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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Lovely Little Lambs

We went over to The RSPB site ...Saltholme...near Teesside.

The birds are not bothered by the industry, It makes no noise and only has small smells.
In the distance are some large gas and fuel containers and in the greater distance is the cute shape of Roseberry Topping..
I love the Transporter Bridge too but..........
Someone, somewhere inside the Saltholme "Lambing Shed" had helped this lovely Shetland Black Sheep mum give birth to two white babies. The second baby shown here is only about ten minutes old and hasn't yet found how to suckle.
If you live nearby it is a grand place to go to.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 2 April 2014


I cleared out the house freezer and made all the little left-over loaf ends into a bread pudding.
It helps me to feel less wasteful and it does instead of fruit cake with the morning coffee for a few days. I do this one with lots of fruit and a tablespoon of marmalade for a nice tang. I did forget to put it away last night and even though it was well wrapped in foil, Billy has had a taste too!
Then I put some stuff in the breadmaker to make dough, so that I could get it out and form it into a different shape for a change.
It ended up like a bloomer and I scattered it liberally with wheatgerm to give it a nice topping.
After it had been in the oven for a few minutes I smelled burning and discovered that wheatgerm is not a good topping burns easily.
Never mind. The loaf came out beautifully risen and with a lovely texture. It was a half and half wholemeal and white. Next time the wheatgerm will go inside the bread. I was determined to use it because it had taken me four supermarkets to track some down and at last I had found it in Morrisons.
We had some for tea with a bowl of pasta.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


 There are many good reasons to live in the north-east of England  but the weather is not one of them.
While the south sunbathed in the warmest days of the year we woke to thick fog and have done so now for a few days. Temperatures are generally cooler but markedly so this last week. That was a shame because my sister was visiting and so we had to resort to going to the pictures, visiting Aunt J and staying home to play with Billy and the new "Bananagrams" game.
Billy tolerates being played with quite well.

But he likes to collect a fee for his part in our entertainment.

And I'm still keen on the bread machine. We roll out a loaf every few days and are pleased enough with it to give a couple of loaves away.
Today I might get round to making dough in the machine and baking it in the oven. A new shape would make a pleasant change.
The campervan is out of hibernation so we shall spend some time getting it ready for the days when the sun shines hereabouts. If that doesn't happen soon we shall just get in it and head south for a spell.

Cheers Gillian

Monday, 17 March 2014


We went to Versaille.

The weather was too wonderful to wander round inside so we sauntered into town for a pavement lunch with everyone else.
And then set off to view the produce at the market, starting with the vegetables. It is asparagus season. I must admit these look like some of the best I have seen and the bunches were a fine size. Good enough for a meal.
The salad veggies were so fresh.
There were filleted fish...
...whole fish...
...and fishmongers...
There were quite a few stalls selling prepared foods. Versaille is a high socio-economic area and this is reflected in the type and price of the foods available.
Ready made delicacies and pastries and cakes abounded...
Here are glace fruits and petit-fours.
Splendid tortes and gateaux.
Snails and hors d'oeuvres.
And various marinated bits of squid and octopus.
But the major indicator of the wealth of this Parisian "suburb" was the take-away homemade soup.

I have magnified the pic to reflect its value. If I had to live in Paris I think I could make a fair living out of selling soup.
Back in the centre of Paris the previous evening (a mild Friday night) we had witnessed a long queue for the free soup kitchen held outside a church, right next to some smart restaurants along one of the boulevards. We ate splendidly inside one of them! It was also common to see bodies wrapped up and asleep on the pavement, in sunny spots and sheltered corners and even in the middle of the busy paths. A city of contrasts. Many of the poor seemed to be recent arrivals. Such cities still provide a massive magnet for the hopeful.
Cheers for now,

Sunday, 16 March 2014


We were in Paris last weekend and the weather was gorgeous. The sun shone on the Eiffel Tower by day...
... and the stars shone by night...
It also helps that it is lit up by electric lights and they twinkle for a few minutes every hour on the hour. This is a video of it...
If someone can let me know how to rotate it to upright, I'd love to know because I can do it with pics but not videos and I often take shots with my camera pointed portrait.

The next day Sacre Coeur also looked wonderful against the blue sky...
... but it was obvious that not all was well with the Paris air. The view across Paris looked like this...
There has been a news item today about the increasing air pollution. Parisians were given three days of free public transport last week to encourage them to leave their cars at home and this week they are being made to leave them behind every other day!
As we sauntered along the Left Bank on Sunday the traffic was suddenly stopped for a ROLLER BLADE ride...
We could see them coming across the bridge and then past us for a good many minutes.
Probably thousands of them!!!
It didn't please the motor traffic who were all held up at police road blocks for the duration but we loved the spectacle.
More spectacles later.
Cheer Gillian

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Old Peculier at Masham

A couple of weeks ago there was an item on the news about Masham (pronounced Massam). It is a short drive to the west of the A1 in North Yorkshire, but since the road upgrade it has lost its official signpost. The good folk of Masham have overcome that by putting up one of their own. Officialdom keeps ordering them to take it down.
So we decided to journey over and see what it's like there. I have been over to Artison nearby, for art courses but have not spent time looking round the town.
It's very pretty, lovely old buildings and market square and some interesting shops and as we wandered around the back streets we came upon one of their two breweries.
Theakstons was open for a tour!

There were only four of us and Emma may be more used to groups of forty but she did us a grand tour...
Showing us everything from the hops and malt...
To the vats and brewing vessels, many very old but still working well...
Right through to the brews themselves, quietly frothing away...
All the brews are ordered and each brew is the job of one small team from filling the first tub to cleaning the last vat to to labelling the firkins.
Different colours are different sizes and contents. The old oak barrels are stored in the yard too and used to make special orders.
After a good wander through all the stages, the final reward is a tasting of a range of the beers...
DJ sups a measure of "Old Peculier", one of his favourites.
There is another brewery on the other side of town called The Black Sheep Brewery, so guess where we are going next time!
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Sir Nigel Gresley arrives...and more on the Breadmaker

Sir Nigel Gresley was responsible for designing the A4s which are at Shildon's Locomotion Museum this week so it is fitting that one of the last six is named after him.
It must have chuffed its way up from the North York Moors Railway and is getting a good cleaning in preparation for the opening of the Great Gathering today.
The Dominion of Canada was getting a buffering and its big brass bell has been remounted on top.
The others are patiently waiting their turn.
The bread maker has turned into a great success. We have not bought bread since and have eaten every crumb we have made. It was set on timer last night and the smell of baking bread is rising through the house this morning. Making the bread ahead of need is one of the matters to consider. I fancied the rustic french recipe and it takes six hours! If you lived on the south coast a ferry ride to Calais could be more economic and timely. Hence the use of the timer. Getting the crust right has been the other main consideration. A quick blast in a hot oven ensures that the crust remains "crusty". There is a liability for it to soften as the loaf cools.
This means that it is best removed from the breadmaker as soon as the machine beeps.
But it tastes great, keeps well and toasts beautifully and I know just what is in it.
There is only one bread pan so all loaves come out the same size except that they vary in height.
So this is the rustic french "Pain de Campagne" even though it doesn't look it and it shouldn't be cut open yet to taste so it will be ready for lunch. If you want fancy shapes you have to remove the dough and cook it in the oven. I browned the crust to help it keep better.
The house smells woncerful. I shall make coffee next!
Billy is being taught to walk. Not working well yet but we shall persist.
The lead can be fixed to a washing line and then he can play in the yard in the summer when we are out there too. We have time.
He does seem particularly attracted to the gap under the gates so they will be blocked off soon, probably when the weather gets better. I presume it will. Water has come into our house again during the recent rains but we are able to get it fixed and will start soon. So much worse for so many poor folks. I weep for them.

Cheers Gillian