Tuesday, 29 October 2013

English Pubs and Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en is in two days time. hallowe'en parties are great fun. This brings back happy memories of childhood parties and dressing up and fun. This week we went out for lunch with my son's family. The pub we went to  in Leicester ( The Old Horse) had made a huge effort for Hallowe'en, and I am sure it was worth it, especially as it was during the local children's half term. The pub was pretty full at lunch time which speaks volumes. Here are some pictures:

a head in the chiller cabinet
staff got in the mood

spooky or what?

every table was full

You can imagine the delight of the seven year old in our party! This is a pub which had really gone to town and it really paid off.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Pub Lunch and the Quality of the Service

Saturday is caption day. Can you caption this table of dinner guests sitting in the pub when we went out for lunch one day?

Hallowe'en Table


Mammasaurus - Saturday is Caption Day!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Spinalonga - The Island

On our recent holiday to Crete we went over by boat from Elounda to the Island of Spinalonga. This is the island written about by Victoria Hislop in her book about the leper colony. ("The Island")  It was a perfect day. The journey was beautiful. The sky was blue.
Going to Spinalonga
The Venetians occupied Crete in 1210 and built fortifications on Spinalonga. In its time the island has sheltered Turks from Christians, Christians from Turks, Jews from Christians and, finally, lepers.
Venetian fortifications
It became home to lepers in 1903. Anyone found to have leprosy on Crete at that time was sent to the island away from all their loved ones, never to return. They knew no cure.Imagine the sadness as people entered into the old town  knowing they would never return to mainland Crete.
In time they built a hospital, houses, shops ,a church,
 When they first arrived the lepers found that there was no water on the island and they were forced to rely on water and food sent from the mainland. Around 1930 with the help of Dr. Grammatikais some important changes were made and they brought electrical power and a cinema to the island, they expanded the hospital, built communal houses, a water supply system. There even started little businesses, opened shops and had a bakery. The Cretans so love their traditional breads.
bread oven
By 1957 the island was the home of all the lepers in Greece. There is a graveyard -such a beautiful spot but, oh, so sad .
Spinalonga was the last leper colony in Europe.  In the past 20 years more than 14 million leprosy patients have been cured. The World Health Organisation is trying to find ways to detect it earlier.  The sad thing is that there are still places where leprosy is endemic.

Spinalonga,, though, is a testimony to the human spirit.That people could form a community, look after each other, run small businesses and improve life for each other is amazing. It was a sombre place but as we came away it was  strangely uplifting to see the sun shining and think of the little houses, shops, the church and the cinema and to glory in the beauty all around.
leaving Spinalonga

Friday, 18 October 2013

Olive Oil, Flowers and Fruit and Vegetables

Just returned from a holiday in beautiful, beautiful Crete and thought I would post some of the flowers and plants we saw while we were there. The weather was still warm and beautiful.

 They say that the Cretan traditional diet is one of the healthiest in the world. They bake a lot of traditional breads, traditionally eat very little red meat, eat lots of fish
 and, of course, grow and eat lots of fruit and vegetables. They traditionally ate very little dairy produce (goats rather than cows) and plenty of olive oil.

and did you know that the oldest olive tree in Crete is one of the oldest in the world.  Its age is estimated to be from 2000 to 4000 years old.  It is now a national heritage monument.
25% of Crete is covered in olive trees.
and Greeks consume on average 25Kg of olive oil a year?

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Celebrations, Dinners and Living Here and Now

We returned from holiday and were immediately invited to have dinner with our daughter, her husband and our grandchildren, then we were invited to a 65th birthday party along with a special group of friends and we had a wonderful time. (So good that none of us wanted to leave) and finally, to end a really sociable week we invited friends for dinner on Saturday night and we had a very jolly time. So that is my first reason to be cheerful.
My second reason is that I really feel my generation is the luckiest generation ever. Peter and I have enrolled on a local history course and are researching our family trees. I have found instances of a relation born deaf and so remained unable to speak for his whole life, a lady who had four young children and whose husband, (a mill stone dresser in a flour mill) died in his twenties so that she had to earn a living sewing flour sacks for her whole life, and evidence of such toil, poverty, large families, illness, the effects of war that it has made me really, really thankful that I live now and not then.

My third reason is that I am so glad to be living in Britain. Yes, even during these difficult economic times. We went on holiday recently to Crete. Whilst there we were in a chemist and they were serving an old lady with her medication. It was only a month's medication but the cost that she had to pay was phenomenal and, given that, over there, wages and pensions are so low there it must have been a terrible struggle for her to be able to pay for it. 
So my reasons in a nutshell are 1. I am thankful for the people I love 2. for the time in which I live 3. for the place in which I live.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Monday, 14 October 2013

Meal Planning Without Shopping

Meal planning this week is NOT going to involve shopping. There are plenty of vegetables from the garden still, in the form of runner beans, courgettes, tomatoes, baby leeks and we have a store of our own apples . Not only that but there is plenty in the fridge and larder to create meals. I may not stick to this but here goes:
Monday: a busy day so
Leeks in cheese sauce. runner beans, carrots and new potatoes with mint.
Dessert: home made trifle
Tuesday: mushroom risotto, tomatoes, roasted peppers, runner beans
Dessert: fresh fruit salad
Wednesday:salmon fillets with lemon and parsley, new potatoes, runner beans and peas.
Dessert: fresh fruit salad
Thursday: pasta with a salmon sauce, baby leeks, baked tomatoes
Dessert: baked apples stuffed with dried fruit.
Friday: cheese omelet, home made oven chips, peas, baked tomatoes.
Dessert: home made rice pudding.
Saturday: Casserole using braising steak, onions, carrots and celery. Dumplings with horse radish filling. Baked potatoes.
Sunday: Not sure what is happening yet.
chopping vegetables

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Agios Nikolias and Elounda and the Freshest Fish Restaurants

We recently returned from a wonderful break in Crete. It is our third visit to Crete and this time we went to Agios Nikolias. Have you read the book called "The Island" by Victoria Hislop? I wanted to visit that island so we stayed nearby. I hope these pictures will give you a little taste of our wonderful holiday and maybe even inspire you to go there.
This was the view from our hotel balcony. The hotel, although four star was in need of a bit of a refurb but the food was wonderful and so were the staff. We have been told that it has been sold to the Russians. They seem to be the ones who have money to buy hotels etc. at the moment.
This is a little beach nearby. The sea is perfectly calm with no waves and it is perfect for children. The water gets deeper very gently and you can wade out as far as your shoulders........then you think you might just as well be swimming! The sea was beautifully warm.
This little hotel owner had a brilliant and colourful way of attracting visitors and guests!
on the bus to Elounda
Here we are on a short ride on the local bus to Elounda. This is a small but incredibly beautiful town nearby.
still on the way to Elounda

The journey there was stunning.
and here we are arriving at Elounda.  I would love to come back to this lovely place next year. I don't want to stay at a big hotel, though. I would like to stay in one of the little self catering apartments or cottages. The reason is that there were so many little family run restaurants jutting out into the sea. The owners of fish restaurants often take your order then go out in their boat to bring back your fish from their nets.
a walk in Elounda
There are also so wonderful food shops selling local produce such as fresh, really fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil, freshly baked break in all sorts of forms and fish. So it would be fun to self cater.We went for a walk in Elounda. it is so very beautiful as you can see.

Roman pavement and mosaic at Elounda 
and out of the blue we came across this Roman pavement!! So very unexpected.  The whole area was gorgeous. Later I will tell you about our trip to Spinalonga.