Saturday, 31 January 2009

New toy

I bought a breadmaker :o)
It arrived last week and been well used for different sorts of loaves already.

I didn't do only bread...

I've tried brioche as well. I made one with orange blossom flower and yesterday I've made my favourite: praline brioche :o)

It raised so well, that it almost overflow the pan.

This is the recipe if you want to try:
260ml of milk
2 eggs
180g of melted butter
600g of flour (I used wholemeal:white, 1:2)
1/2 table spoon of salt
80g of sugar (demerara)
2.5 table spoon of dried yeast
200g of bits of pink pralines (I bought them in France, I don't know where to get them in the UK although you can find pastries with pink pralines, so I guess, it must be possible to buy some here)

I used the brioche program on the machine but if you don't have one, the one for wholemeal bread will do.

Now, I think I am going to try and make some lavender brioche. I've got some dried lavender flowers and if I infuse them into the milk, it should flavoured it... I'll let you know how it turned out ;o)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Some knitting

It's been a while since I showed you some knitting!
I manage to finish my jacket before christmas and I am very pleased with it :o)

I had my first knitting (or I should say felting) disaster early this year. I knitted this cushion cover:

and after 2 cycles at 60 C in the washing machine it turned out like this:

I am a bit disappointed because you can't see all the details anymore, the colors are kind of blend together :o(
Anyway, if you look from the distance it is not too bad so it might become a cushion cover, I have to ask the recipient if she likes it...
I am knitting a lot of things at the moment but I can't show you just now. I am taking part in a swap again and this time the theme is "tea cosy". The deadline is end of February...
In the meantime I can show you my latest acquisitions:

Some yummy Malabrigo lace yarn and Sandyhaven from Cariad (on the left) (bought here).

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Malta (the end)

St John's co-cathedral in Valetta (it is only a co-cathedral as the cathedral is in Mdina) is a unique monument. Its simple and sober facade is in contrast with its opulent interior. It was build in only 4 years (1573-1577). Initially, the interior was plain and austere, however, in the seventeenth century Grand Master Cotoner ordered the redecoration of the interior (more here).

Malta is also renown for its archaeological complexes. One example is Tarxien, a small village 5km south-east of Valetta. In the centre of this town, one of Malta most important neolithic temple was discovered (info here). It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. There is almost no explanation on site, which is a shame, but the original statues and stoneworks are now at the national museum of archaeological in Valetta. This museum is really worth a visit, with models of various prehistoric sites found in Malta and plenty of information.

I didn't talk about maltese cuisine...well, it is because there is not much to say... It is suppose to be of mediterranean influence but it is now mainly british. Traditional dishes, especially with fish are expensive. We tried the rabbit stew and it was delicious. At lunch time we often ate pastizzi (ricotta or pea stuffed pastries).

Malta also have a nice soft drink that Coca-cola didn't manage to supplant (like Irn Bru in Scotland): Kinnie. It is a bitter-sweet soft drink made from oranges and aromatic herbs. It tastes like Campari without the alcohol :o)))


Another view of Valetta:

That's it for Malta. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and that you would like to go and see it by yourself (if you've never been) or that it revived some nice memories :o)

I would like to end on a touch of humour ... ;o))))

Saturday, 17 January 2009

London

Stéphane and I went to London for a couple of days. We took the train from Dundee which takes as long as the plane without the security hassle. I had 2 x 6 hours of knitting :o))) I've managed a sock and a bit (see the picture with the knitting shops).
I had a few hours on my own as he was sitting an exam :o). So, before going to the knitting shop (they open from 11 am), I went to the British museum. I stayed much longer than expected, it is a great place.

It is huge so I mainly did the "living and dying" exhibition where a sculpture of Ron Mueck was also on display...

and the Egyptian department (I've always dreamt of seeing the Rosetta stone).

Within the Egyptian sculptures, there was an amazing piece of work from Tim Noble and Sue Webster made of mummified animals!

After that, I went yarn hunting. I started with I knit London, to buy some Malabrigo yarn...OUT OF STOCK !!!! I was gutted :o(((. I bought some sock yarn instead.
Then, I went to All the fun of the fair where I bought some lace weight, kidsilk haze and bamboo yarn and ended up at Loop. I didn't buy any yarn there (although, they had a lot of very nice , and very expensive, stuff) but some knitting needles and crochet hooks.

In the tube, I saw several adds for "The Times" and I particularly liked this one:

When we came back to Dundee, the head line of the Evening Telegraph made us laught... (the article is here but only the title is funny).

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Malta (part 5)

Blue Grotto is a famous attraction in Malta. It consists on 6 caves. You can enter in only one of them, the others are too small. It is best to come in the morning when the sun illuminates the caves. There are lots of red coral on the stones, colors are fantastic (Sorry no pictures).
Stephane wished he could just jump in the water... He could have, the water was fresh but not really cold, unfortunately he had the flu and he wasn't feeling great :o(

While walking from Valetta to Sliema, I just bumped into this shop:

Unfortunately, it was closed at the time (3.30pm), but I saw it opened one morning, when we were passing by with the bus ... I couldn't stop of course.

Tomorrow we are going to London for a few days so I'll put more pix when I'll come back. In the meantime, this is one of Valetta...

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Malta (part 4)

Gozo is the second largest island of Malta archipelago. People of Gozo are Gozitans before being Maltese. They are very proud of their identity. The island is much more rural and authentic than malta.

There is a regular ferry connection between Malta and Gozo.

One of the most spectacular landmark on Gozo is the azure window (picture above) next to the inland sea.
I loved the "van-shop" (In Malta as well): Very often they sell fruits and vegetables but this one was selling birds.

The good think about going to Malta in the winter is that you see it green. It doesn't rain often there and it is very hot during summer so everything looks dry from late spring.

Gozo is very picturesque and we loved it. It is a shame we only spent a day there...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Malta (part 3)

Our next stop is the old medieval city of Mdina. Located in the center of Malta island, Mdina reaches 200m at its peak and can be seen from miles around.
Let's enter the city by its most beautiful gate...

Mdina is like a maze and it is just very relaxing to just wander in the streets.

We visited Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul's cathedral. The outside is very simple whereas inside (sorry, no pix, it was forbidden) is in a very exuberant baroque style.

The cathedral museum is really interesting and contain a splendid collection of woodcuts and copperplates by the great German artist Albrecht Durer.

Mdina is also renowned for its glasswork:

Just outside Mdina, there is a crafts village located in the warehouses of the disused malta airport. You can see craftmen working, which is quite impressive, especially the glasswork and the jewellery.

More later...

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Malta (part 2)

The next stop is Valetta and its balconies. They are a feature of traditional Maltese home and are painted in various colors.
You can have one balcony...
two...

or several.


More later...

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Malta

We spent a week in Malta, an archipelago of seven islands in the Mediterranean sea, south of Sicily. Due to its strategic position, Malta has a rich history and is famous for its knights.
The weather was mild compare to the rest of Europe, with at least 15˚C during the day.
The main island, Malta, is small and the best way to travel is by bus. Buses are a popular tourist attraction. They belong to the drivers, who take a very good care of them and, most of the time, customize them! On Malta, buses are yellow and white with an orange strip, and on Gozo, the are grey and white with a red strip.


Roads are in a very bad state making bus traveling quite an adventure! I took a small movie so you have an idea of how it feels like (I try to keep the camera steady and it was not the worst we had). Anyway, It was really good fun, we enjoyed it:

video

Our first stop (in real life it was the last trip) is Marsaxlokk, a fishing village south east of Malta. The bay is beautiful and well known for its "eyed" boats, luzzus, typical of Malta.

It was Sunday, the day of the fish market:


Come back later for the next stop.....

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Bonne Année !!!

Happy New Year!
We are back in sunny Dundee and, as usual, I've got hundreds of pictures from our holidays to go through... so you will have to be a little bit patient ;o)

More pictures later....