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      London calling!

      22nd May   

      Seize the day.  This is what I am trying to do.  It is all too easy to become bogged down in day to day life and worry about the house, or is that my excuse so I can crochet?!?!   I keep seeing signs that say the children will not remember you for a clean house but for the time you spent playing with them.  We have had our fair share of illness this year and for the times when our household has been healthy, we are trying to make the most of it and have some fun.

      So with a spare day and half, London called and off we trooped.  I just love the British museum and I have written about it before here, but to me the beauty of such places is that it is best to pop in and just see a small section, who can take  in so much in one day as a whole museum?  I find too that the children enjoy it more if you only see a section and then do not bore them stiff by spending all day there!

      This time I decided to re visit the Greeks and Assyrians and I learnt a thing or two, that I am going to implement in my own home.

      A winged spirit carrying a magical cone
      and bucket by the side of an entrance 900BC
      About 900BC, wow, I cannot even begin to imagine how far back that is (!), the Assyrians thought of doors and gateways as key locations which good or evil influences could enter a house.  So the actual building of entrances to buildings were always accompanied by a ceremony, loving this idea, any excuse for a party.  We are toying with adding a patio in the back garden and I am definitely going to have a good spirit party to begin the proceedings, it may not be an entrance, but hey, we spend a lot of time in the garden, I would like it to be filled with good spirit and feeling. But onto what I really wanted to share with you...  they also made sure that by the side of entrances there were colossal figures of stone which by their appearance would ward off evil and guard those entering the abode.  I love this idea so much.  A cousin of mine has a beautiful log cabin in the mountains and on a beam inside he has carved the magical sentence, "In this house we are friends and live and laugh together."  Realistically I think the neighbours would have a fit if I added two huge winged magical spirits to each side of my front door, not least because it would be pretentious, but would be so very out of place in our village.  But it got me thinking that I dress up the front door for Christmas and tentatively a little at Easter, but why not make it more welcoming the rest of the year.  So my mission over the coming weeks will be to have the customary hanging basket, which is at present looking very sorry for itself and spruce up the front of the house, I want to welcome in good feeling and happiness to all who choose to share their time with us in our home.  Thank you Assyrians for reminding me to do just that.

      Lord Elgin...  I am of very mixed opinions when it comes to what he did.  For those of you who do not know, he removed many items from the Parthenon, Greece in 1806 and shipped them back to the UK where they are now displayed at the British museum, they are priceless and an important part of Greek history, yet they are here in the UK.  It was only round 1975 that Greece decided to try and begin to preserve the Parthenon itself and with air pollution, many of the facades, columns and sculptures have been irrevocably damaged and so Elgin in taking these precious pieces has actually preserved Greek history for all to see.  Interestingly he had no initial intention for removing anything, but wanted only to document what was there, but on discovering several sections and pieces missing and learning that those marbles that had fallen had been taken by the Turkish and melted for the lime they contained he felt he needed to remove and preserve, always with the intention of them going to the British museum.  He sold them to the British government for far less then it cost him to ship them over.  He even refused Napoleon's very generous and high offer to acquire them!     If you are interested futher wiki has a great write up on it all:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elgin_Marbles

      This monument is the largest of its kind, named Nereid, after the daughters of the sea god, Nereus. 
      Imagine being buried in such a tomb, I myself am all for a cardboard box, wonder
      what the nobles would have thought of that!

      One of four female columns from the Erechtheum at the Parthenon, all the
      other three are beyond recognition and have now been removed by the Greeks
      and replaced with good quality replicas.

      The four great Greek philosophers, Sokrates, Antishenes, Chrysippos and Epikouros

      Aphrodite or Venus?  Greek or Roman?

      From the British museum it is a pleasant stroll to Covent Garden and should you like a curry, we can strongly recommend the Punjab at the corner of Neal Street and Shaftesbury Avenue.  It is
      reputed to be the oldest Indian restaurant in London. We have been visiting here
      for some years and are never disappointed.

      Wondering around London and you see all sorts of sights and sounds,
      I didn't dare enter this shop, but what fun!

      Strolling back for a lunch time stop I walked through Russell Square park and stumbled upon an an historical bike and dress conventions.  Both men and women were turned out in historically correct dress and the number of penny farthings seen was unbelievable.  This is what I love about London, there is such an eclectic mix of things to see and do, never a dull moment!

      We had a spot of picnic lunch on the roof top and dozed in the dappled
      shade from the sun.  A lazy afternoon.

      As dusk hit, we took a river boat along the Thames to visit some friends and with the heat of the day cooling and the colours in the sky, it felt heavenly.

      The following day was warmer still and even Canary Wharf and
      the docklands looked amazing in the sunshine.

      Wherever there is a subway, there is some graffiti, this one better than most.

      Making the way back home, was arduous and a two hour journey turned into over four hours, but I enjoyed the people watching along the way and at nearly 6 in the evening Clapham common was still full of happy people soaking up the last of the days rays.

      But there is nothing like home is there, despite the fact that there were chores to do,
      it was made all the more easier with a bit of evening sunshine.

      Hope you all have a fantastic week x

Nadia's Elderflower Cordial

21st May

This time of year brings with it many joys and for us one of them is the making and drinking of elderflower cordial.  We try hard to use the first flowers of the season, enjoy the drink and watch the bottles slowly empty and then frantically dash out in search of the final elderflower blooms to make a last batch of the season.

Try it, it is delicious and so subtle a taste.  ~ Plus, you know me, it is quick and easy!

You will need: large pan, large bowl, tea cloth, sterilised bottles for the cordial, I used 2 x 1l bottles

20 elderflower heads
1.2l water
1.8kg sugar
2 lemons
75g citric acid

First gather 20 elderflower heads

Place the water and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Make sure you keep stirring to avoid any burning of the sugar.  Mixture begins cloudy.

Once the sugar is dissolved the solution should be clear.

Pare the lemons making as wide a strip as possible. Put to one side.

Slice both lemons and discard ends.

Shake each flower head to remove any little insects and place in a
large bowl, with lemon peel and slices.

Add the water/sugar solution and then sprinkle on the citric acid,
stir to make sure it has dissolved into the mixture.  Cover with a tea towel and
leave overnight or for up to 24 hours at room temperature.

When ready, prepare a jug with muslin ready to separate the flowers
and lemon etc from the liquid.  you should be able to
smell the elderflower at this point, I just love it!

Carefully pour the mixture into the jug, try not to spill it as the cordial is very sticky indeed!

Finally remove the muslin and pour the clear cordial into sterilised bottles.

And if you are as lucky as I was today with the blue skies, you can drink it whilst sitting outside crocheting and listening to the birds, pure bliss, this is early summer in a glass for me!

This year as always, I shall especially drink a glass of elderflower cordial
on June 1st and raise a silent toast to Nadia x
♥ Love to you all ♥

Crocheted heart bunting, lots of it!

These hearts are addictive to make
19th May

The fast pace of life seems to be ever speeding up and I am not managing to do all that I would like.  However, everything is made more bearable by the lovely weather that the UK has been experiencing.  I have just come back from a lovely week in Norway, see post here where I spent quality time with my mother and managed to work on our boat for a couple of days too.  By being in Norway I was reminded of the beauty of the country and how much I love trees and all things green.  I need seasons, do you?  I am ready for the summer, fed up of the mild wet winter and yearn for the sun, but by the end of the summer I shall be longing for log fires and crocheted warm blankets to keep me snug.

Last summer I was on a mission to make as long a row of heart crocheted bunting as I could for a garden party that we were hosting and so during my summer holidays, I was seen with crochet hook in hand.  I came across a delightful blog where I found these gorgeous hearts and there was the beginning of my bunting making...

These hearts are quick to make, extremely contagious and seem to breed like rabbits.  I dare you to only make one!  The instructions are so simple and the photographs to accompany make for a very easy to follow tutorial.  Therefore I will not repeat it here, but urge you to follow the link below. 

Hope you enjoy my heart bunting and the scenery of Norway, it is breath taking.

Bunting in front of a typical Norwegian log cabin

Silver birch is to be found every where in Norway, they even
use the teeny branches as a whisk in cooking!


For the heart pattern that I used, follow the link:


And not forgetting the knitters amongst you, although I have as yet to try these out, they are a very similar design and feel to the crochet hearts and would make an equally as good bunting line!


Have a great week and long may the sun shine!

I promise to respond as quickly as I can to any comments, always a pleasure to see what you think or what you are up to, just pop a note down at the end of the post...

Norway celebrates

16 May
Tomorrow is a big day in Norway and every year the 17 May is celebrated in style.  This day marks the day that Norway became a country independent of others, notably from Sweden and Denmark.  If you look at the Norwegian flag and remove the blue cross, what do you see...the Danish flag! Many Norwegians have flag poles and tomorrow the country will be ablaze with this patriotic flag flying proudly, I think it looks fabulous and wish we did this in the UK. 

This year the celebration is especially large as it is 200 hundred years since the Constitution was signed and all the royal families of Scandinavia are coming to Norway to celebrate, the Swedish king apparently refused at first to come, but has after much grief from his own people finally agreed to attend! 

Norway celebrates in many ways and each village and town will have school children's parades and marching bands, with an abundance of flags marching from school to the centre of the village/town/city.  The largest gathering of course is always in Oslo and this is shown live on TV.

Traditionally families come together and eat lapskaus, a type of brown stew and eat bløttkake (cream cake) and the celebration cake, kransekake.

Norway is a very patriotic country and many many people own a traditional dress, often bought for girls for their confirmation at age 15.  These vary from district to district and so it is easy to see where someone hails from as they vary greatly in design and detail.  17 May is a great excuse to wear this warm outfit, but for those who do not have one, there is no formal dress code, although many choose to wear red, white and blue clothes.  As with anything, others just turn up in clothes they are comfortable in.  There are no rules.

It has been fun being in Norway the week leading up the the Norwegian National day and all the shops have taken every opportunity to pull out anything red, white and blue, there are flags a plenty and the feeling is of community spirit as you wander around.  Unfortunately, I return to the UK today, so will miss the celebrations here in Norway.

However the Norwegians are a feisty lot and in most countries where you will find a Norwegian, there will be celebrations tomorrow.  In London for example every year there is a huge parade, with Norwegian food being eaten, speeches being given and parades a many.  Should you fancy and are able to get into London tomorrow, festivities begin at Southwark Park, and the children's parade will be at 1315.  More information can be found at http://www.17mai.org.uk/ and updates on https://www.facebook.com/london17mai

Norwegians take pride in their home and table setting are no exception,
below are the latest shop ideas. 

Kransekake is a traditional celebration cake, but should one not have time to make one's own, shop bought ones are always available, main ingredients are almonds and icing sugar, very sweet but so tasty, I have a post how to make it here:  http://eclectichomelife.blogspot.no/2013/12/kransekaker-norwegian-wreath.html

Traditional bløttkake, for more image and inspiration for red, white and blue cakes, follow link: http://www.tine.no/oppskrifter/sesong-og-tema/merkedager/kaker-til-17.-mai

Traditional dress is called bunad and they come in many different designs and style. 
Silverware forms a huge part of decoration too.

Bunads are very expensive and one tends to only purchase one when fully grown, however, cheaper versions for children can be bought in the shops too.

Detail down to the traditional shoes are important,
although many are now favouring laced up boots as well.

 All ages turn out to parade.

My family and I some many years ago.

 Red, white and blue in all the shops...

Even the bikinis by the door to pull people in at this time of year are red, white and blue!!

Shop displays.

 Where ever you are tomorrow, as they say in Norway
Gratulerer med dagen