Wednesday, 30 May 2012


At the weekend, Mike and I went to legoland with Rach and Andrzej (my housemates from university, but so much more than that). We had a great time: epic weather, water rides, a new sunhat, acrobatic pirates and, of course, lego. Mike remembered not enjoying miniland very much when he was younger but it was the best bit of the day! The models were amazing, especially with all the moving vehicles (boats, trains) and the bus which drove onto a ferry and got taken across a bay. I would definitely recommend going, especially since you can exchange £7.50 worth of tesco vouchers for a ticket at the moment. 

That elephant in the top left sprayed us with water as we went passed, a blessing on such a hot day. And the bottom photo of the lego monmatre is taken 4.5 years after our trip to see the real thing.
the real thing!

Top: lego tour de france, middle: lego hang-gliders, bottom: lego trucks

Friday, 25 May 2012

Polka-dot Dress

We were at a wedding on Saturday of  Hannah and Ben. It was a cloudy day so I got to wear my new favourite dress. I bought it a few years ago, it's a huge polkadot white and pink shirt dress. Well, at least it WAS a huge polkadot white and pink shirt dress. Because my lovely husband can sew, and treats it like his engineering projects, he turned it into a way more flattering summer dress. I love it. I made him keep the puffy sleeves though.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Picnic time

It was such a nice day on Tuesday that we decided to take our dinner with us for a picnic. We made a quick potato, mint and pea salad (with pesto and cream cheese dressing), and a quinoa and sundried tomato salad (with basil, garlic and parmesan dressing) and put them in our picnic rucksack with some ginger beer and some lemon drizzle cake from Jacobs and Field deli/cafe in headington.

We walked up by the river (that was flooded a few weeks ago) and settled into a secluded nook with our picnic rug. This bit of the river is only reachable on walks over 5 miles (you have to turn around to make it shorter) so we thought we'd be alone but there were a few dog walkers and even a cyclist!

After the picnic we walked back to the village where some kids were swimming in the river. I managed a paddle and an exclamation at the temperature before coming home for a warm shower.

Sorry it's been a while since I blogged-a wedding last weekend, and no crochet when its so sunny outside are conspiring against anything blog worthy. For two days I've just sat in a cafe in headington writing my thesis, and last night we went to the pub with friends who just got back from a round the world trip (I drank pimms, ate scallops in a fit of extravagance and an amazing white chocolate creme brulee).

I may do a review of my favourite places to work in Oxford that aren't my lab- because today me and the iPad are off to an icecream shop to get away from the basement an take advantage of the sun


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Birthday card and bird

When we got back to our close on Saturday there was a marquee up and, more importantly, a bouncy castle. It turned out to be for a neighbours four year old girl's birthday party and the parents invited us over for a beer and a bounce. We had so much fun with their adorable girls that I decided to make this card for her, and a little bird for the bird box she cited as her favourite present. It's just drying so I will drop it off tomorrow.

Patten is little birdie from attic 24, sun leaves and flowers are improvised (leaves ate basically the wing of the bird and the flowers are a 9 loop circle with picots)


Saturday, 12 May 2012

My brilliant Saturday

Fun in the park with a 3 year old who refused to take off his super cool helmet
Fun in the park for me, mostly ecstatic I could fit on the slide
Fun in the garden with a 3 year old learning to blow bubbles
Fun in the village with our neighbours and their children

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bunny rabbits

I made some bunnies over easter. I started with a teddy bear pattern that I love (bear in a jiff) and made floppy ears. The bunnies didn't hang around long until somebody claimed them but I can always make more!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

5 flooded miles

this is a picture heavy post!

We didn't get out for a walk yesterday due to having to go into town to look at phone contracts for Mike (and having a very fun afternoon playing blokus and eating cake and cookies with friends). Today when we woke up to blue skies we were desperate to get out so decided to do one of the shorter (5 mile) walks, so that if we came to a flood we could turn back and still get a decent walk.
the route! the numbers relate to photos not miles.

stats: length - 5.01 miles, duration - 1:28:11, pace - 17:34 min/mi (3.4 mph)

First thing to notice is the incredibly slow pace. This was due to taking photos (to put in this post/send to my mum), the necessary detour through a wood, and my fear of wet feet making the no-detour flooded part slow going. The detour also added 0.4 miles onto the route.

1. The first part of the walk is just through the village, passed some lovely thatched cottages, and then across a weir. This persons' garden made me laugh (their house was very safe so it's ok to laugh). It looked like they could still row out to the washing line to peg out. The path to the weir was a bit flooded though so we used the bank instead. Thus far - pressing on

1. someone's garden and the flooded weir

2. After a mile we faced our first barrier. Even walking around the field to the next bit didn't help. Initially, we decided to wade through this incase we could just keep close to the edge but we finally decided to scramble up the bank and found this very overgrown path through the trees. A man was very surprised to see us down there 'did you not just stay in the field?' - no 'cos that's not very adventurous.

2. Attempts 1 and 2, wading through and finally relenting

3. Even once we got back up above the river, there was more flooding. This 'grass' is actually crop and we were on a raised bit. Husband went ahead because he had an extra 2 inch of welly on me.
3. I think husband has longer wellies than me

 This bridge goes over a normally dry river bed. We decided at this point to take the shorter route back towards home.

normally dry river bed

4. This route back goes via a lonning (as we call them in Cumbria where I'm from) next to a manor house which I think is now a school. Anyway, Mike decided that he'd like to live anywhere that has such an awesome treehouse in the garden. 
4. Treehouse

5.  After crossing a few fields, we turn back down the hill towards our home village. I love rapeseed (Mike can't stand the smell) and it makes my heart leap to see so much jolly yellow around.
5. Rapeseed.

 And back to the village. This road goes around the bottom of the village but has been flooded since last weekend.
Flood sign, you don't say

So now we're home and dry and eating mysterious freezer food (do you ever just get a random bit of tupperware out of the freezer? it turned out to be yummy curry). An afternoon of pottering ahead before church tonight.


Friday, 4 May 2012

Artichoke and feta tart

Another recipe post... We hosted pastorate on Wednesday, 9 people from church for dinner. We cooked 3 different tarts - a nigella recipe, a jamie oliver recipe, and a one I made up. Guess which people asked for the recipe for? Anyway here is the recipe as best I remember it (I meant to take a photo but it was eaten before I could). 


  • 320g puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp black olive paste
  • tub of artichokes (I used some fresh antipasti tubs from a supermarket deli counter)
  • 100g Total 2% (or some other thick greek yoghurt)
  • 50g philidelphia (you can alter the ratio of these two ingredients depending on health)
  • half a block of feta
  • 2 eggs
  • lots of basil

  1.  Take a 320g block of ready rolled puff pastry and line a quiche tin with it (I used a silicon one)
  2. put it in the oven for 10 minutes (200 degrees ish) but check it doesn't burn
  3. press the pastry to make a tart, it'll be hot so use a potato masher or something
  4. spread the olive paste onto the base
  5. then add artichokes and feta
  6. mix the other ingredients together and then pour into the tart (I then put it onto another roasting dish incase it spilled)
  7. cook for 15 minutes
It was very good! 

I am still trying to decide on my next blanket, hoping to start one over the bank holiday weekend. 


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A peek into my finished blanket cupboard

1. A granny square blanket in blues and purples, pattern is 'Summer Garden Granny Square' from Lucy at attic 24
2. My most recent blanket, jolly cot blanket hexagons, again from attic 24
3. A wool eating plain yellow blanket with a pink border
4. A huge stripey blanket which was great fun to make from a variety of stitches inspired by little woolie

What do you think? I love them all. I think a ripple may be the next blanket that I attempt, or diagonal stripes... Claire x

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Rainy weekend baking

We woke up to lots of rain on Saturday which meant our usual walk couldn't happen. Instead we stayed in bed reading. I chose famous five on the iPad kindle app. There was a recent article in the guardian about the famous five's eating habits (huge feasts eaten as a picnic) and it inspired me to build a den in the living room, and bake a picnic feast of our own. I made a treacle tart, some scones and husband made bread. I also made some cardamom and orange marmalade (recipe below) and my goodness it was tasty. We ate a whole jar in 3 days!

Marmalade recipe 
This recipe doesn't involve many specifics other than the amount of sugar to water and the fact that it has to set.

  • So firstly grab some oranges, use a peeler to get a thin layer of the zest off and chop it up. Then peel the pithy bit and chop half of it finely.
  • Next chop up the oranges and put them into a pan. Mash them up a bit and add the zest and the chopped pith.
  • Now crush some cardamom pods and separate out the seeds. I used 10 and 4 oranges and it's very prominent! Add the seeds to the oranges in the pan.
  • Put the rest of the pith in a Muslin bag (or a foot of a pair of tights) with the cardamom pods and some ginger. Tie it tightly and snuggle it among the oranges.
  • Now use a measuring cup to pour water over the oranges. Keep track of how much water you need until the oranges are only just covered.
  • Slowly simmer the oranges for an hour or so. Mash them up as you go along.
  • After an hour remove the muslin bag.
  • Now you are going to add the sugar, in the same quantity as the water. Add 1 cup of preserving sugar (it has pectin added), 1 cup of brown sugar (for a treacly taste) and then the rest of normal sugar.
  • Bring the marmalade to the boil and keep boiling and stirring. I tested the set after 30 minutes but it took 45 to set. To test a set, you need to pour a tiny bit onto a cold saucer and take the marmalade off the heat. If after 2 minutes it has the right texture it's done, otherwise reboil for another minute.
  • As soon as its done, pour it into clean jars and screw the lid on so that they seal as they cool.

Then enjoy!

First Post

Hello there! 

My name is Claire, I am 25 and I hope to blog here about the things I love: crochet, cooking, cycling, church and the rest of my life. 

I'm originally from Cumbria but now I live in a village near Oxford.  I have been here for 8 years, first as an undergraduate Engineer and now doing a PhD in modelling of the brain during stroke.

I learned to crochet in January 2011 and am slowly refining a collection of toys and blankets. I also love to bake, make chutney and jam, read country living and dream about my future house. 

I am married to Mike, who designs cars for Jaguar. He was an engineer at Oxford's other university, we met playing in the same band at church. We have a website

Please stick around to get to know me as I start to develop this blog and refine the content. I hope to keep a bit of a record of everything I love and hopefully there will be something you'll enjoy. 

With lots of love