Weekend retreat: Day 2.

September 30, 2012

We woke up later than planned and popped down to breakfast. We both enjoyed a wonderful English breakfast with a well needed cup of tea, (it had been 24hrs since my previous one!)
After reluctantly packing up our things we had a cup of coffee on the terrace.


During our coffee we spotted a putting green and decided to have a little go ourselves. It was really good fun, predominantly because of my good fortune. 
Yep, that's right, I WON; Joe was not happy. This is actually the understatement of the century; Joe was really unhappy. Although I was perhaps a little lax with the rules, I did definitely win, and I couldn't help but show my happiness- much to Joe's disapprobation.

We then had a final wander around the grounds before heading off to Barcombe.

Joe then proceeded to navigate us through some very narrow roads into the heart of the countryside. We barely met anyone on the way, until we wound up at 'The Anchor Inn', whereupon we found where everyone had congregated. The place was packed with happy families, the pub inundated with people in want of refreshment. Before too long, we got ourselves a boat, grabbed the nearest paddle, and hopped in.
Once again, we were returned to blissful solitude.


...We were attacked by the plants on the riverbank.
Who would have thought we'd set ourselves up for some extreme sport...

Next I had the extremely good idea of hopping out of the boat for a quick drink and a little rest.
(Elegantly) I reentered the boat. Joe, on the other hand, did not have the same intention. After pushing the boat back from the land on which we had wedged it, he hopped in, but we weren't moving. So he used the bank to push off from. Heather (that's me), suggests he borrows a paddle. The next thing we know Joseph is 'planking', although rather unintentionally, (as his arms have stayed where they were and his legs are still on the boat which has now been dislodged.)

I have never laughed so much. Poor Joseph got himself in a right pickle, and although he wasn't over the moon about me taking photos, (I really couldn't have helped), I'm so glad I did! (muaha)
After a momentary aggrieved and moody Joe, he returned to his former self and we had a right old chuckle.
As I write this I ponder, surely this rivals a scene in 'Hitch', or even the 'Bridget Jones' boating accident?

We then popped off back home, with the addition of a soggy bottom, but no dampened spirits. With a quick detour to Blockbusters we picked up 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.' We enjoyed it with some of our picnic's leftovers- which were embellished with salmon and stilton on several crackers. The film, accompanied with far too much popcorn, topped off one of the very best weekends of my life. Laughter, Relaxation, a little drama, Heather knowing what's best, and lots of fun: a capsule year.

Thank you Joe!

Weekend retreat à la Bridget Jones (Day 1)

September 28, 2012

It was now several weeks ago that Joe took me to the Ashdown Forest Hotel for a lovely weekend retreat. 
In the infamous words of Bridget Jones, 'A mini-break means true love', hopefully in my case it really does. I can happily inform you that I didn't return from a Tarts &Vicars party, having been humiliated by a miscommunication of the theme, to find my boyfriend with an American 'stick insect'. Instead I enjoyed one of the very best weekends of my life.

We woke up to find that Joe had even gone to the trouble of assuring us a weekend's glorious sunshine. 
First we organised a little picnic to eat before checking into the hotel. We ended up in Sheffield park where we enjoyed sandwiches, pea and mint salad, crisps, strawberries, and, in Joe's case,
a large pork pie
Looking slightly more civilised after his yummy lunch.
We rested in the sun for a while. 

This photo was never intended to turn out to be quite so cheesy, but it is the natural result of Joseph trying to be very naughty. Try not to imagine what the photo would have been of had I not moved my head!

I make no apologies for how absolutely posed this photo is!

 Then it was time to head to our hotel. After quickly depositing our bags in our room we took a walk around the grounds.
We got lost a couple of times, Joe *acquired* some golf balls from the driving range, we saw a family of deer, and amused ourselves with games that Joe contrived for us. This one consisted of throwing our golf balls towards the hole, winner being the one who succeeds in the fewest attempts. I did not win.
My heart skipped, my eyes smiled, and my face shone as we wandered through the woods and around the beautiful grounds together.

Then we enjoyed a drink on the terrace before dinner, (the highlight of which was a superb bowl of mussels that we shared)
After a very enjoyable day it was time to snuggle up into bed gowned and eagerly anticipating what tomorrow had to offer!

Day two, by the way, has a classic Bridget Jones moment and is the particular reason for my title!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, what will you be up to?

Austen's secret works

September 17, 2012

Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon. These are titles that you may or may not be familiar with, written by an author that I imagine you are. Yes, Jane Austen. They are less widely known as they were incomplete, or posthumously published. I like to think of them as her secret works, although of course they're not, they're as deeply analysed, critiqued, and praised as many of her others.

Wonderful enjoyed with a piping hot cup of tea in bed as I wake, as the sun streams through and promises a cold crisp morning. So what exactly were these stories about and what did I admire?

Lady Susan- an epistolary novel written from changing viewpoints with correspondences between Lady Susan, her friend Mrs Johnson, and her brother: Mr Vernon, (as well as his wife and mother-in-law.) It depicts a beautiful, enchanting, intelligent widow who is simultaneously deceitful and manipulative; she fickly seeks to enhance her own amusement and fortune at the expense of women's, men's, and even her own daughter's heart. 

The eponymous anti-heroine certainly contrasts to Austen's other female characters and indeed lacks the morality of them all. She must be praised, however, for her adept capability of influencing, primarily achieved through her command of language.
The story, though short, demonstrates Austen's skill of depicting the full and flagrant character of Lady Susan. The letters are engaging; I genuinely wanted to read on. This story demonstrates, for me, what I love about Austen: her ability to 'form a third-person narrative able to represent subjective as well as objective experience by moving seamlessly from characters' consciousnesses to detached and authoritative commentary on them' (Claudia L Johnson, Introduction, 'Northanger Abbey', Oxford University Press, 2003)

The Watsons- a story whose protagonist, Emma Watson, returns home to her invalid father. Having grown up away from him and her siblings, in relative prosperity under her Aunt's patronage, it describes this awkward interaction. Due to her estranged relationship with her family members under their paternal roof, we sympathise with Emma and recognise the true poignancy of such a situation. The impoverished Watsons are united with Austen's other families in needing to marry for money, but Emma's older sisters appear as 'unrefined husband-hunters.' 

This has been described as Austen's bleakest work; dealing with ageing parents, social fall, and a lack of familial cohesiveness or love. 

Sanditon- Considered as an example of Austen's most original work, this fragment explores new territory, acting as an obstacle to scholars who critique her work as entirely driven by a marriage plot. Instead it tells of Mr Parker's obsession for the development of a seaside town, Sanditon, into a growing fashionable resort for wealthy invalids- which would compete, (or in his view surpass) its counterparts of Eastbourne and Brighton. It also concerns itself with the commodity culture, depicted as a preoccupation of Regency society and its aspiration for modernity. Charlotte, a guest of Mr Parker's, has good sense and therefore acts as a juxtaposition to his comical hypochondriac relations. Austen amusingly plays with this sense of invalidity, although this is surprising in light of her own degeneration of health, (she died within the year of writing 'Sanditon.')

If you're an Austen fan, I think these are particularly interesting, despite being incomplete. These are perhaps not the beautifully romantic, happily resolved stories that you're used to, but important in developing ones own understanding of Austen as a novelist and the subtle evolution of her style.

Had your heard of these novellas?

What is your favourite novel by Jane Austen?

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Parsley Pesto

September 11, 2012

Today I made Parsley pesto according to Nigella's recipe.
A wonderful blend of parsley (surprisingly), walnuts, parmesan, and oil. We chose to eat the pesto alongside salad and couscous, but I can't wait to gobble the rest up with some gnocchi.

We can at least pretend it's still summer, right?
Actually, in all honesty, I can't wait for the winter months- I truly love them; knitted jumpers, boots, hats and scarves, hearty soups, and lots of tea!

My parents are struggling to believe that my diet as it stands: greek yoghurt and granola, fruit, smoked salmon, and tea will be very suitable come October when I go to University. Hmm, I'm hoping it doesn't have to adapt too much! I think future food-related posts might be either 'on a budget' meals, or easy 'I have little kitchenware and a small workspace to share with hungry students' food.

Is anyone watching 'The Great British Bake Off'? I barely watch any TV, but I love it and even felt that last week it was worth catching up over breakfast on BBC iplayer. Pies tonight! yum


September 04, 2012

We had an avocado that was sure to be forgotten about and then become over-ripe, so I took the initiative and made myself some guacamole for lunch.

I use: an avocado, a little crème fraîche (but I would be just as inclined to use greek yoghurt- given that it is a staple in my fridge), chilli flakes, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

To be honest you can use anything: tomato salsa, coriander, garlic, onions, or lime juice- whatever you can get your hands on.

It then occurred to me that I had no plan of what to eat to accompany my guacamole, this in itself I suppose is pretty strange- given that ordinarily it is a side dish! Anyway, after a few moments of seriously considering eating it out of the bowl, I opted to be a little more civilised with some crackers.

I do worry about what I'm going to think to eat with avocado over the colder months. I always find that I begin to remember all my favourite summer dishes and salads just when the weather is cooling down. That's partly why I have begun to document them on here: so that I can remember them all just in time for the first sunny and warm weekend of the year- as obviously one whole year is enough for them to be erased from my apparently very short memory. Equally, I will begin to recall my favourite wintery meals just in time for the cold weather.

Does anyone have any ideas of good warmer meals that incorporate avocado? 

How do you eat your guacamole?& What do you add to your guacamole?