Monthly Archives: July 2014

A lifetime ago …


Sitting at St Pancras International with my soon to be 16 year old first born. It’s crowded but it’s just us. She’s eating fruit and I’m sipping wine. It’s a lifetime ago since she was born, well it’s her lifetime ago ….

16 years ago I know exactly what I was doing. I was waiting for my firstborn to arrive. Of course she was going to arrive on her due date! Of course!! I’d walked to town or rather waddled and then had to get a taxi home from the council offices as there was no way I would be able to walk down the road and over the level crossing. I’d watched Dangerfield whilst eating a cheese and onion sandwich, shouted at Martin & Jimmy to be quiet and then had a snooze. Then when Big Welsh came home we had lamb chops, new potatoes, peas and sweetcorn (for a change). After supper we went upstairs to watch the storm.

15 hours and 8 minutes later weighing 8lbs 10oz our beautiful firstborn was born. Lucy Bethan, Little Bump, La Bastille arrived on her due date.

Which is why we’re at St Pancras International. I’m being a bonne maman and taking ma premier-né fille to Paris to show her how the Parisians celebrate her birthday.

You know I’m emotional …. well so far we’ve laughed!! I got off the tube and decided to get on again – as the doors shut, only a minor panic with me one side of the door and Loops the other side! I walked off confidently in the wrong direction at St Pancras, only to be told the exit was the other way. But, I am feeling emotional but I’m also feeling blessed and happy that my eldest actually wants to go away on a short break with me for her birthday, I think it’s because I’ve got the euros!




An afternoon at The Foodie Bugle


What an afternoon it was!

For some time now I’ve followed Silvana and The Foodie Bugle on Twitter so when I heard that there would be a pop up shop and cafe I glared at the diary and plotted when my visit would be. As it’s soon Loops’ 16th birthday treat and the end of term is approaching my weekends are fairly hectic so I was resigned to going some time in August which seemed far too ages away. Earlier in the week I’d spoken to Sally Swannell and she suggested we went one day after she was back from Home & Gift, which seemed like a good plan but in the meantime we’d have a quick coffee in amongst her Harrogate preparations and my chaotic schedule. That was the plan. Catching up for a coffee turned into “let’s go over to The Foodie Bugle for a spot of lunch”, which actually turned into an afternoon at The Foodie Bugle.

The directions on the website are really easy to follow and when you think you can’t go any further down the road you see Bincknoll House. Upon arrival John-Paul greeted and warmly welcomed us and showed us into the house whereupon he introduced us to Silvana who is everything I thought she was from our online interactions! We were all in heaven!  There was so much to see! Windowsills full of glass – jelly moulds, candle sticks, domes, glasses, bowl. Cupboards groaning with plates, bowls, tureens, cups, saucers. Shelves ladened with platters, serving dishes, stew pots, cutlery, vases. Silvana introduced us to her daughter Mariella who served our drinks whilst Silvana handed us the menu and suggested we had a little bit of each course.

Oh but I don’t mind if I do!

Delicious – salad with beans and delicate flowers from the garden
20140707-061751-22671213.jpg Not much left ….
20140707-061813-22693055.jpgThe most tender lamb I have ever eaten in a delicious sauce
20140707-061834-22714760.jpgI should have taken some photos of the cakes and meringues here but I sort of forgot to!  Take my word for they were gorgeous!

Admiring the wares!  I do love coffee pots and was sorely tempted!
20140707-061927-22767049.jpgAll this glass temptation on one windowsill!

Such a gorgeous pop up shop


Chocolate – I was good and didn’t buy any.  This time.

20140707-062016-22816760.jpgSilvana and Sally with John-Paul at the checkout
20140707-062107-22867018.jpgA purchase – Oven gloves like the ones we had as children
20140707-062129-22889822.jpgA pretty box that I needed, for no other reason than it would look nice on a shelf 
20140707-062152-22912805.jpgAll too soon it was time to go home, with a boot full of treasures and a promise to return!

You can keep up to date with The Foodie Bugle news by signing up to the newsletter, or by following them on Twitter, liking them on Facebook or by taking some time out of the mad dash race of a busy day and heading to The Foodie Bugle Pop Up Shop and Cafe!

Thank you Silvana, John-Paul and Mariella for making us all so welcome x





Delicious Deli


When Matt Johnson of Reading Rockets fame suggested I popped into ZottaDeli in Winnersh he said I would not be disappointed, well I wasn’t!  What a great Italian deli!  #favouritelocaldeli

I instantly got on the phone, spoke to Amalia and said I would be in the next day.  True to my word I turned up and true to Matt’s word I wasn’t disappointed.  I have never seen so much pasta, each side of the aisle there are shelves of pasta of which Amalia explained their uses and we chatted recipes.  As it was nearing lunch and I was heading off to BBC Radio Berkshire I said I’d grab a few slices of parma and cheese and Amalia prepared a platter of ham, cheese, salami, olives, bread – delicious.  I had promised Mike that I would be bringing in cake but he was certainly not disappointed, you can listen in here (you’ve got 5 days from today to hear it!).

As I had guests for supper the following day I just had to go back and pick up some provisions.  Again I was in the pasta aisle and chose Ziti Napoletani then picked up some Mascarpone, Parmesan and some very hot salami to make a sauce with (previously purchased) courgettes, onion and garlic.  There is so much choice – wine, soft drinks, children’s favourites, sweets, biscuits, bread, olives, anchovies, tuna, cheese, oils, – everything!  I love simple cooking and this recipe was simple and tasty!


Love the waxed paper!


Simple Sauce

Slice onions, garlic and thinly sliced or grated courgette, stir fry in butter, when soft add in Mascarpone.



Having broken the pasta into pieces I boiled it in a pan of salted water, however it’s just as easy to cook whole and then snip with scissors when cooked.


Dishing Up

These tongs from Ella’s Kitchen Company are idea for serving pasta!


As we had guests who might not have the hot taste buds that we have I also chopped up some prosciutto and of course plenty of Parmesan!


Eating Up



Needless to say it all went, so I started all over again for our supper – which was washed down with my favourite Limonata


I love small independent shops and ZottaDeli is definitely on my go to lots list!  With plenty of parking at the rear and right by the Winnersh crossroads it is easy to find.  If you do pay them a visit be sure to say I recommended them!

And just incase you were worried there was no cake listen here!


Proud as can be!


I kid you not, my family never cease to amaze me and with amazement comes a massive sense of pride.

As you read this I couldn’t be more proud of my cousin Julie and she knows it!  Julie isn’t just any cousin, she’s an author and granddaughter of my late Great Uncle Phil, the brother my late Granny was immensely proud of.  Uncle Phil wasn’t just any uncle either, he was The Colonel of Tamarkan and the photo in the book is the photo that was on Granny’s desk in the drawing room.

Pride, I imagine is inherited and I can barely type with excitement!  My Granny was lovely – well she was lovely to me and we spent heaps of time together, she taught me to cook and sew, she instilled a love of flowers, words, reading, writing and music.  She was one of seven and she loved her brothers like a sister truly does, Arthur, George and Phil were words that made her face light up and when her siblings and their wives and husbands died she went from being one of the youngest to the one who kept us all up to date with the family news.  If Granny was alive now everyone would know the exciting news.  Sadly Granny died 16 years ago and never met my girls or niece.  Granny truly loved her family and was proud of everyone, her address book was bulging, her birthday was always celebrated and parties were well attended, anniversaries and occasions were planned with military precision, therefore it was no surprise that when she died the church was packed.

Granny was a woman of routine, each morning Grandpa would make her breakfast, use his knife to open her post leaving it on the toast rack together with her Nimble bread lightly toasted, she would put on her outdoors shoes to go and pick flowers, her lists were like no other, the world would stop for Wimbledon and everything would slow down for Songs of Praise, BBC News, Points West and Sunday evening dramas, which is why Julie’s news is so exciting .

You see Julie has shared the exciting news that ITV has commissioned a six-part drama about the life of Women’s Institute members on the Home Front during World War II based on Jambusters.  








Yes!  When I heard the news I was so excited and so utterly proud!


So, that’s why I am as proud as can be and when I told my girls they were understandably proud too.