Monday 28 September 2015

An afternoon in the kitchen with Bob.

The grandchildren and I have not done any baking together for a while. Fifi manages to do baking at home by herself and now the twins are older Bob and his mum usually do some one day a week as part of Bobs home education so little need for me to do much with them. But last week I had gone to watch the twins while their mum did a few bits and pieces and was then coming back up the road to bake. So Bob came with me, was a brilliant afternoon with laughs at his mad antics.

We did two types of baking, Bob friendly and some stuff that wasn't. This is important for him as we feel he needs to learn how to make food with ingredients in that he is not allowed so he learns to handle the products safely.

So as hubby and I had been out blackberry ( bramble) picking on Wednesday first off all we decided to make something with them. So I peeled some pears and Bob chopped, we then added pears and blackberries to the pan and cook them up ready to make crumble. We made two crumbles, one gluten free one not but both dairy free.

Pear and Blackberry crumble

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20
Serves: 4


  • 2 oz vitalite
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 2 pears
  • 8 oz blackberries
  • 4 oz gluten free self raising flour
  • or 4 oz Self Raising flour


Peel and chop pears
Place pears and blackberries into a pan with a small amount of water and cook for five minutes.

Preheat oven to 170 oC (Fan) or 180 oC (none fan)

Rub marge and sugar into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Place cooked fruit mix into a shallow baking tin and top with the crumble mix
Cook for approx 20 mins until browned.

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

Note - we used home made custard with coconut milk for Bob and I.

blackberry crumble
crumble with soya cream

Lemon Cakes

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10
Serves: 6


  • 4 oz vitalite
  • 4 oz sugar
  • zest of a lemon
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 mashed banana (egg substitute)
  • 8 oz gluten free self raising flour


cream butter and sugar.
add lemon zest and mashed banana and stir well
stir in flour and lemon juice
cook in batches in cake maker ( makes 20 small) , or alternatively at 160 oC for 12 mins ( makes 12)


eat plain
or make a lemon drizzle topping

lemon cakes

Bob grated the zest off of the lemon.

zesting the lemon

 I love to eat lemons so I was having a suck at what was left and Bob asked for a bit, so being the nice grandma I am I gave him a bit.

its a bit sour

Once we had cleared all Bobs items out of the way we set about making an adaptation to a cake I had seen on another blog a few weeks back. Helen made this chocolate orange birthday cake and I had to give a version of it a try.

Orange and chocolate cake

Prep Time: 30 mins plus cooling time,
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Servings: 8


for the cake
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 4 oz dairy free margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 2 tspn vanilla extract

making the jelly

for the centre
  • one orange jelly
  • half pint water

the ganache

for the topping
  • 250 ml soya cream
  • 250 g dark chocolate

  1. Make the jelly according to the packet but only use half pint of water. Pour into a sandwich tin to set

  1. Cream margarine and sugar together
  2. add eggs and vanilla
  3. stir in flour and add a small amount of water if too thick.
  4. Split into two greased sandwich tins and cook at 160 oC for approx 15 mins until cooked through

  1. break chocolate into small pieces in a bowl
  2. heat cream to nearly boiling point
  3. pour over chocolate, leave to sit for 2 minutes and stir until chocolate is combined.
  4. leave to cool.

Once jelly is set and cake is cooled remove jelly from tin and place on one half of the cake. Sandwich together and top with cooled topping. Decorate with slices of tangerine.

nicely layered

ready to eat

While we were at it we also cooked up some more blackberries, strained the liquid off and made it up to a pint, then made a home made jelly with vege set. Popped the blackberries in and left them to set. Very nice they were too.

blackberry jelly

The Freerange Family

How things have changed just one generation on

Babies, sweet lovable and worth every second of lost sleep, but they can be very expensive. My first child was born back in 1979, probably about the same time as a lot of my fellow blogging friends were born.

I was lucky back at that time as there was little pressure on mothers to go back to work. Home ownership was really only for the rich people, the largest percentage of the population rented good quality affordable housing from the council or other housing associations. Budgeting was much easier when the need to keep a roof over your head was easier and proportionally much cheaper. This has all changed in the last generation with so many more parents owning their own houses and feeling obligated for both of them to work to work to afford the mortgage.

This then brings parents into the mine field that is child care. Childcare does not come cheap any more. I was fortunate as I was a registered child
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
minder when my own children were young, so I could earn an income without having to pay out. As a child minder I kept my rates low so that other parents were not too financially disadvantaged. Three of four extra children over the week added to my family income nicely.  The only items I needed in place were already in place for my own children, and once you were police checked and registered with the social work there were no more expenses.Sadly child minding has changed over the years, in my day there were few overheads, no paperwork, no planning, no report writing, no separate toilets,  and certainly no HMI inspections
costing a fortune. no wonder they are expensive to use now.  I could pop a plaster on a child or give them a spoonful of calpol without answering to the authorities,or filing in masses of paperwork which is why I could keep my costs down.

Back in those days you did not have supermarkets or discount stores for that matter selling clothes. Baby and children's clothes were expensive, but in my opinion much better quality than you get now. Baby clothes like so many things these days are designed to be throw away in a sense, nothing is made to last the way it did. But because clothes were better quality they lasted so much longer. When my first child was born apart from the presents we were given and the items that had been knitted for us  a lot of her clothes were second hand. I think with my first daughter I could have changed her four times a day every day for the first two years and just thrown away the clothes I took off and not bothered washing them as we had that many beautiful dresses and outfits passed on to us. I had six good friends who had daughters all approximately a year older than my first born who gave me everything their girls outgrew.  This saved a huge strain on the finances. I have to say what my daughter out grew was passed onto others, which then came back for my second born. She was the youngest girl in the group so all that she outgrew went in the loft.  When my first son came along a friend of mine had just had a little girl, she had two older boys,and as we both had kept a lot of items we both passed a load of clothes to each other. This was very common at the time but there seems to be a stigma attached to that practice these days.

Then of course there were nappies, when mine were born disposable nappies were a very new idea, more like large sanitary towels that fitted inside rubber pants and held onto nothing really. They were fine for when they kicked about on their changing mat but that was about it. Terry nappies were the  norm and once they were bought they did right through from birth to trained as one size fitted all depending on which way you folded the squares. This could be quite intricate when they were new born but easier as they got older. At night time when they got bigger you put two on. Think what you pay nowadays for disposables over the life time of a child.Then there are the nappy sacks to put them in, the baby wipes to clean them with. But then people weight  up the pros and cons of electricity against landfill, life was much easier when we had no choice. A top and tail bowl and water did the job adequately and then pop the nappy into a bucket of cold water. It was not as convenient but then we had more time on our hands. I loved to see nothing more than a line full of white nappies blowing
 in the wind.

mage courtesy of digitalart at
I had a coach built pram that did all of my children, and some of the child minded ones as well. It took a pram seat for the oldest to sit on when number two came along when she was eighteen month, Had a wire rack on the bottom for the shopping and we walked every where as we had the time. I Nowadays again most parents have cars and need more than one expensive car seat appropriate for the size and age of the child.

We never had video baby monitors to watch our child as they slept, I lived in a block of six flats which had three other young mums in and we use to sit out in the stairwell of an evening when the children were in bed with the flat door open and we heard them if they cried.

Modern parents like to have the modern equipment, but ask a second or third time mum what they had for their first they no longer use for the others and you will realise how little of it was really needed. A washing up bowl made a great baby bath, pans and wooden spoons made great toys, plastic dishes and cardboard boxes provided hours of fun play.  My daughter use to sit for hours with plastic dishes and a jar of buttons and made meals with them, play tiddly winks, they could learn colours, matching and counting with a jar of buttons, great for their motor skills as well, and she never managed to choke on one

What did you have for your first that was not used very often? What did you feel was a waste of money? Or what item(s) do you feel are essential that you could not live without.

This is a collaborative post.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Project 365 week 39

The evening are getting dark much quicker and in the morning I now need lights for work in the morning, four more weeks till the clocks change and it will be dark both ends of the day.

Anyway while I was at work hubby got on with painting the fence It is really weird to see it brown through the glass back door.

painting the fence

Bobs gymnastics day again so we went babysitting the gruesome twosome. Dinky was not feeling overly well so when mummy left she took herself off and sat at the dining table and refused to have anything to do with us, at least she huffs quietly!!
Minky had great fun with an empty box and Granddad. Only pictures I got of him were blurred.

fun with a box

Did get some good video though.


Got a new freezer last week and had run down the other one for this one being delivered. So got a load of stuff to restock with cooked food, I find it  much easier to bulk cook and freeze rather than cook food every day. Much cheaper than a takeaway after eleven hours at work. I had planned to make a lasagne and freeze it as well, but then realised I had thrown out my loaf tins as they were passed their best and have not bought another one yet.

bulk cooking
stocking the freezer


It rained on and off for a lot of the day, but we decided spur of the moment to go and pick some brambles. Where we were going was no use to take the children because it involves a walk across a farmers field and sometimes his bull is out. We got there safely with no sign of him, but then after about an hour part of the herd and Mr Bull came across to see us. Luckily this one was just a young bull and seemed to pose no threat ( though you never can safely tell) so we just walked towards them waving our arms and shouting until we had moved them back past the gate we could climb over. Then we stopped and took the photo. I got 3.5lb of brambles. plenty to do some baking with.

nice Mr Bull

SIL was working a day shift so I went and watched the gruesome twosome and Bob while daughter did some bits she needed to do. Then brought Bob up the road as I intended to do some baking and asked him if he wanted to help and he said yes, so we had a fun afternoon in the kitchen.
Once of the things we made was lemon cakes for Bob, so he grated the rind off and we squeezed the juice out, and at that point I ate some of the lemon that was left, so Bob wanted a bit, his face was funny.

sucking a lemon


Lots of yummy cakes to eat from yesterday. I had seen Helen over on The Crazy Kitchen produce a cake I fancied adapting to dairy free , and so here mine is, part of yesterdays baking. Recipe here and very yummy it was to.

chocolate orange cake


No wonder I have spent half the month totally confused and not knowing what day of the week it was.

31 days hath September

Thursday 17 September 2015

A day out at The Scottish AirShow 15

There are many advantages to living in such a beautiful part of the world, one of those advantages is being near an airport and getting to watch The Scottish Air show which came to our area earlier this month.

Daughter No 3 ( H) and SIL (M) had promised Bob and Fifi they would take them along with their other nephew K. So we were meeting up with the later in the day as we were going in early to watch the storming of the beach. Sadly for security purposes this had been scaled back and was not as impressive as we had hoped for. Had a commentary throughout which was handy but was quite difficult to see what was happening behind the fence that made the enemy compound.

waiting for the storming

the battleship

the enemy await the troops

the troops come ashore

placing explosives on the boats

storming the compound

helicopter backup during the storming

So after the storming was over we headed back to where all the stalls were to have a look. The show has grown massively from last year, this is the second year it has been back in the area, they estimate 50,000 attended last year with 120,000 this year. Both years we have been blessed with good weather and blue skies. There was a huge amount of stalls to wander round with not enough time to see everything.

I took some random photos of things that appealed.

crowd reflected in wing mirror

curly coloured pipes

reflected in a truck wheel

I liked the design

At this point we wandered back to the car to grab some lunch that we brought with us. We are lucky to have access to a garage just round the corner from the Low Green.

Whilst we were eating lunch H phoned to say they had arrived, so we went across to meet them.
Bob and K were having their faces painted when there was an impromptu flyby display.

an impromptu flyby 

At this point we decided to wander down and watch the first half of the Air Show and stopped to let the children onto various things.

Bob and K on the bike

Bob on the bike

Fifi on the bike

I appreciate that the aeroplane pictures are not the best, I have an £80 point and shoot, so time I found the planes, pointed, focused and clicked they had moved. But will give you an idea of the variety of planes to be seen, and the pictures may not be good but the memories are.

So once part one was over H took Fifi back to get her face painted while David, M and I took the boys to see other things to play on. Sadly, as is to be expected, there were huge queues for most things.

Bob and K on a tractor

Bob with a red arrow

Bob on another tractor

the three boys

So it was soon time to head back for the second part of the air show. The children had begun to bore with the planes, after all they do live under the flight path and see planes on a daily basis and don't see the interest, so we decided to wander down the beach to stand so that they could play.

making a wall round his castle

K had not wanted to eat his lunch when the rest of them did, so he ate his down here on the beach. H was teaching him about Bob and his food issues and made sure he ate well away from Bob. For all what he was eating was not an issue it is something he will have to learn about as he gets older.

a joint project

This is a Vulcan. Today was the last ever Scottish Air Show it will fly at as it is retiring at the end of the year. But it had an issue and had to do an emergency landing at the airport. The landing wheels had become stuck. Thankfully all went well and pilot and plane were safe. You can read about it here. This caused a slight delay in the programme but was unavoidable. So not the best picture but a piece of history.

the vulcan

The highlight of the day for me had to be the Red Arrows. Last year they were cancelled due to weather conditions else where in Britain and they could not get airborne. Their displays are just amazing and for all you know two planes are not going to hit head on your still expecting the bang.

I wonder how you train to be that good. I mean these planes fly at time approx six feet apart. There is no error in training to be off your line. All you have to do is sneeze to cause a major accident.

Not a lot of pictures of these as I was too busy enjoying the display to want to take pictures.

five do a manoeuvre

all nine planes. a tribute to the Spitfire 

two fly past each other. Looks better if you look at it full size.

So the Red Arrows was the finale and we headed back to the car. Have to say traffic logistics were much better dealt  with this year, last year they had not expected so many people and Ayr became gridlocked for a few hours after the show finished. This year was much better.
Scotrail tweeted they had brought in 11,000 people to the event, and when we drove back past the station the queues were very long but passengers were tweeting how quickly they got on trains and were under way for the journey home.

This is a totally free event but takes a lot of money to put on. The Scottish Airshow page tells us

We have had so many messages of support during and after the 2015 Scottish Airshow.
We are in the early stages of planning and booking for the 2016 show. Last year it took us nearly the whole year to raise the finance for the 2015 Scottish Airshow. That held us back in many areas.
We have been very encouraged by the hundreds of messages we have received about last weeks show and we are very keen to get going with 2016.
Almost 120,000 people watched the Scottish Airshow last weekend and if everyone made a £1 donation we would be well on our way to booking aeroplanes and many other things for 2016. If you want to donate more that would be fabulous.
We have opened a Just Giving campaign to allow everyone to turbo boost the 2016 Scottish Airshow into action.
If you want to say thanks for the 2015 Scottish Airshow and yes to a bigger and better 2016 show then please give what you can to this appeal.
Please share to all your friends.
Doug Maclean on behalf of the Scottish Airshow
So if you went this year or fancy going next year why not give them a £ or 2.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall  Monkey and Mouse