Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Chicken Curry


4 tbsp oil
2 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2 green cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1½ tbsp chopped ginger
6 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
450g chicken breast, diced
½ tsp garam masala
1 handful coriander leaves


Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom pods and cumin seeds and fry for about 20 seconds until aromatic.

Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown, stirring often. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook stirring for 40 seconds before adding a pinch of salt and the ground spices, and stir for 15 seconds. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the liquid in the pan has dried off and the oil leaves the sides of the dry masala around 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and brown over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add enough water to almost cover the chicken (about 350ml), bring to the boil and then cook over a low heat until the chicken is cooked through. The slower it cooks the better it tastes. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Check with a fork; once it is tender it is done.

Add the garam masala and coriander leaves and serve with rice or Indian flatbreads and raita or any vegetable dish.

Serve over rice or Indian flatbreads

Little Stone

How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn't care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity

Childhood Garden

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colours are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.

Elizabeth Lawrence

Baking Cupcakes at the Meadow


110g/4oz butter, softened at room temperature
110g/4oz caster sugar
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g/4oz self-raising flour
1-2 tbsp milk

For the buttercream icing

140g/5oz butter, softened
280g/10oz icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
a few drops food colouring

Preparation method

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and stir in the vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little milk until the mixture is of a dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until they are half full.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown on top.

Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the buttercream icing, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft.

Add half the icing sugar and beat until smooth.

Then add the remaining icing sugar with one tablespoon of the milk, adding more milk if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Add the food colouring and mix until well combined.

Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the icing using a spiralling motio onto the cup cakes in a large swirl.

Mum's Roses

These glorious roses are from my mum's garden. Each year the blooms get larger and larger, their scent sweeter, and their colour more vibrant. Each year she proudly displays her roses in the village hall horticultural show.

Evening Solace

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;­
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
And days may pass in gay confusion,
And nights in rosy riot fly,
While, lost in Fame's or Wealth's illusion,
The memory of the Past may die.

But, there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart's best feelings gather home.
Then in our souls there seems to languish
A tender grief that is not woe;
And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish,
Now cause but some mild tears to flow.

And feelings, once as strong as passions,
Float softly back­a faded dream;
Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
The tale of others' sufferings seem.
Oh ! when the heart is freshly bleeding,
How longs it for that time to be,
When, through the mist of years receding,
Its woes but live in reverie !

And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
On evening shade and loneliness;
And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
Feel no untold and strange distress­
Only a deeper impulse given
By lonely hour and darkened room,
To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven,
Seeking a life and world to come.

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Lord Byron

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

A lovely visual feast of domestic perfection, packed with ideas for creating your own idyll. The book is packed with jewel-bright pictures of her work, from shimmering iced cupcakes to knitted carrot-coloured tea cosies, is an eccentric delight. Good for an interesting read, but even better for cute domestic projects and light-hearted words of wisdom.