Sunday, 26 April 2015

what a difference a day makes...

The weather doesn't seem to be able to make its mind up at the moment. We have had some lovely warm, sunny summery days and some dull grey days when the temperature plummets again and the wind goes straight through you.

Last weekend was spent working mostly - Saturday officially and Sunday just trying to catch up with paperwork so by mid afternoon I was going a bit stir crazy and needed to get out regardless of the elements.  We nipped across to Whitlingham Broad for a walk and in spite of the grey clouds it was good to get some fresh air.


I love that in the Spring, even on a pretty cold and grey day, the new leaves provide a splash of vivid fresh green...


It really feels as though everything has woken up and gone mad growing in the last couple of weeks - love these bottlebrush-like flowers (not sure what the tree is!)...


But it was cold! And within a couple of minutes I couldn't take any more photos because my fingers were so numb!

The following day was as if someone had just pushed the clouds away, with warm sunshine making coffee in the courtyard an imperative!


A bit rashly, perhaps, I even decided to put out the geranium cuttings I have been overwintering indoors (they are looking a little less well after a few cold evenings this week!). Couldn't resist a trip out for a quick walk. I didn't really have time to get up to the coast so I went as far as the broads, this is the River Bure at Woodbastwick, looking lovely in blue skies. There were a few early holiday boats with people thanking their luck as they sipped wine on their boat decks!


I love the sun through the golden grasses & reed beds...


Norfolk is a place of windmills, used to pump water off the marshes - this one was turning slowly in the gentle breeze...


The Bure marshes walk takes you across boardwalks through the wetlands - an easy walk but so quiet and peaceful...



There is such a lot of moisture here that moss grows freely and trees shoot upwards again when the fall over - which of course they do, because their roots are not so secure. I think it looks a bit as though fairies could live here... :)



I wonder if anyone ever uses this boat...




At the end of the boardwalk, there is a bird hide which looks out onto the broad - so peaceful...


It was such a beautiful afternoon I couldn't bring myself to head home so picked Tom up from work and went on up to the coast for chips on the seafront. By the time we got there it was nearly dark and definitely cold but huddled on a bench in our coats listening to the waves and looking out at the sunset, what's not to love?


What is this weekend going to offer, I wonder?

S x

Saturday, 18 April 2015

something about bread...

There is something particularly pleasing about the smell of freshly baked bread. And even more so if it is made at home.

Some time ago I came across this recipe for 'Crusty Bread' via Sue at The Quince Tree and after some trepidation it has become my 'go to' easy bread recipe. My reservations stemmed from the fact that it just looked so unlikely to work somehow - sloppy looking mixture rather than 'proper' dough, no kneading, only one rise, unconventional baking method...

But actually it suits my inability to measure things properly or stick to a recipe perfectly! I am often trying to cook when I'm a bit tired or doing things from memory or am a bit slapdash about measuring. And even if I read a recipe I often don't quite read to the end or I don't have exactly the ingredients I'm supposed to (don't know why I'm so shoddy with cooking! I'm really not in general - but maybe because I sort of feel its not an exact science and I quite like to cook by feel?).

This bread has never failed me. I have made it too sloppy and added extra flour, too dry and added more water. I've done the basic recipe but also added whatever happens to be kicking around - different flours, olives, seeds, nuts, fruit, dried tomatoes, herbs, oil, spices... This week I didn't check I had enough bread flour first... So it was 2/3 bread flour and 1/3 all that was in the cupboard - which happened to be self-raising!! Plus some fairly ancient poppy seeds and the end of a packet of sunflower seeds...


The only problem is how much gets eaten at once. We don't always even manage to wait until its cold...!

Yum,

S x

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Spring flowers...

Today almost had a summery feel to it. Almost. The sun was bright but there was a fairly spectacular wind blowing which made it chilly out in the open.

But definitely warmer than it has been and the plants seem to have suddenly cottoned on and taken off in leaps and bounds. 

A few weeks ago I walked along the riverside walk behind the cathedral with the promise of daffodils about to bloom, so I thought I'd head back and see what they look like now. In fact, lots of them have already finished...


...but there are such a lovely range of different varieties that there are still great swathes of them and a good few more to come...



The trees are all beginning to green up too. I do love this time of year when it feels as though new life is just bursting out of the ground and the branches...


Back in my little courtyard, I am enjoying this riotous pot by my door...



I suspect I might have overstuffed it a bit and I hadn't expected all the hyacinth bulbs to have a double flower spike! But I quite like its sprawly messiness and the scent by the door is quite intoxicating.

In the beds there is already a mix of colours - not sure what these plants are, the flowers are tiny but so delicate and I love that they are pink and blue on the same shoot...


Wallflowers are bold as brass I suppose, but I was brought up with them being a regular feature in the garden and somehow they feel like they should be there. They are cottage garden 'old favourites' and have a lovely fragrance.


The first of the tulips are out, simple shapes brightening up even the shady bits of the courtyard...


It was sheltered enough in here to sit outside for the first time this year - bliss...


Looking forward to seeing what happens to the roses - they seem to be growing like mad after my vicious pruning!


Here's to mild Spring days and colour :))

Sx

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Mundesley and beyond...

This weekend we resumed our coastal exploration picking up where we left off in Mundesley. At least that was the plan...

In fact, it seems a bank holiday weekend is not the time to go to Mundesley for a quiet walk on the beach! The world and his wife seemed to be there and there was nowhere to park in the village. We drove on to neighbouring Trimingham but, being a stickler for keeping things in order, walked back along the coastal path before dropping down onto the beach and heading westwards again.

Frustratingly, it seems that from a photographic point of view this was a waste of time as everything from the first half of the walk (which was dull, grey and thoroughly uninspiring) came out blurry and out of focus. Not quite sure what I did wrong, or what I did that altered it, other than the fact that it began to brighten up and by the time we were back up towards Trimingham again the photos seem to be back in focus. Mundesley itself is a pretty little place, with flint faced cottages and streets that hug the top of the cliff but I wasn't completely taken by the beach itself. For completeness, I'm irritated that I have no pictorial record of it but I don't feel overly inclined to go back.

This stretch of North Norfolk coastline has marked evidence of erosion with the fields crumbling into the sea. So much so that our plan to head back to the car at Trimingham was foiled as there was no access back up from the beach!

After the bustle of Mundesley, most of the beach was deserted until we came across this group fishing...


Looked like serious stuff, lots of refixing of bait and lines... Didn't see any fish! But, to be fair, we gave them all a fairly wide berth so as not to disrupt.

A couple of horses and riders looked like they were having much more fun splashing in the shallows...


Although this is a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, bordered by piles of large pebbles, there is a slightly bleak soulless feel about it, perhaps because of the air of disintegration that persists. I couldn't help wondering if this tractor (or at least its remains) had just been swept over the edge at some point...


The rows of wooden groynes are in ruins along the beach...


Amazing how much difference a bit of sunshine makes though...


...adding light and shade that lift even the muddy cliffs. Turning the dull greyish sand golden...




Finally after several miles along the beach, we reached the outskirts of Overstrand and a path up to the coastal path along the top...


The sun was quite warm by this point, and no doubt that Spring is here now, with bright splashes of colour - wild primroses...


and the vivid yellow of gorse against a blue blue sky...


Looking back towards Trimingham and Mundesley, you can see how far along the beach we'd walked...

That white globe in the distance is about where we had parked the car and intended to head back up from the beach! A brief rest on a beautifully placed bench...


before heading back along the coast path, where the erosion is shockingly obvious. This field must have been ploughed at the end of last year but the pathway was visible heading off over the edge and you'd be a brave person to drive a tractor this close now!


A last glance back up the beach towards Overstrand...


before turning inland through some woods and back to the car...


We walked for over 4 hours, about 12 miles or so in the end! So we felt completely justified in breaking  into this rather beautiful egg given to me by a friend, a golden dark chocolate egg, revealing mini white chocolate, mandarin truffle filled eggs in an edible nest...


Yum.

Next stretch, Overstrand to Cromer, where I know you can still get back up from the beach!!!

S x

Monday, 30 March 2015

Alpujarra...

Last week I had a lovely week away, walking in the Alpujarra region of Andalucia, on the southern slopes of the Sierra Navada.

This was a leap of faith for me, joining a group of others travelling alone, but one I would certainly repeat. Whilst spending a week with a group of strangers definitely has its highs and lows - overall they were a nice bunch of people, all wanting to walk in the beautiful scenery and there is a lot to be said for company at mealtimes and days out!

I have taken way too many photos to post on here but for a flavour and a reminder for me...

We stayed at a small family run hotel in the little village of Berchules, with rooms overlooking the valley...

We were a bit unlucky with the weather, with the first few days decidedly cloudy but even so, stunning...


We walked along mule tracks and the ancient acequias (watercourses) which provided irrigation across this usually dry terraced landscape...


...studded with olive trees, wild thyme, lavender and rosemary, amongst a whole lot of other flora...


...through valleys overlooking pretty white villages, with the snow-capped peaks in the distance...


Fresh green leaves are following the last of the almond blossom...


and we did eventually see blue skies...


I slightly fell in love with the hotel's 11 year old dog that accompanied us on our walks...


There is a real mix of Moorish & Catholic history and culture here...


Spring definitely a little further ahead here...


Some of my fellow walkers...


and our fabulous walking guide George...


who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area, the culture and the history...


We were walking at 1500-2000m but I hadn't expected there to be snow on the ground in places!! (and in spite of the sunshine, it was bitterly cold that day!)


But by the end of the week our longest walk saw us in shorts and T-shirts walking across ridges and through dappled pine forest...


Our final day was spent in Granada, where I wandered up through the old town's narrow streets...




before going to visit the impressive Alhambra with its fortresses and palaces...


and stunning views across Granada and the mountains...


...before ending the holiday with a group meal, a carajillo (coffee & brandy!) and a walk up to the top of the town to look at the Alhambra lit up at night...


I have come home yearning a simpler way of life, some sunshine and a desire to learn Spanish! Perhaps something to aim for!!

Back to work tomorrow...

S x