Blog Every Day in May: Morning Ritual

“Tell us about what you do every morning to help you get ready for the day ahead.”

I have two of these, and the morning just doesn’t feel right without both of them.

First thing most mornings, or after a shower and prettying up rather, I head out to walk the dogs. There are lots of stunning places to walk very near us, and the hounds are always really excited to get out. Cooper loves to explore every path, and investigate every little thing, whilst Digby is still on the lead most of the time but still enjoys sniffing his way along. We get to meet lots of lovely people for chats, and lots of other dogs who Coops loves to play with. I adore the fresh air to wake me up, the amazing light early in the morning, and just ambling along without a care in the world.

About half way along our walk though I start to crave my second ritual…the morning coffee. I’ve always loved coffee, but I’ve I’ve only been able to properly enjoy it on a regular basis since I started to work from home. I’m a total coffee snob, and don’t consider a Starbucks or an instant a coffee at all (even though I do enjoy both on occasion….just not when I actually fancy a coffee!). We’ve been using the Aeropress at home for a little over a year now, which meant that we could make really great coffee fairly quickly and easily. I’ve always ground my beans fresh and taken care over the heat of the water (we bought a rather flashy kettle which you can set to heat at different temperatures) and the entire process really…it’s well worth it, honestly!

However, in the last couple of weeks we have bought an amazing new coffee machine, which grinds the beans and makes your desired strength and length of coffee at the touch of a button! It took some tinkering with to start, testing our filtered water, varying the grind, and selecting carefully all the other options….now though all I have to do is switch it on, shove a cup underneath and push a button for an amazing coffee. If I fancy a latte, flat white or cappuccino it has a milk steamer too!

I savour my coffee over breakfast, a reward for getting up and out, and to start the day ready and fresh….if I miss out on either the walk or the coffee I feel grouchy and disinclined!

Ems x

Something from the weekend: Fudge, walks and White Russians

Another little whistle-stop tour of my weekend…..

Saturday:

Lie in due to headache….followed by a naughty breakfast of Staffordshire Oatcakes with cheese and bacon…into town after that, to buy eggs from the farmers market as well as some much-needed fudge….

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Some home-alone training for the dogs, leaving them for twenty minutes at a time to pop into town…coffees back at home in between and reading up on the upcoming Hitchin Festival….

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A little gardening, plus a good couple of hours building our new barbecue….Home made veggie Moussaka for dinner….

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….then watching The Big Labowski whilst drinking White Russians.

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Sunday:

A lovely morning walk at Chick Sands….followed by a walk around the car boot sale and more home-alone training for the hounds….

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Gardening and barbecue prep after that…..then Adam’s parents over for an afternoon of grilling meats and other goodies….and some slobbing on the sofa for the evening, watching The Fifth Element….

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Bank Holiday Monday (yay!):

A stunning walk around Ickleford, through beautiful fields of barley with blue skies above….

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Another trip into town to visit the Humanitas shop and to buy sweets….then some more gardening time as well as some wedding stuff whilst sat outside in the sun eating too many sweeties (including strawberry ones shaped like brains!)…

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A lazy dinner of nut cutlets then more weddingy stuff before an early night.

Lush.

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Spring is Here!

“What is your favourite thing about Spring? What plans do you have to enjoy it?”

Taken on yesterday morning’s walk, the 1st May!

And by stark contrast, this was taken on this morning’s walk!

 

Spring is probably my favourite season. Well, at least equal to Autumn. At this time of year (or whenever the UK decides to be Spring-like, which seems to vary greatly there days!) I’m always wandering about thinking “what beautiful colours” and “here’s the promise of some warmer months!” And Autumn is much the same really….stunning colours, and the promise of Christmas too!

I suppose then that my favourite thing about Spring really ought to be something unique to this season, and whilst some years I’d say “I get to pack away my thermals and big knits”, at the moment there is no way I’m risking anything as bold as that! Still, it is all feeling very fresh and lush and lovely outdoors (where you have to be to really appreciate this particular season in my opinion) and so perhaps my favourite thing about Spring is that it’s finally nice enough to want to actually spend time outdoors! I love that feeling of wanting to sit out with the sun on my skin (even if it is just the skin on my face…I’ve yet to venture out with arms or legs uncovered!), perhaps even having a meal outdoors, and craving salads and barbecues and long glasses of gin.

And that’s exactly how I’m planning to enjoy the Spring….getting outdoors….walking the hound through our gorgeous local countryside….and drinking gin of course.

Ems x

Something from the weekend…..cakes, walks and rummaging

It was a close call, but the rain didn’t dampen my weekend….

On Saturday morning I pootled around the house, cleaning and tidying whilst Adam walked the hound….Friday hadn’t gone as planned so it was good to catch up a little. Then after a nice big brunch (Adam poached some very yummy duck eggs for us!) we made our way into London, leaving the pooch with his Grandma Liz (that’s Adam’s Mum!).

We made our way to friends’ Richard and Tara’s flat in Farringdon, Tara and I leaving the boys to get up to mischief whilst we headed into town for our friend Brigitte’s hen do! First of all we took in a lovely afternoon tea at a hotel on the Strand, then went bowling at the fun All Stars Lanes, before we had a big dinner together. We didn’t go in for the traditional Hen stuff (L-plates and penis straws etc!), but chose instead to honour the occasion by all wearing fascinators in light of the fact that the Bride and Groom have requested no-one wears hats to the wedding!

As the pup had a sleepover at his Grandma’s, Adam and I managed to get a nice lie in before we went to pick him up. Then after a late breakfast, we took a turn around the Sunday car boot sale at the Market, then went along to the second Great Hitchin Rummage Sale at Bar Ab nearby. Lots of local shops had taken up a pitch there, in what is sort of a one-day pop-up shop….and some of our favourites were there to tempt us with the rummagy loot….Jolly Brown and Red Eyed Dove had a stack of goregous vintage treasures, whilst Mamacita’s Cakery (new to us) were selling a table full of dreamy looking sweet treats. We picked up several of the latter’s offerings, then made our way home to yum them up!

Because there are so many cupcakes and such being sold on similar stalls at the moment, it takes a lot to impress us….we’ve really only tried one stall’s cakes and been truly wowed (how we miss Flavour Town at Old Spitalfields now that we’ve moved!). However, the amazing yums by Mamacita’s Cakery really did impress us, and we scoffed a Dulce de Leche cupcake, a Mexican wedding biscuit and a ‘bronze’ biscuit (each) in close succession! Definitely will be trying more of their treats!

To walk off the gluttony, we took the hound to the common for a nice jaunt, then went back to Adam’s Mum’s for a dinner of fajitas, followed by some of her amazing freshly baked scones (with clotted cream obviously!).

Back at home we had a relaxed evening on the sofa. I finished off a little drawing project for a competition (Oasis’ new butterfly collection cover photo) and then had the customary early night!

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Ems x

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…..brownies, shopping and a very Austrian Hen Do!

Once again I’m utterly shattered after the weekend! It’s been another busy one, and the horrid weather has taken it out of me too. It was however lots of fun…..

The weekend started early, as my lovely friend Brigitte came up for a little visit. After a cup of coffee and a slice of the amazing Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownie she’d made for us, we took a good look around the brilliant Antiques and Collectables Market that takes place each Friday in Hitchin. We also had a good snoop around all the charity shops in town, as well as the cook shops, and came away with a good few treasures! I made us a sweet potato and coconut soup for lunch, then after we’d taken Cooper outside into the garden to play with his ball for a while, Brigitte made her way back to London and I set about getting ready for the weekend.

Gifts from the lovely Brigitte!

Hitchin Market Treasure

I had a little lie in on Saturday morning, although as I’ve been getting up earlier since we got Cooper, it was a far more reasonable hour than usual! As it was raining, Cooper and I walked up to meet Adam’s Mum, so that she could show me her rainy day walking route. Despite the wet, I rather enjoyed myself, especially as we decided it was time to let Cooper off his lead for the first time! He was very good, and came back when called (eventually at least!), and had a nice play with some other dogs we met along the way.

Adam made us a yummy omelette for breakfast when I got back, which set me up well for the rest of the day….at midday I made my way to the station to meet up with the girls, and we all headed into Covent Garden for the start of our friend Katie’s Hen Do! We had a great lunch in Belgo’s (pils, moules et frittes, yummy!) then popped just round the corner to Pineapple Dance Studios, where we were to take a dance class together!

The Bride To Be with her goodies!

Yummy lunch

Starting as she means to go on with a chocolate Schnapps

It was amusing to us getting ready in the changing rooms, alongside lots of professional dancers putting on pointe shoes and whatnot….it was awesome to be there though! Once all ready in the studio, our lovely teacher announced that we’d be learning the Gangnam Style routine and the hilarity commenced as we all started learning the moves! It was all pretty bonkers, but great fun watching each other as we all rather inexpertly made our way through the routine, and we were shattered after our hour of exercise!

Pineapple!

Concentrating….

Once we’d all changed into our evening outfits and scoffed a load of jelly beans, we made our way out West to drink cocktails and play Hen Do games. Katie was made to pick out her hubby-to-be Peter’s body parts from a stack of photos of eyes, belly buttons and elbows…..she managed to guess most correctly but got landed with a couple of forfeits for the ones she didn’t (and I don’t think she ever completed them, tut tut!). Then there was a quiz of questions which Peter had been made to answer already, and Katie had to guess what he had answered….there was lots of giggling and ah-ing as we heard some rather silly and soppy answers!

Next it was off for dinner at the Tiroler Hut, a fabulous Austrian restaurant and music venue at Bayswater. Katie’s sisters had dressed her up in a wonderfully silly Austrian style outfit, including ridiculous blonde plaited wig, and we all joined in the silliness by plaiting our hair into pigtails. After a delicious dinner (Ungarische Krautroulade, cheese Fondue and Kaiserschmarrn for me!) the entertainment began, and we were soon rolling around with laughter watching Katie join in with the cow bell playing! There was lots of singing along to tunes from Sound of Music, as well as dancing to the birdie song and the okey cokey! It was a brilliant night of fun (I’d VERY much recommend a night out at the Tiroler Hut!), and I was absolutely shattered as we journeyed home…..I wasn’t back at the house until 2:30 and was delighted to hear our hound guarding the place as he barked and bounded downstairs before realising it was me and coming for a cuddle before he settled back down on his bed!

Despite the late night, I still managed to get up at a far more reasonable hour than most Sundays, and we headed off to Oughton Head Common for a nice long walk. The cold morning woke me up in no time, although I was glad I’d taken along another bit of Brigitte’s brownie to eat along the way, as I was in need of calories! It was gorgeous to see all of the trees starting to sprout little bits of green, and to find some blossom finally blooming!

Spring springing

After heading home for a quick breakfast, we dropped the hound off with Adam’s Mum, and went over to Biggleswade with Adam’s Dad to a little antiques fair. It takes place there at the Weatherly Centre every month and is clearly very popular as it was packed with stalls and fellow shoppers. I saw far too many treasures I wanted to bring home with me, and despite being fairly good, I couldn’t resist buying a very delicate string of Art Deco pearls, as well as a 1930s necklace which will be kept as ‘special’ for my wedding outfit!

Antiques fair

We picked up the hound and then stopped into our local, The Half Moon, for a half pint (Belly Dancer for me, Dog Dancer for Adam!). It was so lovely to take him there for the first time and he soon made himself at home!

Pub pooch

The rest of the evening was spent slobbing about and cooking up a big fry-up for supper….I felt the treat was well deserved (and needed!), as was the early night I got (asleep by 9:30!).

Ems x

Something from the weekend…..walks, home making and a grand opening!

I really am loving this rural living thing! Whilst I am lucky enough to enjoy my week day pursuits very much, I can still look forward to the weekend knowing there’s plenty to see and do! And whilst we’d planned to get the house a little more homey this weekend, we still managed to fit in some adventures….

We ditched the Saturday morning lie-in to go off an adventurous dog walk at some nearby woods called Sharpenhoe Clappers. The name alone was enough to get me excited, and of course with all the leaves turning gold and falling, it seemed like a perfect place to have a wander and take some photos. When we got up there (the Clappers is atop quite a hill, and from the bottom looks rather like a mowhawk on the horizon) it was incredibly blustery, and I was pleased for all the layers I’d put on! It made us take a rather brisker walk than usual, but we still managed to take in some glorious sites. There were avenues of trees carpeted with rusty coloured leaves, lots of vivid red berries, and plenty of mushrooms about (which made me wish I knew more about them and could have taken some home for tea!). My photos will be over on my Flickr soon.

Back at home, we merely dumped our cameras and swapped wellies for boots to head straight out again. After dropping a parcel into the post office (and spotting the Town Crier nearby to boot….I’ll never tire of seeing him!) we made our way to Church House for the North Hertforshire Cats Protection Coffee Morning. It’s a lovely little fundraising event, which takes place monthly to raise money for the charity. It’s only 20p to get in too, although free if you buy refreshments! They also have a bric-a-brac sale (at which I managed to pick up some treasures!) and a little stall selling cat themed gifts and cards.  The next one is the 15th December if you’re in the area!

After that I couldn’t help but have a look in the nearby Gift Gallery, where some of my beaded jewellery is now on show! It was so exciting to see my work in a shop window, and hopefully I’ll get lots of sales through the shop which is exciting too!

Next, it was just around the corner to the grand opening of the new RSPCA Charity shop. There was a huge crowd there already, as well as photographers, waiting to see Pam Rhodes (off the telly!) cut the ribbon and declare the shop open. We’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, as we’re big fans of thrifting, and knowing that any money we spend there will go to animal charities is a huge bonus. Pam Rhodes, who has been a big supporter of the charity locally for years and runs a nearby cat home, gave a very moving speech urging us to support the new shop and praising those involved with setting it up. Adam and I were almost moved to tears in fact! We still managed a good look around though, and in fact made the first ever purchase there!

We did a spot more shopping before heading home for some lunch…. then it was to the dining room, or dumping ground as it should have been called, to do some serious tidying and sorting! We didn’t do too badly all told, and even managed to hang pictures to boot. We rewarded ourselves with another walk (although a rather less blusterous one!) over at Oughton Common, with the dogs again. And we rewarded ourselves for *that* by going back to Adam’s parents’ house for a supper of take away curry!

The rest of the evening was spent on more sorting and then wrapping up under blankets on the sofa to continue watching X Files. I’m getting really into it now!

We awoke late on Sunday morning, to the sound of the church bells ringing and the rain outside. We vowed to stay indoors to stay cozy and get more house things done, and so now the dining room actually looks like a dining room and not a storage unit! So much of the day was spent home-making, eating and slobbing about, culminating as usual with a cozy up on the sofa for more X Files watching, and knitting on my part…..I’ve been making lots of hot water bottle covers to sell on my stall and on Etsy, and once I’ve done those I shall start knitting the lovely big blanket I’ve been planning for ever!

And that was it really for our weekend….lots of time spent cozy at home, but with plenty of adventures thrown in to stop me from getting bored! Perfect!

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Ems x

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

Something from the weekend…… Treasure Hunting in Hertfordshire

With the weather set to put a damper on the weekend, I wasnt terribly convinced that I’d get up to much this weekend. And yet the shone shine just enough and our weekend out of London was very fruitful indeed.

Packing for the rainy weather ahead

Packing for the rainy weather ahead

Adam had managed to get the afternoon off on Friday, so at lunch time we made our way to Kings Cross to catch a train to Hitchin in Hertfordshire (Adam’s home town). It was the first time we’d used the new concourse, and we were wowed as we walked through to our platform under the stunning new ceiling…..

New entrance to Kings Cross station

We arrived just in time for a yummy lunch of Adam’s Mum’s home made Leek, Potato and Stilton soup, and then we were off for some treasure hunting right away! We headed down into town for the Friday afternoon flea market…. it wasn’t busy because of the rain and some of the stall holders were already getting ready to pack up. Still, I had a great chat about my stamp jewellery (and my collection of stamps that I use to make it) with a lovely chap on a stamp collectors stall, and I managed to catch the wonderful bead stall to get some supplies. Next, we popped into Tim’s for some art supplies…. it’s a wonderful, proper old fashioned art shop and has brilliant stock. We even met Tim himself (we think) who offered us tips and was very friendly!

Then it was around a few of the wonderful charity shops in Hitchin….. I find some great stuff there and lots for my crafting like old picture frames and odd brooches and charms. We even saw at one shop an amazing collection of old film cameras, including a Super 8 movie camera! I really wanted it (and Adam even offered to buy it for my birthday!) but I know how expensive it is to process the film and buy it in the first place, and I didn’t want to have it just to sit around doing nothing. Still, if I win the lottery I would definitely go back for it!

Hitchin's High Street

Awesome camera collection in a charity shop

For dinner we headed over to nearby Letchworth, and to the amazing Italian restaurant there. We’ve been to L’artista plenty but it still feels like a treat….. every dish I’ve had has been brilliant and they have delicious foccacias and the best tiramisu!

Risotto ai Funghi at L'artista

On Saturday morning it was back into Letchworth to snoop about their charity shops. I picked up a lovely new (although old!) table cloth to use for my craft stall. We also happened across a little farmers’ market which sold extremely yummy cakes and lots of free range meat! We bought up a load of Free Range smoked streaky bacon, as we struggle to get that even at Waitrose (it was a bargain too), as well as some scotch eggs (hardly ever get those now so snap up the Free Range ones when I see them!) and some Free Range herby sausages….. we actually ate them last night and they are INCREDIBLE! Will definitely be visiting the Farroby Farm shop and tea room on our next visit to try more of their stuff!

After that we took a pit stop back at the house to yum up some of our goodies, before heading back into town for that day’s market and some more charity shop shopping. On our way back, Adam took me a different route than usual, down the little lane that runs behind the house. It was lovely to hear about all the places that Adam used to play as a child, and a shame that lots of the open spaces (where he would pick blackberries and plant trees) are now built on with new houses.

Hitchin Market

Down the little lane behind the house

The little lane in front of the house

For dinner, we went over to Holly and Jamie’s, where we met a bunch of other friends too. Holly had made a delicious selection of Spanish dishes for a sort of Tapas meal….. some yummy fritatta…. Patatas Bravas…. olives…. butter bean stew….. We ate lots and lots, and drank some wine whilst chatting about nothing in particular. I also managed to show off some of the jewellery I’ve been making to boot!

On Sunday we decided to take a chance on the changeable weather and go for a nice walk with the dogs at Chick Sands. Adam has told me lots about how he loved going there as a child, adventuring in the woods. It’s a remarkable place, and in the ‘just rained’ light everything shone beautifully (and very photogenically!). We dawdled about, meeting other dog walkers, and finding treasure all the way…. before an approaching grey cloud of doom told us it was time to head back to the car and we just missed a down pour!

The path to Chick Sands

Amazing light in Chick Sands Woods

So many beautiful trees!

Dinosaur tooth / bark we found

We were due a rest after our adventure, so back at home we relaxed with cups of tea and home made flapjack, whilst I played around with double exposures of the photos I’d taken and surveyed the treasure we had found!

Playing with a double exposure app

Treasures from Chick Sands

Newton getting comfy for a well earned rest

There was still time before dinner, so looking out at the now sunny again sky, we decided to have one last wander about the market and shops (just in case there was any more treasure to be found). Unfortunately, all of the stall holders had already packed up by the time we got down there, so we opted instead for a nice walk around the church. It’s the largest in the county I believe, and exceptionally pretty. In fact the whole town centre is terribly idyllic if you can ignore the recent additions of chain coffee shops and Italian restaurants.

St Mary's Church, Hitchin

When we got to the market square, we began to hear some wonderful drum music from the far side….so we went to investigate….. There was a parade on its way towards us with a brilliant drum group, followed by hundreds of Scouts. I think it must have been a St George’s day parade. It was lovely to see all the children in uniform and marching along to the fabulous music. I love a drum group! (If anyone knows the name of the drumming group I would be much obliged to find out!)

Drumming parade

Lining up in the market square

After packing up our treasure and having a lovely supper of meatballs and chilli pasta, we began our way home. Or so we thought. We’d happened to check the trains from Hitchin to London and found out there was a broken down train stopping all the others getting through. So an hour’s worth of phone calls later we found out that we weren’t allowed to use our tickets to go from Luton on the other line instead, but we could pick up a train from Stevenage. But when we got to Stevenage the trains were far more delayed than we’d been told, and in fact we waited for an hour before giving up on the mythical train that the staff had no idea of an arrival time for. And so we called for a lift back, and no sooner had we left than a train arrived of course! Still, who knows how long it would have been delayed further (I feel awful for those marathon runners who got stuck and spent 8 hours getting home!), so we enjoyed another evening of relaxation before heading home on Monday morning.

What a weekend!

Waiting for a train at Stevenage.... double rainbow!

Some of the weekend's treasure..... lots of new beads, some old silver and gold chains, loads of vintage picture frames, lots of cool fabrics, mis-matched cutlery for the collection, and a lay figure for the stall!