Saturday 30 June 2012

A Hidden Gem...

The Plough, Fen Ditton
A while ago I had bought tickets for us via Groupon for a different type of river cruise. Punting is the norm here in town, but this was a trip on a barge outside of town.

I suddenly remembered these tickets and as they expire soon, The Professor and I decided that today was the day for a river cruise! The weather didn't start out too great, but hey! this is England - it is bound to rain at some point in the day so that can't stop us!

The boat left from The Plough in Fen Ditton, a pub previously unknow to us. We found the place and it turned out to be a gorgeously charming place. But before exploring the pub any further a handful of people joined us on the most relaxing river cruise ever. This picture is from one of the properties we passed. It had also once been a pub, but it was now privately owned.

There were lots of gorgeous properties along the river and loads of birds with the young ones.
There were also groups of rowers training on the river. Our Boy rows for his school and they regularly come down this end of the river. Our guide told us about 200 boats train on the river every day. It is always a concern to find a balance between the rowers and the local wild life.
Further down the river, closer to town we passed several riverboats. Looks lovely on a summer's day, but not sure I would like it in the cold and damp winter...
The weather perked up and we passed a group of people having a party in their garden along the river. Unfortunately, they only waved to us, but didn't invite us in

We also got some attention from the cows along the bank who studied us with interest. Apparently, there is an old ancient law that allows the cows to graze in the fields around town and also in the park close to our house.
The cruise returned to the pub from where it had started and more people had arrived to join the next cruise. It only takes 45 minutes - perfect to work up an appetite!

So, we ended our day out with a lovely lunch at the pub!
This is definetely a place I will take guests next time anybody comes over!

I love discovering hidden gems, even after all the years in my corner of England!

Thursday 28 June 2012

Making The Most Of Summer!

Amazingly enough, The Professor is home for a few days and as Our Boy is still in Sweden, we are making the most of the days alone. Although, I am still working we manage to steal some quality time meeting up for lunch on a very hot and humid day.

Our preferred lunch at our favourite pub "The Eagle" is almost always a Greek Salad . The pub dates back to the 14th century and is famous for the Raf ceiling which boasts signatures of Raf pilots from all over the world who returned from the Second World War and signed their names on the ceiling using only cigarette lighters, candle smoke and lip stick. The pub is also where Watson and Crick announced to the world they had discovered "the secret of life" (DNA).
The place was packed, so we shared the table with a very nice Australian couple who just happened to stumble across the place and had no idea it is the town's most famous pub.
The Eagle's Greek salad is so simple but comes with the most generous helping of olives and feta cheese,
- just what you need on a hot, sticky day.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Recommended Reading: Things We Left Unsaid

Need a summer read?

I have just finished reading Zoya Pirzad's book "Things We Left Unsaid".
 It is a graceful, tender, funny and interesting insight into a way of life in Iran surprising and unknown to many people.

The story is set in privileged suburban Abadan in the south of Iran in the 1960s. The city was built around the oil refinery which opened in 1913 after the British discovered oil at Masjed-Soleiman. Abadan became a company town where the city was divided into neighbourhoods or districts where the workers of the oil company lived.

The main character in the story is Clarice who is married with three children. The story describes her happy family life which is shaken up when a new family moves in across the street and she starts to question her own contentment.

It struck me that the most surprising part is not the description of a way of life which I recognised from what I have been told by my own family, but I kept feeling it could have been a story set in many European or American families in the 1960s.

I really recommend the book and think you may find it surprising.

PS: there is a glossary at the end explaining some names and places and foods you may not be familiar with

Thursday 21 June 2012

The Summer's First 'Wild' Adventure...

The first adventure this summer started this morning.

Our Boy had his last IGCSE exam yesterday (think he has had 20 exams since 10 May! not sure this is a satisfactory system of evaluating academic knowledge, but that will have to be discussed another day) and at 4 am this morning he left with the outdoor pursuits group from school for 10 days of canoing in Sweden.

They are heading to the Swedish 'wilderness' around Ed, north of Gothenburg in Sweden.

I must admit it was a bit amusing earlier this year when we attended the school's information meeting and they talked about the 'wilderness'...
Ed is just across the border from where I grew up in Norway.
We never looked upon it as 'wilderness'...
I am sure they will have a great time!
Just hope it won't rain too much.

The Professor also took off this morning for two conferences on the continent leaving me and The Cat to fend for our selves.

I am sure we will be fine!
You can just imagine all the PLANS I have of all the things I am going to get DONE...

Famous last words...? 

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Too Much FUN!!!

My mousemat at work...
It is easy to get totally distracted with all sorts of apps on my Iphone...

My tea mug at work
MarbleCamb is a free app that can make normal everyday items...

The old tiled floor in the office building
look rather special!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

May Events... in June

Last night was the May Concert in St. John's College. The end of year events used to take place in May, but now they are always in June. It is still called May-week... 

The May Ball is the traditional end of year BIG party in the colleges. Each college has their own night and whilst Trinity's party was on next door, St. John's was also getting ready whilst our concert event took place for their party which is tonight.

What a great evening we had!
Lovely music in the Chapel and then gorgeous canapes and drinks outside. The weather had decided to be on our side and it was a lovely summers evening.

I have started using Instagram and kept taking pictures and putting up as the evening progressed.

Bridge of Sighs

And as we always do, at the end we piled out to the lawn, passing the Bridge of Sighs to see the fireworks from Trinity College.


Monday 18 June 2012

3 for 1...!

The weekend didnt really start out as planned.

Friday evening I disovered that the toilet in our cloak room/laundry room was leaking water from the water tank into the bowl. I got the lid off the water tank, but couldn't make out what the problem was. This is the most modern toilet in the house and therefore the most 'complicated' one. The old ones on the other floors are easy to figure out what is what and how they work.
My fiddling around made matters worse and soon water was gushing down into the toilet bowl. Here in England the water usage is metered and we pay for the amount we use, so this was NOT good... I ended up having to turn off the watersupply to the house and started to worry about finding a plumber during the weekend.
I could see a hefty bill coming...

Suddenly I started thinking - didn't we have some kind of special insurance policy for the water supply...? I also recalled that the papers for renewing this had come through recently and I had glanced at them thinking this was a waste of money and perhaps I should cancel it. But I never got around to looking at it again and the policy had therefore automatically been renewed.

The papers had not been filed away yet and were still on my desk. I delighted to read that we are covered for such incidences and immediately called the company. They have 24/7/365 cover, and they arranged for a man to be coming out in the morning between 9 am and 1 pm since this was not an emergency. Annoying, but we were not exactly swimming through the house.

Saturday morning a lovely, polite and very charming young man turned up. He fixed the toilet and got in my good books by complementing me on managing to get the lid of the water tank off. It is a little complicated and takes a special technique, but I had actually made a point of seeing how to do this when the toilet was installed.

We got chatting and he noticed that the tap to turn off the main water supply was dripping if it was left fully open, so he proposed to repaire this while he was here.

I then mentioned that I was not happy with the kitchen tap which was 'moving' and I was worried water would get into the counter and destroy it. The lovely young man had a look and decided this also needed repairing and got a new tap from the car (he actually gave me the choice of two) and installed this for me.

And none of this cost me a penny (well, except for the insurance policy I am paying for)!
He said we had the highest coverage possible, so I might as well get my monies worth!

I have to admit my brain was racing - did I not have any other things he could repair while he was in the house...? Alas, no. All my plumbing issues are now resolved and I am a very happy customer who will not hesitate to call them next time I notice some other little niggling issues with the water or taps in the house. And I realised how useful this insurance cover is. All the three jobs today would have cost me a lot more than my insurance premium.

Now all I need is to get a handy man who can do some carpentry and electrical work...!

But the point of all this rambling is -
do YOU know what your insurance policies include and what you are covered for???

Sunday 17 June 2012

Tried and Tested: Nutella Cookies

I adjusted slightly a recipe for Nutella cookies I found via Pinterest. The original recipe calls for sugar to be added to the dough, but this is NOT necessary with all the Nutella that is already in them...
They do the job when you just 'need' a proper chocolate hit!
The recipe is super simple and FAST with only 3 ingredients:
325 gram Nutella
2.5 dl flour
1 egg
Mix well and
Form to a sausage
Cut into  thick slices (makes about 20-25 cookies)

Bake at 175 degrees for about 6-8 mins

Let them cool

Saturday 16 June 2012

The Men Are Bonding...

What a summer of celebrations!

Just as we finished celebrating Mrs Queen, the football frenzy gets going.
Not that I could care less about football...
But my generally football uninterested Son and Husband always become football interested whenever there is a big event like a European Cup (is that what is going on this summer?) or World Cup takes place. Then suddenly all matches must be watched and discussions about the games become a daily occurrence...

Yesterday their tickets for the Olympic games arrived in the post. They only managed to get tickets for one event - rowing. In my mind, not too exciting, but this is Our Boy's favourite sport and he rows for school, so I guess it makes sense....
to him and his dad.

Thursday 14 June 2012

End of Another Academic Year...

Tomorrow is the end of the Easter term here at the University.
The academic year is divided into three terms: Michaelmas Term, Lent Term and Easter Term.

True to tradition, as we do at the end of each term, we invited all the students working in the area of research my group is related to for a lunch in the President's Lodge in one of the old colleges.
Here are some (poor pictures taken with my IPhone) glimpses of the walled garden

The weather looks nice, but it isn't quite the summer temperatures we could wish for and the event was held indoors. 
Still, I wore a dress AND no stockings!
Our own office summer party will not take place for almost another month in this garden so we can hope it gets warmer by then!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

1 Year...

It is today one year since mamma passed away...

Life goes on,
but not a day goes by without me thinking of her and 'talking' with her...

We will light candles for her today and share the good memories of a lovely, caring, kind, inspirational and giving woman,

My mum and our Mimmi.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Trying It Out - Zumba!

The picture is a good example of how I felt after my first ever Zumba class last night...

I managed lure a friend of mine along to a taster session that the University is putting up and after the initial shock when we realised we were about twice the age of everybody else in the group, we thought we might as well have fun and just
go for it...

We held our own, I must say I am proud of that!

It was b@(8&*% hard work and the routines changed a bit too quick - just when I thought I might be getting the hang of it, it changed.

But it was FUN!

I am happy to note that I am able to move and walk today (was not sooooo sure about that last night).

Think I actually might try Zumba again...

Yoga tonight.

I am really on a roll these days as I also went running twice(!) on the weekend....!

Monday 11 June 2012

Getting Ideas Organised With Pinterest!

I have recently started using Pinterest when I come across blogposts with ideas etc that I find interesting and that I want to keep and re-visit.

Initially, I wasn't sure what to make out of Pinterest.
Another online 'thing'????
But thinking about it, I realised I often come across interesting blogposts and when I decide to look at them again, I can't for the life of me remember where I read it...

 Using Pinterest is like having a pinbord on my computer (or IPhone or IPad) where I 'pin' up and organise anything relating to interesting recipes, craft projects, book suggestions, travel ideas and so on. You can have many boards going at the same time. It all gets organised under the heading you choose.
Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, 're-pin' images to their own collections and/or 'like' photos.

It is actually becoming a handy tool!

I have added Pinterest to my blog as well and when you click on the posts (won't work just from the main landing page), you will see a little red icon you can click on if you want to save the recipe/suggestion/idea/etc etc.

Friday 8 June 2012

Tried and Tested: Jubilee Cheesecake

For the Jubilee Weekend the original plan was to have a pot-luck lunch on Sunday with the neighbours in the common garden, but the weather was rather uncooperative so we all went in to one of the larger flats in the old house. 

It turned out to be a very nice and social gathering while watching the Queen and family on the flotilla down The Thames.

Well done, Mrs. Queen!
Not sure why they all turned their backs to the camera...
I had been asked to bring cakes so I made cupcakes, brownies and a cheese cake. I made the cupcakes with a white chocolate topping which went down rather well and experimented with making some simple new decorations.

I know I have been putting a lot of cake recipes on the blog lately, but as the blog serves as a new way of storing all those magazine clippings and jotted down recipes I have in a big folder, you will have to bear with me.

The cakes were all well received at the party, but the cheese cake was the definite winner.
Combine 300 grams of crushed Oreo cookies with

150 grams of melted butter
Add this to a lined baking tin and
put it in the fridge while you mix

 300-350 grams of Philadelphia cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla sugar
0.5 dl sugar
Pour the mixture over the chilled base and bake for 15 mins at about 175 degrees.

In the meantime, mix
2.5 dl sourcream
1 tsp of vanilasugar
1 tbsp of sugar

Take the cake out of the oven and pour the sourcream mixture over. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 mins. until the top is firm

Thursday 7 June 2012

No Boundaries...!

As always when I am home in Norway I love roaming the yarn and craft shops. Back in April I bought some yarn for a special crochet project and I was convinced I had bought enough....

Almost needless to say, I hadn't.
I had bought about half of what I need...

I had planned to ask a friend to go and get more yarn and send it to me, but a quick browse on the web led me to this UK shop called Scandinavian Knitting Design.
Lo and behold, they stock the Sandnes Mandarin Petit yarn I needed!

For this project (which I will show you later - it is a surprise for a friend who sometimes reads the blog, so I can't say any more!) I am using completely white yarn, so it shouldn't matter much with the dye number.
Even the price was pretty much the same as what I paid back home.
Delivery was super swift so no delay in the work

This made me happy today!

What has brightened up your day...?

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Tried and Tested: Oreo Cake

Another year has gone by and Our Boy turned 16 in the midst of the Queen's Jubilee Weekend.
We have enjoyed a lovely Jubilee/Birthday Weekend together with family visiting from Sweden!
Our Boy chose Oreo Cake as his birthday cake.
It has become our tradition that birthday boy/girl gets to choose the cake for their birthday. This is what he had last year when he turned 15 and this is what he had when he turned 14!

I have noted from various blogs that Oreo cake is one of the big hits on any Norwegian dessert table. Our Boy thinks Norwegian  home made cakes are the best in the world and wanted us to try it out together.

The various Norwegian recipes calls for using a mousse based on some ready made packets which we can't get here. Any mousse recipe I have normally contains raw eggs and I am not too keen on using that. So, a little more research (and some help from Nigella) resulted in our own version of Oreo cake using marshmallows to set the mousse. The cake requires no oven use, so perhaps a good alternative if you are on holidays and don't have access to a proper kitchen.

It was such a success that he made a second one to share with his friends in the evening at a joint birthday celebration!

Base layer
Smash up 300 grams of Oreo cookies and
mix with
150 gram melted butter
Pour it in to a lined baking tin and put it in the fridge.

Second layer
Whisk 225 gram cream cheese smooth with
2.5 dl powder sugar
Whip 1.5 dl cream and add it to the cream cheese mix.
Pour this over the chilled base layer and return the baking tin to the fridge.

 Top Mousse layer
Melt on very low heat 150 gram marshmallows with
1/2 dl boiling water and
150 grams chocolate and
50 grams butter
Stirr constantly till it is all melted.
Set aside till it has cooled.
In the meantime, whip 1.5 dl cream and add it to the cooled marshmallow/chocolate mixture

Pour this over the cake and leave it in the fridge to set for at least 2-3 hours.