Non-Jamaica Party

Anyone who read my Six on Saturday post yesterday will know that we were due to fly out to Jamaica yesterday. Plans got thwarted by Corona Virus and the holiday was cancelled, the same as thousands of other people during this time.

We should’ve been waking up this morning in paradise, but hey, we’ve woken up at home, safe and well and with our fur babies, and the sun’s shining so things could be a lot worse. Perspective is a great thing.

Still, I would love to see this place another time …

… and wake up in one of these cute beach bungalows.

We decided to embrace our non-Jamaica holiday with a Jamaican themed party for two at home. One of the major pros of lockdown, and in particular, being furloughed, is time. I find myself with lots of time to do things that I wouldn’t otherwise manage to fit in. In many ways, this is a good trial run for retirement! I spent some of my extra time over the past week planning and preparing our Jamaican party. I made and coloured in Jamaican flags, I researched Jamaican food and added it to our online shop, I made a Jamaican playlist on Spotify and I ordered Jamaican themed props!

Here we are channeling our inner Usain Bolts in the garden, modelling our Jamaican flag and Rasta hat complete with dreadlocks. No idea if the neighbours saw us, but I bet they were a bit confused if they did!

After this I set about preparing our exotic fruit platter for lunch. I had no idea that you heat up a coconut before preparing it (thank you Google!) It makes the shell come away from the flesh so you can separate them easily. This was followed by a protracted sit in the bistro (which, coincidentally I’m pointing to in my Usain photo) whilst listening to the aforementioned playlist in the sun.

When lunchtime came around I prepared beer can (bacon) sandwiches for lunch and we enjoyed them with Old Jamaica drinks and the fruit platter.

I know Nando’s Peri Peri sauce isn’t Jamaican (Portuguese I think) but I’m sure Peri Peri is popular in Jamaica and this is the only one I could get! I had the grape soda and it really got me in the holiday mood because the only time I’ve had grade soda before is in Orlando which, whilst not exactly on Jamaica’s doorstep, is a lot closer than we are here! Everytime I have it I can’t decide if I actually like it or not! It’s a very unusual taste which doesn’t resemble grapes in the slightest!

I really didn’t know if the Jamaican fruit flag would work, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

After lunch we whiled away the hours sitting in the sun, listening to Bob Marley and reading or playing swingball (another perk of lockdown – who knew how much fun swingball is?)

The menu for dinner was Jamaican jerk chicken with rice and peas and coleslaw followed by banana and rum cake. I found the recipe for the jerk chicken on the BBC Good Food website, but I have to admit that the rice and peas was from a packet. We didn’t have quite all the ingredients for the jerk chicken marinade but I cobbled it together. I blended a couple of spring onions, a small onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a splash of olive oil, a pinch of dried thyme, a splash of soy sauce, some lazy ginger, a couple of chillis, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a tiny pinch of Chinese five spice (it was supposed to be all spice but we didn’t have any) and then put a few slits in some chicken breasts and slathered them in the paste. It was supposed to have lime juice in too but we didn’t have any limes. Could’ve tried lemon juice I suppose. I left it in the fridge for twenty four hours to do its magic and then just bunged it in the oven for forty minutes yesterday. Et voila …

I made the banana and rum cake on Friday after I managed to finally get self raising flour – whoop! This was also a BBC Good Food recipe and it turned out pretty well. It didn’t taste loads of rum but there was a definite hint of the Caribbean about it.

Here it is just out of the oven …

… and nicely presented. I just shaved a few bits of coconut over the top, added the chopped banana and whipped up some sweet cream cheese ‘cream’ to go with it. Delicious!

You may have noticed the cocktails behind the jerk chicken. Well, you can’t really have a Jamaican party (even a non-Jamaican party) without rum! I had lots of fun pimping up our cocktail glasses (jam jars because we were jammin’!!!) with fruit, umbrellas, stirrers and little flags that I made.

Here’s the ensemble.

So there we have it. Our non-Jamaican party! It was lots of fun and now I’m going to attempt to spend the next week not thinking about what we would be doing in an alternate universe where we had got on that plane yesterday! I’m especially not going to think about that from Wednesday on when the weather’s going to take a turn for the worst. For now, I shall bid thee farewell and traverse to the garden for some sun while I can, and I may even take a cheeky slice of banana and rum cake with me. Happy Sunday all!

Six on Saturday 30th May – a Jamaican Affair

So right about now we should be about twenty minutes into our flight to Jamaica but instead, ‘wat a gwaan?’ That’s Jamaican for what’s going on? (apparently!) We’re having a non-Jamaican lockdown party for two instead. We’ve got Bob Marley playing on repeat, we’ve got all sorts of Jamaican themed food and beverages planned, and this happened in the garden earlier.

So I’ve decided that the theme for this week’s Six is yellow, green and black in honour of the Jamaican flag. Yellow and green is obviously easy to find in the garden, but I’ve had to be a bit more creative with the black!

First up is this lovely Pansy which is yellow and as close to black as you generally see in nature. I’ve added a lot of pots filled with bright bedding plants to the garden this year. It’s nice to have the time to spend titifying the garden at the moment (although I would really like some normality soon). At least the weather’s good so we can all get out into our gardens for some light relief (those of us that are lucky enough to have them, of course).

I’m counting this next photo as green and black (like the chocolate – yum!) Well, it’s green runner bean plants in a black flexi-tub! I hardened these off for a few days early in the week and planted them out on Friday. It’s my first time growing runner beans so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good crop. You can’t see, but I drilled lots of holes in the flexi-tub for drainage.

I may have included this Geum in a Six before, but it’s beautiful and it fits in with my theme so I hope you don’t mind seeing it again. It was a sale table find last year and, as so often happens with sale table plants, it didn’t do a lot last year, but this year it’s covered in flowers and the bees love it. My other Geum (Totally Tangerine) has just five petals per flower, but this one is wonderfully layered and was a real surprise because I was expecting similar blooms to Miss Tangerine.

Next I’ve included another green and black offering, my gorgeous Pittosporum. I’ve a feeling I paid full price for this because I just couldn’t resist the contrast of the two colours of leaf. It lives quite happily in a container by our swing chair so we can enjoy it while swinging (that sounds wrong!)

Here’s some green. These are Nigella seedlings that have, overnight, developed their first true leaves. I sowed these in a pot and they’ve been in the greenhouse ever since. I think I need to do some research to see if I need to thin the seedlings out. There are rather a lot of them.

I’ll finish with more yellow. I guess many people would count Buttercups as weeds, but they’re bright and cheery so I’ve left some of them this year. They remind me of my childhood too – who hasn’t held a buttercup under their best friend’s chin to find out if they like butter or not?

Right, I’ll get back to my non-Jamaican party now. It’s nearly midday so it’s almost acceptable to have a Pina Colada, right? 🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲

Don’t forget to pop over to see the Propagator for more (probably not Jamaican themed) Sixes.

Six on Saturday 23rd May

Here we are on Saturday again. I seem to be punctuating my weeks in Groundhog Day fashion, and this is the only way I know what day it is! If the good R.P speakers of the BBC are reminding me to go and clap at the door, it must be Thursday. If an email from the Propagator (check out his blog for more Sixes) arrives in my inbox, more likely than not, it’s Saturday and time to find photos and luckily I keep that in my mind long enough to video call our friends on Sunday evening to take part in our weekly quiz.

Anyway, the email arrived this morning so here I am again with the latest update from our garden aka our lockdown sanctuary. This week we’ve certainly been making the most of it. We’ve managed to almost break the swingball through, probably, too vigorous whacking of the ball (and so far replacement parts seem unobtainable so we may have to improvise) and we’ve introduced lots more colour and generally made the garden an even more pleasant and fulfilling space to be in than it already was.

This week’s Six are a tad eclectic so bear with me!

The common theme of the first four points is mail order! Is it just us, or is anyone else’s garage rapidly filling up with cardboard boxes from deliveries because there’s not enough space in their recycling bin and they can’t bear the thought of sitting for hours in a queue for the tip?

1. Solar powered lights from QVC. I discovered last week that QVC have gardening hours and I promptly spent lots of money! I think it was well worth it for these lights (although I do feel it necessary to point out that, good as they are, my phone enhanced the amount of light emitted in the photo).

I really love our little bistro, and we’ve certainly made good use of it these past weeks. A couple of years ago it was an overgrown mess, but I took a week off work and transformed it and have been slowly adding to it and perfecting it ever since.

2. Battery powered lights and bunting around our patio. We have a brick built, somewhat dilapidated, garage/storage area/gardeners’ loo next to our patio area and I decided it needed a bit of zhuzhing up.

I found the lights and bunting on good old Amazon, and with Prime they were delivered less than twenty four hours later. I decided to go for battery power this time because this area doesn’t benefit from being in the sun as much as the bistro so solar power may not have worked. I’m considering painting the bricks white to lighten up the whole area, but I’m still pondering on that.

3. Lazy Flora and Blooming Direct deliveries. I received a lucky dip box from Lazy Flora this week. I got an Osteospurmum, a Dianthus, two Pelargoniums, a Verbena and something unidentified which hopefully will flower and give me a clue.

The Osteospurmum, Dianthus, Verbena and John Doe I put in the planter above, which housed a very unsuccessful courgette plant last year, and I added a Cordyline which I picked up from Homebase last week, for some height. Although I watered the lucky dip plants as soon as they arrived, and planted them the next day, they don’t look overly happy! I’m hoping they’ll pick up with some tlc.

As well as the variegated grass at the front and the Silver Dust at the back (that’s gone a bit crazy), this pot originally had a tiny fir that should’ve grown to about two feet tall and a Heuchera. The Heuchera got dug up by something and died before I noticed and the fir was looking decidedly brown and sorry for itself so I replaced them with the final two lucky dippers, the Pelargoniums, and Grass Red Baron which was delivered by Blooming Direct. It doesn’t look very red at the moment, but if it thrives it should reward me with red tipped fronds.

4. A barbecue. We’ve been debating for the past week whether to get a gas barbecue or a charcoal one (as our old one was cheap and nasty and partly broke on the day we got it!) and today we finally decided to go for a charcoal one, so I nipped up to Homebase, and this is what I came back with! I did get the barbecue as well (and a pizza stone – very much looking forward to using that).

I bought a Lupin from Homebase last week when they first reopened and hubby has since declared it his favourite flower in the garden, so when I saw the one above on the sale table, I decided to rescue it for him. The flower that’s blooming looks like it’s past its best, but the leaves are fine and there are a couple more flowers coming through. There’s definitely plenty of life left in it yet, with care. The Campanula and smaller Dahlias will fill a space in the front garden.

I absolutely couldn’t resist this Dahlia. So beautiful and vibrant! I bought it its own new terracotta pot and I’ll plant it tomorrow and most likely it’ll get added to our bistro so we can enjoy it while we’re sitting in the sunshine next week.

This Gerbera also fell into my trolley. I love orange in the garden. It really pops. This really bright orange is opposite green on the colour wheel so that’s why it stands out so much.

5. Honeysuckle. This plant will forever make me think of Pooh Bear. When Pooh is stuck in Rabbit’s door on account of his stoutness, Kanga and Roo visit him while he’s waiting to get thin again, and bring him some flowers. When Roo produces them from Kanga’s pouch, Pooh exclaims ‘Honeysuckle’ and makes to eat them, but Kanga quickly puts him straight by laughingly saying ‘Oh no Pooh, you don’t eat them, you smell them’. ‘Oh’ says Pooh.

This one was a tiny plant when it went in the ground last year but it’s thrived and has produced its first flowers this year. I’ve got a trellis for it that I need to put up (also from Blooming Direct). It lives behind my raised strawberry bed, the idea being that it livens up the bare fence behind.

6. Another bee! I do like photographing bees going about their busyness (sorry!) but I often end up hovering, somewhat bee-like, for ages trying to get the perfect shot. Today, however, this bee flew over and settled on the very Lavender flower that I was taking a photo of. How very convenient and compliant of it! Maybe it was the one I saved a few weeks ago with sugar water saying thanks!

I love this Lavender – it reminds me of the Ugly Sisters from Cinderella (even though it is far from ugly!)

See what I mean?

I hope everyone’s keeping well and managing to get in lots of garden time. It really is good for the soul, especially at the moment.