Dog at the Vets: A Poem

The other day, I had to take my little West Highland Terrier, Bobby, to the vets. Don’t worry he’s fine. Whilst i was there I decided to write a poem about going to the vets from the point of view of my dog. Give it a read and tell me what you think.

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The westie himself, Bobby!

We’ve wandered into the vets again,
by accident I’m sure,
but incase my owners have some plan,
I’ll sit right next to the door.

One by one the others go in
and come out wagging their tail,
but I know the vet has conned them all
and with me he shall fail.

My name is called,
I’m filled with fear,
if only I
could disappear;

To be at home
with a rug and a toy,
that would bring me
far more joy.

His hands are cold,
he pokes and prods,
he talks away
and grins and nods.

A yap and a growl
and a bit a scowl;
he surely must
let me go now.

It worked, I’m off
and sat by the door.
A pat on the head
meets a slap with a paw.

At last we’re leaving
and off home I plod
to have my dinner
which now tastes rather odd.

 – By Catherine Wake, 12/04/2016

Cat goes to Wonderland!

Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Paper Castles, sorry I’ve been gone for a whole week! But in this week I have been on another adventure this time to Wonderland, or should I say Groombridge Place in Kent.

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All the characters (l to r) Tweedledee, King of Hearts, March Hare, Alice, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum, White Rabbit, (front) Caterpillar and Cheshire Cat. Photo’s courtesy of Matt Salmon Photography.

For the whole of the Easter Holidays Groombridge Place has become home to all the characters from Alice in Wonderland. The day is based around 3 short plays (repeated if you missed them) which include the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, the infamous Jam Tart trial, and the ‘painting the roses red’ scandal. Essentially the King of Hearts was constantly in trouble.

The plays are very well constructed and are easy to follow for children or people who haven’t read the book and for those who know the book like the back of their hand. And it was packed with humour that actually had me crying with laughter.

In between the plays you can walk around the grounds and talk to all the characters and there are crafts for children too, plus an ice cream shack, a river boat ride, a café and a gift shop. It really does have everything and it was nice to have a cup of tea wherever I went.

I had such a great time at Groombridge, and its not that far to go if you want a day out and you live in London, well worth it. Click here for a link to Groombridge’s website. Also special thanks to my lovely boyfriend for letting me use the official photos he took for Groombridge.

Liz Earle Rose and Cedrat Cleanser

Happy Good Friday everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday weekend as much as I am. I see this time of year as a great time to indulge myself a bit so I thought it would be nice to try the new limited edition Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser.

I’ve loved the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser for about 5 years now since my mum introduced me to it and in that time I’ve tried every single limited edition cleanser and I’ve never been disappointed. The great thing about Liz Earle is how natural and luxurious the products are, I’m a proud supporter of living life as naturally as possible so it was great to find a product that actually worked and stuck to a good ethos.

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Another skin saviour by Liz Earle.

This year the limited edition Cleanser is Rose and Cedrat so the smell is fresh and spring-like. Rose is anti-bacterial and anti-inflamatory so is great at keeping away those annoying spots, and Cedrat is sort of like a lemon so has that invigorating citrus scent and feel which is perfect for waking up your skin ready for spring.

Since I started using the Rose and Cedrat cleanser I’ve noticed that the redness that plagues my T-zone has seriously calmed down so I’m not having to use as much foundation and concealer to cover it up allowing my skin to breathe more. Also my skin just feels so nourished, over winter I find my skin gets drier than in summer so when I started using the Rose and Cedrat cleanser I finally felt like my skin was softer and my moisturiser became a lot more effective.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that my mood improves when I use this cleanser. I’ve really been suffering from the winter blues this year but now in the mornings I feel positive about the rest of the day and in the evenings I feel calm, relaxed and ready for sleep.

The Rose and Cedrat Limited Edition Hot Cloth Cleanser is yet another winner from Liz Earle. Click here to be taken to the Liz Earle website.

Have you tried the new Liz Earle cleanser? What are your Easter skin treats? Please let me know in the comments below. 

Where to buy the best Hot Cross Buns!

Happy almost Easter everyone! To celebrate this special holiday I thought I’d write an article all about that famous Easter treat Hot Cross Buns.

They’re a firm favourite of mine and they disappear very quickly in my household but being more economic this year has made me think about which shop offers the best value for money where Hot Cross Buns are concerned.

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Which bun is best? clockwise from top: M&S, Sainsbury’s,Tesco, Waitrose

I decided to try the four supermarkets that are closest to my home, these are: Sainsbury’s Tesco, Marks and Spencer, and Waitrose. Before I started I knew that there would be quite a difference in price and quality but I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of my investigation.

I decided that the fairest way to test the selection was to do a blind taste test with the plain or classic version of each supermarkets Hot Cross Bun range. Then I labelled the Hot Cross Buns A to D and only I knew which was which, I then asked my parents and boyfriend to be the judges. First they looked at appearance, then taste, then we compared this against brand and price. So lets look at the results of this very serious scientific experiment and the winner will be revealed at the end of this article.

Appearance

I try not to judge things on appearance but I felt in this case it was necessary as a Hot Cross Bun does require a nice cross in the middle, the selection certainly all had crosses but in varying degrees of wonkiness. It was a unanimous decision by the judges that Bun C had the best cross and was therefore the winner of this category.

Taste

I asked my judges to try a small corner of each Hot Cross Bun in turn and all were in agreement that A and D were no where near as tasty as B and C, which were more moist and had more flavour to them, they also were less chewy. The judges were split on B and C so both won this category.

Price

The prices did surprise me quite a bit when I found out that Waitrose actually sold the cheapest Hot Cross Bun packet at 89p for 4. However, Sainsbury’s and Tesco both sold their packs of Hot Cross Buns for £1 but had 6 in a pack so was therefore cheaper per bun. Marks and Spencer came in as the most expensive with £1.50 for four. The winners of this round are Sainsbury’s and Tesco with Waitrose following close behind.

The Reveal

It may or may not surprise you to learn that Bun A was Sainsbury’s, Bun B was Waitrose, Bun C was Marks and Spencer and Bun D was Tesco. The overall winner, as decided by my judges, was Bun B from Waitrose even though it was slight more expensive per bun than Tesco or Sainsbury’s 89p for 4 is still a very reasonable price and definitely beat the price of Marks and Spencer. We could barely taste any difference between Waitrose and Marks and Spencer so the choice really came down to which was the cheapest and therefore better value for money. You don’t always get a perfect cross like with Marks and Spencer but the cross is still identifiable on the Waitrose Bun and I’d rather a slightly wonky cross and pay 89p than get a perfect cross every time and pay an extra 61p.

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The winning bun from Waitrose.

Thank you for reading this article on Hot Cross Buns, I’d really like to know your thoughts on where to buy Hot Cross Buns and also what makes a Hot Cross Bun so great, so please comment below. Also leave comments if you have any recipes or suggestions, they’re always welcome.

 

Reading Longbourn

I have just finished reading Longbourn by Jo Baker for the second time, I first read it when it was released in 2013. Back then it was the first book I’d read from cover to cover in a very long time and in reading it for the second time I found myself fully absorbed once again.

Longbourn, as the title suggests, is set in the fictional household of Longbourn, famously created in Pride and Prejudice. This time, however the focus isn’t on Elizabeth, her parents and four sisters but on the household staff that served them, primarily a serving girl called Sarah.

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Sarah is a young serving girl about the same age as the elder two Bennett sisters who’s life is equally changed by the arrival of the Bingleys and Mr Wickham but also experiences new things in her own romantic life separate from the world of Pride and Prejudice. It is easy to forget that Pride and Prejudice was set during the Napoleonic wars which took a heavy toll on lower class Britain with an enormous loss of life of young men. Even though Pride and Prejudice has soldiers, notably Mr Wickham, the politics of dancing and love are more central to the storyline than the politics of war with the French. Longbourn therefore shows us a rare glimpse into the life below stairs of those who were truly affected by this war and this provides some truly gripping moments that is balanced so well with the backdrop of rural service life.

One thing that really impressed me about Jo Baker’s writing is that each chapter of Longbourn corresponds to the same chapter in Pride and Prejudice so you can read along with both stories and see where the two coincide which I now can’t wait to do properly.
All in all this is a story I really treasure and because it shows a different side to a story I already loved and I love this one equally. I totally engaged with the characters, and found myself reading far longer than I had time to just because the storyline was so gripping. This will be a favourite of mine for years to come and I can imagine myself reading and rereading it over and over again.

Wisley Spring Plant Fair

Today I went to the Wisley Spring Plant Fair, near Woking in Surrey, (just off the M25 for us Londoners). It was a great day out and I spent far too much money on lovely plants for the Garden.

The Plant Fair was full of stalls from nurseries all across the country, and it was great to talk to the stall owners who really knew their stuff about what to grow in our local clay soil and where to plant things (shade or sun). Outside the two main tents was a variety of planted tubs which showed off displays that you could create with the vast array of plants for sale.

I never need much of an excuse to go to Wisley anyway because the stunning gardens are a treat for the senses all year round, however Wisley never fails to surprise me with their customer care. This was demonstrated when I had lunch in their food hall which was packed because of so many customers for the plant fair, we were fortunate enough to get a table inside out of the cold weather but for those who had to sit outside blankets were provided so they could remain cosy in this early spring climate.

The other excellent idea Wisley had this year was a Plant Creche where we could hand over the plants we’d purchased for safe keeping while we had a walk around the garden, a cup of tea or another sneaky run round the plant fair.

So after purchasing 1 peony, 3 Helibores, 3 Ferns and 6 foxgloves we felt the day had a been a success and a delight, well worth returning to.

The plant fair runs till the 22nd March, here’s the website to book tickets.

I will update you on my plants later in the year.