It was one of those days you sometimes get

latish in the autumn when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a bracing tang in the air that sends the blood beetling briskly through the veins.        (P.G. Wodehouse)

When ex shop display squash are tossed in spices and roasted, flecked with fresh mint, eaten with finger staining segments of pomegranate and too many spoonfuls of tahini.  Too many only in respect  of the waistline.

When the seemingly endless apple season meets this Jamie Oliver recipe for a vegan toffee apple upside down cake. It is cake best made a couple of days before you wish to eat it. I would add a sprinkle of sea salt to the caramel and some fresh ginger to the batter if i were you.

and as the clocks go back and the evenings draw in, thoughts turn to Christmas and a new flower school details here 

and Poldark, quite a few thoughts about Poldark, most are impure.


The fundamental things apply

as time goes by.

Life has changed, scrolling, swiping, an endless stream of controlled images with the odd butterfly filter to make us seem less rigid. "Look, I'm a real person! I'm just searching for approval behind this golden glow and naive animation"

Broadcasting, a most devout religion

the higher the number the closer to heaven.

Of course it's the parts of life that aren't being broadcast that are the most interesting. The parts that mould us, that change us, change our perspective on everything

that make us laugh, that make our hearts burst with sadness.

These parts of our life are the people and it is hard to share other peoples' lives, but perhaps they may be alluded to here.

Better here than tying it all up in a neat little bow and a sprinkling of P5?


You say I'm crazy

'cause you don't think i know what you've done
but when you call me baby
i know I'm not the only one.

There have been two delphinium harvests, the Highlands of Scotland, the wilds of Exmoor and everywhere in between.

Damsons have been turned into ice-cream, ripe tomatoes have dripped down chins, cocktails, coffees.

Flowers, so many flowers.

Hatches, matches and dispatches.

All observed and absorbed quietly by the florist.


Lately and in no particular order

I fell down the rabbit hole that is owning a puppy.

I have never been here before, it is filled with joyous choral angels and butterflies and you land softly on a bed of cashmere.

There have also been weddings, and a wonderful flower school and parties and some cooking.

I shall attempt to climb out of the hole and bring them to you.


New flower school date and a puppy…..

Spring flower school 27th April 2015 -  Techniques

This class is a back to basics/ the building blocks of floristry sort of thing. In the informal surroundings of the shop, you will learn the techniques of
Hand tied bouquets
Vase arrangements for tables for dinners or weddings
Garlanding for garlands, wreaths and hanging arrangements
Photography tips on photographing your work with a smartphone

Whether you are an flower enthusiast, a blogger or somebody who has been asked to help with a wedding, this course is for you.

Gift vouchers are available, the perfect gift for Mothering Sunday.

For full details and to book a place click here and then there was Valentine…. He is a whippet/Bedlington cross. More on him this week, meanwhile you can follow him on instagram @valentinewhippet


Of Speculoos and Guy Bourdin

Bonne année and all that jazz

Firstly, thank you for all of your wonderfully caring comments on the passing of The Hound. I cried all day everyday throughout December, customers cried with me, people who i have never spoken to put their head round the door to say how sorry they were, remembering him from his antics in the farmers market or as a regular fixture in the Tobie Norris.

It is a very strange reality without him, i keep forgetting and looking for him, or shouting him to get up.
I have become obsessed with looking for another dog on the internet, i think i know the whereabouts and age of every lurcher/ whippet/ weimaraner in rescue. I even went to see one, a lurcher who looked quite similar to The Hound, but she was so different in character, and i had a bit of a meltdown.

The first cut is the deepest.

In amongst all the tears and despair i have managed to fit in

Hundreds of Christmas wreaths
A trip to Brussels
Turning 40
A trip to London
3 rolls of 120 film
A lot of champagne
A few instagrams

It was the trip to Brussels to see the Belgian arm of the bee team, that inspired the above cheesecake. After my attempts at stealing baby Patrick were thwarted, i instead filled the suitcase with Speculoos biscuits.

Speculoos cheesecake with salted caramel sauce 
( adapted from this recipe from Le Journal des Femmes)

I made this in an 8inch round tin.

175g speculoos biscuits
80g butter melted
360g cream cheese
140g Quark
2 eggs
100g sugar
Teaspoon of vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce
80g sugar
4 tablespoons of water
200ml double cream
50g butter
fleur de sel

In a food processor whizz up the biscuits to a fine crumb. Mix in the melted butter to form a dough. Tip this into a greased and lined loose bottomed tin, and with the back of a spoon spread it to form a base and about an inch up the sides of the tin to form a case. Bake blind in the oven at 180 for about 5 minutes and allow to cool.
Meanwhile mix the cheese and quark. The French recipe calls for 400g of Philadelphia with honey and 100g of plain. You can't get Philadelphia honey in Rutland, and the tubs are 180g in size, hence the last minute decision to add in some quark i happened to have. I think it would have been far too sweet and rich made the original way. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, pour into the tin and bake in the oven for a further 30-40 minutes. Chill in the fridge for a few hours.
For the sauce, put the sugar and water into a heavy frying pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat until a caramel colour and scent is reached. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and butter, then add some fleur de del to taste.

Serve sauce in fancy copper pan purchased in Brussels.

Then to London to see friends who are expecting a baby any day, and a trip to the Guy Bourdin Exhibition at Somerset House, do go it is very good.

and skies that belong in movies.

and chicken roasted after being smothered in creme fraiche, garlic, red onion, tarragon and flat leaf parsley.

A strange time, hideous and wonderful in equal measure.


Hold on tightly let go lightly

I have tried to write this post so many times and failed.

The Hound passed away last week, he became very poorly very quickly, and i had to make the decision that was right for him but is haunting me.

I had a day off today, which it turns out is entirely the wrong thing to do, so it is back to the 18 hour days of wreaths and trees and weddings. Distraction.

Thank you to the staff at Stamford Veterinary Centre, and to everybody that has mopped up my tears, so often with their own.

I am so lost without him.


Christmas Wreath Workshop in aid of Farm Africa

On the 4th of December we are hosting a Christmas Wreath workshop at Browne's hospital Broad Street Stamford.

The above painting dated 1870 is the room we are using.

You can't beat a bit of history.

You will make your own wreath on a traditional brass ring, with moss, and heaps of mixed foliage.

followed by a fork supper provided by The Stamford Deli.

and a chance to hear about and see photographs from my trip to Tanzania.

Cost £50.00 with all proceeds going to Farm Africa

Tickets available from the shop, or The Stamford Deli


The road to Endoji

was long and dusty.

11 people and many beehives in one Toyota Landcruiser climbing higher and higher along the pot hole filled track. One of the things that struck me the most was how far away from anywhere Endoji was.

As we unfurled cramped legs and rather inelegantly fell out of the car, we were met by singing and dancing. There is a glimpse of it here. I probably watch this 2 or 3 times a day, it is enormously joyous.


We were taken to a gazebo made of blue tarpaulin and decorated with lace and silk flowers. Dancing and singing continued, it was overwhelming and surreal and so very emotional. I had to bite my lip to stop the tears. I would hate for you to think i spent the entire time there crying, i spent far more time in fits of giggles, but it wouldn't be appropriate to blog about those bits. Also many of the tears were sheer relief that i wouldn't have to build anymore beehives.

We presented the beehives, and a beekeeping suit, boots and smoker, and the ladies danced with them. I think the photograph of the lady and the smoker is my favourite of the whole trip.

Then the beehives and the bee team were blessed by the village elder and his grass.

and the local politician gave a speech. He was passionate in his thanks to FarmAfrica, and also in his appeal for Tanzania's carbon credit.

and there was a meal in the village hall, spiced rice, offal and fruit.

The welcome and gratitude was so heartfelt, it was aimed at us, but was meant for the hives and the continued work that FarmAfrica will do with the village.

but the best part of the day was just meeting the villagers, watching the children play with the balloons, and tennis balls, and jumping frogs we had taken, and just standing back and seeing and photographing all the colours. We had to be dragged away, i didn't want to leave, the villagers of Endoji have so very little in terms of material goods or opportunity but their optimism and serenity was so striking and comforting.

Tomorrow i shall bring you news of a Christmas wreath flower school we are holding in aid of FarmAfrica. December the 4th 6.30 at Browns hospital, Stamford.