Something from the weekend: Mostly food

Despite still having lots to do as we settle into the house, we’ve been enjoying spending our weekends exploring our new locale….especially with the new added benefit of a car!

Adam finished work at lunch time on Friday as he had some time to take in lieu, so we drove to nearby Ilkley to walk the dogs down the river and scope out all that the town centre has to offer. We found lots of lovely shops, The Veggie cafe that we’re dying to try out, and our nearest Betty’s Tea Rooms which I hope to visit before long!

On Saturday we took an early morning walk on the gorgeous Otley Chevin, the foresty hill that overlooks the town. The dogs love it up there as there is lots to sniff and explore, and the views are just stunning on a gorgeous day like Saturday.

Lurcher at Otley Chevin

Cooper posing at the Chevin

After breakfast we drove to Kirkstall Abbey to meet my Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law and our little niece Clementine. There’s a monthly Deli Market there with dozens of wonderful food and drink stalls set up inside the beautiful ruins of the abbey. We did a circuit to see what we might like, then bought up lots of goodies….for our lunch we bought a yummy free range scotch egg and incredibly delicious pork and gammon pie from The Blue Pig (as well as some of their sausages for another day), plus some gruyere and rosemary straws. There was a huge amount of sweet stuff to choose from, and we came away with a Chai Spiced flapjack from Oat Cuisine (top prize for their punderful name!), a Vegan Columbian Coffee Tiffin from That Old Chestnut, fudge courtesy of Aunty Emily’s (another great name!), and our first ever Canadian Nanaimo bar from Fayre by Alley. We were also in need of marmalade, so we bought some amazing Orange and Cardamon Marmalade from Hummingbird Preserves. The abbey is well worth a visit in its own right, and I’m sure we’ll be back with our cameras…..and we’ll be no strangers to the Deli Market too I’d imagine!

Scoffing a scotch egg at Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market

Scoffing a scotch egg at Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market

We popped to Adam’s Brother’s for a cup of tea and niece cuddles, plus some fussing of their two gorgeous Staffies. Then we drove to nearby Arthington to look at a house for sale….we’re not strictly ready to move yet having only just arrived, but I’ve not stopped thinking about this place since Adam found it on Right Move and he eventually decided that the only way to shut me up was to take a look! I’m glad we did….it’s good practise for when we start viewing properly….but in reality it wasn’t quite the dream home I’d thought it was. We shall keep on looking though!

It being a month since we’ve moved here, we decided to celebrate with a meal out at a local vegetarian restaurant on Saturday night, then it was an early night for us after a busy day!

On Sunday we had our friends Craig and Shelley over for morning coffee….we’re delighted to be living so near to them now, and that we’ll get to see them more often. After a quick catch up we all walked to the Designer Craft Fair in the Otley Courthouse to peruse the pretty things, then made our way to the Farmers’ Market in the square. As usual there was lots to tempt us and we came away with full bags….Mornington House‘s scrumptious jams (strawberry, raspberry and damson), Butterscotch and Rocky Road slices from the amazing Yummy Yank, half a dozen huge free range duck eggs and a bun filled with delicious free range hog roast and stuffing from Happy Hogs to bring home for lunch.

Scrummy Rocky Road from The Yummy Yank

Scrummy Rocky Road from The Yummy Yank

After scoffing, Craig and Shelley headed home for some sort of sporting race or match or something, then shortly afterwards Adam’s Dad arrived as he’ll be staying with us this week. He and Adam’s Mum are also making the move up from Hitchin later this week (he’s meeting with builders and things whilst Liz sorts out the movers) and we drove over to their new place to have a little look around the nearby High Street in the afternoon.

I cooked up a roast leg of lamb with all the trimmings for supper, followed by a fruit crumble and custard. The perfect way to end a lovely weekend!

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Ems x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our first month in Otley

Hello! From Yorkshire!

Yes, a month ago today we made the move from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, all the way up to the little market town of Otley in West Yorkshire. It was a horrendous move….we collected so much stuff living in such a big place in Hitchin, especially with all the wedding things. Plus it was our first move with the dogs, who have a lot more luggage than you might expect! Still, they were as good as gold during the move and really did us proud.

Dogs in the car on move day

Are we nearly there yet?

Dogs on moving day

All in!

We’re finally getting sorted in the new place though, and have a place for most things and most things in their place….it has been a great opportunity for some serious sorting though and we’ve had lots to Freecycle, donate to charity shops and box up for the car boot sale. And hopefully the next move will be much easier as it won’t be so far away….we very much intend to stay in Yorkshire as we have so many friends and family here, not to mention the fact that we’ll be able to afford a much nicer house than in pricey Hitchin!

My home studio

My new studio….still a bit of sorting to do but I can work in it at least!

We’d not been to Otley ever before our move day, and hadn’t even seen our new house! With such a busy summer we just couldn’t get the time together to do a proper scout as we usually would, and were lucky enough to have some family and friends view a few places for us. Our dear friend Craig actually came to see this place and said we’d love it….and we do! Thanks Craig!

Otley is a lot like Hitchin really. It’s a market town with lots going on, but also has the advantage of quick and easy access to the countryside. My morning walk with the dogs is just perfect….we’re a few moments away from a playing field which we walk through first, then a little river side park before we get to the gorgeous formal gardens (and playground!) and then wonderful fields for the hounds to race around, as well as lots of places for them to dip into the river….Digby has even had his first proper swim (so proud!)! We’ve seen Kingfishers along the river and I’m told you can see otters if you’re out early enough too….fingers crossed!

Swimming dog in the River Wharfe

Digby taking a swim in the goregous river Wharfe

Being a little more remote we decided we’d finally have to get a car, which means we can explore other places for our walks too. We’ve taken to driving to the stunning Chevin Forest, just two minutes away, for our afternoon walk. The dogs love exploring all the winding paths, and we adore the views from up there. There’s even an ice cream van waiting at the summit, which is a great treat after the climb! The Chevin is actually thought to have been an inspiration for some of Turner’s paintings, and I love having that connection!

The view of Otley from the Chevin Forest

The view of Otley from the Chevin Forest

We’re hoping to explore some of the nearby places too before long….I love Skipton and the Dales which are now very close, and then there’s the Keighley Railway (famous for appearing in the Railway Children!), Bronte country in the pretty village of Haworth, nearby Ilkley and its Darwin Gardens and stunning moorland, plus more of Leeds which I love for food and shopping.

There’s plenty to do in Otley too, and we’ve been enjoying getting to know it. There’s a regular market which I’ve been going to for our fruit and vegetables, plus a monthly Farmer’s market which is just wonderful, and a craft market in the Old Courthouse. There are stacks of tea rooms and plenty of good pubs….all of which we have vowed to try out, although that may take us some time!

Otley Farmers Market

Shopping at Otley Farmers Market

All natural dog treat

Cooper ready for a treat from the Farmers Market!

giant yorkshire pudding filled with chips and gravy

My kinda grub….local ‘delicacy’ of giant yorkshire pudding filled with chips and gravy

Otley Folk Festival

Dancers outside the Court House Project for the Otley Folk Festival

Adam has joined the Otley Camera Club, which is celebrating its 75th year, and we’re hoping to find local dance classes and an archery club too. I’ve been loving all the gorgeous galleries in town, and there’s a Sunday car boot within walking distance, plus several more we can explore in the car. We’re looking forward to some upcoming events as well….there’s a science fair and beer festival very soon and a Victorian fair at Christmas, plus food festivals, arts events and all sorts in the new year. Oh, and we checked out the Vintage Transport Extravaganza too which was super!

Otley Old Grammar School gallery

Art this way, at The Old Grammar School gallery

Ice cream at the Otley car boot sale

Me with my ice cream at the car boot sale. There’s ice cream everywhere here!

Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza

At the Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza

We’re celebrating our first month here with a trip to the wonderful sounding vegetarian restaurant, The Cheerful Chilli, up on the Chevin tomorrow night….it’ll be such a treat to have so much to choose from for a change and I’m looking forward to trying it out! Then it’ll be more exploring for potential places for us to settle down in….the plan is to buy a place within the next year, so we want to get a flavour for where in Yorkshire should get to keep us!

That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to share about our new town soon. Have a lush weekend!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: A Day in the Life

“Tell us about your typical day. Or maybe do a photo diary of what you are doing on the hour every hour for 12 hours. Or you could sum up what you did today.”

I’ve been fancying doing one of these ‘Day in the life’ posts for ages, but the truth is, there is no typical day in my life, and so I was worried it’d all come across a bit odd! One of the things I love most about having given up my ‘day job’ and moving out of London, is that no two days are even remotely the same, and I get to pack in all sorts of things I love doing!

I do admittedly have little bits of routines….I walk the dog in the morning and afternoon….I like to do house work on Fridays so the place is nice for the weekend (although it doesn’t always pan out that way!)….and Sundays usually start with a lie in and end with an early night! But, lest I bore you to death with my Friday house working activities, I thought I’d share a sort of ‘best bits’ version of my day….all things I do get up to, but not necessarily in the usual spirit of a blow-by-blow ‘A Day in the Life’….

NB. All times are very *ish*

7:00 am 

Wake up….often naturally but sometimes with my alarm or Adam’s. Before the clocks turned I was waking up wonderfully naturally at a rather respectable 6:30am, but since then I’ve been struggling to drag myself out of bed!

7:15 am

After using the bathroom, I often just sling on a coat and walking boots over my PJs to take the hound straight out for a walk. It always feels a bit of a drag to begin with, until I see his bright face and wagging tail, all excited, and once I’m outdoors I love it. We walk most mornings at the Priory grounds near us….there are lots of public pathways in all sorts of different routes through the farmland, and Cooper loves to meet his dog friends there and run about like a crazy. We sometimes get picked up by his Grandma Liz (Adam’s Mum!) who might take us to the nearby common for a change, or will drop me off at the office I work at sometimes then walk him with her two dogs over at Letchworth or Willian. I do love our walks together at the Priory though, just the two of us through the morning mist, or across the deserted fields listening to the sky larks in the blue skies above us.

8:15 am

Once home, and after the habitual ‘welcome home’ doggy biscuit, I prepare Cooper’s breakfast (he still needs feeding up so he gets two large meals a day!) and then make coffee and cereal for Adam and I. We have intercom phones in the house because it’s a bit rambling, so I call Adam on the kitchen handset to tell him it’s ready. He’s already been working since I got up, so it’s a nice little break for him and we chat for a little until he goes back up to his home office.

8:45 am

After breakfast I shower, get dressed in proper clothes and put on my makeup….even if I’m going to be home all day, I still at least do my eyebrows and put mascara on. If I’m off out anywhere special I’ll make an effort to look nice, but otherwise I just wear what’s comfy and practical!

9:00 am

And so to work! I do go into an office in Letchworth once or twice a week to work at the local CVS. I love working there as I get to do so many varied things (I plan events, help with publicity and communications, and am currently overseeing the new membership process) and I get to drink LOTS of tea and chat to all the lovely people there.

If it’s not an office day though, I’ll often spend the morning in my studio at home, working on orders or creating new stock….I adore my studio and it feels like such a luxury to have a space of my own to work in. This week I’ve been working on a miniature sculpture for a bride and groom getting married in Texas….I love working in miniature so it was great fun!

There’s usually a tea break or two during the morning, when I’ll stretch my legs to the kitchen, then take a cuppa up for Adam. The hound usually follows me about, although of late he’s been settling upstairs on the guest bed in order to catch the morning sun!

11:00 am

I’m often popping into London for meetings and what have you, and yesterday for example I made the journey to East London to take some stock to a new pop-up shop some friends are opening. I also often take stock to more local shops, who sell some of my hand made jewellery for me….I love doing it this way as I don’t have to store the stuff at home and once they sell, all the money is mine rather than having to pay Paypal or anyone!

This morning though, as it’s a Friday, all three of us popped to the market for a wander. Fridays are my favourite at the market, as it’s Antiques and Collectables day. There are always loads of brilliant stalls, some with expensive antiques, some with wonderful thrifty finds, and some full of really random stuff! I love a mooch about there, and it’s nice for Adam to get away from his computer screen, not to mention how much Cooper loves a sniff about and getting lots of fuss from other shoppers! I often buy things from the market to sell online on my vintage Etsy shop, or we buy pretty things to make our home nice.

12:00 noon

We have lunch quite early, for no reason other than we like our food really! So at around noon I start making us something….often a nice soup from scratch, or if we’re being naughty like today, a cheese toasty! Cooper gets lunch too at the moment, a nice big Bonio biscuit, as he needs some more flesh on his ribs! We eat at the kitchen table like at breakfast, and usually I’ll have the radio on in there….nearly always tuned into Gold FM, my favourite!

1:00 pm

Back to work. This might consist of more work in the studio, setting up my mini photography studio in the dining room and taking pictures of my stock to list on Etsy, a little blogging, or some house work. This week I’ve been enjoying spending a little time out in the garden though in the afternoon, just slowly tidying things up, weeding, water the pots, and throwing a ball for the hound (who doesn’t ever bring it back, just runs around the garden with it like a crazy).

Whatever I’m doing is usually punctuated by more cups of tea, and visits to Adam’s office upstairs, as well as lots of fuss and cuddles with the pupster.

4:00 pm

I think I love the afternoon walk even more than the morning one in some ways. Maybe because it’s often a little longer, or we see more people and dogs, or maybe because Adam usually gets to come too. Again, we’ll often walk at the Priory, although we have a different route through the ‘burbs and some playing fields for when it’s raining, to avoid the mud! I often take lots of photos on our walks, as the surroundings are so stunning. It’s so wonderfully relaxing!

5:00 pm

Again, we eat early….I set to work on dinner. Favourites at our house are Butternut Squash Lasagne, Cowboy Meatballs and my rather wonderful Chilli (even if I do say so myself). I usually cook as I have more time on my hands than Adam does, and he enjoys a rest after being in his office all day staring at data! He is however in charge of cooking certain meals, especially if I’ve been out for the day, so he will often make his amazing Spaghetti Carbonara!

We eat at the kitchen table again, unless we have guests, in which case we might eat in the dining room. Cooper has his dinner too at a similar time, or when I’m cooking ours, and if we have a pudding he gets an extra treat!

7:00 pm

After dinner it’s ‘sofa time’ which is Cooper’s second favourite time of the day! He gets to snuggle on the sofa with us whilst we blog, plan stuff, or do other computery or internety stuff. Then we’ll usually watch a bit of telly….although we don’t actually watch ‘live’ telly at all, preferring to watch series on DVD all at once! We are currently making our way through the X-Files….we’re on season seven at the moment….although we do sometimes watch a little anime in between, like Azumanga Daioh or Magic Users Club.

9:00 pm

We are usually pretty early to bed….we love our sleep….so at about nine we take Coops out into the garden for his last ‘spend-a-penny’ and then he races upstairs for his bedtime Chomping Chew! I think this is his favourite time of the day…he LOVES his chews and seems very happy to settle down on his bed for the night once he’s had it!

We then tend to read in bed, play computer games (awful at bedtime I know, but I never find it hard to get to sleep!) or do more internety stuffs. Now it’s lighter in the evenings though I want to get back into the habit of knitting or crafting something to wind down in the evenings.

10:30 pm

After brushing teeth etc. we settle down in bed, and as I’m very lucky that way, I nearly always fall asleep within a couple of minutes….and there I stay for my nice solid 8 to 9 hours beauty sleep, until it all starts over again for a brand new day…..

Ems x

Vienna: Must see and do

Well by now you’ll know that in Vienna you simply *must* drink lots of the excellent coffee, and eat copious amounts of cake and sausages. But what to do in between meal times?

We had such an amazing holiday in Vienna, and although a LOT of it was spent at the amazing Christmas Markets (half the reason for us going in honesty!) I think we did pretty well at soaking up what this gorgeous city has to offer….and here is what I’d recommend you do too….

You can’t really get away from Mozart in Vienna, although it’s not quite as Mozart-crazy as Salzburg! The beautiful statue of the composer in the Burrgarten is well worth a look, although you may have to fight through hoards of school trippers to get your photo!

I love the way you can see Vienna’s Gothic masterpiece, the Stephansdom cathedral from so far away, yet it sort of creeps up on you as you discover it up close. One side of the roof is decorated with a rather on-trend chevron tile design, whilst the other bears the Austrian eagle. Inside though is the real surprise, as we found it lit up in a rather crazy tie-dye effect!

The guide books said that if you only go to see one palace in Vienna, make it the Schloss Shonbrunn. And it is certainly worth the short U-bahn trip out of the city. The audio guided tour will take you through the palace’s tumultuous history and gives you an insight into the lives of its many occupants, including the famous Habsburgs.

The palace also boasts incredible grounds, including various themed gardens, fountains, a labyrinth and maze, and a stunning gloriette….the climb up to which is well worth the effort when you turn around to see the whole of Vienna before you.

And as if that’s not enough, your combined ticket will also let you into the palace’s own zoo, the fascinating Wustenhaus (desert house) and the breathtaking Palmenhaus (Palm house) which is actually a replica of the one in our very own Kew Gardens!

Vienna is home to the world’s first Lomography shop, and so a pilgrimage to its vast photo wall was a must for this analogue-lover. It also has a great little gift shop and the rest of the Museum Quarter in which it resides is worth a visit too.

We found out about the Globe museum by chance, and hadn’t planned it into our schedule at all, but as soon as we knew it existed we couldn’t miss it! The museum far exceeded our expectations, and not only houses some of the most visually impressive and historically important  globes in the world (including an entire room featuring globes from private collections) but also teaches you the history of globe manufacture using clever interactive exhibits….I had no idea it would be so interesting! A combined ticket also lets you into the Papyrus museum and the fascinating Esperanto museum!

Vienna is so famed for its musical history that it would be rude to visit without experiencing some live music. We opted for a rather touristy package at the Kursalon in the Stadtpark…..a sort of a variety show featuring chamber music, ballet and opera, this was the perfect taster and had everyone toe tapping along to the familiar tunes of some of Vienna’s greatest inhabitants.

And whilst we’re on music…..Vienna’s answer to the Hollywood walk of fame is great fun, with golden stars featuring famous composers’ names stretching from the Staatsoper, all the way under the U-Bahn station tunnels.

And whilst you’re there, take a look at the charmingly funny Opera loos! In London we have cockney cash machines, but in Vienna there is a public toilet where you can listen to opera! Love it!

I could also argue that no trip to Vienna would be complete without a good fix of Klimt either, and the Secession museum is a great place to get a feel for the artist. Home to his masterpiece the Beethoven Frieze, the building itself is just as impressive, with its owl motifs and Medusa heads over the door!

And just over the road is the colourful Naschmarkt, the city’s largest and most popular farmers’ market.

I personally couldn’t let the opportunity to visit an iconic Bond film scene pass me by, and so we took a bit of a walk over to the Wurstelprater Amusement Park (actually the world’s oldest amuseument park!) to see the Riesenrad…..those of you who are as fond of Bond as I will recognise the Ferris wheel and the sliding glass doors below from The Living Daylights. The 65m wheel also featured in the film The Third Man, as well as cult classic Sunrise.

Vienna really is one of those cities though that you can just amble around all day, and although we crammed in lots, I’d happily return again (in the summer perhaps) to simply soak up some of the lovely atmosphere there.

Ems x

Vienna: Eats

Whilst I’ve never actually *chosen* a holiday destination based on the food I’d expect to get there, food is often the first thing that makes me fall in love with a place. And Vienna will certainly be remembered as one of my favourite cities for that very reason!

We were so impressed by the meals we had on our little city break there last October, whether it was in a traditional restaurant, a quirky canteen or from an outdoor vendor. The biggest benefit for us was that so much of the meat there is Organic…..Adam and I only eat free range meat, so eating out is often a bit tricky for us, although we do allow ourselves a little more freedom whilst on holidays. It wasn’t just the meat that impressed us though….everything we ate was of such high quality, served with a smile (not to mention a great deal of patience with my poor German-speaking-ordering!) and I’d definitely say the food was a highlight of our trip!

To that end, I thought I’d share with you some of the places we most enjoyed eating whilst in Vienna….I hope you’ll want to try them if you’re ever there!

One of our most memorable meals was the incredible lunch buffet at Brandauer’s Schlossbrau. A grand ‘beer hall’ (and huge beer garden in the warmer months!) set inside one of Vienna’s last Biedermeier dance halls, this place feels both fancy and informal, with dozens of tables all over the former dance floor and even on the old velvet-draped stage. There is a wonderful beer selection (I’m afraid I can’t remember which one I had, but it was the waitress’ recommendation and very yummy!) as well as an incredibly good value all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Never one to turn down such a challenge, I relished the chance to try all the different traditional Austrian dishes, and I would heartily recommend doing so yourself, especially for the bargainous price of €7.50 (Monday to Friday, 11:30am to 3pm). I devoured three plates full, including an amazing potato soup, sauerkraut, schnitzel and goulash. I can imagine it pays to get there early during the summer months, especially if you’d like a pretty table outside under a chestnut tree, but it’s certainly an excellent place to visit if you’re going to see the nearby Schloss Shonbrunn…..Get the U4 to Shonbrunn (just about half a dozen stops from Karlsplatz going towards Hutteldorf) and visit the Schloss in the morning, and then walk off your big lunch around the Schloss grounds, zoo and very good copy of Kew!

I love a foody market, so Vienna’s Naschmarkt was a must for our trip. The Borough Market sized treasure is a few minutes’ walk from the centre (about ten minutes from the opera house and just over the road from the stunning Secession gallery) and is crammed with cute wooden stalls bursting with fresh produce. There are a good few sit-in restaurants and cafes there, but you’ll possibly be even more tempted to buy up lots of treats from the various stalls.

And still on markets, I couldn’t resist raving about the famous Viennese Christmas markets, which provided me with some of my favourite meals during our trip! There are a number of wonderful traditional dishes available at the various Chistkindlmarkts, and all of the ones I tried were AMAZING! I adored the savoury Pretzels and Langos (huge deep fried bread smothered in garlic sauce), but most of all the incredible Kartoffelpuffer (a sort of giant hash brown brushed with a yummy garlic sauce). We also enjoyed some amazing sweet things, like Lebkuchen (gingerbread biscuits), Maroni (roasted chestnuts),  and the yummy marshmallow-filled pastry rolls (can’t remember the name, but it was like the Hungarian Chimney Cakes, only filled like a Tunnocks Tea Cake!) as well as several mugs of the glorious Gluhwein (mulled wine). The biggest market is the one in front of the Rathaus, but you’ll find Christkindlmarkts all over the city from November onwards.

Still outdoors, I just have to share in the joy of the amazing Bitzinger Wurstelstand. You can find this gem right behind the iconic Staatsoper opera house, just around the corner from the famous Cafe Sacher. Famous in its own right, this sausage stand is often frequented by smart businessmen on their way home, as well as glamourously dressed opera-goers, all yumming up the no-frills offerings. There’s a good range of different sausages, sauces, breads and sides, and I just loved standing at the tall table integrated into the stand, underneath their heat lamp. This is how fast food should be!

Lastly, and probably our best meal whilst in Vienna, I can’t recommend enough the delicious offerings at Shone Perle. It’s a bit of a jaunt out of the main hub (nearest U-bahn station is Taborstrasse on U2), but this all-orgainc canteen style Neo-Beisl serves the most amazing food and is well worth the trip. I chose the Wiener Schnitzel (massive favourite of mine) which came with yummy potato salad, whilst Adam had the incredible Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef) which came along with a sort of giant potato rosti. Both dishes were accompanied with lovely sauces and sides, and we were delighted with the Austrian wines we chose too. I’d happily take the trip back here at the first chance….whilst the place isn’t fancy or terribly convenient to the main tourist attractions, I’d say you can’t beat it for quality and value.

Mahlzeit!

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….. 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…..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…. with a much enjoyed extra hour!

Well that was a lush weekend. Well, Sunday at least! Sometimes a great Sunday can make up for a so-so Friday Saturday though….

Our weekend began with a trip to the cinema on Friday afternoon…..Adam got off work earlier especially as I just couldn’t wait any longer to go and see Skyfall. For those who don’t know, I’m a MASSIVE James Bond fan. I got into the films as a teenager, and spent entire school holidays watching them all back to back, and then a couple of years ago I got all the books for Christmas and became hooked on them. So it’s fair to say I was fit to burst with excitement to see the much-awaited new film, and owing to my enjoyment of the last two, my expectations were pretty high (not to mention the fact that all the reviews were saying how they’d pulled out all the stops!).

But alas. I probably couldn’t have been more disappointed. Whilst I enjoyed the pure entertainment value of the film, and even liked its nostalgia and naffness, the more I think about it, the more I feel let down. I know there was backlash from the amazing Casino Royale, because the die hard fans all missed the innuendo and tacky gadgets. But I really felt that the new films were going somewhere, and building up to something….and in fact were far more like the books than the other films. But it’s like they forgot all the progress of the last two, and merely went back to the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan cringe-worthy naffness. The whole thing looked so cheap, with locations we’ve seen too much of lately, as well as bits of London disguised as Shanghai etc. And without wishing to spoil anything, I think they’ve lost the two best things that ever happened to the franchise….one I can’t say without saying too much, but the other being David Arnold as composer. His scores have been so intelligent and filled with clever nods for us super-geeks, and although I usually love anything Thomas Newman does, his score was brash and immature and utterly cringey. I just don’t think that Sam Mendes was the right choice to direct a Bond film (despite my loving his other stuff), and the loss of some of the other regular team too have really left a dent. Anyway, I won’t go on about it….I’m sure it’s rather dull for anyone who is less into the films than me anyway, and I’ll just get myself more riled up!

The rest of the evening was rather more successful, as I cooked up a massive Broccoloni Cheese in our new huge Le Creuset dish. Adam’s Mum came over to help us eat it (with the dogs too, who polished it off!). Then it was an early night ahead of a very early start on Saturday….. I was hosting another stall at the Hitchin Riverside Craft and Farmers Market, and had to be up and out by half past seven! It was SOOOO cold, and despite the incredible amount of layers I put on, I was still freezing and losing feeling in my fingers whilst setting up! Still, it was lovely to have such a great stall right next to the river and overlooking the church…..and with some rather loud ducks and geese for company too!

It was lovely to see some of the stalls I’d encountered at my last stall there, as well as some familiar faces, and ever so nice to meet some new people (and chat to them to make the time go faster!). My neighbors to the left were the lovely Christine and Bridget, who make beautiful hand knitted and sewn gifts and homewares…. whilst to the right was the wonderful Jo from Breakheart Hill Farm, with a wonderful selection of their produce. We chatted to Jo for hours about the farm and their dogs, and were delighted to find we could order some of their gammon joints too! That’s Christmas sorted! We also indulged in some huge back bacon from a local farmer who rears his pigs in the woods, as well as some delicious cupcakes from the award winning Crumbly Wumbly.

Rather annoyingly, it kept dry and fine all day just until we started to pack up! There was a fierce down pour that caught me off guard and unfortunately got to some of my paintings too. I managed to salvage most of it, and just need to do a couple of repairs to my Pet Pawtraits (more on that later!), but it was still rather miserable walking home with all my stock in the wet (despite it only being two minutes away!). Thankfully, Adam’s Mum invited us round for a nice stew for supper, followed by home made apple crumble and custard, so after the warmth of her Aga and a hot bath back at home, I finally warmed up again and was fast asleep in bed by ten!

My early night didn’t stop me from sleeping in though, and making use of the extra hour from daylight savings simply to snooze! I think I must have had about eleven hours sleep in total, but I felt great for it…especially after yumming up a massive fried breakfast! That set us up nicely for a walk round town and the car boot sale in the market place, and we rewarded ourselves for venturing out with cream cakes for lunch!

After that we did a little DIY at the house, then went for a lovely walk in the woods with the dogs. I so love this time of year, with all the stunning golden leaves, and so being in the woods was just wonderful. We did a little shopping after that, then headed home for a hearty sausage casserole for supper before watching Black Adder on the sofa under blankets, whilst I did a little knitting. Pretty perfect Sunday actually!

How did you use your ‘extra hour’? Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…… Some friends from the market

I had my first stall at Old Spitalfields on Saturday, as part of the Designers Makers Market. It was lovely to see some stalls I recognised from past markets and to meet some new people too. There were lots of things I wanted, as usual, so here’s a little round up of my favourites!…..

Being a Potteries lass, I couldn’t pass by a stall filled with china without stopping for a look! And Material Pleasures‘ collections are actually made in my home town….and not much china is these days! Designed by Julie Spurgeon and skillfully made in English fine bone china in the heart of The Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, Material Pleasures represents a lot of what I love about British hand-made homeware. Julie’s designs are both elegantly classical and whimsically modern….so very different from anything I’ve seen. Her sugar sweet pastel tones really caught my eye, along with her darling little china sugar mice (I was lucky enough to get one as a gift from Adam!). I’d love a full set (or three), and knowing that everything is so well made, thoughtfully designed and ethically sourced, I’d say there’s a pretty good excuse to indulge!

The Mister Peebles stall actually caught Adam’s eye first….. Full of charming and original illustrations bearing witty puns, we both fell for the little animals dressed up in sweaters and pajamas. There were lots of delightful prints for sale, as well as stacks of gorgeous greeting cards (which we couldn’t leave without!)…and it’s all terribly reasonably priced too!

And continuing the animal theme (it wasn’t intentional I promise!) Yas-Ming Ceramics is a collaboration between Yasmin Dilekkaya and Ming Wai Sun. Together they design these wonderful ceramics, all so clever and funny….. each mould is made by them and the heads and bums are carefully attached by hand so each piece is slightly different. I adore the small plates with the ruffed animals standing over them…how cute are their over-sized heads on their little human bodies?!

I’m back at the Designers Makers Market at Old Spitalfields on Saturday 15th September, along with lots of the lovely designers I met there too!

Ems x