Sunshine, shopping and baking

How wonderful to awaken to sunshine yesterday morning, and warm sunshine at that.  The two don’t necessarily go together. A free Saturday with only three essential tasks, none of which would take more than few minutes, meant that we could ‘do something’.  After a quick visit to the post office to send off a small gift to a friend, we drove to the outskirts of nearby Alcester to drop something into another friend. The third task was to buy lemons (for a lemon polenta cake this time) so we drove into the town centre and surprise, surprise, managed to find one of the free parking spaces.  Sunshine and free parking – it was looking good!

A market town since Roman times, Alcester is like a small sister to  Stratford-upon-Avon with many similar black and white timbered buildings and an attractive high street. Wouldn’t you just know – I forgot (again) to take my ipad/camera out with me.  I do enjoy a wander around the charity shops and, although I’d nothing in mind to buy, I did make a couple of purchases in the Red Cross shop:

A pretty little jug for £1.95. Yes, I have lots of vases, pots and jugs but I really liked the colours in this and it goes well in my kitchen. The grape hyacinths are a fraction of the hundreds in the garden. They’re almost over now but the lavender will soon be in full bloom and there’s heather, lilac and Californian lilac to come. I wish I’d had the jug when the forsythia was out – it would have looked so pretty.


In the same shop I saw a shopping bag – brand new, complete with labels and for only £2.99. I already have far too many shopping bags but I do like a hare! It’s a tad creased but that can soon be rectified.


Although its some time since husband came to Alcester, I like to visit from time to time just for a mooch around the individual little shops so I knew just the place to go for coffee. Orangemabel (named after the owner’s two cats) is a pretty, vintage tea-room which offers a large selection of amazing homemade cakes.  I found this picture of the outside but shall have to go again soon so that I can take some of my own (a good excuse).

Image result for images orangemabel alcester

Husband chose a piece of salted caramel cheesecake. It looked very good but I resisted (apart from a tiny taste  just to check it out) even though the waitress had placed two cake forks on the plate. It’s not been the greatest week in terms of Slimming World (again) and I really want to come away with a loss after weigh-in on Monday.

Finally, a look in Octubre 21st Boutique where, among dozens of really gorgeous things, I saw a tunic that particularly took my eye. Thinking that I should save my money for our forthcoming trip to Edinburgh, I didn’t buy it. Now of course, I wish I had so a return trip is likely, and I will remember to take my camera because to try and describe this fabulously presented shop would be quite impossible. Whoever dresses it has a real flair for display. Look forward to some pictures soon (assuming they’ll let me take some).

That I managed to go into Waitrose and buy ONLY lemons is a small miracle, but I really didn’t need anything else (oh, those stuffed cupboards) and Husband’s not the keenest supermarket shopper anyway. The afternoon was then spent lazily sitting by the French doors, feet up, reading the newspapers.

Sunday dawned similarly sunny. No lazy day today; I had jobs to do. First was to spruce up my two pushchairs – a single and a twin which have been in the outhouse for some months now.  The grandchildren are now either too old, or live too far away from me to really need these any longer; I may as well sell them. They’re now listed on ebay.

After a bit of reluctant, but essential ironing, I retreated to the kitchen. When I want to cook and the weather is like it is today I’m grateful for my cool almost north-facing Kitchen, though in winter we need the heating turned right up in there. It wasn’t until I started making the lemon polenta cake that I remembered just how much sugar is in it. I’d forgotten that I’d planned to search through more recipes to find a slightly healthier one. I made it into a drizzle cake with bits of lemon in the icing which makes it really tangy. I also made a cherry and almond cake. This one is sweetened by honey rather than sugar and is more batter-like than sponge. I’ve made it three times now and tweaked the recipe each time.  There’s an article in the Sunday magazine today with some spectacular looking cakes but it’s all about the decorating. I can appreciate the artistry but sugar craft doesn’t interest me one bit. I just like to make homely cakes where a tasty slice goes down nicely with a cup of coffee. I’d never win prizes for presentation!  And then I made some little cakes for tomorrow’s youngest visitors. Blue icing with rice-paper decals made in petit four cases – just right for very small boys!  A ‘pop in to say hello’ has turned into a family lunch with both sons’ families coming.  It’s going to be casual affair, salads, rolls, store cupboard bits & pieces…and cake, of course!





  1. Your cakes look extremely delicious, Eloise. How special to have a grandmother who does special cakes for you!! Lucky grandchildren


    • Haha, the large cakes were nice but the children’s ones are very haphazard in form with garish blue icing. it’s hard to ice such tiny cakes neatly!


  2. Sounds like you’ve had a lovely day. That yellow jug is very cute and looks lovely with the blue flowers in it. Your cakes look delicious. And, apparently, I can post comments, again! 🙂


  3. Oh, Eloise, what a delightful weekend … apart from forgetting your camera and not getting the tunic in the charity shop! But maybe it will still be there when you go again. I’ve always regretted things I’ve not bought … remember when I took a photo in the charity shop and only when I downloaded it did I see the lovely vase that would match one I already had? And as luck would have it, it was still there next time I visited so I bought it.
    I’m like you with cakes – I can’t be bothered with faffiness, I just want a tasty fruit cake, or lemon drizzle cake, or coffee and walnut sponge, and I’m happy. I don’t do cupcakes with all that frothy stuff on top and “sprinkles” which we used to call hundreds-and-thousands. Having said that, you just have to have lovely little things for young visitors!
    I love the look of Orangemabel! I’d be in there like a shot!
    Alcester … is Ettington Park Hotel anywhere close by? That is where we spent our 3-night honeymoon in 1964! Mind you, it wasn’t the posh place it is today, but it was still pretty grand for 1964!
    Margaret P


    • Oh if the tunic had been in the charity shop, I wouldn’t have hesitated. Unfortunately it was in the boutique and a bit too pricey. I can’t stand fancy cup cakes; they usually have lots of buttercream which I don’t like at all. Yes, Ettington Park is not far away. I’m pretty sure I went there for a work conference some years ago. I seem to remember a lovely setting.


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