Saturday 23 June 2012

Under that Tuscan sun

So there we were, ready for take-off at Bristol airport. Beyond the pane of glass was the rain soaked runway enveloped by Autumnal temperatures usually experienced in October.   
Just 2 hours later we were greeted by blazing Tuscan sunshine as we landed in Pisa.
Still the same planet !
We collected our hire car, a Fiat of course,the map came out and our instinctive compass went to work.
It was so nice to drive up the driveway to Villa Bucciano where we were meeting our friends and the rest of their wedding party.

The views were great and it didn't take long before we were making our way down to the pool.

In the evening everyone shared a wonderful buffet of home-cooked local food.

Fed and watered we all turned in for the night; BIG DAY tomorrow.
 The next morning everything was bathed in the golden light and wedding fever was in the air.

Shoes ready,I can rest easy.
In the garden behind the 18th century villa the ancient chapel was prepared for the BLESSING of the happy union.

Wedding banquet on the terrace. 

A Wedding cake with a difference,made from 3 absolutely delicious local cheeses arranged in tears.

A beautiful sunset started off a night of celebrations.
I shall have to tell you about our visit to Florence and Pisa in my next post so, CIAO till then. 

Tuesday 12 June 2012

The Timeless Rose

This is the perfect time of year to pay homage to the ROSE.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other name would smell as sweet. — William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 scene 2
I Love roses even though I have not been very lucky growing them in my garden.It's worth persevering as David Austin proves every time.
from David Austin cat.
They have such a long and colourful history. According to fossil evidence, the rose is 35 million years old.Many are depicted in paintings on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs.  Today, there are over 30,000 varieties of roses and our love for this flower is unwaning.
Cultivated in Asia around 5000 years ago,they have been part of the human experience ever since. 
In the Medieval times it was the monks who grew roses for their medicinal properties which we still use today.
It's also the national flower of England.
Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919) 
Such a graceful topic for art,

Paul de Longpre (1855-1911)
simple displays at home, 

or decorating even the unlikeliest of items like soaps and bath creamers.

Rose Petal Jam
1/2 pound pink or red or white (they are all edible) rose petals
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water
Juice of 2 lemons, pips or seeds removed

Select any colour rose petals
The colour of the petals will determine the colour of the jam
Some rose varieties are tastier than others. Fragrant red and pink old-fashioned double roses (rugosas, floribundas, Old English, damask, and so on) are often used for jam. "Rose a parfum de l'Haye", "Caprice de Meilland", and "Baron Girod de l'Ain" keep their aroma and flavor well during the cooking process.

  1. Wash them and then cut off the white bottom of each petal
  2. Before eating them or using them in cooking, they should be washed well to avoid any chemicals that they might have been sprayed with. Ideally, you should use roses that haven't been sprayed at all. Always check for insects and discard any petals that are brown.
  3. Place the rose petals into a bowl and sprinkle with sugar making sure that each petal is coated

Bruise them well with your fingers and cover the bowl with cling film. Allow it to remain overnight in a cool spot (e.g. the fridge).

  1. Get a saucepan and pour in the remaining sugar, water and lemon juice.
  2. Dissolve contents over a low heat. Including the pips of the lemon is supposed to contribute pectin, which will help thicken the jam. Some recipes do not specify their need, so the choice is yours.
  3. Stir the rose petals into the mixture and allow to simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. If you have a jelly thermometer, cook and stir until the jam reaches 221°F or 105°C (don't let the bulb touch the bottom of the pan) or until a spoonful dropped onto a cold plate jells and holds its shape. Then, if you included the pips/seeds, remove them with a spoon.

Pour it into a clean, warmed jar and add the cover and a label.

If you're unlikely to use it straight away, use proper preserving procedures to make sure the jam keeps in the jar. Store it in a cool place and indulge.

Let me know how it turns out.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Aiming high

   Ever since I've thoughtlessly committed our 'jungle' to an Open Garden(only for the villagers thank goodness) I've been obsessed with all things that may enhance whatever beauty could be lurking under the layers of neglect.
I've hit on a plan to cut some corners and use props.
In our very nomadic decade, when selling and buying houses was second nature to us, I've learnt that sometimes it is quicker to divert attention than to fix even a minor blip. 
The smell of freshly brewed coffee,for example,makes people feel relaxed and instantly 'at home' in their surroundings just as the enticing aroma of baked cookies brings out the feeling of home comforts.
The tricks are endless and very effective,if I might say so myself after selling 12 houses in 16 years !!!!!
I suppose its understandable that I decided to apply those tried and tested methods to the looming event.
Wherever I go,whatever I read I'm  compiling inspirational ideas in hope of using them in my garden to draw attention away from the sea of weeds that have yet to be tackled.
So here are some features I hope to replicate,modify and  introduce at some point. 
Yes, I'm aiming high.


Give me strength !

Monday 4 June 2012

A bit of British

Bag made out of vintage Union Jack flag, naval emblem and brass buttons.
Louis XVI style chair upholstered in vintage Union Jack flag and a vintage metal trunk painted with British flag.
One of my favourite combinations, egg on toast with Marmite.
Things I didn't know about 'the flag'.

A very typical British countryside scene.
A famous and much loved original, Mini. This one has a  very patriotic roof.
Almost every village  has one of these recognisable telephone boxes.
A vintage tin, perfect for a celebration cake.
Royal memorabilia.
Original Jacobs biscuit tin in a shape of a Royal coach dating back to the coronation of 
King GeorgeVI in 1937

The famous British Blue...
who loves to sleep in my shop window display.

Hope you've enjoyed my little tribute to this fabulous country.
Back soon :)