Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A Royal Wedding, a Giveaway and Banana Bread!

Hello everyone!

Its a while since I posted, which is unusual for me, but what with the Royal Wedding and a long weekend with family around, it has been busy and there has been no time for blogging :(

So apologies for not having visited you for a while, but I look forward to visiting your blog some time over the next few days to catch up with your news!

Anyway, talking of Royal Weddings.........wasn't it just perfect and magical and exciting and moving, and didn't I sit there from 8am until it was all over, like a fool with tears in my eyes at the sheer pageanty and Britishness of it all! And so awed by the ease and unhurried pace as it all unfolded, belying all the months of hard work and meticulous planning which was behind it.

The happiness and radiance of the beautiful Kate, the ease of her Royal groom, the nerves and jokiness of the Royal best man, the composure and elegance of the Brides family - it appeared just right and natural. The ceremony was perfect - the awesome setting, the hymns, the choir, the reading,  the Bishop of London's address. And outside, the well behaved and incredibly patient crowds, the wonderful sight of the marching bands, the horses, the carriages, the pageantry.

The only incongruous note to it all, I felt, was the rented mini buses for the minor Royals coming out of Buckingham Palace!!! ( "Hey, I want to sit in the back seat!!!!" - what a novelty it must have been for them!!)

And of course The Dress - beauty and perfection, simple and elegant, and just downright divine and fit for a Princess. Kate looked beautiful in it.

I wish them every happiness in the world.

I loved watching it all.

And still on a Royal Theme, I have a  Giveaway Winner!!!

I thought about using the Random generator thingy,  but it seemd more fitting, in keeping with the personal and natural feel of The Wedding, to select a winner in a more fun way ( which reminds me, wasn't it such a fun and personal touch when the Royal Couple came out in the wonderful little open top car, just like any other couple might do (if they were lucky enough to have a Dad who had a little run around like that!)

And so with an approving nod to all that, I got Logan busy.

I scattered the names, got down on my hands and knees to encourage him to play, and within a few seconds he got the idea and picked one up in his mouth!

Just managed to rescue the paper before he tried to rush off to chew and shred it - he is a dab hand at that, he can reduce a piece of kitchen roll to 40 pieces in less than a minute! (Or so it seems when I'm picking it all up!)

And the winner is.........

Congratulations Storycloth!!

Please can you email me your name and address so that I can send it to you.

On the morning of the Royal Wedding I decided to make Banana Bread to keep us going (no fancy champagne for us, just coffee and cake!) so thought I'd just share the recipe with you as its a good thing to have around, either to eat on its own as cake, as a dessert with yoghurt or marscapone or cream, maybe with strawberries too, or spread with honey or Bella's favourite, nutella! It is moist and sweet and rather moreish - I can't say how it keeps as its usually gone by the next day!

Its from one of Bella's cookbooks,  Cooking Up a Storm by Sam Stern, which we have adapted a little.

Banana, Cinnamon and Pecan Bread

2 large ripe bananas
1 egg
1 tblsp runny honey
50g / 2oz softened butter
75g / 3oz caster sugar
225g / 8oz self-raising flour
3 tblsp natural yoghurt (or milk if no yoghurt!)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
handful or two of pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and baseline a 1kg/2lb loaf tin.
Mash the bananas in a bowl until smooth. Add the lightly beaten egg and honey.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until pale and light.
Add the banana mix to the creamed butter and sugar and beat in.
Sift the flour and stir in half, add the cinnamon then add some yoghurt/milk and repeat until all mixed well.
Stir in one handful of pecans.
Pour into tin, scatter over rest of the pecans and bake 50 - 60 minutes until skewer comes out clean.
Remove from tin after a few minutes and place on cake rack to cool.

NB we only had the remains of a bag of pecans and so only scattered on top. We also used milk instead of yoghurt. You could of course omit the nuts and cinnamon (as per original recipe) or use walnuts instead. Could even try with some cocoa powder instead of cinnamon for a choc banana bread I'm thinking!

On Sunday we had a good long walk with Logan around Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent whilst Bella was off enjoying a birthday brunch with a group of friends at an American diner.

This is a National Trust property, but it has acres of open deer park for anyone to walk through - we saw deer, horses being excercised, lots of joggers, families out for fresh air and plenty of dog walkers like us, although it is so vast it never feels crowded except nearer to the house.

Unfortunately the batteries in my camera ran out before we got to better views of the House - we were at the far end of the parkland - will have to go again soon and take photos of the house.

Knole was the ancestral home of the Sackvilles, and is where Vita Sackville West the gardener and writer lived as a child. She then married Sir Harold Nicolson and lived at Sissinghurst Castle, another NT place in Kent, but a far more modest house and garden than Knole, with beautifully laid out gardens including the famous White Garden, and a lovely castle with tower room where Vita wrote - you can go up the tower, but not much else is open to the public.

It has a very personal feel and if you are in the area it is so well worth a visit.

It is now the home of writer and gardener Sarah Raven and her husband Adam Nicolson, who is the grandson of Vita Sackville-West. They have transformed the restaurant, and have all sorts of new iniatives going on.

The above photos are from my garden, where we have small patches of bluebells out in many areas (as well as some lovely tall large irises).

But a regular walk from the door for us takes us through woods with carpets of bluebells and an abundance of yellow broom - the colours are beautiful and we are off  shortly to do that walk with Logan, armed with a camera with full batteries, so I shall do a post soon to show the photos.

Thank you all for the many lovely comments and well wishes for Mr G's early retirement - he was pleasantly surprised but I told him what a lovely lot you are! As he's not expecting to have too many weeks of "retirement" before he's working again he is going to make the most of this bit of freedom!

To end on a totally random note, I have made my first online sale! I sold a lavender heart from my blog shop, so am feeling a little chuffed! Thankyou kindly Lesley!!!

Enjoy the weather!


  1. Mmmm that banana cake looks yummy, think I may make some of that at the weekend. :)

  2. so distressed that I did not win.....
    I know Sissinghurst and Knowle quite well...i come from Kent.

  3. Wasn't the wedding just wonderful, I enjoyed every second of it! Congrats too, to the lucky winner of your gorgeous cushion!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe it does look yummy, must give it a try sometime soon.
    Beautiful photos as always Gill. :)
    Vivienne x

  4. i really enjoyed the Royal Wedding too. It was lovely.
    ooooo yummy banana bread!
    Congratulations to the give-away winner.

  5. Congratulations on your sale! Very exciting!! :o)

  6. Hi Gill

    Sounds like you've had a busy few days. Lovely photos again. I made banana bread on Saturday and like you it doesn't last long in our house either. I have to justify eating lots of it by spending a few hours digging in the garden! Lesley x

  7. We watched the wedding in our holiday cottage and toasted the happy couple with Crabbie's ginger beer! I watched from 8am too and then saw it all again on 'catchup' when we got home.It was a magical day..loved every minute if it! Daren't make that banana bread at the mo..a few..or more pounds..need to be shed before the Summer! Looks so yummy though...'sigh' :0)

  8. Hi Gill - thank you so very much (and Logan) I will treasure this cushion! What a lovely way to remember the beautiful, beautiful wedding! I am thrilled. Will you please send me an email and I will reply with my addy. My email: gillywalsh@telus.net


  9. We enjoyed watching the Royal Wedding. I made scones the night before and we had our English breakfast tea (my fav) while watching. Ahh, to dream.

    Gee, I was hoping my little buddy Logan would have pulled my name . . . (insert pout here) LOL! He did look adorable with that paper in his mouth! Duke's off to Pampered Paws this morning for a tubby and a hair cut! He was in desperate need!

    What a beautiful walk, I love exploring new walking destinations. Your garden photos are just lovely.

    Congrats on the sale! Keep up the good work!

  10. A lovely tribute to the Royal Wedding Gill. It was wonderful wasn't it? Congratulations on your first sale, may there be many many more. Lovely photos of your garden as usual. I forgot to say last time that I was flabbergasted by the size of your Peony flower, mine are tichy! I have a couple of bananas that need using up, I will be back to get that recipe later. Love Linda x

  11. Loved the wedding too, just so perfect. Thanks for the recipe my banana loaf one is unreliable to say the least or maybe I'm just dreadful at baking

  12. Such a lovely post the wedding was magical and i agree with all the words you used to describe it. That bread looks lovely. And well done on your first sale that is great ;-)) Congratulations to the winner such a cute way to pick ;-)) enjoy the rest of your week, dee x

  13. Congrats to the winner - I agree with all you said re the wedding! The banana bread looks really moist and yummy! Well done on the sale - here's to many more! Abby x

  14. I agree, it was a wonderful wedding. The bridal dress was amazing, just perfect.
    Congrats to the winner of the lovely cushion. Doesn't Logan make a cute "barrel boy". :)

  15. Am hugely bummed that I didn't win--I love that cushion! :) Well, maybe I'll have better luck next time--must figure out a way to scent my entry with dog treats...here's hoping there's a wedding someday for that rascal Prince Harry. Ooh, he's adorable! I loved the whole wedding, too, and I quite love your Royal Family. I'm wishing William and Kate many years of happiness, from across the pond.

  16. It was a great wedding!!! Your cake looks totally yummy!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!
    Congrats to the winner!!!
    Have a great week!
    Chris :o)

  17. What a lovely post - it was like reading a little story. So love the cushion, and the way you picked the winner. Well done on the sale as well. I'm thinking of a little blog shop too. xx

  18. Congratulations to Storycloth, how lucky she is to have won your fabulous cushion. The banana bread looks wonderful, as do the flowers in your garden. Congratulations on your first sale, hope you have many more.

  19. Love the way you picked the winner! (Or rather Logan did) And that banana bread looks totally yummy. I must give it a try... Oh for more hours in the day!
    Jane x

  20. The banana bread looks yummy. I would just burn it though if I tried.

  21. So much loveliness in one post! I too loved the wedding...it was stunning. I just wish that all the royals from Buck palace had come by horse drawn carriage....it would have been so much nicer for the people lining the streets to see. Re banana bread...I'm a huge fan and always have very ripe bananas in the freezer. It is fantastic hill food; full of energy xx

  22. Re frezing bananas...I chop them and put them into freezer bags - two to a bag or whatever your recipe calls for, that way you only need to defrost what is required. I also do the same with less ripe bananas for smoothies....lovely and cold too! xx

  23. Hi Gill,
    I didn't get to watch the Royal wedding live as planned but really enjoyed it later, Kate looked amazing.
    I love the Iris photos, the colour is stunning.
    I can identify with your last post, hope things work out well for you, I am sure they will as you have such a positive attitude to your new "adventure".
    Finally, many congrats on your first sale, you are off the starting blocks now!

  24. Congratulations to Storycloth...and Logan, you did a brilliant job! :)
    The wedding was beyond beautiful and perfect, it couldn't have been more so...I was teary also! Let's hope that elegance, simplicity and tradition are the new/old direction that people will choose to go now...in every way and walk of life...what superb role models they were.

    The bread looks and sounds delish!
    xo J~


Thanks for visiting and for taking the time to leave a comment - I love to read them!
Gill x