zaterdag 31 juli 2010

Nine for dinner

One of my favourite occupations is cooking. I have about two metres of cookery books in my cupboard, mostly on Mediterranean food. Some recipes I know by heart, but now and then I like to make something new, that's when my cookery books come into view.

This weekend we had nine for dinner. My parents, brother, little nephew and my aunt and uncle from Wahlwiller came to visit.

After the photos my uncle and aunt had seen on my blog, they decided it was time to see our garden for real. I was a bit apprehensive. Afraid the garden and food would not live up to their expecations. Besides being a good gardener, my uncle is a keen cook as well. I had to do my utmost  ;-)!

As our outdoor kitchen does not have an oven and only an old camping stove with two burners, we decided on a BBQ. It would be accompanied by several Mediterranean salads. I made marinated aubergines from the Ottolenghi cookbook, tabouleh, a pastasalad with pesto, rocket & Mozarella and Tzatiki. As a desert we had Eton mess (the Delia way).

I started baking the meringues and grilling the aubergines on friday afternoon, so that I could finish everything off on saturday. I decorated our little garden house, picked flowers to put on the table and tried to make it all look inviting. The sun did the rest!

It turned out to be a lovely summer evening and I believe everyone enjoyed himself. Even my nine year old nephew, who could play table tennis on our dinner table afterwards!

Dear P & I once again thank you for your visit and the lovely basket with homemade treats! We already started on the elderflower cordial, quince jelly and the gooseberry/elderflower jam. They taste simply delicious! I would love to have the recipes!!!

Wish you all a happy weekend!

Lieve groet, Madelief

dinsdag 27 juli 2010

The man in the painting


This was our second visit to Bowood. Our first visit to the house and gardens was eight years ago. At that time we did not come any further than the adventure playground and the space dive, a spectacular slide with a 19 feet vertical drop, which our girls loved.

When we asked them what they would like to do during our recent stay, they were very clear about it: visit Bowood once again. We did not mind at all!

Bowood is a magical place, with so much to see. There is the impressive park, created by Capability Brown (18th century landscape architect), a grotto with waterfalls and an aritificial lake, a boathouse and a Doric temple from which you have an amazing view of the house.

The terraces and flower borders close to the house were a sea of pink, lilac and purple at the time we visited. The scent of roses and lavender intoxicating. I enjoyed strolling in the park, breathing in the atmosphere, letting my mind wander and my imagination fly.

The house was built at the beginning of the 18th century and is the home of the marquiss and marchioness of Landsdowne. Several rooms are open to the public and are full of treasures; from Napoleon's death mask to a little bunch of orange blossoms from queen Victoria's wedding bouquet. The orangery is filled with ancient tapestries, beautiful chandeliers, well shaped sculptures and Mediterranean flowers.

What struck me most was a portrait of one of the forefathers of the present owner, a handsome young man, born in the nineteenth century. It was not only his sweet looking face, the way he posed for the painter, but also his casual dress that impressed me. Somehow he would not look out of place if he were to step out of the painting and walk among us...

Well, I realise I have written way too much for one post. So sorry. Let me take you on a tour through the house and gardens. Enjoy the photos!

Lieve groet, Madelief

vrijdag 23 juli 2010

Country living

In England we stayed in a lovely cottage in a village called Colerne. Colerne is built upon a hill, halfway between Bath and Chippenham. To me it could not be more English, with the honey coloured houses, the church in the centre of the old town and the two pubs.

Our cottage had an amazing view of the Box valley. However, the first thing that struck me upon arrival was the beautiful garden; the white rambler rose, the daisies (don't you think daisies are the friendliest flowers :-) and the lillies. It was a joy to sit in the garden, enjoy the flowers and the beautiful countryside.

Before I take you on my tour through The Cotswold, I would love to share some photos of Colerne and our holiday cottage with you. Some photos may be a bit dark, but they were taken at dusk.

Wish you all a happy weekend!

Lieve groet, Madelief

dinsdag 20 juli 2010

Home again

After a month of sitting in the sun and reading books, our holiday has come to an end. Yesterday I started work again. We had a lovely time in England. Our cottage was small, but beautiful and had an amazing view. The surrounding countryside was breathtaking. I wish I could go on holiday to England every year, but I don't think my family would enjoy that :-).

The next couple of weeks I will show you some photos of the houses, gardens and idyllic villages we visited.

One of the first things we did when home again, was visit our garden. I was amazed to see how everything had grown. It was a sea of green! Due to my sweet neighbours, who took care of the garden during our absence, it looks lovely.  The Zinnia's, Nigella's and sweet peas are in bloom. The Hydrangeas are flowering abundantly and the buddleia's Loch Inch and Black night are very pretty as well.

In the kitchen garden the zucchini's and pumpkins are growing fast and because of the bad weather we had in Holland last week, the herbs are all over the place. I took out the garlic and the onions. Most of them were having flowers. I was a bit dissapointed by their size. Don't really know what I did wrong. I would welcome advise how I can make them grow a bit fatter!

Afterwards I picked a small bunch of flowers to take home with me. The sight of all those beautiful colours makes me so happy!

Enoy your new week! It feels good to be back! Lieve groet, Madelief