Sunday, 7 February 2016


Yes it's come to this - monthly posts! I will try for more but for now it's going to be monthly round ups, although this one goes from 31st December 2015 to 1st February 2016.

We like to see the New Year in but are not party people, and I'm not good at late nights, so our solution is to have an extended NewYear's Eve dinner which will see us through until the midnight chimes. This year Andrew's sister Carole - plus Dexter the dog, joined us and we had a convivial afternoon cooking and prepping. Aperos were a selection of tapas with a glass of champagne, relaxing on the sofa. Carole had provided the first course, a rather delicious spinach and feta tartlet. Next was a mango sorbet which I'd made in the summer from a box of overipe fruit. Main course was confit duck (obviously not for me!) with trimmings.

Duck confit and trimmings
A small green salad followed and then our pièce de resistance - café gourmand. All three of us had become just a little addicted to these on our recent trip to Montreuil and had decided that this would be our dessert, with each of us providing one mini sweet treat. I made rum and raisin ice cream, with raisins that knocked your socks off as I'd soaked them in rum for a week! Andrew, after trialling several options the previous week, settled on pannacotta with figs and maple syrup and Carole provided the most chocolately brownies with a raspberry jus. Apologies for the quality of the photographs but by this time a lot of bottles had been opened! We had given up on the idea of cheese by this stage.

New's Year Day was the traditional pursuit of a walk on Old Hunstanton beach. It was quite chilly but that didn't stop Dexter and Mortimer throwing themselves in the sea, and I discovered I needed new wellingtons...

We finally managed to finish bedroom three, although I can't style it yet as we've had to put some things from bedroom four in it (our next project). Remember the puzzle you used to get in Christmas crackers where there was one empty space and you had to move all the squares around to get the right pattern? well that's our house. But the wardrobes are up and running and at last my shoes (well the winter ones) have a home.

Halfway there

Mortimer gets very confused about the dog in the mirror!

Organised shoes - at last

Andrew's side
I confess that after taking the last photograph I did sneak into Andrew's side and reorganise his shirts into a better colour order.

Like many of you January has been wet, windy and mild. There are masses of daffodils out, as is the blackthorn blossom and I'm a bit concerned about the bees. Andrew called me into the garden a couple of weeks back as there was a lot of activity around the hive. I stood looking for a while and realised that there were a few dozen bees undertaking orientation flights. These are young bees out of the hive for the first time getting their bearings. It's a very distinct zig zaggy pattern that gets wider and wider. The thing is I shouldn't have young bees at this time of year but because it's been so mild the queen has taken to laying eggs again. The main concern is starvation so I put half a kilo of fondant in for them in case their honey stores run low.

We did have  a couple of cold and frosty days which were very welcome, grey and bleak but the unharvested apples gave a boost of colour to the day.

Mortimer loves frosty mornings and just loves to roll in the cool grass.

I did have a couple of days off when an old school friend visited and we undertook a lot of gossip and retail therapy - although no shoes as there's no room on the shelves! Andrew kindly took over the cooking for her visit giveing me even more time to chat :-)

Finally the month ended with a weekend in London. We wanted to visit the France Show and Carole kindly let us stay for the weekend and get dragged along. There were a couple of companies we wanted to catch up with, which was useful plus the sampling of some cheese, wine and croissants. The following day Carole took us to Morden Hall Park which is an oasis in south London. Once an estate on the river Wandle, and featuring a restored snuff mill, it's a lovely place to wander and walk the dogs. Dexter threw himself in the river
 although Mortimer was little more hesitant

So that was January. February is the month we start bedroom four and I have more bee keeping training. See you next month!