Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Such a busy week but, after the terribly sad news about Vanessa Cabban, I'm lucky to realise that it has also been a blessed one. With that in mind I'm going to limit this post to as few words as possible.

We have enjoyed...

wonderful food

Wintry weather

Colour and cheer

And surprise gifts!

But most of all the warmth of family and friends

At a time that can be - and has been - so difficult for some I feel truly blessed. 

And out in the garden, under all the dead leaves and frosted ground, there are new things emerging. 

And with them comes hope.

I hope that wherever you are - however big or small they may be - you all have some blessings to count.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Curtailed greetings

Curtailed on account that some time this afternoon was set aside for a post - albeit a short one - about our preparations for the big day. Then in true festive spirit some old friends dropped by. Then in even truer festive spirit out came the Christmas sherry and to be honest - well - hic - best laid plans .....

Here's hoping that you will all find a little peace and joy this Christmas.

See you on the other side.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Hidden Treasures

I think it's only fair to warn you about this post. Mr K has recently treated me to a new camera and today was it's first outing. Needless to say I was particularly snap happy so if you fancy some eye candy (where on earth did that phrase come from?) rather than my customary poignant and inspiring writings (!) go ahead. 

Just saying.

Some time ago I wrote about Leek - a nearby market town with a wealth of history set among beautiful Staffordshire scenery. So when they advertised a Dickensian market Mr K and I thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate the start of the Christmas holidays. The weather was predicted to be fine and bright but - as we drove across in heavy sleet and rain - my expectations were considerably lowered. The market was still on but the weather had obviously taken it's toll. Some treasures still caught my eye however.

Sadly the rain was coming down too hard to have a proper mooch so we quick stepped it around the wild mallards to the indoor market.

Fortunately the nativity scene was under shelter.

And at last we felt a touch of Christmas past.

Although this little chap had clearly had enough!

Not sure what was going on outside Boots but it was all very jolly.

In a valiant effort to keep warm and dry we ducked into places hitherto unexplored.
Friends from my knitting group have often mentioned the store Bibelot and  I expected it to be a small town style wool shop. 

How wrong I was!

As we entered Mr K immediately recognised the proprietors as two of his old students. As he was waxing lyrical about the 'old days' I decided to have a peek upstairs. 

Look what I found.

And although I like Cath Kidston to a degree I couldn't help but be bowled over by this display of loveliness.

It just carried on.

Where to look? What to do? Where to buy? I was actually so totally phased by the amount of stuff in there that I came away with nothing - apart the firmest of intentions to attend one of their friendly craft courses in the New Year.

Next stop was a cafe called Spout

We were immediately greeted by young friendly staff and invited to choose from a fantastic range of goodies from the menu. Settling for the simple teacake option (!) we explored the rest of the rather large, rather quirky, rather beautiful old building.

Even the toilet had a distinct personality!

Upstairs there was a fantastically well stocked ale store called The Bottle Lab.

Needless to say quite some time was spent in perusal mode.

By the time we left it was dark.The way home across the moors and hills was speckled with fairy lights of various  colours, shapes and sizes - notably one that was in the shape of a bus. 

Who knows? 

Looking back the weather did us a favour. We explored indoors rather than out and in doing so were treated with a wealth of treasures.

And of course we couldn't resist bringing this little chap home.

Hope you are keeping warm and well.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Selection of Santas

Meet sixties Santa.

Not sure what happened to his hands but he's one of the first Christmas ornaments I remember. As you wheeled him along the little reindeer in his sack would pop up and down in excitement. 

Then there's sleighing Santa.

I remember being amazed by the detail on this one. To me this was a true representation of  what would be flying through the sky on Christmas Eve. Mum remembers it being displayed on her grandmas dresser alongside toddling Santa (more on him later). 

Each year it was my job to check that all of the presents and snowmen were tucked safely into the holly on the back.

But there's one missing.

A small plastic Santa with moving feet. You would put him on a slight slope and he would merrily walk along. When I asked mum about him she rifled through her Christmas box and found him skulking at the bottom. 

He's not the prettiest Santa Claus, and his paintwork has certainly seen better days, but he still reliably toddles down any given slope with his sack of goodies.

I realise that I may have given the impression that for two weeks of the year I did nothing else but push tiny Santa down tea trays and watch reindeers bob up and down. Not true. But these were the Christmas staples. I could rely on the fact that once these were out of the box Christmas had officially 'started' (and not some time back in October!) 

So for some not very expensive plastic ornaments they represent a lot. Forty years on they are still going strong. And forty years on mum and dad still put them in pride of place.
(Apart from toddling Santa - he's come home with me!)

Have you got any ornaments that remind you of your childhood?


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Oh - the onions

Just a quick update on the foolproof baked onions that I embarked upon in my last post.

I'd love to tell you that they were incredible.
That they melted in the mouth and that I'd 'never cook onions any other way again'.
The lack of any other ingredient made their flavour stronger and more pronounced.

Truth is that after an hour in the oven they were soft and indeed a bit squidgy.
But sadly they didn't taste of much at all.
Apart from singed baking parchment.

Maybe it was the type of onion.
Or my lack of onion cooking knowledge.

So the only thing to do was to put them in some pretty pots.

And there they remain.
Until I need a recipe that calls for a slightly singed onion.

Onward and upward.

Monday, 8 December 2014


I've been busy.
Organising squirrels.
Secret squirrels. 

Which means I can't show you this

or this

And there's no way I can divulge these little treats

No way Jose.

What I can show you however is this


A tray of onions.
After paying £2 for four teeny tiny caramelised onions at the weekend I thought I'd have a go at making my own. The recipe is easy. Just empty bag of onions and bung in to a hot oven. They're smelling pretty tasty.
What could possibly go wrong?


Wish me luck.

And shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.