Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Plant-to-plate time 10 minutes

As the the saying goes 'I've lots of irons in the fire' this week and next - it's good to be busy but doesn't leave any time for blogging.

I'm so lucky to work from a studio right next to my house and garden - it means I can have this for lunch

'Sweet Nugget' corn picked from the Three Sisters bed, cooked and plated up within ten minutes - it tasted so good!

And, of course I can stroll over to say hello to the under-gardeners

Hi girls! :-)

OK, I'll go back to my work and leave you to yours.

PS: You may have noticed that I've signed up to Twitter - when I'm busy I can tweet to say I'm still here.

Sunday 20 September 2009

The recipe for a 'Nice Weekend'

"Good weekend?"

"Yes thanks, it was nice."

I hope yours was. Our weekend wasn't spectacular, or exciting, but was definitely 'nice'. Activities included . . .

Gardening – as enthusiastically demonstrated here by Sylvie, one of my senior under-gardeners. We trimmed hedges and pottered around happily all Saturday afternoon.

Crochet - on holiday in Denmark I bought some balls of wool in lovely rich pink/red/terracotta shades from a bargain bin in the lovely yarn shop just opposite Odense Town Hall. I just happened to have my crochet hook with me (best be prepared!) and I spent the cosy evenings in the sommerhus making crochet squares. On Friday evening I started to stitch them together to make a snuggly scarf.

Cake - occasionally Cliff and I devise a walk for the village Sunday afternoon walking group. This is not one of our bracing, striding-out-along-windy-ridges walks, it's a stroll along local paths and lanes while catching up on the village gossip - it is designed to suit all ages and ends with tea and cake. Which is why I made my favourite carrot cake recipe - it's a good thing I snapped a quick picture this morning - there's only a few crumbs left!

Talking of cake - did you get the Saturday newspaper with the voucher for a free chocolate cake from a well known up-market supermarket? We did, and on the way home from a not-so-posh supermarket, we dropped in and claimed our FREE chocolate cup cakes - that made us smile – a lot :-)

Cinema - I love going to the cinema, but we don't seem to go as often as we used to. This weekend I was determined to see Julie and Julia - so we headed into Cambridge and spent Saturday evening happily watching a 'nice' movie about cooking and blogging and nice-patient-kind-husbands and there was even a ginger cat which looked just like my studio assistant! Which meant I hated it . . . hee-hhe nooooo! of course not - it was very, very nice. And we ate lots of chocolate and afterwards I gave the film 8/10 because it made us both smile.

So, what now? A nice glass of red wine . . . a nice bath . . .

Monday 14 September 2009


The combination of spending my time working on non-fiction and educational books and having a pretty good memory for useless facts, means that I'm useful as at the annual Village Quiz Night. Working freelance on lots of diverse projects means that I hoover up information just in case it might come in useful. So when I stumbled on a piece of trivia while reading a leaflet at a museum in Denmark, I stashed the facts away in my might come in jolly useful one day cupboard tucked in the nether recesses of my brain.

Here's a pub quiz question for you . . .
What's the connection between ancient burial mounds and a church at Jelling and the circular hillfort at Fyrkat, both in Denmark; and a hands-free mobile phone?

Did you know? I'll tell you –

The answer is Bluetooth. To be exact it's Harold Bluetooth; if you have Bluetooth connectivity on whatever you're reading this on, you'll have a little logo which looks like a 'B' with an 'X' through it – that's HB in runic characters. The inventors of the clever gadgets that allow people to 'connect' wherever they may be, named their company after the 10th century Danish King who led the efforts to unite Denmark, Norway and southern Sweden.

These are the runestones at Jelling. The big one on the left was placed there by Harold Bluetooth, its inscription in runic characters reads: King Harald bade this monument to be made in memory of Gorm his father and Thyra his mother, that Harald who won for himself all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian. Consequently this stone and the images carved on it are greatly revered in Denmark - it's a national treasure. The smaller stone is older and was placed there by King Gorm in memory of Queen Thyra, the inscription reads: King Gorm made this monument to his wife Thyra, Denmark's ornament.

The church and the huge monumental mounds at Jelling are now a World Heritage Site, the nearby museum explains their significance both as symbols of the Danish nation and as part of an archaeologically complex royal burial site.

This is another landmark linked with Bluetooth's great Danish dynasty – the circular fortress at Fyrkat, near Hobro at the end of the Mariager Fjord in Jutland. It was a symbolic and strategic statement of Harold Bluetooth's power, now it's part of a Viking museum. Unfortunately we visited on 1st September, which meant autumn opening times were applied and so at one minute to 3pm when we turned up it was about to close for the day! We drove to the car park near the fortress and went for a short walk so we could see the high defensive banks even if we didn't get to see the visitor's centre.

That's enough trivia for a Monday, down to something much more practical - grapes and what to do with them . . .

Yesterday I picked just under a stone of black grapes (I left a few bunches low down for the under-gardeners, we love to see how happy hens can look when snaffling red grapes!). So if not wine, what do you do with 13+ pounds of ripe Rondo grapes? I consulted our growing library of books on preserves and also read the Cottage Smallholders excellent blog posts on the subject. In the end I turned to an English national treasure, Marguerite Patten, and her recipe for Grape Jelly – a vat of simmering purpleness is in the kitchen as I type, it's almost ready to cool slightly before I strain it through my newly stitched jelly-bag. Must go to construct something with an upturned stool and string so I can catch all the precious juices.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Great Danes!

No, we didn't got to Norfolk, Scotland, Finland or the Netherlands - all good guesses and I can see the similarities. We drove to Harwich and took the over-night ferry to to Denmark.

We've explored from Gretten on the far tip of North Jutland - where the Skaggerat's waves from the west crash into to Kattergat's waves from the east and a wind buffeted procession of people walk out to stand on the finger of sand pointing out into the maelstrom . . .

Over many bridges from island to island down to Langeland, almost, but not quite the very south of the country.

The mix of ancient history and tradition and the very height of modern design style is perfectly blended here at Koldinghus, where the old castle has been transformed into a stunning exhilbition space - the current exhibition is about sustainable fashion and 'green' textiles.

For the first part of the holiday we stayed in a hotel in Odense on the island of Funen. This is the old part of the town, with its markets and cobbled streets . . .

On Funen we found sunny harbours and pretty villages, Egeskov castle, the Ladby Viking ship burial and in Brandt's Mill on a rainy morning we discovered exhibitions of stunning creative Scandinavian bookbinding and moodily beautiful landscape photography by Kirsten Klein.

For the second week we had a complete contrast - a little sommerhus in the woods on the shores of Lymfjorden which divides north and mid Jutland. This was the view from the verandah . . .

Dark northern nights with skies spangled with stars; sandy dunes and moors; long pebble beaches - yes there was all that. We visited Skagen (pronounced to rhyme with rain) and saw the beautiful paintings at the Skagans Museum and paid a visit to Silkeborg to see the ancient curled body of Tollund man (the verse in the previous post is from Silkeborg Museum, at the start of the wooden walkway to the building which is now the resting place of Tolland man and Elling woman.)

Beneath the reserved, clean and stylish surface lurks a cheeky sense of humour
. . . was that a monkey? street art to raise a smile in Skive . . .

And what to you think will be in the Resting Garden at Egeskov? "Hammocks that we can lie in" said Cliff . . .

. . . wishes come true, sometimes!

Of course we couldn't not have the harbourside lunch platter . . . mmmm yum!

After two weeks of adventures we had to drive back to the port along the wild dunes on the west caost of Jutland to sail back across the stormy silver North Sea. (Just a bit too choppy for me - oh dear!)

Now, I'm going to break the PPP rule of never appearing on my blog - for the rather momentous reason that

this is my 300th post! Ta-dah!!!!

that calls for a PPP-party
I'll see want I can do ... see you again soon
Celia x

me and Cliff on the top of Koldinghus tower

Sunday 6 September 2009

Watery edges

The trackway leads
to sacred places

where gods are waiting

Fear not!

Road guardians

will watch over you

on your journey.

As some of you may have suspected, I've been unplugged for a while – and have been wandering far afield . . .

to a place with lots of watery edges and wide open horizons; skylines whirling with wind turbines; and even more tractors than Suffolk!

Back soon, to tell you more :-)