Adventures in Paris

More summer memories… in late August I went to Paris for work and the meeting times were so arranged that I actually had a few hours spare to explore the city a little bit.  This never normally happens on work trips, so I made the most of it!  I have not been to Paris for years and so asked my very good friend Emily, who lived there for a time, where I should go to occupy a couple of hours in the sunshine.  She suggested the Rodin museum and gardens, which was a wonderful idea.

It was difficult to photograph the sculptures while avoiding everyone else who was doing the same, and in any event I would never do them justice, so I humbly photographed my ice cream instead.  (This was more to record my wonder at the fact that, on a work day, I was in Paris eating lavender ice cream, than any aspirations to photographic excellence.)

I also came across one of the bridges with locks attached to it- a new custom sparked by a recent Italian novel, I understand.  They were quite unexpected and picturesque, glinting in the sun.


I walked to le ‘Relais de l’Entrecote’ for dinner (another Emily recommendation) which, apart from the company, was as good as I remembered it being when I went there with her a few years ago.

After dinner I walked back along the Seine to my hotel enjoying the late-evening warmth (not a common occurrence in England) with a stop to take the obligatory photo of the Tour Eiffel.  A good day at work.



Summer memories

Looking back through my photos, I’ve found a few from this summer which I never shared at the time.  The photos seem to indicate more sun than I remember having, but probably because I prefer to get the camera out in the sunshine for obvious reasons!

We were so excited to finally have a garden when we moved to our house in the countryside, and we have really enjoyed having a bit of outside space this summer.  I can’t say that we’ve made huge inroads into the world of ‘proper’ gardening but I bought a few seed packets and herbs and things and put them in pots.

Here they are newly planted in July: parsley, mint, lavender, chives and tarragon.  The slugs seemed to love the parsley and the chives, and the latter is now unfortunately defunct.  The tarragon also probably got more rain and less sun than was good for it.  Still, it was nice having green things growing and I’ve moved the pots into the porch now for the winter so I can still pick mint and parsley, and look at the lavender.

We also grew lettuce and radishes, which both we and the slugs found very tasty.

A blueberry cake from the ever-present Hummingbird Bakery cookbook- very moist and yummy, especially with the fruit.  It was an enormous volume of cake though- I think it actually took more than a week to eat up, even with visitors helping.  Unprecedented!

Mark found a milk churn behind the shed one day, and we put it by the back door as a little resting-spot for things like bags and travel mugs of tea for when one needs to fish around for keys to get in or out of the house.  The churn was apparently from the days when the house was a farmhouse for a dairy farm, so is properly authentic!

We also walked up to the top of the hills behind our house one late evening, to watch the sun set over the valley.  It’s the kind of thing we continually said we should do, but it took us a little while to get around to doing it.  It was lovely though- a very peaceful way to end the day.  The light on the grasses were gorgeous as the sun slanted across the hills.

It all seems a long time ago now, as we face floodwaters on the roads and read news reports of accidents caused by the heavy rain and gale-force winds.  Perhaps it is nearly time for a bit of christmas cheer to lift the gloom…


Very belated birthday cupcakes

It was my sister’s birthday this week, and since she is now all the way in Australia (sniff) I cannot make her a birthday cake.  When I go to visit her I will make one to compensate, no matter how belated it is!  Which brings me to very, very belated photos of my own birthday cake(s).  My birthday is in July, so these are fairly out of date, to say the least, but I’ve just realised I never posted them.

I am firmly of the opinion that one can never have too much cake.  I also have a baking reputation to uphold at work.  I therefore turned to the trusty Hummingbird Bakery ‘Cake Days’ cookbook for some cupcake recipes- I made hot chocolate cupcakes to take into work during the week (and even had the forethought to acquire some very miniature marshmallows with which to decorate them), and vanilla cupcakes the following weekend with my sister.

Needless to say, both were excellent, as I find is always the way with Hummingbird recipes.







Views around the garden

It is sunny today, so I was inspired to get out the proper camera (so easy and lazy, having the iPhone and Hipstamatic) and investigate various corners of the garden.  Our Japanese maple tree is currently ablaze, and the pink hydrangeas have turned a gorgeous shade of deep magenta tinged with dusty green and hints of purple.  I have cut a few and dried them, hoping they’ll last through the winter as a reminder of warmer days.  There are a couple of apples still on the tree which we couldn’t reach, which continue to cling bravely to their branches.  The lavender is also having a final hurrah.








Office views part III- the local trees

Sunlight through trees is one of my favourite things to look at… it reminds me of being at home in the US in the hammock in summer, gently swinging (even though swinging in the hammock was naughty because we might fall out or damage it) and watching the leaves turn different shades of green as the breeze shook them in the sun.

On a (rare) sunny day, I do my best to take a walk to a nearby park, where I can go and sit on a bench and stare up at the trees.

I took the first photo in the summer on a gorgeous warm afternoon. The little summer we had is now a distant memory, but last week we had a crisp autumn day and I walked through the park onto a footpath along the river and took the second photo in a brief sunny spell. As I write I realise I have been remiss in capturing autumn foliage in all its glory- fingers crossed for a sunny day tomorrow!



Sweet and salty chocolate cake

Well, that last post was a bit of an experiment with the WordPress app on my phone. I am sure everyone else knew about that, but I didn’t, so am now feeling simultaneously very technologically advanced, and still behind the curve.

We had a joint birthday the other week for my stepdad Pete and my uncle Tim, and I was asked to produce a ‘gooey’ chocolate cake. Fancying a challenge, I set about making the sweet and salty chocolate cake from the Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days book. It involves making two lots of caramel, mixing one with chocolate, and making some kind of fancy icing out of it which I’d never tried before, having first layered the other caramel onto the cake. It mostly turned out absolutely fine, and received rave reviews from taste testers, but I would like to make it again and do it better next time.