Archive for April, 2012

A while back a couple of Anglophile friends and I hatched a plan – over several bottles of wine – to spend a weekend at the cottage watching Downton Abbey and cooking and eating classic English dishes.

We met on the ferry last Thursday evening and by 8 we were all settled in to watch the first few episodes.

Gillian is the cook – and the only true Brit amongst us – and therefore was the majordomo of the weekend. Connie and I were there to assist, support – o yes, and eat!

Next day we started the morning off with Bacon Sarnies (breakfast sandwiches made with thick cut English bacon.)  Then we headed into town for supplies – fabrics for Gillian, a fragrant daphne and bird suet for me and food, wine and beer for all.

Lunch was watercress soup, scotch eggs from the British butcher, and freshly dressed greens.

Freshly made watercress soup - the first I ever tried.

Scotch egg and greens

For dinner there was English Bangers and Mash with onion gravy.

Bangers and mash with onion gravy

And in between, if you can believe it, we had a Devonshire Cream tea, complete with strawberry scones, home made black-berry jam and strong Yorkshire tea.

Scones with blackberry jam and Devonshire cream

Your math is not off. We were compelled to eat four meals in one day in order to sample just a few of the things on our list. The Welsh rarebit, Victoria sponge and beef and potato pie never even made it out of the gate.  Thank God there is a second season of Downton Abbey!

We also managed to squeeze in a walk on the beach, craft up some lovely wind chimes using old teapots and plated cutlery, play some card games and drink an impressive amount of wine.

Gillian will be posting her recipes for bangers and mash and watercress soup on her blog “What’s for Dinner” over the next few days. It is a great resource for quick and delicious dinner ideas. I made her foccacia just last night and loved it.

Nice windchimes Crumpets! Thanks for a great weekend.

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Finally the days are longer and warmer and, like every spring, we were itching to start some projects.  Since the weekend was  forecast to be dry, we decided to prioritize the deck, which is really bleached but still in good condition. Our last attempt to stain and protect the deck did not go very well – See “The Tomato Soup Deck.”

Four years have passed since I said I wouldn’t use the Thompson’s Water Seal treatment again, and having failed to find another product we liked, we reversed course and bought an ‘advanced formula’ Thompson product which did not require the deck to be bone-dry. We even chose the same cedar colour, for want of better options, since putting a transparent seal on the bleached wood wasn’t going to improve its looks enough to satisfy us.

Thompsons 'advanced' formula on the bleached deck

Back then, I read that power-washing would cause the wood to ‘bloom’ and was not advised. So I scrubbed the deck by hand.

This time, Cottager just got the power washer out.

Back then, we really didn’t get the product into the spaces between the slats.

This time we taped paint brushes to broom sticks and got much better coverage in those spaces.

Cottager with a brush taped to a broom handle

And while the product recommends you don’t use a roller – without explaining why…

We did it with a roller anyway.

Either the product has improved or we have. We shook it really, really well and it went on evenly and looks and feels great!

Nicely stained and preserved for another few years.

It didn’t take all weekend either. We also had time to: trim hedges, do some garden clean up, barbecue steaks, see a movie, walk into the village along the beach, have a weiner and marshmallow roast on the beach, fly the Angry Birds kite a recent visitor left behind for us, and have the neighbours over.  Love these longer, warmer days.

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