A Riot… of Tulips!

‘How Does Your Garden Grow?’ 2:

4.14 Tulips white

Visiting the Royal Horticultural Gardens at Wisley every Easter and Summer holiday has become a mother and daughter tradition for me…

4.14 Tulips Pink ripple dwarf

A shot in the arm for us both.  A perfect excuse to snatch and share some ‘quality time’.

4.14 Tulips pink over bench

Having been inspired by Annie’s stunning post over at http://mammasaurus.co.uk last week, I was planning to head for the monster greenhouse, to admire the orchid display.

4.14 Tulips red & yellow soft petals

But we got diverted by an absolute riot of tulips – over 1600 planted in a huge, unself-conscious mass.

Celebrating the totally wondrous variety of colour and form.

So bold and simple.  Unlike anything I have seen at Wisley before.

4.14 Tulips Purple

So my ‘How Does Your Garden Grow?‘ post this week is not exactly about my garden, but about one that I feel, in a way, is part of my inheritance…

4.14 Tulips red & white loud stripe

The joy of visiting with my mother and being inspired.

4.14 Tulips pink open

The entertainment of discovering temporary displays such as this one, and the security of re-visiting the fruit trees and checking that I’ve got the pruning in hand at home!

4.14 Tulips yellow & crisp red

So I’ll enjoy the orchids over at Mammasaurus, from the comfort of my own living room –

and savour the memory of those cheeky, bashful, outrageous tulips making such an exhibition of themselves!

4.14 Tulips black soldiers in front of gravel

Click on the ‘How Does Your Garden Grow?’  pink flower in the right hand side-bar to follow the link to other HDYGG? posts.

4.14 Tulips pink & strong white strong ones

* * *

Easy Peasy Supper Chicken & Cardamom Curry.

‘Easy Peasy Supper’ posts are just what it says on the tin –

simple recipes that can be easily made after a long day from mainly store cupboard ingredients

(depending on the content of your ‘store cupboard’!)

Chicken, Cardamon and Tomato Curry.


This week, I needed to make supper for a friend who, like me, doesn’t like strong spices… intact, he is probably the least adventurous person I know as far as taste is concerned  🙂

But I wanted to make something a bit different.  Something that would look as though I’d make an effort, despite the fact that I didn’t have time to go trawling shops for specific ingredients.   Or to cook (!)

This delicious recipe fitted the bill perfectly.

Although called a ‘curry’, the gentle spices perfume and enhance the flavour of the chicken, rather than being the main feature of the dish & overpowering it.

It’s an interesting mix of spices – I thought it sounded rather odd – but am glad I gave it a go!

Quick Chicken, Cardamom and Tomato Curry.

Quick Chicken, Cardamom and Tomato Curry.

The original recipe is based on one from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Curry Easy’ (and it was!)

5 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 x 2″ sticks of Cinnamon

8 x cardamom Pods

1 x 1.6 kg Chicken, cut into pieces – or Chicken thighs (that’s what I used as I think they have more flavour)

2 medium Onions, peeled and chopped

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (I omitted this on this occasion)

2 Tablespoons ground coriander

1 Tablespoon ground Cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (I omitted this as it makes such horrid stains if it’s dropped on the tablecloth!!)

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper – or more or less to taste – I used slightly less

Tomatoes from a tin (don’t use all the juice), chopped

1 Litre / 32 fl oz Chicken Stock


Brown chicken pieces in oil over a high heat, in a wide sauté pan – don’t overfill the pan.

When hot, add cinnamon and cardamom.

Transfer browned chicken pieces to a bowl.  When all pieces are browned, add onions to the pan with the cardamom and cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium and saute until the onion starts to brown lightly.

Add the garlic and stir a few times.  Then add the coriander, cumin, turmeric (if you dare to use it!) and cayenne pepper.  Stir again, then add tomatoes, stirring.

Return the browned chicken and juices to the pan, along with the chicken stock.  Bring to the boil, cover and cook rapidly over a medium heat for 15 minutes.

Remove cover and turn the heat up.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.


I served with Basmati rice – I added a few leaves from my lime tree to infuse the cooking water, and stirred in some peas at the last minute… simple and delicious!


If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
J. R. R. Tolkien


What is your current favourite Easy Peasy Supper recipe?


Rampant Ladybirds in the Rhubarb!

How Does Your Garden Grow? 1.

Easter Holiday this week – so I’ve been planting French bean, pea and marigold seeds, potting on the courgettes, cosmos, chard, sweet peas & pansies, and generally having quality time in my favourite place.

The wildlife have been busy too…

I wonder what next year’s Ladybirds will look like!?


I have also joined up with Annie at Mammasaurus and  her ‘How Does Your Garden Grow?‘ project.

Annie’s blog is inspirational and beautiful – food for the eye and the mind.

I’m looking forward to a virtual weekly meeting with the other participants in HDYGG and following what is going on in their gardens… humbly, having compared my photographic skills with those on the other blogs… but bottom of the pile is a good place to start, as the only way is up!!

Click on the pink How Does Your Garden Grow image in the right sidebar of my blog to see Annie and the other HDYGG bloggers –

or follow this link:  http://mammasaurus.co.uk/49-how-does-your-garden-grow/

Rainy Easter Day.


Apple Espaliers – 4 years old this Easter!

Snatching a little time to potter is so precious.  I found some bags of clean sand being offered on Freecycle, so took the opportunity and did one of  the garden’s most satisfying and most dreaded jobs – renewing the grass edging with a cleanly cut sandy trench.




A satisfying job, because it does make the grass look so smart.

Dreaded, because it always leaves me aching all over – must be a wonderful workout!

I love the principles behind Freecycle – that one person’s waste will be of use to another… I also picked up some Victorian Rope Edging tiles this week, but they’ll be used for a project that is yet to be conceived!

Who needs the gym when they’ve got a spade and Freecycle?!

Here’s an illustration of how my garden grows this week –

What has been happening in your garden this week?

And do you use Freecycle?

Happy Easter. Helter Skelter Egg Run.

Happy Easter…

May your eggs be plentiful and yummy!

As a chicken keeper, who is not very keen on chocolate (really!) finding and enjoying eggs is more of an all year pursuit than a seasonal  treat – perhaps with a few weeks off midwinter when the chickens focus on keeping warm rather than egg production.

Last Easter, Holly (daughter number 2) gave me a lovely ceramic ‘egg tray’ to keep Ava and Clemmie’s eggs in.  A beautiful mix of utilitarian and elegant, it was a lovely present.  However, due to the traffic in our kitchen at times, it got broken within a week.  I replaced it with something that I think every chicken keeper should have – a helter skelter egg run…

04.14 Egg run with dishwasher box

More robust, quirky in design and cause for an everyday smile.

The definition of ‘Helter Skelter’ is In disorderly haste; confusedly; haphazardly.  

although that may apply to the fairground variety, the Helter Skelter is anything but when used as an egg run / store.

What I love about it is that it effortlessly orders the eggs – so that if you want the freshest for poaching you take from the top.  But when baking you’d go for one at the end of the run…  And gently guide the others down to take its place.  We used to date each egg when taking it out of the laying box, but that’s no longer necessary.

I got mine from Amazon UK – I’m sure they are easily available from outlets worldwide too.



As a child, I didn’t particularly like chocolate either – I remember kind friends / family giving my sister and me beautifully shiny, brightly wrapped Easter Eggs.  I would enjoy the thought and the pretty packaging, but the eggs themselves would sit in the kitchen for some months.  Sometime in the autumn, my mother would usually make a chocolate cake   🙂

My parents used to hide a new dress in the garden as an Easter present for us to find instead of the eggs – I remember finding a lovely bright red dress one year – I put it straight on, then went to church and ripped it on the railings on the way home.  My mother mended it with iron on mending fabric… strange the things that we remember.  What does Easter mean to you?


The Sunshine Award!


sunshine-award.jpg dasies

THANK YOU SO MUCH Arlene, from Arl’s world

for nominating me for the Sunshine Award – 

given to blogs that spread a little sunshine  🙂

What a wonderful feeling when someone who you admire but don’t know gives you a pat on the back…

Appreciated, Arlene.


A single mum, positive individual and creative cook, the sub-title of Arl’s blog is

Experiments of a single mom‘.

Inspired from a quote by Ralf Waldo Emerson

All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better’.

For a lot of us bloggers, the blog tracks our ‘experiments’ in life – or in a specific area of our lives.


Another Emerson quote states that

Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for his competitors, for it is that which all are practising every day while they live.’  

Arl’s blog is an uplifting contribution to conversation within the blogging world.

And for visual inspiration, see her wonderful ‘Weekly Photo Challenge’ pages…

Will I ever get to know how to make the most of my camera?!?


Rules of the Sunshine award for the recipient –

1.  Include the Sunshine Award icon on their blog.

2.  Add a link to the blogger who made the nomination.

3.  Answer the 10 questions about yourself posed by the nominator.

4.  Nominate 10 other bloggers, and pose 10 questions for them to answer.


Here goes with my answers to Arl’s questions – 

1.  What is your greatest comfort food?

     Oats – Large, Whole Rolled Scottish Oats.

2.  What is your biggest accomplishment?

     My first proper job, as a teenager – working in an outside catering kitchen… I soon ended up running the kitchen/s… designing menus, ordering supplies and managing kitchen staff for parties and receptions at large functions in London’s museums, art galleries and in private homes in the home countines… an  amazing, adrenalin filled, all-consuming way of life.

3.    What is your greatest regret?

     Instinctively, I’d say not going straight to uni after school – to study politics, philosophy and Economics then law – but if I’d taken that path, I would not have entered the world of outside catering and had the incredible challenges and experiences that offered – so I’ll stick to life as it happened (keeping my answer to question 2 as it is!)  Instead in answer to this question, I will quote Emerson again (thanks for the introduction, Arl!)…

‘Be not the slave of your own past.

Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far,

so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.’

– It’s taken many years and tears to get here, but now I’d say no regrets – what purpose would they serve?!

4.   Tell me about what you consider to be your best attribute.

      The desire to listen.  It’s served me well and I have learnt a lot!

5.    Why do you blog?

        I started a blog because I wanted to learn how to set up a website.  I continue to blog because it is so interesting and uplifting – I have learnt a lot from the blogging community.  I’m not a naturally confident with technology, so that side of it is a big learning curve – and I like challenges.

6.     What is your favourite animal?

         People.  If that category is excluded, I would have to say my greyhound, Bozzy – he’s pretty perfect – and his imperfections make him even more so in my eyes.  🙂   But also the birds in the garden, the fish & frogs in the pond – and the illusive newt who lives in the compost heap. (When last seen!)

7.     What’s the most worn item in your closet?

         My black long sleeve scoop neck Uniglo tops – I’ve got lots of them and wear them just about every day in one guise or another!

8.    What’s your favourite breakfast food?

         See answer to question 1, above…  Well, we all need a bit of comfort to start the day!

9.    If you could live anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

        Right now, I’m very happy living just where I am – I love the house, having spent the last decade working on it –  and adore the garden – watching the changes through the seasons is such a blessing.  But I’d like to move to the country – still in England – in the not too distant future.  I’m excited by visiting other countries, but am always very happy to return.

10.   If you could do anything over what would it be and how would you do it differently?

         I would be more confident earlier.


Here are my nominations for the Sunshine Award –

Check out their blogs for some worthwhile reads…

1.  Gillian from Tales from a Happy Home – for the most beautifully inspirational blog – her interests are similar to mine – home, kitchen, garden and family.  Thank you, Gillian – I know many enjoy your blog.  http://www.talesfromahappyhouse.com

2.  DomesticSluttery –‘The home & lifestyle blog for women who have better things to do’ – interesting, useful, entertaining.


3.  The Double Parent – ‘One heart, Double strength!‘ for her passion and drive –


4.  Justin P Moore from The Lotus & The Artichoke for his fascinating posts about his travels and explorations into different worldwide cuisines –http://www.lotusartichoke.com

5.  Emma from Greener Mums – ‘Looking after yourself, your family and the environment that little bit better’.  Informative and relevant – Emma is a busy working mother of 2 who has a great approach to the world and her part in it as a mother & citizen.


6.  Veronica Peerless at ‘Through the Garden Gate’.  Veronica has an amazing eye and ability with her camera.  She is able to capture beauty, it seems, effortlessly and wherever she goes.  A truly uplifting blog.


7.  Dips Delectus for tips and an enjoyable digest of what’s ‘on trend’ (or necessary!) for 40+ women.  Positive, practical and beautifully designed.  http://www.dipsdelectus.com

8.  Glossologics- a fantastically unique and addictive blog about language.  An education! http://alexpolistigers.wordpress.com

9.    Green vision – for an interesting, eclectic collection of information, thoughts and great recipes.  Supported by fantastic images. I have just recently found this quirky blog, but am so pleased that I did.  http://benvitalisgreenvision.wordpress.com

10.  Sarah at ‘The Garden Deli’ for her useful and inspiring Notes and recipes from an edible garden.  Another blog that I have recently found, and look forward to enjoying.  http://thegardendeli.wordpress.com

Finally, 10 questions for my nominees to answer –

1.   What have you learnt from blogging?

2.  If you could only pass one piece of advice on to the next generation, what would it be?

3.  What is your most cherished possession?

4.  What is your favourite piece of music / song?

5.  If you’re going away, what’s the most important thing to take?

6.  If you only had one kitchen cupboard standby, what would it be?

7.  Describe your ideal Sunday.

8.  What is your favourite book / and or poem?

9.  Do you have a favourite restaurant?  If so, why do you like it so much?

10. Would you pass on one tip for taking great photos?

I look forward to reading the responses!

Now a fitting conclusion to this post –

Enjoy this track…