick Veg Soup with Bone Broth 19-7-18

Middle Eastern Meal

Last night we went to my friend’s for another Middle Eastern meal, following on from the one I cooked for her last week. She has the most beautiful kitchen, not large, but quite quirky and full of character, and with a lovely warm and welcoming atmosphere. When we arrived she had laid the table ready with the first dish of food which was bulgar wheat served with lettuce and other accompaniments – she showed us how to make little parcels with the lettuce, and it was utterly delicious.

01 Kibbeh and Bulgar Wheat

Doesn’t this look absolutely beautiful?

02 Bulgar Wheat

When we’d got started on that, she brought out the lamb kibbeh. I had been longing to try kibbeh – it’s in my new Claudia Roden recipe book but I haven’t made it yet. Another really delicious dish, this time served with freshly squeezed lime.

03 Kibbeh

Baby tomatoes, Greek yoghurt, olives and kefir cheese (this latter brought by me) to accompany the dishes.

04 Tomatoes and Olives

Also to accompany the dishes: pitta bread and a cucumber and yoghurt salad something like Indian raita. This gives a wonderful cool balance to the spiced food – not that this was heavily spiced, but as with most Middle Eastern food, it was delicately spiced so that you got all the flavours, and no one flavour was overwhelming.

05 Pitta and Cucumber and Yoghurt

For dessert she had made the most fabulous sticky and sweet baclava. These are her two photos.

06 Baclava Ready to Serve - Gisele

07 Baclava Portion - Gisele

I haven’t attempted this yet either – it’s a time-consuming process, but the results are well worth it!

To finish our meal, I had brought along my Turkish coffee set, and the coffee all ready to make up. I bought this set in the souk in Jerusalem back in 1998; there are six cups in all, each little brass cup having a white china insert. It is supposed to be on a brass tray but for the life of me I can’t find this at the moment!

08 Turkish Coffee

To make the Turkish coffee (I got this recipe from an Iraqi junior doctor who was working with my dad before I got married so probably late 1970s/early 1980s), you take a scoop of highest-roasted coffee beans, and about 4 whole cardamom pods per person, and grind them to the finest dust possible. Place this in a small pan with 1 teaspoon of sugar per person, and add water, allowing space for it to boil up without overflowing. Put it on the heat and let it bubble up, immediately removing it from the heat till it subsides; repeat this 3 more times, then decant into the coffee pot and serve. It is very strong and very sweet, and thick, with the grounds still in it. The addition of the cardamom adds an even more exotic twist, making the coffee taste almost like a liqueur. It’s fabulous.


Out in the garden all day again, and joining us when we sat up at the top eating our meals.

Lily drinking from the bird bath!

29 Lily Drinking from Bird Bath 19-7-18

I made a video of this, but haven’t had a chance to edit it yet.

Lily was very annoyed with us this evening after supper when we wouldn’t let her out again, and kept up her crying and stamping her cross little paw for 10-15 minutes. We persuaded her to go on the trolley eventually, but for some reason they’re not that keen all of a sudden. Ruby decided she’d prefer to sleep right outside the bedroom door just where I’d tread on her so this has been vigorously discourages several times during the course of the evening, putting her firmly with her sister and telling her to stay put on the trolley!

Our Garden

Our garden is looking very pretty at the moment, thanks to my hubby’s hard work. The lawn is very brown from lack of rain, though, and the beautiful white climbing rose is now over, but there’s still plenty of colour.

As you can see in the previous photo, all the geraniums he planted this year in the herbaceous border are now in flower.

The large buddleia. Both buddleias are attracting lots of butterflies – some unusual varieties too – far more than we had last year. I have started video-ing them and once I’ve got enough, I’ll compile them together.

02 Large Budldleia 19-7-18

Pots of geraniums on the patio and along the path below the steps.

03 Geraniums at Bottom of Steps 19-7-18

04 Geraniums in Mum's Patio 19-7-18

The lovely herb garden my hubby made for me. I often potter out with my scissors and cut them for my cooking.

07 Herb Garden 19-7-18


I finally managed to block the multi-coloured socks I finished a while back and they now look quite presentable.

03 Completed Multi-Colour Socks 19-7-18

I shall take them to church on Sunday and hopefully someone will take them and give them to the homeless, or hang on to them till the winter – not sure if they are doing the same project again this year but someone is bound to be able to pass them on for me. I’d have finished them last winter if we hadn’t entered that time of ongoing crisis for several months!

Another Outing Tomorrow

Off to Hope Cove with our walking friends tomorrow. I haven’t been before, and apparently it’s very pretty. More pictures once we’ve been!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

WOYWW 476–Daubers and Sourdough

A bit late in the day to be posting for WOYWW but better late than never. I seem to have been rushed off my feet all day.

Two partial successes this week.

WOYWW 476 18-7-18

Having seen a Youtube video on how to make your own ink/paint daubers, I thought I’d give it a go. My hubby had a length of plastic pipe of the right size which he has given me, and he bought me a cheap pair of pipe cutters. You can see the pipe cutters on the desk, and the end of the pipe on the left – it goes the full length of the desk that way, practically to the door!

No problem to begin with – I’m able to cut the pipe easily. When we went to Teignmouth I bought a couple of packets of cosmetic wedges from the pound shop. The trouble is, they are really cheap and nasty, and not big enough. I’ve made 3 daubers (you can see them in front of my tape tree on the left) but had to glue the foam in. Also, the foam is not firm and dense enough so the daubers are too soft, and I think that foam is soon going to shred. I think I’m going to have to buy some decent ones.

No other activity on my desk – as usual, too busy with other stuff at the moment! This is getting tedious…

My other partial success was another batch of sourdough. Esmeralda, my starter, simply took off in this hot weather, and was ready to make some bread at the weekend. Here she is, raring to go. Full of lovely bubbles and as lively as a cricket.

10 Esmeralda Day 7 Ready to Make Bread 14-7-18

Before feeding her for the last time, I removed some and added it to the rest of the discarded starter, kept in the fridge, and made a double batch of sourdough starter crackers. They are cracking! Deeelicious.

11 Sourdough Crackers 14-7-18

They weren’t quite done after the stated time so I left them in a bit longer, and unfortunately some of them caught…

12 Burnt Sourdough Crackers 14-7-18

Even though they’re a bit burnt, they still taste good, and are as crisp as anything. Smile, and just imagine they are chocolate.

Sourdough ready for its first proving. It’s slightly glossy with a light coating of oil.

13 Sourdough Ready for First Proving 14-7-18

Esmeralda all ready to go in the fridge for a week. I can tell she’s not happy about this – wot no food till next weekend?!!! But I am not making bread more than once a week, and I shall end up with a grossly obese Esmeralda and far too many crackers to bake if she doesn’t go to sleep for a bit. Before I use her again, I shall take her out of the fridge 12 hours before to let her warm up a bit, and feed her. That should put a smile back on her face.

14 Esmeralda Ready for the Fridge 14-7-18

The sourdough knocked back, shaped and put in the bannetons ready for second proving. This time I shaped them according to the instructions and they did develop a nice gluten membrane on their tops to help them keep their shape when tipped out. I did this first thing in the morning.

15 Sourdough Ready for Second Proving 15-7-18

This is how they looked at lunch time. I should have baked them then, but decided to leave them a bit longer. A mistake.

16 Sourdough Ready to Bake 15-7-18

Over-proved sourdough. When pressed lightly with a finger, they did not spring back. Danger of collapse.

17 Sourdough Over-Proved 15-7-18

I forgot to photograph them when I turned them out. Three of them had stuck on the bottom of the banneton and this damaged the nice pattern when I tipped them out. They didn’t seem to spread much, even though they were over-proved, so I think I’ve got the shaping right this time, at least.

Here they are in the oven.

18 Sourdough in the Oven 15-7-18

Baked. You can see the damage where they’d got stuck. They didn’t rise enough in the oven and the cuts with the blade I made immediately before baking didn’t split apart as they should.

19 Baked Sourdough 15-7-18

Here is the bread, sliced. Not quite as open and glossy a texture as I wanted, but the bread tastes excellent – my hubby and I ate a whole loaf for supper! (They aren’t very big loaves…)

20 Sliced Sourdough 15-7-18

This whole thing is a gigantic learning curve. I am learning by my mistakes and things are improving each time, so hopefully the next batch will be really good.

For those who were interested in our Tyntesfield trip last Tuesday, I’ve managed at last to finish editing all the photos (there were a lot) and I’ve done a blog post. Tons of photos. It’s a fabulous place.


Two nights running of Trolley Dolly photos.

As usual, Ruby on top of Lily.

25 Trolley Dollies Ruby on Top of Lily 14-7-18

The night before last. What a tangle of arms and legs! You can’t sort out what belongs to whom!

26 Trolley Dollies - Tangle of Limbs 16-7-18

Then, last night, for absolutely no apparent reason, the trolley was no longer in favour. They settled down on a box of old clothes and other stuff that my hubby is going to sort out.

27 A New Place 17-7-18

I decided many years ago that there’s no accounting for kitties.

Middle Eastern Food

The Middle Eastern meal that I cooked for my friend went really well. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos – there’s always a rush on at the last minute when plating up – especially if you’ve got several dishes, keeping everything hot, etc. etc. Anyway, I cooked a chicken and chickpea dish and a lamb tagine, and lots of roasted vegetables, all served with couscous, and afterwards I made Turkish coffee, the highest roast coffee beans ground to dust with several whole cardamom pods, and sweetened, and served in tiny cups from my brass coffee pot. With the cardamom it tastes like liqueur. Absolutely sensational. The recipe was given to me many years ago by a Syrian junior doctor who was working with Dad, and I find to my delight that it is also in my new Claudia Roden book which my hubby gave me for my birthday.

Tonight we are going to her place and she’s cooking kibbeh for us  – I haven’t had this before and haven’t cooked it yet. She has Lebanese blood and her father used to cook amazing Middle Eastern food, apparently. So we’re in for a treat. I’m taking along the Turkish coffee kit.

Other Cooking

I’ve got a big stock pot on the stove, full of all sorts of veges and bone broth, to make a rich thick vegetable soup. Every time I prepare vegetables and cut off stalks, outer leaves, etc., they don’t go in the compost but I blanch them and put them in the freezer. Then, when I’ve got a nice bag full, I make soup from them. Today I also added carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash, onion and celeriac, and lots of fresh herbs from the garden. Last week I made a pot of bone broth and that’s the liquid in this soup. It will be very thick indeed once I’ve blended it in my high-speed blender tomorrow, but that’s all to the good as it takes up less freezer room that way, and I can make it drinkable with extra stock or water. Should be tasty. Very healthy too. I had hoped to cook another Middle Eastern chicken dish today as well but time ran away because the electrician came, and then another visitor. I didn’t get out of my kaftan till lunch time!!

Another Amazing Find

After having my little Jewish Prayer Book returned to me recently, another wonderful thing happened this week, through watching The Antiques Roadshow on TV. See this post to see why this picture is important to me.

The Sea Hath its Pearls by William Margetson

In between all my busyness at the moment I am exhausted – yesterday I spent most of the day on the recliner, alternately resting and completing the editing of my Tyntesfield photos. I need to pace myself a bit better at the moment but there seems to be so much on. We’re out with our walking friends again on Friday. I think I need a week off with nothing arranged!!

I really need some time for art…

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