Monday, 31 July 2017

Holiday

There's nothing quite like a Summer holiday. A chance to get away from it all and unwind.
The excitement for me begins when I start browsing the internet for places to stay and visit, closely followed by confirming the bookings and making travel arrangements.
Nearer the time this is accelerated as I then decide what to pack in my suitcase. A book to read, sun cream, how many pairs of shorts? and for holidays in this country a handy waterproof and a sweater!
Last week was our Summer holiday and, although still exciting, in reality the build up to going away as a family can be quite a frantic time of organising, lists and getting those last minute errands done on time.
Thankfully we enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing week away from the moment we drove onto the ferry. We had some glorious weather; blue skies, sunshine and warm breezes. I read my book, enjoyed some internet free time (no Wi-Fi) and on one of our beach days my legs turned a little bit pink! Proper holiday stuff.
Mornings were easy. We took time over breakfast and didn't rush anywhere. We filled our days with walking, hanging out at the beach and enjoying each others company without distractions.
The sea air did an amazing job of knocking us out and after a glass of wine in an evening we would sit in the Jacuzzi and watch the sunset, it was blissful. As is often the case we were very reluctant to return home.
We now have six weeks until school starts and I'm sure there is much more fun to be had in the meanwhile, but for this year our holiday is over. I have a funny feeling that one evening this week I will be found looking at ideas for next Summer. Maybe once I've vacuumed all the sand out of the car.
J. X

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Strawberry Jam


This year, much to my disappointment, our strawberry plants did not provide us with a bountiful harvest. We only managed to pick five!
Thankfully, our local greengrocer has had a plentiful supply of tasty Scottish strawberries at a very reasonable price which have provided us with some fruity deliciousness over the Summer months.
Is it just me or have this year's strawberries been particularly flavoursome? Tasting like strawberries should taste. Maybe it's been down to the extra sunshine we've been having. I'd like to think so.
The strawberry season is now coming to an end, so in order for us to be able to enjoy them for just a little while longer I decided to turn some into jam.
I used to think jam making was some kind of magical art, created in farmhouse kitchens and involving lots of specialist equipment, but I've recently discovered it is far more straight forward than I first thought. In fact it really isn't complicated at all. Just as long as you don't spill it over the kitchen work surface - that's when things can get very sticky!
To make this jam you need 950g strawberries, 800g granulated sugar and the juice of one lemon. This makes approximately three jars.
Hull and slice the strawberries and then crush them in the bottom of a large stockpot or heavy based saucepan using a potato masher.
Add the lemon juice and sugar then transfer to the stove top gradually increasing the temperature and stirring regularly until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rolling boil.
Allow to boil for around ten minutes then transfer (carefully) into sterilised jars.
Just delicious served with freshly baked buttered scones and even better outdoors in the sunshine.
J. X

Friday, 14 July 2017

Time Out

The general chaos of the last week of term is fast approaching, so in an attempt to create some sense of equilibrium before the forthcoming onslaught of the year end party, sports day, pyjama day and graduation (yes, really!) we have been spending time doing what we love most - getting outdoors.
We've grasped at every opportunity to get out and about and enjoy the sunny days and have been rewarded with some beautiful places and gorgeous views.
Some days were planned for and others were on the spur of the moment ideas. Work and some other mundane aspects of daily life have been taking their toll lately so a change of scenery was just the tonic we needed.
We juggled work, finishing off some outside chores and pre-school, scrabbled picnics together at short notice and off we went.
I am trying really hard not to think about the state the house is in due to a lack of cleaning and tidying. I've been doing the bare minimum to see us through and it shows. Never mind, unless the housework fairies have been to call it will still be there waiting for me. I'm letting the dust settle, literally, because for now the sky is blue and the sea is warm and we're busy having fun.
J. X

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sunny Saturday

Last Saturday I was all set for a relaxing morning. No rushing about, just a few chores needed completing to be followed by a quick trip into the local town in order to buy a new swimsuit for Lily, when out of the blue came a request for a trip into Liverpool.  Within the hour I had a picnic lunch made up and we were on our way.
Of course, being a weekend it was bustling with activity. It was a beautiful day and it seemed like the whole city was out enjoying the sunshine just as we were.
Errands quickly out of the way, we ate our lunch and wandered up to the cathedral. At first glance, from our approach, it wasn't overly impressive to look at but inside it is such an amazing building with the most stunning stained glass windows. I was so glad we had taken the opportunity to have a look around for once.
Next stop was Keel Wharf and the Albert Dock. It was the busiest I have ever seen it. Lots of tourists  and a continuous stream of open top bus tours. 
We decided it would be a great opportunity to take a ride on the Wheel of Liverpool. I'm not a fan of heights but it was such a clear day and we were able to see some really lovely views of the city that I was soon able to relax and enjoy it.
A quick turn on the Victorian carousel by the Pump House followed by coffee and the obligatory  browse around John Lewis and we were on our way home again, barely having stopped for breath. It had been a very enjoyable, albeit impromptu, day out.
Oh! And if you're wondering if, after all that, we managed to get a new swimsuit, Lily was given a choice between a rather tasteful blue and white striped number and a lurid pink one depicting two flamingos wearing sunglasses! Guess which one came home with us? 
 J. X