Monday, 25 August 2014

SIMPLE SUNDAYS




We love Sundays, where we can potter about at a more leisurely pace, playing and baking. Whilst the babe played very loudly on the keyboard, I tried out a new plum and frangipane tart recipe that was absolutely delicious. 



My mum always used to make plum crumble when I was a child and she'd always keep the stones in and count them out as we discovered them; tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief! 


Sunday, 24 August 2014

HAVE YOU DISCOVERED STELLER YET?


Have you discovered the new storytelling App Steller yet? It's fab and oh so simple to use uploading pics and video into pages and collections.

I've made a couple of stories already, you can see them here, I think just like Instagram I may become addicted! 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

OPEN STUDIO THIS WEEKEND





My lovely friend Andy Lovell has an open studio this bank holiday weekend and today I visited to have a look around his gorgeous studio in his beautiful Painswick garden, near Stroud. I love his prints, often in muted colours they look so textured. Starting from £50 Andy's prints are affordable art and for people like me who yearn to own some 'grown up' art, are a great first collectors pieces. His studio is usually only open one weekend a year so if you are local do visit this weekend, 10-6 Sunday and 10-2 on Bank Holiday Monday. I might go back tomorrow as I can't stop thinking about the beautiful cliffs, pictured above, they would look perfect on my wall.

FLOWERS & FARMERS' MARKETS





I love our local Farmers' market and the seasonal flowers in particular, my treat each week is a bunch from the lovely flower man. This is the time of year for dark dahlias too, one of my favourite flowers.

Friday, 22 August 2014

DISCOVERING ZIZZI'S


When we were asked by Zizzi's Restaurant to discover their new kids bambini menu and the boys and I were really excited.

Upon arrival at our nearest restaurant we were greeted by sheets of stickers and chefs hats to decorate with a pot of colourful crayons. The boys loved this the most as whilst they were thinking how to decorate the hats a small pot of carrot, cucumber and dough sticks were brought to the table and they started munching straight away. When the boys finished decorating their hats they were taken up to the chefs who then wore them for the evening, much to our delight.


The boys ordered the make-your-own pizzas, and two margarita pizzas promptly arrived with a small pot of ham, tomato and olives for them to decorate them. They then followed this with the Zizzi Bambini mini cones which came with a little pot of chocolate coated popping candy to decorate the ice cream with. I chose the rigatoni carbonara which was delicious with a mozerella and tomato salad followed by a chocolate melt.


To finish they enjoyed a chocacino, which were included in the kids bambini menu price of just £6.75.


The busy Zizzi's restaurant and open kitchen with huge pizza oven above. They are also running an online competition to win a free meal if you tag your pictures taken in the restaurant with #ZizziBambini which of course we had to do!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

CIRCUS SKILLS


The boys enjoyed a circus skills workshop today and took great delight learning the trapeze. I secretly fancied a go myself but I really don't have any upper body strength! Maybe we can all learn and run away with the circus.

Monday, 18 August 2014

BLACKBERRY TORTA DI MORE


I love the rustic simplicity of Italian cooking so after picking some blackberries I thought a creamy torta di more would be perfect to make for pudding after Sunday lunch.

I used shop bought short crust pastry and rolled it out to fill a dish and baked following the instructions on the packet. I then mixed together 250 g mascarpone and 150 ml single cream with four teaspoons of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Once the pastry case had cooked and cooled, I added the creamy filling and plenty of blackberries on top and put in the fridge to set for 30 mins. Jamie Oliver does one similar but adds grappa to his I think and most definitely would make his own pastry too!

A perfect seasonal dish to enjoy!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

HOMEGROWN STUFFED COURGETTE FLOWERS





With our courgette plants flowering in abundance, it is the height of their production and signals that it is the time of year when we are gifted with an abundance of courgettes.

A quick, easy but messy recipe to make is stuffed courgette flowers. I simply pick and shake the flowers to get any bugs out. Stuff with a mixtures of ricotta, parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper then carefully stuff into the flower, using the petals to close them into little parcels.

I then make up a batter, I like the River Cottage batter recipe, which uses sparkling water to make a lovely light batter, we've used this for battered elderflowers too which was delicious. Then I simply deep fry them and serve straight away on a platter with some nice italian ham and home-grown tomatoes. .

Straight from the garden and into our tummies in less than 30 minutes!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

J'AI BESOIN DE VOTRE AIDE


I am hoping that I have written 'I need your help' in French above! I am just enchanted by all the wonderful images I see of France on blogs, Pinterest and Instagram so we've started to research French holidays for next year (2015). The boys have never been abroad, I last went in 1996, eighteen years ago and my husbands passport has expired so the first thing we have to do is apply for five passports which is £283 before we even set off!

So what we need are recommendations of the best places to go, I would love to stay somewhere traditional, where we can buy baguettes for breakfast. I'd love to go to Paris too. Or do you prefer Italy? I would love to hear your travel advice and recommendations.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

BLACKBERRY PICKING




Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not. 

by Seamus Heaney 

Monday, 11 August 2014

NELLY THE ELEPHANT PACKED HER TRUNK


Nelly the elephant may have packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus, but luckily for us Giffords Circus has a huge menagerie of acrobats, horses, dogs, jugglers, musicians and funny acts that are ready to perform in Nelly's absence! Oh yes, fairly predictably, today saw our annual summer pilgrimage to the wonderful Giffords Circus, Gloucestershire's very own vintage circus that tours our local village greens each year.


We went to the circus with my lovely friend Kat and her family, who like us are huge fans of Giffords Circus. She bought cool tattoos for us all, I am currently sporting a ringmaster on my arm! 


We follow Tweedy the clown into the tent, and it's like greeting a favourite aunty when we see him and 'keef' his pet iron. He always has us in stitches and his presence throughout the show ensures you don't stop smiling, in fact the only other time my face ached so much from smiling was on my wedding day! 




Above are just a couple of moments from this year's show 'The Thunders' which is on tour until the end of September and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

THE SQUASH COURT STORE & CAFE AT DEANS COURT



One of the highlights of our camping trip last week was discovering the Squash Court Store at Deans Court in Wimbourne, Dorset. The shop, pictured above, is housed in a former squash court funnily enough, and was the brainchild of Ali Hanham (formerly Ali Sharland of Sharland and Lewis in Tetbury and Nailsworth). I love the art deco writing on the building and it has such a beautiful courtyard full of cosmos in full bloom shared with the cafe. 


The Squash Court Store, which is now also online, is tucked away in a tiny Wimborne lane and sells vintage and retro goods as well as new items too such as Duralex glasses, Sophie Lovell cards and delicious honey from the Deans Court beehives. It was good to meet the lovely Kelly-Marie, pictured above, who manages the store and I couldn't resist making one or two... make that six or seven purchases - whoops!




The busy cafe opposite the shop is housed in an old 1930's garage and had a fab menu - great looking cakes on display and a really lovely broad been, pea and feta frittata. I loved the tin tiles on the front of the cafe workbench. We popped in twice and both times it was really busy, the secret is already out about this place which gave it a lovely vibe. There were veg boxes and bunches of flowers for sale outside, beautiful posies on the tables and even daisies in the waitresses hair.


Farrs Meadow the campsite we stayed at last week is part of the Deans Court family, and it was whilst perusing the online Squash Court Store that I discovered it! 

If you fancy camping at Farrs Meadow then you're in luck as readers of Bradshaw & Sons get a 20% discount on all bookings taken this season to the end of September that are made before the 15th August, please use the offer code FARRS20 when making your booking

Terms and Conditions: 
  1. Please like Farrs Meadow on Facebook, follow on Twitter and Instagram
  2. The booking must be for a minimum of two nights
  3. This promotion is for bookings this season before 30th September 2014
  4. Bookings must be made by 15th August 2014

Thursday, 7 August 2014

THE MAGIC OF CAMPFIRES


Campfires are just magical and at Farrs Meadow campsite there was a huge communal fire in a large fire bowl in the middle of the field, with large tree stumps circled around it. It was a magnet for the children to play around and adults to sit and talk, a fire really brings a campsite together. 

You know you've had a good fire when it's still smoldering the morning after, and as ours was still smoldering the morning after we thought we'd build it back up and have the first Farrs Meadow toasting championship! 


We raided the food bag for our slightly stale loaf and some homemade blackcurrant jam and then fashioned a leafy winners crown from a hazel twig!


Using pen knives, string and sticks that we found in the woodpiles the children competed to see who could invent the best toasting contraption. They came up with a dangly fishing rod, a very wobbly string bridge to balance the toast on and something that resembled a lacrosse racquet, but the good old fashioned two pronged stick was of course the best!


The judge was blindfolded and the toast was buttered and jammed for a taste test. He only ate a little corner not the whole slice.


It was quite a messy, jammy experience as you can imagine!


There were two winners in the end who both shared the hazel crown and are officially the first Farrs Meadow toast champions!



If you fancy camping here too you're in luck as the lovely chaps from Farrs Meadow have offered readers of Bradshaw & Sons a 20% discount on all bookings this season to the end of September that are made before the 15th August, please use the offer code FARRS20 when making your booking

Terms and Conditions: 
  1. Please like Farrs Meadow on Facebook, follow on Twitter and Instagram
  2. The booking must be for a minimum of two nights
  3. This promotion is for bookings this season before 30th September 2014
  4. Bookings must be made by 15th August 2014

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

FARRS MEADOW CAMPSITE IN DORSET


We have discovered a most lovely campsite called Farrs Meadow near Wimborne Minster in Dorset. It's a lovely small meadow surrounded by ancient trees overlooking the Stour Valley. There are compost toilets and showers in upcycled horse boxes and you can toast marshmallows on real fires in the fire bowl which is surrounded by stumps to sit on whilst you watch the sun go down. 






It's such a magical place, even the children do the washing up! Well when you wash up in old drinking troughs, it pretty much makes it a whole lot more fun!



Overhead buzzards nest in the tall trees, bunnies rustle in the hedgerows and glow worms shine their tiny lights in the long grass when it gets dark. We took our bat detector to see if we could see or hear any bats hunting at night and managed to capture a small clip below, you can hear the clicks from the bat detector picking up the bat's echolocation clicks and the more 'farty' noises are when the bat catches a moth, you can even see it fly off very faintly in the middle of the screen.


A short walk away is the picturesque meandering River Stour, where it is deep and wide and you can slip into its cold depths for a wild swim under the Eye Bridge



If you fancy camping here too you're in luck as the lovely chaps from Farrs Meadow have offered readers of Bradshaw & Sons a 20% discount on all bookings this season to the end of September that are made before the 15th August, please use the offer code FARRS20 when making your booking

Terms and Conditions: 
  1. Please like Farrs Meadow on Facebook, follow on Twitter and Instagram
  2. The booking must be for a minimum of two nights
  3. This promotion is for bookings this season before 30th September 2014
  4. Bookings must be made by 15th August 2014
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