Easier, better or both?


Yellow, Orange and Gold

The colour palette in our corner of Worcestershire is shifting again. Over the last few days the colour of the leaves on the trees around Bredon Hill has started to change into the yellow part of the spectrum. Autumn has started.

We popped into the Batsford Arboretum near Bourton-on-the-Hill yesterday. It’s a great place for tea or a light, informal lunch. They have a good selection of hot meals and sandwiches and there is usually a gluten-free option or two in their delicious cake selection. The restaurant is in a beautifully designed modern, wood and glass building. It’s light and bright inside and outside is large deck with stunning views of the Cotswold countryside.

We hadn’t planned going into the Arboretum, as we thought that autumn had not quite got going yet, but as we were there, we decided to go inside anyway. Good decision! It was a warm, clear, still afternoon and perfect for a walk among the trees. The aptly named Golden Mile was a spectacular succession of yellows, golds, bronzes and oranges, with bright red acers thrown in for good measure. The low autumn sunshine filtering through the leaves was quite breathtaking. We left feeling wonderful and so pleased that we’d decided to pop in and have a look.

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Nirvana at the Clover Mill

The Clover MillWorcestershire has a wonderful new spa, which nestles in an idyllic setting between Cradley and Suckley.  The Clover Mill is a very special spa. Arrive stressed and tense and leave feeling relaxed and wanting to learn a whole lot more about Ayurveda.

I approached the Mill along a little track then rounded a bend to find a Tudor cottage and a stunning Cotswold stone mill.  The grounds are beautiful – wild flowers, fruit trees and a lake.  There are three eco-lodges for those lucky enough to be able stay for one of the Clover Mill’s speciality ayurvedic, yoga or meditation retreats. Alpacas, bunnies and birds completed the picture.

IMG_0081The treatment rooms are in the lovingly restored water mill. The millstone, water wheel and mill workings are displayed behind glass panels en route to the steam room.  A biomass boiler supplies under floor heating. Once I entered the serene treatment room, the eco credentials of the spa became apparent. I was surrounded by natural materials; wood, cotton and linen.

Before the treatment began, a questionnaire and chat allowed the therapist to assess my “Dosha”. The questions were interesting and I was amazed at how well the assessment characterised me. The choice of oil and nature of the massage was tailored to my Dosha. I placed my clothes in a grass basket and popped on a crisply ironed sarong.  There was even a little box in which I could store my jewellery – a lovely touch.

Cotswold Stone WallThe massage was blissful. The oil was gently warmed and had the most divine, subtle aroma. A warm pad on the couch ensured that I remained toasty throughout. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had – the therapist has been doing massage for many years and it showed. She was technically superb, intuitive and passionate about ayurveda and it’s the focus on wellness.  Stress drifted away and muscles that had been stiff for months melted. At the end of the massage there was a warming cup of herbal tea.

After the massage I had a light, healthy lunch made by the spa owner, Julie, who is a passionate cook. Most of the ingredients for the meal were harvested from the garden. Julie had even gone to the trouble of whipping up some gluten-free courgette and pinenut muffins to accompany the delicious beetroot and elderberry soup. There was a divine lemon polenta cake to follow.

I left The Clover Mill in a warm glow, skin soft and lustrous, feeling relaxed, nurtured, happy and planning the next visit.


Crunchy Buckwheat Granola

Before the strawberry jam disaster, I did have some culinary success last week.

During the winter, I saw an interesting recipe in a newspaper using raw buckwheat as an ingredient. However by the time I’d managed to find a shop where I could buy raw buckwheat, I’d lost the recipe. Since then the buckwheat has been hanging out in the cupboard, looking for something to do.

Earlier this month we tried a gluten-free muesli, which was pretty good, but rather pricey (amazing how costly items become once they are labelled gluten-free). Interestingly the muesli contained buckwheat. I wondered if this would work in granola too, so I hit the internet in search of a recipe.Crunchy Buckwheat Granola

I found this super Crunchy Buckwheat Granola recipe on the “Kath Eats Real Food” website.

I made just two changes to Kath’s recipe – I substituted chopped, mixed nuts for the whole raw almonds, and sunflower oil for the canola oil.

For those with metric ovens, 300 degrees F is ~150 degrees C.

The granola was a great success – crunchy and delicious. If you use  gluten-free oats, the granola is gluten-free too. I’ll definitely be making this again & again. Now if only I could remember where I purchased that buckwheat ……??


Lunch at Tisanes

One of our favourite places for a light snack or afternoon tea in the Cotswolds is Tisanes, a super little tea room in Broadway.  We love the atmosphere, the food and the efficient, friendly staff. There is an entire menu devoted to loose-leaf teas and they have a good selection of coffees. We can’t resist the sandwiches filled with warm, runny brie, bacon and avocado. They do traditional cream teas and always have a good selection of delicious, freshly-baked cakes.  This is quite a special place if you are on a gluten-free diet. The sandwiches are available on gluten-free bread, and the gluten-free victoria sponge cakes, scones, toasted teacakes and other goodies ensure that tea-time is a treat for everyone.


Gluten-Free Banana Bread

I made some gluten-free banana bread today, with a couple of  over-ripe bananas that have been hanging round in the fridge for ages. The banana bread was easy to make, it had a super consistency and tasted gorgeous.

Recipe

1. Set the oven temperature to 175 degrees Celsius

2. Into a blender/food processor place:

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 60g sugar
  • ½ cup sunflower oil

3. Mix together until smooth.

4. Add the following dry ingredients to the above mixture:

  • 200g gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt

5. Mix again until smooth

6. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin

7. Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for 60 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

8. Leave in the tin to cool for a few minutes, then turn onto a rack to finish cooling.

Slice and enjoy.