Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Visiting Father Christmas

We popped along the road to Ham House on Sunday, where we followed a trail to Father Christmas's Grotto.

It was great fun, running around the garden looking for clues, making  a magic word which we could  tell Father Christmas when we met him.

I don't know who enjoyed it the most, our six year old daughter or my husband and me!

Ham House

Lots of Fun

Christmas decorations

The first clue was here, under this exotic fruit

We read the clues and filled in the wordsearch

Riding lessons at a nearby stables

More clues, and directions to the next one!

The clues were in the most unlikely of places

Wintery light dappling this wall

Another clue

They were all attached to bowler hats

Every where looked cold... Brrrr!

Some vegetables were still growing in the garden

But most were gone

the Holly looked spectacular

At last the final clue

We're nearly there!

Hot drinks for those feeling the cold

And here is Father Christmas!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Decorating for Christmas

When I looked out of the window this morning I thought I might be able to photograph some lovely wintery scenes, but sadly, by the time I returned from dropping my daughter at school, the sprinkling of snow had disappeared.

On Monday, when I had picked her up from school she had let our a plaintive cry, "I am the only person in my class who has not got her tree up at home!"  Poor lamb.

So yesterday, to remedy this dreadful disaster I set about decorating the house.  I put the tree up with the lights, but left the decorating for her to do, while I focused on shelves and windows.

I always feel quite thrifty when I decorate, as I reuse many things from year to year, in particular my crib figures, I just move them around to different places in the house, but one is always on the dining room windowsill and one on the living room bookcase.

As the song says; "It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!"

My beautiful Mexican crib figures
I bought them when the boys were small
they were made by a fairtrade cooperative in Mexico

These Italian figures are more recent
I love their simple elegance

I am rather partial to deer
and the turkey candlestick holders came from the States
(I think they are for Thanksgiving, but I always use them
at Christmas)

These are waiting to be 'homed'
The penguins and polar bears are for cake decorations

My new decorations this year, seem to all have some tartan
(it must be my Scottish roots!)

Monday, 5 November 2012

Picking Sloes and Blackberries

We spent a chilly and slightly damp weekend in Ireland, just before Halloween,  but the weather did not prevent me from picking sloes and this week I plan to make some Sloe Gin!

I love  Autumn, the preparation for the cold of winter, making delicious supplies which will be here  for  both  family, and  as seasonal gifts for friends.

This week, as well as sloe gin, I plan to bake my Christmas cake, prepare some mincemeat and make various scrumptious chutneys.

Sloes are mini plums, which grow wild,
be careful when picking as the trees are very thorny!

Some times they can be tricky to pick out
well hidden behind the bare branches.

It's worth the hard work though, there is nothing
as wonderful as warming glass of sloe gin
after a long winter's walk.

The crop was sparse this year,
but I hope I have enough for three to four bottles.

Amazingly the blackberries were still around,
my sister in law made a scrumptious blackberry
and apple crumble.

And it was very wet...

So lots and lots...

of mushrooms

Sadly I didn't have an identification book with me
so left them well alone.

It was wonderful to come into the house
 out of the chill and damp
and sit by the fire

Or the range!

We were joined by some wonderful
Halloween characters

And had a cheerful, fun

 Halloween evening.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Decorating for Halloween

I love Halloween, there's something timeless and magical about it.  Perhaps it's because it's an ancient pre-Christian Celtic festival, and despite my English birth and upbringing I like to think I am spiritually celtic, with Scottish and Irish Grandparents I think I can justify the claim.

I enjoy having a small child who enters into the spirit of the day.  Yesterday she got up and dressed as a witch all day, a good, kind and beautiful witch of course.

We had a lovely lunch to which she had invited the other little girls in her class from school,  they all came dressed up too.

After lunch we went to Ham House to see the Halloween festivities there, and as well as doing a Halloween trail in the garden we spent a while in the kitchens.  While my daughter and her friend spent time 'cooking'  I was able to photograph the magnificent Pumpkins.

An orangey Halloween arrangement

As the girls were mainly in the dining room
I concentrated the decorations there

Lots of pumpkins and spiders

I do love the cobwebs, such great fun

And very effective

More Halloween/Autumnal decoration

Scary!  This was at Ham House

Amazing Pumpkins, all grown in the gardens of Ham House

Beautiful shapes, colours and textures


I'm not sure, but do you know if these are Medlars?
I really want to find some and make some preserves
but I think they are only grown in gardens, and are not
a cash crop?
Any ideas?