Sweet Indulgence – A Key Lime Pie Birthday In Cornwall

Key Lime Pie In England - John Winchurch

I’ve always been a cake fan when it comes to birthdays, but after last week, I think some of the best birthdays may be those that begin and end with pie. Such was our day last Friday when we had a breakfast of coffee and homemade Key Lime pie for John’s birthday.

Later on we split a slice for a snack and then finished off the rest of the pie after a lovely dinner at the recently revamped St Mabyn Inn which is definitely going to be one of our new go to places in Cornwall.

In between our marathon pie moments we went out for a bit of exercise and managed to visit Trerice, one of our favorite local National Trust properties for a walk and a bite of lunch, (but no pie) as well as a seaside visit in the afternoon to the beach at Bedruthan Steps. 

We took loads of pictures if you want to have look through to see what a warm day in late September looks like in Cornwall.

Trerice, Cornwall UK - Elizabeth Harper

First stop as I mentioned was Trerice, a Elizabethan manor house near Newquay. It’s always gorgeous even in bad weather and I’m never surprised to see something new.

Well, almost never.

Gates at TrericeWhile backing up to get a shot of the house through the gate, I captured one of those unexpected finds I sometimes experience on outings with John. ( See photo below)

John Winchurch - Trerice - Elizabeth Harper

Yep! That’s the birthday boy jumping into my shot. It’s good to remember that playfulness doesn’t end at a certain age.

Trerice- Garden View of House - Elizabeth HarperI am not sure there is anything to say here other than oh, or maybe ah! Except that I think this was the prettiest Trerice has looked and it was a perfect place to begin our day out.

Trerice Front Garden - Elizabeth Harper

Thinking Spot - ELizabeth Harper

 There are benches all around the grounds that call out to you as you walk past … Come on over, rest a while and think about life.

Resting At Trerice - John Winchurch

After lunch I spent some time inside the manor house while John moved quickly through it and on to a bench in the garden to soak up some sunshine. If it’s sunny and I can’t find him this always the kind of place I look. He likes to pause for sunshine break and would tell you that he prefers to get his Vitamin D the natural way.

Bedruthan Steps -Elizabeth Harper

Not long after finding him in the garden we were walking down the path at Bedruthan Steps, a place that will always have special memories for us.

Bedruthan Steps - Elizabeth Harper

Beach at Bedruthan Steps - John Winchurch


Elizabeth Harper

John Winchurch - Beach at Bedruthan Steps

Sorry this one is a bit in the shadows. I’m still learning to use my new camera and it was so bright outside I did not notice the image  was too dark. It’s a cute one of John though so I wanted to post it. This was where he was standing when he took the two pictures of me above.

We stepped through an opening in the rocks as the tide was going out to find this little private beach spot. The Cornish coast has loads of lovely places like this with few people.

Steps to Beach at Bedruthan StepsAfter swishing through the water a bit and drying our feet in the sun it was back up the long set of steps.

Bedruthan Steps - ELizabeth Harper

A last look back before heading home and dinner at the St Mabyn Inn.

Key Lime Pie

The ‘ before ‘ shot of pie that was gone in a day. I can’t believe we ate the whole thing.

Christmas 1942 – Somewhere In England

152nd Station Hospital -1942

I found this tiny program in some of my great-aunt Wylly’s things when I went to see my cousin, McKenzie last summer. I had a whirlwind trip where I scanned photos and documents for most the time I was there. It was a quick overnight visit with me quietly scanning through the night while the rest of the house snoozed. Aunt Wylly was my writer aunt that I’ve mentioned before and sweet to me like a dear old grandma. She was McKenzie’s great-grandma and after McKenzie’s mother died suddenly a few years ago, she’s been the one to keep the family history safe.

Going through things quickly, I learned a lot about my family I hadn’t known. This Christmas menu and program from 70 years ago was tucked in a box, no doubt saved by Aunt Wylly who left a serious paper trail. I knew my Uncle Tom had been in the army, practically everyone called him Sarge when I was growing up so it would have been hard to miss, but I did not know that he’d been in England during WWII. Finding this little treasure from 70 years ago left me with loads of questions with no answers. I gleaned a bit online, but I’m hoping a older relative or adult child of someone who might have served with my uncle will see this post and get touch with me.

Thanks to the internet I was able to learn where the 152nd Station Hospital was located, and found that my uncle was in Bristol, about a 14o miles from where I live now. Frenchay Hospital was much smaller before the Americans arrived in 1942 and they added more buildings to make a medical complex that is still in use today.

I wish I knew more about his life and his time in England during the war. My husband, John was less than three months old when Uncle Tom sat down to the Christmas dinner you see on the program below. Given the shortage of food and rationing going on in England at that time, Uncle Tom’s Christmas dinner was likely much better than what the English were having that year.

Christmas Menu 1942 152nd Station Hospital

Since I’m talking about food and family, I thought I’d share a bit of our Christmas day with you.

Christmas 2012

Our Christmas dinner, the American version … no roast potatoes, sprouts or parsnips. I like them, but I wanted a more familiar taste of Christmas and John was fine skipping them this year. He cooked the turkey and made the gravy, I made the rest from handed down family recipes. We did have the English version of pigs in a blanket which were wrapped in bacon versus biscuit dough.

Christmas 2012

That pink mass before you is a cranberry congealed salad. It stuck a bit in my jello mold so it’s not very pretty, but it was tasty. This traditional Christmas salad has been the subject of a great deal of ridicule from John. I get that congealed isn’t a very appetizing name for it, and that it tends to look like something that has already been eaten once, but it reminds me of my step-mom, Cullene and it’s very special to me. John thinks it is very similar to what they call a blancmange (sounds like bla-monge) which does sound a bit more grand. He had a decent sized portion with his dinner so I think he may be getting used to it.


Here’s a shot of John waiting patiently for our present opening to begin. I’ll be back with another post on gift-giving as I received something very special from him.


Since we’re talking about food in this post, here’s a shot of me with one of the carrots I took on our walk to the pub for our traditional Christmas drink. The couple that own our village pub offer everyone in the village a free drink on Christmas day if they come in on regular basis. I was carrying carrots hoping we might come across a moorland pony or two, but we stayed in the lanes on our walk making it less muddy and we bypassed the moor and the ponies. I did get lucky though as you can see below.


This sweet horse was having a Christmas walk and had the benefit of the carrots in my pocket. Murphy munched them down pretty quickly and we went on to the pub.

Thomas Franklin St John

Thomas Franklin St John

I’ll leave you with this photo of my great-uncle Tom taken in uniform. I don’t share any of his DNA as he’s my uncle through marriage, but it’s kind of nice to feel a connection through both our military (Army) ties and our Christmas dinners in England.

If you’re visiting older relatives this Christmas … ask them about their life or you may be sorry later when they’re gone. 

You’re Never Too Old For A Party … Now Make A Wish And Blow!

Earlier this year I had a conversation with my husband, John about his birthday and what he might like to do to celebrate it properly in the way one does a significant birthday, particularly those ending in a zero.

When you’re younger the zeros don’t matter as much as the life events that certain birthdays mark such as those that make it possible to drive a car or vote. Others may remember the birthday that allowed them to buy their first alcoholic drink and belly up to the bar legally but birthdays ending in zeros seem to be most noteworthy after a certain age.

For most of us, it begins with 30 and the recognition that we’ve arrived there faster than we’d imagined we might. After that it can feel like it’s just an eye blink or two before we’re talking about retirement plans with our girlfriends instead of our plans for the weekend.

Although John retired from the television industry at 51 after being offered an early pension, he’s been very busy in the years since buying and renovating houses before selling them on. He’s not really lived the life of a retiree, or at least what I used to think that life might look like and he’s inspired me to rethink aging and the possibilities for my life.

He didn’t want a big birthday party opting instead to have a smaller gathering with family. He picked out a rental cottage in Dorset and we spent a fun week exploring the surrounding area. The first few days saw all the family together in the five bedroom cottage and the last three we had it to ourselves.


Since it was a significant birthday celebration, I wanted to have a bit of decoration so I bought some paper bunting I saw on the store shelves last summer for the Queen’s Jubilee celebration. I tucked it away knowing I was going to use it later to display photos from John’s life. I went through hundreds of images and used about 300 that I cut or tore and glued to the precut bunting. I did this on the sly so he had no idea what I was doing or that I even planned on decorating the cottage.

I hung the bunting when he went left to pick up Rachel, his youngest, and her two daughters at the ferry. It was very late when they arrived as the ferry was delayed so when they came into the cottage he was aware that I’d decorated, but he didn’t notice what it actually was beyond some colorful bunting.

We barely had time to speak as I went upstairs to help Jersey Girl get ready for bed while Rachel carried an already sleeping baby to her room hoping not to wake her.  As I was tucking JG into bed and giving her a goodnight kiss, John came in with a sweet smile and said that he’d sat on the sofa and glanced up at the bunting and noticed the name of a boat he recognized and as he stood up for a closer look, he saw he was in the picture and then realized that he was in all the photographs.

Chestnut Cottage, Rodden, Dorset

I cooked a big Italian dinner on the second night beginning with stuffed mushrooms and a hot artichoke dip before moving on to a spicy lasagna, with salad and garlic bread. I had a simple floral centerpiece, but it made the table seem crowded so you can only see it in the first photo.

We finished later with a yummy carrot cake that I made from a recipe given to me by my friend, Scott. It looks kind of funny because I baked it at home and made the frosting at the cottage, but it still tasted amazing six days later when John and I had the last of it.

Wishing On Birthday Candles … Do You?

I kind of insisted on candles on the cake which is the reason for the bossy sounding title of this post. I’m a firm believer in making a wish on your birthday no matter what your age. John was a good sport about blowing out the candles, but he didn’t make a wish.

Later in the evening I snapped a photo of some of the empty bottles by the door … I think they may have added one more after I took this.
John received some lovely gifts, one being a weekend away in Wales that came from his daughters. They scheduled it for our wedding anniversary weekend so I get to enjoy it too! His brother, David gave him a Magnolia tree and I had something special made for him that I’ll show you in my next post.
Party Favors
I was so focused on food that I had to forgo a cute idea that I thought of too late to complete. Given a bit more time, I would have framed a tiny photo from the past of John with each person at the party and used it as a place card to show where people should sit at dinner. It would have been nice party favor to send home with them afterwards as a reminder.
My Gift  … Here’s A Hint
Don’t forget to come back and see what I gave him. I think you are going to like it.

Celebrating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee & The Stories Within The Story

Yesterday was a big day for many in Britain as people across the country rolled up their sleeves and created a huge outdoor party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

There are those who think the time for a monarchy has passed and they were noticeably absent, but I enjoyed the afternoon’s festivities and the opportunity to get know some of my neighbors a bit better. There were games for all but with a focus on the children and the food we brought to share was bountiful and delicious.

We had gorgeous weather yesterday which was much appreciated especially by the people who had worked so hard to make our village ” block party ” a huge success!

Going through my photographs from yesterday’s celebration, I kept seeing images that while they were clearly taken at the two events I attended, they had the appearance of another story, one with details not as obvious as the reason we were all together and some that were completely unrelated.

Ten years ago Britain celebrated the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. I was aware of course, but I wouldn’t visit the UK for the first time until the following summer in 2003 so it didn’t mean as much to me then. I admired the Queen though for a variety of reasons and marveled even then at how much she managed to do at 76. Ten years later she seems to have barely slowed down.

If you had told me in 2002 that I would be here for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, eating Pavlova and singing “God Save The Queen,” I’m not sure I would have believed you, but I would have certainly considered that it might make a good story.

Dora got into the spirit with a few banners to dress up her look a bit.

My sweet tooth and camera went into overdrive with all the colorful cakes and pastries decorating the long table.

I missed the Empire Biscuits when they made it to the table. Interestingly, these were called German biscuits until WWI when they were renamed.

My friend Tina … taking a break from watching the Saffron Maids dance.

The Saffron Maids like to get the audience involved in the dance and you don’t need to be a maid to participate.

For some strange reason this dance made me think of A Chorus Line.

This Pavlova was my favorite thing … I understand why people rave about Pavlova so much now.

Sublime Doughnuts Voted Best Bakery In America – Is World Doughnut Domination Next For Kamal Grant?

Chef Kamal Grant - Owner Of Sublime Doughnuts

Last summer I spent a few extra months in Atlanta trying to sell my house. Due to the huge slump in the housing market, I did not find a buyer. I did however discover a special bakery only two blocks away.

I wrote about my Sublime Doughnuts experience after meeting with my friend Kimberly Krautter to sample a selection of the yummy and unusually named doughnut treats. You can read more about my sweet send off last summer and Kamal Grant’s recent Best Bakery in America award, but you do so at your own risk.

Don’t say I didn’t warn because you’re going to have a craving that might be impossible to satisfy … at least until you get a chance to bite into one of these lovelies.

Elizabeth Harper, Kamal Grant, & Kimberly Krautter at Sublime Doughnuts in Atlanta Georgia

After reading about the recent opening of a Sublime Doughnuts in Bangkok, Thailand, I’ve decided that it might be a good time to make my  move if I want to try to bring a Sublime Doughnuts franchise to Cornwall.

Hmm … I wonder how Brits feel about doughnuts?

Forget The Dog Chew, Just Pass Me A Pint

There’s something special about a place where even your dog can have a seat at the table. I had to take a photo last week when I walked past a family having lunch in our village pub and saw Maisie sitting there like she was waiting for her order.

Interestingly, while dogs are allowed in this part of the pub, children are not. There’s a special family room for people with children under thirteen and yes, dogs can go in there too.

I love this picture … I can almost hear the man saying, ” No Maisie, you may not have a pint. I told you before we came, you can have the dog chew the barman gives you, but no beer, not after the last time! “

Making Space For Something New

There’s an echo down the hallway that sounds empty and loud from where I sit as I write. What John likes to refer to as the ‘East Wing’ is being readied for demolition … well, parts of it anyway.

It’s actually the hallway that’s been emptied because it connects to a wall that won’t be there after Wednesday and … then there’s the kitchen too. It’s having a pretty major redo over the next few months and I’d like to share it with you.

Here’s a few before photos before I show you our breakdown in progress.

(The sink, dishwasher, hidden fridge, cooktop, and oven are staying in the same place. The countertop/worktop and the tile are going to be changed and we’re adding a new extractor fan/hood over the cooktop. The table and chairs in the photo below are being changed as well. We like the table, but not the chairs so they are on their way out. The table may stay … at least for a while.)

If you came for coffee right now you’d see a house with dishes and china scattered through several rooms. Our dining room table is dismantled and leaning against a kitchen wall, and spices and other foodstuffs are sitting temporarily on the coffee table in a space where they’re likely to have to be moved as the big work begins.

(The right corner wall is being taken out which will give us more room for the dining area)

What began as plan to open up a space and gain more room for the dining area has morphed into a major kitchen remodel. I am tickled to pieces having never had an opportunity to have a say in any kitchen design and my head is spinning now with possibilities and the decisions we need to make.

(John’s been taking things apart to get ready for the builders and in addition to our mess, you can see where the fridge and dishwasher are located.)

(The windows are being replaced along with the dated Artex ceiling and we’re adding hardwood floors)

Maybe I could run a few ideas past you to see what you think after I do some more research.

If you have a dream kitchen you’d like to share or maybe what you wish you could change in your own, leave me a comment or a link and I’ll put them all together in some posts to follow. As always, I appreciate your thoughts.