Sunday, 29 September 2013

Oh...... What a Beauty........

I've never seen one as big as that before........

Be warned......... photographs to follow contain graphic images of some HUGE specimens.

Steel yourselves now.....


Would you look at the size of that! - that delicate little black thing at the bottom of the photograph is my dainty be-booted foot!

The teeny little white oblong sitting on the marrow is my BlackBerry 'phone - just for some kind of perspective!

The pumpkins were in a class of their own!

This first prize winner was like a zeppelin!

See how this little pixie-man is dwarfed by it!  Tee hee - thanks for posing bro!

Not so pretty giants now......


Mutant Carrots!!

Look at these pretty potatoes!!

A lovely pair of caulis!

Pot leeks - these were huge - its difficult to get a perspective of how big things were just from the photos.

Such beautiful produce - 

This amazing trug of produce won a First and I'm really not surprised ... 

It was as well thought out from the back as it was from the front.

A rogue flower pic - these dahlias were called "Pooh" as in Winnie the Pooh - cos of the colours I guess!

More Mahoosive Veggies!

And my parting shot.............

OI!! Supermarkets!!

See ALL these bad boys?

AND all these other bad boys?

Guess what?




*sticks out tongue and blows a (British) raspberry*

Tee hee.

Love Love!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Buy British - if you can find it.... (in which I have a little rant and get a little sweary)

Twas necessary for me to go shopping in the big green supermarket of monstrous proportions this evening.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not Harvest time here in the UK?  Are the orchards not currently abounding with mellow fruitfulness?  Is blogland not currently bursting at the seams from heavy consumption of appley based sweet eaty treats?  

Well according to the supermarket aforementioned, the only bloody apples available in the whole of the world come from bloody France, bloody Brazil and bloody New Zealand.  Oh there are lots of varieties of apples on the shelves alright - bags and bags of  the buggers in fact - sadly with more combined air miles than you can shake a ready made crumble mix at.   And the price of them shocked me.  Kilo bags of apples for £2.50.  Shocking.  I'd expect a bin bag full for £2.50!   I did manage to find just one variety (Worcester) which had been grown here in the UK and surprise surprise they cost  just £1 per bag.  

I had a look about online when I got home and learned that our lovely old varieties of apple are now losing out to the new ones (like "Pink Lady" for example which is Britain's fourth most popular apple).  The Pink Lady variety is now trademarked meaning British Farmers are (allegedly) not allowed to grow it.  They are prohibitively expensive - I've seen these fruits for sale at around £3.00 for four apples.  Yet our beautiful olde English home grown varieties such as Russets and Orange Pippins are sadly being overlooked.

Don't buy 'em people.  Go shake your neighbour's apple tree so they fall over your side of the fence if need be. Tell them I said it was ok and that sharing is caring!  Keep your peepers peeled for apple trees growing on waste ground.  Visit a farm shop or 'pick your own' orchards.  Plant an apple pip. Buy a sapling - it will fruit sooner than you think. Do anything but buy these long distance, bland tasting interlopers. 

Ohh!  I forgot to say - I found some pears too - proudly emblazoned with a big blue sticker which shouted "New Season".  

Shame the new season means that new season currently happening in BLOODY NEW ZEALAND!!


Monday, 23 September 2013

Five Random Things

Time for a bit of randomness I reckon.

1.  I have never, nor have any intention to, watch an episode of Downton Bliddy Abbey.

2.  I have never successfully applied a pair of false eyelashes.

3.  My dog is obsessed with:-
     a)   Watering cans;
     b)   Steam Irons;
     c)    Bits of fluff;
     d)   Stealing tea-towels, single socks, empty toilet rolls;
     e)   The television, particularly Eastenders;
     f)    Aerosol sprays and will run from the top of the garden to the upstairs bathroom in
           0.03 seconds as soon as he hears the cap being removed;
     e)   The open freezer - he will stand trying to lick the drawers if at all possible;
     f)    The cats;
     g)   The chicken;
     h)   Going outside.  Even if he has just come inside.
     i)    Drinking from the bliddy loo even if he has a full bowl of water.
     j)    Pacing

4)  I passed my driving test first time at the age of 18 and haven't driven since.
      This is (one of) the bane(s) of my life.

5)  I know most of the words to the film Notting Hill.
     And Love Actually
     And Bridget Jones ....  ahem.....

Go on - tell me some randomness!

Love xxx

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Six Smiles on a Sunny September Sunday

After my "Woe is Me" post of yesterday (thanks for your kind words peeps xx) normal service is now resumed and I am once again SHOUTING (with) LOVE (from Peapods (tee hee) ) AT THE WORLD!

Things that I have loved about this last week:-

1.  Fabulous Fashionistas

I caught this brilliant look into 'the art of ageing' by a complete fluke earlier in the week but I'm so glad I did.  This Channel 4 documentary (SEE HERE ) follows the lives of a group of women old enough to know better but feisty enough not to care. It was like watching the visual depiction of Jenny Joseph's 'Warning' poem - "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple...." ...and how! From the frightfully posh and terrifying Lady Trumpington with her endearing passion for catalogue shopping to the 87 year old dancing queen who is more bendy than a rubber paperclip, I watched the whole programme with a ridiculous grin on my face.  Quote of the show, however, came from Sue Kreitzman who lives her life in colour these days and refuses to simply fade into the background.  She says:   "Everybody should be living in colour.  You know what I really hate? I hate beige. Beige is the colour of death and it just leeches all the life out of you- my motto is - don't wear beige,  it might kill you."   We have been warned!!

Watch it if you can.   I want to be one of those dear ladies when I grow up!

2.  The Fried Chicken Shop

Believe it or not I don't watch much telly.  But I do love documentaries about every day life, particularly British every day life.  The Fried Chicken Shop is filmed in a fast food takeaway in Sarf Lahhndon which showcases the comings and goings of their very cosmopolitan clientele.  Quote of the show came from cross dressing regular, Jessie, who rocked up in a fetching purple shrug over a bare belly and a green micro short skirt which barely covered his modesty (or his grey undertrollies for that matter!!).  Eyeballing a student couple at the table across from him, he asked the girl disdainfully "when (she) was going to wear something interesting? Look how boring your clothes are.  All covered up in black and grey you couldn't look more boring if you tried"  Hilarious!  Perhaps she needed to take fashion tips from the Fashionistas aforementioned?!

3.  Harvest Gifts

Remember the sad little pepper plant I rescued from Aldi a few weeks ago?  I picked the fruit today - all teeny but will be fine roasted in a little oil and seasoning.

There was a knock on the door earlier and our lovely neighbour delivered a bag full of late runner beans.  Mum came up for tea later on this evening bearing gifts of an allotment grown cabbage from her and a pot of apple chutney from my brother!  Yay!

4.  Alternative Sunday Dinner

Cos we am punk as wossname, we sometimes **looks furtively over shoulder**  don't have a roast on Sunday!  Today, we had a home cooked Indian feast of onion bhajis, chicken pakora, sweetcorn fritters,  onion salad and poppadums, and a beautiful chick peak and chicken jalfrezi.   A dear friend of mine sent me a fab book for my birthday called "Miss Masala" which is a modern take on Indian cooking for busy people!  Amazon link is here  It has some great recipes with a humorous commentary and lots of  barking mad tips such as to test that the temperature of shallow frying oil has reached optimum temperature, small bubbles will appear around a wooden spoon (obviously you have to put it into the oil first *rolls eyes*)  - well it works for me and I always use it now!

Onions in their batter awaiting the pan!

Clusters of bhajis frying away merrily
Lovely crisp, little morsels, draining on kitchen paper ready to be reheated 
in the oven later.  (better eaten straight away though!!)

Recipe - 
Sliced Onions - recipe states 2 but I use more
100g Gram Flour
1 teasp bakimg powder
1 teasp garam masala
1 teasp ground chilli
1 teasp ground cumin
1 teasp turmeric

Mix all the dry ingredients together with a fork, to ensure all the spices are well mixed into the flour. 
Gradually add some cold water a little at a time, stirring quickly until a thick yoghurty type
consistency is reached.    Add sliced onions and stir together until coated.  
Drop a couple of tablespoons full of the mixture into little dollops in frying pan of hot oil, press down a little and shallow fry for a couple of minutes each side.  Don't be tempted to shove them around  - simply let them cook 
on their own until crispy and golden brown. 
Simply divine dahhhling!

Chicken and chick pea jalfrezi - Yum!

5.  The Moon

Yes - the moon - pictures take by yours truly.  I am very, very proud!   I worked out how to alter some manual settings on the camera (more by luck than judgement I have to say!) - thanks Mr T'interwebnet! - earlier in the week in time for full moon.  Sod's law dictated however as soon as I had done this, the batteries failed and so I've had to wait until tonight to test it.  Not too shabby - although these were the best of a bunch of twenty snaps! Hahah.

6.  Arty Fartyness!

The nights are drawing in and I need distractions.  New collages will do!  I've found a lovely little book with lots of tutorials and am currently playing with this effort - far from completed but just a quick peek.

That's enough smiling for one day - me face is starting to ache!

Love Love!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Autumn Blessings ...

A Blessed Mabon to you and yours. The Wheel of the Year is turning once again and the earth is settling down to snooze her way through to Spring.  

Gorgeous 'Autumn Goddess' picture sourced from Google but sadly no credit
given to the artist/creator.  Please let me know if you know :)
It has been a stunningly beautiful day today.  Today 'should' have been our wedding day.  Some of you may remember that we had booked a venue some 18 months ago and plans were being made.  Today was to be the day.  Unfortunately, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or a lottery win did not materialise and, realising that we could not put ourselves under so much financial pressure, we had to cancel.

I've felt a little subdued today; having a bit of a weep here and there.  Not through any sense of loss because nothing has changed at all; but in frustration and exasperation I guess.   The man has been amazingly understanding as usual, managing to say just the right things (which made me cry more) and being his usual loving and caring self.  As today draws to a close I know that I am blessed. I know that the ceremony will happen at some point, and it is not the "be all and end all".  That may be the case for many people; some may view the signing of a bit of paper archaic and unnecessary - but it is MY be all and end all right now.  I never thought that I would ever want to marry again but having found the missing piece of my jigsaw then something changed.  We know that we will make it happen and that our big day will be everything we ever wanted it to be,  but I'm strangely glad that today is done.  I'm cross with myself that I've felt so maudlin on such a beautiful day - its probably not helped by bloody hormones.  But its done.

All week long I have been seeing tiny pure white feathers in random places.  Like little markers of comfort and encouragement.  I never pick them up - just look at them and smile and know that they're there for a reason.

Time to breathe.   Summon some inner strength.    Be grateful for all that I am blessed with.   Time to (carry on) Be(ing)  happy, because although I am not wealthy in a monetary sense, I am richer than I ever thought possible.

Love and light, my friends, Love and light. xxx

Thursday, 19 September 2013

More tales of Norn Iron

Hello there!

Hmm.  I've been looking through the Giants Causeway photographs to share with you - but having looked at them again, I'm not very happy with them really.  I dunno - I had some kind of romantic vision that the place would be as uninhabited,wild and untamed and as mystical and moody as the promotional photographs lead you to believe.  Of course, if you time your trip to be there at around 5am in the morning when there are NO BLOODY TOURISTS there, then this is exactly what you will see.

If you go in the middle of the day - then you can expect this instead:- lots of people throwing shapes on some rocks!  That bloke in the middle with his arms outstretched?  Every time he climbed another rock he repeated the exercise and his missus giggled and took another picture!  Bless.  Cough.

Anyway........ human sheep aside (and yes,  I have to include ourselves in that description!), it really is a very beautiful place.  It was great to clamber over the stones, feeling rather like a child crossing stepping stones, choosing exactly the best one to put your foot onto next.  The photo above shows 'the wishing chair' and we sat right on top of it (me rather precariously and hoping that my arthritic back and knees wouldn't snatch and give way on the way down!).

The following pics have been cropped to death to try to exclude annoying folk from them.  I'm such a grumpy bint! hahaha. 

The man was laughing at me whilst I was taking this as it took ages before people
stopped coming through!  It became a personal challenge to get a body-free shot!!

I've borrowed the following description of the Causeway from who describe this magical place far more eloquently than I ever could.

"Situated on the North coast of Ireland in  Country Antrim (about two miles north of Bushmills, 11 miles from Coleraine and 13 miles from Ballycastle), the Giant's Causeway is an area of approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption; however the legend is more convincing for those who prefer a more colourful story (See HERE to read about the legend of Finn MacCool - far more exciting than the geological explanation!).

The Giant's Causeway plays a major part of Ireland's heritage, attracting visitors from around the world each year since it was first documented in 1603 and realistic sketches were published in 1740.  The Giant's Causeway has often been described as the Eighth Wonder of the World and was declared as Ireland's first World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1986.  Once you have visited you will quickly see why it has become Ireland's top tourist attraction".

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Irish Times


I spent my 46th (eek!) birthday in Belfast.

We walked for miles and miles and miles around the City, ate good food, visited Giants Causeway, and all in all had a fine old trip.  Here's some pics!

Belfast's smallest house - one up and one down.  A family of five
lived here in times past, allegedly the caretaker of the Baptist Church to
which the house is adjoined.

On the first day we were there, after a lovely Irish breakfast in a little cafe, we hopped on a bus and got delivered to the Titanic Quarter where we had a saunter around the dock.  

We had booked a couple of bus tours - the first one being a ticket which was valid for 72 hours, where we were allowed to hop on and off a sight seeing bus at our leisure.  Hm...  Not convinced by this one to be honest.  I'm not good at being shepherded anywhere and prefer to make my own way to see things at my own pace.  However, because we were only there for three days, I thought this may be a good way of seeing a lot of things in a short space of time.  Sadly the bus was a little antiquated and the guy who was doing the commentary spoke so quickly (on a malfunctioning microphone) that I was getting more irritable by the second and wanted to escape!  We saw the murals and the peace wall, the Shanklin Road and the Falls Road.... but I couldn't really hear what he was saying above the white noise of the microphone.  I do think they need to make a few improvements to their equipment as the tours aren't exactly cheap.  It wasn't explained when we got on that we were able to just ring the bell and get off whenever we wanted to either so I felt a little like a hostage until we decided that enough was enough and escaped at the docks!

The city landmarks of The Samson and Goliath gantry cranes

The sleeping giant in the distance against moody skies

Can you see him?  Enlarge the pic to see a little better

The new Titanic museum - we didn't go in as we're tightwads and 
refused to pay the entry fee of £30 for the two of us! We enjoyed walking 
through the gift shop and surrounding areas just as much.

 Honestly.  Being all graceful like. 

A mahoooosive "Airfix"-like scale model of the Titanic

The Nomadic - the last surviving ship of the White Star Line

The Big Fish - a sculpture celebrating the regeneration of the River Lagan.  Each ceramic 'scale' is printed with
a story about the history of Belfast.  He looks a bit sad though doesn't he?!
We had coffee in the Havana Cafe (and gorgeous key lime pie - cos it was my birthday!)
They only charged us for the cake so we scarpered sharpish!  hehehe.. not before taking a pic of
their impressive ceilings though.  Lovely building.

Later in the evening after a quick shower and a rest back at the hotel, we took ourselves out for 
dinner. Cath Kidston had put on a birthday display in her shop window just for me.  How very kind of her!
A rubbish photo of my dinner (well - some of it!)
We went to a Chinese buffet restaurant and tried lots of different dishes
Mussels in black bean sauce, sushi, prawns, sesame toast and chilli and garlic king prawns
 on this starter plate!  

I think Blogger is getting cross with so many photographs and has gone on strike - I'll report on the Giants Causeway tomorrow. 

As ever, thank you so much for your visit.

Much love xx

Friday, 6 September 2013

Happy Friday

Happy Friday lovely readers, followers, lurkers and passers-by!

I'm doing a bit of a happy dance this evening (well - I'm waving me legs around feebly!) because I have finished work for a week.  Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!

I found this pic on my phone earlier that I'd forgotten about.  It was taken a few weeks ago of the scraggy bit of buddleia which has self seeded itself in the tarmac and stands at the entrance to the business park where I work.   I was amazed to see literally 'swarms' (hmm what do you call a lot of butterflies?  a swarm? a herd? a flutter?)  Anyway.... the flowers were absolutely smothered in Peacock butterflies.  I've never seen so many in one place.
Five butterflies on this patch alone - one is a bit of a blur on the bottom flower bract  and another with closed wings on the top most flower - click on the pic to enlarge it.

Yet more changes at work mean that I've been allocated three guys to work for.  I was delighted and a bit touched when I was called down to reception early this afternoon to received these gorgeous flowers from them in lieu of my birthday next week  - the photo really doesn't do them justice.  I've honestly never seen such a beautiful bouquet. Its full of alstromeria, golden rod, yellow roses, orange gerberas and gorgeous sunflowers (my favest fave flowers!) and some very interesting orange flowers that I don't have a clue about!  Definitely 'my' colours - a wonderful autumnal bouquet and a very much appreciated gift.

And finally, my little potato family.  Allotment potatoes are far more interesting than supermarket ones don't you think?!  hee hee... and yep - I really did tie a bit of ribbon around Daddy Tato.  Cos that's how I roll!

We are family - I've got all my tatoes with me! 
Bit of a random post here this evening but you should be used to me by now!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A mere trifle, m'dear....

I went to Mum's for tea after work today.  As I won't be seeing her on my birthday (for, I think, probably the first time ever!)  she had made me a 'pre-birthday' sundae, crammed with allotment berries.  It was delicious!  

She said she had been inspired by the Trifle making on GBBO last night.  

Bless her face!

It really is the little things isn't it?  That was the sweet part of my post - it all goes sour from here on in - step away now if you don't want to read it!

I'm going to be a bit controversial now.  

Birmingham Public Library.  Have you seen it on the news or in the press?  

Well - if you haven't.... its this:-

The library has more than 200 public access computers, theatres, an exhibition gallery and music rooms.

  • It can hold 3,000 people
  • It has nine floors - three of which are out of bounds to the public (!)
  • It has a brown roof garden with wild flower meadow (as all good libraries do).
And the cost (which was agreed at the beginning of what progressed to be a double dip recession)  A cool £189 million.  Mostly borrowed with a small amount of funding being donated.  This at a time when Councils country-wide were/are closing public libraries to save costs, and indeed just last year, Birmingham made cuts to its library service, felling the number of full-time staff from 260 to 161 and opening hours were reduced by a combined 139 hours each week. 

The Dutch architect Francine Houben (from the company Mecanoo) says: ""The 5,357 circles on the outside frieze of the building reflect the city's industrial heritage - the craftsmanship, the factories, the canals, the jewellery quarter."

So... we have a Dutch architect to thank (because there is, of course, a complete DEARTH of qualified architects in the Midlands, nay the UK, probably) for creating this impressive structure which looks (in my very humble opinion) like a giant cheese grater.
It was officially opened by Malala Yousafzai, the teenager shot in the head in Pakistan by the Taliban for championing women's rights who was treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.  Um....Why?  No-one is denying that she experienced something that no child ever should and fair play to her for standing up for her rights.... but still... why her?

Ah - that's because all the well deserving local Brummie characters/business entrepreneurs/world renowned musicians/charity stalwarts or general all round good eggs of the great city of Birmingham were obviously all on holiday.   Of Course.  

Is it me?

Working from home

I've taken a precious day of annual leave today.  I've really struggled this week with feeling so yuk and I needed the restorative ...