I make no secret of my enthusiasm for the Hummingbird Bakery’s cookbooks, and I am naturally no less enthusiastic about the bakeries themselves! I spotted a new branch open in Islington in London on a recent trip to the big smoke so I thought I’d pop in and check the cakes were up to scratch. Of course, they were, and my pink vanilla cupcake was snarfled in next to no time at all…
Chocolate chip cookies are one of my favourites- they taste of my childhood. One needs the proper chips for them, however, and these are difficult to obtain in the UK. Only Nestle Toll House chips will do. I pleaded with my mother to bring me some this past Christmas and she obliged, so last week I made a batch.
They came out perfectly and were well-received by all who tasted them. The recipe is here, and for UK bakers, it is imperative to replace the ‘All-purpose flour’ with strong white bread flour.
Since my sister got me into knitting, I have become a bit obsessed. As I have said previously, it is the perfect meditation after a busy, stressful day at work, and since my knitting has improved with practice I am really enjoying trying out new techniques. My recent projects include my orange cowl, which is very lovely and soft, and was quite a time-consuming project. It is essentially a big rectangle, which you knit from the wide edge, so each row was over 200 stitches! At the beginning, it took me 15 minutes to knit a row, and by the end I was down to around 10 minutes.
For my last birthday, Lizzie got me the wool and pattern to knit my own pink cashmere bed socks, and they were my first introduction to cabling. When I look at them now I can see the unevenness as I struggled to find the right way to hold the wool, and keep the tension even (I knitted them before the cowl) but I am still proud of my first proper knitting project.
The wool for my cowl was so gorgeous I bought some in a different colour just on a whim, and then decided to make wrist-warmers with it, to keep my hands and wrists warm while I knit (how very circular). I have just finished them and am very pleased. Next project!
I love snow. Why I live in the southwest of England, given this, is a bit of a mystery. Although, as I have frequently documented on this blog, the southwest has many other redeeming features which may make up for the lack of frequent snow.
Two weeks ago, though, there was proper snow. The sort you have to shovel. We were away for some of it (see previous post) but when we got home on the Sunday there was shovelling, snowball-throwing, and hot cocoa-making. I took a few photos but as it was cloudy, things weren’t as sparkly white as I would have liked. Still- snow!! (It’s now a distant memory, sadly…)
For my Christmas present, Mark arranged for us to take a long weekend trip down to Dartmoor, to stay in a manor house hotel near the moors and luxuriate in good food, lovely surroundings, and quiet winter walks. The trip was absolutely wonderful and coincided with snow, which made everything a bit more magical. We woke up on Friday to a dusting of snow, which was more pronounced on the top of the moors. A snowy walk around a reservoir worked up our appetites for afternoon tea and cake. The following day we went to visit Tintagel, the mythical birthplace of King Arthur. As it was winter, the shops selling tacky plastic swords were mercifully shut, and some wild and windy weather made the castle ruins very atmospheric. In fact, I don’t think they often get weather other than ‘wild and windy’, given the castle’s position right on the edge of the west coast, jutting out into the sea.
Frost in the sunshine is one of my favourite winter things. I feel so lucky to live in the countryside and have the possibility of waking up to sleepy hillsides with mist rising and frost on the fields twinkling in the sunshine. It has been warm-ish and soggy the past few weeks, not proper winter at all, but this weekend we are due for a frost and I cannot wait to wake up and go for an early-morning scrunch across the fields. (Just IMAGINE how excited I will be if it snows, which I am sure it will not, but maybemaybemaybe it will!)
I took these photos a few weeks ago, during the last cold spell. Fingers crossed for similar scenes tomorrow.
New years’ day was sunny and glorious- hopefully a sign of things to come. We walked around Blagdon lake, sometimes on footpaths and sometimes on country lanes. The views were beautiful, and the lake very quiet. It is a nature reserve and a habitat for lots of birds and other wildlife. I feel very lucky to have this landscape on my doorstep.