c Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me

Spring Tour of my Garden - Six on Saturday April 2018

It would appear spring has now finally arrived here in the UK, so I thought it time for a tour of the spring highlights in my garden this weekend. Which also gives me the opportunity to join in for the first time with Six On Saturday, pop over to The Propagator to find out more about this fun gardening blog along.

Let the garden tour commence

First up are some colourful containers...
Anemones Sarah Raven
Beautiful Anemones 
These Anemones have been providing colour and structure to the patio area of the garden. These corms where a purchase from Sarah Raven last year and were planted early summer so it's the first spring we have had chance to really appreciate them. Appreciate them we do! 

No smirking please, but this year is the first time I've grown Tulips and it won't be long before these  will be in bloom, and that you see is a problem. Why? Well shortly I will be surrounded by stunning displays of Tulips as this month I am rather excited to be visiting Keukenhof Gardens in Holland!  So if the dozen or so Tulips in my garden could just hold back on flowering until I return from holiday in a week or two's time I would be most pleased.

Forced Rhubarb pot
Forced Rhubarb
Forced Rhubarb
Ruby Red Forced Rhubarb
Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. Another first, this year a pot has been upturned and placed on top of one of the rhubarb crowns, and here is a sneak peek on how it is looking.  Not long before it's Rhubarb everything in the kitchen.

Kale seedling
Kale seedling
I have been pretty late at getting my seeds sown this year, so there is always the thrill when you spot your first seedling sprouting. This is the first of my Kale sowings, something I love to sow, grow and eat.

Wildlife pound gardeners world
Wildlife pond a work in progress
I share the garden with my sister, she loves doing all the heavy jobs (honest) as I'm not able to due to my scoliosis. Inspired by an episode of Gardeners World last year, 'we' are putting in a wildlife pond (barrel)- it's a work in progress. We have yet to buy the water lily and other pond plants, which we are hoping to find at the Malvern Spring Show next month.

dead Erysimum Bowles's Mauve
Erysimum deceased!
Did you have any loses in your garden this year? This Erysimum Bowles's Mauve sadly has not made it. Now this is not unusual for these plants, they usually last a few years then die and as such every year I take several cutting so always have new plants in reserve ready to fill a spot. They give great colour to the garden throughout most of the year. 

Well that's the end of this brief garden catch up, and my six highlights for the month of April. 

Thank you for taking a tour around my garden with me. 

Follow my Pinterest Boards

Gardening Tips & Inspiration 
 Fruit & Vegetable Pinterest board 
View Post

Book Review The Muse by Jessie Burton & Inferno by Dan Brown

Book review The Muse Jessie Burton Origins Dan Brown

My latest Book Reviews 

I will never giveaway any spoilers in my reviews, just my honest opinion on how I found the book. So you can read my review with the confidence it will not ruin the story for you.

The Muse: A NovelThe Muse: A Novel by Jessie Burton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The book follows the discovery of a Spanish painting in London during the early 1960’s, who painted it and how did it came into the hands of Laurie following the death of his mother. The story at this point shifts to 1930’s Spain during the build up to the Spanish civil war, and introduces us to the entwined lives of an Austrian art dealer his English family, and a young Spanish brother and sister. 

I knew nothing of the Spanish Civil war so I found the story much more interesting whenever it switched to this period. If it were not for this I’m not sure I would of stuck with the book. Possibly because this is quite recent history and I enjoy a story set during an older period of history. There were quite a few twists to the outcome of the story that I had not expected, but was not entirely surprised by. I guess the story about a painting and how it came about is not new, in fact, throughout reading this book all I could think about was it’s no Tracy Chevalier novel. If you have not read any of her books then you will probably enjoy this book - but if you love The Lady and the Unicorn or Girl with a Pearl Earring you will more than likely be disappointed.

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Synopsis: Eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.

A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence. Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.

With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…

My review:Another enjoyable Robert Langdon adventure, although you do not need to have read any previous books to follow this story. Dan Brown has such a great style of writing, he pulls you into a problem solving thriller that’s immerses you into some of the worlds most beautiful and historical cities. I love a story with unpredictable twists, there were plenty in Inferno and all were a surprise to me. Looking forward to the next book.

Other books read in January

The Passenger's Palace - 100 Years of the Cunard Building Liverpool
Tresco Abbey Garden
Greyfriars House and Garden: National Trust Guidebook

What's next on my bookshelf
I have reserved a couple of books at local library 61 Hours by Lee Child, the 16th book in the Jack Reacher series. There are 5 other people in front of me for this book even though the library have multiple copies I expect to be in for a bit of a wait. Also reserved is The Poisonous Seed by Linda Stratmann, a book recommend by Hayley one of my blog readers. I am first on the list for this book, just waiting for it to be transferred to my local branch.

 ~ Leave me a comment if you have any book recommendations ~

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. Find out more about my Reading Challenge for 2018, I am making great progress.
Follow my Book Shelf & Reading Challenge Pinterest board
View Post

Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 with Surprise Garden Visitor

Big Garden Birdwatch results which birds visited my garden

This weekend saw the RSPB Love Nature run their annual Big Garden Birdwatch, you spend an hour counting the different birds that come and go in your garden. You then log your result with the RSPB for them to compare and analyse. I have taken part in this survey for the last 5 years, each year crossing my fingers that some rare bird will use the chosen hour to fly down into my garden. Alas they didn't! 

The weather on the Saturday of the birdwatch weekend was a wet and windy day in Shropshire and most of the birds stayed sheltered in the hedges. Come Sunday morning the sun made a brief appearance, and the weather generally was much improved on Saturday and the birds appeared. I made sure this year I had my camera with me to capture some of the birds as they came and went.
Big Garden Birdwatch results which birds visited my garden

Big Garden Birdwatch Results 2018

Blackbirds 4 
Blue Tit 2 
Dunnock 2 
Great Tit 1 
House Sparrow 2 
Wren 1 
Long-tailed Tit 2 
Magpie 2 
Robin 3 
Wood pigeon 4 
Crows 2

Big Garden Birdwatch results which birds visited my garden
Blue Tit

Big Garden Birdwatch results which birds visited my garden
Robin in Apple Tree

I was pleased to see the little Wren made an appearance, although he was too quick for my camera, he is a usual visitor to the garden during the day. As are the Long-tailed Tits although there are usually four of them. Failing to stop by the garden at all during the last few days were the Coal Tit and Goldfinch.

Later in the day, fortunately whilst my camera was still nearby, my eye was caught by something moving near the greenhouse. A Weasel, darting about moving very quickly around the plant pots and then straight past the window and off into the hedge. If I did not have a photo for you I am sure you would never believe it. The little creature has been seen once before a few years ago, so to see it again today was a very pleasant surprise.

Weasel in my Shropshire garden

Did you join in with the Big Garden Birdwatch this year? Did you spot many different birds?

View Post

2018 Reading Challenge is a go...

2018 Reading Challenge UK Goodreads
I'm ready to get reading! I will again set myself a Reading Challenge through the Goodreads website. If you have not discovered Goodreads it is an effective way of managing your bookshelf virtually, add books that you wish to read, books you have read, favourite your most liked authors and keep up with their latest news or join a reading group. There are plenty of book giveaways too, I've won quite a few books. You can also create your own reading challenge for the 2018, I have set myself a reachable target of 20 books.

I am taking a very relaxed approach to my reading this year, if I am not enjoying a book I will not beat myself up to get to the end, no it will be ditched. If I don't reach my target, so what. But if I do, well that is reason enough to enjoy decadent cake or too.

I am starting the year with a Dan Brown book - Inferno. I enjoy his balance of mystery, history and drama - I've read many of his books over the years.  I have quite a few non fiction books sitting on my actual bookshelf, including gardening and historical houses in the UK. I have just completed reading my first book for the year, a National Trust book, Greyfriars House and Gardens about a medieval manor in the heart of Worcester. Well worth a visit if you are ever visiting the city.

You can check out my reading challenge progress through the year on the widget below or if you scroll down your screen and look to the right you can see a list of books I have finished. If you love reading and would like to become my friend on Goodreads just click my link below. 

Happy Reading everyone.

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Angela has read 1 book toward her goal of 20 books.
View Post

The Haughmond, Shropshire Afternoon Tea Review

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna near Shrewsbury, Telford

What a delightful surprise, Afternoon Tea in Shropshire at The Haughmond, Upton Magna a modern coaching inn. Keep Saturday afternoon free my sister asked, I have a surprise for you and my eldest sister. Clues had been dropped and we had worked out our treat was an afternoon tea, and 'oh my' how I love an Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

The fun began when my sister and niece chauffeured my eldest sister and I to our mystery destination.  We headed down the B4380 from Wellington,  I was thinking Lady Berwicks at Attingham Park, as I've enjoyed afternoon tea there many times, or maybe The Mytton & Mermaid. There was lots of deception and intrigue taking place, my sister indicated to turn into the Myttom & Mermaid but then turned into the entrance of Attingham Park, we proceeded to do a drive through the estate, to the exit - ha ha!  But on we went, a few miles further to The Haughmond at Upton Magna. Conveniently located between Shrewsbury and Telford.
Best Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

Afternoon Tea Awaits
This is the first time The Haughmond have held afternoon tea, and boy did they do a great job. I have heard many good things about the food at The Haughmond but have never eaten there. But my expectations were high.
Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

They have converted the private dining room to hold the afternoon teas, it was the perfect size and held around 7 tables and not too close to each other. 

The table was styled with classic white linen tablecloths, fresh flowers in quaint vintage styled glass jars. We were seated at the table by the window, I do like natural light makes it so much easier to admire the cakes. We were all anticipating some tasty and delightful scones and cakes, oh and of course sandwiches. But it's always the scones and cakes that get my attention. I blame that sweet tooth I was born with.

Our order for tea was taken, they had a very good choice of teas. Breakfast, Earl Grey, Chamomile, to name a few and a good selection of fruit and herbal teas. With linen napkins placed on our laps we sipped our tea from the vintage china cups and saucers, and behold two wonderful 3 tired cake stands were placed on our table.

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna
Heavenly scones the Devon way ;)

The Haughmond Afternoon Tea Menu

Assorted teas

Finger sandwiches

Cucumber and mint
Egg and cress
Smoked salmon
Cheese and pickle
Sausage rolls


Scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam
Bara Brith
Orange drizzle cake
Chocolate raspberry cake
Lemon posset 

£15 per person 


There was a very good selection of sandwiches all served as traditional dainty finger sandwiches and very fresh. The sausage roll was tasty but rather jumbo compared to the sandwiches. I did spot that the table next to us had what looked like a very appealing mini vegetable quiche, I am quite partial to pastry, but who isn't.

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna
Scones and Bara Brith
The were a number of highlights to this afternoon tea. The scones were quite simply perfection, slightly warm, light an absolute pleasure to eat. The jam was clearly not from a jar again very fruity and tasty and easy to spoon onto the cream. I'm a Devon gal when it comes to scones, cream first. I should add that the following week I had a cream tea at a local independent hotel whose fresh scones were heavy going and claggy to eat, with jam straight from tub. They could learn a great deal from The Haughmond.

I have had many a lemon posset, and this one is up there with the best.  In fact I could not fault the cakes, they were clearly freshly made and tasted light yet decadent. Just look at the sheen on the dainty chocolate cake. I am not a fan of Macaroons but my niece had no trouble in eating her share and mine. I was taken aback by the Bara Brith, I think I have only eaten this a few times and I was thinking tea loaf which is quite a heavy cake with no fat in it, So to bite into something so light and fruity was a real pleasure. 

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

The staff were attentive without being intrusive and happily topped up our teas frequently. 

We gave some feedback before leaving, as we were asked what we thought of the afternoon tea. We complimented them on serving a high quality afternoon tea with some great attention to detail, and quite frankly an absolute bargain at £15.   Apart from missing a few extra pieces of cutlery and the giant sausage roll it was an outstanding success. One of the best afternoon teas I have experienced in a long while, and a delight to discover it so local to me in Shropshire.

We did not quite manage to clear the 3 tiers of all the cakes and sandwiches, so I enjoyed the remaining cakes later that evening whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing, that's how my Saturday nights roll!   

Never be afraid to ask for a goodie bag for any leftovers, no cake wants to be the one left behind on the stand :)

I am looking forward to enjoying another Afternoon Tea at The Haughmond. I wonder if they will do a festive version? 

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton MagnaAfternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

Love Afternoon Tea? Read more of my reviews of Afternoon Tea at David Austin Roses, The Berkeley Hotel London, Fortnum & Mason, London.
Best Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

Do you have an recommendations for Afternoon Tea in Shropshire? Or maybe you have you discovered a tea room that serves the perfect scone.

Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
View Post

Reading Challenge Update : The Night Circus Review


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, my second book of my 2017 reading challenge.  

This book is quite a change for me for a few reasons. The word 'Circus' in the title which would in itself stop me from picking this book up, my aversion to clowns you see. Also the blurb on the cover of the book just did not capture me. But it was recommended by one of my sisters, as a very different but interesting read. 

I will never giveaway any spoilers in my reviews, just my honest opinion on how I found the book. So you can read my review with the confidence if will not ruin the story for you.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I would describe the genre of this book as mystery, the story is set during the victorian era when there was a real fascination with superstition, illusion and the occult. It focuses on two established magicians who find two youngsters with great potential, they will unknown to the youngsters be pitch against each other once they have trained them. 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway - a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

I think this is the first true mystery story I have ever read, and it was quite refreshing.  I could not tell or predict what would happen in the story, it really was a case of the mystery revealing itself page by page. 

Set amongst a circus that performs only at night which travels across land and sea, visiting cities of many countries. You explore the Night Circus not only through the eyes of its creator the eccentric Chandresh, but also the many performers and visitors discovering how all of their lives entwine. There any many characters in the story that you will be drawn too, some you may dislike but all are interesting and important to unravelling the mystery of The Night Circus.

The magic that is demonstrated by the two main characters Celia and Marco is far beyond the magic I anticipated, the author Erin Morgenstern created a sophistication to the magic that, amazed me as a the reader and was very believable. I did not doubt at any time the magic ability of Celia, a strong female and very likeable character which I enjoyed discovering through the book - I felt sympathy for her as a child, and as she grew into an adult constantly having to prove herself to her magician father.  As an adult she proves pivotal to the success of the Night Circus. 

I flipped between how I felt about Marco, sometimes I pitied him and other times I thought him deceitful and annoying. But I do not want to give anything away so will say no more. 

This was a great read, unlike anything I have read before. I really enjoyed the authors depth of description particularly the interiors of the victorian houses, the costumes and differing circus performances. I am not a skipper of sentences when I read a book, I found this detail enveloped the reader into the mystery of the characters and story. Definitely one to add to your bookcase. 

I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads.

You can order this book online or download direct to your Kindle or E-reader

Keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

Night Circus Book Review Erin Morgenstern Good Reads

Have you read any good books of late? Or have you read The Night Circus and enjoy it as much as I. 

Follow my Book Shelf & Reading Challenge Pinterest board

View Post

Cruise Around Britain with Cunard Invergordon Scotland Port of Call

On to the second port of call Invergordon on my cruise around Great Britain, on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. You will find that most cruise liners refer to this port as Inverness which is a distance of 24 miles away.  You can find out more about the first few days on this cruise on my previous blog posts, Edinburgh Port of Call and Cruise around Great Britain
Cruise Britain Scotland Ports of Call Cunard Review

Day 3 Invergordon
We arrived early morning and enjoyed one of the most fascinating and picturesque journeys into a port of the whole cruise. It was early 7am as we looked out from our balcony sailing up the Cromarty Firth, a deep sea inlet of more than 15 miles. We passed very close to oil rigs that have been brought into the protection of the inlet for maintenance. They were fascinating to see, along with beautiful and dramatic scenic views of the shore and beyond. It was a wonderfully sunny June day. 
cruise britain ports of call scotland Invergordon cromarty firth
Cromarty Firth dotted with oil rigs

cruise britain ports of call scotland Invergordon cromarty firth

View Post

V The Second Generation - Book Review & Nell Makes Giveaway

V The Second Generation Book Review Sci Fi book reading challenge
Reading and Apple Crumble cupcake go so well together 
Four months into the year and I have only just closed the book on my first read of my 2017 Reading Challenge. Having been unwell I have neither had the energy or focus to read a book, flicking through a magazine was the best I could manage until recently. I picked up and read my first book of the year in April - yay! If you love the Rainbow book mark in the photo above then keep reading as I have a giveaway for you to win a handmade crochet bookmark from Nell Makes.

So, onto my first book of the year, V The Second Generation by   Kenneth Johnson.  Some of you may recall a science fiction tv mini series in the 80's called V. An alien race that look human visits earth in 50 huge mother ships asking for help and in return they will exchange medical advancements and healing the earth of the damage caused by humans. But it soon becomes apparent the visitors are more reptile than human, and are here to harvest the earth of its vital resources including humans. 

I read the book of the mini series back in the 80's along with many of the subsequent follow on books. I even have the dvd of the tv mini series. Can you tell I really enjoyed V! So when I realised Kenneth Johnson had written a sequel I was eager to find out how the fight for earth had gone. I should say that you do not have to have read the original book to enjoy this book.

V The Second Generation by Kenneth Johnson
The book is set 20 years on from when the Visitors first arrived at Earth. The fight by earths resistance army continues but they have suffered significant set backs over the years. The visitors have raped the planet of its water, oceans have been depleted travel harbours and ports around the globe are unusable. A new generation of humans know no other life than Visitors occupying earth, they work alongside them. A new species of humans and visitor children have grown up, half breads or 'dreg' they are disliked by many humans and visitors alike - but can they unite the two species together. 

There are plenty of new characters in the book and also some of the original characters both resistance and visitors that I loved to hate. Can a message sent out to space by the resistance on Earth make a difference to the fight they face 20 years later. As the saying goes 'My enemies enemy is my friend...but are they. Never one to give too much away as I would not want to ruin any book for someone. I will say yes the fight continues and you will be drawn into resistance plans to save Earth and the human race from destruction. 

This book is a great sci fi read, if you have not read the original  'V' book I recommend it you do not need to read it before the Second Generation book but you will enjoy it all the more. You will also not have to wait 20 years to read the sequel. Having finished the book I was surprised to read some of the negative reviews it received, totally uncalled for in my opinion.

I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads.

I am just starting my next book, which has been languishing on my bookshelf for a few years. I have no idea how my reading challenge will progress this year, but I am just going to read and enjoy what books I can, when I can. 

Review & Giveaway Handmade Crocheted  Bookmark from Nell Makes
As a way of celebrating ticking the first book of the year from my Reading Challenge, I am running a giveaway. You have the chance to win a handmade crocheted bookmark of your choice from my talented friend Nell Makes

I have been using one of her colourful and cute Rainbow bookmark clips, not only in my latest read but also in my bullet journal, and whilst doing some holiday planning and research. They are just the cutest bookmarks made up of tiny crochet stitches. 

Nell Makes has created a range of beautiful crocheted bookmarks, not only the wonderful and colourful rainbow bookmark (my favourite) but also other fun designs - an owl, unicorn, watermelon (I carried a watermelon, yes are you saying that too!) and more. 

If you want to buy one or see her other designs please do visit Nell Makes Etsy page or Nell Makes Facebook page where you can also see the many other some beautiful crocheted items she makes along with felt greetings cards. 

Giveaway time! To win your choice of crocheted bookmarks from Nell Makes I have a competition running on my Garden Tea Cakes and Me Facebook page, so be sure to pop over and enter today.
Crocheted bookmark Nell Makes Etsy

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

Have you read any good books of late?
View Post

Gardening Catch Up April

So not only has it been some time since my last blog post it has been months since I shared a gardening related post. I am still, yes still, recovering from my chest infection, I am making progress however I find the unpredictability of the fatigue impossible to make any plans - so I don't! 
Robin in Apple tree

The gardening springing into life has been a delight to see, and has made my green fingers itch for the want of seed sowing! I sorted through my seed tins a few weeks ago from the comfort of the kitchen table.  I may be a little behind with my seed sowing but at least I have a planting plan.
Forget Me Nots April Garden

For the last few months my sister has been very active in the garden and has happily asked for me to add to her to do list - luckily for me.  The two raised vegetable beds have been dug out and had new compost added, ready for a bumper year of carrots, kale, beans and courgettes. The greenhouse is usually my domain, but when you need a little help, you need a little help, so my sister kindly set up all my seed trays and compost. I literally strolled from the kitchen door into the greenhouse and sowed my vegetable and flower seeds - my green fingers satisfied.  
April Garden Shropshire Greenhouse
Copper Beech Tree, Acer and greenhouse
It is a few weeks later and the Saturday of Easter weekend and I have picked up my camera and taken a stroll into the garden. There are photographs galore!   
  • The seeds in the greenhouse are mostly growing well, there are some tender plants including the sweet peas from Sarah Raven being protected from those chilly nights. 
  • The blossoms on the plum tree have vanished, the pear tree blossom is past it's best but the blossom on the apple trees is just bursting open. 
  • The Acer is now in full leaf, the Bluebells are flowering and the fronds of the ferns are unfurling. 
  • The Copper Beech tree, which dominates the bottom of the garden is a week away from being in leaf.
Gold lace Primula
Gold Lace Primula

Alpine Planter

Greenhouse April seeds

Greenhouse April seeds cosmos

Blueberry flowers
Blueberry flowers

Pear Tree Blossom
Pear Tree Blossom

Apple Tree Blossom
Plum Tree Compost bins
Plum tree & compost bins

Woodland flowers bluebells primulas

Ajuga reptans 

Fern Frond

Fern Fronds

Garden tree swing

Ladys Mantle

Clematis Pixie Sensation
Clematis Pixie Sensation 

Follow my Pinterest Boards

Gardening Tips & Inspiration 
 Fruit & Vegetable Pinterest board 
View Post
Previous PostOlder Posts Home

Follow Me