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Category Entries for Red Letter Days

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Tuesday December 26, 2017

Boxing Day


Today the weather truly was glorious and here's the photo to prove it. We went to another part of Moine Mhòr nature reserve - an easy path along a boardwalk out over the bog. It's called the Tileworks Trail and we were fascinated to find the woodland path had little patches of tiles set into the earth - a kind of art project, as I think the trail was named prior to the ceramic's appearing.

Posted on December 26, 2017 at 7:43 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Monday December 25, 2017

Christmas Day


We had the most wonderfully relaxing Christmas at Helen's in Scotland. I'm not sure why it proved to be quite so excellent - o apart from Helen being a fabulous friend, welcoming host and terrific cook...! Just that...! Here we are all looking Charlies over our yummy lunch

After that we went to Dunadd for a bracing walk - the weather was surprisingly good (ie not raining). I'm including the following photos mainly to show the amazing views. We abandoned Dorothy (at her request) half way up - it was a pretty slippery climb. I dutifully placed my foot in the "footprint of fealty" - in a reverential manner I hasten to add.




Posted on December 25, 2017 at 7:42 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday December 23, 2017

A guide to tasteful gifts

We had lunch with my sister.
She was anxious to show off my tasteful Christmas gift to her.


Posted on December 23, 2017 at 4:04 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Thursday April 13, 2017

Flying Scotsman at the Bluebell


So Flying Scotsman snuck in overnight on Tuesday, where a few dedicated souls stayed up to see it - and we were there bright and early to watch the pipe band for the first official journey - and then later on for our trip.


What a fantastic day.

Posted on April 13, 2017 at 8:11 AM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday January 28, 2017



So this was a treat I booked for myself - an afternoon of craft learning macrame - which I have longed to try ever since 1976. It's actually much simpler than I thought - in so far as, like knitting, you only have to learn 2 stitches and you know the whole thing (in theory!).
The class was very friendly - run by the London Craft Club in a space provided at the Museum of London - and this was the result (a small thing but mine own.... YES it is supposed to look like that...):


This was the 1970s magazine article that inspired me all those years ago, but sadly I had very little imagination at that time so failed to just go ahead and "do it".


I finished my excellent day by going out with a team of 5 fellow quizzers to a fish and chip supper and charity quiz run by the Tadworth Children's Trust.
We did not win... :o(

Posted on January 28, 2017 at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday August 28, 2016

More partying


We are in France for the Bank Holiday weekend, and it was Lloyd's birthday. I seemed unable to take any decent photos (everyone would keep moving around!) so here he is sharing a joke with his Mother-in-Law while his sister brings a suitably large cake.


Later on Lisa and I set the world to rights by the pond - the reason for the looks of consternation is we were watching the kids ("young adults" - an in fact also some rather older adults) swimming and horsing around. Drowning seemed a real possibility....


And a couple of other views while we were there. The mackerel sky about sums up the weather we experienced - and I weeded, dug out, and replaced the edging around, what is left of the flower bed in front of the kitchen (where the door used to be).


Posted on August 28, 2016 at 7:21 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday June 25, 2016



I dashed back from the Lakes to make time to go to Lesh's 60th birthday party. This served to remind me that (a) I have not seen him for 10 years (!) since his 50th (!) and (b) that I have been writing this blog for 10 years as his last party was one of my earliest entries.

If he looks a little peculiar (below) it's because he is sporting the tasteful gold diamante 60th spectacles I gave him as a gift. It was a fun time catching up in a lovely relaxed atmosphere.


In other news, Chris has become a published author - one seriously academic tome Humans: from the beginning: From the first apes to the first cities and a slightly more accessible Prehistoric Investigations.

Posted on June 25, 2016 at 8:34 PM

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Sunday October 11, 2015

Yet More Tweed....


It seems I just can't help myself when it comes to all things tweed. In my defence George has been nagging me to make him a bag to hold the laptop accessories which do not fit in the laptop case, nor the "half bag" in which it fits. I told him for over a year that this was impossible as I had no tweed left and his "brilliant" idea of sticking it to the beautiful items I have already made by using Velcro made me shudder with horror - so there we left it.

However, I discovered I did in fact have a small patch of tweed left which was quite literally just big enough to make something - I had to attach it to a backing as there was no room for any turnings - and the sides had to be leather. My chosen method of attachment to the body of his other bag is using leather buttons. This is more or less a permanent attachment as the buttons are really hard to get through the buttonholes. (Bound buttonholes in a loose tweed fabric are a step too far - which is presumably why you do not see them on tweed jackets..).

And speaking of tweed jackets - as another gift I purchased a "vintage" (or rather more bluntly "second hand") Harris Tweed jacket from eBay. It was well maintained by the previous owner so I just had to press it, mend the lining a little and I chose to replace the buttons with leather ones.
I was not sure he would like it but it proved to be a surprising hit - fitted him really well. [Even more flatteringly he asked if I had made it - bless!]


Posted on October 11, 2015 at 8:44 AM

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Thursday January 29, 2015

ISIHAC and the Mary Rose


To celebrate my birthday, we went to Portsmouth to see "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" - the roadshow. If you know what that is then you will know how it was - if you don't know what it is, then I am not able to explain. All I can say is that we received a free lesson in using the kazoo (also free).
We ate at The Wine Vaults, conveniently opposite the Kings Theatre at Southsea, and then went on to stay at the Royal Maritime Club near the dockyard - our venue for the next day.

Encouraged by a heart-felt speech from Sandi Toksvig during QI, we went to visit the Mary Rose museum, and it proved to be as astonishing as promised. I remember being amazed visiting the Vasa* years ago when I was in Sweden, which made me expect to like this exhibition as well.
I think the Mary Rose has much more in the way of salvaged content - including (100s of ) longbows** packed in cases, and apparently not waterlogged. Most of the other artefacts have to be dried out and specially treated for preservation before being examined or put on display - and there are thousands of items still to be dealt with. Personal remains have been found for many of the crew - only about 25 of the hundreds on board are known to have survived. They have reconstructed some of the faces of the departed, both in 3D and drawings, and are able to surmise who they were based on where they were found and the personal belongings found with them. There is even the skeleton of some poor old terrier stuck on board with his master.
In the days after our visit I saw a TV program about the raising of the Mary Rose - low expectations as I expected it to be about the engineering feat of bringing it to the surface, which I remember quite well seeing as it happened. However, it was really interesting - all about the preservation efforts and combined footage from other programs over the years as the scientific research progressed. It provided an excellent codicil to our visit.

In the afternoon we took a trip up the Spinnaker tower where I had an obligatory cream tea in the cafe, and we were able to observe not only the view but the most astonishing changes in the weather pattern over a period of only about 40 minutes. It makes you see the dangers of sailing a small boat off our coasts when things can change so rapidly.


* The Vasa sank in similar circumstances to the Mary Rose at a similar point in history. [I actually thought that like the Vasa, the Mary Rose sank on her maiden voyage but in fact she had been in service for 34 years and it was the first engagement after a refit.]. Reading the Vasa's website I remain curious as to why they do not seem to have had quite so many issues raising it from the sea bed and preserving it going forward.
** The information on the longbows was the most surprising to me:
"There had been no large scale evidence of what a medieval longbow looked like, how it was made and how it shot, until the Mary Rose find. Similarly there was no large scale catalogue of Medieval archery equipment such as arrows, pouches, bracers, belts, buckles, or personal items. At a stroke this vast inventory has become available for all to see. It is a most stunning collection."

Posted on January 29, 2015 at 6:21 PM

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Thursday December 25, 2014



A couple of photos of our decorations this year - much like the decorations every other year - the comfort and security of familiar objects.
Notable are the spanking new windows in the picture below and the tiny evidence of crafting in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture above.


Posted on December 25, 2014 at 7:10 PM

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Sunday September 28, 2014

The Big O


An old friend from school was over from Canada (where he now lives) and celebrated his big O birthday in Worthing. Hard to take a good photo of him as he was opening his gifts since he seemed permanently overcome with emotion...!


It was a delightful day out with the usual suspects and some extra faces - who I have not seen for an unbelievable 42 years...

Posted on September 28, 2014 at 9:19 AM

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Wednesday December 25, 2013

The Ghost of Christmas Past


I received some delightful gifts, including this wonderful cat doorstop from Alison. Not that he will be stopping any doors - he prefers a higher location from which he can better observe the household goings on - like the one on whom he is modelled.


Our Christmas plans were somewhat disrupted due to the power cuts afflicting many people over Christmas. We were planning to eat turkey with my sister - but she lost power on Christmas Eve so changed her plans and came to us instead. My day was still fairly laid back but not so my sister's who abandoned the turkey (as it would take too long to cook) in favour of a brace of pheasants and fully prepared everything in the morning before packing up and decamping to our place with food, husband, and dogs.
Despite having to cope with so much disruption, she gamely put on the pink santa/elf suit I gave her - on top of her sophisticated little black dress - and carried on with the cooking!


My only contribution was the pudding, for which I used Nigella's delicious pudding recipe using quince.
[Personally, I welcomed the change from turkey to pheasant..... it was delicious.]

Posted on December 25, 2013 at 8:35 PM

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Monday January 28, 2013

Cakes and ale


OK the above is your first clue.

And below is my "big" present. Only 50 years - probably to the day - from when I first dreamed of owning one. She is 50 years old this year, though I have put her in an outfit that dates from a bit later on - the outfit is very "me" - I guess I'm the one that should be wearing it.


Posted on January 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM

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Thursday January 10, 2013



Some years ago I put my name down for an allotment, and to my astonishment, this year we were given one. Here we are choosing our plot (yes! there was a choice) and collecting the key.

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 12:37 PM

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Tuesday December 25, 2012

Christmas Morning


Here we are on Christmas morning - George is sporting his new reindeer pyjamas and dressing gown - courtesy of Next. (He is not awake enough to object to the picture)

The house is looking very festive with the cushions and quilts I have made over the years, and this year there were some new items.

When I split the (5ply) guernsey yarn to make some thinner yarn, I used the 2 ply to make the Arne and Carlos' Christmas Balls. I expect you are agog to know what happened to the 3 ply.
Well. Make yourselves comfortable.
I made some Christmas lettering, based on an idea from Debbie Bliss magazine No 5 for Winter 2010.

The original pattern spelled out "HOME" (highly non-sectarian and politically correct for the American market no doubt), but the pattern shied away from the difficulty of sloping the knitting by making the letter "M" from felt only.


Far from critical, I really like the styling in grey and white with the splash of red - and would have emulated it but... I wanted to spell NOEL and use my split Guernsey yarn. I used the pattern for Debbie's "O" and "E", and easily improvised an "L". However, the N would not have looked so arty in plain red at the start of the word, so with some difficulty both in planning and execution, I made a pattern for the N.


There are a couple of things to note if you want to do this - or rashly decide to make up your own letters (kid's name etc).

After I made my guernsey letters in 3 ply, I felted the pieces - by hand so I could gauge how small I wanted them. It produced a nice fabric, and the cardboard templates make for a very forgiving method to produce nice even letters. I can't really see how the 4ply yarn recommended would make letters of the size given in the pattern. The magazine photos bear this out to some extent as quite a bit of the knitting is lost in some places, wrapped behind the cardboard.

The base of the letters is a cardboard shape - which helps - especially for the sloping letters and internal corners, where you rely on being able to pull the knitting into shape around the cardboard. You can see that I not only used the double sided tape to fix the letters to the card (to hold in place while I worked) but I also laced up the back to pull it all into shape:


Once the front and back sections (latter from felt) were made up I pressed them under a pile of books, before sewing fronts to backs. Don't forget the felt backings must be mirror images of the letters (for some symmetrical letters this is not important).*


After all that, I was pretty pleased with the result and made sets for myself and for Alison.

* I have not yet made the major confession here that I knitted these on my primitive machine, though I think they are not at all too hard to contemplate making by hand, and you would avoid the mistake I made.
When you work on a knitting machine, the purl side of the knitting (the back) is facing you. I happily started with Debbie's charted E; it worked out well, if a little large, as I started with a 5 ply version. When I turned it around, however, I found I had knitted a 3. The hearts pattern meant I could not turn it upside down as a fix.
I almost did.

Posted on December 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM

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Friday August 3, 2012

Olympics at Wimbledon


I was so very lucky to be able to get a ticket for Centre Court today, and see the mens semi-finals, along with Helen, Ethel, and Sue. And what a fantastic experience it was. I have never been to Wimbledon before (to see the tennis that is - I did live there for a time but not "up the hill"), and I was absolutely thrilled for such a once-in-a-lifetime outing.

Play opened with Federer and Del Potro at 12 noon. Astonishingly, they went on all afternoon with the match finishing at 16:50: 19-17 in the final set. Even taking into account that it's a 3 set match, that was some marathon. It was so evenly matched and not really expected to be such a struggle, so most people were planning to get lunch after it finished. One wag in the crowd was driven to call out "come on Roger, I'm hungry!".


Following that, Serena dispatched her semi final opponent in much shorter order, and so by about 18:30, Murray and Djokovic finally entered the arena.


I hate to say something so commonplace, but the atmosphere was simply amazing. The Serbians were quite vocal, but the mad British cheering for every point was enough to bring a tear to the eye, never mind the exciting play. I think we are quite used to our tennis heroes being not quite good enough on the day, so Murray's success is very cheering.

Murray played well, but I think we were all a bit surprised that he won in straight sets. The score (7-5, 7-5) does not entirely express the closeness of the match, and though one might have expected more of Djokovic, he seems not to be at his best of late, given his Wimbledon performance, and his subsequent loss of the bronze medal. Having said that, I don't mean to diminish the achievements of Murray (and Del Potro) who were playing brilliantly.


By now, we all know Murray went on to get the gold medal. I am delighted, of course, on chauvinistic grounds, as well as for him (and Ethel!). However, I do feel for Federer (and Helen!) who somehow missed out in Beijing when he must have been at the height of his powers, and it seems unlikely he will get another chance at Olympic gold. Currently he is a worthy champion with No 1 in the world rankings but it would be hard to anticipate his retaining that position for another 4 years.


Posted on August 3, 2012 at 6:13 PM

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Saturday July 28, 2012

Go Cav Go


What a fantastic day! (...and if you'd asked me at the start I would never have predicted that's what I would be saying).
We got up at 6, cycled over to Box Hill, and were installed at the roadside (x marks the spot below) with our chairs and provisions by 7:30.


Unlike other road races, they did circuits around the Box Hill zig zags, so we were able to see them 9 times from about 11:30 until 3pm. We were so close to the riders I could have touched them and I cannot describe how thrilling it was as they flew by.


A bit of fun from the Australian support vehicle.


Well - we got home just in time to see he didn't make it. I am always astonished that a sport with an individual winner should rely so heavily on team support, and a privilege to see the team in action, though a terrible shame for Mark.
But what a great win for Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan.

Read about the race here - not too chauvinistic I think and so exciting to read about this race all through my various domiciles in Surrey (previous and current).


Posted on July 28, 2012 at 4:33 PM

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Tuesday July 24, 2012

Torch in Kingston


This is Anna Smith, who carried the torch in recognition of her bravery in going to the aid of another, at great personal cost. Having read all about her, it is excellent to see her in such fine form.

So far I seem to have been to several locations on the same day as the torch but not actually seen it. So Robert shared his early morning's experiences with me, via a home movie.
He and I had a beer in the garden before walking round to the pub for some al fresco dining. As we went, we observed the terrapin, all shiny, having freshly exited the pond, as he crawled up the side of the submerged duck house roof to his customary place in the evening sunshine.

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 3:49 PM

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Thursday April 26, 2012

Helen and her cardi


I finally handed over Helen's belated birthday present when we managed to meet at a trendy cafe in Surbiton....

[...and I also received my birthday presents which were a stunning bracelet and the book of knitted egg cosies - the latter is a bit if a risk as we can now all guess what everyone will be getting next year!]

Posted on April 26, 2012 at 6:13 PM

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Sunday April 15, 2012

Where the spirits ran free...

....Tony's Party.


Jim and Mary provided wonderful cocktails invented just for the occasion:


And the our token gifts were inventive variations on the same theme...


The cake that was almost too good to cut. Almost.


I've got to be where my spirit can run free
     [from Corner of the Sky in the musical Pippin by Stephen Schwartz].

Posted on April 15, 2012 at 2:44 AM

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Sunday January 29, 2012

Eat Me


Karen has taken up cake decoration and made this wonderful gem for me - not only looks fantastic but tastes good too....!


Can't see myself eating him somehow.


Posted on January 29, 2012 at 2:13 PM

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Saturday August 27, 2011

The Wedding Party


My cousin* Jim and Tara tied the knot down in Plymouth and this was their "second wedding" in Jim's home town. Below is Jim with proud parents, cousin Jenny and Eddy.


* As my family is ever extending, I was driven to look up my exact relationship with Jim - which is "first cousin once removed" apparently.

Posted on August 27, 2011 at 2:38 PM

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Friday January 28, 2011



My fantastic gift from Alison. I love it. I love the soft yarn, the colours, the shape.... I love it.

Posted on January 28, 2011 at 10:29 AM

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Tuesday October 19, 2010

The end of the quest


Today I completed my Stitchcraft collection with the illusive (for me anyway) edition June 1933 - acquired from Todmorden Books. An unremarkable Stitchcraft example but very pleasing to me. The early editions featured recipes and film reviews as well as fashion and knitting:
"Everything for the Woman and her Home".

Posted on October 19, 2010 at 8:46 PM

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Sunday September 5, 2010

Lizzie's Party

Unbelievable but Lizzie has reached 21! This fabulous cake created by her Mother.


Opening that special gift from Granny and Grandpa.


Posted on September 5, 2010 at 6:31 PM

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Friday December 25, 2009

Christmas Dinner


[For once I remembered to take the picture before we actually ate the food.]

Posted on December 25, 2009 at 5:25 PM

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Sunday May 3, 2009

Unseasonal Cake

When we went to France at Easter, Sheila (G's Mother) gave us a cake to take with us. It was a Simnel cake, and was so delicious, that I decided to try my hand at an unseasonal cake for this weekend. Sheila had "not bothered" with the traditional marzipan topping (which suits me as I am not mad on marzipan) but the layer baked inside was ... mmmmm..... wonderful. So I copied her example.


My picture is of a slice of the cake, as I had a slight disaster after taking it out of the oven. I cooked it yesterday afternoon before we went to the theatre. We were so anxious to eat it that I took it straight out of the tin while it was still hot. [Not for me those silly instructions about "letting it cool fully in the tin" - o no...].
It fell apart. I then had to lassoo it back together with the tin, and let it cool, so it ended up maintaining some kind of round cake shape.

Simnel cakes seem to be made around Easter, but I had some vague memory of their being associated with Mothering Sunday in the UK - and it turns out I am not mistaken. I remember, as a little girl, that when we left church on Mothering Sunday morning, we each took a piece of fruit cake from a large tray of the same handed out by (and presumably baked by) a nice lady from the Mothers Union. We took these home to our grateful Mothers - or not. My Mother hated marzipan so the cake was always eaten by my Father (who loved it). [So our consumption of this cake has never been very traditional!]

The date of Mothering Sunday in the UK is set by the church calendar and is the middle Sunday in Lent (half way between Shrove Tuesday and Good Friday). Since my childhood, I had forgotten this, thinking all such days were invented by Hallmark Cards, even though UK Mother's Day is never the same day as in the US. The origin of the day was to do with attendance on that Sunday at the "Mother" church or the Cathedral of the diocese, and employers would send a rich fruit cake home to their servant girls' Mothers, as a charitable gift.

The name Simnel probably derives from the type of flour used but for a far more interesting set of suggestions, and an altogether more humorous entry than this one, read Raspberry Debacle.
[I especially like the explanation of the origin of marzipan which was "invented when Zeppo Marx fell into a giant pan of almonds just after he'd been for a swim in a pool that was unexpectedly filled with sugar, at which he was so angry that he broke eggs all over himself and rolled around until he was covered in a thick white paste; it certainly tastes like it." Also the author shares my view that it's nicer without the marzipan topping. A shame this blog is now archived.]

Read on for my recipe:

Simnel Cake


  • 6 oz (175 g) castor sugar (I like the 'golden' variety)
  • 6 oz (175 g) unsalted butter, well softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • grated zest 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 8 oz (225 g) plain flour sifted with 1½ rounded teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice, or,
    ½ teaspoon of ground cinammon, ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger, and, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2oz ground almonds
  • 4oz (100g) glace cherries chopped small
  • 16oz (450g) mixed dried fruit
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 200g Marzipan


  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C, or Gas Mark 2. Use butter to grease an 8 inch loose-bottomed or springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.
  2. Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, and spices.
  3. Roll out the 200g marzipan to a circle slightly smaller than your tin size. Use icing sugar to prevent sticking while rolling.
  4. Beat together the softened butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. (Use an electric whisk if possible as it makes it much easier to do this).
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little of the flour with each one to avoid curdling.
  6. Fold in the sifted flour mixture, followed by the ground almonds.
  7. Mix in the milk, dried fruit, cherries, and lemon zest.
  8. Spread half of the mixture in the bottom of the tin, and make the surface level with a spatula. Place your circle of marzipan on top.
  9. Finally spread the remaining mixture over the marzipan.
  10. Now put it into the oven, and bake for about 2½ to 2¾ hours. Check towards the end of the cooking time to make sure the cake is not going too brown on the top, (if it is, you can cover lightly with a circle of foil for the remainder of the cooking time). The centre should feel firm and springy when lightly pressed.**
    When it is cooked, leave it to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack to cool.
  11. Eat.

** I confess to having some difficulty knowing when the cake is cooked, as, with the skewer test, it never seems to come out clean due to the layer of gooey marzipan in the cake; if you leave it to cook too long, the sides and base of the cake can burn slightly. You can try insulating your cake by wrapping the outside with a layer of brown paper and string, as suggested by Nigella, or you can put greaseproof paper over the top, as suggested by Delia.
And in the end all this depends on how fierce your oven is, and whether or not it's a fan oven - you need to get to know your oven with a test cake.... or several....


It is a shame to leave off the decoration, as that's where you get the religious references - 11 marzipan balls representing the 11 true apostles, or less traditional egg shapes.

To make the topping you need about 300g more of marzipan, and apricot jam. Roll out and cut a circle of marzipan to fit the top of the cake, (use a dusting of icing to stop it sticking), and make your 'apostles' from the remainder. Brush the top of the cake with melted jam, put on the marzipan circle, and stick on your apostles (you may need egg white to make them stick firmly).

Nice traditional decoration on a cake from Tesco, [£7.99].
Note that the 11th apostle has been consumed....

Other (different) recipes, and pretty pictures of decorations appear at Delicious Magazine, Mary Berry at the BBC, and Delia Online. Raspberry Debacle (website sadly disappeared), chose to add faces to his apostles, and explains how he tried to like marzipan, using a preparation method which relied on the subsequent effect of Stockhausen Syndrome - but failed.

Posted on May 3, 2009 at 10:26 AM

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Tuesday October 7, 2008

Twenty One Today

(Cheating a bit as the party was on George's birthday rather than Deborah's).


"...your Father says you can do as you like, so shout hip hip...."
Hang on.... what were they thinking?!

Posted on October 7, 2008 at 5:04 PM

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Wednesday September 24, 2008

His little face lit up...

Mmmmm cake.


And in case you were wondering about the incandescence - here it is - sparkling numbers. Rob formally gets his bus pass as of today.


Posted on September 24, 2008 at 11:59 PM

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Sunday January 27, 2008

Elegant dining.

George tried to enter into the spirit of the birthday thing by taking me to a posh restaurant**. In fact, it's located in our village, so it was really nice to be able to walk there, and the weather helped with the plan.


Gemini has a "French" cuisine, (even though they seem to have a slight issue with correct spelling on the menu). There were 6 courses, (which reminded me of la Maison de la Lozère in Montpellier), but the quantities of food were adjusted accordingly, so we did not explode on the way home. You will be pleased to know George enjoyed it too - his look of resignation is in anticipation of being blinded by the camera flash.

**I simply love their web page description which includes a "gently priced wine list".... (of which I partook a glass).

Posted on January 27, 2008 at 8:23 AM


Glad to see you wearing POM and you look lovely in it.

Posted by: Alison on January 27, 2008 8:30 PM

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Thursday December 27, 2007

Quiet time

All my guests have gone, leaving George, Deborah and I to enjoy a peaceful time together scoffing wonderful cold meats and left over trifle. It is very quiet at work as well, so there has been much sitting in front of a comfortable fire, and admiring our perfectly proportioned tree (heaven knows how we got such a nice tree after a fraught and depressing evening at a DIY store in the week before Christmas, where they had decided, with 7 days still to go, that Christmas was over and it was time to remove all signs of the festival, leaving everything in total building site disarray! Anyway - we did - and it's lovely).


I received lots of really inspired gifts. Sheila gave me a set of hand made oriental table mats - a real labour of love - they are lovely and we used them throughout Christmas.


My sister gave me extraordinary blue and pink pastel Argyle Wellingtons; George's sister gave me a Debbie Abrahams knitted bag kit;


Alison gave me a great book of vintage sock patterns taken from old Weldon's magazines, (published in an era preceding Stitchcraft); and George, tired of my finding myself short of projects while in France produced the following:


I hope everyone else enjoyed themselves as much as I.

Posted on December 27, 2007 at 9:00 PM

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Friday November 9, 2007

Cleanliness is next to....

Maybe not.
bathroom.jpg Anyway, we now have a new bathroom. There are still a lot of details left for us to finish, but I hope I will be motivated long enough to stop knitting and do some DIY. I was somewhat unimpressed along the way as the tiler arrived and promptly told me he did not know about any border (my only decorative requirement) and that he was not prepared to sacrifice his artistic integrity and work with the mosaic tiles I had bought as they were not already laid on a backing in the pattern I wanted and would "look awful". The project manager came and helpfully repeated what the tiler had said (in case I had some learning difficulty obviously) - helpfully adding that he had "no idea" that I had bough these mosaics but thought I had bought border tiles. If that were indeed true, all I would say is that it's a pity he did not check the materials and brief the tiler somewhat before the day the guy turned up to work....

I then spent a challenging evening carefully peeling every alternate tile off the sheets of mosaics I had bought and then resticking alternate coloured tiles back into place with a two-part epoxy. As I had a cold and could not smell anything, I realised about half way through (ceaselessly coughing) that I was probably as high as a kite, so had to open all the windows, and try and concentrate very hard on keeping everything exactly square.

I am pleased to say, the following day, the tiler completely accepted the mysterious appearance of chequered tiles on sheets as required, and set about sticking them on the wall without further protest.
Note the delightful recessed tile soap dish that the project manager also assured me was unobtainable.

Posted on November 9, 2007 at 12:54 PM


You creating the tile mosaic is hysterical! What a dodo the tiler sounds. Anyway - the bathroom looks lovely.

Posted by: Alison on November 15, 2007 8:17 PM

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Thursday October 11, 2007


George tolerates his special birthday. Lovely chocolate cake supplied by his Mother.


Trying to make sense of mysterious rubber cushion.


George models his new cable socks, and the very best present ever (from his Mother of course): Crocs.

George_socks.jpg George_crocs.jpg

Posted on October 11, 2007 at 11:08 PM

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Monday September 24, 2007



Please excuse this entry if it's a bit fuzzy round the edges, only I have been up all hours of the day and night finishing Furrow in time for Rob's birthday. There's no excuse for it - I started it well in time about a year ago, (my first entry of "On the Needles"), but somehow "plenty of time" dwindled rapidly to "o my god I've finished the knitting but it takes an hour for every inch of sewing up".


I took it to the Creative Fibre group last week and the pattern was much admired. I must admit I am warming to it, and beginning to think that the designer, after all, was not carried away with the method as much as I had first thought, and I now think the chosen technique is, after all, the simplest way to achieve the design.


atonement.jpg After the grand present-giving ceremony, we went to see Atonement at the Screen in Reigate. It's a fabulous film, beautifully and brilliantly filmed, and I can hardly feel they left anything out, (obviously stretching the truth, as how can that be so?). Nonetheless, the book is ... wonderful... and the film does not disappoint, being true to the spirit of the book and evoking the same emotions I felt when reading it some years ago.
Just to prove I am not superficial I did have some views shared by other reviewers. They have indeed changed the focus of the story to be more about Cecelia and Robbie, whereas the book is definitely about Briony - it is after all her "atonement". And the end of the film is slightly altered, and you could say explicitly chooses to miss out the point of Briony's writing her own book; however in the film Briony explains why she "changed the end" of her book, and in doing so I think (à la book within a book) makes some sort of case for any change to the end of the film.

It worked for me - and the photography and the music.... fabulous....

Posted on September 24, 2007 at 7:25 AM


Furrow, and Rob, look fabulous. It was well worth the effort; the effect is great.

Posted by: Alison on September 25, 2007 5:47 AM

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Sunday June 24, 2007

Debout, debout, debout!

And so we come to the main event for the weekend - Peter turned 50 in April and he and Ava organised a splendid party to celebrate. The food was fantastic and all produced by Ava and friends.


As cool as you can look with an "air" guitar:



And the memorable "chanson paillarde", which seems designed to slaughter the celebrant in the shortest possible time.

debout.jpg Ceux qui sont nés aus mois d'avril
Debout, debout, debout!
Prenez votre verre à la main
Et buvez le jusqu'à la fin.

La fin, la fin, la fin, la fin.....

Ceux qui sont nés aus mois de juin....
You get the idea?

[This was Janvier - to which Ava admitted but I am ashamed to say I did not.... ]

Posted on June 24, 2007 at 10:03 AM

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Sunday April 1, 2007

A multitude of small delights

Today is Alison's birthday (hurrah!).
And* today I find the perfect quotation from Baudelaire, courtesy of Stitch and Bitch calendar. S&B is not really where I would look for deep insights from metaphysical poets but it does seem to sum up what Alison and I have shared over the years. On the face of it, we never really had that much in common, (although I expect our respective partners would find that hard to understand looking at us now).
[* unlike Louise my Mother had no objections to starting sentences with "and". However, when I was 12, my English teacher told me that it was against the rules, and you could only break the rules if you were a famous author or poet; and so, Mrs McCarthy: har har.
And Louise: I not only don't like your starting sentences with "and" but also abhor your rejection of the possessive with the gerund - especially in such an important showcase as a blog... really!].

However, back to the quote: for me, this really does have something meaningful to say about us, because I think what we have always had in common is a willingness to take up those small delights and fully take advantage of the pleasure within them. I have always been able to say "I bought a doll head" or "I got a magazine on eBay..." and never feel at risk of being dismissed as superficial (eccentric maybe...). We can expand a discussion over a ball of wool (perhaps, as yet unpurchased), for many pleasurable minutes - or even days. Of course the pleasures are not restricted to acquisitions - the delights are easily found in Adam and Finlay's philosophical take on life, or in Rob's minor victories over his difficulties at work.

We were always very different people - but we did find some points of interest in common - and that was enough. Even more surprisingly to us, our friendship lasted - and on such strangely close terms - but it did, and it is, and I, for one, am jolly pleased.

So here's to you, Alison - have a wonderful day.... take up those small delights....be happy....

Posted on April 1, 2007 at 8:35 AM


Thank you very much. I too liked the quotation and it's a good description of our friendship (which has now lasted over 20 years).

Thank you also for my birthday crochet shrug which I am sure I will be displaying on my blog! It fits nicely and looks great.

Posted by: Alison on April 1, 2007 5:24 PM

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Monday January 29, 2007

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.

I have had a simply splendid weekend.

On Saturday we went to see George's sister, Karen, who had made a wonderful cold buffet lunch in honour of her Father's birthday (actually today) and my own birthday (yesterday).

George's Father returned to me an antique "swift" which he has lovingly repaired - it had a few missing struts and rivets. I was thus able to use it for the first time to wind the wool that Alison sent me for my birthday. Also in view is a spinning book and a personalised bag (from Alison) celebrating our websites; I plan to knit the toe-up socks from the book with the new wool, and keep the knitting in my new bag. Perfect.

The quilted place mat was made by George's Mother for me (also a gift). At Christmas, we gave her a sale bargain of "add on to Pandora's box" which is a series from Quilting from the Heartland. We then went to some lengths to get the original Pandora's Box booklet (seemingly out of print) from the web - I eventually tracked it down on the Amazon US "marketplace". This placemat is her first experiment with the patterns, and I think it's great. It is heat proof, for which she uses an ironing board lining material that she buys from Wilkinson's in the UK.

Yesterday, we had a great evening with Lyn (my sister) where we had a turkey dinner and Christmas pudding, as a sort of replacement Christmas, given that my sister was in Australia in December. We also exchanged presents. She gave me a wonderfully elegant white ceramic container for olive oil, as well as a summer top in a wonderful shade of green, along with a matching necklace.

Posted on January 29, 2007 at 11:15 PM