My travels in South East Asia

I’ve not posted for a while now as I have been away traveling in my favourite part of the world – South East Asia – for a few weeks, visiting the temples of Cambodia, soaking up the sun and the history of Vietnam, and shopping heaven in Singapore. The weather was gloriously hot and the food was amazing, here are some regional specialties I tried…

Chicken Murtabak

Chicken Murtabak in Singapore

Amok Curry

Amok curry with squid from Siem Reap, Cambodia

White Rose Dumplings

White Rose dumplings from Hoi An, Vietnam

Beef Pho

Beef Pho from Saigon, Vietnam

Chicken and Beef Satay

Chicken and beef satay in Singapore

Plus a few of the obligatory scary bits…

Snake Wine

Snake wine – yes people where actually drinking this!

Saigon food market – pigs ears, intestines, tongues, hearts and livers

And dried fish – the smell was enough to knock you over!

Flowers in the winter – trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs for winter colour

When it’s cold and gloomy outside, us gardeners need something special to tempt us outside. If you think there isn’t much going on at this time of year then you’d be wrong, there are loads of trees, shrubs and bulbs putting on a great show right now, so make room for some of these in your garden. Plant near a window or entrance to make the most of them.

Some of the best winter flowering trees and shrubs (left to right)…Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ flowers between October to March, Camellia japonica ‘Silver Anniversary’ flowers from January to March, Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ flowers in January and February, Lonicera winter honeysuckle, Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’ also has a good fragrance and flowers between November and March, another one with great fragrance Sarcococca hookeriana ‘Purple Stem’ flowers December to March.

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Here are some top perennials and bulbs to mix into your borders for winter interest. Cyclamen coum flowers from January to March, Helleborus ‘Harvington Double’ flowers February to April, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ in mild winters this will flower continuously all through the year – an amazing plant, Snowdrop Galanthus ‘S Arnott’ flowers February and March, Eranthis hyemalis winter aconite flowers February and March, Crocus chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ flowers February and March.

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The summer’s not over yet – September heatwave

With glorious hot weather forecast for the next five days, and temperatures forecast to reach 28C, the summer has returned to the UK. The BBC weather report says “Fine, dry and sunny, and becoming exceptionally warm.” Perfect! Just when you thought it was all over, the days getting longer, the leaves on the turn, the winter jumpers coming out of storage – rewind back to peak summertime temperatures. The British weather is certainly unpredictable! So make the most of this indian summer and get out there and enjoy the weather.

Justin Bieber launches a perfume for the ladies

Justin Bieber Someday Perfume

Just launched here in the UK is Justin Biebers new perfume – Someday. Buy it right now from TheFragranceShop.co.uk, here’s the blurb…

“It’s here. Justin Bieber’s fragrance for her is full of the energy, passion and confidence that drove him to the top of the charts. It is playful, thought-provoking, fresh yet flirty and anything but ordinary. The new fragrance for her that gives back. It is the idea that someday we can change the world, make our dreams come true and even be with that one person who means everything. Take home a piece of Justin’s heart with SOMEDAY and its iconic design. Wrapped in rich tones of pink and purple, layers of blooming hearts create the cap, bursting from the glass bottle and exploding into your world. The bottle comes with a collectible crystal key and heart charm from Justin.”

Treat yourself to a special vintage tea set

Nothing says English summer elegance quite like afternoon tea with a vintage style china tea set, with cakes and pastries displayed beautifully on a cake stand, a large pot of freshly brewed tea and a leisurely gathering of friends or family. I’ve been collecting my tea set for a little while, from charity shops and other vintage finds from various websites, it’s somewhat miss-matched which is all of it’s charm and makes it easy to add to, and replace in case of accidents.

There are now so many places to find vintage style tea sets online, and teatimecakestands.co.uk is a great site that combines them all into one easy to search shop so that you can find that exact piece to complete your set. Here are some of my favourites…

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So many stawberries, so little time

This week we have a real glut of strawberries in our house, with several plants in the garden producing handfuls or ripe fruit all at the same time, plus hubby picking up a couple more punnets down the local shop on special offer, I need a plan to get through them all and enjoy every delicious mouthful.

So here are a few ideas for very easy and quick strawberry recipes, or you could just smother them in whipped cream and crumble a chocolate flake over the top – heaven!

Eton mess

Eton mess – whip some cream in a bowl, crumble in some shop bought meringue nests, add handfuls of chopped strawberries and stir.

Chocolate Strawberries

Chocolate dipped strawberries – pick some large strawberries with the stems still on and make sure they are completely dry. Break up some chocolate into small pieces and melt in the microwave for 20 second intervals until melted. Dip the strawberries into the chocolate holding the stem, place them on greaseproof paper in the fridge for 30 mins to harden.

Strawberry cocktail

Strawberry cocktail – chop some strawberries into a bowl, add some icing sugar to taste, them crush with a potato masher or blend into a puree. Pass this mixture through a sieve then pour into a glass until half full. Top up with champagne or sparkling wine.