Another month, another interesting and challenging list of topics. Thanks Hawthorn, you really made us think.
1.FlowersI have many pictures of flowers in my garden but I think my favourite is this one of my peony flowers many years ago. They make me think of Degas' paintings of ballet dancers. All flouncy and delicate.
2. Baking or cookingI don't take many pictures of my baking but I did have this one of a chocolate cake in a mug that I had made together with our grandsons a few years ago. It is so easy and successful but I will admit that I have not done one since. But for those of you who have never tried it and have children to amuse in school holidays, here is the recipe:
Prep : 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
4 tablespoons self-raising flour
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 drops vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)
MethodMix together flour, sugar and cocoa in a mug. Crack in the egg, then add the milk, vanilla, oil and chocolate chips. Stir well. Place mug with contents into the microwave and cook on high for three minutes. Allow to cool a little before running a plastic knife around the mug to release the cake.
Now having got this category sorted in my mind, Brian and I went out to lunch at Winfields, a lovely camping and hiking shop with a fantastic selection of ladies shoes and men's casual and working clothes in Haslington (I am in no way affiliated to this store, just a happy customer). It also has a lovely tearoom and a large display of vintage motorbikes that keeps Brian happy. Unless we are planning to go out for a proper meal, our usual order is Soup of the Day with a roll for me and scone, jam and cream for Brian with a pot of tea. The soup was chunky vegetable soup - a favourite of mine - but when it turned up it was chunky alright. So chunky it was piled up higher than the rim of the bowl! I had never had soup that was higher than the soup bowl! It as only when I had finished it I realised I should have taken a photograph. I had been more concerned photographing the little hearts under the cup on the saucer for next year's Heartathon. I was so disappointed with myself that I decided to make some at home and and photograph that.
Here is the result and ....
One packet of prepared Soup Vegetables from the supermarket.
Add water and stock cube as directed and simmer for 30 minutes till vegetables are soft, then pile high in a soup bowl, as high as you can!!
(Or be good and peel and dice as many root vegetables as you have in the fridge).
3. ReadingI love reading and should read more than I do but I watch television too late and fall asleep too quickly to get very far each night and I don't like to read during the day. I loved all Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Detective Agency Series as they all were so true to the African way of life which we know well having lived there since I was five until we left in 2000. My daughter-in-law introduced me to Bill Bryson and I have been hooked on all his books since (well with one exception of '1982'. Just could not get into it). But his 'Notes on a Small Island' and the follow up 'The Road to Little Dribbling' were particularly good. They are a laugh aloud stuff and it usually takes a lot for me to more than crack a smile when reading.
4.ComfortableI took this picture of a Klipspringer (rock jumper) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa some years ago. It was quite content to stay whilst I photographed from the car window. They are only 17-24 inches high (43 - 60 cm) and have the unusual habit of walking on their toes and like it's name suggests, spring from rock to rock with ease. They are nocturnal and rest during the day so we were lucky to find this little chap. He definitely looks comfortable in the sunshine observing the passing tourist traffic.
5. Favourite ColourThis category has given me the most problems. Favourite colour ... of what?
I could say the beautiful blue African sky or the purple of Jacaranda trees in flower especially in Pretoria, South Africa or lining the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe even if the downside is 'Jacaranda eye', itchy red eyes for the whole of the flowering season in October. The falling flowers provide a purple carpet underneath.
How about the bright white of freshly fallen snow or spring green grass and trees or the beautiful sunsets we see out of our lounge window. But each time I am drawn back to blues and greens, even if I do wear 50 shades of purple and mauve!!
Then there are the fascinating colours of wine bottles in Sainsbury's supermarket - it must be the way the light in that store shines on the wines from around the world; pale Rosé through to deep reds. I always choose to cut through to the tills that way.
How about the beautiful autumnal colours as the trees change their hue each autumn. This picture was taken along the River Wharf as it flows through Bolton Abbey grounds.
It was when I was looking for a certain photograph taken at Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria when we were waiting for the ferry to cross back that I realised I knew my favourite colour. It is in the beautiful soft scarf given to me by Hawthorn and her family for one birthday and in a silk scarf bought for a couple of pounds from a charity shop whilst on holiday in Northumberland.
They reflect the colours in this photograph beautifully. What do you think?
The 'watery' one is my 'go to' scarf nearly every time.
(Quite coincidentally, I have used that scarf to stand my piled high soup on for that earlier picture and favourite mug lower down).
6. CandleI am not one who has lots of candles around. I have emergency candles in the drawer and long ones for the dinner table and some chapel candles that come out at Christmas but otherwise none. But what I do have are two lovely tea light candle holders that Hawthorn has given us over the years. They are on the book case shelf. I'm afraid the candles don't show as it was either the candles or the writing but they are in there, I assure you.
7. HatI am not a hat person and my hair is so thick I seldom wear a warm woollen one though I do have them for really cold days. So my 'hat' entry is more of a fun picture. The last two years when Andy (now Sir Andy) Murray got into the Wimbledon Tennis finals, the Daily Mail published a silly paper hat with instructions of how to fold it. My father used to make them for me like this, either as a pirate's hat or a smaller version as a boat to sail in the river. So here I am wearing my 'Andy' hat - no guess to whom I was supporting!!
Many years ago, when grandsons were little and took 'little' steps, Brian and I tagged along on Hawthorn and family's walks. But as their steps got bigger and bigger and the walks longer we knew we would hold them back and gracefully stayed home. So now walks are more of an amble along somewhere easier, flatter and gentler on old bones. Our favourite walks are along Northumberland beaches. They go on and on forever. We take a picnic and stop for a brew when we find a decent set of rocks to sit on.
9. Favourite MugI have quite a few mugs, many of which I love but always use this cat mug. It is fine china, just the right size for a cup of weak coffee for me (a quarter of a level teaspoon of coffee powder please) as it reminds me of our dear old cat Jak. There were originally a pair of them and came in this box. I have had them for quite a few years since Hawthorn and her family gave them to me one Christmas - or was it a birthday - not sure as I have had them so long. Sadly there is only one left but it is the only mug I use each day. The box is on my desk in front of me and is so useful.
10 My Own ChoiceI thought I had this one sorted, text written already but I could not find the relevant photograph. I had it in my hands a few days ago but I am in the middle of sorting hundreds and hundreds of photographs - trying to downsize, so to speak, so my search had been put on hold for a while. While this happened, Brian and I were standing in the kitchen this morning about to get our breakfast. We have one of those stick on the window bird feeders used only by the tits in our garden, whether blue, great or coal tit, they all use it and this time of the year we fill it twice a day.
But now we have another critter coming to our bird feeder. Is it a bird, no it is a squirrel!! We have had this feeder for a few years now and this is the first time this has happened.
Picture taken on my camera phone and no zooming used at all. We can't have our family of squirrels feeding here, there are three females who come to feed daily from the bird table. So sadly we will have to cut back the branch of the tree which is about to flower. The birds sit on it whilst plucking up courage to dash nervously into the feeder, that is when they can't see us.