Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fruit From The Garden

One thing that always grows well here in our garden in Southern Scotland, is blackcurrants. We planted two bushes when we moved in 17 years ago, and now we have half a dozen or more, taken from cuttings, or self seeded (with help from the resident blackbird community, who eat at least half of the crop!).

I used a very simple recipe from my Vitamix 'Recipes To Inspire' book, which is basically to:-
  • Liquidize 240g of fruit with 320 ml of water
  • Pour it into a large jug and make it up to 600 ml
  • Pour the mixture into a saucepan, bring to the boil
  • Add 400g of jam sugar (granulated sugar with pectin added), stir until the sugar is dissolved
  • Then keep it at a rolling boil for a few minutes until it is ready*. 
*Check for this by putting a little of the mixture on a cold plate, letting the jam cool, then running your finger through it to see if it wrinkles (or use a jam thermometer).

The book says it will be ready in 1 minute, however, mine took more like 10 minutes at boiling point. Either way, its a quick method and you end up with an opaque jelly that contains the whole fruit, without the need for straining the pulp.

It is lovely on toast, porridge or pancakes, or stirred through plain yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.

The rest of the crop is washed and frozen for use in smoothies, or more jam, or dessert-making throughout the year.

Next job is to make some gooseberry chutney...

We only have one bush of gooseberries, so this is the whole crop.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Walk at Temple Sowerby, Cumbria

A beautiful day for an outing, so Rob, Brock and I headed off for a new walk for us, at Temple Sowerby in Cumbria. It is about 3 - 3.5 miles long, alongside a river to begin with, through fields and on quiet country roads.

Lunch afterwards at the UpFront Gallery, Unthank. Perfect day out!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Lochmaben / Castle Loch Walk

We decided to have a fairly local walk today, on a route that we hadn't been on before. It is basically a circuit of Castle Loch in Lochmaben. Instructions can be found on the Walk Highlands website.

It is about 2.5 - 3 miles in length, flat, with views of the loch, castle ruins, fields and woodland. There are busy roads surrounding the Loch, so lively dogs may need to be kept on the lead.

Please click on any photo to see a larger version.

A collage of the wood carvings, plants, textures and colours seen on the walk. The huge bracket fungi were growing inside the leaf-carved log. The unfortunate eggs (possibly duck eggs, judging by the size) had been nabbed by a predator. There are otters in and around the Loch, or maybe a crow had feasted on them.

The Loch is used by fishermen and there are small piers around the shore. Still wearing hat, gloves and scarf in May! Rather a dismal day, with a fine drizzle of rain.

Some inquisitive calves seen near the castle.

A view of a water course, seen through arches in the castle ruins. This impressive stonework dates to the 14th Century, although the original earthworks were put up in 1300, built for King Edward I of England.

Buds and leaves unfurling on the trees.

We drove south to Beeswing and the Loch Arthur Restaurant and Farm Shop for lunch and shopping. We enjoyed our usual choices of dipping platter for me (carrot, cucumber, red pepper, salad garnish, olives, tortilla chips with hummus, tomato and tzatziki dips) and cheese and vegetable quiche with salad for Rob. I think the main course portion sizes have increased since we were last here. With two hot drinks, a slice of apple custard cake and a GF brownie, the bill came to under £23. The food here is great: fresh, wholesome and delicious; and the staff are always friendly. We come here as often as we can!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Portinscale / Newlands Beck Walk

Rob, Brock and I had a walk from Portinscale (near Keswick in The Lake District) along Newlands Beck today.

It is an easy, flat walk with fabulous mountain and farmland views. The gorse bushes were in flower next to the beck, and it was not too busy at this time of year. Please click on any photo to see a larger version.

Approaching Ullock

Brock and I at Ullock Farm
Lichen-covered wall

 Blackthorn blossom

Sunlight on the hills

 Next to Newlands Beck

Gorse and mountain views

We had morning coffee and cake before the walk, and lunch after the walk at The Chalet Tearoom in Portinscale. We had jacket potatoes and salads: Rob's with cheese and pickle; mine with Moroccan spiced aubergine. The food arrived very quickly and was tasty. The salads included a chilli-spiced wilted greens with spinach and purple sprouting, which was particularly delicious. Dogs are allowed inside and out, so this is a favourite eating place for us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Walk At Hoddom Castle Estate

Rob, Brock and I went on a walk around the 'Farm Trail' at Hoddom Castle Estate.

The weather was sunny and warm, and the Spring flowers were appearing everywhere - beautiful!

 Bridge over the River Annan


Lesser Celandine (I think!)

 Brock's new fur cut

 Hoddom Castle (a bit of it, anyway).

Golf course

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Spring Tulips

I couldn't resist buying this beautiful bunch of tulips the other day ... I love these colours together!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Quilter of The Week Interview

I am honoured to have been picked as the first ever "Quilter of The Week" on's @elloquilt community. Thank you, Sara!

If you are a creative person in any media, I highly recommend as a place to network, gain inspiration and promote your work.


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