Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Village Fete and Show

You may not know this, but I'm rather competitive. I even find it hard not to do my best to beat DC at Snakes & Ladders. Last year there was a Village Show at the village fete and I entered a few categories. I was lucky enough to win the photograph category (for which I received a silver cup), and I came second in the 'handmade item for the home' category with a cross stitch. The combined points from these two successes meant I also won a silver rose bowl. I was pretty chuffed, to say the least.

So, this year I needed to pull out all the stops to try and retain that silverware! I decided another cross stitch was in order for the handmade category, and I worked on this particular item for months. I'm not kidding, it took for eeeeever. I started it in March...

Worked on it through April


Took it to Spain in June
 Realised I was never going to get the entire thing finished in time for the fete
So decided to work on the left side, and finally got it done at about 1.30am the night before the fete - arrrggghhh! Apologies for the awful photo, but it was late and my eyes had pretty much crossed themselves by then.

There were lots of entries for the baked categories.
 And quite a few for the floral exhibits.
 And, I'm pleased to say, I actually managed to be placed in a few categories; here's a third place
And another
 Second place for my Coconut and Lime Slice (in the 'Cake for Afternoon Tea' category)

Second prize in the 'Knitted item' category

Third prize in the 'Somerset Life' photo category

 And.....FIRST PRIZE for the cross stitch! All those hours were worth it!

The points I accrued in the photo, knitted and handmade categories meant I won the rose bowl for the second year in a row - and I was rather pleased!

 The weather did it's best to put a dampener on the day of the fete, but we battled on nonetheless and a jolly time was had by all.
 Drumming workshops

 Pimm's Tent
 Sumo wrestling
 Teddies zip-wiring from the church tower

All in all, a lovely day. Now, I need to get stitching ready for next year...

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Can I Bake You a Cake?

I'm not running the tearoom anymore. I didn't talk about it much on here when I was running it, in fact I didn't blog very much at all, as it took up so much of my time. But now I have my life back and can spend time doing other things. Except those other things seem to involve a lot of baking (and eating), so no change there. Although, at the moment I'm at least baking to my own schedule and baking what I want to, rather than having to bake for the tearoom.

But, that could all change as I've now decided to start a little business (in the loosest sense of the word; if there's anything that running the tearoom taught me, it's that I'm not a natural businesswoman.) The business is called Can I Bake You a Cake?, and you can probably work out what that involves. I have a FaceBook page, if you'd like to search for it and give a 'like' that would be fabulous, although that's about as far as I've got in terms of advertising. I have plans for fliers and posters, but those plans are just in my head at the moment; one day I'll get round to printing them. In the meantime, would you like to have a look at some of the yumminess I can bake? Probably best not to look if you're hungry though...

Dotty Cake - choc sponge, choc buttercream and giant choc buttons

All-butter shortbread

Bakewell Tart

Treacle Tart

Millionaire's Shortbread

Choc Chip Shortbread Cookies

Chelsea Buns
Just a few of the scrumptious things on offer!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Stonehenge; yes or no?

As we drove along the A303 to the London a couple of weekends ago, we pointed Stonehenge out to DC. We've driven past plenty of times, but on this occasion something must have made his brain cells touch together and he actually took an interest and asked whether we could visit. Well, it's the summer holidays and we're always looking for things to keep the dear child occupied, so what better than to go somewhere he actually wants to go. And so I give you


Since hubby and I last visited (2012), a road has been blocked off, a swanky new visitor centre (of which I completely forgot to take any photos) has been constructed, and buses now take you to the stone circle. DC was pleased to be there, although slightly disappointed to find that you can't get up close and personal to the stones.
DC with Granny and George Bear

We were lucky enough to visit on a dry day (there have been few enough of those so far this 'summer'), but it was still a bit chilly and fairly blustery. It's quite an exposed spot in the middle of the plain, and the sky and clouds seemed mighty big.

 DC asked if he could take some photos with my phone and I think it's fair to say he did a good job (much better than my mum who managed to chop our heads off and not get any of Stonehenge in the background, so I deleted her efforts...)

There's a glimpse of the visitor centre in the background of this shot. DC is testing his strength trying to move a sarcen stone. There's also a small group of reconstructed houses from the time that Stonehenge was built, each containing a few items such as pots, skins, tools, etc, but with absolutely no information on what anything was, who might have lived in the houses, how the space would have been used, etc. The visitor centre contains an exhibition space with a display of items found at Stonehenge - bones, pots, weapons - plus information on how the stone circle was built, how it was used, etc, a very nice cafe and a large shop. We probably spent more time in there than up at the stones, but then we are rather partial to a nice cafe.

Luckily we are National Trust members which means we can visit for free. English Heritage members get the same privileges; the stones are managed by EH while the NT manages the surrounding land. Otherwise it costs £15.50 for an adult and £9.30 for a child, which strikes me as being quite pricey. On top of that there's an extra charge of £2 for an audio tour and more again for a guide book. I'm pretty sure the audio tour used to be included in the ticket price. You can, however, download the audio tour for free via an app onto your mobile photo (although it's quite awkward to use if you also want to take photos with your phone as you have to keep coming out of the app and then going back into it - I gave up listening to it quite quickly because of this.) I'm glad we didn't have to pay the entrance fee as I do feel it is quite high, especially when you consider that really all you're looking at is a bunch of old stones (call me a heathen); comparing the entrance fee to say, Hampton Court where for £16.50 (£8.25 child) you get to see the palace, maze and gardens plus the audio guide is included, there are costumed historical re-enactments, children's activities and more. Stonehenge could do with offering more interactive 'stuff', alongside the sarcen stone and the reconstructed houses and perhaps a few members of staff around and about who could answer questions or demonstrate things. And the other thing to consider is the timing of your visit; in the summer Stonehenge is open from 9am til 8pm (last entry is at 6pm) and you have to book tickets in advance for a timed slot, although some walk-up tickets are also available. We got there just after 10am and there were no queues AT ALL (our timed tickets were actually for 10.30am but we were allowed through early with no issues). When we got back to the visitor centre at about 11.30am after visiting the stones, the queues were VERY LONG - I would estimate at least 100 people/groups in each queue, and they stayed that way right up until we left at 2pm.

Don't let me put you off visiting Stonehenge as it probably is one of those 'Bucket List' kind of places, but it's definitely worth considering the cost, the timing of your visit, and also the weather!