Poppa

 

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The next part of our adventure takes place in Kent. Currently we are living in a house here, taking care of a good friend’s 95 year old father.

We are looking after Poppa, as everyone calls him, in his own home on Romney Marsh.

It’s a lot of work looking after Poppa and a lot of it my parents have to do, but I am Chief Tea Maker and I do bake a lot of cakes and puddings for him, as he does have a very sweet tooth. He’s a lot of fun to be around and everyone loves him.

It’s funny, but exciting for us to live in a 3 bedroom house, seeing as we’ve only ever lived in tiny houses and, just recently, in the back of a car!

We have our own room, me, my brother and sister, and we look out of our window in the morning across the flat marsh with sheep grazing in the sunrise. It’s beautiful.

I’ve set up my own little corner on the landing with a table and a chair. I’m right next to a window again and the view looks like a painting. I have my stack of books and my writing stuff. And, of course, a tin of biscuits! It’s blissful.

This morning Poppa did some Homeschooling with us. He seemed to be enjoying himself. He made everyone laugh by playing Irys’ recorder!

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Looking after Pops is a pleasure for us.

We always said that if someone’s in need of help we would make it part of our journey to help them and we are.

 

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A good student

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Staff And Rachel’s Wedding

Staff and Rach

Staff and Rach

We were invited to our friends, Staff and Rachel’s, wedding. It was a lovely day, everything was perfect, exactly how they’d wanted it.

The whole room fell silent, I remember the silence ringing in my ears. Only the fairy lights twinkled from their places entwined over the wooden boughs of the ceiling. The atmosphere was expectant and people turned to look at the little doorway through which the bride would enter, causing a rustling of fascinators.

The curtain was drawn and the guests drew in their breaths, a bridesmaid stood there quietly.  She wore a navy blue dress and reminded me of an ancient greek goddess. Clinging onto her hand was little Charlotte.  She was wearing a white dress and the hair on her head was curled into sweet, wispy curls.  People smiled as she walked by, swinging a little wand of willow.  The next bridesmaid walked quickly and I could hear the hard clack clack of her heels on the shiny floor.  Her dress swayed softly as she went, her head bowed, her hands clasped together.

The curtain was drawn again and I looked over to Anna who was pulling a bow across the violin she held. Her eyes were closed and a smile much like the Mona Lisa’s played on her lips. Secretive, but happy, as if only she knew the secret to making such heavenly sounds. The music rose and fell. I turned back round to see the curtains opening.

Through the tiny gap, rapidly widening, I saw a swish of ivory. I watched as, slowly, a beautiful bride appeared. Her Father stood beside her, he was proud and smiling. She looked straight ahead to her future husband, a gentle happiness and eagerness in her face. Rachel’s dress was stunning. Dainty lace, a woven web of tiny flowers and leaves, covered her chest and arms. Silky ivory folds cascaded down her body and swirled around her feet, like a waterfall into a whirlpool.

She took her first few graceful steps. She held her head high, her golden hair pinned up. She reminded me of a swan, the way she glided down the aisle, her snowy train trailing behind her.

Staff stood waiting, his expression emotional, his eyes full of love and adoration. For a few moments all they saw was each other. Until the celebrant broke their trance.

Everyone present there that day could not help but be mesmerised by the sight of Rachel meeting her groom. They held hands and looked at each other with such fondness that it brought a wide smile to every guest’s face.

Photos!

Rachel and her Dad

Rachel and her Dad

 

Outside taking wedding photos. Staff and Rachel, Staff's parents in background.

Outside taking wedding photos. Staff and Rachel, Staff’s parents in background.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Staff making his speech

Staff making his speech

 

 

 

All dressed up

All dressed up

Me, Evan and Irys

Me, Evan and Irys

 

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Lavender biscuits

Lavender biscuits

 

I thought this was really cool

I thought this was really cool

These showed us where to sit. Aren't they lovely?

These showed us where to sit. Aren’t they lovely?

Irys looking pretty

Irys looking pretty

Evan wearing a proper tie for the first time!

Evan wearing a proper tie for the first time!

Selfie with Dad

Selfie with Dad

 

Selfie with Irys and Mum

Selfie with Irys and Mum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum and Dad in the photo booth

Mum and Dad in the photo booth

All having fun in the photo booth

All having fun in the photo booth

Dancing with Charlotte in after the ceremony.

Dancing with Charlotte  after the ceremony.

Pose!

Pose!

The delicious wedding cake. Four layers: red velvet, victoria sponge, chocolate and lemon drizzle. WE ate this whilst dancing along to a energetic folk band!

The delicious wedding cake. Four layers: red velvet, victoria sponge, chocolate and lemon drizzle. We ate this whilst dancing along to an energetic folk band!

Summer Harvest!

Harvest weekend is here at last!

Harvest weekend is here at last!

Imagine this:  a field of beautifully  golden wheat, it’s perfectly ripe and sways gently in the warm, humid, summer breeze.  Harvest  weekend has finally arrived!

Where I live, on a farm in Sussex, the harvest is a big deal for everyone, men, women and children alike.  Everyone  has to muck in and pull their weight.

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Tiger enjoying herself.

Tiger enjoying herself.

Loading up the trailer

Loading up the trailer

Long ago scythes and sickles were the only means of harvesting, but recently they have been forgotten because of modern technology such as combine harvesters.  Not only do combine harvesters do the job in a very short amount of time, they also save a vast quantity of human sweat.

Working in the early evening sun

Working in the early evening sun

Everyone helps out.

Everyone helps out.

Andy, our chief baker here on the farm, is incredibly knowledgeable about all sorts of grains, baking and the whole process from grain to loaf.  People say that he is one of the most learned people about wheat.  He specialises in something called heritage wheat.

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Heritage wheat is very old wheat.  Wheat that you might say is not used by any farmers anymore, except growers of this heritage grain.  It’s Andy’s passion to reintroduce these old varieties back into use.  You may wonder how he gets hold of the grains, well, that’s simple enough.  There are two different ways.  Number one is a seed bank, there are usually one each country.  For every type of grain that is ever cultivated, they save about 180g.  People can get it from the bank in tiny quantities. Number two is more romantic, but probably less used.  It’s  where you visit an old mill and with special permission, take up the floorboards and gather the ancient grains that have fallen through over hundreds of years.  The absolute maximum age that you can still grow wheat at is around 40 years old.

The main reason why types of wheat get wiped out, is because of illnesses.  Most types last 8-9 years before an illness that can take them over forms.

Once you have the grains, maybe fifty or so of them, you sow them.  Then when you harvest them, you find that each head has say fifteen grains in it.  Again you sow all of these seeds and the numbers keep multiplying.  Soon you have a whole field of heritage wheat.

Anyhow, because we were harvesting heritage wheat, it seemed only proper that we did it traditionally.  Plus we were all wanting to do it with scythes and sickles.

We must get it in before tommorrow, because it is due to rain.

We must get it in before tommorrow, because it is due to rain.

Before the harvest Andy worked extremely hard, sowing, reaping, sowing again, reaping once again, he’d been nurturing this wheat for 7 long years.  We just came to help with the cherry on the cake.

All weekend long us workers harvested, sometimes having breaks to sit in the shade and sip cool icy water or run down to the river and have a refreshing swim.  Our wide-brimmed straw hats bobbed among the long yellow stems, as we waded through, collecting the heads of the Orange Devon Blue Rough Chaff, which is dark and furry and leaving the tall, light, velvetty Old Ken Hoary.  Us kids would run up to the taps and fill jug after jug of cold water, then pour it into cups with a splash of ginger cordial for the other workers.  We’d cut sheaths of a certain type of wheat and tie it with tape, writing its name, whether Welsh Hen Gymro or Chidham Red.  We separated the weed from the wheat, all the while munching on crunchy grains.  Each tastes a little different, Old Kent Hoary is slightly spicy, ODBRC is more sweet.

Evan working hard

Evan working hard

Chewing grains of wheat

Chewing grains of wheat

where's Irys?

where’s Irys?

Ah! There she is!

Ah! There she is!

At noon we all walked down to the manor house for a delicious and totally traditional lunch of pickles, cheese and , of course, bread! We all talked pleasantly and discussed the afternoon’s work.  The puddings were all made by me, they included flapjacks and rhubarb & plum crumble. In the evening there was music, meat, a campfire and beer.

Yum!

Yum!

The grand finale of the harvest weekend was when we loaded all of the sheaths onto the tractor trailer and followed it up to the bakery were we unloaded and had a team photo taken on the trailer.  Then we all rode back to the field to do it again!

Such a wonderful photo, full of beauty

Such a wonderful photo, full of beauty

Daddy!

Daddy!

Tiger looks like a proper country girl here!

Tiger looks like a proper country girl here!

This is Andy proudly showing off his the product of his hard work

This is Andy proudly showing off his the product of his hard work

 

Lulu waiting to catch the sheaf that is about to be thrown down to her.

Lulu waiting to catch the sheaf that is about to be thrown down to her.

Well done!

Well done!

Overall I loved doing the harvest, getting a feel of how it used to be for people in the books I read, like Laura out of Little House on the Prairie, and learning so much.  This weekend has been part of my homeschool life education.

 AwesomeTeam photo!

AwesomeTeam photo!

ME!

ME!

Lulu, Evan, Tiger, Irys, Dad and Me

Lulu, Evan, Tiger, Irys, Dad and Me

Tiger and Ev on the trailer

Tiger and Ev on the trailer

 

A good view!

A good view!

Orange Butterfly Cakes

For the last few days we’ve been staying with nanny and Geoff.  Yesterday we made blue berry muffins and orange butterfly cakes, I tried both, but the butterfly cakes were the best.  I thought I’d share the recipe, because they were so delicious.  Do try them, they won’t disappoint.  The sharp orange curd contrasts with the sweet icing and it makes the perfect match.  I’d just like to say thank you to both nanny and Geoff for having us.

 

ORANGE BUTTERFLY CAKES

INGREDIENTS

Makes 12

100g (4oz) butter

100g (4oz) caster sugar

2 eggs

100g (4oz) self raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

grated zest 1 orange

3 tbsp orange curd

ICING

50g (2oz) softened butter

100g (4oz) icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

 

METHOD

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 c / 160 c fan / gas 4.  Line a tin with 12 cupcake cases.

2. Measure all ingredients, except orange curd, into a large bowl and beat untill smooth.

3. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

4. When cooked and cool, cut a disc from the top of each cake leaving a little rim around the edge.  Cut the discs in half and set them aside. Fill the holes with orange curd.

5. For the icing, beat butter and icing sugar together until smooth.  Spoon or pipe a swirl of icing on top of the orange curd.  Then place the two cake halves on, to resemble butterfly wings.  Dust with icing sugar and enjoy.

 

mixing, you can do this with an electric mixer or by hand.

mixing, you can do this with an electric mixer or by hand.

spoon mix into cases.

spoon mix into cases.

cooked and cooling

cooked and cooling

the finished product

the finished product

LOVELY

LOVELY

TOP TIPS

1.  Don’t use muffin cases, they’re too big.

2.  Pipe the icing, it looks better and more tidy.

3.  Don’t cut too shallow a disc or to deep, you’ll have too much or too little curd.

Project Patrignano

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The Logo

 

As part of my schoolwork, I’m doing a project about a drug rehabilitation community in Italy.   Everytime I do some of my project I learn about a different aspect of the community, from their daily life and how they are helped to the addicts stories and other peoples experiences when they visited.  This time I covered how San Pa (it’s nickname) started, a little of it’s history and a few significant events that have made it what it is today.

Hopefully this will be the first of many blogs on San Patrignano.

I’m interested in them because I’d really like to go there one day, I would love the experience and I really want to help people and through San Pa I think I could.  I think I could learn a lot from them about how to be a light in the darkness and while I’m there I might pick up a few Italian cooking tips, too.

PROJECT PATRIGNANO

In 1978 a man, named Vincenzo Muccioli, was concerned about the use of drugs in our world and wanted to help people who were addicted and needed some guidance and love.  He invited a small group of young adults into a house his family owned, where they lived with Vincenzo and his friends, who were helping him with the project.  Gradually more people wanted to come and Vincenzo and his friends found it hard to ignore their needs.  The first workshops, livestock areas and gardens started to appear and slowly the little community was growing into the big, successful one it is today.

By 1982 San Patrignano was home to about 200 people housed in trailers and outbuildings, by 1992 it had multiplied its population by 10,  giving it a total of 2000 residents.

On the 19th September 1995, in the midst of difficult times, Vincenzo died.

Anyhow, San Pa didn’t die, Vincenzo’s son Andrea took up his fathers role and still runs San Patrignano today.  He knew it was important to keep his dads good work going.

In 1996 the first ‘Vincenzo Muccioli Challenge’ international show jumping competition was held in his honour, at the community’s equestrian centre.  The next year they received certification as a non-government organization.

In 2002 and 2004 San Patrignano organized and managed a drug abuse prevention campaign for the prime minister, at last they were getting the recognition the deserved.

Every year thousands of students and professionals from Italy and all over the world go to learn more about San Pa and that gives them more contact on the internet, which helps more people to find out about them.

In 2006 Andrea Muccioli was awarded the title ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’.

Also in that year, San Pa launched the 2You project, implemented in 20 different Italian cities, teaching  school age children about drug abuse.

Since ’78 the community has welcomed over 20,000 people, 70% of whom have turned drug free and gone back to live with their families really happy.

GO SAN PATRIGNANO!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Shakes & Cakes

 

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Today I popped into Infinity foods, Brighton to get a few supplies.  When I got there I noticed a stall with a banquet of vegan cakes and shakes laid out on it. It turned out that Infinity Foods Kitchen were promoting their brand new vegan shakes.

 

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I got to try the delicious shakes including my favourite, raw chocolate and avocado, made with dates, almond milk, avocado and raw chocolate. Not only was this shake amazingly delicious, it was also really healthy, because avocado is a super food and raw choc is too.

The cakes were lovely , especially the victoria sponge.

 

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I had the chance to chat with Duncan (who works at Infinity Foods Kitchen).  He let us try everything 🙂

 

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Here’s Duncan pouring me a nice shake.

 

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Drop into Infinity Foods Kitchen anytime, it’s a great place to meet up with friends and I definately reccomend their vegan cakes and shakes.

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