Greetings from Windsor

What a beautiful sunny day it was in Windsor today. Great sunshine, wonderful clouds. I had a lovely lunchtime stroll up to the castle and back. Here’s what I saw…

Entrance to the Royal Station, Windsor Central Station. We also have Windsor and Eton Riverside station down the hill.

Inside the Royal Station shopping concourse. Only a couple of takeaways were open. There were a few tourists and locals sitting outside on benches. All the benches seem to be full these days, as everyone is outside. No parties of Japanese tourists any more.

Beautiful blue sky framing the Great Western Railway building. I’ve never noticed this GWR logo here before. Sometimes you just have to look up to see the good stuff.

The Christmas decs are up, but not switched on yet. We’ve had these ones for a few years now. I like these big crown ones.

Obviously they look better when they’re actually switched on with lights! But there’s something quite nice and structural about them in the day time nonetheless.

Holy Trinity Church. What a lot of chimneys in front of it!

This is quite new in Windsor. Absolutely nothing to do with me!

So all in all it’s been a good day and productive in the office. I’m having a Zoom chat with some friends tonight so that should be fun. I’ve brushed my hair and for some reason put some perfume on. Probably the same reason I still wear lipstick under my face mask 😷- it’s bonkers but it makes me feel good, and we need all the good vibes we can get at the moment.

Have a lovely evening or day or whatever time you’re up to. Back Thursday for more chit chat. I might even brush my hair and put on my perfume for you! Xx

Microwavable treacle sponge and belated Wellington College

Last night we stayed in, of course. Staying in is the new going out, unless you live in Scotland or maybe Wales from tomorrow. We enjoyed a chicken dijon meal from Cook, purchased via our new local Budgen’s store who now stock a limited Cook range. I served this with new potatoes. Realising we had no pudding in stock, I found this excellent recipe for a treacle sponge you cook in the microwave in 5 minutes. It turned out surprisingly well and I would highly recommend it. The recipe is here. Anyone could make this, even a child. Drizzle some more golden syrup on the top too once it’s cooked. We had it with ice cream. Yum.

Small blog pause here while I make a cheese sauce for the roast gammon and put the veg on…

OK, all is under control in the kitchen. It’s been a nice, calm weekend. Not a cocktail in sight. For lunch today we had this M & S soup that was really filling and tasty. It could serve as an evening meal for an elderly person. We would definitely have this again.

The photos I’ve been meaning to show you for a while are these ones from Wellington College last weekend. Wellington College is a posh boarding school in Crowthorne, Berkshire. You are not allowed to walk around willy nilly in the school grounds, but you are, however, allowed to go from one gate to the other along the main drive as a member of the public. It’s quite interesting and there are some good trees there. David says it reminds him of Hogwarts, not that he’s ever been to Hogwarts. Shame, must be kind of cool to be married to a wizard, don’t you think?!

Wonky photo, but you get the idea..

Very posh cricket pavilion. Looks like they have a lot of top notch sporting facilities. We could hear hockey going on behind a wall.

Gates.

Close up of crest on gates. Anyone care to translate the Latin for me?

The College is usually famous for their annual firework display, I guess that was off this year, like so many planned events.

For now I’m off to serve up the roast gammon dinner. I wish you all a stress free week and leave you with some pretty autumn leaves ha ha ha what a pun 😂! Xx


Sun over The River Thames at Windsor

Hello. I’m back. Sober. Here’s your bonus Saturday blog.

After a disastrous attempt at a walk at Burnham Beeches this afternoon – do not go there unless you enjoy waiting in queues of traffic, looking for non existent car parking spaces amongst drivers of ridiculously large cars on particularly narrow roads, people everywhere, pushchairs, dogs, children running amok etc. It all got a bit stressful so we gave up and headed back to Windsor. It can be a problem in Windsor area on a sunny afternoon trying to find a quiet walk, especially on a lockdown weekend when there’s nothing else for folks to do. Windsor town centre was rather busy with people enjoying takeaway snacks and milling around, generally looking like tourists rather than exercisers. You are not allowed to be a tourist at the moment, but I guess planes of visitors are still coming in, even in the midst of the pandemic. Nothing really makes any sense does it?

We eventually parked up at King Edward VII car park and luckily could pay for parking by credit card, as David and I realised neither of us have used cash for such a long time we only had about 95p in change between us.

We found out later we should have parked in the Home Park car park the other side of the grass as it was only £1 an hour there not £1.60!! and there were plenty of free spaces there too. We were done.

Anyway, we had a lovely little stroll about, de-stressing after the Burnham Beeches experience.

I was very impressed with this tree. I like the colour and the shape of it.

Here are some other sights along the way…Windsor Castle complete with scaffolding work.

Local Windsor graffiti under the railway bridge 😂…

More nice trees and the river.

Tree with loads of seed pods.

Reflections.

A log seat looking like a Swiss roll.

I then got quite into the watery sun, it looked like a Turner painting. I didn’t do a quick watercolour for you I’m afraid, beyond my area of expertise, but I did take some more snaps on my phone…this is Windsor on the left, Eton on the right…(where Boris Johnson went to school, I don’t think how to run a country during a pandemic was on the syllabus back then).

Ancient water pump. Maybe the Queen still uses this but I doubt it!

After that it was home for tea and cake (M & S strawberry and clotted cream sponge roll = yummy but very sweet) and a catch up on the US election TV coverage. David is now helping out with a bit of my day job on the laptop while I talk to you (nice man!). Have a relaxing evening everyone. It’s a “dry” weekend for me so there’s a strong likelihood I’ll be back again in fit shape tomorrow for Sunday’s Waffle xxxx

Walks around Boveney lock and Wellington College

Hi, I just thought I’d update you on our walks from the weekend. It’s lucky we really like walking, as soon there’s not going to be a lot else you are allowed to do. Cooking, eating, drinking, blogging, reading and watching films. All allowed. Well that’s me sorted then. Tomorrow night we have at last secured a table for dinner… the last supper before lockdown 2. Windsor is going to be very busy tomorrow night. We are going to our local Nepalese restaurant. I particularly like their Momos = steamed dumplings filled with spiced lamb or chicken, but everything is good. We don’t usually drink alcohol during the week but tomorrow will be an exception. Party for two while we can. Yay! 🙂.

So here are the pics from the Boveney lock walk we did on Saturday afternoon. Saturday morning was super rainy, but we had unexpected blue sky and sunshine later on. I showed you pictures from here back in the summer, so these are going to be similar, but hopefully also enjoyable. More than one friend has commented that The Waffle thrice weekly keeps them entertained during this difficult time. I’ll have to keep my spirits up to keep your spirits up… like Vera Lynn?! 😂don’t worry, I’m not going to start singing… although I did indeed write my first ever song a couple of months back. It’s called “The Pandemic Blues”. I’ve done the words and I need to work on the music with David with some bluesy guitar. Watch this space! Right, back to Boveney…

The River Thames is really wide and full and majestic.

Moody sky before the sun came out minutes later.

Looking in one door, out the other of this little old church. If only the virus could pass through this quickly.

Well that was a lovely walk. But sorry folks, I’ve run out of time to show you Wellington College, next time my friends.. to be continued. I have a chicken and lentil curry to get on with cooking now and I’m getting hungry… bye for now. Missing you already 😂Xx

The inevitable lockdown no.2

Hi everyone. As we are still processing news of our looming second lockdown in England (starting Thursday), life in the Waffle household continues to be busy.

My feeling of “oh no, how boooooorrring this is going to be” has temporarily left me as for the last couple of hours I have been trying to do a few too many tasks simultaneously at home. I have been cooking a roast chicken dinner, finishing the first stage of my home brew Grand Marnier, putting away the washing, receiving and putting away the Ocado food shop whilst also trying to supervise David doing some of my job from home to help me out. Wow! I suddenly got pulled in all directions and wondering how I was possibly going to squeeze a little blog in here too.

I’ve made many, many roast dinners in my time of course, but I have never made Grand Marnier before. I’m not really sure why I’ve embarked on this new mission. Pandemic boredom perhaps? It sounded like a really fun and easy project until I started peeling the 8 oranges. Have you ever tried to peel an orange getting only the orange bit and absolutely no white pith at all? I’ll tell you now it is super difficult. In the end I ditched the peeler and went for this rind grater gadget. Time consuming x 8 oranges (and an aching hand), but no bitter tasting white pith in sight.

The orange peel is now in my new big jar, mixed up with a LOAD of brandy. And it looks like this.

This is now sitting in the bottom of my wardrobe for the next 4 weeks, hopefully working some kind of orange infused magic. If you want to try this at home, the instructions are here. I have no idea how this is going to turn out, or even what I’m going to do with it all! I might give some to friends and family, or I might cook with it. I’ve seen some interesting recipes for Grand Marnier prawns and chocolate and Grand Marnier soufflé, sounds interesting n’est ce pas? Christmas is going to be interesting foodwise this year if nothing else.

I’ve had a nice weekend, much better than last. Pub on Friday night with David, Zoom yoga with Sue yesterday, coffee with Pat at the garden centre, walk around Boveney lock, dinner via bicycle with David at Don Beni’s Italian in Eton, then for today a big lie in, lunch at the garden centre, walk around Crowthorne/Wellington College, visit to my mother in law’s for tea and cake and then home for the simultaneous busyness described above. I’ve also been busy cancelling a few upcoming social events that are no longer allowed ☹️. Afternoon tea at Kew Gardens is off, dinners with both the Julies are off, night out with Sharon and Tina also postponed. Until when? Who knows? Our lockdown may finish on 2 December but then again it may not.

Boveney lock/Dorney pics to follow next time my Wafflers. For now I’ll leave you with some marvellous autumn leaves we’ve been scuffing our toes into and wish you a happy, healthy and productive week xx


I ❤️ Christmas Cake

Today I made my Christmas cake, and yes I did lick the bowl. Raw eggs? Oops.

As I was making the cake it occurred to me that one of the things I like about cooking is that it can get really messy! It wouldn’t be nearly so fun if it wasn’t.

I dropped sultanas on the floor, spread dark brown sugar all over the work surfaces and the bottom of one of my socks, flour went everywhere including probably my hair. By the time I’d finished it there was MESS, dirty cutlery and bowls everywhere and the kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it. Love it! Don’t worry I did clean up afterwards and all is shipshape again now.

The whole house smelt of warm Christmas cake earlier…. 😋 yum!

I still need to take it out of the tin/paper, inhale deeply a few more times, and wrap it in foil inside a cake tin. I will then feed it with brandy and/or rum a few times over the coming weeks.

I have made my own marzipan in the past and found that surprisingly easy but for this year I’ve bought it. You affix the rolled out marzipan to the cake with warm apricot jam which I have already stocked up with, although the icing won’t take place until 23/24 December. After about 15 years of trying, unsuccessfully, to make the perfect royal icing, I have admitted defeat as of last year and now use this ready made royal icing from Tesco’s, which works very well. (I don’t know why, I tried various recipes, but my royal icing always seemed a bit too runny and pooled a bit at the bottom on the cake and I had to keep scooping it up to the top again…).

Anyway, as I’m all for a stress free Christmas, this’ll do just fine.

Going to Tesco’s was a bit of a shock as I hadn’t been in a proper supermarket for months. I felt a bit out of touch with the new Covid rules. Going around the aisles it seems everyone goes really close to each other in all different directions, but then at the tills a bossy lady tells you to step back if you are within 2 metres of the person ahead. I left feeling very relieved I do most of my shopping online. And that was after the disastrous set back when I’d walked almost all the way to Tesco’s only to find I had no mask in my pocket (arrrrggghhh!). I thought about nipping into the chemist to buy one but then realised you can’t go in the chemist’s without a mask either so durrrr! Had to go back home in a strop and return to said Tesco’s.

Apart from the mask/Tesco saga, it’s been a thoroughly nice day. Lie in, tea in bed by David (quite a rare event), time for leisurely porridge breakfast, coffee break, cake baking, walk around the block dodging the showers, catching up by phone and text with a couple of friends and generally relaxing. On tonight’s menu is Thai green prawn noodles from the Good Housekeeping Express cookbook.

Have you started any Christmas prep yourself? What about Christmas baking, do you do any? Apologies to my sister who doesn’t like mention of the C word before her birthday in November. Shhhhhh!! It’s not even Halloween yet. I do apologise…


Roses of Dedworth, Wildmoor Heath and Christmas cake planning

Hello Waffle friends. It is nearly the end of October, can you believe it?? It is also Tuesday whereas for me it feels like Wednesday. It’s going to be a long week.

For those lovely people who noticed I have been struggling a bit recently, thank you my friends xxx. This week is still challenging but better than last week so far. Looks like I will get my day off on Thursday this week too. Yippee!! It’ll be Christmas cake making day. I was going to do a new Christmas cake recipe for a change this year, but David looked so disappointed ☹️ at this news as he so loves the usual recipe, that I’m sticking with the traditional one. This is the recipe my Mum always uses too, from her old gas cooker recipe book. I’m not sure if my sister makes the same, I think not. My sister does not have a sweet tooth and although she bakes a cake she sometimes doesn’t even ice her Christmas cake as she says she doesn’t like it, what a shame! It’s really not a proper Christmas cake without the icing and the decs on the top, in my opinion. For this year, I have new decs from Hobbycraft, one of my favourite shops in the whole wide world! Although as I already have quite a lot of Christmas cake decs some of these may end up on mince pies or Christmas cookies instead, we’ll see. Cute aren’t they?

The lovely yellow rose headline picture was snapped last week on my local housing estate, so pretty. I also came across this lovely red one.

And I have a few more photos to show you from not last weekend but the one before! This blog is not in chronological order of events any more. Does anyone care? Well, that’s one of the best things about a blog I find… you have the freedom to change direction or topic any time you want, just go with the flow… your blog = your rules! Time travel? Whatever. Anything goes. Are you keeping up?

So, over a week ago we visited Wildmoor Heath, which is a nature reserve in Crowthorne, Berkshire. We had a really enjoyable walk there. Here are some pics.

The start of the walk goes alongside these electricity pylons..

The never ending path of coronavirus….

Nice trees and a bit of autumn colour.. bracken reminds me of my childhood in Richmond Park.

Boggy ground..but they provide good boardwalks for you to walk on, they make a great hollow, echoey sound under foot!

And this is the notice board back by the car where I proved to David that this area is called Wildmoor Heath. He though it was called Edgebarrow Woods.. maybe it is a part of Edgebarrow Woods. Who knows?

I hope you enjoyed the pics Wafflers. I’m off to bung a ready made M & S moussaka in the oven. You missed the caramelised red onion and goat’s cheese tarts last night, they were yummy. Sadly after that I am training David on a bit of my job he offered to help with working from home, until I get a new staff member in place. Sad but true… Back Thursday x

Windsor Great Park (again!)

I admit this has not been the best of weekends. It was not terrible but I felt a bit depressed. I think it was probably a reaction to the week I had and the pressured return to work after my holiday. Hopefully this week will be better.

So for today, I’ll show you a few pictures from our walk this afternoon in Windsor Great Park. This part of the park is usually fairly quiet. Today it was crowded with families and push chairs, screaming children etc. We could not park anywhere near the gates. I guess not many have gone away for half term, they are staying local. The roads have also been very busy around Windsor/Maidenhead this weekend as the M4 was closed again for building the smart motorway. It was sunny when we arrived for the walk, but we got caught in a shower on the way back. Luckily I was wearing a showerproof, hooded coat, but poor David was not and he got a bit wet.

The light at the end of the tunnel… the pale, bright yellow leaves at the end are on a tulip tree, one of my favourite trees in the park.

The cows were not sitting down… the showers must have taken them by surprise too.

Moody clouds, moody Gail…

I was looking for autumnal colour, but most of the trees were still green. Just a small patch of colour here. You can’t hurry nature!

Amazing sky today.

A strip of fire (sun).

House at the bottom of the clouds…

Autumn leaves..I love autumn leaves on the ground. I don’t understand this obsession with clearing them up all the time.

So that’s about it for today. I hope you are all looking after yourselves and having some self love. I got a surprise earlier in the week when eating my Weetabix (well, Essential Waitrose equivalent) for breakfast when I looked down to see…a heart in my bowl!

Sending you all good vibes and heart-shaped cereal experiences. Back for (hopefully) more jolly chit chat on Tuesday xxx.


Making Christmas Pudding

I am a bit out of sorts this week. Tired. Trying to adjust back to my working life again.

But I am very pleased to announce that I have just made our Christmas pudding, yippee! I stirred up all the ingredients last night and left the mixture in the fridge, covered overnight. Then this morning I got up super early to start steaming it, then David took over monitoring it and topping up with water this morning. I am now home from work doing the afternoon shift as pudding monitor. I’m really wanting to take a little nap, but keeping myself awake with coffee as the gas is on so low for the simmer it could go out and then I could accidentally gas myself…not good.

I always enjoy making the pudding as it is my grandma’s secret recipe, handed down to my aunt, my sister and then me. It is THE most delicious pudding in my opinion. David has got so used to mine he once questioned the chef at a restaurant as to how their pudding was so awful.. I apologised and said it was my fault as he is used to my 5 star pudding!! This was last year’s effort with the brandy lit on the top.

This, on the other hand, is my sister’s pud!! Great balls of fire!

This morning I put the mixture into a pudding basin, didn’t bother with a 5p piece this year, someone could break a tooth on it! And then did the special greaseproof paper wrapping.

Followed by the foil and the string handle. I actually did 2 handles this year for luck.

And here it is now, steaming in progress…I use my biggest saucepan, balance the pudding bowl on the bottom section of my old cake tin, pour a little water around the edge and keep topping up with water (I use the little plastic jug from my iron), although leave the lid on the pan for most of the time for maximum steam…

The steaming takes 9 hours…..

I love the thought that my grandma and maybe her mother and generations before, waited all day for this steaming to complete, just like me, looking forward to serving this dish to their family on Christmas Day. The recipe is a little vague and doesn’t include exact quantities of all the ingredients, so each pud turns out slightly differently, and I like that. Each one is similar but unique. And always delicious. David prefers his cold. It is very good cold. We have homemade brandy butter and cream with it when it’s hot. Many people say they don’t like Christmas pudding. Cooked badly (as in many restaurants) it can be stodgy and with a horrible chewy texture. It should be juicy and sweet, fruity and alcoholic, melt in the mouth, rich but moreish. I have never found a shop bought one nearly as good as a home cooked one. Apart from the time spent steaming, they are easy to make, just stir everything up and hope for the best! It seems to work for me.

After it finishes steaming today, I will take off the old greaseproof paper and foil and replace with fresh, dry paper, foil and a new string handle. It then goes onto the shelf in my cupboard of my home office, waiting to be steamed again for about 1.5 hours on Christmas Day. Can’t wait!! Seriously. I’m feeling a slight urge to rip off the paper mid steaming just to sniff the gorgeous aroma and maybe try a little spoonful… Gail, CONTROL YOURSELF IT’S ONLY OCTOBER!!!!

Next week… Christmas cake…. more yumminess. (Is that a word? It is now) xx