Category Archives: Holidays

Banksy, and the World’s Most Chocolatey Chocolate Cake

I’ve suddenly realised I promised a chocolate cake recipe, and I haven’t quite finished my holiday photos!

Without going on and on any longer, I just wanted to share this photo, taken in St Leonards….

that Banksy gets everywhere doesn’t he?

Although where he found the sand to make those sandcastles from in St Leonards I don’t know…

Now, this chocolate cake…

….and why is it called Clovis cake?

Well, we have to go back a few years, when my son was getting married.  For those of you that don’t know, my son is the children’s writer and illustrator Thomas Taylor… you can find out more on his blog, That Elusive Line.

When the children were small I’d done the usual thing of birthday cakes in the shape of dinosaurs and spaceships, which gave Thomas and Celia the idea that  a cake in the shape of the little tiger which Tom was spending most of his waking moment drawing might be a jolly idea.  Meet Clovis.

Cue, completely panic from me. Making a butter icing and smartie creation for 10 eight year olds was one thing, but a tiger shaped wedding cake for 100 people?  Oh, and it mustn’t be a fruit cake…

However, I do like a challenge, so I set about trying to find a cake recipe for something which would be a solid and forgiving as a fruit cake without being heavy and dry.  I have no name to credit with the eventual choice, it’s provenance is lost in the mists of time, it appeared in a Saturday Telegraph supplement, I’m sure no one will mind if I share it with you.

It’s eventual chocolatey-ness is up to you. Vast quantities are required, and if you go down the 70% cocoa solids all the way it will be a very grown up cake indeed.  I tend to go half milk, half plain, which seems to agree with most palates.

Clovis Cake
Grease and line an 8”/20cm cake tin
6oz/170g butter
6 oz/170g caster sugar
8 oz/225g melted plain or milk chocolate
8 oz/225g roughly chopped milk or plain chocolate
6 oz/170g ground almonds
6 eggs, separated
3 oz/85g fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
Pinch of salt

Beat the butter and sugar together, then stir in the melted chocolate with the ground almonds, egg yolks, breadcrumbs, cocoa powder and the rind and juice of the orange. Whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt and fold into the cake mixture with the chopped chocolate.
Pour into the tin and bake at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for about 1hr 40mins.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out.

Melt 5 oz/140g plain or milk chocolate with a 5 fl oz/125ml carton of double cream in a bowl over warm water. Cool, then chill for 30 mins until lightly thickened then pour over the cake to cover.
Cool and store in an airtight tin.

And that’s it. A great deal of chocolate, with more chocolate on top.  It’s very definitely a celebration cake, not to be entered into lightly!

Dungeness

We might live in a small country, but it’s amazing the huge variety of landscapes Britain manages to pack in. When we first travelled to the South Coast from Norfolk, I loved the winding roads, the hills, the woods and the green-ness, (although I’m suspect the locals trying to get to the M25 curse those winding roads!) But you don’t have to travel very far along the coast to find an altogether different landscape, wild, harsh, mysterious and beautiful.

I’ve wanted to visit Dungeness for a long time, especially once I had heard about Derek Jarman, and his garden, so I was very excited to find we had a trip organised, with steam trains!

I took lots of photos, so I’ll mainly let them do the talking. I hope they give you a flavour of  what a magical place it is.

We’ll get the nuclear power station out of the way first!

Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman’s home…


It’s privately owned, so you can’t go in the garden, but just stand rather conspicuously on the road with your camera!

I wasn’t quite close enough to for the poem on the end wall to show up, but if you love poetry, you can find it here.

It’s incredible how anything can grow here, and the wonder of the garden is how attuned it is to the landscape.  For every gardener who has desperately tried to grow something tropical in a cold windy garden this is a triumph of going along with nature, finding what grows naturally, and mixing it with driftwood, rusty metal and flints and stones, and without boundary fences letting merge seamlessly into it’s surroundings…

Thomas bought me a wonderful book…

..which beautifully describes how the garden came about, with such fantastic photography it made my efforts seem a bit  feeble…(but it didn’t stop me from trying!)

It’s amazing what get’s washed up onto the shingle!

There are two lighthouses, the old one…

and because the shingle has built up over the years and made this one too far inland there is a shiny new one…


We walked down to the sea…



(We could still see the power station!)

There was a mysterious tumbledown building surrounded with rusty fences and barbed wire…


…and everywhere brave little plants doing their best to bloom in these harsh conditions…


…and we even found an Open Studio to visit…
Where the artist has a novel approach to recycling his paint brushes…

Then off to the train…

…where we had to make a difficult decision. Is Higgins…

a dog…or a bicycle?

Ummmm…..

 

The train ride was great, but noisy and Higgins wasn’t too impressed.

…and spent most of the journey with his head firmly wedged between our shoulders to block his ears!

I found a lovely little train I would have liked to bring home…

Such a pretty colour!

Phew, a long post, and there’s a certain amount of hovering going on which suggests it’s a mealtime, so I’d better sign off.

If you still haven’t seen enough, have a look at this great little blog….where you’ll find another Dungeness fan!

See you soon …x

 

Flapping About!

Hello, Hello, I’m home and doing what I always do, too many photos, so much to say don’t know where to start…..flap, flap, run round in circles…….

BREATHE……….

…..and out….

Phew, that’s better….

We had a wonderful few days away in East Sussex, the weather was fab, we had time with the family and Higgins is still trying to catch up with his sleep!   He had boys to look after, and he couldn’t possibly do his usual napping in a sunshiney place in case something good happened and he missed it.  Also, he had a Very Important Job to do as an Artist’s Model, and he kept forgetting which was his best side…and if you’d like to see all the sides, you’ll find them here

Until very recently Sussex and Kent were counties I travelled through on the way to the ferry, and I just got tantalising glimpses of interesting places in the mad dash to the port.  It’s been lovely to have a reason to visit and explore, and you can catch up on some of the places we’ve been in these posts.

We visited Hastings Old Town on the first morning where the locals are fairly laid back…

…or a little scary…

…but the shops were very pretty…

…and they had the flags out for us…

well, I say flags…

 

of course not all of us are really into shopping…

I’m not going to gallop through everything in one session, we’ll all lose the will to live –  so the trip to Dungeness will be in the next post!

I did manage to get the knitting out, and I’ve finished the birthday socks

…and I’ve been experimenting with the lovely cuddly yarn I showed you before to make a sort of cosy collar.

It’s like a scarf without trailing ends.  I’ve knitted it on circular needles and it’s just five rows of knit and five rows  purl to give the ridged effect.  I didn’t use all the yarn, I was being impatient, so I’m going to put it back on the needles to make it longer as the ridges make it scrunch up quite a lot.  I’m going to experiment some more as I think it would be great with more stitches so it can be looped twice round the neck, or just adding an extra ball of wool so it’s long enough to pull up like a hood.  I’ve a feeling I shall be fighting my daughter for this one!

Once again I’m linking this to the lovely Wendy of 1st Unique Gifts and  Handmade Monday.  Do go over and say hello and find all the links to other crafty blogs.

I’m being particularly ‘handmade’ this Monday too. I was very excited last week to find out I have been selected to take part in the UK Handmade Showcase, in the ‘Wonders of Wool’.

Have a lovely week, I’ll be back very soon…x

 

Fun!…with added cake…

I am gradually getting back to normal after our jolly family weekend in a couple of wooden cabins handily situated between the coast and the New Forest. It was an early birthday celebration – for me! – and I was so thoroughly spoilt I almost forgot how to cook and wash up! The weather tried various guises, until the sun got his hat on in the middle of the first day and stayed around for the rest of the weekend.

I came across a very strange thing on the beach the first morning. It was cold, grey and misty, with a strong wind…

We came down the cliff…

… and on to the shingle to admire the little beach huts…

Higgins spotted a potential friend, but he passed on by…

The beach was all but deserted, but for three people in wet suits, inflating things, which soon caught the wind and developed minds of their own. If it hadn’t been for the wet suits I would have thought they were flying kites, but it dawned on me they were heading off into the grey and windy sea…

Mad! I thought, Completely Bonkers! On a day like this?

So despite the cold I hung about, snapping away like the worst press photographer, waiting to see what would happen.

Eventually, with the kite bobbing about energetically high above him, the first wet suited individual headed down to the surf, while I carried on the same little chunter to myself…MAD…totally barmy…

Until he got into the sea…and on to the board….

and Wayhaaaay…. Yes!… NOW I see….


 

And when the sun shone, we went to the New Forest…

Higgins had a slightly different perspective…

…but he did find a place to play Pooh Sticks…

And in the evening there were balloons, and bunting, and a truly amazing birthday cake…

Looks a little familiar don’t you think?

We prolonged the weekend a little by travelling along the coast for a night with son Thomas and family, where Higgins was able to meet some special bloggy friends when Penelope By The Sea came to tea, with Alice…

I was very surprised and touched to be given a birthday gift…

it was very nearly too pretty to unwrap, but I was persuaded, and found …

Which made me very happy!

(And if you pop over to Penny’s blog, you’ll find out where that pretty fabric tie came from!)

And now we’re home.

Some of us have been sleeping off all the rushing about entertaining small boys…

…and some of us have been sitting in the sun squaring circles…

Home Again…

Hello, I’m back…and in one piece although at times it was touch and go!  We had a wonderful few days, the sky was blue…

 the snow was deep…

the company great fun and the food, oh dear the food….!!! And the drink!  Still, lots of time now to get back to the diet.. eventually.  Slightly tricky when I sent the dear husband out to buy salad when we got home and he came back with pork pies, extra creamy potato salad and two sorts of icecream.  Oh, for some ‘Won’t Power’!

Skiing was a little tricky, the brain was willing but the body said ‘Who Me?’ and my knees said ‘No Way!’ And I had to wear these boots…

I mean…Orange?

But a few days in brilliant sunshine was exactly what the spirit needed, especially reflected off snow covered mountains.

and I must share the joys of Austrian bedmaking…

I never knew a duvet could be so much fun!

At home, we found that in less than a week the daffodils and forsythia had come into the bloom and although it’s still cold, Spring is really beginning to  ‘bust out all over’.

And Higgins came home.  He had a lovely time with his friend Ellie and he was SO fed up to be back with just boring old humans  to entertain him.  A massive sulk resulted…

He’s just about forgiven us now though, and was very happy this morning as Tim had a 5am start so Higgins was able to take over the warm bit in the bed, a rare treat. 

And now the fun is over I have to get to work with the dye and the felting needle.  I must step away from the computer and get going… Back soon xxx

Tuppence…

…well, two Pennys anyway!  Our trip to the south coast meant I could catch up with a new friend, one made in blogland and another Penny.  

We met here, at the De la Warr Pavillion…

Which is a lovely place to sit on the balcony, drink tea and have a natter while gazing at the sea.   Penny’s blog is L is for Love and as we have been following each others musings for a while now we knew we had lots in common.  Do pop over and have a look, and also to see the beautiful teacosy that Penny has made because she kindly gave me the pattern.  And no, Penny, you didn’t talk too much at all!!

I have taken SO many pictures of the sea, the sky, the view along the coast I could fill several posts so I am going to be a little selective (you will be relieved to hear!)  We were really fortunate to have glorious weather, if a little chilly, in contrast to what was going on back home.  I made myself quite unpopular with my boastful phone calls about sipping coffee by the sea while everyone in Norfolk was enduring hailstorms…Sorry!

I think I was overwhelmed by how clean it all felt.  After the muddiness of our little lanes the washed pebbles and glittering sea was wonderful, especially as the sun was coming up…

As usual I found a lovely shop selling gorgeous sewing bits and pieces.  This one is The Owl and Sewing Cat, tucked away in Bexhill-on-Sea but with another branch opening in Eastbourne very soon.  Do look out for it if you are in the area, it’s really worth a visit, and I’ve just discovered, they have an online shop too, so I don’t have to wait until my next visit…Woopee!

I bought some ric rac and pompom braiding…

Yes, more pompoms! And a card of assorted braids…

Which has a distinctly Christmassy feel don’t you think?  It must be nearly time to be allowed to think about it now, surely?

This being so, I’d better step away from the computer and get on with being creative while it’s quiet.  It is very quiet too, as Higgins is STILL sleeping off the effects of being on the go non-stop with two little boys for a week.  He was scared to take a nap in case he missed something! 

Actually, while he is asleep and can’t be embarrassed, want to see some  cute baby pictures? 

All together now…Aaaaaah!

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