Saturday, 5 May 2012

Our Love Still Blossoms

Today it is our one hundreth blog post here at A Tranquil Heart.  And it seems very fitting that at the same time, we should finally have worked out how to use the new Blogger interface!  He he!  We had been working in HMTL the whole time, having not seen that right next to the HMTL button above the window where you write your post, there is one called "Compose", and clicking on that takes you to a whole different setup, which is so much easier to use!   Papa Bear had a look at it today and quickly worked out what I had been doing wrong - thank you SO MUCH, sweet Papa Bear!  I cannot tell you how happy it makes me!

In fact I have lots of "thank you"'s to say to my sweet hubby just now!  We have been blessed to enjoy the most loveliest of days yesterday on our wedding anniversary, and I wanted to share some of the details with you today - partly so that I can preserve them in writing to read over again, whenever I want to be reminded of what a special day we had - but also because it was such a really very lovely day!  I promise to be quick and not to bore you ...

Our day started with Papa Bear surprising me with a beautiful gift- the lovely china set that you see in the picture up there.  Ohhhhh!  I was so happy and excited when I unwrapped it!  I had really not imagined that I would get any gift at all (this one isn't a "big" anniversary - not quite yet) so you can imagine my amazement when I saw such a huge pile of presents, all for me!  He had wrapped them all in paper with pretty red roses on it, which was a hint to what was inside (only I didn't realise it until afterwards!  I was too excited!).  I was so surprised when I opened the smallest box first, and found a sweet wee teapot - we have a big one for when we have company, which matches my second-best china set, that has hearts and chickens on it (you can see some of the matching pieces in photographs of our kitchen), but we didn't have a smaller teapot suitable for one or two people.  Well, we do now!  Along with that were cups and saucers, a milk and sugar bowl set, a dining set for four, and, oh, so lovely - a beautiful cake stand and matching cake slice, all in the same gorgeous "Rosa" pattern.  There is even a tea cosy to go with it - and a tray to put everything on!  Oh my goodness me - I was so overwhelmed, I cried!  (I often do this when Papa Bear gives me presents, because they are always so lovely and unexpected, and then he worries that I am crying becuase I don't like his gift!  Of course not - I always adore everything that he gives me).  I was particularly moved by this gift, partly because it was so thoughtful and perfect, and exactly what I wanted, but also because I had been planning as a surprise for our evening meal, a sweet "English High Tea".  I knew we would not be wanting a huge evening meal, having had a larger than usual lunch of fish and chips that we were planning to enjoy (and did) at the seaside, so I thought a tea, with sandwiches, scones and cakes, would be nice instead.  I was intending to use the beautiful "Eternal Beau" dining set that was our wedding present (each guest gave us a separate piece - many sadly now gone after 11 house moves and hence we don't use it any more except on special occasions as it is so precious) but when I saw my wonderful anniversary gifts, I knew they would be just right to serve our special meal on!  Papa Bear was so delighted when I told him!   Here is a closer picture that I took to try to show the pattern ...

And one of the cake stand and tea cosy ...

After some more present opening (yes, Papa Bear got gifts too!  In our family, we tend to celebrate anniversaries more lavishly than we do birthdays) we got ready to go out for our trip to the seaside.  Before that though, we stopped off for breakfast at a lovely Italian cafe where we have been several times before - but never for breakfast!  Everyone enjoyed themselves very much indeed.  The menfolk had big plates of grilled bacon and eggs with sourdough bread, and Little Bear chose croissant and coffee.  I had a delicious fruit salad with sheep's milk yogurt which was very yummy indeed.  We continued our journey will very full stomachs after that!

Oh it was cold at the seaside here, yesterday!  Not at all like ordinary May weather.  But it didn't rain, and the sun shone most of the time, so we had a lovely day out regardless.  The seaside town that we visited is very pretty and quaint, very much like the towns at the Isle of Wight, where Papa Bear and I spent our honeymoon.  I shall write about that another time - because Queen Victoria's holiday home, Osbourne House, is situated there, and it is worth a mention separately as it is so wonderful and inspiring.  Yesterday we were able to remember our precious happy week at the Isle of Wight, visiting all the beautiful towns and villages there and seeing all the wonderful sights.  Like the Isle of Wight, the town we went to yesterday has winding narrow streets lined with many Victorian buildings and smaller beach houses that are decorated in nautical themes with seashells, pieces of rope and driftwood, anchors, bouys and bright ribbons of colourful bunting outside them.  We enjoyed looking at all the different designs, and at the pretty shop-fronts which were like old-fashion stores with their bowed windows full of lovely things to buy.  In fact we didn't really buy much - though we found a store that sold discounted wool, and Papa Bear bought me 4 balls of white wool to finish a jumper (sweater) I have started (using the rest of the wool that I got last week, to create the birthday chicks for 2 of our friends at Church) and also 4 balls of a pretty, variegated pastel wool to make a proper "sea lettuce" scarf out of.  I was extremely happy with these!    There was also a wonderful sweet shop, like something out of a child's storybook - the shelves lined with bottles and jars of the most enormous array of sweets I have ever seen - every colour and type you can imagine.  Sweet Little Bear surprised everyone after we had looked inside by running back and buying us all a treat!  She gave me the most delicious coconut ice - pink and white, with dark chocolate all around it.  We all had a taste and declared it the tastiest candy we've ever eaten - so much so in fact, that today I have looked and found on the internet, a recipe to try to make some more!  I shall share in another post how we get on with that ... if I can make some, it will be lovely to give as gifts in Christmas baskets and such.

We also walked along the beach, which is pebbled rather than sandy, and therefore much better for strolling along on a cold day, when you don't want to remove your shoes!  Thank goodness the tide was out, else we would not have been able to do that.  We saw lots of poor chilly seagulls circling over the dark waves, and Papa Bear and Cubby skimmed stones across the water too (they are very good at doing this!).  After that, it was time for some fish and chips, which we ate out of their paper packages, leaning on the stone wall that surrounds the path above the beach.  They tasted soooo good eaten like that!  The others also had ice creams, but I was far too cold for that!  It was such fun being out all together for the day.  We don't often get a chance to do this - we have to budget carefully for days out, and it isn't often that all of us -  apart from on public holidays, which yesterday wasn't - get a full day off all together, now that the Cubs are at college.  So we cherished every moment of our time spent as a family and all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly!

When we got home, I started to prepare the tea!  We had ...

Smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber on wholegrain bread sandwiches
Ham and English mustard on white bread sandwiches
Egg and cress on mixed grain bread sandwiches
Miniature cheese scones
Flaky cheese straws
Spinach and strawberry salad
Traditional English raspberry trifles
Victoria sponge cake

To drink we enjoyed cups of tea - of course!  Though there was also pink lemonade for those that preferred a cold drink!  And oh it looked ever so pretty on my beautiful new china!   Just perfect for the occasion.  Isn't Papa Bear clever to think of such a fitting gift?  I don't know how he knew, but he did - he always suprises me like this.  Before we ate, he said a different grace from the usual one, that he had composed especially for our anniversary.  It was so lovely, and this morning he gave me a written copy of it to keep forever - oh, isn't he the most romantic husband in the world?  Well, I certainly think so!

In the evening, we watched the film adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma", which we have seen before, but enjoyed again for the period costumes and romantic plot - perfect for a wedding anniversary - and then we played Bananagrams!  We really enjoy this game - you can play it in teams or as individuals, and unlike Scrabble, there's no board, and no counting at the end.  You just have to see who makes the most words.  We played as teams first - ladies and gentlemen, then Cubby and Little Bear against Papa Bear and I, and then Papa Bear and Little Bear, and Cubby and I.  After that we played individually.  And almost every single round was won by Little Bear!  I think she has been practising in secret!  We decided that for Christmas, we must get a new family game, so the Cubs are busy researching that - there are so many hundreds to choose from!

It was truly too lovely for us to want the day to end, but end it must, and we all went to bed last night feeling so happy - and so full of love for each other.  As Papa Bear wrote in his prayer before our meal, we are truly so blessed to have such a close and happy family, and for that we thank our Father God - for our precious joyful union is evidence of His work in our lives, and of his everlasting love for us, too.

"And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord". (Hosea 2, 19 - 20).