Sunday, 25 March 2012

Day Trip to River Cottage

We are lucky enough to live just about a 30 minute drive away from Park Farm, the River Cottage hq. So, last weekend, when they were holding the first of this year's open days - Get Growing in Spring - we went along. It was glorious weather, thank goodness, as I'm not sure it would have been much fun if it were cold and/or wet.

When you arrive, you park at the top of the hill and have the option of walking down into the valley where the farm is situated or taking a tractor/trailer down. Hubby, DC and I decided to walk while Granny (clutching all of the detritus that seems to accompany a trip out with a toddler [Buzz Lightyear, a doll's pram for the teddy bear, and who knows what else]) took the tractor.
Our first stop was a stall selling homemade jams and chutneys; DC was particularly taken with the Damson and Sloe jam, so much so that we had to buy a couple of jars to make up for the amount he 'tested'. Just across the way was a big marquee in which talks were taking place; much as we would have liked to listen to Gil the chef and/or John the foraging expert, we didn' think DC would sit still long enough, nor did we want to lumber Granny with him for half an hour at a time in an unknown place.

Next stop was the Produce Exchange. Hubby took along six jars of his homemade chutney which, with elbows sharpened, our wits about us and DC left with Granny, we managed to exchange a little later for 4 jars of assorted jams and some strawberry plants; this was quite a result as we are very low on homemade jam (down to the last jar in fact), while the chutney cupboard still runneth over.

Then we headed for the kitchen garden, which you always see featured in the TV programme. I somehow managed to not take any photos, but it's strangely much smaller in real life that it seems on the TV. Anyway, the main reason for stopping by was that this was where the tea, coffee and cake stall was set up, and I enjoyed a fantastic piece of lemon drizzle cake (which was so good I had to buy another piece to eat later...), while we sat and relaxed in the sun. Until DC got bored and he and I went to look at the chickens. Unfortunately, being used to having chickens of his own and being able to go into their pen to check for eggs, poor old DC was a bit frustrated at not being allowed to do the same at River Cottage. All I can say is, thank goodness they'd turned the electric fence off; although perhaps he'd have got the message sooner about not going in the pen if they hadn't...

Then it was off along the path (Compare to the last time we were here in June 2010 when DC had just started walking - awww!)
and over the bridge to the entertainment area where we sat on bales of straw and listened to some great music (and watched DC getting closer and closer to the poor singers...) outside the new events marquee (erected hastily after the events barn burnt down recently.)

By this time, DC was starting to flag so we decided it was time to make a move and we hitched a lift on the tractor/trailer back up the hill(Again, here he is in June 2010 - same gormless expression...)And, since we were in the area, it seemed a shame not to drive a little further along the coast to lovely Abbotsbury to visit our friends R&G at the wonderful Lazyhill Gallery, and to enjoy a spot of lunch at Abbey House. For some reason I only managed to take a couple of photos of the church as we walked from the gallery through to Abbey House.
But here are a couple of snaps taken on other visits to the village, including this one of St Catherine's Chapel from the churchyardand this one which shows the view from the garden of Abbey House (where marvellous crab sandwiches can be enjoyed.)

Not too shabby, eh?

All in all, a very pleasant day out indeed.

Friday, 23 March 2012

On the Move

No, not us. We've been in our lovely Somerset village for 11 months now and we absolutely adore it here, and there are no plans to move (unless hubby gets offered a job in an exotic location...)

No, this time it was my Mum who was on the move. She sold our ancestral home in Bristol (where she'd lived for 40 years) and bought a bungalow in Crewkerne, which is just a few miles away from us. However, the bungy needs a fair amount of work doing to it, so she's going to be living with us for the next two or three months = babysitter in residence = result!!

So, on Wednesday I drove up to Bristol to help her sort the last few things, then bright and early yesterday morning the packing and removal team arrived. By 8.30am they'd hurried us out the door so we wouldn't get in their way; we headed out to Costa coffee and had a wander round the shops in Henleaze. By 11am the removal team were done and had trundled off with Mum's worldy goods. Wow, talk about a fast turnaround. Mum and I then went back into the house to clean, vacuum and say farwell to the host of neighbours who popped in. By 2pm we were sitting in John Lewis at Cribbs Causeway (my second home) having a well-earned rest and an egg mayo baguette. Our heads were spinning from how quickly everything had been sorted, packed and moved!

So, it was farewell to number 31Farewell to the view from my childhood bedroom window (although the sports centre wasn't there when I was growing up.)Farewell to the enormous extension that Dad built.And to the kitchen that Dad fitted.
So long and farewell number 31, it was great knowing you and we have some lovely memories. Now it's time to make new ones!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Three is the Magic Number

Our Darling Child turned three yesterday. Three! How time flies. Here he is on the day he was born (the first day of Spring, which is kind of nice.) And here is is yesterday, being all three and grown up.As is customary, Daddy made his birthday cake. This year's theme was Buzz Lightyear. You can just about see the small Buzz figure at the top of the rocket.DC was overwhelmed with presents and cards, so much so that he hasn't opened them all yet, so the excitement can continue this evening when he gets home from nursery. Since Buzz Lightyear (and Toy Story in general) is an ongoing obsession with him, when he started opening his presents yesterday he would hold each package up and ask 'Has it got Buzz in it?', which is an advance on Christmas when he asked of each gift, 'Has it got chocolate in it?'

And the excitement didn't end there. At about 10.30pm the result on a small tummy of too many Wotsits and cocktail sausages for birthday tea made itself know. What joy!

Happy Birthday darling boy. Here's to another year of loveliness.

Friday, 9 March 2012


I've got a bit of a problem. I think I've mentioned it before. I'm addicted to books.

Buying them.

Reading them.

Keeping them.

The first and the last seem to be the main issues though. I buy books at a much faster rate than I can read them, and I hate letting go of books once I've read them (unless they are dire, in which case they go on Read It Swap It, which I would highly recommend to any book lover out there [as long as you are willing to actually let go of your books that is.])

This is my 'to be read' bookcase. Looks rather lovely, doesn't it? If you like books, and especially if you like cosy crime as the top and bottom shelves are full of such delights. Many of these books have been with me for quite some time, but they keep getting supplanted by more recent purchases.

Now, let's take a step back. Look, there are more books lurking underneath.

And another step back reveals a similar, but slightly more precarious, issue going on.A double-width, precarious issue in fact. According to hubby there are approximately ten boxes in the garage stuffed full of my 'read' books. Something tells me it's time to build that Library Wing we've been talking about...

Thursday, 8 March 2012

I Like Beer

Fear not, the whole No Food Fortnight challenge hasn't made me turn to alcohol! No, it's much better than that, and no nasty hangover the next day.

On Saturday we awoke to glorious blue skies and lovely sunshine, the perfect day for a family outing to the coastal village of Beer in Devon. DC was well-prepared with his new sunglasses...Hubby had taken DC there for a few weeks back for a little outing while I was trying to catch up on some work; he knew it was exactly my kind of place and was very keen to take me along next time. And he was so very right.Beer is a working fishing village with a main street lined with lovely little shops, cafes, galleries, and a pub. There's a little stream running down one side of the road, which has been incorporated into the pavement really nicely. DC was very taken with this, bending down and peering in (with me hovering nearby in case he decided he needed a much closer look.) 'Look, water!' he kept saying.

This main street leads right down to the cove where fishing boats are pulled up on the pebbly beach. We spent quite a while sitting on the beach, throwing stones in the water and eating bacon sarnies from the bakery on the high street, all the while basking in the fabulously warm sun (quite a surprise for the beginning of March.)
When DC started getting wriggling and our bottoms were aching a little from the damp pebbles, we headed back up to the shops for a little look round. Just off the beach there was a stall selling freshly-caught fish and shellfish; I so wanted to buy some scallops but as hubby reminded me, they'd be sitting in the car for the rest of the day so it might not be a good idea. Maybe next time. By this time, DC was getting a bit tired so we popped him in his pram and had a bit more of a leisurely stroll up and down the high street before heading back to the car and driving further along the coast and into Dorset - it's amazing how we can rack up the counties! Next stop: Lyme Regis.

DC kept on snoozing as we unloaded him from the car, popped him in his pram and took a stroll along the prom to our favourite pitstop in Lyme, Rinky Tinks.Hubby was very restrained and just had a couple of cups of tea, but I went the whole hog and ordered the PB&J Sundae - vanilla and honeycomb icecreams, peanut butter sauce, toffee sauce, strawberry sauce, whipped cream and pieces of Dime Bar. What's not to love?!Every time we walk along the prom we (mostly me?!) ooh and ahh over the beach huts. I always say to hubby 'We should buy a beach hut.' Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a little bolthole down here where we could make hot drinks on the primus, or fry some sausages and bacon for breakfast?! Some of the privately-owned huts are decked out with vintage bits and bobs, while others lean more towards the Cath Kidston school of decor; we always like to have a bit of a nosey (hubby is a little more blatant with his nosing than me, so he could probably tell you much more about the insides of the huts than I could.)The council-owned beach huts can be rented by the day, week, month or season; they start at a very reasonable £2.50 a day in January and February, rising to a £14 a day during the school holidays in July and August. The notice at the end of the row of beach huts proclaims that they are already fully booked for the summer season - looks like you have to get in early if you want to bag yourself a seafront spot!
While DC continued what turned out to be a two-hour nap, we strolled along the prom to Lyme's main street and had a look in some of the shops; we picked up a book for DC in a recently-opened 'nearly new' shop and hubby bought an old (vintage, dahling) wooden box with 'Bristol' stamped along the edge to hold seedlings in the greenhouse. When we finally managed to rouse DC from his mega-nap we headed back to the prom and along to the amusement arcade where DC loves to play on the 2p coin flipping/sliding machine (you know the one I mean!); once our money was all gone we headed back to the prom for a little kickaround with DC's football before heading back to the car for the drive home to our little corner of south Somerset. Ahhh, what a lovely day out.