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Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Friends came to visit and brought rain and cherries. The rain has greened up the hills and the cherries are still being enjoyed too.

We travelled the Dales, walked in the woods, watched "Pride and Prejudice" in the walled garden at Raby Castle with a picnic, collected pebbles on the beach and ate and drank and talked and laughed. More friends came for the weekend and so we did more of it all again.

And the cherries are still being eaten. I brought my cherry-pitter back from Oz with me. It was purchased in the delightful kitchenware shop in the shopping centre at Bacchus Marsh. It has clicked its way through a few pounds of cherries this week and there are still a few to go.

We've had them fresh for breakfast and nibbled on them all week so I decided to do poached cherries from Stephanie Alexander's orange cookery bible "The Cook's Companion". The finished batch shall be made into cherry clafoutis for dessert tonight. I have found an easy recipe for the batter and have located a suitable dish.There is still a large container of cherries in the freezer. They shall stay there a while, until the desire for cherries is great enough to spend an hour pitting them and living with purple fingers for a day or two
Cheers Gillian

p.s. the clafoutis would have made a good house-brick but it all got eaten. Obviously there is a knack to making it and I shall have to try again because it tasted divine. It was just very stodgy.

Monday, 26 July 2010


This is my one-hundred-and-fiftieth blog as "Walled Garden". I started it at Staindrop when I had the large house with the walled garden. I then moved to a tiny house, but it also had a walled garden and last year I moved to this house and there is still a walled garden.This house has a brick wall and some hedge as well but a wall still features.
Thankyou for following my blog this far and, I hope, for longer yet.This was a pressie to myself for getting a new kitchen. I had a Magimix in Oz and at last have room for one on the bench top again. I'm not a baker, but I do like this toy and all its features. The main output so far has been some very successfully grated potato which cooked into wonderful rosti. Because we have had so many guests over the last two weeks, there has been quite a demand for seats on the sofas. Tigger has a bed but it is usually placed on a sofa so that she can see around and watch TV. We bought her a new bed and persuaded her to sit beside the sofa instead of on it. It took great patience and many hours. I resisted the temptation to use kitty treats as bribery and so it only works if I'm in the room. As soon as I leave she is back on the sofa. I read somewhere that dogs and cats are better able to identify images on digital broadcasts. She certainly seems to be watching more TV these days. As you can see, she has a rooftop viewing area and a basket igloo for getting away from it all. A Lidl special.We sallied off to the "pick-your-own" today and returned with peas, broad beans, potatoes and goosegogs.
The berries were blanched in clementine juice and zest ( I didn't have any oranges) with a splash of vanilla essence, then they were lifted out of the juice which was reduced to a syrup with a slosh of cointreau in it. They await a crumble topping. The beans and peas were podded and blanched and bagged up for the freezer,
We did some last week and they were so lovely they have all been eaten so this time it was a big bag of each and a case of "podding thumb" when we had finished.
Cheers for now

Sunday, 18 July 2010


B is visiting from Oz. She has travelled north on the bus, from the Metropolis (well, Ealing to be exact) and is spending a few days with us. We did a bit of Teesdale...namely Eggleston Hall, home of the "Ladettes to Ladies" series and, indeed, once an old Finishing School in real life.
Then we did Durham City. Truly lovely as usual and B fell in love with it as visitors do.
So the next day was a trip down the Durham coastline from north to south. We stopped first for a coffee at the Marsden Grotto. The pub itself was always a visual disaster on the gorgeous beach below the cliffs, once a historic smugglers cove and now an eyesore. The coffee was as bad. Freshly made, on a lovely tray, with jugs of milk etc, it failed to taste anything like coffee should. Great service, great view , no taste!
It is the tail end of the nesting season. Parent gulls hang off the cliffs, taking it in turn to fly out to sea to fish and return to stuff the catch down the throat of their offspring, which are now nearly as big as them.
If you want to play on the beach you need to be a few metres away from the cliff to avoid falling guano and putrid smells. It's County Durham so you also need warm clothes. B had a paddle but the sea has the temperasture of freshly melted ice. It's a beautiful area but tourism is thwarted by the weather.

As you can see above, guano stalagmites hang down from the rock shelves which are home to the gulls for another week or two. The young will be able to fly soon and explore the North Sea.
On our way back we stopped at Latimers in Whitburn for cockles and mussels ( sing chorus now if you know it) for lunch and fillets of halibut and haddock for tea.
Great days.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


When I bought this house, just over a year ago, the kitchen looked quite attractive. I felt that it had a "country charm" and of course a lot of space. There was a large gas cooker and belfast sink. The bench top and cupboard doors were timber and the floor had the original Victorian floorboards. The original range is a beauty.

MAY 2009

It had an air of recycled, reclaimed wood about it. It looked good from a distance, and probably does in this picture, above. However, the curtains had enough grease in them to stand up on their own. The dresser top behind the cooker was also grease sodden. The taps kept falling off the sink. The belfast sink was so badly cracked that it was unhealthy. The glaze had been destroyed in many places. And there were "remnants" of things in and under all the cupboards and drawers.

MAY 2010

I worked on it and kept it going. Its size was its forte and it had the old Victorian range and original floorboards.

JUNE 2010
I re-worked the cupboards, hung clean curtains, got Hillary blinds, bought a new cooker, fixed a bit of plumbing and hung in there.
JULY 2010
Ten days ago, the old cupboards were pulled out, the plumbing was re-worked to accommodate a dish washer, the washing machine was removed to the out-house with the freezers, the electrician put in new wiring and the plasterer covered the Artex with smooth skimming. DJ repainted and this week the kitchen fitters moved in.
We had a Wickes kitchen. It is top quality, solid and well fitted. We got a "free" dish-washer and "half price" installation. But I think that's par for the course with present-day pricing techniques.

We are thrilled with it. There are some tiny touches to be added and two doors to be replaced this week. They said so, or they, and you, will hear about it.
So we sat down to celebrate with a steak from Broom Mill Farm Shop.

The dish-washer has just beeped to signal that its work is over!!!
The football is over too...Well done Spain.
Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 8 July 2010


When I first moved in, the kitchen was the best room, but now that the rest of the house has been done, the kitchen is in need of improvement. All the cupboards and drawers had to be emptied so that they could be ripped out. The contents found new homes in towers of boxes and spread over flat surfaces like the table and dressers and the freezer was banished to the shed. Tomorrow the plumber will come and make a new home for the washing machine in another out-house. In the midst of this I decided to make some jam.
Strawberry, raspberry and blackberry with star anise and vanilla.

It cooked up well...
...and made a few jars.
While the jam cooled, I sat outside with a coffee and read a magazine and Tigger stayed inside and clambered around the furniture till she tracked down her bag of biscuits.
And made her own lunch!
The football is nearly over.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

My New Wellies Make Me Wet Myself

I have always lusted after a pair of Hunter Wellies.
*I don't go to Glastonbury
*I learned to ride years ago and wasn't fond of it so I stopped
*I haven't got a farm
*I don't take dogs for walks across open land
*I stay in when the snow is deep and treacherous. there has never been any really good reason to spend £60 on a pair.
Until, on my most recent foray to TKM.
Aren't they just beautiful? And they were only £29.99. Now that is a really good reason for buying some at last.
This morning, after my bath and while I was getting dressed, I wandered into the closet to find some clothes and saw them on the floor. I thought, "Oh you gorgeous things! I shall just slip my feet into you and see how grand you are".
They were, and I happily paraded in front of the mirror, wearing them and nothing else, because I had forgotten to select some clothes.
Then I sat on the stairs to take them off!!!
They were resistant to my tugs. I couldn't get them to slip back off my feet. I had a sudden dawning of how ridiculous I would look to any rescuer. D would definitely have laughed too much to help and he was occupied with other ablutions anyway.
I struggled and contorted myself, giggling uncontrollably, trying to wrest the boots from my damp feet. A sense of helplessness combined with a sudden need to go to the toilet.
Yes dear reader! I nearly wet myself!
That warm sensation of a trickle escaping, heightened my efforts and the boots now stand alone and high and dry.
I am writing this fully clothed and in my slippers.
The football is nearly over,
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Bold As Brass

The sun shone again today so we drove to Howlands "park-and-drive" and bussed into Durham for the Brass Festival. It was terrific. I didn't take the camera so there are no pics but the link will show you lots.
We saw brass, jazz bands from Japan, France, Switzerland, Spain and Africa as well as many from England. They spent the day entertaining the holiday crowds, all over the city.
If you are free tomorrow, get in there for a great time. If the weather holds we shall try out the traditional brass bands giving a concert at the DLI park.
The sad dog at the coal depot, across the road, is barking a lot. It worries me that he is left alone to guard the coal for long periods. He barks and wags his tail at the same time, everytime someone walks past. That makes me concerned that he has a personality disorder from the continued isolation. I also think that Tigger has been over there to tease him because she seems to have discovered a new source of rodents to hunt at night, and when she is out he barks more loudly.
The football is nearly finished.
Cheers for now Gillian