My chocolate orange cake recipe and other fun things…..

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I love Easter here in LW.  There are a set of rituals and traditions that have been built on year on year that make the extended weekend something of a marathon celebration.  An excuse for a three night / 4 day party with friends; late nights, live music, over indulgent food (chocolate) consumption and so much dancing and laughter my belly hurts.  Tuesday has become a day of recovery.

music beer walkThe Music Beer Walk weekend centred around the Neuadd Arms Hotel took centre stage for much of the weekend.  Friday/Saturday/Sunday evening and even some of those afternoons too.  There was a wealth of communal singing and playing with informal jamming and plenty of musicians and punters just having a good old knees up … there were some ‘proper’ performances too.  Great Irish/Welsh folk music by Pretty in Pink; acoustic folk, pop, rock, blues covers by String Motion; and good old electric rock and blues with Dangerous Dave and Friends.

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Between sessions in the pub were indulgent roast dinners with our boys , their partners and friends;  board games; Easter egg hunts (yes 20 and 30 year old ‘children’ do still want you to hide chocolate around the garden for them to find) .  The only difference is there’s more swearing; harder hiding places and some serious negotiations and power plays when the final bounty is collected and compared!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEaster Sunday always comprises of our friends annual egg rolling and feasting afternoon.  We (friends of all ages from toddlers to retired) gather and colour in our designs on hard boiled eggs over cups of tea.  We stroll to a local hill, scramble to the top and hurl the eggs down.  If yours doesn’t break then its back up the hill for you.  Last one to break or furthest unbroken egg after four or so assaults on the summit DSC_0249wins a prize.  Its then back to their house of a  heavily chocolate based buffet to which we all contribute (this year I made a chocolate orange cointreau cake  – recipe attached); we all help hide eggs around the garden for the little kids and then we pass the rest of the afternoon playing silly games – egg roulette, egg catch, hula hooping the maltesa slide and various other made up games that generally involve chocolate.

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Anyway, here’s me with a rather handsome Easter Bunny….

…and here’s the recipe for my chocolate orange cointreau cake (other orange liqueurs are available)….

Chocolate Orange Cointreau Cake – easy peasy to make

9oz self raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

6oz caster sugar

4 eggs

rind and juice of 2 oranges

1oz cocoa

5oz sunflower oil

2 tablespoons golden syrup

4oz plain chocolate (grated)

6 tablespoons cointreau

place all the ingredients in a large bowl and blend well for a few minutes.

line a loose bottomed tin , pour in the mixture

bake on a gas 3/320F/160C for 45 mins or until risen and away from the edges

cool.

eat!

you can thank me later……

How did you spend your Easter ?

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Spring, St Davids Day and the sunshine flower…

Daffodils - Wordsworth

art, painting, snowdrops
acrylic painting of snowdrops by me

It’s supposed to be Spring, yet (and not for the first time at this time of year) it’s snowing, halting the daffodils in their push to shine bright in our gardens and roadside borders.  Its rare, to be fair, for us here in Mid Wales to have many, if any daffodils in flower for St Davids Day , 1st March.  Yet every year, as the daffs begin to poke their snouts out of the cold ground in January we hope impatiently and unrealistically , that they will be bobbing their sunny heads in the early days of Spring, before winter has said its final farewells.  They never do.

So today, the very last of February , there is a blanket of snow covering the grass, hiding the daffodils with their still covered heads, and camouflaging the snowdrops.

Tomorrow is St Davids Day, and living here in Mid Wales for the last 13 years , it’s pretty hard to ignore.  Why would I want to anyway?

So who is this St David you may be asking…. (or not, but I’m going to tell you anyway).

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Well here is the handsome chap….. depicted in this lovely stained glass window from Castell Coch in Carmarthenshire

David was a Welsh bishop of Mynyw ( now St Davids, Pembrokeshire) during the C6th.  He lived from 500 – 589 AD and died on the 1st March that year. He was canonised in the 1120AD by Pope Callixtus II and since then 1st March has been a festival day to celebrate him; St Davids Day, Dydd Gŵyl Dewi.

He was born to an aristocratic family in SW Wales, descended from the royal house of Ceredigion..   He was a teacher, highly disciplined and during his life helped found a dozen monasteries in all.  He founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) in Pembrokeshire (where St Davids Cathedral now stands).

The Welsh (quite rightly in my opinion) think St Davids Day should be a National Holiday as is St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland and St Patrick’s Day in Ireland. In fact cross-party support resulted in the Welsh National Assembly voting unanimously to make Saint David’s Day a public holiday in 2000. A poll conducted for Saint David’s Day in 2006 found that 87% of people in Wales wanted it to be a bank holiday, with 65% prepared to sacrifice a different bank holiday to achieve this.  However a petition in 2007 to make Saint David’s Day a bank holiday was rejected by the office of the then PM Tony Blair (grrrr).

The national symbol being the leek, The 7th century king of Gwynedd, Cadwaladr, is said to have ordered his men into battle wearing them for identification purposes.

Back to the Daffs.  The daffodil is the national flower of Wales, the origins of the national flower of Wales appears to be as an attractive interloper, introduced during the 19th century, as a replacement for the humble leek. David Lloyd George, the only Welshman to serve as PM, was a public advocate of the daffodil and its appearance in early spring as a symbol of nature’s optimism neatly coincides with St David’s Day on March 1.

So there you have it, whilst we have no daffodils in flower here at Cerdyn Villa yet, there are plenty , I’m sure, in full bloom in England.  there are certainly loads in the shops but I shall wait until my garden is abundant with them.

In the meantime I’ll make to with the stained glass ones I’ve been working on.

stained glass, welsh, daffodils for St Davids Day

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Spring may not have sprung yet – but its definitely in the air..

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The weather these last few days has been truly gorgeous: ice cold, fresh, still and sunny. The perfect type of Winter day on the cusp of Spring.  The perfect days for pottering about, tidying stuff up and chopping stuff down.  The perfect type of day for pottering about in the garden.

Cerdyn Villa is showing signs of new life and fresh activity.

I’ve been pruning and tidying and Hubby has been putting his new Christmas present to the test and is chainsawing up the trees we had cut down in Autumn, ready for stacking and drying.  In Winter 2019 they will provide our central heating.

New hens have arrived.  The two older girls, Tammy and Heather (the white one) have settled in and are free roaming alongside all the others in our clutch.

The four new Ayam Cemanis (our Goth girls and boys) are a tad too young to put in with the rest of them.  They’re not yet old enough to lay.  Only 13 weeks old.  One is definitely a cock and that’s fine – he can have his own hareem , but if there’s another cock he’ll need re-homing otherwise all hell will break loose.  I’ve got a few weeks before I’ll know and a few more before I need to worry, but just in case, I have a new home lined up .  In the meantime they’ve got their own playroom to explore

So…this conifer.. it was dying anyway…..I lopped off all the branches and then Hubby got out his new Parker ... we all love a good power tool and according to him this is an exceptionally good power tool..

Note : this post is neither affiliated to or sponsored by Parker Brand products, or anyone else for that matter ; all comments and opinions are, as always, my very own.
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