the gentle bucolic ramblings of an English rose, blooming in rural Normandy

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Pausing by the sea shore


After a week of being virtually house bound due to illness (tummy bug) and bad weather (it's been raining, a lot) it was good to go for a drive, on Saturday, to a nearby beach.


The sun was shining, finally but there were plenty of clouds in the sky and not all of them had silver linings.


There was definitely a grey underside to some.


The wind whipped the waves and created some fabulous white tops as the the tide rushed in.


It also cleared my fuzzy brain of the fogginess that always descends in December, not my favourite month to be honest.


Although there were no fishing boats as far as the eye could see it was obvious that some enterprising sailor has been out earlier if these discarded scallop shells at the base of the pier were anything to go by.


When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea,
and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds,
 cleanses me with its noise,
 and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet.


Good company helps, too.

Joining Angela for A Pause in Advent 
and
Judith for Mosaic Monday

Sunday, 30 November 2014

First Sunday in Advent 2014


Advent, from the Latin word adventus which means arrival, 
is the beginning of the Christian New Year.


Like many others around the world one of my favourite Christmas traditions is to prepare evergreen wreaths to decorate the front doors of our home.


Over the years I have decorated many different styles of wreaths, some with fresh greenery cut from the garden and also sometimes faux.
These are the two very simple ones welcoming visitors to our home this year.

The faux fir wreaths were purchased at IKEA
the berries and other faux greens came from my Christmas decorating stash.

I was inspired by a wreath featured in the LL Bean catalogue
and made copycat versions.
In 2009 the wreaths were created using fresh greenery and tree bark from the garden,
 pine cones & faux berries from stash. 

The double front doors lead straight into our home's entrance hall
which has also received a small seasonal makeover this weekend.



I may add a runner to the top of the chest of drawers and perhaps a Santa or two?


But, at the moment I'm liking the clean lines with just the smallest touch of glitter and gold.


The mantle piece in the library is also one of the first areas to be decorated for Christmas.

This year I'm using cherished antique pieces to decorate the mantle.
Gilded cherubs, a gift from a dear friend in Bavaria many years ago;
two engraved glass German bier steins, also a gift
and in the centre a French clock.
The silver and glass angel is a modern piece
bought whilst shopping with an English friend a few years ago.


 Every year a small amount of tweaking usually takes place before I'm completely happy with it.
I'm thinking that the two miniature Christmas trees may have to go,
 or be embellished somehow.


It's looking a little dark during the daytime
but really comes alive in the evening 
when the table lamps are on and the candles lit.

In 2009 I used a shot of  the decorated mantle as my blog header.
In 2010 the theme was silver with gold accents.
In 2011 I went back to my favourite combination of red, green and gold.
and finally, one last vignette before you go.
I changed out some of the objects displayed on top of my desk to reflect the festive season.
There is something so simple yet classic about silver and white with a dash of green.


The  Court China trio on the left
was manufactured by
William Lowe of Longton, Staffordshire, England.
circa 1912.

Linking to the following blog parties this week
A Pause in Advent hosted by Angela.
Christmas in the Country with Brooke
and
Mosaic Monday where Judith is our host.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Christmas in the Country - seasonal festive Home Tour has begun.

The Christmas in the Country House Tour 
hosted by Brooke a.k.a Creative Country Mom, has begun!


Also on the tour today are Carolyn @ Aiken House & Garden
Rita @ Panoply 
and yours truly.

Over 40 homes decorated for the season will be showcased on the tour
between November 28th. and December 12th.
There's also a link party for you to join in with.
Click here.



This weekend you'll find me sitting by a roaring log fire, 
penning Christmas cards to friends and family across the globe.


I'll be enjoying re- reading my favourite book at this time of year 
"A Redbird Christmas" by Fannie Flagg, 


whilst nibbling on a carrot muffin and sipping some delicious pumpkin spice coffee.
The carrot muffin recipe is from Mennonite Girls Can Cook 
which was recommended to me by Mary @ Breath Of Fresh Air.
Click here for Mary's post & link to the recipe.
The classic blue and white china pattern is Asiatic Pheasant.
The plate, which I picked up for a couple of ££ on a trip to Yorkshire earlier this year, 
has the W & B mark of Wood & Barker Ltd, Burslem Staffs, 1897 - 1903.
The mug is a modern day replica of the decor by 
Burleigh (Burgess & Leigh).
They are rightfully very proud to be producing the design 
as their website testifies.

This was the most popular pattern of the Victorian era introduced in 1827. Its romantic gentle blue pattern proved to be more popular than its dark Georgian counterpart Willow. Asiatic Pheasants took pride of place from the kitchen dresser to the dining table. The sheer volume of demand has left us today with many antique pieces. There are modern impostors but ours is as the original pieces were in the 19th century! "

The coffee was an unexpected gift this week 
from a dear friend who lives in Dallas, TX.
she knows how much I love DD coffee!


As part of the House Tour I'll also be throwing open the doors of le Presbytere on Monday (December 1st) and even though I've only just begun to start thinking about getting ready for Christmas 
I hope that you'll come over and see some of my holiday decorating ideas from Christmases past, 
plus a peek at some of my ideas for this year.


I've added some links to previous Christmas posts to my sidebar if you can't wait until then.


Linking this post to
The Christmas in the Country
Holiday Link up Party.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Royal Yacht Britannia

One of the highlights of our recent visit to Edinburgh was a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia.
The British Royal Family's floating residence for over 40 years
she is now berthed at Leith and has been voted Britain's number 1, 5 star, visitor attraction.


We traveled the short distance to the port of Leith from St. Andrew Square in the centre of  Edinburgh on a classic open top tour bus.  

The ships's bell; the yachtsmen's (yotties) quarters;  selection of Britannia's silverware collection; a State Banquet place setting
the Officer's Mess; colourful flags; Racing Yacht Bloodhound; State Banquet tablescape
the Bridge; the Engine room; Britannia's crest; all ashore!
Celebrating her 60th birthday this year Britannia truly ruled the waves
 carrying the Royals over one million miles around the world.
The perfect venue for hosting State visits, family vacations and even a Royal Honeymoon.
I'm sure you know which one I'm talking about.

HM The Queen's bedroom suite
Sir Hugh Casson designed Britannia's interiors and when visiting the state rooms you are instantly taken back to the 1950's. 
Tasteful and elegant, the interior design has hardly changed since then. 

Artful floral arrangement; the Royal sitting room; HM's private office

Racing Yacht Bloodhound.
Restored to it's former glory it is berthed alongside Britannia in Leith.


HRH Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer's Honeymoon Suite 
did you spot the photograph on the bedside table?


Click on the link to learn more about Britannia

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Back home again.


Hi all,
as some of you might know from FB the Senior Partner and I have been travelling these past couple of months, enjoying a sort of "extended 35th Honeymoon".
We spent some time in Bonnie Scotland, discovering Edinburgh. A couple of days with family in the UK and meeting up with Harry Potter!


More recently we spent 10 days at the Rixos Hotel, Sharm el Sheikh soaking up the sun before winter begins to bite here in Normandy, as it has already in many places in the US and Canada.
I have quite a lot of photographs to sort through as you might imagine.


I didn't want to delay my return to blogging until that was done so have created a super quick collage of some of the beautiful pink flowers from the floral decoration in the hotel lobby and also from a gorgeous arrangement that arrived in our suite one morning courtesy of the hotel.


Meeting up with other like minded bloggers for 
Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound 


and
Judith @ Lavender Cottage  for Mosaic Monday.

Will be back with more travelers tales soon.......

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Very easy peasy apple cobbler



I'm sure that, like me, you have discovered all sorts of recipes from bloggers worldwide.
Some of the ones we try don't work for us or aren't to our taste, others go into our repertoire tout suite!
I recently was introduced through facebook to Marie's blog "The English Kitchen" by my blogging pal, Jenny.
Marie is a Canadian who lives in the UK where for the past twelve years she has been cooking up a storm debunking the myth that English food is bland, one recipe at a time.
Each time I visit I want to try that day's recipe and the one I want to share with you today is my version of her easy cherry cobbler.
Click here for a link to Marie's recipe, there's a printable version available too.
It really did seem ridiculously easy to make but not having a can of sour cherries in my larder I had to look around for some other fruit to use instead.
Enter the SP clutching the last of the apples and pears from our espaliered trees et voila, very easy peasy apple cobbler was on the menu.



Now, Marie does warn that this pud won't win any prizes for it's good looks but who cares? What if it's a little rough and ready looking.
Ladies and gents let me tell you this is the most divine tasting dessert/afters/pud that I have tasted in many a long day.
It takes comfort food not only to the next level but to infinity and beyond!



Think I might be exaggerating ever so slightly?

Well, why not make it this weekend for your family and let me know if I'm not right.
This is a recipe that you'll go to over and over again, I know I shall.

Preheat your oven to 200*C/ 400*F/ gas mark 7.

1lb cooking apples peeled, cored and sliced
140g (1 cup) plain flour
2 slightly heaped tsp baking powder
245g sugar divided (1 1/4 cup) (plus extra for poaching the apples if using)
225ml milk (1 cup)
pinch salt
125g butter, melted.


Poach the sliced apples in a saucepan with a little sugar & water until softened but not mushy, allow to cool a little. Meanwhile in a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 cup/200g sugar, milk & salt. Pour the melted butter into a 2 litre baking dish, pour the batter into the dish then add the fruit. Don't mix! Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar and bake for about 30 minutes until the pud is golden brown on top and the juices are bubbling.
Marie dusted her cobbler with icing sugar after it had cooled a little but I couldn't wait to taste mine so omitted that step and served it a la mode - vanilla ice cream with a little double cream poured over it so that it freezes slightly and cracks when you dip in the spoon!


Serves 4 if they're hungry, 6 if they're not.
In the unlikely event that there is any cobbler left over (!) gently warm it through in the microwave, it'll still knock your socks off the next day.

Linking this post to Foodie Friday
hosted by
Gollum (aka Michael Lee West)
@  Rattlebridge Farm