Sunday 25 September 2016

Mosaic Monday # 9 - autumn in the garden.

We haven't quite reached the "fall" stage of Autumn here in Normandy, although it's very dark in the mornings when we wake and the nights are drawing in, our garden chores are still about pruning and tidying.

In the kitchen I've been busy using up the last of the courgettes, apples, plums and green tomatoes.
The green tomatoes came as a huge surprise because this year I didn't plant any!

Two plants self seeded themselves in amongst the sweet pea seedlings that I grew for the first time next to the kitchen door, they may not have ripened but there have been plenty of them.

I have high hopes for at least one dish of fried green tomatoes soon.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Five On Friday - every picture tells a story.

Joining Amy once again this week for Five On Friday with five stand alone photos taken during our recent trip to UK.
The first four were all taken in Ludlow, described by Sir John Betjeman CBE "as probably the loveliest town in England".
I'm not sure I'd agree with that description after spending a day there during the recent Ludlow Food Festival but it has got an amazing castle, some very pretty streets and wonderful architecture.
Here are four random events that happened during that day.
on a market stall selling vintage kitchenalia I discovered this little book tucked in amongst some knives

We enjoyed watching Shropshire lad and Development Chef for Raymond Blanc
@ Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons,  Adam Johnson,
demonstrating how to make cauliflower couscous and souffles.
Graham Kidd stage @ Ludlow Food Festival

The blue plaque says it all.

I had an errand to run @ The Castle Bookshop so I parked the SP outside holding the bags.
Whenever we travel to UK we spend our last night at Stone Green Farm B & B, Mersham, Kent. Caroline and Geoffrey are wonderful hosts ably assisted by Paddington Bear standing by with the picnic hamper.
After a marvellous full Kentish breakfast the next morning we're ready to face the Eurotunnel journey and the long drive home.
Paddington Bear ready for a picnic.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Mosaic Monday # 8. Emma Bridgewater Factory Tour.and a sandwich.

Anyone visiting my blog for the first time recently might wonder why I called it Normandy Life as the last few posts have been about anywhere other than Normandy, France.
That's what happens when NL goes travelling......................

And so it is once again this week as I invite you, dear reader, to join me for a brief tour of  the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke on Trent, the heart of the Potteries and situated less than an hours drive away from the holiday cottage we stayed in recently in the pretty village of Crudgington.

I have been collecting Emma Bridgewater's Black Toast for a long time, occasionally adding to my extensive collection of coffee mugs with other patterns such as Tulips, Pansies and a pair of commemorative ones for the Queens Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
I love it so much I even included it in my blog header photo.

It's no surprise that this came home with me.
Although I don't think it'll be staying long.
In fact I know it won't!
The tour was a fascinating glimpse into the production of this very popular pottery and we saw the whole process from the making of the clay,

through the forming of the pieces including the hand thrown bowls and plates,

a Fettler cuts off the excess clay and seals the joins
before the piece is fired

the fettling

to the first firing

the application of the décor using hand cut sponges

details of a personalised mug
for Sam
 and the final firing.

After a suitable length of time spent browsing the EB store we headed to the café for a late lunch.
The SP decided on the Soup of the Day (beetroot) and I ordered an egg and cress sandwich which was delicious.
Here in Normandy I sometimes can find bagged watercress at the supermarket but I've never seen the small cartons of mustard cress which, as every English school child will know, is one of the easiest things to grow on a piece of damp cotton wool placed on a sunny kitchen windowsill.
So as we stocked up at the supermarket just before heading for the Eurotunnel I popped some mustard cress into the trolley along with a bag of fresh watercress for good measure. A box of 6 large duck eggs and a white Hovis sliced loaf came home with us too.
The very next day for lunch - voila!

Since making these delicious sandwiches I have googled mustard cress and found quite a few different suppliers of seeds so we'll never have to be without egg and cress sandwiches again!

Sunday 11 September 2016

Mosaic Monday # 7. Blists Hill Victorian Town, Ironbridge.

Our second visit to Ironbridge last week was to the open air museum "Blists Hill Victorian Town" which opened in the early 1970's and is a continuing work in progress.

The "Town" is located in an area of the Iron Gorge owned in the 18th and 19th centuries by the Madeley Wood Company.
They operated a brick and tile works with huge blast furnaces producing pig iron on the site.
They also excavated coal, iron and clay which were then transported on boats up and down the Shropshire Canal.
It was an industrial works only, there was no town here originally.

The Grocers shop
As you walk out from the visitor centre you find yourself in a small Victorian town which has been created using some of the original ironworks buildings, replicas of buildings still standing elsewhere and some, such as the New Inn public house, which have been relocated from other areas of the UK.

Inside the shops you meet costumed demonstrators who will happily chat to you about their work and the Victorian way of life.
We enjoyed meeting this lady in the Drapers and Outfitters shop.
On the morning we were there she was making up lengths of ticking fabric for pillowcases, after that she told us she would be busy sewing maids aprons. 
On down to Lower Town and the Ironworks, Blacksmiths and the Fairground, past a small cottage where the Doctor rents a room in which to hold his weekly surgery.

As we approached the Green we heard the school bell and the voice of Stirchley Board Schools Headmistress, Miss Burke, calling out to all the tardy schoolchildren - "hurry along and get inside" lessons were about to start.

At morning assembly hands and nails were inspected (I was wearing polish so had to stand in front of the class with one other miscreant whilst Miss Burke told us what bad girls we were!)
Then the class had to repeat our 3, 8 and 9 times tables and answer questions about the famous Ironbridge.
When was it built, how much iron was used and how much did it cost?

Miss Burke, Headmistress,
Stirchley Board School circa 1900.

a) 1779. b) 378 and a 1/2 tons. 3) £6000.
We then sang a favourite hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful" (all 3 verses!) and "God Save the Queen" (Victoria) before being sent home to our mothers.
I think everyone in Miss Burke's class that morning thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with her, she is the absolute Jewel in the Crown of Blists Hill Museum. 

An Optician and Dentist also have offices inside the Chemists shop.

the dreaded dentists chair
Just a few of the shops in the High Street, Upper Town and along Quarry Bank : Bank, Grocers, Chemist, Iron Merchants, Post Office and Stationers, Sweet Shop and Cobblers.

The blast furnaces
As you walk through the village you pass the Boys Brigade Hut, Stables and Pleasure Garden a place to sit and contemplate how our lives today differ from those of our Victorian ancestors.

abandoned machinery on the canal 
Today is the day we leave England and head home to Normandy, we'll be travelling most of the day and so I may not get to visit you until this evening or perhaps even tomorrow but I will stop by as soon as I can!

Thursday 8 September 2016

Five On Friday - Coalport China Museum, Ironbridge.

Time once again for Five on Friday with Amy.

This is the pretty little cottage which we have been calling home this week, nestled in the heart of Staffordshire and just a few miles from the world famous Ironbridge Gorge.

“Internationally known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the Ironbridge Gorge is an exciting, inspirational and beautiful World Heritage Site. This landscape is where industrial pioneers shaped our modern world” (Source: Ironbridge Gorge Museums)

Ironbridge boasts 10 Museums, we would have liked to have visited them all but had to limit ourselves to just two.

My Five on Friday photographs this week were taken on our first museum visit to Coalport China Museum which is home to a wonderful collection of Coalport and Caughley china.

Independent artists have set up workshops in some of the restored buildings.

 In others volunteers showcase some of the techniques employed in the production and decoration of the china pieces.

On the 17th September Ironbridge will celebrate 30 years as a World Heritage Site and will mark the occasion with a World Heritage River Festival.
Sadly we'll be back in Normandy by then but if you live close enough to take a trip to Ironbridge I think it would make a great day out for all the family.

Good Fences - friendly neighbours.

This is the view from the garden of our holiday cottage and with these two lovely guys living a fence post away I just had to join TexWisGirl for Good Fences this week.

Sunday 4 September 2016

Mosaic Monday # 6. A Quintessential English Tea with Alice.

The Senior Partner and I have taken a little trip across the English Channel back to England, the land of our birth, for a few days.

Later this month my stepmother will celebrate her 80th birthday and so, as a surprise, we arranged an afternoon tea party at Davenports an award winning tea room voted Cheshire's best.
And it was a huge surprise, she was thrilled to bits!
Davenports is situated just a few miles from the quaint village of Daresbury where parsons son Charles Dodgson was born in 1832.

This local lad however is better known as Lewis Carroll author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through The Looking Glass".

Davenports tea room is themed around the Alice books with murals on the walls, games, memorabilia and ephemera.
They also hold several themed Mad Hatter's Tea Parties throughout the year.

However, for our birthday girl we chose a quintessential English Tea which included several three tier cake stands holding a wonderful selection of sandwiches, savouries and cakes, a special tea menu and freshly made scones.