Thursday 25 September 2008

A Feast, some foraging and a little fame...

Well.. life is never dull.. that is for sure..and after a stretched Birthday celebration and a fairly manic week so far.. I am ready for the calm oasis of next weekend..
I have much to tell you so I would like to start with my Birthday feast that was lovingly created by Mr Custard, as promised. After barricading himself in the kitchen for two hours I was summoned, along with our friends to sample the culinary delights of his repertoire..
Here is the menu..
It was truly truly scrumptious and all four courses were consumed with great relish !
It is a small miracle that I managed to save a corner for some of these .. Not one .. but two .. Birthday cakes.. made by some of my dear friends. I think word has got out that I am rather partial to a slice or three!...
I even managed to keep my eyelids propped open until the witching hour of 1.30 a.m.. I can't remember the last time I stayed up so late.. so bed was most welcoming and I was soon tucked in to a wonderful slumber.. dreaming of cake funnily enough and eating candles..!!
Sunday.. saw me fit for very little other than a fleeting visit to our local car booty and I gentle stroll around one of my favourite hidden valleys of Bath.. St Catherine's Valley...This idyllic, rural corner of England is placed on the southern edge of the Cotswolds and is amazingly only 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle and smog of Bath..but another world away.
It was just the pick me up I needed to clear my tired and foggy mind and burn off some of the recent cake consumption ... It felt so good to walk along the sun soaked lanes and breathe in some fresh air and gaze upon the sublime hills of this very pretty valley. There were treasures to be found around every corner.. from conkers, to pine cones, hazelnuts and these tasty jewels...I managed to pick a small bag full and squeezed two pots of jam out of them.. my first ever attempt at jam making... most satisfactory! It set for a start and tasted wonderful on toast in the morning..
Some years another life.. I came to some parties here.. hosted by Jane Seymour the actress who owned this magnificent house called St Catherine's Court an Elizabethan Grade I listed manor
It is possible to visit the lovely little chapel within the grounds but the house itself is not open to the public..

I enjoyed every minute of our walk along this lane and after some successful foraging it was home for a siesta... No stamina any more!

Well.. my moment of fame arrived yesterday when Jayne came for coffee and arrived brandishing a copy of the BBC Homes & Antiques magazine that contains our article about the Vintage & Handmade Fair. I must confess that I opened the magazine with a mixture of apprehension and great excitement. Jayne and I have been waiting since August when we were interviewed in my kitchen by Natasha..and I really couldn't remember much of the day other than the jangling nerves...
It was well worth the wait and now we are finally having our fifteen minutes..or fifteen paragraphs.. of fame.
So here is a sneak preview before the magazine goes on sale October 1st ..or for you lucky ones who subscribe to the magazine you can read all about it now!

It will be fantastic publicity for our humble little fair.. and we have already received requests for the next one.. so watch this space!

Saturday 20 September 2008

The day after the day after....

My birthday was a perfect day of understated fun and a great deal of happiness and just a slight indulgence of cake..!!
Other than the gorgeous gifts that I shared with you on my Birthday the greatest gift of all.. truly.. was from my friends.. virtual and real and those in-between... I hope that makes sense..?
I received so much love and goodwill from many of you and that really made my day so special.. so thank you, thank you for your company and kindness....
For all my reservations and sheer anxiety about reaching my heady age... I am loving it up here!!
I have been in a kind of gentle euphoria for the last three days.. a peace has descended and I feel much at ease with the world.. I think this excellent weather has had something to do with it, a few glasses of the bubbly kind too.. you could say that 'My cup brimmeth over!'
Life got even better this morning on a very belated trip to my local flea market.. Not having visited for some weeks due to the wash out summer we have had and the dwindling pennies in my purse.. I took myself off with birthday cash burning a hole in my pocket and mingled amongst the Saturday shoppers.. to find some real treasures.. to me at least. This is the kind of thing that lights up my tree...

A darling little 1950's (?) card game in it's box and in mint condition.. I just adore the graphics of this era..

I am not sure whether I can bear to part with this so it will probably stay in the Cowboys & Custard museum.. a.k.a My home!
Tonight, Mr Custard is cooking up a surprise supper to celebrate my birthday with some good friends.. As I am banished from the kitchen... all I know is that it is most certainly without meat as our friends are both vegetarian. As Mr C is a devout caveman carnivore.. this is no mean feat and a great sacrifice! I will let you know how it goes... I think he had delusions of greatness after watching Masterchef for the last few weeks..

I am ravenous and will eat cake if needs be!

Before I slip away to be wined and dined.. I just thought I would let you know that my web-site is now on it's way to becoming a reality... still a long way off from the finished article but at least I have a web address .. So Cowboys & Custard finally comes of age ! Well.. almost!

Thursday 18 September 2008

Half of a hundred....

Today started like any other day the 5.30 a.m alarm sounding in the distant fog and the usual clawing my way from dream world to reality to sit up and hold the cup of tea on offer without throwing it all over the duvet.. This requires an awful lot of co-ordination and consciousness on my part and isn't always a huge success.. This morning was different though.. I was sitting upright and fully conscious with my hand outstretched.. not only for my welcome cup of tea but also a pile of assorted parcels and cards and one very eager cat who wanted to muscle in on the occasion of of his favourite pastimes.. paper, string and boxes... nothing short of heaven for a curious cat!

Yes today was altogether different... I have finally climbed that steep hill to my beacon gaze out over my life at the tender age of 50.. make that 5 OH!!!!!!
There must be benefits to this landmark age.. surely...??
Oh yes.. I remember.. which in itself is a miracle as my memory packed it's bags and went off on a very long, no.. permanent vacation a while back..
This age now entitles me to subscribe to SAGA magazine.. much to my beloved's amusement.. He has great intentions of packing me off on a rambling holiday while he basks in the the knowledge that he is my toy boy.. as he likes to imagine.. At six months younger than me.. I think that is a dubious title!!!
I am already rambling .. so I shall move on to share my most exciting gifts that I unwrapped in the early hours of dawn and have been gazing at with awe, love and immense gratitude since..
Firstly my beloved who knows me so well and manages to always find the most sublime presents commissioned a family friend Edwina Bridgeman a massively talented artist, to make me this unique and highly original piece...
I absolutely love it...!!! It is so me.. and so him.. and so cat !!
I will explain the rabbit presence in a minute..

Edwina is a prolific artist based in the South West and has a unqiue talent for combining found objects and making them into the most wonderful quirky, witty and thought provoking pieces. I will share my small collection of her art with you one day. I am looking forward to visiting Edwina's exhibition at the Black Swan Arts centre in Frome this weekend..
My gorgeous son who also knows me so well.. !! Gave me a pot of rejuvenating cream.. bless!
Thank you my darling.. I will certainly need this today along with a certain amount of polyfilla and gaffer tape!
I must just explain the rabbit character in my wonderful art piece..I became affectionately known as Squibbit by my beloved after the name of my first family pet ,and over time it evolved to Rabbit.. hence the wonderful rabbit being given her birthday cake in the artwork by Edwina..

Last, and most definitely not least.. was a parcel from a very special friend.. someone who also knows me so well.. and has given me an enchanting and treasured gift.. not only of a treasured empathic friendship but this little chap who plays Happy Birthday on his old geeeetar at the turn of a handle.... Just gorgeous!! Thank you, thank you so much Milly!!

I am having so much fun and the day is yet young.. Alas.. I am not!

I will leave you with this little quip from
Anon....The older you get, the better you get - unless you are a banana!!

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Flowers for a friend....

Sending dear Carol at Katherine's Dream.. flowers and fondest wishes on her Birthday today..

Hope you have a wonderful day Carol and are thoroughly spoilt by your nearest and dearest..

With Much love
Michele xx

Monday 15 September 2008

Cupcakes and kisses...

Sending cupcakes and kisses to a very special blogging friend at Ragged Roses on her Birthday today..

Wishing you the happiest of Birthdays Kim..

Do drop by for another blogger's birthday tomorrow...

Friday 12 September 2008

Cream Teas and memories.....

I have done a lot of reminiscing this week and my thoughts have turned to my youth and the heady days that I spent in Cornwall for a significant part of my childhood and adolescence.
My mother being a bit of a shrewd lass..was always on the look out for a bargain and this presented itself in the shape of a pretty little coastguard cottage in the village of Coverack .. ...located on the south east corner of the Lizard point.. the most southerly peninsula of Cornwall..
This was way back in the early 1960's and from my rather hazy memory .. I think the cottage cost the grand sum of £2,000 or in the region of.. My mother single-handedly refurbished the cottage with her trademark furnishings and flair.. I like to believe that my talented mother was the Cath Kidston of her day.. by using beautiful fabrics that came from her father's textile factory in Belgium.. linens and gingham and chintz's.. my mother transformed the dingy cottage .. into a delightful chocolate box home that we retreated to at every opportunity. School holidays meant a trip to Cornwall and a reunion with this beloved home of ours..
My mother intended for this to be an investment and so it was rented out as a holiday cottage and always seemed to be fully booked as the position overlooking a quiet idyllic bay and headland was it's drawing point..
These days so vividly etched on my memory as some of the happiest of my life .. frolicking in the endless sunny days where blue skies and seas met without divide.

I have many, many memories of golden days down on the beach and walks across the cliff paths picking bunches of wild garlic and sea thrift..and putting them in a jam jar on the kitchen table to fill the room with the pungent smell that I always associate with Wyndleshore.. our cottage..
Then the unspeakable happened... my parents sold the cottage and my precious sanctuary was out of bounds.. something I still find hard to accept on my sporadic visits to this almost mythical village of my past..
It is to this day a holiday rental cottage and still houses remnants of our time there.. the chintz lampshade that my mother lovingly made still hangs in one of the bedrooms ...the Rayburn cooker.. and the ceramic plaque above the lintel of the stooped kitchen door that we had made to say..Duck or Grouse!
Coverack still holds a very special place in my heart for all sorts of reasons..Cornish pasties, Cornish blue and white china, fishing for mackerel, ferreting amongst the plentiful rock pools, salty sea air, bright ochre of lichen on serpentine rocks, lifeboat day, bunting around the harbour on Regatta day, vinegar soaked fish and chips, the cry of seagulls, basking sharks in the bay, skinny dipping, barbeque's on the beach, brightly painted fishing boats in the harbour, adders basking in the hot sun, thick clotted cream teas, and falling in love for the first time at the tender age of 15 ......with this lad who eventually became Mr Custard....
someone to share these precious memories with..

Thursday 11 September 2008

Who said cats can't dance ....!?

Well in their dreams they can!

Monday 8 September 2008

I'm Late.....

OOh.. so sorry... I have been somewhat waylaid in announcing the results of my recent giveaway..
I invited you to tell me what sort of book you would write and the inspiration behind it...and you did tell me in many wonderful ways which I so enjoyed reading and sharing with you..Thank You!
The story that really struck a chord with me was from the lovely newly-wed Emma... her story of the little mouse who lived under the pier and had a tupperware box as a conservatory really appealed to me and I could see this lovely little character come to life.. so Well Done Emma.. now all you have to do is write it down!!!!! I look forward to reading the first edition of Joe's Mouse Adventures.

I will be back soon and I sincerely hope to catch up with you all who have been so kind to visit..

Tuesday 2 September 2008

Cafe Society ...

Autumn is here... it arrived on my doorstep last night and announced itself when I went to feed the recycling bin....Leaves had blown in from the surrounding hills and piled up outside the front door..
This morning.. just when you think the weather can't get much worse... it does! In spectacular style..There is a watercolour landscape outside my window as I type and the artist has knocked his jam jar of water over and soaked the painting.. colours are running in rivulets into a murky mess.. Yes it's the Indian Summer we were all praying for! Monsoon season!
Not only are the days shrinking but so is my mind.... I can't accommodate any more thoughts ... so much clamouring for my attention and days spill over in to nights.. where I lie awake trying to dampen the cacophony in my mind...
Lists.. endless lists.. 'Today's List comprises of .. must do's... finish current greeting card orders, design new orders .. post . Email so and so and so, phone so and so and so, don't forget so and so and so's Birthdays this week, cook chilli con carne and put in bottom oven to stew for tonight's supper, iron son's rugby kit, write my blog ...breathe in.. breathe out... and so it goes on relentlessly ....
It is the start of the weekend .... sigh! Tomorrow is a day of rest... tomorrow is a day of reading the papers in bed and sipping a cup of tea at one's leisure, ... Oh.... just a minute..... tomorrow is Rugby practice so forget the lie in.... son has to be chauffeured to school at 9 a.m to run around a waterlogged pitch and come home with a small mountain of mud soaked kit.....
Oh joy!!!

I love Autumn.. I do.. honestly.. but this doesn't feel like the start of the golden mellow days that I look forward to each year. Where did the sun go?

I will take some solace in my hibernation habits... warm felt slippers, mugs of steaming cocoa at bedtime, hot water bottles, snuggling under a feather eiderdown on the sofa snuffling chocolate whilst watching the X Factor... O.k I confess.... I am a hopeless addict for the pulp tv prog...
There is some comfort in this dire weather... feathering the nest and getting down and cosy!

During the last week of the summer hols and what seems like a lifetime ago now.. Mr Custard and I made a bit of a pilgrimage to see a lovely lass who I have grown so fond of through her delightful, witty and sparkly blog...
We set forth on Bank Holiday Monday with a vague idea of direction and a great deal of optimism that this dear lass would be able to meet us at the end of our journey.
We drove through some of Gloucestershire's finest landscapes, through the Stroud Valley and on up to Painswick... a very pretty little Cotswold town which I remembered on a previous visit for it's extraordinary church yard.. as you can see.. the amazing collection of ancient yew trees stand like lollipops throughout the churchyard....rather like the model railway trees from my childhood memories...We then forged on to our final destination... a small village north of Cheltenham.. with a little bit of help from our disgruntled Sat Nav host... we found ourselves sitting outside Cafe No:9 and with a huge sense of relief... the lights were on and the OPEN sign was showing on the door.. and there stood behind the counter.. this lovely lass who I had shared emails and witty banter with for some months... Dear Anna had no idea that we were about to enter her brand spanking new enterprise Cafe No:9.... I felt like Michael Aspel in This is Your Life...walking up to the counter clutching a bunch of flowers to present to the poor unsuspecting proprietor...
Anna.. obviously not recognising me .. said as I approached.." What lovely flowers".... I then said.. "They are for you... I am Michele"... to which Anna squeaked with shock and probably a smidgen of horror and came round the counter to greet Mr & Mrs Custard for the first time..
It was a very special moment and I am so so pleased that Anna decided to open on a Bank Holiday Monday as it would have been a very disappointing 120 mile round trip.
I must say we had the tastiest cup of cappuccino this side of Sorrento with our genial host and her charming hubby..and sat to chat for a while before the thirsty hordes descended on No:9 and we then said our farewells and left Anna to man the ship.. and a very fine ship it is too! If you are going in the direction of Cheltenham.. then I urge you to take a detour to this wonderful cafe ... you will be very well catered for!