Monday, 10 November 2014


My dad turned 80 this weekend.
He doesn't do cake, never eats puddings, thinks fudge is just awful (I must get the sweet tooth from the other side of the family).
He does, however, like red wine.
Since I don't believe one should have a birthday without cake I made a red wine cake.
I used cream cheese instead of mascarpone and a mix of ground almonds and 
gluten free flour so that my son could eat it. 
It worked.
Even my dad had a slice.

Monday, 3 November 2014

It's a wrap.

So that's it for season five.
It's been a lovely, mainly dry seven months - so different from 2012. The garden really came into its own after so much work was done (not by me) throughout last winter. There are still flowers in bloom as visitors enter the gate and more work is planned for the garden.

We'll reopen on 27th March 2015 which is less than five months away and I have a long list of things to do before then.
Better get started.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Not a piece of cake.

November. Bright, sunny November.
Who'd have thought?
We've defrosted the ice cream freezer and one other ahead of tomorrow's final day of the season and we're well on the way to selling out of all sorts of menu items. Great news for us, not so great for tomorrow's late arrivals.
I spent most of the afternoon at Clifton Village Hall judging the local baking competition - Swiss rolls, Victoria Sponges, Halloween themed showstoppers and fairy cakes, bread and canap├ęs.
I thought it would be easy.
I was so wrong.
I hope I am not volunteered again.

Friday, 31 October 2014


Ice cream all gone.
Now for the euro millions lottery....


It's Halloween.
The tearooms are decorated. There's a pumpkin on a cake stand on the counter and a cauldron full of sweets. There's a witch on the dresser and small bats on the windows. And "Happy Halloween" bunting in case anyone needs it spelled out. Literally.
All but one of the spider cakes have gone so I'm going in to make more this morning. The Witches' Brew soup is made.

Apparently it's going to be 19 degrees today which will make the kitchen like a cauldron.
That's a July temperature and may also make the conservatory tricky to bear. The conservatory was where I was going to set up for the group of 21 dressed-up children and adults who are arriving for lunch at 12 but I fear the heat may make their make-up run. Not a pretty sight. Although that's the point, isn't it?

I only have 16 ice creams left which is great news as we close for the season on Sunday.
But if it were July, 19 degrees and I only had 16 ice creams left I'd be panicking.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Brush with the past.

Just over a week until the end of the 2014 season.
Sweepings from the conservatory floor can tell the story of the year.
Obviously we sweep up a good deal (promise) but the floor is paved and there are plenty of grooves for things to get stuck. So most sweepings gather a piece or two of confetti from the wedding in August, a shiny cut out "50" from a party in early October, a similar cut out "Congratulations" from a wedding anniversary. We've held children's parties, U3A lunches, gardening group teas, 21st, 50th, 80th & 90th birthday gatherings.
Next year we have a wedding and a Golden Wedding anniversary party already booked in.
More confetti? More little shiny 50s to sweep up?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Taking the biscuit.

Twelve members of Oxford Probus group came for lunch and tea today with a visit to the church and crypt squeezed in between.
I went in early to make oatmeal and raisin cookies to go with their tea and to serve tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning we'll be opening early to make SIXTY hot chocolates for a visiting school group.
SIXTY hot chocolates with marshmallows.
Deep breath...