Sunday, 21 July 2013

Gardens and Other Happy Memories

I am sure that you have heard by now that the UK experienced a heatwave over the past couple of weeks and I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it's been. Long, hot, sunny days galore, that is what I have been waiting for :) After years of living in small London flats up in the air, it has been a dream come true to be able to just open the living room door and have our own little garden to sit in when the weather beckons. Little T and I have been spending every possible second outside, building up our Vitamin D stores, eating lots of ice cream and splashing in the paddling pool. It has been a truly wonderful time.

Our garden really is nothing more than a three meter square of grass, one medium sized tree and a strip of paving, but it suits us perfectly. I have never been one for gardening and was certainly not blessed with green fingers, but I felt that I should at least try to get something growing over the summer. I got some veggie plants from a very good friend, and I am chuffed to bits that not only have I managed to keep them alive, but that they are actually flowering and looking very likely to respectively produce some courgettes and tomatoes later on.

I have had similar success with some sweat-pea plants I got on sale from a local supermarket and I can't help but smile every time I see this pot of colourful flowers.

Sweet-peas always remind me of my grandmother and hold a very special place in my heart. Their delicately sweet and lovely fragrance is one of my favourite smells in this world and I can be found regularly getting up close and personal with a flower to indulge in taking a deep sniff :)

Not being satisfied with just having flowers in the garden I have yet again turned to hooks and yarn to capture the beauty of nature and to create my very own flower bed blanket for my house.

As luck would have it, one of my favourite brands of yarn is having a huge summer sale and I quickly snapped up a bargain at this lovely on-line store. Twenty fat little balls of pure colour joy arrived on my doorstep early last week, each one a 100% finest Egyptian cotton and an absolute pleasure to work with. There was never any question in my mind as to which flower pattern I would be using for this project, there was only ever one choice, the African Flower. I fell in love with this design the first time I saw it, and it only rooted itself deeper into my heart when I found out that it came from a much loved magazine from my home country and that it was originally written in my mother tongue, Afrikaans! This was something I had to do :)

I have been making flowers in any spare moment I can steal and am already in love with the results.

The pile has grown quite a bit since I took this picture, but I will keep them under wraps for now and show it to you again once they are all done and put together into one gloriously colourful blanket.

For now, it looks like I'll have to move indoors for a few days as they skies have clouded over and a light rain is falling outside. It's not too bad though as the plants are sure to be rejoicing in some cooler, wetter weather and it gave me some time to quickly whip up a batch up fat and fluffy griddle cakes for breakfast this morning.

Why not give them a go for yourself if you are missing the sun already :)

South African Griddle Cakes (a.k.a "plaatkoekies")

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
Whisk together the egg, sugar and half of the milk and then stir in the butter. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and give a quick stir to mix, slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing into a smooth batter.
Heat a flat griddle pan and drop large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the pan to bake, flipping them over once  to brown both sides. They only need about a minute on each side, so be careful not to burn them.
Serve warm with syrup or jam.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013


A man in famous glasses once said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans". Just when I thought that we have finally settled into some sort of normal and that things will run smoothly for a while, out of the blue, life threw us another curve ball. Our lives have yet again been turned upside-down over the past couple of weeks and my days have become even more of a juggling act. Luckily, it is mostly for the better and with all of the craziness came the hottest, sunniest, Summery days of the year yet. So all in all it hasn't been too bad. Although I was more than just a bit frazzled and stressed out during this topsy-turvy time, I have been able to stay positive and see cause for celebration in it all. Of course I baked a couple of gorgeous cakes to make us all smile.

A luxurious Chocolate Fudge cake came first, sweet and glossy and oh, so chocolatey. This is every chocoholic's dream! 

When we had our fill of chocolate, I baked our favourite Rich Almond cake and generously covered it in thick Chantilly cream. The perfect cake to eat while watching some historic Wimbledon matches.

It would have been sinful not to get out and about in this wonderful weather and we made sure to make some time to go and explore one of our neighbouring towns. I was most pleased to find this winding little road, decorated with bunting and lined with quirky little shops. It was a most relaxing day, just what the (head)doctor ordered.

We also had time to pop into a charity organised car show, where I happened across my dream vehicle. I might just be willing to sell a kidney for one of these camper vans :)

Heading home at the end of the day, we strolled through a perfectly pretty English garden, complete with pink poppies to make it an even happier day and to remind me that Life really is what you make it...