Everyone’s favourite saint

Today is St Nicholas’s Day, and in many countries across Europe it will be celebrated with the giving of small, surprise gifts. During advent in Salzburg, St Nicholas appears on the streets and is a welcome presence when the marauding krampus creatures are around.  On 6 December he can be seen taming them outside the…

A beachcomber’s paradise

Our summer holiday came late again this year.  Plucked from England’s wintery world and placed in the south coast of Spain, I was able to indulge in a favourite pastime: beachcombing. My ever-patient husband was, as usual, unable to hold hands as we walked along the shoreline, as mine clutched a stash of beach-combed treasures.…

Sumptuous silks and gold brocade

The windowsills of the House at Nab End have been draped with an ever-changing selection of coloured and patterned squares of fabric, while I’ve poured over magazines, pattern books and swatches, choosing fabrics for curtains and blinds.  Every room is in need of window dressing, and this is a house of many windows, so the…

Conjuring in the kitchen – best ever banana bread

The thing I love most about baking is the almost alchemical process that goes on inside the oven: the fact that what comes out bears absolutely no resemblance to what went in.  It’s like creating magic in the kitchen. Banana bread has to be the ultimate example of this, transforming by far the most unpromising…

First frost – and a recipe for rosehip syrup

This morning the mist filled the valley and hung above the silvered lawn and powdered roof tiles.  During the night, Jack Frost had crept around the House at Nab End, his cold breath and icy fingertips spreading frozen tidings through the air and across the ground. Down the lane, the local hedgerows are adorned with…