Saturday, 29 November 2008

Another Ramble in Spain!

I shall be continuing for a while so do join me in my rambles about our Spanish holiday.  We spent 2 weeks in a place called Mijas in Andalucia, between the Costa bit and the Pueblo on the Costa del Sol.

Whilst up the mountain in the pretty Pueblo bit we encountered amazing views down the mountain to the coast. hazy view down over fuengirola This view took in the town of Fuengirola which is about 25 kilometers from Malaga airport.  We were not overly impressed with that town.  image Very commercialised for the English tourist, bless them!  There are times I cringe when I think of what our country neighbours must think of us.  Do we really need to stick to our English diet of English breakfasts (cholesterol on a plate), burgers, fish and chips, pies etc?  When I go abroad I want to sample some of the local fare.  Since we were near the coast we ate fish nearly every day.  It was wonderful and ranged from huge prawns cooked in garlic to hake/dover sole lightly fried/whitebait and whatever else was to hand.  The fish was landed every morning so you really were able to enjoy fresh fish wherever you went.

A typical set menu would be comprised of a choice of 3 starters (Gazpacho soup, which was served cold and made from tomatoes and red peppers, avocado served with prawns, pate) followed by a main course which again had a choice of 3 (fish of the day, pork chops or lamb) after which a dessert was offered and you could choose one of the three (creme caramel, ice cream, apple tart).  All that for 8.90 Euros or roughly $9.  Of course you had to have a drink with that!  I usually had a glass of a crisp, cool white wine and then wondered why I always wanted a siesta in the afternoon!!  Of course you could always eat a la carte but even then the dishes where not expensive.  One day, we had a mixed Paella which included rabbit, chicken, mussels, prawns, calamari along with various vegetables such as peas and carrots thrown in.  When ordering this dish it will invariably be for two people and is always cooked fresh so the waiters warn you there will be a wait of around 20 minutes or so.  It is well worth the wait!

Often on our visits to Mijas Pueblo we used to take a stroll in the beautifully kept public gardens which encompassed the remains of fortress walls and allowed the viewer to sample breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Pretty flowers on the hills  Such a selection of pretty wild flowers were abundant wherever we walked.

In the picture to the right I have tried to show you an area that looked like a series of caves but more importantly, the pigeons that roosted Pidgeons roosting placesthere were amazing!

You could imagine during the very hot summers the birds would need to be able to shelter and stay cool.  After being used to seeing the birds on the ledges of high buildings it did seem strange to see them flying in and out of these caves.

See pidgeons roosting

In this picture you can see a couple on the right side nestling up to each other.

As we walked on we saw other sights but I will describe these in my next posts.

Meanwhile I leave you with a couple more views that we so enjoyed.

Small church above Mijas From these pictures you can see how this village is famous for its white washed houses.  In my next post I will show you some lovely houses in the older part of the village.

typical Mijas residential view

Friday, 28 November 2008

The first of my ramblings about our recent Spanish holiday!

Hubby and I just returned from a wonderfully, relaxing holiday in Spain.  We wanted a break and could not, at first, decide where we would go.  I had never been to Portugal or Greece whilst DH had but we had both visited Spain before on several occasions so decided on an area with which we were not familiar.  This area was to be in the Costa del Sol district.  Primarily for a little sunshine since the weather has been pretty dreary in UK of late!

After scouring the internet (what on earth did we do before?) we found some accommodation that looked like it might suit.  Due to the nature of our business it is imperative that we have internet so this was a major requirement.  Anyway, we found a self catering apartment which was built alongside the owner's house.  This was to be a couple of miles down from a very pretty village called Mijas (pronounce Mee-Has) Pueblo.  There is another Mijas but this has the word Costa add to imply it is nearer the sea.Mijas

Mijas Pueblo or just plain Mijas is famous for its white washed houses which cling to the hillside.  Many tourists visit, especially Japanese women who enjoy coach excursions to the area whilst their husbands play golf at the many golf clubs nearby.  One of the attractions of the town would be the donkeys or burros who gave rides around the town.  Personally, I thought them a sorry site, smelly and not something I fancied doing. Burros of Mijas

There is no 'nightlife' as such which means you will not get the average bucket and spade mob here.  What you will find are many restaurants and cafes which spill out on to the pavements.  Sitting in the warm sunshine enjoying a glass of cool wine/beer and a wonderful meal is something to look forward to!  You did notice that those restaurants whose tables and chairs were not in the sun were not utilised as much as those that were! looking down into square in mijas quiet

Here we looked down onto one of the many squares which showed a lack of clientele due to the tables being situated in the shade.  However, I am sure that in the summer months when temperatures reach the high 90s many people will be glad of the welcome shade.

Over the next few days I will 'ramble' on about our stay in this lovely town so do come back and see more pictures!!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I AM back!!

Well, we flew back from Malaga on Saturday afternoon. Our daughter kindly picked us up from the airport and we caught up with the family gossip, as you do!

One thing though...... once ensconced in the house we discovered the boiler controlling our heating had broken down. This was the coldest day and we had no heat! At least we had the gas fire on in the lounge which was a saviour whilst upstairs we had an electric fan heater. DH posted a request on our local village website for a portable gas fire since we have a gas bottle for the BBQ. Good lateral thinking!

One of our neighbours then contacted us and explained how to nurse the boiler to life! Yay!!! Heat and hot water!! It was not until the next morning, Sunday, that we realised our new shower in the adjoining shower room as not working! No water at all. We left it until a reasonable hour and then contacted the builders who had installed it. Apparently, and here we are getting technical, it was a fuse that had blown. DH, being technically minded, was able to sort that and we now also had a hot shower! Life is good.

Monday we had to be up and about bright and early since our house was to be decked in a woolly jacket. A woolly jacket, I hear you ask? We normally call it cavity wall insulation which works like putting on a woolly jacket! Since the noise was to be horrendous I had the perfect excuse to go shopping until the job was done!

Returned home to a well insulated house.

Now to start to get back to normal. I really want to download all my pictures so that I can blog about our wonderful vacation. So, there you have it!

OOOOh yes, I nearly forgot to tell you! I have now got a new book entitled 'My Encaustics - art in wax' which can be purchased from It would make a great seasonal present for a person interested in art with a twist. Nice to have on your coffee table to show your friends and neighbours. It would also make a great present for that friend or member of your family that you just have not got a clue what to get them, I am always in that sort of position. So, it is always handy to have an extra present in the cupboard to get out of sticky situations!!

Check back soon for further updates!!

Friday, 21 November 2008

I will be back!

As someone who shall remain nameless once said.... I will be back!

Regular readers must be wondering what on earth is happening? No posts for ages!! Well the reason is that I have been on holiday in Spain for the last 2 weeks!!

Tomorrow I return to the cold and wet and life will resume. I have loads to tell you about our wonderful holiday, have great new creative ideas so watch this space!!!

My sister blog (one of them!) will have an announcement very shortly, I hope, regarding a book that will be for sale on the subject of my encaustics - my paintings created with beeswax!

So until then..... please be patient!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team SALE!!!

'Life is Wonderful' this Holiday Season when you shop our BBEST Limited Time Sale and find handmade and vintage treasures for everyone on your list, quickly, easily, and at remarkable values. This thread explains fully the wonderful shops who are participating, how to earn points so that you can enter a draw and win some wonderful prizes!!!!

Here's something EXTRA WONDERFUL. Our BBEST HoLiDaY HuNt for registered etsy buyers. *** THREE WONDERFUL PRIZE PACKAGES will be given away! ***

Can you resist that invitation?

Want to see what the prize packages are? Then check out this link you will be amazed!!

So what are you waiting for? Christmas will be here before you know it! If you manage to find this avator just follow the instructions in the thread and you could be winning one of these fabulous packages!!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Cornish Pasty

Listening to a chance remark from an American friend of mine regarding different meanings for 'English' words on our side of the Atlantic compared with 'English' meanings for the same words on the other side I decided to write about the English, Cornish Pasty.


Nobody knows for certain the true origins of the pasty, although it can be traced at least as far back as the middle ages. There are supposed to be quotes from as far back as the 13th Century, during the reign of Henry III although it is believed that Henry VIII's Queen, Jane Seymour, enjoyed a tasty pasty on several occasions.

The Cornish Pasty or Tiddy Oggie as it is less commonly known locally in Cornwall whence the more traditional version originated, was one of the first complete meals for workers. Being one of the original take away foods this was a staple food for miners. The reason the filling was contained in a pastry case with a thick crust along one side was to hold on to, especially as their hands were dirty or tainted with tin, copper or iron! Often this was discarded or fed to "The Cornish Knockers" (ghosts of dead colleagues said to haunt the mines). The Knockers were the mischievous 'little people' of the mines, who were believed by the miners to cause all manner of misfortune, unless they were placated with a small amount of food, after which they could prove to be a source of good luck!

Tradition used to dictate that it was unlucky for fishermen to take the pasty to sea. To this day the more superstitious among Cornish fishermen still refuse to take a pasty on board their boat when they set out to sea, in the belief that it will bring them bad luck.

The traditional Cornish pasty is made by placing the filling on a flat pastry shape, usually a circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The result is a raised semicircular package. The pasty is filled with diced beef, sliced potato, swede and onion. Cornish housewives also marked their husband's initials on the left-hand side of the pastry casing so that their husbands could eat some of the pasty for breakfast and then recognise their own for lunch. Another traditional form of the pasty included a sweet filling, of jam or fruit, in one half and a savoury filling in the other, making it a full meal in one.

With the decline of the mining industry in Cornwall many Cornishmen were forced to emigrate, as far afield as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. taking the pasty recipe with them.

As an aside ..... when I was a loadmaster in the RAF we used to fly backwards and forwards between UK and the Far East with several stops enroute. It was always a treat to fly with one of my colleagues, a Cornishman, who had been a master baker in his previous life and whenever he did the sector between Gan (Maldives) and Cyprus which was a long night flight he always created the best Tiddy Ogies I have ever tasted! Needless to say, this pasties were only for the crew and not the square bashing passengers and their families.

A typical recipe for two would be:-

Shortcrust Pastry
225 gm plain flour
115 gm fat (mixture of lard & butter)
pinch of salt

The Filling
225 gm steak cut into small cubes
2 or 3 large potatoes
piece of turnip or swede
onion, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper

The Method

1. Sift the flour with the salt, rub in the fat and mix to a pliable consistency with some water, leave to rest for half an hour.

2. Roll out half the pastry into a round about 5mm thick (quarter of an inch)

3. Peel and slice the potatoes thinly onto the centre of round to form a base for the rest of the filling

4. Slice the turnip thinly over the potato, then spread the beef on top.

5. Add a little onion, season with salt and pepper

6. Dampen the edge of the circle of pastry with water to help seal it, bring together the edges make a parcel with the filling in the centre.

7. There should be a neat pastry parcel. If you do get any holes, then patch them with a little extra pastry. You can make the pastry neater by crimping the edges. Fold over the edge to make it slightly thicker, then squeeze tightly every 2 cms to make a neat pattern along the edge.

8 Put the pastry on a piece of buttered paper, make a small slit on the top to let the steam brush the top with a little milk, and put it on a greased baking tray.

9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 190C (gas mark 5) and cook for another 30 minutes.

Bon Apetit!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Family and Food!

Family and food, the ultimate comfort, you just can't beat it!

It was DH's birthday on Saturday so a few weeks ago we thought it would be lovely if we could gather as many of the kids and their respective partners together. This sounds so easy! It is not. Bearing in mind we all lead busy lives, some working shifts and some living in different parts of the country it is no mean feat to try to make sure there is a date when everyone will be available.

Anyway, long story short...... this Saturday being All Saints Day as well as DH's birthday we tried and actually succeeded!

Now that we knew who was coming the planning had to start regarding food. Everyone is used to coming here and eating well. Some our our children are excellent cooks, adventurous whist others due to time constraints manage very well. I always wanted to instil the fact that as long as you can read you can follow a recipe. Once a week many years ago when the kids were young each had a turn on a Saturday to plan, prepare, cook, serve and eat a homemade meal. The only stipulation had to be that everyone would like the type of food. I would get their shopping list on the Friday so that Saturday afternoon, or earlier, each child would take it in turn each week to cook their meal. Some were naturals, others a little more challenged! One of them decided to create pizzas for us all. Lovely thought until I saw the mess in the kitchen created during the base making process and lots of flour. And so, we come back to today.

Since everyone might be arriving at different times a 'sit down' meal would not be practical so I decided on making a variety of curries plus a cottage pie shepherd's pie and rice (made with beef whilst Shepherd's pie is made with minced lamb) for anyone not too interested in eating curry.

Thursday I did the shopping whilst Friday was taken over with cooking. Nothing like making the curries the day before to allow the flavours to mature and mingle.

The curries I made were cumin scented chicken curry, prawn curry, Korma chicken curry. Rather than just cooking ordinary rice I made a large dish of vegetable Biryani rice full of a good Basmati rice, curries cookingcauliflower florets, peas and onions. As accompaniments I added poppadams, plain naan bread over which I had sprinkled some cheddar cheese with sliced red pepper (the hot stuff) and then placed in the oven Naan breaduntil the cheese melted. Obviously there would be the usual mango chutney and raita (cucumber, yoghurt and mint).

As you can see it was a tight squeeze getting all the dishes to heat up in the oven!

Afterwards for dessert we had creme caramel. Don't you just love licking the bowl from which the pudding was released; all that caramel which sits there ready for eating!creme caramel

To accompany this we had a tarte tatin which, I have to admit, was shop bought but nonetheless had a lovely sharp lemon taste to cut through all the curry flavours that still lingered.

With both puddings I used a recipe I saw in a recipe booking called Autumn Fruit Salad. Basically, pears and apples cut up, dowsed in icing sugar and Autumn fruit saladthen placed in a very hot frying pan to caramelise the outside of the fruit thus leaving it nice and firm on the inside. Once that is done, add some blackberries which I still had in the freezer and add a little Calvados (apple brandy).... yummy. All that was missing was a touch of cream!

Freya looks aroundOnce we had all partaken of this feast it was time to sit and play with our grand daughter who held court and enjoyed all the attention from her Freyaaunts and uncles. Now I know I am biased but isn't she cute?

Sale Corner!

Occasionally I will show items that are for sale from me direct which can be paid for using Paypal. Always check to see shipping charges which will need to be added to the item amount!

For regular prices check out my Etsy shop, as well as my sister shop on Etsy which also sells encaustic art

Some paintings can be bought directly from my website

Some samples of my present & past work to give you inspiration for that special gift!
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