Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013, Thanks for all the Memories.

I thought I would shake together a montage of what 2013 has blessed me with. So many gorgeous memories. Sometimes at the end of the year I sit down and wonder what I have done and achieved, but blogging really helps me piece together all the 365 days. Some of my favourite adventures included: buying Doris & Libertea Belle, free arty gin, bike riding, getting the pigs, picnics, quaffing beer, alotmenting and visiting many National Trust properties. 

Happy New Years Eve all you lovely readers. Thanks for perusing over my blog this past year. I hope you all have a wonderful night full of fun, memories and sparks of excitement for 2014. Here is to many more adventures, journeys and love. 

Much Love and see you in 2014 <3
Kirst xXx 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sherwood Mycology - Part 1

It has been nearly a month since I had my lovely holiday in Sherwood Pines with Ed and my folks, the time has absolutely flown by with all the Christmas shopping and early dark nights. I am really looking forward to the shortest day because then it is the count down to long, warm summery nights camping in Doris. 

On our little holiday we went on an excursion to Sherwood Forest, the weather was beautiful, wintery and crisp and I had such a fun time snapping all this lovely fungus. I can only identify the first two though (I think), the first one is Trametes Versicolor which has a nickname of Turkey Tail which I think is very apt. The second one down is Ascocoryne Sarcoides which is also known as the Purple Jellydisk, I think it should be called Purple Brain! 

When I looked in my mushroom book I could kinda find some similar matches for the others, but none I was really sure about. I couldn't find out what the red, rusty one that was nestled into the bark, was at all though. If anyone knows what any of these are then please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you. This was such a fun trip out, I can't wait to get out with my camera again.

Hope all your Christmas plans are coming together <3
Much Love,
Kirst xXx 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Adventures in Birmingham & The Central Library.

I fancied a little adventure yesterday so Ed and I decided to go to Birmingham, as it is only about an hour away. It was such a lovely afternoon! We got there, had a spot of lunch at Wagamama and then had a peruse around the Bull Ring. We then had a wonder through the Christmas market, as the light was fading all the lights sparkled away and the festive spirit crackled through the crowds.

Once we had exhausted the Christmas market I had an idea to go and see the new Central Library. I fired up Googlemaps and traced our way through the crowds to find it. I was quite intrigued to see what this place was going to be like after its well publicised price tag of £189 million. My initial reaction, when I saw this in the media, was that it was a complete indulgence in this day and age of spending cuts and frugality. With many libraries closing never to be opened again, wouldn't it be better to have sprinkled this money around and kept the little ones open?  

On walking inside this building it became very difficult for me to keep my reservations. This building is awe inspiring, the space is light, airy and immense. Exploring the Central Library is like endeavouring through a book depository that has been swirled around Syd Mead's psyche. It is nothing short of breathtaking. When I had escalated to the top I saw this bullet shaped glass lift that transported me to the roof top garden. The view in the wintery darkness of the sprawling, illuminated Birmingham is humbling, quietning and beautiful. Whilst leaving your legs a little jelly like because it is so high up! 

I really think that this building was worth the cost, to have such an inspired public space that is free and full of books is a wonderful legacy. In such a place you can become anything and anyone. It doesn't matter how much money you have or what class you grew up in, when you are inside these walls the world is at your feet. 

Hope you are having a wonderful Christmasy weekend <3
Much Love.
Kirst xXx 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas at Calke Abbey.

Ed and I had a little Christmas adventure to Calke Abbey this afternoon. We went to go and have a peruse around the craft fair originally but nothing really tickled our fancy there. But fortunately parts of the house were decorated all ready for Christmas so we couldn't resist going to have a look around to warm up the festive cockles. 

The Christmas tree was absolutely beautiful, it was decorated with ornaments that have been handed down the Harpur-Crewe family for many generations. There were some vintage ornaments from the 40s to die for! And the fairy on top of the tree was over 100 years old, she wasn't looking too bad for her age either.

Calke Abbey is probably my favourite National Trust property (that I have been to so far), and one of the reasons for this is the sheer amount of taxidermy that is crammed into this property. There is so many unusual, exotic creatures, bones, shells, oddities. I could easily spend all day here just looking in awe at the eccentric collection. 

All the Christmas decorations made Calke really atmospheric today, it was almost eerie in places. You could imagine all the Christmas' that this property would have seen and the plethora of emotions that would have been housed within these walls. It was really nice to go to a place that nudged you to think about Christmas in a way that wasn't all about present buying and hectic panic.   

If you get a little spare time over the coming Christmas weekends I would highly recommend going to Calke Abbey for a festive experience that with warm up the heart of the most ardent bah humbug.

Hope you have had lots of festive fun this weekend <3
Much Love.
Kirst xXx

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Forest Frolics.

Today has been another beautiful, breathtaking day in Sherwood Forest. The weather has been dry and crisp, whilst the forest bursts with autumnal hues. I went on a walk with my parents this morning and witnessed the mist transcending into the sky whilst hearing the leaves crackle and crunch underfoot. 

Ed and I went mountain biking this afternoon for a couple of hours. It was amazing! I must admit that when I come to a slightly scary spot I do squeal quite a lot, but I was a bit braver today than I was yesterday. It was a lot of fun and I loved seeing parts of the forest I would not have seen otherwise if I had just been on foot. The hot tub was a complete solace for my aching body when I got back to the cabin as well. 

Hope you are having a wonderful week <3
Much Love
Kirst xXx

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holidaying with Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest.

A few months ago Ed and I went to visit a friend in Sherwood Forest in these beautiful, modernistic log cabins. I totally fell in love with this place and it was top of my list when Ed and I decided we needed to get away from the city for a few days. The first image below is the view out of our cabin's living room, I could look at this view every morning for the rest of my life and I would never get tired of it. It is so beautiful and peaceful here that it is the perfect break to recharge our batteries before the manic Christmas season kicks off.  

We rented some mountain bikes today, this is the first time I have ever been mountain biking. The first bike I was given was a unisex one, it was huge, scary and the breaks were a long way from the handle bars! This bike hated me and I hated it, so I was very pleased to swap it for a ladies mountain bike. I had such a wicked day (once I got the right sized bike) in the gorgeous, sunny, crisp, autumnal air. Now all that is left is to have dinner and lounge in the hot tub with a beer.

Hope you are having an autumnal wonderland <3
Much Love
Kirst xXx 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Food to Cuddle the Soul - Veggie Stroganoff.

This is one of my favourite evening meals to cook at the moment, it's creamy, smokey and because it is the colour of sunshine it will help you banish those winter blues. This food is also kind to your pocket as it will only set you back a healthy £1.25 a portion! Here's how you make it...

Enough for Two Portions.
250g Mushrooms                         -  79p
2 Courgettes                                 - 66.6p
2 Carrots (130g)                        - 10.8p

1 Small Onion (113g)                 - 5.5p
3 Cloves of Garlic - 7.5p

Butter (5g)                                 - 2p

1tbsp (30g) Dijon Mustard - 9.4p  
1tbsp (30g) Ketchup                  - 5.6p
3tbsp (90g) Creme Fraiche       - 33p
1tbsp Gluten Free Flour (15g)   - 2.4p
(Regular flour works also)

Stock Cube                              - 6.5p

1 tsp Smoked Paprika (2.3g) -  4p

100g Brown Rice                     - 17.8

(Prices from Asda last week) 

This Recipe takes around 30mins to cook. 

I came up with this recipe one weekday evening when we had some creme fraiche to use up. The vegetables in this stroganoff are the ones that I usually have lingering in the bottom of the fridge so it is the perfect recipe to use up veg that may have seen better days. The key to making this meal super yummy is the different textures that the vegetables provide, that is why I cut them up in different ways. 

Firstly chop the ends off your courgettes and cut the courgette in half (not lengthways)  then cut them into juliennes that are about 0.5cm thick, quarter the mushrooms and use a potato peeler to peel your carrots into thin slices. Put a pan on a high heat and add the courgettes, don't add any oil at this point, once the cougettes have a little colour on them, remove from the pan and add the mushrooms. Once these have colour remove these from the pan as well. Roughly chop an onion and 3 cloves of garlic and gently fry these in butter for about five minutes on a medium heat, until they are soft and starting to brown. It is important to use butter because it thickens the sauce, if you don't have butter you can thicken it with cornflour later. Next add a heaped tablespoon of flour and stir it around the pan so it absorbs the butter and sticks to the garlic and onions.

Pour 300ml of boiling water over a beef stock cube in a jug (if you are vegetarian you could swap this out with half a tablespoon of marmite... trust me it tastes awesome!). Pour the stock a little at a time over the floury onions over a high heat and stir. You should see the liquid start to thicken. Now add the mustard and the ketchup and stir until the sauce is smooth (this would be the point to add your cornflour if you needed to). Turn the heat to medium and add the courgettes, mushrooms and carrot slices and cook for 5 mins. Then add the creme fraiche and stir, cook this for 10-15mins until the vegetables are cooked but still have some bite. Then all there is to do is to add the smoked paprika and a pinch of salt. 

Serve up with some brown rice and chow down to restore yourself back to your usual sunny vigour.

Much Love
Kirst xXx

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I *heart* Blackpool.

I have never been to Blackpool before, so when my friends said they were going there for the weekend, Ed and I decided to go adventuring for a couple of days. I'd heard mixed reviews of Blackpool, some people said it was a dive and very tired around the edges, whilst others said that there was a lot of fun to be had there. 

Blackpool certainly lived up to the latter of those views! I love seaside towns that are a little shabby around the edges, you can't help but get enveloped in the English seaside nostalgia. There was so much to see and do here, one night there was nowhere near long enough to explore this place.  

I had always wanted to visit The Comedy Carpet in Blackpool, but I had completely forgotten about it. So as it loomed ahead of me, when I was walking along the front, I was incredibly happy. This is an amazing piece of art and I would recommend going to see this for yourself because it is so beautiful. The Comedy Carpet refers to work from over 1,000 different comedians and it squeezes over 160,000 granite letters in 2,200m2 of embedded concrete. If you are a lover of typography I don't think you will want to leave! I only managed to tear myself away when I started to get really chilly from the sea breeze.

I can't wait to visit Blackpool again.
Hope you have had a wonderful weekend <3

Much Love

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Day I Met Neil Gaiman.

A few months ago I met Neil Gaiman *Eeekkk*! There are very few people who I would ever get star stuck over, and even fewer who I would make the effort to go and meet, but Neil Gaiman has to be top of the list for me. 

I have loved Neil Gaiman's work since my early to mid teens, it all started when I stumbled across his Death the High Cost of Living graphic novel. I was deeply rooted in my Goth era then and I just thought Death was the coolest character ever, I even started to wear an Ankh because of her, which I still do today. One summer when I went to London with my friend, we were waiting to go on a Jack the Ripper tour when an American tourist came up to me and said ''You read Sandman don't you, you look just like Death''. That was and still is one of the most awesome compliments I have ever had in my life (I realise this is maybe a little weird). 

I soon meandered to American Gods, this book is probably my favourite in all the world. If I could only read one more book it would be this one. I am a massive sucker for mythology and folklore, especially of the Norse schism so it just pulled me in and kept me there. The story and characters are intoxicating and it provided me with some much needed escapism. 

Then there was Neverwhere. I was going through a difficult time in my life, I was living away from my parents, I wasn't particularly happy and I felt utterly lost. This book gave me a world that I could envelop myself with and somehow it gave me hope that better things were out there within my grasp.   

So looking back Neil Gaiman's work has been an inspiration, a comfort and kindling for my imagination. It was an amazing evening to go to Ely cathedral and sit watching the occasional bat flitting around whilst listening to him answering questions and read from his books. We were told that we were allowed to take one book and one other thing that we loved most in the world. I was lucky because Ed didn't mind getting The Ocean and the End of the Lane and Neverwhere signed for me whilst I got American Gods and a photograph of Doris. 

This was a totally magical evening for me and one that I will never forget. 

much love

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumn at the Allotment.

The allotment adventures are winding down now Autumn is in full swing. Today Ed and I went and dug up the last of the potato crop, picked the beetroot stragglers, collected the onions that have been drying in the greenhouse and did a small amount of tidying up. 

We have had the allotment for about a year now and it has definitely been a story of ups and downs. We have had some amazing food such as blackberries, garlic, onions, beetroot, raspberries, strawberries, plums, runner beans, lettuce, potatoes, nettles, dandelions and courgettes. And we have also had some disappointing ones, those being sweetcorn, Romanesco broccoli, bak choi and the kohlrabi. Pretty much anything that the cabbage butterfly could lay it's eggs on got chomped. So next year we have decided to get plenty of netting.  

It feels amazing to eat food that you have grown. I know exactly where it has come from and that it has had no chemicals poured all over it. I also know when it was picked so its always super fresh when it ends up on my plate.  

One thing I have learnt is that allotments are a lot of hard work! More than I could have ever anticipated. The upkeep has been really tough and what with having a 30 year old campervan to maintain and repair, this summer was a lot more hectic than planned. But it has definitely been worth it. That said, it will be nice to have a few months off battling weeds so I can get down to figuring out what I want to grow and eat next year. 

How have your green fingered plans spanned out this year?
Much Love
Kirst x

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Abandoned Road...

The weather was quite sunny yesterday so Ed and I decided to trek out to the Peak District and have an adventure. Castleton is one of our favourite places, the drive up there is pretty awesome, there are some wonderful pubs to have a pint in and there is the abandoned road! Ed and I accidentally found this road when we bought one of the walking maps, a few years ago, from the tourist information centre in Castleton. I was pretty amazed at how much the road has slipped down the Mam Tor, it really reminds you of how powerful nature is at stripping the human additions away. 

The original road was built around 1819, but due to the natural formation of the rock beneath it meant that it was vulnerable to landslides in wet weather. Because of this major road works were required in 1912, 1933, 1946, 1952, 1966 & 1974. In 1979 the road was abandoned and the traffic was rerouted. When it is quiet here it feels like the apocalypse has hit, I imagine it is even more eerie here at night.   

Ed and I had a really good time, we managed to get to the top of the road eventually (we stopped a lot to take pictures). Then we realised we had to start making tracks back down into the village because we had a tabled booked for dinner at one of the local pubs.  Hope you have had a fabulous Autumnal weekend <3 Much LoveKirst x