Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Days Out - National Garden Scheme, Deans Court, Wimborne

Next to the lovely Sharland & Lewis emporium in Wimborne, you can find Dean's Court.  Seldom open, I'm going to be taking a quick trip there tomorrow when the Gardens are open as part of the National Garden Scheme.
I'll have a chance to wander round the fish pond, herb garden and apiary and with luck the apple orchard will be coming into bloom too.
The house makes a perfect backdrop to the stunning setting.  I can almost hear Mr Darcy splashing into the lake above!
Rows and rows of beans, peas and squashes.
They have an amazing kitchen garden and as well as enjoying something in their tea room, you can buy fresh produce in their shop.

If you can't get there tomorrow, they are also open on May 15th, June 16th and July 3rd.  Check the NGS website for details. 

Self Indulgence - Pilates

What do I have in common with Pippa Middleton?
We both do Pilates.  Sadly, the similarity ends there.
But my weekly class with Nyree is my hour of self indulgence and surprisingly it's not just because I get to lie down for most of the time.

Contrary to popular myth, I was quite graceful and athletic as a child.  Due to apathy, those days are long gone, but I am trying to stave off the early signs of old age.
What are the benefits?  They help with my alignment, stamina, co-ordination, concentration and flexibility and  provide me with a vital opportunity to relax too.
You can use a book, DVD or follow someone online, but one of the added benefits of attending a class is the bonhomie between gurning classmates as we try to hold the 'plank', master the 'elephant' or endure the dreaded 'hundred'.
So why not find out about a class near you.  If I can do it, anyone can. 
(Although you should check with the instructor or your doctor before hand!)

Surf's Up - take an online class. What about cake decorating?

If you were inspired by our last blog, perhaps you should have a go yourself.  And you can do it all  from the comfort of your own home by taking online classes.

If you want to get a handle on designing handbag cakes, complete with divots and pleats or genuine looking zippers, rivets and buckles from sugar paste you could try Elisa Strauss.
Or perhaps sugar flowers are your thing.  No, these are not real flowers!
Baker's artistry draws students to school of sugar art in Norcross
Then Nicholas Lodge is your man.  He'll soon have you crafting tulips, anemones and peonies.
But then again, you may prefer characters showcasing someone's career or hobby.  
Then Anne Heap runs an online class just for you.   You'll learn how to colour and work with gum paste, model human figures and position them, as well as accessorising their hair and clothes.
So what are you waiting for?  And of course, if the worst comes to the worst, you can at least console yourself with some cake!
The 20 Ugliest Cakes Roundscom Blog
Do let us know how you get on if you decide to have a go and of course post your photos of the finished article.  We'd love to see them.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Meet the Maker - Kingfisher Cakes, Hertfordshire

So, did you guess?  It's a cake!!!  I couldn't believe it either.

And if that wasn't impressive enough.  All of these are cakes too!
The woman behind Kingfisher Cakes and these incredible creations is Sandra Mitchell who is based in Welwyn Garden City.
It seems that no request is beyond her talents and although I've focused on the girlie commissions,
if you have a particular interest or occupation, these are catered for too.
Yep, even a mobile phone is possible too.
And here is Sandra at work.
PS  For those who came across this blog and didn't see the original question.
I simply asked 'What is this?'  Hint: it's not a handbag!!
All images © Kingfisher Cakes

Getaways - Langford Court, nr Cullompton, Devon

To B&B or not to B&B .... need not be the question if you stay here.  All the luxury of a holiday let, but with the ingredients for a full English delivered every day, so you could enjoy a hearty breakfast at your leisure.
Langford Court South is an amazing wing of a medieval manor that's mentioned in the Domesday Book and is still a working dairy farm today.  
With room for up to six people, We were greedy and it was just the 2 of us so we could pick the bedroom we wanted.  In the end we went for the gallery bedroom you can see above.  The en-suite has a roll top bath!  Luxury!
We were disappointed to have been there in June as we couldn't take advantage of the woodburner, but we made good use of the snooker table and comfy sofas to watch DVDs and catch up on some reading.
However we could take advantage of the deck and garden, enjoying the view of the lake with its rowing boat.  You can fish here too if you like. 
But if you do prefer not to make your own breakfast, you can stay in the B&B in the North wing with it's lovely lounge.
Everywhere you look there are lovely artefacts and trinkets.  And it became a quest to find something in the wing they hadn't already put there.  Cotton buds, sewing kits, torches, games, DVDs, picnic blankets, ..... we lost.  We couldn't think of anything they hadn't already thought of!
Decorated in a period style
Oh yes, there welcome basket is difficult to better too.  An amazing lemon drizzle cake and restocked basics like milk, bread, butter.  You will not be disappointed.

Book Worm - Richard Scarry books

Do you remember this or any other of Richard Scarry's books?  

I loved it.  It was written with the intention that children would be amused but at the same time learn about words and numbers and even about things like sharing and helping.
And it worked.  I lapped up every image.  I loved the human qualities of the animals and the enormity of the elephant perched on his trike.
And I scoured the different rooms, looking for humorous pictures of the 'children' getting up to mischief.  I was completely duped by the fact that I was learning English, Maths, Geography, Zoology and Ethics at the same time!
All images © Golden Books

Richard Scarry wrote over 300 books and sold over 150 million copies world-wide.   They are timeless classics and I urge you to get onto ebay or Amazon and snap one up today!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Days Out - Laugharne, Wales

I've managed to sneak a weekend off.  Having explored many parts of Wales, I've never been to Laugharne, home of Dylan Thomas and the village on which he based his poem Under Milkwood, calling the place Llareggub (read it backwards!
The boathouse where he lived for the last four years of his life with wife Caitlin and children is now open during the summer months and has been reinstated to look as it did when he was alive.
A little further along the path is the writing shed where he did his work and again this has been left as it would have looked when he worked there.
And Laugharne itself is pretty too.  You can walk around the foot of one of the many castles in Wales and enjoy the view of the estuary.
And if you're going to make a weekend of it, why not try The Cors for dinner.  The old rectory has been transformed into a restaurant, with local specialities such as salt-marsh lamb served in a herb crust on the menu.