Reflecting on my week #60

As ever most of our activity takes place at the end of the week and weekend, and both of us were out on Friday; me at a work do and MOH meeting friends for lunch. Him bemoaning the fact that I’d arranged for him to collect some Blackberry Gin made by one of our friends. Thankfully though it was well packed and carefully transported and arrived home in one piece. I arrived home with a couple of sticks of rock, like you do, and after a slow start to the weekend I was impressed at how colour coordinated our Friday night treasures were with their surroundings.



Saturday evening we were back at Gravetye Manor belatedly making use of one of our 110th gifts, and enjoying the seven course tasting menu and wine flight. We’d previously visited at the start of May, just before our birthdays and enjoyed a wander around the kitchen garden, and of course I’d popped into the loos to check them out. We were keen to make use of our gift in a different season, and part of the delay in our return was due to the complete refurbishment of the restaurant which brings it totally up-to-date and gives it a view over the gardens. Not that we saw much of the gardens on this visit, so we’ll have to go back again at some point.



The food was fantastic, and each course and its accompanying wine was carefully explained either by the chefs, including Executive Chef George Blogg on two occasions, the waiters and for the wine the young but very knowledgeable and personable sommelier. Below is the final course of Roasted Acorn Custard, walnut crumble and dark chocolate - and boy, what a course. It was good but my favourite was the Roe Venison with Crown Prince and chestnut, three of my all time favourite foods.

And if you’ve seen me in real life recently, or are about to soon, let me just say I am now addicted to jumpsuits. They’re so easy to wear and so that you get to see me in more than this fantastic one from Laura Ashley, I’ve invested in at least a couple more, which are a little more on the colourful side. Well, there’s only so many necklaces and accessories that I have to give this one a different feel…



Afterwards it was nice to sit and wait for our taxi in the traditional surroundings with a beautiful tree. It’s amazing how filling the tasting menu is, as it looks small when it’s placed in front of you, but oh, the flavour that’s packed in there. The sauce on the venison takes four days, elapsed, to make - so on a completely different level to cooking at home.



Sunday we were keen to get my MIL out of the house, but where to go, that also allowed for a trip around Sainsburys.  In the end we headed off to closeby Pots and Pithoi to admire the pots, and more importantly check out the cafe, which wasn’t there when we visited before.  We’d previously bought some pots for the garden, and they’re great, but coffee and cake was on the agenda for this visit, and it didn’t disappoint - the crockery was great, and so was the bakewell slice.



Payment was taken in the shop, and that’s where it got dangerous. I was trying not to engage too much with the ceramics, as they’re a bit of a weakness for me, and as MOH will readily tell you I don’t need any more. Well, unless they look like this of course:

Carola Van Dyke ceramics

Aren’t they great? 

I love the patchwork nature of these and took the photo above so I could work on MOH and acquire them as a Christmas present, from him - that’s still a work in progress, but I’m fairly confident.  They’re by Carola Van Dyke and there’s also a espresso set which matches, but that seems to be out of stock everywhere, although I’m still on the hunt for those.

Carola van Dyke cushions

Just as we were about to leave MOH spotted some tweed hats, and he can’t resist trying them on, and this was fatal. As by the hats were cushions that matched the ceramics and I was smitten - in fabric, they were even more gorgeous, and we were still in the market for two more cushions. The original plan was to get two grey, relatively plain cushions, to go behind the more colourful cushions we’d already bought. But that plan was quickly shelved, especially as hares and stags are particular favourites of ours.

The choice wasn’t if we should buy them but if we should buy a stag and a hare, or two hares, and if the stag and hare needed to look at each other, or away from each other. Serious stuff, which I think my MIL was most bemused by. But we left with two and our cushion quest is almost complete, so expect a sofa sharing moment in the not too distant future.

Carola Van Dyke cushions at Pots and Pithoi

And if you find the Beasties Espresso set in stock, let me know - MOH is keen to know where he can buy it from, or at least he will be soon!

Oil and vinegar

Or as my new bottles say Olio and Acete, a recent purchase as a momento from our break in Italy along with a new butter dish. And not surprisingly I’m embracing the yellow, so where better to photograph them than on the dresser in a particularly yellow spot.   

A momento from our recent holiday in Italy

We often bring something home from holiday to remind us of our trip, and quite often it’s something that catches our eye, rather than something that’s planned. But it’s always something we’ll use, or have a use for. 

On this trip it was very nearly a decorative plate that I fell for on our visits to the local town of Todi. In the maze of a town, or our circuitous route around it anyway, even I was surprised I managed to find the shop again on our second visit. But of course I managed to.  

A closer look at my new butter dish

After some longing and oohing over the ceramics, we asked the price and tried not to look too shocked. It was pricier than we expected, and I wasn’t sure if it would fit where I had in mind at home, let alone in our hand luggage. So with a last look we walked away, but even MOH was getting smitten and said to buy it if you want it.  

But I resisted, as I really wasn’t sure on the size. Although a new plan was forming, so back we headed to the shop again.  Only this time it was our final purchases that I had in mind.  

the ceramic oil and vinegar bottles
the bottles are shaped so they fit together

We’d seen many sets as we perused the shops in town, but none this colour and none squished like this so they nestled together. Clever, huh?

shaped bottles so they nest together

And then came the breakthrough.  We needed a new butter dish.  Yes, needed. (The glaze on ours has gone and butter seeps through the pottery and leaves a greasy mess on our kitchen worktop - so I mean needed).

But, I didn’t want to be without one. I’m a butter fan, and don’t like it fridge cold and so our butter is out and at room temperature year-round.  So when the butter dish hd been decided on too, and I’d agreed to get rid of the old one, MOH couldn’t quite believe his ears. He’d proffered replacement butter dishes over the years, but all had been rejected. Until now. 

finding a new home for my holiday momentoes on the dresser

And it was worth the wait. It’s quickly replaced the seeping dish in my affections, but sssh! don’t tell MOH, I think I’m only going to crock** half of the dish, as I realised the top half would make a great cover for cheese...

** and yes, to crock - that’s a verb, to break crockery to use as drainage “crocks” in plant pots. A great way to use old crockery as it’s satisfying to smash (as long as you look out for flying pieces) and when you next empty your pot, you never quite know what memory you will quite literally unearth! 

Patterns from Porto

It was the patterns of the tiles in Porto that I found myself fascinated by. Whether it was the 3D-type, like the ones below, or the intricate almost Moorish designs. I found myself seeking out the tiles as we walked around the city, and mostly my phone was out ready to snap their delights. 

Sunny yellow tiles in Porto

Bright yellows and faded yellows, the tiles were inset into many of the buildings. Some bold, some delicate, but all very pretty.

Delicate patterns but a bit battered -  tiles in Porto

And variations on a theme. These are different to the ones at the top - the flower is slightly different - it took me a while to confirm that, I couldn't decide if it was just the layers of paint that made them feel different.

the same pattern as before - but it feels different somehow

Blues featured too, and often mixed with yellows. The ones below have a touch of kaleidascope to them don't they?

larger patterned  tiles in Porto

And it looks as if many of them have been patched up and that just adds to the charm.

mixing patterned  tiles in Porto

The patterns are mixed, the tiles are chipped and faded. But they are full of character and just work.

faded glory about and  tiles in Porto

The colours are vibrant as often as they are faded, and I think there's almost more filler than tiles in the set below.

Brown and blue patterned  tiles in Porto

But some are in much better condition and this blue and white bold design in good condition almost looked out of place!

striking blue and white patterned tiles in Porto

And every single one of these sets are on the outside of buildings, just for the record I haven't gone on my biggest snoop ever! 

Aren't they great?