off to San Francisco

No blogging for a week as we are off to San Francisco to see if we like it enough to live there for a few years!!!!  Oh my GOODNESS!!

image copyright macmanuslab

We are very excited and more than a little nervous, there is so much to think about not least what we can do to make the move work out for Tilly - because there is no way we are leaving her behind.

So, we have lots of exploring to do, lots of questions to ask and lots of thinking to do.


four ways to get your oats!

I love this porridge time of year, can't wait to get my first packet of Scott's Porage Oats out for the season and my little blue and white Whittard cup that I seem to have had for years and yet is only used for this porridgey purpose.

I know that lots of people don't like porridge or think that it's boring so I thought I would show you four ways to make it a bit more interesting.  I normally have one of the three fruity versions and then I decided to throw in a wild card version I saw on an american food blog.

Apple and Cinnamon/Banana and Walnut
Peanut Butter and Jelly/Brown Sugar and Sultanas

For all versions you need to cook your porridge in the usual way - 1 cup of oats with 2 cups of water or milk (I use a water and milk mixture) and microwave for three and a half minutes.  Check your porridge packet for alternatives or stove top instructions.

Apple and Cinnamon.

This is one of my favourites,  when you are cooking the porridge include a teaspoon of cinnamon in the mixture, you could add some sugar too but I don't think you'll need it.

When cooked, slice an apple on the top, drizzle some honey or syrup over the top of the sliced apple and sprinkle with some more cinnamon.  For my apple slicing I use this ace apple corer and it makes such a pretty picture (like an apple flower), I though I'd include it in this post :o)

Banana and Walnut.

Take your standard porridge mixture and stir a chopped banana in saving some for the top.  Drizzle with honey or syrup and add chopped walnuts.

Brown Sugar and Sultanas.

Brown sugar is lovely on porridge, sprinkle lots on and then add a handful of sultanas.

Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Okay, okay this is a complete wild card but try it..you might like it.  Just stir in a tablespoon (or two depending on your love of peanuts) of peanut butter and add a blob of jam to the top.

Ta da! There you have it, lots of ways to make your porridge taste good, you've got no excuse now.

Me? Well I could happily eat my porridge plain (with just a touch of salt), but it makes mornings interesting to add something tasty in there.  Give it a try, you might like it.


just walking the dog

I love autumn, oh have I mentioned that already?

This year it's been made even more special because we are walking Tilly in the forest every day and boy do we live next to a good one.  We're so bloody lucky to live across the road from Swinley Forest a huge expanse of trees and loveliness, all owned by the Queen (it's part of the Crown Estate).  Don't worry she lets us commoners tramp around in there to our hearts content so we're not trespassing.

So mushroom season has just finished,.  They've all pretty much died off, or been picked, crazy mushroom pickers were often to be found ferreting around in the undergrowth!  There were some really pretty ones like these little spotties nestling in amongst the heather (and spiders by the looks of it) and some monster ones like this brute - check him out, he looks like a big steak and kidney pie!!

It's lovely when the sun shines at this time of the year, it's a different kind of light, lower in the sky and it really brings out all the colours and makes everything look so much prettier.

Every time I try to take an 'arty' scenic picture though Tilly goes and stands right in shot (see top and below)...makes me laugh, I could do a montage of scenes with Tilly just stood in the middle...well it would make me smile anyway.

This final shot wasn't taken by me, Mr P captured this little mushroom family.....so cute!  Only, is it just me or do they look a bit like a little family of willies?!


Malta #2

It's hard work you know, having to go to away for a bit and having to stay in an apartment with this for a view!

It was my first trip to the tiny island of Malta set adrift in a lonesome part of the Mediterranean and I was not disappointed.  It is unique and quirky and surprisingly untouched by the mass tourism that dominates the rest of the Med, which makes it a great place for a holiday , well if you like that kind of thing that is.

We only went for a short, short trip owing to me having an exam and Mr P going away with his work so we were keen to make the most of it.  Our friend's apartment was in the small and rather chic town of Mellieha in the northwest of the island.  From Mellieha, and in fact from their balcony, you can see over to Gozo and the tiny island of Comino which sits in between.

We visited the pretty, pretty port of Marsaxlokk (pronounced marsha-shlock).  It is a tiny village and very pretty, the port is huge and filled with the traditional Maltese luzzu boats that are brightly painted, always in red, blue, yellow and green.  The harbour is full of them, we stayed and had lunch in the sunshine.

I'll leave you with a picture of the yummy Maltese pastini biscuits that we have been scoffing almost constantly since our return.....I am actually glad to say that they are nearly all gone because I absolutely can NOT resist them.  Yum.


Malta #1

Yeah, she's a little bit gorgeous isn't she.

So we are off on holiday to Malta tomorrow morning and Tilly is going away too.  She is going to stay with a lovely dog-walker lady called Tracy and will spend her days off walking in the forest with Tracy and her daily dogs, between ten and twelve of them.

We think it will be great for the Tilster, she needs that interaction with other dogs and Tracy has a dog too so Tilly will be sharing a house - again good experience for her.  It's going to be weird handing her over and saying goodbye tomorrow morning, what's the betting I have a little cry....gulp.

I'm really looking forward to visiting Malta, I've never been and Mr P has loads of times because his family is from there so it's going to be like finally getting to see something that is talked about often and loved a lot.  Plus it's great because I can finally start to join in the conversation.

Also I'm so looking forward to some sunshine - although it's been lovely in Blighty this week, proper hot and sunny and everything, it's been quite nice getting all my summer holiday clothes out again...hurrah.

Will provide a full update and pictures when I get back.

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I ♥ Manchester

What is Manchester famous for?

Manchester United is probably what most people would say, and after all it is probably the city's greatest worldwide export. Well I say pah to football and instead celebrate the fact that Manchester is the home of indie music with some of the best bands EVER hailing from this northern metropolis.
You can't argue with the likes of The Smiths, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, New Order.. .oh my goodness the list is endless and I didn't even mention Oasis!!

Anyway, we went to visit our family in Manchester last weekend. I've never been before, didn't know what to expect and was really not expecting too much, 'yeah, it's a city right'  's'pose it'll be alright'. So it was with delight that we found Manchester to be very much to our taste. It's just big enough to be big and wowy but not too big to be scary and intense.

All the areas are nicely defined and so it's quite villagy, we were right next to Chorlton which apart from being where the wheelies come from (please, please say you remember them?), is very lovely, leafy and full of chi-chi little shops...which I didn't have a chance to go in but will definitely do next time.
Chorlton is also the home of the most brilliant shop ever, the shop that makes me want to pack my bags up and move north.....the Unicorn Grocery.  Oh what a delight, a shop that has NO meat in it whatsoever. Ta da. I felt like skipping through the aisles, in fact I think I did a little bit...and even better than being a vegetarian shop, its actually a vegan shop so no dairy or eggs either. We purchased lots of lovely vegetables, some mason jars and some delicious pasties to eat on our long drive home.

We also took Tilly for a walk at a place called Alderley Edge which has lots of ancient and wizardy connections. It was very beautiful with great views over the city but shame the weather wasn't better so we could get some better shots, ah well.

Manchester is out there...somewhere
It was a great walk, the dogs loved it (we went with Tilly's new friend Peggy a Border Terrier), and so did we....although there were no poo bins, not even back at the car park...which is a bit odd.
Anyway, much more to see next time we visit, can't wait.