Thursday, 26 September 2013

39 things to do before I turn 40...

Oh my! There's only one year to go before the big four-o! So here we are above frivolously drinking cocktails in the day at my favourite restaurant, The Ethicurean, to try and drown my sorrows as this is the last year of my thirties!

As I've done for the last five years here's my annual list of things I'd like to do this year...
  1. be a better mother! 
  2. plant an edible hedge of crab apple (for jelly), blackthorn (sloe gin), cherry plum (for jam), dog rose (for rosehip syrup), elderberry (for cordial), hazel (for nuts) and wild pear (for jams, liqueurs and syrups)
  3. illustrate my favourite walks 
  4. eat more veg as a family 
  5. make a mini garden with the boys like this one 
  6. visit the Hay literature festival 
  7. give myself time to explore more creative photography
  8. bid on something in an auction (& win it!)
  9. go to the Circus of course! 
  10. chop and fill the wood shed ready for winter
  11. take the boys fossil hunting ✓
  12. press apples and make our own cider
  13. start making my own clothes (slightly ambitious!) 
  14. have a secret weekend with my husband here
  15. run a gingerbread house making workshop ✓
  16. make some personalised rosettes 
  17. buy a waffle iron (I love waffles)
  18. bake the most amazing birthday cake ✓
  19. visit The Wild Rabbit 
  20. go to the Natural History Museum & see the dinosaurs 
  21. buy a panama hat 
  22. make snow lollies
  23. hire a Morris traveller and go for a drive & picnic
  24. go wild swimming 
  25. make fruit leathers
  26. visit Paris
  27. plant my favourite flowers in the garden 
  28. find all the March Hares  
  29. go stargazing & learn to identify more constellations
  30. write letters to each of the boys should anything ever happen to me (morbid I know, but inspired by Caitlin Moran's brilliant letter to her daughter & the fact that I am getting on a bit!)
  31. buy a new bigger bell tent 
  32. & find some amazing places to go camping 
  33. have a snail race
  34. grow the biggest pumpkin
  35. wonder at a starling murmuration
  36. find a dramatically deep shade of red lipstick that suits me and wear it 
  37. visit Rye and stay in the Crow's Nest
  38. host a series of twelve seasonally inspired gatherings
  39. make a difference! 
here's the previous years 38 things37 things36 things, 35 things and 34 things, which still need finishing!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Ted's Tomato Ketchup

Ted hates tomatoes, but loves pizza, spaghetti bolognese and ketchup! So in order for him to understand that his favourite foods are in fact made from just mushed up tomatoes we're making some homemade tomato ketchup.

Ted's tomato ketchup is made from

2kg ripe tomatoes
3 onions
1 red pepper
all chopped and put in a large pan to cook until they go really mushy.

We then blend the mixture adding 150ml cider vinegar, 75g soft brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of mustard powder, before simmering. We add a little salt and pepper and paprika to taste, although you can add lots of other spices too - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall does a similar recipe adding a spice bag. We then bottle in sterilised bottles or jars and keep it in the fridge until we're ready to use it.

I'll let you in to a secret too, we go to the greengrocers last thing on a Saturday as sometimes they reduce things and we bought all these ingredients for just a few pounds! I had hoped to grow loads of tomatoes this year but despite growing beautiful plants, they just haven't fruited and the ones that have, have failed to ripen.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


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

Teaching the babe to dunk biscuits! An important life skill don't you think? 

Joining in with the 52 project by Che & Fidel.

Thursday, 19 September 2013


I really like these crate shelves in The Canteen cafe, next to Sharland and Lewis in Nailsworth. If I can find some crates that don't cost the earth I quite fancy giving this a go in my lounge, does anyone know where I can get 15 from?

Saturday, 14 September 2013


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

The photo that speaks a thousands words! The baby not dressed - how hard can it be to get three children dressed in the morning? The eldest boy, socks rolled down in his last year at Primary School, the middle child already has lost a sweatshirt and a pair of trousers in his first week back! 

Joining in with the 52 project by Che & Fidel.

When I was 14 years old I wanted to be a journalist

When I was 14 years old I was too young to get a Saturday job, but desperately wanted to earn my own money. I tried delivering newspapers, but soon gave up when I couldn't find the houses, they all had names, massive long drives and no numbers! So my first proper job was as a 'local correspondent' for my local newspaper The Citizen in Gloucester. I was paid 12p a line and a picture of me wearing slightly too much black eyeliner accompanied my weekly piece. I wrote about school, shopping trolleys being dumped in the local brook and people protesting for a bypass to take the lorries away from our village. I dreamed of becoming a journalist. 

Fast forward 20+ years and I work for an amazing local charity in marketing, part of my role includes writing press releases, web copy, magazine articles and features for local magazines. I love it and work with the most enthusiastic and inspiring local and national newspapers, journalists, freelance writers, TV programmes and radio stations. They keep me on my toes in terms of questions, and I in turn *hopefully* supply them with great quotes, stories and photographs.

A few months ago I met with the lovely Tara Walker, who is the editor of a brand new magazine for the Cotswolds' called Your Cotswold Family. I was delighted when she asked whether I would write a feature about how children aren't engaging with nature anymore and I jumped at the chance as it was right up my street. I am so used to writing anonymously that it was a real challenge to break away from my corporate style, but I loved it and it brought back all the memories of that 14 year sitting at the typewriter with a chewed pencil!  I got the same butterflies now as I did then to see my name in print in such a fab new magazine, which *ahem* is on sale now throughout the Cotswolds'.

Monday, 9 September 2013

postcards from...

picture of me by Leonie Wise

I spent a lovely day last week saying goodbye to a beautiful friend who is heading home after six years of adventures on our shores. We've now got a jam jar in a kitchen cupboard marked 'New Zealand' and have started saving our pennies, so hopefully one day we'll meet again and can sit drinking tea in the sunshine.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

the wild woodland summer ball

we followed a magical path

I always buy a local newspaper when I'm on holiday, I like to find out about local events and get a sense of the place in which I'm staying. This year, thanks to the newspaper left for us in our welcome pack in the holiday cottage, I read about the Rogue Theatre company performing a 'wild woodland summer ball' in a woodland nearby, which sounded enchanting, so we booked for our last night and hoped it wouldn't rain! 

We arrived at the woodland, an enchanting oak woodland near the cliffs on the North coast of Cornwall, and followed a long trail of fairy lights, though different 'scenes' and through a door into a magical glade. The scenes were a clue to the different plays we were about to watch as part of the main performance. 

it's not everyday you find a pirate ship in the middle of a woodland!

or a sofa for that matter!

The show was truly magical, I thought it might be a little too 'fairy wings and glitter' but the theatre was structured into six plays, from little old ladies reminiscing about their lost loves to swashbuckling pirate adventures on the high seas with fights! Lots of singing and dancing too. There really was something for everyone, that included a stew in the interval and a well stocked bar with local beers and hot chocolate and ended with dancing! We all were absolutely spellbound with each of us having a different favorite play, I loved the arial artists performance in particular. I am delighted to see that there are different shows throughout the year, with next summer's listings already advertised, I would consider booking my holiday to coincide just to see them again as I thought it was so fab! I really want to go to the winter performance, how magical would that be before Christmas? 

the boys were spellbound and as we watched bats flew over our heads!

the theatre hidden in the middle of the woods 

the attention to detail & storytelling from the minute you arrived was amazing!

It was the perfect end to our holiday.


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

The endless fascination that a child has with swings! Also - the focus has gone on my camera argh. 

Joining in with the 52 project by Che & Fidel.

Monday, 2 September 2013

September, I love you

trying to master the game of croquet!

September is my birth month, so when it rolls around I start counting the days until my birthday, which I still get excited about at my grand old age! I'm slowly creeping towards a big number and have surprised myself by quite how much I've been thinking about it, (I didn't think I was that vain!) and how to celebrate it!

It's also the time to chop wood and fill the wood store, pick berries and make jam, wear cardigans, search for fungi, have conker fights and also check my yearly list of things I want to do and see how many I've managed to tick off before creating a whole new list!
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