Saturday, 27 June 2009

What a grand day out

On Saturday we set off early to go the Children's Food Festival near Didcot, and having never been before we were all excited about going. Great for children and great for adults! It's what's known as a celebration of food and cooking

I can't rate it highly enough and what a shame it's only on once a year. It cost £10 per car and then all subsequent cooking activities etc were free, so what good value? The idea once you were in was to register your children for the various cooking activities and these varied from exotic Mexican delights, to simple jacket potatoes and pasta making. The ones hosted by celebrity chefs had to be booked in advance but it was all really well organised.

Toby and Jack started off the day making homemade beefburgers. Me being rather OCD about germs etc needn't have worried as there were lots of portable sinks, alcohol wipes and sprays around! Anyway, back to burgers - they were both given a 'pile' of mince to make whatever shape they wanted, they could then add herbs, breadcrumbs etc. Once they had been made, they were taken away and cooked whilst we wandered to the next area where they made Eton Mess! then they did some crafty bits and bobs! (This was all in 1 tent).

Once that round of activities were done, we went to the cookery tent where they then were booked in for their 'structured' activity - jacket potato with cheese. They could then decorate it with chives, spring onions, tomatoes etc. Fortunately my two aren't fussy but such a great way of getting those who are fussy to try new things. This demo was done by the children's cookery author Annabel Karmel. Once they had done that, they then could decorate a couple of fairy cakes each. Exhibit below!

After that activity it was on to the Waitrose tent to make a salad and dressing, off to gingerbread men making, spinach bread stick making, hedgehog bread! and so much more.

What we also did was to make paper seed plant pots which was great fun and we had a wonderful variety of seeds to pick -rocket, lettuce, radish, pumpkin, peas, runner beans. We ended up coming home with half a dozen eco plant pots and over a dozen packets of seeds along with a lovely selection of recipes. Again, this was all included in the £10 entry price.

There was so much to see and do, we could have gone back today.....but sometimes trying to recapture such a good day isn't always a good thing! We'll just look forward to going again next year.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Match made in heaven

As you know from my previous post that I was itching to make Gooseberry and Elderflower jam. Well, I finally did it! The recipe came from my book aptly named 'Preserving' and it was so easy. My concern was the elderflowers bit. I have to confess I didn't know where to look for them or indeed what they looked like.

So armed with a picture of them, we all headed off on Sunday to the PYO. Driving along the gravely drive at the PYO I spotted a bush of them. With my carrier bag I got out and managed to get enough. I feel a little silly now as elderflower is everywhere, in fact I pass some every day going to school??!!! - obvious when you know I guess.

The gooseberry crop was really good and we got a whole basket costing £11! Hubby almost fainted but I convinced him it would be worth it and think of all the gooseberry items I could make!

I couldn't wait to get home and immerse myself into the jam making. The recipe only required 2 heads of elderflower which I was quite surprised with, but after tasting it and smelling it I can understand why. Unfortunately I don't have a thermometer so tested it the old fashioned way - saucers in the fridge, teaspoon etc etc. I finally got there and I'm so pleased with it. I didn't actually realise how perfect elderflowers and gooseberries are together - a true match.

Don't ask me why the jam in the pot looks different from the finished article, I've no idea but I'm sure someone will tell me!

I still had loads of gooseberries left, so made a one crust pie - disaster (not enough pastry and too many gooseberries). Gooseberry jam tarts, and later this week a gooseberry fool.

I haven't deliberately missed out the jam on a couple of them - Jack doesn't like jam so he wanted to make his own tart!

That I think will have me completely gooseberried out.........

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Fancy seeing a bit of this and a bit of that.......


I was determined last weekend to go as long as possible without a charity shop of car boot sale fix. I got as far as one 1 weekend! No willpower eh?

Yesterday I was fully charged with my £20 birthday money. My first plan was to go to a couple of bric a brac, antique style shops a mere 10 mins I manage not to go every day when it's that close, I'll never know. Anyway there was lots of eye candy in fact too much eye candy.

What I didn't buy was a vintage deckchair which needed redoing but I know that can be done quite cheaply, and a pair of lovely vintage children's deckchairs, 1 of which was hanging up in the window and it was perfect. Even though I had a mission to 'buy' I didn't want to spend too much, but you never know I might end up going back.

The other shop had a great Triang child's tricycle, in perfect working order. It was quite expensive especially as it would only be for decorative use.

On the flip side I did make these purchases - who can resist Enid Blyton when they're only 50p each!

and a lovely pair of jugs!

Now, I can't remember whether I've shared this jug with you. I got it from a car boot a little while ago for 50p. It's so dreamy, I'm sure you won't mind seeing it again.....

Whilst out and about we stumbled across a salvo yard. I've never been to one before and it was a real treasure trove. As always I never have my camera at the right moment, but it was crammed full of vintage fireplaces, belfast sinks, old wooden doors, Victorian tiles, mangles, you name it they had it. Not only that, but they housed themselves in an old barn which really added to the feel of the place. Even hubby and the boys thought it was wonderful.

If you were doing up an old house, that's the sort of place to go. I can but dream!

Moving on.......I know a lot of us trawl Ebay regularly, but I don't know if anyone has used the Oxfam secondhand website. It's a bit like Ebay but on a smaller scale. The prices aren't too bad and you pay a flat postage fee for any number of items (I think). Worth a look - here's the link

I've yet to make my gooseberry jam in fact I didn't even go to the PYO as the weather was poor, so hopefully if the weather improves I'll go.

Next Saturday, we're off to the Children's food festival near Oxford. We've never been before but it gives children the opportunity to do some hands on cooking, sampling and generally learning about where food comes from etc. Raymond Blanc will be there along with other celebrity chefs so if any of you live nearby and have children it'll be worth going.

See You.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Onto better things.....

Thank you all for you birthday wishes at the weekend, I had a great time and it was a welcome relief after the week I had!

I started the weekend with vigour by going out with a couple of friends for a meal. We've been doing this for so long now, we are all completely relaxed with each other and always put the world to rights.

Hubby kindly bought me a lovely bunch of fragrant flowers, a 'no brainer' magazine which is always good to read every now and then! and a beautiful white chocolate and raspberry cake from Marks.

On Saturday afternoon we went to my parents to have Pimms in the garden, the boys played their games, opened some presents and then had a scrummy tea. One of the presents was a lovely genuine spool from a mill in Lancashire - look how big it is. I love it. It's proudly sitting in my work room.

My other present from them was a basket full of lovely garden bits.

From my chums I had wine, CK mugs, candles and some great jewellery, so all in all I was a lucky girl.

We weren't looking forward to yesterday that much as Toby had 4 hours worth of football tournaments and it was indoors! Hubby took him and I stayed behind and diligently painted the decking which is one of those necessary tasks! I'm itching to get the pink paint out and do the shed......along with maybe the garden chairs and table but that may be a little too much!

Anyway, Toby got back hot and tired, but he had been awarded 'Manager's Player of the Year' and got a great big trophy! He was so pleased with it, it slept with him in his bed lastnight! We took a picture of him when he was asleep.........and can use that as blackmail when he's a stroppy teenager!!!!!

On Thursday I'm off PYOing with my mum and I'm hoping to get some gooseberries to make some gooseberry jam. I bought a book at the Eden Project called Preserving and it's got so many good jam, marmalade, fruit curds and pickle recipes in it. I'll let you know at the end of the week how I get on.

See you then.

Friday, 12 June 2009


Is all I have to really say on this week, and boy I'm glad it's almost over. I'm not normally a 'doom and gloom' sort of person, but it seems that if 1 or 2 things go wrong in a week, everything else has to follow.

I hope you're sitting comfortably as I'm just about to spill out what has happened this week!

I was in quite good spirits on Monday, we'd had a nice week away, it wasn't my turn to do the school morning run, so the boys went off happily and all was good. Picked the boys up from school - they asked to play in the park outside of school - I said 'no' as I had stuff to do. Toby then called me 'mean'. I did let it go.........until we got home.

They got the 'new' football out of the garage and started playing. 5 minutes later I see them waving long bits of wood around which they had got out of the garage 'What are you doing I shouted' 'We've lost the ball, so using the wood to shake the bushes' said the boys.

Out I went with the broom to see if I could help. 20 minutes later I was extremely cross as I couldn't understand how a football could be lost in a matter of minutes......Anyway we eventually found it, but by then I was hot and bothered and hadn't done the things I needed to do which is why I hadn't gone to the park......out pours the 'I'm mean am I' bit 'taking you away last week, buying you a football' blah blah blah. I did get an apology so that was that.

Tuesday came - (yes we're still only on Tuesday!). I cut the back grass and put my hand in a load of foxes poo - yuck, stepped back with a watering can and caught my back on the gate catch . The phone rings at 2pm - it's the school - 'can you come and pick Jack up as he's been sick'. I put the phone down and go into frenzy mode - anyone who knows me knows I have a phobia about 'sick'. A real genuine, proper phobia. Off I go to the school shaking like a leaf armed with a bowl and lots of towels.........

Poor little mite he was very pale and not happy as you can imagine. The head said he hadn't eaten much of his lunch etc etc. As there was only an hour left of school, I asked if I could take Toby which was fine. He came out, we all got in the car - Jack said he was 'hungry' - hello??? On the way back whilst trying to be brave (me that is), I open the windows and pray that Jack isn't sick, Toby then says he didn't want to come home as he was going to miss PE, and anyway he's lost his 'brand new' trainers in the space of 24hrs. AAGGGGGGGGHHHHHH is all I had to say. Got home, fortunately Jack took himself off to bed, I sat down and tried to work out where on earth he had picked the bug up from.

Wednesday came, Jack was a little better but obviously stayed at home. Toby went to school and at 8.20 a man came to sort out my rear bumper (remember that from last week when hubby reversed into what he called mud). 5 hours later he finished????!! off he went. As I shut the garage door, I noticed that my bonnet wasn't shut properly so I lifted it up, dropped it down and it didn't catch - oh poo I thought. Phoned hubby - who thought I had it fully open, resting on the arm thing you have - 'doh, I'm not that bad'! 'Dunno he said, I'll have to look at it when I get home'.

As I couldn't pick Toby up, I then arranged for someone else to pick him up. By this point I was very teary which isn't me at all.

Yesterday wasn't too bad, we just had an Actimel spillage all over the table cloth, and the green beans got knocked over in the wind and snapped.

Jack is now fine and has gone to school. I'm nervously anticipating the next disaster, but really hope not - I'm out tonight for a meal with some friends as it's my BIRTHDAY tomorrow!!! - yippee!

I will be somewhat relieved when tomorrow arrives. The 13th may be unlucky for some, but not for me! (I hope).

Phew, I feel somewhat relieved I have got that off my chest. Those of you who have got to this point of the post - thanks for reading all the way through. It's a pants of a post isn't it?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Slave to the routine

Well, the boys have gone back to school today after their half term plus 'bonus week. The house feels so quiet now and I'm now back to the birds for company - not bad though!

As much as I hate routine, I am a slave to it and even on holiday battle with keeping to a slightly different routine versus throwing caution to the wind. The one part of routine I don't like is the clock watching. It just seems so endless - meal times, school drop-off, pick-up, activities, etc etc. Do I dare say it, but I am looking forward to the next school holiday - 7 weeks for us. I don't like wishing the year away - as look, it's already June! but I do crave the holiday times.

Anyway, before we went away, Snapdragon was giving away a limited number of pretty badges of which I picked the caravan one. On my return it was waiting for me. It's so lovely and I'm looking forward to adding it to my denim jacket.

I'll leave you with some photos of the pretties I bought at the Vintage and Handmade Fair along with those purchased on our travels round Cornwall.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside..........

Back again and what a great time we had too! The weather was glorious for the entire week - back to back sunshine from the moment we arrived until the moment we left when it started raining and I mean raining! How lucky were we?

The holiday started with a visit to the wonderful Vintage and Handmade fair in Chipping Sodbury, and it was great to put names to faces in the blogging world. I did feel very restrained in my purchases due to restricted space in the car! but did manage to get some wonderful items which I will share with you on another post.

Our accommodation was great - just outside Bodmin in a hamlet called Tregullan. A farmer had built log style cabins on his land and ours was called Cedar. The views from our cabin stretched for miles - unadulterated countryside. Inside the cabin, the owners had left us a cream tea, and some Cornish fudge. Not only that but there were fresh flowers, and all the usual necessities you might need. It was a real welcome after such a yucky journey.

I'll do a quick summary as I don't want to bore you with holiday detail! We went to The Eden Project which was brilliant. It was so inspiring in terms of gardening, growing your own veg and just generally being a bit more eco friendly. I loved the pink garden shed with the bunting so that's another project added to the list - groan groan said hubby!

Days on the beach, the beautiful National Trust gardens, Padstow, Looe, Polperro, Charlestown, Morwellham Quay, Fowey to name but a few.

We also visited Port Isaac which was lovely. I've never watched Doc Martin, but knew it was filmed there - and lo and behold we saw some filming with a couple of the actors - their names escape me but I did recognise them - it wasn't Martin Clunes!

There's nothing quite like the British seaside, providing the weather is good - a bit of rock pooling, shell and interesting stone hunting, sandcastles and everything else that goes with a traditional seaside holiday.

I might do a separate post about SAT NAV - no not really but it is a love or loath item. It did help us an awful lot, but on the flip side it took us down some very precarious 'roads' which ended up to be quite stressful and caused arguments! I'm a good old fashioned map kind of girl - hubby loves the sat nav and even takes it when we go walking somewhere 'just in case' - so embarrassing. On one occasion we ended up going down a no through road, dead end - but because the sat nav said 'yes' we just had to go down can guess what happened - we couldn't get through so had to reverse down a narrow lane, three point turn blah blah blah - then crunch....'what's that' I said 'don't worry, it's mud' said hubby 'it can't be, mud doesn't make that noise' I said. To cut a long story short hubby had reversed into some rock and damaged my bumper. I don't think I need to say anything else, do you?

Besides that, it was a truly refreshing break from the routine, and it felt so much longer than just a week - roll on the next one!

Will share some great buys with you all on my next post.