Monday, 30 June 2014

A Walk, Wine and Queen Victoria

...... and relax.

The last of our party guests left today, and the OH has taken a day off, which is very rare as he is self employed, so after a last push to clear the post party debris, we decided to walk into the city.

It is a beautiful walk as we take the quiet path through the woods and once in Truro decide to go through Victoria Gardens. They were created in 1898 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.  I love imagining what it would have been like then, the women in their long dresses and hats pushing perambulators.  Today was a perfect sunny day for a stroll, reflecting on the lovely weekend with the family, and for the OH come to terms with the shock of being in his 60's.  Taking photos on my phone as we walked along, can you imagine what the Victorians would have made of the technology we take for granted.

The flowers are at their best,  the park keepers do an amazing job keeping everything ship shape and beautiful.  I really love parks, I feel they have a vital part to play in the life of a town or city.  They are the lungs of a city.  People need a place where they can relax, be at one with nature, play, or sit and have time out from work to eat their packed lunches.  When we visit London we always make a point of going to one of the beautiful parks in the city to renew our batteries and be able to breath.  It always amazes me the amount of wildlife that make their homes in the heart of a city in the little green oasis.  It is vital we keep these areas and never allow them to be built on in the ever increasing demand for building land.

The gardens have a little bandstand, fish ponds and beautiful old trees to sit under in the shade.  I used to take the children there when they were little to look out for squirrels and fish, walk around the tiny little paths picking up leaves and twigs that they insisted we had to take home.  They would go into the bandstand and pretend it was a castle to be defended against intruders, and then we would spread a blanket out and have a little picnic.

We saw this fella cooling down in one of the fish ponds, I wish we could have joined him, but I'm pretty sure swimming with the fish would be against the park rules.

One hundred and fourteen year old water fountain, no horrible plastic bottles of water in those days

After all the cooking over the weekend it was heaven to sit and have lunch brought to me and share a leisurely bottle of wine before catching the bus home.  I had planned to make jam this afternoon with the leftover fruit, but do wine and fiddling around with hot jam mix?  Maybe it should wait until later.  Feet up reading a book sounds inviting and catching up with the music at Glastonbury, before going back to work tomorrow.  I have just spotted the OH in the garden on his computer catching up with work, so much for a day off.

I must also start working on my 60 by 60 list,  which was the whole point of this blog.  I have not completed the list, let alone ticked stuff off, obviously too much partying!  I don't know where the time goes, life seems to fly by, but things will hopefully settle down now with no party to plan.

Thank you for all your lovely comments, I love hearing from you.

Also welcome to Amy following on Bloglovin.

Chickpea xx

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Day of Celebration


The day started with a storm, a heavy downpour and then...... the sun came out.......and then more rain.......and then the sun came out once more and stayed for the rest of the day.  Tables, chairs, cushions were all set up outside, with instructions for everyone to grab a cushion and run if the rain started again.  Puddles were played in until the sun slowly dried them out, the bouncy castle arrived and our garden transformed into a magical place of fun for children and adults alike.

The grandchildren tested the bouncy castle to make sure the bounce was just right for the guests

The Pimms were sipped

Summer strawberries

Scones with Cornish clotted cream, on top of the jam of course in the Cornish way.

A giant Birthday cup cake, candles blown and wishes made

..... and another birthday cake, well you can never have too many.

The guests aged from 6 months to late 80's came from various parts of the country to celebrate.  There was much eating, much drinking and all but the octogenarians had huge fun on the bouncy castle trying to perform the acrobatics they could do with ease when younger.  Those who probably thought I had gone completely mad hiring it for a 60th Birthday were soon jumping up and down with huge grins on their faces.  Shoes discarded, synchronised mass bouncing, inhibitions lost and that was the adults!  The children dragged off reluctantly to eat and drink before clambering back up.   Yours truly was even persuaded to clamber up and held desperately on to the side as her 'loving' family decided see how high they could catapult mum into the air.  Ending with a mass photo taken on the castle with everyone pulling funny faces, not your usual 60th Birthday family photo for us!

Today..... clearing up

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend,

Chickpea xx

Friday, 27 June 2014

Party Food - Cauliflower and Leek Bhajis

Cauliflower and Leek Bhajis

The family are gathering ready for the party tomorrow and the shopping cleaning and cooking is being stepped up a pace as I keep looking at my watch and having a little panic.  I've been running around in such a flap I didn't even realise I had my top on inside out all day.

This afternoon I made some Cauliflower and Leek Bhajis ready for tomorrow, I love Indian food and these tick all the boxes for me as they are veggie and gluten free.  I found this recipe in The Guardian under the Susanna Booth food section, they are really easy to make, and they make a change from Onion Bhajis

300g cauliflower
2 med. leeks
1 tbsp olive oil
100g  gram (chickpea) flour
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of salt
80 ml water
2 tsp mango chutney
2 tsp tomato puree
olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 180c/350f/gas4

Wash and prepare the cauliflower and leeks.  Dice the cauliflower into tiny pieces, cut the leeks lengthwise and then into thin slices.  Fry gently in the oil for 5 mins until just soft.

Put the gram flour, spices and salt in a bowl.  Add the water, chutney and tomato puree and mix to a smooth paste.  Add the fried vegetables and stir until everything is well coated.

Drizzle oil across a baking tray and distribute it evenly across the tray.  Dollop the bhaji mix on the tray 1 tbsp at a time.  Flatten them a little and drizzle more oil over the top.

Bake for 10 - 15 mins until a little brown.  Flip them over and bake for a further 10 - 15 mins until well browned and glistening.

Usually the amount stated above is fine, but for the party I have doubled the amount which made 25. They can be eaten hot or cold.  Serve with your favourite dip, I like raita with mine.

Chickpea xx

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Strong coffee, Cat Yoga and the British Weather

The best mornings are when I don't have to go to work early.  I sit in the garden listening to the birds with my morning coffee to wake me up.  I have suffered from insomnia for years, last night I didn't even go to bed as I knew it would be totally pointless, the heat is stifling.  I just caught as much sleep as I could on the sofa where it was cooler.  In the mornings I am shattered so I need some strong coffee to get me going.  If I could take it intravenously I would.  I seem to have an awful lot of friends who have the same problems with sleep, it is awful to feel so tired you want to cry and still not sleep the next night.  I used to sleep walk until I was in my early 20's, I don't think I still do it, well no one has told me I do!

My morning routine, lift cup to lips

So while I am sitting having my morning fix of caffeine Ziggy (yes I was a Bowie fan) goes through her morning routine.


touch your left paw

raise your right leg

touch your right paw



and rest

.....and then wander off to poo in the lovely new litter tray (aka veg patch) we have provided for her in the garden.

The weather has broken here now so hopefully it will cool down a bit, but it does not look good for the Big Six O party on Saturday.  We have been working hard on the garden to make it all ship shape, I've gathered  cushions and quilts for the garden chairs, tea lights and lanterns, the Bouncy Castle is booked for the children......and not so tiny children, and the forecast is for rain!  Typical British weather!  I think we are going to be a bit cramped if we all have to stay indoors with excitable children buzzing around our feet.  Sipping Pimms indoors will not be the same .  I really want this to be a lovely party for the wonderful man who looked after me so well last year while I was recovering.  But I know the best present he can have is to be surrounded by family who will be coming from across the country to celebrate with us.

Do any of you have weather reliant plans for the weekend?

Welcome to my new bloglovin follower Diane and to isabelle

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Sunset, Seagulls, Surfers and Shipwreck


After a sleepless night and a hot tiring day, there's only one place that will sooth my soul.

Chickpea xx

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Garden Update and a Giant Litter Tray

I'm sorry to report that the courgettes didn't survive, they developed a mould, withered and died before I even ate one single courgette.  I will try again next year in the veg patch, I will not be beaten!

Ever the optimist I have planted some peas and beans with an elaborate cat and bird scarer cane system.  I'm hoping the bits of cloth flapping in the wind might do the trick, it looks a bit like the clouties hanging from trees at sacred celtic sites.

 I have also put in some carrots, lettuce, chard and an aubergine.

The corn is still surviving as is the spinach.

I am fighting a constant battle with cats (including ours) using it as a giant cat litter tray.  I think the word has spread though out the neighbourhood and they all come to poo in my veg patch.  I have put down some smelly gel which is meant to keep cats off and organic slug pellets.

A lonely little aubergine

My poor plants are fighting to survive against cats, slugs and me.  It is an awful lot of work for little return, but it is worth it when you tip out the potato bags and find beautiful new potatoes despite the blight that destroyed the leaves.  I love pulling up the little carrots, washing them off and munching away at them raw.  I'm looking forward to picking the peas and sugar snaps and eating them raw.  I am grazing my way around the garden like a giant slug.

I am lucky that I don't have to rely on what I grow to feed my family like many people all over the world, the loss of plants would be devastating to them.  My paternal grandparents had ten children to feed, they grew their veg, kept cows and chickens to ensure their family ate well.  When the family had grown and left they sold the extra produce.  As a child I remember helping to collect the eggs and watching my auntie milking the cows.  We would then load the milk churns onto a cart and pull it up to the road for collection by the milk lorry.  A tiny little churn would be kept for the family, milk straight from the cow with no treatment at all.  It tasted completely different than the milk we have now.  They also grew flowers that the family would help to bunch up and take to the station to send up to London.  It wasn't called self sufficiency, it was just what people did.