Blog No 148 – Overview of 2019

Happy New Year Everyone.

January

Harrods

As I was recovering from surgery last year on a special birthday. My husband took me to London this year to be a tourist for a couple of days.

Thriller Live at Lyric Theatre

We experienced some amazing food, indulged in breakfast at Harrods, saw the Thriller Show and visited a couple of museums. We have spent so much time in London on medical visits and never participate in tourist delights.

February

Hamish Being Cheeky

Hamish is a year old this month. Its hard to believe my ginger tom has been with us nearly a year. He’s so content with us and Lottie. He loves to hide behind walls or furniture to jump out on Lottie and then the big paw comes out. There is other times when they are kissing each other. The photo above, I found him in my hand basin, he’s never done that before. The photo below is the love they feel for each other.

Hamish & Lottie Kissing

March

RIP Auntie M

I lost an Aunt this month who was going to be 90 later in the year. She was an amazing woman, who had an interesting life. She was born In Ireland but spent most of her life in the U.K. She was 1 of 8 siblings and had 5 children in her family.

It was her time to leave us and to be reunited with her closest sister Auntie N. I’m sure they had a lot to discuss over a nice cup tea and a slice of cake. RIP Auntie M.

April

Main Bedroom Art & Lighting

The house renovations are starting to take shape. We provided a beautiful sized bathroom. Created a walk in wardrobe for our clothes etc. Additional storage for books etc in the hall.

Mr Zebrakat’s Section of Wardrobe.

The photo is only a small section of the wardrobe, it’s actually 4m long. I designed the wardrobe and Mr Zebrakat & my brother built it.

Plastered Walls

We are currently snagging the loft room(Office), 2 bedrooms and the bathroom on the first floor before making big changes on the ground floor. We have achieve a lot already, ripping the house up to its bear bones. Let 2020 make the ground floor spectacular.

Bookcase Built Under The Stairs

May

Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire

This was a fantastic month because I met fellow cancer friends K & H and their husbands. We decided to meet centrally due to my problems, therefore we met in Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire.

Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire

It was an exceptional weekend with excellent food and good company. We intend to do something again this year but H and I are currently having PRRT treatment. I will blog and update over the next couple of days.

June

Trevi Fountains

Ciao a tutti

We were in Rome this month for the first time in our lives. OMG everyone should go. You have everything in this city, weather, food, architecture and history.

Street Scene

We were going to surprise our American friends who are like family. They are two very amazing people with big hearts. We gelled with each other as soon as we met. The surprise was priceless and a memory we will remember for ever.

Spectacular Views

July

Test Results

This was the month of hospital appointments and visits. Pain was revealing itself in various locations of body. My spine was even getting in on the act but I will blog about that separately.

August

Kino Lounge

We went into Kettering, Northants one day and found this amazing restaurant that serves great food. The building interior is so amazing with the perfect ambience. It’s very laid back and has a mixed demographic.

September

Lottie become 9 years old, it’s hard to believe to be honest. She’s more clingy than ever. I also feel she knows when tumours are having the time of their life inside my body. She tends to sit on the exact spot. She’s such an intelligent dog and I can’t fault her. She’s honestly helped me through my illness.

October

Fruit & Vegetables

As I’ve been struggling with symptoms, I’ve decided to go vegan. I do have an allergy to cows milk anyway so 70% of the time I been having alternative dairy products anyway. Mr Zebrakat & I both started together then someone said to watch Game Changers on Netflix. Although I had made the decision to become vegan prior to the programme. The programme definitely opens up your mind.

However being vegan definitely makes me avoid cows milk in products. I feel we have both benefited from the change of diet. Not only does it have an impact on our health, we feel we are contributing to animals and the environment.

There is so many supermarkets doing vegan or plant based food to substitute meat/fish products. Restaurants nowadays are providing vegan menus with fabulous choices. I personally don’t miss meat etc and feel that I’m making a small contribution to animals and the environment including my health.

November

Jess & Ryan

This month we went to a stunning wedding in Cheshire. J the bride is the daughter of my best friend. I have known J since she was a small child and she’s grown into a beautiful woman & caring mother. We never expected to go to her wedding and we feel completely honoured to be invited. It was a stunning day and a wedding never to be forgot. J married the handsome R, her soulmate and I’m sure they will be happy forever. Congratulations to you both ❤️

December

Is about to start, yeahhhh

Following a recent scan and some tests results, My Net Consultant telephones me and informs me that I’m about to embark on PRRT treatment in February 2020. I will blog about this separately.

Weekly Blog No 139 – My Birthday

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

I’m falling behind again in my blogs due to symptoms. However I’ve made another birthday, how amazing is that. I have currently reached 5 birthdays since diagnosis, what an achievement.

Last year my birthday was post op, Mr Zebrakat decided to make my birthday this year a little bit more special. He had organised a weekend in London. Although it’s quiet difficult for me, I was up for the challenge. Who doesn’t like a change of environment and to feel normal again.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel in South Kensington adjacent to the museums. The hotel treated us like VIP guests. They also left me a bottle of claret, a gift box of spa products and a nicely handwritten card from the Hotel Manager. The hotel decor was stunning, the cleanliness was immaculate and the customer service was impeccable.

We went to V & A Museum, there is no way you could view all the exhibits in a day. The venue has 145 galleries, therefore an incredible amount of exhibits. From architecture, furniture to sculpture. Well worth a visit and a walk through history.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

On my birthday we went to see a West End show called “Thriller”. A spectacular show of Michael Jackson hits. The resemblance of MJ was unbelievable. The hits just kept coming and coming. The dancing phenomenal throughout the show.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

We also visited the Imperial War Museum, Lambert, an insight of war history. The museum exhibits WWI, WW2, The Cold War and the Holocaust and much more. I’m not sure if the Holocaust exhibit is a permanent exhibition but its anniversary is on my birthday, which I will never forget.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

One lesson that I had learned from Canada was we don’t explore our own country enough. In my past life, any opportunity for a break away from work. I would jump on a aeroplane and leave the country for sunshine & culture. Clearly forgetting that there is so much to see in the U.K. Canadians are fantastic at exploring their own country. I’m starting to realise now the U.K. has a lot to offer but it’s not always cheap. You need to shop around and grab online deals when you see them. It’s unbelievable that a city break in Europe is sometimes cheaper than a weekend in the U.K.

On our final day, we went to Harrods for breakfast. What a wonderful experience that was, the service was errorless. The food was of the highest quality, served on china. The tea set was silverware. The ambience of the room was art deco with background music of the rat pack. A divine experience on how the other half live.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my family & friends for cards, gifts, balloons and flowers.

To my awesome husband, for making memories, treating me like a queen and always putting me first in life. You are one of kind and I won’t let you forget that.

Love to you all.

Weekly Blog No 129 – Mary Berry’s Fruit Scones

Photo Credit Mary Berry

The other day I attempted to make fruit scones to have with jam and clotted cream. I chose Mary Berry’s recipe and added some photo’s of the different stages.

I also used mixed fruit instead of sultanas and used 100ml of milk and 50ml of cream. Thank you to P for the tip of using cream for a softer scone.

Ingredients

• 75g (2 1⁄2 oz) butter, chilled and cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing

• 350g (12oz) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

• 1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder

• 30g (1oz) caster sugar

• 75g (2 1⁄2oz) sultanas

• About 150ml (5fl oz) milk

• 2 large eggs, beaten

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C/425°F/Gas 7). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

Put the flour and baking powder into a large chilled mixing bowl.

Add the cubes of butter, keeping all the ingredients as cold as possible.

Rub in lightly and quickly with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add the sugar and sultanas. Pour 100ml (31⁄2fl oz) of the milk and all but 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg into the flour mixture.

Mix together with a round-bladed knife to a soft, but not too sticky dough, adding a bit more milk if needed to mop up any dry bits of mixture in the bottom of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, lightly knead just a few times only until gathered together, then gently roll and pat out to form a rectangle about 2cm (3⁄4in) deep.

Cut out as many rounds as possible from the first rolling with a 6cm (21⁄2in) cutter (a plain cutter is easier to use than a fluted one) and lay them on the baking sheet, spaced slightly apart.

Gather the trimmings, then roll and cut out again. Repeat until you have 10 scones.

Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until risen and golden.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Cooks in 10mins.

Approximately 10 Servings.

Weekly Blog No 50 – Oxford Canal 

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On Monday my husband took me to the hospital for my cancer treatment and blood tests. as we were there sometime discussing my current issues with my Net Nurse we had to rush home as there is about a 30 minutes commute to pick up Lottie (Dog) for her grooming appointment. As you can imagine after taking 2 pokes I was not feeling 100%, however I went with him for the fresh air as I seemed to be lacking the quality of outside air at this moment in time. Walking is an obstacle with my spine and GI issues…….all the fun of being a cancer patient.

Lottie attends a grooming shop in a semi rural area called Hillmorton Locks along side the Oxford Canal. This is one of those times when I kick myself for not exploring the area more in the past. It’s roughly a 5 minute drive from where I live now in Rugby and is only a 5 minute walk from where I previously lived. We get so wrapped up in our lives that we seem to dismiss what is right in front of us. Now that I want to explore, I cant due to my GI symptoms. Hopefully Oncology can get on top of everything so that I can reconnoitre.

The Oxford Canal was completed in 1790 and is 78 miles long in Central England. The canal goes through the counties of Oxfordshire, Northampton and Warwickshire, which connects to the River Thames and the Grand Union Canal. The canal was very important for trade between the Midlands and London, however the canal is more about pleasure today

oxford_canal_totalOxford Canal Map

Hillmorton Locks saw improvements in August in 1740 to ease the flow on the canal. By improving the locks there was an increase in traffic and a recorded 20,859 vessels passed through the Hillmorton Locks by 1842.

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Hillmorton Locks

Alongside the canal edge is the Canalchef Bistro offering a variety of drinks and food. Inside the Bistro is full of canal memorabilia and history.

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Full English Breakfast

The buildings next to the canal are early nineteenth century structures of red brick and slate roofs with architectural details.

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Blacksmith Cottage

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The bridge that links the canal side buildings and Hillmorton Locks.

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If you go under the bridge it leads to the boat yard

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Boat Yard

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A canal boat heading south.

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A canal boat moored at Hillmorton Locks.

images (1)Painted Canal Ware

An excellent example of British engineering and should be explored not only for a means of travel around the UK but for a possible holiday experience.

Weekly Blog No 45 – Family Tree Update 1

Family Tree

Over the last couple of years I have been in and out of researching my husband and my family trees. I would strongly recommend you concentrate on 1 family tree at a time for ease. I personally love a challenge, so I take on 4 family trees because of my inquisitive mind. I am flipping between them all and to be honest, I’m stark raving mad, however I do have the time.

My new hobby is proving to be costly, time-consuming and addictive. Furthermore it can be very frustrating if you don’t have patience trawling through realms of information. Whatsoever, If you don’t use your diligence along the way, you could inherit imaginary family members taking you down the wrong track. It still tickles me when I see family trees on a not to famous family research website, claiming to be my family members. I can imagine what they are thinking ” They have the same name as me, so let’s attached them to my family tree”. Cross referencing is the key to success.

My husband’s father side of the family tree seems to be the most successful so far. I have reach 7 generations back, I’m currently in the 1700’s. Its seems that his family originated from Ireland and moved to Scotland in the early 1800’s to work in the mines. In Ireland they were farmers/farm labourers went on to Scotland to be coal miners. I know some family members worked in the Glasgow ship yards but I am going up the line rather than being side tracked and going sidewards.

Miners

Photo Credit to Terry Harrison

I’m currently investigating the following leads to either eliminate them or own them. A family priest, a convict sent to Aussie on a convict ship and finally a family member connected with slavery. I hope not the latter and can’t see how its possible but still, you never know. This is were you see your researching is very important as you don’t want to be jumping to any conclusions.

Convicts

Some additional facts;

  • There is a trend of family forenames, J being the most popular initial.
  • His surname was misspelt approx 4 times over the years.
  • His Scottish grandfathers always married Irish woman.
  • His immediate family and previous generations always had a minimum of 7 children.

I will do another update in the future as there is some interesting family history.

Weekly Blog No 42 – Rejuvenating in the UK. 

 

There’s an air of excitement everyday, I just can’t explain it to be honest. It’s a good feeling to be back and even though my symptoms are not playing ball everyday it’s a wonderful feeling.

Lottie had a good flight and is still with the pet agent until we find a rental property. We didn’t want to pick her up only to board her somewhere else, we thought that would be too traumatic for her so the pet agent has her for a couple of weeks. I’m checking in with the pet agency all the time to make sure she is ok.

The shipping container hasn’t even left Calgary yet, therefore my personal processions may take a while. I will push this once we have a rental.  I don’t really want to have to buy replacement crockery, utensils and saucepans etc.

We have a hire car at the moment and intend to shop for cars within the next week or so. We are just being screened or referenced as they call the process here, for a rental property. J my husband commences work mid June after we have been to a family wedding. J does have a bit of a commute but he likes to drive. I hope he doesn’t get too tired as it could be a long day for him. I have located a GP (family physician) and I’m due to meet the nurse next week for an first assessment.

It’s 8.15am here, and I’m hearing church bells, what a lovely background noise. I am wondering is this a daily event or just on certain occasions.  The first thing we noticed being back is the number of people on this small island. Whilst at Gatwick Airport, I noticed everyone appears to rush everywhere. It was like a race to the conveyor belt for suitcases, don’t they realise that the airport staff don’t know who is standing at the conveyor let alone their names. Another thing I noticed was Gatwick Airport has new swanky toilet facilities, in the form of each cubicle. The cubicle is kitted out with a wc, washhand basin, mirror and hand dryer etc. It could be considered as a one stop shop of luxury, however people you need to respect things just a bit more. Wherever I went in Canada, I never found a dirty washroom, no tissue on the floor, no dirty loo, no water all over the floor and certainly they didn’t stink of urine. I’m not sure if it’s volume of people or people’s behaviour.

A sea of green, OMG I can’t help but love all the green in the UK and that’s a funny statement when I have just returned from Canada. In Canada, we only have about 4 months of green,  the other 8 months consisted of either white or a brown landscape.

Shops, supermarkets, cafes and pubs. I’m in a complete frenzy with the choice here, its incredible. My taste buds are doing hoola hoops with excitement. Pub meals, 2 main courses for $8.49, that’s just riddicous.  Mobile phones (cells) not paying to receive calls and you get free this and free that for £20 a month. Magazines I’ve already got through 4 this week, oh no my paper addiction is back. We have booked in for some beauty therapy next week, just as a form of relaxation.

Most of all, family & friends, OMG it’s so good to see them and be so near…..I do believe that is the best medicine anyone can receive.

Weekly Blog No 39 – Canada to UK

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After recent events, my husband and I have decided to return to the UK.  I know that family & friends are excited  about our return, however we have many friends here in Canada that are saddened by our news. If you had asked me 9 weeks ago if I would return to the UK, I would have said no and laughed at you. Life has a way changing the direction you were travelling, some people don’t adapt to change nevertheless I like change. I’m a big believer of fate and this is one of those incidents that I think fate is involved 

Are we sad to leave Canada.

Yes, there is so much we love about Canadian life and to be honest there’s too many to list. I’m sure Canadian culture will play a big part in our lives in the future, from barbecuing to Canada Day. How could you possibly forget Canadian culture after living here for 6 years. Every international sporting event, I will be cheering both sides of the pond.

Are we looking forward to returning to the UK.

Yes we are, to be nearer to family and friends is huge, however we will miss our friends here who have become our Canadian family. They have been my emotional support since my cancer diagnosis and that is a gift to never be forgotten.

I do believe my life will be different in the UK, I feel like I’m just existing here from one appointment to another. In the UK, I will have more people who will be able to see me during working hours and even attend appointments with me on occasions. Should a miracle happen and my symptoms improve, I could maybe be able to return to work on a part-time basis, if not there is more opportunity for me to do activities to fulfil my time. I won’t have to rely on a car to go everywhere as most places will be within walking distance or public transport.

What are we both most excited about.

Family & friends of course, spending quality time together enjoying what the UK has to offer.  Travel was an enormous part of life before leaving for Canada, it was a case of people asking us, where are you going too now. Airlines in the UK, are considerably cheaper, offering more destinations making travel  more attractive. Although I could provide an itemised list, I would be here for hours.

Are there any concerns about returning to the UK.

Yes and no, health care is different in the UK, therefore it can be wonderful and frustrating at the same time.

What are we going to miss from Canada

I don’t think my UK bank account manager will be hugging me or asking if Lottie(dog) can come to our next appointment.

Beautiful scenery & open, clean and uncongested roads.
The phase “Have a good day”.

Speedy service everywhere.

Drive thru’s.

My Family Physician – I’m going to pack him into my suitcase, he doesn’t know that just yet.

Open plan houses, basement living,  his & her washhand basins, more than one washroom and upstairs laundry.

Lack of rain and blue skies.

Cheap gasoline/petrol.

More flexible business hours, for health care, shopping and banking.

Summary 

There are pros and cons to every country and I’m ready to deal with whatever is thrown at us.

Weekly Blog No 33 – British Slang 

I have been in Canada 6 years, yet I haven’t lost my British slang. In fact I have given a few Canadians a whole new dictionary of words. Being a Brit in Canada, it took a while just getting around the Canadian vocabulary so I can only imagine how Canadians seem to be confused with our slang words.

I thought I would provide a list of words and there meanings.

  1. Shambles – Plan gone wrong
  2. Loo – Toilet
  3. Do – Party
  4. Plastered – Drunk
  5. Her’s majesty pleasure – Prison
  6. Up the duff – Pregnant
  7. Nosh – Food
  8. Bees and Knees – Awesome
  9. Kip – Sleep
  10. Gutted – Devastated
  11. Starkers – Completely naked
  12. Bottle – Courage
  13. Doddle – Easy
  14. Ta – Thanks
  15. Off your trolley – Nuts, crazy or mad
  16. Posh – High class
  17. Full of beans – Lots of energy
  18. Dodgy – Not to be trusted
  19. Give us a bell – Call me
  20. A flick – A movie 
  21. Pins – Legs 
  22. Afters – Dessert
  23. Moggy – Cat
  24. Mucker – Pal
  25. Parky – Chilly 
  26. Telly – Television
  27. Tea – Dinner
  28. Pint – Beer
  29. Fit – Hot looking person
  30. Dogs breakfast – A mess 

There is hundreds of words, far to many to list, however I would love to know your thoughts. 

 

Weekly Blog No 14 – Landscaping

This week I thought I would share with you a project that my husband & I have been working on for the last few months. We have been lucky to endure some great weather to complete the hard landscaping, which we assumed was beyond our expectations for this year. I can only take credit for the landscape design to the yard, however my husband has done all the hard labour with some input from neighbours & friends on certain tasks.

In Canada, a yard/garden are pretty similar in design consisting of a deck, some planting and lawn area. Brits love a yard/garden to contain a patio area, lots of planting and a lawn area. Canada is the country of snow and freezing temperatures so when designing a yard/garden this has to be considered. Grass is only green for about 3 – 4 months before turning brown and laying underneath snow.

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The yard/garden before the work commenced.

Firstly we wanted a boundary fence to divide us between our neighbours and provide a screen of privacy. When this was installed I was able to give more thought to the overall landscape design. I was able to determine the position of sun throughout the day and also the potential shaded areas within the yard/garden. We decided to include a deck in the design even though the area is in the shade all day. We shall build the deck next year, as it adds value to a property in Canada and is a selling feature.

 

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The boundary fence in situ.

We wanted to add some Englishness into the design by inserting a patio area for entertaining. Therefore we used hard landscaping for the following purposes a bbq, table & chairs, comfortable seating and a fire pit for late nights. I actually designed the yard/garden around this area as this was going to be my most utilized space. I didn’t want the typical curves in the design but I did want to create some straight lines to dovetail the architecture of our house. As you will see from the photo below I have managed to design a patio area for our requirement, a lawn area, planting beds, proposed shed area and finally a proposed sun lounger area.

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The yard/garden starting to take shape

This area I am going to put raised planters/boxes along the fence line to grow vegetables

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My husband is completing the pavers around the planting areas and in the sun lounger area. We have more work to do and will complete the rest next year as we are satisfied with our achievements this year. We have to buy some additional yard/garden furniture to full the space as well.

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Weekly Blog No 3 – Baking Very Rich Brownies

Brownie Bliss

 

I have never cooked or even liked chocolate brownies in the past but this weeks challenge is in honour of my uncle. My uncle was an incredible man in the kitchen and he was always an inspiration in regards to food. My mum is another excellent home cook however I didn’t achieve the generic talent, yet I took home economics (cookery) as a subject at school. Let’s be clear about this, I’m not a disaster nevertheless I’m so much better being creative in other ways.

I could talk for hours with my uncle about food & cooking techniques and it wasn’t that long ago we were pondering over his cookery book collection. Just last year he sent a couple of cookery books, one being brownies one of his favourite cakes. When starting this weekly challenge I did wonder if I could be converted to love this cake too. I have to be honest it doesn’t float my boat at all, I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate. I would rather a lemon flavour cake any day, so maybe I should attempt a lemon brownie next time.

Here is the recipe for you brownie lovers from a British cookbook (inside the book my uncle has made some changes to the recipe).

Very Rich Brownies

200g Dark chocolate
100g Unsalted butter, softened
250g Light muscovado sugar
4 Large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
60g Plain flour
60g Unsweetened coco powder
Dark chocolate shavings to decorate
Whipped cream, to serve (optional)
A 23cm square brownie tin

Makes 20

Changes to the recipe by uncle T.

1/2 Teaspoon of baking powder to flour
Reduced 60g cocoa powder to 40g
Add 100g Belgian chocolate chips to the mixture before going into the tin

Preheat the oven to 180c ( 350F) Gas 4

Break up the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of steaming water and gently melt the chocolate stirring frequently. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool until needed.

Put the side butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and use either a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric mixer to beat until fluffy. Gradually beat in the egged then add the vanilla extract. Next beat in the melted chocolate. When thoroughly combined sift the flour and cocoa directly onto the mixture and stir in. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, spread evenly and level the surface.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until almost firm to the touch. Remove the tin from the oven.

Leave to cool in the tin before removing, cutting into 20 pieces and sprinkling with chocolate shavings. Serve with whipped cream.

Well I attempted the recipe yesterday and I soon realized that I was quiet skillful in the kitchen when weighing, measuring and mixing ingredients. Now here comes the disaster, the brownie tasted lovely, however out of the baking pan it did resemble a mole hill on a plate. I can just see my uncle laughing at me, my defence is “it was a British recipe that should have been cooked in a British cooker(stove)”. I won’t give up uncle T, I will attempt them again someday. Oh my, I will have to work on my baking skills. Home Baking 1 – Kat 0