Tuesday, 21 January 2014


A: In a wet suit, coat, hat and gloves. Digging, being free
J: In the water, running, jumping, splashing. Salty cold hands

We visited my parents and sister this last weekend, visiting the beach on Sunday was the highlight for me. The children were in their element, they love the sea. I feel so alive watching the waves and it took away with it all of my worries

Taking part with Jodi on her Practising Simplicity blog

Friday, 17 January 2014


I had plans. Plans for make a sweet delicious brioche loaf, for Saturday morning breakfast with strawberry preserve and lady grey tea. Plans it seems do not a loaf make. Friday evening needed children to be fed, baths to be run, husbands to talk to, books to read and a bed to fall into.

Last night I looked in our very bare bread bin, we needed bread for lunch boxes and breakfast in the morning. I searched through some of my favourite recipe books looking for three words, EASY, HANDMADE, BREAD

This recipe is from a Tana Ramsey book I have called Kitchen Secrets, the pages are torn, splashed with sauces made for meals long ago and dried, pressed herbs sit in the spine. A well loved recipe book
I made a plate which was as simple as rolling the dough into three sausages, squeezing the ends together and moving one piece over the other. The recipe provides enough dough for 2 small loaves, I made the plate and some little rolls for lunch boxes
You will need:
840g strong white bread flour (I substituted 100g for 100g wholemeal bread flour)
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. salt
Sunflower oil for the bowl
180c fan oven
1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Stir in 500ml tepid water and mix into a soft dough. Using an electric mixer with a dough hook, kneed the dough for 5 minutes, then turn it onto a floured surface and kneed well by hand for 10 minutes.
2. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with a damp clean cloth or cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for an hour and a half. (I opened the door of my oven and had it on a low temperature, placed the bowl on top of the opened door and let it rise there, it worked really well)
3. Knock back the dough, briefly kneed again then divide into two pieces, shape then place onto a floured baking sheet.
4. Place the bread into the middle of the oven, slide a pot of hot water into the bottom to create steam. Bake for around 35 minutes until golden. Test if they are cooked by tapping the bottom, if they sound hollow they are baked to perfection! 
Note: I baked the rolls for 15 minutes

Monday, 13 January 2014

Snippets - weekend stories

We live in a small town nestled between Bristol and Gloucester on the edge of the Cotswolds. Since moving here 8 years ago we have slowly found some beautiful places to visit, our favourites are free, outside and are within close proximity to a good eatery.
Coaly peak is one of those special places, it has breath taking views and a woodland for adventures near by
Where are the places you love to visit? I'd love to know


Sunday, 12 January 2014


A: This boy loves to watch
J: This boy loves to smile
Sometimes with no planning whatsoever magic happens. We were driving to the local skate park when we saw hand gliders over head, the sun was so bright, the wind low and air crisp. We followed them and watched in owe, such majestic beauty, the boys were enthralled, as was I. See, magic 
Taking part with Jodi on her Practising Simplicity blog

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The year in books :: January

I recognise in myself that I very rarely rest, there are always so many jobs to do that my intention to sit for a while with cup of tea in hand is never realised.
A good book for me is an escape, I can for a short while at least consider the characters, soak up the words and in my favourite kind of books immerse myself in the nostalgia of times gone by.

I took two books away with us at Christmas, Persephone. Two out of a collection of 104 neglected fiction and non-fiction books by mid-twentieth century writers.

The making of a marchioness is pure wistfulness for me "her dress was only blue linen with white beads on it - and she had only a sailor-hat with a buckle and bow"

Taking part with Laura on The year in books link up

Friday, 10 January 2014


A:Muddy and happy
J:Cake and a sink full of water, he was so happy, playing for nearly an hour

I am so pleased I managed to finish last years 52 project, looking back through the photos the boys really have grown, not just up but I can see a change in their faces, some how more angular. They are growing into themselves

It's been a long week, we survived our first week back at school, late everyday, but at least we got there. Must do better next week

Taking part with Jodi on her Practising Simplicity blog

Thursday, 9 January 2014


I am a unadulterated bread lover, be it a crusty French stick, a soft sweet brioche or our weekly seeded loaf. Nothing makes me feel more content than fresh warm toast, salty butter and a smearing of jam. So when Lou said she was challenging herself to make a loaf a week for a year there was no question if I was to join

My first loaf was made using my new cookbook

I loved the nectar tasting honey and the deep richness of the raisins. It was a little dense, I think I need to give more time to the second rise

Now, to this weeks loaf....

Friday, 3 January 2014

Good food :: Roasted tomato soup

In the cold days of winter I yearn for soups, casseroles and pies. If we do go out for lunch you will always find me studying the menu for a red soup, or a buttery pastry topped pie.

My mother is a great cook, when she comes to visit my sons and I will always ask her to make a batch of our favourite vegetable soup.

 For Christmas I was given a really great recipe book, in it I found this recipe, so simple and so delicious.

Have a go when you next see tomatoes reduced at your green grocers, a cheap supper which I think tastes better the next day, great for mid week suppers, when time is in short supply

10 servings
1.75kg tomatoes
 olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 large thyme sprigs, plus extra to garnish
3 x rosemary sprigs
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 fat celery stalks, sliced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp crushed dried chillies
1.2 litres good vegetable or light chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp caster sugar
juice of 1 lime
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the muffins
115g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g dried polenta
85g cheddar, finely grated
1/4 tsp crushed dried chillies
1 medium free-range egg, beaten
175ml whole milk
50g butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Halve the tomatoes and lay them cut-side up in a single layer in a large, lightly oiled roasting tin. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a few tablespoons of oil and roast for 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on their size, until they have shrivelled and concentrated in flavour.
2. Meanwhile, pour the remaining oil into a large pan and add the garlic, thyme and rosemary. Place over a medium heat and as soon as everything is sizzling nicely, add the onions, celery, fennel seeds and dried chilli. Stir well, cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, uncovering and stirring once or twice, until the onion is very soft but not browned.
3. Add 600ml of the stock, bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 more minutes. Uncover, add the tomatoes and juices from the tin, the tomato purée and sugar and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool slightly, then liquidise in batches until smooth. Sieve into a clean pan and stir in enough stock to give the soup a good consistency.
4. For the muffins, increase the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Line a muffin tray with 8 deep non-stick paper cases. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl and stir in the polenta, 75g of the grated cheese and the dried chillies. Make a well in the centre, add the egg, milk and melted butter and mix everything together, then spoon into the paper cases. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until well-risen and golden.
5. Shortly before the muffins are ready, gently reheat the soup. Add the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the muffins.

I made this for dinner on Wednesday, then also took it in a flask yesterday to the park, the flavours had defiantly developed overnight and were more mellow.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Hello 2014


An evening at Westonbirt Arboretum illuminations

Christmas eve in the woods

At the beach, finding cuttlefish, waiting in long queues for chips and coffee, running along the pier. We ran for the car as the rain came down

Intrigued by the light boxes

On Christmas day, a rainy one. Going for a walk just to splash in puddles and walk the dogs

New toys, simple, low tech and just what they love. The days that they are satisfied with these are numbered.   
Happy New Year everyone!
Last night we spent the evening eating deep filled trout fishcakes, drank red wine and watched Star Wars. A quiet start to the new year but just how I like it. I wish I was a lover of new years eve but it does fill me with sadness, another year passing, the clock ticking, did I accomplish all I wanted? This year I am spending time unravelling my year ahead with Susannah Conway's 2014 planner.  
I have loved writing in this space the last year, I hope to fill it in 2014 with my loves, trials, new recipes, creative ideas and above all my thoughts and reflections
Wishing you all a 2014 which is full of love
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