Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Rebellion - free e-book - a fantasy novel

My daughter's first novel, Rebellion, is free on Kindle at the moment - it's a fantasy novel telling of the audacity of a girl who rejects the role assigned to her by her school and the challenges she faces as she sets out to join the assassins.


Rebellion (Chronicles of Charanthe Book 1) by Rachel Cotterill (10 Oct 2010) - Kindle eBook







So, if you'd like something different to read over the summer, or what's left of it, why not give it a try - after all, you've nothing to lose - it's free:)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Muttley’s Bar in Qawra, Malta

Muttley’s Bar, Tourist StreetQawraMalta



We were introduced to the local Quiz nights in a couple of bars by some holiday acquaintances.  We’ve never considered ourselves as being particularly good at quizzes, but we found that by visiting various bars, we found quiz setters who didn’t rely on their audience being avid soap opera fans, or aficionados of current pop music!

Sadly, some of the bars are rather dingy and not really our cup of tea.  When Marilyn Dimech opened Muttley’s Bar in November 2013 it must have seemed like a breath of fresh air to the local residents and tourists alike.  We certainly like it!



The bar is modern, clean and well illuminated.  There is a choice of seating on tall bar stools at high tables, or on dining chairs at regular height tables, as one half of the venue functions as a restaurant.



We visited for the first time because we saw a notice in the window advertising a live acoustic evening every Monday – and I do enjoy music performed without microphones.  There were just a couple of singers performing with guitars and a mandolin, and the place was busy; what’s more, customers sang along if they knew the songs – I loved it!



Throughout the evening small plates of appetisers were placed on each table about every half an hour or so:




Bruschettas dripping in olive oil, Spring Rolls and Samosas, Chips, Small biscuits with cubes of cheese, large deep-fried rice cakes, dainty sandwiches, Maltese bean pate, deep-fried Curried Rice Balls to name but some of them, reminiscent of the tapas that used to be commonly served in Spain.

We called back the next evening just for a drink and arrived just as a quiz was about to commence – a very pleasant surprise as we hadn’t seen a quiz advertised!  Not only that – we won the quiz – yay!!!  The quiz was followed by Chinese Bingo, which is usually the case in Qawra.



As it’s currently winter season the live music open session, quiz and karaoke are all the entertainment that’s on offer, but as from March, there will also be tribute acts such as Elfis, or The Bugibba Blues Brothers, and on Friday evenings Fish the drummer will entertain the clientele.


I wish Marilyn every success with Muttley’s, and look forward to returning there next winter.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Preston Community Choir sings a Christmas carol for a musical Advent calendar

Preston Community Choir is just over one year old, and on Thursday a man with gadgets presented himself at our rehearsal!

Apparently we were to be videoed rehearsing one of our Christmas carols for the Lancashire Evening Post's musical Advent calendar.  Sadly they didn't ask or warn us in advance, so no immaculate coiffures, no fancy clothes - just us, as is, in a rehearsal!

If you're barve enough to click on the link you can see us, still slightly shocked, rehearsing "Believe" from Polar Express.  You may require ear - plugs, or to remember where the "mute" button is on  your pc!  I'm on the far left in first sopranos. Happy listening:)

http://www.lep.co.uk/what-s-on/music/sing-a-song-for-christmas-december-17-2013-preston-community-choir-1-6319725

Monday, 9 December 2013

Delicious Christmas Vegan gluten-free meal at The New Continental in Preston

It's that time of year again when diaries fill up with Christmas outings of one kind or another - and my heart sinks every time a meal is booked, because I dread being served slices of melon, followed by something cardboardy or a large plate of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, culminating with a fruit salad whilst around me everyone else is tucking into something special, and festive.  I pay the same as everyone else, but seldom do I feel I'm getting value for money.

However, I'm pleased to tell you that the Preston Community Choir Christmas meal at The New Continental in Preston was a delightful surprise:)


My starter was a variation on the vegetarian starter, which was a local blue cheese salad.  For my plate the same base of tangy watercress and rocket leaves were wrapped around some sun blush tomatoes, then topped with sliced olives and chopped walnuts.  I wasn't sure what the scattering of small things on the plate was until I put on my spectacles (it's so sad when you need to put glasses on to be able to see your food properly, isn't it? glasses should be full of wine!), but once on my nose, I could see that there was an artful scatter of small brown lentils - an unusual garnish that really worked well with the walnuts.


My main course was a delicious risotto, with an assortment of griddled vegetables.  A very colourful and tasty assemblage of ingredients, don't you agree?  I was really quite heartened by the meal so far - how often to you get to say that in a busy local pub?


For dessert the wonderful chef had created a vegan pannacotta, accompanied by festive berries - it tasted as good as it looked, I promise, and I savoured every mouthful.

Thank you to the chef(s) for producing such a lovely eating experience at a busy time of year - it was much appreciated.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Fiskars Garden tools - my wish list for Father Christmas!

Whilst visiting my parents a while ago I spotted bright orange plastic peeping out from  a corner of the garden room.  Naturally, I had to investigate!

I've bought Fiskars tools for years, they're reliable, long lasting, and bright orange, so hard to lose!  This was Fiskars' orange that I had spotted!

Mum showed me the long handles loppers and the secateurs she had acquired.  Mum's getting on in years and her hands don't have the strength they once had.  I was amazed at the lightness of the tools.

What makes them easy to use is the "Power Gear", which is essentially a ratchet.



As the majority of the tools consist of tough plastic, with only the blades (and screws!) being metal, the cutter remains remarkably light in weight:)

The secateurs are equally to be drooled over! 


Very lightweight and easy to use, but very effective.


So, Santa, if you're reading this - this is my grown-up Christmas Wish!  And yes, I've been a good girl:)

Monday, 25 November 2013

Design Your Own Cookies, the book to encourage you to branch out of your comfort zone!

Design Your Own Cookies by Rachel Cotterill will encourage you to bake delicious cookies, and go on to devise your own variations. 

Design Your Own Cookies (Design Your Own Baking)


Rachel provides 50 basic cookie recipes, both sweet and savoury, then encourages you to break the mould, and develop your own, personalised cookie.


You like chocolate chip cookies? Try adding peppermint oil to dark chocolate chips, or orange essence.  Perhaps instead of dark chocolate you might prefer white chocolate - maybe with some freeze dried fruit mixed in.


The basic recipes have been tried and tested - the wonderful permutations that are waiting are down to your imagination - go for it:)


TWELVE - we ate vegan, vegetarian and wheat free in Thornton - wonderful!

Wow! Four friends met up for a meal at TWELVE in Thornton. Four friends to challenge a chef! Me, vegan and wheat free, a vegan, a vegetarian and a wheat free vegetarian who really doesn't want to eat vegan. I hasten to add that we did explain this when booking, we didn't just turn up, that would be plain cruel:)

So, passing though the bar area,



and having walked past the mega magnificent wine rack

(you'll notice the ladder to the left to be able to access the top bottles!), we were shown to our table in this modern, stylish interior. The seats weren't as comfortable as I would have liked, offering no back support, but that was only a small niggle.


After we were seated bread was brought to the table, including two warm vegan gluten free rolls.  Butter was on the table in the shape of 12s, we asked for olive oil to dip our bread into, and were asked if we would like balsamic vinegar, too.  Thoughtful, and a lovely touch. 

Our starters were Carrot and Ginger Soup, served with a mini onion bhaji "lollipop", very pleasant


A Beetroot and Walnut Salad, very elegantly presented and tasty



And my choice, and one other, a Mushroom Fricasse, with grilled salsify, delicate and scrummy


All were delicious, and as you can see, beautiful!

Our main courses were a Thai Broth with Rice, well seasoned


Mixed Vegetable Risotto - I asked if there was any asparagus to add to the mix of vegetables, and some was provided:), this was a robustly flavoured rice dish with a basil oil dressing


Mushroom Risotto, delicately flavoured


And to my shame, the dish below whose title I can't for the life in me remember! Sorry:(  But doesn't it look great?



We were also served a small bowl of vegetables each


The vegetables were lightly cooked, and good, but I question the value of adding potatoes to vegetable selcection when rice is served - I would have preferred a green vegetable for interest and variety.  Again it's only a small niggle.

The dinner offer was for 2 courses and a glass of wine for £17.50, which, in my opinion, was excellent value for money.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meals and will certainly return - I wish I lived nearer to Thornton!

I made a point of asking to speak to the chef to compliment him on the quality of our meals.