Saturday 19 June 2010

Saturday this and that . . .

He comes on chosen evenings,
My blackbird bountiful, and sings
Over the gardens of the town
Just at the hour the sun goes down,
His flight across the chimneys thick,
By some divine arithmetic,
Comes to his customary stack
And couches there his plumage black,
And there he lifts his yellow bill,
Kindled against the sunset, till
These suburbs are like Dymock woods
Where music has her solitudes,
and while he mocks the winter's song,
Figured above our garden plots
These are celestial chimney pots.
~John Drinkwater

I just love that poem, don't you? It helps to remind me that Heaven can be wherever we are, if we allow it to be. It is a state of mind, don't you think? In recent days I may have exchanged country lanes and solitude, for pavement and bricks . . . and chimney pots . . . but we have managed to create an oasis of comfort and solitude right here in our own garden. A celestial haven of sorts. We have plenty of birds which visit us daily, and lovely blackbirds which serenade us of an evening tide . . .

We are enjoying our friend's visit very much. We had a delightful day in Chester yesterday. I just love showing people around the city. It makes me appreciate it even more and I just adore sharing it with the people I love! We went into the centre of town and then hopped onto the Roman Wall which encircles the innermost part of the city and took a walk around it. (You can hop onto it at many points, we hopped on at the East Gate Queen Victoria Clock, which is the second most photographed clock in the UK, second only to Big Ben.) (I don't know who that man is in the red shirt, but he wasn't moving so I took the picture anyways!)

It is about a two mile walk and as you go around it, you can read a lot about the history of the city on plaques which have been entered into the walls and also see a lot of the finer points of the city. Todd and I have done the walk many, many, times and not only is it quite fascinating and beautiful in places, but also great exercise! (This is the King Charles Tower)

They treated us to a meal out last night at a Thai Restaurant and it was fabulous! I have never had Thai food before and we LOVED it! I am now on the search for some recipes. We shared four different starters . . . Fishcakes with a lovely Cucumber Dipping Sauce, Minced Pork Money Bags, Spring Rolls, and Tempura . . . each coming with their own sauces and very delicious. Then we chose 4 different mains to share as well . . . there was a noodle dish, a curry, a sweet and sour and a vegetable dish. Each was lovely in it's own right and we all really enjoyed it!

Afterwards we went to the Roman Ampitheatre where they were having an outdoor half hour musical. It was pretty good! They did Noah and the Ark. It was quite unusual and we all really enjoyed it, plus it was only half an hour long, so that wasn't that bad at all. They are gearing up for the Summer Mystery Plays here in Chester this year. They are only held every four years. They date back to the early 15th century and are based on biblical texts, from the creation to the last judgement. We won't be here this year when they are on, but we did get to go to them a number of years back and they were really good!

After the play we watched a rubbish football match between England and Algeria. Oh, but it was bad. The England Team were playing horribly last night. The Algerians were not much better, but they were quick runners. It ended in a 0/0 draw so that was at least good. Worst football match in my experience ever!

Anyways, we are off to Wales today for some more walking and a picnic and some more good times with our friends. The weather is supposed to be good! (Finger's crossed!) It is so good to have our good friends here with us. We really appreciate them having come all the way up here from Broadstairs just to spend time with us and we love them to bits! It will be sad to see them go home tomorrow, but . . . good friends are never very far away are they, as long as you carry them in your hearts!

Here is a delicious banana cake that will become a fast favourite I am sure. It is incredibly moist and a real favourite around here.

*Moist Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting*
Makes one 9 by 13 inch cake, serving 16
Printable Recipe

This is one of those little gems that actually tastes better as each day goes by, becoming even more moist and flavourful. I would call it exceptional. This is a great recipe for when your bananas look like they need to be thrown away!

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe, bananas
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (250g) package of cream cheese
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
walnut halves for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 2. I know this sounds a bit low, but it bakes beautifully, trust me. Lightly butter and flour a 9 by 13 inch pan. Set aside.

Mash the bananas in a small bowl, add the lemon juice and then set aside.

Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in another bowl and set that aside as well.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, folding it in alternately with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Finally, fold in the bananas.

Pour the banana into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched in the centre. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool, leaving it in the pan.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and cheese together with an eletric hand mixer, until fluffy and smooth. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and of the correct consistency. You may need more icing sugar. Spread the frosting on the completely cooled cake and place walnut halves evenly over top. Cut into squares to serve.

Over on The English Kitchen today . . . Baked Potatoes with Rocket, Broadbeans and Blue Cheese . . . a repeat, but for a very good reason!


  1. What a beautiful walk through Chester, Marie! I was at that very spot on the Roman Wall--at the King Charles Tower--I have a picture somewhere--so fun to see!

    Love that banana cake recipe--looks delicious!

    Glad you're having so much fun with you dear friends...I hope your day in Wales is wonderful!

    Much love to you, dear friend!


  2. What a lovely time you are having with your friends. I can't wait to come over and take that same walking tour with you. Have a great time in Wales.

    I hope to make that cake tomorrow (Sat)with Claire. I send love

  3. Enjoy your day. It sounds like you are having the best of times.

    I love Thai food and fortunately there are a number of Chinese and Thai places around us that sell very reasonably priced meals. I can buy a Chinese lunch for $5 but on Thursday we splurged on Thai for lunch. I so enjoyed my chicken, vegetables and satay sauce. What a great way to eat boring veg.

  4. Couldn't agree more about the football, what a terrible match, they are suposed to be the best of the best!!

    Love the photos of Chester, i have a photo of my daughter & me in the exact same spot as you took your friends photos, hope about that for coincidence!!!

    Have a good day in Wales, i hope the weather is kind to you :-)

  5. We went uo onto the wall from that Tower too Marie. It is a beautiful walk with so much interest en-route. Your Thai meal sounded mmmmm..mmmm!
    If I weren't diabetic I would bake that banana cake right away. I always loved banana loaf and so did my late dog Guy. He was a pesky pest all the time I was baking it. lol
    Have a great time with your friends.
    Jeanie xxxx

  6. It is a beautiful spot and hope your day with friends is just a nice today.

  7. What a fabulous visit you're having. It is so fantastic that you can just go to Wales at any time. I have dreamed of visiting Wales since I was a 12 year old girl. How glorious!!

    Gerushia's New World

  8. Lovely pictures Marie,i am so happy you were in old company from Kent and you all so enjoyed yourselves.They reminded me of when we went on tour to Chester last summer,I loved the place too.I hope you have awondeful day in Wales.We spent last night watching video's on Anglesey where we have beeen before and would so like to return to.Have a Blessed Sunday.Take Care God Bless Kath xx

  9. I must try this cake recipe!!!!

    Oh, I loved looking at these pictures. To walk on an ancient Roman wall! It looks like it's in such great shape. I would love to see it. Isn't the Victoria clock great??!!

    You must be an incredible cook.




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