National British Institutions – the Anniversaries

Sherlock Holmes in The Strand Magazine

Have you been gripped by the latest series of Sherlock?

By all accounts this British drama seems to have taken the world by storm and airs in countries all over the globe.

This year sees the 125th anniversary of the creation of Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was reputedly taken by surprise when a series of 12 short stories in The Strand Magazine established Sherlock Holmes as a star in the reading public’s firmament. Published together as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1892, they were soon followed by a second anthology, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Apparently, Conan Doyle found inspiration in one of his teachers at Edinburgh medical school, Dr Joseph Bell, who impressed with his powers of observation and deduction.

And on the 29th of this month, we see another significant anniversary for popular culture: Desert Island Discs celebrates 75 years on air with its first broadcast coming from a bomb-damaged studio in Maida Vale. The distinctive sound of ‘The Sleepy Lagoon’ fills the airwaves and listeners to the BBC Forces Programme hear Roy Plomley ask comedian and musician Vic Oliver, ‘If you were to be cast away alone on a desert island, which eight gramophone records would you choose to have with you?’ And so began a national institution.

In 1951, after a five-year break, the choice of a luxury was introduced and then a book and nothing much has changed since, except the presenters. After Roy Plomley’s death in 1985, Michael Parkinson took over for two years, then Sue Lawley stayed for 18 and Kirsty Young has been in the chair since October 2006. Well over 3,000 castaways from all walks of life have told the listening public about their lives and given away all sorts of secrets they may never have divulged without the influence of their special music and the interviewer’s gentle prompting.

Dairy Diary 2017These anniversary anecdotes are taken from the 2017 Dairy Diary. As well as listing the popular wedding anniversary gifts, it also features milestones from years gone by.

If you’ve missed out on your copy of the Dairy Diary, don’t worry, there’s still time to buy at





Holidays with a difference!

Activity Holidays

Here, I share a feature from the 2017 Dairy Diary, which introduces you to a whole host of new ideas for your next holiday. Ban the post-Christmas blues and book yourself a fabulous trip.

Activity Holidays

Sunbathing lost its charm? Feeling restless after half an hour’s lazing with a good book and a cocktail? If lounging around on holiday is just not cutting it any more, why not leap into action instead?

An activity break could be just what you need. How to make the most of precious time off is a question close to most people’s hearts, and as a welcome change from the seaside or the museums and galleries of a city break, an activity holiday can provide the answer.

The choice is almost endless, from cycling, painting or pottery to horse-riding, trekking or white-water rafting, depending on how gentle or strenuous you want your break to be. Are you interested in nature, history, food? Do you want to learn a new skill, explore new places, be adventurous? Whatever tickles your fancy, you’ll be catered for, and not just in the UK. The world awaits, and whether you decide to go as a family, with friends or on your own, you’re sure to be mixing with a group of like-minded people, all as keen as you are to enjoy themselves.

Activity holidays

Give it a try

Of course, it may be that you can’t persuade friends or family to devote a whole week to one activity, and prefer not to tackle it among people you don’t know. Plenty of places offer a whole range of activities, lasting from an hour or two to a full day, as well as catering for those who just want to do nothing much. Whatever your special interest may be, there’ll be somewhere you can indulge it. Like to try your hand at glass painting? No problem. You can make candles, jewellery or your own cosmetics, visit historic sites, go whale-watching, or learn how to play bridge or windsurf — or both.

Old crafts

If the idea of learning an oldfashioned country craft appeals, you could try hedge laying, woodland coppicing or hurdling (making a woven fence) among other rural skills. Dry-stone walls have been a feature of the British landscape for well over three thousand years. They are beautiful to behold and provide a valuable habitat for a variety of flora and fauna, but it takes skill and patience to construct one. The Dry Stone Walling Association, a charitable organisation, runs weekends for beginners.

Work it out

Working holidays can give you the added satisfaction of doing something worthwhile in your leisure time. Whether you opt to help clear invasive species from woodlands and ponds, clean beaches, repair footpaths or survey an area for bats and butterflies, conservation lies at their heart.



Ooh La La!

Activity holidayWhile taking time out to pursue your favourite hobby is a great way to relax, discovering a new creative skill is fun, too. For an added frisson, why not consider learning something new in the appropriate country?

You could try flamenco or salsa dancing in Spain, a wine course in France, cooking in Rome or Tuscany. You can even go on a language break – where better to learn French than in France with no humdrum distractions? Quelle bonne idée!

Specialist painting and photography holidays are not hard to find, world wide, and wellbeing breaks really do live up to their name.


Useful websites




Recipe of the Week: Baked Apples



This only takes 5 minutes to prepare but tastes just gorgeous.

The perfect comforting pud!

Read the recipe on the Dairy Diary website.


Baked Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 223 per portion
Fat 8g (5.2g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Butter 40g (1½oz), softened
  • Light muscovado sugar 40g (1½oz)
  • Chopped glacé ginger 1 tbsp
  • Glacé cherries 25g (1oz), chopped
  • Ready-to-eat prunes 75g (3oz), chopped
  • Dessert apples 4
  • Custard to serve (optional)


  1. 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until soft and smooth. Stir in the glacé ginger and then add the cherries and prunes.
  2. Cut a thin slice off the top of each apple and reserve. Core the apples and cut a very thin slice off the bottom if needed, to stop them rolling around.
  3. Stand the cored apples in a small 20cm (8in) circular dish, then press the fruit mixture into the cavities, spooning the remainder over the cut top edge. Press the apple lids back in place.
  4. Add 2 tbsp of water to the base of the dish, then bake for 30 minutes until the apples are tender. 5 Serve hot with custard, if you like.




Make 2017 a happy one



Sometimes things happen beyond our control that makes life challenging.

There’s nothing we can do to prevent
these events, but there are a few things
that we can do to feel happier.

Find somewhere quiet to sit for half an hour with your Dairy Diary, mobile phone and a pen and plan your 2017.


2017-dairy-diary-set-with-memorable-dates-stickersThink about everyone you know. Who makes you happiest? Give them a call and schedule in a regular time to meet up. It may only be for a coffee for an hour once a month, but if it’s written in your diary you’re more likely to keep the date.

What type of exercise do you most enjoy? A leisurely stroll, funky dance class or maybe a high intensity session? Write it into your diary at least once a week. Those endorphins will give you a weekly high.

Laugher is the best medicine. Which TV show, magazine or book most makes you chuckle? Write a regular ‘laughter night’ in your diary and watch or read your favourite funny.

Is there something that you have always wanted to learn to do? Speak French, paint in watercolour or maybe scuba dive? Go online, find a class near you and book yourself in.

And is there a place that you have longed to visit? Make a plan to go, or if it’s an extravagant trip, start a savings plan for it.


Remember folks, life’s for living!

Have a brilliant 2017.

New Year’s Eve: Chai Martini

Chai Martini Cocktail

Toast the New Year with this fabulous cocktail

 Happy New Year!!

New Year Chai Martini

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 mins plus cooling mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 239 per portion
Fat 10g (6.1g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Chai latte teabags 2
  • Granulated sugar 4 tsp or to taste
  • Single cream 100ml (3½fl oz)
  • Vanilla vodka 100ml (3½fl oz)
  • Ice cubes 16
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling


  1. Place teabags into a heatproof measuring jug and pour in 100ml (3½fl oz) boiling water. Leave to brew for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove teabags, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour in cream and vanilla vodka and leave to cool.
  3. Place half the ice in a cocktail shaker and pour in half the liquid. Shake well then strain into two martini glasses. Repeat with remaining liquid and ice. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve immediately.




Boxing Day – now it’s time to treat yourself!

Time to treat yourself!

I’m sure, like most people, the last month has been a whirlwind of planning, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and generally trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone.

Now’s the time to slow
down and treat yourself.

Do something you makes you feel happy. That may be a long walk, a phone call with a friend, a soak in the bath with your favourite music playing, reading a book, or even filling in your Dairy Diary.

Whatever it is, enjoy yourself and maybe even indulge in some simple comfort food like this. Just make sure someone else makes it for you!


Pasta Supper

Pasta Supper

  • Servings: 2 adults & 3 children
  • Time: 20 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 529 per portion
Fat 31g (17g sat) per portion


  • Dried tagliatelle 250g pack
  • Butter 40g (1½oz)
  • Olive oil 1 tbsp
  • Onion 1 small, peeled and finely chopped
  • Ham 110g (4oz), cut into strips
  • Frozen peas 110g (4oz)
  • Single cream 150ml (¼ pint)
  • Cheddar cheese 110g (4oz), grated


  1. Cook the tagliatelle according to the packet’s instructions.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the oil and cook the onion for about 4 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the ham and frozen peas and cook for a further 4 minutes.
  4. Add the drained tagliatelle, cream and half of the cheese. Toss together and serve immediately sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

Cook’s tips
Dried tagliatelle has been used here but it can be tricky for little ones to twiddle around a fork. For young diners you might like to use pasta twists or shells instead that can be scooped up with a spoon.



Dairy Diary Favourites CookbookThis recipe is taken from
Dairy Diary Favourites cookbook.

Click here to find out more.


Have a happy Boxing Day everyone.






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