Monday, 29 November 2010

What I Did This Week ..... Well , Not Everything , Of Course .

Sonata :

Well , we finally got to the Collector's Fair in Utrecht , Friend and I . We had our usual enjoyable potter through a huge number of stalls , selling everything from Thirties' haberdashery to ( metal) detectorists finds . Why anyone would want a handful of old rusty bent nails escapes me , but then why did I lug home a handful of 1930s and '40s business letters ? I could probably find a Taschen book of pre-war graphic designs with plenty of examples like this

But I can read these and try to picture the correspondents . There is , for instance , a humble apology for the malfunction of a fan and the hope that the client will be so kind as to accept the immediate replacement of same , signed by the boss with his "salutations bien distinguèes " . What do you think , would I get the same treatment now if I sent back my defunct pop-up toaster ?

Meanwhile , it's nearly the end of term and it's almost Sinterklaas , the night when Dutch children get their presents and there are all the decorations to make with the pre-schoolers . Serried ranks of St . Nicolaases line the window ledges

bishop's mitres and page boy hats in bright crepe paper hang from every available hook . We've sung every song to death and read every picture book about the Good Man to tatters . And this week we'll hold three parties , complete with small presents , which must be hunted for .

On the 6th. he'll have been and gone and the children will calm down .

Which will be handy , because then I'll be able to prepare for my next career . The one I'll be taking up when the Budget Cuts start squeezing the playschools out of existence

I find , to my relief , that I already know a fair number of these songs so I'm off to a head start .
You must do , too . So all together now , one , two , three ... " All I want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth ".

Monday, 22 November 2010

tis seasonal to be... coughing


Fell foul of some bug or another, so slipped out of the blogosphere. So did my nephew (catch a bug, I know that he is very advanced for his age... but at 3 1/2 he is not yet blogging). Though the last time he was amused at getting a cough ('I am a Coughosaurus', he claimed delighted), he wasn't so much this time.

Sonata may not like this month too much, but I can't say I agree: I love being able to drag out jumpers (though, do any of you have the moth plague? Not a thing a knitter relishes having to deal with); dust off the winter coats (never knowingly fashionable, but bought a vintage faux fur job earlier in the year... and it is - almost - like being an 'it' girl); buy gorgeous seasonal vegetable at the farmer's market (Curly Kale, though not Brussel Sprouts!); try all sorts of new and old anti-virus remedies (actually, no, that bit is a lie).

Anyway, although I have not been up to anything faintly interesting craft-wise lately (new work responsabilities gained unexpectedly earlier in the year have knocked the needles out of my hands), there is always something to blog about. Although not that many people watched the television series 'The Great British Bake Off', we did in this household. So, imagine our delight, when we visited the farmer's market on Sunday:

One of the ten bakers was selling cakes, he has called his enterprise 'The Cake Stop'. His treacle tart was the lightest and most fragrantly lemony version I have ever tasted, and as for his apple and cinamon cake... words failed my other half. We couldn't resist these buns in a jar (soaked in Cointreau - does that work against coughs?!):

Yum. Have searched the internet in vain to find out his name, but he fell foul of the judges too early in my opinion (and now I have tasted his cakes... I can't imagine why!). Other participants have blogs, like Ruth at The Pink Whisk, and the winner Edd at He Eats. So if you need some more droolworthy pics, click on.....

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Humph !


This is what I had planned for today

wandering round the big Collectors' Fair in Utrecht .

But the Dutch train system had something else in mind and a signals fire in Utrecht has turned what would have been a two-hour journey into an open ended odyssey for only the truly determined .

So I'm doing this instead ( and possibly baking some of A Wee Bit Of Cooking's savoury muffins )

Smitonius , who seems to have perfected a cough to wake the dead , says she'll be recovered enough to blog tomorrow, too .

Does anyone like November ?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

You Have To Be Crafty To Get Into Jail Round Here

Blokhuispoort dates from the 17th century and , until recently , housed the prison .

Now it has been turned into a Culture Center , each cell providing a studio for artists , performers , writers , alternative therapists .....

And yesterday , as part of Leeuwarden's Open Studio weekend , they threw open the doors and we could all wander about and admire their work .
And on every landing , behind every blue door

there were potters , sculptors , painters , photographers , jewellery makers and a glass blower but also a poet , a couple of interior decorators ( "See how I can restyle a cell . Just think what I can achieve in your home !") , even a woman who can get rid of your whiskers in an environmentally-friendly fashion .

And in another wing , for the ladies , there was Holy Stitch , a craft fair . Girlie heaven . Pink checks and spots , bunting , woolly hats , cunning bags , candles , cookies and vintage clothes . Ads for a two-day Make Your Own Teapot And Teacosy workshop , lunch included .

There was even a Decorate Your Own Cupcake workshop , very popular with small girls who were reverently bearing their glittery creations home for tea

All great fun . And I had only one uneasy moment

Does this make anyone else think of the Inquisition ?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Multi-Culti Temptations Abounded

Sonata :

I've just spent a week in England eating and thinking about eating and then eating some more .
Hard not to when one's children seem to be afraid that one will float away like a soap bubble if not fed at frequent intervals . Though , to be fair , I have done nothing to dispel this myth .

But eating in England now is such fun that it would require greater will power than mine to resist for long .
Travelling through London , one is tempted by "The Authentic Taste Of Cameroon" near Bethnal Green or this

in Borough Market . "Still Scottish at heart , I see ", said Smitonius .

There was Rosti or Portuguese pastries , Keralan spiciness , Congolese , Ethiopian or Vietnamese cooking , Finnish , Cypriot or Belgian food and Persian take-away in Notting Hill .

Endless , expensive treats in stylish Food Halls and this in Shepherd's Bush

A losing battle with a fast chewing Grandson over a plate of Calamari and a big bowl of olives .Excellent chili at Middle Daughter's and delicious crab risotto at Smitonius's
And we all enjoyed every mouthful .