Saturday, 30 April 2011

Exploring England - Bath II

Here are some more pictures from our trip to Bath this Easter. 

These bluebells were in full bloom in the garden and the parks. Just love them!

Even if the pictures are not that great as they are taken with my Iphone (forgot the camera at home...) the setting sun made this garden rather magical.

I just loved the deep windows in our room where you could sit and look out at the amazing view.

We were really lucky with the weather and spent some lazy hours lounging in a park in town in between sight seeing. We used the CitySightSeeing buses which you can find in most British towns. It is an easy way to ensure you get to see all the important sights and you can jump on/off along the way all day. 

At the end of the sight seeing tour we got off the bus by the statue of Sulis Minerva who was the local goddess of the thermal spring in Bath in Roman time.

We actually came too late to see the Roman Baths as they were closed, but the souvenir shop let us go in and see the King's spring. 

We did manage to get a view of the restaurant in the Pump Room which has been regarded as the social heart of Bath for more than two centuries - also famously mentioned by Jane Austen. 
Next time a visit to the Jane Austen museum is also on the agenda.
Bath has a lot to offer - I will definitely go back!

Friday, 29 April 2011


picture borrowed from the Guardian
Like many people around the world I have spent most of today watching the royal wedding. 
'Everybody' is in wedding mood and it is lovely to see how the entire nation is taking part in their happiness.

Her dress was absolutely beautiful!
I think she reminded me of a mix between Grace Kelly and Princess Letizia of Spain. 

While I am on a royal theme - my visitors from Norway also had a brush with royalty earlier this week when the Queen and Prince Philip came to town and my guests saw them in the street! 
After the visit I heard a rumour that Catherine and William would become the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge... 
lo and behold - the rumour was true!


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Exploring England: Bath - part I

I am back on the blog again!

Easter stopped being so quiet when I went back to Norway to spend some days with my mother and when two of my relatives came back with me to England. We have been busy travelling around and exploring.
The weather has been just glorious
and my guests are completely besotted with England! 

My aim was to show them more of England than 'just' London and we went for a couple of days to Bath.
We stayed in Hunstrete House outside Bath. The hotel is an 18th century country house surrounded by gorgeous gardens and a deer park. People were arriving by helicopter and we were all more or less speechless when we realised the posh surroundings we were staying in. I came across this place by pure chance... I recommend you check out their webpage for more glorious pictures! 

The wisteria in full bloom! Our rooms were overlooking the garden and the windows can be seen on the upper floor among the blooms

We drove down to Bath avoiding the motorway and saw the most picturesque villages in the Cotswold.
I can't wait to do that drive again, but we must allow more time to stop!

The first afternoon was spent playing croquet and taking afternoon tea in the garden.

 I could get used to this lifestyle...
So civilised!


Monday, 18 April 2011

A Good Time To ....

These quiet days of Easter is a good time to update the music on my Iphone...

My music taste is rather mixed 
anything from Mozart to Meat Loaf, really!


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Tried and Tested: Apple, Basil & Mango Sorbet

Perfect colour for Easter!

Our Boy and I went to the gym this morning and watched the London Marathon from our own running machines (I am not quite in the league to attempt a marathon...). Well done to all that took part and there were new records set in several of the categories, I believe!

In an attempt to keep calorie intake down (please disregard yesterdays entry when reading this ;-))  and keeping in time with the traditional Easter colour, we made Apple, Basil and Mango Sorbet in the ice cream machine as a dessert for lunch. 
It turned out very refreshing and contains NOTHING BAD!

Bring to a boil:
150 ml water with 
3 tbsp Splenda (or sugar if you don't mind the calories)
1 finely chopped apple and 
1 finely chopped mango and 
5-7 leaves of basil and 
2-3 tbsp of lemon juice
Let it simmer for 5 mins till soft and blend to a pulp

Our ice cream machine takes about 5-7 dl, so measure this up (add more water if needed) and set aside to cool

When cool, add the mixture to the ice cream machine. 

We only ran the machine for 10 mins as we were so impatient to try it out. 
I can see this will be lovely on a nice hot summers day!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Tried and Tested: Oreo Cookies

not the best quality picture - but I had to be quick ... they were going fast!
Easter is 'just around the corner' and as a treat I made home made Oreo Cookies for Our Boy and The Professor. 
The latter doesn't have a very sweet tooth, but he admitted these were very more-ish! Our Boy voted with his feet - making numerous trips to the kitchen...

I found the recipe on Matmonsteret's blog (yep, means The Food Monster ;-)), but made some minor changes to it. She had found it via an American blog so the measurements are in cups
 (1 cup is about 2.5 dl):

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup sugar

Use a mixer and add:
1 1/2 cup soft butter 
(I used melted butter which I think helped bringing it together)
1 large egg

I shaped the dough into a long sausage and cup thin slices of it which I transferred to a baking tray. They do spread out a little so mine became much larger than traditional Oreos.

Bake them in the oven on 190 degrees for 9 minutes (keep an eye on them!)

In the meantime, make the filling. 
Here are two options:

The original filling is :
1/2 cup soft butter
2 cups powder sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar


I used this filling:
200 grams creme cheese (extra light)
3/4 cup powder sugar
1 dl dessicated coconut

Let the cookies cool before you add a dollop of filling to the backside of one cookie and slowly press another cookie on it.

Lovely with a large glass of cold milk 
or for the complete decadence 
- with home made ice cream!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Happiness is...

taken with my Iphone

  • biking through the park on my way to work in glorious spring sunshine...
  • being grateful for lovely friends I had dinner with last night...
  • the Professor has come home for Easter....
  • knowing I managed a full week of exercise as planned...
  • looking forward to over a week of holiday starting this afternoon...
  • the thought of going to Norway for a few days next week to celebrate mum's 79th birthday...
  • the joy of friends coming to see us at Easter and exploring England with them... 

It is going to be a hectic week 
- but with so much fun to look forward to!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Recommended viewing: "A Single Man"

Most films are just entertainment and leave little imprint.
"A Single Man" (from 2009) is not one of these films.
I have rarely been so gripped by a story and I found myself thinking about it long after it was over.
It just might have something to do with the scrumptious Colin Firth playing the main character... ;-)

The story is set in LA in 1962 and - completely unrelated to the story I - enjoyed this setting as I was born in the USA not long after the time of the story. Seeing life in the USA in the early 60's is almost like looking into my 'past'

 "A Single Man" is the story of George Falconer, a 52 year old British college professor who is struggling to find meaning to life after the death of his long time partner. While he dwells on the past and cannot see his future as we follow him through a single day, where a series of events and encounters, ultimately leads him to decide if there is a meaning to life after his loss.
The story is a romantic tale of love interrupted, the isolation as an inherent part of the human condition, and the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

THAT time of year again...

picture borrowed from

It is THAT time of year again...
The time when thieves become more active and I am sorry to note that this weekend our neighbour's house was the first of the year to receive a 'visit'.
We are 19 houses in a small cul-de-sac and about 1/3 of us have had 'visitors' in the 12 years I have lived here - us included.
Surely, that must be over the national average!??
And as far as I know - only one of them managed to get some of his belongings back many months later.

We got broken into almost 2 years ago and all my jewellery, some cash and Our Boy's brand new hiking boots (!?) were taken but they walked past several cameras/computers/phones/tvs/etc/etc... 

Gold seems to be what they are after with the gold prices being so high these day. Our neighbour is a single man so no jewellery was taken, 'only' some money and passports.

But they were very bold this time as they entered through the kitchen window which looks out to a common garden path where people often walk by and several neighbours can see...

Still, I guess we should be grateful nobody has ever been hurt in these break-ins as they have all happened when the residents have been away. These petty thieves are not violent, it seems, just have not understood the difference between yours and mine... I really don't feel unsafe here - more angry, but I wouldn't want to meet them!

Yes, we had an alarm fitted as well as sensor lights and more permanent lights after our 'incident' and according to the police that will deter them from trying again and rather try somewhere else. Unfortunately, many don't have alarms fitted so it can seem they are 'next in line'...

I know some have already started using the service of house-sitters (some will also look after your pets). I think there is a growing market for somebody you trust to come and live in your house when you are away to ensure it is safe.

Monday, 11 April 2011

What a Weekend!

I found some tempting material at John Lewis which apparently is especially made for the upcoming Royal wedding! Don't worry - it is not what I am using for Our Boy's headboard... ;-)

My computer is at the repair shop so I haven't been much of a blog-friend this weekend, but I will hopefully come back stronger once I have my computer restored..!

After a busy end to the working week I also had a very productive weekend.
We have had the most amazing weather with 20 degrees and sunshine from a clear blue skye!
Summer is here!!!
But I know all too well that this might not last, so we are enjoying every minute of it!
I got through the 'mountain' of laundry (12 machines, I think) which had piled up after two weeks of having no washingmachine and with the lovely sunshine it was doddle to get them dried.

Among this weekend's projects was a new head board for Our Boy's room, but I thought they were just so expensive in the shops - all over £100.
I therefore went to our local timbershop on Saturday and bought a piece of MDF which they cut to the size I wanted. Back home I had some padding and proceeded to town to look for a demin material to cover it with to match the curtains. However, as always when you are looking for something particular - it can't be found. I stopped by Laura Ashley's and as they didn't have any denim material either, but I settled on some other material which I actually think will work better. All in all it has cost me about £22.
Me like!
I will post it once it is done.

I didn't complete that project simply because the weather was too glorious to sit inside. Instead, Our Boy and I went to the garden centre and got the tomato and chilli plants to start this years crop! The lawn got a good cut and we tried to get rid of some of the moss... a never ending project, I fear.
Lots of plans and ideas for the garden, but 'Rome was not built in one day'...

But the biggest news of all this weekend is that I joined a gym and had my first workout Sunday morning.
It was great!
I hope I will manage to keep it up.

Amazing what a bit of sunshine does to your energy levels!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Tip for Visiting the UK

Wimpole Hall - picture borrowed from The National Trust Site

I often get questions about what to see whilst visiting the UK .
Most people go to London of course, and enjoy all the things on offer in the Capital.

But there is of course a lot more to the UK than London! We have been here for over 12 years and enjoy our lives 1 hr away from London. I have written some on my blog of what is on offer around, but there is so much more! Actually, I will go over the blog and put up another label where I collect my 'inside' scope on the UK in case anybody need inspiration for a visit!

But here is a tip:

One Sunday a couple of weeks ago Our Boy and I went to visit Wimpole Hall to see the new lambs at the farm (so cuuuuute) and to take some pictures.
Wimpole Hall is run by the National Trust and we took out a 1 year family membership. The National Trust is a charity which protects and looks after over 350 historic houses, gardens and ancient monuments which are open to the public.They also look after forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, castles, nature reserves, villages. They get their income from membership fees, donations and legacies, and revenue raised from commercial operations. 

But you don't have to be a member to enjoy and visit these lovely places- more than 14 million people visit their pay for entry properties, while an estimated 50 million visit the open air properties.

I think they do a tremendous job looking after the magnificent properties which may have been destroyed or ruined due to the high costs of keeping them. So, next time you are looking into exploring the UK - check out the National Trust' website and see if there is anything there tempting you! We are looking forward to utilising our membership in the year to come!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Repair or Renew?

picture borrowed from

I spent most of the morning waiting for a repair man for the washing machine...
It is rather annoying that when you book a repairman to come you get a 'window' from "8am till 12 noon" or from "12 noon till 5 pm". So much wasted time!!!
Anyway, the problem with the machine started 11 days ago when it wouldn't spin and it didn't seem to rinse either. This is serious - the machine is in use at least once a day! 

The machine is 4 years old and in this part of the country that is normal time for a machine to need replacing as we have so much hard water (limescale) which destroys washing machines/dishwasher/kettles etc. Bearing this in mind, I decided to be a little savvy and took out an extended warranty on the machine two years ago so all this repair work is covered until next year. The policy also states that if they can't repair it, we get a new machine...
Win, win, I'd say.

Although I reported it immediately, it took the first repair man 6 days to come and he said 'it is the pump that was faulty' and changed it. However, the first wash proved that it wasn't the pump...
It still didn't spin nor rinse.

So, today - 5 days later the second repair man came out and said 'it is the heating element' which he changed. Fingers crossed - it seems to be working.

 However, I got the distinct impression the repair men were more eager to try to repair it than to replace it since that would be at a higher cost to the insurance company they are working for...Although, it would have been nice to get a new machine, I don't see the point of throwing away a perfectly good machine if it can be repaired so hopefully by changing the pump (probably wasn't necessary) and the heating element the machine has got 'a new lease of life' for perhaps another 4 years...

But it makes me think how many machines might get thrown away because people think the parts can't be replaced and the manufacturers want to sell you a new machine...

I now have to tackle a 'mountain' of dirty clothes - 11 days worth....!
It says something about the amount of clothes one has since we have managed without
a washing machine for so long...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


pictures taken with my IPhone

A colleague of mine and I have been looking at some conference facilities for an upcoming event we are hosting. Today we went to King's College and the top pictures are from the student's main dining hall with the magnificent ceiling and the bottom from the Front court looking at the famous Chapel.

The colleges are quiet now as we are in exam season. It is important to bear in mind if you are planning a visit as no visitors are allowed in during this period.

The College was founded in 1441 by Henry VI (1421-71) and is one of the 31 colleges in the University. In addition to academic excellence it is also world-famous for its Chapel and choir. The Christmas Eve service from King's is broadcast to millions around the world.

I am ashamed to admit that living here it is easy to become blind to this splendor and beauty and just take it for granted...

Monday, 4 April 2011

Tried and Tested: Persian Salad Olivier

I made among other things Persian Salad Olivier for our brunch with our friends on Saturday.

Salad Olivier is very common at parties in Iran and our Russian friend was delighted when she realised it is identical to Russian Olivier.  But I found out that this salad was originally the creation of a French chef, M. Olivier, who had a fashionable restaurant in Moscow called The Hermitage in the 1860s

Small world ;-)

This is how I made it:

Finely chop and combine in a bowl:
1/2-3/4 of a grilled chicken (remove the skin)
3 hard boiled eggs
4-5 boiled potatoes
5-6 gherkins
2-3 handfuls of peas (I used frozen peas)
2 celery stalks
1 small red onion
Some flat leaf parsley
You can also add some olives if you like.

In a separate bowl I combined:
4-5 generous tbsp of mayonnaise
4-5 generous tbsp of creme fraiche (light )
(or just use mayonnaise - I wanted to cut down a bit on the calories)
lemon juice
you can also use some tumeric if you want to add some more color to the dressing

Pour the mayonaise dressing over and mix well. Let it rest in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to let the flavours combine.


Sunday, 3 April 2011


The magnolia is in full bloom in the garden and we have enjoyed a lovely spring weekend together with good friends for lunch yesterday and various minor house projects. All winter shoes/gloves/hats and scarfs are packed away for at least 6-7 months!

It is Mother's day here in the UK today and my men spoiled me with a big basket of various spa products and chocolates (think there was some self interest in that part of the gift ;-)) as well as lunch in the 'village at the end of the path'. Just lovely!

Our Boy is on his long Easter holiday while the Professor and I have to carry on working for a couple more weeks. Busy week ahead with conferences and preparations for major planning meetings after Easter, but first a dinner with The Ladies Who Dine tomorrow night!

Can't wait!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, 1 April 2011

Published Blog

I am now published!


Back in January I wanted to find a way of printing my blog for 2010 to have a firm tangible diary of our lives in 2010. Several of you suggested I use Blogs2Print. Not a bad suggestion as it was extremely easy and straight forward to use.
So, yesterday to my delight I received in the post the published version of my blog for 2010!

I have in fact a lot of experience with publishing books from various capacities of previous jobs and on this basis I think I am a little pickier than most. I would have liked more editing options and perhaps more ways of embellishing the pages.
However, I think that would have led to a much thicker book
(and therefore much more expensive!)

So, apart from the long waiting time I am actually happy with the result!