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.


Monday, 1 December 2014

Up and Down at the Weekend

No, no not me - if anything I was fairly up both days. But, my dear friends, the place that has stolen the majority of my daylight hours over the last week or two.

Oh yes. It's time to talk allotment. 


After more or less completing our new fancy nancy shed it was time to dismantle the old one.

Mr K was at his happiest wielding a mallet.

And soon the base was clear and ready for our greenhouse.

Sadly the marker pen that Mr K had used to label the order of the base was not waterproof so friends were called upon to ponder the puzzle.

And marvel at the old nest of a snail loving mouse.

By the evening - or in this case about four o'clock - the frame was up and lack of light forced us home.

The sunshine that we had been promised for Sunday failed to appear but we carried on with our hair raising, nerve racking insertion of greenhouse glass regardless.

Perhaps my little homilies such as 'you live by the greenhouse, you die by the greenhouse' would have been best kept under wraps, but trying to manoeuvre slippy glass to head height did smack of a scene from  'Final Destination'.

Limbs intact we persevered.

Pausing only to take a  shot across the other rooftops before the last pane went in.

Then down went a path.

And up came a parsnip from a fellow allotmenteer!

A brief period of contemplation for Mr K before the best 'up' of all.

After a quick phone around we managed to gather a few chums together to watch the old shed going up in flames.

We watched and chatted and laughed and generally shared that wonderful feeling that comes with sitting around a bonfire with friends.

From the new shed window the scene looked almost Dickensian.

And so the flames went down and home we went. A busy weekend. Lots of playing around with soil, wood and hammers. But that night I went to bed happy.

If slightly singed!


P.S. I promise that next time I will include some pretty pictures . The secret squirrels are quite busy around these parts at the moment so it's difficult to share, but things are certainly afoot!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Just not feeling it ...

... are you?
I've been trying ever so hard.
Maybe it's the unseasonally warm weather we've been experiencing.
Or the fact that frosts haven't yet forced my pelargoniums inside.

But I just haven't got the Christmas bug. 
Not yet.

There are three separate Christmas productions going on at school.
And glitter abounds.
But even though the beautiful strains of 'The Snowman' keeps echoing down the halls  I'm still not 'getting it'.

This morning we received our first Christmas card. I've put it next to our gorgeous smelling mulled wine candle (I told you I was trying) on the mantelpiece in an attempt to ramp up the Christmas cheer - but no. Nothing.

The ingredients for the Christmas cake - usually mixed together with great competitive fervour in anticipation of winning our annual 'cake off' - are gathering dust behind the fruit bowl.

Don't get me wrong. I like Christmas. My singalong songs during December vary from anything between 'In the Bleak Midwinter' to 'All I want for Christmas - is Yoooooou' (for which I apologise). But I think that might be the point. It's still November.

I have many dear friends who already have presents wrapped and cards sent. But for me Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the mad dash around the shops hours before the big day. 

Something needs to snap into place. Just like the urge to plant seeds hits me in the Spring, and making jam is an absolute must in Autumn.

So what have I been doing?
Well I've made a couple of happy purchases.
Look at this set of pretty glasses. £2.50 for six!

Surely these will twinkle perfectly against the fairy lights on Christmas Eve?

And I had to snap up this sign for £1.

Who wouldn't want a knitted brassiere - that fits!

I've gathered the last of our apples.

Made lots of soups.

And been fascinated by the rate this hyacinth bulb has put down it's roots.

I've also been doing a bit of crochet. I love the idea of having a snuggly wrap around shawl for the colder evenings.

With a chunky wool and 7mm hook this is building up really quickly.

I've also been tempted by the new Rosie Mitts pattern by Pink Milk.

The embroidered rose detail is so sweet.

So there we go. I'm not complaining. In fact as I sit typing this I'm being bathed in the most glorious winter sunshine. Mr K is down at the allotment adding finishing touches to the shed and I'm about to don my wellies and wander down with emergency coffee. 

I'll try and spot some robins!


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Meanwhile, back at the allotment .....

...there's been stuff happening. 
But only if you look closely. 
Really closely. 

Like lie on the floor and zoom in.

It's a broad bean!!!
I never thought I would ever get so excited about a humble bean, but to me this signifies the start of great things. 
If you like beans that is.

A little further on garlic wars are still going strong.
Mr K decided to plant some cloves from a regular shop bought bulb whilst I got a special garden type one from Wilkos.

Mine is the one in the bottom box compared with Mr K's in the top one!
Imagine my delight each time I walk past and see mine rocketing ahead. (I realise that this delight is petty and incredibly selfish but you have to take it where you can find it!)

The light was so beautiful today that I couldn't resist wandering down the lane and seeing what was going on in the other plots. 

Come for a wander.

I love the fact that number 4 keeps a 'nice, smart hedge'

Brownie points if you can spot the London Midland train in the background.

Part of the land to the left of the allotments is used to store old vans and campers. This one would make a fantastic 'project'.

Looking ahead. 

Past sheds.

Crops still waiting to be harvested.

Whilst others have seen better days.

Nearing the end of the lane.

Where I met the lovely lady at number 9 ... 

...who informed me that things weren't quite as idyllic as they might seem. Apparently she is currently under threat from a herd of goats that have been grazing in the adjacent meadow. No sooner do her crops start to fruit than they scale the hedge and help themselves. Apart from her gooseberries. Apparently goats don't like gooseberries. The farmer has promised a taller hedge.
Naughty goats!

Back down to our plot and the one major thing that has grown is our shed. Mr K picked up the frame for ten pounds and has been scouring skips and the like for the cladding and pallets. Friends and family have been chipping in to help and mum and dad kindly donated some of their old windows. We now have an allotment shed with leaded glass - fancy nancy! Of course shorter days now mean that we can only build at the weekends as it's fairly dark after work - but slowly and surely it's coming on.

From this.

Then this.

 Followed by Mr K trying to explain
 the rudiments of shed making to Big Sis.

Who really just wanted to be hiding behind another shed eating a raw parsnip.

A bit of sawing from my good self.

And then being told to look happy as I was doing it!

A big family effort to get the frame on the base.

And then today came the walls. Or at least some of them.

Oh for the joy of making a shed!

So there we are.
Up to date on our newly found precious piece of land. 
Light and weather will dictate how much time we will be able to spend down there over the coming weeks but for now there is lovely warm feeling of satisfaction.

And of course the knowledge that my garlic is the best ;)

Have a good week and remember to look closely for the positives.