Sunday 29 April 2012

Replacement and New Creations

for some reason it doesn't look quite straight on the picture, but it is!
OK, I know we are hoping to do without scarves soon, but given how the weather has been here the last couple of weeks you would be forgiven for thinking we were on the other side of summer... 
 A few years ago I knitted a scarf out of eyelash yarn. I loved this scarf and was devastated when I lost it at work one day. I briefly forgot it in the common room one day and although I went back a few minutes later it was gone!
Imagine stealing a scarf!

So, I popped in to a craft shop when I was in Norway last weekend and got some new yarn. With 33 stitches, size 4 needles and just plain knitting it is such an easy project to do in front of TV or while listening to music so this is was done in a couple of evenings!
I don't mind if the weather improves and the scarf won't be needed for another 6 months though!

But as I also got new glasses (progressive glasses for the first time...!) this week I have taken advantage of being able to see small details and made some more bead bracelets out of beads I have had lying around for a long time.

Can you tell I love purple (and pearls)????


Thursday 26 April 2012


I found this T-shirt in Oxford at Easter and simply HAD TO bring it home for Our Boy...
Just sending a thought to all those getting ready for exams these days!

Our Boy is preparing for his IGCSE exams which will start 10 May and carry on till 20 June.
It is a different system to how we did our exams back in the days. We used to have full day exams from 9 in the morning till late in the afternoon. Here their exams are rarely more than 2-3 hours and the various component in a subject is divided up, so within a subject like English you will have a grammer component one day and a literature option a second day. All in all he will be having about 20 exams before he is done... So, only a couple of more weeks of school, then the exam period starts and that is the end of the school year...!

We then have two more years of school while he is doing his A-levels and going to University. To be honest, I find it confusing trying to keep up with the changes in the school systems and what the various exams mean and involve.

I am glad it all seems to make sense to Our Boy and he is on top of it...!

Tuesday 24 April 2012

The First Visit...

And another week has passed since I devoted any time to the blog…

It has been an intense week with a long weekend back to Norway where the main purpose of the trip was to visit my mother’s grave. She would have been 80 years old last week and it was the first birthday since she passed away last summer.
It was an emotional visit, I have to admit.

But more emotions followed when I went to Oslo to see dear friends. The court case of the century is on going after the horrible events last summer. We walked downtown to see the Court House and the bombed out government quarters.  It hit me a lot harder than I expected to actually SEE the devastation.
We saw the flowers that people are placing around the Court House.
And outside the church.
And on the fence in front of the government quarters.
Serious, serious times.
A time where we all need a lot of reflection.
But the visit was not just nostalgic and serious.
I got to see many friends and relatives, and to celebrate my niece’ birthday. While in Oslo my friend and I went for a walk around the lake Sognsvann and then for a walk in Frognerparken. Both favourite spots of mine and great places for having good conversations with a friend.
So, in short, that is life
– sorrow and happiness go hand in hand, some times.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Learning Something New...

I admit it...
I love a bit of bling and jewellery.
I also love to be a bit creative.
So, I went on a course last night and learnt how to make a chevron bead bracelet

Monday 16 April 2012

Tried and Tested: Purker

This time I am offering you the recipe of a traditional recipe from my hometown, Halden, called "Purke".
In essence, they are large, flat, slightly sweet buns.  It is said that the idea must have come with Swedish workers coming across the border as sweet bread is more common in Sweden than in Norway, but to my knowledge they are only found in Halden and none of the other neighbouring towns. I don't know the origin of the name, but the direct translation is actually "sow" (female pig)...
I remember we used to buy them from the bakers after school...
We ate them without adding anything to them, but some have them with cheese/ham/tomato and lettuce and I have even heard some enjoy them with butter and syrup (!)...

This very moreish recipe makes 16:

50 gram yeast (or 2 teaspoons if you use dried yeast)
5 decilitre luke warm milk
100 gram sugar
10 gram salt
1 kilo flour
1 large egg
150 gram soft butter cut in squares

1 whisked egg for glazing

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl except the butter.
Knead well for 8-10 mins.
Add the butter and knead for another 10 minutes till it is all well incorporated.
Cover the bowl with plastic and let it rest for 1 hr.
Divide it into 16 pieces and roll them to smooth balls which you flatten
They should be about 15 cm in diameter.
Place them on a greased baking tray (you will probably fit 4 or 5 on each tray) and
let them rest again for about 45 minutes.
Glaze them with the beaten egg

Bake in the middle of the oven (200 degrees) for 12-15 minutes.

When they have cooled off open them like a pita bread and fill them with cheese/butter/jam/etc.
Or simply just enjoy them as they are.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Tried and Tested: Scones!

Here is a suggestion to go with your Sunday afternoon tea or coffee:

Often when we are 'out and about' there is a sudden 'demand' for tea and scones with clotted cream. There is hardly anything more British than tea and scones. I guess scones are to the Brits what vaffler are to the Norwegians...?
So, here is my own receipe for traditional scones. It is quick and easy - perhaps not more than 20 mins all together! Perfect if someboyd comes around unannounced (actually, does that happen any more...?).
Some add dried fruit (raisins) or orange and choclate pieces or lavender or even cheese to the dough, but I prefer them plain.
This recipe makes 8 generous scones

Mix 350 grams of flour with
1 tsp of baking powder and
10 grams of salt and
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar

Rub in 85 grams of (room temperature) butter to a sandy consistency
Mix 175 ml of milk and
the juice of 1/2 lemon
(don't worry if the milk curdles with the lemon as this helps with the rising of the scones)
and add to the mixture along with
1 beaten egg

The dough should be rather wet and sticky.
NOTE: The clue is not to overwork the dough as it may not rise very well and will become too hard!

I prefer them looking a bit rustic, so I 'plop' the 8 scones on a greased baking sheet and
glaze with 1 beaten egg

Bake in the oven at 175 degrees for about 15 mins.

Cut each scones in half and serve luke warm with jam and clotted cream
(or perhaps whipped cream if you don't have clotted cream)

Now, here is the controversy:
Do you put the jam first and the cream second or vice versa...?

Saturday 14 April 2012

Once Upon a Time....Baddesley Clinton

It felt like stepping into a fairy tale visiting another National Trust property - Baddesley Clinton (west of Stratford-upon-Avon)...

A medieval moated manor from the 15th century!

 The house used to be a haven for persecuted Catholics and so far three priest's holes have been found.

Again, it was a cold day, but our lovely, inspirational guide made history come alive!

Note the clock in the top left corner - it only has one hand... People didn't need to know time any more accurately than that in the old days...

It was so enjoyable walking around the house and imagining how it must have been living there. Cold, is the first thought that comes to mind. Although, there was a roaring fire in the main hall, it didn't give off much heat to the room...

Mmmm... we got hungry walking around the kitchen where they had laid out the common ingredients of the time.

But we had to leave the fairy tale place...
I would love to go again (on a warmer day)

But our explorations didn't stop there. My fellow travelers are the best travel companions you could wish for - always up for leaving the beaten track and exploring something new. It is so much fun and you never know what the day will bring.

So, it was typical when on the way back home again one of us spotted a sign that looked interesting and shouted
This looked too intriguing to rush past and we discovered Castle Ashby- just about an hour away from our home. The castle is not open to the public, but there are lovely gardens you can visit. As we arrived shortly before closing we didn't get to explore this estate in any great detail, but it will be on the list for another roadtrip!

So, this concludes my summary of this Easter's roadtrip.
I am already looking forward to next year's trip!

Thursday 12 April 2012

To the Manor Born... Upton House

volunteers leaving at the end of the day
I have mentioned before the amazing National Trust which works hard to preserving many wonderful historic properties, gardens and villages around the country and keeping them open to the public. Many who work there are volunteers who don't get paid, but do it for their love of history and these wonderful properties. Wimpole Hall is as you may recall close to where we live and I go for walks in the grounds as often as I can.

Upton House, near Stratford-upon-Avon
 The National Trust (and English Heritage) do an amazing job restoring and preserving a lot of history and keeping them open for everyone to see, enjoy and learn from.

If you are a member of the National Trust you get in for free to most of their properties, but even if you don't take out a membership you can still visit the properties by paying an entrance fee.

I looove looking around the kitchens in these old properties
I recommend you check out their website if you are planning a trip to these green isles to see if there is a National Trust property close by to where you are going. You can even stay in some of their properties!
Remember, there is so much more to these islands than only London...!
(there are National Trust properties there, too)

Imagine what goodies have been conjoured up with the items...
I introduced our visitors to the National Trust last year and they immediately took out a subscription. Our trip to Stratford-upon-Avon would therefore not be complete without paying a visit to some of the National Trust properties in the area.

The table plan from the coronation of the present queen had been kept as a souvenir by the last owners
The first place we went to see was Upton House and Gardens, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon and all the pictures are from this lovely place. The weather did not lend itself to exploring the outdoors too much, but we all relished in the beautiful house which had been left as when Lord & Lady Bearsted - the last family at Upton House - lived in it.

"You rang, My Lady?"
The place with a definited 1930s-feel was donated to the National Trust along with a vast art collection and since the stipulation was that the house should be left as is without any ropes or restrictions like you find in a museum you almost feel like you are a guest in the house.

Next time, I will take you to a property with a real moat!

Monday 9 April 2012

The End of a Whirlwind Week...

The garden
I can't believe how quiet it is today...
We have had a busy almost whirlwind like week with visitors from Norway who bid us farewell yesterday afternoon! It will take us a few days 'to land' after such a week!

For the second year running I went travelling with them to a UK destination. Last year we went to Jane Austin's beautiful Bath which you can read about here and here. This year Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare was the destination. Seems to be a literary theme developing here, I think!

Anne Hathaway's Cottage
Our Boy had to stay home to study for his upcoming exams, but that gave him some much appreciated time with his father.

I just loved this willow hut...
We were really not lucky with the weather for this part of the week as it was miserably cold and damp. Still, the flowers are all in full bloom.
One of the highlights was when we went to see Anne Hathaway's cottage (the wife of William). The pictures are all from the cottage and the grounds. It was so quaint and cute!

From inside the cottage - all left as when it was inhabited..
The place had great guides which really made history come alive.
To be honest, due to the unfriendly weather we didn't really see too much of Stratford-upon-Avon apart from a quick walk through a part of town.
But we did venture some other places nearby...

To be continued...!

Monday 2 April 2012

Easter Explorations: Oxford

I am just popping in for a quick 'hello' during these hectic Easter days!
Yesterday I went with our guests from Norway to 'the other University town' - Oxford!
A beautiful place and we were blessed with lovely weather.

We set the satnav to avoid the highways and discovered the sweetest little villages around the country! So recommended.
I just had to take a picture of this funny door bell outside a pub.
Too cute!
More reports to follow!
Hope you are having some fun and relaxing Easter days!