Monday, 31 May 2010

Party Time

We had a right royal get together on Saturday. There was food (lots of it)...

family  (45 in total)...

these are 3 of my lovely sisters.

and lots of fun despite the rain.

This is me above in true Ma Larkin style wearing my favourite pinny and supping some rather tasty vintage cider. My brother-in-law is the most appreciative pudding taster ever!

Another bro-in-law runs a rather posh gentlmens clothes shop and is always immaculately turned out. He kindly passes on his shirts to my hubby who wears them all till the death, usually of the collar first. I have saved these shirts and have now put them to good use as bunting (with the odd pair of pyjamas thrown in for good measure) So forget Kath Kidston, my bunting is Armani, Haines and Bonner, Aquascutum and Ted Baker to name but a few!

 We had a good coincidental reason to celebrate as one of my Dads donkeys, Ruby, produced this gorgeous little creature on Friday....

It's hard to believe she is only a day old here as she looks so tall next to her mum.
She is called Octavia, in memory of our very first donkey 40 years ago.
The original Octavia was the most placid donkey you could ever meet. It was impossible to contain her though, she should have been called Houdini. She could escape from anywhere and consequently spent her life wandering around the parish but always came home.
It is said you never see a donkey die, and when her time came a few years ago, my dad sat up all night with her in the stable as she neared her end. At 5 am he went into the house to brew a pint of tea as it would soon be milking time (he's a dairy farmer.) When he returned a few minutes later, she had gone.
I have many happy memories of days spent with that donkey.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Baskets First Outing

There was sunshine, it was someones 10th birthday, the basket (hereafter referred to as Bertha) was crying out for an airing, how could we resist?

So after a birthday treat of roller skating...


it was off to our favourite picnic spot of  Eddisford Bridge near Clitheroe..
There was feasting,

and fishing..

and swimming...

 and lots of posing on the lovely river bank...

And to round it off,

 cake of course.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Baking, Bernina and Brass.

Saturday mornings have a bit of a ritual around here.
I get up very early and do two paper rounds which is pleasant when the sun is shining.
After breakfast dearly beloved and 7 year old son depart for sons practice at Scout Band. He is new to it and learning the basics on his B flat cornet.
Meanwhile me and the three girls get down to a bit of necessary housework...

Imagine my delight when dearly beloved returns a little while later sporting....

a bloody B flat horn under his arm of which he now the proud keeper!

"It's only so I can help him practice" he says...a likely story.
And the youngest girl has thrown down the gauntlet, " Dad, I bet you can't play the theme tune to Rocky." 
And he says, "You and your sister can come along too if you like!"

Moving swiftly on, after piano lessons and all laundry duties are finished

I felt at a loose end with lots of things I should/could have been doing but didn't feel like.
It is too cold for gardening here today so nothing else for it. I had to bake a cake...

It's becoming a bit of a habit I'm afraid.

Oh, and a few scones too...

with a little help from my friend.

I've had a jaunt to the library returning five of my thirty books and bringing home six more despite my vow to finish reading the ones I have before loaning any others.

I couldn't resist a pop into my local cancer research shop where I picked up (amongst other things) this lovely little jug for £1.50, which I am of course going to need when my garden is in full flower in a few months I hope!

And to round off the afternoon I have done a bit of patching and mending for my Dad. I inherited my Mums machine when she died two years ago. He bought it for her in 1966 and it cost £40 then brand new, a small fortune. It is a Swiss machine I think and therefore brilliant. It is basic but ultra reliable and Mum made lots of our clothes on it when we were all little. We had matching swimming costumes and trunks for the boys in very retro blue spotty fabric I seem to remember.

That's all for now folks.
(P.S. I can hear the beginnings of Rocky from the kitchen. Thank God the neighbours are away for the weekend!)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Basket Heaven.

  Today I made an impromptu visit to my local market for some old fashioned sweeties for my two wards for the day, and, parking in a completely different place than usual I had to pass the rear entrance of a second hand shop. Out of the corner of my eye as I drove past I espied a large basket which aroused my interest and I thought "If that's £15 or less I may buy it."
As I approached I thought it may be a pet carrier of some sort.

I was trembling with excitement. It was very dusty.
And when I opened it my heart started to skip.
Imagine my delight upon inspection to find it was a very large and seemingly very old picnic basket!
Isn't it a delight?

And the price.....a mere £10.

Bring on the picnic weather I say!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Weekend Catch Up

My little flock saw a gap in the fence and made a bid for freedom.....

Oh the lure of a neighbouring dandelion leaf. They love em.
For those who don't keep hens, they very quickly turn a patch of green into bare earth (which they love scratting around in by the way) but they do love a nibble of a bit of greenery. Especially newly planted veg seedlings! We give them greens to eat as well as household scraps and layers pellets of course. But they are in 7th heaven in a patch like this which is my neighbours end of the garden composting/garden rubbish area. I think I may fence a bit of their own patch off and sow a fast growing green manure type plant to give them a bit of a change.

My 9 year old girl cub (much more fun than Brownies) has done her chefs badge. Three of them went to "The Warren" cub/scout HQ and prepared a lovely roast dinner for their families with delicious stuffing cooked from scratch as well as a choice of three sweets. It was great.

Inspired by Alys Fowler's Edible Garden we have planted some salad amongst our flower/shrub beds.

Not a very good photo I'm afraid but you get the idea.

And finally a lovely  lemon cake for tea, reluctantly made by my 12 year old...

but she was glad she made the effort later when she was eating it. Wouldn't have her picture taken though.

Hope your weekend was good too.

Monday, 3 May 2010


Sweet, masking May, in white or red
Her snowy cloud of blossoms spread.
(Walter Crane: Floras Feast.)

Hawthorn in full bloom resembles a bride don't you think?
I love it and it's pungent aroma. It's OK to deck your maypole or if you are a milkmaid hang a garland on the horns of your cow but never bring it indoors or bad luck will befall you.

I wish we still honoured some of the old traditions. It must have been so exciting preparing for a celebration and a feast.

How about a glass of May Liqueur?
May blossoms
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 bottle brandy

Gather the blossoms in full sun, trim stalks, use only flowerheads.
Pack in wide necked jars, sprinkle on sugar and add brandy.
Seal and leave in a sunny spot till warm.
Shake to dissolve sugar then leave in dark cupboard for 3 months.
Strain and leave for a further 4-6 months before drinking.

Do let me know if you try this!

Anyway, the hawthorn is not yet in bloom in cool East Lancashire. However, a few days spring rain after a remarkably dry April has dramatically altered our view here in the hills....

Here's to lots of sunshine and blossom and happiness on high days and holidays.