Monday, 8 August 2011

Holiday fun: fabulous brownies on the beach and the wedding dress of the year


It seems to me that Geoffrey Chaucer was wrong about April being the month that folk go on pilgrimages: hearing of the epic length of the queues on the M25, I find myself thinking that August is the month in which folk undertake their peregrinations. And, quite unusually for me, I have also been doing a bit of peregrinating, too, and yesterday found myself on a girly visit to the Big Smoke, a place I tend to avoid in high summer. But off we went to Buck House to see that dress: for me the high points were the video of Sarah Burton, the designer, explaining how the royal wedding dress was designed and constructed, and the wonderful paintings by Rembrandt, Poussin, Winterhalter et al; the low points were the queues to get in, the queues for security, and the general overcrowding which made it difficult to stop and study things. And at £17.50 for an adult, £10 for a child it is not a cheap day out - being of a Frugal Turn, and the Great Wen being so very full of the most wonderful things which are completely free of charge, I rarely pay to see the decorative arts, and in my rustic innocence have no idea how these prices compare with other attractions, but it is certainly a lot more than I am used to paying.

Unfortunately for me, there were also long queues for the cafe in the garden, so I did not get the chance to sample the tea and cake - my fellow pilgrims regaled me with tales of the magnificence of the royal garden party teas, to which I being insignificant and anonymous, and on one occasion, a married, rather than unmarried, daughter, have never been invited (sob).


But all is not lost: this week I have had the chance to sample copious quantities of the most magnificent cake (and baked by a princess and a fairy goddaughter), so opportunities to expand my waistline have not been wanting.


I received in the post an utter chocfest of a book called Fabulous Brownies, written by Annie Rigg, and published by Ryland Peters and Small, who very kindly sent me a copy to review. 


And I have to say that for chocolate and cake lovers, they are pretty fabulous brownies to eat - not only that but the book provided two days of fabulous holiday activity for Princess Bunchy and Fairy Goddaughter. 

The recipes are divided into four categories: Simple (everyday variations on the brownie theme), Pretty and Indulgent (which would be good for special tea parties, or dinner party puddings), and Kids. 


Not only does the Kids section appeal to children in terms of look and taste, but the instructions are very straightforwardly written and easy to follow, so that two girls of 11 and 12 could be left to themselves in the kitchen to create the cakes and their mothers could sit in the garden undisturbed and have a Good Natter - which to me constitutes the ideal holiday activity for children. 


We of course did not neglect our offspring entirely - we were always on hand to taste the results and offer advice and encouragement from a safe distance, whilst we put the world to rights and caught up on many months of news and anecdote.


So if you want to keep your children quiet and amused this holiday time, Fabulous Brownies could be just the answer: just take my advice and put pinnies on them first, because the kitchen did get quite chocolatey (as did their faces, hands and Princess Bunchy's trousers).


We then took the brownies (and the children) to the beach: the sunniest, warmest evening ever spent on Knitstable beach (before the grey skies set in again). I actually had to remove my socks and plimsolls, and found no reason to don my great big granny cardigan, the last word in festival chic (I bought it at the Big Green Gathering, so festival wear it is). 


Fish and chips, Brownie Owls and Brownie Wheels, and a bottle of rosé as the sun set over the sea and the gulls wheeled and cried overhead - what more could any of us want? 



I have also done a little light sewing. I am unable to cope with anything too demanding in the dog days so I just ran up a trio of cushions for a ballerina who has taken to loft living.


You might notice from the picture that these cushions are not in a loft but reclining on a bench: they were very nearly kidnapped en route, the Amy Butler Love fabric being so enticing, but I am happy to say that they made it up the stairs and are now enjoying the high life.

So there's what we did in the summer holidays: a bit of stitching and a bit of travelling, up to London and down to the beach - don't tell me I don't lead the high life, too . . .




30 comments:

Vintage from the Village said...

Yum I will have a look at that book !

Vintage Jane said...

Sounds like my idea of a perfect few days with brownies on the beach being the icing on the cake as it were. M x

Prairie Rose said...

Oh, My!
Those brownies look just sinful!

Annie said...

Yum. I've just shown my daughter the pics of the brownies and she's decided we need to do some brownie baking of our own!

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

Love the cushions.
The brownies are cute too!
So were you impressed with the dress?
Susan x

greenrabbitdesigns said...

Oh I would love to see 'that dress', we visited Buck House last summer and I really enjoyed it, including the tea shop!
Delicious looking owls and ever-so-pretty cushions!
Rosé on the beach sounds good to me. :)
Vivienne x

The Weaver of Grass said...

Friends who have been to the big smoke recently all speak as you do about the prices, the queues, the noise etc. Think I'll stay in North Yorkshire (and stay off those delicious brownies too, so that I do not enlarge my waistline.)

Floss said...

Pomona, that just all sounds so super! I wonder if Son 2 would like the brownie book... he rediscovered a children's My First Cookbook the other day and had a whale of a time cooking almost independently!

Thanks for your comment. The computer game Spore is a kind of biology/sociology simulation, where you crash a meteorite into a planet, and then evolve the little spores that fall off it. You can make them carnivores, herbivores or omnivores, and slowly your creatures evolve and do cynical things such as attack other tribes or buy them off... Finally they launch into space, to do similar things elsewhere... Cynical realism...

elizabethm said...

Love the cushions and am very taken with the idea of the bottle of Rose!

VintageVicki said...

Brownie Owls looks so scrummy :)

We were so lucky when we had to brave the M25 on the too & from hols - one 15 minute delay but otherwise a good run both way :)

Caroline Lovis said...

Those cushions look very 'at home' on that bench, very pretty. Brownies ...mmmmm!

Hen said...

Ah sigh, it all looks wonderful Pomona and I could kill for a brownie. Lovely cushions, too. Getting very excited here about Festival of Quilts on Thursday, Birmingham here I come! Have a great week...
Hen x

Rosa-Munda said...

The brownies look absolutely delicious, and eating them on the beach sounds like heaven.

Mrs. Micawber said...

How fun to see The Dress; how much more fun if one were allowed to handle it and examine the fabric and construction!

Minimalist that I am, I never thought of decorating brownies. The mere fact of their existence and flavour seemed enough. To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to adorn a brownie... But they are adorable to look at and no doubt sinfully delicious. Expand away! Chocolate is the fifth food group, you know.

taylorsoutback said...

Those brownies look so, so tempting...and they include all my favorite food groups!

Little Blue Mouse said...

Mmm... the brownies look scrummy!

Karen L R said...

(delighted to hear that Henry's paws were a hit with your brother!)

Sounds like you are having a delightful summer. I'm especially jealous of the fish and chips on the beach...and "the dress". Thanks for sharing it all.

xo

LittleRed said...

Love the owl brownies! and the pink sprinkles too. I am trying to cut back on accumulating books though....maybe I'll see if the library can get it:)

harmony and rosie said...

It all sounds fabulous, especially the rose sur la plage!

Sue said...

Feeling peckish now after looking at all those lovely cakes, the girls have obviously enjoyed making them. The cushions look so lovely I can understand how hard it would be to part with them. And lucky you going to the Palace and seeing THE dress, I would really love to go.

Pipany said...

It all sounds good to me. I love those cushions so much and don't get me started on brownies! x

Barbara said...

Have not been to Buckingham Palace yet but interestingly the last blog I just visited had just been there too.
Afraid that seems to be the kind of price (at least) for many things these days. Costs a fortune to take a family out.
Looks like a lovely time on the beach. We had a good day on beach yesterday too with grandson and glad we picked the right day, windy but sunny.
The cushions look very inviting oln the garden seat.
Cakes look good too.

Menopausalmusing said...

That DOES seem rather a lot of money to see the dress.......... I personally wouldn't be prepared to pay that much, especially if you don't get to look at it for very long. Fantastic looking brownies.......... you have got me fancying something chocolatey now!

Lisa said...

You have been getting up to some very lovely things. Beach visiting, cake eating, dress viewing, I like the sound of them all.
Lisa x

Frances said...

It was so much fun to see this report of your visit to London and the wonderful return home again.

As a New Yorker, I think that the price of experiencing the sight of that Dress does seem a bit steep. But yet again, you have seen it, and will always carry it in your memory. Ah, how to put a price on that?

I've been having lots of blogger connecting problems this week and count as priceless the chance this evening to find what my pals have been doing this week. (I, of course, have been working!)

xo

Threads of Inspiration said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and truly enjoyed reading about your summer adventures. Of course, I had to take a side trip to read about "the dress" How beautiful it must have been, but too bad about the crowds!

Cottage Garden said...

Those brownies look delicious. My niece has a birthday soon - I think this book will be just the ticket!

Your gadabouts sound like fun - and THAT dress - one to see methinks.

Jeanne
x

millefeuilles said...

You seem as happy to see Sewing Serenity back as I am.

How is the B&B going? Very busy, I imagine.

silverpebble said...

Oh what lovely cushions and those little brownie owls are wonderful. Knitstable. Love it.

Beth said...

My oldest has just started to take a real interest in cooking (other than licking the spoon) and would love making these owl brownies. Yummy! Bethx

We were in 'Knitstable' a few weeks ago, we had a lovely sunny day and the obligatory fish and chips by the sea, I do love it there :)

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