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

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 

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

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Mosaic Monday

Between us my sister, Kathryn, and I must have taken hundreds of photographs around the Villa Ephrussi  Rothschild and it's gardens so I created some mosaics of just a few more of them for you to enjoy.

Although Beatrice Ephrussi -Rothschild appears to have led a charmed life as the indulged daughter of Baron de Rothschild, there is (as is almost always the case) another side to her story. At age 19 she married a man much older than herself, Maurice Ephrussi.

He was a friend of her parents, an inveterate gambler his debts in 1904 totaled more than 12 million gold francs, the equivalent of 30 million euros today.

Early on in the marriage Beatrice caught a grave illness from Maurice which left her unable to bear children. They separated after being married for 21 years.
When her father died a year later she inherited a fortune which enabled her to build the beautiful Villa in Saint- Jean -Cap - Ferrat.
(Background information from our tour guide and the villa ephrussi website).

Joining Judith @Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday
Mosaic Monday

Friday, 10 October 2014

Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens.

Sorry for the long absence everybody, the SP & I have been away on an extended trip to England and Scotland (pix & stories to come) and I have neglected my blogging duties for far too long.

A large Sevres vase is the centerpiece of this flowerbed, part of the celebrated Sevres Garden

With sister Kathryn, Cap Ferrat, September 2014
Today I'm going to be sharing with you the delights of the amazing Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat which I visited last month whilst in Nice for the QCI annual meeting.

The villa was the winter residence of Beatrice Rothschild who built the house after her separation from her husband Mr Ephrussi in 1904, and on the death of her father Baron Rothschild one year later.

Beatrice was extremely rich and spared no expense in the creation of the villa, she was able to afford anything she wanted and furnished the house accordingly. 

Painted wall panels in the Directoire bedroom

With it's triple aspect windows looking out over the gardens and towards the sea, furnished with both French and Italian pieces and a Meissen chandelier the nicest bedroom on the first floor was reserved for Beatrice's guests

Guest bedroom

An upstairs inner hallway looking out onto the gardens

Russian icon
Each of the bedrooms had it's own bathroom, she also installed many new fangled inventions such as a telephone, a lift and central heating!

When it came to designing the gardens, and there are nine of them (click here to learn more), she called her servants together and made them into a living garden dressed as trees and holding long swathes of fabric to represent rivers and ponds, pathways and flowerbeds.

As the servants moved around the grounds Beatrice was able to picture the garden exactly as she wished it to be before instructing famous landscape designers to create it for her.

A view of the Spanish garden

Looking into the Florentine garden
Many varieties of cacti are at home in the Exotic Garden
Kathryn in the Florentine Garden

A view of the Sevres Garden from the first floor balcony of Villa Ephrussi Rothschild
The view out across Cap Ferrat from the Rose Garden
Joining Beverly @ How Sweet The Sound
for Pink Saturday.

Click on the link to see who else is in the Pink this week.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Shadow Shot Sunday in Provence

the view from the hotel B4 Plaza's roof terrace
across the beautiful Jardin Albert 1er to vieux Nice town
I recently spent six wonderful days attending the Quimper Club International's annual meeting in Nice on the Cote D'Azur, my sister Kathryn came along too which made the trip even more amazing.
Once I've sorted through my photographs I'll tell you about some of the things that we did and the gorgeous places we visited.
But for now I just have two shadow captures to share.
The first one was taken in the jam making area of the Confiserie Florian des Gorges du Loup during our guided tour last Friday.

jars of citrus jam ready to be transported to the store
This shot was taken through the open window looking down on the swift flowing river that runs alongside the Confiserie down the gorge to the sea.

sharing these Provencal shadows also with 
Gemma for Scenic Weekends
and everyone joining in 

bon dimanche a tous

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Plum Crazy in August

We've had a better than usual crop of plums this year more than enough to eat straight from the tree, as 1 of our daily 5 and to indulge my love of baking.

Angela Hartnett's Plum & Almond Tart with it's delicious frangipane filling was easy to make.
I found that it made enough pastry and frangipane for two tart's so as I had plenty of plums I made one for afternoon tea and one for the freezer, for us to enjoy later.

Plums and almonds were made for each other and this homely plum crumble was delicious. A perfect pud for a cold wet evening.

The weather this month has been dreadful and the comfort foods of our childhood are what we turn to as the afternoons get shorter and the shadows lengthen.

 It's Fall y'all.

Linking this post to Mosaic Monday #3
which is now being hosted by 
Judith @ Lavender Cottage