Thursday, 25 September 2014

What to do in Nova Scotia in the winter.

When we were cruising we met some fantastic people, some only once or twice, some we kept bumping into and some who were kind enough to give us food and lodging. Sue and Randy fell into the last two categories. We first met them in Grenada where we were anchored for several months during hurricane season.  There was a memorable new year's eve in Bequia and several rum sodden days (and nights) in Antigua. When we sold Paragon we weren't quite ready to head back to the U.K and so did a short road trip of Canada. Sue & Randy had headed back to Nova Scotia by then and were preparing for their next winter season in the Caribbean but this didn't stop them offering us accommodation for a week and guiding us through their glorious part of Canada.

They've now stopped cruising, but not traveling, and are creatively funding their travel kitty. Sue sells vintage items on Etsy but by far the most impressive is her own hooked items. These combine traditional methods with some stunning contemporary designs. I've sold antique hooked rugs before although I've never tried making them - maybe I should...

An abstract wall hanging by Sue

I love this cushion

Randy isn't letting the grass grow under his feet either. We'd often admired his woodworking skills on the Nancy Dawson but now he's turning his hand to furniture. This table has a wonderful Arts & Crafts Movement feel to it.

Crafted by Randy

Anyway have a look at their Etsy shop Lake Annis Studios to see their work.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Pear and ginger pudding

Regular readers will know that we live in a fruit growing area, the owner of the orchards that surround our house is one of the U.K.'s top producers of Bramley apples.

This year's crop

All over the area are remnants of older orchards and many people have a few old fruit trees in their gardens, including fellow dog walker Graham. Last week he came round with a carrier bag full of pears. To me pears are a contrary fruit, you pick them before they ripen but before you know it they're soft and squidgy. This bag was on it's way to over ripe but I couldn't let them go to waste.

Pear bounty
I had a vague memory of a pear pudding recipe that I had tucked away, and having found it decided it was perfect. I made one pudding to the quantities below and then doubled up to make a giant one which I cut into sections and froze.

Pear & ginger pudding

 4/5 small pears, peeled, halved & cored
100g butter
100g light muscavado sugar
100g black treacle
125ml whole milk
140g plain flour
1 level tsp, ground ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds
1 level.tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1 medium egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 150C (130C fan).

Grease an 18cm square cake tin and line the base with parchment. Arrange the pears cut side down.

Melt the butter, sugar and treacle over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the milk and set aside to cool for a bit.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and then quickly beat into the butter mixture making sure there are no pockets of flour. Add the egg.

Pour over the pears and bake for about an hour, you may need to cover with parchment at some point.

Seve warm with cream or custard.

Pear & ginger pudding

No not Andrew being greedy! a slice for two for freezing

Question for anyone - is black treacle available in France?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Progress report

Do you know how much I love that title? Progress report. Yes we've made progress, well once again that is the royal we as it's all down to Andrew. I've grown used to his abilities but this time I do have to single out his skill with the tri-fold doors, something he's never done before. We were a tad nervous as there is very little tolerance - you have to make the opening to within a couple of millimetres or the doors won't fit. We had bought the doors from Vufold and I would highly recommend them, although the instructions are long, and quite complex, the quality of the product is excellent and everything was seamless.

So do you remember this?

The sun room before
Which became this (sadly I didn't take any photographs of the plastic sheeting that filled the hole all winter).

Two doors down

Then we held our breath for door number three.

Smiles all round - they work!
We added decking and my contribution was some gardening and oiling the deck.

Ta dah!
A nice benefit is that the bricks heat up during the day and stay warm in the early evening making it a lovely place to sit and enjoy aperos!

Now we've got the internals to do, although most of the plumbing and electrics have been done and the stud walls are up. I did toy with the idea of a chaise longue in the room so that I could lounge and admire the garden but sadly I was vetoed and the room will stay as planned and be our dining area,

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

An English summer

Hello! Remember me? I'm the person who used to blog once a week, sometimes more, about life at Nelson House. Well I did until August hit that is. August should be quiet workwise for both of us, so we had planned lots of visitors and a list of things to progress the house but work didn't slacken off and I certainly wasn't going to cancel guests - we love our visitors! So progress on the house came to a shuddering halt and we just kept partying and are now officially exhausted. Rather than long prose, here is our August in photographs.

There was a lot of canine activity, particularly as several guests brought their dogs (much to Mortimer's delight) and there is a new guide dog trainee in the village - Hoby Hoy (H.H. for short),

Mortimer & Dexter - not sure Mr M is really trying!
Dexter & H.H wouldn't stop playing

Which did put Mortimer's nose out of joint somewhat
But he is adorable

And now he's grown a bit Mortimer is happy
Hunstanton is a firm favourite with guests and several trips were made. When the sun is shining what better place than a traditional seaside town?

Old Hunstanton beach

Andrew and the dogs enjoyed paddling
Dexter just loves to dig!
There were beach huts

and bowls

and music from the bandstand

and errant dogs.

As well as a dog who ate too much ice cream...

Are we nearly home yet?
Another favourite destination this summer was Ely which has a good mix of historical buildings, good independent shops and some lovely walks (and restaurants) by the river. We enjoyed the food and gift fair in the grounds of Ely Cathedral.

Ely summer food and gift fair
Several lunches by the river

The Great Ouse
and of course the cathedral

Andrew in admiration
I have got a post planned for Ely Cathedral later on - hopefully soon if September can calm down. Just a little. Please.