Don’t look now by Daphne Du Maurier is short story and described as macabre.

In it we meet Laura and John who are on holiday in Venice. It all starts out light-hearted enough but is a very good reminder that as in real life, things are not always what they seem.

The apparently happy couple on first glance are grieving for the loss of a child with each handling this situation in their own individual ways.

The couple encounter some strange ladies one of whom is blind. The talk to Laura and appear to suggest they can deliver messages from her dead child. Can they, are they psychic or a pair or charlatans?

Despite John’s best efforts the ladies will keep turning up and tell the couple that they must get out of Venice and quickly.

A call from home results in Laura heading home to care for her son with John planning to follow on soon. He starts out on the journey but something makes him turn back. Was the reason for this real or an apparition? Suffice to say, whatever it was it causes John a great deal of stress as he struggles to make sense of it all. Is he going mad?

Will the ladies be proved right? Should both of the couple have left Venice after all and if one of them doesn’t, what will be the consequences?

I really enjoyed this short story even though it is not the usual type of thing I would choose. It was difficult to guess whether the strange ladies had good or bad intentions.

My only criticism that as so often in short stories, the ending seemed rushed and I was not surprised by it.

Overall Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier is a good story and a great read for the holidays.

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Cuddle Fairy

This month, I am promoting charities and good causes for free on my blog.

Today, I feature a guest post from St Hilda’s East Community Centre – Working for the Tower Hamlets community and beyond since 1889.
 
 
St. Hilda’s East is a multi-purpose community centre in the Bethnal Green/Shoreditch area of Tower Hamlets. We provide valuable support to groups of all ages and backgrounds within the local community. We aim to address social issues and disadvantage found in the area, where 52% of children live in poverty (End Child Poverty campaign, 2012).
 
Our activities range from an Under 5s Project, youth services, Legal Advice, volunteering, to a Women’s Project and mental health support. Some projects, such as the Boundary Women’s Project and our much-used Advice Service, are not fully funded and we rely upon donations to maintain them. 


 
The Boundary Women’s Project aims to encourage local women to realise their own potential, especially women experiencing social exclusion or minority ethnic women facing language barriers. The varied programme of regular activities includes from English language classes, Keep Fit, IT sessions and an exciting textile training initiative is also taking place.


“I really enjoyed the health programme, never having done yoga before”
“Cooking in front of people was scary, but when I started giving out samples of my food, I was amazed that they wanted more and liked the taste so much – it did wonders for my confidence!”
 
The Advice Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice to local residents – particularly those who struggle in accessing rights and entitlements through lack of knowledge and language barriers. The Advice Service is staffed by our qualified advisor, and we also offer a legal advice service delievered on a pro-bono basis by law firm staff who volunteer weekly.


“I‘m very happy and can’t thank the advisers enough.”
( — Mr A after a successful appeal against a Criminal Injuries Compensation decision)

“The advisers are top notch and so helpful!”
Find out more by visiting www.sthildas.org.uk
You can also find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/sthildaseast) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/sthildaseast).
We are also registered with www.everyclick.com/sthildaseast
 
Registered Charity No: 212208

I am reviewing Indian cooking sauces from the Spice Tailor.

Do you like Indian food?  Would you like to create spicy dishes with the wow factor for your family?  Are you daunted and unclear on just what type of spices to use?

When I make a curry, it is usually edible enough but never reflects the true sense of  Indian delights.  That is proably because I really don’t know what flavour combinations to use or what is the “right” quantity of curry powder or spices.

I need worry no longer as TV chef and cookery writer Anjum Anand has launched her own range of cookery sauces called The Spice Tailor.

I combined the fragrant and zingy mangalore herb curry version with beef.  You can choose to use any red or white meat.

The first thing that impressed me was that you get a little packet of spices that really look the part and get you in the mood.   You heat them in oil for just 20 seconds and then add your cubed meat for 2 minutes, browning lightly.  You then take the sauce which has such a rich colour, stir it in and 7 minutes later, you have your completed dish.

Fast food but not as we know it.

When we tasted the results, we were impressed with how balanced the flavour was.  A definite kick but not too daunting and lovely with our naan breads.  It looked beautiful too.

The Spice Tailor products come with preparation guidelines but also lots of different ways to adapt the recipe to taste.

The Spice Tailor sauces are easy to use so anyone can create great tasting, authentic Indian dishes using them.

Highly recommended by me!

Bay adds a sophisticated herbaceous note to this cherry and bay pie recipe

Cherry and bay pie recipe

Serves 6-8

Cherry And Bay Pie Recipe

Ingredients

350g self raising flour
160g cold unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
Tbsp vanilla essence
Ice Cold water: 90ml-100ml
1 egg
Granulated sugar, to garnish

100g/3½oz good-quality black cherry jam
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tsp cold water
500g/1lb 2oz fresh cherries, pitted and halved

Method

For the pastry for this cherry and bay pie recipe, put the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and rub in the butter until you have breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla extract and then the water, a tablespoon at a time, combining the mix with a knife or spoon, bringing it together until the mixture starts to clump together into a dough. You need to be cautious at this stage as you don’t want sticky pastry. Add a little more water if necessary, you want a smooth, solid ball of dough. Divide the lump into two and then flatten both into disc shapes, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and grease the pie dish. Remove a disc of pastry from the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out on a generously floured work surface to 3mm/¼in thick and about 2½cm/1in wider than the pie dish. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and chill for about 10 minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining disc of pastry.

Heat the jam for the filling in a saucepan with 100ml (3½ fl oz) water, nutmeg, bay and the vanilla extract. When it’s all melted together, add the diluted cornflour and stir together until smooth and thickened. Add the cherries and gently coat them in the mixture, being careful not to mush them up, so you preserve their shape. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Using a floured rolling pin, carefully transfer one of the chilled pastry sheets to the greased pie dish and drape it across the dish. Let it sink into the dish and, holding on to the edges, lift and tuck the pastry into the edges of the dish, all the way around, to line it. Trim off any excess pastry and lightly prick the base with a fork. Fill the dish with the cherry filling (including the bay leaf). Use a pastry cutter to cut holes in the remaining pastry sheet, covering an area just smaller than the diameter of the pie dish, leaving a large border intact. Place it over the pie filling and fold the edge of the top crust over the edge of the bottom crust, crimping it together with your fingers to seal.

Brush the pastry with the the beaten egg and sprinkle over the granulated sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4, covering the top of the pastry with foil if you need to, to avoid it burning, and bake for a further 30 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden, firm and lightly puffed.

Allow the pie to cool for about one hour before serving with cream.

This cherry and bay pie recipe comes highly recommended and I hope you try it.

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