Let the winds blow

Before I go and lie down in a darkened room a little catch up post on life here at Casa Moke and the wild British weather.

Since Covid and all the on-off lockdowns we have been conscious of the time missed with family and good friends. This week gave me one of those special windows (it’s half term for Peanut) to enjoy a few days with No 1 Daughter and her two girls as they decided to stay with me in Cumbria for some fun and frolics in the lovely Lakes.

Of course the weather – I have lost track of the storms swinging through the UK! – had other plans. The wind blew, the rain and hail fell and despite our best efforts we spent two days very close to home. This happily meant a re-visit for me to one of the Auld Grey Town’s treasures, The Quaker Tapestry. But first of all there had to be food. Right away you will know this is my kind of place:

The Garden Cafe is run by the wonderful Nikki and is all vegan so we could relax knowing we could eat and drink everything on the menu. No 1 and I first found Nikki and her fabulous vegan fayre a few years back when she set up a trailer in her garden (hence the name) and it is wonderful to see her business has blossomed. Her ethos and vegan menu fits perfectly with the Quaker meeting house next door. And the Victoria sponge?! Amazing. As for Shrub … she discovered french fries!

The face says it all!

Suitably refreshed, Baby Shrub strapped into a carrier and Peanut hopping and skipping alongside we turned left and straight into the Meeting House to see the world famous Quaker Tapestry. I have visited many times and yet this beautifully sewn piece of community art never fails to impress. Made up of 77 panels embroidered by groups from 15 countries and involving over 4,000 people in its design and creation it is a warm yet powerful evocation of the good that people can do.

This I think is my favourite panel (I even have the tea-towel):

Underneath the panel was a children’s book for the younger clientele to read and Peanut treated us (and the embroiderer sitting behind a Perspex screen greeting visitors) to a rendition of the tale of the two mules in the picture. Jane the lady who sat so patiently was lovely and made Peanut feel a very special little girl. Thank you Jane.

That summed up the warm welcome and kindness we found at the Tapestry. There is something for everyone and I would highly recommend a visit if you are ever here-about or have chance to see some of the panels when they go on their Summer tour (if that is back on this year).

I confess it had not been our original intention to visit the Tapestry – but we are so glad we did – we had been trying to get to Keswick and three times we failed. Water, water everywhere and the prospect of getting caught on the wrong side of a flooded road home saw us turn back at either Rydal or Grasmere.

Becks were over flowing all along our route and feeding mainly on to the roads.

Eventually we took the hint and decided the weather gods wanted us to go to Grasmere. Our Keswick trip was abandoned and this small but busy village became our destination instead. As always No 1 Daughter had done her research and found us a vegan-friendly cafe so in a pattern that must now be familiar we started with food. Shrub is always a handy ‘excuse’ as she needs her regular feeds … as do we!

Again our chosen eatery, Green’s, did not disappoint.

Cooked vegan breakfast was delicious and certainly set up us for a walk around the village and then up to Allan Bank.

Grasmere is a lovely traditional Lakeland village. It’s only downside is that it can be a victim of it’s own success and can sometimes be very full with visitors. But not on this trip as the weather had reduced numbers and we had chance to admire the beautiful church of St Oswald’s – there has been a Grasmere church since 642AD! St Oswald was a busy chap – see Dorothy and William Wordsworth’s graves, walk around the daffodil garden and swing by the Gingerbread shop (still sobbing cos they have changed their recipe and it is no longer vegan…what?! Why?!).

We finished our visit to Grasmere with a bracing walk up towards Allan Bank, once home to William Wordsworth and Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust. With the high winds the house was closed but as it does not have any exhibits and has been left empty after a fire anyway we were not too disappointed. What makes it truly special are the views and fresh air and we could enjoy both to our hearts’ content. Peanut had a great time clambering on the rocky outcrops and we all gushed over the amazing panorama.

We ended a lovely day with a quick visit to what is becoming one of my favourite Cumbria Wildlife Nature Reserves, Foulshaw Moss, for a bit of birdwatching and an amble around the board walks with Peanut.

We slept soundly that night! Good job too as next day saw us hare off to nearby seaside town Morecambe. With the winds still on the … erm … windy side we attempted a promenade walk …

…. But gave up in favour of … (whispers) … an amusement arcade. Which of course Peanut LOVED!!! Especially as she came first in the Mario carts game and could scream her head off on the simulated roller coaster. Think my ears are still ringing.

For me the best part of the day came with a walk around Happy Mount Park. We have visited Happy Mount for decades and seen it’s fortunes ebb and flow. At present it seems in a happy place, it looks well cared for and despite everything being shut Peanut had an amazing time with a new found friend: clambering all over the playground equipment, shinning up a tree and even kicking a football about. The wind may still have howled and the sea kept churning but she was as happy as Larry. I am sure Happy Mount will become a firm favourite with her just as it was with her mother and uncle.

Bet you are ready for a lie down in a darkened room too after reading through this. But I hope the fresh air, view and happy faces give you a boost, they certainly did me.

Mx

Walk in the woods – two go to Craggy Wood Staveley, Cumbria

Hello All

While the Mexican Tinga (spicy lentil sauce) simmers on the hob I will relate a lovely day out walking with friend JG.

As you know we are attempting all the Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport. Last time we visited Foulshaw Moss and today we went to visit Craggy Woods in Staveley by the 555 Stagecoach bus from Kendal.

Staveley is a friendly large village and behind it lies some beautiful native woodlands. I have recently sponsored three trees there – for my granddaughters – through Cumbria Wildlife Trust as part of a project extending Craggy Woods through some newly acquired land to join with Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood and create a larger Staveley Woodland. It is a rare opportunity and well thought through. If you want to join in the fun here is the link.

We started well by catching the 555 Stagecoach bus at our respective stops and after I got over the news that Craggy Woods is hilly (the clue I suppose is in the name) we arrived at the Wood.

Initially we walked up the road that skirted Craggy (it looked steep and muddy in there) and reached the top of the hill to look across the woodland. However we thought we were missing out on the full Craggy Wood experience so retraced our steps and went back to the gate. I think the map that JG created captured our rather strange back-and-forth route.

Through the gate we went and .. it was mud-gate meets fallen tree-gate! Storms Arwen and Barra had certainly wreaked havoc. Broken branches littered the paths and yesterday’s heavy rainfall added the hazard of slippy slidey mud. But as the book – ‘We Are Going On A Bear Hunt’ – says ‘We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We have to go through it’. And so through it we went. To me it looked like the battle of the Somme thankfully without the tragic loss of life, although there were times when I thought I might be a gone-r.

Friend JG is like a mountain goat so I knew we were in trouble when she was clutching tree stumps and grasping on to rocks as we made our way up, across and down. Thanks to all the fallen branches I managed to use one as a make-shift staff and steadied my wobbly self through the descent.

It did afford many a laugh (the hysterical sort) as we descended from the top of the wood and I am really glad we did it. Craggy Wood is beautiful even if damaged at present. Sadly none of my pictures captured the muddiness of our walk, but they do show some of the storm damage and the magnificent – if misty views – from the hilltop.

It also revealed some glorious moss and bracket fungi (possibly Birch Polypore … but I am no expert) who just seemed to scream ‘photo opportunity’.

We had a fabulous if slippery walk and it was good to see where the new saplings will be planted in 2022. I think we can say that we covered Craggy Wood. Satellites don’t lie.

Having walked down the last few steep fields while wishing we had sheep hooves we reached the River Kent and Barley Bridge. The river was in full spate and quite stunning.

We briefly sojourned in the pretty church of St James’s with it’s William Morris east window

before reaching the Elderado of any walk around Staveley, Wilf’s!

Wilf’s is famous among locals, it is a friend to cyclists and walkers and serves hearty fare. We felt we had earned our veggie burgers, mine with vegan ‘cheese’, and we tucked in with relish. Yummy. Perfect end to a perfect New Year’s eve. Thanks JG for being in charge of maps and statistics: we walked 3.62 miles with 520’ of elevation.

Happy New Year to all. I hope 2022 is a good one for you.

Moke x

The gifts that keep giving

Just a quick post today. A follow up to ‘Gifted’. Thanks again to my iron casserole and Anna Jones recipe book – ‘One pot, pan, planet’ – here’s what I rustled up for lunch.

Doesn’t filo pastry make cooking look posh?! This ‘Pea, mint and preserved lemon filo tart’ looked pretty good on the inside too.

I’ll let you into a little secret. My kitchen cupboards do not usually store a jar of preserved lemons so I used fresh lemon rind with a quick squeeze of lemon instead. It still tasted delicious. A green-ish salad – I added a few of a neighbour’s homegrown tomatoes – was the perfect accompaniment. All in all a pleasure to cook and a pleasure to eat.

The left overs will be perfect for quick meals on work days.

Mx

Gifted

I have been a lucky person of late. I have been gifted things that have improved my life no end.

During the Covid lockdowns we gained some new neighbours. And great neighbours they proved to be. Ja and So jumped straight into the neighbourhood efforts to keep everyone – especially the more vulnerable residents – in touch by writing and editing ‘The Surreal Times‘ a superb community newsletter crammed with useful contacts, information, good health ideas, book reviews … the list goes on. But sadly for us Ja and So have moved on. You two are already missed! Sob.

Because they moved themselves they found not everything would fit in their car and that they needed to leave a few bits and bobs behind. I gladly gave them a home. This was not a hardship. These bits and bobs were all useful to me and included a beautiful Le Creuset shallow iron casserole. I know. Amazing. Right?

For years I have wanted a hob to oven pan and now thanks to my erstwhile neighbours I have got one. Thank you Ja and So. The casserole has already been put to good use because I have also recently received just the right cookbook.

“One Pot, Pan, Planet“ by Anna Jones was also a gift. A birthday present from my friends AC-K and JC-K. I told you I was lucky!

“One Pot, Pan, Planet“ is actually much more than a cookbook. True it comes with a mouth-watering collection of recipes. The dish in the picture is ‘Broad bean and green herb shakshuka’. It was delicious. The book also brings the reader environmental information – how to eat healthily and sustainably – and gives many ways to help us stop wasting food. It is fascinating and packed full of useful and planet/money-saving tips. I can’t recommend it enough.

They say good things come in threes and sure enough along came gift number three. Good friend JG makes superb small bag sized notebooks from old cartons and postcards.

I love them and use them for shopping and ‘don’t forget to do’ lists. These small hand-stitched notebooks fit perfectly in my teeny tiny handbag along with a pencil. By doing so they bring an element of order to my little old life. But woe is me, I had run out of pages, all the above were full. I sent a plea to JG. And like a book-binding caped crusader (no cape actually worn) she came to the rescue with a new batch.

Phew! The relief. Scribbling can recommence. Toodle-oo for now I feel a shopping list coming on …

Mx

Bags of Goodness

Hello All

Just home from a quick shop in town and at the risk of looking like a short rations edition of BBC1’s “Eat Well for Less” * here are my purchases:

Kendal is a little foodie heaven these days. I remember when getting a Wimpy burger bar was BIG NEWS! Nowadays we have wonderful eateries catering to all tastes and today as I was on my lonesome I popped into one of the latest where I could have a super vegan lunch whilst I picked up a few essentials. Food Nude only has a few seats (bar stools) but the goodies on the menu can also be taken away.

Yum what to pick?

I went for the vegan ‘tuna’ sandwich. It was SUPER delicious. The tea with oat ‘milk’ washed it down perfectly.

Did you wonder? Here is what came out of the bags.

Top ups for my muesli, red lentil and buckwheat jars together with a good bowlful of cashew nuts. With the help of veggies and fruit that’s a few breakfasts and suppers sorted.

Greg Wallace and Chris Bavin* would be proud!

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Trusty Steed

Hello All

New job, new place of work, new transport. Those of you that regularly visit me here at Casa Moke will know that I am very fond of a bus journey and failing that a train or perhaps even Shanks’ Pony. Prepare to be amazed. The easiest way for me to travel to work will be by …..

bike! Sorry if you were expecting a horse. Neigh! It is a two-wheeled steed that will see me hurtling to early starts come September.

Thanks to No 1 Daughter who left her bicycle behind and thanks to Bike Ranger Steve who took it away for a service I am almost road-worthy (just fitting the lights) and ready for a few test runs. Oh my lor’…they do say you never forget. Let’s hope ‘they’ are right.

I feel my (oops No 1 Daughter’s) bike is female and while No 1 Daughter did not give her a name I am toying with calling her Hecate. Hecate was the Ancient Greek goddess of crossroads who protected travellers from evil on the road. I am hoping that there is not a great deal of evil on the road from home over the couple of miles to work but being at a crossroads resonates. Let’s give Hecate a whirl.

Remaining pedestrian at heart I strolled into town yesterday for a little bit of shopping and look what you see when you are walking:

The Vegan Is Kind website set my mouth watering. What a fab idea hope I can try the supper club soon.

Inspired by the Heathen Vegan, hungry after the walk and topped up with the necessary ingredients from town I trundled home to make an asian themed supper of Tarka Dal, Saag Aloo, and Roti together with a simple salad of onion and tomatoes mixed with lemon juice.

Delicious if I say so myself. Making the roti was particularly satisfying! With heaps left over I am hoping it will taste even better today. Infact I am getting a little peckish as I type. Best dash.

Until next we meet

Moke x

Exeter – Bear Break Out

Hello All

When No 1 Daughter suggested I come to help her ‘stock-take’ in Exeter I thought oooh beautiful ancient Exeter. Gothic cathedral Exeter; Norman castle Exeter; Roman wall Exeter; River Exe Exeter… right up my street Exeter. Oh no!

Lockup Exeter! Hey ho, never mind I was volunteering for a good cause. Does helping out children at same time give me bonus points???

It was certainly very satisfying making order out of chaos.

Okay okay it may not look much improved but believe me it is … really. I was also in my element taking photos to catalogue what was in there. Love a bit of advanced listing.

Now if you are worrying about the cages …. No 1 Daughter works for a wonderful charity Animals Asia and the cages have been used in the past to illustrate the awful conditions in which bears are kept for their entire lives (sometimes as long as 30 years) in order that bile can be removed from their gall bladder.

With all that in mind we couldn’t help ‘liberating’ these two guys.

They will be going out to assist Animals Asia supporters spread the word and help their living cousins enjoy happier lives.

We rewarded ourselves with a trip to the nearby Cosy Club for supper …. look even a vegan menu (available on request) ….

And a speech from

Lenin! Strange. Great restaurant with menus to suit everyone and situated in an old hospital with quirky decor. No 1 Daughter and I loved it.

Back at home I have a work in progress.

This is the first time that I have used an Avid Seamstress pattern and what a quality act! It comes complete with hard wearing, heavy duty pattern, useful information and terms cards and a booklet that guides the sewer (dearie me that reads like something to do with drains!) through making the garment.

For numpties like me who dive in and non-numpties that wisely like checking out all the information available there is also support on the Avid Seamstress website.

I will update you on progress. So…

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

PS Big thanks to DC for helping with the lockup. Without your help we may well have still been there! Great to see you, GF and GC. Mx

Yorkshire Days

Hello All

Grandchild-sitting called with its joyous, exuberant and sometimes exhausting song. Bags packed I set off to help out for a few days in Yorkshire. Sitting at my usual bus stop I took in the view of the field opposite. Over many years I have watched this field change through the seasons. Sadly it is soon to be built on. I am savouring it while I can.

A bit of excitement followed while I awaited my Skipton bound train at Carnforth… famous acting couple Timothy West and Prunella Scales were filming! I really hope it was for another of their wonderful canal journey documentaries. These have been a huge hit here in the UK. We shall have to wait and see. Fingers crossed.

With baby-care handed over to me I found that I had a free day before picking Peanut up. Ilkley (of On Ilkley Moor bar t’at fame) was the day’s Elderado.

I had a short shopping list of sewing goodies to get and started with a visit to the lovely little Eme, in Brook Street.

This tiny shop has a wonderful selection of fabrics and is filled with inspirational patterns and projects. I couldn’t resist a couple of fat quarters for my patchwork stash. Keeping to a blue colour range I especially loved these.

And good old Boyes satisfied my interfacing needs. Fusible don’t you know! Useful for ‘holding’ patchwork before adding wadding and backing fabric ready for quilting.

Do any of you have Boyes shops? I think they are an ‘up North’ British thing. Boyes stores are an absolute hotch potch of goods – fishing tackle is next to card making and crafts; bird food near to toiletries – yet they have a fabulous haberdashery section and if I can’t find something anywhere else Boyes usually have it. To my mind Boyes may be slightly bonkers but it is always worth a look see.

Sewing needs met there was enough time to try out a local eatery

Daniel’s Cafe and Bistro had a great website (honestly read the bit about why is is called ‘Daniel’s’ it’s heartwarming) and more to the point there were plenty of vegan suitable goodies. The waiter was super-helpful and offered to adapt where possible anything on the menu. As it was there was no need as I went with the scrumptious home made veggie burger.

It was lovely to nibble my way through a leisurely tasty lunch with my latest read (thanks MB for the loan) and be ready for Peanut on my return.

Post-nursery swings and slides were demanded by my diminutive charge…oh how it took me back and oh how wonderful it was to have charged up my ‘batteries’ for a whole heap of pushing, lifting and spinning. Those playgrounds are brutal when a two-year old is in charge!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Happy Fortnight

Hello All

Apologies for last week’s lapse. Things are all good here at Casa Moke just a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. I warn you this is a l-o-n-g post. You will be rewarded with a cuppa if you make it to the end.

What have I been up to?

Cooking.

Delicious Beetroot, Mushroom and Dulse Seaweed Burgers. Grating beetroot always makes the kitchen look like a crime scene but the consequent mopping up was worth it for these tasty burgers packed with yummy goodness.

I love seaweed however often forget how scrumptious and beneficial it is. Thanks to Kate Humble’s BBC series ‘Back to the Land with Kate Humble’ I was reminded and have found some fabulous producers. For this recipe and the Seaweed Cookbook I turned to The Cornish Seaweed Company. The book is a wonderful resource: along with plentiful recipes for everyone (vegans, veggies, omnivores and more) it profiles a huge variety of seaweeds and gives a guide to foraging.

Crafting.

Simple patchwork and a teeny-weeny amount of quilting are helping me gain more and more confidence on my sewing machine (sorry Snail of Happiness I have still not tried stretchy fabrics!). I am also rather pleased with the results if I do say so myself. No 1 Daughter has put in an order for cushions to coordinate with her soon to be decorated living room. Praise indeed.

Hot off the press…

Another cushion made almost entirely from scraps from earlier makes including at least two outfits for my granddaughter. I am smiling looking at it.

Some of you may remember my HUGE over purchase of wool for the simple Fair Isle jumper for Peanut.

Well I have found the perfect project to use the surplus. A Guernsey Wrap.

The pattern by Jared Flood is on Ravelry here. Versions of it can also be seen on one of my favourite blogs ‘Foxs Lane‘ … but I can’t remember where! It is a fabulous blog well worth a visit and you may even stumble on the wrap along your way.

Walking.

Walking buddies JG and JF set off clutching maps (OS Explorer OL7 – The English Lakes, South Eastern area) and compasses – they are part way through learning about navigation – with me their hill-loathing chum (how am I Cumbrian?!) in tow to complete the Kentmere walk we attempted last year when snow and ice made us/me decide to turn back. With the weather much improved – a DRY yet windy day – we set off in high hopes of sitting by a beautiful reservoir to eat our lunches.

Our day started with a charming easy stroll based on No. 3 in Norman Buckley’s book “Lakeland Walking: on the Level”. However as the hills of The Kentmere Horseshoe loomed in front of us it did look as if we were walking into Mordor. But hey! We had that attractive ‘lake’ to look forward to.

With a very flat valley floor and glacial moraines it was easy to see how the Ice Age sculpted this landscape. Ice now a thing of the past…things warmed up around end of April this year…lunch was calling and thoughts of dipping my tootsies in the lapping waters of the man-made tarn were becoming increasingly pleasing.

But what’s this?!

Or should that be what is it not?!!! Where has our reservoir gone? A couple of fellow walkers seeing our dropped jaws told us, it’s the result of a leak! In the past I have had small garden ponds and yes they have suffered the odd pond lining incident but a whole vanished reservoir? That is something.

Abandoning our visions of picnicking on a beautiful shoreline we crossed the spillway. Having watched much too much Nordic Noir I confess I was looking out at the wasteland for a skeleton or two at least. Happily I have nothing untoward to report but it was a very eerie setting…movie location hunters take note.

So being a bit agile (it says so in Buckley’s book) we followed a rough and narrow path back along the opposite bank of the River Kent until the going became easy again and we could stop out of the wind for sandwiches (hummus, peppers and celery if you were wondering) and have a short rest.

The walk back was idyllic. We couldn’t help but laugh at the adventurous and frolicking lambs (I thanked their mums for the wool) some of whom had perched themselves all over this glacial ‘dustbin’.

We admired the bridges.

And held our breath waiting for the bluebells to bloom.

All this and we barely got wet. A rare occasion in them thar hills.

Marching … Women of Cumbria

JG and I managed another tick on our ‘Women of Cumbria’ spreadsheet. We boarded the 505 Stagecoach bus to Coniston and had a wonderful time at the Ruskin Museum looking at all the displays and the exhibition dedicated to Annie Garnett a nineteenth century community entrepreneur who founded a textile industry in Lakeland.

Annie was one of six siblings and while her brothers went to school she was lucky enough to learn autonomously at home and particularly through her love of gardening. Taking her vision from Ruskin’s linen ‘industry’ Garnett founded The Spinnery in Windermere which gave women homebased work spinning yarns which were then woven at the spinnery. Many of the designs were created around plant forms.

Annie Garnett’s knowledge of weaving and textile history enabled her to create new fabrics and dye swatches that reflect her love of Lakeland’s colours.

Beautiful.

Garnett was not only a knowledgeable, inspired artisan she was also an astute businesswoman. By 1899 over 90 women worked as home spinners and embroiders. These workers were given training and also loaned their equipment for free. Annie clearly saw The Spinnery as a business and not a charity and she worked hard to promote it. Her management style was most certainly hands-on!

Lastly we could not leave Coniston without a ratch around a graveyard. We were looking for two gravestones.

Ruskin’s.

And W.G. Collingwood’s. Mission completed.

Are you ready for that drink? You’ve done really well to get here.

Tea drinking.

With a lack of dairy I have missed a delicious cuppa so I went to the Mecca of tea and coffee drinking which we are lucky enough to have here in Kendal, Farrer’s. I went experimental and by serendipity discovered a delicious brew.

And here I sit supping. Time you got the kettle on too. You have certainly earned it.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

PS I receive no freebies (I can dream) nor payment (does that happen?) for anything recommended in my blog. Mx

Bremen here we come … again

Hello All

Sunday 22 April 2018

Another day of train travel. Five trains to get us from gorgeous Copenhagen to lovely Bremen… and get us there they did. Only one observation: German train stations are REALLY busy on Sunday. When I inter-railed last autumn I avoided travelling on Sundays ‘cos I thought everything would be quiet and closed…how wrong can you be?!

But with connections easily made and trains on time – we even managed to make time as our train from Fredericia to Flensburg was in early so we caught an earlier connection to Neumunster – we were in Bremen while the sun still shone and there was time for an evening stroll.

I loved that we walked to an area new to me, outside the old town in Ostertor. It was buzzing with cafes and bars and cool (how hip am I? … not at all?! Mon Deiu!) graffiti.

Close to the hotel we had a fabulous supper of tapas style sides and salad.

No 1 Daughter like me thoroughly enjoyed it. By the by those little pepper things (Pimientos de padro) were a real treat.

After a long day it was then time for bed.

Night night Bremen.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx