Monday, 25 June 2018

Days Out In Devon: Torre Abbey By The Western Lady

I have had a lovely weekend - at home for a change.  In fact I've got a few  now with nothing planned.  Of course if anyone has any suggestions I might be off!    Yesterday we decided to take the boat to Torquay.  The return trip on the Western Lady, at three pounds for a return ticket, has got to be one of the best bargains around.  It's a lovely half hour taking in the vistas of Torbay.

This is what we went to see.  'Do you want to come and watch some robots re-enacting the Last Supper?'  I asked Lou.  'Why ever not!' he replied.

And yep!  It was as odd as it sounded.  Clever and thought provoking though.  We're not quite sure why there were copulating 'budgies' on the table but obviously we're not experts in the field of interpreting art.

There's a rather good exhibit about the history of the abbey too.  This very early bi-plane took off from its lawns and proved to the Naval fleet that aircraft might pose a bit of a threat to shipping in wartime.  The abbey also played an important part in hosting the yachting events for the 1948 Olympics.  Monks also lived there too at some part of its history.  Duh!

Torquay was home to a pottery that made souvenirs for other resorts.  Here's a typical example that appealed to this tidy freak.

I took a shot of this weird lacy dolls house as I know that there's a few of you out there who like this sort of thing.  The items in this shop demonstrate the maker's different crafting abilities.

There's proofs of some fascinating William Blake engravings depicting the book of Job.

This was my favourite painting.  There wasn't any notice saying who'd painted it.  It will have to remain a mystery.

And I loved this fellow too.  Othello had his marble handkerchief stolen in the '60s but it was returned after a local girl found it on the beach.

And finally outside to the glasshouses which were cooler on a hot day than you would have expected.  There's supposed to be stick insects inside.  Be blowed if I could find any.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Quick Quiche

I made quiche yesterday for the first time in yonks, ever since I moved to this house at least.  I know that because I had to go out and buy a flan tin yesterday morning from the very wonderful hardware store in town.   Somewhere during my moves my own one had done a runner

My desire to cook quiche was sparked by a shared lunch that we had at work a few weeks ago.   Someone had brought a supermarket version.  I wasn't tempted.  It looked sad and shrunken.  Nothing like the lovely 'cheese flans' my mum used to make during my childhood.  The posh French name for them arrived at the end of the seventies.

I followed this recipe.  As usual when I say 'follow' I mean that I used it as a guideline rather than instructions that were set in stone.  Here's what I did differently.

  • The recipe calls for an egg yolk in the pastry mix.  Bollocks to the pfaffing.  I put the whole thing in.  It didn't seem to make any difference
  • I left the pastry case chilling in the fridge from morning to evening, far longer than the time that the recipe called for.
  • I cut up streaky bacon in the absence of lardons
  • I popped in a good handful of chopped parsley.
  • Instead of creme fraiche I used some double cream that was a leftover topped up by a newly bought pot of single cream.  I've no idea of the quantities.  I topped up the case until it was full.
  • No gruyere either.  Instead punchy cheddar , half of it in the eggy mixture and the other half as a topping.
And jolly nice it is too.  I've just had a sneaky slice for breakfast.  After all it is nearly bacon and egg!

What struck me was how quick and easy this was.    It's super easy to knock up the pastry in the food processor and roll it out in next to no time.  Then whilst the case is blind baking I fried the bacon bit and made the filling.   It'll be on the midweek supper repertoire from now on in various guises with different fillings that take my fancy.  Another good thing is that the leftovers are ideal lunchbox fodder. And next time, without the need to go out and buy new cooking equipment it'll really be rather inexpensive.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

That Time of The Year

I didn't have hayfever until the age of twelve and then it struck with a vengeance in my first year of senior school.  Itchy eyes, sneezing, sometimes breathing difficulties,  I even get skin rashes from contact with offending plants.   It's a bummer for someone who loves the outdoors so much.

The symptoms were at their worst in my teenage years but  teachers showed little sympathy.  My friend Debbie and I suffered badly with eyes so swollen after being out on the grassy playing fields that we could barely see.  Yet both of us were banned from staying indoors during lunch breaks.  In the seventies supervising poorly children might have got in the way of smoking in the staff room!  We hid ourselves behind coats hanging in the cloakroom and crossed our fingers that we would not be found.

As the years have passed, thankfully, I don't get hayfever quite so badly.   The products featured here have been my companions for nearly forty years.   Maybe I've built up some tolerance with age but these babies are definitely part of the reason that I'm able to get outside and enjoy these lovely summer days.

Friday, 22 June 2018


I came across this colourful quilt online the other day and I thought I'd share it to provide inspiration for those of you who like to play with textiles.  It's detail from a community art project by Susan Lenz and puts all those odd socks to use that turn up in washing machine land.

I love the title of the work.  It's called 'Looking For a Mate'!

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Close Encounters Of A Bird Kind

Over the last few days birds have been coming up close - real close!  Here's a brave little soul that demanded a share of my bacon ciabatta when I was having breakfast with Calamity Jane  outside a cafe in Charlestown  yesterday.  She, for I know enough about ornithology to identify her as a girlie sparrow,  was not the only one.  A blackbird and a robin too approached within arm's length.  'Hello Esther.' I said to acknowledge the latter.  For I've written before that it's believed that our red breasted friends may be a sign that those who have passed stay with you.   

And that's not all.  Before I go for my run I warm up with a walk around the playing field adjacent to my home.  There, diving swallows swooped, presumably catching insects, within inches of my feet!  What a wonderful and unexpected communion with nature first thing in the morning!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

An Even Distribution of Work!

I have been reading the book 'Ask and It Is Given' by Esther and Jerry Hicks for a couple of months.  It's a slower read than a novel because I'm giving myself time to digest the content.    As I've said before this is a bit of a odd one.  Esther Hicks describes herself as tapping into infinite intelligence as her words are  "translated from a group of non-physical entities called Abraham."  Even I, who has been immersed in the landscape and culture of alternative Totnes for the last fourteen years, found that hard  to swallow.  After all I did a science degree and am a down to earth Essex girl at heart.

But the teaching seems to make sense so I'm going along with it.  Applying the ideas is making a difference to my life.  The inspiration for appreciating colour out of context, for example, has its roots in this book.  A Christian friend has expressed doubts but I'm holding my ground.  We all have to find our own metaphors for making sense of life.  This is one of mine.

There are a number of exercises described in the back of the book.  I started to do one of them a few days ago.  You're supposed to take a napkin and draw a line to divide it in half but I like most of my writing, even the scrappy kind, to be electronic these days.  Google Keep will do.  On one half you write all the things that you have to do in that day.   Everything else is left to the universe  and written on their side.  Here's my list from yesterday divvy-ed out between me and 'Abraham'.  A fair division of labour don't you think?   I even forgot to buy the stamps and send the passport so that chore rolls over to today!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Back and Forth

I'm back to Cornwall today.  This time it's not so exciting as last week's little jaunt down there.  I'm taking a bit of time off in lieu and to go to Asda Opticians for a late afternoon appointment.   As my nearest branches selling  incredibly reasonably priced specs are in Taunton or St Austell it's a bit of a hike.  But worth it when I can get two pairs of varifocals for  just one hundred and nineteen quid.  The plus side is that I'll stay over with Calamity Jane and have a catch up giggle.  We always seem to cause each other to cry with laughter.

Anyway I thought I'd share a few more photos from last week, mainly from a couple of coast path walks.  There's less boats than yesterday.  I promise!

Let's get the marine craft out of the way.  I took this as I liked the contrast between that vivid blue and the orange rope.

A very different shot.  There's a big shipyard in Falmouth and you can look down and watch all the goings on. A Royal Fleet Auxillary vessel is being tarted up there at the moment.

Going botanical now.  I'm pleased off this shot of globe artichokes growing wild.  I'm pretty proud of this one.  Mind you artichokes are a bugger to eat unless they're prepared for you.  Not worth the effort in my book.

And when I was having a cider on one of our rather frequent pub stops I look up and noticed that the palm tree that I was under was in bloom.

I spotted these footsteps on the path up near Pendennis Castle. Two ladies sitting on a bench told me how there were some in other parts of town.  They mark the beat of PC Andy Hocking who died suddenly in 2015.  He was so well loved in the town that 6,000 turned up for his memorial walk.

Back in town I spied this poster in the same bookstore where I'd queued with Salty Dog a couple of days before.  I'm going to take arty inspiration from the graphics.

And last but not least the beach at Maenporth. Another photo nicked from Salty Dog.  You see that little dot in the distance.  That's me: The first sea swim in 2018.  It was okay once I got used to the temperature and could feel my hands again!