Just being ME

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madeira cake ...

Madeira cake got its name in the 19th century when it was served in the morning accompanied by madeira and similar sweet wines. I prefer mine with a cup of tea.

Here is the recipe I used. It is from The Stork Cookery Service The Art Of Home Cooking, a cookery book I have had since the third year of secondary school. It was used in the syllabus when I was working towards my O Level in Food & Nutrition, as it was called back in the late Seventies.

6oz Stork margarine or butter
6oz caster sugar
3 eggs size 3 or 4 although I used large
8oz plain flour sieved with
1.5 teaspoons baking powder

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Spoon mixture into a 2lb lined loaf tin. Bake in 160oC oven until firm and passes the skewer test. I forgot to time mine, approximately an hour, but do remember to keep a check.


six unimportant things about me ...

Gina from Gingerbread and Christy from Sweet Tidings have tagged me with this one.

Thing no 1.
I can't wear earrings, any metal earrings. My ears are completely allergic to them!

Thing no 2.
I only really like eating cheese if it is grated or melted or if it is cubed with a piece of pineapple on a stick!

Thing no 3.
I paint my toenails, but not my fingernails!

Thing no 4.
I don't like Monkey Puzzle Trees. Apologies now if you have one!

Thing no 5.
I love all lemon products and will choose them over anything else. A real treat for me is Bronnley Lemon Soap and L'Occitaine Lemon Verbena handcream. I just can't get enough of the smell!

Thing no 6.
I always carry smelling salts with me in my bag. I take a whiff if I come over a bit dizzy. I learned this clever trick from my Mum!

For those who haven't yet done this tag, you know who you are? Go on have a go!


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images of great dixter ...

Remember that very friendly tabby cat I was telling you about, well she lived here, at Great Dixter in Northiam, East Sussex, the wonderful family home of the late plantsman and garden writer Christopher Lloyd. A wonderful house and garden for you, me and the cat to explore.

One of six children, Christopher Lloyd was born at Great Dixter, into a strictly run household, where no smoking or drinking was permitted. His father, Nathaniel Lloyd, came from a comfortably off middle-class family in Manchester and his mother, Daisy Field, was reputedly a descendant of Oliver Cromwell. Nathaniel had bought Great Dixter in 1910, and commissioned Edwin Lutyens to restore and add to its 15th-century buildings. Lutyens also set out the framework of the garden as an array of formal spaces, which still exist today. Nathaniel died in 1933, leaving the 450-acre estate to his formidable widow. Sharing their enthusiasm for gardening, mother and son continued to develop the gardens and encourage visitors until Daisy died in 1972. The house and garden then became the property of Christopher and his niece Olivia - The Guardian

At present Great Dixter is actually three houses, one built here in the mid 15th century, the second a yeoman's house from Benenden, across the border in Kent, built in the early 16th century and moved here in 1910, and the third combines the two with additional accommodation, completed in 1912.

Possibly more widely known for its gardens, a walk around the interior of The House must not be missed. Upstairs in The Solar we had a very interesting conversation with the guide, an elderly lady who had played alongside Christopher Lloyd and his five siblings as a child, and had lived her life being very much part of Great Dixter. She told us how Christopher Lloyd would very much enjoy talking to visitors who stumbled across him sitting in his armchair with his beloved daschunds at his feet and who by no means minded sharing his home and private time with strangers.

The Barn and Sunk Garden above was designed by Nathaniel Lloyd.

The gift shop and small picnic area where we enjoyed spending a short while sharing our pork pie and conversation with one of a few resident cats!

I don't want the place to become a museum but it always wants to be respected and every generation must play its role. The garden has changed a lot in my time and so has the house. That's fine, so long as it is appreciated as it deserves. If it always remains loved and retains its own identity, everything else will fall into place - Christopher Lloyd

More photos from Great Dixter over on my garden blog.


midsummer eve ...

A beautiful painting entitled Midsummer Eve by Edward Robert Hughes c1908

Although the solstice is traditionally known as 'midsummer', we often think of it as the first 'official' day of summer. There is a certain irony to this, as after the solstice the days begin to get shorter. In a sense, the solstice is the beginning of the end of summer!


happy fathers day ...

I love this picture, it is taken from a vintage Ladybird book.

It shows a bright new modern suburban home from I would imagine the 1960s? A perfectly manicured garden, well you can't have the neighbours complaining can you! A perfect child who plays quietly while Mum and Dad are reading the Sunday papers! Mum on one of those camping chairs that if you weren't careful would take your finger off! And Dad relaxing with pipe in hand, all the rage you know! How spending Sunday morning has changed over the years?

I hope all Dads out there are having a great day, including mine!

Thanks Funky Monkey and Country Cottage Chic for reliably informing me you can buy Ladybird prints ready to frame. I had discovered it, but for anyone out there who hasn't, click on the link!


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memories of yesterday ...

Mabel Lucie Attwell's list of art-related contributions was enormous. During the thirties her extensive output did not diminish. In addition to illustrating books and cards, she designed tablecloths, bibs, figurines, dolls, soap, biscuit tins, and even the children's nursery china that was owned by Prince Charles during his childhood.

The stylised toddlers of Mabel Lucie Attwell with their jaunty captions have had a worldwide appeal which has charmed generations of children and adults alike.

The Memories of Yesterday figure above called Comforting Thoughts produced by Enesco in 1993 is now for sale in my webshop A Home With A Heart. It is priced at £15.00 which includes P&P and would make a lovely gift or treat for a Mabel Lucie Attwell fan.

Also today I am listing items on ebay, so go take a look and attempt to grab yourself a bargain while you can.

Rather a dangerous thing for a toddler to be doing, filling a hot water bottle with a kettle full of scalding water. Where are the parents I ask!


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return to oz ...

Our great adventure at the beginning of the year almost seems like a lifetime ago now. Even after less than six months some memories have started to go hazy. I have known since my return all my friends wanted to meet up to see the photos etc and last night we all finally got together for an Australian evening at my place. Each friend bought a savoury item and a bottle and I was in charge of the desserts and had decided as best I could to keep to a theme.

Australia has its own mango industry so I adapted my usual party trifle recipe to include a tin of mangoes in syrup, which I can say worked really well. We needed more than one dessert so I decided to try my hand at making some Lamingtons, little sponges coated in chocolate icing and dunked in coconut. Whilst searching on the net for a recipe I found a very handy one for us Brits which measures in metric, I confess not to being au fait with cup measures. They were really nice served warm with clotted cream ice cream. In a previous post I told you about Anzac Biscuits (bikkies) which I occasionally buy from the supermarket, the same site showed a recipe for these. They were really simple to make, although I misjudged the tablespoon measures of golden syrup and once cooled they became rock hard, and came with a denture health warning! Last but not least I made some sugared macadamia nuts, another export from Australia.

I really enjoyed going through the photos again and relating some of our tales of Oz. It really did remind me of the great time we had.

A great tip, two funny facts and a serious warning.

Fresh mangoes freeze really well. They can be sliced and bagged, or pureed and placed into ice cube trays.

Lord Lamington was known to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, once referring to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits"!

Anzac biscuits are as Australian as a bunyip!

Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, causing weakness and an inability to stand within 12 hours of eating. The exact cause of the why this happens is not known, but recovery is usually within 48 hours of ingestion.


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i've been tagged, not once, not twice, not three, but four times ...

Today the weather is perfect, sunny with a gentle warm breeze. A welcome relief from the terrible weather we have been having of late. This morning I took this photo of a strawberry, I've been outside sharing them with the woodlice, luckily there are plenty to go round!

While having a coffee I was having a think about the tag I had been given by Indigo Blue, Mille Fiori Favoriti, Rose Colored Glasses, and Vintage, Pretty & Shabby. They may not remember as it was a while ago, I do like to deliberate and cogitate over things!

What was I doing 10 years ago?
That's easy, we were on the move. We had lived in our flat for 12 years and it was the right time for us to put another foot on that rung of the ladder. A little reluctantly I must add, we put it on the market and it sold straightaway to the first viewer! I was sad to say goodbye as we had spent such happy years there together.

Five things on my to do list today.
Make a mango trifle and coconut my Lamingtons!
Finish off housework.
Iron one load of clothes.
Do some work in garden.
Eat strawberries before they decay!

Five snacks I enjoy, or is it three?
Cheese Nachos
Milk Chocolate
Cheese & Onion Toasties
Matzos crackers
Cherry tomatoes

Things I would do if I were a millionaire, or is it billionaire?
Return to the country where I belong, with enough land to grow vegetables, keep a cat, and have a scarecrow.
Buy J a carp lake.
Treat my family and friends.
Donate to all Cancer charities.

Places I have lived.
Clapham Village


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isn't she lovely ...

I know many of you in blogland love cats, as it happens so do I. This sweet tabby cat came to befriend us whilst we were sitting in the picnic area of a very special house and gardens in East Sussex. I think perhaps a case of cupboard love, as it was after morsels of my pork pie! More about our visit here in a future post.

After this stop we travelled on into the beautiful Kent countryside to stay one night at Elvey Farm in Pluckley. Remember The Darling Buds of May, many scenes were filmed in and around the village. Pop Larkin in the pub, and the church where Mariette and Charley got married.

This is our very comfortable room, a converted farm outbuilding. Well I say comfortable, I couldn't get on with the rolltop bath, and I am only five foot two!

This was the view from our room of idyllic Kent countryside and buildings. Perfick!