Monday, 23 November 2015
Here's another gift idea for Christmas. I usually plant some bulbs around now so they are peeping though on Christmas day and pot them in individual pots with a little moss on the top from the garden. The pots are from Bailey's Home & Garden, bulbs from Burford Garden Centre and seeds from Higgledy Garden - who have lovely native seeds including edible garden mixes.
Friday, 20 November 2015
This time every year without fail I crash. It coincides with the clocks changing, work being just mental and is always the busiest time to be a mum with parents' evenings, school concerts, nativity plays and Christmas to prepare for! Everyone else always says to me "I don't know how you do it?" but in truth I don't! My house is a mess, I am so lethargic that I practically hibernate and I eat my body weight in cake - I must be part hedgehog I think!
My Winter survival guide is simple,
- Get outside as much as possible even if it's for just a short time
- Take long baths using your favourite products, mine are Neal's Yard seaweed and arnica foaming bath, Weleda Lavender bath milk & REN Moroccan rose products (I always ask for these for my birthday/Christmas pressies)
- Don't try and do too much, learn to say 'no'
- Start planning for Christmas early so you don't get swept up in the panic buying and commercialism of it all
- Hibernate on the sofa with a good book, a game of cards or a movie
- Eat! It's the time of year for root vegetables so embrace your seasonal stew and soup recipes
- Buy next year's calendar and plan your spring and summer adventures, I love having things to look forward to especially holidays and camping trips
- Top up your vitamin C with those beautiful citrus fruits to keep your colds at bay or take rosehip syrup
Monday, 16 November 2015
I helped out lovely Lou on Saturday evening and waitressed at The Sisterhood Winter Supper. It was a magical evening of twinkly candles, flower crowns and laughter whilst the rain drizzled outside the gorgeous big industrial windows. Lou is planning lots of creative retreats, workshops and and suppers for women around the country, so sign up to the mailing list to be the first to find out about the next events. It was lovely to meet the guests in person, some of whom I had followed on their blogs for years!
Whilst we helped set the table and serve the food, the ladies took part in calligraphy workshops and made the most gorgeous flower crowns before sitting down to eat together. I loved Hannah's table styling and am going to lay my table on Christmas Day just like this as it was so beautiful.
The Forge was the most enchanting venue with exposed brick walls and gorgeous spiral staircases. It has just been renovated and there are lots of exciting workshops and events planned here in the heart of Bristol.
The lovely Claire Thomson of 5 O'clock Apron (pictured below with stylist Hannah) produced the most delicious three course meal and she'll soon be sharing her recipes on the Toast Travels blog, I'll add the link here when she does.
The Sisterhood Winter Seasonal Supper was created by Lou Archell, and was organised by her as part of Sisterhood Camp. It was held at the Forge, in association with Toast . Styling was by Hannah Bullivant, using products by Toast, Linen Me and Lights for Fun. The chef was Claire Thomson of 5 o'clock Apron. The evening was documented by photographer and filmmaker Xanthe Berkeley. There were workshops by Quill London (calligraphy) and Erin Trezise (floristry). Cathy Jolliffe was the designer.
Wednesday, 11 November 2015
In half term we took a trip to visit the Roald Dahl Museum in the village of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. I'm not going to lie, this was as much for me than for the children as I've always been fond of Dahl's books, reading them as a child and loving them even more reading them out loud to my children years later as an adult.
Roald Dahl lived and was inspired by Great Missenden and many of the village buildings found their way into his books from Matilda's orphanage to Danny's father's garage and I can see why, even on a damp and dismal day it was the most charming place. You can't miss the museum on the High Street, pastel painted and adorned with the BFG!
The museum is tiny and on a busy day quite a squeeze I would recommend getting there early. The highlights for us were seeing Roald Dahl's writing hut with everything in just as he left it and the Mr & Mrs Fox figures from Wes Anderson's recent stop motion animation. Afterwards we enjoyed cakes in Cafe Twit, which hopefully didn't contain real worms just like in The Twits!
Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Lake & Infinity Pool © Soho Farmhouse
Having dipped my toe tentatively back into the world of wild swimming again this year, next year I'd like to challenge myself and do a lot more. So at a time of year when the weather is gloomy and my new 2016 diary is shouting at me to fill its crisp white pages, what better than to plan days of wild swimming adventures? Here are my top ten places where I want to go wild swimming in 2016;
2. In the middle of the City. I loved swimming in the middle of King's Cross, London and the swimming pond closes at the end of 2016, so make the most of it I say!
3. Under a Welsh waterfall in the Brecon Beacons.
4. With the pirates at Prussia Cove. I love Cornwall and discovered this hidden gorgeous pebbly cove a few years ago whilst on a foraging walk and have dreamed about going back ever since. I am hoping that 2016 will see our return to Cornwall where we can wild swim in the sea every morning!
5. At Dancing Ledge in Dorset, a man-made tide filled pool on the Isle of Purbeck.
6. I want to hire a Morris traveller, wear my flowery vintage style swimming cap and travel back in time to the decadence of the Lido! I am blessed to live near two gorgeous Lido's so will certainly be using these to improve my swimming before heading out on more challenging swimming adventures.
7. Grantchester Meadows with the Bloomsbury set! You may have to avoid the punts in Cambridge, but the beautiful meadows outside the city are a perfect place to swim and generations of students have done just that. Afterwards take tea in The Orchard, a Cambridge institution.
8. The mighty River Thames used to be lined with swimming clubs, platforms and pontoons as social bathing became popular. Between the towns and villages there are lots of places to get an otters' eye view of the world.
9. At the Cowshed Spa at Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire (pictured above) where they have a heated pool in a lake, this place is where all the cool kids go and I really want to go too!
10. The River Dart in Devon, recommended on the Wild Swimming website.
Sunday, 8 November 2015
We always have bangers and mash on bonfire night, big swirly sausages (these ones bought from the farm shop at Gloucester Services), lashings of creamy mash, peas and gravy.
This year we made some salted caramel apples too, our take on the traditional toffee apple. They are really easy to make, use apples from your local farmers' market, I try to get ones that aren't shiny. We use hazel twigs from the garden as sticks.
To make the sauce I melt together 250g of light brown sugar, 150g/200g of butter and a pinch of salt on a low heat, then once melted turn up the heat and using a thermometer heat the mixture to 230/240 degrees. To test that it's done, a drop a couple of drops into a glass of water to see if it solidifies, if it does it's done. It only took me about ten minutes! I then remove from the heat and leave to cool for a little while before dipping in the apples and leaving them to set on greaseproof paper.
They were perfect for eating whilst watching the village bonfire and fireworks.
Thursday, 5 November 2015
In an effort to have a more thoughtful and less commercialised Christmas this year, I thought I'd share with you some of the things that I will be gifting this Christmas over the next few weeks.
Firstly, this newly published book by Laurie Lee, Village Christmas, £9.99. It's a beautifully presented hardback book, I love the front cover of the road that goes through Slad in the snow, it will fit perfectly into my husband's stocking. It is a 'lyrical portrait of England through the changing years and seasons' and harks back to a time when life in the Cotswolds' was simple.
Secondly, my lovely friend Anne-Marie has just launched her amazing new photography venture called Photogem. A Photogem is a modern twist on a traditional locket, with photographs sealed into brass, pewter, silver or gold gems, each handcrafted in the Birmingham jewellery quarter. You can purchase them to go on chains or leather straps. I have one (pictured above) with a Photogem of each of my boys and will be buying one for my god-daughter for Christmas as it is such a lovely and special gift that will last a lifetime.
Ordering is really easy, you simply upload your photo to the website and Anne-Marie has kindly given me a 10% off to share with you, so just use the code Bradshaw10 when ordering.
I'll be sharing more inspiring Christmas gift ideas soon.