Adventures, book review, Nature, victorian

Recovery – Time travelling back to Victorian Era

lighter crumble recipe

Oh Autumn days – how I love this time of the year – its time to reach for soft warm socks, thick warm woollens and longer evenings shuttered against blustery rain. It’s a time when we turn home for comfort and rest. Autumn is forever linked with new beginnings and celebrations of the years progress. It has been a very strange year indeed and now it is in it’s final phase!

A dear friend gave me some apples from her tree and I cannot think of anything more delightful than blackberry and apple crumble. Sadly, the blackberry crop was very poor this year, so I resorted to buying some – the ones in the shops were larger but I am not too sure if they had the flavour of the organic hedgerow varieties.

I created an alternative to a traditional wheat based topping – Panko breadcrumbs are rice based, stirred with enough melted butter and coconut oil coat the crumbs. The coconut oil helps with the crispness and the butter gives a lovely flavour, then I added a little soft brown sugar to taste. It is lighter crispy crumble topping, without the wheat belly!

The apples were gently simmered with ground nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves with some soft brown sugar to taste. Cloves really bring out the flavour of the apples using ground cloves avoids chewing on a rogue clove – there is usually one that escapes matter how much I look! Using ground clove makes life easy!

I had major surgery again early in September and I am now on the road to recovery, these bright lovelies were delivered to me by a very dear friend and now nearly four weeks later there are some still going strong! I have really enjoyed all the kind wishes, flowers and cards I have received, it is so lovely to have good friends and family.

discovering local walks

As part of my rehab I am taking daily walks – it has been quite an adventure although I have lived in this area for four years – I still found new delightful places by delving down footpaths and across bridges that I had not walked down before. It is sad to leave the dog behind but I am enjoying the gentle exercise and fresh air!

Nature table

Having time to collect leaves and then do little sketches is a wonderful way to spend my recovery. I have been dabbling with my watercolours – it seems now that I finally have the patience for this most delicate medium.

Autumn flowers

There is so many beautiful flowers and plants in season, walking gives you time to slow down and see the world – recovery is giving me the time to live at a slower pace, I am so grateful and I am trying to make the most of it.

It has turned colder now, as I pressed the button on the thermostat to turn on the heating – I was so thankful we live with so many modern conveniences – there is no coal to haul, no fires to lay, no calour gas fire hardly impacting on the chill walls and causing the windows to stream with condensation. I wake up in the morning, unafraid to pull back the covers in the bedroom which already warm with the boiler gently clicking away! It is noticing the simple pleasures that make life worth living.

We watched Elona Holmes on Amazon Prime – which was fun – I think it highlighted the way women were subjugated during the Victorian Era but it was a little bit far fetched. I really enjoyed the film – the story is fast paced and action filled – with a lot of very assertive women. The close relationship between Elona and her mother, (played by Helena Bonham Carter) was beautiful. I really loved the many beautiful costumes Elona wears – and the finishing school looked quite good fun, I would have loved the embroidery lessons! however they were wasted on Elona. I can highly recommend it for a little lighthearted fun. I did read on the internet that there have been statues commissioned of famous sisters of great men – the sister of Charles Dickens has been erected facing him in Portsmouth Guildhall square, Thomas Hardy and Mozart all had very talented sisters – all of whom gave up their talents upon entering marriage, so I am pleased to see these women get their final recognition.

from the BBC – Marian (JESSIE BUCKLEY) – (C) Origin Pictures – Photographer: Steffan Hill

Although for a story that really did highlight the plight of many Victorian women look to the BBCAdaptation of Wilkie Collins the Woman in White (Again on Prime). Not only did the book show how outrageously women were at the mercy of the men in their lives firstly their fathers and then their husbands, but the complex tale is engaging.

Men valued their ‘honour’ above their female offspring’s happiness – luckily Marion Holcombe proved to be a more realistic, assertive woman! Definitely has the edge on Elona Holmes as the tale is more subtle and subversive. The book itself is an epic, but the adaptation was superbly executed – even if I found Charles Dance a little too robust for Mr Fairley, I always imagined a weaker character and Count Fosco in my imagination looked like Hercule Poirot but the adaptation is much better the Italian charmer in the BBC adaptation is far more convincing!.

It is not an easy tale, Victorian women were committed to mental institutions a great deal, if they challenged the patriarchy. Marion Holcombe might challenge the conventions of Victorian Ladies at the time, showing herself to be a wonderful heroine but it is more likely her lack of male family is attributed to her freedom. The BBC adaptation is pretty close to the book! I highly recommend it! And if you fancy a good gothic read with the first investigating detective, then Wilkie Collins other tale ‘The Moonstone’ is one I highly recommend.

As if that wasn’t enough Victorian drama I am also enjoying listening to this audio book, Death at Bishop’s Keep by Robin Paige. Not only is is very well written – it also includes quotations from various Victorian publications at the start of the chapters that give you a background understanding for the particular chapter. For example, there is a domestic servant problem in one of the chapters – having a little outline about Victorian attitudes to domestic staff as an introduction, really helps to understand the plot.

E found book three in the series for me and I am thrilled to discover there are 12 books in the series! If this first one is anything to go by, I shall be time travelling the rest of the year!

ttfn x

dressing up, fancy dress, gothic, recycling, revamp., riding outfit, steam punk, victorian, wedding dress

Steam Punk

In case you haven’t read it several times in this blog, one of the things I really enjoy is dressing up.
I was going to a Steam Punk Party, and my dear friend found this wedding dress for me. The bodice was red velvet but the skirt was cream silk.
I managed to dye the silk and it came out a lovely red, but it took quite a few boxes of dye!

I added the lace overskirt, which had a bustle on the back, and the jacket was already mine and has seen a number of different lives!

It was an absolute dream to wear, especially with my red rock boots!

I bought the top hat from a fancy dress shop and it was completely plain. Having researched a little about Steam Punk I was wondering how to create some of the cogs and wheels of the gadetry that goes with the Victoriana, then I happened across an old spyrograph box, the wheels were perfect, once I had sprayed them silver.

A good hour or so with my trusty glue gun and a box of metal beads, and I had created a few items for the hat and a brooch. The feathers were a lovely touch and I had some silver ribbon in my stash. (I love it when you find just the right thing in your stash, its like all the hoarding is finally justified!)

I had an old watch that wasn’t working and a broken necklace, it all looked great on the dress and was fantastic fun to make.

My daughter is very into steam punk and since she is getting married next July has decided to have a steam punk wedding!

I will have to think some more about what I am going to wear, dressing up is such fun!