Photo Gallery: Nature

At the end of the summer I was returning to the cottage and noticed what I thought were a couple of dried oak leaves on my neighbour’s fence.

Not convinced, when I got out of the car to open my gate, I went over to have a look. To my amazement, I saw these two months locked in an amorous embrace. Oh, why, I thought do you see these things when you don’t have your camera?

I raced to unlock the house, grabbed my camera and shot back down the drive to snap them before they disappeared. I needn’t have worried, they were still on the fence happily absorbed with their amorous encounter!

Amorous moths

Amorous moths

I wonder what sort of moths they are? Can anybody enlighten me please?

#Win John Lewis goodies for Christmas!

Now, if you’ve read one of my previous blog posts, you will know that I was over the moon when I was offered a John Lewis Christmas hamper to review. I love all things John Lewis, and I am a bit of a foodie, so I really couldn’t have been offered anything better!

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

The John Lewis Snowflake Hamper Box is delightfully presented and extremely well packed to protect all of its tasty goodies:

  • Folonari Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, 75cl
  • Cairnsmhor Raspberry Shortcake, 175g
  • Mince Pies, Pack of 4
  • Maxwell & Franks Christmas Pudding in Black Box, 454g
  • Buiteman Baked With Love Gouda & Chilli Biscuits, 75g
  • Convivial Yorkshire Tomato, Basil & Mozzerella Crisps, 50g
  • Claire’s Handmade Extra Fruity Raspberry Jam, 227g
  • Clipper Fairtrade Organic English Breakfast Tea, 25 Tea Bags
  • Lessiters Raspberry, Champagne and Milk Champagne Chocolate Truffles, 95g
  • The Original Cake Company 4″ Natural Cherry and Flaked Almond Cake

How about that for a WOW selection? What I love about it, is that somebody has obviously put a lot of thought into selecting the items for the box. All the goodies chosen will appeal to everybody. Who doesn’t adore chocolates, fruit cake, wine, biscuits and mince pies? There is nothing included that is an acquired taste that would only appeal to just a few.

Retailing at £50 I think that this hamper box is a really luxurious, safe, gift for friends and family. Whether it’s your matron aunt, brother-in-law, or your dearly beloved. They will all be delighted to receive it on Christmas Day. The only thing they won’t be delighted about, is having to share it with everybody present!

…. and when the sad day comes, and the box is empty, you will be left with a pretty, sturdy box in which you can store any manner of things.

The Snowflake Hamper Box is but one of a huge selection of delicious hampers to suit all pockets, from £15 to £800 and to suit all tastes, from savory, to sweet, to alcoholic! They even have a build your own hamper set, so that you can make up your own.

Apart from the hampers, John Lewis have a plethora of Gift food, wine and champagne all of which would make splendid presents for colleagues, friends or family. In fact, you can solve all your Christmas present needs at John Lewis, I do!

Not one to covet my possessions, I would love to giveaway a little something from this lovely hamper and will also include a £10 John Lewis gift voucher to the lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment here, follow me on Twitter and Facebook and post and/or tweet: I want to #win a tasty #JohnLewis treat and a £10 gift voucher at www.countryidyll.co.uk Draw 29/11 Pls RT

Good luck everybody!

World Toilet Day – Please support Water Aid

 Did you know that:

  • Every 40 seconds a child dies from water-related diseases?
  • 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to a toilet?

Established in 2001, World Toilet Day was born out of a desire to raise global awareness of the 2.5 billion people who don’t have access to sanitation – That’s almost half the world’s population!

2013 marks the first year World Toilet Day has been recognised by the UN as an official day.

I am entering a competition over at Splash Direct who will donate £2 to Water Aid  for every entry – That’s a month’s worth of clean water for one person.

To enter the competition, all I have to do is to blog my funniest, or most disgusting, bathroom story, so here goes:

During the seven years I lived in Rome, in my twenties, I had quite a few different abodes. But probably the prettiest, was a semi-basemen flat on Gianicolo, one of the seven hills surrounding the city.

It was in a small, nineteenth century villa which sat in its own little garden. My flat had a tiny bathroom with a high window that looked out onto the chicken run practically at ground level. Most unhygienic!

One day I went to use the toilet and, on looking into the water in the bowl, before sitting down, I saw what looked like a brown rubber band. You know, like the ones the postman used to litter the streets with, before they started using red ones.

“What on earth?”, I thought. Sticking my head down into the bowl for a closer look, the ‘elastic band’ swirled around and a head came up out of the water, as if to bite off my nose EEEEEEeeeek, heeeelp, I screamed, running out of my flat up to the boys on the next floor. “Come quickly”, I said, (in Italian, of course). “There’s a monster in my toilet!” But, by the time we had got down to my flat, it had gone.

Apparently the Rome water comes from Lake Bracciano, where there are lots of eels. They do have eel traps all the way down, but some get through. That little beggar somehow found his way up the pipes into my toilet bowl.  Needless to say, that for several weeks following the incident I was very nervous about sitting on the toilet!

I am part of the #Blog4Sanitation movement setup by Splashdirect to raise awareness of the importance of global sanitation. Learn more about World Toilet Day.

 

#Win a prize from a wonderful John Lewis Christmas Hamper!

I have to admit that I am an ardent John Lewis fan.  Whether their high street departmental stores, online store, or, of course, Waitrose. Where I can, and have, spent many happy hours pushing my trolley up and down the aisles choosing from the wonderful array of the exotic and not so exotic. I even have their Mastercard which entitles me to lots of free gift tokens, according to how much I use it. Love them.

So you can imagine my glee when I was asked if I would like to review one of their scrumptious Christmas Hampers on my blog! I jumped at it and waited its arrival with trepidation.

I missed the delivery because the courier came on practically the only day in the last six weeks I haven’t been at home. I was at the hospital for my ankle check up and, yippee, I don’t have to wear the orthopaedic boot any longer. It hurts to limp along but, hey, it’s not much to bear in the scheme of things. They said it would hurt and I will have to have physio sessions. Last time I slept upstairs in my bedroom for the first time for six weeks it as wonderful. Hope Alfie didn’t feel too lonely sleeping downstairs by himself!

Yesterday the hamper arrived.  It’s a Snowflake Christmas Hamper and is full of lovely goodies!

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

My Snowflake Christmas Hamper

I am no “bah humbug” and I would love to offer something from this hamper to you by way of a competition, but really don’t know what you would like to win. So please check out the contents at the link above and let me know what you would like. (Excluding the wine, because it might break in the post.) I will also throw in a £10 John Lewis voucher as well, to bump up the prize even more.

Knowing what I will be giving as a prize will stop me eating it, in preparation for my review of the hamper! (Oooh, Christmas is coming early for me this year!)

All you have to do is leave your preferred prize as a comment here on my blog, including the link to the hamper, or leave a comment on my Facebook page, again quoting the link, or tweet me your preferred prize, with the link and #John Lewis.

Then, when I know your favourite prize, I will write my review and launch the competition!

Good luck everybody!

 

 

Oh dearie me, too much speed ?

Since yesterday, I am on full stable duties, thus giving Nicky more time to take Max up to the meadow. Yesterday was hard work as it was ‘wet day’, that is the day that Nicky takes all his wet shavings out of his stable. I helped by removing all the dry stuff and banking it up around the edge of the stable, leaving just a big patch of wet for Nicky to cart off to the muck heap.

Proves just how soft my hands have become over the last five weeks, as, after moving all those shavings, I had the start of blisters on my hands!

Was up bright and early to give Max his breakfast before Nicky  arrived, so she could just change his rugs and take him up to his field. I mix his feed with water in the kitchen in the morning and then hook the bucket onto my crutch, and with difficulty as I am lopsided, hobble out to the stable. Yesterday, chucking around all of those shavings I found that my shower cap, over my orthopaedic boot wasn’t protection enough, so I tied a carrier bag over my boot first, then slipped on the shower cap. Felt quite chuffed with this arrangement, safe in the knowledge that I would keep the boot clean! It wasn’t until I had negotiated the stepping stones on the gravel outside my backdoor, then hopped across the yard, through the gate to Max’s stable – until I took the bucket off my left crutch, in order to open the stable door – that I could see my left foot. Oh dearie me, I still had my slipper on! Oh, how silly. Then had to hop back indoors to change into my wellie.

Fancy going outside with my slipper on!

Fancy going outside with my slipper on!

Mucking out, scrubbing manger, feed bucket and water bucket, sweeping up outside the stable, filling the hens’ hopper, was quite enough in one go for my unfit body, so decided to just fill the birdseed feeders and come in for breakfast.

I used to fill the bird feeders up every day or so. Today was the first time I had filled them for over a week. Oh, where have all my birds gone? Only seem to see great tits, a robin and the odd greenfinch on the feeder nearest the window, these days. Have they all disappeared to another garden in the village, that has a more plentiful supply? Are more people feeding them, so they are spread more thinly among the gardens? Or are there fewer birds? I do so hope it’s not the latter.

It’s a beautiful day and the sun is streaming in through the French windows. Only trouble is, that it shows up all the dust (and the dirty windows). After breakfast, before I sat down and put my foot up, I decided I would do some dusting with my super duper anti static wand thingey. Was a bit gung ho pushing it around behind a china candlestick, but, at the same time, being careful not to hit a rather precious blue and white meat charger hanging on the wall. As soon as I touched it, I knew that, with my reduced mobility, I wouldn’t be able to nip around and catch it, and it was destined to hit the floor, with a disasterous result.

P1010224

Oh dear, now that was really silly. Thinking that I ought to quit while I was ahead, I decided to sit down, put my foot up, and check my emails. Seems to me, a far safer occupation in my present frame of mind! Ho hum, these things happen, never mind, like Humpty Dumpty, I can stick it back together again!

 

Easey peasey rice supper

Oh yum, have just cooked another experimental dish and it has left me smacking my lips so I just had to share it with you! Whether you will have the same reaction is up to you!

I’m not going to put any amounts or weights in this recipe, because its not crucial and it all depends on what quantity you wish to cook!

Easey Peasey Rice Supper

Finely chop  a quarter (or more) of an onion and cook in butter in a frying pan until translucent;
Add some easy cook white rice (as much as you need) to the pan. (Technically if you are making a risotto you should use Italian arborio rice as it gives a lovely ‘glutinous’ risotto, but it’s expensive, so I use easy cook rice with lots of liquid and I find that the result is just as scrummy.)
Add boiling water to a vegetable stock cube (as per the instructions);
Add some frozen peas to some salted, boiling water;
After they reach boiling point add some tinned sweetcorn;
Keep stirring the rice in the frying pan gradually adding the stock;
When the stock has been added, add the liquid from the peas and sweetcorn;
Then add some Tesco’s cooked chicken tikka pieces and a generous spoonful of sweet mango chutney;
Keep stirring and make sure it doesn’t stick, add more liquid if necessary;
Cover and turn down the heat.

When fully cooked, serve up, and enjoy!

Mmm, think I’ll go and have a little more, it is, indeed, very ‘moreish’.

Yet another day of firsts!

Well, we really are galloping on apace. Yesterday I had my first shower for nearly five weeks and today I went up the stairs, on my feet instead of my bottom. Hurrah, I would have never thought that such small things could bring so much pleasure!

Yesterday I made another Victoria sponge, which came out of the oven a little over cooked. My cooker must be 20 years old, and I think it might be trying to tell me something! Nevertheless, it is very yummy. Next time I think I’ll try my hand at a lemon drizzle cake, which I love, but have never made. That’ll be fun!

Little Alfie had a telling off this afternoon as he went barging off on his own accord, through the catflap. He had heard Nicky arriving to bring Max in and he has become rather fond of her!

I can’t have him doing that, not just because he could get out on the road, but because I’m afraid he might get stuck. He is becoming rather portly (all my cake that Nicky is feeding him when she thinks that I’m not looking) and I have visions of him getting stuck with this little legs left dangling in the porch. I would have to call out the fire brigade, and as I used to work for them in the days of yore, it would be rather embarrassing! Come to think of it, most of the firefighters I worked with have probably long since retired! Ha ha.

Must keep my ears tuned to the noises outside, as our local school is having a fireworks display tonight and I need to go out and check on Max. It’s about half a mile away so not too close, not like one of the firework parties in the village on Saturday. I thought that they had invited a tank regiment or an artillery regiment, sounded like mortars going off. Poor Max, he doesn’t like the bangs, though I think he quite appreciates the pretty aerial displays. He has a lovely big sky to watch from his stable and his eyes are out on stalks. He is so funny. Alfie, thank goodness doesn’t seem to worry about them. He really is very good, and is no trouble, well, until he decides to take himself off outside!