Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

I first went to Kew Gardens sometime in the early Noughties. I went on my own as I couldn’t think of anyone who’d want to go with me, but still absolutely loved it and have wanted to go back ever since. So, we recently happened to have a day off together midweek and decided to go. Owen is used to being dragged round all sorts of horticultural visitor attractions in various parts of the country, so walking round Kew for five hours was par for the course. I actually saw a lot more this time round as we had all day and the weather was perfect too. Even Owen said he enjoyed it, which for someone who’s not that interested in plants is saying something.

I think my favourite part is still the iconic Palm House- an original Victorian glasshouse built from wrought iron and hand blown glass. You can walk up decorative spiral staircases inside it to the balcony, which gives you a view down over the enormous tropical plants and trees below. I’ve decided that my dream house would have a conservatory very similar to this- maybe slightly smaller. Only very slightly mind. I’d have twisted, woody vines climbing up inside it with orchids growing on the branches, and I’d spend hours in there, my hair gradually getting frizzier and frizzier in the humidity…

Anyway, we took about a bajillion photos, and here are some of them…

Hibiscus flower – possibly ‘White Kauai Rosemallow’, if my Googling serves me correctly.

Orchids growing on a branch.

Madagascar Periwinkle – extracts from this plant have been used in the effective treatment of leukaemia.

The Waterlily House – god it was hot in there. Beautiful though.

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Mango and Lime Sorbet

Further to my (much) earlier post about mango chutney being my only successful mango-based culinary adventure, this turned out not to be entirely true- as I found out when I made this sorbet for the first time.

Mango and lime, like avocado and bacon or chocolate and chilli, were made for each other. I have a bit of a lime fetish anyway, but I like the way it reins in the slightly cloying sweetness of the mango. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to add the zest and juice of an extra lime to this.

Ingredients:

  • Three or four ripe mangoes
  • Icing sugar
  • Two large or three small limes- zest and juice
  • One egg white

Peel and stone the mangoes and weigh the prepared flesh. You will need a third of this weight of icing sugar.

Purée the mangoes in a food processor or blender or with one of those blender wand things and pour into a bowl. Sift in the icing sugar and mix it in well (you might need a whisk to get rid of lumps). Mix in the lime zest and juice.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks and fold this carefully into the sorbet mixture until everything is mixed together.

Pour the sorbet mixture into a tub with a lid and put in the freezer. Every hour or so, get the sorbet out of the freezer and churn it with a spatula to get rid of large ice crystals. You could also use an ice cream maker for this, although you might need to halve the amounts depending on how small your ice cream maker is.

Use an ice cream scoop dipped in hot water to serve.

Fun-geness

*Blows dust off blog*

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here, but our recent purchase of a spangly new DSLR camera has given me a reason to start posting again, as it enables me to take half decent photos despite my lack of skill in the photography department.

We recently went to Dungeness to have a play around with the new camera and to take in one of Kent’s more unusual landscapes. I had high hopes of spotting some birds of prey (perhaps a hobby or marsh harrier) at the RSPB nature reserve there, but, alas, we didn’t see any. We did see lots of other things though, and took lots of pictures. (Unfortunately, some really nice pictures of a great crested grebe and a lovely close up of a blue dragonfly were lost as we had the camera on the wrong setting, but you live and learn.)

While we were there, we also popped into The Pilot, a well-known pub on Dungeness seafront. We weren’t hungry enough for one of their famous fish suppers, but we did snaffle some tasty whitebait which kept us going for our (extremely windy) walk down on the shingle beach.

Caterpillar babies in a bush.

Viper’s bugloss

Dungeness nuclear power station