Saturday, 12 March 2011


I have been reading a wonderful book by Patrick Barkham, The Butterfly Isles.  He tries to find every British butterfly (59) in one year.  It is a lovely book and really readable, not at all 'heavy'.  It made me want to start hunting butterflies even though it is only March and this is just about when they start to appear.  Given that the beginning of the week was quite cold and frosty, I don't think I had much chance of just seeing one if I was not actively hunting one!  However, it did make me get off the bus one stop early.  That way I can walk past my lovely patch of wild violets, they are so beautiful.  I did feel a bit silly taking a picture of them, and made sure there were no people close by before snapping, but I was really pleased how the picture came out, with them all frosty.

As usual this got me thinking about my childhood.  My sister and I were born in London, but we were really lucky in that when we were about 1 and 2 our parents decided to move us to the countryside to a small market town in Wiltshire.  We had a wonderful early childhood, with lots of nature, always in the garden and fields, a long walk through a different part of the countryside on Easter Monday (we had no car, so everything was done by leg or bus).  We would catch minnows and sticklebacks in the brook, dam it up and make stepping stones. Sometimes we would go to the Westonbirt Arboretum, one of my most favourite places.  We would go on the bus and get off and then all of us hop over the big wall into the beautiful glades of trees and rhododendrons.  Both sets of grannys lived by the seaside at Weston-Super-Mare so every holiday would be spent there.  We used to walk to the top of Uphill where there were lots of grasshoppers and spend a long time catching them.  Dad also gave me a long time scare of spiders by catching them in matchboxes before releasing them, but the horrid thing was that he would hold them by our ear and we would hear them scrawling inside!!!  Here where I live now, in the Isle of Purbeck is a very active branch of the RSPB, which looks after all wildlife, not just birds.  There is a lovely man who is absolutely passionate about spiders, so one day I will go on a Spider walk with him and learn to love them a little bit more.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Books I have been reading

I have found some lovely books just lately.  I have really enjoyed 'Cloth Girl' and 'The assocation of foreign spouses' by Marilyn Heward Mills.  Set in Ghana, one just before the war and the other in the eighties.  They really transport you to a different way of life in a different country, very interesting.

I have also just finished 'My name is Mary Sutter' by Robin Oliveira.  This is wonderful, it is about a midwife who wants to become a surgeon. But the time is the American Civil War, eventually she does get her wish.  It is rather gruesome in places, ("mum, mum you're not listening to me"  "well, someone is just getting their leg chopped off") and defintely DO NOT read if you are having a baby in the near future, but otherwise hugely recommended.

Also the Jade Del Cameron mysteries by Suzanne Arruda.  This is 'Out of Africa' with a mystery , I have just read the first one of these and am now ready to start no.2.

And light reading, Christina Jones - 'Moonshine' and 'The way to a womans heart' (more cake!) and Carole Matthews 'The only way is up'.

My Treat

I treated myself this week and my lovely parcel arrived yesterday - a beautiful pink mixing bowl.  We just had to make a cake to celebrate its arrival, despite trying to do sensible eating.  We opted for a big cake with smarties, just like my granny used to make for special occasions.

It got me to wondering about several things..... I have been wallowing in lots of other peoples lovely blogs and we all seem to like remembering things from our childhoods, the lovely books with their wonderful illustrations, old dolls, teddies and push alongs, in fact anything old.  Why do we like these things so much, is it because then we were just playing at being a Mum or a Wife and there weren't any of the complicated bits??

And also food is associated with all our special childhood times.  My granny used to make this cake when we visited or for sunday school parties.  My mum always felt a bit in awe of granny and felt her cooking wasn't up to scratch, so we used to have Wise Owl cakes from the shop for special occasions. These were covered in lots of icing and had a logo of a little owl on the box.  Then there were sunday school parties with lovely jellies in special dishes and hundreds of cake to choose from. Brownie bring and buys with fudge that hadn't set properly  for sale, very sticky but lovely tasting. 

In honour of the new bowl arriving we borrowed a book from the library on chocolate cakes, lots of easy recipes with simple ingredients, so now we have to try some of these!