Wednesday, 28 January 2015

It's been a year!

It's a whole year to the day since I first wrote my first blog, I was so pleased that I had managed to set it up and get going. I wanted to use it as a kind of diary, logging what we'd been up to and our life in general, something to look back on and I think it's worked. I've done 71 posts, so generally one a week depending whether I have my lap top available and internet access, so not bad. I have learnt how to list the blogs I like to read and more recently made a facebook page. I did realise that I hadn't put my caravan on the cover picture so that needs revisiting when I have a young person to help me (they sorted it in the first place). I'd like to be able to put a list of subjects down the side that link to blog posts e.g. cooking, cafes etc so another for the 'Blog Action Plan'. I have enjoyed all the lovely comments you have left for me but am intrigued by number of readers I sometimes get as I have no idea who most of them are!
But back to a year ago - I was just about to celebrate my 60th birthday and so now am just about to celebrate my 61st. Coincidentally we are off to Bridlington in the caravan again with the same friends, this time on my birthday. 'You must be mad' I can hear you say 'with the cold weather approaching' Well cold weather isn't a problem in the caravan as long as we have the right gas that doesn't freeze (we do this time!) an inboard water tank (we do in this van), warm clothes (ready for packing) and the odd bottle of wine (in the wine bags by the front door) we're fine. Having studied the weather forecast hour by hour it seem that the east side of the country should be ok, of course if looks as if that is going to change we will be staying at home.
So to finish this short but sweet post ( I need to make some parkin before I go to work) I would like to say

to you all for your support during my first year. With two weddings and a little surprise at the end of June (more another time about that) I will have plenty to write about in my second year.
Love Anne xx

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Menu Planning

It's very rare that I don't plan meals. I think it goes back to when I was teaching and had three children at home, so I had to be organised. I've never got out of the habit but now I find it interesting to see how far we can make food stretch and how little we need to spend on it. I use all sorts of sources for meal planning - Pinterest, Good Food and my many recipe books, often going in phases with the books I use. At the moment I am using recipes from 'A girl called Jack' (you can find it here) which I borrowed from the library, having spotted it when I was there for my weekly knit and natter. You can read all about Jack on her web site and also follow her blog. I like the book because there are so many recipes that appealed to me and they were for two people, so the quantities were a good guide as I still tend to cook just that little bit too much. But enough said and here's what we have on the menu this week ( I generally work from Friday to Friday).

Friday - Fish pie - made up as I go along!

Saturday - From 'A girl called Jack'  courgette, tomato and brie gratin - I think we'll maybe have some garlic bread with it

Photography by Susan Bell.

Sunday - A Nigella recipe Spanish chicken with chorizo and potatoes with some sort of green vegetable/s


and for pudding as it's Sunday and Becky and Tom are coming to eat with us Delia's Little sticky toffee puddings

 Little Sticky Toffee Puddings with Pecan Toffee Sauce

Monday - From 'A girl called Jack' Moroccan not-a-tagine. I think I'll use apricots instead of prunes as I have some in the cupboard.

Photography by Susan Bell

Tuesday - One of our staples, Macaroni cheese. It will probably have all sorts of bits from the fridge that need using up added to it e.g. bacon or fresh tomatoes.

Wednesday - Think this might be an 'eating up the leftovers' day

Thursday - From ' A girl called Jack' Not meatballs with tagliatelle


I also have a couple of soups I want to make for our lunches, both from November's Country Living magazine. The first is 'Sweet potato and ginger' and the second is 'Butternut squash and bacon'. Both I have done before and are just the thing for this cold weather. Unfortunately I can't find you a link to a recipe for them.
I am also planning to make a lemon drizzle cake which is from Sam Stern's 'Student Cookbook'

So there you have it, our meals for the week, maybe some might appeal to you! Till the next time, keep safe and warm Anne x

Monday, 19 January 2015

I'm on Facebook!!!

For a time I thought it would be a good idea to have a Life @ number 6 on facebook, as by liking the page you would get all the latest posts on your facebook page just like I do with Kate at 'Just Pootling' and Lucy at 'Attic24'. So knowing Jonathan would be home at some point over the weekend I decided that he would be the one to help me, which he did. Actually it was easy once he pulled up the right page for me to put the details in, then a press of the button and it was done!. This morning in between cleaning the oven (which is so bad it's going to be a 2 day job) I have been fiddling around and put a profile picture on

- a house number that Charlotte made the first year she was at secondary school. I still have to put something across the top of the page but as Jonathan did that on my personal facebook page I have no idea how to do it so will need help, so that is WIP. I also wanted to put a link in on the blog page and so after google provided me with a step by step guide I managed it - well there is a link to click on so time will tell. If you use this and it works, please leave me a message.
And for me now - well it's back to the cooker and the inside of the ovens. I'll leave you with pictures of how far I've got up to now.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A breath of fresh air

I was definitely in need of a breath of fresh air on Wednesday as I had worked more than usual and was due in that afternoon and the next morning. Lucky for us here in South Yorkshire it was blue skies and sun so David and I set off to walk up through the woods near our house to Boston Castle. It's a walk we have 're-discovered' whilst looking after friend's dogs, (we did ring to see if Oskar - the miniature schnauzer we often have, was available to go with us, but he was out). It was so peaceful up there, sometimes you get the hum of industry and the M1 depending on the direction of the wind but Wednesday was quiet.

As we emerged from the wooded area these are the views we got 

You might just see the Tinsley Viaduct in the middle of the picture below, with Meadowhall behind and the hills of Derbyshire beyond - quite a view!

Boston castle was built in 1773 as a hunting lodge, there is more information here and more recently here. It has gone from this

to this

to this

and then this

Boston Castle

but then gradually this started to happen

and now we have this

and here is a picture which gives a longer view  

It is so good when buildings like these are restored and are used again. We'll be back there again soon as we have Polly dog coming to stay in a couple of weeks, lets hope the weather will be as good for dog walking. Till the next time, enjoy the rest of the weekend, L Anne x

Thursday, 15 January 2015

A shout out for Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston

If you are ever on the M6 near junction 31 do make a detour down to Brockholes Nature Reserve. It is owned by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside and opened in 2011 after the wildlife trust raised £50,000 in 2006 in order to purchase the land in 2007. You can read about the background here. It was my brother Ian who was appointed project manager, so I have been lucky to see and hear about how the whole project developed.
From the purchase of the site which looked like this

to the initial drawings of what it would look like

to the beginnings of the building

to where it is now

A floating viking inspired complex

It is a wonderful place to wander round spotting all kinds of wildlife although bird spotting is very much the favourite. They have just erected a nest on top of a tall pole sited in the middle of the lake in order to attract ospreys. That will be really exciting if they choose to nest there or even just use it as a landing place.
As you might imagine the visitor's center has lots of information on the wildlife on the site and there is a regular update on birds sighted. There is conference room and classroom, even 2 forest school outdoor classrooms for local schools to enjoy. Lots of exciting activities take place throughout the year for all ages. The restaurant's large glass windows give you a fantastic view of the water and means that you can bird spot in the warmth as David was doing when we were there on Sunday. There is a big log burning stove in the middle of the eating area with comfy leather sofas, just right for sitting with a hot chocolate and cake!

Ian is still very much involved with what is happening there, as is his wife who is the Chief Executive of the Trust. On the 21st June last year they along with volunteers build a circle of stones using levers and ropes. We braved the weather to walk up to look at their hard work

There are some very exciting plans for the future but I am not able to say what at this point but if the grants arrive David and I will be definitely going over to help.
I'll leave you with a plan of the site, not that easy to see but it gives you an idea of how it is.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Holidays - Part 2

For the second part of the holidays we were asked if we would like to join some very good friends at a house they had rented near Falmouth. We jumped at the chance and organised ourselves to spend the night with Charlotte at her future in law's cottage near Tiverton. It was a very cold night and this was the garden the next morning

Charlotte, who was now back to normal after her tummy bug also needed to get back to Cornwall to work in that evening so we drove in convoy to her place near Padstow. After  helping her with some jobs, David and I went down to my beloved Constantine beach which was surprisingly busy. It was just lovely to be back on it and walking on the sand, although I did keep my boots on!!

We left as the sun was going down and carried on and got to Maenporth, our destination, just passed Falmouth where a gin and tonic was waiting for us!. The next morning we were delighted to find that from the lounge you looked over to the sea.

Later that morning (New Years Eve) saw us take the King Harry ferry across the river Fal,

We were on the hunt for a little place on a cliff top at Porthcurnick Beach called the Hidden Hut. I had first seen this place when watching Tom Kerridge, who went there to cook scampi and chips. I searched for ages through google trying to find it, and was eventually successful. We followed the directions on their web site parking on the road down to the beach. The Hidden Hut is certainly the right name for it as even as we reached the beach it was hidden until we rounded a corner and then we saw it!

It was heaving, so busy. Everyone was sitting at tables on the cliff top eating the most delicious looking food

We decided that we weren't quite ready for lunch so walked on the cliff top into Portscatho - a lovely
'un-spoilt' place.

Did you spot the cat on the windowsill?

I was delighted to see this little shop, The Sea Garden, I have dipped in and out of Christine's blog during last year. Unfortunately it was closed whilst we were there but it certainly looked lovely when we peered through the window

By this time we were getting hungry so we made our way back to the Hidden Hut and ordered the most delicious soups - squash, coconut and chilli, french onion with brie, and tomato, bacon and bolotti beans all served with the some of the nicest bread buns I have ever tasted.

If you are ever near do go, Simon who runs it spent a long time chatting to us, giving us a real insight into how it all works. Caroline Quentine also went there when she was doing her programs on Cornwall and you can see her here and here.
New Years Eve was a quiet affair with us eating in and enjoying some nice wine. 

We choose to walk (along with many others) on New Year's Day and managed to avoid the rain 

The next morning we woke to blue skies and sun for our final full day, so spent it at Trelissick gardens. The woodland walk took us along the estuary ending up by King Harry ferry, then up through the woods.

It was so lovely we were able to sit out for a coffee and scone

As we walked back to car we got a good view of 'Rapunzel's tower'

It's actually the old water tower which is now a holiday tower? well you can rent it from the National Trust. I rather fancy that but you'd need to be fit as it's on 4 floors.

Saturday was leaving day and Charlotte and Angus had asked us to meet them for lunch at a mystery destination near Totnes, so we followed the satnav and ended up here - the Riverford Field Kitchen. 

What another fabulous eating place. You are seated on long tables, sharing with strangers who quickly join in with the conversation. It's a set menu, everyone being served at the same time. Sharing platters and big dishes are put on the table to be passed round. To choose your desert you are invited to go up to part of the kitchen and choose

It was a lovely way to end  the holidays, the only drawback for us was we then had 270 miles to drive home.

I really enjoyed the Christmas holidays and feel so lucky to have such a wonderful family and friends who made it so memorable.