Friday, April 27


so, it's been a bit quiet round here because i've been sick. m shared pneumonia with me and then i ended up with a sinus infection too!!! for the past two and a half weeks it feels like all i have done is sleep and cough. i'm hopefully on the mend now so i'm looking forward to catching up with everyone's blogs soon :)

Sunday, April 15

messing about on the river

although i'm still a little wobbly in the canoe, i'm not entirely averse to going out when it's lovely and sunny!

up till now we've only ever paddled in lochs but the other day thought we would try some paddling in one of our local rivers.

i had imagined that we would just sit in the canoe and let the current sweep us gently downstream but it was a little more hard work than that!

we were so lucky that the river wasn't too fierce as it really highlighted that we still have much to learn ... when m was telling me to 'sweep right', i wasn't sure if that meant 'on' the right or 'to' the right so we didn't always go in the direction we thought we might :)

it's amazing the effect the current has on the canoe too, especially if you have water joining from the side that's flowing at a different rate. then there's learning to read the water, apparently you can tell where the rocks are, whether it's shallow or deep.

and then there were the rapids that m didn't mention until we rounded the corner and saw them - luckily they were only teeny, tiny ones and we were through before i knew what was happening!

so far, i have always sat at the front of the canoe, but after a brief stop at a little island, we decided to swap around. good grief what a difference that made! after we shot straight into an overhanging tree and veered left to right a good few times, we thankfully found another shallow where we could swap back again - it's amazing how bad i was at steering from the back!

when we were stopped, we had a bit of a look around and found ...

otter tracks

i think these are heron tracks

and possible signs of beaver activity?

we had such a fab time, although next time i'll be checking the route book too ... what m had thought was 9k, actually turned out to be 17k! how many corners did we go round thinking, it must be round the next corner surely? then the wind got up!

still, it was the perfect excuse to go for a chippy tea that night, i think we earned it :)

Saturday, April 14

at long last ...

... i've finally taken the plunge and set up a facebook page for fatcat felt! i've only got as far as adding some pics for now but hopefully soon there'll be lots of exciting goings on to share with you all :)

come visit at fatcat felt's facebook page

Friday, April 13

let's go for a little walk ...

i was feeling restless the other day and couldn't really settle to anything in particular.

not wanting to spend the whole day watching tv or playing on the internet i decided to throw myself out the door, despite the drizzly rain, and get out for some fresh air. and i'm so glad i did!

i stopped to admire the view from the car park

then i went up the hill

followed the path round

over the bridge

into the trees

through the forest

behind my favourite tree, along a hidden path, and down the lane

i stopped awhile to enjoy the view

and along the way i saw (i'm not 100% sure on my flower i.d., so please feel free to correct me if i've got it wrong) ...

wood sorrel


lovely rusty bits

nettles, perfect for the soup or dye pot!


horse hoof fungus

not waving, but ...

greater stitchwort

very yellow gorse

unfurling ferns

feather caught in the grass

shiny black slug

cuckoo flowers

and celandine

what better way to spend a couple of hours :)

Sunday, April 8


black forest gateaux cupcakes ...

maybe it's because i'm a child of the seventies but i really do love black forest gateaux!  you hardly ever see it on restaurant menus any more and then when you do, it never really lives up to my expectations - yes, i'm getting fussy in my old age :)

so, i decided i would make it for myself.  but, not wanting to eat a whole gateaux to myself, thought that a few wee cupcakes might be kinder to my waistline.

and they were just delish!  the sponge was chocolatey and moist, there were tons of gooey cherries and a (un)healthy dollop of cream and dark chocolate to top it all off - i will definitely be making these again!

if you fancy having a bash, here's a rough recipe (i halved these amounts and got seven large cupcakes) ...

for the sponge:
340g/12oz golden caster sugar
340g/12oz unsalted butter
6 eggs
240g/8½oz self raising flour, sifted
100g/3½oz cocoa

= cream the sugar and the butter together until light and fluffy.
= beat the eggs in one at a time.
= fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder.
= half fill the cupcake cases with this mix and bake at 170 oC / 325 oF / gas mark 3.  i think i left them in for about 15 mins before checking them.
= to test if they are ready, insert a skewer into the middle, if it comes out clean, they're done!  if not, pop them back in the oven for a few mins and test again.

for the filling (i was lazy here and bought ready-made, but it was very tasty!):
a can/carton of morello cherry pie filling
2 tbsp kirsch

= reserve a little of the liquid from the pie filling and mix with the kirsch.
= pour this over the cupcakes so that it soaks into the sponge.

= once the cupcakes are cool, carefully remove a core of sponge from the middle of the cupcake.  try to leave a little sponge in the base so that it doesn't fall apart when you remove the case to eat it.
= fill the middle of the cupcake with the pie filling, don't fill it right to the top as this will give you space to put a wee slice of sponge back on the top.
= slice the 'plug' of cupcake you removed so that you have a thin disk of sponge to place on top of the pie filling.
= eat the remaining sponge pieces - you don't want it to go to waste!

for the topping:
600ml/21 fl oz double cream
200g/7oz dark chocolate 
couple tsps of the pie filling

= whip the double cream until stiff and plonk a dollop on top of the cupcake.
= grate some dark chocolate over the top of the cream.
= add a wee blob of the pie filling to top it all off.

stand back to admire your handywork and ... enjoy :)

Saturday, April 7

stone circles

we went looking for stone circles the other day - there are loads of them around here, plus standing stones; cup marked stones; cairns ... plenty to keep us busy.

i don't really know that much about them but i am fascinated by them, so we've got a couple of good books to swot up on and we're starting to discover all of the ones close by.

the first one we were looking for was actually marked from the road with a sign, so we knew we were heading in the right direction as we climbed the hill up to the field, even though we couldn't see it.

the conversation went something like this:

m:   can you see the stone circle yet?
t:     maybe we're walking in the wrong direction?
m:   let's just get over the brow of this hill and we might get a better look around.
t:     oh!  there's a herd of cows.
m:   don't worry, they won't bother us if we don't bother them.
m:   ah, you know that stone circle we can't see?
t:     yeeeeeessss ...
m:   do you see where the cows are standing?
t:     yeeeeeessss ... oh

apparently cows appreciate stone circles too!

they really are quite beautiful creatures but i prefer to appreciate them from a slightly greater distance.  m did manage to shoo them off briefly so we could have a very quick look but they did seem very interested in us and what we doing at their stones!

Friday, April 6

what a week!

from sushine and shorts to snow and scarves - within the space of a few days!

much as i did enjoy our mini-heatwave, it really didn't feel 'right' that it was so warm so early in the year, i mean the tulips hadn't bloomed yet and it was scorching.  plus, i wasn't getting anything done ... as soon as the sun was shining i dropped everything and got myself outside!

having said that though, i didn't exactly welcome the snow!  my poor wee plants are looking very sorry for themselves this week as everything has been severely nipped by the frost.

here's hoping for more 'normal' spring weather this week :)