Thursday, 20 April 2017

British Treasures No. 5

 The Coronation of Henry IV of England from the c15th manuscript of Jean Froissart's Chronicles
Princess Blanche was the eldest daughter of King Henry lV, she was the sixth child of seven. After Henry's accession to the English throne her father wanted to make important alliances in order to maintain and legitimise his rule. A suitable ally was King Rupert of Germany, who also needed to legitimise his rule too, and so a marriage was arranged between Rupert's eldest surviving son Louis and Blanche. The marriage contract was signed in 1401 and part of the bride's dowry included what is now the oldest surviving royal English crown. The marriage took place the following year in Cologne Cathedral when the bride was 10 years old. Despite the political nature of the marriage it was said to be happy. Blanche gave birth to a son called Rupert named after his paternal grandfather when she was 14 years old. Aged just 17 years and pregnant with her second child she died of a fever in Alsace.
Princess Blanche's exquisite dowry crown is now kept in the Munich Residenz.  Made of gold, enamel, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and pearls it is considered to be one of the finest pieces made by medieval gothic goldsmiths.
The crown is first mentioned in a list of 1399 recording the movement of royal jewels in London. It is listed as being amongst a group of jewels that had belonged to the deposed King Richard II of England. It is, therefore, known that the crown was not specifically made for Blanche. 
Princess Blanche stands poised between her husband Louis lll and his second wife Matilda. At the time of this painting in 1435 Blanche had been dead for 26 years - her presence and countenance in the picture are symbolic of her death with eyes closed and hands crossed
I am heading off for a short break to visit some places of British historical interest
 One is a curious little building I long to see covered in symbols which conceals hidden messages 
Taking a final look back at our Spring blossom as I leave
soon the petals will float away like wedding confetti on the wind 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Nut Roast & Chocolate Nut Lava Cake

I am not a big meat eater so was pleased to see a nut roast recipe from Margaret.

I discovered that Lidl sell 200g packets of the recommended selection of mixed nuts so two packets were required
4 shallots, thyme, sage, mint - I have plenty of herbs growing in the garden, but if you don't have access to fresh use dried
400g can of chopped tomatoes, drain away the juice
3 eggs, beaten
150g of strong cheese
1 veg. Oxo cube or a teaspn of bouillon powder
1 teaspn lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
toast the 250g of nuts in a dry pan being careful not to burn
Put the nuts, herbs, shallots, cheese and Oxo cube in the food processor to blitz until the mixture still has texture but is not pureed
combine the mixture with the drained tomatoes, beaten eggs, lemon juice, and ground black pepper
Place in a parchment lined loaf tin and cook for 45mins at 180℃ or fan oven 160 until golden brown - leave to cool in the tin
Serve either hot or cold
With the leftover nuts why not make a Cake. I found this easy recipe from a Turkish Airline inflight magazine whilst returning home from Cyprus.
 Chocolate Nut Lava Cake
75g chopped pecan nuts (I am substituting with the leftover mixed nuts)
100g dark chocolate
115g unsalted butter
175g sugar
75g plain flour
2 large beaten eggs
small teaspn vanilla extract
Break chocolate add butter and melt very gently in a bain marie. As soon as softening, remove from heat
add sugar,
then beaten eggs,
stir in flour and chopped nuts
Bake at 180℃ or fan oven 160   

As indicated by the word 'lava' the cake is 
chocolatey and gooey inside     

eat it as it is or serve as a dessert topped off with cream or icecream

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter Garden

Euphorbia cyparissias

  Erythronium 'pagoda'

Dicentra spectabilis - now reclassified as Lamprocapnos spectabilis - bleeding hearts

Erythronium revolutum 'White Beauty'

❖Enjoy the weekend break❖ 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

By Offa's Dyke

Youngest son and family invited us to join them for the day at their rented holiday cottage sitting on the English side of Offa's Dyke in Herefordshire. Offa's Dyke forms a linear border between England and Wales and is a large frontier earthworks built by Offa, King of Mercia during 757 to 796 AD. It is possible to follow a trail along this national monument for 177 miles from the Wye Valley in Monmouthshire all the way to Prestatyn on the Welsh coast overlooking the Irish Sea.

Driving through the narrow country roads of Herefordshire a sat nav was a necessity. In the Golden Valley we came upon the pretty little church of St. Bartholomew, Vowchurch, sitting alongside the river Dore.

Although the church is not mentioned in the Doomesday Book for the area it does have some very old roundheaded slit windows dating back to the c13th seen above. The timber structure around the bell turret is late tudor, and although unusual, is not uncommon for churches in this area

 There was a tray of interesting preserves in the church porch with an 'honesty box' situated at the entrance gate

The font is c12th Norman standing on a later c19th plinth
The church 'kneelers' showing the local breed of Herefordshire cattle 
The nine timber roof trusses form ten bays, two of which have been dated back to the 14th century. 
Both sides of the early c17th screen shows the shields belonging to local families of note

The entrance side of the screen states
"Heare below ly the body of Thomas Hill ande Marget his wife whose children made this skryne
There is a carving of Marget to the left and Thomas to the right, centred by a pair of mythical beasts. 

The beasts have been fashioned in a similar manner to the Norman stone carvings seen at Kilpeck church, which as the crow flies, is just a few miles away.