Monday, 30 August 2010

Chocolate Cake (with a twist)

Do you have kids who love the naughty foods but aren't so great with the good veg foods etc? Well a friend of mine did so when they came round we got her littleun and mine to do some baking. This recipe mixed the fun of chocolate with the goodness of the secret ingredient... Courgette/zucchini.

to make you will need
450g courgettes/zucchini, peeled
250g butter, softened
250g light brown soft sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
125ml milk
1tsp baking powder
350g self-raising flour
4tbsp cocoa powder

cake tin 30x20cm greased


Turn oven to 180c/350f/gas4.

Cut greaseproof paper to tin size to add extra protection.

Grate courgettes/zucchini finely.

Put softened butter, sugar and extract into bowl and beat with wooden spoon.

Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk with fork.

Gradually add eggs to the mixture, add the milk and whisk together.

Carefully sieve in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Taking a metal spoon fold the mixture.

Spoon mix into the tin then bake for between 35 and 45 mins.

Test centre of cake with skewer and if right leave to cool.

Sit back and stuff yourself silly...

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Mediaeval Fayres

We spent yesterday at our local fayre, it’s held once a year in the grounds of a 15thc Home/Castle. “Herstmonceux is renowned for its magnificent moated castle, set in beautiful parkland and superb Elizabethan gardens. Built originally as a country home in the mid- 15th - century, Herstmonceux Castle embodies the history of Medieval England and the romance of Renaissance Europe.”

The Fayre is a 3 day event celebrating the life in mediaeval times. You can walk through the village shoppes; eat in the Buxom Wench enjoying vegetarian food as much as the smells of the hog roast. The camps are set up so you can wander about looking and chatting with the larp family. The re-enactments of battles and shows of strength for the armouries are mesmerising to watch. And the whoops of delight as you catch up with friends you haven’t seen for a while, exchanging ideas and gifts, fill every corner.

The owls and birds of prey were graceful and beautiful to watch, Littleun and his friend got to hold one. It was lovely to see the gentleness and awe with which Littleun interacted with the Owl. For a few minutes there was a calmness and quiet as they watched each other. Littleun is always eager to see the birds and learn about them so it’s great to get this chance every now and then.

There are always things for the children to learn, activities to play. Quite a few for the adults too. From weaving, brass rubbings, chicken catching (they got out again), how to fire guns, shoot arrows, skin rabbits the list is endless. The ability to buy the materials for next year’s gowns and clothes at reasonable prices, with good quality is great too. And finally I managed to get a set of Ogham staves, well made with care, far better use than the hodgepodge ones I made.

Monday, 23 August 2010

How airline announcements should be like...

I got sent an email today by a friend who has a great sense of timing, she waits until I am stuffing myself with toast and homemade jam before letting me read what was the funniest set of airline announcement I have ever heard. Was a good way to start the day, with a smile. So I thought I'd share them with you too, hopefully you'll find them funny to and its not just me with my weird soh...
Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg ...

Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings.. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have."

"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."
"Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."
As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"
After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo , a flight attendant on a flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."
From a Kulula employee: " Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth ... To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."
"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite."
"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.."
And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landing in Cape Town : The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town , on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline. He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?", "Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"
After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.."

Heard on a Kulula flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

A plane was taking off from Durban Airport . After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from Durban to Cape Town, The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight.. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOODNESS!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger then yelled, "That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!"
Yeah I know, not very PC.......

Monday, 16 August 2010

Meditation for Littleun

We are half way through our Summer Break and the strain is starting to show. Littleun is getting more and more bored no matter what we do and it’s mainly because he wants to get to his new school. In despair I thought lets head to the allotment. He is normally a lot calmer there anyway. Once there looking over the wonderful views we have, the noise cut down and surrounded by plants grown with love and care He did indeed seem to calm, but not enough. Now at home during term time we have often headed out to the beach and held some meditation time so why not here on our patch of earth too.

I find a good way to start with the meditation is to sit him down in the open grass, give him something to hold that he can concentrate on, in this case a lovely set of red sunflowers given to us by our allotment neighbour, and to tell him to focus on the petals. For each petal he then calls out something which he finds happy, the love of playing on the beach or going for walks, seeing his Grandparents, collecting pine cones, making things with his meccano etc by the time he has finished his mind is normally starting to calm down. You can see in his body he is relaxing. When he has got to a certain stage I normally sit behind him and gently massage his shoulders whilst he sits in silence. Finally he drifts off so much that he is dozing lying against me in the sunshine.

Listening to the birds, watching the bees with a beautiful lad asleep, in peace and quiet. What a great way to meditate and spend the afternoon.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Scarecrow Poem...

A Jolly Good Fellow

The scarecrow in the Farmer's field is spruce and nicely dressed,
With a pink and yellow neckerchief and a rose pinned to his chest.
I always give a smile to him on days when passing by,
And he will wave his glove to me then nod and wink his eye.
He's a very friendly fellow
with his tie of pink and yellow,
And in my heart I know
That he'd never hurt a fly.

He stands there all alone in the fields of corn and wheat;
with rooks , crows and magpies, pecking at his feet.
They make a merry party and he joins in with the fun,
Playing with the field mice that scamper in the sun
He's a very decent fellow
With his tie of pink and yellow,
And he'll wave his arms to warn them
Should the farmer raise his gun.

When the summer sun is shining and the hedgerows are in bloom,
I change his pretty rosebud for a spike of yellow broom:
Then brush his tweedy jacket and straighten his cravat,
And tidy up the head of straw that lies beneath his hat.
For he's quite a handsome fellow,
With his tie of pink and yellow,
And to any scarecrow lady
He would make a perfect match.

When the harvest in the farmer's field is reaped and stored away,
And the birds have fled the fallow where the field mice came to play.
When the yellow leaves of autumn are descending from the trees,
He'll wave goodbye to all of them while dancing on the breeze.
He's a very merry fellow
With his tie of pink and yellow,
And while he's warm and mellow,
You will never hear him sneeze.

©PRISM 2010

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

101 things to do with Blackberries

Well three things for now actually and yes I mean those lovely gleaming dark purple berries, not the latest phone!

Up at the allotment we have had a lot of blackberries come out, so far several lb’s worth and as much as I love making jam I thought I would have a look at the ‘net and see what else I could do with them.

The following are recipes and ideas pinched from Delia Smith, Ehow and Cookuk. All of them are great fun and if you have, like me, been forced to stay indoors for the min (Littleun has chickenpox) then they are also fun things that don’t take too long to do.

This dye comes out wonderfully and I have made our new altar cloth with it ready for Mabon:

Prepare the fabric by pre-soaking it in the first pot, using a fixative solution for berry dyes. See the "Tips" section for details on making this solution.

Put on rubber gloves to avoid staining your skin.

Use a measuring cup to determine how many cups of berries are to be placed in the second pot. Crush them lightly with the back of the wooden spoon. Place the pot containing the berries onto the stove.

Measure 2 times the amount of water as berries. For example, if you used 3 cups of berries, pour in 6 cups of water. Pour this water over the berries in the pot. Bring the contents to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to simmer. Wait until the water has turned a deep shade of purple. Strain the berries and discard them.

Place the damp, pre-soaked, fixative-treated fabric to be dyed into the pot. Let the fabric simmer in the dye until the desired shade is attained. Leaving it to rest in the dye overnight yields darker results. The fabric will appear lighter than the colour of the dye in the pot. Squeeze out the fabric under cool, running water and let it dry.

Tips & Warnings
If you are dyeing fabric, remember that natural fibres (as opposed to synthetic or manmade) will absorb colour better. Wool, cotton and silk are all good candidates. It helps if the fabric is already a light or neutral colour. If you choose to collect plant material in the wild, always leave at least 1/3 of the plant untouched, so it can naturally replenish itself. Always prepare fabrics to be dyed by simmering them in a "fixative" solution. The material that will be dyed should be placed in the solution and simmered for 60 minutes. Rinse the fabric in cool water and squeeze the water out 2 or 3 times. After this has been done, the damp fabric can be placed into the dye. The fixative helps the coloured dye adhere better to the fabric. To make a fixative for berry-based coloured dyes, use ½ cup plain salt mixed with 8 cups cool water.

To make a fixative for plant/herbal-based dyes, use 4 cups water and 1 cup of vinegar.

Avoid mixing dyed fabrics with your other laundry. Dyed cloth should always be laundered alone (or with similar colours) in cold water

Jam, well, just had to sneak on into the mix, yummy:


yield 10 lb
6 lb. blackberries1/4 pint water
Rind and juice of 2 lemons
6 lb. sugar

1. Put the cleaned fruit, the water and lemon rind and juice in the pan.

2. Simmer until the fruit is soft.

3. Stir in the sugar and boil rapidly until setting point is reached.

4. Remove from the heat, skim, pot, cover, and label.

This is the recipe I used for our Lammas pie, tasted so good that I didn’t get any! By the time it had done the circle and got back to me it was all gone. Just the excuse to make another:


For the shortcrust pastry:
6 oz (175 g) plain flour
pinch salt
1½ oz (40 g) lard
1½ oz (40 g) butter

For the filling:
4 medium cooking apples, about 1 lb (450 g)
8 oz (225 g) brambles or fresh or frozen blackberries, defrosted if frozen, and washed
3 oz (75 g) sugar

To glaze:
milk and caster sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).

You will also need a 1½ pint (850 ml) rimmed pie dish.

Start by making the pastry : sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, holding the sieve up as high as possible to give the flour an airing. Then cut the fat into small cubes and add to the flour. Now, using your fingertips, lightly and gently rub the pieces of fat into the flour – lifting your hands up high as you do this (again to incorporate air) and being as quick as possible. When the mixture looks uniformly crumbly, start to sprinkle roughly 2 tablespoons of cold water all over. Use a round-bladed knife to start the mixing, cutting and bringing the mixture together. Carefully add more water if needed, a little at a time, then finally bring the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth ball of dough that will leave the bowl clean (if there are any bits that won't adhere to it, you need a spot more water).

Now rest the pastry, wrapped in foil or polythene, in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes while you peel, core and slice the apples straight into the pie dish. Then sprinkle in the brambles or blackberries and the sugar. Now roll out the pastry to about 1 in (2.5 cm) larger than the pie dish, then cut out a 1 in (2.5 cm) strip to fit the edge of the dish. Dampen the edge with water, then fit on the strip of pastry, pressing it firmly, and dampen that too. Then press the rest of the pastry over that to form a lid and, using a sharp knife, trim any excess pastry off. Use the blunt side of the knife and your thumb to press the two edges firmly together and knock the edges all round to give a layered effect. Then flute the edges by using your thumb to make an impression and the broad blade of the knife to draw in the edges of the pastry. Make a steam hole in the centre and, if you have time, make some decorative leaves with the pastry trimmings.
Now brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle on a light dusting of caster sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet on a high shelf and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), and continue baking for a further 30 minutes. Then, using a skewer, take out a piece of apple from the centre to test if it's cooked: if it still feels very firm, give it another 5 minutes. Serve hot with chilled pouring cream to mingle with the juices.

Monday, 9 August 2010


Still recovering from the wonderful fun last week. Though I think I am getting old, I am sure it never took this long to get over it before!

The carnival was great and our old nursery won a 1st so well done them, ever so proud. The had gone for a Bollywood style float, all hand made by them, and they looked great.

Anyway, will post again when I am capable of stringing more than a couple of sentences together. Off to find the paracetamol...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Pirates beware...

Ok so by now you may have gathered we are a little mad in this corner of England. No? Oh. Well to demonstrate how bonkers we are let me tell you all about Pirates Day. Oh and our tiny ickle achievement of GETTING THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the amount of pirates in one place. In case you didn’t get that I’ll say it again. WE GOT 6166 PIRATES for the record. That’s right we have beaten everyone else so far this year and not by a little bit but by a stonking 4300 people (give or take a few) and we would have had more, but those funny chaps otherwise known as the Police got a bit safety paranoid and stopped anyone else coming in.

So how and why? Well we are a bit different here and with the history of the area including Pirates/smugglers someone last year thought it would be good to add it to our week long Carnival celebrations during the summer. It went so well that the same bright fella said this year, “I know let’s do it again”. To which a drunken cheer went up with an unanimous aye! At some point it steamed into a Guinness World Record attempt. We have spent the last few weeks nervously watching as news rolled in from around the world where various folk were attempting to do it. “The Germans have it, 1600”, “The Americans have it, 2200” The rumours abounded. Ah, um will we get enough? Battle cry’s (well ok more drunken or eccentric ramblings) went on, the orders sent out “Be there or beware”.

And so to the day. My Aunt had kindly offered to have a pirate party for those of us who could come. Food aplenty with the odd bottle of ginger beer we gathered around, painting faces with ‘tashes or stubble. The transfer tattoos applied and the sweet treasure box eyed up by 10 kids and a couple of us adults.
My Grandfather even got into the swing of it, cheerfully going about town to get his outfit and the telescope made, complete with birdie on the end. Our Family Pirates ages ranged from the littlest at 22 months to Granddad in his 90’s. Soon it was time and we set of for the count. An area near the RNLI lifeboat house (whom, we mustn’t forget, we are raising all this money for) had been set up for the gathering. The long queues slowly marching towards it were full of colourful and cheerful folk. And eventually we got there. We had to stay in the arena for a while so they had laid on entertainment in the form of Jack Sparrow and the Caribbean crew. Now these guys are good, very good. They had sword fights and pyrotechnic cannon scenes.
Dead men walking and so much more. But soon it was over and we went back to the party. No-one knew how many of us there was but we knew it wouldn’t take long before the noise started: “6166” the Old Town whispered, “6166” they started to Rumble, “6166!”They all Shouted. Phew and wow. Now this is a town that can be proud of pulling together and being generally mad....

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Ooh Yay, Blog awards...

Woke up this morning to find the Sun shining, the world still spinning and the lovely thoughts of Rowan at Candles and Wicks who has so very kindly deemed me interesting enough (mad of her I know!) to give me an award.

As usual there are “rules” for the award and as usual I am going to be cheeky and only comply with 2 out of the 3!
The rules for the award are :

1. Thank the blogger that gave you the award – Well this one I always do, much easier in life to do thanks than be grumpy and unappreciative. Massive Thanks and acknowledgement for Rowan, hope you had a lovely Lughnasadh/Lammas.

2. Sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation, experience, using 10 words. So in no particular order:
· Light humoured
· Fun
· Crafty
· Food, yum...
· Littleun, joy that he is
· Community
· Learning
· More food...
· Contemplation
· My blogging Experiences: Generosity

3. Pass the award on to 10 other blogs you feel has substance.

Now this is the one that I always cheat with. I have a difficult time just choosing a few out of the many great blogs that I enjoy following, so as normal I am chickening out of being decisive and leaving it open. There are so many of you to enjoy...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Make yourself a ladybird hotel

One of the things that I have had problems with in the allotment is aphids. By the bucket load they devour my runner beans. After doing research I knew I didn’t want to go down the pesticide route but rather encourage natural predators in the form of rather beautiful ladybirds. We have had a few and as I wanted them to stay, I looked about for a ladybird house to see if they would nest and hibernate nearby so that next year I would be onto a winner. But the prices of these houses were quite a way out of my reach so I thought I’d make one. It is something Littleun can join in with and I can use up all those broken canes at the same time.

To make you will need:
An old 2ltr bottle
Broken canes cut into short lengths
Dried grass stems
Rough string/thin rope
Glue gun

Cut the top of your bottle so that the bottom is the same-ish length as your shortened canes. Glue on the inside the grass stems creating a carpet appearance around the perimeter.
When dry fill the middle gap with lots of the canes so it is tight, if you have a wonky area then put a few more of the stems to fill it, but do remember to leave enough gaps for the bugs to crawl into.
When they are fixed tight, around the outside of the bottle glue more of the canes. This protects the bottle and also gives some extra hidey holes for the ladybirds. Finally tie your rough string/thin rope around the outside so you can hang at a slight downwards angle (don’t want water getting inside).

When the house is made hang near the vegetation that you have problems with and make sure you have sited it in a warm, sunny, sheltered position, out of prevailing winds and close to vegetation. The hanging bug house can be hung from trees, arches or pergolas. If you want to make it a wall house then the wall bug houses can be hung on a fence or wall.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Lammas/Lughnasadh, The weather held...

Well despite having a sea fog roll in the day before and slight rain first thing in the morning by the afternoon the weather was bright and sunny, in fact rather hot!

At sunset on Saturday we held our small family ritual welcoming in Lammas, the bread just freshly finished and warm on our altar, we gave our thanks for our good harvest. We have had the allotment only a short while but we have been very blessed with the abundant crops we have had in such time.

On Sunday we had headed to Eastbourne and joined the crowds at celebrating Lammas. Sitting with my family and friends sharing the Dwarfs loaf/Lammas Loaf I had made (anyone who reads Discworld will know what I mean by that!) and realising that although it looked great it was in fact an ickle bit on the tough side, was good. Soon delving into the pies and quiches I had made from our home grown ingredients, we were surrounded by the lovely sound of music and sight of Morris Dancers.

The great thing about Morris is that they encourage anyone to have a go and I have to say those children really did show us adults’ sense of timing and rhythm up! Finishing our feast and wondering around we came across many a craft from Pottery to Ironwork, Painting to Carving. Stopping to say hello to folk we knew and to congratulate those we didn’t know on their hard efforts took us to the gentle point of needing a refreshing drink so off to the music/hop tent.

Eventually though it was time to go, a fair journey home and a sleepy child to contend with. Hoping you all enjoyed your celebrations.