Something from the weekend….Foraging, gardening, making and treasure hunting

I had such a lovely weekend! The weather really does help of course, and all the sunshine hours make such a difference!

I spent a lot of the weekend gardening….the front garden has been transformed after many hours of hard work and is benefitting from having been totally dug over and filled with plants! I can’t wait to see it all bloom, although I guess I have to wait til Spring for that. Still, it looks better already and has tidied up the front of the house no end.

We did some great foraging too…..we picked loads of blackberries and elderberries from the local common, as well as some sweet pea pods and honeysuckle berries I’ll be planting for next year. We also raided the back garden, and came back indoors with stacks of apples, more blackberries and greengages too. There is a medlar tree that is also looking rather full, but I think we have to leave those a little longer before harvesting them.

We spent an absolute age rinsing the elderberries, plucking them off their stalks, rinsing them again and then bottling them….I hope it’s going to be worth it! We made one bottle of elderberry schnapps and one bottle of spiced elderberry liqueur….can’t wait to try them! I made jam from the greengages, and it was probably my most successful yet….it tastes yummy and is the perfect consistency so I’ll have to share some tips soon!

As is traditional, we also visited the antiques market on Friday and the car boot sale on Sunday….I picked up some great treasures to use at the wedding and the place was really buzzing in the fine weather. It was also the crafts and  farmers market on Saturday, and we dawdled around there awhile, spotting some great new stalls too.

Other than that, it was a weekend of domesticity, relaxing, cooking endless amounts of marrow, walking the dogs and watching more Buffy. Bliss!

Here are a few photos from the weekend…..

Ems x

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Some Bank Holiday Baking: Foraged Fruit Crumble

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Few things give me much greater pleasure than foraging for sweet treats and then cooking them up on a lazy weekend! Earlier in the week we went to a nearby hot spot for soft fruits, and whilst the Victoria Plums and Greengages weren’t ready yet, we did get a great haul of blackberries and apples!

As far as I’m concerned, by far the best way to use up such things is in a crumble, so today I baked one up to round off the roast dinner we just yummed up! Here is how I make it my favourite way….

Ingredients

  • About 300g blackberries
  • About 600g cooking apples
  • Stevia or caster sugar to taste
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Extra spices and sugar to sprinkle on top

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5
  2. Core and peel your apples, and chop into cubes
  3. Chuck the apples into a pan and cover with boiling water
  4. Add a good couple of table spoons of Stevia or sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
  5. Simmer for about five minutes, or until the fruit starts to soften, then add the blackberries
  6. Simmer for a further minute and then drain the water from the fruit right away
  7. Have a little taste to decide if you need more sweetening, and add more Stevia or sugar as you like
  8. Rub together your flour and butter (I start this off in my Kitchen Aid for speed)
  9. Stir in the sugar and spices, and mix well
  10. Pour your fruit into a casserole dish and cover with the crumble mix
  11. Sprinkle over some extra sugar and spice, and pat with your finger tips gently to make the surface bumpy
  12. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, and remove once the crumble is golden on top

I like mine with custard, but of course ice cream or creme fraiche is yummy too! If you prefer your fruit nice and firm, just skip the fruit stewing stage as it will have enough time to cook in the oven….I just like it nice and soft though underneath the crunchy crumble!

Have you managed to forage any goodies this summer? What are you making with them?!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….a picture-worthy few days

I’m always snapping away on my phone, truth be told, but this weekend seemed to give me more in the way of picture opportunities than usual. It was indeed a lovely weekend, filled with fun but relaxation too. Anyway, I thought I’d share my instagram feed by way of summing it up…..

Friday night started the weekend with cocktails, as it always should…..

…..we played Guess Who…..

……and then Adam beat me at Triv!

Saturday began with a lovely long dog walk……

…..we headed to Barton Springs for a nice change…..

…..and the sun shone for us rather splendidly!

We found a darling little tea room and gallery for lunch…..

….where they serve an epic Hot Chocolate…..

….and yummy tea on quaint mis-matched china…..

…..as well as lush lunches like the stuffed mushroom on toast that I went for!

Once home we set about hanging our new treasure, the huge antique map of London that looks rather marvellous on our lounge wall…..

….and after that it was an afternoon of snoozing as it all got too much for my boys!

Another lovely walk on Sunday morning, this time at the stunning Chick Sands woods….

….I love all the little dens people have built there!

After a yummy breakfast of Staffordshire Oatcakes (the last left in the freezer after my Mum’s visit!) we pootled around the market and car boot sale, where I picked up some little treasures….

…..and where my favourite stallholder gave me this incredible menu from the 60’s!

We finally took the tour of the museum opposite where we live in the afternoon….

….and took part in a Victorian lesson where we had to practise reading parrot-fashion…..

…..did maths in old money on slate….

….and worked on our handwriting with a dip pen!

The rest of the day was more relaxing, eating and watching of Buffy. Bliss!

What did you get up to?

Ems x

Rainy day post…. memories of sunny walks

Gosh I hate grey skies. It’s not so much the rain as the dismal colour of everything that makes me feel gloomy. Heck, give me a sunny shower to dance about in any day. But give me a sky the colour of an elephant’s behind, and I’m in an instant bad mood.

Still, despite the rather chilly start to the year, I do at least have some fond memories of sunny days out and about. In fact, since getting the hound, I’ve been feeling very ‘back to nature’ and loving filling my lungs with fresh air whilst stomping around muddy fields, and listening to the sky larks sing for me (yes, for me) in the blue sky. Gosh it sounds so far away and romantic right now, so here’s a reminder of what that all looks like, from my stack of iPhone photos taken on my recent walks…..

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Something from the weekend…..piggies, parades and blue skies

Isn’t it amazing what a bit of mild weather and blue sky does for the soul?! Like most of Britain, we enjoyed a rather more seasonable weekend, and made the most of it by getting outdoors and, er, lazing about!….

Our morning walk on Saturday was just glorious. We’d been expecting rain, but when we saw the sun out we couldn’t wait to get outside, and took ourselves off on a lovely jaunt about the local countryside. Cooper enjoyed the warmth and getting a nice long walk, whilst Adam and I loved the sun on our skin and the welcome fresh air. We took in a visit to the nearby pig table at Charlton, walked past the summer hunting lodge of Henry VIII and negotiated a couple of horses who happened to be taking up part of the path we took!

We breakfasted back at home after that, and then, wanting to be outside some more, headed out into town for a little shopping. There was a bric-a-brac stall in the square at which I picked up a lovely little vintage typewriter, and later on we also met with the Sikh New Year parade! I’ve never seen the Vaisakhi festival before, but I love that it’s such a big thing in my new town. We met lots of lovely people in the square as the parade approached, and were given sweets and chips and samosas and a yummy spiced hot drink! The parade itself was wonderful….there was a stunning float and lots of people with swords and gorgeous bright costumes….I must learn more about it all as it was so lovely and happy and exciting. What I loved most though was the brilliant music…. local carnival band Toque Tambor played, as well as the amazing Dhol Foundation (who I’ve seen lots before and even hired for a couple of weddings!), and I was still tapping my foot to the beat as we returned home and the parade eventually came around and passed our very own house!

It began to rain shortly after that, so I spent the rest of the afternoon being quite lazy on the sofa, and mainly trying to sort out my new phone. I’ve taken an upgrade but spent HOURS backing up my old handset (I had over 13,000 photos on it!!) which was all rather dull, but needed doing. We had Chinese takeaway for dinner and watched Hitchcock’s Sabotage afterwards, then made our tired ways to bed.

Sunday morning began with another sunny walk, then we had the obligatory root around the car boot sale at the market place. Adam’s Dad joined us and we sat for a while having a coffee with him too….it was so nice to be able to sit OUTSIDE the cafe with our drinks, not least because it meant we could have Cooper with us!

Once home, we didn’t want to head indoors yet as it was just so gloriously sunny….so, we dragged out a couple of chairs and a table, as well as the hound’s bed, and sat out in the garden for a while. We used the time to do a little wedding planning, and also plan some socialising over the next few months.

I made a yummy vegetable broth for supper and we sat and watched X Files on the sofa afterwards….we are now onto Season 7 after a little break to watch Walking Dead and Magic Users Club (as well as New Girl which we are still waiting for the next episode of!). Then it was the usual Sunday evening early night.

Lush weekend! How was yours? Hope you caught some sun and blue skies too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….guests, burgers and even a bit of sun

Well it was short lived, but I’m glad the sun hung around at least for the weekend. We had a lovely couple of days….

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On Saturday, and after a walk with the hound, we set off to nearby Letchworth for the little craft fair there and to snoop around the antiques shops. I managed to pick up another bell cloche for my collection, as well as a few more pairs of pretty pastel metal knitting pins and some gorgeous retro glasses, then we made our way home for lunch.

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After that we had a quick trip into town then had our friend Hannah over for a cuppa and chat, before our overnight guests arrived…..great friends of ours Claire and Matthew came up from London in the afternoon, and got to meet Cooper for the first time as he came to pick them up from the station. He loves having guests and immediately fell in love with them….especially when he was presented with lovely gifts from them! Adam and I also got some gorgeous gifts too….yummy fruit cake and fudge from their trip to Cornwall (the latter of which we have scoffed already!).

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After a pot of tea and yumming up a victoria sponge, we drove to the nearby Plume of Feathers where we had a delicious meal and lovely ales (rare burgers with bacon and cheese for Adam and I, and rump steaks for the others!). We made  a pledge to go there more often as the food is amazing, and Cooper is welcome there too!

Back at home, Adam mixed us up some great cocktails and we just chatted the evening away….Cooper very much enjoyed cuddling up with our guests for his evening sofa time and it was nice to relax and catch up for a few hours.

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We were rather naughty again for breakfast on Sunday, scoffing Belgian waffles, pancakes, strawberries, bananas and maple syrup! We walked it off though by snooping around the Sunday car boot sale and having a brief walk through town. Then after a last pot of tea our guests headed back to London….much to Cooper’s disappointment!

The rest of the afternoon was spent loafing about and on a nice walk out with all the dogs….Coops certainly loves being out with his Auntie Piper and Uncle Newton! It was even nice enough to need our sunglasses and for me to leave my gloves off!

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Did you get out and about? I hope you had a great weekend too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Easter fun with Mummy, the hound et al

Well that was nice! Despite it feeling far from Spring, I had a great Easter Bank Holiday weekend!

My Mummy came down for her first ever visit to my new town, arriving on Friday. After I’d refreshed her from her drive with home made pea and mint soup, and a pot of tea, we headed out to the market….one of the things she was most looking forward to! We had a really good root around the Antiques and Collectables market which happens here in the market place every Friday….we picked up a couple of bargains then made our way home to revive ourselves with more tea and a few mince pies (Mummy has a local bakery who makes them all year round and they are just amazing!).

We took a lovely walk around the nearby Priory grounds in the afternoon, and Mummy was delighted to be out having fun with our new hound, who took to her straight away. Then it was a big cook up of Shepherds Pie back at home (one of my favourite things to make when it’s cold outside!) before we settled down on the sofas to have a good old catch up and natter.

Adam’s Mum obligingly picked Cooper up on Saturday morning, so that we could take Mummy to the lovely Halseys Tea Rooms for breakfast. I had my usual Cheesy Bubble and Squeak with Fried Egg and Portobello Mushroom, and we all enjoyed one of their very good coffees. Then we showed her around town, popping into lots of shops to browse. Having picked up the pooch, we stopped in at our wonderful local pub on the way home for a yummy half pint, then Adam made us poached eggs for lunch.

For our afternoon walk we joined Adam’s Mum for a jaunt around Oughton Head Common, where our mums got to meet each other for the first time ever! Mummy also got to meet Adam’s Dad as we headed round to their cottage for an amazing roast dinner that evening. It was wonderful to have everyone meet finally and the parentals all got along very well!

As well as the mince pies, Mummy had also brought with her a fresh supply of the awesome Staffordshire Oatcakes I miss so much…two dozen in fact! We ate a stack of them for breakfast with cheese and bacon (my favourite filling!) before venturing back out into the cold to visit the Sunday Car Boot Sale at the market. Mummy really enjoyed having another root around, and I came away with a few new treasures too!

Then back at home, it was time for Mummy to pack whilst I made a big lunch before she headed off. Adam’s Mum came round to join us for the butternut squash lasagne I made, and we were all really stuffed even before we made a start on the home made trifle she brought along! Before long it was time for Mummy to head off though, and Cooper was seriously dejected for a while afterwards as he’d so loved having her here! I consoled him by taking him for a nice long walk, and he enjoyed a few really good sprints too! We spent the evening gorging on left overs, and watching the start of the new season of The Walking Dead….the jury is still out but it’s looking more promising than the last season which we were both really disappointed with!

On bank holiday Monday morning we took a nice long walk along the Hanbury Way with Adam’s Mum and her dogs Newton and Piper. It was a fairly bracing jaunt in the cold weather, but at least it stayed dry and the sun even came out a little too! I then whiled away a good few hours back at home, snuggled on the sofa with lashings of tea, a sleepy pooch and a stack of glossy magazines. It was so nice just to slob about for a few hours!

I cooked up a big Spag Bol for our dinner and after yumming that up, we all relaxed back on the sofas again, watching the latest episode of New Girl (bally LOVE that show!) and scoffing loads of chocolate before heading up to bed with hot drinks for an early night. Bank Holiday bliss!

Did you have a fun Bank Holiday weekend?

Ems x

Something from the weekend….and a catch up of the last few weeks!

Hello! Did you miss me?! I’ve certainly missed blogging these last few weeks!

As you may know, a few weeks ago I moved out of London and up to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It’s been a real adventure, and dead busy…..moving your home and two small businesses is no mean feat I have found, and with a stall to prepare for and some freelance work, it’s been pretty chaotic! Add all the issues we had with the new house, and really I’ve had no time to sit down at my computer!

But I’m aching to get back to it, and have lots of posts lined up to share with you. In the mean time though, I thought I’d catch you up (as requested!) with what’s been going on since I left The Big Smoke…..

On Monday 17th September, I finished packing up our things and hopped in a moving van to leave London. I’d lived there for 12 years, and other than my home town of Stoke on Trent, it was the only place I’ve ever lived. I had the most amazing time there, but the countryside was calling, and so here I now am in Hitchin, which is in fact the boyf’s home town.

The move went pretty well actually, despite the huge amount of ‘stuff’ I own. We had two fabulous moving men, who made easy work of carrying all of our stuff into our new house, and even smiled whilst they did it. I’d been fairly organised, and so most of the boxes ended up in the right rooms, but we opted to spend the first couple of nights at Adam’s parents’ house around the corner, mainly because of the yummy hot meals on offer and because Adam would need to work from there for a few days and starts pretty early!

I spent most of the first week at the house cleaning and organising….unfortunately it was nowhere near ‘liveable’ as it had been empty for a little while and the previous tenants were clearly not so house proud! But with the help of plenty of Flash, Cif, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, I got the place pretty clean ready for us to move in properly, and so by the third evening we were excited to spend our first night at the house!

We soon found out that we were to share the place with a few house mates…..whilst reading in bed on the first night, something caught the corner of my eye, and in fact I thought it was a mouse! It was actually this rather large spider, whom Adam promptly caught under a glass and deposited outside! We’ve found a few others since (all massive), and the garden is full of the stunning stripey spiders who weave incredible webs over everything.

Needing to get a break from the house sorting, and work in Adam’s case, we’ve taken lots of lovely walks through the town and in the nearby countryside. Just a few minutes walk away are the amazing Priory grounds, where you find a photo opportunity every other step. I’m loving the exercise and fresh air, as well as meeting dog walkers and such (I am getting even more desperate to get one or two of our own as a result!).

By the second week, it was time to start getting back to some work for me, and I cleared just enough space within the boxes in my new studio to get some things done. I’d been commissioned to work on a fashion installation with the UKFT just before leaving London, and so in the run up to the set up last Friday I spent hours at my sewing machine making props and readying my styling kit. On the Thursday evening I thought I’d better give my finger nails some TLC after all the cleaning and working, so they got a nice coat of polish ready for my trip into London the next day.

The installation is at the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation in Westminster, but I took the train to Kings Cross (only half an hour!) and walked the short way to Bloomsbury to the UKFT offices. There, we loaded the van with all the contributions from their members (with me peeking in each box in excitement to see all the treasure!), and then headed to Westminster to set everything up. I had a grand day putting it all together (and will post a bit more about it all soon, but in the mean time there are some sneak peek photos below!), and by 5pm I was back on my way home, and caught the fast train to make it in record time!

The following day we were up bright and early to scoot round the corner to the Riverside Craft and Farmers Market. I’d booked my first ever non-London stall there, and was super excited (and a little nervous) to see how my stuff would be received by the locals! It was also my first outdoor stall, although I was provided with a nice gazebo which gave me stacks of space and allowed me to put all my stock out for the first time. I’d been busily making some new brooches and pendants with a local theme, as so many of my things have a London vibe and I wanted to fit in right away!

It was a grand day of selling, chatting, networking and drinking lots of tea from a flask. The stall is only a few minutes from home, which meant Adam could nip back to bring me blankets and hot water bottles! We had lots of visits too, from friends and friends of friends, and we were all packed up and home by half four too!

I’ve booked onto the next few markets, which are in Hitchin on the last Saturday of the month…..I’ll also be at the Hertford Corn Exchange on the 20th October, and in the market square in Hitchin on the 9th December for the Christmas Gala!

On the Sunday, we were lucky enough to be able to get onto one of the occasional local history walks. Hitchin’s history dates back to the 7th Century, and the town is full of remarkable stories and evidence of its past. The house we moved into is Victorian, and still has its servants bell pulls and cold room, but it is actually relatively young for Hitchin, as there are Georgian and even Elizabethan properties still standing here. The walk showed us some of the highlights, and opened our eyes to some of the treasures in Hitchin’s architecture. I can’t wait to learn more….and to go on the local bat and ghost walks soon!

Hitchin also boasts some very old independent businesses, so I have been discovering places like the wonderful Brookers (a proper old fashioned hardware shop), and Hawkins (a department store who actually employ a proper town crier!) as well as buying up lots from the flea markets, car boot sales, antiques market and charity shops. Whilst I’d love to keep all my treasures, lots of them will actually be polished up and listed on my Etsy shop, so look out for an update on that!

As part of our historical eduction, we’ve been exploring some of our local pubs, purely for research you understand. The Coopers Arms is notable for its incredible Tudor fireplace, as well as a room upstairs recently uncovered by the landlord, which had been hidden by a wardrobe for over 100 years! Our favourite so far though, also happens to be our nearest….. The Half Moon has won awards from CAMRA and serves amazing guest ales, local ciders and yummy food. They also have a pub dog, and lots of countryside walkers like to pop in, with lots of them bringing their dogs!

I was rather pleased that our arrival coincided with sloe picking time. We went out last week to find some locally and came back with almost two kilos, which are now in the freezer waiting to go into gin! I also want to go and harvest the last few brambles, elder berries and rosehips to make jams, wines and schnapps with!

Part of the joy of moving to Adam’s home town, is that we are so close to his parents’ dogs. Piper and Newton soon learned the way to our new house, and understood that we were going to see them more often…..and of course where the biscuit tin we got for them is kept! Newton has been loving playing in our garden with various tennis balls, footballs and shuttlecocks that have ended up there (as well as exploring the wilder parts!)….whilst Piper has been my little un-packing helper, getting excited with each box opened and every treasure unwrapped!

In fact, they seem quite at home here now on their visits, and we’ve had to keep an eye on Piper who wants so very much to spend all day on our lovely new sofas! We’ve had to barricade the living room door when she’s been here, although that didn’t stop her from finding the only made up bed to lie on last week! Having been missing for a few minutes, I searched the house for her, only to find she’d made her way to our bedroom (there are four, so I’m not sure if she inspected them all for a suitable bed!) and was snuggled up on my best sheets. You’ve got to admire her intelligence and determination though.

One thing I have managed to make time for is lots of cooking and baking. We’ve had some really yummy meals over the last few weeks, and had Adam’s parents over as our first guests to yum up a cottage pie, as well as Hannah over for a late lunch of goats cheese and red onion tarts. I’ve been going to the market for lovely fresh fruit and veg, and making up some delicious soups for hearty warm lunches. Adam had been fancying a kedgeree since I had one at the Wolsey for my birthday breakfast, so I made one for him last week with great success….I’ll share the recipe soon hopefully.

To add to the cooking excitement, I’ve been able to forage a few things from our garden as well as the sloes from a nearby obliging field. We have a wonderful and huge bay tree in the garden, which has provided us with fresh leaves for pie, soups, the kedgeree and my Christmas mince meat. We also have elder berries out there (can’t wait til next year for the flowers so we can make Champagne!), as well as brambles and medlars which I will make into jam.

In fact, we have enough room too that I can start growing some of our own veg soon, and Adam’s mum has been busy working the garden to smarten and pretty it up. I’ve spent a little while out there too, mainly digging up some of the wild cyclamen from around the trees to save it from ivy. I love their pretty little pink blades of petals, and was overjoyed to find so many growing right down our wooded garden….. I’ve replanted some in the flower beds (as well as lots of bulbs for spring), some in pots and some around the other trees.

This Friday was a frenzy of baking and readying for Christmas, as I made three Christmas Cakes, the Christmas Mince Meat and for the first time, a Christmas Pudding! The house still smells all Christmassy now, and so I’m very much in the mood already! I’m most excited that we now have space for a proper sized Christmas tree again and can’t wait to go to the market to pick one!

Despite being so excited to be in our new home out of London, we’ve been delighted to find how quick and easy it is to pop into London. The trains take as little as 20 minutes from Kings Cross, and we made it to a recent wedding in Richmond in less time than some people who live in London!

We were most impressed with our journey to the Union Chapel in Islington last night though, which took us under an hour from door to door. We’ve been there a couple of times before, last Christmas to see the Puppini Sisters with friends Claire and Matthew, and first to see Andy McKee with friends Matthew and Siobhan. We enjoyed the latter so much that we bought tickets to see the talented Mr McKee again last night, and had a most amazing time seeing him, the legendary Preston Reed and the phenomenal Jon Gomm.

As we start to get the place more tidy and presentable, I’m getting excited to welcome our friends here. We’ve set a date for our house warming party, which will also be a bit of a festive celebration. I’ve not been able to host my traditional Christmas party for a couple of years, because I’ve been so busy with December parties at work. So I am incredibly keen to get planning for Christmas and visits and just enjoying a gorgeous new home!

And that’s the scoop! As I mentioned, I’ve got lots of posts lined up to tell you more about our new home, and what is in fact a very new lifestyle for me! Do keep me up to date with the London goings on though….I do miss it still!

Ems xxx

Wednesday Wants…. Home making with Joules

So with planning our move, I’m getting all excited about our new place and all the things I want to do with it! As usual, I’m getting rather carried away…we don’t move for three weeks but we’ve already got new furniture on order and I’ve packed a whole load of stuff! There’s no harm in being prepared though, eh?

Anyway, my current home-making frenzy has happened to coincide with the launch of Joules’ new home and garden range. This could be dangerous!

It’s their range of bedding which really has my attention (I have no need for the Nursery collection although it is rather darling), and I’d love to deck out our bedrooms like this……

Reversible Sunbird Floral Duvet Cover, King Size £85

Reversible Coastal Birds Duvet Cover, King Size £85

I’m in love with both of these designs…..I adore anything with birds on, and those vivid florals and stripes are right up my street too. It’s not just the duvet covers that make the look though, so I’d *have* to have all those cushion and pillow covers too! It’s a bit pricey to do that though in honesty, (King size duvets are £85 and pillow cases are from £10), but it’s no more than the best quality brands like Dorma, and having invested in some of that recently I can honestly say it’s worth it for the difference in quality.

For ages I’ve been dreaming of a pretty guest room, mainly white, with blue toile pattern accents….and as if by magic the collection includes two sets that would work very well indeed with that picture in my head….

Reversible Lulu Floral Duvet Cover, King Size £85

Reversible Coastal Boats Duvet Cover, King Size £85

I love that all the duvet covers are reversable….I used to have reversable duvet covers when I was little! It means you get a splash of the alternative pattern when you turn down the top, or you can change the look of the room just by flipping it. It’s all 100% cotton percale too.

I love all of the bits and bobs to dress up the duvet covers too…. the throws are just gorgeous, and I reckon I could settle for one or two of those and a few cushions, if I don’t get to deck out the whole house like the shop!….

Salcombe Check Throw, £85

Sunbird Floral Cushion, £40

Oh, and did I mention they do towels too?…..AND stationery?!?!?!

Coast Bath Towel, £28

Polo Club Journal, £7

You could use the little note books as matching guest books in guest rooms! I want it all!!!….oh and these….with the dog to match….

Pet beds from £24.95

Oh Joules. How I love thee.

Something from the weekend…… The August Bank Holiday in Instagram

I bally love the weekend. Even more so a long weekend! Despite having lots to do with our impending move, we managed to have a very fun weekend in London as well as in our soon to be home town of Hitchin!

On Friday afternoon straight after work we caught the train into Hertfordshire to stay with Adam’s parents (and the dogs!) in Hitchin. After a yummy supper of fajitas, we watched the BBC Four documentary on Mark Knopfler. It’s an amazing programme and shows what a remarkably lovely and intelligent man he is, as well as an incredibly gifted songwriter.

It was early to bed though because we were keen to start early on Saturday and cram lots into our day! We set off earlyish into town, just a few minutes walk away, and to the monthly craft and farmers market which takes place around the gorgeous St Mary’s Church. I’m hoping to have a stall there myself when we move, so it was lovely to meet lots of the regular traders. I fell in love with the ‘The Knitting Ladies’ stall, which is full of hand knitted treasures, including the most gorgeous bears! The ladies are most proud of their celebrity knits….in one little basket resides Audrey Hepburn, Ziggy Stardust and a Clanger!

After a browse (and buying up some free range bacon, and home made fudge!) we took the minute’s walk to what will be our new home. Adam hadn’t seen it yet, as I viewed it by myself before we signed up, so he was super excited to see it for the first time and I couldn’t wait to go back. It’s a gorgeous property right in town….it’s actually Grade II Listed and belongs to a local historical trust. It’s full of beautiful period features, and there’s lots more space! I’m going to finally have a studio to work in, and there’s even a garden!

With all the extra space to fill, we set off to a local furniture warehouse afterwards to look for some pieces we’ll need. It’s a great place to look for bargainous things….it’s actually run by a charity that our friend Hannah works for, so buying their lovely second hand stuff helps them with their fundraising! We snapped up a wonderful little extending pine table with chairs for the kitchen…it’s the perfect cottagey looking table to fit in with the old house.

The thrifting didn’t end there though, as we popped into Letchworth and picked up some gorgeous dining chairs. As well as all the shops to look in, there was a sort of mini vintage car show going on in the pedestrianized High Street. I fell in love with a huge turquoise Chevrolet truck, and an amazing little camper trailer with a super cute kitchen at the back.

Next it was into Hitchin again for a snoop about, and to buy sausages for supper from the charming Allingham’s which is the wonderful butcher on the market square and has been there since the 1860s! We couldn’t resist some more furniture shopping though, and Adam fell in love with (and bought!) a stunning sewing machine and table. I also picked up a darling little camera….the Italian Comet S which takes 127mm film…can’t wait to get a roll and try it out!

After our busy day, we needed a serious re-fuelling and yummed up an awesome fry up! It was to the sofas after that though to slob away the evening in front of the telly….we watched the BBC Drama ‘Best of Men’ which I’d been wanting to see for a while. It’s about the first ever Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville, and the amazing work there of Dr Guttmann. We all really enjoyed the programme which featured Rob Brydon (one of my favourites from Gavin and Stacey)….it’s well worth watching for anyone interested in the games.

After a little Sunday lie in, we started the day with a nice long walk across Ickleford Common, past Gerry’s hole and over the railway to the Lavender and Sunflower farm. Everywhere looked very lush….. there was wild chicory flowering everywhere, and the fields of wheat just looked incredible. We saw lots of sloe berries getting almost ready to pick (we are planning on making a large batch of sloe gin this year again) as well as lots of rosehips that we plan to make something with too.

After that it was more furniture shopping, at the big shopping park in Stevenage. We tried out lots of sofas, but both chose the same as our favourite, so it was an easy decision and we left having ordered a gorgeous two seater and three seater in sanded and waxed leather, which is now being made for us in Italy….hopefully it’ll be delivered not too long after we move in!

That sorted, we drove to Benington Lordship for the annual chilli festival. The house and grounds are just stunning (I hope to go back in the new year to see the famous snowdrops!), so it was lovely to wander round all the stalls selling chilli-based products and chilli plants of every variety. We bought a big box of Stratta‘s award winning flavoured vinegars (including the lavender, elderflower, raspberry and blackberry)…..and yummy preserves from Jules and Sharpie (including their hot apple and sage jelly, the green chilli and lime jelly and the hot marmalade)…. I’m really looking forward to serving them up and cooking with them.

It was off home then for a quick fish supper, before packing and heading back to London. We wanted to cram as much into Monday too, so we had a big breakfast at our local, then made our way to the British Museum. We have membership there and we promised ourselves that we would see every room there this year….we’ve not done terribly well really but we have at least seen all the special exhibitions.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the Shakespeare exhibition there ever since it was announced, so we made our way there first. It’s a wonderful exhibition, which comprehensively walks you through all the historical impacts and influences on the playwright, and on ‘his London’. It’s the perfect show for this year of festivities I think….I learned lots about the history of London and England, and the beginnings of Great Britain and our National identity.

It’s quite a big exhibition (well worth a visit and the £14 entry, although you can become a member and get in free!) so we needed a sit down afterwards…. There is now an additional cafe in the Great Court, run by Benugo, and we had a perfect double espresso and flat white there whilst watching the window cleaners high above us on the glass ceiling.

We couldn’t miss the chance to go and see the Olympic and Paralympic medals too whilst they are being shown there, so we popped in to see them and the exhibition about their design and the history of the medals. Right next door is the stunning clocks and timepieces room, so we investigated that next…..I fell in love with the huge gold ship clock which was used to call guests to dinner (it plays music via an internal organ, ‘sails’ across the table, and fires its cannons!). It was lovely to hear all the amazing clocks chime on the hour too, and there is even a charming cuckoo clock!

It was a lovely day outside when we emerged from the museum, so we sat in nearby Russell Square to eat the fruit we’d packed, before walking back to the bus stop. Once home I started on our supper of roasted butternut squash stuffed with ratatouille and topped with cheese, and we’d eaten it in good time to settle in front of the telly to watch our friends appear on Only Connect! It was ace to see them and their admirable performance….well done guys!

We were too shattered after our busy weekend to do anything other than sit, so we slobbed out watching The Incredibles on Blu-ray (which looks amazing!) before hitting the hay…… what an awesome long weekend!

Hope you enjoyed yours!

Ems x