The Hills Are Alive

We have had such a lovely day, walking around the hills in Florence and through the city centre.  We have walked miles and it has been stunning.

Breakfast at the hotel.fruit and strawberry yogurt Breakfast is so much more fun when someone makes it and clears it all away for you :-)toast and fruit

Good morning little green lizard.

green lizard We are staying at Villa Tolomei.Villa Tolomei sign It is a hotel situated to the South of Florence.villa Tolomei drive It is quiet and peaceful here which is wonderful in many ways but the drawback is that it is a long walk or taxi ride to go anywhere.Villa Tolomei We have walked in to Florence twice and it takes about 40 minutes to Ponte Vecchio.Firenze sign Today though we took a different road as we were going to the Boboli gardens.a marignolle This little shrine was along the side of one of the roads.walking to Boboli 5 A lot of the road is one way and has very few cars coming along its cobbled surface.  We walked next to gigantic villas.walking to Boboli 4 walking to Boboli 3 walking to Boboli villa agtes villa 2 villa 1 I am not sure what this gate is called but it has huge wooden doors in the central part.our gate We got to the Boboli gardens and walked through from one end to the other.Boboli 2 There are some pretty parts.little island Boboli 1 viottolone Many interesting sculptures.Huge head in Boboli

Some splendid views of the Palazzo Pritti and over Florence.  But generally he gardens are hugely disappointing compared to anything I have seen in England.  There are very few flowers or ornamental shrubs and even the grassy areas are very unkempt.  But it was a good walk, albeit a very hilly one.looking out at Florence from Boboli We exited Boboli next to Forte Belvedere.Forte Belvedere And walked along to Piazzale Michaelangelo.olive trees Olives !olives on olive tree door on Belvedere The walk to Boboli was very downhill, the walk through Boboli was uphill and the walk to Piazzale Michaelangelo along Via Di Belvedere was very downhill.via di Belvedere Then it was a long hike up to Piazzale Michaelangelo.steps up to PM again Up and up and up!steps up to PM By the time I arrived I needed resuscitating reviving with an espresso and a lot of water.espresso and water at PM Which we enjoyed while looking at this view.coffee at PM view As we walked around the Piazzale we enjoyed the views even more.Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio Duomo from PM Ponte Vecchio from PM I didn’t know there was a beach in Florence!Firenze Beach Firenze beach close up This is the wall we walked besides while walking down Via di Belvedere.wall we walked beside There’s another David!another David After all that walking and all those hills, we all wanted to lie in or beside the pool for the afternoon which is exactly what we did.  For many hours and while there I swam quite a few lengths so I was really good with exercising today.in the pool Apart from an ice cream at Piazzale Michaelangelo we had not eaten since breakfast so we snacked on some crisps with a cold drink and I had tea with some biscuits.  I snoozed, swam and played cards with Harvey.  It was such a relaxing afternoon.

tea and cards Before heading out for supper we enjoyed a limoncello and a game of cards on our little terrace which is just outside our room.

limencello and cards It catches the evening sunshine so is a very pleasant space to sit.outside our room We headed in to town to a restaurant we had been recommended by fellow guests at the hotel.Ready for dinner We were dropped off at the Southern end of Ponte Vecchio and enjoyed walking along in the dusk.  I was comfortably warm and there was a fantastic guitarist busking in the middle of the bridge.Busker on PV People sat around and enjoyed the music.On PV Arno from PV There are so many gelaterias near Ponte Vecchio, we decided to have one on the way back instead of dessert.Gelateria Firenze We had not walked up this street before so had not walked past this building before – the Mercato Nuevo.  We came to this again later and were in for a treat.Mercato Nuevo This is where we had dinner, La Grotta Guelfa which was near Piazza della Repubblica. Ristorante La Grotta Guelfa I only took my small camera out tonight so apologies for the picture quality but this was an excellent Tuscan vegetable soup.  Mainly cabbage with white beans but it was very well flavoured and I really enjoyed it.Tuscan vegetable soup 1 My main was chicken with Mozarella which came in a cream sauce and I had it with roast potatoes.  Apart from the gazillion calories it must have contained, this was excellent and I really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately Lara and Harvey did not enjoy their pork dishes.  They both had different pork chop recipes and neither were great.  So a bit hit and miss this place.  The service though was faultless.  We were given a prosecco each when we arrived because we had to wait for a table but we hadn’t booked and only waited 10 minutes!  Then they deducted Harvey’s meal from the menu as he hadn’t eaten it so we were very impressed.chicken with mozarella After dinner we heard some beautiful singing and discovered a busking opera singer in the Mercato Nuovo!busking opera 1 You definitely get a better class of busker in Florence than any other city I have ever been to!  She was really good and I listened to several songs with absolute pleasure and was more than happy to drop some money in to her hat.busking operaWhile we enjoyed the singing we found this excellent ice-cream and chocolate shop.
Venchi ice-cream and chocolate Most Italian gelaterias do not sell sorbets, much to Harvey’s disappointment but this one sold several fruit flavours as well as hazelnut, pistachio and chocolate so he was a very happy boy.granitas Opera and ice-cream, enjoyed in the open air in Florence – what a complete treat.ice creams and opera

That was our last full day in Florence.  We have all really enjoyed it and I would like to return one day to see many of the other places I have not had time to visit.

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Fabulous Frescoes and Marble Magnificence

WOW, WOW and even more WOWs. What a day of complete wonder.  A day of wonder and awe for me and Lara and a day of ‘I wonder when this will ever end’ for the Little Fella!

To get to breakfast we walk past the pool which is the only part of Florence Harvey is really interested in and today he was told the pool would have to wait until after we had visited 2 art galleries.Tolomei's pool We had prebooked tickets for the Uffizi and Accademia so were up for breakfast reasonably early.Breakfast at Tolomei Yogurt and fruit followed by scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, tomatoes and dark brown bread, plus a latte.fruit and yogurt in Tolomei Then in to town and the first stop was the Uffizi gallery.Uffizi 24 This is the oldest gallery in the world and I knew it was famous for housing Botticelli’s Venus but to be honest, knew very little else about it.Uffizi 23 I was completely unprepared for all the incredible frescoes painted on the ceilings.Uffizi 22 I spent practically all my time in the gallery looking up in absolute astonishment that something could be painted that was so beautiful.Uffizi 21 There she is.  Surrounded by crowds and if you are patient, as I was, you can get to the front.  Venus Botticheli They did a good job of being interested for a while but in all honesty, most of the paintings are religious and to the uneducated in the ways of the art historian, one Madonna looks much like the next.  I don’t mean that to be offensive in any way to these great painters and those who admire them but it was tough to be interested in all the actual art hanging on the walls.B and L in Uffizi Those ceilings though!Uffizi 20 They were all just incredible.Uffizi 19 This room was different but we were only allowed to peer in.Uffizi 18 There were lots of paintings that looked similar to this one.Uffizi 17 Back to the ceilings for me.Uffizi 16 It can’t be easy to actually paint a ceiling which makes them even more incredible.Uffizi 15 Presumably the painter lay on his/her back and painted from a horizontal position.Uffizi 14 Uffizi 13 Uffizi 12 Uffizi 11 I wish I could get closer to see some of these in more detail.Uffizi 10 Uffizi 9 The long corridors of the Uffizi have a fabulous fresco on every section of the ceiling.Uffizi 8 The Uffizi is made up of two long parallel buildings joined at one end.Uffizi 7 This is the Ponte Vecchio as seen from the Uffizi.Uffizi 6 How much longer do I have to be in here?Uffizi 5 Just a few more ceilings to admire darling.Uffizi 4 Uffizi 2 Uffizi 1 Fresh air :-)  The cafeteria at the Uffizi looks out across to the Duomo and is next to the Palazzo Vecchio, part of which you can see on the right.cafe at Uffizi There was a wonderful exhibition of botanical drawings by Jacopo Ligozzi which we all enjoyed and this scaled model of the City was interesting too.model of Florence I was astonished at the beauty of the architecture inside the Uffizi and the painted ceilings.  Worth a visit for that alone.

Next stop was a pavement cafe for an espresso and some water.

Espresso and Pellegrino

There are so many interesting little statues on street corners.  This was a charming running fountain.

fountain in Florence street I realised when I saw this balcony that one thing Florence does not do well is flowers.  You hardly see any flowers anywhere which seems so unusual to me and which made this little balcony quite remarkable.flowers in Florence We set off in search of a gelataria we had been recommended and came across this little haven.Palazzo Vecchio 5 I didn’t realise when I walked in but this is part of the Palazzo Vecchio.Palazzo Vecchio 3 This is a copy of Verrochio’s Putto fountain and is completely charming.Palazzo Vecchio 2 I would have loved to go inside the Palazzo Vecchio but thought that might stretch Harvey’s patience a bit too far so we pressed on in our hunt for a particular gelateria.Palazzo Vecchio 1 It was a very pleasant stroll along some quieter streets but when we eventually found the Bar Vivoli Gelateria it was shut :-(  I don’t think August is the best month to visit Florence as quite a few places close so the owners can retreat to the beach and beat the heat.looking for Gelataria So we wandered around some more, looking for a gelateria that sells sorbets – easier said than done!  We came to the Piazza di Santa Croce;  apparently one of Florence’s largest and most impressive Piazzas.Piazza Sainta CroceAcross one side is the Gothic church of Santa Croce.  Sainta Croce church This houses the tombs of Michaelangelo and Galileo but the mission for a sorbet continued so we did not go inside.church in Sainta Croce Sainta Croce We eventually found somewhere that sold ice lollies and harvey ate that inside a very fancy gelateria where Lara and I enjoyed a heavenly ice cream each.  Mine was coconut and it was fantastic.ice creams We did resist all the cakes, tempting as they were.ice cream place This charming little painting was in an alcove in a wall we walked past.small picture in wall This tiny little deli was about the same size as Vegetare in Cranbrook ie tiny but well stocked.tiny deli in Florence In the afternoon we walked up to the Galleria dell’ Accademia.  I was really only interested in seeing David but I was really interested in seeing that.  When we were young my Father brought a poster of it back from his travels and I believe it lived in a bathroom and was the object of much tittering, as one may expect from a house full of females.

This is one of Michaelangelo’s other marble sculptures and seeing this unfinished piece, makes David even more remarkable.  How ever did he create David from a chunk of marble.  An enormous chunk of marble at that!Michaelangelo marble Here he is, the hunk from the chunk, created between 1501 and 1504.  Absolutely breathtaking.  Partly because it is so enormous.  I knew he was bigger than life size but I did not expect him to be 17 feet tall and he weighs 6 tons!  I also learnt today that Michelangelo completed David by the time he was 29 which is extraordinary.David 10 I also learnt today that David is holding a sling and the strap hangs down his back; I had never realised that before.David 9How did Michaelangelo do this?
David 8 The toes remind you of how rough the unhewn marble was.  Michaelangelo did finish them but they were damaged by a hammer.David 7 The hand was one of my favourite parts.  It is so detailed and life like, despite its huge size, that you almost expect him to move and flex those fingers.David 6 David 4 David 3 David, you absolutely did not disappoint.  I am sure I saw you breathing.David 2 David 1 After the Accademia we wandered around some more, looking for somewhere for a late lunch.  We walked past the Duomo.Duomo 16-8 6 The detail of the work on the outside of this building is incredible.Duomo 16-8 4 Duomo 16-8 2 Duomo 16-8 1 Absolutely stunning.Duomo 16-8-14 We ate at one of the restaurants that spills out on to the pavement near the Duomo so we could enjoy a meal and enjoy gawping at the Duomo.  I did notice how slowly the queue moves along which is shame as I really want to see inside.

supper besides Duomo

I had spaghetti carbonara with rocket and parmesan.  It was delicious but obviously not  good for one’s diet!carbonara

Back at the hotel, someone was hugely relieved to be in the pool and even happier to be joined by 3 boys of a similar age and the 4 of them had the pool to themselves until the evening.Harvey in pool at Tolomei

We didn’t need dinner but instead enjoyed some wine and snacks at the hotel.  All that oohing and aahing is quite tiring!

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From The Lyme To The Firenze

What an amazing 48 hours!

On Wednesday I woke up in my apartment in Lyme Regis with just my sisters as they had been for a sleepover.  Thank you to Trevor and Jim for looking after all the children – we did enjoy ourselves.L and A in Lyme apartment I always enjoy visiting Lyme Regis and this had been a particularly good visit as I had seen so many members of my family.  This is the ‘mushroom house’ which is the subject of one of the drawings my Aunty did which are on the wall in the apartment!Mushroom House 1 Lyme Regis is such a pretty town, I will miss it.pink house Lyme I most enjoyed the central and beachfront location of the apartment as it meant so many people popped in.  This is Chris, my cousin Miranda’s husband who lives less than a 5 minute walk away and he came round for a cuppa.Chris in window seatThis scene of the beach is very Lowryesque!
Lyme low tode We have experienced extraordinarily high tides and also incredibly low tides during our visit which all contributes to making the beach a dynamic area which is constantly changing.Lyme Regis low tode We relocated from Lyme Regis in the afternoon to Grandpa Ian’s in Sidmouth where we enjoyed the sunshine and caught up with Mera.Grandpa Ian's 3 I always enjoy sitting on this patio, especially when it is so sunny and I have so many lovely people to chat to.Grandpa Ian's 2 Grandpa Ian's 1 Ian had made a fabulous shepherd’s pie following a recipe from The Ivy – delicious. We also had Banoffee pie and a chocolatey yummy something and more wine vicar.  Yet another diet disaster of a day but a really lovely day.At Grandpa Ian's I was up very early on Thursday morning.Lyme Regis sunrise 14-8 Up in time for sunrise actually which was spectacular for about 2 minutes.  Farewell lovely Lyme, we will be back soon.Lyme Regis sunriseWe spent Thursday travelling to Florence in Tuscany in Italy.  I was very excited as it is a part of the world I have not visited before.  We had a very long and frustrating journey but got there in the end.

Everywhere we go, Harvey always checks the pool first and this one did not disappoint.  I had really wanted to relax by the pool to get over travel traumas but unfortunately it had just closed as we checked in to our hotel.H checking Italian pool

Nevermind, we can look forward to relaxing in it the next day.

Firenze hotel pool We decided to eat straight away as we had not eaten since a sandwich at Gatwick about 8 hours earlier and were all hungry.  We settled in to the restaurant at the hotel and enjoyed the sunset over Florence.Firenze hotel restaurant view H in Firenze hotel L in Firenze hotel A decent Chianti helped us relax.ChiantiLara and I had conchilgie with goose ragout and black truffles.  To be honest the hotel restaurant is a bit poncey and the waiting staff are too fussy for my liking.  I am more of a homely trattoria type of a person, especially when tired and hungry but this was all tasty enough but so expensive.  This bowl of pasta cost more then a good steak at home!conchiglie goose ragout with truffles Dessert was fabulous.  Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice-cream.  Worth every over-priced Euro.chocolate fondant pudding

Buongiorno Firenze :-)

We sat and had breakfast looking out over Florence this morning.  I had a lovely coffee flavoured yogurt with a large portion of fruit salad and a cappuchino.

breakfast fruit and yogurt Followed by salami, ham, cheese, brown bread tomato and scrambled egg.  That set me up for the day and apart from some crisps with a beer in the afternoon, it kept me going until supper time.breakfast meat 15-8 We then set off in to Florence centre which was the first time for us all which made it exciting.  I took so many pictures and many of them I do not know what they are.  All of Florence is like an art gallery or museum and you could happily photograph everything you look at.  Statues like this one are all over the place.  This is near the Ponte Vecchio.statue in Florence This is the Ponte Vecchio – we had started walking along it before I realised we were on it as either side is full of shops so you think you are on a street.on Ponte Vecchio 2 Mainly jewellery shops, not all of which were open.Ponte Vecchio jewellers There is a large area in the middle where you can see you are definitely on a bridge.L and H on ponte Vecchio This bridge was built in 1345 and is the only bridge to not be blown up in WW2.  Hard to believe we were walking over something built so long ago.  It did look like a set from a film!

on Ponte Vecchio There are lots of charming doors everywhere too.by Ponte Vecchio This is Ponte Vecchio seen from the river banks.  The River Arno was looking very green.Ponte Vecchio A very Italian scene!Carabanieri The Uffizi which we did not visit today but we do have tickets for tomorrow.Uffizi Round the corner and we walked in to the Piazza della Signoria which is like a sculpture gallery.Piazza della Signoria My little darlings beside the Neptune Fountain.  Unbelievably it was very cloudy in the morning and it even rained – I really don’t believe it.L and H Neptune fountain The grey skies soon changed to blue though so good humour was quickly restored.Firenze street There really are little things of interest EVERYwhere you look.H and blue man Another typically Italian street scene of all the mopeds.mopeds Limoncello.limoncello Postcards.postcards I do have a guide book but apart from that I know very little about Florence except it is stunning and gorgeous and lovely and I need to know more about it.  The trouble with booking a trip so last minute is that you have no time to prepare or read up in advance but luckily the helpful ladies in the tourist info’ did know lots about their city.Tourist infoEven Tourist Information is in a beautiful building.
Florenxe tourist info 1 H by horse in Firenze Of all the iconic images of Florence, this must be one of the most famous – the Duomo.Duomo 3 My chin was practically dragging along the ground as my mouth must surely have been gaping at such incredible beauty.Duomo 2 It is so huge and so stunningly beautiful it is almost impossible to believe what you are looking at is real and was created by human beings.  The queue was too long to go in so we enjoyed the outside and we will try to get inside another day.Duomo 1 I needed a coffee and I am in the right country for one of those.  I tried an Espresso which was great.  That and a glass of cold sparkling water and I was back in action.Firenze espresso The Florentines do have very fancy doorbells outside their apartments.

Firenze doorbells 4

They really are quite lovely.

Firenze doorbells 3 Firenze doorbells 2

 

 

Firenze doorbells 5

 

Firenze doorbells 1

We did not go inside any of the galleries or churches today.  Instead we walked around to get our bearings and to check out the famous buildings.

And the curious buildings!  Why has this building got all these bits of paper stuck on it?bills on buildings Very strange.bill covered building This is the exterior of the Mercato Centrale, which is Florence’s huge food market.Mercato Centrale exterior All around the streets outside are market stalls,

market at <ercatoselling mainly leather goods such as these desk tidies.

 

desk tidies Wallets.wallets Belts.leather belts More belts.Real Python Wrist bands.leather wristbands I am having camera trouble :-(.  My best camera is being temperamental and often refuses to work so I use the little one which is good quality for its size and type.  I found a new setting today which I tested on the Little Fella.

He liked it but I think I will stick to a more conventional setting.Harvey in Italia

 

I love the buildings standing out behind the stalls.Farmacia Mercato Cntrale We went inside the Mercato Centrale and could not believe our eyes.  It was HUGE !!!  Look at the size of the lampshades.Mercato Centrale Firenze This building is made of cast iron and glass and was built in 1874.  When it was restored in 1980, a mezzanine floor was added.  The building seemed to be mainly taken up be takeaway foods but we were not hungry from breakfast so we just looked around the stalls.Mercato Centrale La Scuola Di Cucina This is absolutely nothing like the kitchens I have ever learnt to cook in.  This is a very smart looking school.cookery school So many of the products for sale had really pretty packaging.pastiglie leone puro oliva soap Firenze soap I would have loved to try some of these and next time I think I will.Firenze cheese Back outside in the heat and throng of Florence.  I do keep thinking I am looking at a film set.Firenze buildings 2 But I am not, it is all real.Firenze buildings

We relaxed by the pool at our hotel in the afternoon and in the evening we wandered down some streets near our hotel and came to this restaurant which my guide book reckons “is probably the best pizzeria in the city”.  I can’t comment as I have nothing in Florence to compare it to but it is definitely one of the best I have had.Pizzeria Antica Porta Lara had the 4 cheese and ham which was excellent.Lara in pizza place Harvey had one with hot dogs on it which he was thrilled about as he loves a hot dog.hot dog pizza I had the 4 cheese with a beer which hit the spot perfectly.4 cheese pizza Fierenze Followed by a  Tiramisu which may not look very interesting but it was superb.  I would highly recommend this fantastic restaurant if you like eating casually but to a very high standard and we will have to exert some will power to not return tomorrow in order that we can try somewhere new!Tiramisu We ended the evening watching sunset over the city with a drink at our hotel.view over Florence

An incredible day and I can’t wait to see what we can see tomorrow.

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A Long Lyme Lunch

Another day filled with eating, drinking and socialising.  All very good fun but not so good for my weight loss.

Another gloriously sunny day, waking up beside the sea.  Thank you to Harvey for this delightful photo of these pretty flowers on our windowsill.

flowers in sunny window

The beach first thing.

early morning beach

Muesli and berries for breakfast

Then we joined the others on the beachberries in muesli Lyme Beach

Happy with his cousins

cousins on beach

Thank you to Jim and Trevor (we left the men and children on the beach)  for our long lunch opportunity

 

crowds on beach

We walked up the hill

to Hix restaurant.crowds at Lyme view from Hix 2

Stunning views from the restaurant

view from Hix

Lucy treated us to lunch in this wonderful restaurant for our birthday present which was very generous

 

 

inside Hix

Bread and butter with wine while we browsed the menuHix bread

Lucy and Abi had these little Queenie scallops which were tasty

Queenies Hix

I went for the mackerel and quail’s egg salad which was deliciousmackerel salad Hix

Then we all shared the fried fish main.  This was supposedly for 2 people but it was more than enough for 3.  We had monkfish, turbot and John Dory and every piece was delicious.

fried fish Jix

Served with perfectly cooked fries

Hix chips And summer vegetablessummer veg

Followed by cherry pie and custard which was sublimecherry pie

Abi had Dorset knobs with Cheddar and Black Cow vodka which was made from milk, extraordinarily.  It tasted fantastic.

,Dorset knob

Thank you Lucy for such a lovely lunch and thank you both for so much fun.  Holly, you were missed.

.we three at Cobb Lucy and Abi on bridge

We had a bit of a stumble back along the high path to the apartment

back to the apartment

After a revivatory cuppa we headed to the cabin and relaxed over a leisurely supper

view from the cabin

My Uncle and Aunty own this charming cabin overlooking the beach at Lyme Regis and we met there for supper with my cousin Miranda and her 2 girls.in the cabin 2

i can’t believe we ate more after our lunch but we did!

IMG_7068

We ended with cake and coffee.  It was a lovely evening.In the cabin 1

Then Lucy and Abi came back for a sleepover at the apartment, leaving our children with the menfolk up the hill.  I have so much to be grateful for today; the generosity of my sister Lucy, the kindness of Jim and Trevor looking after the children, more hospitality from Uncle Clive and Aunty Hillary, and the hours of very happy time spent with my family.  Thank you all.

 

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We Ate Cake

Did you all see that amazing moon last night?  It was so big and bright!  Unfortunately I managed to permanently delete the really good picture I took with the moon across the water but this one through the window gives you a good idea.

light of the silvery moon Harvey and I have not felt tip top today.  We have both been feeling a little quesey and very lethargic so we both slept a lot.  I had a small bowl of muesli, yogurt and berries to see if that helped but it didn’t.  Then we both slept until about 2pm.muesli. yogurt, berries The weather was quite extreme today.  Thick black clouds rolled along to replace the bright sunshine.clouds in Lyme Regis couds over the Cobb Then there was thunder, lightening and torrential rain.  rain at Lyme Regis I would like my view back please!

rain through window By about 3 pm we both wanted something to eat so we went out and one of the first places we walked past was Aroma Coffee Shop.Aroma coffee shop The coffee was excellent (except for the fact I really dislike drinking coffee out of a glass) and Harvey enjoyed his juice.coffee and apple juice We both had a soup but I really didn’t like mine.  Harvey’s was really good though and I think I was just unlucky.  I liked the vibe in this little independent coffee shop and would try it again when I felt better.

soup Aroma It was sunny when we came out.Guildhall Lyme These import and export regulations from 1489 are posted on the wall next to the museum.import export regs We fancied some cake and headed over to our favourite place, the Town Mill Bakery.  We usually go there for breakfast and occasionally lunch but never before afternoon tea.  Look at the size of those cakes !!!!!Town Mill Bakery cakes I had the smallest one there which was a walnut and vanilla and it was worth every naughty calorie.walnut and vanilla cakeIn the afternoon we had some more visitors to our apartment.
Charlotte on wondow seat Everyone is drawn to the window seat.  This is my lovely niece Charlotte.C on window seat The boys understood their place :-)Boys and C Abi and I set off on a walk round Lyme Regis with Charlotte, Harry and Harvey.A and C on window seat We had a cheeky beer in the Harbour Inn while the children entertained themselves in the Amusement Arcade and we then strolled round the harbour and along the Cobb.Lyme Regis harbour 11-8 Harbour Lyme Regis It was very windy on top of The Cobb wall so we walked along the lower level.Granny Steps We turned back at this point as the waves were beginning to crash over the wall here, due to the unusually high tides.The Cobb at Lyme This is such a beautiful part of the world,  a place to sit and stare.Lyme Regis Harbour I quite fancy trying one of these trips if we have time.Boat trips at Lyme Much as I love my younger nieces and nephew, it was fun to be with just the older ones.H C and H We all had dinner together at my sister Lucy’s.  Shepherd’s pie, jacket potato with tuna and an avocado and tomato salad.  I did have seconds of shepherd’s pie.Dinner 11-8-14 More cake!  Harry cake While we had been enjoying the afternoon sunshine and the harbour, Max and Olivia had been busy making Harry a birthday cake and it was delicious.  A triumph in fact of light vanilla sponge cake with fudgey chocolate icing and lots of sweets.  Just how a birthday cake should be.Hary's cake

I just couldn’t resist –  I have got a lot of extra dieting to do when I get home!

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More Birthday Celebrations

So the hurricane known as ‘Big Bertha’ failed to come to much.  Yes, there was a lot of rain overnight and big black clouds first thing but it soon blew away.  Hurrah!

Morning view to the West.West 10-8 Morning view to the East – the storm is still visible but thankfully it is moving East!East 10-8 Harvey and I feasted on toast and a boiled egg in the Town Mill Bakery for breakfast.town mill 10-8 I did have toast and marmalade which I have not had for a long time.  It was great.  Naughty, fattening and not at all healthy but delicious.Town Mill marmalade But these bits of toast dipped in to an egg were the best.boiled egg and toast The 140th birthday celebrations continued with a walk up a very steep hill in Symondsbury, near Bridport.hill hike 2 I was soon left behind but luckily I had the excellent company of my Aunty Marion.hill hike The hill went up and up and up.hiking up the hill We did have good views at the top so it was definitely worth the climb.view from hill Most walked down.walking down My dear little boy decided to skid down – good luck with those grass stains on his favourite trousers !skidding down the hill You can actually see the sea too but it doesn’t show in the pictures.  The 360 degree view was amazing.  Look how windswept the trees are!windswept trees windwswept trees Back in Symondsbury the hill walkers met with the village walkers.  This is Marion and Brian who have been married for 61 years !!!!  Brian is my Mother’s cousin.M and B On the left here is my nephew Harry who turned 14 today – happy birthday Harry :-).  Harry and Harvey are first cousins and they are second cousins to Edward.boys and AL Today’s lunch venue was The Old Pottery on the Symondsbury Estate.At Symondsbury There was a cafe (the Symondsbury Kitchen) and various outbuildings including the Shepherd’s Huts.shepherd's huts The shepherd’s huts were a source of endless amusement and playing for the younger children.children in Shepherd's hut Emily and Thomas, my first cousins, once removed.E and T Miranda and Edwina, my cousins and sisters to each other.M and E Until very recently, this lovely building was an old pottery but it has been restored and painted and now makes a wonderful light airy space for dining in.Symondsbury lunch lunch at Symondsbury We had a simple lunch of sandwiches and soup.  It may have been simple but it was excellent quality and hit the spot perfectly.  We also had birthday cake, flapjacks and brownies with tea and coffee.sandwiches and soup The best bit about today were all the opportunities for chatting to my big beautiful family; sisters, brother in laws, nieces and nephews, cousins and first cousins, once removed, step-Father and partners of cousins.sitting round the table Second cousins, Oscar and Harvey.H and Oon wheel These two always get on so well together, we must get them together more often.Harvey and Oscar Holly and Abi did, eventually, manage to orchestrate a group photograph which was an achievement as it was definitely a case of herding cats and then Abi managed to persuade a bystander to take the photos.chatting at Symondsbury Barn It took some time to assemble to everyone and I am looking forward to seeing the pictures.H M and R Aunty Marion with three of her children, my cousins Katie, Daniel and Hannah with some of their partners and children.family at Symondsbury Second cousins, Matilda and Olivia, with Sunshine.M, S and O Aunty Marion with her little brother, Uncle Clive, Aunty Hillary, their daughter Miranda and my sister Abi.M, A, M, C, H The Old Pottery was an amazing venue and it was a superb ending to a wonderful weekend.Symondsbury Barn Back in Lyme Regis there was time for a relax in the apartment, beers on the verandah of the Harbour Inn with cousin’s partners and brothers in law before ending the day with an indoor BBQ at my sister Lucy’s for Harry’s birthday.  Before we left the sea shore we were treated to a rainbow over the Cobb.Rainbow Lyme

I have eaten far too much, drunk moderately, chatted and laughed and felt happy and relaxed.  I can’t wait for tomorrow as I am on holiday for a week :-) .   For those who have asked, I booked my apartment through Lyme Bay Holidays and it is cottage reference C4862.  It really is FAB-U-LOUS.

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The 140th Birthday Party

Saturday was all about my lovely Aunty Hillary’s and Uncle Clive’s 70th birthday party.

Harvey, Harry and I drove down to Lyme Regis on Friday night.  Harvey and I are staying in a light and airy apartment on the sea front in Lyme Regis which is gorgeous.H in window seat The lounge has 2 bay windows and a huge picture window and the views are just stunning.H in apartment Looking East towards Charmouth and the Golden Cap.looking East Looking West along Lyme Regis sea front.Lyme Regis early We had no provisions so in the morning we wandered round the corner to the Town Mill Bakery for breakfast with our house guests, Holly, Richard and Emily.  We were later joined by Abi and Lucy – this is such a sociable place.  We had a boiled egg, toast and pain aux raisin so nothing diet friendly or healthy but very tasty.Town Mill Bakery Back to the apartment for some more scenery watching.blue boat in distance Love this view!Lyme Regis beach At Midday we wandered round the corner to the hall where the birthday party was on.  We all had a Ploughman’s lunch which was bread and cheese.  Being in Dorset all the bread and cheese was excellent.Ed's flower vasesMy Uncle and Aunty hosted the entire family for lunch and dinner.  The birthday cake had 3 tiers; lemon, sticky toffee and fruit and it was decorated by all their grandchildren.
birthday cake for C and HWell decorated guys.
cake decorators looking at the cake Happy birthday Uncle and Aunty.70 birthday cake We had speeches and champagne.Clive and Hillary Happy birthday to my sister Holly.faily And lots of opportunities to catch up with each other.cutting the cake The stripey people.The stripey picture We coudn’t resist a quick relax back at the apartment after lunch.chilling in apartment Aunty Marion and cousin Hannah.Hannah and Aunty M Grandpa Ian – every one loves the window seats :-)Ian in apartment This is the view from the kitchen.view from kitchen We reconvened at 4pm for a game of skittles in the Pilot Boat pub.skittle alley at Pilot Inn Competition was definitely keen and I am pleased to say I was on the winning team (but I take no credit for winning!).Hannah at skittles Go Team Hilary !skittle scores At high tide the children decided to throw themselves off the harbour wall.wading to the harbour wall Be careful Little Fella – he who has no fear of anything.on harbour wall We couldn’t get close enough to see properly and from a distance they looked like little lemmings, leaping in to the sea and then somersaulting in !children jumping in to the sea Cousin Daniel had waded over so we were quite relaxed from our vantage point on the beach,  as he watched over them.Twig, Katie, Hannah family on the beach 1 Lyme Regis frim beach Well, relaxed until he came back with the youngest ones.  The Little Fella had decided he could swim well enough to swim back round the harbour wall and back to shore with the older and more experienced cousins.  I found that to be a very stressful 15 – 20 minutes waiting but he did it and was justifiably proud of himself.IMG_6818

We then had a wonderful evening, eating quiches, salmon, salads and various desserts back at the hall.  It was so lovely to spend time with my big family but the camera stayed in the bag!

 

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My Bountiful Garden

There is so much growing going on in my garden!  My lovely vegetable growing neighbours gave me a tiny Trombetti plant in Spring which has grown in to a complete triffid and is now producing loads of Trombettis!  I haven’t had one yet as I am not sure how big they are meant to grow.

Trombetti The rainbow chard, which I hacked back to nothing recently has grown back and is as colourful as ever.rainbow chard 6-8 These little kohl rabis are struggling. kohl rabi 3 They have really suffered from a sustained slug attack.kohl rabi 2 I may end up with 3 – here’s hoping as I really like them.kohl rabi 1 I am also enjoying lots of colourful flowers.dahlia 2 These dahlias from Sarah Raven are full of flowers, huge and gorgeous.dahlia No idea what this is but I like it!seed head I also like fuchsias and this red and white one is different to the more usual pink and purple ones.red and white fischia Eating was ok today apart from a Magnum on the way back from beach club and a cookie :-(

I had a lovely smoothie for breakfast but there were not enough berries.smoothie stuff 6-8-14 So I went to pick some more!  I have 2 types of raspberry; one finished fruiting about a month ago and the other has just started.raspberries 6-8 I have one blueberry bush (thank you Kath) and it is laden down with berries which are perfectly ripe.blueberry plant Yum!blueberries and raspberries Very yum.Smoothie 7-8-14 Lunch was not quite so healthy but not a disaster, 2 eggs mashed with mayonnaise and stuffed in to 2 wholemeal pittas with lettuce from garden.  I think egg mayonnaise is my favourite sandwich filling.egg mayo bapMy beans have been the most prolific of all my plants.
runner beans flowers The runner beans are in full swing now.runner beans on plant Better pick some!loads of runner beans Runner beans are probably my favourite bean.  They always remind me of my paternal grandpa who used to grow them in his garden in Eastbourne.  My job was to top and tail and then splice them.  I had a vivid memory of him standing in his garden and my Grandma in their kitchen as I prepared these.runner beans I had them instead of pasta with a sauce made up from a beef bolognaise and leftover ratatouille.buttery beans

Runner beans make very good green spaghetti!

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Bean Feast

I am really enjoying Day-Off-Mondays.  Especially when the sun is shining and I have the delightful company of the Little Fella.

I over ate this weekend.  Massively.  So decided to have 2 juices today instead of breakfast and lunch and then a vegetable based dinner.

One apple and a chunk of ginger makes ….red apple and ginger A delicious ginger shot to put back a bit of va va voom!ginger shot 4-8 For breakfast and Lunch I made Jason Vale’s ‘Turbo With A Kick’.  For one portion you need; 2 apples, 1/4 pineapple, 1 handful of spinach leaves, 1/2 a lime, 1/2 a stalk of celery, 3 cm cucumber, 1 cm ginger root and 1/4 avocado (although I had half).  I made a double portion and put half in the fridge for later.smoothie ingredients 4-8-14 I had several hours to myself as Harvey went to the Beach Club again and I focused on juicing and I also picked, shucked and cooked all the remaining broad beans from the garden.  Most went in to the freezer.shucking beans This week the Beach Club is based at the Harbour Master’s office, on the other side of the river towards Camber.  The children were based in this bright and airy room with a gorgeous view.  Today they had the illustrator Julian Hanshaw showing them how to draw cartoons.  They went on to the sand dunes for lunch and to dig trenches which was good timing as it is 100 years ago today that Britain joined the First WW.view from office Rye Harbour is such a pretty place.View from the Harbour Master's office Harbour Master office Rye harbour 2 Rye harbour 1 The landscape here is very flat and open.Rye wind farm The sky seems very big and I liked the colours of the land in the bright sunshine between the black clouds which threatened to rain all day but never did.Rye landscape I made a Sophie Grigson recipe for a bean based ratatouille so I picked green and purple French Beans and runner beans.garden beans They went in to the pot with onions, courgettes, juicy tomatoes,  red and yellow peppers and broad beans. All the beans and courgettes were from the garden so this was an excellent recipe to use up lots of the vegetables which I seem to have too many of.bean rststouille I will share this recipe as it was excellent but another time as it is late now!ratouilleTo cut down on teas and coffees I am having a slice of lemon or lime in hot water with a herb.  Today I had lime with lemon verbena which was refreshing.lime and lemon verbena I had a large portion of ratatouille for dinner.Bean ratatouille Which I had with Feta.  The ratatouille was full of flavour.  It was seasoned with salt and pepper and flavoured with garlic, crushed coriander seeds, thyme and a bay leaf.  We all agreed it was delicious.bean ratatouille and Feta

So one good day’s eating and I made a huge batch of ratatouille so I can have more tomorrow.

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Birthday Celebration

What a busy few days I have had and what fun this weekend, celebrating Sally’s birthday and enjoying Lucy’s Birthday present!

I spent a couple of days this week in Edinburgh with work while Harvey enjoyed being in Rye.anchor at Rye He was at the Rye Bay Beach Club where he has been swimming, catching crabs, making crab ravioli and crab sushi, beachcombing, making boxes and a film.Lifeboat Rye harbour On Friday night I went to Sally’s to celebrate her birthday.  We sat outside all evening, drinking champagne and dining on seafood, chicken and salads.  I should have taken photos earlier when it all looked so well presented but better late than never.  It was a delicious meal.  I ate vast amounts as it was all so yummy !

Sally's seafood We all took different dishes and Michelle took the coronation chicken which was really good.  The secret ingredient was cumin powder instead of curry powder which worked really well.coronation chicken

After meringue and berries we had home made birthday cake; a rose flavoured sponge cake for our lovely English rose – well done girls, it was light and well flavoured.

Sally with cake

It was a lovely evening and I was so happy to have been a part of it.

Sally's dinnerOn Saturday morning we had a lovely walk along the lanes and up to the Grandstand.   Epsom is famous for being the home of the Derby and there are horses and livery yards everywhere you go.   This is the gateway to The Durdans Livery Stables, one of the most impressive.  It used to belong to Lord Rosebery and the story says he locked the gate when his son went to fight in the First World War and would only open the gate when his son returned.  Sadly he didn’t so the gate has remained locked ever since.

Lord Roseberry's Home and stud This is Maidstone House, a very attractive Seventeenth Century house.Maidstone House, Epsom We had a good walk and then returned to Sally’s for breakfast.walk in Epsom This is such a pretty area.houses in Epsom watermelon This is one of the Philip’s juicers and it was so easy to use and the results were impressive.  We juiced (for 3 people) 4 apples, 2 pears, 1 parsnip, 1 lime, a chunk of ginger and a large bag of spinach.  When it was juiced we added the juices to the blender with one and a half avocados.Phillip's juicer Absolutely delicious.Sally's smoothie Enjoyed in the sunshine in the garden where I spotted this bee, covered in pollen from one of the stunning passionflowers.bee on passionflower After a walk and breakfast we went with Holly to the horse stables and then on to the fields.Holly This naughty pony had trampled down the fence to get to the richer pasture on the other side.Mack and co Having surveyed the damage we all agreed the repairs were best left to someone else :-)Sally's field The weather became rather unsettled so we based our picnic in the barn rather then risk setting up outside and being rained on.3 picnic chairs We mainly ate lots of yummy leftovers from the night before.

picnic 2-8-14 Green salad, rice salad, orzo salad,  coronation chicken, bread and taramasalata.  I had at least 2 helpings and then bread and cheese.  This was definitely not a weekend for losing weight!picnic lunch This was such a relaxing and enjoyable picnic.picnic in the barn For dessert we had berries, watermelon. meringue and baklava.fruit, meringue and cream After tea, birthday cake and a snooze, we left Epsom.

Epsom Downs Destination was The Shard in central London which you can just see in the distance from Epsom Downs.The Shard from Epsom Downs

We enjoyed dinner at Black and Blue in Borough Market.  It was warm enough to sit outside even though we didn’t get there until 10:30 pm!  Loving these mild summer evenings.

Gini and Lucy Black and Blue I enjoyed a blackberry and gin based cocktail.Blackberry cocktail We all had steak with Bearnaise sauce, frites and salad which was very good.Black and Blue steak and chips

Inside Black and Blue After a good dinner we went to The View From The Shard for a silent disco which was our birthday present to Lucy.The View From The Shard It takes 2 lifts to get to the 69th floor.Picture of The Shard At The Shard walking in to the Shard

From the 69th floor we had amazing views across London.  This is looking from London Bridge along the River Thames and you can clearly see St.Paul’s on the North side of the river.London Bridge and St Paul's from The Shard

St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Pauls close up from Shard

Looking North to The City (financial district).

The City from The ShardHMS Belfast
HMS Belfast from The Shard Tower Bridge and looking East.Tower Bridge from The Shard Looking straight down on to London Bridge station.

looking down to London Bridge

London Bridge train tracks.London Bridge train tracks from the ShardSo what is a Silent Disco you may be wondering?  You each wear headphones so there is no music blaring out in to the room.  With the headphones on, you can choose your music and your own volume.  There were 3 DJs playing so you had a choice of 3 tracks to listen to at any one time.  When you wanted to talk, you removed your headphones and didn’t have to shout above the music which was really good.3 DJs

There was so much to do!  Buy drinks, dance, take photos, admire the view, explore the Shard.  It was brilliant!

upstairs at Silent Disco me at Silent Disco The 72nd floor is open to the elements which really took me by surprise.  I assumed the entire building was enclosed.The Shard 72nd floor It was quite windy up there which was refreshing as the floor below was quite warm.Silent Disco 4 Looking up to the very top of the Shard.top of The Shard The DJs did a great job.3 DJs in The Shard The Silent Disco at the Shard was brilliant.Silent Disco 3

The girls had fun.Silent disco 2 Lots and lots of fun.Silent disco 1

Thank you to Lucy and Michelle for hosting me for each night and  thank you Sally for inviting me.  It was all really enjoyable and I would do it all again :-)

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