Warm Up Stitches

Tea pot on a tea trivet

This stormy weather is the perfect excuse to stay indoors and finally get down to some long-overdue sewing. It’s been so long, I needed a warm-up project; something I could finish in one sitting. This trivet didn’t require a plan, a pattern, or any measurement. Which is just my style.

Don’t look too closely; you’ll see the botched corners and the less-than-regular hand stitching on the binding. But hey, it’s going to get splashed with tea aplenty so perfection is not its destiny.

Meanwhile, I’m choosing fabrics for a bigger patchwork plan. I’m hoping the next won’t be quite so botched. I’ll have to keep practicing those corners..

Fabrics close-up

Winter Sunshine

View to Tennyson Down from the cliff of Compton

Blue skies in January compel me to squeeze every last sunny drop from the short hours.  Saturday’s last light was golden at Compton Beach.  It was chilly, sat on the rough grass of the cliff’s edge, but still perfect for a winter’s picnic of tea and brownies.

I always hated tea from a flask, but I’ve just discovered that the secret is proper loose leaf tea without milk (and a big slab of chocolate brownie to help wash it down).

We sipped our tea as the light dipped below the water, glowing orange while the last of the surfers sat and watched that last sunny drop.

Surfers at Compton, Isle of Wight in last light

Surfer entering the water at Compton, Isle of Wight at sunset

Tea Love in Winchester

Winchester Teas

We’ve had a couple days relaxing in Winchester, catching up with friends and family. It’s been a luscious midweek break, filled with the things that I rarely get time for: morning run, cafe brunch, book browsing, and local shopping. We stopped in at Char today, a tiny shop dedicated to fabulous teas of every variety.

Winchester tea shop in black and white

Tea pots and shelves photo collage

You might pop in planning only to restock your builder’s tea tin, but you’ll leave with visions of first blossoms on Himalayan mountains, treasured hand-picked leaves, and stories of tea varieties passed down generations. If you think wine-tasting has a rich vocabulary, you’re in for a treat. You can nose around, sniffing all of the sample pots, but you’re better off bending the owner’s ear. His passion for his subject is infectious, as he gives you a picture of tea complexities you could never have imagined. You’ll never think of your afternoon cup in quite the same way, and you’ll leave with plenty of new additions to fill your pot.

Smell me tea jars on a shelf in black and white

Afternoon Tea

Baking books stacked up

These autumn days pull me back to baking after hot summer days of beer and barbecues.  Tom and I pulled forces to bake an afternoon tea for my brother who stopped by.  Homemade bread, red velvet cupcakes, and ginger tiffin cake, all delicious if I do say so!  Just the right start to getting our baking mojo back.  Tom’s bread gets tastier every week, and I’ve got a growing list of things to bake next: apple crumble bars, cranberry flapjacks, white chocolate brownies, and a proper Victoria sponge (can you believe, I’ve never made one!)  Grey days are delicious when they bring you back to simple pleasures.

Dough recipe book, tiered cake plate and tea photo collage

Alec and Bryony laughing at the table

Rainy Winchester Weekend

Winchester is always a treat for a weekend visit, even if it pours with rain.  Our foul weather saviour this time was Intech.  It was a mass of slightly soggy families all messing around with various interactive science experiments.

Tom learned that we look hot when we kiss.

And Bryony learned that its always possible to find a way to shift the conversation to bicycles.

A restorative lunch at the Bridge Patisserie.  A perfect little nutshell of a cafe.  Sencha Sakura tea turned out to be  a delicious discovery.  Pear and blackcurrant frangipane is a perfect lady’s lunch for a rainy day. The goats cheese quiche is tasty enough to deserve a better salad.  Either way, this place gives us business-envy.

A wander back through Winchester Cathedral Close and a stop off at the bookshop under the arches, opposite a Barbara Hepworth sculpture.  This place is so excessively picturesque it’s quite ridiculous. With this little place on top of Oxfam bookshop and P&G’s, Winchester is a great place to spend an hour book browsing.

After the rain.

Peeking over the wall at allotments has become all the more fun since finding out we are getting our own.

Bryony and Tom