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Monday, 27 December 2010

Seaton Carew Boxing Day Dip

HUNDREDS of people in fancy dress and not, raced from the Seaton Carew Club, down to the beach front and then.......another quarter of a mile to low tide level......into the sea for a well sponsored dip. There was snow on the high sands and dunes but the sea cannot be below freezing point and still splash you, so hundreds of us stood in the ankle deep water which was sloshing around at low tide, in order to cheer on the wave after wave of hardy partcipants. Amazing fancy dress ( pyjamas, kilts, 118 wigs and moustaches, army gear, sports teams, leopard print and bikinis of all shapes and forms and in pink) was worn by youths, men and women.
It's a hard trudge back up the beach. Some just drag themselves all the way in their freezing gear.

Others went in with less and came out the same way
They still shivered and so did we.

Cheers Gillian and DJ

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Once again I admit to using "ready prepared" icing. It has to be kneaded into a pliable mass. Then you roll it out to fit your cake. My cake is quite small so there was a lot of icing left over. And so I made it into sweeties, dipped in chocolate and studded with cake decorations in the shape of penguins. There were a few short of a penguin so I iced them with a tasty morsel of red icing from the tube.
Fortunately, by the time I had finished these processes the cold water in the kitchen was back on tap.
It had frozen in the night... -12 dgrees Celsius last night and the kitchen water pipes are not lagged.
The rest of the shopping is done. Hoping about 20 will come on xmas eve from up and down the street.
Happy Christmas to you all out there.
Cheers Gillian
ps Heide the roast potatoes need white fat like dripping or lard to be really good.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


DJ has been eager to improve the standard of the roast potatoes we dish up, so yesterday he began the quest for a method for producing the best roast potatoes in the world. The previous title holder for "Best Roast Potatoes" has been his sister, but her long reign may well be over.
The above picture shows potatoes that were of that standard. They were boiled till nearly cooked then drained, shaken and cooled before gently and carefully rolling in smoking hot goose fat and roasting for up to 45 minutes with occasional careful turns; they were perfection.
At the same time I made parsnips dauphinoise. They were very thinly sliced lengthwise in my new kitchen food processor (expensive and unnecessary kitchen toy but such fun), Cream, milk, nutmeg, bayleaves, honey and S&P were boiled and then the parsnips were added for a minute or two before transferring the lot to an oven dish. They were baked for 45 minutes too. They melted in the mouth but didn't photograph so well. Brussel sprouts with chestnuts were also produced but it was agreed that chestnuts spoil a good brussels sprout. We are both very fond of brussels and will have them steamed with a smear of butter on christmas day instead of tarting them up with posh bits.

Today I played with marzipan. I did the christmas cake and because I used ready made stuff there was some left over. I made some marzipan sweets by icing them and dipped some in chocolate to make small logs. Very small.

A sortie round Laura Ashley last weekend made me want a throw for the end of the bed made in super-chunky, big wool. I shall knit one, I thought. It will save me buckets of money and be finished by christmas. Well maybe not. To get it chunky enough I had to double up the wool so it will not save me buckets and I will have to wait for another lot of wool to arrive to knit it long enough. At least it doesn't have to come by air. I hear they are keeping camera crews out of Heathrow Airport because the scenes inside are not "happy christmas" ones.

It is quite quick to knit up at two stitches to the inch but the needles are a bit unwieldy and the throw is getting heavy. I have a circular needle the same size but I found it tedious to drag the stitches around it all the time, they slide well on the wooden ones though.
Cheers for now


We are very lucky to live near this wonderful place. It is The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle in County Durham. Today was the Christmas Market and while the rest of England has ground to a halt under a deep heap of snow, we seem to be in a sunny corridor of the country. It is freezing though. Our washing machine is in the outbuildings, which are next on the renovation agenda, and it is unusable because the pipes are frozen. The museum has rarely looked so splendid. There were craft stalls around the parterre and food stalls along the terrace.
We treated ourselves to real bacon, homemade bread, hand crafted cheeses, Tweed Valley honey and Cumbrian mustard. We had lunch as soon as we got home!

Apart from the stalls we wandered round the grounds and museum. A six month ticket costs only £9 if you are old enough. There was a Damien Hirst print exhibition inside and an overwhelming collection of glorious objects on display in the salons.

Santa seems to have a new way of getting his reindeer from one place to another and has found them some work for the rest of the year. I was surprised at how small they are and how very pretty and gentle they seem.

And Yes!!! They were eating snow!!!
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


The bad weather has encouraged us to be grateful for our ability to get around. We are agile enough to put on boots and walk to the farm shop for meat. The last time we did, however, a blizzard made us detour inside the cafe for a lovely homemade bowl of soup. The trudge home was very wearying.
So we have had winter tyres put on the drive axle of the Meriva, and will park it round the corner from the front of the house but facing the main road. That way there will only be a meter or two of ungritted road between us and the cleared main road. More bad weather is predicted by next weekend.
We have a HiQ garage across the road and they are very good to us. They will change the tyres and store the others till it is time to change them back.
Thankfully we have not needed to rely on Hindles! They are somewhere near the Tees estuary and I'm sure they do a great job whatever it is. We went down that way for some sea breezes and gathered another big bag of sea-coal and watched the shipping enter port. Then we went to the main seafront and plodged along the tide line. These sandstone rocks have been worn into smooth folds of chocolate blancmange by the waves and the seaweed grows on top like a green velvet table cloth.

I've enrolled for some classes in art photography for next term. I have done all the painting classes and shan't give up the day job. I like pointing a camera and would love to know a bit more about how it all works and how to do better pics.
We had a lovely couple of days away seeing friends and rels, eating, drinking and driving. All went without a hitch. Christmas will be at home and we plan to shop till we drop this week and then retire while the bad weather hits.
We are having great fun with Kinect and have supplies of fuel, food, drink, jigsaws etc to see out a siege.
Hope you are all going to be having much of the same.
Cheers and Happy Christmas to you all, Gillian