Happy Birthday Mr D

Felicitations on this glorious hot July day, it is my beloved Mr D’s birthday
The cup cake making the other week put me in the mood for a spot more cake decorating, and despite the soaring heat (for the UK at least) I put the oven on and made a cake.  My kitchen is not the biggest, in fact I could not hold a party because it is too crowded if more than one person is in there at a time.. so you can imagine with the cooker belting out I was not in need of a turkish bath that day! 

In case you were wondering if good taste had finally left me altogether, the colour is Mr D’s favourite football team… as much as I love pastels, it was his cake after all and he is not really a pastel shades kind of a guy. Partick Thistle makes his heart leap so it made sense to make a heart shaped cake in Patick thistle colours…. He knew something was up when he spotted the icing in the shopping trolley last week – but his acting skills are improving since he managed to look both surprised and delighted at the somewhat bumpy cake! 

Of course all was revealed when he cut a slice out poured his favourite sweets, (good taste has well and truly abandoned me – liquorish, cake and icing..an interesting combination!). 
One thing about us English is that our weather is so changeable we don our sun hats as soon as the sun breaks through the twenties… beaches are crowded and picnics abound
so we headed to the beach nearby for picnic and what a picnic! 
Mr D made prawn noodles, cherry tomato tarts and a fruit jelly made with raspberries and pink champagne – delicious! 

The view behind us was gorgeous, you can just make out the South Downs

the beach is not as developed so it is easy to find a quiet peaceful spot

the sea is warm! something rare in these shores!

Happy Birthday Mr D
Enjoy your weekend, ttfn..x

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Summer time and the livin’ is easy

We are enjoying a wonderful warm summer here in Southern England: as soon as the sun comes out we head out to make the most of it. The beaches are busy, but the garden is quiet the balmy sun warming and browning my pale skin while a lazy breeze rustles the Roses in full bloom their delicate sent drifting along in waves while the dog rolls blissfully in the grass. 
The riper the tomatoes the deeper the colour

There is so much to treasure at this time of the year but in particular the appearance of seasonal fruits and vegetables; their freshness and piquancy is at its height.  I received some delicious vine ripened tomatoes and a flavoursome cucumber this week – just perfect for gazpacho soup.

To enjoy your own all you need is:

6 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber peeled
I large red pepper
1 large red onion
1 clove of garlic 
100ml olive oil
A splash of Red wine vinegar
A couple of teaspoons of sun dried tomato puree
A large handful of mint fresh from the garden 
(I have some sensual lemon mint that just adds a delicate note to the soup)
Just blitz it all up in a liquidiser or blender until you have a smooth consistency
Pass through the sieve to remove the seeds and skin of the peppers and tomatoes
Leave to cool in the fridge for at least an hour or if you don’t want to wait add ice and blitz again
Best enjoyed out in the garden – relaxing with a good book or the Sunday papers, 
 a nice cool glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a pitcher of Pimms at your side.
Oh yes….summer time and the living is easy!  

Garden flowers – spring through to summer

What a wonderful summer it has been, the cherry season seems to have gone on forever, and the blackberries are showing promise but aren’t yet ripened. The gardens have been stunning, the weather has brightened not just the gardens, everyone is happy and smiling. 
There is nothing more pleasurable than having vases of flowers indoors that are home grown.  These peonies were lovely back in May, we have clumps of them in many different beds. We had some wet days,  so I rescued these from the ground their heads were so full of water – they brightened up the kitchen for a good ten days. 


 Peace lilies are so stunning, the flowers are huge – I think they are my favourite lily. We have several clumps but the blooms this year seem to have been extraordinary – the gardener kindly gave me a few enjoy. I am planning to do a drawing study, but time runs away with me.

 The poppies were also abundant, we have a huge bed out the front which was alive with the lovely pink flowers dancing in the breeze.

They have seeded all over the gardens and I spotted them in at least six places, must be the birds!

These are the more traditional poppies I could not resist taking a picture.

The roses were also stunning in June, this one has the most delightful sent. It is amazing just how much nature puts on a display every year, creating such beauty that was hidden under the frost and snow.
The thing I most enjoy about the gardens is that as one flower fades another takes its place. 

In August the hyacinths are all in flower, they make the most magnificent bouquets they are such huge flower heads this vase has only four blooms! Ours all seem to be pink, I think it depends on the soil. 

As the summer is drawing to a close, it won’t be long before the trees change colour – my favourite time of the year. I used to think gardening was boring when I was younger, but now I find I love the ever changing beds. 

A rose by any other name

The garden is full of roses, this one is called Many Happy Returns. It is such a beautiful delicate colour, the winds and the rain has played havoc with the garden, it seems as if the hot temperatures and heat of a few weeks ago is just a memory! It feels more like March than June. 

We are having a garden party soon, and I do hope that the weather brightens up. 

Friday walking along the sea was a wonderful experience, the sun was out but the winds were so strong it was an effort to walk home! I love to see the wind pick up the waves, it seems so much more exciting than the calm waters. 

The weather is not something we can change, today has been terrible, with many of the roads shut due to floods, but the real secret of contentment is finding something to enjoy no matter what life throws at you. 

While the weather has been pouring with rain, I feel so cosy and warm at home, glad that I don’t have to battle it out on the roads. This is definitely a lovely day to be working from home.