Friday, 17 May 2013

Busy with Travels, Garden, Books and Cooking

We have found that the best thing to do while I wait my transplant is to keep ourselves as busy as we can doing things we enjoy. It helps to take our minds of things and my illness and as a family we are very determined to try and carry on as normally as possible, whilst making the most of our days. That's why we are always out and about when I feel up to it and I try to keep up and enjoy some of hobbies I have always enjoyed. Every moment is precious to us.

This week saw us taking Rose back to Bournemouth as she has her university exams next week. She came home for Easter and decided it was a quieter place to do her work and revision than in her halls of residence, so she stayed at home for an extra few weeks longer. This was really nice for me having her around again and it feels very quiet without her now. She will be back in a months time and I cannot believe that will be her first year completed. It seems only a blink back to last year when she was sitting her A levels and planning to go away. 

Rob and I have been quite enjoying the fact that Rose chose to go to Bournemouth when she decided to go to university, as most of you know reading my blog, we enjoy a new place to visit, so now we have a great excuse to discover Dorset and the surrounding areas, somewhere we haven't ever visited before. It is a two hour run to Bournemouth from Hertfordshire and because I'm not well, too much for me to manage there and back in a day, thus another perfect excuse every time Rose comes or goes to have an overnight stay or two. I also really like to be there to pick her up or take her back, I think more so perhaps because I know I might not be able to do it one day, so while I can I do. 

We chose to stay in Christchurch, which is only a short drive from where Rose stays in Bournemouth and we normally go self catering as this makes it much easier to manage with my illness and medication routines, we can just please ourselves, do what I can manage and explore at our leisure. If I don't feel well and I'm having one of those bad days then we can make ourselves more at home in our own place. Rose also came and visited us for a night once she had got settled back in her own place and unpacked.

Christchurch is well worth a visit. It is a busy market town, which developed into an important trading port in the 9th century and it is located at the confluence of two rivers, the River Stour and the River Avon; it has a natural harbour and an attractive quay, where you can while away your time watching the wildlife and the comings and goings of sailing and motor boats and all sorts of river traffic; it is dominated by a historic priory dating back to 1094; it has an Anglo Saxon water mill and has some 12th century castle ruins, plus some excellent beaches and nature reserves. There was also a big Food festival going on while we were there so there was lots to see and do in just a short space of time.

I hope you enjoy this weeks pictures taken in Christchurch and get a feel for what the place is like, of course by now you will know photography is a big hobby of ours, keeping us busy! 

Easter flower, better late than never!
One of the things that I've always been really passionate about is gardening and although I am really limited now as to what I can manage and that is really frustrating for me, Rob and I are always planning new things for it and trying out new plants. Rob does most of the hard work on his own now and over the last few years while I have been ill, he has transformed it and made it really beautiful for me to enjoy. He has planted lots of new plants so there is always something of interest out there. 

Tulips enjoying the sun
At last some cherry blossom
Although as I write this it is only about four degrees in temperature and windy and wet, after that first big show of daffodils a few weeks ago and that little glimpse of spring weather the other week, the garden seems to be bursting into colour, with all sorts of different plants making a show. The cherry blossom has come out about three weeks late, the apple blossom is opening and the bluebells are coming out. Rob planted a new magnolia bush for me a few months ago and that's in full show and I also found some snowdrops flowering, which he planted a bit late last November! We also have some very busy blue tits nesting in both the bird boxes, hundreds if not thousands of tadpoles in the pond and we have had goldfinches, long tail tits, greenfinches and chaffinches visiting the bird feeder and having a crafty bath in the pond. We have blackbirds nesting in a honeysuckle over the front door, so we are trying not to be too noisy as we come and go. On a quiet day it's looking lovely to look at and there is lots of comings and goings to watch.   
Forget me nots and phlox
Reading is one thing I've always really loved doing and it is something I can still do very easily and now I'm not working any more and have to rest a lot I have been able to read much more. I have really enjoyed being able to this, without needing an excuse to be able to sit down. A good book can transport you miles away and be very absorbing, which can be a good thing for me! I've set myself a little challenge earlier in the year via the Goodreads website. Goodreads is a website where you can get book recommendations and find out more about books you might like to read, many members give reviews and ratings for books, so you can get a feel whether a book may be to your liking or not. I'm trying to keep myself busy and read at least one book per week. You will see a Goodreads icon at the bottom of my blog, which has been there a while now and if you click on it you can see which books I've been reading.

Jew's mallow
My book for this week is The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson. I decided on this one because I really enjoyed ITV's drama Ice Cream Girls, which is written by the same author, I was only sorry I hadn't read the book first before I saw the series. So far it has been a real page turner from the beginning, I am only half way through, but it's a hard one to put down. It is a book with a few sinister twists and you are left wondering what really did happen, very similar in style to Ice Cream Girls, if you enjoyed that.

Cooking is another thing I am really enjoying, having more time on my hands and I've found ways to keep this up such as sitting while I'm doing the preparation work and making sure I rest in between doing things if it's a recipe that takes some time and preparation. This month seems to be asparagus season and after we had had some friends round for dinner one evening, where Rob and I shared the cooking and preparations we had quite a bit of asparagus left over, so I decided I'd make my own asparagus soup. It turned out quite well so here's the recipe:

Asparagus Soup


Olive oil
Two onions
A bundle of asparagus finely chopped
500ml of chicken stock
A pinch of garlic
A pinch of celery seed
Black pepper
A few tablespoons of fresh cream  


Heat the olive oil and add the onions until softened, add in the asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or so, add the stock, black pepper, celery seed and garlic and simmer until the asparagus is fully cooked. Add the fresh cream and then put in a blender until smooth. 


So a very busy week again while we wait, in many ways the weeks are passing very quickly and we are filling them with enjoyable things in between the ups and downs, 607 days of waiting up to now, so let's hope not too much longer to go, but in the meantime, well we are already planning this weekend...

The new Magnolia

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