Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Goodbye to Uncle Colin

Whilst we were on Holiday, my dear Uncle Colin passed away.  Just shy of his 90th birthday, he had  been very poorly for the previous few weeks, and was looked after very well at home.  So my home coming was subdued, and I have been thinking about him since then.  Today I went into the garden, thinking of him and Aunty Doreen, and saw that the Lilly of the Valley was ready for picking.  I came back from their home a few years ago with a variety of plants, and this one has grown very well.  So this is the time to pay a small tribute to him.  Thank you for all you love.

Uncle Colin lived in Lincolnshire all his life, which was full and interesting, and very happy.  Well as far as I know, I shall correct this if not, maybe he went overseas for his military service.  When I was young and living in Mauritius, I started up a pen friendship with his daughter: my cousin Christine.  I guess now we would be friends on Facebook or such like, but in those days, letters were the standard and that took longer.  I remember a little brooch I received one year, made of hazelnuts into a little red squirrel as a Christmas Present.

When visiting their home on family visits to the UK, and later when I was at school here, and also in more recent years, I was always made most welcome.  Uncle Colin had the characteristic traits of the Greenfield boys/men:  tall, handsome, hard working, loyal, good gardeners, and also with a great sense of fun.  He loved the country, wildlife and country walks.  He always was a good listener  and last time I visited and stayed  I was so impressed with the way he was coping.  He had patiently taught birds to come and feed from his hand, taking out raisins each morning after breakfast.  He even made us all salmon sandwiches, just the way they like them there: brown bread, tinned salmon, vinegar etc..delicious.

I also remember now the time we bumped into each other in Lincoln in 2009.  No more chances of this now, but I shall always remember him when I see or smell Lilly of the Valley.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Mallorca: Day at Valldemossa

The local buses are very good, but watch out for the more limited timetable on Saturdays, Sundays, and Bank Holidays which means that buses can be quite full particularly on Market Day.  They are however on time, and for the late afternoon slot, they must have anticipated this, and put on two buses.  I love to visit markets to see what local small holders, farmers, and food producers are bringing in, but Mr S is not quite so interested, mainly because there are also the usual stalls of clothes, bags etc.  Sunday is market day in Valldemossa, and it is held on a car park  away from the mainly pedestrianized town centre, and well worth visiting if you are there.  There are still cars on the cobbled streets, but I think there must be a system for residents to park close to their homes, without the drag of passing traffic going through.

This time we passed on the Museum and Palau del Rei Sanc, thinking we would visit again later in the week!  It was far too nice to be inside.  We arrived at about 11 and the streets were still quiet.  We walked into the little park, where neat beds of roses were in full flower.  Looking up we had a view of the Monastery

  We explored side streets

found interesting hanging gardens of succulents and other 'house' plants, usually on the shadier side of the houses to avoid the hot sunshine.

down one little alley, we found the perfect little cafe for a break

At first we were totally on our own, and spent nearly half an hour enjoying the most wonderful of views.  After that there were flocks of people, who must have arrived on a coach, visited the Museums, then come tumbling out.

Down another road, there was a sign, a small entrance, and a shop jammed with locals...what other could it be than a baker?  Of course we went in.  This was not a show bakery, but with seats for some of the elderly customers, they sat chatting away amongst themselves.  It felt  like the best of  community centres.  They must have been waiting for their orders.  We bought bits and pieces of delicious pies and tarts for a picnic lunch, but we also spied a tapas bar opposite so later ended there for wine and nibbles after our walk up a country path.

The main roads are lined with interesting souvenir shops, bars and restaurants, but there were also other interesting side streets worth visiting.

Along one road leading to the home of a chapel dedicated to Catalina Thomas, the houses have different tiles

The architecture all around the old town is interesting.  The town is clean and tidy and well maintained.  Down one small side street, it seemed as it you were walking through what may have once been a group of farm houses, with the upper story of the larger house being open to one side with stone arches holding up the roof.  I could just imagine fruit, and vegetables being dried there.  Maybe it was simply a lovely cooler 'outdoor' living room with wonderful views across the valley.  I just felt like letting my imagination 'invent' the scene, authentic or not, the romance of the place had really got into me.  We had fully intended revisiting Valldemossa during our stay, but we ran out of time, there will definitely be a next time.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Ninos Envueltos

I am just so laid back after my holiday, I feel no pressure, I am relaxed, but the converse of this is that I am falling behind with my usual routine.  Don't get me wrong, the washing and ironing are up to date, the house cleanish, the garden I just cannot keep up as it is growing up so fast.  Since I started on the Facebook challenge I have kept up to date with the current bakes, whilst trying to catch up.  But I have fallen behind because of this 'mood'.

As soon as I had arranged with Penny and little Daniel to come round, I knew that I wanted to bake these little swirly buns, these Ninos Envueltos from Jane Mason's Book.  I managed to do a few things during the various risings.  If you want to know a little more about them, and I know you will be getting the book, because it is so full of fabulous buns, then you can have a peep at Self Raising Flowers article which I have linked to above.

For the filling I chose my latest preserve made on Friday:  Apricot conserve, and used a few more sliced almonds.  In the end I patted the dough out to shape, started with a big dollop of apricot.

then started adding more

and when it was covered added some flaked almonds

I was meant to get 16, but only managed to cut 14, obviously I had not stretched the long roll sufficiently, or patted wide enough.  The directions give slices 1cm wide, well that is quite tricky to cut them this thin.  Whilst they were baking little Daniel was snoozing in his push chair in the hall.

Once awake, Daniel went to explore the garden, we found a little frog, then came back for a snack

then on to the park for his first ride on the zip wire, then swings, slides etc.  I've gone and promised more buns for the next visit but warned that they may be savoury.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mallorca continued

One of the first trips away from Palma was a day out to Port de Soller.  As this involved a trip of Vintage train, then another one on first electric tram in Mallorca.  Of course this made for a Happy Chappy!

There were beautiful views from the train, and oh I do like mountains.

Soller our first stop before the transfer to the tram.  The train station there housed more modern art with an exhibition by Picasso and Miro.

Looking up there were some lovely details on the roofs, which I noticed they copied on the edge of the dough platters covered in a mixture of cooked diced vegetables.

In the corner of the Placa Constitucio, is the Modernista building housing Santander Bank, which has a really magnificent window security grid.

Soller seems to be a stopping point for all the cyclists in the region, and like them, we could not resist looking into the windows of some of their lovely bakeries and pastry shops...

 Absolutely delicious...well you cannot look in the window, take photographs, and not buy?

Unfortunately the Museum was CLOSED, and we could not understand why, and we would have loved to visit the other museum and Jardi Botanic, but we were given 'duff information' as to how to get there.  But there will definitely be a next visit to this lovely Island, and I shall go ready with detailed maps etc.  There were many interesting details though, and as usual I love looking at door furniture details.  I think this was a bespoke one for Soller.

We really enjoyed our ride down to the Coast, where we explored up and down roads and found a lovely restaurant for our lunch, with views across the marina.

With warm sunshine a local beer as we waited for our lunch.

After a few days of rest, sunshine etc, Mr S was starting to feel much better, and we were ready for a walk.  From our hotel, we walked along the coast towards Palma, and with my inbuilt sense of direction, we then turned inland through some lovely wooded slopes, and arrived at Bellver Castle.  Of course I had to keep stopping to look at the lovely wild flowers.

Bellver Castle was built in the 14th Century and is a true gem.

 From the inner circular courtyard, you can see the outer towers

There are some lovely sculptures, and this one of Livia seems to glow thanks to the contrast of black marble against the alabaster.

I was captivated by a temporary exhibition of Woodcut Bookplates mainly by Xam.  There were cabinets of really beautiful examples, which were made under commission for specific clients.  I used to have some bookplates: gummed woodcut ones, not made specifically for me, but with a blank to write my name, but they have been lost in the many moves...

We happened to visit on a Saturday, and we did not know that it was free on that day.  After we had toured the castle, we decided to pop into the information office in one of the rooms of the castle, to pick up any leaflets and see if there was any further information on Xam...there appeared to be no one around, it was lunch time after all.

I then picked up a leaflet on the Castele and then heard a little sound.  I rushed round to find a lady on the floor behind the desk.  It seemed as if she had fallen and had lots of blood on her face.  Of course we rose to the occasion:   I stayed with her, kept talking to her, trying to keep her 'awake', as Mr S rushed around the Castle to try to find some other staff, and mime to them that there was an emergency and that they should follow.  After what seemed ages, someone arrived, so we left as there was nothing further we could help with, but as I left the room, she looked towards me, I smiled and blew her a kiss, and I could see that she was saying thank you, and blew me a kiss back...I so hope that she is OK now.

Outside there are some lovely trees, and  we spent a few minutes watching a Hoopoe forage in the undergrowth just below this wall.

It was a little hazy but you can see that it only a short walk from here into Palma.

 On the way back home, we found a lovely cafe and ice cream bar called Filippo on the main drag at Cala Mayor, and this was the first of almost daily visits thereafter to have delicious cones of icecream, just one ball each day, everytime a different flavour, and for me a really good coffee too.  'Filippo' was a lovely Italian gentleman, and was very proud to show us photographs of him making the icecream.

More to follow!  Must go and cook dinner now.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Khubz bil hummus

I love making bread, and eating it, and since we've been on holiday and seen lots of lovely tapas, I saw and brought home Mediterranean Cookbook from the library.  Today I thought that some nice flatbreads would do for a soup and tapas supper, quick and easy in between getting back from Pilates and going out to a committee meeting!

Loved the blend of spices, and adding crushed cooked chickpeas, which I had just defrosted in the fridge.  With yogurt too in the recipe, they will be quite nutritious...plenty left to go in the freezer.  Mixed strong flour with semolina flour for this one.  I made a couple of ciabatta shaped ones, for slicing and to drizzle with oil.