Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mollarca iii

Life back from holiday continues apace, and I keep meaning to post just one more time on Mallorca, with short entries for different trips.  I thought by entering a draft in date order that all the Mallorcan entries would have followed each other, but no...

More angels


These were in the chapel at La Granja

And this one somewhere on the first story of a building in Palma

We set off for La Granja on the 1st of May, a Friday, and did not realise that this was a bank holiday and the bus was on a limited schedule.  The bus from Palma stops just by the Country Estate.  We had planned to leave earlier and spend some time in the pretty town of Esporels.  However as we had to stay longer,  we had a walk into the upper parts of the Estate, watched goats gamble on steep rocky slopes and caught a display of amazing horsemanship, and horse ballet.

Its a museum of Folklore, with lovely antiques, and interesting displays, well worth spending the day there.  The grounds have lovely places for picnics with fine views of the valley.  We had a great lunch in the cafe along with dozens of cyclists on their tour of the Island, open air with great views of the garden.  You can stop off and go to the cafe without paying the entrance to the Estate.  Sadly all the tickets for the house and banquet were gone, but we had the snacks option and really enjoyed tasting the locally produced preserves, meats, wine etc.  We could hardly in fact do it justice as we had had lunch before!

In the grounds, apart from the lovely gardens, water features, and fine buildings,  there was an interesting water mill, with the grinding stone above.

With a long history or spinning and dyeing there were some interesting looms, but I felt some of the baskets had been filled with 'artificial fibre yarn' not at all suitable for weaving!

In one of the rooms, the one used for ironing, clothes sewing etc, in the corner was this little stove, which used to heat the irons.  I remember these irons being used in Mauritius when I was little, and even where homes had electricity, when the supply was interrupted after cyclones, they still came in handy.

On another day we walked along the Coast to Fundacio Pilar I Joan Miro.  On the way back with my inbuilt sense of direction, always in tune when I want to get back for a good ice-cream and coffee at Fillippo's, I found a short cut, which meant using these steps.

The buildings are really interesting, and I left Mr S at the cafe enjoying a drink, whilst I explored the gardens.

 In the main Moneo Building there was a very clever use of thin sheets of stone to help filter the bright light.
I loved this tapestry

and this sculpture, which on close inspection used parts of an old discarded plastic dolly, obviously now cast in bronze.

In the Centre of Palma we visit The Palau March, which was only built in 1939, but what an amazing space.  It contains so much of interest,

from Modern Sculpture, to antique fans,


maps, beautiful embroideries with goldwork

 as well as offering great views of the Palace next door.

We visited the Almudaina Palace which is truly magnificent, but with no photography allowed.  Their tapestries are alone worth the entrance.  From the terrace where there are great views, and there are some quality cacti  displays.

We visited other places, a long bus ride, took us to Andratx on Market Day.  We walked up to Santa Maria, where we were disappointed to find it closed, but looking back the view was worth the walk.

We love to go at a time when we know the early spring flowers would we out and we were not disappointed.  Great to see plants growing in the wild, even on stony ground like this lavender

nd now for a few more, no names....

I even manged a sketch or two inspired by what I saw, but not exact copies!

Mr S wants it noted that he went into the pool and swam round the island even though the water was very cool.

With a lot more to see and do, we shall most definitely be returning.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Garden in May

I like making a note of the seasons, and every year it is different.  I love to mark the first picking of the red climbing rose which is usually the first to flower in the garden.  Etoile de Holland this year is doing very well.  With careful pruning in early March, when I picked off every leaf to avoid any black spot, and good feeding, together the grey squirrels not having the buds as their  snack of choice, the plant is now in full flower.  It keeps on flowering all year, with flushes often going up till Christmas.

The first roses were picked around the 15th of May. The colour is rich, the flowers huge, the bud shape beautiful, and the scent most fragrant, so much so that if you put them in a room, close the door, then re enter a few hours later, you cannot but smile and know that no artificial room scent can come close to this.

Each year at the WI in January, we pass round a list for us to fill in our names agreeing to undertake various 'tasks', and back then I thought of volunteering for the Chairman's Table Flowers and Birthday posies, and chose May.

For the Chairman's Table I chose a simple bunch of Lily of the Valley, and in the end why gild the lily, over fifty stems and a few leaves.  Afterwards I offered these to our Chairman, and a couple of days later received a really charming email from Kaye.

For the birthday posies: red roses, lily of the valley and a few more blooms.  I like to pick the flowers first thing, and stand them right up to their necks in a bucket of water, then arrange them later.  There were four birthdays, and I made an extra one in case we had any visitors with birthdays that month.  After making them, I stood them on the front window sill.

Of course like a child, I marvel at the drops of dew, as I walk down the garden early ...I always have

Monkey Buns

Another bake from the Facebook Group Challenge:  for the second half of May it is Monkey Buns.  When I 'have' to make something, so many things go through my mind beforehand.  Yes I really love pecan nuts, love cinnamon, love enriched buns, but also Mr S doesn't like cinnamon, or, so he says, and there are so many buns all stuck together, 24 of them!

When I realised that I had invited a near neighbour Lita and a new neighbour Dave from several doors down,  to come and see the garden and choose some plants for theirs, I realised this bake would be just the nicest thing to have with coffee on Sunday morning.  What a coincidence, Dave who moved in recently just happened to have worked with Lita several years ago, and are now neighbours.  Small world!

Sunday morning was an early start as my dearly beloved was going out for a full day on a hobby course on airbrushing at Pendon and I was up at six.  So I calculated that the bake would be out of the oven by 11 am just right!  I hoped they liked cinnamon and nuts too.

Even the enriched yeasty dough, with eggs, and vanilla and butter filled the house with enticing aromas.  I followed the recipe, and after the first rise, started by making first my four equal portions

then the smaller 24 balls were made into 'tight' balls.  With Jane Mason's explanations, I have now mastered the action, and got through the lot quickly.  Yes no flour on the work surface is the key to getting perfect tight balls.

I decided to toss the balls in the sugar and cinnamon which was not covered in the recipe, as well as sprinkling it between the layers together with the nuts, which was.  I think next time I would roll the balls in some of the melted butter too, then they may be easier to pull apart.  However first time round on a recipe I try not to depart too much from the instructions.

After the final rise, on went the butter, now the smells were just divine, and this was before the baking.

With Lita and Dave, and I, that would be at least 6 buns gone.....

but I did not count!  Later I gave more away to another new neighbour, and there were about 8 left when my hero returned home.  Of course he wanted a taste, and more than one was enjoyed.  I wrapped them up in some foil, and gave them a gentle warm through.  Again he was surprised that he liked the cinnamon.  I think his dislike of cinnamon comes from over cinnamoned pancakes when the spice is uncooked.

The last four were sliced up, layered with sultanas and a few more pecans, with egg and milk mixture and transformed into a delicious bread and butter type pudding.  No extra butter, but a good sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon on top.  To 'cap' it all,  the desert was served with a dollop of double cream and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Was I getting close to making something akin to my favourite pecan plaits?

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.