Summer Mess

This is a very simple summer dessert, a take on Eton Mess using summer fruits which are plentiful now. It also works if you only have a few fruits. I have made a version of this using damson puree instead of grated lemon.


  • 300 ml double cream
  • 2 dessert spoonfuls icing sugar
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • meringue – you can make your own but I used ready-made ones from the supermarket
  • summer fruits – I picked raspberries and strawberries from the garden


Add the icing sugar to the double cream.

add icing sugar

Grate the rind from a lemon and add to the cream. (An alternative is to add damson puree).

grate lemon rind

Whisk together until the cream thickens and forms soft peaks.

whisked cream

This can be used now or placed in the fridge for an hour or two until you need it.

Break the meringues into pieces.

Gently fold into the cream mix.

Put onto individual plates – this makes four servings.

Dot the fruit around. I used a mix of fresh raspberries and sliced strawberries.

summer mess


You can now find all of Nannie RaRa’s recipes in one place: Recipes


Recent paintings

Since writing Jenny Wren to the rescue and and illustrating the book with my paintings, I decided to paint for fun rather than for a specific purpose.

I’ve been experimenting with both watercolours and gouache. Looking back over some of my earlier works I can see improvements.

Here are some of my recent works.

I regularly walk through the nearby countryside and this hollow oak always looks so good. It is a popular place for children who can go inside and maybe visit secret places…

There is a ruined church near us that caught the morning light so beautifully.

I’ve been trying to find the best way to paint bark and leaves. Here is a study of a tree with ivy growing round it.

I often take photos of birds, both from my walks and those that visit my garden.

Last year we had Great Spotted Woodpeckers bring their young along to show them where the food is. It was great to see the parent feeding the young. This inspired the painting of the three woodpeckers.

Along the river we get many waders. This is a dunlin.

And finally, here is a composite picture of several birds that I have seen nearby. Of course Jenny Wren and Bobby Robin are here, but Jason Jay was away. Can you recognise the others?

Books, nature

Jenny Wren to the rescue

Nannie RaRa has published her latest book: Jenny Wren to the rescue.

This is the tale of Jenny Wren who was looking for some tasty creatures to eat for lunch. But who will be eaten?

Gregory Grasshopper looks very appetising, but instead of eating him they become friends.  Jenny narrowly misses being eaten by a sparrowhawk while protecting Gregory from a frog.

Does Jenny eventually find her lunch? Read the book to find out.

The book is illustrated with paintings done in watercolour and gouache by Nannie RaRa, mostly from photographs she has taken.

Jenny Wren looking for a spider to eat
Jenny Wren looking for a spider to eat
The baby pigeon had fallen out of the nest
The baby pigeon had fallen out of the nest
Benny Blue Tit kept a look out
Benny Blue Tit kept a look out
Gregory Grasshopper would help Jenny get out of the soak away
Gregory Grasshopper would help Jenny get out of the soak away
The frog was going to eat Gregory
The frog was going to eat Gregory
Watch out for the sparrowhawk
Watch out for the sparrowhawk
Lunch at last for Jenny Wren
Lunch at last for Jenny Wren

It is available from Amazon both as a paperback and in electronic format.

Jenny Wren to the rescue: paperback

Jenny Wren to the rescue: ebook


Melting moments

This recipe for melting moments is at least thirty years old. My sister-in-law gave it to me when both our children were in primary school and always hungry when they came in.


  • 3 oz caster sugar
  • 4 oz soft butter or margarine
  • 5 oz self-raising flour
  • 1/2 egg
  • approximately 2 oz porridge oats


Switch on oven to 180 C. Grease a flat baking tray – a swiss roll tin is perfect.

blend sugar and butter

Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and light. Add the egg and beat well.

add flour

Mix in the flour, making sure the flour is well blended into the mixture.

roll in oats

Using your hands take golf size pieces of the dough and form them into balls. This quantity makes between 10 and 12 melting moments – this time I made 11.

Coat the balls in rolled oats.

Place on the baking tray and flatten slightly.

put on baking tray

Lightly press half a cherry into the centre. I forgot to do this and added the cherries when the melting moments came out of the oven. The cherries didn’t stick so well 😉

Cook in the oven at 180 C for about 15-20 minutes until the melting moments are turning golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

cool on wire rack



Cheese scones

A simple recipe today for cheese scones, perfect for afternoon tea in autumn.


  • 8 oz self-raising flour
  • 2 oz hard butter
  • 3 oz strong cheese, plus extra for topping
  • approximately 1/4 pint milk


Switch on oven to 200 C.

Grease a flat baking tray – a swiss roll tin is perfect.

Put the flour into a mixing bowl.

butter and flour plus cheese

Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until no lumps are left. I use hard butter as it rubs in better than using spreadable butters.

flour, butter and cheese mixed together

Mix in the 3 oz of grated cheese. Strong cheese gives a better flavour – mine was classed as having a strength of 6.

Add the milk a little at the time using your hand to blend it into the flour and butter mix. Gradually collect the mixture together into one piece. Knead lightly to form a soft dough.

cheese scone dough

Roll into a thick sausage shape, about two-inch diameter. Cut into 8 pieces. Knead each slightly into a round about an inch thick.

Add grated cheese on the top of each scone pressing gently so that it sticks to the scone.

add grated cheese on top

Place the scones on the greased baking tray and cook in the oven for fifteen minutes until well risen and golden.

When cooked, cool the scones on a slatted tray or trivet.

cooked cheese scones

You can either eat these warm or cold. If you like, spread butter and jam in the middle. Perfect with a cup of tea.

sliced cheese scone