Sunday, 31 August 2008

we're jamin'

Today was overcast, so we decided to preserve summer so that we may enjoy it for a little while longer! This recipe is for a lovely loose jam, rather than a firmly set one and makes 2.5kg of jam.

1.5kg strawberries
1.5kg caster sugar
juice of 2 large lemons
10g unsalted butter

1. Grease the inside of a large preserving pan with butter and place three small plates in the freezer to chill, (three allows for a couple of spare plates in stage three, if you need to repeat the testing process). Hull the strawberries and wipe clean, the fruit must be completely dry before making the jam. Cut large berries in half. Put the sugar in the pan then the strawberries.

2. Put the pan over a very low heat, stit with a wooden spoon and let the sugar gently dissolve. Stir occasionally, to prevent sticking, but don't overdo it, unless you want the fruit to turn to mush. After the sugar has completely dissolved (around 20 minutes), add the lemon juice, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble for 15 minutes. Ignore any froth that appears on the surface of the jam during boiling. Remove pan from the heat.

3. Test to see if it's set. Put a couple of spoonfuls of jam onto one of the chilled plates and leave to cool in the fridge for three to four minutes. Puch a finger through the jam and if it leaves a clean line on the plate then the jam is set (or use your tongue a la Ted below!). If it hasn't return to the heat and boil for another five minutes and then repeat the set test. Stir in a small lump of butter, this helps disperse any scum.

4. Wash the jars thoroughly and dry with a clean towel. heat the jars in a moderate oven for five minutes to sterilise. Next, fill up the jars, using a jam funnel or jug. To seal the jam, put a waxed disc over the jam immediately and cover with cellophane pot covers (the cellophane will shrink over the top of the jars to form an air tight seal). Secure with elastic bands and label the jars when cold.

enjoy x

Monday, 25 August 2008

writers block...

I don't quite know what's come over me - but I have writers block. Nothing interesting to say or observations to make! Has this ever happened to you? I read other bloggers, who write day in day out!

Maybe I need a writers retreat like famous writers have or go away somewhere that inspires me? But I have a week ahead of me that contains mundane chores such as; buying new school uniform, getting little feet that grow too quickly measured, seeing a physiotherapist about my aching back and a couple of publication deadlines for magazine/newsletter articles.

Rest assured I am still here in the background, reading comments and blogs, and I am waiting for inspiration to come calling again!

I'll leave you with a picture of a sleeping Ted {just how I feel!}, emma x

Sunday, 17 August 2008

my shop is now open...

After a few requests, I am delighted to announce that my etsy shop is now open {cue the fanfare please}. I have been meaning to get round to doing this for sooooooo long now, so please join with me and raise your glass "clink" in this virtual opening ceremony. I chose my favourite shots from my "Tales from the Riverbank" collection to launch with and I have put together a set of four postcards.

I will gradually add more and offer bespoke prints etc... but for now it's a start. I am new to this and would welcome your feedback to the shop and the prints etc... so please stop by and let me know what you think?
many thanks, emma x

the Photo Trade...

me..., originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

This is the second month I have taken part in The Photo Trade and so far it has been great. I love receiving anonymous packages from around the world and the anticipation to see what's inside them and how the different photographers have interpreted this months assignment.

This months assignment is "Eat Well - Live Well" tell a story through your favourite meal. I took the pictures for the trade of a meal I prepared especially for this challenge. Whilst we were on holiday in Norfolk a few weeks ago, all along the coast road there were little stalls with bags of freshly picked fresh samphire from the marshes. Samphire tastes like salty asparagus, so I cooked it with a fresh egg and some wholemeal bread for supper - yum!

The picture above was taken by my husband {directed by me!} on my LOMO and the picture below was taken with a polaroid 680. It was taken on a campsite as the sun was setting, giving the most beautiful light.

I hope the recipient enjoys the pictures!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

raft racing...

a belated birthday party to celebrate Alfie's 5th birthday. An afternoon of lunch, making rafts and then racing them along a beautiful small river.

Our rafts were made by lashing together sticks with string. We then designed the sails and attached them to the rafts with a mast {another stick} and a bit of plasticine. I had imagined we would release the rafts and watch them gently float down the river from the riverbank - the boys had other ideas - wading through the river pushing their rafts along (and so competitive!). They were soaked through and covered in mud - which in most cases equals happiness to most five year old boys!

I made some chocolate and courgette muffins as birthday cakes too with little lego men sat on rafts on top, which seemed to go down very well!

Friday, 15 August 2008

can you tell what it is yet?

a very good book indeed, full of small knitted animals to make. This gorgeous wool {although not that easy to knit with} was crying out to be an animal! I just need to sew it up and stuff it now. I would recommend this book for quick and easy projects with beautiful photography.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

the taste of summer

punnet, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

there is nothing better than the taste of strawberries in the summer apart from maybe the smell of sweet peas. Our local fruit farm grows it's strawberries in raised beds - probably very good pest control but I miss sitting in the tiny ailes on straw eating as many as I pick! Come to that I miss the sun that would usually accompany theres trips!

What is happening to our weather? last summer was the wettest on record and this summer is very wet too. Is it that you think of your childhood full of bright sunny days, when there actually weren't that many or is this our climate getting warmer and wetter as predicted. I didn't think the effect would be so great in my lifetime, I remember cold winter days and deep snow every year but my son has only seen snow about three or four times in his five years!

If predictions are anything to go by the climate will shift so that our wildlife will have to move 400 km north (Cumbria) in just fifty years - the snails just won't make it! In fact in 100 years our local wildlife won't have any 'climate space' left and fall off the top of Scotland!

We know the facts, but there are still countries that still will not be accountable for their actions, burning fossil fuels on a colosall scale. These great nations of the developed world won't be the first affected either, no it will be the developing world hit by droughts and food shortage.

It isn't much to ask to change a lightbulb to an energy efficient one - is it?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

tonights the night to watch the perseid meteor shower...

Always the summer’s main attraction for meteor observers, the Perseids are expected to peak around August 12d 09h UT, making the Monday night to Tuesday morning of Aug 11-12 probably the shower’s most productive in 2008. Good observed rates can be expected particularly in the early hours after the waxing gibbous Moon has set (around 23h 20m local time on Aug 11-12). Observers watching late on Aug 11-12 should experience increasing activity towards dawn: from a clear, dark location rates of a meteor per minute might be seen in the latter parts of the night as the shower radiant (near the Double Cluster on the Perseus/Cassiopeia border) climbs high into the eastern sky. Activity should be starting to decline by the time darkness falls on Aug 12-13. 03h 67.1o
The main part of the shower, including its steady rise through the first 9 days or so of August, will enjoy dark skies. Activity takes a marked ‘kick’ around August 8-9, and watches between this date and August 14-15, particularly, should be very rewarding.

The Perseids are well known for the abundance of fast, bright meteors close to their maximum. Perseid meteoroids enter the atmosphere at a velocity of 60 km/sec, and the resulting meteors often leave behind persistent ionisation trains.

The large numbers of bright events in the five-day interval centred on Perseid maximum makes this an excellent target for photography. Conventional film remains the medium of choice for most observers. Exposures, which can be with a static (undriven) camera, of 10-15 minutes’ duration, using ISO 400 film and a 50 mm or wideangle 28 mm lens at f/2.8 or faster, can capture meteors of magnitude 0 and brighter. Ideal aiming directions are about 20-30 degrees to one side of the radiant at 50 degrees altitude above the horizon - Cygnus in early evening, the Square of Pegasus later in the night, or towards the north celestial pole, for example

Monday, 11 August 2008


five , originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

another year has passed and he is now five! I can't quite believe it. It seemed like only yesterday when he was born and I was sitting in hospital with this tiny thing, swaddled in a blanket, with all the awkwardness and insecurities that new motherhood brings! I remember very clearly he just opened his eyes and looked straight at me, a knowing look, as he knew me all right, then he closed his eyes again!

My little man, my first born - wise, articulate, energetic, thoughtful, caring and silly. He has taught me so much and made me a better person and I just hope I can give him all that he has given me x

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

children need playtime - not re-wired brains...

In September {2008} the early years foundation stage is going to become compulsory in UK schools. Children as young as 22 months potentially will be shown how to use a computer as part of the literacy and numeracy requirements.

The Lancet, Harvard Medical School and others report on the physiological and cognitive harm done to the young brain by screen viewing itself, regardless of the content. Prolonged viewing stunts the frontal lobe and rewires the growing brain shortening the attention span, leading to ADHD and learning difficulties.

Gabriel Millar, founder of Open Eye says "Young children do not need to be imobilised in front of screens - they need to move, run and climb. Young children need songs, stories, nature and vast amounts of playtime."

I didn't learn to use a computer until I went to university {I now use it everyday!} and I certainly didn't miss out on anything!

he led me by the hand...

down a lane, past the cottage where we used to live and into the most beautiful orchard. Our old cottage overlooked this orchard and I would daydream into it, thinking how I would like to sneak over the wall and have a secret picnic right in the middle! He knew all about my daydreams and hidden in the middle of the orchard was a table and chairs, music playing and tealights hanging from all the branches in jam jars. It was the most beautiful scene, with the light fading into the evening and crickets and owls joining in with the music. He had arranged food and drink under the stars for just us!

The owners of the orchard that had kindly lent him the 'sail' and the orchard and had also made a strawberry pavlova for us, which was amazingly kind and very delicious. They had also taken the sheep out too!

How lucky I am to have a man like this, to create a little bit of magic on a very enchanted evening...

Monday, 4 August 2008

a return to the good life...

photograph by simply photo

every once in a while I read something that sends a shiver down my spine, well yesterday's Sunday paper did just that here I saw a future that scared me. The rising costs of food and fuel worry me {well it doesn't take much as I have to worry about something!} I don't have enough land to be self sufficient, in fact I hardly have any land, but it scares me how in this country we have become this 'on demand' society where food is delivered 'just in time'. We have lost all connections with the land in just one generation.

My mum was born just after the war, when rationing was still going on, she learnt to be thrifty {she still has ALL the buttons that were removed from old clothes before throwing out and her blackout curtains - that I use for photography backdrops!} that knew how to grow fresh vegetables and eat all of an animal not just the choice cuts that we prefer today. She grew up in a time that took just what it needed and appreciated little treats, such as sweets! She knew how to scrub and make a house clean using lemon, vinegar and elbow grease not the bleach and labour saving and environment polluting devices today!

Although I do sound as if I am hankering for a life in the 1940's I am not - but I just don't understand how a culture so far down the wrong route economically can pull itself back? Most people my age live in tiny starter homes - crammed into building developments built on top of allotments! How can our generation grow vegetables - just where do you start and why doesn't anyone else seem to worry about this?

We have started our personal journey by asking our Parish council for an allotment. We delivered our petition of six names and addresses to our council on the 16th July and a councillor is investigating how to take our application forward. I guess one by one, we will make a difference and we all have to believe that each tiny step we make is in the right direction and our knowledge and passion in doing the right thing will influence and inspire others...
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