Something from the weekend: Treasure hunting, archery and more gardening

I do love it when the weekend starts early, and it certainly did this week! My dear friend Vixie came to visit Hitchin on Friday and we happily spent the entire day moseying around together! We hit the Antiques and Collectables market hard…spending hours there in fact! Then it was to the local vintage shops and charity shops until we were all shopped out! We both came away with lots of fabulous treasures and it was so lovely to catch up with her.

On Saturday morning we took a drive out to Chick Sands for a lovely long morning walk with the hounds….it was a beautifully crisp and bright morning and I do love exploring that place! Once home we scoffed belgian waffles for breakfast and then I spent some time in the garden, readying it for winter!

In the afternoon we set off to nearby Knebworth where we were having the first archery lesson of our beginners course! The course was a gift for Adam’s birthday and lasts four days. It’s with a great local club called the Green Dragon Bowmen (how cool is THAT?!) and they shoot right out front of the stunning Knebworth House. We started with a warm up and then the very basic techniques, just shooting at paper plates to begin with! After tea and biscuits we carried on freestyle shooting, with some great teachers who are members of the club. We had an amazing time and soon saw some progress….as well getting rather achey to boot!

We spent the evening relaxing in front of the telly, watching Buffy after a naughty dinner of pizza….a much needed rest after the day’s adventures!

Sunday morning saw another lovely walk over at Radwell, then it was back home to do some housey things before heading back to Knebworth for our second class. We progressed to proper targets this time, and further away too….my first few arrows didn’t even make it far enough, let alone hit a good place on the target! Still, with more help from our great teachers, we carried on progressing, and by the end of the day Adam was looking like a proper archer and getting some really impressive shots!

It had rained on us during our lessons so we were keen to warm up back at home with a cup of tea before heading back out again to walk the dogs. Adam’s Mum had been gardening for us whilst hound sitting so it was great to see what she’d been up to too! We now have a large new flower bed to play with, and soon will be able to grow veggies there!

Our afternoon walk saw lots of pretty rainbows and great skies, then it was back home to indulge in a take away curry as we were too shattered to cook! It was more vegging out after that, then very soon to sleep after a super tiring weekend!

Ems x

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Something from the weekend….Foraging, gardening, making and treasure hunting

I had such a lovely weekend! The weather really does help of course, and all the sunshine hours make such a difference!

I spent a lot of the weekend gardening….the front garden has been transformed after many hours of hard work and is benefitting from having been totally dug over and filled with plants! I can’t wait to see it all bloom, although I guess I have to wait til Spring for that. Still, it looks better already and has tidied up the front of the house no end.

We did some great foraging too…..we picked loads of blackberries and elderberries from the local common, as well as some sweet pea pods and honeysuckle berries I’ll be planting for next year. We also raided the back garden, and came back indoors with stacks of apples, more blackberries and greengages too. There is a medlar tree that is also looking rather full, but I think we have to leave those a little longer before harvesting them.

We spent an absolute age rinsing the elderberries, plucking them off their stalks, rinsing them again and then bottling them….I hope it’s going to be worth it! We made one bottle of elderberry schnapps and one bottle of spiced elderberry liqueur….can’t wait to try them! I made jam from the greengages, and it was probably my most successful yet….it tastes yummy and is the perfect consistency so I’ll have to share some tips soon!

As is traditional, we also visited the antiques market on Friday and the car boot sale on Sunday….I picked up some great treasures to use at the wedding and the place was really buzzing in the fine weather. It was also the crafts and  farmers market on Saturday, and we dawdled around there awhile, spotting some great new stalls too.

Other than that, it was a weekend of domesticity, relaxing, cooking endless amounts of marrow, walking the dogs and watching more Buffy. Bliss!

Here are a few photos from the weekend…..

Ems x

Some Bank Holiday Baking: Foraged Fruit Crumble

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Few things give me much greater pleasure than foraging for sweet treats and then cooking them up on a lazy weekend! Earlier in the week we went to a nearby hot spot for soft fruits, and whilst the Victoria Plums and Greengages weren’t ready yet, we did get a great haul of blackberries and apples!

As far as I’m concerned, by far the best way to use up such things is in a crumble, so today I baked one up to round off the roast dinner we just yummed up! Here is how I make it my favourite way….

Ingredients

  • About 300g blackberries
  • About 600g cooking apples
  • Stevia or caster sugar to taste
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Extra spices and sugar to sprinkle on top

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5
  2. Core and peel your apples, and chop into cubes
  3. Chuck the apples into a pan and cover with boiling water
  4. Add a good couple of table spoons of Stevia or sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
  5. Simmer for about five minutes, or until the fruit starts to soften, then add the blackberries
  6. Simmer for a further minute and then drain the water from the fruit right away
  7. Have a little taste to decide if you need more sweetening, and add more Stevia or sugar as you like
  8. Rub together your flour and butter (I start this off in my Kitchen Aid for speed)
  9. Stir in the sugar and spices, and mix well
  10. Pour your fruit into a casserole dish and cover with the crumble mix
  11. Sprinkle over some extra sugar and spice, and pat with your finger tips gently to make the surface bumpy
  12. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, and remove once the crumble is golden on top

I like mine with custard, but of course ice cream or creme fraiche is yummy too! If you prefer your fruit nice and firm, just skip the fruit stewing stage as it will have enough time to cook in the oven….I just like it nice and soft though underneath the crunchy crumble!

Have you managed to forage any goodies this summer? What are you making with them?!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….a picture-worthy few days

I’m always snapping away on my phone, truth be told, but this weekend seemed to give me more in the way of picture opportunities than usual. It was indeed a lovely weekend, filled with fun but relaxation too. Anyway, I thought I’d share my instagram feed by way of summing it up…..

Friday night started the weekend with cocktails, as it always should…..

…..we played Guess Who…..

……and then Adam beat me at Triv!

Saturday began with a lovely long dog walk……

…..we headed to Barton Springs for a nice change…..

…..and the sun shone for us rather splendidly!

We found a darling little tea room and gallery for lunch…..

….where they serve an epic Hot Chocolate…..

….and yummy tea on quaint mis-matched china…..

…..as well as lush lunches like the stuffed mushroom on toast that I went for!

Once home we set about hanging our new treasure, the huge antique map of London that looks rather marvellous on our lounge wall…..

….and after that it was an afternoon of snoozing as it all got too much for my boys!

Another lovely walk on Sunday morning, this time at the stunning Chick Sands woods….

….I love all the little dens people have built there!

After a yummy breakfast of Staffordshire Oatcakes (the last left in the freezer after my Mum’s visit!) we pootled around the market and car boot sale, where I picked up some little treasures….

…..and where my favourite stallholder gave me this incredible menu from the 60′s!

We finally took the tour of the museum opposite where we live in the afternoon….

….and took part in a Victorian lesson where we had to practise reading parrot-fashion…..

…..did maths in old money on slate….

….and worked on our handwriting with a dip pen!

The rest of the day was more relaxing, eating and watching of Buffy. Bliss!

What did you get up to?

Ems x

Something from the weekend: Fudge, walks and White Russians

Another little whistle-stop tour of my weekend…..

Saturday:

Lie in due to headache….followed by a naughty breakfast of Staffordshire Oatcakes with cheese and bacon…into town after that, to buy eggs from the farmers market as well as some much-needed fudge….

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Some home-alone training for the dogs, leaving them for twenty minutes at a time to pop into town…coffees back at home in between and reading up on the upcoming Hitchin Festival….

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A little gardening, plus a good couple of hours building our new barbecue….Home made veggie Moussaka for dinner….

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….then watching The Big Labowski whilst drinking White Russians.

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Sunday:

A lovely morning walk at Chick Sands….followed by a walk around the car boot sale and more home-alone training for the hounds….

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Gardening and barbecue prep after that…..then Adam’s parents over for an afternoon of grilling meats and other goodies….and some slobbing on the sofa for the evening, watching The Fifth Element….

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Bank Holiday Monday (yay!):

A stunning walk around Ickleford, through beautiful fields of barley with blue skies above….

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Another trip into town to visit the Humanitas shop and to buy sweets….then some more gardening time as well as some wedding stuff whilst sat outside in the sun eating too many sweeties (including strawberry ones shaped like brains!)…

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A lazy dinner of nut cutlets then more weddingy stuff before an early night.

Lush.

Ems x

Something from the weekend…more Instagram snaps

It’s late, and I’m tired, but I do like to keep my little weekend diary going, so here’s the whistle stop tour….

Saturday morning….nice long dog walk, with the hound and the new hound too…back home for breakfast (poached eggs) and to get smarted up….then off to our lovely local church of St Mary’s for the wedding of Adam and Jodi….

Saturday afternoon….baked a pecan pie and prepared a dinner of Mountain Meatballs from Jamie’s America recipe book….took the dogs out for another walk, this time with our friend Hannah….back home Adam made cocktails and we chatted the evening away, as well as scoffing the afore-mentioned dinner….

Sunday morning….a very lovely long walk in the sun with the hounds….back home for breakfast, then a walk around the car boot sale….

Sunday afternoon….more gardening, whilst the hounds played and got to know each other better….ice lollies as a reward for our work….another walk, even though the hounds were shattered from playing….left overs for dinner and Super8 on Bluray whilst cuddling the hounds on the sofa before an early night.

How was your weekend?

Ems x

Something from the weekend: (in Instagram)

Because I’m currently inundating you with posts whilst on the Blog Every Day in May Challenge, I thought that for this week at least I’d keep my usual monday post telling you about my weekend fairly brief…. It was another splendid weekend, and as I took plenty of photos, I thought I’d guide you through it via my Instagram pictures….

Saturday morning began with a beautifully sunny walk along the Hambridge Way. Afterwards we had breakfast then headed into town….

We spotted a sign outside St Mary’s Church saying that their bells had been restored and were on show until they are put back up next week, so we popped in to have a look….

After a little shopping we stopped off in the market square to watch the Hitchin Fashion Show….

….then we spent some time there with the GRWE hounds, collecting and raising awareness….

Cooper had a splendid time getting fussed over and adored, and Lacy in particular was excited to be there and have her photo taken!….

We drank lots of amazing coffee as we’ve just got a new coffee machine…testing is going very well!….

I spent some time in the afternoon in the garden…I’m not going to get rid of the bluebells from our unruly lawn but I did do some tidying up and planting around the flower beds….

And I found our pretty apple tree in blossom (it’s not visible from the house because of the FOUR ewe trees!). The evening was originally going to be spent in London, but as we’ve not been sure when our new hound will be arriving we decided it best to stay at home and have a relaxing night in as we wait for him!

Another gorgeous walk started our Sunday….

We saw bumper loads of cowslips and walked til we were shattered!….

We had a snoop around the car boot sale after that, then pottered about the garden again and had lunch before heading to the cinema to watch Iron Man. Once home, I cooked up a big batch of chilli for dinner and then the evening was spent watching New Girl, blogging and relaxing.

Hope you had a picture perfect weekend too?!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. A stunning wedding weekend in Austria

I bally love a good wedding. And so an entire weddingy weekend was just bliss. I was honoured to be be invited to our friends Katie and Peter’s wedding, and even more delighted that it was all taking in place in Austria! If you’ve read my last few posts you’ll know that I was lucky enough to take a holiday to Vienna in November for the Christmas markets, and I was only too happy to get back there in the sunnier weather…..

Friday started out a little stressful, as in taking a little holiday, we had to leave the pup for the first time! It was worse still because Adam’s mum, who would usually look after him for us, is away at the moment so he had to go to her friend…..she’s a long time dog owner and lover though and we got him used to her and her house over the last few weeks by going for walks together and visiting her cute little cottage. Still, I was a bit of a wreck and properly welled up as we left him, despite the fact that he was clearly very happy to be having a bit of a holiday of his own!

After dropping Cooper off, we made our way to the airport and had a nice leisurely journey to Vienna. We had a couple of hours to spare at the airport at that end, before the coach arrived to take us to the wedding venue, so we indulged in a nice big dinner….I love the food in Austria, and very happily yummed up a large helping of Wiener Schnitzel with parsley potatoes, as well as some excellent coffee…..there’s no pretence with Viennese food, but it’s all such great quality and so very tasty!

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After a few more guests had arrived on a later flight, our little coach took us south towards Graz, to the little village of Bad Waltersdorf where the wedding venue is. We made the journey fun by taking along some very sweet fizzy wine and lots of sweets, and so it didn’t seem too long a journey at all. We were taken directly to the Schloß Obermayerhofen and walked through the castle grounds up to the idyllic little chalet at the top of the hill. The Gaisrieglhof is a 250 year old farmhouse from nearby Pöllau, rebuilt here and used for the traditional pre-wedding gathering. Some guests had dressed in the traditional national dress, including the beautiful bride, and there were traditional musicians playing and wearing wonderful lederhosen! It was lovely to have a little pre-wedding catch up with everyone and drink a couple of glasses of the delicious local wine after our journey!

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After our long day prior, we enjoyed a bit of a lie in on the Saturday morning and spent most of the day getting ready for the wedding in the afternoon. It was great fun getting ready with some of Adam’s lovely old school friends, and at 2pm we all took a taxi up to the Schloß from our hotel to start the celebrations. We were greeted by lovely cold drinks and yummy nibbles as part of the Agape feast, and before long watched the stunning Katie walk down from her room. We moved through to the pretty meadow behind the castle, where a cute gazebo surrounded by chairs was set up for the civil part of the wedding….it was beautiful to be out in the open air and the weather was certainly kind! There was a Catholic ceremony after that, in the gorgeous Baroque chapel, then music and fizz out on the castle’s terrace as the couple had lots of photos taken.

The wedding breakfast took place in another of the castle’s incredible rooms, and we were treated to an exceptionally good dinner (asparagus soup with herb dumplings, wild garlic ravioli, crusted lamb and a trio of chocolate desserts!) alongside some wonderful local wines. The speeches were all very funny and touching, and after dinner the happy couple took to the floor for a very impressive tango for their first dance.

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We whiled away the night chatting, drinking and dancing, and having a lovely time in great company. There was a midnight feast of gulaschsuppe (possibly my favourite thing we ate on the whole trip and absolutely divine!) and so we were very contented indeed when we finally got to our beds.

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After breakfast and checkout on Sunday morning, another coach took us back to Vienna airport where we dropped off our bags and then made our way into the Vienna Mitte to spend a few hours before our flight home. We’d not managed to visit the popular Zanoni Eis gelateria when we were there last, so that was an obvious choice….. we were a little overwhelmed by the masses of flavours though, but did finally manage to choose six different scoops to fill a nice large tub with (nutella, melon, pistachio, strawberry, coffee and chocolate!). They were all super-yum, but the melon was a definite favourite, and the treat was very welcome in the city heat!

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We had a little mooch around the city after that, going back to the fun clock in the town and also heading back to the wonderful Cafe Pruckel next to the Stadtpark…..we yummed up very naughty iced coffees that were drowning in cream and chocolate! We walked off the treats round the sunny park, and then slowly made our way back to the airport for the flight home.

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We were lucky enough to catch a lift home with some other friends who’d taken the same flight, so our journey wasn’t too arduous. Still, we were pretty exhausted when we got back and flaked out almost immediately. The house didn’t feel like home though until our precious pup was delivered back to us on Monday morning….I’d missed him so terribly and despite having had a wonderful little holiday of his own and loving all the attention from his new friends, he seemed delighted to see us too!

Hope you had a lovely sunny weekend too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend…..piggies, parades and blue skies

Isn’t it amazing what a bit of mild weather and blue sky does for the soul?! Like most of Britain, we enjoyed a rather more seasonable weekend, and made the most of it by getting outdoors and, er, lazing about!….

Our morning walk on Saturday was just glorious. We’d been expecting rain, but when we saw the sun out we couldn’t wait to get outside, and took ourselves off on a lovely jaunt about the local countryside. Cooper enjoyed the warmth and getting a nice long walk, whilst Adam and I loved the sun on our skin and the welcome fresh air. We took in a visit to the nearby pig table at Charlton, walked past the summer hunting lodge of Henry VIII and negotiated a couple of horses who happened to be taking up part of the path we took!

We breakfasted back at home after that, and then, wanting to be outside some more, headed out into town for a little shopping. There was a bric-a-brac stall in the square at which I picked up a lovely little vintage typewriter, and later on we also met with the Sikh New Year parade! I’ve never seen the Vaisakhi festival before, but I love that it’s such a big thing in my new town. We met lots of lovely people in the square as the parade approached, and were given sweets and chips and samosas and a yummy spiced hot drink! The parade itself was wonderful….there was a stunning float and lots of people with swords and gorgeous bright costumes….I must learn more about it all as it was so lovely and happy and exciting. What I loved most though was the brilliant music…. local carnival band Toque Tambor played, as well as the amazing Dhol Foundation (who I’ve seen lots before and even hired for a couple of weddings!), and I was still tapping my foot to the beat as we returned home and the parade eventually came around and passed our very own house!

It began to rain shortly after that, so I spent the rest of the afternoon being quite lazy on the sofa, and mainly trying to sort out my new phone. I’ve taken an upgrade but spent HOURS backing up my old handset (I had over 13,000 photos on it!!) which was all rather dull, but needed doing. We had Chinese takeaway for dinner and watched Hitchcock’s Sabotage afterwards, then made our tired ways to bed.

Sunday morning began with another sunny walk, then we had the obligatory root around the car boot sale at the market place. Adam’s Dad joined us and we sat for a while having a coffee with him too….it was so nice to be able to sit OUTSIDE the cafe with our drinks, not least because it meant we could have Cooper with us!

Once home, we didn’t want to head indoors yet as it was just so gloriously sunny….so, we dragged out a couple of chairs and a table, as well as the hound’s bed, and sat out in the garden for a while. We used the time to do a little wedding planning, and also plan some socialising over the next few months.

I made a yummy vegetable broth for supper and we sat and watched X Files on the sofa afterwards….we are now onto Season 7 after a little break to watch Walking Dead and Magic Users Club (as well as New Girl which we are still waiting for the next episode of!). Then it was the usual Sunday evening early night.

Lush weekend! How was yours? Hope you caught some sun and blue skies too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….guests, burgers and even a bit of sun

Well it was short lived, but I’m glad the sun hung around at least for the weekend. We had a lovely couple of days….

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On Saturday, and after a walk with the hound, we set off to nearby Letchworth for the little craft fair there and to snoop around the antiques shops. I managed to pick up another bell cloche for my collection, as well as a few more pairs of pretty pastel metal knitting pins and some gorgeous retro glasses, then we made our way home for lunch.

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After that we had a quick trip into town then had our friend Hannah over for a cuppa and chat, before our overnight guests arrived…..great friends of ours Claire and Matthew came up from London in the afternoon, and got to meet Cooper for the first time as he came to pick them up from the station. He loves having guests and immediately fell in love with them….especially when he was presented with lovely gifts from them! Adam and I also got some gorgeous gifts too….yummy fruit cake and fudge from their trip to Cornwall (the latter of which we have scoffed already!).

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After a pot of tea and yumming up a victoria sponge, we drove to the nearby Plume of Feathers where we had a delicious meal and lovely ales (rare burgers with bacon and cheese for Adam and I, and rump steaks for the others!). We made  a pledge to go there more often as the food is amazing, and Cooper is welcome there too!

Back at home, Adam mixed us up some great cocktails and we just chatted the evening away….Cooper very much enjoyed cuddling up with our guests for his evening sofa time and it was nice to relax and catch up for a few hours.

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We were rather naughty again for breakfast on Sunday, scoffing Belgian waffles, pancakes, strawberries, bananas and maple syrup! We walked it off though by snooping around the Sunday car boot sale and having a brief walk through town. Then after a last pot of tea our guests headed back to London….much to Cooper’s disappointment!

The rest of the afternoon was spent loafing about and on a nice walk out with all the dogs….Coops certainly loves being out with his Auntie Piper and Uncle Newton! It was even nice enough to need our sunglasses and for me to leave my gloves off!

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Did you get out and about? I hope you had a great weekend too!

Ems x