Tuesday 30 September 2014

Paul Smith Eau de Toilette From House of Fraser

Choosing gifts is one situations in life that I see as a task, especially when you have been as married as long ( runs out of fingers) as I have and you have given each other all the gifts you can think of.

I however find it much simpler , when I am faced with that situation to have a good , well laid out website in front of me that has great products and shows me items that I might otherwise never have though of.

Mr T is as obsessed with his aftershaves as he is with his watches , if I had a penny for all the watches  and aftershaves he had then well I would be very rich.

Life would be very boring indeed , if we didn't have that 'me' time once in a while , Mr T is infact off on a works do this Friday and will be wearing Paul Smith Eau de Toilette . I however will be surfing the House of Fraser website seeing what I can achieve for my bit of 'me' time sure Mr T will feel a twinge of pain in his wallet !

‘This review is in partnership with House of Fraser’.

Duck With A Madeira Wine And Mushroom Sauce

Duck is one of those notorious dishes that sometimes you can't be quite sure what to do with as it is quite fatty but if you get duck strips from some where like Waitrose then you can quite a light meal. The strips of duck combined with a Madeira and mushroom sauce beautifully compliment the richness of the duck without being over bearing.


Duck strips
15ml Olive oil
Salt and freshly milled pepper
100g/40z chestnuts mushroom ( I think Oyster mushrooms would work as well)
100ml/5 TP of vegetable stock ( vegetable Bouillon would work here )
45ml/3TP of Maderia wine
3tp of tarragon
3tp of Thyme
3tp Mint


Heat a large non stick frying man or griddle with the olive oil and add the duck heating through till cooked. After the duck is cooked though place on warmed plates and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

Reduce the heat under the pan. Add the mushrooms cooking for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next add the stock and continue to heat , slightly increase the heat and boil for 3 minutes till reduced.

Add the wine and cream and reduce for a further 3 minutes.

Until the sauce has thicken , then at this pint stir in the herbs

Now I served this on three piles of mashed potatoes but I think a nice potatoes dauphinoise would work as well.

I served this with a nice Lindeman's Shiraz wine which I had let breathe for half an hour ( just one of the
tips I picked up at #britmumslive

Disclosure : This recipe is utterly my own and I was just sent the wine to try and was not told what to write or say. * PS the wine was jolly nice too.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Kicking Into Autumn

Kicking into Autumn

Never fear your toes will still have fun

Kicking in other gear 

Gone are the Birkenstocks, flip flops and sandals 

Replaced by sturdy footwear to show good standing 

Kicking up the leaves

Scrunching , crunching warm never ending fun

A carpet of warm visual to eyes that care to feast 

Tongues tripping over a blackberry feast 

A confused butterfly to say the least 

Oh when will it be totally Autumn the crimson symphony 

And I will dance upon each leaf as if it were a key 

Silent Autumn

Saturday 27 September 2014

The harder I try

The harder I try.

The harder I try the less I fit in , I've been wanting to fit in my whole life , you might understand you might not. Take my prom for instance , I couldn't afford a dress in fact the cat fared better than I did at home at the time.  My parents were divorcing and my dad other than wanting the custody of the cat didn't help much,  the cat ate better than me.

I was reduced to eating boiled eggs on ryvita , and whilst this might sound like I'm playing the victim as I've been touted about in various sections of life , you know nothing of what I've been through this is but a snap shot.

I borrowed a dress to my prom , I didn't have a prom date , I walked myself there and back, seeing my friends being taxied back and forth and I walking alone in the dark.


I have been doing this my whole life.

So do excuse me if I am overbearing, try too hard to be your friend ...

But can you see beyond and see the real me.

The harder I try.....

Friday 26 September 2014

Foragers Blackberry And Apple Upside -Down Pudding

The foragers season is closing fast so the other day when cycling back down the sloping lane with the sun shining I stopped as soon as I saw the blackberries! Lucky for me I was carrying a suitable container.


200/3 1/2 caster sugar ( put into 100 g piles)
200g/7oz blackberries
1 Large cooking apple
200g/7oz butter or low far spread unsalted
3 free-range eggs
200g770z self raising flour or plain if you only have that ( but if you use plain flour be sure to use baking powder )


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Heat 100 sugar in a saucepan until it begins to caramelise, add the blackberries and cook for 4-5 minutes , or until softened. Set aside to cool.

For the base , cream the sugar, then fold in the flour.

Layer the sliced apple in the bottom of a suitable pudding tin i.e. a brownie run in my case.

Spoon the caramelised blackberry mixture into the cake mixture and fold in or you can spoon this onto the apple if you wish then spoon the cake mixture on top.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until risen and golden-brown.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Swarkstone Pavillion The Beggars Banquet


Stunning isn't it.

Not only was I capturing the Swarkstone Pavillion in my photographical memories but I was also walking in the footsteps of British rock icons.
When you come to these historic places you expect to punch drunk with history , cil war battles a plenty , secrets all the way back to 1632. This is a stones throw from where I live , I see it almost every day and my heart is happy.

The building has a stunning intricate line and its stunning form punches many a inky blue sky , and when iridescent shafts of light shine upon it I'm in further awe.

The building is owned by the Landmark Trust, which restores fascinating architectural gems and rent them out to adventuring  holiday-makers.

I could happily lose my inhibitions here , raising up past the battlements to the toilet hoping that won't scare any ramblers.

Swarkstone Pavillion is just one of the properties of the Landmark trust.

You with me so far  ?

No not heard of them then let me explain they were set up in 1965 as an alternative to the National Trust and the Ministry of Works ( sounds a big Hogwarts to me) Their aim to rescue historical buildings that others might not be interested in. These properties in each and every way are as exciting as a  full sized ~ castle or manor house. Rather than letting you peer at these properties from behind ropes they let you stop in them as if they were your own manor. The Landmark Trust actually restores these buildings so members of the public can stop in them. 

Prices vary according to the time of year and the number of people that can stop at a property varies according to the size of it.

 enjoy adore buildings like these , they are are happy with time , they wish you to be their custodian of them . Many have asked to hold buildings here but the Landmark trust don't allow it they put all their energies into the buildings and keeping them for posterity.

R is for Rock and Roll * kicks drum , tosses guitar out of the window.

Monday 22 September 2014

Meet The Air Puppy Cuddle Crew

"Where being individual is the only way to fit in "

A new range of plush soft toys will land in Boots Uk stores and boots.com September 2014. The Air puppy few is full of fun characters ( in fact the elephant is typing this now), each with their own unique personality. From the chilled out pals at Hickory shack, to the gentle farmyard friends of Hedgerley Farm and the long legged chums from Burford Yard , there's an Air Puppy for every child.

Each member of the cuddle crew has their favourite place to hang out , whether it's a row of beach huts at Hockory Shack with Maddyfox Monkey and his friends Woogie Zebra and Burrowbliss Bunny, or down Burford Yard with lifelong pals Patch Puppy and Peachtail Lamb. Children will love to create their own adventures with the Cuddle Crew, following their motto "Where being individual is the only way to fit in "!

Available in a variety of sizes and made from the softest plush material, the Cuddle Crew are extremely huggable and are prefect for all ages as their first toy. Each of the Air Puppy collections has its own unique style.

You can read the Air puppy stories and follow their adventures on their Facebook page

Air Puppy will be available to purchase from larger selected Bots UK from September 2014 from £12.00 upwards.

And I think it is a toy to remember and treasure , do you remember your first soft toy ?

Disclosure I was gifted the air puppy Elephant and was not told what to write. he is going to live with a colleagues of my husband who is expecting a baby.

Saturday 20 September 2014

My Heart Felt

Heart felt.

This the the village lodge cottage, I am forever wandering round , there is always something new to see.

I wanted to go by the river today but instead I got caught up putting the bunting away, which made me sad.

When the bunting was all gone, I took myself off down the lane towards the church which drew me in.

I've been so lost these past few weeks but I have found my way. My friends have been there for me and I'm greatful. 

I've found my photography eye has returned and I am tweaking my angles.

Looking forward I look back I see past mistakes yet I grow. If we don't face the past we don't learn.

My passion is what I see if I thought about what I did then I wouldn't be who I am.

Also today I kicked the leaves , I hope to go blackberry picking again. So I can last have autumn tripping upon my tongue.

Friday 19 September 2014

A Bunting We Will Go

Yesterday I went bunting hanging, I've a weakness for bunting that I don't hide  and why should I ? bunting instills pride.

I was helping to bunt the village ready for the Duke Of Devonshire re dedicating the war memorial. Honour , pride respect, look to the past.

The fallen the echoes of the past calling through , the troops most likely marched out to bunting. The least we could do was to honour their memory.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Boutique Hostel Palmers Lodge

Hostels the backpackers paradise bastion of the young well it was until last month. I crashed into the world of youth hosteling , I'm probably 20 years too late ? . Necessity is what brought me to this hostel , know I understand hostels are not for everyone and that's fine.

I stopped a couple years ago in another hostel and it was nice but it didn't have the edge this one has. Just sticking the word boutique in front changes your perception , your suspicions are raised but when you get there .. Oh my.

There are a variety of dormitory set ups from 6 in a dorm etc , also there is all female. There is also a room to sleep by yourself or share with a friend but that will cost you more.

Sharing it cost me about £29 for the night and though that didn't include breakfast which is extra at £4.50 I felt it represented good value. Sleeping in a dormitory can be noisy so pack ear plugs and an eye shade ( one with a non inoffensive message) . Another situation to consider to to take shower shoes and a towel, no need to worry about sharing showers as they as individual.

The dorms are bunk beads with a privacy curtain, reading light and essential plug socket , what it appears you don't do is turn the main light on when everyone is sleeping ~ ooops sorry!

Facilities are good , there is a bar , a comfortable lounge and there is always someone to talk to , you can swap tips with fellow travellers.

If you want a change from soulless hotel chains then this will tweak your travelling repotoire. Laundry and gastro pub you'll have to blink to think you are somewhere not more expensive.

For more details and booking your stay visit the Palmers Lodge London  site: www.palmerslodges.com

And this isn't even a review I just thought I'd relay my experience .

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Lego Movie Awesome DVD Review


"Everything is awesome "

When a cartoon brings you such a tune that will stick in your head then you know that is going to a giggly, goofball bundle of fun that you are going to be waving your arms along to . If you are a fan of Will Ferrell when he was in Elf then you are going to enjoy this, crazy fun that appeals to children and adults alike.

The Lego movie is an hour and half in length , the main character is Emmet the construction worker who lives his life by a set of instructions. At work Emmet comes across Wildstyle and there is a arrow straight to his heart ( not literally) Wildstyle believes that Emmet is the 'special' one who will save the Lego universe.

Emmett being the special one they hope can  can help bring down Lord Business (Will Ferrell), he's recruited into a quest to save the LEGO Universe. Along on this quest is Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and her boyf the self-absorbed Batman (Will Arnett) and the Gandalf like Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman).

Emmett finds himself in a world of adventure but Bad cop ( Liam Neeson ) is on their trail determined to stop them.

If you haven't seen this then you must!

And if ever like me you kept your Lego instructions as a child and sometimes were against going against the instruction book then at the end you will see why it is important to break the rules of this.

Disclaimer : I was sent a copy to review and thought words and opinions are my own and I was not told what to write.

You can track the price of The Lego Movie DVD on Suppose!com to make sure you get the best deal.

Monday 15 September 2014

Picnic Oven Baked Scotch Egg Recipe

The not so humble Scotch egg is a stalwart picnic favourite and long gone is the day glow ,artificial sun tanned Scotch egg of old ,if you bake them yourselves. And oven baking means it is healthier , no  longer will I eat a deep fried Scotch egg. I don't about you but I am clinging onto summer a little longer , there is no reason why we can't continue to picnic as Autumn tumbles in.

  • Ingredients

  • 400g (14 oz) sausage meat I went with one that had black pepper and nutmeg in.
  • 6 hard boiled eggs 
  • Fine dried breadcrumbs combined with mixed herbs.
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Some flour


Preheat the oven to 190 C

After you have boiled the eggs and let them cool, shell them gently ( good idea to put the waste shell in a dish etc as it keeps your preparation  area clear)

Divide your sausage meat into 6 sections.

Cover each egg in turn with the sausage meat ensuring that there at no gaps.

Rolls the sausage meat covered egg so you achieve a nice round shape.

Then in turn roll each egg into flour next roll them in the beaten egg

It is a wise idea to roll the scotch eggs again ( if you wish)

After this is down roll them in bread crumbs and place upon a baking tray.

And cook for around 25 minutes adjust this depends on the thickness of the sausage meat.

I read a tip which was to put a cocktail stick through them to stop them rolling about tin the oven.

Ideal for taking on a picnic just so happens I eat mine in my office , though my office just so happens to be a field.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Saturday Caption Cats Rule

Yesterday I was invaded by some other cats , I think they Benegals

Rather a beauty isn't he and he is not even mine !!

Friday 12 September 2014

Fortune Favours The Brave

Ever been floored like you have been emotionally pushed to the floor, this is what I am coming back from and with strength and grace I will endeavour. My efforts are lacking at the moment, I have lapses of forgetting names also I may struggle to focus in conversations.

I am getting on with my life not playing a part just living, we all have a purpose in this life and we might gel or we might not. That is the wonderful thing about the world in which we live it is blooming huge.

Boldness never hurt anyone, fortune favours the brave (pretty sure that is a line from an advert) time I need time what I don’t need is a kick in the teeth, which of course is not going to happen, unless the small world gods have a pretty sick sense of humour and I am trapped in a Terry Pratchett novel.

I blog for me, my grammar may go awry, my spelling no doubt will go for a drink down the nearest pub. Strange things happen to me, I spent 2 hours as a Bengal cat invaded my garden and it was there just staring at me, in fact the little video clip is on my Face book page.

Self-respect I have my self-respect, I am I, I am making my way in the world. I have skills to my bow and there are some skills I don’t have I can’t swim and no I am not going to learn * I have a mortal fear. I am willing to do other things that test my social boundaries.

My digital social media foot print will show I came I entertained, I helped, I friended, I cocked up, I messed up, I really messed up, I came through it all .The ripples of good  will be further reaching in way s that you can’t even begin to imagine.

The day I can keep a houseplant alive is the day I now I have truly arrived in this world, as any houseplant within these 4 walls thinks, “What are my options

Be an actor

Sadly option 2 is the outcome I do water. When I remember.

I have a heart and it is here and I am not going anywhere.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Come Into My Office Said The Blogger

Where do you do your thinking ?

This is my blog office where I do my thinking , planning and my food photography on occasion.

I love to think I'm the only one that dances up these fields of dreams.

Never ambiguous I am.

Procrastination is my virtue.

Sentiment true , no sycophantic sentiment....

I look to my office window.

And feel that I have all I need.

I love my surroundings such as the farmhouse I pass going to and from work.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Dear Apple

Dear Apple

I do love you, so I thought I wouldn't ,but you have infiltrated my life.

I thought I couldn't love any piece of technology as much as I did my Spectrum 48 K playing Ghostbusters waiting for Mr Stay Puff , but I digress  I was playing this when you were just a dream starting to emerge. Macs were for the university types at school we had BBC computers ,  but when a friend got a Mac it was like the holy grail.

We stated off with with one IPad and slowly our family grew , with Mac book pros and the other Mac computer that lives upstairs.

I am sorry but we cheated on you just the once  with another PC  I don't know what we were thinking it just happened and I felt so cheapened.

I feel so controlled with yourself.

Isn't there a finite amount of Apple products the world needs?

Guess not, for there's a never ending sofa sale always on.



Staying in control.

Well at least till the cat sits in my seat....

Ps I haven't even covered the phones ...

Seems you are bringing out a watch as well.

Monday 8 September 2014

Birmingham A Photography Workshop Archiecture Old Meets New

Last Sunday I went on a photography walk to an urban environment and that hidden utopia was Birmingham. I'll not lie sometimes cities make me panic as I learn for my countryside.

As long as I can see what I love which is stunning architecture be it old it new then my panic  settles down. The historian architectural side within me is kindled into a burning flame and I'm off. I think 4 steps ahead when it comes to photography shots.  

Myself and other bloggers were given guidance on our photo walk which is thanks to Goodman Business parks inspiring us to take control of our manual settings and look look up.

I love photography my blog , instagram ,Facebook its testament to that it is a rare moment that I don't have some form of camera in my hand. On the photography walk, it was enthralling to be surrounded by other like minded people who loved photography as much as I do. I was very intimated by those who had bigger cameras as we were all on a level playing field of learning new skills.

Our tutor ( Simon) told us the fundamentals of going  manual, and once you grasp that concept then there is no stopping you. The beauty of modern cameras are that is really doesn't matter if you make a mistake, as you can delete it , it is as if the mistake never happened.

Buildings hold a wonder for me and to see the old reflected in the new is heart stopping , this is a concept I first came across when I was in Canada Toronto seeing an old building reflected in the crick of the neck sky scrapers!

All too soon it was time for our meal at Jamie's Italian , if ever an opportunity for picture taking then food and restaurant surroundings are it. They had the coolest toilets as well but don't worry I didn't take a shot of the toilets!

I had Turkey Milanese and it was sublime , all of the other bloggers food , I sat there thinking I want that  .. wish I had , had Polenta chips now as well.

If you want to see life in all its glory , then you must see it from all the angles you can , think you've seen it all , always think again ....

Even if you see the same building day in day out then there is always something different about it , the light, the day, the season the angle , a myriad of possibilities.

The day went all too quickly and I came home buzzing full of ideas so much so it has taken me a week to write this all up!

So thanks again to Goodman Business Parks also  to  Simon of Iguana Photography,  and for organising the event  Joe Blogs Network