Reclaiming Desert

I often watch TED talks and was recently fascinated by this one by Allan Savory, a biologist, ecologist and “holistic manager” of grasslands.

Reversing desertification – land turning to desert – has become his life mission after he made a terrible mistake in his early career as a biologist; while setting up national parks in Africa the land set aside began to deteriorate and it was blamed on elephants…

With a simple – oh SO simple – method, much desertification can be reversed with stunning speed. Climate CAN be changed – to the positive! If we can change microclimates on a large scale, we are changing macroclimate.

I found this talk informative, revealing and also very moving. So if you get a chance over the weekend, do take a look.

Allan Savory: How to green the desert and reverse climate change

The Day of the Girl

International Day of the Girl Child

(All photos in this post are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

For many years now I have been a supporter of Plan International, an independent development organization that promotes children’s rights and aims to end child poverty.

Plan has been calling for a UN day for girls for some years, and last December it was finally decided that today, October 11th, will from now on be the official UN “International Day of the Girl Child”.

Girls need to be given particular nurturing and support; in the past, too little attention has been drawn to the challenges faced by girls in developing countries.

Their role in the family can be a driving force, and if their rights are acknowledged, and if they are able to access education programmes, their influence can move mountains. They have the potential to teach – as mothers and sisters. And I am convinced that they have the potential to change injustices and prevent violence, to break down ancient taboos and end harmful cultural rituals, to open up society’s eyes to discrimination and the violation of human rights. By being empowered to participate in community processes and define their own futures, not only can they improve their own lives, but those of other members of their families, their communities, and indeed their countries. Their economic power must also finally be recognized.

I hope this day will be a step towards equality for girls everywhere.

If you have a couple of minutes, and you’d like to know more, take a look here at one of the links below.

 Thanks for reading this – I realise it is a little different from my usual posts, but this was – IS – important to me!

 Have a lovely day!

Incredible Edible

Todmorden, the north of England


A community project to grow food in every available space has taken off. Founded three years ago, “Incredible Edible” has planted fruit trees, vegetables and herbs in car parks, at roadsides, public parks… and all with volunteers alone! The produce is for the community to then harvest themselves.

Pam Warhurst, co-founder of the project, tells their story with passion and humour… Do watch if you have a moment. This is great stuff!

Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes


Todmorden Website


Queen’s Jubilee Pageant and a Sponge Sandwich Cake

Happy Diamond Jubilee weekend to everyone in the UK who has TWO days off work this week in Queen Elizabeth II’s honour!

Queen Elizabeth II

(Photo: Wikimedia)

Yesterday was the actual anniversary of her coronation, which she spent at the Epsom Derby, but today (Sunday 3rd) the water extravaganza is taking place on the River Thames in London. Hundreds of barges will sail along the river this afternoon, elaborately decorated and with great pomp and ceremony, to celebrate in style. The Queen and her family will be on the Royal Barge and will travel a short distance with the flotilla, before she disembarks to watch the water parade pass. Take a look at this lovely animated picture of the route.

My (edible) version of the pageant… 😉

I shall probably watch this on TV as it will be quite spectacular…

Queen Elizabeth is set to beat her great great grandmother’s record of 64 years on the throne. Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901 used to love a sandwich cake for her afternoon tea, which was hence named after her: the Victoria Sponge Sandwich.

I think we should change it for today, and call it an Elizabeth Sponge Sandwich!

Elizabeth (Victoria) Sponge Sandwich

  • 225 g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsps milk
  • jam for filling
  • two 20cm cake tins, greased and floured
  • A little icing sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 190°C. Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Gently fold in the sieved flour, baking powder and salt. Add the milk if necessary to achieve a “dropping consistency”, i.e. the mixture drops slowly off a spoon. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Spread one cake with jam and put the second cake on top, like a sandwich. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar as decoration.


I do believe you can’t get a more traditional British cake than this! I suspect Queen Victoria had Scottish raspberry jam in hers, although strawberry is also viewed as traditional. I didn’t have any strawberry left (making some next week!), so I used redcurrant jelly which gave a nice tartness contrasting with the soft and moist, sweet buttery cake.

Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

My 200th Post! (And a German Osterkranz)

Today I am celebrating my 200th post!

I’ve been blogging for just over six months now, and it has sustained me through a difficult winter. (My Irish wolfhound – the love of my life – has been quite poorly, and we have been confined to the house and garden since November.)

Not only writing, but reading other blogs has brought me immense pleasure and has inspired me in so many ways. I am extremely grateful to all those who read my blog and to fellow bloggers too. Thanks for the comments and for all the wonderful posts!

To mark this occasion a recipe of course!


I think the best translation for Osterkranz is “Easter Bread”. It is a very simple, light and only slightly sweet plaited bread with curd cheese (quark), but no yeast, in the dough. (If you have a really sweet tooth it can be sliced and spread with jam). It has slowly become a tradition for me to make it shortly before Easter, as a modest treat during Lent. And, as a good “Hausfrau”, I have to have something to offer my neighbours when they come for coffee on a Sunday afternoon! 😉


  • 400 g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 200 g quark (curd cheese)
  • 6 +1 tbsps milk
  • 6 tbsps oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80 g sugar
  • 2 tbsps vanilla sugar
  • Decoration if required (see picture)

Mix the quark with 6 tbsps milk, the oil, egg, sugar and vanilla sugar. Sieve the flour, baking powder and soda and stir half into quark mixture. Mix well. Add rest of flour and stir gently until thoroughly mixed. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a baking tray.

Divide the dough into three, and on a floured surface form each into a 50cm long roll. Place on the baking tray now, and plait the rolls on the baking tray (Easier than trying to transfer the whole thing later!) Form the plait into a ring. Mix the last tbsp milk with the egg yolk and brush over the bread.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Please help yourself to a piece… there’s enough for everyone!


Differing Opinions and Wise Words

I grew up during the Cold War. The threat of nuclear war seemed very real to a sensitive teenager like me, especially with all the media hype and films about at the time. Did that shape my opinions about nuclear power too? Or was it my love of nature?… Common sense?… Parental influence?… Idealism?…

There have been several articles in the international press recently, in view of the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, which speak out for nuclear power, despite what happened. I have read them and still cannot fathom why Germany’s decision to phase out all nuclear power stations by 2022 is so strongly criticised both in Europe and internationally.

Wise words: This article here reflects my views, and I believe those of many people – normal citizens – who do not have a financial or political interest in maintaining nuclear power stations.

Some of the Chernobyl radioactive cloud was blown over Germany and many other parts of northern Europe 26 years ago – in some areas it also rained…  this means, for example, that wild funghi here will be contaminated for hundreds of years. The nearest nuclear power station to us, as the crow flies (or as the wind blows), is about 60 km. Chernobyl was about 1,500 kms away…



My German friend Linde has always been delighted at my use of the word “lovely“.

“It’s so English!” she would say.

Is it? Perhaps.

Sadly, after 18 years of life in another country, speaking another language, I no longer use this adjective for expressing pleasure as often as I should like.

Yet I obviously THINK it; last week I had a lovely surprise: a nomination for the “One Lovely Blog Award”… and my first thought was “How lovely!”

I love this new world of words and pictures I have discovered in the last few months, and the support we all give each other is energizing and inspiring.

A very big THANK YOU to Strawberry Indigo at

for nominating me!

Strawberry Indigo is a wonderful writer and writes about so many different things; I particularly like her social commentary page, and her lovely posts on life in general, and plants of course … and the “fresh quotes” are great too!

The rules for this award are simple:

  • Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  •  Pass the award to other newly discovered blogs.
  •  Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I am passing on this award to three blogs that I have only recently discovered:

A Strawberry Patch

Wonderful photos and posts on nature and gardening, as well as some lovely poetry.


Green Tapestry

Anna writes about gardening and plants, with the added extras of  the occasional seasonal poem and lovely photos.


Lakeside Lane

Diane combines beautiful art photography with atmospheric and uplifting quotes. Simply wonderful. (Or should I say “lovely“!)


Have a look at all these sites, and enjoy some top-class pictures and prose!