Nellie Knows : 24 April : The Wokingham Paper

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This was previously published in The Wokingham Paper on 24 April 2015

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Here we are again! A new weekly paper for Wokingham and it’s all very exciting. As a child I used to read through the local papers and spot people I knew so it’s nice for my children to have the same opportunity although they may gloss over my column!

We’ve just had an enjoyable break from school where we had an amazing week’s skiing in La Rosière, we watched Bradley Wiggins in the Paris Roubaix and had a few sunny days in South Wales, coupled with the school shoe shopping and homework but it’s not long until the next 3 day weekend and then it’s a clear run to half term. However it’s good to be back into the routine of school run and this term I am going to be more on top of the emails that come from school and the letters that often get hidden at the bottom of the book bag.

The summer term is always a fun and busy one, but there is a lot of hard work for the children as well as teachers. This time last year we were stressing over the revision and exam time tables so to have a break from it for a few years is a relief. But after the exams comes the long summer break and if we’re lucky and this glorious weather continues we will have a long hot summer.

Food and drink

As always my thoughts turn to food and what to feed the gannets. With warmer weather and summer months approaching the last thing I want to do is spend hours cooking here and there so I have been cooking for the freezer. There’s nothing worse than opening the freezer and seeing misshapen bags of unidentifiable food and I find the easiest way to fill the freezer is by using the IKEA food bags (other bags are available), filling them and then laying them flat, so instead of a mass of bags you have a neat pile of frozen food. You’ll thank me for this I assure you!

I’ve also been making a variety of barbecue marinades and dips. The regular ones are Tomato (chopped fresh or tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, honey, Tabasco/dried chilli/fresh chills and Worcestershire Sauce) or Peanut Satay (peanut butter, onion, garlic, honey, Tabasco/dried chilli/fresh chills). Simply soften the onions and garlic, then put the remainder of the ingredients in, boil it up (with peanut butter you’ll need to add water to avoid it drying out), allow to cool and then pop in a freezer bag.

Summer entertaining

We spend lots of time in the garden but the wasps and bees are really annoying. We have lots of honey pots in the garden which are smeared with sticky jam or honey, they are then placed away from where we are eating so we aren’t bothered by them. I picked some more up from Holme Grange Gallery. Another issue is covering food, I’m not a fan of cling film as I always lose the end and tin foil makes my teeth stand on end so I use Bowlovers which are washable, reusable and available from a great website called Hunter Gatherer.

Books

I have recently reviewed A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale which is an outstanding book, based on the story of the author’s grandfather. I have a massive to be reviewed pile and am looking forward to sinking my teeth into them. I can’t read a book more than once but I can’t part with them either which is great for friends when they are looking for a recommendation as they browse the shelves and gain inspiration. I regularly trot into Bookends in Wokingham or Chapter One in Woodley and tell them what I have been reading so that they can order it in. Funnily enough recently a friend suggested a cook book from which I have made a few dishes and I tweeted Chapter One asking them to order it for me. Within minutes a reply came back saying that they would do. I love social media!

Television

Speaking of books there’s a new series coming to ITV called Home Fires and I will be glued to the telly when it is on as it is based on the book Jambusters by an author called Julie Summers who just so happens to be my cousin. She has a cameo role and I am understandably incredibly proud of her.

Shopping

On the shopping front Rococo in Bush Walk has had a refit. The shop looks very smart on the outside and is stunning on the inside. I nipped in today just to browse and came out being able to know the time by looking at my wrist and without gazing at my phone! We often pop in to browse and chat, not always buying something but having a good look to gain inspiration for gifts so when the need arises we pop in or my children can make suggestions to the family as to what I have made a fuss of!

I’ve also been to lots of fairs and picked up a pair of mermaid fins at one fair from an exhibitor Crash Bang Kids who sells a great range of swimwear, garden and pool toys.

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