Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Just Loving Autumn #4 - Trentham Gardens, The Italian Garden, Stoke-on-Trent

Hi there everyone

Following on from our wander around the lake, taking in the fairy sculptures, at Trentham Gardens last week, today you can see what we thought of the rest of our visit.

We decided to start by heading towards the old hall to see what we could find.

We made our way through the 'Rivers of Grass', where we came across another of the 'Nature in Bronze' sculptures called taking flight ...
... before picking up the footpath alongside the river where ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿ was really putting on an amazing show for us ...
It wasn't long before we got a glimpse of the remains of the old hall through the trees ...
Trentham Hall Remains are derelict, which is incredibly sad to see, but beautiful all the same, especially against the back drop of an ๐ŸAutumnal๐Ÿcrisp blue sky ...
Past the hall is a viewing platform, giving a birds eye view of the Italian Gardens and it was only really from here that we could see the real scale of them. Apparently the gardens were designed to be best viewed from the upper floors of the Hall, which are no longer in place, having been demolished a long, long time ago ...
The gardens are laid out beautifully and will look even more amazing at the height of Summer, though there is still plenty of interest to see in any season.

From here you can also get some really great views of the old Hall and the church ...

We then made our way over to explore the show gardens, with some great views looking back across The Italian Gardens to the Old Hall ...
... and passing plenty of interesting bits along the way ...
The show gardens themselves did not disappoint. Though they are probably really past their best there was still most definitely plenty going on to keep them interesting and there was still plenty of colour to catch the eye, be it not always in the planting ...

It was then time to head back across the top of the lake and back to where we had started ... to make for the shopping village for Christmas shopping, and a pie and mash lunch.
We spent about three hours in the gardens and having got in on a two for one offer which is currently available till the end of year felt it was really good value.

We are so glad we managed to finally manage to visit and will definitely be back again.๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

Friday, 24 November 2017

Just Loving Autumn #3 - Trentham Gardens, The Lake, Stoke-on-Trent

Hi there everyone

There really is nothing better on a crisp ๐ŸAutumnal๐Ÿ day than managing to pull in a bit of outdoors time and after meaning to visit, for what seems like forever, we finally managed to find our way to Trentham Gardens for the day. Seriously, I can not understand why we have never visited before.

It's about an hour away from us, so definitely within distance for a day out and from the minute we entered we were like kids in a sweet shop. We were just so excited, there was just so much to see that we didn't quite know where to start.

I will warn you now that this post is very photo heavy. I took absolutely loads of pictures and I promise I have tried really hard to be selective in those that I've included, but there were just so many amazing things to see that I got a bit carried away.

As soon as we entered the gardens we just didn't know where to look. There was so much going on in all directions. Literally above our heads was the first of the fairy sculptures that we were really looking forward to seeing ... 
... off to the left there was the lake, alive with all manner of ducks and birds, looking hazy in the ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿ sunshine...
... and to the right, yellow grasses, interspersed with winding footpaths, as far as the eye could see.
There was only one thing for it ... Tea room for breakfast where a plan of action could be decided upon.
In the short walk from the entrance to the tea room we couldn't help but stop to take pictures of this hare sculpture, which was nestled in the grasses ...
... this cheeky little frog ...
... the lake and these bird sculptures ...
... another amazing fairy sculpture ...
... and these snowdrop sculptures ...
Fuelled with Staffordshire oatcakes for me and a bacon ciabatta for Martin we decided to start our visit by walking round the lake.

The lake is a mile long with a well defined footpath and takes in the rest of the fairy sculptures and a number of other sculptures currently on display.

Being absolute lovers of all kinds of outdoor sculpture we spent plenty of time stopping along the way to photograph pretty much everything, starting with these amazing carved pumpkins ...
Then there were the dandelion clocks, which were just beautiful ...
... one of which was home to another ethereal creature ...
The path wound through the woodland, alongside the lake, with plenty of signs of ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿ to be seen ...
We somehow managed to miss the next two fairy sculptures ๐Ÿ˜žbut we did see these mushrooms, which really blended in well with the ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿlandscape ...
... and these deer, which were just beautiful. They were so realistic ...
There was an enormous carved scarab beetle, which was a little freaky, but fascinating all the same ...
We did manage to find the last fairy sculpture on this side of the lake. She was sitting on a log, in a stream, just taking in the ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿ sunshine. Personally I think she might be washing her hair ...
We were now at the far end of the lake and it was time to begin our walk back. There is another cafe here if you fancy a breather, but we were saving ourselves for lunch, so did not avail of the facility.
There was just as much of interest on the walk back along the other side of the lake.

More fairies, which we loved, they were just enthralling ...
... and plenty more sculpture ...
There was also still a surprising amount of colour, considering the time of year ...

So, we'd finished our circuit of the lake ... time to explore the more formal Italian garden, but I think I will save that for another post ...

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Just Loving Autumn #2 - Butternut Squash Soup, with a hint of Bacon

Hi there everyone

I've got another of my real ๐ŸAutumn favourites๐Ÿ for you this week ... home made soup.

We had a soup maker for Christmas a couple of years ago and, after spending a while wondering whether we would ever use it, it has definitely ended up earning its keep.

It has been languishing at the back of the cupboard over the Summer months but the onset of  ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿ has seen it back in full force, working overtime.

One of the most popular posts on my blog ever, is one of my favorite soup recipes, so I'm guessing you guys are loving it too. If you've not tried it yet you can find the recipe for Dad's Tomato Soup here.

Over the last few weeks I've been experimenting with another favourite, butternut squash, and I think I've now got another recipe worth sharing.

Butternut squash is a real winner as a soup ingredient. It always turns out thick, smooth and creamy and it has a real taste of ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿ, reminiscent of Halloween and bonfire nights. That extra bit of smokiness from the bacon, really just finishes it off nicely.

Ingredients
Serves 4

4 slices lean smoked bacon, cut into small chunks
Half a decent sized butternut squash, cubed
1 medium size sweet potato, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 pint vegetable stock


Our soup maker is a Morphy Richards Saute and Soup and I always start this soup off by searing off the bacon for about 3 minutes.
Then I just throw in the rest of the vegetables, sprinkle with the ginger and continue to sear for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
It's then time to add the stock and switch over to the soup making function.
21 minutes later and here you go ... The smoothest, creamiest, ๐Ÿautumnal๐Ÿ bowl full of goodness you could wish for with just a hint of smokiness from the bacon and just the right amount of heat from the ginger. It really is ๐ŸAutumn๐Ÿ in a bowl ...
Not got a soup maker? Don't worry, you can still easily make this soup on the hob. Just saute the bacon, add the vegetables and ginger and saute until the veg starts to go softer, add the stock and simmer until all of the veg is fully cooked through. Then blend to the consistency you like.

Enjoy ๐Ÿ˜‹