Life with The Grey

My life with my husband, Tony, (or The Grey, as I call him) in Suffolk.

  • Life with The Grey

    My Artists Studio

    My Art Studio

    I started painting watercolours when I moved to Suffolk in 2015 and found myself sitting by the river at Flatford Mill where Constable painted the Haywain. Nobody told me that watercolours are the hardest medium to paint in!

    Then I discovered a delightful art group run by Hazel Bradshaw just up the road from Monks Eleigh where I live. Here I was introduced to acrilyic paint which is a joy to work with!

    A holiday in Trujillo, Spain where there were nine pairs of nesting storks resident in the chimneys and bell towers of this delightful medieval town prompted me to paint the beautiful Spanish White Storks.

    Walking in the beautiful Lake District you come across many a dry stone wall and that became a theme for a while.

    I’ve also painted beloved pets to bring joy to their owners and and other animals that take my fancy.

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  • Life with The Grey

    Restoration of body, mind and mantelpiece

    We are blessed with sunny weather here in Suffolk and with a sense of spring in the air I decided it was time to restore the rustic legless mantelpiece we acquired in the Cotswolds last October.

    When we stumbled across this objet trouvé it was day one of what turned out to be a very rainy trip when we stumbled across an antique shop in Chipping Norton (which The Grey referred to as sodding Norton as the wet week progressed) and spotted what looked like the top section of a Georgian style fire surround with what I read to be £25. Why wouldn’t you? I imagined lovingly restoring it in my art studio, working away, at one with the world.
    The owner of the shop was quite a character and full of banter. We got some of his life history as well as being told several times that what we were buying was ‘genuine Georgian’ and he had in fact wanted the piece for himself. Come to think of it he didn’t say why he didn’t keep it for his own home. It was clad in an old piece of cloth and The Grey was walking down the road to the car park when I discovered that there was a 1 in front of the 25 making it £125… Ahhh…
    ‘No worries, Madam,’ the cheeky dealer said, ‘I can refund your money onto your card.’
    But I wanted it! What would be a palatable figure for The Grey? He’s pretty laid back on these matters really.
    ‘How does £75 sound?’
    ‘It’s genuine Georgian you see.’ We eyeballed each other. This is the bit where you don’t blink first. ‘£85?’ he suggested.

    My friends back home assure me I got a bargain. Phew.

    So, back to my sunny day: I’m in the garden painting the now infamous mantelpiece with a gloss paint (not favoured by The Grey so purchased surreptitiously one Saturday when he wasn’t looking) which is supposed to be antique cream but looks white to me; I tell myself it will miraculously change to its true colour at some stage. With just the gentle sound of nature and a paint brush in my hand I felt a sense of calm; a sense of this is what it’s about. And perhaps it went some way to restoring body and mind as well.
    So here is the fine piece; restored but still legless.

    Georgian mantelpiece restored

    Looking fine!

    It’s now raining and according to my weather app this is the status quo until Thursday, so the verticals to complete the fire surround will have to wait.

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  • Life with The Grey

    Tuscan landscapes

    I had the pleasure of staying in the small town of  San Quirico d’Orcia in the southern part of Tuscany last year. The surrounding countryside and villages were a joy and I was very busy with my camera capturing the idyllic beauty of the place when we went out exploring.

    One day I didn’t go out with the main group but ventured into town where to my surprise there was a vintage car rally zooming through the narrow streets of San Quirico which were lined with locals and a few tourists cheering them on.

    I continued up to the Municipio di San Quirico – the town hall – and up two flights of stone stone steps until I reached a photography exhibition with the most amazing Tuscan landscapes. I was mesmerised by every picture.

    When I returned home to Suffolk I set too with my paint brush to try and capture some of the stunning splendour of those landscapes. And here are the results.

    Tuscan landscape

    Landscape painting of Tuscany, Acriylic on Canvas










    Tuscany landscape




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  • Life with The Grey

    Tangy Orange Cake: a very tasty, easy bake!

    Tangy Orange CakeAll that #Bakeoff has inspired me to get baking! And this Tangy Orange Cake is truly delicious. There is lots of orange flavour and it’s not too sweet. Once you have invested in a Microplane Premium Zester, you are ready to bake!

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  • Life with The Grey

    Autumn Food

    Warming Autumn FoodsOkay so Summer’s officially over and the night’s are drawing in, but it’s a good excuse to turn to warming, ‘comfort’ foods and turn your central heating on!

    Autumn makes me think of recipes with butternut squash. I have a wonderful risotto recipe with squash (or pumpkin), chilli, fresh peas and mint which I will share with you. There’s always a few autumn vegetable soups around with celery, beetroot, broccoli and garlic all at their best in October. Aubergines are still available so there’s still time to try my Aubergine, Mint and Pecorino Bake if you haven’t already!

    Then, of course, our wonderful British apples come to the fore. Ive got some bramley apples which are the best for my Autumn Apple cake recipe which has already been widely distributed by my Mum! It makes a delicious moist cake; one that I’m sure Mary Berry would be pleased with! I will add it to this blog in the next couple of days.

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  • Life with The Grey

    Butternut Squash, Gnocchi and Sheep’s Cheese Bake

    Now first offp1020684 I’m going to level with you here. Peeling a butternut squash is not my favourite pastime! Also, I haven’t discovered a magic tool to improve the experience so far. If you have, do let me know. Although using a sharp knife instead of a peeler definitely makes it a bit easier. I have roasted a butternut squash in two halves with the skin on which is much easier, see here for how you do that.

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  • Life with The Grey

    Autumn Bramley Apple Cake – a delicious bake!

    Autumn Bramley Apple Cake


    This recipe originally came from a National Trust magazine and has been tweaked to ensure the perfect bake every time. Everyone who has a slice wants the recipe and most members of my family already have it. This is where comfort food meets afternoon tea!

    If you use Bramley apples, which aren’t too sweet, it works well in the cake which obviously has sugar in it. If you use eating apples that are sweet you can either put in a little less caster sugar or make a sweeter cake.

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