Thursday, 14 June 2018

LIKE PEBBLES ON A BEACH


They say a change is as good as a rest and we were delighted to escape for a few days to a corner of the country that I've never ventured before, East Sussex. We found the most perfect weatherboard beach chalet called Pebbles originally built in the 1920's at Winchelsea Beach. We had booked it for a few days last year but due to life and work commitments had to push our stay back a bit to this year, but it was worth the wait. 


My husband grew up in a wooden chalet not dissimilar to this one but sadly we couldn't get a mortgage to take it on from his mother and redo it when we first married so had to watch it get knocked down and turned into a square box of a house. One day I hope we can find one as the older I get the more I'd like to live in one.


Pebbles is situated at Winchelsea Beach near the historic town of Rye, along a shingle ridge made up of old railway carriages and wooden beach houses slowly being bought up and turned into luxury holiday homes. At one end of the ridge is the village green and the other a large wetland nature reserve situated along the river. 


We had company during our stay this noisy gull was nesting on the roof, next to the rooftop deck. It certainly was wary of us, but allowed us to sit quietly next to it, whilst its partner would swoop down keeping an eye on us.


Inside the beach house, everything is painted white capturing the seaside light. Additional rooms had been added to the beach house over the years making it perfectly big enough for a family.


Pebbles is furnished with leather chairs, antiques, beach combing finds, big comfy beds, a huge dining tables on casters and large walk in shower. It was minimalist in style but had everything you need for a holiday, including a chest full of games and piles of books.


Outside on the deck a large rollmop bath sits underneath the heavily scented elderflower, perfect for relaxing in with a good book.


I always take things to entertain the boys - things like rolls of paper to draw road maps on for the cars which can be held to the floor using masking tape. It isn't quite as lovely as it looks as Stan is drawing a dead man, squashed by a rhino?!?


The shingle beach stretches all the way to Dungeness and the light was incredible when we were there, as it was diffused by sea mist. 


I highly recommend Pebbles if you are looking for a quiet escape in a beautiful park of the world. 





I'll blog about the places we visited whilst we stayed here in a few days time! 


Visit www.pebblesbeachhouse.co.uk for more information ~ this is not an ad. 

Saturday, 26 May 2018

FLAT OUT!


With half term beginning and boys worn out and I can't deny that as much as I yearn for school holidays and mine for that matter, I have a sense of impending doom! Let me explain...

The boys are now 14, 12 and 6 and have mastered the art of arguing and winding their parents up, who in turn snip back at them and each other! A week's holidays in close proximity of each other just amplifies the dynamic and my ideas of wholesome family fun are reduced to family bickering. 

The general rule is to keep everyone busy *read no lie-ins* reduce screen time *read nag/bribe/plead with them to get off and get plenty of fresh air *have you looked at the weather forecast?*

Also it is really difficult for families with children with big age gaps to find things that we can all do and enjoy together. Whilst we all love ice-skating as we are all novices and the youngest can use a skate aid, playing crazy golf almost broke us a few years back! The oldest frustrated with the rest of us not playing fast enough, the youngest hitting the ball wherever and us all taking ages to find it and the middle one winding his brothers up because he could! 

Put that together with the extortionate cost of keeping children entertained - putting pressure on us as parents to pay for days out and then if we don't have a good time, suffer the guilt! 

As a child I remember playing in the local park for hours and hours on end and I remember being really bored. I don't remember being entertained and without a car growing up, days out were few and far between and therefore valued and enjoyed. So I wonder why I get so caught up in this world of parenting in having to keep them entertained? 

So this half term I'm going to try to stick to my guns, reduce screen time, go on some family walks, read and play family games - wish me luck! 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

SNOW DAYS


Every few years our little town gets a covering of snow, sometimes it settles, more often than not it melts away. This winter we have had three separate snow weeks - almost unheard of! Three times we've been snowed in, not being able to get to work and school. We love it, the town with a sprinkling of snow looks beautiful and timeless. 


There is nothing better than embracing a snow day and with three boys who need daily exercise and fresh air, it's time to wrap up warm, find waterproof clothes, odd gloves, hats, as many socks as we can layer and still pull wellies on before finding out we've grown out of said wellies!


The last snow fall brought with it a cold spell that I can't remember experiencing before, the wind chill was so cold and I slipped over on the ice picking up a boy from school, bruising my ribs which is one of the most painful things I've ever done! 


We default to winter food, for warmth of course, hot toddies, porridge and big stews to enjoy after a day on the slopes! The slopes. We are blessed to live near the best sledging slopes, where families gather in the snow with sledges rediscovered, all ages playing and laughing together and shrieking as they slide down the hill. It's a pilgrimage that I hope will fill their childhood memories as they get older.


Then after everyone is worn out and can no longer feel their noses/toes/fingers a trip to the local pub to warm up with chips and a game of Uno with friends.


There really is nothing better than a snow day.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

SHEPHERDS HUT FOR SALE


Shepherds Hut for sale - £9,750 or nearest offer

Wooden clad genuine shepherds hut for sale, with double bed on a built-in shelf with storage underneath (where a shepherd would keep his lambs warm) and Silent Night mattress. Painted with Little Green Paint on the inside. Heated with a powerful wood burning stove that warms up the hut quickly. Small drop down table inside. Able to be moved on its chassis and tow bar, built to traditional design, although would need to be moved on the back of a trailer on a road. Doesn't need planning permission due to it being on wheels. In lovely condition would make a lovely garden retreat/spare room/office or potential income generator on a glampsite or through airbnb. Based near Stroud. 





LIFE IS A ROLLERCOASTER


I haven't blogged in an age. Life just seems to get in the way! I do manage to post regularly on Instagram but I've completely neglected this space here. 

In case you're not on Instagram, here's a quick summary of the past few years...

2016 saw us have a mid-life crisis, we left our jobs that we had worked at for 36 years between us and took on running a pub that had been closed for refurbishment for nine months, literally turned our lives upside down to make it work, had a so many problems with the brewery and couldn't make it work with the children (you can say "I told you so" at this point!) 

2017 couldn't remedy situation with the brewery, decided to cut our losses. Have so much love for so many people that propped us up during a really difficult time and supported our pub adventure by visiting - I lost three stone in weight during our time in the pub. I started working for a highly respected local PR company literally a day after handing the pub over and kept my head busy before being asked to runaway with the circus, quite literally. 

Started working in my absolute dream job with a fab team of people. Spending much more time with the boys and appreciating the little things, which was maybe the medicine that I needed? (but that's another blog post!) Still dealing with fall-out from the pub adventure which causes major anxiety but not one day goes past where I don't regret moving out as quickly as we moved in! 

2018 loving my job, we are broke and have to sell the shepherds hut but things are getting there. I read a lot of stuff about entrepreneurs, and taking risks - everyday there's a different 'motivating' slogan on Instagram and Facebook and I know if we had stuck at it we'd be successful and wealthier which is what I was chasing. I wanted to be something I'm not at the expense of all that I've got. 

so - I think that brings you back up to date with my news - so what news have I missed of yours? 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

WILD BAKING WITH THE HERBERT'S


“Wild baking is more than being outdoors and it’s more than baking. It’s a way of cooking that is somehow more timeless, convivial, nutritious and hugely satisfying.
Tom Herbert 

Starting the campfire

At the heart of Tom and Anna Herbert’s home the kitchen is full of life, and children, and dogs. Anna has just baked a flapjack and is cutting it into chunks, offering it to us with coffee as we arrive bringing our own family-of-five chaos with us as the husband has just spent three hours at hospital with a child and a suspected broken thumb which turned out not to be. Anna is discussing with Tom the best way to froth milk, he has of course just discovered a new way using a cafetiere to froth, that pretty much sums up Tom, interested and enthusiastic about everything and always with a gadget or new way to do things!


smoke signals across the valley

We are at the Herbert’s to celebrate Tom’s new book Do Wild Baking / Food, fire and good times, published by The Do Book Company and are planning an afternoon of cooking on the fire. Tom has a box of autumn veg ready and the jewel like coloured veg is displayed alongside sweet chestnuts and medlars picked by Anna from the garden. We finish our coffee and venture down to the bottom of the garden. 



The boys set about chopping kindling and gathering sticks and logs for the fire, Tom teaching us a Canadian way of blowing the fire to get it going by making a tiny diamond shape between our thumbs and forefingers that directs the breath more precisely. My boys are then occupied for hours with saws and axes, chopping and stacking and stoking the fire, well that and scrumping the apples from Anna’s trees! 


Us trying to avoid the smoke, fuelled by tea and homemade flapjack

As the campfire burned fiercely and we chatted about nothing and everything, broken and unfinished sentences as a different child interjected or was dispatched to the kitchen to retrieve something. We all did a strange sychronised dance around the fire to stop the smoke in getting in our eyes but inevitably smoking ourselves as much as smoked kippers!  


making a seasonal veg parcel to cook buried in the fire 

We left the fire supervised whilst Tom showed us how to mill our own flour. I had visions of big stones and hours of grinding reminiscent of school trips but Tom true to form had a new mill, powered by electric but with stones inside into which he poured organic spelt and rye, and we watched hypnotised by the patterns the grain made as it filtered down. He mixed the flour with sourdough starter and fermented rosewater into a dough, popping it into a bowl topped with a shower cap to prove before making into flatbreads. 



Tom and Anna chopped seasonal veg of onion, squash and beetroot into a foil parcel with fennel seeds we then buried it in the embers as the flames died down. Then onions, tomatoes, peppers, chilli, garlic and lemon were cut in half and placed onto the ash of the fire, this was for the campfire salsa. 


cooking the veg in the embers to make campfire salsa

Once the skins had become charred and the veg cooked they were carefully lifted from the fire, squeezed from their skins and I was put to work chopping them into small chunks with the juice of the lemon squeezed over the top and fresh parsley chopped. 



Finally, the ingredients that needed the least amount of cooking were added to the fire as it was losing its intensity, the steaks and the dough, swiftly shaped into flatbreads and baked. The feast was shared between us as we huddled around the fire sat on the mossy ground, rocks and stumps, the low autumn sun creating the most magical golden light. We tucked into our feast washed down with a hoppy-cider, almost forgetting to dig up the parcel of autumn veg from under the embers! 



A feast created, shared and enjoyed. We left nourished and inspired to have more wild baking adventures. 



Do Wild Baking is out now and contains 50 recipes and all the information you need to have your own wild baking adventure, £8.99 published by The Do Book Company.


TOM'S WILD BAKING BOOK GIVEAWAY!

I have a signed and slightly smoked copy of Wild Baking that I'm giving away over on Instagram right now and I’ll randomly draw a winner after 8pm Friday 24th November.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

THE CULPEPER IN EAST LONDON


From the moment I saw glimpses of The Culpeper, situated in Spitalfields in East London on Instagram I wanted to stay there. The pictures of the cool almost 'unstyled' and 'unfinished' bedrooms, a roof terrace with greenhouse bar and a pub full of plants and pretty people ~ what's not to love?

When we arrived in the big city it was a Friday night, and the cool city kids were spilling out of the pub onto the pavement outside, all cool with blunt trendy hairdo's and beards. It was obviously the place to be.

The staff were really lovely showing us to our room, one of only five on the second floor, where the noisy pub could hardly be heard. The room had naked plastered walls, a huge comfortable bed with wooden headboard and cool decor with a very gorgeous lampshade that I'm still lusting after!


As it was a gorgeous evening the roof terrace was open and being guests at The Culpeper, we were put to the top of the waiting list for a terrace table. The views of the London skyline were amazing, the gherkin and so many cranes were a fabulous backdrop to the 'allotment style' rooftop terrace where tables were interspersed with planters full of vegetables and edible flowers.


The menu is packed with home-grown produce and is simple, seasonal and tasty, in fact everything that we wanted to do in our pub! We chose lamb and steak that was cooked on the griddle in the greenhouse bar and a couple of side dishes; mixed leaves from the rooftop, homegrown carrots that were served with their ferny carrot tops and anchovy butter and chips, which we didn't need at all but ordered out of habit! It was delicious and was washed down with a couple of cocktails and a few ciders whilst we watched the sun go down. 

When we retired to bed we could hear a murmur from the restaurant diners below on the first floor and the scraping of chairs on the terrace above but nothing so loud that it kept us awake in such a comfortable bed. In the morning we didn't wake early and lazily appeared at breakfast in the restaurant at the same time as everyone else, who had similar leisurely ideas. The breakfast included in the price of an overnight stay was again simple with fruit, pastries and granola alongside a modest amount of cooked options, the husband chose smashed avocado and eggs on sourdough whilst I greedily enjoyed a full English. 

I don't mean to gush so, but rarely is something as good in real life as it looks with Instagram filters but The Culpeper does. Dare I say it's possibly the most Instagram friendly pub in the East End and with such friendly staff too. We loved it, the decor was very 'us' with its rustic simplicity, although not sure I could pursuede the husband to have the same plastered walls! 

Rooms cost £120/night and more information, menus and pictures can be found here www.theculpeper.com
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