Friday, 28 April 2017

April's Scavenger Photo Hunt

Here we go again.......frantic search for pictures to fit the headings.  I have had it done mentally ever since the new list was put up by Hawthorn and now suddenly the deadline is tomorrow and I have not done anything more than think about it!!

1  New

For many years we have had a compost bin that was given secondhand to Hawthorn in 2004.  It was made up of plastic panels that slid into each other to form two small or one large round bin.   Over the years panels have broken and this year become very brittle and not able to stand up to the heavy winds and had developed a decided list windward!  I tried to replace it with something similar but to no avail.  I eventually realised I would have to find something completely different and chose a slatted wooden compost bin (with a 15 year guarantee against rot, which considering our great age I did not know whether to feel good about that or not as I would be 90!!)   The old plastic bin is to the right of the photograph as I still needed to shift the non rotted  contents into the new bin and all the lovely brown compost into bags ready for use around the garden.  

I must add that the construction of this wooden bin led to some interesting conversations between myself and B as, like all men, he does not follow instructions.  Just by enlarging the photograph on the web page I could see how it all slotted together but............well, you know, I am sure.  Anyway as the article came without instructions other than where to download them from their web page I did just that to prove my point!! 

2  Recently finished

I have changed around the order of words so as to continue with my theme of compost bins!  Our eldest grandson very kindly came across for the day to help us transfer all the non rotted vegetation into the new bin, carefully layering it with soil from last years' flower pots and filling sacks of lovely well rotted compost and in return for his hard work we fed him an enormous pizza, tomato soup and an unending supply of hot cross buns, hot chocolate and orange juice.

The slats came as a flat pack but unfortunately three slats had their ends broken off.  We carried on assembling it but I immediately contacted the seller who apologised and said they would send a replacement.   To our surprise 'replacement' meant a whole new bin, not just three slats, so now as the original one works in its broken state we have two for the price of one!  That is what I call a bargain!

NB   This should  be under new as well as those ladies size stainless steel spade and fork were an early birthday present.

3  Rust

Each year we drive from Lancashire to beautiful Northumberland** to stay in a farm cottage for a week.  When Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North near Gateshead comes into view we start to feel we are nearly there.  The giant art installation is known as Rusty Rita by the locals, hence my link to this category.   The first time we passed it we turned off to get a closer look. It is huge.  See how it dwarfs B as he walks up the hill towards it. If you look more closely you will see a few people standing at the base. 

** My banner picture is taken on Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland. 

I have just enlarged my original picture and read again the amazing details on this information board then looked up more details on a web page.  I thought it would be more interesting if I copied and pasted the details here as I found them fascinating and thought you might too.

  • It is believed to be the largest angel sculpture in the world
  • It is one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world - seen by more than one person every second, 90,000 every day or 33 million every year
  • It is one of the most famous artworks in the region - almost two thirds of people in the North East had already heard of the Angel of the North before it was built
  • Its 54 metre (175 foot) wingspan is bigger than a Boeing 757 or 767 jet and almost the same as a Jumbo jet
  • It is 20 metres (65 feet) high - the height of a five storey building or four double decker buses
  • It weighs 200 tonnes - the body 100 tonnes and the wings 50 tonnes each
  • There is enough steel in it to make 16 double decker buses or four Chieftain tanks
  • It will last for more than 100 years
  • It will withstand winds of more than 100 miles per hour
  • Below the sculpture, massive concrete piles 20 metres deep anchor it to the solid rock beneath
  • It is made of weather resistant Cor-ten steel, containing a small amount of copper, which forms a patina on the surface that mellows with age
  • Huge sections of the Angel - up to six metres wide and 25 metres long - were transported to the site by lorry with a police escort
  • The total cost of The Angel of the North was £800,000
  • There is unique species of daffodil named the Angel of the North due to its orange, rusty hue and lofty height. The Angel of the North daffodil has been verified and registered with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

4  Boxes

I looked around the house to see which box I could use but could not decide so have arranged  them all together for a group box photograph.  They all have different stories to tell.  The two wooden ones in the back and two in front were given to me by my son and fav daughter-in-law collected on their travels. The Jak the cat tin and the lovely Papier-mâché box were given to me by Hawthorn and the round one with the lid was made by B while playing around on his lathe.  The little glass one my mother used to store stamps in, both new ones in the days when you still had to lick them and used ones that she used to collect for B.  Today I see it has an  odd selection of bits, a McMillan Daffodil, a spare needle for my knitting machine and odd washer or two and a brass thimble that says Use Humber Soap around the side.  But best of all is the old wooden box in the centre made by my father-in-law as a young man in the late 20's to hold his cuff links.  The workmanship is perfect. No nails  or screws, all minute wooden dowels and small piano hinges on the back with a  little brass lock. 

5  Ingredients

Here I must make a confession.  I very seldom take photographs of my cooking so I  have cheated and pinched this from Images on Google.  Very naughty I know and I apologise.

With so many recipes to chose from I have selected a traditional South African pudding or teatime treat - Melk Tert, which translates as Milk Tart.  It is quite different to the English custard tart and much easier to make as it does not have to set in the oven, you make it like custard, in a saucepan.  You can be good and make a short pastry pre baked case but I cheat and buy them ready made from the supermarket.  

MELK  TERT   (Makes 2 x 8"  tarts)

4 rounded tablespoons flour                          l cup sugar
4 level tablespoons cornflour                        3 eggs
l litre milk                                                       3 tablespoons butter
Cinnamon sticks (Optional)                           Pinch salt.  
Ground cinnamon                                          2 Baked pastry shells

Sift and mix together dry ingredients. Add eggs, beating well. Add a little milk and mix till smooth. Boil together remaining milk, salt, cinnamon sticks (or pinch of cinnamon) and butter. Add hot milk to flour mixture and return to saucepan and cook slowly till thick. Pour into baked pastry shell and sprinkle with cinnamon. 

6 and 9   Something beginning with .....D and R (I know, its cheating!)

I think I will be forgiven for using this photograph of a very young Hawthorn as I need it to illustrate my story.  I was stumped for a while on what to use for the letters 'D' and 'R' that would be different until B reminded me of Damn Rabbit - I actually can't remember his original name.  We had raised him from a very tiny baby, almost hairless and blind, as his mother had kicked him out of the cage. He was fed with a dolls' baby bottle and lived in the house.  But he had one very bad habit.  Living in a rather hot part of the world and as B worked just down the road, he came home for lunch and then had 40 winks on our bed before returning to work. The rabbit sometimes used to sneak into our bedroom and jump onto our bed and snuggle up to him.  The only problem was that on occasions B would be rudely awoken from his nap by a warm, damp feeling. Yes, you guessed it, it was the rabbit having a wee!!  B would hurl him off the bed yelling loudly....That Damn Rabbit has done it again....or actually something rather stronger. So he became known as That Damn Rabbit!!  (or TDR for short)

In the photograph Hawthorn is holding  TDR, Barney her little dog who met an untimely death when we moved into the city where he did not know busy traffic and her cat Sam** who lived to the grand old age of 15, a good age in a country where many cats were killed by snakes.

** Sam was named after Sam the Sham (remember him?) as his mother was Siamese and his father obviously a passing black rascall whom he took after until he opened him mouth and he spoke pure Siamese cat!

Writing about TDR has bought back a long forgotten memory.  RTV - Rhodesia Television was in its infancy with only two stations broadcasting, one in Salisbury (Harare) and the other in Bulawayo. They had a children's 5 o'clock club which Hawthorn and her brother belonged to and when it was their birthday they were invited to go to the broadcast on that day. I had a cunning plan! Only some cards were read out each time so I got my parents in Capetown to send an enormous birthday card which did attract attention.  Little H was called up and her card read to her.  It had been signed from Mummy, Daddy, Granny and Grandpa and all the many cats and dogs, ending with TDR. The presenter  Sally Donaldson asked little H who was TDR and was told it was That Damn Rabbit.  She was naturally asked to explain which she dutifully did, in her clear voice; my rabbit wee wees on my daddy and he gets cross and shouts That Damn Rabbit!  We went from proud parents sitting with others in the viewing room to very embarrassed parents, shrinking down in our chairs.  That will teach me to have a Cunning Plan!! 

7  Mechanical

We came across this beauty whilst in the Science and Technology Museum in Manchester.  It is the 'Pender', Tank Locomotive No 3 and is a Bayer, Peacock Locomotive and was used on the Douglas to Peel line on the Isle of Man.  It has a cut away view of the engine which was fascinating. 

8  Something seasonal

My garden is at last rousing itself from it's winter stupor (or is that a description of me?) and bursting into flower again.  Each year these primulas faithfully come into flower.  I had been given a sack full that had been destined for the council compost tip as they were being dug up to be replaced by summer flowers by the council gardeners. I always think they are rewarding me for rescuing them.

10  My own choice

At this time of the year the squirrels are raising their young in their dray.  When they are big enough the mother brings them to our feeding table.  She keeps her young around her till they are able to defend themselves then chases away the males.  The females stay longer and in fact sometime oust their mother and keep their patch - and supply of peanuts!   We are seeing the present mother squirrel when she comes for food and water.  It is obvious that she is feeding babies.   We had Emma for years, each time raising her  young and sending them away till eventually she was the one evicted.  She would come back occasionally to see us till she stopped coming altogether.  She became very bold, asking for nuts by coming to the Goat Willow tree at the side of the lounge or even coming up the passage and into our flat.  When the babies were weaned and teething she would bring them to the Goat Willow tree to chew on the bark for its soothing effect.  Sadly, as the tree was actually growing in the school grounds next door and was damaging the fence, the council came and cut it down. 

Here is Emma feeding from B's hand.  She even sat on his lap eating nuts he gave her. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

March's Scavenger Photo Hunt

Another month, another interesting and challenging list of topics. Thanks Hawthorn, you really made us think.


I 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 cooking

I 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

1 mug
4 tablespoons self-raising flour
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons oil
3 drops vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)


Mix 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 ....

 ......the recipe

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. Reading

I 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.


I 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 Colour

This 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.

I love the word autumnal - I wonder if the Americans have a similar adjective. Fall does not describe the colours to me)

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. Candle

I 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. Hat

I 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 whom I was supporting!!

8. Walk

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 Mug

I 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 Choice

I 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.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

14 February 2019 - Heartathon

Valentines Day - our special day since I met up again with my husband on my 18th birthday. We had known each other since our school days in today's Zambia - my boyfriend was a friend of his and his girlfriend was a friend of mine and we all belonged to one happy crowd of what today would be called teenagers.  He left school and moved to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to join the British South Africa Police and my parents were transferred to Salisbury (Harare) just as I was leaving school two years later.  I attended the local polytechnic to do a secretarial course.  Come my 18th birthday I had quite a few girl friends but knew very few boys.  I remembered that he and two friends had joined the police so no problem my mother sent invitations to them c/o police headquarters.  He tells me that his Officer in Charge called him in to his office to say orders from HQ - he had a birthday party he had to attend!!  Only my mother would do it that way!!  The other two school friends were stationed in other parts of the country. 

He rang to confirm he would be coming and I asked him to bring more police friends with him.  Come the evening of the party he arrived, alone. I did not even let him in, I just asked where his promised friends were and sent him back to his police station the other side of the city to come back with more guys!!  Amazingly he did, we went on our first date the next day........and the rest is history. So now, 57 Valentine's Days later, we have been married for 55 years this year.

I bought this card after we had been married about 6 or so years.  We then started a tradition of using the same card each year, with a single heart representing each year.  I did add extra hearts at the time to make the record correct.  So each February it comes out with a lovely bunch of red roses and a we have special dinner that night.

Monday, 13 February 2017

13th February, 2017 - Heartathon

I have had these little hearts for a few years now.  They are part of a group that hang on the side of my wardrobe; I have used some of them in this Heartathon already.  But these are amongst my favourites.  The two crocheted ones Hawthorn made for me many years ago and the beautiful felt heart she gave  me a few Christmases back. I love the off centre hole and the gorgeous glass beads - they always look like some gorgeous sweets to me. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

12 February 2017 - heartathon

 Some years ago, while on holiday in Northumberland, we were walking along a rather deserted beach when we saw a couple standing on a rock, taking pictures of something on the ground.  Curious, we waited till they had gone then went to investigate........and this is what we found.   It was all picked out in shells and pebbles, must have taken ages to make.  What an original wedding invitation! 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

11th February, 2017 - heartathon

Other bloggers have found hearts on their fridge magnets.  I too searched mine but to no avail. I have quite a few that Hawthorn and Jenn have given me over the years.   Then yesterday I looked casually again and there was one, right in front of my eyes - don't know how I missed it before, though it is very small.  I am sure you can see it too.

This fridge magnet is quite small and was given to me by my daughter-in-law years ago.  I had since put two metal bookmarks she gave me into the little holder.  The butterfly was quite happy to pose for my photograph but the chameleon was quite obstinate and insisted in leaning over.  I could either see his face or his tail, not both!!

Friday, 10 February 2017

10th February 2017 - Heartathon

Many years ago, whilst our son and daughter-in-law were still living in South Africa, Jenn embroidered this border on a hand towel for my mother who was delighted with it as it was covered in cats, each one different.  It is now mine and I use it all the time and only noticed a couple of days ago that the red background in the centre circle is actually made up of four hearts.  Maybe we are becoming more 'heart conscious' at the moment!  I will offer the excuse that it is usually folded in half longways over the towel rail right through the hearts in the centre. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

9th February 2017 - Heartathon

Some years ago now, Hawthorn kindly gave me a large quantity of lace making bobbins that had belonged to her mother-in-law.  I shared them with my daughter-in-law who loved them as much as I did and I even had two old sherry glasses that seemed very suitable to hold them. When going round the house looking for hearts I suddenly remembered that there were a pair of glass hearts on these bobbins. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

8th February 2017 - Heartathon

Once again I am going to nature to supply a heart for today.  A few years back I had some tulips in a vase on our sideboard which were actually a bit past it.  I came into the lounge in the morning and there was a beautiful heart petal lying beside the vase.  I could not resist photographing it – must have known I would need a heart picture at a later date. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

7th February 2017 - Heartathon

 Some years ago Hawthorn challenged the ladies of our Knit and Natter group to make a heart for Valentine’s Day.  I can’t remember why I did not knit or crochet a heart – though it maybe because I am not very good at them – but I ended up searching through my laces and trimmings and decorating this one I made out of  a bit of red fabric. Most fortuitously I had lace with hearts in the pattern of both pieces.  It now hangs, linked up to other hearts that Hawthorn crocheted for me over the years (I still can’t made decent heart shapes), some of which I will use on another day.