Sunday, 28 September 2014

LIFE BEGINS!


My birthday is at the end of harvest time, a time when Autumn begins and farmers traditionally celebrate the fruitfulness of their labour, conkers fall from chestnut trees and it's time to pick apples to press. This birthday was my 40th *yikes*, so we decided to mark the occasion with a harvest supper with family and friends. It was such a balmy evening we sat outside on the decking on straw bales under festoon lights and feasted on pork and chorizo stew, followed by apple crumble served in tea cups with custard and apple tarts with salted caramel and cream. We toasted marshmallows on the wood burner and danced until our feet couldn't dance anymore.

All my lovely friends helped out as we literally organised the party in a few days, my mum made five apple crumbles, my friend Jenny made an amazing chocolate birthday cake, Gina picked a load of apples from her allotment to make the apple tarts, helped me decorate the cabin and lent me her vintage china plates, Anne-Marie helped me 'style' the venue, Nick made all the delicious food, Vicky made the most delicious salted caramel sauce, Steve and Sam brought the music, Anne tipped me off about the most amazing tea bag fabric that I could use to cover the mural on the wall of the cabin and lent me her staple gun, the local pub lent us their glasses and Richard lent us straw bales. My amazing husband has spent all today clearing up! I am truly blessed to have the most kind and wonderful friends. Here are just a few snaps from the evening.








Sunday, 21 September 2014

LIVING THE GOOD LIFE!


When I told my friend that I was going to the Good Life Experience Festival she laughed and said that if the Bradshaw's did festivals then the Good Life would be it! Packed full of handpicked music, outdoor adventure and good fun, the Good Life festival certainly stayed true to its name and was beautifully staged to boot. We couldn't all go, such is family life right now, so I took my lovely friend and two goddaughters for a day out. 



The lovely Cerys Matthews founded the festival with Charlie and Caroline Gladstone of Pedlars fame and kindly posed for a photo with us. Cerys handpicked all the music from the delicate voice of Georgia Ruth to the London Bulgarian Choir and they were all perfect choices to play in the huge traditional canvas tent. 


The boys favourite bit of the fair was the vintage fairground with its huge wooden helter skelter, swing chair carousel and swing boats. It was enchanting and was a magnet for those young at heart.


There were campfires through the site and an amazing amount of bearded gents - such is the fashion! It was only right that the very trendy Mr. Natty was in residence in the Albam tent to style those with more untamed barnets and beards, he even styled the boy with his styling clay and now he thinks he's the bee's knees!


There was abseiling, archery, axe throwing, campfire cookery, rope making with the local Hawarden scout group, food demonstrations by the amazing Bill Grainger and Tom Herbert two of my food heroes, bushcraft, yoga, tai chi to take part in, the spoon carving workshops booked really quickly which was a shame as I'd have loved to have given that a go as it looked amazing, so that's definitely one for next year!


I loved all the little 'Pedlars' touches around the festival, such as this free pear stall next to the vintage fairground and under the most beautiful sycamore tree, we all happily munched on ours whilst in the archery queue. I do love a little vintage styling and really appreciated the flowers on all the tables in the music marquee and the large GOOD LIFE illuminated letters.



The oldest boy was determined to win a coconut and threw and threw until he won a coconut for us all, what a champ as they really weren't easy to hit at all! 


I tried some Tincup Whiskey - crickey I think I did the same face as I did when I first tried alcohol aged 14 and tried not to cough in such an amateur fashion (I'm really not very cool!) - see what I mean about the bearded men everywhere, I may have to wear a fake one next year perhaps? 


The guys in the Peckham Print Company tent were printing and selling special festival bags and were fab with the children as soon as we entered the tent, showing them how to screen print and offered us a try at screen printing our own bags.


Festival highlights included speeding down the HUGE wooden helter skelter and swing chair carousel, the amazing location at the Hawarden estate and gorgeous farm shop (which sets the bar for farm shops quite high!) eating pulled pork pizzas from the wood fired oven in the music marquee listening to Georgia Ruth.




We had the most amazing day, everyone was so friendly and the stall holders and guest speakers so passionate about what they do and I even managed to come home with some lovely goodies too, including the new Ernest journal, two school chalkboards, three coconuts, Mr Natty's hair wax, and a map book from the fabulous Best Made Company for the Misters birthday. This was my first ever festival (can you believe it?) and I loved it, I can't wait for next year already. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

THE GOOD LIFE EXPERIENCE



We are so excited to be racing up the motorway this weekend to enjoy the brand new Good Life Experience, a one day festival that promises to be like no other. 

The Good Life was created by Cerys Matthews and Charlie and Caroline Gladstone who have put together a day of the very best Culture, Food and the Great Outdoors. This will be a voyage of fun and discovery for the whole family. 

Watch Cerys perform, learn to throw and axe or fire an arrow, cook on a campfire with Tom Herbert of The Fabulous Baker Brothers, abseil, learn how to cook with Bill Granger, eat some spectacular British food, learn how to make sausages, discover your new favourite beer, take time out with some yoga, learn bushcraft. This and loads more is The Good Life Experience! I think I'm most excited about the vintage fairground and donkey rides!

Tickets are still on sale, we'll see you there! 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

WHAT A WEEK!



What a week, crazily busy and a complete work/life balance fail! Next week promises to be the same too. As a reward I've just impulsively bought myself some fab chairs for the garden, yes I know it's Autumn already but I fell in love with them when we stayed in Rusty the Tin tent and just had to copy.

The chairs are called Skarpo, from Ikea and are a dark grey moulded plastic, which is quite modern for my usual rustic/vintage taste but they look fab with my new tree stump table from a neighbour who just felled a pine tree. I have sat outside at dusk the past few nights, cuddled in a blanket to watch for bats, a perfect antidote for the chaos inside the house!

Monday, 8 September 2014

BLACKBERRY RECIPES




One of our favourite things to do as a family this time of year is to pick blackberries, as we eat as many as we pick! This weekend we made a couple of jars of blackberry jam and also tried out a Nigel Slater inspired blackberry foccacia too.

We used a simple white bread and added a few blackberries to the mixture, then shaped it before adding blackberries on top, olive oil and a tablespoon of caster sugar too before putting in the oven. It is absolutely delicious and we ate it warm straight from the oven for pudding.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A FINAL SUMMER FLING IN RUSTY THE TIN TENT


We have just enjoyed the most amazing weekend in what is quite possibly the best glampsite in the UK, and we've visited a few over the years! We stayed in Rusty the Tin Tent, which has been ingeniously converted from a shipping container and even starred in George Clarke's Amazing Spaces on Channel 4. Let me give you a tour...


The bunk beds are at one end of the container and are so comfy with huge sprung mattresses, Egyptian bed linen and recycled wool blankets. The beds are made from scaffolding and the boys had the bottom bunk whilst us adults got the top bunk for once, they were so snug.


At the other end of the container was the wood burning stove, this was the easiest stove I think I've used, with plenty of kindling to get the fire started and a joy to cook on. You can cook in the large oven and on the top plate too or just use it to warm your toes in the evening. In the meadow there was a wood store with plenty of kindling and wood for little helpers to keep the fire blazing into the evening. Rusty would certainly keep campers warm even in the coldest Winters, definitely an all year round tent. 


On the decking outside was a huge hammock that we all fought over for most of the weekend, it was never empty with either the children swinging like monkeys in it or me trying to have a quiet snooze!


In the meadow is an enchanting honesty shop, full of scrumptious local food from Ann's Pasties made on the Lizard, tubs of Roskilly's ice cream, bacon and sausages from the local farm, milk and beans. All the things you need for the perfect English breakfast before a day on a the beach and you can even book surf lessons too.





On the back of the container was a bathroom and kitchen stocked with everything you could possibly need during your stay. The shower room was surrounded by corrugated tin and housed a huge shower and the loo next door had a pedestal for the basin made from a tree trunk. 



Outside in the seven acre meadow were two other large tents sharing the field and also a small woodland with another hammock, rope swing and den in it. Next door there was a second field with sea views and a large communal fire pit and seating area to watch the sun go down. It would be amazing to hire all three for a large family holiday or reunion. 


The children made themselves at home quickly and roamed freely, discovering wildlife from the huge crickets (pictured below) that chirped so loudly at night to the bountiful hedgerows laden with blackberries. 



We had intending to make a loose jam with the blackberries to pour over our ice cream for pudding, but the babe ate most of them before I could even peg it across the field!




In the evening we all sat outside gazing at all the stars in the sky, it was so clear you could see millions, and I thought to myself that this would be the most amazing place to stay to watch the Perseid meteor shower in early August. As the fire blazed we sat cuddled up in the blankets and watched the bats dart past before returning inside for some family games of cards. 


The tin tent is situated near Mullion on the Lizard and the interior design complimented the surrounding landscape beautifully, with muted blues, browns and greys just like on the rugged coastline and beautiful villages nearby.



The boys really enjoyed the open fire pits and toasted marshmallows and we discovered 'smores on a stick' also known as toasted teacakes!


It really was the most perfect weekend and a great final summer fling before we go back to the hum-drum busy daily routine of work and school.


We stayed at Rusty the Tin Tent courtesy of Classic Glamping, holidays start from £444 and bookings are now being taken for 2015, I wanted to move in, I'd have stayed forever!
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