Tuesday, June 30, 2009


We have finally defeated the caterpillar plague! Last year every leaf was stripped from our newly planted gooseberry bushes. This year we were ready; on the first sign of leaf munching the whole family was out to inspect the three precious plants for caterpillars. Once you get your 'eye in' they are quite easy to spot. We placed them on the wooden edge of the vegie beds and then sent the kids off to play. Mr Bee made it quick (when the children weren't looking) with his size 10 boot and thus we have a bumper crop.

My Dad is very pleased to say the least; they are his favourite fruit.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Still Romantic after 19 years...

Mr Bee cycles to work each day, rain, hail or shine (although not in the snow we had in February). He is a kind and considerate type but sometimes the day to day of family life gets in the way of the romance. He arrived home tonight to find me bathing the little B's. He lugged his backpack upstairs and from it produced the most gorgeous roses.

He knows me so well as he had another little gift carefully tucked away in his backpack.....

............rhubarb. It was being given away on a hedge vege along one of the lanes on his ride home. The supplier of the free plants even had a sign up advising to plant the little plants 1 metre apart.

Roses and rhubarb; how I love that man.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Mermaids live in my bath; how about you?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm going to be on the Radio!

My sister listens to 612 ABC Radio in Brisbane and on Friday mornings they do a weekly segment called 'Beyond Our Backyard'. The segment is basically an interview with an expat in which they are asked about where they now live, what it is like and why they live there.

My sister off-handedly told me one day that she had sent them an email about me and lo and behold a few days later an email arrived for me from the station.

I took a few days to answer the email as I was a bit undecided about doing the interview. I studied Radio Journalism at University and failed the course as I did not have a 'radio voice' so I'm a bit nervous that not only will I securely place both feet in my mouth but that I will sound like fingernails on a blackboard to boot.

In the end I thought I might as well give it a go; surely I can't embarrass myself too much in ten minutes!

I will be prerecording the interview on Thursday 9th July (Guernsey time) and it will be on air on Friday 10th July. It will be on at 10.30am (Brisbane time). I won't be able to listen to it 'live' so they are kindly sending me a CD of the interview.

I just thought I'd let all my Aussie connections know now so they can listen if they would like to.

I hope I don't sound like a dork!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Six Unimportant Things I Love.

I have taken up Diane from Heart Shaped’s ‘Six Unimportant Things I Love’ challenge. Well to be completely fair it is not really a challenge but it does sound far more dramatic that way especially if you imagine that angry red-haired lady from the Weakest Link saying it. So here we go, a list of six unimportant things I love:

My morning coffee

I have two cups of coffee each and every morning with my husband before we get started on the hurdy gurdy that is our day. If he is leaving for business on the Guernsey Red-eye i.e. the 7.00am flight we get up earlier than usual just so we have a chat and coffee before he goes. We have a grinder so we use whole coffee beans and grind them daily for the freshest possible coffee. We do have a most beautiful coffee machine; my husband’s other woman, and she’s a scarlet one too, but sadly she is broken so we are making do with our trusty plunger at the moment. Our coffee percolator is far too noisy at 5.00am and we would end up with three little visitors so the serenely quite plunger does the job until I get around to fixing the beloved espresso beast. We were given the beast by my Uncle Jonny and Aunty Vicky. I believe that the story goes: my uncle was owed some money by a business that was in trouble so he was offered this machine, together with the fabulous coffee grinder, as part of the payment. It graced my uncle and aunt's bench top for many years and was much coveted by the extend family until one day he decided to upgrade to a bigger machine. I don't think you could truly imagine my surprise when it was offered to us, however my surprise was nothing compared to the wooops of joy coming from Mr Bee - he loves that machine.


I absolutely love to garden. In our first year in Guernsey, before I had acclimatised, I even gardened in 7*C in a beanie, gloves and a scarf in the fog! Sad but true. I love pouring over gardening books and planning out what plants I’m going to use where. Mr Bee calls it ‘plotting’ rather than planning and he always claims that it means more work for him but I know he secretly loves it. He has become a convert himself as he grew 45 red geraniums for our front wall from seed in the glasshouse this year and umpteen vegetables and herbs. Whenever we move house it always costs us a lot in the garden as I have a rather scorched earth approach to gardening and few plants survive my garden reorganisation. I can’t help it I just have very particular ideas about how our garden should look and anything which doesn’t fit in that plan goes to God.

This is my 'dry' garden i.e. it gets watered infrequently and has some of the worst sandy soil on our house plot.
I know the flowers are not quite in focus but I'm a sucker for a hovering Bumble Bee shot, they are after all our namesake.

The pumpkin vine which self-seeded from our homegrown compost is going well. It is one of those very large varieties used for Jack-O-Lanterns. Our Halloween Jack-O-Lantern lives again!

I have been known to play Christmas Carols as early as October and even put our Christmas tree up in early November; that said I always take it down on Boxing Day. It is the build-up I love, the Christmas Carols, the Christmas cooking, the Christmas shopping for family and friends, spending time together, having friends and family over for drinks and nibbles, the kids helping to decorate the tree, well pretty much anything Christmas related I’m there. We have two 120litre plastic tubs and one 40litre plastic tub solely dedicated to the storage of Christmas decorations (280 litres of Christmassy goodness of the non-alcoholic variety), this does not include the tree or my Dad’s candle powered Christmas Nativity (the heat from the candles spins a propeller on the top and this makes a scene of the Nativity spin around – it really is just magical when all the lights are turned off). I love Christmas so much I have asked for a second Christmas tree for my Christmas present this year. I have a traditional red and gold tree, coupled with various lovely handmade Christmas decorations my children have given me, in the lounge room (my friends here in Guernsey think this phrase is hilarious and tease me about it. They always ask if I am talking about what is in there or what we do. I tell them both, there is a lounge suite and it is in a room and if they so choose they are most welcome to ‘lounge’ upon it, hence Lounge Room, fairly straight forward don’t you agree!). I would like a girly pink, blue and white tree in the kitchen and at last after 10 years of asking for another Christmas tree Mr Bee has finally given in. What home is truly complete without a Kitchen Christmas Tree.


I am a hoarder, make that serious collector, since childhood. Over the last few years there has been absolutely no spare cash for anything other than looking and that is fine as I am a professional window shopper too and can get just as much satisfaction from a day browsing and coffeeing as the actual buying. This was before we moved to Guernsey and I was introduced to UK Ebay. Whooo Baby! Some good stuff there I can tell you. While Mr Bee has not complained (as I never spend more that £15 including postage, on most items) he did ask the other day if I was going to collect anything else. He looked somewhat relieved when I answered ‘No’ as I feel I have more than enough collections now and will only buy the odd piece here and there if I absolutely have to have it. Now how often can that be …..right. If we ever move back to Australia Mr Bee has said he will have a shipping container containing a Porsche and I will have a shipping container full of china; it seems quite fair to me. (Please refer to my sidebar for links to my collections).


I love to cook and have done for most of my adult life. I was always in awe of those people who can just whip something up out of the cupboard with no plan or recipe. As I have gotten older I now realise that this is just practice and that if you take a little time to read a few recipe books, especially all those little hints which you will often find in the front, you can build up a very useful culinary knowledge. Such as: What is the difference between cilantro and coriander? Nothing it is the same plant. Be very, very careful how you use gelatine in your cooking or you will end up with disgusting approximations of elephant boogers. Puff pastry and filo pastry are NOT interchangeable, believe me I know. Writing this has prompted me to count my cookbooks; 95, is that a lot?

Country Magazines

I know I have a problem; I have it admit this as it is the first step to recovery they say. In Australia I used to buy Australian Country Style but when we moved to Guernsey I discovered the joy of Country Living and Country Homes; such lovely photos to oooh and aaaah over, good recipes, fabulous holiday ideas and quirky and interesting stories. Recently I have also discovered the joy of Period Living. I sincerely hope I find nothing else to add to my monthly magazine haul. I have even gone as far as to purchase old magazines from seller on Ebay; I especially love the Christmas ones.

So there you have it a little bit of a peak into the workings of the mind of a woman who once thought the words to the Bruce Springsteen song ‘Brilliant Disguise’ was actually a ‘Bridge in Disguise’; and I honestly could not understand why anyone would write a song about such a bizarre subject. Well come on now the man clearly need elocution lessons!

PS I feel I must apologise for my lack lustre photography as I am still battling the dreaded lurgy but I thought blogging might take my mind of the feeling my face is possibly going to explode from sinus pressure. It has worked....blogging and a glass of champagne with my Dad that is.

Have a great evening :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flowers from my Garden

I bought this vase when I was Op Shopping two weeks ago. It cost the exorbitant amount of £1.00. It is a little crazed and a bit stained but it is still water tight and it had its flower wire intact. You know what I mean; that piece of wire that fits inside old vases and holds the flowers in place.

Anyhoo I felt it was time to breathe a little life into it and fill it with a few blooms from our cottage garden. It was £1.00 well spent.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Belated Father's Day

I have a cold and it's a stinker; using a term such as 'stinker' to describe a cold suggests I have gone native a little more than I may like to admit. The above photo is dodgy in the extreme but it is the best of a bad bunch so there it is.

Mr Bee received some new whiz bang headphones for the beloved ipod and a chocolate beer. What more could a man ask for really than a large chocolate beer? My Dad arrived on Sunday so his timing was excellent and he was also gifted with a beer and three pairs of 1000 mile socks; I absolutely love those socks since the Itex walk. I know socks may be viewed as a gift to an old man but don't worry there are no hankies to follow as my Dad is far from old and goes on regular walking holidays, hence the socks. He walked 750 kilometres in France last year walking part of the Way of St Jacques.

Happy Father's Day Mr Bee and Dad we hope you enjoyed your pork roast love from all the Bumble Bee'rs. XXX OOO

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spiced Apple Muffins

It's Foodie Friday so once again thankyou to Designs by Gollum for hosting it.

I love to make muffins with the kids; they are very easy, fast to mix up and equally fast to cook. I find muffins are a little more forgiving than some other 'cakes' recipes so long as you follow a few simple rules. So here they are for your baking pleasure:

* Always sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix them around a bit with a fork as this adds a bit of air to the mixture and seems to make a lighter muffin. Basically it is very important that the dry ingredients are well combined.

* Mix all the wet/liquid ingredients together in a separate bowl before pouring them into the dry ingredients.

* This is the vital muffin tips so please take notice : FOLD THE WET AND DRY INGREDIENTS TOGETHER WITH AS LITTLE MIXING AS POSSIBLE. To mix a muffin scrap down the sides of your bowl and start to mix by bringing the spoon/spatula up through the mixture rather than in the normal round and round mixing motion as for other cakes. Repeat this process until there are no more dry pockets of flour. STOP MIXING NOW. Please oh please do not give it one more beat for good luck or you will destroy all your careful mixing work.

* Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans/patty cases and do not let it 'plop' off the spoon or you will knock some of your hard earned aeration out.

* Please do not smooth down the top of the muffin mixture or once again you run the risk of loss of the air in the mixture. A knobbly looking muffin is a light muffin.

Spiced Apple Muffins

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cups fine rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar (press it into the cup measure to be sure you add the full 3/4 cup amount)
2 teaspoons of mixed spice
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt

75 grams butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup raw grated apple (press it into the cup measure to be sure you add the full 1 cup )
3/4 to 1 cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 200*C. Sieve all the dry ingredients together, including the brown sugar (which I guarantee will be a pain in the backside, but it is worth doing) into a bowl. Here's a quick question, why do recipe books always ask you to place the ingredients into a 'mixing bowl' surely if you have chosen a bowl and place you ingredients in it to be mixed all bowls could be considered a mixing bowl by definition; I mean you are hardly going to place it on a plate, in a cup or in the toilet bowl for that matter are you! You do not need a 'special' bowl only used for mixing now do you; if you are anything like me I already have far too much junk in my house to be owning a specific bowl for mixing that is used for nothing else....sorry enough baking ranting, on with the recipe. Gently melt the butter and allow it to cool as you are going to mix it with all the other wet ingredients as this recipe does NOT call for scrambled eggs.

Mix all you wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, including the grated apple but hold 1/4 cup of milk back as if your apples were particularly juicy you may not wish to add the extra 1/4 cup of milk. You will only be able to work if you require the extra liquid once you start to mix. Now mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together following the technique listed above. Place the mixture in your muffin tray (silicone is very good for muffins as they can be quite sticky and tricky to get out of a greased metal muffin tray) and bake for 12-15 minutes.

Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling and enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Day of the Trifids

I'm glad I rescued our visiting aliens from Mr Bee and his trusty axe. The triffids have grown, rather alot actually, and the first few buds have burst open.

There have been no strange lights in the sky and the Triffids have not developed large, lashing tongues so I imagine we are safe.....for now. As the buds started to split you could see the promise of the pink petals that were to come.

Fortunately these poppies, as that is what I think they are (however if you know their actual name please let me know), are pink which has worked out surprisingly well as they are in my Cherub garden where the colour scheme is pink, pale blue and white.

I couldn't have wished for nicer free plants. Mr Bee has even admitted he is glad he didn't pull them out before he knew what they were.

The best part is that there are ten or more plants with nearly ten buds on each so I am looking forward to a fabulous pink, frothy, frilly Summer display.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nudy, Rudy Cupcakes

I went to my first Anne Sommers' party on Saturday night. Well that was certainly an eye opener! My friend, M, made these cakes to take along; apparently there were some she made that she decided against bringing as they were a little TOO risky.

WARNING: If you are easily offended by icing obscenities look away now.

I think she did a fabulous job. They certainly matched the vibe of the evening's events.

I managed to drink most of a bottle of champagne and one and a half serves of Peach Schnapps jelly and still felt fine enough to walk home. I was informed on Monday morning that I need up the anty and try some true Guern alcoholic consumption; most people drank one and a half to two bottles each during the course of the evening. I think I might have been ill before I reached my required quota; hardened Aussie drinkers could learn a thing or two over here!

I was not concerned about wandering the Guernsey streets at twelve o'clock at night as I was part of the PTA posse. This consisted of about nine loud and somewhat stumbly PTA Mum's who had not been out without children for sometime.

It was not actually a PTA function; I somehow don't think it would really be a suitable thing to associate with a primary school. It was just that most of the PTA were invited. M was actually asked on Monday at school by a Mum, who lived near the hostess, if it was a PTA function; she was swift to deny any PTA links just in case complaints were made about drunken mobs of noisy women roaming the neighbourhood in the wee hours.

I think perhaps the Street Gangs (not that there is such a thing in Guernsey) should beware!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A House of Dreams

If we were going to stay in Guernsey forever this is the house I would love to own.

You can tell you are close when the rabid flock of hungry chickens come charging at full speed out of the front gate to greet any possible source of food - B2 and B3 thought the this meant them and they stuck very close to us as we walked past. B1 thought they might like to sample his apple core and he was correct; it was like a swarm of feathered piranhas. Yes, I am aware that piranhas don't swarm, they school but they don't have feathers either - I was just suffering from a 'Bernard' moment (please refer to Yes Minister or Yes Prime Minister for clarifications of bizarre Bernard reference. Thankyou, this has been a community service announcement.)

We found this Guernsey Farmhouse down one of the lanes near the Reservoir on the boarder of the Castel and St Saviour parishes.

A house like this would be a lifelong commitment after the completion of which I think we may well be commitable.

There are truck loads of unidentifiable 'stuff' to clear and goodness knows how long it has been there.
But, ooohh, what a house. It has an attached barn and walled front garden. With alot of work and an awful lot of money it could be just spectacular.

I think it may actually be working farm and whilst I day-dream about being a small holder, a actual farm is more than a little beyond my level of day-dreaming enthusiasm.

So there you have it 'Bumble Bee Farm'; except I imagine we would end up living a like that couple in the Good Life or perhaps Ma and Pa Kettle. Just as well it's just a dream really, I have trouble keeping up with things at Bumble Bee Cottage as it is!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Foodie Friday - Gingernut biscuits

Foodie Friday has managed to drag me back in front of the computer screen. We have had guests from Australia for a week and then Mr Bee headed off to Luxembourg for business so I have been moping about the place after a house full of people and noise down to just me and the little Bs; not that they aren't capable of making more than enough noise.

Thankyou once again to Designs by Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday. I look forward to participating and checking out everybody's recipes.


2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground ginger (I like my gingernuts 'hot' so I always add one more teaspoon for good luck)
1 cup of caster sugar (I don't like these biscuits too sweet so I usually add 3/4 cup of sugar instead of the whole cup)
125g softened butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon golden syrup - I add 1 tablespoon as it gives the biscuits a more caramelly (is that even a word?) flavour

Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then rub in the soft butter. If you leave the butter out overnight (provided you are not in a Queensland Summer or it will swiftly turn to a yellow puddle on your bench) it will make rubbing the butter in much faster. Stir in the egg and the golden syrup and mix well. I like to take the mix out of the bowl at this point and knead it. By kneading the dough the biscuit seem to cook better and 'crunch-up' well; I'm sure some cheffy type could tell you the why and how of this all I know is that it seems to work. Roll teaspoon of the mix into a ball in your hand and flatten slightly with a fork. Fifteen biscuits should fit comfortably on a large baking try i.e. the biggest one that will fit in your oven - I'm too lazy to go and find the tape measure and measure my tray :) Bake in a 160 *C/325 *F/ Gas Mark 3 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Do set a timer as they tend to over brown quite quickly. Cool the gingernuts on the tray. This should make about 45-50 biscuits; they keep well in an airtight container.

I made a double batch on the last half term holidays and B1, B2 and B3 managed to eat the lot on three days; oh they would have disappeared faster had I not hidden them ;)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Itex Walk 2009

When I heard about the Itex Walk last year I decided to give it a try. It is basically a walk around the coastline of Guernsey, up and down all the cliffs, all 40 miles/64 kilometres of it. My friend Clair agreed to come with me, thank goodness.

We picked up Clair at 4.30am and after we checked in at the White Heart pub in town we hit the road by 4.55am. I did take my camera but for the first two hours of the walk I couldn't stop to take a photo as the cliff path is only one person wide and there was a long winding snake of walkers in front and behind me and I couldn't hold up the traffic.

By our second check point at Petit Bot I left my bag with the bag van which transported walkers bags from checkpoint to checkpoint for them as I realised I needed to carry as little as possible. As a result the only photo I took was of the contents of my bag at 4.05am before we left.

This walk was THE hardest thing I have ever done in my life; it was harder than child birth (and I do not say that easily as I have had three children) as there was not any hard drugs on hand that could take away the pain. The largest flight of stairs during the walk was at Saint's Bay. Clair counted the steps, 293 in a row. She said she may have lost count somewhere in the middle but that only meant there were actually more steps that this! During the walk the flights of stairs vary, some are only a handful, some are a few hundred, all of them were extremely difficult as none of the stairs are even. Within the same flight of stairs some were a normal step apart while others were three or four steps apart, some were normal height whilst others required you to lift you knee up and push on the top of your leg with your hand to hoist yourself up them; so you never really got into a rhythm.

There were all types of walkers. The youngest I saw looked about twelve and Clair had been told of a friend's 73 year old Grandfather who has walked it every year. There were groups of teenagers with sweat bands and coloured zinc striped across their cheeks (I called them the 'Sweat Band Gang', hey it passed the time). There was some crazy person in a business suit and a truly massive black Afro wig. There was a group of guys with a backpack with speakers hanging off the sides who regaled us with the Star Wars theme as they passed; although one of the other walkers did request Chariots of Fire from them at one point. Then there were the super serious walkers with their Camelback water carriers, those springy walking sticks and a determined look in their eye. Some people were obviously using it as a training exercise for other things as there were quite a few walkers who sported enormous back packs which towered over their heads and reached down past their bottom cheeks; trekking in the Himalayas perhaps? It was a mixed bag but the people watching helped me forget about the pain in my legs for a while.

I had sprained my ankle quite badly two weeks before the walk and it was still a swollen around my ankle bone so I found myself favouring that leg during the walk as I was worried that it may make me trip down or up the stairs as it was still weak. As a result of my favouring that leg I did something very, very bad to the tendon in my opposite groin and knee. By the time we reached our third checkpoint at Portelet Slip in Pleinmont I couldn't swing my leg forward to take a step properly so I had to call it a day. I felt so dreadful as I was the one who had talked Clair into doing the walk in the first place and then I abandoned her half way through. Her brother was ahead of us and he waited for her and they finished the walk together, so I am relieved that at least she had a friendly face to walk the rest of the way with.

My amazing friend, Clair, managed to keep going to another six hours and finished the walk. WELL DONE CLAIR! She walk 40 miles in 13 hours and five minutes. Just Fabulous; of course I am very jealous ;)

I finished all the cliff section of the walk, 17.8 miles/28.4 kilometres, in 7 hours and 5 minutes. I feel very disappointed that I didn't finish and over the rest of the weekend I told Mr Bee that I would do the walk again next year but start at the Pleinmont checkpoint and walk the remaining 22.2 miles but now it's a bright and somewhat sunny Monday morning I am feeling far more optimistic and I think I'll give it another go from the start. I have recovered fairly speedily and my magic double skinned walking socks and the miraculous Compeed antiblister band aids have meant that my feet are in reasonably good condition. You only live once and I would really like to have achieved the challenge for myself during my life. I have twelve months to work on my flexibility, thighs and calves at the gym and I will certainly walk the cliffs a few more times during the year in training. Look out Itex 2010 here I come!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The kitchen garden report

The apples are admirable;

the peas are perfect;

the lettuce are lovely,

and leafy and lush;

the gooseberries are gorgeous;

but the beetroot are bad and the parsnip pathetic.
The stray carrot is a curiosity.
Oh well, you can't have everything!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dahlias at Sausmerez Park

I don't really have much to say; I just thought I would share the first dahlias of the season with you :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chocolate cake for the Mr Bee's Office

I had been promising Mr Bee for weeks that I would bake something for him to take into morning tea. So here it is.......ta da!

I used my old faithfully fool proof chocolate cake recipe and put it in the fridge when it was still warm to get that fudgy consistency.

It is sometimes difficult to get a wide selection of particular ingredients in Guernsey so when I see them I snap them up. I did so a few months ago when I saw chocolate cake decorations/sprinkles. It cam in a round container which was divided into quarters, each quarter held a different type of shakable chocolate cake decorations. I had baked a triple batch of cake mixture, as there are about 30 people in the office. I had iced it with chocolate and vanilla icing and then I went to the cupboard for the chocolate decorations.

I know it is my fault, I freely admit this. I have a habit of moving furniture and other household items around. Until a few weeks ago the cake decorations had been out of sight in a side cupboard into which Mr Bee had no reason to venture. Now they were housed in the same cupboard as the breakfast cereal; apparently they had been 'calling' to Mr Bee. When I was out at my last PTA meeting he was scouring the house for a bit of chocolaty something but his search was in vain; that was until his beady little eyes fell upon MY cake decorations. He said that he only did a few 'shots' and tried to be even from each of the four varieties but alas some where tastier than others. I did manage to scrounge together a few sprinkles for the cake. I feel I am now a little older and wiser and will hide any future cake decoration purchases in the laundry, but that is just between me and you ;)