Cake is in the house – Ginger and beetroot muesli cake.

This month we decided to try a Degustabox, I do enjoy a subscription box of makeup or food and have tried a fair few over the last few years. Degustabox had kept popping up on my Facebook feed so having just cancelled a foodie box I had tired of I decided to give these people a go and to be honest so far so good.  A subscription cost of £12.99 and we received nearly £25.00 worth of goodies to try.  Have a look at what you get for February on you tube, there is always someone doing an unboxing and sometimes they even snack on the items so you get a realistic review.

Moving on, there was a box of cereal called Primrose’s Kitchen, Raw Beetroot and Ginger Muesli which sounded quite interesting, although I was a bit hesitant as I have a funny relationship with ginger. I love fresh ginger and ginger cake is yum, yum, yum, but ginger which is covered in chocolate or graces cake or stored in syrup is a definite no, no, no. But hubby loves ginger in all forms so I thought he would be okay.  Except hubby didn’t like it because he found it too hard to chew, he’s having a bit of a problem with a tooth at the moment.

So it sat on the counter this morning as I debated what to do with this £5.00 box of incredibly good ingredients, healthy as they come, muesli. And then I thought, well I do like ginger cake and so an idea was born.

I weighed out the muesli and added some hot milk to it to start the process of softening it, melted butter and sugar and black treacle together and added the juice of a lemon along with 2 extra teaspoons of dried ginger just to pep up the gingery notes a little. Beat the eggs, added the muesli and milk which then turned it into the most glorious pink which disappeared when I added the treacly buttery syrup and then added the self raising flour with a teaspoon of baking powder added just for good measure before popping it into a moderate oven of 170 C for 50 minutes.

When it had cooled I made a thin icing of icing sugar and lemon juice.

I don’t know whether I would go out of my way to buy a box of this muesli to make a cake, but it made an interesting interlude on a snowy day as we watched the “Beast from the East” creep across the country. 

My ingredients were, should you find yourself with a box of muesli that is not to your taste.

4 oz of muesli

1/4 cup of milk

8 oz of butter or other fat or oil

4 oz caster sugar

4 oz black treacle

2 teaspoons of dried ginger

4 medium eggs

the juice of 1 lemon

6 oz of self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

then enough icing sugar and lemon juice to make a thin glaze to finish the cake with, put the kettle on, cut a slice and watch the snowflakes swirl whilst enjoying the gingery cake with lemon icing high notes along with a small addition of a nutty texture, it was quite interesting.

News at last.

My apologies for radio silence but things have been a little bit fraught in this neck of the woods.  Rupert during a reasonably slow run for a Whippet flopped to the ground and whimpered and we quickly realised that he had broken his leg!!!  A clean break across both bones just above the wrist, narrowly missing the growth plate meant a specialist surgeon and after three or so days although he was in incredible pain, with the advent of being bolted back together it looked like everything was going to plan. Until that is the sore from the bandages being too tight started to flair up and got worse and worse and worse, three different antibiotics were given, swaps were taken and a few days later he had to have surgery to remove all the tissue that had become damaged which gave him a huge hole in his leg. He stayed with the vets and the vet nurses who I believe fell deeply for his puppy eyes for a week before coming home.  Since then we have been nursing him. He still has a big wound, but it is beginning to heal.  As you can see not a very pleasant time for any of us.  Never have I been so pleased that I decided to crate train this dog, the first dog we’ve had in forty years that was ever crate trained, it made the experience of confining Rupert so much easier as he already viewed it as home.

In other news we have finally made it to the top of the list and were offered a plot at the allotments. It is on the same track as we were before I went to London and we have already had a nice chat to a few of the potholders,  it has a half brick, half wooden shed, which needs further investigation as to quite understand how it has been put together, very Heath Robinson, its a good size and its secure. There are many fruits bushes, I can see blackberries,  red currants, black currents, raspberries and strawberries, possibly gooseberries. There are three cordons, which I am not sure if they are apple or pear, so that will be interesting to see, apple and blackberry crumble, yum!  The plot was recently turned over so its not full of deep rooted weeds and brambles and it is right next to a communal water butt! It is the epitome of perfection in an allotment.  I’m just looking out for a greenhouse to grow my toms and cucumbers and alter the fencing slightly to make it Rupert safe so he can have a good sniff about and I’ll be back to happily sowing seeds in pots, listening to the birds sing and brewing a cup of tea in the shed. Happy Days indeed.

I’ll finish with a happy little Kingfisher diving for his supper.



Birds, Birds, Birds.

Hubby and I are getting back into the swing of our bird photography, so to that end here are a few snaps I took yesterday at Frampton RSPB on a dark and drizzly day, the skills of this photographer were sorely tested. We had such a great day.Female Stonechat.Male Stonechat.GoldfinchStarling, “Who is the prettiest of them all?”Egretand last but not least a Curlew.

Happy New Year!

Another year gone, they go so fast and getting faster every year.  Hubby and I enter the year with the usual great plans of improving our health, but this year we have even bought equipment to help us along with that evil plan – a tread mill and a rowing machine!  Already after one week I can feel a slight improvement and my distance and speed have improved, so the plan is working.

As my regular readers will know we bought a puppy this year. It is one of the greatest adventures of adult hood that if one fancies a puppy, obviously contemplating it in a more serious way than a flippant idea, one can buy a puppy. We thought about it for nearly two years, forever batting the idea away, but it was just too tough to be without a dog for so long, we had never been without a dog before in all our married life, so Rupert came into our home. We both agree it was the best decision for us and we gaily laugh at his antics, wag our finger at him when he is in the witching hour and caress his silky ears to sooth our worries and stresses away. We have both fallen under his whippety spell and love him more than words can say. 

This year I aim to walk a thousand miles again, although this time I will be recording the mileage the old way with pen and paper, having lost much needed information from not one but two fitbit failures.

We are looking forward to March when we hope to be high up enough on the list for another allotment. Fingers crossed for that one.

My plant based lifestyle is going well, I suspect I eat plant based about 90% of the time, with occasional lapses with fish, which I do love and two lapses with meat over the last couple of months.  We will see how that journey progresses next year.

After eighteen months with a frozen shoulder which has been very painful, I am at last able to knit again, if I take it slowly.  I have been knitting lambing mitts to see us through the cold spring to keep us warm while photographing outdoors.

I loved the huge downfall of snow, it was magnificent, 4 good inches of snow, a memory I will keep forever. 

I will be going to lectures in London on Food in Art for nearly three months, which I am really looking forward to, I do love a good lecture and hubby is going to brush up on his cookery skills based on Rick Steins Venice to Istanbul, which I think is a wonderful idea, basically eastern mediterranean with a twist, the television viewing looks very tasty!

May I wish you all a very happy new year, may 2018 be everything you hope and wish for, sending much love. Mandy and hubby x.

Sledging in the Abbey Fields.

Our snowy white landscape sparkles in the bright sunny day and calls me to the Abbey Fields to take a few photos of the people sledging down the hill. I’ve sledged that hill from when I was knee high to a grasshopper and it is great fun, although I would struggle to get back up a snowy icy hill these days.

The three girls taking a selfie as they screamed with laughter all the way down the hill looked like they were having an amazing time.  There were dogs barking and children laughing and the odd more senior person having a brilliant time,  along with the sound of the sledges on the crunchy well compacted snow as they flew down the hill at speed.

We are so lucky to have snow like this, especially in December, memories of childhood, refreshed.



How good has this snow been. I mean to say I don’t remember it as deep as this in many a long year. In London I went for three winters without a frost, it was incredible. I am so loving this, Rupert has loved his sprints in the snow and hubby and I have loved the walking in the snow followed by the blissful warmth and glow of a coal fire. Apparently it might get a bit nippy on Tuesday night, predicted minus fifteen, I am not going to love that, I won’t be going out on that ice rink. But in the meantime, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. 

Back to the birds.

Its been a while, but now the ravenous winged insects have died down I am once again trudging along the gravelly paths to sit in the hides of my local nature reserve.  And boy have I missed it.

So without further ado a few of my latest snaps. One of the most difficult of all of the birds to photograph at this reserve, a cetti’s warbler. It has taken on nearly a mythical status, mainly because it is so noisy and so you always know it is around and so quick. By the time one has focussed their camera onto the area it might be hidden in the reeds,  it has gone.  I think this is my best yet.  A reed bunting enjoying a wonderful feast of seeds.Along with a black bird gorging on the hawthorn berries.A water rail popped out just for a second.And I saw a heron lifting off.And two cormorants watching the low flying aircraft.

It was a wonderful day in bright winter sunshine, cold and bright, just the way I like it.