Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lovely Lilacs

Last year when I arrived home from Friquet Garden Centre with what appeared to be two sticks in pots Mr Bee was more than a little unimpressed. When I told him that they cost £20 each his general demeanour was, well lets just say, it has taken him two years to really warm to the lilacs. He still refers to them as the dead sticks but he claims to like the flowers.

In their first year they produced a few leaves but no flowers. Gardening with English plants has been an incredibly steep learning curve for me; so I assumed that this was normal and that they would flower next year. Fortunately I was correct otherwise I would never be allowed to forget the non-flowering £40 worth of dead sticks; they would haunt me for the rest of my days - Mr Bee would see to it ;)

I have waited with baited breath for the two flower stems to start to open; when they finally did I was in for a little bit of a surprise. This is not the colour I was expecting. I chose a colour that was very light lilac, almost blue not a mid-purple with a white edge. It is planted in my pink, white and blue bed. It doesn't really matter I suppose as their flowering period is not that long so by the time all the rest of the pink, white and pale blue in this bed burst on to the scene the purple of my lilacs will have faded. Despite it being the wrong colour for my floral extravaganza I really do like it so it will not be removed (as I am prone to do on a whim). Alas my white lilac is yet to flower - let us hope it is not red and yellow polka dots!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My family - Bumble Bee Cottage Style

I am getting very tired of typing my son, my middle daughter, my youngest and my husband so I have decided to give them all 'names' ala Hen from Hen House.

I am going to refer to my son as B1, my daughter as B2 and my youngest child, also a girl, as B3. This is actually what their Dad calls them at home although he is making reference to the Bananas in Pyjamas (a TV show we were all too familiar with when B1 was younger).

I felt I should give my husband the choice of his 'name' so I made a few suggestions via email one day. His response has been edited to protect the innocent:

'Well Mr Bumble sounds like a bit of an idiot, Mr Buzzy sounds like some type of marital aid.

How about “Killer Bee” or “golden *******” or “my ************”.

Alternatively how about: “Mr Hortorum” which is the Latin name for the common garden bumble bee (with Mr in the front – obviously)?'

So after these more than helpful suggestions I settled on Mr Bee.

PS I actually edited his response as he was mortified that my Mum would read what he had written :))

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blossoms at their Best

I love the spring blossom show in Guernsey, probably because you are unable to grow these magnificent plants in Brisbane. It's far too hot for these delicate beauties.

The mass planting in this walled garden is spectacular. We were just lucky that the garden is below street level so we were able to have a little sneaky peek.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Traffic Guernsey Style

I always smile to myself when Guerns speak of traffic jams. It is true that in the morning, from about 8.45am, the traffic is banked up until 9.00am and the trip into town which normally would take 10 minutes takes 20 minutes. Most people start work at 9.00am, they leave home at the last possible minute so it seems that every person who works in St Peter Port is trying to park during a 15 minute mad panic each day; at least that is a outsider's perspective anyway.

This man lives not far from us. The most cars I have seen banked up behind him is six; they all wait patiently as the horse clip-clops along. He does not frequent the main roads usually and if you find him on one he is only making his way to a side road so you need not wait long for him to turn.

Horses are a common sight. Due to the size of Guernsey I always imagined that keeping a horse would be a rather expensive hobby; a limited number of paddocks you see.

This tractor is a medium to small one so driving behind or past one of these does not pose much of a problem, however when you encounter one of the large variety that is a different story all together. Their wheels are taller than our car and they do not slow down or move over so a fair bit of footpath stunt driving is required to get out of their way usually.

Please take note of the granite wall. When we first moved here and I refused to drive on the tiny roads (the one in this photo would rate as a medium sized road) for the first three weeks I lived in fear of those granite walls. It was not until the children started school and I saw how many cars in the car park had 'granite rash' that I felt a little less daunted. It is obviously not uncommon to have an altercation with one and sport the scars of the conflict. I have avoided any granite rash thus far although now I have said/typed that out loud I should be expecting some in the next week or so I expect!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Driving

We went out for a drive this afternoon, just for an hour or so. I know Guernsey is not large in land mass but there are so many little winding roads you could easily get lost (although you can always find the coast and drive around the outside of the Island ;).

Pink seems to be the colour at the moment. Sadly the blossom trees are already dropping their finery, although it does make the road look a little like fairy magic.
The hedgerows have sprung into a rainbow of colours; pink, blue, yellow, white, purple.

Alot of the Ruette Tranquille have high 'walls' like this which suddenly disappear at odd moments where someone has cut away a driveway or entry to the fields beyond. As you drive by you get a tantalising flash of the secrets behind the hedge.

Nothing really 'flashes' by as the speed limit is only 15 miles per hour on these snaking roads.

We haven't made it back to Bluebell Woods for our third visit. Life is so busy sometimes! We are planning to go next weekend and are hoping that we haven't missed them at their best.....again.

One car wide, two way street. People who live in the United Kingdom are probably used to roads such as these but in Australia we like our roads WIDE. Driving down these narrow adventure ways used to freak me out more than a little but amazingly they seem 'normal' to me now. Adjusting...isn't it great!

My husband is such a wonderful man. He is more than happy to drive around and screech to a halt (well not quite screech with sleeping poppets in the back) when required so I can get a photo of something interesting I have just spotted. He likes me blogging as he says it makes our lives seem more interesting somehow - reading my perspective of the days events or latest purchase ;P he says it makes him appreciate the little things more and actually reflect and take more notice of how we spend our days. It makes him slow down I suppose; something that is certainly hard to do sometimes.

Nature never ceases to amaze me (nor do people for that matter). Here are violets and primroses growing side by side, seeds just blown in on the breeze and a garden designed by an expert would have hard trouble replicating its beauty.

I adore primroses. They always remind me of my Dad. He loves to pick large bunches of them when he does his rambling walks in the Isle of Man, he is Manx you see. I love and miss you Dad. We can't wait to see you soon Love from all the Bumble Bee'rs

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pink Saturday - Maling

For Pink Saturday this week I have chosen to show my Maling rose vase and dish. The Maling factory opened in 1762 and closed its doors in 1963. You can read more on the history of Maling here.

I have admired Maling pottery for a number of years but would never dreamed of purchasing any in Australia due to the high price tags they command.

Since moving to Guernsey, however, and having access to UK Ebay and all its sellers, not just those who will post to Australia, I have been able to start a small collection for a reasonable price.

I love the iridescent glazes they used in their works. The rainbow effect allows them to be displayed with a larger variety of other coloured pieces; although to be honest I have these on my 'pink' shelf in my kitchen.

I have not done much research into this pattern as yet so I do not know how many shapes there are available. I have only seen two other styles so far, a small bowl and a jug, so my husband need not sweat bricks over being swamped by rosy rainbow pottery.

Thankyou for paying me a visit and thankyou to Beverly of How Sweet the Sound for once again hosting 'Pink Saturday'. Please go to her blog to see all the other pink people participating (I love a little alliteration in the morning ;P).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cheat's Vichyssoise

I am trying to start a new collection - recipes which are cheap, fast and tasty. This recipe is being added to it. I have looked at vichyssoise recipes before but making my own stock is something I never seem to get around to and I have tried making soup with bought stock before....lets just say it wasn't the best and leave it there. Recently I have found a liquid stock which is very tasty, all natural and leaves no yucky aftertaste so I decided to give ready-made stock soup another go.


2 medium onions
1.5 liters good quality chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
2kgs white potatoes (approximately)
2 large leeks
300mls cream

Fry the onions in a little butter and olive oil until they are 'sweated' (clear, soft and I like mine ever so slightly browned). Add the stock, black pepper, bay leaves, diced leeks and diced potatoes. Bring to the boil and then turn the temperature down to a simmer/slow and gentle bubble. Once the ingredients are all soft, about 40 minutes (this may take longer if you cut your potatoes in large chunks) blend the mixture until it is smooth (REMOVE THE BAY LEAVES FIRST - this may seem like stating the obvious but many moons ago I blended the bay leaves in! Everyone was very polite and ate it but I wouldn't recommended the flavour). A stab blender is great for this as there is alot less washing up. Stir in the cream just before serving. Serve with a crusty bread for dipping (my children's favourite part).

The original recipe calls for you to make your own stock with chicken bits, onions, peppercorns and bay leaves. Then strain the stock and add the leeks, potatoes and cream. I just thought I would include this if you are that way inclined.

This soup serves six adults and will keep in the fridge for about 2-3 days. It took me 10 minutes of chopping and stirring and then it was just a matter of waiting for it to cook. It was very tasty - I give this recipe a 8/10.

I would just like to thank Designs by Gollum for hosting Foodie Friday. Please go and have a look at the other bloggers who joined in there are some very tasty recipes to read.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crinoline cleaning

I bought this crinoline lady lidded dish at the Sausmerez Markets last Saturday from the Cheshire homes stall. The lady who runs it buys things at estate auctions and on-sells them for the charity. I paid £4.00. Not cheap, not expensive but cheaper than Ebay as there is no postage and the money goes to a worthy charity. My husband says he would never complain about my thrifting as it is not like I am off buying designer clothes and diamond rings every other day. I think he believes as long as it's a bargain and he is still able to fit through the door i.e. my collecting has not taken over the house, he's happy.

Take one grime covered crinoline lady,

liberally apply Morning Fresh washing-up liquid (please note the 'posh', as my friends call it, dispenser. I bet you never knew washing-up liquid could look so arty, see how it sparkles in the sunlight; I should run their next advertising campaign. I could play some of that music where a man speaks in French over the top of the melody and zoom in on the bottle, not telling the audience what-on-earth we are actually selling right until the end - what do you think? I know don't give up my day job ;).

Scrub with husband's old toothbrush, which has needed replacing for at least two weeks. When he goes to brush his teeth tonight he will ask where his toothbrush is and I will have to give him the bad news that I scrubbed some old manky bit of pottery with it and it is on the kitchen sink if he wants it or there is a new one in the cupboard.

Ta, da. Sparkly, fresh and grime-free lady, much prettier for a bit of TLC.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guilty as charged

The scene of the crime - please enlarge the photo for a clear view of the scene of the crime.
Hard evidence.
The guilty party. No, no don't deny it, we both know there is no point.

The punishment - daily brushing for ten minutes to minimised the spread of this infectious substance. It may be no use but we will try. Now it has infected our home the hairy symptoms will cover all who stand in its path.

It's a dangerous job but someone has got to do it; I will face the danger of being smooched to death with a brave heart.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Apple Blossom

The pear blossoms only lasted three weeks but this appears to have been enough time as the bees have been very busy and the branches are covered in baby pears. I actually had to thin the pears out last year as I was worried that the branches were going to snap under the weight of the fruit.

Fortunately the apple tree has taken over where the pear left off. Last year I pruned and fertilised the apple tree and it rewarded us with about three hundred fruit. Unfortunately most off them dropped off before they reached maturity and those that did grow to full size did not taste the best. We only have a small house plot 534m square (sorry, I don't know how to do the little number two above the 'm' :P) so space it at a premium. If the apple doesn't, by some miracle, taste better this year it will be coming out and a tastier variety will replace it.

The blossoms are lovely. The buds start out deep pink and then turn pure white as they age.

What a gorgeous day - Summer is in the air.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle - What an amazing woman

Well Done Susan Boyle! What a truly amazing and inspirational woman; you take that chance and run with it girl. Congratulations and best wishes from all of us at Bumble Bee Cottage.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mines Awareness Trust Heritage Beach Walk

I am writing the first part of this post before I head off on today’s charity walk so I can compare how I think it is going to go and how it actually goes. Today I am walking the Mines Awareness Trust’s Heritage Beach Walk. The walk starts at Pembroke Bay in the far north of Guernsey and ends at Portelet Bay,covering a distance of 12.5 miles or 20.1 kilometers. I will actually walk the west coast from top to bottom.

I googled what speed a person could walk in an hour and it seems to be an average of 3 miles which is about 4.8 kilometers. The walk starts at 9.00am so I hope to complete it before 1.00pm.

Our children are going to M’s house for the morning as my husband is going, with M’s husband, to school to help build some decking outside one of the classrooms. I had already planned to do the walk when the school asked for volunteers to help with the decking. M offered to have the kids so my husband could help as well. M already has two young children of her own so I think her morning is going to be an interesting one, fortunately she is trained in childcare so I think she will survive.

My emergency kit contains: headache tablets (in case a migraine strikes), suncream, mobile phone, lip balm, camera (of course!) and the solitary bandaid my husband managed to scrounge from the bottom of his work bag. I am wearing double socks, one rainbow stripes and one sports, so the theory is the socks will rub each other and leave my poor feet alone. I know I can complete the walk physically but whether my feet let me down is another matter entirely.

I am more than a little nervous about this morning; not because I don’t think I can finish it but because if I don’t I may not be able to complete the Itex walk in a few weeks time. My walking buddy for Itex, Clair, has already put in her entry form so I am commited to that walk either way – I just really want to be able to complete it.

I have never been what you would call fit, nor thin for that matter, but the three charity walks I am planning to do this summer are goals I have set myself. I never achieved anything ‘sporty’ so doing these walks is a challenge I plan to win.

I’ll write more after I arrive home this afternoon, wish me luck!


I set off at 8.30am with only two other walkers in front of me. We arrived early so the organisers said leaving before the 9.00am official start was fine. They gave me a map (thank goodness) and a list of emergency phone numbers to ring if I got into trouble along the way.

There is a walking path which covers the majority of the west coast but where you could we were supposed to walk on the beaches. We had instructions to avoid to specific beaches as the sea birds were breeding.

Early in the walk stopping to take a photo was enjoyable but as the walk went on each time I stopped I could feel the burning of my calves, the shooting pain in my tendons, the massive blisters on the soles of my feet!

I reached Portnifer and I didn't need to see the warning flags, or have the walk Marshall tell me, to know not to walk the coast path in this area. The gun club were in residence. The booming of each shoot could be heard for about a twenty minute stretch of the walk. They shoot 'clay pigeon' which are shot out over the ocean.

Sometimes there were stairs;

sometimes there was seaweed and wet shoes;

sometimes there were rocks;

sometimes there was sand (at least they didn't want us to get lost).

There was lovely scenery to look at as I walked along. I borrowed my husband's ipod and got to listen to:

1. Newton Falkner: Hand built by Robots
2. The Script: The Script
3. X-Gen compilation
4. Best of Salt N Pepper
5. Rhiannon: Good Girl Gone Bad

When you time the walk by albums listened to it doesn't sound that bad, does it?

The signs worked. All the drivers took notice of the sign and gave the walkers plenty of space.

I cam to Lihou Island and had been walking for three hours by this stage. I had stopped for a toilet break at Port Soif and as a result been overtaken by three other walkers - I never caught them up. I was passed by one other man who was about 6foot5inches and how I wished my stride was that big. He covered so much ground with each step that he disappeared into the distance in no time. I met a Marshall where this photo was taken and she gave me the 'good' news that the walk did not follow the road here but that we had to go up a hill and follow the coastline!!!! Who put a "£$%^&* hill there, I ask you!

I could see the Imperial Hotel in the distance and could imagine the finish line there waiting for me. I had set myself the goal of finishing the walk in under four hours. I had 50 minutes left. I put Rhiannon's upbeat music on the old ipod, increased my pace a best I could and went for it.

12.5 miles/20.1 kilometers in three hours and forty-five minutes - yeah!!!

I even received a medal. The kids were very impressed.

Has this made me nervous about the Itex walk. Hell, yes! The injury tally: two blisters the size of fifty cent pieces (Aussie sized) on the pad of each foot, one bleeding toe, a limp, nausea for the final 200 meters and for two hours after the completion of the walk, swollen toes, swollen fingers, pure exhaustion.

Am I going to still try to complete the Itex walk - Yes. I know it will be three and a half times longer than this walk but I have to give it a go. I think I need to do more training!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pink Saturday - Rose Vases

Beverly at How Sweet the Sound is hosting 'Pink Saturday', so if you love all things pink pop over and have a look. Last week was the first time I participated and I was amazed to be one of 148 bloggers who did.

Here are my pink contributions this week. I found this pair of vases at the Sausmarez Markets last year. One of the charity shops holds a stall each week and you can find all manner of eye-catching (well my eye-catching anyway) lovelies.

They are not any expensive or rare antique; they are a little stained but they look pretty next to all my other pink items which I keep confined to a shelf in my kitchen so as not to overwhelm my husband with 'froofiness'.

I hope you have a lovely Saturday.
I can't work out how to post-date a post publication so I'll have to settle on a Friday post for 'Pink Saturday' this week and will try again next week.