Thursday, 29 September 2011

Flying; or, the best gingerbread ever, with a few hints on cookery

I have been Flying along on the housework front, you may be glad to hear (or not as the case may be), and am now feeling quite overcome with heat and exhaustion and am in dire need of Cake.

Looming domesticity
Today I did step up a gear - the Bedtime Routine is cracked (clean up the house just before bed - 20 mins - piece of cake), then the Gratitude Diary (thank goodness I can lie down now), and the sinks are shiny, shiny, so this morning I went a little further and put on lace-up shoes.

I think the Fly Lady's shoes would be cleaner (and probably shiny)
The Fly Lady is quite firm about this, and insists that you get up in the morning, get fully dressed, including Lacing Up Your Shoes, but I in my innocence and ignorance started Flying wearing ballet pumps. (They do have bows, permanently tied, and somehow I thought that I could get away with this.)

Have very High Hopes
But no, we Stay-at-Home Mummies (does running a business from home validate or invalidate this epithet?) have a nasty tendency to end up on the sofa if we can kick our shoes off easily, not to mention leaving said shoes lying around cluttering up the place . . . and yes, she's right, yesterday afternoon I suddenly found myself on the sofa, shoes on the floor, on the way to nodding off - and I wasn't even in the right Zone.

I had washed the mattress cover and patchwork quilts from our bed when I should really have been decluttering the sitting room where there are cupboards which have not seen the cold light of day in aeons (especially the yarn cupboard, which has to be approached under cover of darkness because it all has a nasty habit of tumbling out and revealing its excess when I dare to open the door).

Held together firmly
So it was lace-up shoes today, and my lovely Dottie Angel apron wrap to hold it all in - I have found that there is nothing like a nice pinny to make me feel domestically competent, but I am afraid that I peaked too early, in spite of Having High Hopes (no 1 on the list of Dottie Angel Dos) on the housework front.

Calming Dottie Angel traycloth and cookery book accessorized by food stains 
There is nothing like scrubbing down the B&B to bring on severe cravings for Tea and Cake, and so I rustled up some of the most delicious gingerbread you could imagine (for the children, of course), baked in the Aga, but it works just as well in other ovens.

Cake tin
This recipe goes back a long way - I won't tell you how many years but here are its beginnings in my school cookery book, or Domestic Science as it was termed - nothing creative about domesticity there, Being a Housewife was an Important Job (scientific rather than airy-fairy), and a full-time one at that (I am beginning to think that Being a Fly Lady is a full-time job as well, and am already looking forward to my next holiday).

Inspiring drawing of gingerbread
Please don't be put off by the fact that I only got a B+ for this - I have refined the original concept over many decades, and would draw your attention to the A I received for my macaroni cheese, which went into the Open Day Display (I think my drawing of the toast garnish is quite inspired, almost as inspired as my drawing of the gingerbread squares).

A very wonderful drawing of toast triangles
And what about my breakfast tray? There was no mucking about there, we girls were taught to warm the pot and put half a glace cherry on our grapefruits before laying up a tray to impress invalids and husbands as we tripped upstairs to give them breakfast in bed. And didn't it all come in handy for running a B&B?

Model breakfast tray for model housewife
So here is your recipe for lovely sticky gingerbread made in the Aga (or whatever cooker takes your fancy). Being so ancient, the quantities are imperial - I have given metric conversions but not tested them.

Delicious gingerbread

8 oz (225g) self-raising wholemeal flour
1 level teaspoon (tsp) bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp mixed spice
4 oz (110g) unsalted butter
2 oz (50g) dark muscovado sugar
4 oz (110g) black treacle
4 oz (110g) golden syrup
2 eggs
1/4 pint (150ml) milk

Shallow rectangular baking tin, preferably non-stick, approximate size 8in x 11in (20cm x 28cm) - can be a little bigger as this will just make shallower pieces of gingerbread - greased and base lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

Sift dry ingredients (flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and spice) into a large bowl and mix together, making a well in the centre.
Melt butter, sugar, treacle and syrup together gently in a saucepan - do not allow to boil or you will have toffee instead of gingerbread.
Pour the melted mixture into the centre of the dry ingredients and mix together gradually until smooth.
Beat the eggs into the milk and add to the mixture gradually, beating well as you go.
Pour the mixture into the tin (it is quite a wet mixture) and make sure the top is level.

In the Aga (two oven):  put the grid shelf on the floor of the top oven, and the plain shelf on the second set of runners, and sit the tin on the grid shelf. Turn once half way through.
Conventional ovens: 325F/gas 3-4/160-170C (fan ovens tend to need a lower temperature).

Cooking time: 35-40 mins. The gingerbread is ready when it is beginning to shrink from the sides of the tin, and the top springs back when pressed (in the centre) lightly with your finger .

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack. Cut into big pieces or small as your fancy (or greed) takes you when completely cool if you can wait that long.

Time for tea

My cookery book says serve hot for tea - yum!

Look how Pomona has become rotund with grief

[I must stop baking so much cake as the Ploughboy is heading back to university next week, and the General marches off to be a fresher this weekend. I shall become positively rotund with grief if I carry on like this; I thought sending off number two would be a piece of cake in itself, but as the fatal day approaches I feel my heartstrings a-quiver and the tears waiting in the wings . . .  Princess Bunchy and the Aged Ps will be all alone but for the dogs and the hens and the pigs and the spiders, oh so many spiders, the feather duster has been much in play.

Shoes that mean business and a faithful friend in adversity

She tightens her apron strings and marches firmly on into the future with High Hopes and tight-laced shoes.]

Monday, 26 September 2011

Time, tide and thrift

[If you are looking for the giveaway, click here.]

For the first weekend in some time I did no knitting or sewing (in spite of the fact that I hauled a big bag of yarn and needles down to Devon and back), but luckily I can show you a pretty picture for here is something I made earlier.

Yes, yet another another patchwork cushion because I seem to be on quite a roll thanks to the dear old Go! Baby, which has certainly revved up my productivity.

I am beginning to realize that the thought of all that cutting out was a barrier to creation, and now that by winding a little handle for a few seconds, wham! 32 triangles can appear as if by magic.

You may remember that I made the cushion above for my sofa a little while ago, and I felt that it needed a friend to cuddle up to. I did not want to use exactly the same pattern, but I did want to use the Go! Baby to do the cutting, and being a relative newbie to this sort of patchwork, I found this book from Search Press very helpful in giving me ideas as to what patterns I could make with my half-square and quarter-square triangles.

It is called Patchwork: 200 Questions Answered, by Jake Finch, and is a handy little companion, particularly useful to the novice patchworker, as it answers all those questions you need to know the answer to but don't know who to ask.

It shows you exactly how to piece a huge range of blocks, from the simple to the complex, and also covers the finishing of quilts, sashing, binding, etc. The only criticism that I have is that the book would be hugely improved if it had imperial as well as metric measurements - I know that officially the UK is metric, but most quilting in this country is done using inches, and in fact when I started out I could not have bought a metric cutting mat or ruler in my local shop even if I wanted one.

After some thought, I decided to do the centre of the cushion using my 4in finished size half-square triangle die, with a border of quarter-square triangles to link up with the first cushion, using red and aqua reproduction feed sack fabric. The Go! Baby really came into its own when after cutting out all my triangles and laying them out I changed my mind about the colour scheme - I was able to cut out another 20 quarter-square triangles in a trice. I know that if I had had to start again with the rulers late on a Saturday afternoon I would probably have given up!

But I won't waste the rejected colour, which you can see making up half of the back envelope - I have another cushion design planned for the triangles I cut from this fabric, which I think will involve some of Amy's My Happy Place fabric. (I have also found out that if you sign up with Accuquilt, not only can you download the free pattern books I mentioned before, but they also have a big selection of free patterns which can be downloaded direct from their store, which I have found a great source of ideas and inspiration.)

So two out of the three sofa cushions are now done - and now I will give you a handy little hint. These cushions are sitting on two 'thrifted' chairs: in fact, they were so thrifty that they were free, abandoned to their fate by their original owners. But before acquiring a chair, please do sit on it. And if it is not comfortable at first, then forget the proverb encouraging you to try, try and try again, however wonderfully shabby chic it looks.

I spotted the chair on the right outside a cottage that was being renovated one day a dozen years ago when I was out walking the lanes, when thrift, and vintage, and recycling weren't nearly so commonplace as they are now. The builders looked incredulous when I asked to take away the chair and highly amused as I lugged it off down the lane, so pleased with my find. They had obviously tried sitting on the thing which has bitten and harassed everyone who has sat on it since, however many cushions it is loaded with. A stream of polite guests have said, no, I'll be absolutely fine here, when the family have vainly offered to take the pain as they seat themselves all innocent and unknowing at the table.

But enough is enough. Twelve long years and I have finally come to the conclusion that as nothing is going to make that chair comfortable to sit on, why on earth do I give it house room? The Fly Lady says that you have to declutter as the first step in gaining Control over your domestic situation; I am going to pack that pesky seat bag and baggage out to the bonfire and consign it to the flames and will not pretend any longer that its looks can compensate for its vicious tendencies.

And I have the Fly Lady to thank for a relaxing weekend away. The Head Chef and I took our short break - many kind thanks to those of you who wanted to send us to Tuscany, Canada and the like, but with such a short time available we headed south-west to our spiritual home for a revivifying walk on the beach at Padstein and some invigorating cliffs and crashing waves at Hartland Point.

I was able to head off with a clear conscience thanks to my very shiny sinks and buffed-up bathrooms; the rest really did not seem so very bad, and even a tearful phone conversation from Princess Bunchy due to her having suffered a very serious sick feeling All Day which necessitated Leaving the Pool Early at swimming club, and multitudinous phone calls between the back door and Guildford, only caused me the slightest wobble. You will be glad to hear that the Ploughboy took her in hand and administered his fail-safe remedy for all ills: drink two pints of water (preferably followed by a hearty meal) and retire to bed early, and I just concentrated on thinking about the uplifting power of shiny sinks.

So here are some handy hints: if you want a nice holiday in Devon I can highly recommend The Old Granary at Leigh Farm in Hartland; two pints of water proved very efficacious in curing a sick Princess; sitting on chairs is a surefire way to tell if they are comfortable.

Now back to the fray: real life begins again with sinks to shine, a house to declutter, and Routines which promise much (not to mention a new pattern to try out, too). Which shall I start with . . . ?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Swish and shine: a giveaway

Having read about the transformative power of Lucy's engagement with the Fly Lady I felt quite inspired to take control of my own domestic situation. Unfortunately the Fly Lady does not do charitable home visits to those in need, so this is not a task that can be contracted out.

I am sure all of you domestic goddesses out there are sitting in neat and tidy kitchens and sitting rooms, uncluttered and totally up to date with your chores, which is why you can sit guilt-free wandering the hills and vales of Blogland.

Alas and alack, the same does not apply to poor Pomona, sitting in Clutter Cottage in a state of some misery and confusion. I was brought up in the cleanest and tidiest household you could imagine, and my dear mamma and sister are domestic paragons both; I love cleanliness and order, and everything spick and span, but somehow by the time I have achieved that in the B&B wing of the house, there seems to be somewhat of a falling off in our own personal domestic space, compounded by the fact that I would rather be knitting or stitching or writing or doing almost anything but housework. (And of course I do live with the messiest bunch of codependants in the known universe, bless their grubby cotton socks, she says in an effort to shift the blame onto someone else.)

Please avert your eyes from the messy bits - I couldn't crop them all out

So dear Readers I have signed up to the promise of domestic bliss, and at this very moment (Baby Step No 1) my sink is full of hot water and bleach, and I am about to start constructing a 'Control Journal' - Control (with a capital letter) is what I need in my life right now, it has a reassuringly firm ring to it. I am also sitting at my computer in an apron to emphasize the all-encompassing domestic routine which I am determined will Solve Everything.

And just in the nick of time, a very generous chap called Al McCavery asked me to choose two tea towels (or dish towels, or drying-up cloths, depending which language you speak) from his website to review. Well, you may say, how can you get excited about a tea towel? And I might have said the same thing, only the Fly Lady sets great store by them for imbuing your sink with the best sort of shine, and also when I visited the All Tea Towels website I was quite overcome with the impossibility of only choosing two. This is Tea Towel City (not to be confused with Smack Bottom City, just off whichever motorway you happen to be travelling on, and to be used as a threat for small children squabbling in the back of the car. Works a treat - no physical punishment necessary, just threaten to drop them off there if they carry on misbehaving. Remember to speak in an earnest but sorrowful voice, and elaborate with stories about government regulations if required).

Where was I? Oh yes, Tea Towel heaven: I have never seen so many tea towels gathered in one shop, and there is something for everyone from the traditional cats and botanicals to the retro, edgy, and absolutely hilarious (go on click that link and you will have a good laugh!) - in fact, this year I am going to do tea towels as stocking fillers for the men and boys as a gentle, but oh so amusing hint. Ha ha! And for those of you not from these shores, just go and look at the Rules of Cricket - it still makes me laugh even though that tea towel has been around for years. Those are exactly the rules of cricket, and it is the only team sport where I have the vaguest idea of what is happening.

I also think that these would make fun presents when you go to stay with someone - chocolate is so midriff-enhancing, and flowers so ephemeral; a nice jolly tea towel would certainly be something I would like to receive, and there is such a choice here that you could really tailor the gift to the person. (I'll have this one and this one please! Or if you are feeling more mature, then this would be very acceptable.)

Princess Bunchy was most taken with Keep Calm and Carry On, and I bowed to her judgement here, although I did insist that it stays in the kitchen rather than migrating upstairs to her bedroom wall. And I could not resist Where There's A Woman There's A Way (my capitals are very deliberate and assertive) and how could the chaps in my house disagree with that one? The latter is a large, good quality Ulster Weavers cloth, and the Keep Calm is also a real heavy duty cotton, large size - and I am pleased to note made in the UK.

Anyway I couldn't torture you with the joys of the tea towel without giving you a chance to experience them for yourself. Jolly old Al will send out two tea towels of choice to the winner of the giveaway - and I might even get the Head Chef to do the picking this time, as he is the biggest destroyer of kitchen cloths I have ever met, having the pro's habit of using them in lieu of oven gloves, pot holders and heatproof stands, and walking round with one draped over his shoulder at all times. (He is certainly not going to get his mitts on my new ones.)

So this is what you have to do:

1. Be a Follower.

2. Visit All Tea Towels here and tell me which two you would like if you win, then come back and tell me in your comment.

3. You get an extra entry for putting a button on your blog which links back to here - you are welcome to use one of my pictures for that purpose (right click and save to your computer to do that). Just remember to tell me that you have done so.

Open to all - anyone, anywhere with a postal service can enter, and I will do the draw next week - have fun choosing!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A bag of apples

The sun is shining, the washing machine is working, and I have finished making the sweetest little bag - there's three good things for you with very little effort.

I know it was raining earlier, but I can hang out the backlog of laundry now, thanks to the third Mr W M Repairman in a fortnight paying us a call this morning. Today's Mr W M Repairman was very young, very polite, did not shake his head or draw in his breath ominously, and didn't even trip the electricity while I was working on the computer. We definitely like him, and have great hopes that we can get more than two loads of laundry done before Mr W Machine gives up the ghost again.

I have been distracting myself from laundry griefs with a wonderful Keyka Lou pattern called a Belted Tote Bag. Working through some patterns might add to the stresses and strains of life, but not Michelle's - her instructions are definitely Pomona-proof, being very clear and copiously illustrated, and enabling me to produce a very fetching little appley bag. It has come out so well that I somehow feel that someone else must have made it when I was scrubbing the floors or making tea for Mr Repairman or preventing a most vicious Little Stranger from hurling herself and her teeth at the neck of Charlie the friendly neighbourhood labrador who makes a point of escaping from the confines of his garden on a regular basis to come and play mad games with his friend the Mad Dog.

But no, I really did make it - in some lovely Alexander Henry apple fabric, and lined with yellow Lake house Dry Goods fabric by Holly Holderman called Annie's Seed Catalogue - the only Annie's Farm Stand fabric that I have found on these shores so far. I love fabric with writing on, and was recently discussing with Isisjem the fact that I keep seeing wonderful projects using text fabric, but never seem to find it on sale  - although I have just seen that Amy from During Quiet Time has produced her own range, so maybe I might even get to be ahead of the curve for once, rather than trailing behind.

Having also seen Annie's post announcing that it is 100 days to Christmas and time to start making presents, I think that these bijou bags might be just the thing - depending on the fabric used they could be an ideal gift for a teenage girl, a knitting bag for a granny (no, I am not going to use this one for a knitting bag, well, maybe) or as a pretty eco shopping bag to carry around in your handbag so that you don't have to pay 1p to buy a plastic monstrosity.

Are you going to make your Christmas presents this year? If so, time to start now - you know if you leave it until November you will be a gibbering wreck by the time Christmas Eve arrives, and have to rush out as the shops shut to buy all the presents you so optimistically thought that you could make. Actually, I am sure you will be more efficient than that - as for me, I start off with good intentions, but by Christmas Eve I will be a gibbering wreck, . . . etc, etc.

So take it from me, just start making your Belted Totes now and come Yuletide you will be a very happy bunny.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Present joy

Pomona's cottage seems to be becoming a bit of a bloggers' retreat at the moment - not only did the lovely Barbara ramble along from her English garden for a little holiday last month, but also this weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Emma from Silverpebble and Mrs Thrifty Household when they came to stay in our B&B.

It was lovely to meet them both and sit about and chat while the Head Chef rustled up supper and generally slaved over a hot stove, but what was even more of a delight was the present that Emma brought for me. As you may well know, Emma makes the most beautiful jewellery, and funnily enough, just before she arrived I had been dropping broad hints to the Head Chef about the acceptability of some of her jewellery on the present front . . .

Actually, they were more than broad hints it was more like 'Emma who is coming to stay makes the most wonderful jewellery and if you would like to give me a present (no, maybe it was more definite than that, more next time you buy me a present (eg Christmas)) you could (no, ought) to look at her website. She makes it all herself, you know, and it is just so beautiful . . .'

The Head Chef just looked bemused, because for him presents are impulsive things - no, not even impulsive - a present is a stress purchase, and it's no good, I have tried sending him the links in emails so he just has to click on them, but he doesn't even have a Paypal account, so that cuts out Etsy. (But come to think of it, he did manage to find a pig trailer and order it online, and a man turned up with it the very next day, and I have never seen him so beside himself with glee . . .)

[The weekend before Christmas he will go into town to buy me a present under pressure from Princess Bunchy, and they might get some bits and bobs she likes from Cath Kidston because it is one of her favourite shops, and he will remember to get some bars of Green and Black's 70% dark chocolate from the supermarket because he likes having it in the fridge and I eat the odd square (except by Christmas I will probably be trying to cut down and go to the gym more to eradicate the winter midriff) and he will also buy me a bottle of Neal's Yard bubble bath, as he has done for the past I don't know how many years, and a bar of Neal's Yard soap for Princess Bunchy to give me (and I do like Neal's Yard, but a surprise would be nice, except the surprises are often not so good, and have to be taken back after Christmas, and I get consumed with guilt for being so ungrateful . . .). And how could I not enter into the spirit of things when last Christmas I was given the most expensive present I have ever received from the dear Head Chef - I am sure that I am an object of envy being the recipient of a Caframo Ecofan to sit on the top of the log burner and improve the warm air circulation in the house so that I will never again be chilly in winter, and that is why I didn't have the usual little bag of treats as who could want anything else when they have an Ecofan, and anyway it must be better to have one expensive must-have gift, rather than a quantity of cheap fun . . .]

So wistfully I went back to ironing the sheets and then blow me down with a feather, Emma arrived bearing the most wonderful present - one of her beautiful handmade necklaces with vintage beads, and a lovely little knitty badge, all packed up in a silver-tissue-lined birdie box. Christmas come early and even better, because Christmas could bring a log splitter or heaven knows what sort of exciting gadget (it may help you to know that the Head Chef's most treasured possession is his log pile, and I wasn't here this morning when he showed our two lovely guests around, but I would be surprised if it did not include the ceremonial viewing of the wood stacks). [And come to think of it, I bet you if I expressed a desire for a Denver boot to fit a trailer wheel, I would definitely get lucky.]

So if you want to see more lovely jewellery, go and visit Emma at Silverpebble (I especially like her new Nature collection), and for thrifty hints and tips Mrs Thrifty Household is the person to visit, especially if you want to see nasturtium seeds in a new light.

And if anyone out there wants to give me a nice gift for Christmas I could send you a link . . .  but for the present I am joyful.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Tea and cake

The fire has been lit for the first time this autumn, I can feel the days shortening and my feet getting colder. Hand knitted socks, cosy vests, patchwork quilts and a superfluity of hot water bottles beckon.

Time to harvest Bramley apples and make delicious apple muffins (you will find my very easy recipe for these here) in the Aga. This recipe is so healthy that I am sure that the muffins are positively slimming, and if you count in the time pruning and picking the Bramleys then I think that they might even have negative calories.

There is nothing like a plate heaped up with apple muffins to bring a smile to the faces of your nearest and dearest on a damp Sunday afternoon - why not whip up some right now? Twenty minutes to make and twenty minutes to bake, and lo and behold! it's time for tea.

Style notes: willow pattern tablecloth from a charity shop, Bramley apples from a tree in the garden, plate from aged relative.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Canine capers

Why it is that when it is picking winners time the weather always decides to take a turn for the worse?

Hmmm . . . 

Have I ever picked a winner when the sun shines, I ask myself, and has this summer been so bad because there have been so many jolly prizes to be had?

There's something in here that smells rather nice

So, as seems to have become the custom, I took the girlies in fur coats outside to help me in my task.

Well, if she will, then I will

They had fur coats, I had a cardi (cashmere, of course, but you can't see me, so I could be making it up), and I had a butter dish for one set of entries, and a little chicken bowl for the others.

It doesn't look like butter . . .

Mad Dog was the front runner and was into the chicken bowl in a trice; the Little Stranger needed some enticing but in the end showed far more in the way of tenacity, enthusiasm, and tossing little pieces of paper around. Teddy-Face was nowhere to be seen - presumably asleep by the Aga, and utterly unaware of the fun to be had in the garden.

Any more for any more?

And here we have the winners (luckily I took photos, as I had quite forgotten who was what by the time I had battled through the gales and was back in the house).

Cue fanfare number 1 - the winner of A Green Guide to Traditional Country Foods is:


And the winners of a copy of Organic Places to Stay are:

Summerfete, Noknittedknickers, and Nicky

So perhaps you lovelies (Pipany, Summerfete, Noknittedknickers, and Nicky) could email me with your addresses and your prizes will shortly be winging their way to you. And for those of you dears who were left on the lawn, commiserations to you, but I do have a couple more giveaways in the pipeline, one domestic and one constructive, so you have another chance to play very shortly.

The indignity of it all

And I am off to have a happy afternoon playing with my Go! Baby, a pile of fabric, and my free pattern book (if you want to join in the fun, you can sign up to download the patterns here). I have a baby present to make, but my cushion fetish is threatening to sidetrack my obligations . . .

Monday, 12 September 2011

Organic Holidays giveaway

Today I have another nice little giveaway for you as part of the Soil Association's Organic September initiative, but as is my wont I also have an inspiring little tale which is an encouragement to those hurtling towards the half century and feeling washed up on the shores of motherhood, gazing in a bemused fashion at our wrecks of CVs and wondering what on earth a middle- aged woman with a patchy employment history might do to earn a living.

Well, I have been talking to a lady called Linda Moss recently, and her tale stands as an inspiration to us all. (In fact, she has just been made an Eco Hero here.)

A dozen or so years ago she was looking for a place to stay for her holidays - she had been working for an organic veg box scheme and rather fancied going somewhere a bit eco-friendly which served organic food. She couldn't find anywhere, or even a website or directory to guide her, so she thought to herself, why not start one up?

Linda wasn't deterred by her lack of computing skills or lack of experience - she went to an evening class to learn how to use a computer, and just ploughed on ahead, setting up a website, Organic Holidays, now one of Times Online's Best Travel Sites, and publishing a book, Organic Places to Stay, which has gone into several editions, and won the People's Book Prize Award last year. Linda says modestly, 'If I can do it, anyone can.' I found her can-do attitude to inspiring, and a real antidote to that feeling of 'if only I could'. She shows that, actually, there is no need to write yourself off because of your age, or perceived lack of experience or ability - just get on and do things, be determined to follow your dreams and ideas, and you will get there in the end.

I first came across Linda when a friend with a lovely off-grid B&B recommended the Organic Places to Stay site as a great one for marketing small B&Bs of an eco-friendly turn, and so we joined up, but I have also gone on to find this website a really useful way to find special places for holidays and short breaks, as well as courses in all sorts of crafts and skills. It list both B&Bs and self catering cottages, and covers locations all around the world.

Linda has very kindly offered to give away three copies of her award-winning book to my lucky readers. Anyone can join in - and at the same time you can give me a little help, if you please, as I am in need of a bit of inspiration.

To enter the giveaway, just pop over to the Organic Holidays website here - and then come back and tell me in a comment where you think that I and the Head Chef should go on our long wished for holiday, somewhere nice where we can get a bit of peace and quiet, and also go on a few outings (easy-peasy!).

The giveaway will be open for one week - I'll give you an extra chance if you blog about it or link to it in your sidebar, but don't forget to tell me that you have.

I am looking forward to seeing where you think I should go on my holidays - a nice little end of summer season break would be just the thing!


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