Monthly Archives: March 2015

Healthy eating – quick dip

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There’s fruit and veg in abundance in our kitchen and whilst we do enjoy cakes and crisps I am more of a savoury person so regularly create dips to go with the vegetables. 

This recipe is for a very easy and simple to make dip using cottage cheese, spring onions, garlic and dried chilli flakes (optional)  Simply put it all the whizzer, give it a swiz until you get the consistency you require and then pop into a dish and serve with a pile of vegetables or bread sticks. 

 

Quick, easy, simple, healthy. 

 All gone!

Commuter tales

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Years and years ago I used to commute from Wokingham to London, first to Shad Thames and then to near Bishopsgate. We used to get on the train at Wokingham (smoking carriage as was back in the day) armed with The Wokingham Times, the Today paper and a book. It was like a travelling library as we all shared books and would ask for recommendations. After the initial morning greetings and bums on seats we’d settle into a routine of working, reading, applying make up, lighting up, chatting and mentally preparing for the jostle at the other end. 

Workplaces were varied and some would head off on the tube, drain, bus, walk or (if I was lucky and timed my arrival to coincide with the boss) taxi. Well there had to be some perks to leaving home at 715am!  Due to the fact we were smokers (and therefore social pariahs) we would sit in 1 of the 2 smoking carriages on the train and over the years built up quite a rapport, so much so we’d pick up books and belongings if anyone left them behind and would wake fellow commuters up if they fell asleep and were nearing their station. 

We knew everyone. Lots of commuters had nicknames. There was Fluffy who was wildly good looking and had curly hair, Captain who was in shipping, looked like Captain Birds Eye and smoked a pipe, Jean who we called Jean Shrimptom for no other reason than we could, Fenchurch Annie who worked in Fenchurch Street, well you get the picture!

Birthdays were always good fun as we would have fizzy intoxicating liqueur on the way to work and then on the way home. If the trains were delayed we’d head to Bonapartes and drink ourselves stupid until the trains behaved. They were sociable days!

Catching the last train home was when we ran for our lives, no one wanted to be stranded at Waterloo!  As young twenty something girls we felt safe and looked out for. If some drunken driveller invaded our space there was always someone who would move to our rescu and be a buffer to unwanted beer breath. 

Some of the friends from the train are still friends years later, one is Mook’s Fairy Godmother, one had a wedding we all went to – actually her wedding was like a birthday journey minus the ticket collector. 

Travelling to London for Gavin Collinson’s book launch on Thursday reminded me of my commuting days and whilst it was lovely to be back in the throb and thrall of a commuter carriage I don’t miss those days, but I’m glad I met the friends I did on the 724. 

Events at Glanusk

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A few weeks ago I went to Wales for the Blog On Cymru event (you can read about it here) at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and, as I normally do, I combined a visit to Wales with seeing a number of friends.  I met up with Becca in Brecon then stayed with Harry and Iona Legge-Bourke who own and run Glanusk Estate where I heard all about the forthcoming events which I am looking forward to attending.

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The Wedding Fayre is taking place this Sunday (Sunday 29 March) and promises to be an exciting event with lots of inspiring exhibitors and ideas. Iona has been working hard on restoring the Glass House within the Walled Garden which is not only ideal for weddings but also parties of any kind, I hear wedding I think party – any excuse for a party!

There will be hats, wedding gowns, catering, photographers, stationers, The Showman’s Wagon from Village Designs, a violin and harp duet and so much more, including the church in gorgeous grounds with lots of hidden doors.

IMG_4996The Glasshouse in the Walled Garden can be used for a variety of events.IMG_5010

On Sunday 28 April Harry and Iona will be throwing the gardens open for the NGS Open Garden and Estate Fayre
and again there will be lots to see and do as well as a great selection of exhibitors.  I’m looking forward to seeing Ffolky Felt and Emma from Book-ish again and meeting Tickled Pink Crafts who has made a variety of gifts for me over the years and Mary Rose Young whose style I have admired since visiting her old shop in Walcott Street in Bath.

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In May riders can enjoy the Glanusk Park Fun Ride.  You will be able to buy tickets in advance via the online booking system at a reduced rate and this will be available early April – Adults £17, 12 and under £12.  Tickets on the day are Adults £20, 12 and under £15.

The fabulous characters from David Walliams’ Mr Stink are coming to Glanusk on Saturday 4 July! Heartbreak Productions will be performing their adaptation of ‘Mr Stink’ for the outdoor stage on the lawn in front of Penmyarth House on Saturday 4th July 2015.  There will also be family camping at Penmyarth Park.

The Green Man Festival is from 20 to 23 August.  See www.greenman.net for more details.

There are also a number of lettings opportunities available, who would’t want to live or work in such a beautiful and tranquil spot?

My day at Blog on Cymru

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Some time ago I saw lots of banter on Twitter about Blog on Cymru and toyed with the idea of going and combining it with a child free weekend in Wales.  After chatting to Welsh blogger and friend The boy and me she said yes I must go, so I discussed it with another Welsh blogger and friend Rubbish Wife when she popped in on her way back from Heathrow and we booked tickets.

There was lots of chat on Facebook about transport and as I was staying at Glanusk in Crickhowell Rubbish Wife suggested I drove to her and we got the train in from Llanishen, which was my first ever train journey on a Welsh train – I know some of you might think nutter but in years to come when asked if I have ever been on a Welsh train I will say yes and will tell you that I was in a rear facing seat and I bought a ticket on the train!).  We walked over to the Sherman Theatre thankful that it was a dry day let me tell you!

On arrival The Boy and me bounded over and said hello before Capture by Lucy introduced herself, there was of course lots of squealing and oohh as Lucy lives near my friend Georgie.  We got our badges and headed to the coffee table that was ladened down with cakes, I homed in on the Welsh Cakes but I will not share how many I might have had!  The atmosphere was all very friendly and as we made our way to our seats there were lots of hellos and again more squealing and oohs!

Laura welcomed everyone to Cardiff and kicked off the first session which was working with brands, I found that hugely interesting as I tend to share my love of brands as opposed to working directly with them.

The next session was the photography session with a load of props that Lucy brought with her, if anyone is looking for any props I have a cupboard full of things that would act as props and I am keen to get rid of them.  Rubbish Wife took a photo of my shoes whilst I pranced around shoeless getting creative with straws and cards.  Isn’t it funny how nowadays with smart phones everything is photographed and shared on social media, I like this as I am then able to share my finds with people and they are introduced to businesses and places they might not hear about.

IMG_4976Oh lunch was lovely, a tasty selection of sandwiches and quiches and some satay chicken (again like the Welsh Cakes I can’t tell you how much I ate but I was full!).  Dotted around the theatre were brands to chat to and I took a liking to the daps at Hotter Shoes, thankfully Rubbish Wife had returned my shoes by this time or else I might have snaffled a pair away!

After lunch the session was about different types of social media and it was interesting to see what the panel preferred.  I love social media, Twitter for me is a fast and furious search engine with lots of different people all over the world, Facebook is my address book with people interacting, Instagram is a mish mash of photos and Pinterest is my biggest time waster – I could spend hours restyling my house and garden on Pinterest – hours!  I’ve not yet ventured into Google hangouts but it’s only a matter of time.

Karin Joyce was the closing speaker and she really struck a chord, so much so that I wrote this about kind words and happiness.

The goody bags were great and by bags I mean 2!  Laura had left some bags outside for people to leave things that weren’t relevant (or in my household would cause fights and falling out if one got one thing and the other two didn’t) which would then be redistributed to charities.  However I did enjoy rootling through and again there was ooooh (and this time how useful!), I might have eaten the edible things hence no wrappers to photograph so this is a snap shot of what the bags contained!

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I really enjoyed meeting all those lovely people who normally live in my phone and learning more about blogging, brands, photography and social media, but all too soon it was time to go which was again squealing and oohing but of a more subdued nature and weighed down with bags of plenty we headed off to the station for my second train journey in Wales.

Kind words

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We’ve been doing some raucous laughing here over the last couple of days as a box of photos made their way down from the loft (they didn’t find their way down on their own oh no …. Big Welsh brought them down I think because his giggling at the top of a ladder wasn’t the best place for a grown man to be whilst being reminded of our early 20s).

The girls admired the places where the photos had been taken (when we would go to Greece for 3 weeks in late September or skiing outside the school term), they marvelled at our old house and its decor and they gave us marks out of ten for our fashion. Big Welsh had a quiff and a large number of check shirts, I had stripey baseball boots and my hair was incredibly short.

One thing that struck me whilst looking at the photos was really how little we’ve actually changed. Our smiles are the same and we’re still the same height!  There might be more padding and less hair but underneath we’re no different and besides who judges anyway?  Who has the right to judge anyone on what they look like?  How do the judgey types feel when they’ve shot off about someone?

I’m all for a bit of harmless banter but the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” resonates in my ear when I hear someone say something bang out of order or when something that could be construed as an insult is on the tip of my tongue.

Some time ago someone I know asked me if I knew someone, to which I replied “yes she’s a great friend”.  I was therefore shocked when she said “well I hate her and her friends are just as awful”, it’s changed my opinion of that person and made me even more selective in who I actually call a friend.  Another time I recall a very generously proportioned lady congratulating a younger woman, the younger woman looked perplexed and asked what for.  The older and generously proportioned lady suggested she was pregnant and to her credit the younger woman said that she wasn’t pregnant and had probably just over eaten saying you know how it is (subtle!), rubbed her flat stomach and smiled whilst the older lady blushed.

A few weeks ago I met Karin Joyce at Blog on Cymru and she mentioned #EmbraceHappy where you post #3goodthings each day and I joined up, how hard could it be to find 3 good things to be grateful about, 3 good things that make your heart soar, 3 good things about a day that could otherwise be a vile day.  Try it.  It’s not hard to do if you give it some thought, because however small a good thing might be it’s still a good thing!  As I stared at the peelings that hadn’t been cleared away, at the dishwasher that hadn’t been emptied and coped with the drama of the homework not being handed in on time I still managed to find 3 good things.

So often I am told about some celebrity news by the children, or I read on Twitter that someone is getting a bashing for something or someone is berated for not being part of the ideal and I will admit it makes me cringe.  There’s celebrities I don’t go a bundle on or people I’m not overly fond of and the easiest thing is to walk away and not worry about them.  Instead of blurting out how someone is fat, has dodgy hair, gonky teeth, their style isn’t isn’t what you call your style (and again who are we to judge what counts as style, when to be honest a long as it’s not outraging public decency or likely to cause danger or distress it’s not an issue) there’s got to be 3 good things you could say about them.  How about “look at that happy person who is comfortable in what they are wearing who is actually getting out of the car and walking whilst enjoying their surroundings”.  That’s a start.  A positive start!

I guess what I am trying to say is think before you open your mouth and know your audience, the person you might be being negative about might be a friend of the person you are talking to and once you’ve said your bit you can’t take it back, however many times you apologise.

This is my happy place in Brecon

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Ty Cariad in the Bulwark in Brecon is a lovely shop filled with gorgeousness, it’s next door to the equally fabulous toy and shoe shop Cariad which is now the only place that Laree actually enjoys having a shoe fitting!

I’ve known Becca since school and will always pop to Brecon when I can when visiting Wales to a) see her and b) see the gorgeous ever changing stock. Putting it quite simply it’s my happy place.

It’s my kind of shop selling homewares, books, gifts, cards, wrapping, furniture, paint, candles, chocolate from a variety of businesses and lots of them are lovely Welsh folk like Kate Hamilton Hunter, Carrie Elspeth, Flourish Button Jewellery, Melin Tregwynt, Handmade by Helgar, Bodlon, Laughing Bird Bodycare, Welsh Lavender Ltd, Jay & Frey, NomNom Chocolate, Driftwood Designs.  I’ve long been a fan of Keith Brymer Jones and particularly love the Welsh translations that I was introduced to by Nia at Bodlon.

The cards and wrapping paper are a mix of Welsh and English and I was thrilled to see a selection from my friends Licorice and Sally Swannell.

There’s a nice selection of Garden Trading, the mix of grey and yellow is cheery and makes me think if I ever move away from green I’d go yellow and grey.

The furniture dotted around the shop is painted in Annie Sloan and Becca runs courses so you can paint your own furniture.

The shop is a riot of colour and inspiration so it is no wonder that I come away feeling uplifted.

Clothing finds at Country Living Fair

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Oh I had such a lovely time on Wednesday at the Country Living Spring Fair with Georgie of Common Farm Flowers and have spent much time admiring my purchases, checking out websites and kicking myself for not buying something when I saw it.  However in reality I had more than enough bags so will just have to do some online ordering unless I can sneak up to Islington tomorrow!  There’s so much to share with you but here’s a glimpse at the wardrobe edition!

If you are visiting the Country Living Fair this weekend then have a read of Georgie’s survival guide and do by all means have a look at my blog post about Wednesday but I make no apologies if you find you are led astray!

Stepping into the Business Design Centre you will be met by a stunning garden display by Lucy Summers Living which you will gasp at and stare at I tell you.

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Who said gardening can’t be glamourous?  GardenGirl is a Swedish company producing comfortable and practical ladies gardening clothes and accessories.

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Wow!  I love this range of rainwear from Blaest and had a good chat about the range whilst mentally choosing which colour!

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Now this pinny from Pinny Pockets is a natty little thing!  How useful to have detachable oven mitts as I always lose mine!

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I love the bags from Emma Cornes and her about page!

If you’re looking for stylish shoes then head to Its got soul who I have a great affection for, their shoes are so comfortable and in a wide range of colours.  I’ve got the pink brogues but I am going to add to my shoe collection very soon, oh so very soon!IMG_5178

As for the socks at Pittch, well I love them all!

Since buying a green Foxglove jacket from The Linen Press I have been wearing it daily and have had so many nice comments about it, I feel I might need to browse a bit more!!

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There really are so many temptations – these were just a few!  Don’t delay – get your tickets today!