Tuesday, 5 September 2017


I have developed a new respect for film directors.  

Yesterday was a teacher-training day, so I had two of my grandchildren over for the day, while their parents went to school.    

It was great fun, though the grandchildren showed a deep desire to sit on the sofa and watch television all day.

I then winkled them out from their cosy couches and out into the fields, where we roamed about looking for bits of old pottery and then moved on to collecting some of the many delights of this time of year... acorns, hazelnuts, sloes, rosehips, seed heads, helicopter seeds, and whatever else we could find.   They enjoyed themselves and got some fresh air and exercise without realising it.

Seizing upon their good mood, when we returned home with our bounty, I decided to have a bit of fun trying to reproduce another cookery book cover; they were not interested in cooking from it, which had been my original plan.

This one should be a cinch!  Such a simple design...Ha!

We mocked up the outfits, found the props, attempted to get things organised and then got down to the poses.

One got the giggles and the other one froze.

They had fun,

but we didn't really get anywhere near the correct pose - well, not at the same time.

Nevertheless, it kept them away from the television and they enjoyed themselves!

Goodness knows what kind of memories they are going to retain about this crazy gran of theirs.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

A Totem in Owl Wood

A little while ago I was given an old birdbath.
I didn't really want it,
it is not a style of garden ornament that I like.

However, because it has owls on it,
and we have Owl Wood,
I decided to accept the gift
to place it discreetly away in Owl Wood.

What can I say?
Except that I am overjoyed that I did.

For many years we have gone to sleep at night 
listening to the sound of Tawny Owls
calling to one another.

Not so this last year or so.
The woodland has been upsettingly silent.

 since I got two strong men to place the birdbath in Owl Wood
I am happy to say that some magic seems to have happened.

The wonderful sound of Mr and Mrs Tawny Owl
calling to one another
has once again become the soundtrack 
I fall asleep to each night.


Friday, 25 August 2017

Summer at Parsonage Cottage & Village Life

The tables began to fill up, though we did wonder where everyone was for the first half an hour!

It has been a busy summer, one way and another, but there is always time for some baking, especially bread baking.

This was a wonderful walnut bread, it worked really well with cheese, but for a bread lover like me, it tasted good just as it was.

The wild plum trees in Owl Wood have been giving us a bumper crop.  We have enjoyed them simply cooked and served with our lunchtime bowl of yogurt, sharp and delicious.     They have added a fabulous shot of colour to many dishes, including this windfall apple and wild plum crumble, the crumble crust having the addition of chopped hazelnuts to add to the autumnal notes and goodness.

The barley fields have already been harvested and the straw baled, which means that the fields are vast and empty and we have the pleasure of roaming through them at leisure.  It always feels like a summer holiday destination during this magical period which the grandchildren, dog, and I enjoy to the max!

We have just been along the old railway line and picked about a pound of blackberries.  We acquired a number of nettle stings and scratches along the way, but that is all part of the fun.  Frankie took her revenge by stomping on nettles, thereby forgetting the stings.  Emergency field medicine, but it works.

Our next door neighbours have kindly brought round a(nother) bag of plums and a(nother)bag of windfall apples, which is fabulously generous of them, but we have reached the point where my smile becomes fixed and my heart despairs.   I make, bake, pickle, share and pass on the fruit...and still it comes.

Right now I am busy dealing with a glut of huge and beautiful tomatoes and the courgettes have all decided to really kick in at the same time.   Hedgerows are glistening with the deep, dark elderberries and the rosehips and hawthorne berries shine out like Christmas lights, all of this at the same time - oh, and let's not forget the sloes!

I am grateful, don't get me wrong, and it is a wonderful feeling to be able to put down so much food ready for the hard winter months...does all this bounty mean that we are going to have a really harsh winter?

In other news, although it, too, saw me chained to the kitchen stove for quite a while, we have just had the Annual Village Show.    The committee numbers have diminished again, so have the number of helpers, but more of that another time.

The show was a success and it was wonderful to see people come into the hall, proudly bearing their cakes and bakes, fabulous flowers, and magnificent marrows, etc.  

This cake was made by possibly our oldest village resident, it was her 'Summer Celebration Cake' all the decorations are made from rice paper.   Makes me think of a pretty summer bonnet - tasted very good, too!

Herbs. flower arrangements, paintings, photographs, eggs, fruits and vegetables all helped to transform the hall, for a few hours.  

The refreshment stall was filled with home bakes as well as tea and coffee.   Once the hall filled up, after judging, I was too busy to take any more photographs but, trust me, it was full to overflowing and people sat outside at the tables and chairs we had provided, to drink tea and chat with old friends.

Now, I must get back to the kitchen and I may be some time.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Book Cover Fun

During this summer, over on instagram,  I have been having a little fun with book cover art.

It began slowly, then grew, as these things do.

This is one of the most recent, easy to do and great fun.

This was the idea in its' infancy.  It shows a cake and the recipe book it was taken from, the leather chair and the brandy are there because the cake is one which was made at Boodles Gentlemen's Club in London.

Here I was just exploring the thought of mustard with bits and pieces from around my kitchen.

...and in this one I just pulled out certain images from the cover.

This one happened very spontaneously, so it could have been done better, but it was assembled and cleared away all within the space of 10 minutes.  Great fun to do.

This was done to show a friend, not possible to copy the cover, so I just went for a couple of relevant elements.

This one was pure fun!

This one came about after a bread-making session with my grandchildren.  Very simple cover, but it took ages to set up to get things set up so that the whole thing worked.

Bits of nonsense, lots of fun.

I hope you have found some fun this summer.

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Village Show

Our Annual Village Show.

For a full report follow the link to my other blog...https://oldcooks.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/village-show.html ... sorry, but I am too tired to type it all out again!

It took some effort, but we managed to put on another show.  Hurrah for village life!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Summer Quarters

So, the sun has come out to play!   We can remove a few layers of clothes and abandon the thick socks - until next week, probably.   We'll enjoy it while we can.

This is the view as I take my daily walk up to the dovecote and through the farmyard.   It is like walking through a John Constable painting.

Meet Bill, he belongs to a friend in the village.   He is a lovely old dog (about 11/12 years old) but his owner can't walk him at the moment due to health problems, so I have the pleasure of taking him out.   It is like walking a feather on the lead compared to walking my big bruiser,

Dobson who is doing his best to look slim in this photograph.    He is sporting his favourite neckerchief and wearing yogurt on his nose - he loves sneaking a lick out the empty yogurt pot!

And (I know, I know!)  here is home, Parsonage Cottage, seen from a distance,  across the barley field.      I am stepping back from the world of blog, just for the summer.

Life is busy and time is short.

Instagram is something I have been exploring and I think the short and snappy format will probably be easier for me at the moment.   I'll still be reading blogs, dropping the occasional comment.   Back in the cooler months, when life has settled down a bit.

(For anyone who does do instagram: this link should take you to my IG page  otherwise known as parsonage_cottage_kitchen)

Have a wonderful summer.