Saturday, 29 August 2015

Plenty more apples on the tree

There's an apple tree outside my house. It doesn't belong to me but sometimes I pick the apples from it.

I think the piece of land it's on belongs to the council. I think this because someone comes and cuts the grass on a motorised lawn mower every now and then. I'm not sure though because I recently tried to report that part of the tree had fallen down and the council said they weren't responsible for it but thanks for telling them about it anyway.

Anyway, my point was that I was going to talk about the apples. I think they're supposed to be eating apples, but they don't taste very nice so I decided to cook with them.

The first thing I made was apple pie, which was delicious.

Then, I topped some plum tarts with slices of apple, to make "plupple pies". I accidentally partially caramelised the apple slices in the microwave. I put them in a bowl with some sugar and microwaved them to soften them but they were too dry and came out sticky. It worked out OK, though, and they tasted lovely with the stewed plums.

Then today we had apple crumble. No picture because I was hungry and ate it all too quickly.

I tried to stew the rest of the apples I'd picked today and it went a bit wrong. I left the chopped apple in the pan and went to watch TV. When the show ended and I remembered the apples, they'd burnt and stuck to the bottom of the pan! Never mind, there are plenty more apples on the tree.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Paris selfie challenge

A couple of weekends ago I went to visit a friend in Paris. Before I went, I asked my husband if he wanted me to get him a souvenir. "Yes," he answered. "Something to prove that you've been there." I suggested a selfie of me at the airport and a map of the Metro. And the selfie challenge was born.

Selfie challenge 1: the airport

Selfie challenge 2: a Metro map

Selfie challenge 3: some French food

This was a nice piece of duck but the potatoes were very garlicky - well, what did I expect from French cooking? The pear tart that followed was also delicious.

Selfie challenge 4: a selfie with my friend

I had to prove that I'd found my friend and wasn't just wandering around on my own. I took and sent a selfie, but it's quite blurry so I'm not uploading it here.

Selfie challenge 5: have a sword fight with a baguette

We went to the boulangerie early in the morning, as is the French way, but we didn't get baguettes, so here I am charging at the camera with a croissant.

Then you eat the croissant, thus disarming her:

Bonus selfies

When we went out for the afternoon, I didn't have any internet access (I wasn't going to pay £1.99 for only 50MB!) so I took a few bonus selfies to show what I'd been doing.

Here we are outside La Creperie de Paris:

And here I am enjoying a very nice ice cream:

Selfie challenge 6: a selfie at church

I'm in focus, even if the stage isn't! This was at Hillsong Paris.

Final photo before boarding the plane

My message to say I was on my way to the airport didn't send until I got into the airport's wifi zone, so I sent a selfie from the duty free shop to say that I was stocking up on some treats:

While I was waiting for my delayed plane, my husband recreated his entire weekend so he could also send me selfies of the how he had spent his time. This included pretending to lift furniture (which had done earlier in the day), pretending to have a conversation with the friend he'd been moving the furniture for (cunningly a photo of only himself) and a photo from the future, of him in the car going to pick me up from the airport.

Don't worry, as well as sending selfies, I did also buy him a present.
Here is my Nicholas with his new DVD, Les vacances du Petit Nicolas.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Woodland camping

Click to enlarge
How can you wake up to that view in the morning and not love camping? My first word on opening the tent was a gruffly "wow". Most of the other campers had packed up and gone, and it was really peaceful.

This was our first time camping in woodland. As you can see, we had our own little clearing with a fire pit. The individual clearings made each camping spot private, making it feel like we were the only ones there. It also gave us an extra challenge when navigating our way to and from the bathroom in the dark - there were no straight paths and you didn't know if you'd end up in some rough grass or going off in the wrong direction. By the end of the weekend, we'd worked out a good route, though.

We've been able to do camp fires at the last two places we've camped and we've really enjoyed it. Well, we've enjoyed it once we've got it going. That's something we've learnt - it takes a while to get a fire going, but it's worth it! At home, we just turn on the hob, pop a saucepan on top and we have soup bubbling in just a few minutes. With this camp fire, it took about an hour and a half until we had anything near ready to put a saucepan on! To take the pressure off, we cooked our dinner on the camping stove and just did pudding on the fire. Once the fire got going, it was easy to cook on - the rice pudding heated up really quickly and the toasted marshmallows were lots of fun and absolutely delicious.

Here's a picture of our teddy bears occupying our new stools by the fire:
If you look closely you'll see that William has a marshmallow on a fork ready for toasting!

The next morning was a different story. The rain started just as we snuggled down into the sleeping bag (on the "bouncy castle" - first time using an air bed - what an experience!) and didn't stop... until everything was packed in the car at 11 o'clock the next morning!

During the night, our tent became a haven for local wildlife. When I put my glasses on, I was able to see how many daddylonglegs-style spiders had taken shelter in the porch. Then I spotted the slug trails. I have now learnt that anything left in the porch of the tent overnight must be properly covered and must not have any possibility of falling over and touching the grass at the edge. It wasn't until later that I actually touched a slug. Before then, we found a beetle trying to get into the food bag:
And this cute frog which had hopped up on top of the mug:
Frogs move really fast - I only turned away for a second and he was suddenly on the floor next to the mug - I didn't even see him move! Then he hopped away under the log pile and disappeared.

It was still raining at this point, so we had to come up with a plan of action for how to pack out stuff without getting it wet. This is what we came up with:

  1. Eat cereal for breakfast, inside the tent.
  2. Put the bowls and spoons in a bag and wash them up when we get home.
  3. Get dressed one at the time. (There isn't room in the sleeping quarters for two of us to be moving around at the same time.)
  4. Deflate the "bouncy castle", and fold it and the sleeping bags up to make space.
  5. Pack each bag inside the tent, being careful not to get clean, dry things dirty or wet.
  6. Evict the spiders as carefully as possible, especially when using the saw to keep them at arm's length.
  7. Try not to touch any slugs. (I failed at this one and it was disgusting.)
  8. Keep smiling.
  9. Put on coat and boots and take the bags to the car.
  10. Don't drive the car into the camping field because it will sink. (It's ok, we realised this before it was too late and left it parked by the entrance.)
  11. Take down the tent and pack it neatly but not properly into a Tesco bag.
  12. Unpeg the groundsheet, fold it up and put it in a plastic bag.
  13. Have a nice day out in Wells.
  14. Put the tent up in the back garden when we get home to dry it out.
I love the adventure of camping. The woodland was a beautiful setting, which gave us great scenery, wood for the fire, and a certain privacy you don't get on bigger sites. Even though we accidentally brought home two slugs and a dead spider, I was sad that this was the last camping trip of the year. I can't wait for camping season to begin again next year!