Waffle garden tour

Hi, how are you all doing? I think for the first time today I don’t feel quite so bored. Writing “The Waffle”is always fun for me, hopefully as reading it is for you!?

So, let’s start off with a socially distant tour of The Waffle estate. Everything is looking so lush and green. Honestly, if you don’t like the colour green, you’d better look away now, as there is a serious amount of it coming up.

The hedge side of our garden is one big mass of green. Such a huge variety of dark greens, light greens, sage, apple, forest, lime, olive, solid green and variegated, you name it, we’ve got it. When I have my coffee break al fresco, I often find myself mesmerised by this mass of green. It’s a bit like staring into a fire, different bits leap out at you each time, completely addictive. Yes, Coronavirus has now led me to stare at a hedge, over and over, but it is a really nice hedge, look….

There is so much else of joy in the garden, and always something new, and an awful lot of green, that’s what gardens are all about.

The ferns are getting wild.

So are the potatoes..

The rhubarb’s been bonkers for a long time now.

The geraniums are looking vibrant. I like the red and green in the blue pot. This pot was given to me as a flat warming present many years ago when I bought my first home. It was from Gwen, my friend Clare’s Mum, and used to have an enormous palm houseplant in it.

The hanging baskets are shaping up, although sadly the two “apricot sparkle” begonias ordered for the front of the house have not arrived and the company involved are now ignoring my messages.

The sweet peas are coming up.

The sunflowers are happy. Although I will be happier when they flower!

Helen’s lettuces are nicely settled in on the wall and all around.

I might take a couple of lettuce plants to my parents at the weekend, as I am going to have too much for just me. I’m sure they will also be needing rhubarb, they always need rhubarb.

The tomatoes are also contently hanging around on the wall, and even after recent thunderstorms the vertical garden is still intact – yay 😀!

I also have my first two tomato flowers.. 🥳 yippee!

There is so much to show you… also some pretty flowers in contrast with the green.

(These are chives above, by the way).

And the hostas are also lovely in their interesting verdancy and not eaten by slugs (yet).

So much to show you today. In case you were wondering, there was also a little bit of cooking. I made this smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast for lunch, which was tasty. I hadn’t made this for a very long time.

There must be something fishy going on today, as tonight we’re having scallops wrapped in bacon. Probably served with new potatoes. Last night we had goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion puff pastry tarts. They were lovely but sorry I forgot to photograph them (too busy gobbling it up!). David likes to help with the red onion bit, making it really caramelised.

I’ve started thinking about food miles today, more about that another time. Just realised my scallops are from Peru (like Paddington bear?) and the bacon is pork from Denmark/produced and packaged in the UK. Mad! Apparently there is a lot of British fish that would normally be exported to Europe or used in top restaurants that is going spare at the moment. I love fresh fish and seafood, I will endeavour to purchase some of the same next shop. Bye for now folks. Back Thursday xx

Weekend blog-a-log

Hello and Happy Sunday everyone. Hands up who’s bored? Me for one. What a boring weekend. They all seem to be the same these days. I feel like life is passing me by in its nothingness direction, where we are all stuck in this limbo of sort of coming out of lockdown but really not. And we can’t relax about it yet, who knows which way it will go. It’s becoming apparent that normal life will be far from normal for a very long time.

I’ve been trying to keep busy since this whole thing started. The cooking, gardening and blogging have definitely been enjoyable and helped me to pass the time. My new little side project as you know is trying to save items from the bin, being somewhat embarrassed by how much waste The Waffle Household creates. So for this week I can report that the most satisfying success I have had with this was some couscous which was left over and normally I would have thrown in the bin. Instead I made it into this lovely salad for lunch which I took to work on Friday. Added to the couscous was some celery which probably would have gone off in the fridge, some cherry tomatoes, a bit of olive oil, a chopped up left over arancini ball filled with mozzarella cheese and some black pepper. Overall it was a tasty lunch, probably quite healthy, and I do like lunches that I eat with my own fork at the moment rather than sandwiches which means fingers handling the food and a lot of paranoid hand washing on my part.

I have also saved some blank pages from my old address book at work and stapled them into a scrap notebook. I remember a colleague doing this with scrap paper many years ago but I couldn’t be bothered to start this until now.

A huge amount of our waste is packaging and I’m trying to think of new ways to use this. I saved a plastic punnet from some mushrooms and thought this might be useful for growing some seedlings in. Similarly a plastic tube my effervescent Vitamin C came in. I thought maybe a container for shampoo for holidays for that one, if indeed we ever get to go on any of those. So those two items are washed and ready/cluttering up my cupboard until I need them. I did have a big sort out of the cupboard yesterday though. I found a camera and an iPod I will probably sell online since I now use my phone for all my photos and music.

One thing I’ve learnt from the lockdown experience is to be less fussy about things, not that I thought of myself as a particularly fussy person before. But I am making do with things that are actually perfectly fine for the job, like using vegetable stock if I don’t have any fish stock in a recipe, for example. I am buying less clothes as I am going out and to the office less and really what’s important is to just have something clean and tidy to wear. I am also aware that if I buy new clothes, I will have to clear out some old clothes, and these will just sit in a pile with the other boxes already waiting to go to the charity shop when it eventually opens again. A friend of mine has taken to filling up her car with stuff ready to go.

It has really surprised me that the older generation are finding it unacceptable not to have their usual favourite brands of foodstuffs if they are sold out at this time. Surely the war was a lot worse than this?! I guess old people just don’t like change. “No, lobster bisque?” declared my mother this weekend in most dramatic fashion “oh, what a shame!” My mother in law was similarly extremely shocked one week that there were no cornflakes. How could this be? “No cornflakes!?!” she was incredulous. It is hard to explain why, what can you say, except there is a global pandemic and life is not normal any more. My husband will only ever be freaking out if there is no beer. Seeing beers lined up in the fridge is his comfort blanket. He likes to check on them, making sure there are plenty. I buy more and more each week, and then find he has topped up the fridge with some more he has risked his life for by going into a shop, just in case the number of unopened beers fell below 10 at any time. Heaven forbid!

We also can’t seem to go a night without chocolate any more.. not a thing before the pandemic.

I hope you’re all doing well, not too bored by me or the pandemic! Thanks for listening. Here are a few pics from the weekend x

Sea bass tagine and rhubarb and crumble ice cream

Hi, how are you all? What’s cooking in your kitchen tonight? The other day I made this rhubarb and crumble ice cream, from the Good Housekeeping June issue. The rhubarb is made into a sweet syrup and puréed before swirling through double cream and condensed milk, with really chunky homemade sweet and buttery crumble bits on the top. My overall verdict is that it is good, but the overwhelming flavour is rich, creamy decadence rather than sharp rhubarb. It’s good, but there’s an underlying feeling that it is likely to clog up your arteries and give you a heart attack.

For tonight I’m making sea bass tagine in the slow cooker. I have to put the fish and the tomatoes in it in a minute. The fish has been marinating in a spicy olive oil mix all day in the fridge. I made a note last time I made this that it was very good but very spicy hot. 😅 I’m going to serve this with couscous, which will be a nice change and so easy to prepare. The tagine smells potent and warming. It looks like this so far..

The recipe is in this book; my favourite slow cook book.

I’ve had quite a productive day at home today. I did my parents’ online food shopping this morning and then made the first stage of the tagine. A short coffee break with Waitrose chocolate shortbread, some financial research online as to what to do with my ISA when it matures in a couple of weeks (still not decided, I need to discuss it with David). Then lunch of Cornish pasties, some ironing and walk to my friend’s house for a socially distant meet up in the garden. Walk back followed by tea and caramel cake for David, scone with damson jam for me, watched the Coronavirus briefing on TV, a bit more ironing, got clothes ready for work tomorrow all hanging on the back of the door waiting to put on.. navy trousers, navy sandals, floral long sleeved blouse with navy vest underneath. And now (obviously) it’s blog time and time to do the final stage of the tagine in a mo’.

For those of you missing the hot, sunny weather in the UK, it’s probably my fault as I’ve just ordered a garden sofa for the patio. Guaranteed to bring about a change in the weather. By the time the sofa is actually delivered on 22 July we will probably be into autumnal weather here. I hope not but who knows? It’s actually two chairs and a little table that push together to look like a sofa. I’m imagining David and I sitting on either side of the table bit with our cocktails in the middle, or our friends sitting on the chairs if we ever feel comfortable enough to have a barbecue gathering again.

The tagine now looks like this with the sea bass added and the sliced tomatoes on the top for the last half hour. I also added a bit more hot water as it was looking not quite saucy enough.

I’m hoping the tomatoes will mulch down a bit, because if they still resemble raw tomatoes David won’t like them. If not, I’ll just scoop out the tagine bit underneath for him. I hope it won’t matter that I left the skin on the fish, as I couldn’t be bothered to take it off. Fingers crossed it will be OK. If not, I’m sure the fish will be soft enough to remove the fish from the skin whilst eating. It is in fairly big chunks. Getting hungry now!

I hope you’re all fine. All that remains is for me to leave you with the pretty flower pics taken on our walk home today… and relax! 😊

I never knew poppies went all fluffy like this after flowering..? Maybe only some poppies do this?

Gail’s money saving tips (Part 1)

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Hi everyone. Anyone who knows me knows that I really like to get a bargain. I get a real buzz out of it and I’ve always been of the opinion that I’d rather spend a bit less so that I can work a bit less! I thought I’d share a few money saving tips with you, in case you find these useful too. Yesterday I wore a blouse that I first wore to work in 1993 (yikes!). It’s very thin, soft cotton. Every year I think I ought to throw it out, but I still like it, it brings back good memories, it’s white so it goes with everything and is very cool in the heat. Reckon I really got my money’s worth out of that one, eh?

I appreciate that some of these are only useful if you live in the UK, but here goes…

1 I subscribe to www.moneysavingexpert.com so I get their weekly e-mail. This was started by Martin Lewis and is a really good place to find advice about changing your insurance, energy supply, finding restaurant deals and vouchers and all sorts of other fantastic money saving advice. Love it!

2 I have saved thousands of pounds over the years by using www.topcashback.co.uk. Every time you shop online, start by clicking through topcashback first and then shop as usual. You have to wait a little while to receive your rewards, but you earn a percentage fee of up to around 15% each time that you can exchange for cash in your bank account, or in my case I usually use this for air miles as the rate is pretty good. This has worked out really well for me in particular for hotels and holidays and Christmas gift shopping. You can get a free account but I have one with a small annual fee of £5. as you then get a cashback bonus of 5% as well as some other benefits. My total cashback received to date has been £2415.57. It has taken me many years to reach this amount, but who doesn’t like free money?!

3 In the pre-Covid days when we were allowed to go to the cinema, my friend Pat and I saved loads of money on our weekly cinema trips using Meerkats. We probably wouldn’t have gone every week without this. We started with Orange Wednesdays which was 2 4 1 on a Wednesday and then moved on to Meerkats. You buy any insurance policy from comparethemarket.com for as little as about £1.50 for something like one day’s travel insurance and then you can get 2 tickets for the price of 1 on a Tuesday or Wednesday each week for most films FOR A WHOLE YEAR! We got extra bargain points by taking our own end of day reduced price snacks from Marks and Spencer’s. And we usually sat in the road before entering the car park after 6.00 pm to get our free car parking after 6.00 pm. At Staines cinema the tickets are cheap anyway at £5.99 each so we could get in for £2.98 each plus dinner and drinks cost us around £5.00 for two, sometimes less. We ladies know how to live!!

4 Healthcare can be expensive, even in the UK where we have the NHS as you may not be able to wait for NHS treatment or it may not be cost effective for you to wait especially if you are self employed. Prevention is better than cure so you need to look after yourself physically and mentally. Get to know yourself and what works or doesn’t for your particular body. Listen to the niggles when they first start and try not to push yourself to the point of injury or mental collapse. This will be really cost effective in the long run. (Except of course for the fact that you may live longer and then need more savings for retirement ha ha!). Looking after your feet by wearing proper fitting shoes and visiting the podiatrist when needed is a really good habit. Learn to relax. Meditate. Experiment and find your thing. Dentists are expensive too, so brush your teeth, use dental floss, do what you’re told. Otherwise it will cost you £££££££££s you could have spent on something much more enjoyable.

Right, that’s enough of my nagging, I mean, advice, for one day. Off to get the baked beans on to go with the fish cakes now for another al fresco meal. Husband has it all under control apparently, so I’ll sit back and enjoy the pretty pictures of the day coming up. Have a good week everybody xx 😎😷

Long Island Iced Tea and a load of other rubbish

Greetings. Last night was cocktail night and I made Long Island Iced Tea, as above, for the first time. They were really good, extremely alcoholic. The ingredients containing five, yes five, different spirits, really shouldn’t go together at all, but they do. This drink has absolutely nothing to do with tea other than the fact it looks a bit like iced tea due to the Diet Coke used as a mixer. In case you’re wondering, the five spirits are vodka, gin, white rum, triple sec and silver tequila. If you think your liver can handle it, the recipe I used is here.

The weather has been glorious again, I hope you’ve been out and about enjoying it if you’re in the UK, or enjoying whatever weather you’ve got wherever you are in the world. Last week American Samoa was spotted on The Waffle stats for the first time. I had to google that one as I didn’t know where it was. As my sister said, it’s a VERY long way from Windsor, UK. All are welcome in The Waffle community, spreading world peace through food, thoughts, laughs, and let’s face it, one English woman’s waffle….

I also want to talk about rubbish today. We, like many parts of the UK, have been switched to fortnightly rather than weekly bin collections during the lockdown period. Our proper rubbish is collected one week and our recycling rubbish is collected the following week. Our very small food waste bin is collected every week as before. I’m just about getting the hang of this now, but what has become apparent is just what a vast amount of waste hubby and I create in the space of 7 days. David is really not that bothered about this, but I, on the other hand, just think the amount looks ridiculous and we must be such massive consumers in a capitalist society to generate so much. I feel a bit embarrassed about it and worried for the environment. So, I have made a decision to try to reuse things as much as possible that would previously have gone straight into the recycling or other bin. I do not want to fill my house with junk, so it has to be something that is really useful I can do with it. First up is this deep tray that our Beef Wellington came in from last night. The Wellington sat on top of a piece of baking parchment, so the tray is pretty much as new.

My first thought was that we could put a couple of holes in it and use it as a pot on my vertical garden wall project. Then I had an even better idea. I am going to use it as the perfect container for my rhubarb crumble ice cream going in the freezer tonight. And then afterwards I will use it as per my original thought on the vertical garden wall. Bingo! Two uses from one piece of rubbish. This is going to be very satisfying. I’ve also started reusing the plastic bags that bread comes in. I have taken little pots of milk to work in these bags to stop spillage and I’ve also used them regularly to freeze half a loaf of new bread as I’ve taken to dividing up each loaf into two as this really saves on the amount of bread we throw away.

If you want to have a quick look at your rubbish too this week, perhaps you could let me know if you find something that you can repurpose in a satisfying way and we can share our ideas on this subject. I do not mean fill your house with a clutter of things that might be useful one day. No, I definitely do not mean that. I mean things you can think of a great new use for right now.

So if I’d thought about this earlier, I probably would have saved up our old plastic containers from ice cream etc rather than buying new pots for the vertical garden. Anyway, the new pots do look rather smart and I’m loving this project with tomatoes, spinach and lettuce growing up the wall now.

Dinner’s in the oven. Roast lamb with roast potatoes, carrots, green beans, mint sauce and gravy tonight. It’s so nice to be able to eat al fresco. I am not exaggerating when I say one year (probably just after we bought some new garden furniture) we only managed to eat outside once in April, and then the whole summer was cold and a washout and we never managed it again. So sad. But so nice now. So get outside, get your Vitamin D people, soak up nature all around you, eat some lovely food and I’ll be back on Tuesday xx 😎

Going potty

Hello. How are you? I’ve had a mixed bag sort of a day, overall quite good. It’s been a lot about pots this morning.

My pots ordered from eBay had not been sent as their scanning had failed or something, so I have got a refund for those. I had the day off work so this morning I braved a walk to the local garden centre to buy pots there. It felt a little strange to be out without David after so long walking together all the time. The shopping experience felt even stranger, as I haven’t been in a shop at all for many weeks. I wore a mask but only a couple of other people did. I thought it was busy but I overheard another customer saying how quiet she thought it was, there being no queue to get in. Anyway, they had sold out of plastic plant pots and only had pot trays and coir pots left, so that was a bit of a disaster. I doubled back outside, ignoring the direction of the arrows on the floor, and the other people, and selected a couple of red geraniums in reasonable size pots. I have now planted up the geraniums and you can see them in the big blue pot above. I love geraniums and we don’t have any in the hanging baskets this year, so they’re a welcome addition to our little piece of England. The pots they came in are now fixed up to my veg patch wall and one contains spinach and the other a tomato plant. I found a third pot in the shed and put some lettuce in this one. I have realised Ocado sell pots too so I have plenty more on order now to hopefully arrive on Saturday. This is how the project looks so far.

This is all a bit of an experiment and I think if it rained heavily all the compost would slosh out of the pots at an angle, but they are OK for the time being. I’d like to cover the whole wall, if I can without it getting too heavy. I think it would look really good.

After a ready-made chicken and gravy pie for lunch in the garden, we thought we’d go and see Windsor Great Park and if not too busy to go for a walk there. I figured that Thursday would be a better option than the weekend. How wrong could I be? It was absolutely heaving with people and cars backed up everywhere. So we were disappointed but didn’t feel like taking our chances with the parking frenzy and the masses of other people, children, bicycles and dogs, and we came back home to do one of our usual walks around the estate. That means there is absolutely no point in trying to go anywhere else at the weekend. Dorney Lake, home of the Olympic rowing, is apparently overrun with antisocial travellers from out of town causing a lot of mayhem and issues for local residents, so we are also avoiding that area at the moment. Thank goodness we have the garden, out little sanctuary. This morning amongst all the people at the garden centre I couldn’t wait to get back home for coffee in my garden. Maybe I’ve become a bit agoraphobic in lockdown. I expect I’ll get used to going out again, with a bit of practice. I guess I’ll have to!

When we got home from our walk I felt a bit at a loose end so I made some damson jam tarts. Here are some of them.

They weren’t quite ready in time for tea, but I’ll probably have one for pudding tonight and then take a couple to work tomorrow to snack on at elevenses. A creature of habit, I usually have a cup of tea and snack around 11.00 am in the office, depending on work commitments, phone calls etc.

For dinner tonight it’s back to the Mary Berry book for her spaghetti bolognese. I haven’t made this before and would usually just make up my own recipe in a frying pan on the hob. Her recipe starts off on the hob but then goes into the oven for over an hour. Interesting to see what it’s like. I had to improvise a bit as it was supposed to contain chicken livers but Ocado were out of stock and I used red wine instead of port. It smells very good with the red wine cooking in the oven.

On the Italian theme, I keep meaning to tell you about this little self gift I got from Amazon for £10.95 just over a week ago. It arrived flat packed and you make up the cardboard stand and the little pots yourself, adding water to the coir. It’s exciting to see little shoots now in every category. I think this would make a great gift for someone else.

I hope you’re all having a good week? It’s a funny world we all now live in and unlikely to be “normal” again for some time, if ever. Here are some photos from the last few days, taken around our local housing estate. Catch you again Sunday xx

The Starship Enterprise (and other home crafts)

David has now completed his Starship Enterprise model. It turned out very nicely, don’t you think? So perfectly glued and painted. He can have so much patience when making something precise (but mostly in life has so very little!). My thanks to Julie, David’s sister, for buying this for him as a) he really enjoyed making it and b) it kept him quiet and occupied for days on end. We may well be back to a lot of rock guitar again now, brace yourselves!

Having had the long weekend, I wish I could say I had completed one of my craft projects, but alas I have not. I seem to have been busy doing nothing. Where does all the time go? I’m not bored at all. I still have loads of interesting things to do at home, as well as talking to you lovely lot, of course. I still haven’t finished my Mosaicraft. It looks like this.

I’ve got out of the habit of doing that, even though I was enjoying it. I now feel tempted to go off piste and start some decopatch. Do you know about decopatch? It’s a bit like papier-mâché. You use very thin tissue paper and an all in one glue/varnish to cover things. It’s very therapeutic. Some people have covered whole items of furniture, chest of drawers etc, but I’m on small scale items. These are the things I have made so far.

1 A really big ‘G’ for Gail which is on the wall in my home office.

2 A little box that I like to keep shells in.

3 A pen pot

4 A dinosaur and a gecko. They get along quite well.

For my next trick, I have this enormous clothes peg/paper clip to decopatch. I am also very excited to find in my cupboard some new glue/varnish which is sparkly in an orange pot I’d forgotten I bought. I have never used sparkly stuff before on this… should be good!

On the food front, tonight I’m cooking Nigel Slater’s quick and creamy chicken curry, which I’ve made before and it was really good. It’s not quite as quick as Nigel Slater thinks it is, taking me at least 45 minutes rather than his estimated 30 minutes. These chefs chop faster than I do! It’s from this book. I like this book, but it doesn’t have any pictures 🙁.

Last night I made a really nice haddock bake and we finished it off for lunch in the garden today. This was from a Mary Berry book. The quantities she gives are for 6 people minimum but I just divide that by 2 and then we have some leftovers. The recipe included potatoes, mushrooms, spinach and undyed haddock. It was very nice and seemed healthy, although there was some double cream in there.

Off to check the rice and add the yoghurt and cream to the curry now. More cream. Oops! Have a nice week. Back Thursday x

Weekend Waffle

Hello everyone. Hope you’re all doing well and having a good weekend, under the circumstances.

As usual in life there is good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad:

1 The dishwasher is broken. We have tried to fix it ourselves by taking bits out and cleaning them. This has not worked. We now have to call someone out to fix it, or buy a new one. It is over 10 years old but we’ll probably still try to get it fixed. Our washing machine and both our fridges are also at least as old as this.

2 My new plant pots have not arrived yet from eBay. They were due by last Friday at the latest. That means I’m stuck on my vertical garden project. (You could say I’ve hit a brick wall 😂). I’ve sent some chasing messages and have decided if they don’t arrive by Thursday this week I will ask for a refund and go to the local garden centre which is now open to buy them there.

3 Our naughty neighbours have broken the social distancing rules. They have had another household over to their garden for a badminton party today. Multiple people from another household who arrived by car. That is definitely not allowed, unless maybe you are a member of the government and you were following your instincts, then that would be OK. Apparently.

4 There are no bananas! My mother is missing them a lot. This is to do with a fungus as well as the current virus situation I believe.

5 I still haven’t mastered the technique for tequila sunrise cocktails. It was tasty enough but it’s supposed to have multiple layers of reds and oranges which mine quite frankly does not, it just has a little line of red at the bottom.

Right, that’s enough of the bad news. Here’s the good:

1 My Covid test was negative. All this means is I (probably) didn’t have the virus on Monday morning. Not that I thought I had.

2 We successfully delivered food shopping to my parents and my mother-in-law today. Everyone has plenty to eat and drink and is looking fit and well and very grateful for our efforts. My father likes to do us a “clap for carers” at the window upstairs, which is quite funny, but it’s nice to be appreciated.

3 My next book club book has arrived quickly from Amazon. It cost £3.17 for a second hand hardback copy of Anne Tyler’s “Noah’s Compass”. I am looking forward to reading this as I seem to remember reading something before by her that I liked.

4 Roast pork is cooking in the oven in my new roasting tin. Soon to be joined by potatoes. Cauliflower will go on later. And there will be gravy. We might have red wine for a change. Yum! Looking forward to dinner.

5 My rhubarb cake is delicious. I will have no problem finishing this all off myself. I will definitely make this again. There is a lot less left now than this picture shows.

6 All my seedlings are doing very well. My sunflowers are going great guns. Even the sweet peas are going for it now. There is an abundance of growth and life and I love it! My colleague Helen donated me lots of colourful cut and come again lettuce which is going to look so pretty in pots on my vertical garden wall.

7 The new hanging baskets are also looking very healthy (although still waiting for two more baskets to be delivered).

8 My friend Sue is doing some great Zoom yoga classes for her friends. I really enjoyed her class yesterday morning. We now do this once a week. My Uni friends have also scheduled another Zoom chit chat, something to look forward to.

9 We had a good takeaway last night from our local pub restaurant “The Greene Oak”. It cost £39. which I thought was reasonable for the quality of the food, and although we had to collect it, it was an efficient service. The food was tasty.. beef shin croquettes with truffle mayonnaise to start for me, chicken wings for David, followed by quality cheeseburgers and chips for both and then apple crumble for me and sticky toffee pudding for David. We really enjoyed it and it feels good to support our local businesses.

10 We are past the peak of the virus in the UK, that is very good news. We know we have the NHS ready and waiting to treat us for free if we do get really poorly.

11 I still love blogging. The Waffle is a great outlet. I’m now giving my sister tips as she is thinking of starting a blog/online magazine about wildlife.

I could go on. On balance there really does seem to be much more good news than bad! Hope it’s the same for you. I took a few photos in Crowthorne today on our walk.

I’m getting really into taking these cloud photos with a shape in the blue sky in the middle. For me this is a big butterfly. Can you see it? Do you like it?! Take care. Back Tuesday Xx

Food glorious food

Greetings. I’ve had the day off work so today has been all about food and sunshine and I feel truly satisfied with that.

I started off this morning with porridge in the garden. I like this sort and it’s really easy to do in the microwave. I have no idea what Acai is, but I’m sure it must be good for me.

Then I moved on to prepare tonight’s dinner for the slow cooker. This is a really good book for slow cooking.

Today I made the beef rendang from this book, an Indonesian beef curry. I’ve never made this before. It smells gorgeous. This is the first part, mixing up the spice paste in my mini chopper.

Then fried it up and added coconut milk…

Mixed it up well and brought to the boil..

Then poured it into the slow cooker and added the braising steak..(no idea why the sauce suddenly looks very bright yellow here).

It’s been bubbling away all day on low in the slow cooker and now it smells gorgeous. I think it will be quite spicy as there are lots of red chillies as well as garlic and ginger in it… 😋 yum! There’s loads of it, we’ll probably freeze half of it.

I then relaxed in the garden for a while with a cup of coffee. After that I heated up some gourmet sausage rolls from “Cook” to prepare our picnic. We had sausage rolls, cherry tomatoes (me only), little cubes of gruyere cheese, mini cheddar biscuits and twiglets. We drank lemonade (me) and red grape juice (David). For pudding I had a satsuma and a David had an Actimel yoghurt drink. We took our picnic chairs and found a quiet spot to sit by the river in Windsor for an hour, it was lovely. We were immediately joined by some Canada geese.

We had our picnic lunch and did some river watching, lots of canoeists. One was solar powered so he just sat there doing nothing, gliding up the river Thames. I’m not sure you could call that going out for exercise! Then we went for a walk up to the castle, quite strange without the tourists. All the shops were shut except for a couple of ice cream shops and Tesco Express.

Such blue sky, amazing weather today. I am wearing clothes I usually wear on holiday in the Caribbean, and factor 50 sunscreen on my face as for those who don’t know me I am very fair skinned.

When we got home I started thinking about different rhubarb recipes I should try, as there is still loads of rhubarb in the garden. I researched how to make rhubarb jam in this old recipe book from the 1970s. I love old cookbooks and how the food pictures look in the old days, with things laid out with patterns of fruit/veg chopped up on the top, very trendy at the time. I bought this book at a car boot sale in Chichester when visiting my parents many years ago.

I’m going to use the recipe in this book to make rhubarb jam in the next couple of weeks. I haven’t had much success with jam in the past, but I’ll give it a go. I now have a jam thermometer so that should help. I ordered some jam pot covers from eBay and some glass jars with red gingham patterned tops from Amazon with some leftover gift vouchers.

Then I decided to make a rhubarb cake for tea. The result is the headline photo, turned out really nicely and I ate it in the garden with a scoop of ice cream and a cup of tea. David joined me for tea and some shop bought chocolate cake as he doesn’t like rhubarb. Oh well, all the more for me! It was very tasty.

So, looking forward to the slow cooked curry in a bit. A day full of food and sunshine.. bliss! Before I love you and leave you as big sister is phoning me for a catch up, I’ll just show you last night’s dinner. This is Nigel Slater’s mushroom and potato pie below…think garlic mushrooms with mashed potato, gruyere and Parmesan cheese… so good 😊. Going back to work tomorrow before I get too fat at home. I’ll be back on Sunday with cocktail news et al xx.

Windsor Great Park + martini cocktails

Hi Waffle friends. Are you getting used to the new Waffle posting schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday? I think I’m just about getting the hang of it except for the fact that I am finding it difficult to remember what day of the week it is at the moment, ha ha! So today is the third Tuesday of the month and that means it’s Zoom book club night so I thought I’d better get this post done promptly. We were supposed to read “Turn again home” by Carol Birch. I did try but didn’t manage to get beyond page 65. This was disappointing as I really enjoyed “Jamrach’s menagerie” by the same author. So I’ll be joining tonight for the camaraderie and chin-wag rather than having anything much to say about the book.

I wanted to backtrack a bit today and share some pictures I took in Windsor Great Park at the weekend, now that we’re allowed to drive to go for a walk. It was busier than usual but we were able to maintain social distancing except for a few cyclists who whizzed past next to our ears at close proximity. Cyclists never seem to think the rules apply to them. I was reminded by a friend the other day that my posts do not have to be always full of joy and overachievement. Without depressing you, you probably like to know that I like you have bad days as well as good especially during this time and things do not always go according to plan in my life as well as yours! So to be honest, the Great Park was beautiful but unfortunately David and I could not reach an agreement on the appropriate speed of the walk as I wanted to stop and admire things and take pictures, whilst he wanted to charge up and back down the path. We met up back at the car neither very happy with the other. We had words, it happens, we were friends again by evening. So without further ado, enjoy the pics..

I love all the old oaks in The Great Park.

I saw this hole as a slightly misshapen map of Africa.

Wow! Cows. You don’t get these around our local housing estate. One of them really stared at me. I stared back.

I love this picture with the red kite looking tiny in the magnificent clouds.

Cocktail time on Saturday night is always a happy time in The Waffle household. David put on a holiday Caribbean shirt and I put on a nice “going out” top. It seems we’ve started dressing for cocktails! I made martinis for the first time. One was dry vermouth with vodka and one with gin. I preferred the gin one and David preferred the vodka one. In the end I found mine too strongly alcoholic and put a bit of tonic in it. I think both of us would rather have a margarita. This Saturday… tequila sunrise 🌅.

So how have you been keeping? Getting stressed with your increasingly busy Zoom schedule? Getting stressed with the boredom of it all? Any nice food and drink this week? We’re having scampi and chips tonight as a quick pre book club meal. With lashings of tartare sauce. “See” you Thursday, looking forward to it already! X