It is two years ago that I first visited Caffe Vista in the Summer of 2014. I made a spontaneous visit and discovered this great place in Tenby which drew me back this year. I was lucky on all occasions to get a seat on their small balcony. There is plenty of seating inside which is really nice and a variety of food which I have not yet sampled. I enjoyed a strawberry, raspberry and mango smoothie followed by a hot chocolate on my first visit of the day while I sat reflecting on the beauty of Tenby and thinking about life. I then returned for a strawberry, banana and yoghurt smoothie to take another break from ambling along by the beach and through the narrow streets. A lot has happened healthwise during the past two years and I felt blessed to be able to return. Next door to the cafe I noticed that there are some holiday apartments which enjoy the same views – what a wonderful place to stay!
I had a few hours to spare so went for a drive in the Kent countryside with nowhere particular in mind. I was on a busy dual carriageway and waiting for something to lure me away. A sign for Hucking Estate showed a place for walks and picnics, so I flicked my indicator and headed off into the narrow lanes and tree tunnels. A nightmare I usually avoid, dreading coming face to face with a vehicle that will be obstinate and refuse to back away. I hate reversing especially if someone is edging towards me impatiently. But thankfully that was in my mind, it didn’t actually happen. I stopped by the roadside to take photos which on their own do not do justice in conveying the splendorous views that surrounded me amidst peace on that cool sunny autumn day.
I noticed a sign at a vague crossroads to an Art Studio. Intrigued, as I love discovering unexpected places, I followed the sign until I came to a dilemma. A choice of a no through road or turn off to the right. Well, I thought, it is perhaps most likely along the no through road and at least I will come to an end, whereas the other road could take me who knows how far. Mere seconds along the no through road and I was regretting my choice. There were no passing points, nowhere to go if another vehicle appeared, especially if it was a tractor, and no way I could reverse unless I could manage a straight (or curving) line. Recalling a theme within a book I am reading*, I tried to convince myself that it was less boring to follow this road and that I must let my fear ride alongside and ignore it. I eventually arrived at a farm where there were lots of tractors and the people living there came out to see me. It was good to meet a friendly face and I was reassured that there were no tractors due to arrive and if another vehicle did appear, it was possible to somehow squeeze past. I was kindly given directions to the Art Studio which was but a few minutes away.
And so I came to arrive at This Art of Mine Arts & Craft Studio. I was welcomed by a friendly dog from the neighbouring house and discovered that the Studio was in fact closed but there was someone there. I was welcomed in and had a guided tour, discovering a wonderful place that offered workshops (which included decorating pottery and jewellery making) and also an area dedicated to open access to just turn up and pay as you paint pottery. It was really spacious and light, with plenty of examples of work that had already been done.
When I left, I decided to carry on and head back to the main road. In doing so, I ended up arriving at one of my favourite restaurants, The Black Horse Inn at Thurnham that I had not visited in a long while.
I wasn’t hungry when I arrived so had a lemonade and sat outside on the terrace in the sunshine. Enticed by the daily special menu, I lengthened my stay and enjoyed a tasty three course lunch ending with a luscious Creme Brûlée.
I was full and sat relaxing, reading my book in the cosy historic atmosphere of the Inn.
The Black Horse Inn is licensed for Marriages and Civil Ceremonies. It is a beautiful place with a special landscaped area for ceremonies. There is also accommodation that can be booked. Ideal for wedding guests or if you are having a special celebration and want to be able to have a drink and not worry about driving home, or if you are visiting the area and want somewhere different to stay.
I am including the following photo as it shows more of the immense outdoor areas available. The sun was so bright that the angle I took it has affected it but in black and white it does provide you with a picture of what it is like – perhaps it adds a hint of romance.
The Black Horse Inn is a very friendly and welcoming public house and restaurant (with accommodation) and I thoroughly recommend a visit if you find yourself in the area of Maidstone in Kent, England. Their website can be found here.
I never ended up on the Hucking Estate but information on this Woodland Trust area, and other areas within the Kent Downs – AnArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty – can be found here www.kentdowns.org.uk.
This Art of Mine Art & Craft Studio – information can be found here.
The book I am reading is Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, written by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love. Here is a link to The The Guardian Q & A with the author.
Forced to Reflect
In my mind, the words force and reflect do not sit well together. Forced is negative, being made to do something against one’s will, whereas reflection brings to mind a calm place with ample time to look back in a positive way on memories. What brings me to think of these words together? I have had a couple of months off treatment, which has taken me to a wonderful place where I have enjoyed life, had renewed energy, been able to think about the future, my hair has regrown to a point where I actually like my new short style. I began to feel that I was in a false state of wellness as I knew that my next cycle of treatment was imminent. Last week I had the dreaded call, resulting in dates for this week. I have tried to keep positive, not to think back on the difficult and challenging time that I have had since January.
Yesterday, as the clear ultramarine blue liquid dripped into me, I thought ‘what a beautiful colour’. One of the nurses who knew me quite well from my spell in the high dependency unit joked about me turning into a smurf. Her smile reminded me of the kindness and care she had shown me back in that dark place. Another nurse smiled brightly, commenting on how unbelievably well I looked compared to that time when I was lying in bed, hardly able to move, being turned throughout the night and losing the use of my legs through lack of mobility. I got through that time. I can do it again, I may not even go there.
Here I am discussing my treatment, what this blog was not to be about. But this blog is saving me, it is giving me hope. It is enabling me to achieve goals at a time when I felt that time was running out. Each day is precious, I enjoy my life with my wonderful family and friends. I have been blessed with a beautiful warm summer that is delightful. Yesterday when I was going for my treatment, my eldest daughter visited and we went out to my favourite new local cafe for lunch. I once wanted to run a tearoom – it was to be called ‘Pebbles” and would be right beside the sea. One side was to be the cafe with special gifts and books for sale, the other side was to be a place for quiet contemplation, with artwork to view and books available, and the opportunity for either one to one support or small group workshops with a coaching theme. I gain satisfaction from seeing what other’s are able to accomplish. The cafe I mention is run by a young girl seemingly living her dream and very successful with it. Who knows where life will take her, I know nothing of her history. I have never owned a tearoom but I have been able to achieve the essence of my dream by organising special intergenerational tea party events, holding workshops and training in the community and organising an art competition – all while working in my dream job working for a local charity.
I started this post early today and now it is late evening and I am reflecting back. I return to the local cafe. The first time I visited it was with a friend. We chose from the breakfast menu and I had the most scrumptious fluffy American blueberry pancakes piled high, with fresh blueberries floating in warm maple syrup. All thought of taking photos for my blog went out of my head as I dived in, so the photo shown here was an afterthought. This experience led me to look up recipes and try one out with my new mixer that I treated myself to. I was really pleased with the results and we had them with cinnamon sugar. Yummy. So this morning, as my daughter had stayed over, I decided to make them again. The first round was drizzled with tangy fresh lemon juice with cinnamon sugar. For the second round, I thought I’d try something different and I made the most wonderful fresh apricot sauce with strawberries. I was gutted that I forgot to take a photo so will have to make them again specially and take a really good photo. But I wanted to include what I did here anyway. So, a quick recipe.
Strawberry Pancakes with fresh apricot caramel sauce
Use your favourite recipe for American fluffy pancakes – if you have never made them there are many to choose from online. The one I make uses 200 g self-raising flour, 200 ml milk, 2 eggs and 1 tsp honey. The eggs are separated first. Then mix the flour, milk, egg yolks and honey together with a fork until thick and smooth, but not for too long. Whisk the egg whites until thick and firm and then fold into the pancake mixture until all the white has mixed in. Melt butter in a thick frying pan and when it is sizzling spoon dollops of the mixture, spaced out. (At this point I add some chopped strawberries, quickly sprinkling a few pieces over the top of each pancake first and then gently pressing them down with the back of a large spoon before the tops of the pancakes become too set. The pancakes are then flipped over once golden to cook the fruity side until lightly golden.)
To make the apricot caramel sauce (quantities for 2 servings only) and the amazingly flavoursome whole strawberries that top it all, peel and chop 2 fresh apricots and wash and hull 4 fresh strawberries. Place the chopped apricots and whole strawberries in a heavy based pan, I use stainless steel, with 3-4 teaspoons of caster sugar. Do not add any liquid. Heat gently, stirring occasionally. The apricots will start to soften and the sugar melt, becoming a lumpy golden sauce. You will smell a slight caramel scent. Do not allow to boil. Continue to stir just for a few minutes. I stopped when I noticed the caramel smell start to change and placed the base of the saucepan in water for a few seconds to stop the sauce from continuing to cook, so it didn’t become bitter caramel. On tasting, there is a hint of caramel flavour which blends beautifully with the fresh apricots and I served it warm. The whole strawberries will be cooked through but remain firm, and their flavour is really intensified.
So today, my second day of treatment, we enjoyed a home cooked, satisfying and delicious breakfast. What a treat! It reminds me that I must cook more, something I used to do a lot of and have the recipe books to prove it in my garage library. It also gives me something else to photo and blog on here. So, forced to reflect? Yes, but to me, reflection ends in a positive and turns the world around.
The Strawberry Effect
Apples gleaming with a rosy hue
Bananas browning too soon in the queue
Cherries masquerading with damson delight
Darkening tastebuds with sourness so bright
Endless choice of shapes and flavour
Fondling fruit such strange behaviour
Gathering mounds of good intent
Healthy heroes the world has sent
Isles of green spring way ahead
Jolly leaves stay in their bed
King of mushrooms, sturdy and strong
Laughing lentils, where have they gone?
Melons milking their golden flesh
Nurturing nectar with a honey mesh
Oranges glow with dimpled desire
Peppers compete with radiant fire
Quarrelling cubes of hacked about fruit
Ready-to-eat but do they really suit?
Softening strawberries enticingly placed
Thoughts of the cream and the scones in haste
Under the rainbow hope is born
Visions of dreamy desserts forewarn
Wallowing weighty magical moments
X-rated – so bring back the Clements
Young and fruity and so divine
Zero degrees with a glass of wine
This poem was written this morning after this week discovering the blog of Blair King http://www.peoplethingsandlife.wordpress.com and reading her poem The Storm. I loved the poem and then discovered Blair had set out to use the alphabet for the start of each line which I thought made her poem even more amazing. So, I thought I’d have a go with the A to Z and somehow I ended up with this poem based around food shopping – no idea why! Have a great day! Kay (and thanks Blair for the idea)