GARDEN | Thompson & Morgan – Van Meuwen Customer Service Update – BUYER BEWARE | Champagne Twist

 

UK Bank Interest Rates to Double | Champagne Twist

money pink coins pig
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I flipped on the TV last night by chance, and caught the tail end of the Martin Lewis Money Show, and learnt that bank interest rates are set to double.

DOUBLE

DOUBLE

The fear and panic that came over me was so overwhelming, I immediately burst into tears. Thoughts included – I am bearly keeping my head above water as it is, and now could literally face bankruptcy.  It was all the more hurtful, as I was having a good day up to that point.  I have been making good, meaningful and positive inroads into my plans for the Champagne Twist social network and up coming business.

Then this bombshell.

To say I have been knocked for 6, is the understatement of the decade, and as this new decade is only 8 days old, that’s saying a lot.  But after a calming and reassuring chat with my mum (yes I resorted to that age old standard of calling my mum at the first sign of a crisis, don’t judge me, and if you do, I don’t care!) – I feel a little more hopeful.  I didn’t get much sleep, but as the daylight increases, things aren’t looking quite so dire.

What angers me, is that my financial institution has not informed me of these new changes.  This sneaky, underhanded way banks deal with their customers these days, is beyond appalling. Many charge nearly 40% in interest rates, but only give up to 1% for savings. As for their customer service, don’t get me started.

There is hope on the horizon. Next week The Martin Lewis Money Show is dedicating a major part of the show to dealing positivity with the new overdraft charges.  I strongly suggest you watch, even if you are financially sound.  With the uncertainly of recent world events, it would be wise to keep abreast.

Stay blessed everyone, and if you can, pass this post onto as many people as you can. Spread the message, you can help someone, and that’s a great thing to do.

 

The Martin Lewis Money Show

Monday 13th January 2020

ITV, 8pm and ITV+1, 9pm

 

The Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House – review | Champagne Twist

Picture Source - QVCUK.com
Garden Reflections Wooden Bird House. Picture Source – QVCUK.com

It’s arrived! I have been waiting an absolute age for this, and after weeks of internal self debate, I finally took the plunge and purchased the bird house and it arrived yesterday.

Of course, knowing my luck the delivery was twice delayed by the worse delivery service known to, well everyone, but still I’m so happy that my brand new, half price bird house has finally arrived.

It may not be the colour I wanted, sage green, but that was snapped up by faster shoppers, so I’m for the moment happy to make do with the grey.

Setting up the flat packed bird house wasn’t so challenging, the instruction sheet wasn’t the best, but I managed to muddle through the DIY process in about 40 minutes, only slowed down by taking photographs and the ridiculous lack of pilot holes.  Honestly for an item that was originally priced as the best part of £40, you would have thought they could have drilled in the pilot holes.  For the DIY novice, who may be a little heavy handed or over enthusiastic with a screw driver, this could prove disastrous.  The wood used isn’t very dense, I suppose to ensure a lower end cost, however it means that it is quite easy to split the pieces, rendering the entire bird house unusable.

That said, the top is very heavy once assembled, and I wonder if the design could be further improved with a quadrapod rather than a tripod base – we shall see.

For the sale price of just under £20, I think I may have made a good deal.  I certainly wasn’t going to purchase it for the original sale price of around £40, it simply isn’t worth it, considering the rather poor standard of the pieces.  I’m glad that they included a couple of spare screws – at least I hope they are spare – but the paint finish looks like it will need retouching in only a matter of weeks.  I have a sample pot of Wilko English sage green in standby.

Picture source - Wilko.com
English sage paint – picture source Wilko.com

 

The over all look of the bird house is pleasing, and which initially led me to this item.  I’ve compared other bird houses in a few major DIY and garden stores, and shape wise, this is my favourite.  Selling from £40 upwards, the quality varied from cheap and tacky to fairly robust but over priced.  So for £20, I’m pleased with the end item, but it’s just a pity that more attention to detail and quality control, this could have been so much more.

Rating 3 out of 5

Bird House purchased from QVCUK.com – https://www.qvcuk.com/Garden-Reflections-Wooden-Bird-House.product.518199.html?sc=SRCH

 

 

 

Saving the birds and No New Year Resolutions | Champagne Twist

I have long given up on making new year’s resolutions.  Partly because by this time of year, i.e. the 2nd of January, I’ve broken half of them.  But I have started to implement my plans to help encourage birds and beneficial pollinators to my outdoor space.  I’m starting with the birds by making sure that I supply various foods to sustain their diet during these cold winter months.

January and February tend to be the coldest months of the year, and food is very scarce both for food gardeners and wildlife.  I’ve taken advantage of the Christmas and New Year sales and purchased a bird table and bird food supplies.

Wilko is my go-to bird food supplier, I normally buy a tub of 50 fat balls for £4.  The birds which especially love these fat balls are robins, blue tits, magpies and the occasional big pigeon.

 

In an effort to attract a wider variety of birds and to tempt the blue tits away from my already blossoming honeysuckle, I’m trialing these suet blocks.  So far, however, they are not at all tempted by the, preferring to stick to the fat balls.  I’m think maybe I need to give the birds a bit more chance to discover them, or move the blocks elsewhere in the garden.  I’m hoping when the bird table arrives, I can place the blocks on it, and save my poor honeysuckle!

DSC_7042

DSC_7041 2
DSC_7527 2

I also placed a bird seed feeder outside, but again, the birds are not biting. Oddly, I’ve never had much luck when it comes to loose bird seed.  A few years ago, I was filling a seed feeder, when I spilled some on a now defunct garden table. I went inside to get something to clean it up, and in the few seconds I had turned my back, a family of squirrels appeared in the garden.  For a split second, I thought I was a Disney princess, and the squirrels had come to visit me in my fairy tale garden. Then I remembered how I spilled the bird seed.  I admit I was more than a little hurt that the fantasy didn’t pan out, and more than a little bit cross that at least 10 squirrels, came from nowhere to deprive the birds of their lunch.

I’m glad to say that the squirrels have not returned in such numbers, although we do get the occasional visit from a solo squirrel, one who I suspect keeps digging up my raised beds. But thanks to the neighbourhood cats, mainly stays out of the way on the roof tops.

While I hope that encouraging birds into the garden now, will encourage them to help me control the snail and slug population later in the Summer, I’m also doing this to help increase the local bird population. Some species have been declining for years, so every effort I make can only help them flourish.

I’m looking forward to receiving the bird table, and hopefully a bird feeding stand, currently on waitlist, and will review them, along with the bird food in due course.

This may not be a new year’s resolution in the true sense, but I’m glad that I’m actually doing something that will help the environment.  Far better than trying to be more healthy – that kinda went out the window yesterday morning when I ate 6 Spiced Blueberry Panacakes for breakfast, which I covered with icing sugar (not so bad on sugarless pancakes), vanilla yogurt (quite good) and half a bottle of maple syrup (ooops!).

Wait, blueberry is a super food right? Maybe I can still keep my ‘be more healthy in 20’ resolution then!

OK maybe not.

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes recipe – Champagne Twist

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes recipe | Champagne Twist.jpg

Well, it’s the first day of a brand new decade.  It’s a sobering thought that we are now in the new 20s era.  Personally, I’m hoping that this decade is better than the last one, and that all my plans and hopes pan out in a positive way.

With that, here’s the new look Champagne Twist YouTube Channel, the theme for this year being “New Vision”.

This year I’m starting with a bang food wise, with an easy and delicious recipe for Spiced Blueberry Pancakes.  These pancakes don’t have any sugar as the sweetness is derived from the blueberries, the vanilla yogurt and just a drizzle of maple syrup. You can of course use a cheaper golden syrup, but I think the Maple syrup adds a unique spicy hit which compliments the mixed spices, so is for me worth the extra expense.

When combining fruit with spices, the usual go-to flavour pairing with blueberries is cinnamon.  As it is still the Christmas season, I wanted to keep the festive flavours, but add a slight twist. So I plumped for a mixed spice blend, which does include cinnamon, as well as other spices – dill, coriander, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

So here’s the recipe, let me know if you try this and what you think of it, it would be great to hear your considered opinions.

Here’s wishing everyone a peaceful, fun, healthy, happy and safe new year.

Spiced Blueberry Pancakes, with vanilla yogurt and maple syrup

Ingredients

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml milk
  • knob of butter, melted
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • oil or butter for cooking
  • maple syrup and vanilla yogurt to serve

 

Method

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder and mixed spices in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate, small bowl, beat the egg, then add the milk and melted butter and combine.
  3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dr, to form a smooth batter.  Fold in the blueberries.
  4. Heat a teaspoon of oil or butter in a non-stick frying pan.
  5. Pour a small ladleful of batter into the pan.
  6. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with vanilla yogurt for a healthy breakfast, and with maple syrup for a pudding or treat.

Mince Pie Filling Recipe| Champagne Twist

This is a quick and simple recipe for the festive season. You can use this recipe for mince pies, or as an ingredient for fruit cakes. A useful store cupboard standby.

Mince Pie Filling Recipe | Champagne Twist

 

Ingredients:

  • 100g glace cherry halves
  • 400g jumbo raisin mix
  • 200g dried cranberries
  • 100g mixed citrus peel
  • 100g ginger
  • 1 tbsp of ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of brandy
  • 1 cup of orange liquor

Equipment:

  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 spatula or spoon
  • 1 large sterilised glass jar

Method:

Mix all the fruit and spices together in a bowl and then fill your sterilised glass jar, ensuring that you leave room for the alcohol.

In the same bowl or jug, mix together the vanilla and alcohol, then pour over the fruit mix in the glass jars.

Allow the mixture to steep for at least a week in a cool dark place. The longer you leave it, the better.

mince pie filling - champagne twist
mince pie mincemeat filling recipe

There you go – proper luxury mincemeat. Also serves as a lovely Christmas foodie gift. Just grab a label and some ribbon and you’re done! It’s also a good way to use up all those half empty bottles of alcohol.

Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins recipe | Champagne Twist

Apple Oat muffins | Champagne Twist

Using apples from my recent fruit and veg shopping trip at the Chiswick House Kitchen Garden sale, I decided to make something healthy and delicious for breakfast, making a welcome change from the usual cereals and scrambled eggs.

Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup medium stoneground oatmeal
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup golden caster sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup of semi-skimmed cow’s or plant based milk (almond milk adds a lovely nutty flavour which compliments the apple)
  • 2 large apples (approx 1 1/4 cups), peeled and diced

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 F/ 177 C/ Gas Mark 4, then line a 12-cup muffin baking tray with cup cake cases.
  • In a medium sized bowl sieve the flour, oats, baking powder and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, butter and milk.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, followed by the apple.  Using a folding motion, combine all the ingredients gently together to form a thick batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. I used an old fashioned ice cream scoop, but a 1/4 cup measure can also be used.
  • Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 20 mins, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Allow the muffins to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, before removing them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Serve warm for breakfast with a cup of your favourite brew, or for lunch with a cheese salad.

Let me know if you try this recipe, it would be lovely to hear your feedback.  Thanks for reading, and enjoy your baking.

Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist

Roqberry Coco & Joe black tea – review | Champagne Twist

Roqberry tea - Coco and Joe review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry tea – Coco and Joe review | Champagne Twist

Purchased at the National Tea Day event in Woking, East London earlier this year, Roqberry’s Coco & Joe is a fascinating blend of 3 of the world’s favourite hot beverages – Tea, Coco and Coffee.  Usually, when I hear the mere mention of coffee, I run a mile.  I maintain that coffee is the drink of the devil and should be cast aside in all instances in flavour of the elegance of a good cuppa.  But apparently not everyone feels the same way as I do, so I reluctantly sampled this blend.

Perhaps I’m edging towards the dark side, but I found this tea to be delicious, enjoyable to drink and as it turned out, provides a great winter warming cuppa.

Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tea is flavourful, the cocoa combining well with the black tea to provide a sweet, chocolatey taste.  The coffee, is there, but in a supporting role boosting the cocoa flavour notes.  It can be drunk with out milk, but I think it is best with, and I believe almond milk helps to bring out the nutty notes of the tea and coffee and compliments the cocoa.

I also found that when I was feeling very cold and low during the cold Autumn months, the tea helped to boost my spirits.  If you are thinking about cutting out sugar in your tea, I suggest rather than going cold turkey, to switch to this blend, as you can enjoy the sweet flavours, without all the calories.

Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist
Roqberry Coco Joe black tea review | Champagne Twist

Retailing at £6 for a box of 18 pyramid bags, represents good value for money.  It is recommend to use 1 bag per cup but you can get easily get away with 1 bag per 2 servings. The bags are also easy to dispose onto the compost heap.

Halva Pistachio - Seseame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
Halva Pistachio – Seseame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
HALVA chocolate Trio - Sesame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
HALVA chocolate Trio – Sesame Kingdom | Champagne Twist
Elle's Ultimate Banana Chocolate bread recipe | Champagne Twist
Elle’s Ultimate Banana Chocolate bread | Champagne Twist

 

I paired this tea with my Ultimate Banana and Chocolate Bread, recipe to be published soon, but this tea would go well with any tea, coffee. nut, fruit or chocolate based dessert. It is a tea that can be enjoyed on its own, and makes an ideal gift for tea lovers.

I don’t usually give full marks, but I can’t fault this tea at all. Even if it does contain coffee!

Rating 5/5