Wednesday, 31 July 2013

the Ethicurean in Summer

It was an absolute joy to return to The Ethicurean for lunch with some blogging friends a few weeks ago. I took the middle child with me as he'd been off-colour and I'd thought the hour and a half drive would actually give him time to rest with peace and quiet, and if that didn't work a rather splendid hot chocolate would perk him up, when we arrived. 

The menu was delightful and a real contrast to the last time I visited in Autumn (really was it that long ago?) I was drawn to a wild strawberry salad which came with meringue pieces and beautiful blue borage flowers. It was absolutely delicious, as were the colourful cocktails that people on neighbouring tables were ordering and kept passing us by, the summer elder looked a wonderful bright pink, but the Chipotle Old Fashioned cocktail caught our eye on the menu with its promise to be "hotter than Don Draper!" Oh to have had the time to sit and enjoy the view with a summer cocktail, instead of having to hit the M5 and get back home again, even missing out on pudding!  

It was worth the three hour round trip in the car for such a fab lunch with such great company; KatLottieLaura (& babe) and Karen

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

double figures already!

My eldest son is ten and I can't quite believe that a decade has raced by so quickly! To celebrate his birthday his younger brother, our neighbour and I baked a rather large chocolate sponge cake all covered with a chocolate buttercream icing.

He is starting to grow and catching me up quite rapidly, his feet seem to grow almost daily and his shoulders are broadening. Despite being the second youngest in the class and feeling quite left behind at times, last week he brought home an amazing school report and has really knuckled down this year to make some truly amazing progress, which has made me so proud.

Being a 'Sport Billy' he had mainly sporty things for his birthday, cricket helmet and pads, but we also bought him a fossil hunting set which came in a fab canvas satchel and a great 3D doodle set!

Monday, 29 July 2013

the witches cauldron

A recent tip to Wales led to an afternoon of adventure. The discovery of a perfect picnic spot and place to sit at Ceibwr Bay followed by a cliff top walk to the Witches Cauldron - a secret pool created when the roof of a cave fell in. The boys loved it so much they didn't moan about how far they walked!

The Pembrokeshire Coast is spectacular with dramatic cliffs, colourful flowers and seals waving at you from the sea, OK maybe not waving! I would love to return and discover more of this amazing coastline.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

sleeping in the treehouse

It was so hot last week that we slept in the treehouse, which is smelling amazing at the moment as it's covered in flowering jasmine! 

Saturday, 27 July 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013

S: picking blackcurrants in the garden to make into cordial. 
T: a rare smile in a week where he's been constantly contrary! It takes him a while to get into the school holiday groove. 
A: a first live concert and a very late night with a boy who loves to party! 

click below to find out more about the project...

stuffed courgette flowers

This week my courgette plant flowered at last, I've been watching it every day so that I can try a stuffed courgette flower recipe! It was a little bit fiddly but I managed to stuff the beautiful large yellow flowers with a ricotta/parmesan/chive mixture then batter it for a quick dip in the fryer! 

Inspired by The Ethicurean's salads I served the stuffed flowers on a bed of homegrown rocket and nasturtium leaves decorated with marigold petals. It made for a perfect summer lunch in the sunshine. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

seeds now in stock

I am delighted that my tiny Bradshaw & Sons store has new stock. A new range of heritage flowers and vegetables. I have been frustrated by the selection available in garden centres of my favourite flowers, so have sourced our native British bluebell, an edible heartsease perfect for putting in summer salads and ice cubes, a foxglove which is to me the iconic English cottage garden flower and a mammoth pumpkin for growing and carving at Halloween.

It is a little late in the season for sowing, although you can still plant foxgloves in August, the boys and I are going to plant the pumpkins and give them a go, you may want to join us and race to grow the biggest? We have a limited supply of seeds in the store to sell, all priced at £2 per packet (plus P&P).

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Meeting Cerys

I was so lucky to meet the enchanting Cerys Matthews this week, who was in Gloucestershire to film for The One Show at one of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's nature reserves Laurie Lee Wood. She was recording a short film about the book Cider with Rosie and was exploring the Slad Valley and how it has changed since Laurie Lee lived there as a child.

It was wonderful to get a sneak peek behind the scenes and see how a TV programme such as the One Show is made, the crew were just fab and worked so hard in the sweltering heat!

We talked about Granny Wallon a wonderful character from Cider with Rosie who is described as 'spending her days gathering the fruits of the surrounding countryside and turning them into wines that slowly ferment over a year in their bottles', and I said how easy elderflower champagne is to make, so had to give her a bottle from our recent brew a few weeks ago (secretly hoping it didn't explode on the train on her way home!)

So this week on her fabulous BBC 6 Music Sunday morning show Cerys mentioned this blog and read out my elderflower champagne recipe on her 'Poetry In Motion' section of the show! I am completely 'starstruck' and in love with Cerys' Welsh lilt as she reads the recipe to the most beautiful music 'Llio Rhydderch' by Melangell Megis Sybylltirin the background. 

Thank you so much Cerys, the mention made us all quite giddy with excitement, I do hope you enjoy the champagne. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Dusting off the camera

I was delighted to be asked to photograph Tom Herbert, one half of TV's The Fabulous Baker Brothers, for a new magazine soon to be launched in the Cotswold's, called Your Cotswold Family. I haven't done a proper shoot for ages and was quite nervous, especially as Tom has been photographed by some really great photographers for his books and other magazine articles! They were of course a complete joy to capture, this is one of my favourite pictures from the shoot, father and son baking together, nothing staged this is really just a Saturday morning in the Herbert house, Tom making a strawberry tart to take to a friends house and Milo making cheese scones. I'm not sharing any more pics with you though, you'll have to buy the magazine when it's launched on the 26th August! - you can subscribe here.

Saturday, 13 July 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013

Stanley: the viking!
Alfie & Ted: taking part in tug-of-war at the school camp out!
sometimes the best photos aren't in focus ~ they just make you smile

click below to find out more about the project...

Friday, 12 July 2013

hanging on the telephone

I drove past this telephone box the other day, only to notice it wasn't a telephone box, it has been turned into a book exchange! What a wonderful use for an old telephone box and how lovely that this it remains at the heart of village life.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Strawberry Picking with Stanley

For me strawberry picking is a tradition, something my mum and I would do every year as we lived within walking distance of a fruit farm. We'd pop a few into our mouths as we hunted for the little red treasure, always crossing into the next row that had the promise of bigger juicier strawberries!

In my opinion strawberry picking should always be on a warm day, when you can smell the aroma of the fruit as it ripens and at the moment we are blessed with the most perfect picking weather. With Stanley's help (and by help I mean) I picked and he popped them into his mouth, we filled two baskets ready to turn into jam. At 14 months old I'm not sure he really understood what we were doing and was quite bemused by the whole concept, preferring instead to run up and down the straw filled lanes!

Monday, 8 July 2013

how to make Welsh cakes...

Years of holidays in wales have given me a great fondness for Welsh cakes, a delicious scone type cake, easy to make and best eaten warm straight off the griddle!


250g plain flour
125g butter
75g caster sugar
50g currants
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1 egg
pinch of salt
a little milk to bind


1. Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder & mixed spice) in a mixing bowl
2. Cut up the butter and rub into the flour
3. Stir in the sugar and fruit, then pour in the egg to make a dough, use a little milk if the mixture is too dry
4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of a biscuit and use a pastry cutter to cut out rounds
5. Cook the cakes on a griddle or heavy bottomed pan, over a low heat, until they turn golden
6. Once cooked sprinkle with caster sugar and serve

enjoying the sunshine

We've been really enjoying this sunshine and been outside most of the weekend. Luckily the very nice people at Green People sent me a tube of sun lotion and some bath and shower wash too a few weeks ago, so for once I was actually ready for this heat wave.

I struggle to find bath washes that are suitable for our sensitive skins as most of the family has eczema, but I'm pleased to report that these products have proved both effective and extremely gentle on our skin. I've been using the citrus and aloe vera body wash too as it smells divine and is a perfect scent for summer with aloe in for sun kissed skin.

The sun lotion has worked beautifully on all of our skins and is easy to apply, especially on wiggly babies! Green People have also linked up with The Marine Conservation Society and are donating 30p from every sale of organic scent free SPF 25 sun-lotion to this cause.

I had never used any products by Green People before but will certainly use them again as I've been delighted with the samples we were sent. Here's to more fun in the sun this week!

Sunday, 7 July 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013

Goodness has it been five weeks since I last posted to the 52 project? I knew I wouldn't keep up for long! Here is Stan enjoying the hose pipe as he helps me water the vegetables. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

how to make elderflower champagne

I've tried lots of different ways to make elderflower champagne, but this is my favourite most tried and tested method. 

Makes around 20 bottles 

About 30 elderflower heads, in full bloom (pick on a sunny day away from the roadside, making sure you don't strip a tree of all its flowers!)
2kg natural sugar
4 litres hot water + 2 litres cold
Juice and zest of four lemons
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
A pinch of dried yeast (although you may not need this)

1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a preserving pan or spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water to 6 litres.
2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.
3. Cover with a clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.
4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four to five days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised glass bottles.
5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for a further eight days before serving, chilled.

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