Monday, 22 May 2017

#TreatYourself - special offers that caught my eye

First off, has everyone eligible registered to vote? Remember you have only got until 11:59pm TONIGHT and I shall throw a right hissy fit if any of my blog readers don't vote!

Register To Vote Here!


Already done?
Great, let's look at another quintet of discounts and voucher codes starting with a tempting offer from book DVD and music sellers Speedyhen. Speedyhen already offer free UK delivery on all their products and often have discounted prices too. Now they are adding to their generosity with £5 off spends of £25 or more for new customers. The offer doesn't apply to ebooks, but is valid for everything else and lasts until the 30th of June. Simply use code NEWCUSTOMER17 at checkout.

If the changeable weather keeps catching you out at the moment, Weird Fish have the answer to staying warm. They are offering 30% off a selection of their fleeces and I particularly like this Bina style one in faded jade reduced from £35 to £24.50. All the 30% off fleeces are shown on This Page for Women and on This Page for Men so there's no checkout code to remember, and the promotion lasts until the end of May. Weird Fish also offer FREE Standard UK delivery on all orders, FREE International Shipping on orders over £100, FREE UK 90 days Returns and Exchanges and Next Day UK delivery for just £2.99.

Summer is coming (honestly!) so now is a great time to take advantage of early season offers at Go Outdoors. Their 20% off Big Brand Event finishes tomorrow (23rd May). Go Outdoors has got a superb range of everything you will need for a camping staycation or a festival weekend. We got lots of gear for our trailer tent recently! It is worth remembering that even more stock is often available online than in store and UK delivery is free with spends of over £50. Having a Go Outdoors discount card unlocks great discounts, plus Camping And Caravanning Club members are entitled to an extra 10% off the card price (although not in conjunction with other offers).

Homewares and gift shop Museum Selection has a sitewide sale on at the moment with many items reduced to half price. I love their historically inspired pieces, especially the art nouveau and art deco styled trinkets and accessories. The pictured ceramic Babbacombe Marmalade Cats are made just a couple of miles from my home in a continuation of the long tradition of Devon pottery in Torbay. At the moment you can buy one for £9.99, reduced from £19.99, or a pair for £17.99.

And finally an offer which isn't available just yet but will be valid over the Whitsun Bank Holiday Weekend from the 25th until the 29th of May. Get 20% off Absolutely Everything at Twinings! Shop hundreds of amazing teas and infusions from around the world, plus treat yourself to stylish gifts, teaware, accessories and more or stock up your present drawer for the rest of the year! Use the code WEEKEND20 at checkout.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sunflower Seed Milk and Cookies recipes

Sunflower Seed Milk and Flour 
After another superb Kingskerswell gig last night, I am having a quiet cookery day today. We saw Charlie Dore at Kingskerswell Church where she was backed by the Totnes Pop-Up Choir. I love Charlie's music anyway, but the choir made it all the more magical! Take a look at CharlieDore.com for the rest of her tour dates and WorldUnlimited.co.uk for more great live music in South Devon.

Back to the kitchen! I'm cutting down of our dairy intake, partly for personal health reasons and partly for environmental reasons, which got me into trying various nut milks to make our breakfast porridge. Interestingly, in blind taste tests (because I didn't tell him!) Dave actually preferred non-dairy milks and my favourite was almond, but I wasn't so keen on the price. Having seen a few bloggers extolling the pros of homemade nut and seed milks, I decided to give it a go. NestAndGlow.com is a particularly good resource and I eventually settled on their Sunflower Seed Milk as being the best suited to us.

Milk Ingredients
140g sunflower seeds
Water for soaking

4-5 dates (optional)
700ml water

I put the sunflower seeds into a bowl with enough water to well cover them and leave them to soak all day (or overnight). I then drain the seeds, discarding the soaking water.
I put the soaked seeds into a high sided saucepan together with 700ml of fresh water and a few dates for sweetness. The dates are optional, but we both have a sweet tooth here! I use my handheld blender to liquidise the seeds and dates which usually takes a couple of minutes. Of course, if you have a food processor you could use this instead.
When all ingredients are blended I hang a jelly bag over a largish bowl and pour the seed-water mixture through it, squeezing at the end to make sure as little liquid as possible is retained with the seed pulp. This is pretty good exercise for hand strength!
The liquid is the finished milk which I decant into a fridge jug ready for the morning's porridge. It does separate as it stands, but a quick stir-up with a long spoon brings it back together again.

Oat And Date Cookies 
Cookie Ingredients
160g chopped dates
Hot water
1 ripe-ish banana
2 tbsp peanut butter
70g oats
175g sunflower seed pulp

In a great instance of Waste Not Want Not synchronicity it turns out that the leftover sunflower seed pulp from milk-making is a perfect flour substitute in Oat And Date Cookies. Any excuse for cookie baking!

I start to make these by soaking 160g of chopped dates in hot water for 5-10 minutes to soften them. I also set the oven to preheat to 180c although I need to look into whether these cookies would also bake in the slow cooker as I think this would be more economical and energy efficient.

I mash the banana into a large mixing bowl and mix in the peanut butter. I then drain the dates discarding the water and stirring the fruit into the banana mix.

I add the oats and seed pulp and mix everything well together with a wooden spoon. Once there is a sort of dough I use my hands to form it into small balls, lightly flatten them nd place them onto a baking tray. This size batch makes 16-18 cookies. I have found if I flatten them and then place them on a baking tray, they bake without sticking so the tray doesn't need additional greasing or flouring. If I press the cookies onto the tray to flatten them, they do stick!

I bake the cookies on a high oven shelf at 180c for about 15 minutes or until they start to brown on top. I remove the tray from the oven and let them stand for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Delicious with an afternoon cuppa or as an on-the-go snack!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

#ThrowbackThursday - where we were on this day in Mays past

Early Spring by Eric Slater 
I wasn't sure whether to go ahead with this Throwback Thursday post when I realised that its date would be the 18th of May. My Mum died on this day four years ago and it is still a difficult anniversary to get through even though I try to ignore it in favour of remembering the happy times of Mum's birthday a week later.

On this day in 2012, a year beforehand, I blogged about a fascinating art exhibition held at Eastbourne's Towner Gallery. Entitled Point Of Departure, its theme was primarily paintings and photographs of the coast between Newhaven and Beachy Head, the port through which so many thousands of travellers have passed, and the white cliffs that are the first sight of Britain when returning home. The exhibition featured a small section dedicated to the print artist Eric Slater who swiftly became one of my favourites.

So, as already explained, I'd rather just forget this point in May 2013 and I notice I just blogged recipes at the time rather than actually writing proper posts. This Salmon And Pesto Penne concoction is still one of our favourites.

On the 18th of May 2014 I blogged about a new job I had just found I had been successful in getting. Only temporary, but it meant I had the summer working as part of a good team at Wealden District Council. Dave and I had recently collected our new-to-us car as well as putting our Polegate house on the market so things were definitely looking up and, as it turned out, my whole life was going to change!

New boots! 
By this time in May 2015 our UK caravan tour was well underway. We were in Yorkshire and had just spent a good day in and near to Bakewell and Eyam. The museums there are both definitely worth a visit and we took the opportunity to devour a genuine Bakewell-baked Bakewell Tart! I was also delighted to buy these Gabor boots at the Peaklander Factory Shop. Two years later they are still going strong, albeit a bit scuffed around the toes!

And last year we had just paid our first visit to Cockington Court near Torquay. We had decided to put down new roots in Torbay and were starting to explore our new home. Cockington is a beautiful village and manor house with walking opportunities, artisan studios and workshops, art exhibition space and a cafe. There's also a cricket pitch where we said we must go to watch a game on a sunny afternoon. We still haven't though and I caught myself making exactly the same suggestion when we were back there last week!

Cockington Court 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Ask Book Publishers to Stand Up for Free Speech and Forests!

As a keen reader and a book blogger, I was upset at the latest email I received from Greenpeace yesterday. It appears that, although many book publishers are doing their best to reduce their environmental impact, the company from which they buy much of their paper doesn't have good credentials - and it is trying to bully dissenters.

After years of successful Greenpeace campaigns to protect Canada's forests, one logging company, Resolute Forest Products, is trying to silence Greenpeace and our ally, Stand.earth. The company is suing Greenpeace for hundreds of millions of dollars in Canada and the USA. If it wins, Greenpeace’s ability to advocate for forest protection anywhere in the world will take a huge blow.

Mile by mile, Resolute is destroying some of Canada’s most vibrant, ancient forests. But rather than working with Greenpeace on finding solutions, Resolute is trying to hide its actions by suing us - trying to force us into silence. We will not be silenced.

Please sign the Greenpeace petition

Resolute produces paper for some of the biggest book publishers in the world and will listen to its customers. Please can you send a message to publishers, asking them to stand up for the forests? Many major publishing companies including Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and Hachette source paper from Resolute.

We’re aiming for 500,000 signatures by May 31 when we’ll take your message to Book Expo America in New York - one of the largest publishing industry gatherings in the world. Your voice will help us convince publishers to stand up for free speech and the forests.

We want publishers to:
1. Ask Resolute to produce book paper without harming intact forests and threatened wildlife habitat.
2. Encourage Resolute to stop attacking free speech.

Please can you tell the publishing industry to support Greenpeace and stand up for free speech?


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

One week remaining to Register To Vote!

Are you eligible to vote in June 8th's General Election?

Are you registered to vote?

If you answered yes to both those questions then this post isn't really for you. But maybe you know someone who is still dithering? If so, could you share this on their timeline?

If you answered yes to the first question and no to the second, please Click Here and get yourself registered now. I know you've got until midnight on May 22nd, but do it now. You've obviously got a minute or two spare or you wouldn't be reading this blog! Registering To Vote only takes a couple of minutes - and it's free!

It doesn't matter if you haven't decided who gets your support yet. The main thing is to make sure you can exercise that voting right of yours when the time comes. You know people across the world are still dying for that right? Please don't squander yours!

The pie chart up top shows how much influence non-voters could have had in the 2015 election - if only they had gone to the polls. Shocking isn't it? More Brits stayed away than voted Tory. Those people could have completely changed the face of Britain, but they didn't. Couldn't or wouldn't, who knows. What a waste of their right.


I know that politics in Britain can feel like a foregone conclusion. Tory-controlled media is shouting about a Tory landslide because it's in their best interests to keep you apathetic. Perhaps your constituency seems overwhelmingly opposed to your views, but that might not be the true picture. Here in Torbay, it appears to be a Tory / Lib Dem certainty, but, again, more people here stayed away in 2015 than voted for either of those parties. Just imagine: if all those non-voters had showed up and voted Green then Torbay would have a Green MP! I'd like that!

It is possible for your vote to make a difference and the very first step is to make sure that you Can Vote. Register if you haven't before. Re-register if you've moved or you're not sure about your status.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

A river walk along The Templer Way

The River Teign 
We went for a very different type of walk yesterday along a short stretch of The Templer Way from Newton Abbot towards Teignmouth. The whole of this hiking route covers eighteen miles from Haytor on Dartmoor to Teignmouth on the coast tracing the route by which granite was exported from Dartmoor via the unique Haytor Granite Tramway and the Stover Canal. We picked it up from Forde Road in Newton Abbot, parking near the Teignbridge Propellers premises which looks to be making use of old railway buildings. Forde Road has parking restrictions on weekdays, but not at weekends.

Early on we crossed Aller Brook where there is a small nature reserve sandwiched between the A380 and the industrial estate. A noticeboard there had information about regular events including birdspotting walk and maintenance parties so if you are local and want to get involved, take a wander down there to check the poster. I couldn't find it reproduced online so if anyone knows of a link, please Comment below.

Deciding on this walk from looking at our Ordnance Survey map of the area meant we didn't really know what to expect and our imaginings of a standard footpath alongside a river were only correct for about ten minutes after which we were confronted with this signpost:


As luck would have it, the tide was about as low as it was possible to get so we had plenty of time to complete our five miles to Coombe Cellars pub and back. However the Way is literally along the edge of the river so is covered by water at high tide! Much of this part of the route is over mossy shingle so is slippery under foot and I was frequently glad of my trusty boots and to borrow one of Dave's hiking poles to aid my balance. It's a beautiful walk with impressive views across the river and estuary. We saw a white heron and a gaggle of twenty-one swans as well as geese and seagulls.

The Way was almost completely flat which made a nice change from the more usual Devon undulations although this didn't mean it was easy walking. We both felt like we had more of a workout than the two hours and twenty minutes timespan would suggest! Bizarre sights such as trees with their trunks washed pale by the tide or with seaweed flung into their branches added interest and keeping an eye on the high tide line showed us that walkers really could get themselves stranded along here if they weren't careful! Drawing near to our turn-round point, the Teign widened considerably making its two channels look like tiny threads of streams in the midst of the muddy silt.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Top Five Etsy Finds - Votes For Women + Giveaway

Votes For Women Brooch
by VeeAccessories
 
This is one of a pair of linked posts on my blogs this week. Yesterday I reviewed Emmeline Pankhurst's biography on Literary Flits. Enter the Giveaway at the end of this post for your chance to win a copy.

I doubt that the 8th of June was chosen for this year's snap General Election because of its significance to women's political history, but hopefully its being the anniversary of the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison will remind British women of just how important their right to vote is. (If you are eligible and have not yet done so, Register To Vote Here!) Certainly Etsy artisans are keen to remember suffrage and it was tough for me to decide which of their many handmade and crafted items to highlight in this month's Top Five post.

Jewellery in the Women's Social and Political Union colours (purple for dignity, white for purity, green for hope) is particularly prevalent across Etsy and I liked this bronze Votes For Women Brooch (pictured above) made by VeeAccessories in Sunderland. Vee has dozens of suffragette themed brooches and pins to choose from and each one is unique.

The Votes For Women Brooch is for sale at £9.50 plus shipping.


Votes For Women T-Shirt
by LiteraryEmporium
 
LiteraryEmporium in Frome offers a Votes for Women T-Shirt inspired by one of the most iconic images of the Suffragette movement. The hand-drawn illustration of Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst is screen printed in the South West of England onto a soft white t-shirt made from 100% premium cotton. 10% from the sale of each t-shirt will be donated to The Fawcett Society. Since 1866, when Millicent Fawcett and other campaigners handed over their petition for women’s suffrage to Parliament, Fawcett have campaigned and researched tirelessly to make changes to women’s lives. Today Fawcett is the UK’s leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights.

The Votes for Women T-Shirt is for sale at £15 plus shipping.


Votes For Women Print 
by HannahSawtell 
Artist HannahSawtell has a studio in Nottingham's Creative Quarter. She was inspired to create a series of portraits of women by a TV documentary about notable women ignored by the narrative of history. Her work combines detailed line drawn illustration with watercolour painting and collage elements to produce a distinctive style of image. In this instance the collage additions are postage stamps on the suffragette's skirt. Hannah is offering signed limited edition prints of Votes For Women, printed on archival Fine Art Hahnemuhle 308gsm paper, with dimensions of 21cm x 29cm.

The Votes For Women Print is for sale at £25 plus shipping.


Votes For Women Sash
by Costumier-Saurus
For those of you interested in historical re-enactment or wanting more unusual vintage dressing-up and cosplay ideas, Costumier-Saurus has this Edwardian-style Votes For Women Sash available. Based in Peterborough, the company is a professional costume design studio that makes costumes for theatre, film and museums across the UK and internationally. The sash in available in adult and child sizes and is handcrafted with both historical accuracy and comfort in mind. It is made from cotton with synthetic satin ribbon and felt lettering.

The Votes For Women Sash is for sale at £50 plus shipping.


Suffragette Floral Cluster Ring
by TrulyVenusian
 
My final choice returns us to jewellery and one of the gorgeous historically-inspired pieces made by Jane Frost at TrulyVenusian in Bath. A prolific jewellery designer, Jane is inspired by iconic women throughout the ages including Anne Boleyn, Jane Austen, and the suffrage women. This Suffragette Floral Cluster Ring features Uruguayan Amethysts, Pakistani Peridots, Brazilian Topaz accents and a Creamy White Chinese Cultured Freshwater Pearl all set in 14ct White Gold coated 925 Sterling Silver.

The Suffragette Floral Cluster Ring is for sale at £145.25 plus shipping.


I hope you loved discovering these creations as much as I did. All links in this post are affiliate links so, should you click through and buy something, I would receive a small commission.

Now for the giveaway!
The prize is my paperback copy of My Own Story by Emmeline Pankhurst, carefully read once and with a BookCrossing label in the front. All entries must be made through the Gleam widget below. The Giveaway is open worldwide until midnight (UK time) on the 26th May and I will draw a winner on the 27th. The winner must respond to my email within 7 days or the prize will be forfeit.

Emmeline Pankhurst biography giveaway

Good luck!

And please do remember to Register To Vote. It's free!