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Saturday, 27 October 2012


We have visitors from down south and impressed them mightily by laying on some snow overnight!
Brusselton Hill looks very pretty from the top window and even the coal yard across from the front of the house benefits from a coating of snow.
We are off now to see how far spread the snow is and find some truly scenic views.
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Beautiful Bowes Museum

In some ways my blogs are very like London buses. You wait for ages and then three come at once and then at least one of them isn't heading in your direction. I don't get many comments, but sometimes it's five and sometimes it's none. I realised recently that my commenting pattern on other people's blogs was very similar. Some posts strike a note and need a response and others are just lovely to scroll through. Also you might be glad to know that, there are no trains on this blog at all.
Please believe me, all of you who stop by, that I appreciate it even though I don't know. There is a way of finding out how many people have been looking at my blog but then...quite a few of them could be me looking to see how many people have been looking at my blog.
Today was absolutely gorgeous weather. It's not often that we "oop north" have better weather than down south, so we went to the Autumn Fair at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle.
You can read bits about the Bowes Museum from the link but a quick mention from me about the place is that it is a museum and built for the purpose by the very rich couple who spent a lot of their lives travelling around Europe and visiting exhibitions and buying, collecting and gathering gorgeous stuff. They were an amazing couple and left this to the nation. (If you go round the back you can tell from the big blank walls that it was never meant to be a dwelling). They already had grandiose homes down the road and in London and Paris. It is high on my list of venues for visitors. I have even had visitors ask to go back. That also gives us a chance to visit the Antique shops in Barney and the lovely artisan shops.
We enjoyed a cooking demo at the Autumn Fair.
Pigeon breast salad to the top right and rabbit loin rolled in prosciutto crudo with fancy veg, to the bottom left. I had never tasted pigeon before so went eagerly for a taste. I judged it as a combination between calves liver and some fine steak. I enjoyed it but I don't think I would cook it. DJ chose not to taste it. The rabbit , was not a new ingredient to me. I cooked it often in Oz. I, too would have cooked only the loin or the front legs. The rest is tough and was minced up for the cat. There isn't much that I haven't tasted in my life. Snails top the list of things I haven't tasted. The challenge is with you... I give you things I have eaten...crocodile, snake, frogs' legs, shark, emu, buffalo, etc. I have eaten them all.
We returned home with some delicious titbits. From the top right and clockwise. Compte cheese from France and really grand tasting. Two bottles of Black Paw Brewery "Bishop's Best", from a brewery in Bishop Auckland, two samples of ewe's cheese from Tuscany but imported and sold locally by a family in Masham, North Yorkshire. One of the cheeses is truffle flavoured and the other  is walnut flavoured and covered with a walnut leaf.
We have tasted all of these for a small luncheon on returning home. Then... I went out.
I have to prepare 30 blancmanges for next month's W.I. meeting. So I went round to Tesco to peruse their ingredients. And I was just in time for the FISH counter sell-off. I got four scallops, a crab, some haddock and some smoked salmon.
I had a battle with the crab. It was full of dark red meat...roe, probably. I've never done a crab before but have watched it done often by my uncles. It seems to have been a "man's job" because seafood was often the job on the side. Coal miners went out fishing when they were on a shift that allowed them to. I had the scallops for tea. The small amount of crab will make a sandwich for tomorrow.Does anyone know why my crab was full of dark red stuff inside its top shell?
Tinker has been so happy in this late seasonal sunshine. She is very fond of small fluffy things and regularly removes the screen wiper, from the TV in the front room and brings it into the snug. She delivers it to DJ and presses on his slipper to let him know. He throws it to the other end of the room and she returns with it to start all over again.
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 20 October 2012


One more A4 locomotive arrived at Shildon this week. The Union of South Africa came up from York under its own steam. We waited on the bridge and the cry went up when the steam appeared.
Not long afterwards it came into view and paused at the signals to let the diesel commuter to Darlington, pass by.
Then it steamed by and into the museum yard. It will be there with the others for a while.
The day before we had been to the auction at Addisons and treated ourselves to a silver butter dish and a waiter table. Here he is all cleaned up and given a better complexion. The table top needed stabilising too.
Tinkie has to check out all new objects. But it didn't amuse her much. She had had a bad week. I had given her a new feather wand to play with and it was obvious the next morning that she had chewed off half a dozen feathers and swallowed a couple of them. She coughed one up but was very poorly so we had a trip to the vet. It is amazing how a vet can get his fingers into her mouth and halfway down her throat without her biting them off. He found no more feathers and suggested a day of rest to see if it was a scratched throat or worse. The finger-risking act was well worth the £28 and she did indeed improve with rest and was able to eat and drink a bit by the evening.
She has started to venture out into the yard again, specially when the sun is shining and I am in the yard too. So I snapped the last of the colour while I was there.
The last Emma Hamilton rose.
The bright "fall" colours of the Rhus.
And the dark red of the Virginia Creeper. I wish I had planted one over on the other corner too. I'll start one off next spring. And the crab apples are turning golden. I shall leave them this year. They add colour to that corner well into the winter.
The fine weather encouraged DJ to paint the bollards outside the house. They look so much better when they are freshly done and they are a very handy way of directing people to us. He says he will finish them tomorrow while I visit the Autumn Fair at The Bowes Museum.
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Beware the Cost of Cakes

The local news is called "The Bishop Press". I look forward to it because it is really local.

Someone pops it in our letter-box every weekend. Dear Evie was 104 this week and still enjoying life and that is good news. Not such good news is... how much it costs to make a cake!

I bet she wishes she had baked a cake at home.

For those of you who saw the arrival of the Dominion of  Canada on my post last week, here is another related picture. It is the bell. I think the Dominion of Canada was the only A4 locomotive to have a bell, and such a beauty too.
We popped over today to see how things were going and there was a big show of model railways. So many wonderful little railway scenes. So many blokes playing with enormously complicated train sets. All designed to be a real station or siding somewhere.
This is Bishop Auckland Station forty years ago, modelled and run by D.F.Newby.

Cheers Gillian

Friday, 12 October 2012


Tinker has been reluctant to play outside without us present. Her indoor cat's corner was invaded by a tom cat from up the road who ate her food and tried drowning her toys in her water fountain. He frequents her outdoor area too and uses our courtyard as a short cut! He even came in one afternoon recently but made a rapid exit when he realised I was there.
So the cat flap has been closed when she has been left alone. It was decided to fit a new cat flap which would operate only for her microchip....voila!!!
Behold the Mikrochipgesteuerte Katzenklappe. Amazon responded so promptly.
The old flap had been professionally fitted by the bloke who made the door, so we were a bit worried about the mess we could make trying to take it out and put the new one in. But would you believe it?
The new one fitted in the same hole in the door, absolutely perfectly. There were just the right number of good batteries in the spare battery basket and she was popped out of the flap before she knew what was happening. The mechanism went click and she was registered. Then I sat there with a tasty morsel of chicken to await her return. And waited. And waited. She was not fond of making the return journey and in the end I had to go outside and shove her through in rather an ungainly fashion. But it's all done now and she is still looking round the area in case some chicken was left behind.
It will take her a while to be confident enough to believe that the tom cat is not lurking on the other side waiting to come in and steal her stuff. And she will have to get used to the different shape of the flap entry but  it's a relief to us to know that it all works.
Cheers Gillian

A short while later I tempted her out into the yard with a new feather toy and then left her to see if she would come back in through the cat flap.
She would have if she hadn't been determined to bring her new toy in with her! She had a couple of goes and then I had to let her in the door. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Dominion of Canada and..................... The Dwight D Eisenhower

These two grand old steam engines are at Shildon's Locomotion Museum at the moment.
They are in for refurbishment and fresh livery so that they can join all the surviving A4s for a 75th Anniversary Party some time in 2013. These two came back over from USA and Canada to have their finery fixed at Shildon. The A4s were designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and these were built in Doncaster in 1937. The more famous Mallard was built there the next year and broke the world record for steam locomotives on 3rd July 1938 doing 125.88 mph on its maiden run, somewhere north of Peterborough. This record still stands!
We had popped over to the museum because they were meant to be staging a "Vintage Vehicle Show" the next day and we were checking it out. The vehicle show had been cancelled because the two massive engines had just arrived from North America and the Dominion of Canada was still being unloaded.
We arrived by chance, just in time to watch the tender and engine being slowly re-connected. A grand sight.
Trains are a very "bloke" thing. There were hundreds of blokes with their cameras watching the manoeuvres. And I could count the women on one hand. It was a fine day and a small piece of history happened in front of us.
I missed my art class while we were away last week but I finished off the painting from the week before.
It's more of a "still life" than the "landscapes" we usually do and I enjoyed it. So maybe I 'll set up some more. I'm still trying anything that comes my way.
Cheers Gillian