Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Whenever we travel to Britain, I like to explore some of the historical properties and imagine what it was like for the people who lived in these homes.
This visit we went to Avebury Manor, a National Trust property in Wiltshire, England. The BBC filmed a series here called The Manor Reborn where nine of the rooms were decorated to depict different styles such as Georgian, Tudor, Victorian, Queen Anne and 20th century. What I liked about this property was that we were allowed to touch most things, open drawers and try on clothes.
The Queen Anne bedroom is named after Queen Anne Stuart. Although historians aren’t positive if Queen Anne actually visited Avebury Manor, it is entirely possible since Queen Anne often traveled from London to Bath to take the waters for her gout, gynaecological problems and dropsy. Her route would have passed through Avebury. BTW, she had 17 pregnancies between the ages of 18 – 34. Only 6 of her 18 children (since she had one set of twins) survived childbirth and of those 6 children only 1 (William) lived to age 11.
There are three rooms to the Queen Anne suite – the bedroom, an antechamber and a withdrawing room.
When we walked into the bedroom, the employee stationed in the room asked if I’d like to try the bed. “Yes,” I said, excited about touching. (I’m the person who desperately wants to touch whenever I see the “no touching” signs).
I took off my shoes and climbed up into the bed, then the lady proceeded to tuck me in. It was easy to see why they needed help to get into bed. I have long legs, and getting onto the bed was a stretch for me. It was very comfortable though and the silk dome, visible once I was in the bed was beautiful. I think I could sleep comfortably in Queen Anne’s bed.
A shot of the bedroom.
Me tucked into the Queen Anne bed. Very comfortable!
The other rooms were equally fascinating and my favorite was the Georgian dining room, but that’s a story for another day.
Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
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Monday, March 20th, 2017
Book 2 in the Middlemarch Capture series is now available for pre-order. Favored by Felix is a paranormal sci-fi romance.
Here’s the blurb:
A new resort specializing in capture fantasies—the perfect place for Captain Casey Seonaid to blow off steam. To embrace her feminine side, possibly for the last time. And just as she’d hoped, it’s not long before she finds herself “kidnapped”. Let the sexual hijinks begin.
Attractive yet with an air of sadness, Casey snares feline shapeshifter Felix Mitchell’s attention at first sight. As feelings deepen, he comes to realize Casey just may be his perfect mate. But despite their shared passion, something is amiss with his intriguing lover, something that keeps her from giving herself fully…something she won’t share.
Unexpected troubles plague the resort, drawing the couple ever closer. But the biggest danger comes when soldier Casey finally shares her secret, revealing a familial enemy—and his shocking plans for Casey’s military future.
Inside Scoop: Felix may look big and bad, but Casey knows her shifter mate is just a big pussycat.
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Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
This is part two of my Sark posts. Here is part one.
La Seigneurie Gardens on Sark are in the grounds of the mansion of the same name. The oldest part of the house dates back to 1675. Over the years, additions have added to the building. According to the La Seigneurie website, the formal gardens were planted on land purchased in the 19th century. Each year there are new additions such as the maze hedge in 1991 and the vegetable garden is evolving since the produce is used in the tearooms/restaurant.
We navigated the horse and cart park and the tractors to get to the gardens.
View of the house from the gardens.
Checking out the hedge maze.
I love the vibrant blue of cornflowers. So pretty!
This photo reminds me of a painting. I had a ball taking flower photos.
The local characters said hello.
After wandering around, we had a cup of tea to warm up in the garden tearooms before we headed to the meeting point to catch our ferry back to Guernsey.
The port of Guernsey.
If you ever get a chance to visit Sark, I say grab the opportunity. It’s a fun place to unwind and switch off from the daily rat race, and for the keen photographer, there is heaps of inspiration. Highly recommended.
Monday, March 13th, 2017
Sark is one of the Channel Islands, 80 miles south of England. The island often appears on our news because it has a small population and is a royal fief, which means they set their own laws and have a parliament. The island is also carless.
When the chance came to visit either Guernsey or Sark, hubby and I chose Sark and set off on the local ferry. Transport comes in the form of tractors towing a trailer, with bench seats for passengers, horse and cart and bicycle.
We rode up the hill from the ferry in the tractor, stopping by a bicycle hire place to choose our “steads”.
The main township branches off into lots of small lanes. We had fun getting lost as we pedaled down the road and tried to avoid the tractors and horse and wagons. They were road hogs, but excellent and fun photo opportunities.
The weather was brisk, a little chilly with the threat of rain, but we enjoyed our day anyway.
A view of the countryside. Much of the island is agriculture and they try to be as self-sufficient as possible. Tourism is a big earner for Sark. It would be a brilliant place to switch off from the world and get some writing done.
We cycled to Sark Henge, a smaller version of Stonehenge. It was set on a cliff, overlooking the sea. A beautiful spot. The Henge is a recent addition, a ring of stones erected to mark 450 years since Queen Elizabeth the First granted Sark to the Seigneur of St Ouen, on 6th August 1565, to be precise. The ring is made up of nine old gatestones of pink Jersey granite.
That’s it for today. I have more Sark photos to come soon. It was a picturesque place and the drinks during our rest break weren’t bad either.
Saturday, March 11th, 2017
This is another recipe from Annabel Langbein’s Simple Pleasures. I’ve been working my way through this book and found dozens of tempting recipes to try. This one for ginger biscotti was a real winner. I’ve tried biscotti recipes before, but this one was the best of all. Hubby said so!
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups castor sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper.
2. Mix ingredients together until you have a soft dough. Pat into a log shape – around 23 cm x 7 cm and place onto the tray.
3. Cook until the log is a pale golden color – about 30 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and decrease the temperature to 140C.
5. Let the log cool until you can cut it without burning your fingers. Slice thinly and arrange on a tray.
6. Bake again until crisp and dry. This should take about 15 – 20 minutes, but the biscuits will become crisper as they cool.
7. Once completely cool store in an airtight container.
1. As usual, my cooking time was less since my oven is on the hot side.
2. I’ll use this recipe and experiment with some different flavors, maybe cranberries and chocolate.
3. This recipe really worked well, and the biscotti were perfect with a cup of tea.
Friday, March 10th, 2017
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Thursday, February 16th, 2017
I adore Turkish bread and have done since I first tasted it, still warm from the oven during a trip to Turkey. Locals buy fresh bread every day, and the last time we were in Istanbul, it was fascinating watching the bread delivery. A man walked down the road shouting about his wares. A housewife lowered a basket with money from a second storey home, the man took his money, placed the bread inside the basket and the lady reeled up her fresh bread. Shopping made easy!
We did a food tour in one of the Istanbul districts, and this is a photo of the shop window where we had a stop. Our first stop, I think, which is where we had breakfast.
In my quest to try new recipes this year, I came across this recipe in Annabel Langbein’s book Simple Pleasures for Turkish Bread. It can be made with a mixer, a breadmaker or by hand.
Bread before baking
1 2/3 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons dried yeast granules
1/2 teaspoon sugar
5 tablespoons greek yoghurt (room temperature)
4 1/2 cups flour – slightly more if making by hand.
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon flaky salt
1. Place the warm water in a large bowl, sprinkle over the yeast and stir in the sugar. Stand for around five minutes until the yeast is frothy.
2. Add the oil and yoghurt to the yeast mixture and combine.
3. Add the flour and salt and mix together until you have a soft and wet batter.
4. If you’re mixing by hand, which I was, add an extra half a cup of flour.
5. Lightly flour a board and knead the mixture between 20 – 30 times.
6. Return to bowl and cover. Leave to rise in a warm place until double in size – around two hours.
7. Preheat the oven to 190C. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and divide into two. Use well-oiled hands and shape into two ovals about 2 cm thick.
8. Place on a lined tray and press out. Drizzle olive oil over the top and use your fingers to dimple the top. Sprinkle with cumin and salt.
9. Bake until puffed and golden for around 20 minutes.
1. When I make the bread again, I’ll cook it for a few more minutes.
2. Hubby and I had sandwiches and also used the bread to dress up our hamburgers. It would also be perfect with soup, and Annabel Langbein suggested that it would make good crostinis.
Do you have a favorite bread?
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
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Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Fiordland is the largest National Park in New Zealand and at 1.2 million hectares (3.1 million acres) is also one of the largest in the world. It is an area of wilderness that stretches from Martin’s Bay in the north of the South Island to Te Waewae Bay in the south, and from the lakes of Te Anau, Manapouri, Monowai and Hauroko. It contains 14 fiords, some of which reach up to 40 km inland.
The area is known for rain. It rains over 200 days each year, which makes the waterfalls spectacular. The heavy rainfall creates a permanent freshwater layer above the sea water within the fiords. The freshwater is stained by tannins that cut down the sunlight and restrict marine life to the top 40 meters of water depth.
Whales and dolphins frequent the area, along with little blue penguins and fur seals.
We cruised up the coast and visited Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. The scenery is simply stunning, and my camera got a real workout.
Entry to Milford Sound
One of the many waterfalls that tumble down the steep sides of the fiords into the sea.
As you can see from this photo, Milford is spectacular with tree-clad cliffs and waterfalls. Captain Cook and many of the early explorers sailed right past Milford Sound, not realizing the existence of the fiord.
There is one road in to Milford Sound. By car it takes about 2 –3 hours via Te Anau. The bus ride is about 4 – 5 hours. Access is available by plane or as we did on a cruise ship. Some people walk in via the famous Milford Track, which is a four-day walk.
If you’re ever in this part of the world, I highly recommend a visit.