Monday, August 31, 2015

Elevensies




https://www.flickr.com/photos/39160147@N03/14334011932

Grandma had been gone the day before, off on her Metrolink excursion, and so they were especially eager and sweet. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to sit next to her. 

One might have thought I had been gone for years.

It was a good day for lots of visiting. There was Church, during which each of them sang songs, and heard Bible stories, and made a Craft. They excitedly showed me their Crafts after squealing when I came round the corner, "Grandma! You CAME!" 

It had been arranged that Grandma and Grandpa, after Church, would escort the children off to the local iHop. They had already had a breakfast so I suppose this would be called 'second breakfast', or perhaps even 'elevensies'. The children simply love iHop. The eldest once called it 'MyHop', I think because of the appreciation he has for their kids menu. There is just so much to choose from, and they don't fuss at children about squirming, and they give each child a floating balloon as they leave. What's not to like? We perused our menus, taking our time to decide just which morsel would suit us best. Then the nice lady came and took our order which was altered a few times during the telling, but eventually everybody had it figured out. Then while we waited for our food and drank our drinks, we looked at Grandma's phone pictures and laughed at them. There were lots of silly photos of blond people making silly faces into the camera, and these were apparently hilariously funny. More hilariously funny photographs were taken and laughed at, until the nice lady came back and gave us all our food.



Silence reigned for a time, and all was right with the world. Lovely behavior fairly poured out of them, and in the end (you will find this surprising), NOBODY SPILLED. The iHop staff smiled at them and handed each a floating balloon on their way out. You've gotta hand it to iHop. They've got this thing down.

We all piled back into the van, clutching tightly to our floating balloons, and Grandpa took us all home. As we were getting out of the car, the 5 year old took my hand and whispered in my ear, "Grandma? Are you a Christian?"

I smiled, and bent down to place my hand on her shoulder. "Yes, my darling girl - I am."

She suddenly hugged me and did not stop hugging me for a space of time. And then, "I knew it! I am SOOOOO glad!" 

Hand in hand we walked into the house, chummily talking about her little thoughts and concerns as if we were the best of friends. However many years there might be between us, they are not the kind of years that separate. In fact, we hardly notice things like years, at all.

And I am SOOOOO glad.



See you along the way!
the SconeLady


photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39160147@N03/14334011932">IHOP Restaurant</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Sunday, August 30, 2015

All Kinds Of Weather, We Stick Together


Taking the southern California Metrolink south on a Saturday in August is not for wimps.

But it was our great experiment! We two sisters would board the train in the early morning, the crispness of the air a comfort after so many days of punishing heat. We would drift smoothly southward toward another sister and meet her a reasonable distance away. We would most certainly shop, and most certainly have lunch somewhere smashing, with lovely time to talk through whatever it is that needs talking through while we eat/shop/sit/have ice creams. A much needed change of scenery.


All of the important elements of this dream did, in fact, come true. We did drift smoothly southward, we did most certainly shop and have lunch at somewhere smashing, and did have ice creams (well, frozen yogurt) while we chatted. All of this was just as we had hoped. But the cooler beachy weather somehow had not materialized and we languished under hot skies, my dear Readers. As well, Metrolink and Amtrak produced a plethora of travelers! They were everywhere and we all crammed ourselves together into train cars that were crammed already with people from before when we go on. Don't these people have homes?, I wondered. 

And then, I realized: it was a beach Saturday, of course! As a southern Californian I should have known. The beach IS their home, on a Saturday, in August, with cheap weekend fares and the promise of sea air. It was perfectly understandable. IF ONLY IT HADN'T BEEN SO HOT.



But gathering with one's sisters has the immediate effect of brightening one's aspect. Distracting one from any outward discomfort. Bringing out the laughter at the drop of a hat while celebrating someone's birthday in real style. Brilliant! Who cared if at the end we would probably all look like we had been in a sauna for days? We were with our sisters, and as such, were blessed. All other concerns shrank next to this utter truth:

Sisters. Sisters. There were never such devoted sisters.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady



P.S. As we traveled in the morning, there next to us at a train table sat four young school boys, studying together. For over 2 hours they worked on Algebra, quizzing one another, text books opened, notebooks and pencils in constant use. The eldest helped the youngest. We guessed that they were related, perhaps brothers, or cousins. They were somewhere between 13 and 17 years of age, and were astounding. They didn't think they were astounding, they were just doing what needed to be done. All of the crowds and all of the heat of that day were worth it, just to see those hard-working boys - diligent, smart, and bilingual. America is better off today because of young people such as these. Yay and Hooray!


(The ticket machine for Metrolink is an I.Q. test)











Friday, August 28, 2015

Venturing Forth


And speaking of cottages, I found such a darling one just across the water from this gem:

St. Michael's Mount, Marazion, Cornwall


It is a new and surprising turn of events, venturing somewhere other than St Ives. It is only for a week, though. And it looked so charming that I just could not resist it (I'll take photos for you when I get there). For one thing, it is close to the water and you can see St Michael's Mount just outside your window. For another, the colors inside the cottage are smashing, and I feel it is perfect for writing the sweet story that deserves to be told. Ambience. You must have ambience for these things!

Something else that I will like about staying in this particular spot is the lovely walking one can do here. One can walk to and from Marazion right along the beach! In all winds and weathers! One can walk from Penzance to Newlyn to Mousehole, never needing to hike up steep hills or cliffs. There are cute little tea shops and Tobacconists and galleries galore! And just look - it isn't very far up to St Ives (see below). All one need do is walk a few yards to the Penzance railway station, jump aboard the Great Western (perhaps after enjoying a pot of tea in the station), and you're there! It just couldn't be any more satisfying.

Mousehole, Newlyn, Penzance, and (not listed on the map) Marazion.
(St Michael's Mount is the little peninsula-looking spit of land, to the right.)



I just remembered, now, that the Tobacconist is no longer open. Upon my last journey I stopped in to see him. He and his wife were looking somewhat forlorn and I gently said, "I heard that you may be closing..?" They both said, at nearly the same time, "Yes. It isn't a great time for Tobacconists just now. We had to post so many dire health warnings that after a while, we just lost steam. We retire next month."

The poor things! They had such lovely pipes. (Do pipes do so much damage? I just don't know..).

Once while walking from Penzance to Newlyn I came upon a Gallery that was free because my sister had given me a pass to it. When I arrived, no one was inside but a sweet Docent, sitting near the door. She was relieved to see another human being and jumped at the chance to tell me about the Art and where it had come from. There wasn't very much of it (hence the lack of visitors), but it was kind of her all the same. I remember feeling that if I were to work in such a place, I should go stark staring mad.

So it is with great anticipation that I approach this particular week of my journey. There is so much 'scope for the imagination'! Just think of riding on trains, and getting off whenever you wish, and all of the jolly walking to and from interesting and quaint villages along an English sea wall. 

Just think. 

Amazing cliffs of Cornwall


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Captivating


What activity most captivates the SconeLady today as she prepares for her travel adventures? There are so many to choose from that I can hardly be expected to single out only one. But (since you're asking..) the captivating thing that comes to mind right now happens to be cottage hunting. There is nothing quite so fun as cottage hunting, and even though I have already hunted and already found all of my cottages, I continue hunting on. It never really ends.

I like thinking about it. First of all, there are more options for the traveler than just the cottage option. There are other spots available which are worthy of your attention. I would say that the lodging options worth looking at in St Ives Cornwall might include:


  • self-catering holiday cottages (containing kitchen/diner, lounge, bedroom/s, bathroom/s, and so on) (typically one to three weeks but can be longer if wished)
  • long term rentals (must be 6 months or more and may be furnished or unfurnished cottages, houses, apartments, or semidetached houses)
  • Bed and Breakfast lodgings which might be found in cute small hotels or homes of substance
  • hotels (which typically include breakfast) that might be large and imposing, or small and unique - or maybe even look like a castle:

Tregenna Castle, St Ives Cornwall

If you are like me you might wonder about the expense of it all, because it really does add up. The frugal traveler has his or her work truly cut out, for the many options come with diverse price tags that can become confusing - even shocking. Luckily, this type of research is intensely interesting and never becomes confusing or shocking to the SconeLady, no matter how long she does it. There is always a deal to be found, somewhere.

One year the SconeLady and her sister stayed in the Tregenna Castle, above, which was smashing. It was a little bit expensive, but in the end we were given a much better deal for our room than we had expected. Yay and Hooray! These sweet surprises are out there, believe me, and what you must do is seek them out. You will certainly be surprised.

Since then it has been self-catering holiday cottages, for me. I highly recommend them. The ones I have tried, and which have been great choices, are:

I highly recommend them all! You simply can't go wrong. Just - click! - and make your way across the Atlantic, landing at Heathrow, grabbing the train southward to Cornwall, and make your way to the sweetest town in this wide world. 

Satisfaction guaranteed.




See you along the way!
the SconeLady






Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Discovery


Imagine my delight upon finding a Rosamunde Pilcher book I had not yet read! To a lady-Anglophile, there is almost nothing finer. And within its pages are chapters centered upon such places as Islington (featured in other of her books); and Paddington (gateway to Cornwall); and then of course, Cornwall itself! It was an immense surprise, and so rather than rushing through it, I am reading it in a state of ease - gradually, so as not to finalize it too quickly. It is already intensely sweet.

To make this discovery on the eve of a flight in that direction has me utterly overjoyed. It is a sort of coming home, not only because I will be actually there, but as a homely 'read', as well. I had thought years ago that there were no further Rosamunde books to be had; that every last one of them were dog-eared and had been consumed multiple times, by me. And then yesterday as I idly perused our bookshelves, straightening and dusting, my eyes lit upon a title I did not recognize. The Carousel

What was it doing, sitting there? I hadn't heard of it, let alone read it. It must have been meant! I thought. Upon the cover were lovely green apples (featured in the book, I am discovering) on an outdoor table, and the green grasses, blue skies, and white wispy clouds of Cornwall. Oh, blessed discovery!

It is only 233 pages and so won't take up very much of my time. I am on page 54, in fact. But each page already shows the promise of every Pilcher novel along with the ability to draw one in, as only she can so consistently do. 

I do so love a Pilcher.

If you are one of my dear German readers, you will know and love Rosamunde already. This is because German film makers have made numerous films from numerous of her books, and the public simply cannot get enough of them. When I researched free photos of Rosamunde, only one popped up. And it wasn't of her. It was of a film set, in Germany, that was meant to depict St Ives, Cornwall:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/12811454@N00/114663691


It does nicely depict St Ives, except that the colors are somewhat brighter than the actual cottages in St Ives. This photograph is probably even more ideal than the place itself, but then a film must have that quality of surrealism to carry it off. To make you want to go there yourself.

But I already want to go there myself, as you well know, with only weeks to wait. And then the walking, the scone-ing, and the writing can commence forthwith. So much to do, so little time. Somewhere in this house there is a passport; a rail card; some pounds and pence; warm clothing (perpetually stored away between trips); rain gear; a spare smart phone; a copy of 'Rick Steves' England'; and so, so much more. It'll be fun to get it all together. I will write to you as I prepare; maybe not every day, but as something pops up that I think you would like to know. 

Stay with me.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady









photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/12811454@N00/114663691">Fischerdorf Eyeries auf der Halbinsel Beara</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Sunday, August 23, 2015

But I Only Ate Half


We had been encouraged to check out the beauty and abundance of Laguna Beach, and finally - yesterday, we did. It is beautiful and it does have abundance, beyond anything I see as I walk my humble way day by day. I am fairly certain I visited Laguna Beach at some point during college, because who wouldn't have? If you go to college anywhere near it, well, you would hardly be able to stay away. It is unbelievable.

One particular college, at one particular time, was 33 miles from Laguna Beach. Fairly far for someone with no vehicle and not even a bike. But we college types (hippies) used to make our way to the many beach towns along PCH at the weekends, and maybe, perhaps, Laguna Beach was one of them. Certainly Manhattan Beach, Huntington Beach, and the ever-strange Venice Beach were frequented. Ah, the memories of strolling along boardwalks in our Granny dresses and sandals, stopping along the way for a 10 cent cup of coffee. How nostalgic I feel.

Well, yesterday we checked it out. We were driven by kind friends along the coastline, and marveled at the magnificence of the homes high up on the hilltops. We said 'Are you kidding?' upon seeing one such place (palace?) which seemed impossibly suspended up there, high above. How on earth could cranes, and cement trucks, and contractors ever have held on whilst putting that thing together? Whatever or however, it must have views that are as unbelievable as the structure itself.

The massive homes on hills are not the only notable thing we observed. Restaurants, dress shops, cute tea places and chocolate stores were abundantly sprinkled about, just waiting for us to wander in. 

But first we were feeling hungry for Barbecue and so our hosts took us to Wood Ranch BBQ&Grill at the Irvine Spectrum. Do you know what the Irvine Spectrum IS? It is an outdoor shopping center that contains truly any store or restaurant a person could ever want to visit, and a person could spend literally days - no, weeks - in there. As it was, we only spent a couple of hours, eating. If we had ventured further, just to look? we'd never have made it out without major expenditures.

You see my pulled pork sandwich, here (but I only ate half!), which was excellent:



The splendid friends we were with are actually our splendid in-laws - or rather, the in-laws of the lovely daughter, with whom we have excellent times! Everyone should be so fortunate as to find themselves such relatives.

Almost entirely full, we drove on down to Laguna Beach seeking - can you believe it? - ICE CREAM. Well, we decided upon gelato at Gelato Paradiso, the most delicious I've ever had (I only ate half! well, just a teensy-weensy bit more than half, but it was close). While we waited in line there was a darling chocolate shop to look at and, if one wished, to go in and try. La Rue Du Chocolat. I was tempted, but resisted.


We walked along the sands, watching the sun set along the waters in its most impressive and perfect timing. It couldn't have been a more ideal setting for a sunset. 

The day was, for us, delicious fun, and we hope to repeat the experience. At the end we all agreed that we share the most fabulous family together - the three eager blonds and their two remarkable parents; the kids'  generous uncle and auntie who make life so much more interesting, and the spread of other family members, looking to God, who form a cheer team none of us could do without. 

Excellent! What a way to step through Life. Thank You!


See you along the way!
the SconeLady


Friday, August 21, 2015

When You Want To Go 'Downtowne'


Where else can you find perfection and happiness but in the company of cupcakes and books? Today, those two items were found to soothe if not the savage beast, then at least three children who were hungry for both. It was a day of perfection anyway, with a blessed cool blue sky hovering and not oppressing (ah, divine relief from the nailing heat of SoCal!). 

Grandma pulled up outside The Little Blue House and could soon hear many activities going on inside of it. From somewhere a dog barked. Children tumbled out of the front door to welcome the new arrival, grasping her hands and telling her all of their bits of news at once ("Athena is tied up outside. She is NOT ALLOWED in." "Grandma, can you help me find my Little Miss books?" "Grandma! We are using a van now that has doors that open and shut BY THEMSELVES!" - this, with wide blue eyes).



https://www.flickr.com/photos/37718678214@N01/26687407


After all of this it was time to strap ourselves in, let the doors close by themselves, and head for downtown. Everybody loves downtown! We were all hungry and ready to find a spot that would satisfy the appetites growling around in the back seat. First stop, the Bistro. Gigantic ham&cheese croissants; grilled cheese; sliced chilled oranges and grapes. It was all very satisfactory.

Next up had to be the fabulous cupcake shop wherein each person received half a large cupcake (the rest saved for daddy). Our little Goldilocks daintily ate her treat, pronouncing it neither too big, nor too small, but "juust right!" The perfect after-lunch snack, to fill up any lingering empty spaces there might have been after all that croissant.








Then last and best was the hour spent in the dearest place filled with used books, 'Downtowne'. This shop contained shelf after shelf of books, high and low, and also a children's corner brimming with books and toys and games. It was a smash hit.


Their mother came away with a veritable Library of source books for their upcoming school year. She showed them book after book, asking their opinions and sharing bits out of several to whet their appetites. Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Frog and Toad, Huckleberry Finn- the Classics! Another complete smash hit. 

And then reluctantly we all trooped back out to the van, and made our way home. Several hours, all told, none of which were stressful. Consider: three children age 3 to 8, in a restaurant, in a cupcake shop, in a used bookstore, and NOT ONE SAD NOTE WAS SOUNDED.

So next time you decide you want to go downtown, don't hesitate, don't put it off - get out there and make it happen. It matters not whether your downtown is miles away from ours. Every downtown has its treasures, if only you take the time to find them.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

















photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/37718678214@N01/26687407">17072005</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Counting


You know the excitement is building when you can't help but flip through photos that represent when you were there last. Especially when your sister was there with you. 



The lady in red above, seen deciphering the gravestones, braved all sorts of travel to accompany the SconeLady in the spring. Together with her kindly husband and adventuresome son, my sister was a boon companion much needed and wholly appreciated. It was hard, in the end, to see them go.

But before they went, we marveled together at the splendid weather you see, above. It was mid-March and we had expected deluges and perhaps even hail. But look! Day after day we saw loveliness. By contrast, take a look at the weather this week in St Ives:



Rain. Day after day. If summer is like this, then what on earth might the fall be? But I truly have no worries on that score, my dear Readers. Somehow whenever I venture to Cornwall, something beautiful seems always to await. It is the sweetest thing.

And in any case, beauty is more than just rain-deep. Even if it does pour down on top of my poor head, Cornwall will be no less lovely. I will be less lovely and will look like a drowned rat while hiking the miles away, umbrella perhaps turned inside out. But - and I ask you this in all sincerity - who will there be to care? Many will certainly care as to the safety and the well-being of the SconeLady. But I am certain that not one of them will be concerned about how she looks. 

And so, the Countdown begins! I must organize my things, research fresh locations for afternoon tea, find any stray pounds and pence lying about, situate my UK SIM card, and eyeball the passport. It is a little odd, but somehow I am looking forward to a certain 99p mug of coffee in a cafe called The Hain Line, just across from the Library on Tregenna Place. They have free Wifi and are generous with free coffee refills. And it is good coffee in a proper enamel mug. Not to mention, pancakes and sausage for something like 3 pounds, including the coffee!

But nothing can ever replace The Digey Food Room, the spot I wish most to see. I will seek other scones, of course, and other tea shops, never fear. It's just that I doubt that any could ever match the Best of the best - of the best.



See you along the way!
the SconeLady


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What Is A Cathedral?


There are so many of them in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland that people may actually become inured by them. Acclimatized. They are just part of the everyday tone of living within the Mother-of-the-Commonwealth. Perhaps sometimes they are not always seen for what they are just because they have become so familiar.

Hapless Americans, however, who happen upon them by accident might be almost bowled over. This happened when friend Rosie's Ted was walking with me, and we wandered past the magnificent Southwark Cathedral. We could not just continue our wander. No. We had to enter. No magnet could have been any more powerful as we were drawn through those doors and found ourselves inside the eldest of all the Cathedrals in the land. It was awesome

https://www.flickr.com/photos/37804979@N00/5137457022
Southwark Cathedral, London

But some of my dear Readers may not be very familiar with Cathedrals, or why they are important. The SconeLady has some inkling of this, although not as much as my Brit friends might. Some of what I have picked up has been from the faithful Vicars of the parish churches in Cornwall who speak with awe and respect of their attached Cathedral (Truro). I learned, from this simple statement, that:


  • "A cathedral is the seat of the bishop and a centre of worship and mission. The primary purpose of a cathedral is to be a place of Christian worship.
  • Cathedrals are the mother churches of their dioceses and act as focal points for services and celebrations for those worshipping in churches throughout the diocese".


Most cathedrals are the oldest buildings in continuous use in their environments. They are truly priceless, if you were to add up the monetary value of each: it would be astronomical. But the value is in so much more than pounds and pence, dollars and cents. The spiritual importance of a Cathedral within the community is immeasurable. I can't begin to understand all that is accomplished by those who serve within the system that draws its center from a Cathedral, but I can, and do, appreciate it. 

Much more will be said as the weeks pass; this is only a start. It will be terrific to make my acquaintance with any number of them once I have landed there. Oh - and wouldn't it be splendid to meet an actual Bishop, or two? I wonder if one of them will be preaching.

I must check! This is getting exciting.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady



photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/37804979@N00/5137457022">Southwark Cathedral 3</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reprise


The gentle docent led us to and fro throughout the massive cathedral, speaking of the place as though it belonged to him, and with great respect. Maybe that is what a cathedral is meant to be - a place where one is absolutely at home and is all the richer for it. Clearly this one had, and still has, riches abundant. The visitors were all mesmerized, right along with the docent.

We none of us knew each other, but had only appeared on the same day, to delve. We didn't know what was in store, only that something was. The other visitors were lovely Brits, mostly retired and able to have the time now to peruse. The SconeLady and her husband were the only Americans. The docent was a sweet elder gentleman who had been leading the faithful through this place of worship for years, but never once did he sound as though this were not his first time.

If you make your way toward any cathedral, dear Readers, please enter with a purpose. There will be items within those walls that will surprise you, and it helps to keep a bit of a categorical viewpoint of them. For instance, enter with an eye for its Art, or its marble, or its sculpture, for it will be absolutely chock filled with it. Ancient. Massive. Unbelievable Art. Try to pick out your favorite, and then research it after you have gone home. 

My favorite is one that I have tried before to explain and to share in these pages, with you. I was able to discover this:



"This painting from Truro Cathedral is "Cornubia, Land of the Saints" by John Miller, painted in 1980 to help celebrate the Cathedral's centenary. It shows the outline of Cornwall with every parish church marked with a small Celtic cross."

There is something so poignant here. A view from above of those edifices of the Faith as perhaps God sees them. Linked. Each with its own little light shining forth, and the large light illuminating their parent Cathedral - Truro. All with the bond, "We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord". With this viewpoint, no tiny church is left alone; lonely; deserted; or isolated. It is One with the others, and with the Lord. This feeling permeated Truro Cathedral itself. It, and its servants, seem humble and helpful to all who enter. Welcoming. A person does not feel ignored there. Instead, one feels they are significant to the grand scheme of things.

And so, Cornwall awaits. This bit is only one bit, and there are masses of other bits, just waiting. I shall go.

Come along with me.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady




Monday, August 17, 2015

A Reacquaintance


I didn't tell you last night, but saved it for today. The verdict on Wholemeal Apple Cinnamon and Sultana Loaf is in: it receives a full 10! Out of 10! Oh how tasty, how satisfying it was. Grace Hall deserves ongoing accolades for this splendid offering, even if it isn't scone-shaped.

It was the right choice to let it sit for approximately 30 minutes after removal from the oven. Thus it was still warm, but able by then to be cut nicely into slices. Had it been piping hot, it would have torn the loaf rather than to slice. Apart from this, the taste was wonderfully similar to an apple cake (its scent reminding the SconeLady's husband of his favored apple pie), with just the perfect texture. Having slathered it in butter, we two sat eating almost incredulously as the taste came home. It was a SlamDunk.

During all this baking and the resultant deliciousness, a sleepy family was driving gradually back south from a Gold-Panning Adventure. An adventure during which they had indeed found gold! On and on they came, most of the van's inhabitants sleeping soundly as the driver forged ahead. I know of at least 3 occupants who had gone to sleep thinking of the missing member of their family, a furry hound who had won their hearts; in short, the redoubtable Athena-dog so well-cared-for at that moment by Grandpa.

At last, they drew up to the darkened Little Blue House. Two parents gently awoke them, carrying the two smallest in through the silent kitchen and toward their beds. "But...where is Athena...?" wondered the girl as she felt herself so kindly placed.

"She is still at Grandpa's. You will see her in the morning."

Which is exactly what happened. As Grandma and Grandpa drove up, they could see a small blond head bouncing in anticipation of the coming reunion. "Athena!" she squeaked, causing the excited pup to jump and bounce in her own eager (almost hysterical) fashion. The car door opened, the crate door opened, the kitchen door opened, and - at long last - the reunion of dog and girl was able to take place.



"Oh, Athena! Hahaha! Good dog. Good dog," said the girl over and over, petting and rolling and laughing. 

Grandma looked on benevolently as the two made their reacquaintance. She glanced at the dog and thought she saw (then doubted it, mind you) - but thought she saw the dog - smiling back.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady




Sunday, August 16, 2015

Loaf + Story = ?



I was not really meant to be listening while baking. That is not an effective way to do either thing, but I simply could not help it. Both were so interesting that I declined to interrupt either. The trouble begins when you are listening so distractedly that you forget an ingredient; or conversely, you are counting and measuring ingredients so distractedly that you have to pause your audio book and skip backwards to find the spot you remember last. Sigh.

Either way you may not end up with a great loaf. I don't know yet. It's still baking.

What am I baking? and What am I listening to? The following:

I have found a great recipe from The Little Book of Scones, once again. Only this time the item being baked is not scone-shaped. It is actually a Loaf - a loaf that has made the SconeLady's husband mention more than once that "it is smelling an awful lot like an apple pie in here.." And that can only be a good thing.

This is the good thing:

Wholemeal Apple, Cinnamon
and Sultana Loaf

225g/1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
75g/5 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon Custard Powder
40g/2 tablespoons +1 teaspoon caster (super fine) sugar
100g/1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
50g/1/3 cup peeled grated apple
4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the jug:
1 large egg
4 to 5 tablespoons milk

For the tin:
flour, for dusting
dash of milk, for brushing
1/2 apple, sliced, for decorating
demerara sugar, for dusting
ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Mix together the flour, butter, salt, custard powder, sugar, sultanas, grated apple, and cinnamon.

Beat the egg and milk, and add to dry ingredients.

Tip on to a founder surface and make it into a loaf. Decorate, using items from 'For the tin'.

Bake in mid-oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until the top is firm. You may use a knife to test it!

My loaf is now out of the oven, but I am letting it sit for a while before cutting into it. In the meantime I can tell you the thing I was listening to while baking:

Peace Like A River, penned by Leif Enger and Narrated by Chad Lowe. Chad Lowe is awesome and makes you want to listen to just about any book he reads out loud. This is partly why I have been so distracted.

But the truth really is, this is such a good solid story. It makes you want to read any book penned by Enger, and I'm sure I will if there are more of them. If you are in between books right now, I encourage you to run to wherever you can find it, and begin. Listening to a book is always fabulous, dear Readers, because (especially if you walk 10 miles a day) the time you spend walking, or ironing, or mopping, or organizing goes by terribly quickly when you are listening to a good story. I love it.

But I really should stop doing two things at once, else I shall wind up confused and wasteful and getting no good out of either the baking or the listening. It is a bit like walking while texting. The SconeLady has tried doing that quite a few times, and I can promise you this - it isn't pretty.



See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Another Cathedral


I have never yet been to the city of Lincoln, which is sad. I had a chance to go last year and didn't, which makes it even sadder. But perhaps I shall be able to make up for that moment of weakness this time, and take the plunge!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60099286@N00/5888117702

Every cathedral seems to have something unique within its walls, something that no other cathedral has but that you really must see. Truro Cathedral has more than one of these special uniquenesses, causing you to remember it forever. I, for one, certainly have never forgotten it and will almost surely go back to it. The list of its beauties goes on and on, but the one particularly fabulous item is the Terra Cotta Frieze by George Tinworth. It was sadly easily overlooked, as it is placed in an obscure spot behind, of all things, a pillar. Clearly a misjudgment. When I mentioned this to our cathedral guide, himself a brilliant man, he was baffled that I thought it a misstep. Why find fault inside a cathedral, seemed to be his thought (and he does have a point).

Therefore I will travel to Lincoln Cathedral to discover its own mysteries, and tell them all to you. But besides the cathedral itself, there are other treasures in that lovely place. Lincoln Castle looms large, towering over that medieval city and drawing thousands of its own visitors. But chief among the important things to do in Lincoln will be, for the SconeLady, enjoying an afternoon tea. The search is on! Since friend Rosie will be with me, I do not think we will have the least bit of trouble finding the finest.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/63122283@N06/6017155130


And the time is quickly passing, my dear Readers. Day by day more and more plans are made, and reservations arranged (poor the SconeLady's husband). But what fun it all is! One oft repeated decree here in the SconeTherapy offices is that 'planning is at least half the fun of travel'. 

Never forget that. Poring through Wikipedia, or Google, or youtube in order to pre-view an exciting spot along the way is all well and good. But it is truly only fulfilled in seeing the Real Thing. 

It's like the difference between theory and truth.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady















photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/60099286@N00/5888117702">Lincoln Cathedral</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/63122283@N06/6017155130">Grand cannon</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Things Dogs Find


When the temp looks and feels like this:



It really is time to snack on something like this:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Children of all ages just love this! It is so easy, and something you must not figure calories into. It is so hot outside that those particular calories simply evaporate away, leaving you only refreshed and light as a feather.

Even the dog wanted one but was of course refused. They were so delicious looking that she hovered near the feet of the children, hoping for a stray drip. I am not positive but suspect that she was successful in this endeavor (she has excellent timing).

This kindly pup, now visiting for a few days, is very jolly with us and has actually become quite protective. Grandma had figured a nap into her day, and awoke to find the Athena-dog splayed out in a protective manner just outside the bedroom doorway. It was really quite sweet and made me feel wanted. So she must be adjusting to life at Grandma's house. I was expounding on this theme with quite a lot of pride when suddenly I noticed something in her mouth. What - was - it..? The thing was white and made of some kind of stretchy fabric. Something in my voice made her uncertain about this item. Was she not supposed to have it? And what was it that made Grandma approach so quickly? She clamped her teeth down even harder and made a dash for the table.

It was underwear.


A long time passed before I retrieved it, a mere form of its previous self. The fragments ended up in the bin. That's life with a dog. Dogs always manage to find just the thing they aren't meant to find and then bring it proudly out to wherever people are enjoying their dinners or their evenings or their visiting friends. I should be grateful it was something as innocuous as underwear. It could have been worse.

Far, far worse.


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cure



When mommy and daddy are away, this Athena-dog gets to come for a visit. The SconeLady has a welcoming spot for the (still growing) pup where literally anything might happen. She thought all of the things would be quite pleasant and fun. Treats, and walks, and cuddles by night that would warm her heart. Certainly all of these things are going to happen, never fear, darling doggie - the best is yet to come. But among all these expectations, she had probably not counted on..


a BATH.

But it was just such a lovely hot day, the first of many to come, and I thought it would be fun. Athena was perfectly clean and nice-smelling, don't get me wrong. This desire comes, I suppose, of years with Golden Retrievers who think highly of water and wouldn't mind a simple plop! into the old pool (non-chorine, BTW).

And then - try as the SconeLady might, Athena won when it came right down to getting in. She just wasn't going to. Normally, one can get her to come, and go, and sit, and stay, and lie down, and even shake, just fine. But when she figured out just what was in store for her sweet little hide, she instantly made herself HEAVY. Urging and ordering made no difference to this great lug which lay there staring up at me inert, unmoving and unmovable. 

I was beaten.

And then sitting at the side of the pool, an idea was born: how about a good old-fashioned leash-bath? Tie her up and she thinks she is conquered, becoming the most humble, self-effacing doggie a person could ever hope to know. Water, suds, scrubbing, all of these things became abruptly agreeable in her sight. What a change.

Success!

It's grand to find a solution that suits both parties, isn't it? The pup who is at first resistant and uncooperative launches into a submissive little pooch. 

Sometimes mothers and grandmothers simply have to find the right 'cure'. Without all the muscle and mass, it's how we survive.


See you along the way! 
the SconeLady