too many freaks……..

too many freaks not enough circuses

our friends Mark and Vicki bought this fabulous picture (great find V!!) for JC’s birthday last year from a maker on folksy. It is a lovely combination of artistic talent and recycling. It hangs at the bottom of our stairs which are open onto our dining room.

It is a great talking point but never has it’s message been more appreciated than one Friday night recently, when after supper (and just a few glasses of wine), we (husband, sis & I) started reminiscing about our favourite tunes. Needless to say it involved the 80s, the 90s, more wine and some questionable dance moves.

My teenage niece, who was with us (but not drinking wine, I hasten to add) doesn’t seem to be very appreciative of, or feel any benefit from our delighted reliving of all things good and musical from our younger years. She neither contributed to or supported our singing efforts and awesome dancing skills!! (as you can imagine).

I’d go so far as to say that she wasn’t remotely impressed and generally spent the whole night either nodding towards the afore mentioned picture in a meaningful way or making disparaging comments on FB about it. She was actually irritated which just fuelled our delight in our endeavours and we found that even funnier than any of the dodgy tunes.

It was weeks ago and we are still talking about it and that is because it was clearly THAT GOOD!!

food, glorious food

the last one!

We seem to be accumulating friends that are demons in the kitchen.  I already wax lyrical about my friend V and her culinary skills. All of our friends can put together a tidy supper party really and our new upstairs neighbours are rapidly joining the ranks of our foody friends.

a lovely crunchy coating of meringue

Jess and Jules came to supper on Saturday night and very kindly brought pudding. We have enjoyed their hospitality already and we took pudding ourselves so it has kind of set the tone.  I had mentioned when we were enjoying their grub and grog that my favourite pudding of all time was lemon meringue pie. Imagine my dribbling delight when 6 perfectly formed, single portion, lemon meringue pies arrived through our door at 8pm on Saturday night.

who gets the last one then?

I admire anyone who can make good pastry.  All my attempts are disastrous and I always end up buying it ready made. I’m pretty bad at yorkshire puddings too (my northern roots mean I am pretty ashamed to have to make that claim) so feel slightly let down by all things flour!!!

only crumbs left

My niece, my sis and my step mum all seem incredibly good at pastry as is my friend V (unquestionably good) and I really wish I could get it. Until I do, however, Jusroll is going to have to save me (or our friends are!)!!

happy valentine

I was having a clear out the other day (as I am prone to do so every now and again) and always feel a mix of satisfaction and extreme frustration when I do.

It is simple, whenever I try to be ruthless about some of the things we own that NEVER get looked at from year to year, I end up just tidying them up instead of throwing them out.

You know the things; the books you’ll never read, the pictures you’ll never frame, the clothes you’ll never wear (and may never have done), that wet suit from your one summer wind surfing, your granddad’s gardening stuff and generally ‘things’.

My idea of the perfect living environment is reasonably clear surfaces and I am constantly trying to achieve them but tend to fail!

Anyway, whilst doing the clearing, I came across a scruffy little orange note book filled with very neat schoolgirl writing that was verse after verse of valentine rhymes for the subject of your desires.

It was so funny to see my own self in handwritten form (which would all be done using a keyboard now). Most of them are just cute and quite childlike in their sentiment whilst some are a bit cheeky.  None of them is really saucy or outright sexy (thank goodness since I think I must only have been about 13 when I wrote them all out). I must have thought they were all good! Some even have ticks next to them so I invariably used them!

my absolute favourite is:-

dearest darling ducky 

though behind your ears are mucky

i don’t mind 

cos love is blind

dearest darling ducky

I wonder who the lucky young chap was who saw that scribbled in a valentine card that arrived on his door mat one february the 14th?

it’s oh so cold

frosted poplars

I really didn’t expect to see anymore snow after last weekend and I certainly wasn’t expecting the temperatures to plummet quite as low as they have!

We are at our little house in east anglia this weekend which is boasting -16 degree temperatures today and it certainly felt that cold when we were out walking this morning.

striding off into the foggy distance

There was a slight breeze that made for interesting movement on laden trees and rushes.  The freezing temperatures through the night have added a layer of icing sugar onto everything that was already covered in snow and it has a real wonderland appearance; like any image you have in your head of Narnia.

Dark areas in woodland are illuminated with the light reflecting off the snow that has managed to make it’s way in there and although we were walking in frozen fog today there was a promising glow from the rising sun.

rushes laden with snow and frost

I remember the weather getting this bad as a kid but we must have enjoyed some very mild winters because it is news worthy now and it certainly seems to catch us unawares.

We managed to wear the dog out so much so that he has slept all day and couldn’t be convinced to take his second walk; very unusual. I suspect a roaring open fire had quite a bit to do with his reluctance.


setting sun over a freezing day

The sun’s appearance eventually cleared the fog and our surroundings have slowly sloughed off their ice white coating but the snow has not gone yet and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring: If the sunset is anything to go by, it will be glorious!

let it snow…..

early sunday am

I have lots to say about it but lets start with the undeniable claim that there is something rather charming about snow…..

silence on a snow covered street in north london early on a sunday

especially snow early in the morning and it doesn’t matter whether you are in the depths of the country or the depths of the city…..

I am often out walking the dog before daylight (madness I hear you say) but the quiet is fabulous.

there must be something in there!!

What is surprising though is just how many souls have been out before you, the evidence of which is generally not visible….. until it snows.

well it doesn't taste of anything!

The snow kills the sound and brings a wonderful light to everything so even a quiet little street in north london takes on romantic and pretty proportions.

picnic benches in the park

Trees change shape, light becomes lighter, there is an enormous amount of definition….

the ordinary becomes extraordinary….

the mundane becomes intoxicatingly beautiful…

and there are snowmen!!!! yay!!!!!!

working potential


Our little terrier comes with us most places and shooting is no exception. He stays on a peg with shivering anticipation and definitely watches mine or JC’s that have been shot.  He won’t retrieve but he will find them even if they have trotted off somewhere and wo betide any other dog that tries to get ‘his’ bird.

We’ve pretty much given up on him being a dog that picks up, this season didn’t herald any great changes there; Terriers don’t really have the mouth for it but we had always hoped.

We do, however, still harbour some hope that he will become a half decent beating dog.


It hadn’t occurred to us until reading and article in the shooting times about terriers like Ian Botham’s that retrieves from his lake or other articles in the field and shooting gazette where terriers are used for retrieving and beating, that he may be useful for beating at shoots. Just to reinforce the thought, we recently met a lad with a terrier on a shoot who has lots of success with his little dog even if he is sometimes a bit too enthusiastic.

Whenever we walk on the farm, our terrier manages to flush out birds that are laid low or hiding in the crops etc.  I’ve seen him pursue one that was trying to get away and he gets them flying every time.

He could be a handy beating dog as long as he doesn’t get too far ahead and turn the birds back, of course.  Something to work at I think.

I know there's something in there

as for rabbiting, well…..


there’s a certain element of caution attached to the entrances into the warren………