Monday 31 October 2011

From Another Time...

I took the in-laws exploring on the weekend and we went to Audley End, one of Englands grandest stately homes.
borrowed from English Heritage website
 It is a spectacular Jacobean mansion and we so enjoyed walking through the kitchens, the laundry, and the main house.
I couldn't take any pictures in the main house, but I suggest you look at their pictures on the English Heritage webpage if you like these kind of places.
There was some birds of prey demonstrations on the grounds, but we had enough with taking in the sights.
Talk about laundry room! And this is just half of it... But in those days it would take a week to put the various garments through the cleaning process, so I guess you needed some space...

I do like the looks of those neatly folded sheets...
You can walk through the kitchens and watch the staff in costumes working...
or were they real...?
Think this will be my spooky contribution to a Halloween inspired shot!
Despite the grey pictures we enjoyed 20 degrees and beautiful autumn colors.

A friend joined us for dinner and it seemed suitable to end the day watching Downton Abbey on the TV

Saturday 29 October 2011

Mixing Business and Pleasure

Our Boy and I had to go to London yesterday to take care of some paper business. We combined it with a day out in London as this was his last day of the half term holidays.
It was such a beautiful day and we walked from Kensington to the Portobello road market. A lovely area I wouldn't mind living in... But so many temptations! I didn't buy ANYTHING - simply because I couldn't face carrying it with me all day.
As always lots and lots to see in the market. Need a new hook, door knob or tiles, anyone?
We had to visit the Hummingbird bakery where we enjoyed...

a raspberry-brownie-cheesecake and a red-velvet-cake. A very busy place with just a few stools to sit on!
Their cakes are just as amazing as they are reputed to be.
So, so, so yummy and incredibly moist! 
I really must try to bake that red velvet cake one day...
The slices were enormous! 
But we didn't leave a crumb...
I wanted to look at boots at DUO (I recommend you click on the link and check them out if you have problems finding the right sized boots) which offer fitted boots for almost any sized calf or foot width. But when I discovered it would take more than 30 mins to be served I left it. They don't have a shop in our town, but I think I will have to take my chances and measure myself and order on-line. 
I really am not the most patient shopper.

We caught the 7.15 pm train back to Our Peaceful Corner of England 
- completely exhausted! 

Thursday 27 October 2011

Happiness is...

Happiness is...

unexpectedly receiving delicious
from a friend returning from

Edible gifts...
me like!


Tuesday 25 October 2011

The Age of The Apps

picture borrowed from
I was thinking about apps the other day
- as you do

When I first acquired my IPhone and IPad I was like a kid in a candy store.
So excited about what was out there.
I downloaded lots of 'useful' apps
- for needs I never knew I had -
and organised them neatly into categories
(I like order...)

Now, a few months down the line I notice I don't really use that many of all those I downloaded.

There is the calendar (can't live without it now!), the email, the Safari for internet browsing, the contacts, the iTunes/iPod, the camera, Facebook, Skype, BlogPress, iBooks (not that much used, I must admit), about 8-9 newspapers (wonder how much longer we will still call them newspapers?), maps, train information. Under the category 'Tools' I have a ruler, a spirit level (very handy at times!), a convert units app, a currency converter and notes. I also have an app for Ocado to place my weekly shopping and for Amazon. I am not big on gaming, but there is a solitar game I enjoy.

Actually, come to think of it, that is more than I thought.

Then I had an email.
I am sure many other bloggers also get offered all sorts of things to promote on their blogs but this was different: they wanted to know my opinion on an app they were thinking of developing. This app is about turning living healthy and promoting fitness into a game, where users earn points, and "level up' as they achieve their goals. Everytime they eat something healthy like vegetables, they earn points. Everytime they complete a workout, they earn points.

There was more to it than described, but it made me think again about the craze of apps. There seems to be an app for just about anything!
Not sure an app will help me get fit and loose weight though.


So, do apps aide you in your life???

Monday 24 October 2011

Should I - or Shouldn't I...?

I think The Cat is a bit confused over the warm weather we have been enjoying. 
I am convinced it is part of his daily challenge finding the right spot in the sunshine...

But sometimes it is better to play it safe and stay indoors peeking through the curtains...

Sunday 23 October 2011

Weekend Report...

What a lovely weekend we have had! 
The sun has been shining and we have enjoyed very non-autumnal temperatures.

Not a very exciting Saturday though. Just the usual boring housework that needs doing. Our Boy is on half term break next week which means less preparations for the week ahead so a less hectic schedule this weekend. But no Saturday without rice porridge for lunch! Well, that is a lie. It was true in my childhood though. Surprisingly enough, in Iran they also enjoy rice pudding, but add bits of cooked turkey to it. I have never tried it, but it does sound very strange to my Norwegian palate.
I harvested more of our chillies and made some more of the sweet chilli sauce which just 'disappears' in this house. I couldn't tell you how long you can keep it before it goes bad because it never lasts that long in our house!

The tomatoes are also on their last leg although some are still green. 
It doesn't really matter as my mother-in-law uses them in her cooking anyway and they taste delicious!
Still some flowers blooming in the garden. Looks like they can still go on for a long time unless the weather decides to change soon.

But some plants are getting ready for the colder period and to be used in new celebrations.
And to round the weekend off - a BBQ in the garden at a friend's house for her 18 year old son!


Friday 21 October 2011

Guilty Pleasure - Is It Too Soon....?

I couldn't hold back...
I got Good Housekeeping's Christmas issue (the bottom middle issue above) as I passed by the shop last night...

Is it too soon...?

It kind of is, isn't it...???

picture borrowed from
It is not like I need months in advance to prepare the food.
I am afraid I have not become a fan of traditional English Christmas Pudding.
It is simply too heavy fare after a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner.

Never mind.
I so enjoyed turning in early and snuggling down enjoying a browse through the new recipes.
I don't mind some new inspiration!

Thursday 20 October 2011

Grafham Water

I took the in-laws with me to find Grafham Water which had been recommended to me by several friends. It is only half an hours drive from us, but it was a pleasant new discovery.

What a lovely place to come for walks, bike rides, fishing or to learn how to sail.

As this was unfamiliar territory to me, I chose on the SatNav the 'shortest, but not fastest route' to get home in order to avoid the motorway. To our delight we drove through the loveliest little villages in the English countryside that I had never heard of.

To be honest, not sure I can ever find them again...

pictures are taken with my phone and are not the best

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Something a Bit Different...?

I came across these purple sheep skin rugs.

Never seen anything like it!

In addition to the normal colors you would expect sheep to have, they come in bright pink, lavender, purple and red!

I have ALWAYS loved purple, but not sure about these...

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Tried and Tested: Julia Childs Chocolate Cake with Almonds

picture borrowed from but the cake really turned out just like the picture!

It has been a while since I posted any new cake recipes. 
I simply have not had much time lately for baking, and also I tend to use over and over again the tried and tested recipes.
On the weekend I decided to try a new cake as we celebrated again my in-laws joint birthdays (their birthdays are only one day apart!).

This is the famous Julia Child's Chocolate Cake with almonds.
I understand why this is also famous!
It is very nice and the almonds make it both dense and moist.
It will be a new favourite.

Melt 120 gram good quality chocolate in a water bath (bain marie) together with
2 tablespoons of rum, coffee or cognac (I used coffee)

Whisk 100 grams of butter and
100 grams of sugar till it is fluffy and white
Add the melted chocolate to the butter/sugar mix

Add 3 egg yolks (whisk them well before adding to the butter/sugar/chocolate mix)

Whisk 3 egg whites stiff with
1 tablespoon of sugar and
a pinch of salt

Mix 50 grams of ground almonds and 50 grams of flour

Fold in carefully the egg whites and sift in the almond/flour mix alternate times into the butter/sugar/chocolate/egg yolk mix.
Add a couple of drops of almond essence or vanilla essence, if you like

Bake at 175 degrees in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
Keep an eye on it. It should be a little wobbly in the middle when you take it out.

Let the cake cool

Melt in a water bath 100 grams good quality chocolate
(you might want to add a little sugar if you use very dark chocolate)
Add 5 tablespoons of melted butter and
2 tablespoons of coffee/dark rum or cognac (again I prefer coffee)

Whisk the melted chocolate mixture till it cools and thickens.

Pour the topping over the cooled cake and spread it evenly.

Decorate with flaked almonds, if you like.

This is my contribution to Sota Saker's monthly challenge which this month's theme is "Give Away".
Not sure you manage to give this one away...
Better bake two!

Monday 17 October 2011

Doing Your Duty

On Friday and Saturday was the election of the new Chancellor of the University.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prins Philip had earlier this year decided to step down. I guess at the age of 90 he felt the need to scale back on his commitments. He has been the Chancellor since 1976, so this is not an everyday election!

Only members of the Senate House can vote. The Senate House comprises all graduates of the University who have taken the Cambridge MA or any other Cambridge Masters Degree a Cambridge Doctorate, or the Cambridge BD Degree plus all current members of the Regent House regardless of degrees held.

There were four candidates:
Mr. Abdul Arain
Mr. Brian Blessed
Mr Michael Mansfield QC
Lord Sainsbury of Turville

Another rule is that all members must wear gowns in the Senate House.

The in-laws and I went to town with The Professor who did his duty while we did some people watching while waiting for him!

Good luck to winner, The Lord Sainsbury of Turville.

Friday 14 October 2011

Recommended viewing: Midnight in Paris

On a spur of the moment, I went with a friend to see Woody Allen's newest film Midnight in Paris. It was very charming and not so angstridden as many of his films often are (oh, yes, there was one angst theme in there - wouldn't be Woody Allen otherwise ;-)) but the film is easy viewing.

It also managed well to portray the romantic picture we all have of Paris in our imagination.
It is a sort of time travel drama and all the name-dropping was really funny and made you want more!

I admit I was entertained even if I felt a little cheated at the end.
It was as if something was missing and I can't put my finger on it.

But it made me want to go back to Paris
- particularly in the rain.

Trailer below - enjoy:

Thursday 13 October 2011

Autumn Joy and Activities

If you don't mind - another autumnal picture.
I just love these colours on the leaves!

But some things just refuse to stop blooming.
I think this is the 2nd or perhaps 3rd round of blooms on this bush this year!

Our Boy got the bike he had set his eyes when we went to London...
He is very keen and hurries home from school to manage a ride before it gets dark.
Got to support activities that get them away from the computers!


Wednesday 12 October 2011


The garden wall is 'on fire' with color.
I am slowly resurfacing in the 'blog world' after a few very intense weeks at work.
Still hectic, but more manageable.

It has been so intense that I have hardly had time or energy to read other blogs!

We are experiencing uncharacteristically warm weather these days which is strange when you see the leaves in their autumnal best.

Mornings are dark, though.
We try to brighten the time with lighting candles when we are having breakfast. 
I think we must be close to England's biggest consumer of candles...

Such a small gesture makes it all cosier, don't you think?

Happy autumn!

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Recommended Reading: The Company of Shadows

I don't often read thrillers,
but this was a book I just couldn't put down.
From the back of the book:
Flicking through her friends' holiday snaps, Kate Benson receives a sudden shock. For there in the background is her husband, Charlie. Dark hair, blue eyes, familiar smile: there's no mistaking him. But that's impossible. Because Charlie died exactly a year ago.
Determined to track down the man in the photograph, Kate follows the trail from Miami to Sicily, where her husband drowned in mysterious circumstances. But when she discovers serious discrepancies in the original investigation, Kate starts to question whether she ever really knew the man she loved so much.Was Charlie murdered? Was their marriage as perfect as Kate remembers? Who are the people following her? Who can she trust? And is Kate herself to be trusted?
Because there are secrets in her past too . . .
There are so many twists and unexpected turns in this book that it keeps you glued to it!
The biggest surprise for me was actually the author of the book herself
- who is a colleague of mine!
And I never knew...

Saturday 1 October 2011

29.2 degrees...

Indian summer....

We had 29.2 degrees on the last day of September! 
After a marvellous spring and rather sad summer the heat decide to visit us again. Feels strange as it definitely LOOKS autumnal, but it doesn't correspond to the feeling! 
The picture was taken at 8 am this morning.
 I just love the way the sun comes through the trees! Another scorching day in store, I think!

I took the in-laws by train to Peterborough yesterday to put them on a direct train to Edinburgh as they are up there visiting The Professor for a few days. They are really brave, I think. It isn't easy travelling around when you don't speak much English! On our way to Peterborough we were so lucky to meet this lovely English lady who was going the same way and she promised me to keep an eye on them! All went well and they were so excited when I spoke with them on Skype last night.

Today Our Boy and I are off to London to look at a new bike for him... 
You would think there are enough bikes in our town, but NO this is apparently a SPECIAL bike...

Lucky he has a mum with a big car and willing to drive to London


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad