A year in Greenwich Park: November and new routes

My month in Greenwich Park this month has been one full of colour and one full of new routes. Partly that's been because I've been leaving work later and because it's darker now the clocks have changed, but my new route home rarely includes a walk through the park. Initially I missed the amount of time I had in the park, but that was short lived as I've taken many different routes through the park this month, and so I've probably seen more of it than usual.

It does mean this is a photo heavy post. I've taken so many, and these are just a few of those.  At the start of the month you can see how green the trees still were, with the yellowing of the leaves just starting to take place.

admiring the colour on my walk to work in greenwich park

But as the month went on the yellow started to take over - no bad ting if you ask me! And the tree that I've taken a shine too looked just as good with yellow leaves as it did with green. As it dropped its leaves I started to notice a birds nest towards the top of the tree.

The tree that's caught my eye has turned a fantastic shade of autumn

And while there's been lots of colour, the line of trees below against the skyline looked so much more dramatic in black and white.

And while there has been lots of autumn colours in november these trees look great in black and white against the skyline

Leaves. Well if they're not on the trees, they have to go somewhere don't they? I've walked through piles of them both in the park and in the surrounding streets. No wonder they sell leaf mulch. We have our own supply in the garden, which we need to capture this weekend. We've had our sycamores pollarded again, but of course not before the majority of the leaves came down...

There's been lots of leaves this month, lovely russet and golden tones caught up against the park gates

There was heavy rain this month too and I had a squelchy walk to work one day in my trainers. So much rain that puddles formed on the grass, and of course I took a photo or two, I was captivated by the reflection in the puddles.

But there's been squelchier times too, after heavy rainfall there were puddles on the grass throughout greenwich park

Going through the photos for this post it's easy to see how the colours have changed, but day to day it's been more gradual.  The shot below is the same avenue of trees as the first photo above. Quite a change isn't there?

As the month went on the leaves on the trees were less and less
It's been a month of colour and I couldn't resist getting up close to the leaves

And the majority of leaves have gone from my favourite tree. There's just a few remaining at the bottom, and the birds nest is much more exposed now and I can't help but think it's become just a little more draughty up there.

The tree I've been watching is now completely bare, but that revealed a birds nest at the top of the branches
Through the month the colours have changed from green to yellow and then brown

The new routes started around the middle of the month, I've walked many of the paths now and even walked around the edge. One morning I thought I'd walk the reverse of my non-park route home, to see what it was like in the light. But in doing so, I captured this view of the trees through the railings. 

a different view of greenwich park, this time from the street and through the railings

And when I couldn't bear to watch from the outside any more, the view got even better. The sun and shade, the blue skies and fluffy white clouds and the colours of the trees, along with the path leading me through it. What's not to like?

white clouds and blue skies, sunshine and shade and taking a new path in greenwich park

And then it got cold. It's been quite a month for weather. The first frosts were still evident when I arrived in the park and this next photo is looking into a frosty flower garden.

a morning frost in the flower garden in greenwich park this november

As I walked further into the park the frost was still heavy and the bare trees provided the perfect foil for the view. 

Looking through the trees at a frosty greenwich park

I never expected November to be the most bountiful month picture-wise so far, but it has been. The colours, the sun and the frosts have all contributed to that, and I'm learning so much more about the park that I walk through every day on the way to work.

What have you noticed about your special place this month?

An early family Christmas

This weekend we've had an early family Christmas. And right from the off it was more like Christmas, than I thought it might be. On Friday I realised that Friday was my Christmas Eve Eve, if that's such a thing, and I needed to finish my shopping. So off I went, returning relatively quickly with a present against all the names on my list.

The plan was to have Christmas lunch on Sunday with my family, but in another parallel to Christmas a few weeks later, we also met up with MOH's family the day before. And of course I left it until the last minute to wrap those presents I'd bought too, but some pretty paper and some festive washi tape came to the rescue there.

Food-wise we were much more organised. We were in charge of pudding, and on our menu was MOH's speciality lighter Christmas pudding and a baked lemon cheesecake for the non-dried-fruit-eating-contingent. And for those that like two puddings. In fact making puddings are MOH's thing, so he made the lemon cheesecake too.

And while he did I set about collecting a few parcels from both the local sorting office and a bit further afield in Walthamstow - more on that to come soon. It was Small Business Saturday and my plan to do both chores in the same hit was scuppered by traffic, as the King's Troop were parading through the village. I missed them as I'd aborted my attempt in the car and headed back to the post office on foot. It was a lovely day, and I was glad of the walk, especially when met with a view like this.

Usually with baked cheesecake there's a bit of leakage during cooking, so it's a case of remembering to place a baking sheet on the shelf below to catch that. Or to clean the oven. Yes exactly. This time though I got MOH to test a new tin from PushPan I'd been sent, which claims to be leak-proof and watertight.
Pushpan silicone gasket cake tin
The difference is the silicone gasket which forms a seal on the removable cake tin bottom
The push pan initially looks like any cake tin
The base of the push pan with its silicone gasket seal

It's made from heavy gauge carbon steel and has a patented silicone seal base. My other quick release tin has a spring catch, which if I'm honest I'm never sure if it's done up or not, which probably doesn't help the leakage. But no more. This has a silicon seal - the red bit - on the base and it seems to work.

It did need a bit of an extra push to get the cheesecake out, but then again it was completely cold as we left it in the tin to travel. It seemed the safest place for it to be. And it arrived in one piece, although I added the sour cream and lemon curd topping at the table. I also left it on the base, which I probably wouldn't have done at home, but plates were at a premium with eight of us for dinner.

The lemon cheesecake part-way being served

And it seemed to work. No baking tray underneath it and no mess in the oven. MOH is a perfectionist baker and didn't approve of the plain chocolate digestives I bought for the base. I rather liked them though.  And the cheesecake was good.

Our lovely lemon cheesecake still on the base of the push pan tin because sometimes when you're not in your own kitchen it's just easier

And after dinner of turkey, ham and all the trimmings - including rationed pigs in blankets - and then christmas pudding and/or baked lemon cheesecake, we did the other Christmas thing, and opened our presents. And like many families, that brought the usual chaos and mess. 

A typical family christmas right?

So quite a weekend, and for us Christmas really has come early this year.  And it'll be coming again at the more usual time of year! It was great to spend time together and the Family Fortunes board game was great fun too, although Vernon Kay has nothing to be afraid of. How do you celebrate Christmas with your family?


* With thanks to PushPan who sent me their new tin to try, as usual all views are my own. That mess above though, I had very little to do with that.

Making Madeleines at A Taste of London with AEG

A couple of weekends ago we headed off to The Festive Edition of A Taste of London, held in partnership with AEG at Tobacco Dock. We'd cycled past the entrance a few times on our Tower Bridge route, but I'd not been in before. MOH had, and I was grateful for his advice to dress warmly, as a lot of Tobacco Dock is actually outside. There were plenty of people there, and things to do to keep warm, as well as some indoor spaces, and as you'd expect plenty to eat.
A taste of London at Tobacco Dock

We were excited to be part of the #TakeTasteFurther cookery sessions in the AEG kitchen. Kathy from Gluts and Gluttony led the session to make madeleines in just thirty minutes. Now not only does that seem a tall order, but as well as making them herself she was directing at least fifteen other pairs of cooks, and she had no idea of their cooking abilities, and to top that we also made a cardamom butterscotch sauce while we had some spare time. Seriously, it was impressive - and so were the results.

Kathy from Gluts and Gluttony leading the cookery class at A Taste of London
A silicone madeleine tray, now that makes perfect sense to me

1. A silicone madeleine tray on our workbench was a big clue for what we were making.

Meanwhile on the mixer I started beating the eggs and sugar the easy way

3. With MOH melting butter, I could get my hands on the AEG freestanding mixer, which I would happily have in my kitchen. Eggs and sugar went in and took no time at all to beat.

Adding the flour mixture to the eggs and sugar

5. First we added flour and ground almonds to the eggs and sugar, along with some orange zest, and carefully folded this in.

madeleine mixture spooned into the silicone tray

7. We piped the mixture into the madeleine tray. In all honesty this was the messiest bit, with a few "exploding" piping bags around the room. MOH, the baking perfectionist, wanted to wipe the dribbles but it was not to be!

A quick look at the other ingredients for the butterscotch sauce

9. While we waited for this to boil, I explored the other ingredients on the bench - cardamom, chopped pistachios and more butter.

Keeping an eye on the sugar syrup while it bubbles away

11. And still the water bubbled, until the sugar turned brown - and that's when you need to watch carefully, because it'll turn quickly.

The cooked madeleines were returned to our bench, next up decorating them

13. And before we knew it, our madeleines were back again, cooked and looking lovely. 

Getting started with the madeleines by melting butter

2. We started by melting butter, in fact you might have noticed I delegated that to MOH.

A squeeze of orange juice into the melted butter

4. While my eggs and sugar were getting fluffy, I still had time to direct MOH, and take some pictures too. Here's a squeeze of orange juice going into the butter he melted.

Adding butter and orange juice to the madeleine mixture

6. Then the orange juice and melted butter were also gently folded into the mixture. You'll notice MOH is working in these photos too.

Onto the caramel sauce, starting with the sugar and water

8. With the madeleines cooking, it was time to make the butterscotch sauce. We were both keen to see how this was done, as MOH had tried this at home, not altogether successfully. So water and sugar went into the saucepan...

Melting some chocolate directly in the saucepan on a low heat

10.  In preparation for decorating the madeleines I melted some chocolate slowly in a saucepan. At home I use the microwave...

And voila butterscotch caramel sauce - and quite a bit too - yum

12. Then MOH whisked in the butter, and then added the cream and cardamom and voilà, cardamom butterscotch sauce! Two tubs of it. 

A drizzle of chocolate and a sprinkle of pistachios, with a modern take on how we decorated ours

14. With a short amount of time to decorate, we went modern, with dribbles of chocolate and sprinkles of pistachios. 

And the final result, was some very moreish orange, pistachio and chocolate madeleines with cardamom butterscotch sauce. I'd never have thought it would be *that* easy to make them, but it was. And now I need a silicone madeleine tray of my own, so I can make plenty more! 



With madeleines made in record time, we left the kitchen and tried them out while planning our route through the rest of the show. Look out for more posts from the show soon.

* This is a collaborative post, and with thanks to AEG and Kathy from Gluts & Gluttony, as usual views are my own.