Happy Easter

A Happy and Blessed Easter to all my followers!

Christ is Risen AlleluiaThe photograph is one I took while staying in Taizé many, many years ago. Then later I added the text to turn it into an Easter card.

I always feel that Festive Food adds to an occasion, so for Easter I made some ‘Simnel muffins’. 

Not perfect, I forgot to add spice! and I realised since I have cutters that have a smooth and a crinkly side that I should have cut the circles for the top crinkly, so at least I added a bit of crinkle with a smaller cutter. However otherwise I think they were a success and will probably make some more next year.

I found a recipe for something similar I made a couple of years ago from a Waitrose recipe that I had totally forgotten about. The ones this year are based on my normal idea of a Simnel cake recipe. The Waitrose recipe removed the cases, so the tops could be placed under the grill, but that makes them look a bit naked!

See my photo. previous cakesWhich do you think look better?


Happy Easter

This year I made never-ending cards to send to the couple of people I send a card to, so I thought I would share one with you.

Outside Second side Third side Last sideAnd to finish I will share with you the cake I made this Easter.

Not a simnel cake this year. My son saw a cake on a food programme on TV and really wanted to have one (and it also includes marzipan!) so I made one for him.Battenberg cakeAnd a closer look! Battenberg cake closerA plain and chocolate Battenberg with nine sections instead of the normal four!

Another tea-time treat

Piece of cakeWhen I was a child chain-letters were very popular but having had the process explained to me I never had anything to do with them except for once when my mother was the recipient of a recipe chain-letter. We decided that you couldn’t go far wrong with that and took a chance. In the event I think that we only gained two recipes out of it but they were both very good recipes that I and my mother used for years.

This is one of them.

It was titled “Bara Brith”. Now ‘bara brith’ is Welsh for ‘speckled bread’ and although you might think that that means yeast my researches have revealed that there are many many recipes and although some use yeast and some, especially from North Wales, involve soaking the dried fruit in tea, there is in fact almost as many recipes as people.

However that maybe it is a very easy tasty cake that keeps well.

The recipe said to make it in a 10″ x 6″ tin (25 x 15 cm for those who think in metric). I think that my tin is slightly larger but any tin with about this surface area will do.

I start by lining the tin with greased greaseproof paper.

Lined tin

The recipe as most of my recipes is in imperial measurements but I have given a usable metric equivalent.

I then take

8oz (225g) self-raising flour and

4oz (110g) of margarine or butter and rub the fat into the flour in the normal way.

To this I add

4oz (110g) of caster sugar and

6oz (170g) mixed dried fruit.

Mix well.

Dry ingredients mixed

You then add in the other ingredients. This time I mixed them together first but it isn’t necessary to do it this way.

Wet ingredients mixed

This is

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of milk

1 desertspoon of golden syrup

1 desertspoon of marmalade

I think it is the marmalade that creates the especially yummy flavour.

Mix together well and spread in tin.

Cake mixture in tin

The original recipe said 1 hour at 325 deg F.

I use a fan oven and I find that at 140-150 deg C it only takes about 40 -50 minutes.

When cooked it should look like this and spring back when you touch it.

Cooked cake in tin

Remove from the tin after a couple of minutes and leave to cool on a rack.

Cake cooling on rack

Cut in pieces as you wish.

I cut mine in rectangles but you could cut it in squares if you prefer.

Piece of cake

Christmas cooking

Yesterday and the day before (they took a long time to rise!) I made some Stollen using the same recipe I shared with you last year. – HERE


I was pleased because I had managed to shape them much better than last year so that they didn’t split in the middle – see below. (The two I didn’t show you last year were worse.  😦   )

Baked stollen

I also made a different sort of Christmas cake. Normally I make the usual marzipaned and iced fruit cake but this year I decided to try a recipe I have been thinking of making for years and years. At least as long ago as when there were ‘Safeway’ supermarkets in this country.


I cooked it yesterday afternoon and this morning I added the final decoration.


Then, as I had had to cut off a slice at the top to level it, I sat down with half the offcut and a large mug of coffee to write this post.


which is what I am doing now.

Final Chapter! or is it?

This Saturday we went back to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to finally see the Mary Rose and do one or two things we had missed before.

(For earlier chapters see: Here,  Here, Here and Here.)

The story could be subtitled “How to make your birthday last almost all year!”

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After getting a slot for the Mary Rose we went to visit ‘Action Stations’

Some people played games


While others discovered all sorts of information: like how an aerofoil works


We could have stayed much longer but soon we had to go and queue to see the Mary Rose.

On the way we saw how they are getting on with reatoration work on HMS Victory.


You can find out more about the Mary Rose – Here

We started with a view of the Main Decks


The lighting was extremely low and I had to set my camera up to it’s highest ISO setting.

There were many of the recovered artefacts displayed. I found the decoration of the cannons especially interesting as you will see.


Can you see the two animal heads towards the far end?

Here are two figures maybe mermaids.


There were also displays of what had been found of different members of the crew like the Master Carpenter, Master Gunner


and Ships Surgeon.


One of the most pignant displays I thought was this one of the skeletonof the ships dog.


They only found three rats – so maybe he was very good at his job!

Can you also see the game board for a game that was a forerunner of Backgammon?

We saw the gun that helped the divers to realise that the wreck was indeed the Mary Rose that they had been searching for.


We then went down to the Lower Decks


And later by a viewing lift to the Upper Decks.


Here is a close up. The wood having been sprayed with water and wax for years is now being dried out.


I didn’t photograph everything that we saw on both the lower and upper decks, and it would get boring if I showed you everything, but here are a few things that caught my interest.

Some pins. The central one shows two dragons!


A cannon showing that it was made for Henry V111 with a tudor rose.


A gold coin showing that this belonged to a welathy crew member.


Chain mail, explaining how it is not made like a chain and so should habe a different name.


and a close up


Another cannon.


A close up of the lion’s heads


and the Tudor Rose.


The ship’s anchor


Musical instruments


And some spoons.


When we had come out and looked round the gift shop it was almost 2.30pm and we were very hungry.

So – at last – we went to the Georgian Tea Rooms!


Had something to eat.



And then what we had really come for –


Tea (or coffee) and cake!

Here you can see a very happy ‘birthday girl’ (as of 2012).


Well only over eleven months to get some.

After this, mother and daughter went boating.


A cheery wave when going through the tunnel.


It was getting late by now but we did get on the last Harbour Tour of the day.

While we waited for the tour, I took this photograph of HMS Warrior with the Spinaker Tower in the background – Old & New


On the tour we saw warships old and new.

This one is this strange shape because it makes it appear smaller on the enemy radar.


I loved the look of this tower.


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And so a year long birthday treat is over. Or is it?

Catherine has said that if she can fit in another trip before the tickets run out in a couple of weeks she will!

The finished Flower Cloth

At last I have finished my Flower Cloth.

This will enlarge if you click on it.

Had a lot of trouble with the photographs as the light has been so low. It’s brightening up now but I think these will do.

Luckily my camera will take pictures at a twentieth of a second that are usable.

Here is the cloth as it will be in use

I use my second bedroom as a study (you can see my computer in the mirror) and I have a pine topped table in there that was my grandmother in-law’s kitchen table long ago. When I have guests to stay it becomes the guest bedroom and I use the table as a dressing table. I decided that a pretty crochet cloth would just add a touch of elegance.

Here is a close up of the edging.

I did several rows of granny groups of trebles like the main squares but using up the different colours as well as the two greens and finished off with some granny ‘corners’ but I used 3tr, 3ch, 3tr rather than only 2ch because that made them pointier.

A few statisics:-

I bought nineteen 50gm balls of Rico Essentials Cotton which ended up costing about £40.

One each of: Tangerine, White,  Cobalt Blue, Fuschia, Purple, Cardinal and Banana.

Two balls of Fir Green and ten of Grass Green.

And this is what I have left.

The finished cloth is just a little under 40ins (1m) square).

I can’t say how long it took to make as I started it in June and had thought it would be finished by the end of August but then I started making socks and lots of other things and it got a bit neglected for a while.

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I thought that I would also share with you some pictures of the cakes I made on Saturday. The light was even worse then!

I was going to the cinema with my son to see Skyfall and as he often walks me home afterwards and comes in for a cup of coffee I decided I ought to have something to offer him.

They are just normal two egg creaming method mixture and standard butter icing.

I got thirteen out of the mixture. So now I have cakes to have with my tea as well!

A Birthday Outing

Another post so soon! Yes but I thought I would share our Sunday outing with you.

Sunday was my daughter’s birthday and I was picked up after church and we all went down to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. We being myself, my daughter, her husband, their daughter and a friend who is at present lodging with them.

We started at the Mary Rose museum where we took a picture of the lodger: James in the stocks!

And here is the birthday girl with a well known king.

And here is a little (or maybe medium sized) princess.

We weren’t able to see the Mary Rose itself but later we did get to see the place that they’ve built to house it.  I saw a very interesting programme on television about it a little while ago.

We decided to head over to Gun Wharf Quays for lunch, passing HMS Warrior on the way.

When we got there, I photographed the Spinnaker tower though I have been here before.

We found a restaurant my daughter likes called Wagamama, the cuisine looks to Japan apparently.

My daughter and I had something whose name I can’t remember but it looked like this:

and it was really delicious. (James was amused by the way I twirled the noodles round my chopsticks. 🙂 )

And there were a couple of side dishes to share as well

After lunch we all headed back to the Historic dockyard.

and this time we went to see the

I have been before a long time ago so the ship did look strange with topmasts and rigging missing.

We had to bend low to go inside.

I won’t bore you with all the pictures I took inside but this looked rather splendid.

And a little girl asked me to photograph her next to one of the ship’s guns.

The tables are hanging from the ceiling – amazing.

Then it was time to go home. As we walked back the Warrior was still there.

One day had not been long enough to see everything but the tickets will still be valid in a fortnight so we are coming back on Saturday week to see HMS Warrior and the Submarine museum.


On their way back to Aylesbury everyone came back to my house and had cake. They really enjoyed the Battenburg of my last post and of course I gave my daughter the rest to take home. But I do still have some of the off-cuts (well I had to taste it when it came out of the oven to check it was alright!) and the marzipan, which I can have with a cup of tea later today.

So what was I doing this afternoon?

Well it’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow and although she doesn’t know it she is coming down with her family to see the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and I have been invited to go with them and then they are coming back here for tea. Her husband has made her a Battenburg for tea just like he did for my birthday but before I knew that, when I offered to make a cake, he said maybe we should both make cakes.

Now I love Battenburg because I love almonds and especially marzipan but I never made them myself when my children were small because I didn’t have a suitable tin but a few years ago I decided to lash out and buy a special tin.

And I have made a couple since.

I might have made more but I couldn’t find cohineal for sale and I have tried ‘pink’ and ‘red’ food colouring but all they produce is a sort of orangey brown cake which just isn’t the same.

When I was speaking to my son-in-law on Thursday he told me that I needed Silver Spoon ‘pink’ colouring and you could only buy it one place but he couldn’t remember where. Luckily a quick hunt on the internet revealed it was available at Sainsbury’s which is somewhere I shop so I got some.

And made a cake.

Here it is all ready to go in the tin.

I made the marzipan myself. First time I have used the whisk the egg and sugar over hot water for twelve minutes method, so I was a little apprehensive, but it worked out fine and I added a little extra ground almonds till it was firm enough.

And a have a little left which of course I will have to eat up.

Yum! 🙂

And of course a Battenburg doesn’t look right with the cooked ends showing so I had to cut them off and eat them up with a cup of tea. Just to check it tasted alright of course.

Well, I was really busy last week

I haven’t had any time for blogging this week because I have had my granddaughter staying with me.

We have been very busy and apart from everyday things we have:-

Continued with knitting practice.

I am teaching her to knit but it isn’t as easy as it might be because she lives a long way away and so we only have time together every few months. But she is very keen and beginning to grow in confidence.

We also made some origami figures:-

We each made half of the Ninja Star but my granddaughter decided I had to do the final folding.  In the end we made two of different sizes but both times I found working out how to fold in the two pieces to get the final result totally baffling, till I somehow managed to get it right!

We baked some of the sultana oat cookies I posted about:-

We made double quantities of mixture, rolled them and made the balls quite small and placed them well apart on baking trays.

Then we pressed them with a fork

cooked them

and left them to cool on a rack.

All together we ended up with forty five cookies – scrumptious :-).

Then we made a cake for Sunday tea.

Earlier in the week we had also made some rabbit and ‘bush’ shaped jellies out of fruit juice and gelatine using these moulds.

– Much better than the packet sort of jelly!

We went shopping and played in the play park by the new Sainsbury’s.

We visited the cousins – twice!

And played computer games.

But then we had to say goodbye till next time.