Tuesday, July 31

Just a minute in July

One day during the heatwave I sat under the shade of the apple tree and read the whole of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. I read a section of it as background material for A level English and was put off by the dialect it's written in, but this time around I fell in love with it. Such an empowering, heartwarming book, with all the atmosphere of a hot American summer.  

Listening to
Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball album - firmly in the honeymoon period with this one, I have to listen to songs from it every day - and Paul Simon's Graceland.

Some of the Olympics coverage - mainly tennis (not sure why it's an Olympic sport but it's basically like Wimbledon again so I'm not complaining), and a bit of track, swimming and gymnastics.

I'm trying to watch the pennies at the moment due to a reduction in work hours, but I did find lots of good secondhand books for 50p each - summer holiday reading sorted. I also bought some chocolate flavoured tea which I'm pretty excited about trying!

Phoebe Wahl's illustrations, all the bees and butterflies enjoying the lavender outside, writing lists, and almond milk.


These three images belong to the gorgeously talented Phoebe Wahl. 

Sunday, July 29

London 2012!

I have to admit, I haven't really been that excited about the Olympics. It seems shrouded in commercialisation and corporate rubbish, apparently it's costing London taxpayers a fortune, the Games rarely leave the host nation in profit, not to mention they built that unforgivably ugly Olympic Tower...

But I'm moaning. Not a good habit. And it's a shame to let all the negatives distract from the positive things the Games are bringing. Enthusiasm, a sense of celebration, people encouraged to get up and exercise. Wasn't the Opening Ceremony was amazing? Considering I'm completely alien to the concept of 'patriotism' and 'Team GB' even I was feeling pretty proud of the UK on Friday night, and dare I say it, a bit more excited. And the lighting of the Olympic cauldron was beautiful.

To take part in a bit of London's history I went and saw the Olympic torch on the last day of its long journey. This involved getting up before 6am on Friday morning and cycling four miles to Bushy Park. It sounds awful. But it was really lovely cycling through the Park in the still hours before the daytime rush, breathing in that early summer morning smell.

I saw the torch (behind lots of arms, heads and other people's cameras).

I don't think the geese were very impressed.

Then we pedalled off (or rather moved slowly in a throng of people) down the road to Hampton Court to see the torch embark upon its last leg along the Thames. It was so busy here that I didn't see much - apart from lots of boats, bunting and an enthralled dog! - so I just held my camera above my head and hoped for the best. It's times like these that my mum's 5'10 genes would've come in handy.

Off it went toward the Olympic Park!

The park looks stunning with all the wildflowers, and I can't wait to visit once the hubbub is all over.

Thursday, July 19

A month of snapshots

Lots of rainy days to be had. I can't wait for some sunshine, but there is something lovely about pottering around at home while the rain is tumbling past the windows. Jugs of fresh flowers everywhere to remind myself it's still summer. Making my room as cosy as possible. Venturing out for coffee sometimes. Learning how to use a sewing machine and making myself a skirt.

It doesn't always rain. Catching the warmth of the sun on flowers when I'm out and about, a happy remembrance that it is summer. Days and days of cloud and rain make those moments of sunshine all the sweeter.

Last weekend I saw Bruce Springsteen perform in Hyde Park. The clouds parted for a little while just as he came on stage to perform a beautiful acoustic Thunder Road. Then later, the rain rolled in again, but it didn't matter. We danced through a torrential downpour. Bruce is amazing. The show was brilliant (despite the now infamous sound switch-off at the end - a terrible decision, even if I think Paul McCartney is a bit awful). Those are my boots pre-show and post-show. Things got a bit muddy.

Before the show, we caught the Tube to Tower Bridge to see the Olympic rings and the Shard. I have to confess I'm not hugely excited for the Olympics, but I do think the rings look good. The Shard on the other hand... not a fan!

Friday, July 6

Brownie biscuits

Another day, another biscuit.

Brownie biscuits have become a bit of a staple in our house. My dad is known to eat them for breakfast alongside a cup of filter coffee. My mum will have one with a mug of tea mid morning. I like them at tea time. My brother will eat one at any time of day.

They have a lovely consistency. They're the size, shape and function of a biscuit, but they don't come with a crunch - instead they are soft and slightly crumbly. Tones of cocoa, not too sweet. Hence the name - brownie biscuits.

And, like all my favourite recipes, they're really easy to make.

Yields about 20 biscuits

You need the following:

375g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder (a good half)
225g baking margarine/butter
220g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g cocoa

to do this:

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius and line your baking trays.
Mix together butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and cocoa in a bowl using a handheld whisk/in a food mixer.
Gradually add the dry ingredients - flour, salt, baking powder - to form a dough.
Chill the dough for about an hour (but it doesn't really matter if you don't).
Roll out to 1/4 inch thick (fairly thick) and cut into desired shapes.
Bake for 11 minutes until the edges are firm and the tops are slightly puffed. The biscuits won't look hugely different.