Monday, 28 July 2008

Fields of Gold

What better way to relax, with a lovely glass of something chilled and the sun setting overhead...
The barbecue lit, a comfy bed only feet away and the promise of doing it all over again tomorrow...

Outside our tent we sat, only an hour away from home yet it could have been several. We watched the sky turn pink (along with my cheeks!) and finally started to remember what Summer should feel like. You will see from the picture above that the orange squash has now been happily replaced with a very large bottle of rose from tesco for a fiver. It lasted the whole weekend and was very gluggable indeed.

The campsite we stayed at was just outside Bourton on the Water, a really lovely place. Have you been? you should. It is INCREDIBLY touristy, but we very smugly snuck in early on Saturday, whilst only the locals could be found, grabbed provisions (ie. bacon, bread rolls) grabbed an even quicker coffee (have turned into a complete coffee snob since buying the cafe and learning about coffee) and then headed back to camp to enjoy the peace and quiet.

This was the beautiful sight we were met with when we first arrived at the site. Isn't it beautiful? Golden fields as far as the eye could see...

The cafe is finished, decor wise, and I am now turning into a real Monica and cleaning everything in sight. The oven, the griddle, the dishwasher?! I think the cutlery is next. And then maybe the floors again..

I can also start accessorising a bit now. We have a 'mosaic lady' frantically mosaicing as you read, so we can decorate our walls with her fabulous works of art. There may be a potter to come on board, as well as an artist...I love the idea of having lots of beautiful things to look at whilst enjoying a cup of coffee, and supporting local artists and businesses as much as possible is important too. We have found a new, local ice cream company which is very exciting, as we can help each other out on the PR side, and we are just about sorted with local meat as well.

Exciting times...think we may go camping again next weekend, if only to get a little bit of sleep...


Happy Birthday to my lovely Mum for tomorrow. Hope you have a great day. I promise I won't embarrass you by putting up an awful photo of you eating cake or something,

So instead I found this one! You look great in this photo, very slinky! Happy Birthday To You.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 21 July 2008

Peasy Does It

The peas on our allotment are SPECIAL. Oh yes! They are square...and if you are really clever (or bored) you can build blocks with so! And no, no superglue was used, you cheeky lot!

Unfortunately the Gladioli are just normal, no super powers or anything. But they are rather beautiful in colour. They are also very traditional flowers to have on an allotment. Our were bought very cheaply from Lidls, and have been watched over anxiously ever since. I have never grown them before, and am so pleased with the result. they really liven up the bottom section of the plot.

And just to show some of you kind souls, who have worried that I have been working myself too hard... this is a typical Sunday evening in our household! Please note several things,

1) The dead mans arm on the television screen!

2) A couple of you may recognise certain cards on the mantlepiece!

3) And a couple more of you may notice the vase of dead flowers. They really are going to be thrown out today. Honest.

4) That is orange squash in my glass. What is happening to me?!! "Must not drink on a school night" perhaps? Nope. I just didn't like the wine!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Just to keep you updated...

Thankyou for all of your fabulous emails and comments, and your recipe suggestions. I have started to put them all into a 'Bloggers Recipe Folder' and they are going to be experimented with next week. It's so kind of you to send your own family recipes, I am incredibly touched by the sentiment. So far I have made Nancys recipe for Mars Bar Cakes. Rob is munching on it as I type. I fear we may be in the bad books with the dentist. It really is yummy stuff indeed. And cannot be wasted on children!

We have had another really busy at the Cafe, but are starting to see results now, whereas before everything just seemd like an enormous mess with paint tins scattered everywhere.

I have grouted the toilet floor, put up shelves and a newspaper rack, cleaned and scrubbed everything in sight and done lots of PR work (ie. gossiping outside with the locals)

The boys have painted, moved the safe (quite some feat, believe me) put up tiles, moved fridges, sanded walls, taken out wiring and pipework, laughed and taken the mickey out of me for 'shirking' my reponsibilities (they don't understand PR work, obviously).

The painting is nearly finished. The splashback is grouted and splashproof! (and I have the yucky fingernails to prove it) the doors and skirting boards are sage green. The glasses are washed and sparkling. The coffee machine is still foxing me! But I am getting better.

We have lovely cream walls, beautiful new lights and loads of enthusiasm. In fact the bags of enthusiasm I have almost match those under my eyes, in size.

I have even had time to partake of some 'experimental cafe cooking' and here is one attempt..herb bread. It's from a book by The National Trust called 'Traditional Teatime Recipes' that I bought on a recent shopping trip to Oxford with Nancy. It's the only thing I have made from the book so far, but it was a success. We had it for lunch today with (homemade!) Sweet Potato, Red Pepper and Lentil soup. Alas there is no recipe, I just made it up as I went, but the recipe for the bread is as follows...


8oz Self raising white or wholemeal flour (or a mix of half and half) sifted

1tsp dry English Mustard powder

2 tablespooons of fresh chopped herbs (chives, basil, thyme, sage etc.-from ones' herb garden!)

4oz grated mature cheddar cheese

25g (1oz) butter (melted)

1 egg, beaten (defeated, cannot take it any more...etc..)

150ml water (5 fl.oz)

Preheat the oven to 190 C, 375 F, gas mark 5. Grease a 1lb loaf tin.

Mix together the flour, mustard herbs and cheese.

Add the melted butter, egg and water and mix to a soft, wet cake like dough.

Turn into the tin and bake for 45 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold with butter. Or soup!

It is incredibly easy to make and really tasty. You can use any herbs you have to hand, and I used chives and basil, which made for a great combo.

So the week ahead holds more cooking, costing up recipes, finishing the writing of the menu (or the provisional menu, anyway) finishing the painting, sorting out the kitchen, finalising suppliers, chasing up the solicitors and meeting with the sign writers. As well as more tiling, cleaning the glass fronted fridge, cleaning the windows, cleaning, cleaning and possibly a bit more cleaning.

Did I mention the cleaning?

Have a great week


Sunday, 13 July 2008

It feels a bit like the Oscars, you know

How simply splendid to receive awards, I feel like an Oscar winner! (well, I imagine it feels similiar, obviously never having been awarded an Oscar, nor is it likely that I ever know what I mean!) anyway, this one above is from Steph at Curlew Country-have you met her? Pop in, she lives in a beautiful part of the country and is always up to something interesting. Her house benefits beautiful countryside views and her garden is fabulous, considering she hasn't been a gardener for long. She certainly puts me to shame.

This one below is from April, at Cake Makes the World a Better Place (it does, you know) if ever there was a blog with a more apt title, I don't know what it is. April knows her cake. Oh yes, if you are in need of a sweet, icing laden fix then go and see April. She also likes pink, which is never a bad thing, in my opinion.
Thankyou so much, girls, to you both, I am incredibly flattered by the awards, and I need to pass them on, obviously! I forgot to do that last time, sorry, but am blaming it on my general scattiness of, here goes,

5 Blogs that make my day to be awarded to...(drum roll, please!)

* Lucy at Attic 24- Lucy's blog is a recent discovery of mine, and I get incredibly excited when I see she has done a new posting. We seem to share a very similar sense of humour, and her photos are fabulous, whereas mine are always taken in a hurry and seem to be very blurry. Ah well...she also cooks a mean fritatta...

* Catherine at Mollycupcakes- she has been incredibly supportive to me since I started blogging and for that I thank her greatly. She also has VERY cute children, makes amazing spotty bits and pieces, some of which are scattered around my kitchen, and she always makes me smile.

* Kim at Ragged Roses, for thinking of me when she is getting dressed in the morning!! (haha) I always check in on her blog late on a Monday or early on a Tuesday, if I can, as it is almost guaranteed that she will have shared another interesting post of what she has been up to. Kims' blog is one of those that has me shouting at the computer (in a good, 'Me too!' kind of way)

* Michele at Cowboys and Custard, (have you seen her kitchen?!) but also, she makes me laugh so much. Again, a huge support to me since I started blogging and I do believe if we lived closer I would be permanently camped out on her doorstep, actually. If that's ok...don't go calling the police or anything...

* Nancy at Philosophyoflists. Blimey that girl can write a list, you know. And she is so good at it, as well! Nancy is the person who inspired me to blog in the first place, so really she is to blame. Sorry about that. I think she probably has a few lists simmering as I type, so do go over and check regularly, won't you?

And 5 Brilliante Weblogs! to,

* Alison at Vintage Amethyst- do you have room for any more awards, Alison?! Alison has a fabulous online shop full of beautiful things for sale, so do check it out. It's the perfect place to buy presents for yourself (or others, of course) Alison and I are on the same wavelength and do share some bizarre similarities...she is a very amusing, kind and lovely lady with a brilliant blog. Go and visit her!

* Val at Dottycookie. She has got a new allotment, you know! Val has een working VERY hard, weeding, digging and turning over soil to get her new plot in prime condition. Her blog always makes very interesting reading

* Tess at Driftwood...officially now a charity worker, due to the billions of pink gingham aprons she has been sewing of late for charity..atta girl! She should hopefully be emerging soon, more or less unscathed from the enormous pile of aprons, out into the sunshine!

* Tracey at Dragonfly. Her garden is AMAZING. Seriously, it looks like it should be in Homes and Gardens. Tracey is a wonderful person, who has been through so much but remains upbeat, supportive to others and actually makes me feel quite humble, really. She is incredibly talented, from crochet to stained glass to gardening to cooking. Darn it, I think I've talked her up too much now...Have a look at my bug infested nasturtiams, instead!

I don't know if I have bored you before on the fact that guttering is fabulous stuff indeed for growing, especially for radishes, as they don't need masses of space for root growth. They also grow very quickly...
And remember the herb garden that was first planted up a few months back? Well as you can see above, the plants are growing madly. A combination of far too much rain and a teeny bit of sun seem to be just what they like. Unfortunately some plants, like the parsley have gone to seed but the flowers are still pretty!

Hope you have all had a fabulous weekend. We were planning on going camping, but didn't make it due to the weather forecast. Instead we have been mooching about at home, cooking and gardening, and down at the allotment digging potatoes and pulling up weeds of triffid like proportions.

Thankyou all again for your continued support on the cafe front...I shall no doubt be back to bore you with further news soon!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Well you did ask...

For the 'before' photos, that hoping she is going to 'forget' the Cath Kidston Roberts radio..but I bet she won't! The lovely red coffee machine is still being experimented with. It's much harder than it looks to make the perfect cappuccino, you know! I'll get there.
Some of you will be pleased to hear that Ihave met a lovely coffee supplier today who does a great line in flavoured syrups to add to the coffees-chocolate, vanilla, almond, cointreau...the list is endless.

The big nasty fridge below is going-too much like a chip shop bottle fridge, but we are going to move it into the back kitchen instead.

And these are the 'during' lovely Dad at the back in the 'ghostbusters' outfit, wielding a paintbrush. He has painted all the red out, ready to be painted cream in the next week or so. As much as I love red I wanted to make the place look totally different, and we have decided to go for a cream and sage green colour scheme, with oilcloth on the tables, nice and subtle, and hopefully, welcoming.

Everything that you can see was already in the cafe, but we have bought the lot. So now we just need to focus on how we can keep the stuff but change the atmosphere a bit.

Thankyou so much for your fabulous suggestions so far, it really has been incredibly helpful. They have all been written down in the ever expanding notebook, and we are going to start finalising the menu next week hopefully.

Any thoughts on a seperate childrens menu? Or is that making things complicated? Should we just keep a section for the little people inside the main menu?

As well as the kitchen area you can see in the photos there is another kitchen at the rear of the building, and a toilet. We have also got an office come storeroom which is rather handy for shoving boxes in as they are delivered.

So, what do you think?? Please remember it is work in progress- I am slightly scared at showing you these photos!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

And now the hard work begins!

Lovely Catherine at Mollycupcakes has awarded me with this-hurray! Thankyou so much. It makes the weather outside seem slightly brighter somehow.

I am as usual, staggered and massively happy by your supportive responses to my new venture. Thankyou so much. If you're ever passing, come in, I'll get you a pinny sorted and hand you a cake slice. I think we may be busy.

It's all very well choosing paint colours, browsing through recipe books for the perfect cookie mixture and trying to decide which soup should become our first 'soup of the week' but really, I think we are going to have a heck of a shock the day we actually open the doors to 'real people' Eeek.

Still, we have a few weeks to go yet. The lady who currently owns it has kindly given us a set of keys to basically do whatever we like. Her solicitor would quite rightly go bonkers if he knew, but who am I to argue? She is pregnant and fed up at the moment, so has shut the cafe and is at home with her feet up. I have had to force a smile onto my face when she has started grumbling about how she hates being pregnant. I don't want to make her feel bad about it, but am finding it rather a struggle to sympathise. Instead I shall have to concentrate on chocolate brownies, I think, to take my mind off it.

So I have been playing with very scary looking coffee machines, grinding my own beans and opening random boxes in the kitchen which have housed all manner of weird and wonderful things. Pre cooked hard boiled and shelled eggs, anyone?! Cans of sliced mushrooms? (bleurgh) frozen slices of pre-cooked chicken? I don't think I am on my own with thinking that they will all be filling a very large dustbin soon.

Tomorrows job is to start emptying out and cleaning the kitchen whilst the boys start decorating. I think the kitchen was put in by an incredibly tall person. I practically have to stand on tip toe to reach the sink. A trip to ikea for a set of their wooden steps is in order if I ever want to reach the top shelf. Or perhaps a pair of platform shoes...

Now, despite thanking you all already for your words of encouragement and glee, I have a favour to ask. But a fun one, hopefully. I would like suggestions for menus. Including boring things like your favourite sandwich fillings. I need your likes and dislikes about cafes you go to, in order to help us get it right! If you have any ideas at all, about anything that may be of help we would be grateful.

I am planning on being incredibly child friendly, so little people will be catered for (0nly well behaved ones though, otherwise they have to do the washing up) and I am hoping in time to encourage book clubs/ crafty clubs in for the evenings. I have a lady on standby who creates beautiful mosaics, pictures, mirrors etc. that we will hang on the walls and have for sale. Lots and lots of ideas floating around on that score. But any more will be gratefully received!

Thankyou again, you're all wonderful. I hope you pop in if you're ever in Gloucestershire!


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Coffee, tea, or me?

Something mad and crazy and ever so slightly scary has happened. I am buying a cafe.

Yep, no longer a horrid estate agent (well, a nice one actually, but lets face it, they don't have the greatest of reputations..) I shall instead be spending my days making sandwiches, learning to make fancy cups of frothy coffee and hopefully having a grand old time.

I do appreciate that I shall also have to be getting up very early, sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning toilets and being very nice to people even when they are being grumpy, but then I am used to that anyway. I do a great line in gritted teeth conversations...

It wasn't planned, oh no, it sort of just fell it into my lap. Well mine and my 'business partner' Tee hee. Makes me laugh every time I say 'business partner'. Sounds like the sort of thing a grown up would say.

After posting about my 30th birthday on here I had so many encouraging comments and emails from peope, saying how their 30's were just the best time. How you found yourselves, suddenly felt comfortable, realised what it was all about. And it made me think, really. I did enjoy my job but it wasn't the be all and end all. I worked to live, and that was ok, more than ok, in fact, but I wasn't passionate about it. I started to become complacent and that's not a good way to be in a sales job, in my mind. If the decision hadn't been made for me, if I hadn't have lost our baby then I would no doubt still be there, crossing off the days and counting down on my calender until maternity leave was due to start. Instead, a different path has been carved out for me, for now, and this seems to be it. I'm thrilled that I have something to keep me occupied, something exciting that keeps my mind busy every waking moment. There are lots of those. I am struggling to sleep, have been for a while now, and this news has only made the insomnia worse. At least now I can think about cake and soup recipes though, rather than sadder subjects.

So hopefully in early August we shall be open for business. Please stop by, all of you, when you are passing. I will pop the kettle on, or make you a frappuccinomochalatte extra foam hold the marshmallows or whatever...and take a nice fat slice of homemade cake from my glass domed cake stand. It would be lovely to see you.