Thursday, 17 August 2017

Sunday Summary Thursday Thoughts | It's only forever // Not long at all ...*

* By way of apology for the un-great-ness of the lateness of this post, I'm reopening the Lyrics Competition. A chocolate bar will be due to the person who identifies these lyrics (UK only, sorry; chocolate just doesn't travel well).

(It's also a jammy way to see who's reading, these days. Not that I'm needy. I'm totes not. #totallyam)

Dear FOQ

My humble apologies for the delay in posting; life, y'know. It interferes.

But anyway, here we are.

This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading 📕

{The Secret of Crickley Hall | James Herbert}

... so I can 'imagine' Tom Ellis fighting the ghosties as I read ... le sigh ...

Also, this is a honking brutal doorstop of a hardback that I bought at the church Christmas Fayre last year and it's taking up too much space on my delicate shelves.

Writing ✍

... mostly garbage, but as I keep reminding myself, "QB, you're an editor, you can identify the three decent lines later in the process. Mmkay?"

Watching 📺

{How I Met Your Mother}

I love Ted Mosby (T-Mose), really I do; but ... how had I missed how misogynistic and sexist this series could be sometimes ...?


I couldn't help but wonder ...

... was I maybe overthinking the whole thing?

Listening 🎶

... to a lot of arbitrary playlists on Spotify; this album [Flight of the Conchords] was a particular treat to rock out to whilst baking (yes, I baked; scroll down for an account of, well, that time I baked):

Incidentally, for those of you lovelies who like a bit o' Spotify I'm making a rolling quirky brunette playlist. It won't all be Richard Marx ballads.

No, sometimes I might throw some Michael Bolton in there as well ...

I'm kidding.


Yeahbutnobut, I digress; somewhere in the realms of the Wurld Wyde Webbe there be the makings of a 30-day Music Challenge.

Like this one:

{Ugh, why are all these fun things so American-centric though?! Remind me to rekey this in UK English ...}

I should Take That Challenge.

Take That and Party.

OK, now I'm just going off on one.

*snaps fingers*

... and I'm back in the room.

The QB playlist. Coming soon. Probably. If I remember.

Snapping 📸

... or at least curating a photograph a day for the August Break project (initiated by lovely lady of blog-letters Susannah Conway). A full photographic review of August will rock up at the end of the month but the essence of the project is to post a photograph a day to a specific theme.

Some are much harder to follow than others.

Dragon, for instance.

And daisies.

In mid-August when it's more like autumn and there's but one pathetic daisy on the grass behind the building.

I'll have to think outside the box ...

Baking 🎂

Why, yes! Feeling motivated to bake one random evening last week, I set about crafting this rather splendid lemon and elderflower drizzle loaf (thanks to Emily for sending me this one)!


(It wasn't half bad. Zingy. And moist.)

Spending quality time 😊

... with cousin Jo who came down to sunny Surrey for a weekend and a now-traditional Harwood Yomp.

Jo arrived on Friday evening to find me elbows-deep in an assortment of saucepans, endeavouring to make a simple chicken tikka

(tell me what's wrooooooong)

masala and roast aloo gobi from the Miguel Barclay One-Pound Meals cookbooks: yes, there's a new one out!

As far as I know (and I hope I'd know) I managed not to give either of us food poisoning so I chalk that up as a win!

During the week I'd also managed to make, from the new book, an asparagus lasagne wrap which was delicious, but which I ate much too quickly:

But I digress. One (extremely hard-earned) bottle of Prosecco later (well done, Jo, for opening it, eventually, and curse you, M&S, for your corks that are fit tighter than a childproof cap on a 1980s pill bottle) we were enjoying the finest 80s music on YouTube (most of which comes with a video based on a classic 80s film).

(Except this one. This one just features random shots of Agnetha Fältskog which makes me wonder if Mr Blancmange here was actually stalking her ...)

On Saturday, bright and (probably much too) early (for a Saturday) we headed off for the heady hills of Reygate/Reigate/Rahgate (via Waterstones where I picked up yet another 'cook book'):

{Breakfast Love | David Bez – to embark upon once I've
finished up those variety packs, fo' sho'}

The route map below does not do us full justice. (It's mighty pixellated, for starters, and that's just not cricket.)

We hit up some serious hills (Wray Lane, Reigate Hill, the road home ...); we meandered off-route to take a good look at Reigate Fort, and we also went on the guided tours of both Reigate caves – Tunnel Road and Baron's Cave – and explored the Tunnel Experience museum. For which you have to (i.e. get to!) wear a hard hat.





Word to the wise, if a tour guide is talking, Jo and I agreed that it's polite not to talk at the same time even if it's to a) comment on your failing hearing aid; b) ask your bevy of small children not to talk either and c) tell aforementioned children how you want them to pose for a photograph.

Us, inwardly:


Anyway. Photographs! Allow me to share with you some magnificent photographs of our ...

... sojourn.
{At the near-beginning – Reigate Hill}

{Entering the Fort ...}

{The Fort and its environs were built in the late 1800s as protection
against a potential French invasion. Yeah. History. I gleaned some.}

{Reader, no, I did not lock her in.}

{There was a particularly decorative grate on the
windows of this outbuilding: an elegant rose motif.
Nobody knows why.}

{View over Reigate from the Fort}

We followed the fabled North Downs Way as far as the Inglis Memorial:

then cut off the walk and ambled like elegant mountain goats (OK, maybe not that elegantly) down the hill (with a breather break at the Simpson memorial obelisk):

past The Most Ridiculously Beautiful (and expensive) homes around (sigh), and into Reigate for marvellous sandwichy lunch at 'Beryl and Peg's' behind the station and no, peculiar people sitting beside us, 'Peg' is not short for Winnipeg.


Now. About the Caves.

They're not actually caves. They're sandstone mines.

That's a good thing. The sand in places is prehistoric and has in the past been mined to make glass. It's not damp down there, just very cold; no stalagmites or stalactites.

Just, epic sand, carved by hand into the caves you can visit today.

Factoids can be found here.

Tours are run on the second Saturday of the month from May until September; and on the first open day of the year this year, the caves were so busy that the WCMS (Wealden Cave and Mine Society), who run the tours, were turning people away.

Luckily, we timed our visit perfectly.

Arrived at the tunnel at 2.25; were able to join the 2.30 tour of the Tunnel Road Caves. Result.

{Phantom faces ...}
 A word about the graffiti: while it is now strictly forbidden to add to the graffiti (even touching the walls is rightly prohibited for fear of a collapse), the walls of both the Tunnel Caves and the Baron's Cave are decorated with carvings and signatures that date back centuries. The Tunnel Road Caves also play host to debris from the Victorian era; and there are indents in the 'ceiling' where bunks were installed as the caves were used as bomb shelters during the Second World War.

{I'm still trying to work out what this wonderful piece of ironwork actually says ...}

{Jo, ready for another cave tour!}

After being suitably stunned by the Tunnel Road Caves, we stepped into the Museum for a spell; it's an unassuming space from the outside but what a treasure trove it is inside!

Oh and yes, cue a hard-hat selfie:

{The Tunnel Caves were once used as storage for beers,
wines and other goodies.}

{Can't keep a Harwood from a bottle stash!}

{The Morrison Table Shelter}

{Aaaand ... we're back to those nightmares
where the only toilets you can find
are in full public view ... At least the ladies
had a cistern. The men had a trough and a line
of buckets ...}

We emerged, blinking, mole-like, into the August light (I'd say sunshine but that was fairly sporadic for most of the day) then, after realising the woman at the payment tent was not about to direct us properly to the Baron's Cave ("oh no, this is the Tunnel Cave; that coupon's for Baron's Cave": helpful, really helpful ...), I Google-mapped it (having completely forgotten where it was from the one time I'd made it into the castle grounds ...) and ... we embarked on cave tour numero dos!

{Our tour guide, Alex. Gotta respect a man
with a coffee in one hand, candelabra in t'other.}

{Uhm, so, this is Hector.}

{Back when Reigate was a mid-way stopping point for traders between
London and Brighton, folk passing through were encouraged to engrave their names
in the walls of the caves. Loving the 'pen'-manship here.}


{The walls are graffiti-d with all manner of historical icons: the eye
of Horus ... the CND logo ... centuries of history are here, not to
mention the depictions and imprints of animals from rabbits to horses.}

If you're in the area, the next Caves Open Day is Saturday 9th September, and Baron's Cave will be open during September as part of the free Heritage Open Days, although neither cave is expensive to tour even with a noisy bevy of small children in tow ...

We'd recommend it.

Speaking of recommendations, one of the volunteers at Baron's Cave happened to tip us off on a good place to find quality specialist beers and gins:

(Imagine my ears pricking up at the very word.)

The aforementioned Palace of Gin happens to be The Four Hops on West Street (just along from the Blue Anchor), where they serve a delightful range of gins including zesty local tipple Silent Pool, which I opted for; and lavender gin (i.e. nectar of gods and unicorns) Dancing Dragontail, which Jo selected.



We then made the walk back home, and made ourselves presentable before later heading out for dinner at Home Cottage.

Which was a bit nice.
Very nice.
Oh man alive, all the good food, all the time. (Pork medallions for Jo, pork collar for moi ... which came with a fried egg, chips and ... warm piccalilli. Bizarre but it worked.)
And the good wine. (A French wine named 'Jealousy'.)
And dessert. (Crumble for Jo, three scoops of ice cream for me. Chocolate. Honeycomb. Salted Caramel.)

Cue two Harwoods staggering home slightly pickled and about to slip into a Food Coma (well, I didn't even last till the end of the last round of the YouTube game: theme – 1990s).

In retrospect maybe the bread starter was too much but we managed. Oh, we managed. For we are Harwoods and Hardy of Stomach.

On Sunday, we drove to IKEA.

Because we're clearly secretly masochists.

But also, we appreciate good Scandi design.

And cinnamon buns.

We appreciate less, people who push their trolleys the wrong way round the warehouse. But hey. That's sacrilege anyway, amiright?

We Harwoods have exacting standards.

Thanks, Jo, for keeping me company last weekend!

Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight 📌

(I've just about forgiven them for their recent twerpitude ... An alphabetise-your-boards option would still be most welcome though, hint hint ...)

Fortnightly Web Finds 🕸🔎

(Yes, I'm still ploughing on with this segment. For how much longer I know not ...)

Serious(ish) 😐

Warning: introvert identification alert

• Why so many INFJs (helllllo) and INFPs are writers | on Introvert, Dear

Silly 😜

Food Fails! | on BuzzFeed | via Edd | Disappointments all round ...

This ice lolly is guaranteed to give Sis QB nightmares 4 lyf (so if you happen to be reading this, just ... scroll on by):

{via here}

• This amazing rendering of the Taylor Swift 'Blank Space' video featuring, er, Barbie and Ken (!) is just ... oh, it's worth the internet existing, OK?

by Sam and Mickey (of irreverent – and often very naughty – Barbie stop-motion fame). I think I want to be friends with these people. They animate toys.

Only the coolest, hippest folk spend time doing things like that. Right?


• This genius human known as TRONICBOX gives contemporary songs an 1980s twist | and yes, Loaded magazine, I hate to admit it but (adult) Bieber sounds ... not sucky as an 80s pop icon. | on YouTube | via Loaded on FB | via Emma J

Aaaaaand ... that's all I got.

Stay gold, Ponyboy.

Until the next missive (which I do believe may be a Bank Holiday Monday Missive) ...


qb xx