Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Lavender Biscuits & Lavender Sugar

For the lavender sugar just mix 1kg/2lb 4 oz caster sugar with two teaspoons of lavender flowers. I didn't have a jar big enough so I halved the ingredients and put them into this Kilner jar, the lavender infused sugar should keep well for up to six months. Next year instead of buying culinary lavender flowers I want to try to harvest them from home-grown plants.

Lavender Shortbread

125g/4oz butter
55g/2oz lavender infused caster sugar
180g/6oz plain flour
Icing sugar/optional... I just used caster sugar

Set oven to 190/375f/gas 5
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth
Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. Then roll out the paste to 1cm/half inch thick
Cut to any type of shape you like sprinkle with icing sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until pale golden brown
Set aside to cool on a wire rack

Mine came out slightly too golden so I would start having a peak in the oven after 10 minutes if you like them the colour of the shop bought stuff. These tasted even better the next day. What I liked about the recipe was the minimal amount of ingredients needed to produce something so scrummy.

Recipe adapted from
Culinary Lavender from Cotswold Lavender 3.99 for 100ml jar... Expensive for a small amount but if you make the Lavender sugar then it will go a long way. Nice product.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

And The Winner Is?

Congratulations go to Trish from Life As I See It... you guessed correctly. Doogy was the toy Harry found in the park. Email me your address and I will send the bird box off to you. Was it the scruffiness that made you pick it?

Also congratulations to Matron at Down On The Allotment, Lioney was the most vigorously ruffed up toy by far.... I had to strategically photograph him so you could not see the holes where the stuffing was coming out. Consolation prize consisting of two knitted mice goes to you. These two cute colourful critters were made by Linda at Shabby Tiger, Handmade.

Thanks to everyone who took the time out to enter my little competition. Cheers

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Shagrat's First Giveaway competition

Which one of these toys did Harry find in the park? Remember the rules, 1 guess only and you can't choose the same toy as someone else. See previous post for rules and prize info.

1. Piggy

2. Snaky

3. Monstar

4. Liony

5. Dumdum

6. Dino

7. Doogy

8. Foofer

9. Bally Wally

10. Bottle

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Shagrat's First Ever Giveaway

Tuesday 20th of September would have been Harry Labs Twelfth birthday so I'd like to mark this day by hosting a giveway to honour and celebrate his life..... and to thank some of my regular followers for their support.

Harry in his element indulging his favourite outdoor pursuits, collecting sticks and getting wet.

At home Harry was no different he loved playing with his vast array of toys, of course he did grow bored of some of them over time accumulating a large toy graveyard but Harry definitely had a few firm favourites... One particular longtime favourite was a toy he found himself in the park whilst walking with my dad, of course Harry didn't leave it behind....

Now here are the rules to win the giveaway prize. On Tuesday I will upload ten pictures of some of his favourite toys with a number and a name, all you have to do is guess which one Harry found under a bush and brought home to add to his stash.

Remember that once a toy has been chosen by a blogger you cannot pick the same one so it is vital you look back at what others have chosen. Just leave a comment with the number and name of the toy. Once all the toys have been picked I will announce the winner, now I don't get lots of traffic on here so if I'm struggling to get all ten toys picked you might have to help me out by spreading the word around. The competition is open to all regardless of location and you don't need to be a follower.

Here is the prize on offer a colourful bird box, I was going to giveaway something doggy but then not everyone has a dog. Most bloggers like birds don't they? The only stipulation is... if you win it please report back with pictures and a few words if you are lucky enough to get a lodger. I might do a very small consolation prize for the person who chooses the toy that Harry relentlessly roughed up over the years;-)

Goodluck to you all.... Remember pictures uploaded on Tuesday 20th.

P.S Goodluck Phil Rob and Karl running the Great North Run for Help The Hospices Today. Have a great day chaps....

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Rose Petal Jam

Recipe from that handy pocket sized book Food For Free: Wild dog Rose petals, caster sugar, water, lemon and orange juice and that's just about it... Will have a tasting when Iv'e made some scones and bought some clotted cream.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Many Tears Animal Rescue (MTAR)

I've just started collecting used postage stamps for Many Tears Animal Rescue based in South Wales, here they take in and re-home primarily ex-breeding dogs who are no longer required; those on "death row" in the pounds and those whose owners are no longer able to keep them. MTAR also have many foster homes set up all over the country. Collecting used stamps is a simple and easy way to help raise much needed funds for the rescue. If anyone wants to help can you email me for my address and I will send them on for you or you can acquire the co-ordinators address from the website If you have the time take a look around the website as there are a number of different ingenious ways you can help especially if you like knitting;-).

Here is a photo of how the stamps should be collected with a half inch border around the stamp. Please don't peel or steam the stamps off the envelope as they are worth less this way especially if they are damaged. UK stamps are good but foreign stamps are worth more.......

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Wildlife At The Tranquil Otter

With key in hand Phil and myself set out to locate the Tranquil Otters bird hide somewhere along the perimeter of the Lough. It was quite a nice snug little place, with leather settee, chairs,binoculars and a visitor book. I like this photo of Phil coming over all twittery;-D.

Now in order to see stuff you probably have to hang around for quite a while and be prepared to visit at key times of the day. It was suggested dawn for the kingfisher so of course we
didn't see them. We did spot what looked like a kingfisher perch and a little twiggy nest in the water.
Think this may be a coot? One was sitting on the nest then climbed off swam into the reeds and like clockwork another swam over to sit on the nest. What great parents

He's behind you Phil......

Finally Phil got a great shot of the male chaffinch

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Tranquil Otter

Just over two months ago I decided to book a short break to the Tranquil Otter, it being a favourite place with Harry Lab and my brother Michael. Last time Harry went to the Tranquil Otter with my parents and Mick, to my utter astonishment Harry sulked the whole day when he came back to us a week later. Blimey I thought it must be good. As you can see its pretty special...
Little more than a couple of days after booking the holiday Harry unexpectedly fell ill again with his arthritic joints, sadly a return to this quiet idyll was not to be. We nearly didn't come, it was a effort to get motivated enough to pack our stuff. In the end we decided it better to come and try to relax than mope about our home which was now so quiet a place.
Upon arriving at the Tranquil Otter lodge we immediately felt at ease, I hadn't finished looking around the place when Phil decided to get his shorts on and jumped into the hot tub.
Our own little boat....
It probably took half an hour to walk around the perimeter of lake Lough which we did every day about eight o-clock, this is the view across the lake with our lodge in the distance.

The owners of the Tranquil Otter wrote in the information booklet that their own dog Leah might pay us a visit from time to time. Here's our Mick fussing Leah.
With bird feeders in place did we see any wildlife other than Leah? Well here's a clue....
Crikey it feels like a gold fish bowl with these pesky patio door peckers, more next time.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Harry 20.09.1999 - 31.05.2011

I wasn't going to write this blog because the emotional parting from my beautiful, gentle and faithful companion Harry Labrador has been so painful and personal to Phil and myself... Even as the days go by it is difficult to speak about him without getting upset. All Harry's extended family my brother mum and dad feel the hole that he has left in our lives. However it feels.... not right at all for me to continue to blog until I acknowledge, if only to myself that he is gone. This portrait picture is one of my favourites and was used on my very first blog where I spoke of my great love for him.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Black Pearl Chilli

Black Pearl Chilli, wow its a bit of a looker with its vibrant purple flowers and glossy dark green to black leaves. Definitely one of my all time favourite plants sown from seed....

Friday, 29 April 2011

Dandelion Wine

Yarrow at Oakmoon studio posted a recipe for Dandelion wine which I couldn't resist making once I'd seen it. Those who read my blog will know that I've made sloe gin, elderberry and blackberry wine before, so far elderflower champagne comes top as the best tipple. Once the idea was in my head that was it .... The next day I went to a field near where I work with bucket in hand to pick 4/5 pints worth, pretty easy really as these weedy plants are so abundant. Picking the green bits off once I got them home was another matter it took me about an hour and a half and I ended up with very orange sticky fingers;-(. As you can see the juice is quite orange resembling wee wee a bit. By the way I can confirm its a myth about the bed wetting

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cherry Blossom

The cherry tree in my front garden is in full bloom at the moment but it is only a fleeting Barbara Cartland bonanza before my postage stamp lawn becomes a sumptuous pink carpet. People have commented that the blossom seems abundant this year but perhaps its just down to the mild stillness of the weather, not windy at all and remember last year at this time I'm sure the lawn was frosted even a foot deep in snow....

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Progress On The Allotment

I'm really chuffed ......Well done Dave and Phil the new 12 foot greenhouse is looking pretty damn good. All THEY... need to do now :-), is the guttering for the waterbutt a couple of block for the front steps and fill two beds with qood quality soil. Lucky me... Now the lads have shed blood sweat and tears over its construction I'll get the opportunity to bed in a few of my favorite plants..... Ya can't have too many chilli plants can you. I planted Black Pearl back in February the seeds cost three quid for six seeds a tad expensive, but if all germinate suppose its not too bad. All six did come up but only three were what I'd call 'vigorous'..... unfortunately the other three plants are still tiny in comparison. This chilli plant looks really attractive even at this early stage with its dark green to black foliage, apparently the spherical chilli peppers turn black to red. The added bonus of course is that you can scoff em. Gotta go just spotted out of the corner of my eye the little mofo responsible for the absence of my peas.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Hello Whats This

Spotted this cute little creation in front of the old Yew tree as I walked back out of the nature garden at Pleasington. Funny thing is though, I must have walked right passed him on the way in. Must remember to switch my nature sense on in future. I wonder how long he will last?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bishops Kiss

A big thankyou to Sarah at (Down On The Allotment) for taking the time to send me these cool chilli seeds Bishops Kiss. I'm going to sow them today, fingers crossed they germinate successfully. I've already sown Black Pearl chilli seeds last week not cheap at 3 quid for six seeds and if they make it I'll repay Sarah by sending her some seeds later in the year.
BTW I love.... Buddy he's 'nearly' as handsome as Harry my black lab.
Update: Sad news, Buddy passed away on the 7th of Feb (my birthday). Sarah's tribute picture of them together after Buddy won top prize in a 007 contest radiates their great friendship.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Moor

A short walk up Great Hill off Belmont road to dust off last years cobwebs. Zooming in across Roddlesworth towards Darwen Tower which lost its top during stormy weather in December. The final shot shows my partner Phil.... looking erm dare I say a bit grumpy.