Tuesday, 28 June 2011

my manifesto...

All children should have access to explore the natural world around them;

  1. to climb trees 
  2. get dirty knees
  3. pick and eat blackberries from hedgerows
  4. camp under the stars
  5. toast marshmallows on an open fire
  6. roll down a hill
  7. make mud pies
  8. splash about in a puddle/stream/river/the sea
  9. grow potatoes, dig them up & eat them
  10. feel a sense of freedom
I believe that all children should have the right to do all these things and more, it should be 'second nature.'

Sunday, 26 June 2011

shh don't tell the children...

but we have just returned from the lovely wedding of Sas to Ash. It was the most beautiful wedding, the bride looked simply amazing...

with an hourglass figure to die for! I just love the vintage brooch detailing on the back of the dress.

We didn't take the children as they wouldn't have been able to sit still and one of us would have been 'on duty' and not able to take advantage of the beautiful venue, The Old Bell in Hurley. And besides we treated ourselves to a nice room with a roll top bath, as we have never stayed in a hotel before, just the two of us!

The wedding photographers were the amazingly talented Pen (pictured below) and Cam of McKinley-Rogers Photography, whose photo's are just gorgeous

The weather was perfect, so we didn't need to borrow any of the hotels wellies!

and this morning after a hearty hotel breakfast, we joined the newlyweds on the grass for a picnic lunch, which the hotel make up for you to take on a walk or eat in their beautiful garden!

The weekend was also the second time all eight of our blog friends were together again after our retreat last year, with Lisa jetting in all the way from California with her beautiful daughter Marandah! The other seven of us (me, Leonie, Susannah, Sas, Jo, Penny, Megg) live in the UK but it seems so hard for us all to get together! It was so good to see them all again and meet their partners too, and to think, I wouldn't have met any of them if it wasn't for blogging!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

giving consent...

A few weeks ago a picture of mine (above) appeared in The Daily Mirror to illustrate the feature "Help your children discover wildlife on your doorstep with a nature walk" which I would usually get very excited about. However, the piece didn't include a picture credit to me and instead credited Getty Images.

I read all the time about originality, and various copyright issues, I even buy images as part of my job meticulously sourcing images and making sure we credit correctly. I know how easy it is to get wrong and how as a photographer by releasing a digital image, it all comes down to trust and good practice.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am, this is the third time it has happened, first Sainsbury's magazine, then the Big Issue and now the Daily Mirror. The pictures each time have been for a commission and have been passed on to a third party. As a photographer that's learning the ropes, trying to make a name for myself without giving too much material away for free, I find it really hard. It also makes it very difficult to find out who is at fault, were the pictures sent with the correct copyright in the file name? Was it the picture desk, if I complain will they ever use me again?

Once it's out there the damage has been done. I'll never earn enough to give up the day job, but I do want to be credited. I just wish I could be excited about having made it into a national newspaper!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

guerilla gardening...

We planted up someone's neglected hanging baskets today, inspired by the pothole gardener, who plants mini gardens in potholes! We will definitely do some more guerilla gardening again.

Friday, 17 June 2011

that friday feeling...

Lunch at Hobbs House Bakery in Nailsworth, a very yummy handmade Scotch egg with tomato chutney from the new lunchtime menu. Delicious and a bit of a treat as I should have been doing chores! I quite fancy having a go at making some myself, great for picnics, anyone got any good recipes?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

becoming a 'foodie'...

taking a break with a tea loaf

Talk about blowing my own trumpet, but today my bloggers interview appears in the June edition of The Foodie Bugle. I am hugely honored to appear alongside some really wonderful and inspiring people, especially as I don't consider myself a 'foodie' at all! I guess looking through my blog, I do waffle on about cooking and recipes a fair bit, especially when it comes to foraging! 

The Foodie Bugle, if you haven't discovered it before, is a beautiful online co-operative magazine, created and edited by Silvana de Soissons, dedicated to the sourcing, preparation and enjoyment of good food and drink, produced by skilled artisans, sold by quality purveyors and savoured by foodies. It tells the story of simple, frugal, seasonal food and drink from farm to fork, from soil to shop, from grape to glass. 

This month the features range from a fab Friday night shift/behind the scenes tour from Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery, an interview with Jane Clarke author of Nourish, local ice cream from Winstones and even a wild food forage

So sit yourself down with a cup of tea and slice of cake and immerse yourself in The Foodie Bugle. Do let me know what you think.  

Sunday, 12 June 2011

British beach chalets...

We now have the beach chalet bug, proper old fashioned wooden ones not 'bungalows by the sea' charading as a beach chalet or hut! There are lots sprinkled around the UK coast, but are an endangered species as many developers buy them up, build walls around them, or extend them for a larger New England feel. Many even now cost more to buy than the average family home! 

We are lucky to have just stayed in this very beautiful hut at Gwithian Towans, Cornwall. Sleeping six, it has been renovated to a high standard, with fully equipped kitchen, two surfboards in the beams, airondack chairs on the verandah and original bakerlight doorknobs and original narrow (1920's/30's) doors. 

For something with a character, The Shack is beautifully retro and sitting resplendent on an Isle of Wight beach. Or for something quite unique then this beach hut, (pictured below) on a Devon beach is for you. With prices from £1,595 for a week, no wonder guests have included Kate Winslet! 

Something a little more affordable this secluded beach hut for two on it's very own beach and only reached by a footpath. With a wood fired hot tub, no electricity and bed you reach by ladder, it sounds perfect. Now where can I find an affordable one? 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

seven days & seven nights...

A weeks holiday is never long enough is it? We have just returned from our annual summer holiday, we usually go earlier in the year for the better weather and more affordable holiday prices. This year we splashed out and booked an amazing beach chalet on one of our favourite beaches in Cornwall.

Driftwood was perfect, simply but beautifully furnished, without skimping on good quality with Dualit toaster and kettle, John Lewis bedding and large comfy sofa. There was a welcome pack on arrival that included tea, milk, focaccia, ginger fairings biscuits, a bottle of wine and a beautiful large bouquet of flowers on the table. There was also a good selection of books and games, and the kitchen was well stocked, with enough utensils for cooking and preparing delicious meals. Two surfboards balanced in the rafters, tempting folk who have never surfed before to get them down. With the Sunset Surf cafe a few minutes walk away where you can hire wetsuits and get lessons there really is no excuse not to give it go!

Pete had to come home for a day as he was filming on one of his nature reserves with Julia Bradbury for BBC TV's Countryfile programme. Poor thing, it was a 12 hour round trip on the train. So the boys and I had a day out on The Lizard, eating breakfast at Polpeor Cafe and horse riding at Poltesco Valley Stables. We also stocked up on lots of local food at nearby Trevaskis Farm, a 15 minute drive from the chalet.

With a sea view and a beach literally on the doorstep, there really wasn't any need to go far at all, a trip to St. Ives across the bay was about as far as we ventured. Already we are dreaming of returning to Drfitwood and we've only been home a few hours!

the barefoot kitchen...

On our travels in Cornwall last week, we discovered the Barefoot Kitchen, sat on top of a cliff on the Lizard, with far reaching views out to sea towards the Penwith peninsular and St. Michael's Mount. 

The lifestyle shop, sells tiffin tins, blankets and belly boards and there is also a cafe with a wood burning stove, serving homemade and local delicious food. 

It was a windy day, so we warmed ourselves up with these huge mugfuls of warm milk, with a rather fun chocolate dipper to stir in. 

The barefoot website has a whole library of short films of beautiful Cornish folk cooking on the beach, which I am trying to watch without being insanely envious of their lifestyle!

Check the website for opening hours.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

horses & hydrangeas...

One of the best things about having children is getting the chance to embrace my inner child! Today I took the boys horse riding, something I've never done before. I grew up reading all the Jill's Gymkhana books and always wanted to learn to ride, I certainly fancy doing it again too!

We found some beautiful blue hydrangeas whilst riding, and saved these ones from being trampled!

little chefs...

The boys made their own supper this evening. Easy to make pizza's which makes everyone happy as they can choose their own toppings! 

As you can see a lot of concentration went into this task and they tasted delicious too. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

driftwood days...

So here we are relaxing in the beach chalet listening to the chilled out tunes of Jack Johnson and Aloe Blacc whilst pretending to be cool surfy types! Braving the wind for a quick dip in the ocean, brrrr then running back for a hot outdoor shower to warm up! 

Watching many beautiful sunsets, eating good food, staying up late, reading Charlotte's Web and playing dominoes around the table...

Drinking hot chocolate on the beach, wrapped in blankets to keep warm...

...and eating bacon butties! 

farm shop fodder...

this is a brilliant time of the year to visit your local farm shop. My favourite are the shops where you can pick your own or walk around the farm to see where your food has come from, like these onions (above) and strawberries (below).

Strawberries are my favourite food to pick, they remind me of childhood, walking miles to our nearest farm, and eating as many in the fields as we picked!

We picked some gooseberries this year too, I'd forgotten just how prickly the bushes were though, owch! I used them to make a quick 'fool' with, I boiled the gooseberries with a little water and lots of sugar to taste, adding a small amount of elderflower too for a delicate taste. After waiting for the gooseberries to cool I whipped up some double cream to put on top, or you can stir in for a more traditional gooseberry fool. Quick and very easy.

Monday, 6 June 2011


I am in totally in love with this Bill Brown sleeping bag that unzips to a quilt! It couldn't be more different from those 'boil in the bag' nylon numbers I grew up with. I am however, not in love with it's £180 price tag. 

I still need to order our new (moving up the property ladder) five metre bell tent but can't decide between the one with separate ground sheet, that we had with the four metre bell and was perfectly adequate or pay more for a groundsheet that unzips? Should I buy from Soul Pad or Bell Tent UK and is there much of a difference apart from price? 

Or find someone going to the Netherlands who can just pick one up for me from here - decisions, decisions!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

eats, shoots and leaves...

I'm addicted to eating pea shoots at the moment, so easy to grow and perfect in summer salads mixed with sugar snap peas, mange tout and asparagus. Do you remember the peatini's I made for my exhibition last year? A great green colour, although from memory I think I put a little too much gin in!

I want to grow some edible flowers to add to summer salads to make them look pretty, so have been choosing what best to grow, I rarely grow flowers, unless I am companion planting vegetables! There is even a company called First Leaf that supplies edible flowers! I think I will grow violas, rose geranium and marigolds as they are just beautiful and I can use them in ice cubes too!

Friday, 3 June 2011

elderflower fritters...

 I followed Hugh Fernley-Whittingstalls elderflower fritter recipe this evening as a Friday treat.

You need to make a batter: Mix 125g plain flour with a pinch of salt, 25g of caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk in up to 150ml water to a consistency of thick paint. Cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

In a large high sided pan, heat up at least 5cm of good frying oil. Whisk two egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gently fold them into the batter.

Choose eight large and fragrant elder flowers. Dip the flowers into the batter, allowing the excess to drip off and fry individually for a few minutes until they are puffed up and golden brown. Remove and place on kitchen paper to remove excess oil, keep in a low oven or under the grill until ready to serve.

Pile onto a plate and sprinkle with a little caster sugar. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over them.

This recipe was taken from The River Cottage Year by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

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

A school holiday day trip to Western-Super-Mare, with donkey rides on the beach and ice cream. We went on the train for that added 'spirit of adventure' and found out from other travelers that we could have bought our tickets for half price as there are many 2 for 1 offers on First Great Western Trains at the moment! Doh - I hate it when that happens!
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