Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tea at the Palace!

I promised I would tell you a little bit about my visit to Buckingham Palace and the garden party last Tuesday so here goes. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and having had a complete dilemma about what to wear I decided on a green and gold outfit which I had bought in Malaysia a long time ago but which had that air of being something special yet able to blend in wherever. I was glad I had gone for this as everyone was very dressed up for the occasion. I have never seen so many hats and so many large ones at that! When we arrived, having passed through security, we were guided through the palace, seeing the beautiful sofas, china in cabinets and paintings etc and out onto the lawn at the back. There are large refreshment tents with seats and tables outside and we made our way there. Deligthful cucumber sandwiches with mint (no crusts and no rind of cucumber- note!), ham sandwiches and salmon sandwiches - all cut in portions of around 1 inch by 4 inches; the tiniest bridge rolls I have ever seen, packed with prawn mayonnaise; delicate tarts bearing three raspberries or four quarters of a strawberry; tiny choux pastry tarts, chocolate slices and a choice of English apple juice, iced coffee or tea. It was all very delicious!
Then it was time for the Yeoman of the Guard to parade and herald the arrival of the Queen. We stood in line around a large loop and various people who had been given a special card to say that they would get to speak to the Queen were briefed and allowed to stand slightly out of the crowd ready to meet her. The Queen was wearing mostly white with red embellishments - a coat and dress and hat of course. It is truly amazing that at 82 she has the strength and energy to appear so alive and interested in so many people. It is a long way around the loop that she walks and talks to many.
After all this we took a little more refreshment and then walked around the Palace gardens which were really very beautiful finishing off with a little tub of vanilla ice cream provided by very busy waiters and waitresses who were dashing here and there to feed the 9,000 people who had turned up. Yes, 9,000! I asked one of the guards at the door as we left and he said that usually it is somewhere between 7-9,000 but on that particular day he was sure it was 9,000.
So, a truly special day and one to remember. I don't regard myself as a royalist but it was indeed an experience and a privilege to have taken part in one of Britain's great traditions.

(there were no cameras or photos allowed so the ones at the top are from good old Google)

Friday, 25 July 2008

Packing paralysis!

We are off to a conference in the morning and I should be packing!! Do you ever get that last-minute paralysis about what to put inside the suitcase/bag? It regularly happens here especially with extended time of more than one night. Why is that I wonder? I guess I am the sort of person who likes to have options - trousers or a skirt, cool clothes and warm clothes, at least two pairs of shoes, jewellery. Then there is the list of things to do - knitting, quilting, embroidery, crochet, I love to do a variety of projects when I am away. Oh yes, and what about the books? Won't I have all this time possibly for reading? Now I need a selection of books - a novel, something a little more serious, something professional (no, may give this a miss this time!), something crafty, something inspiring? What about the magazines that I have piled by my bed, could they come too?

As it happens I shall have to take the laptop with me as I need to continue to do some work while I am away and hey, I probably ought to go to some seminars too as that is what the conference is about (although strictly speaking I am there with hubby who has some part in the exhibition)!!! I think it is going to be a late night while I sort all this out and here I am blogging away!! Look out for a post next week about my visit to Buckingham Palace. Hope you all have a great weekend and that the sun shines where you are.

Thoughtful Friday 9

"I wish that life should not be cheap, but sacred,
I wish the days to be as centuries, loaded, fragrant."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Jasmine flower just coming out in the garden)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

An Invitation!

Here is a little something I have been keeping quiet about! A chance to go to Buckingham Palace for a Garden Party where the Queen will be in attendance. This has all come about because I will be representing an organisation that I am a trustee of, so it is not really a personal invitation even though the card might suggest it! So the dilemma has been what to wear! Day dress with hat is the requirement! I do not possess any hats other than those used during the winter months - not suitable for this occasion in any way shape or form! So on Friday (yes, I have been looking before this but not that intently, apart from an afternoon with daughter no.4 where everything seemed to be 'NO, mum!") I set out to find a 'fascinator' - now until last Saturday I had never come across this word but I gather it means something decorative to put in the hair and I thought this might be a rather good subsitute for a hat. It wasn't an easy search I have to say but I did find something so tonight I shall be trying on my outfit and getting the opinions of those living in the house currently i.e. daughters 1 and 4 and hubby! It pretty much has to fit the bill as we go on Tuesday!! It is so much easier for the men isn't it? Just get the suit dry-cleaned and you are all done and dusted! I'll let you know how it all goes. I gather that it is really a question of comfortable shoes as it is standing up for at least two hours and there will be no photos allowed but it will be a fun experience nonetheless.

On another note, next week is a crazy week altogether with travel all around the country from Cardiff to Cheltenham and on to Birkenhead (although I am really hoping this one is cancelled) so as I know there won't be time for much else I have had a little baking fest this weekend.

First it was Raspberry Clafoutis

This was a recipe from Posie Gets Cozy although Alicia made it with cherries and then with blueberries. It was quite yummy but I would probably alter the milk and egg ratio a bit next time.I also had a go a new bread recipe with soya flour and linseeds for the breadmaker:

Now this is very nice indeed. We had it with tea and toast and apricot jam this evening. I also made some chewy peanut butter cookies from a recipe at Baking and Books. Sorry, no photo of these but you can find lots of great recipes on this blog. And to finish with a photo of some little 'makes' for a friend across the Atlantic.

I really struggled to get a good heart shape even though I worked from a paper template. Any tips for making a successful heart-shaped sachet? Have a good week.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Thoughtful Friday 8

"Only the heart knows how to find what is precious."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


Some of the work I am doing as consultancy just now requires me to travel to far away places! On Friday last I was in Southampton and just yesterday I was in St. Andrews, Scotland. Taking the train on Monday morning from Kings X, it was a lovely journey and once we got to Berwick upon Tweed, we travelled right by the coast with wonderful scenery. When I arrived at St. Andrews the sun was shining and it was warm so I quickly dumped my bags at my B & B and took off for a stroll down by the harbour.

and back up through the ruins of the cathedral

Later on in the evening I went in the opposite direction to East Sands and, never one to miss an opportunity to get right down by the water, I walked across the long stretch of sand watching oyster catchers and seagulls.

It was just beautiful! I was there for a meeting which took place the next day. So after the most delicious breakfast of home cooked scottish porridge followed by smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (I did consider taking a photo of the food but thought it would look a little strange - can you tell a blogger by the fact that the camera comes out in the most unlikely places!?) I took the opportunity to visit Di Gilpin's cosy wool emporium which was featured in Country Living last February (so the lady in the shop told me!). I resisted all temptations to buy the most gorgeously soft and colourful wool imaginable and just left with her card!!

Then it was time to come home, this time via Edinburgh and to the airport for a very late flight
but there was still time for some last-minute photos through the windows!

I really fell in love with St. Andrews. I could see myself living there, opening a fabric/needlework shop (they don't have one at all!) and enjoying those long walks along the coast in the evening! Ahhhhh - it's fun to pipe dream!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Thoughtful Friday 7

"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds.
Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson


Back in March I planted some potatoes in two large containers and last weekend it was time to dig them up. Now we have a lovely lot of new potatoes to eat with our meals and don't they taste so different from those bought in the shop?

Good job I dug these babies up before all the rain we have had this week!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Little Luxury!

Well, try as I might to get a photo to display which showed the inside of one of the Hilton Hotel bedrooms, it is not happening! Suffice to say I did have the opportunity to stay at the Hilton Hotel for one night on Friday while on a semi-business/voluntary couple of days. Now you would have to know that I have not often stayed in such places throughout my life and when I do now I really enjoy the experience: the La Souce products by Crabtree and Evelyn which are always provided; crisp, clean white sheets and soft light duvet; huge bed; more lights than I can count;a very clean and easy to use bathroom complete with bathrobe and so on. Of course I wasn't in the room for very long as after I checked in, there was just time to change before it was dinner which went on until 10.45pm or so and it was up next morning at 6.30am in time for breakfast at 7.30am but it was still a luxurious experience!

Today has been much more back to reality with cleaning my own bathroom, kitchen etc and tackling the ironing - just 9 shirts today as daughter no.1 helped me by doing others! However I did have something rather nice to spur me on - a new ironing board courtesy of the sale at Cath Kidston!

And hopefully there should be a new tablecloth wending its way to me through the post too!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Thoughtful Friday

"How to be happy when you are miserable. Plant Japanese poppies with cornflowers and mignonette, and bed out the petunias among the sweet-peas so that they shall scent each other. See the sweet-peas coming up.
Drink very good tea out of a thin Worcester cup of a colour between apricot and pink....."
Rumer Godden
(I know the picture is a lilly and not any of the flowers mentioned but as I didn't have any photos of poppies, sweet peas, cornflowers or mignonette I thought the lilly was just as much a tonic!)

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Finished at last!

My first machine pieced, hand-quilted patchwork quilt. Not perfect but it was fun to do and I want to do more. The whole hand-quilting is quite therapeutic and I really enjoyed it. Now I just need to sort out which quilt blocks I am going to do for the joint quilt my friend in Canada and I are making (two quilts exactly the same so we make two blocks identical and send one to each other!).