I visited Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland at the end of June, to get some inspiration for my own little garden. I found quite a variety of pleasing plant combinations. And added lots of gorgeous other plants to my wish list!
Geranium 'Rozanne' with a very blue Hosta
Pink Rosa 'Constance Spry' with Stachys 'Byzantia', salvia and Campanula persicifolia (also Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' just out of shot)
Pink lupin with Astrantia Major
Astrantia Hadspen Blood
Ready to burst! Rosa filipes 'Kiftsgate'
After that floral explosion and with the sun shining I decided to drive over to East Midlands Airport to catch the Vulcan XH588 - the final airworthy plane of its kind - on one of the final UK flypasts before it's retired this year. Not being a regular plane-spotter, I wasn't quite sure where one would go to, well, spot a plane. I drove along the A453 which passes the airport when I saw lots of cars pulled over and people gathering on the embankments near the end of the runway. I pulled in at a layby a short distance along the road, parked up and walked back to the small crowd. There was a mixture of families, young and older, all expectantly glancing to the skies in anticipation. After a wait of about 30 minutes, we spotted the Vulcan, heading in from the opposite end of the runway towards us. It was spectacular, banking, dipping its wings and swooping up into the sky like a paper aeroplane. It passed right over our heads and went back up to the far end of the runway repeating the wing dips and then banking right again before heading onto the final flypast call in Newark. It was all over in a couple of minutes, but I'm so glad I caught it. A really impressive event and one that I'll always remember.
Someone took a video from near my viewpoint.
We're mostly unpacked, apart from the decorative stuff which is in the loft waiting until I paint and decorate the house. Carpets down in both bedrooms, new hall and stair carpet to follow towards the beginning of next month. Mum's got a wardrobe, my bookshelves are fixed to the (very solid Victorian brick!) walls and loaded with my books etc.
We have some fab paint to make the living room alcoves match the purple curtains and cushions. And blinds to put up in the bathroom and bedrooms.
We're awaiting the plumber who's going to relocate the bathroom sink and change it to one with a built-in vanity unit, and the electrician who's going to install a couple more sockets and our new lights in the kitchen, bathroom and living room, and the joiner who's going to replace the yucky stained wooden worktops with laminate ones and install a sink with a draining board.
The shed arrives at the end of the month, which means we can collect the rest of our stuff from our patient friends who have been storing it for us!
I've got a plan for the garden and will start to implement it over the summer...
We're now in the process of packing up the stuff Mum's taking to Australia, so still surrounded by boxes. It does feel like home though.
Living room view 1
Living room view 2
Dining room view 1
Dining room view 2
Mum's room view 1
Mum's room view 2
This is the first view after we got the keys.
Living room view 1
Living room view 2
Kitchen view 1
Kitchen view 2
My room view 1
My room view 2
Mum's room view 1
Mum's room view 2
Bathroom view 1
Bathroom view 2
Garden looking towards the house
Garden (and neighbour's washing line) from upstairs, with view!
Two weeks on it's looking more homely. Mum's room has a carpet, and mine is being laid this evening. I'll post more pictures this week once we've got some more boxes emptied!
After many frustrating months of waiting on solicitors and mortgage companies, we finally moved house on Monday 13 April.
31 years is a long time to be at one address, and the old house was full of the things of family life. A house where my brother and I arrived with Mum and Dad in 1983, to be joined a few months later by another sibling, when my sister was born. Where we shared cuddles with 6 cats (in all), a rabbit and a guinea pig and two fish. Where we celebrated many children's birthdays, a surprise birthday party and a wedding party. Three decades of Christmas mornings and various family gatherings. And where ten years ago we cared for, lost and mourned my Dad.
But while we've left those four walls behind, we take with us 31 years of memories.
And a whole lot of stuff!
Packing was a bit frantic as we were expecting to have the removal men packing for us the day before the move. However, we'd had to change the date so many times, by the time we finally had a date confirmed, the removal company we were planning on using were unavailable. Cue me calling every removal company in the Nottingham area for availability. In the end, the company who we did get, weren't able to pack for us, so we had to dash around all the Argos stores in the area buying up packing boxes and calling on Mum's friends to help us pack. They were awesome, and by some miracle, it did all get done.
So Monday came with the removal men who were one short as the new guy failed to show up on his first day of work... they called in back-up in the shape of the storage depot man. The three of them made light work of our heavy boxes, filling their very large van with all our worldly possessions. By midday the van was loaded and there was time for an hour or so of cleaning and loading our car with the few remaining items and essentials. I took a final couple of videos of the empty house... (apologies if it induces feelings of seasickness!)
And then we said our goodbyes to the house and got in the car.
We'd left the cats at Sue's house a few doors away and so Mum and I drove along the road and sat with them for half an hour while we ate our lunch. We had had the call from the solicitor to say that we had completed and from the vendors estate agent to say that the house would be ready for us around 3.00pm. We requested a little earlier and so we headed to Kimberley and the estate agent and collected the keys just after 2.30pm.
And so we arrived at our new house...
My time in Melbourne over Christmas was peppered with several fabulous dining experiences. Two of the best were the taster menu Chris and Dougie put together for my birthday. It was so lovely to have an all-vegetarian degustation in the comfort of Helen and Chris's home. The meal began with three canapes followed by homemade bread, before the seven-course main event. Every single course was amazing. I honestly can't pick favourites from it! Each course was a perfect balance of texture and flavour. And they were presented so stunningly too. An evening I'll never forget. It was wonderful - thank you Chris and Dougie.
Parmesan and truffle custard cigars with compressed pears and edible flowers
A lovely start to the meal. Quite a strong flavour which surprised me. The pears were scrummy and the cigars very crisp.
Mushroom pate with enoki mushrooms, toasted pine nuts and micro herbs
The toasted pine nuts went so well with the different sorts of mushrooms. You could pick each indivdual flavour out but they complemented each other perfectly.
Compressed watermelon with goats cheese, baby basil and olive crumb
I'd never heard of compressed watermelon before; it's exactly what you'd imagine. An intense version of the familiar. The sour goats cheese really worked with the sweet watermelon.
Served warm. I may have had two of these. Yum.
Course 1 - Asparagus with salsa verde, slow cooked egg yolk, cauliflower purée, porcini powder and parmesan
I love egg yolk with asparagus - one of my all time favourite combinations. I didn't realised the puree under the egg yolk was cauliflower and I spent a while trying to work out what that creamy, familiar taste was until Chris told me.
One of my favourites by only by a whisker. The redcurrants, gingerbread and sage leaves absolutely made pumpkin pop. Loved it. What a combination. My mouth's watering remembering it.
I really enjoyed this one. It was everything you'd want from a hearty warming dinner - all in a few mouthfuls. The souffle was fab. The fresh peas were delicious too.
Course 4 - Quince paste, Pyengana cheese, olive soil, candied lemon zest, honey syrup drizzle, warm figs
Warm figs and cheese. Oh yes. This is another one that's got my mouth watering. The Tasmanian cheese went so well with it. And olive soil - savoury and sweet in perfect combination.
The perfect dessert. Pistachio ice cream was divine and the pomegranate a nice zingy complement. And I love rosewater.
Not home made, and I was pretty full up, but I managed one of these.
Lancashire Bomb cheese in Melbourne! Thanks to Chris's cheese supplier for this. You wouldn't have thought we'd have space for cheese after all that food, but an energetic game of Articulate helped dinner go down enough that we managed to polish off much of this platter (and the port!)
Another Memorable Melbourne Moment coming soon...
This weekend we enjoyed a visit from our friends Andy & Sam. On Saturday we took a trip up the M1 to Bolsover Castle, an English Heritage property with a fascinating history.
The weather was cold but the sun was out, and we wrapped up with scarves and extra layers.
We warmed up after our tour with homemade soup in the Castle cafe, and a stroll around a local antiques shop. A very enjoyable Saturday afternoon!
The stunning roof gables in the riding range
View from inside the ruined wing
View from the grand castle entrance
Every year on 29th March, which is the anniversary of Dad's passing, Mum and I spend the day out, having lunch and buying a plant for the garden to remember Dad. This year we decided to go to Oakham, Rutland, which is about 30 miles away. I looked online to find somewhere with reasonable reviews to eat our lunch at, and found the Fox and Hounds at Knossington. Mum drove there, which allowed her to have a glass of wine with lunch as I'd be driving back.
The weather was stunning - a beautifully warm day, and you were only reminded that it was still March when you looked at the bare trees! Fortunately, the food at the Fox and Hounds was stunning too! A really lovely little pub, in a very tiny village, with a landlady who made us feel very welcome. I asked if there were any vegetarian options (before seeing the menu) and she said "we can do whatever you'd like", which is something I've never heard before! She told me there was a mushroom dish on their evening menu they could do for me, and being a mushroom fan I said yes without hesitation! The dish was actually four large field mushrooms in a garlic, cream and Stilton sauce served with spinach with a side of pommes frites. Yummy! I just about had enough space left for pudding, and chose the delicious Strawberry Mille Feuille. It was just as tasty as the main course. And we were able to sit outside in the sunshine too!
After lunch we went to the nearby Gates Garden Centre at Cold Overton, which was huge! It took us an hour to get 'round it all and we came away with a lovely rose called 'Special Anniversary' for Dad, some perennials for the garden and some cauliflower and cabbage seedlings for the veggie patch.
Then we drove on into Oakham itself, where we spent a couple of hours wandering around the landmarks including the Buttercross, the five-hole stocks (anyone know why?!), the castle and the amazing 12C church.
It was a really lovely day. I'm so glad we remember Dad each year in this way.
Inspired by Shimelle's post earlier this week, I finally found my scrapbooking mojo and managed to create something featuring my niece Noa.
Thanks Shimelle! I need to print some more pictures to scrap now as my fingers are itching to keep going!