September

September is my favourite month for many, many reasons.

The end of September always makes me a little sad but but I am always looking forward very much to the next one.

It is filled with lovely things for us:-

It is the month we take our main annual holiday

The Shropshire Way

Walking – The Shropshire Way

It is the month of Burghley Horse Trials

Burghley Horse Trial

Burghley Horse Trial – Burghley

It is the month of harvest

Harvest in Northumberland

Harvest – Northumberland

It is the month of Sandringham Game Fair

Horse Boarding - Sandringham Game Fair

Horse Boarding – Sandringham Game Fair

It is a month when we do most of our walking

walking - The Lakes

Walking – The Lakes

It is the month when the best fungi appear.

Fungi - Fly Ageric

Fungi – Fly Ageric

It is the month of Food Festivals across the country. Ludlow being our favourite.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle

It is the month for Bramble picking & making Jam.

Brambles

Brambles

It is the month of Indian Summers when the heat has left the sun but the cold months are not showing themselves yet.

September Sun - Ford Village

September Sun – Ford Village

It is the month we got our hound and collected him when he was just 8 weeks old.

Max

Max

And it is the month we got married

September Wedding - Rings

September Wedding – Rings

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tea total

delicious tea - cute graphics too

delicious tea – cute graphics too

I love tea!

My husband thinks I’m addicted to it.

I don’t want poncey tea, I’m a PG/yorkshire tea girl and I like it made just like builders tea (but without the 4 sugars – half will do as I’m pretending I don’t take sugar!).

I am aware that a cup contains about half the caffeine (50 caffeine points – or whatever they are measured in) as coffee (100) and that I should really be on the green tea wagon with everyone else but the honest answer is that I can’t stand green tea and it is a waste of hot water and a clean mug in my book (quite apart from the fact that I keep trying it, it still goes cold in the mug and gets thrown away!!) so there is little point.

And whilst a score of 450 on the caffeine front is still very much within the safety limits, and means I can have 9 cups per day, no problem. Most days, though, I don’t come anywhere near that

BUT

In the interests of health and also because I am not short sighted enough not to realise that there might just be a green tea/tree hugger tea out there for me, I have been trying a few things.

So…………

I have a number of different boxed tea bags and leaf tea to try and decided to give each tea a score.

Twinings Green Jasmine Tea

I started with this one as I already know that I quick like jasmine tea (as served in good Chinese restaurants). I have discovered that the leaves need to be so few in number or they really only need to see the water for a few seconds before the leaves need to come out.  Otherwise it becomes quite overpowering and has a stewed bitterness to the flavour.

too many leaves and left too long

too many leaves and left too long

Score 5/10

Whittards Hangover Tea Bags 

I don’t buy this tea for hangovers but because it is THE nicest fruit tea on the market bar none. Hard to come by as they seem to run out on a terrifyingly frequent basis so I used to buy about 4 boxes each time I got the chance & have a little supply that will see me through a fair few cups.

I like it because it is fresh, fruity and not too sweet. You can pick out the fruitiness and it feels like a nice clean wholesome flavour. It contains Hibiscus Flower and I think that May well be where the lovely taste comes

AND

The colour is lovely

fruitylicious

fruitylicious

Score 9/10

Twinings Early Grey Tea

Earl Grey has been in the news recently for it’s heart healing properties all thanks to the wonderful Bergamot used to flavour it (smells pretty nice too and I love it in skincare products!). I hated Earl Grey when I first tried it as a teenager but it has become a store cupboard favourite. I think putting Earl Grey in makes this little test a bit of a cheat but I would definitely say it ranks up there with the herbal tea teas for it’s health properties..

Score 9.5/10

M&S Citrus Tea

I always have lemon tea of some kind in my cupboards as a few people who visit seem to drink it so it was quite readily on hand to try.

It’s OK and it is probably done better by others but there is still that slightly grassy taste about it which puts me off. I didn’t have it very strong (having learned my lesson on the Jasmine Tea) and that is definitely an advantage until your palate becomes accustomed.

I might persevere with this one as it’s ok but I do very much like a simple single slice of lemon in hot water. It is also a good way to wake up your liver I believe.

Score 6/10

Sage Tea

It is lovely and much less like drinking grass cuttings than most herb teas. It has such useful and powerful herbal and medicinal properties too that it is worth having in your garden for drinking even if it doesn’t get into your christmas stuffing:- it is cooling in the heat and also reduces menopausal hot flushes to name but a few.

a few tender green leaves in boiled water releases the essential oils

a few tender green leaves in boiled water releases the essential oils

sage is so easy to grow

sage is so easy to grow

Fresh has also got to be better though so this was straight from our garden.

Score 8/10

Mint Tea

Lovely and refreshing even in the heat, mint tea is so simple and easy.  Again, fresh leaves straight from the Garden and into the pot.

Rosemary Tea

Like the mint tea, this has a freshness to it that makes it lovely to drink in the heat (Rosemary is part of the Mint family) and has great healing properties. Known to boost the immune system, it also improves blood circulation, is a great anti-inflammatory and is full of those lovely anti oxidants.

All round a great herb.

What you don’t drink or cook with is also great to use in handmade skincare.

 

Whittards Lemon & Lime Tea

Then of course there is the pretend tea……

The turkish do a wonderful apple tea, the principle of which a lot of the flavoured sugars that dissolve into an instant tea follow.

This Whittards Lemon & Lime Tea has too much sugar for my pallet but it is very refreshing, especially served ice cold.

Whittard's Lemon & Lime Tea Granules

Whittard’s Lemon & Lime Tea Granules

Score 7/10

Builders tea still scores 10/10 compared to all these others but I’m getting there and drink a greater variety than just my PG now.

builder's tea

builder’s tea

The next question is whether it tastes better made in the cup or in the pot? AND should the milk go in first or afterwards?


olloclip

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

I use an iPhone (5) and I love it.

I use it every day for emails, calls, texts, vibe, whatsapp, FB, instagram, twitter, maps, waze, evernote, pinterest, contacts, calendar….. you name it.

I didn’t think that the camera on the phone could be improved as it such good quality already. the iPhone 6 has probably managed to improve the camera further but until I have an iPhone 6, I will have to wait to see.

But I read somewhere ages and ages ago that there was a little attachable lens was available from a company called Olloclip to use with the phone as an attachment, providing more flexibility and giving you a tool that would truly explore the potential of the smashing lens in this little phone.

As an early christmas present to myself, I ordered the 4-in-1 combo. This provides you with a fish eye, wide angle and 2 strengths of macro lens.

I have a canon 6D that I use all the time and have a variety of different lenses for it. It provides such good quality shots that I use it for serious photography and pictures of my work but I have never really considered the iPhone to be a contender for serious shots.  As good as it is, how could it possibly be used as a serious working camera?

The review were good but my true expectations for what the addition of the olloclip could do to the camera on the iPhone were limited, but the results have been amazing.

It is tiny attachment and a bit fiddly and would be very easy to lose but if you have the time and the patience along with helpful additions to your camera bag such as a gorilla pod and a clip for your phone, you can set it up to get great photos.

It is great fun and the results are very effective.

Olloclip has an instagram account where people share their images using the olloclip and some are truly incredible.

I need some time to get more interesting shots and I have not taken advantage of the wide angle fitting yet but I’m delighted with the macro results

See for yourself……… all taken with the phone hand held without the support or steadiness of a tripod, gorilla pod or surface

Fish Eye

hand held at eye level

at eye level

seated

seated

10x Macro

flower head - hand held

flower head

daisy - hand held

daisy

rotting knot in fallen tree - hand held

rotting knot in fallen tree

15x Macro

drooping flower head

drooping flower head

detail from flower

detail from flower

offset shot of flower - my favourite

offset shot of flower – my favourite

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

dandelion clock

 

 


coffee adventures

it's frothy man

it’s frothy man

After such excitement over our gorgeous new coffee machine, we have had some disappointments.

Our lovely machine blew something inside and was no longer safe to use with water and steam spewing out everywhere.

John Lewis were brilliant about it and because they had no De Longhi stock to replace it and it was dangerous, they refunded us in full and the pretty machine was condemned to the bin, unfortunately.

pixie!

pixie!

We were back to our traditional italian stove top coffee maker for a while and still loving our coffee.

But we missed the frothy milk and the espressos that JC likes. Coffee and hot milk done the old fashioned way just wasn’t hacking it.

traditional stove top coffee maker

traditional stove top coffee maker

After all it is still a bit of a faff using the stove top and a milk pan and even a wonderful morning coffee we can get from our wonderfully seasoned old campaigner hasn’t hacked it really.

We are busy and things need to be as easy as possible really

So!!!!

Having taken full advantage of our lovely friends thorough research, we are now the proud owners of a Nespresso Pixie with aerochino!

And it is wonderful

And it is easy

And there is no mess

And it is cheaper than buying beans and ground.

 

And we have found a fantastic clever devise for storing our pods that can be fixed to the underside of the kitchen wall cupboard. Right on hand but not seen. Marvellous.

pod holder

pod holder

Or mounted on the wall like a piece of art.

wall mounted pod holder

wall mounted pod holder

Finding the flavours that are right for us but it is fun trying and we have had some very helpful tips.

shiney and brilliant

shiney and brilliant

I feel coffee love again!!!


a bit of DIY

the old fire place

the old fire place

There used to be a very imposing and completely inappropriate fire place in the living room of our little lincolnshire house. I have always hated it.

It has long been the source of discussion and apart from being architecturally wrong for the period of the house, the size is too grand for a house with such tiny proportions.

gone

gone

A particular picture from a magazine page has been gracing our notice board for a long time by way of inspiration and finally it came into it’s own.

We set about tackling the beast in the may bank holiday weekend in 2013! We carried on over our september holiday (which is our only real holiday of the year!) working into the night most days and finally got everything back into shape ready for christmas.

It had taken us a day to strip out the entire fire, hearth and mantle surround (in tact too). I popped it on ebay to raise a few extra pounds to pay for the materials (now restored and in a local shop). Then we spent a day preparing the space for a new hearth plinth of slate tiles.

brickwork exposed

brickwork exposed

The plastering (husband has good skills but kept this one hidden) took up the Monday by the end of which  the plaster was the only sign left of where the old surround had been.

freshly plastered

freshly plastered

It’s quite satisfying stripping something like this out and revealing what is behind.  We weren’t sure how wide the fire opening would be or if the brickwork would be in good order.

Imagine our delight when a nice wide opening with a lintel and good brickwork revealed itself and all in tact.

Even with the fireplace out and the brickwork exposed with no new wood burner, the improvement was immense and we couldn’t have been happier.

wood burner and slate hearth

wood burner and slate hearth

We picked out the wood burner we wanted and booked the installation for later in the summer.

ahh cosy

ahh cosy

Eventually the day came and we got the wood burning stove fitted and someone couldn’t wait to get that bad boy fired up and it was barely dry from the installation.

the dreaded decorating

the dreaded decorating

This long awaited change also meant we could start the very long over due decorating. No great shakes; just a spruce up as it was starting to look tired and sooty from the old fire.

The biggest change would be painting out the timber skirtings, cills and door surrounds which I particularly hated.

the dog bed gets the best spot in the house!

the dog bed gets the best spot in the house!

That just leaves the rest of the house to do now and the decoration has made the other areas look REALLY shabby. Forth Bridge comes to mind!

tada!! just a mantle shelf needed now

tada!! just a mantle shelf needed now


doggy DNA

wadya mean, the hammock’s not ACTUALLY for me!

We have been enjoying the Kate Humble and Steve Leonard ‘The Wonder of Dogs’ programme on BBC2 Thursday nights which explores all the amazing things that a lot of us don’t know about our best friends.

 

Sadly it is now finished but it covered the science of breeding, intelligence, breed traits, how humans have ‘used’ dogs in history as well as how we have welcomed them into our homes.

what?

It is done in hand with an open university course so it is scientific in it’s approach but it is executed with a huge sense of fun. If you have the slightest interest in dogs or our relationship with them, you will find it fascinating and it can’t do dog reputation any harm after some of the horrendous and tragic articles in the news about dogs lately.

love the snow (hate the coat!)

love the snow (hate the coat!)

We have taken quite a lot of stick from friends and family about the parentage of our JRT Max who was supposed to be 10″ long (the last coat we bout him was 20″ long). He displays traits that you’d find in other breeds and not JRTs (he points – sort of ha ha). He isn’t mad and yappy like a lot of terriers and he isn’t very terrier like in many other ways.

they'll never find me in here

they’ll never find me in here

Fox Hound, Dalmation, labrador, beagle are to name but a few of the breeds that people have wondered what he really might be. Pretty much anything other than a Jack Russell!!

how can you resist those eyes

how can you resist those eyes

We did everything right when we got him, we met the parents, went to the home where he was born and all of the things that the sellers told us about the others that they had from the same parents was pretty true.

ready for action

ready for action

He is a  great family dog, he loves kids and he does look like his mum and his dad.

Clearly there is something else going on somewhere though and the breed traits and DNA tests that were covered in the programme a couple of weeks ago got us thinking.

So JC sent for a home doggy DNA kit (is there ANYTHING that Amazon don’t sell?) and the results were emailed through to us this week.

chillaxing

chillaxing

So!! To all those doubters…….

He is in fact very much a Jack Russell Terrier but he also has a bit of Fox Terrier in him from grandparents and from his great grandparents there is…………………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHIPPET!!


Utility Boot Rooms

I hate mess and things that are untidy need to be out of the way; behind a door or drawer front of some sort if remotely possible.

I love a well ordered, easy to manage spaces

neat and ordered

inspiring – neat and ordered

These spaces in other peoples homes are inspiring and I’m very envious.

colourful and organised

practical – colourful and organised

We have an odd shaped area off our lincolnshire kitchen which was used as a dining space by the previous owners.

It’s narrow and really doesn’t lend itself to anything other than somewhere to dump stuff.  It houses the hoover, dishwasher, washing machine, ironing and has become somewhere to hang coats so it has become our Utility/Boot Room.

coats, boots and many, many other bits

coats, boots and many, many other bits

It is far from perfect but does a sterling job in providing hanging space for a rather large collection of green coats and long boots.  It needs a few things adding such as a  clothes dolly so we can dry the washing without calling on the radiators or having a clothes horse standing in the way somewhere on those wet days when it will be wetter if it was hung outside.

We have a clothes dolly; it is stored in the garage but that is as far as it has got so far.

a sea of green and camo

a sea of green and camo

The space also needs blocking off with a bit or wall and a dipped pine door (that we also have stored in our garage).  The opening is already partly closed off and begs to be finished.

We have made some progress though……

machines and bags and stuff

machines and bags and stuff

It now boasts a worktop where there had previously been none.

It has transformed the space. It provides a valuable and incredibly useful surface for dumping things on such as the dog’s towels, shopping basket, dog leads, binoculars, cameras, wallets, keys and all those other things that we need handy pretty much all of the time.

picnic baskets and blankets

picnic baskets and blankets

I think the dogs feel safer having their beds underneath something when they have a sleep to so I think they like the change.

baskets and storage

baskets and storage

It has worked well so far and I can’t wait for the door and wall to be done so we can close it off from our coats smelling of our last meal and we won’t have to look at all the mess anymore.  Just as it should be!!

There’s a man in the village who I have all my hopes pinned on!