Thursday, 23 October 2014

Flapjack and hob nobs

Now that the girls have, it appears, stopped laying for the winter, I'm being really thrifty with the last few eggs, all from Lola (a bantam Araucana who should lay blue eggs but doesn't!), the little trouper.  I'm saving them for the weekend* and will make a pear pudding with my home grown pears. 




So a dilemma, him indoors was in need of something to take to work to fill his belly and increase his energy levels, I decided on flapjack.  I came across this hob nob recipe on a chicken forum ages ago and have been using it ever since for both biscuits and flapjack. It really does work both ways! 

You will need:

2 tablespoons golden syrup
175g oats
175g brown sugar
175g butter (or baking fat)
175g self raising flour

Method

Melt butter and golden syrup and add flour, oats and sugar.  For flapjack, spread the mixture into a greased or lined 11 x 8 tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 160c.  For hob nob biscuits, roll mixture into balls and place onto greased or lined baking trays and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 160c.



Enjoy!

*Just a few things about eggs.  You don't need to keep them in a fridge unless you have hard boiled them, then you should keep them in the fridge!   Egg shells are porous and will absorb fridge smells.  Eggs will keep for up to 3 to 4 weeks from day of lay.  Older eggs are better for baking as the white gets more watery with age, which makes mixing easier.   I happily keep eggs on the counter in my warm kitchen all year round and have never had one go off yet!  Never wash eggs unless you are going to use them straight away because of the porous shells, and to wash always use a slightly damp cloth and luke warm water (no soap) from the tap.  

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Bunches and pairs

I'm not one to babble on about the inane goings on in my life, I'm sure you'd all rather not know and prefer to see photos of charity shop bargains!  However, as I'm under self imposed charity shop thriftyness at the mo (more bargains at the end of the month though, didn't say I was buying nothing!) thought I'd share some other stuff.

As you know, (I may have mentioned!) I'm in the process of moving house.  This is the first time I've ever sold a house, so it's all new to me.  It appears to be incomprehensibly difficult, with twists and turns, forms to fill in, certificates to supply and regulations to adhere to.  I feel I now know more than is necessary for any lay person to know, nay, is healthy for any lay-person to know, about FENSA, 17th edition electrical regs, building regs and planning.  And lets not go near boundary issues, permitted development (including the new neighbourhood consultation scheme) and tree preservation orders. 

See?  Told you I knew too much, my head is buzzing!   

It's a nightmare!

Anyway, I digress, it has just stopped raining and is a little warmer here, so I ventured into the quagmire that was a garden.  If you are in the UK you will know that winter arrived with a bang not so long ago and it has been raining like it's monsoon season.

The chickens are moulting and one in particular is a dreadful, oven-ready sight.  She has one tail feather left, sticking right up like a feather on a squaw's headband.  She has a bare bum and longer legs now that her feathery plus fours are gone.  I've picked her up and she feels like a hedgehog, with all the new feathers just coming through.  No, I won't do her the indignity of taking her photo!

I've been feeding the chickens Cabernet Sauvignon grapes off the vine.  As per usual, the weather has changed before they are ready, and as per usual there's not enough of them to get any perceivable amount of grape juice.  Added to that, this year they have maggots in.  So the chickens get one of their five-a-day and a bit of protein to help with feather regrowth, bonus!



The small pear tree, which usually drops most, if not all of it's fruit in June, has managed to grow two large pears to maturity.  I want to bite into them, I'm just not too sure now I've seen the maggots in the grapes! 



























I feel the need for a visit to a nice big National Trust property, but we just don't have time at present. Him indoors is swamped with new students and never wants to turn folk away.  I'm sure business will calm down in the new year, but when you are self employed you have to take the opportunity when it arises, you never know when lean times are ahead!

So there you are, my October so far!

For those of you on Facebook, there's a sneaky peek at my latest charity shop purchase on my blog page, see the Facebook button to the right of this post.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Five pounds, one month - the September charity shop round up

So what can you buy with a fiver in a month?  Not much? 

This is what I've picked up in the past 30 days from charity shops. 

M&S stripe top.  I love this style, and I love this colour.  Just 50p, it was in a basket of cheap summer tops outside one of my favourite charity shops.  Still creased to hell as I didn't bother to wash it before I took the photo.



The next two finds were from a charity shop which is closing down for a refurb, so I anticipate a complete dearth of bargains in there from now on! 

M&S knee length vintage skirt, love the colour, and the price, £1, was even nicer!

 I do find the old label amusing, this fits me but look at those measurements!




It's not all about me this month either, there's something for him indoors too.  This Great Plains knitted gilet must have been expensive when new but was on a pound rail too.


You can't go wrong with a bit of bling, I found this in one of those baskets of tangled jewellery on the counter in another charity shop.  There were quite a few (cheap fashion) rings but this one was the only one that fitted.  It was black, it isn't now!  Silver ring (real silver), 50p. 


This scarf was in another cheap box outside a charity shop.  If you want gold then you've gotta dig for it.  Viyella scarf, 99p.

This was an impulse buy, but I quite fancy a long denim skirt as an alternative to jeans.  The denim is very soft too. M&S new with tags size 8 skirt, £1.  I've mentioned the size as the measurements are almost the same as the vintage one above!


So there you go, plenty of bargains lurking around, you just have to look.  Now go forth and rummage in those charity shops and tell me what you've found this month!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Richmond Castle, Easby Abbey, Ripon and Fountains again!

Our last couple of days in the Dales and we spent the time on free visits to National Trust and English Heritage properties.

The previous day I had discovered that our sneaky little alarm clock had a family, but he continued to frequent the doorstep on his own, not wanting to share the treats.  I wandered out into the farmyard after I had seen two hens and assorted chicks at the door of the other holiday cottage.  They spotted me and quickly ran over to see what I had to feed them!





























They were to call at our door every day after this until we left.

We set off towards Richmond, to visit the castle.  Again, the day started with mist, but sun was promised.


Richmond Castle was suitably grand, and imposing, must have put the frighteners on anyone when it was built back in the 11th century.  





























Of course, there were steps all the way to the top, so I had to go and investigate. 
 Nice view from the top


 I even climbed up into one of these rooftop turrets



























It was a long way down, over 60 steps, but obviously gravity helps with the descent!

Love the entrance through the wall
...and the castle walls in general

Some parts of the castle have deteriorated quite a bit

Lovely view of the river Swale from the castle, albeit a little misty

The Swale is a lovely river, it appears to be quite shallow, and babbles along over stones and slabs of rock so is quite accessible for paddling and general poking about in water type pastimes...

...or timer related photos, where we are out of focus because the camera is angled towards the river bed!
Gah!  I propped it up on my handbag and some other stones, not well enough it seems!

From the castle we drove the mile or so out to Easby Abbey.  The journey, allegedly, could be done underground many years ago.  I subsequently read a rather scary ghost tale of the little drummer boy who was sent to sound the way when the tunnel was re-discovered in the 1800s.  If you walk the official walk between Richmond and Easby, a stone marks the spot where his drumming stopped.  Thankfully, I was blissfully unaware of all the ghost stories attached to Easby when we visited.  It was also a blisteringly hot afternoon by the time we got there, so at least the atmosphere wasn't spooky.

The crack in that wall to the left on the above photo really is huge!  The whole wall is leaning away.

Another timer shot, his 'n' her arches
Easby is smaller than other abbeys we have visited, but has a lot of rooms
There were plenty of locals exploring the ruins, and enjoying the surroundings.  As Easby is free entry I'm not surprised, if I lived nearby I would be there every day! 

The following day, and our last day in the Dales, we decided to take it easy and stay local to the holiday cottage.

I've wanted to visit Ripon cathedral for a while.  Interestingly, it is supposed to be where a certain Charles Dodgson got the idea to write about a young girl disappearing down a rabbit hole!  His father was a canon of Ripon cathedral in 1852 and Charles Dodgson visited frequently.  Inside the cathedral are beautiful medieval carvings which include some depicting rabbit holes and mythical creatures.  I chose not to buy a photography licence to take photographs inside the cathedral, but as it is free to visit, we left a donation.  Read more about Ripon cathedral here

Ripon cathedral has a very interesting crypt.  It dates back to 672 AD, is the oldest Anglo Saxon crypt in the country and is from one of the first Christian churches in England.  St Wilfred, who built the crypt, modelled it on what he believed Christs tomb would have looked like.  St Wilfred is buried in Ripon cathedral.

We met a very interesting guide in the cathedral, who happily shared his knowledge with us and pointed out all the hard to find details which we would have missed.  He showed us the rabbit hole carvings on the misericords, and other little details.  We spent a good half an hour chatting to him.

Outside, we had a little wander round the cathedral, and I spotted the gravestone below.  
I like Ripon, it is in most parts pretty, and a busy little place.  It is allegedly England's oldest city, having been one for over 1300 years.  There is still some Tour de France ephemera around, as you can see!

After a picnic lunch, we set off for Studley Royal again for a relaxing last afternoon in Yorkshire.  We headed up the hill from the car park at Studley Royal, to the beautiful church of St Mary.

 and then a final wander along the river Skell

Oh Yorkshire!

We didn't want to leave, but we'll be back.


   
  





Monday, 22 September 2014

Middleham, home of Richard III, Coverdale and Wensleydale

Our fourth day in the dales and time to go deeper inland, up to Middleham, the home of Richard III, last king of the House of York.

We awoke to cloudy skies, thinking our luck had run out with the weather, time to get the woolies out of the suitcase.

The alarm clock was outside on the windowsill, just in case we fancied a lie in!



Here he is in mid crow, cheeky little beggar!

I've never been this far inland in Yorkshire, and found the landscapes breathtaking.  It didn't take too long to get to Middleham, which is a big racing town.  We got stuck in traffic behind these beautiful race horses

We parked up on the cobbled market square, and headed into King Richard's home, his favourite residence, Middleham Castle
The castle is in the town, so it's difficult to stand back and photograph it.  It is run by English Heritage, so we enjoyed free entry with my corporate membership.

There is a small exhibition in the shop, and I spotted this, a replica of a fabulous 15th century jewel which was found just outside the castle walls in 1985.  The original is in the Yorkshire museum

  Excuse the flash, I hardly ever use it but had no choice in this instance.

I spotted this statue of Richard III as we entered the castle.  It is rather haunting and ghostly as it appears to be white marble, but honestly, I think this is a rather Shakespearean portrayal, and I don't like it.  There is a basilisk hanging on his back and around his neck, and he is standing on a dead boar (his own heraldic symbol I believe) whilst a rat winds round his feet.
 However, despite the statue, the castle is interesting.  You can climb all the way to the top (hurrah! I love a good climb).





























Blue skies just peeping through, but what a great view

More castle shots 





 I do love the fact that the stone steps we walked on and the doorways we passed through were the very same ones that such an infamous king also once used


I've discovered the timer on my camera, it was touch and go whether I got to this window in time, OH had chosen the window nearest the camera

After a picnic lunch, we set off for a drive around the area, heading nowhere in particular.  Spotting signs for Coverdale, and being big fans of David Coverdale, we had to stop and take photos. We even bought Coverdale cheese at a local cheesemakers!

We ended up in the small town of Hawes, in Wensleydale.  A pretty little place with lots of tourists, expensive clothing shops selling real Harris Tweed (in fetching shades of purple too!) a ropemaker (we went in and had a look) and lots of eating places.  


 Unfortunately, we didn't think much of the cream tea.  It looked beautiful but was whipped cream, and the jam was very runny and way too sugary.  It was cheap though, and the tea was nice!  That Tweed jacket was £250 if I remember! 


That's it for day four.  




Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mount Grace Priory, Cod Beck and Marmion tower

Day three in Yorkshire continued the sunny theme, thankfully, but with a hint of dew on the ground.  I took a few photos of the area around our holiday cottage.





With a packed lunch and some cake and biscuits, we set off for Mount Grace Priory, an English Heritage managed property around 20 miles from where we were staying. 

It was so quiet, we wandered around the manor house



 which was complete and decorated with William Morris wallpaper










Outside, we meandered around the ruins, mainly lovely high stone walls around the cloister with doorways into what would have been individual monk's cells (detached two storey houses with proper toilets, gardens, covered walkways and a glass walled room overlooking the garden, an early type of conservatory!) Those square holes next to each doorway are where food and other things were passed to the monks living in the cells, they lived solitary lives with no contact.


There is a rebuilt cell to show what the living quarters would have been like, and they were very luxurious by modern standards, I think.


Here's a photo of the information board from in front of the reconstructed cell.

The actual cell showing the garden and covered walkway to the loo (far left)


                    Him indoors, trying the loo for size (not literally, you understand!)
The conservatory area
Inside, and upstairs in the spacious workroom, spinning wheel anyone?
Gratuitous shots of the beautiful ruins



We headed back to the car for our picnic, in one of the most peaceful car parks I have ever parked in.  This hen turned up to scratch around by the cars

After lunch. we drove around for a while and I spotted an interesting body of water on the map. We arrived at beautiful Cod Beck, and walked through the trees to a picturesque reservoir
 Over the stepping stones

























                                                          Through the trees, and

posed by the water's edge!

I even managed to flick my hair in this shot!

Driving back to the holiday cottage, him indoors spotted a brown tourist sign pointing to something called Marmion Tower.  We followed the sign.

We found a rather nice 15th century Gatehouse in pretty good nick.  Just look at the colours in the stone, not a bad oriel window either! 


With a nice twisty stone staircase that went right to the top, I insisted on climbing it, of course!

We have been so lucky with the weather so far, pity the suitcases were full of woolens.