c February 2014 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Win Tickets to Hampton Court Palace Florimania Event - Giveaway

I have a rather grand giveaway for my lovely blog readers. A chance to win 2 tickets to the Hampton Court Florimania event during the weekend of 28th - 30th March 2014, Mothering Sunday weekend. This is the perfect event for anyone who loves  their history, royal palaces and flowers, with and one lucky winner  enjoying all this for free. Tickets include entry to the wonderful Hampton Court Palace, Gardens and of course the Florimania Event. Tickets can be used for either the Saturday or Sunday.

Florimania is a celebration of all things floral, this year is a Georgian theme creating Florimania: The Age of Elegance. The Kings Apartments will be full of wonderful flower arrangements, provided by the very creative National Association of Flower Arrangers (NAFA’s). Visitors will be taken on a whirlwind tour of Georgian England, where they can marvel at creative interpretations of magnificent Georgian events and people. Witness the premiere of Handel’s Music for Fireworks, through vivid explosions of flora and fauna. Explore the work and lives of Georgian artists: from the dancing daffodils of Wordsworth, to the robust roses and thistles of Burns, and the delicately perfumed romance of Austen. 

In addition to this, over the weekend afternoon tea (ooh I hear you say 'afternoon tea' yes please!) will be available in the Hampton Court Palace garden rooms. Visitors can also look around the newly opened Royal Chocolate Kitchen and have a taste of historic chocolate and of course take a stroll around our world famous gardens. 

During the Florimania weekend there will also be flower arranging demonstrations taking place 11:30, 13:00 and 14:30hrs. 


Historic Royal Palaces have kindly given one of my readers a chance to win a pair of tickets to Hampton Court Palace and Florimania.  

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry using the Rafflecopter widget, for extra entries complete the additional tasks. If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5.

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment or tweet me.

Closes Sat 15 March 2014. Winner must respond within five days of being notified to ensure tickets are dispatched in time for the event. UK entrants only.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Thank you to Historic Royal Palaces for providing the prize for this giveaway.
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Vanilla Cake for 2 pint bundt tin Recipe

I have a simple 2 pint Bundt tin cake recipe that works very well for the 2 pint Bundt tin I bought from Aldi sometime ago. I have used this basic recipe several times, including a cake I supplied for my nieces school Christmas Fair. Now I am not sure who bought the cake but I know the school matron asked my sister for the recipe, so this post is especially for her.
Recipe 2 pint bundt tin
Aldi Bundt Tin Cake Recipe

Vanilla Cake Recipe

Oven temp 165 degrees/ gas mark 3

2 eggs
4 oz plain flour
3/4 tbsp baking powder
4 oz soften butter
4 oz caster sugar
1 1/3 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Grease the cake tin thoroughly.
Add all the ingredients into a bowl, and mix with an electric whisk until well combined and smooth. Bake for 35 mins or until the cake is firm to the touch and golden brown. You should leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Once cooled I decorate with a simple icing glaze, made with water and icing sugar. You can always add some extra flavour by adding a few drops of peppermint essence or rosewater. Or even replace the water with lemon/orange juice.

A drizzle of peppermint icing and some sprinkles gives this cake that Christmas candy cane feel.

I love using this Aldi bundt tin, it's my new favourite cake to bake! I am entering this cake recipe into the Love Cakes baking challenge this months theme is Baking with Passion.

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Angel - a cat that was one in a million

From now on it will be a quieter house whilst I am blogging. Sadly on Friday I had to take my cat called Angel to the vets for the final time. I knew for sometime that day was getting nearer, she was the grand age of twenty years old in human years that is 100 in cat years. The years had been good to her and she was a wonderful affectionate pet, really finding her personality when I moved house six years ago. I will miss her endless meowing, head butting and muddy paws. 
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Left over chocolate for a Valentines treat

chocolate moulds
Valentine chocolate hearts
My niece received an ample supply of chocolate at Christmas, particularly white chocolate which she does not like.  As her aunt I felt it my duty to help relieve her excess chocolate problem. My intention was to practice with my chocolate moulds and also make some Valentine chocolate treats, though I confess to eating a certain amount.

These treats were shared around the family, they were prizes for silly party games for my mums birthday.

Make your own chocolate hearts
  • Melt the chocolate, white chocolate can be a little tricky as it is sensitive to higher temperatures when melting, but all worked out well. Here is a helpful guide to melting chocolate if you are unsure how to do it.
  • I used greaseproof paper and drew a heart shaped template. 
  • Spoon the melted chocolate into a disposable piping bag, snipped the end off and commenced creating my chocolate hearts. 
  • I decorated with some candy hearts I was sent last year from Home Bargins for my Checkerboard Chocolate Showstopper Cake
  • Leave to set.
melting chocolate
Sweet chocolate hearts

Love this Valentine themed bake then do try my sweet heart stained glass cookies, an easy bake using sweet candy.
Sweet Heart Valentine Cookies Recipe biscuits celebrate wedding favours cookies engagement valentines

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A guided Snowdrop walk around Sunnycroft

snowdrop walk Sunnycroft
Snowdrop variety Magnet
This morning I enjoyed a very interesting guided Snowdrop walk by Shropshire galanthophile Eddie Roberts. A galanthophile for those of you like myself who did not know, is a person who collects snowdrops. The walk took place at the National Trust Sunnycroft property in Shropshire. Some of you may recall from a previous blog post this is an Edwardian Villa where I also volunteer in my spare time, but today I was there as a visitor.

This years mild weather means Snowdrops are out early.  You won't find swaths of snowdrops at Sunnycroft but you will find lots of varieties, seventeen different types to be exact. Two varieties the Magnet and Galatea are original to the period of the house and have been there since approximately 1890's. 

April Fool snowdrop
Snowdrop variety April Fool

I learnt so many interesting facts on the tour, most of which I can not remember!  I did however remember that the Snowdrop variety Walrus loves wet, damp ground and does well when the ground has flooded, so it should do rather well this year. Though if your garden is on the drier side then Cedric's Prolific would do well.  There was little sun out on the tour so many of the Snowdrop petals were closed. It was a little too early for one particular variety, April Fool so named as it is not unusual for it to flower in April.  The Greatorex double varieties are mostly named after female Shakespeare characters such as Cordelia and Jacquenetta, a fact I remembered purely because my cousin is a Shakespeare fan.

I did get a chance to speak with Eddie after the tour, he has 150-200 varieties in his own garden, and admits to being rather fanatical about Snowdrops. More surprisingly Eddie was telling me about Margaret Owen who is a renowned Snowdrop collector with around 400 varieties at her South Shropshire garden. She opens her garden to the public every year for charity, so my mission is to find out when it is open over the next month in order to cram in a visit.

The photos are of rather a poor quality, which is a result of me leaving my camera setting to 'food', you can imagine the names I called myself. 
Shropshire snowdrops
A little gravel helps protect some of the shorter Snowdrops from mud splatter from the rain
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