Monday 30 May 2011

Monday ponderings . . .

Blossomtide in England,

Cherry, plum and pear.
Flowering apple orchards . . .
What could be more fair?
Yet the bloom must wither
and the beauty go.
The blossoms must be scattered
that the fruit might grow.
Nature's ways are perfect.
She must work her will.
Springtime gives the promise
Summer days fulfil.
~Patience Strong

When we were down in Kent, we were completely surrounded with orchards . . . apple, pear, plum . . . so beautiful in the springtime. Last year when we moved back to Chester we planted an apple, a plum and a pear tree in the back garden, self proprogating ones. We got some plums from the plum tree last year, but nothing else. This year though there are lots of apples on the apple tree and even a few pears on the pear tree, so we can look forward to getting a lot more fruit at the end of the summer.

Our early potatoes are ready for harvest now, but the garden is not doing all that well really . . . we've not had the rain that we need, and although Todd is watering it each day, it still is not enough to get way down into the soil, it is so dry I fear. We had bought some lupins for the front garden and the leaves are all curled up, despite the watering Todd has done. It's kind of sad really.

Wierd, that in some places they are getting far more rain than they need and yet in others we are not getting enough. The weather patterns are definitely changing! My heart and prayers go out to all the people who have thus far this year been adversly affected by earthquakes, tornadoes and the like. I know we have been truly blessed here in the UK not to have anything like that to deal with.

I have started work on my Christmas Card designs for this year and completed this one yesterday. I have a few more up my sleeve as well. It seems rather odd to be thinking about Christmas in May, but that is what you have to do really if you want to be on time and ready for people to buy.

We have been watching our Larkrise to Candleford videos on Sunday Evenings. We are on series two now. I can't believe that the BBC has cancelled that show and will not be making any more. It is such a lovely series and much beloved throughout the world. It's sad really. There is so much garbage on the telly these days and yet something which is good and wholesome and entertaining just gets thrown away . . . but then that is a sign of the times.

I was so pleased to talk to Lura on the telephone yesterday afternoon. She seems to be doing a lot better in some ways, but at the same time is somewhat low, so please do continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I think the painkillers are making her a bit ambivalent about things. Her get up and go is getting lost somewhere in the shuffle. She has been through so very much, and John is still not right. They both could use some uplifting!

Today is Whitsun bank holiday over here. At least that is what Todd called it. I think it is the day that was generally accepted as the day of the ascension of Christ. I can remember as a child thinking that the clouds hung extra low in the sky on that day. I don't know if they do or not, but it is interesting to me that I had thoughts like that. I must have been a peculiar child. I also used to think that the rays of sunshine that broke through clouds were God's fingers touching the earth and that when it rained, He was crying. I guess I was always somewhat spiritual. I am glad that has not changed!

We've decided that we really cannot afford to go on any holidays this year so we will just have days out and go as and where we can afford the petrol to take us. Perhaps a few picnics with Mitzie, and jaunts to the seaside. I think a lot of people are in the same boat. When I think back we never went on holidays when I was a child. There were never trips to exotic places or the such like. Only ever days out here and there. When did exotic holidays become the norm? When my own children were growing up we never did holidays either. We only ever travelled to visit our parents and spend a week with mine or his, alternately. I suppose it was a bit of a break, but it was not the Algarve, nor Abizza! We never seemed to mind though . . . and I don't think we will now. You can have a holiday anywhere can't you? A holiday is mostly a state of mind and you can have a holiday state of mind right in your back garden if you choose to!

Our rhubarb is not doing all that great this year, I am not sure why. Todd dug a lot of horse manure into it last autumn. I think it is the lack of rain. By now it should be booming, but the stalks are all spindly and spongy for the most part. I did manage to gather enough yesterday to make these lovely bars. What I was lacking for in rhubarb, I made up with in strawberries and the result was most delicious! I love it when that happens! Have a wonderful Monday everyone . . . Whitsun, Memorial Day or whatever type of day it is wherever you are! God bless you all!

*Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Bars*
Makes 16
Printable Recipe

Delicious moist bars, topped with strawberries, streusel and a scrummy streusel!

For the streusel:
6 TBS butter, melted, plus softened butter for buttering the pan
1 cup of plain flour, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt

For the cake:
1/4 pound of rhubarb, cut into half inch pieces
1/4 pound of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room tempterature
1 cup icing sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter an 8 inch square dish. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for lifting out. Butter the parchment paper and dust with flour. Set aside.

Whisk together the butter, brown sugar and salt for the streusel. Stir in the flour with a fork until large crumbs form. Place in the fridge to chill.

Combine the rhubarb, strawberries and 1/4 cup of the flour for the cake in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt iin a medium bowl. In a large bowl cream together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is thoroughly amalgamated before proceeding. Beat in the vanilla and then the flour. Spread this batter into the prepared pan. Cover with the fruit mixture and then finally crumble the streusel mixture over top.

Bake in the heated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely in the pan before lifting out and then cutting into squares to serve. Delicious!

I'm serving breakfast over in The English Kitchen today, delicious Morello Cherry, Oat and Buttermilk Muffins!


  1. Morning Marie, I have been thinking a lot about Lura as she has'nt blogged for over a week now and had a feeling she was a bit low. (is it pos. if she would agree for you to pass on her snail mail address to me Thank you )
    Of all the days for rain to start it would have to be this morning. This is the biggest day of the year in the village for fund raising when all the organisations plus lots more have a giant fete on the rec. it's called The Revels..I see already a few brave people putting up their stands and it dosn;t officially open till noon ! I pray that it might brighten up a bit later but th egrass etc is going to be sodden for walking around..
    sorry your garden is not in teh productive mode...maybe it will be a late start for it !!
    Love always Sybil xx

  2. Hello again dear Marie,
    It is late Sunday eve.
    We just got home from having dinner at Mindy's. I told you that I had mixed feelings about getting out of the house since it is such an effort for me. I am glad that John took me out. We had a lovely dinner and then played "Apples to Apples" I just sat in one of their recliners....everyone gathered around ...EJ handed me the cards I needed and we all had a great time. It is a silly word choice/matching game that is a lot of fun for both the young and the old.
    It was so nice visiting with you this morning. I was quite down... but visiting with you and Todd and then John taking me out to Mindy's certainly did raise my spirits. Thank you for being concerned about me.... and thanks to Sybil too.
    I posted my Sunday smiles today before I left for Mindy's. I'm not sure why Sybil didn't see it. I have been having trouble with blogger all week. It would not let me read some blogs or comment on them. I hope my last post shows up. I will go take a look and see if my post is still there.

    Well it is almost midnight for me. I guess I should say have a happy Monday to you and then pop off to dreamland.

    Have a great week. Hugs, Lura

  3. Happy Monday Marie --

    Yes, Holiday is a state of mind. You can indeed have one anywhere, sometimes it's a bit more difficult to do at home, because of the thoughts creeping in, "I really should be doing this or fixing that." Everybody needs to turn off the rest of the world every now and then and just be "on holiday" wherever you are!

  4. The wet weather here has been a bit overwhelming for sure but this weekend we finally had 3 lovely warm days. Glad to see you friend is doing so much better and by her comment even able to get out a little bit. I can't believe you are working at Christmas already, but I know artists do that sort of thing in order to keep up. I don't want to think about cold weather for a long time yet. It seems like winter just ended.


Your comments mean the world to me, and while I may not be able to address each one individually, each one is important to me and each one counts. Thanks so much!