Purple Globes

I lost 2 pounds this week which I was pleased about as I have not been perfect.  I think my saving grace has been a good amount of exercise (walking, gardening and tennis), sensible portion sizes and no binges.  So although I have had ice-creams and cake on occasions, it has been occasional and that was often offset by a smaller meal either at the time or later in the day.

I have also lost many more pounds (a small fortune) at the vets but that was for a good cause.  Dylan had 3 fits between yesterday afternoon and this morning and this is due to very low blood glucose and potassium levels which suggests an over production of insulin.  The vet did say that most dogs would be unconscious with such low levels of glucose but as he is such a healthy dog, he was coping.  We have left him at the vets overnight, rather than try to restore his glucose levels ourselves as the next fit could be fatal if his glucose levels didn’t rise.  The afternoon report was that he was eating and although still a bit low, there was a significant improvement in his glucose levels.  It was a relief knowing he was being well cared for.  When we did our walk this afternoon, it was very strange just having one dog and we look forward to having them both with us.

I have had a complaint from the management.  Well, the Little Fella.  He enjoys his food and asked this morning what we were eating for the day.  When I said the response was “Mummy, your salads are so boring!  Please can we have something different?”  Well, he did have a point so we did indeed have something different for dinner.

Before dinner came breakfast.  I slept very badly last night as at every sound I woke up in case it was Dylan.  So I wanted something sweet and easy so I made a smoothie with a banana, quarter of a mango, 1 tsp Out of the Woods (here’s hoping!), 1/4 tsp matcha powder, 1 tbsp each of chia seeds and hazlenut butter, 3 tbsp yogurt, topped up with coconut water.

smoothie ings 28-7-14 I wanted chocolate so also added 1 tbsp cacao powder and maca powder.maca and cacao powder Thick, chocolatey and sweet tasting but full of nourishing ingredients as well as the fruit sugars.smoothie 28-7-14 What with trips to the vets we didn’t have a chance of lunch until 2:30pm by which time I was hungry so we had a quick and easy prawns and salad in a wrap.prawn wrap For dinner I made a recipe from Sarah Raven’s ‘Garden Cookbook’.  It is a great cookbook with recipes divided by month (s) of the year so you can use up the ingredients you have either grown yourself or can find in local farmer’s markets.  I tried a beetroot recipe and it was fantastic and one I will definitely be making again.

Roast Beetroot with Lentils and Goat’s Cheese

Ingredients (serves 6 as a starter or 3 for a main)

coarse sea salt
1 tbsp cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tbsp juniper berries
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp star anise
8 small to medium sized beetroots
3 tbsp olive oil
200g puy lentils
200ml white wine
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
small bunch parsley
small bunch mint
salt and pepper
200 g goat’s cheese

For the dressing;
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil


Pick (or buy beetroot)

beetroots in trug 1 Preheat oven to 180 degrees.beetroots in trug Remove leaves and wash.  Some beetroots are more attractive than others but they all look the same when cooked and peeled.beetroots in sink Place spices in mortarspices Crush (the smell of this was heavenly)spices in mortar Place salt and spices on the base of a baking traycrushed spices Place beetroots on top and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Bake in oven (preheated to 180) for 1 hour until completely soft to the tip of a sharp knife.  Your kitchen will be filled with an amazing smell.beetroots in baking dish Cook the lentils in equal parts of white wine and water with the chopped garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil.  Cover the lentils with liquid and cook for 20 minutes, checking regularly to make sure they do not dry out.  Add more water if necessary.  When cooked, set aside and cool slightly.lentils, garlic, wine Chop the mint, parsley and tomatoes and add to the slightly cooled lentils and season to taste.cherry toms and herbs When the betroot is cooked, let it cool long enough to be handled so you can peel the skin off, cut in to chunks and serve with the lentils.

Mix the lemon juice and oil together and drizzle over the lentils.roasted beetroots Arrange the lentils on a plate and add goat’s cheese.  I used the 65g small round ones and the inside was slightly melted by the heat of the lentils which was just divine.  I served mine with a lettuce and spinach salad plus I used up my last peas by adding them to the lentils while they were cooking.roast beetroot lentil and goats cheese This was heavenly.  The lentils were full of garlic, lemon and herby flavours, the beetroot was sweet, earthy and spicy and the goat’s cheese was chalky and salty.  Fabulous and definitely one to make again.  The perfect summer lunch dish actually.roast beetroot and lentil

The Little Fella is still not impressed.  “Mummy, can we please have normal food tomorrow?” !  Well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and at least tonight I pleased myself as I loved it.


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The Fence

Another day spent productively in the garden, a lovely walk apart from the ending, some healthy food and some not!

I began with a juice; orange, half a lemon, half a beetroot, 3 celery sticks, 3 Swiss chard leaves, a carrot and an apple.juice ings 27-7-14 This tasted really good.juice 27-7-14 We had lunch out in the garden of our village pub,  The Milkhouse.

Milkhouse garden It seems like another lifetime ago that I used to stand at the village school to collect LaraLara in Milkhouse or Harvey.H and MilkhouseThe weather seemed comfortable today for the first time in weeks as it was not too hot.   I enjoyed a lager and lime (or 2) which is refreshing and served very cold here, just how I like it.
lager and limeIn the garden is a huge pizza oven.  I ordered the ‘Plucky Hen’.
Plucky Hen pizza Whole fresh anchovies on it.anchovy on pizzaWe had two rocket based side salads too.  It was very good.  I also ate some skinny fries and we had a Magnum ice cream on the way home.
pizza and rocket In the afternoon the Little Fella and I had a lovely walk over the road.  We were intrigued/anxious to see what was being built.sheep over the road We found some Kentish cobnuts but decided they were a bit too hard to eat.Kentish con but It was lovely to walk and not be too hot.Milton on walk Harvey and Milton fought over sticks for about half an hour, which is one of their favourite games.M and H with stick It is so green in the woods at this time of year.green woodlands Thirsty work boys?M and D drinking Last week we had seen diggers here and this is what they were erecting.  A huge horrible fence slicing though these lovely woods.  The amount of land they have cleared here is wide enough for a road.  I was very worried that we wouldn’t be able to complete our usual circuit, which would have really upset me as I have been walking over here for more than 10 years.the fence 3 We kept going until we came to another fence.  Somedays it may be tempting to lock him up but not today.the fence 2 It seems that they are putting gates in to keep the footpath open which is a relief but I remain very disappointed by this ugliness.  I much preferred the natural green landscape.the fence 1 Happy we can continue to cross this little bridge we have all been over so many times before.little bridge NB builders!public footpath sign in woods This is how I prefer my woodland to look.lush and green I took this photo because our yellow dog, Dylan, was lagging behind.  Milton always walks close by us but Dylan usually wanders off.  He comes back regularly to check us but then runs off again, exploring and always optimistic that today may be the day he can catch that damn squirrel.  Today though he was walking behind us most of the time and when I took this picture he was standing still so we were waiting.  Sadly he then had a massive fit which was very frightening and upsetting.  Harvey was brilliant and ran all the way home to get help.  Dylan came round from his fit,  seemed happy to walk home and is now resting.  The vet suggested we leave him to settle at home tonight in a dark and quiet room and I will take him in tomorrow to see if they can work out why he had a fit.  We are all hoping it is something that can be controlled as he has  had a small turn before but this was a full on fit which lasted about 5 minutes.  I really thought his time had come.green lanes To end on a more cheery note, here is a look at the part of my garden I love the most.  This is the large flower bed next to the veggie patch.  The crocosmia are massive this year – they must love the sunshine.huge crocosmia It does mean they obscure the shorter flowers behind.large flower bed 1 large flower bed The peas had to go today.wheelbarrow full of peas I consider these to be a personal failure as there were so many healthy pea pods but I didn’t pick them in time and then I didn’t water them enough so the plants turned silvery and covered in fine ‘dust’ which can happen during a prolonged dry and hot spell such as we have had.  But if I had picked them all and frozen them, I would have plenty to enjoy but I was trying to have a constant source of fresh.  I will do things differently next year and put this one down to inexperience of having such a large crop.clearing the peas

So the pea and bean bed just has the remaining broad beans in it which toppled over as I didn’t put supports in – another lesson learnt for next year!

pea and bean bed

I am proud of this lettuce.  It is perfect and is to be enjoyed at a special dinner on Friday.perfect lettuce This is the new area (reclaimed from a flower bed) full of potatoes with celery in the trench.celery and potatoes I have raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants in the fruit cage.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergine and okra in the greenhouse.fruit cage and greenhouse Carrots, red spring onions (just sown today), Swisss chard, a triffid and some spinach.carrots chard Oregano, thyme, dill, khol rabi, beetroot, something unidentified, red and white spring onions.herbs and beetroot 2 types of courgette which both look identical and sweet potatoes.courgettes and sweet pots 3 types of lettuce plus today I removed and sowed more rocket, mizuna and mustard giant red.lettuce bed Last but not least, Kath’s raspberries which the birds got more of than I did this year.Kath's raspberries 1

So there is a little tour of the veggie patch.  I am pleased with this weekend’s efforts and feel on top of it all again.  I will let you know how I get on at the vets tomorrow.

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Beans, Beans And More Beans

I managed to spend nearly all day in the garden which is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time and is something I really needed to do.

George and Dan arrived at 6.30am (truly!) to lay a water pipe through the garden so I can have a tap nearer the greenhouse, veggie patches and huge flower bed at the back of the garden.  I am really pleased with my new tap and new hose.George and water trough Last night I had a lovely supper at Fee’s with Judy.  I took along a bag of veggies, including the first runner beans of the year.first runner beans of the year All the beans in the garden have grown so much in the past couple of weeks.  Some of the French beans have grown a bit bigger than I prefer so I tried to pick as many as I could to freeze, before they get bigger.  I weeded as I picked.beans and wheelbarrow I half filled the trug in no time at all.green and purple beansI washed and cut the ends off the beans.
beans in water Ready for blanching.French beans in colander ready to cook I cut them in to smaller pieces and blanched them in boiling water for 1 minute and then plunged them in to iced water to cool rapidly.French beans in colander Patted them dry.French beans drying In a bag and in the freezer.French beans in freezer bag I realised at lunch time I had not eaten all day but didn’t want to stop so just had a pitta bread with peanut butter.peanut butter and pitta I did take a break in the afternoon and met Lisa, Suzanne and Lou at the Hartley Coffee Shop.  We sat outside to enjoy the view over the apple orchards.Hartley coffee shop Apparently I need to feature in my blog more often  so here I am.Zoe and Lisa Now I could have been really good and had a salad.Lisa's salad But I was really bad and had tea and cake; toffee and banana and it was very good.tea and cakeI went home via Suzanne’s as Mina kindly gave me some seedlings from plants I had admired in her garden recently.

Back at home, I decided to tackle the broad beans next as the leaves and some of the pods are showing these brown spots.brown spots on broad bean leaves Most of the pods and all the beans inside seem to be fine though but I wanted to get them picked in case the spots spread and ruin the crop.broad beans 26-7-14 The part of the garden with the beans in was in shade by late afternoon and it was cooler outside than inside so I set up a chair to pick and shuck the broad beans.chair in veggie patch It was very pleasant sitting outside, enjoying the scent of the sweet peas, peacefully picking and shucking.sweet peas and broad beans I picked about half the broad beans plus courgettes, green French beans and runner beans.broad beans, beans and courgette I set the smallest ones aside to add to tonight’s dinner and prepared the others for freezing.broad beans in colander and seive small broad beans broad beans in colander I boiled the broad beans in boiling water for 2 minutes and then put them straight in to iced water.  Dried them the best I could and put them in the freezer.blanched broad beans

The sunflowers Lara planted are in full and glorious bloom and looked stunning in the evening sunshine today.

Lara's sunflowers in full bloom

Before I picked the broad beans I prepared a marinade for the chicken I was going to stir fry for dinner; rapeseed and sesame oil, soy sauce, finely chopped garlic and ginger.

oil ginger garlic soy sauceI popped the chicken in, gave it all a good stir and set aside for a couple of hours.chicken with garlic and ginger I stir fried the chicken first and made sure it was properly cooked.  I set the cooked chicken aside while I stir fried the veggies; onion, red pepper, courgette, French, runner and broad beans, mushrooms, coriander and basil.  Finally I added some pre-cooked brown basmati rice and le voila, a simple and tasty supper.dinner 26-7-14

I hope I can spend as much time in the garden again tomorrow – there is still so much to do and as many beans again to pick and freeze.  And peas.  And beetroot.

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Some Good Some Bad

Some good eating recently, some bad and a reasonable amount of exercise.

beetroot just picked The beetroot is ready.beetroot and leaves 23:7Lovely round globes.
raw and dirty beetroot I checked to make sure and apparently you can eat the stalks and the leaves.clean beetroot This one was actually a bit too big and had gone slightly woody so I decided to juice it.  Well, I juiced half of it.beetroot from garden Half a beetroot, quarter of a pineapple, basil, ginger, lemon and beetroot leaves and stalks.beetroot juice ingredients Stunning colour and an earthy flavour which was pleasant enough.beetroot juice 23-7 i ate some more beetroot leaves with courgette and basil, all just picked.basil chard Stir fried with brown basmati rice, broccoli, mushrooms and red pepper .chopped veg 23-7 A simple and delicious lunch.lunch 23-7 This morning I made another juice for breakfast, using up some of the produce I had in the fridge; apple, lime, grapes, cucumber, carrots, cabbage and celery.juice ingredients 24-7 Very refreshing.juice 24-7 Salad for lunch made with 2 types of lettuce from the garden and another courgette.2 lettuce and courgette Harvey does very well eating vegetables.  He had salad, stir fried rice and vegetables and fish fingers with ketchup.Harvey lunch 24-7 I had lots of salad and stir fried rice and veggies with pine nuts.lunch 24-7-14 2 lunch 24-7-14 1 So that was the good.  Yesterday for supper I had 2 hot dogs at the tennis club BBQ and tonight I had egg mayonnaise wraps and a bag of Mini Cheddars.  That was the bad.  Not as disastrous as some bad eats such as the bag of sweets and ice cream I had at the cinema on Tuesday (100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window – very enjoyable).

This evening Harvey went to a party in Battle so I decided to pop over to Bexhill.rotunda and red hot poker I don’t think I have ever been here before.Bexhill 2 I had a fancy to see the sea as it was yet another warm and sunny evening.Bexhill 1 This is the De La Warr Pavilion ( http://www.dlwp.com ) which was built in 1935.  Today it is home to an art exhibition and there is an auditorium where various shows are performed.  I would like to go inside but it was closed.

De La Warr Pavilion


I like the curves.De La Warr Pavillion Bexhill rotunda at pavilion red hot pokers and sea This looks like a small stage immediately outside the pavilion.Bexhill stage Very stylish.stage Bexhill pavillion

Apart from the pavilion, I didn’t see anything else to commend Bexhill but I may visit again to see inside the building.  Next time I will have a walk along the beach too.

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A Walk Around Bodiam Castle

I am enjoying having Mondays off work this summer.  It didn’t matter that I was home late last night as I could have a lie in today so not only do I get to have Monday off but I can maximise Sundays too.

Feeling inspired by my sister Abi, who has just lost 2 stone and looks amazing, I intended to try her regime which involves having a juice for breakfast.  I ran out of time to make it though so had half a mango and some ham instead.mango and ham We were meeting Lucy and Oscar at Bodiam Castle for a long walk so this was the dogs first ride in their new car.  They hopped in enthusiastically and no wonder as they have not been out in a car for about 4 months.  There was plenty of space in the boot for them and there was no lip for them to have to hop over so this was an excellent and dog friendly choice of car.dogs in car We had a lovely walk in the sunshine through the Kent countryside.Bodiam walk 5 We walked along beside the river bank.Bodiam walk 4 We were walking in a large circle around Bodiam Castle which you can just see in the distance here.Bodiam walk 3 At times we had to clamber up and down the bank, hunting for the path which was all good exercise.Bodiam walk 2 I think we walked for about 2 hours.Bodiam walk 1There’s the castle.
Bodiam Castle 21-7-14 I haven’t been here for years and had forgotten how pretty it is.  It’s a real fairy tale castle and should have a Princess living in it.Bodiam Castle I was quite pink/sunburnt by the time we got to the coffee shop and I really enjoyed a cold drink and leisurely chit chat.Harvey and dogs at Bodiam Back at home I had plenty of time to potter about in the garden.  Lara planted these sunflowers when she was home during the Easter holidays.  She actually planted them the day she left to drive back up to Durham which would have been at the end of April. In less than 3 months, while she has revised, taken her finals, graduated and started work, those little seeds have grown in to these huge sunflowers.  They are beginning to flower.Lara's sunflowers The size of them is incredible.Lara with sunflower These purple beans keep on growing.purple beans in colander I had a banana while I cooked supper as I had eaten nothing all day except the mango and ham.banana We had a simple but very delicious supper of monkfish, potatoes from BJ’s garden and beans from our own.monkfish and beans

So I did not quite eat as I intended today but it was healthy and there wasn’t much of it plus I did a long walk.  When I weighed myself tonight I had lost 3 pounds in the last week so I am pleased about that.

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The Bright Side Of Life

Friday may have been hot, hot, hot but Sunday was fun, fun fun!

I made fresh orange juice for breakfast and at Harvey’s request, added some ginger.  In a juice made with 4 oranges (for 2 people) I used about a square inch of fresh ginger.  It is delicious as you get a barely discernible kick of ginger which seems to reduce the sweetness.oranges and ginger Harvey had a double yolk which he was very pleased about.double yolPeas from the garden with bacon, potatoes and egg is a very tasty way to start ones day.
breakfast 20-7-14 I was going up to London for the afternoon with my 3 sisters as we had tickets to see Monty Python.  We decided to make a day of it.Monty Python ticketsSunday was not as hot as it has been recently but we didn’t know that so arranged to meet in the National Portrait Gallery which was conveniently located for us all, interesting to look around and cool inside.  We met in the coffee shop.
NPG cafe Oops!coffee and almond slice Having really enjoyed the BP Portrait of the Year competition and many other exhibits, such as the mould of a head made with 8 pints of frozen blood (truly!) and a video of David Beckham sleeping (required much artistic appraisal) we set off in search of a glass of something cold.  view from NPG roof 2 There is a delightful restaurant and bar at the top of the NPG with lovely views but we didn’t like the only seats available so ventured outside.view from NPG roof Browns on St Martin’s Lane will do nicely.Browns clock The menu didn’t appeal but we enjoyed some vino.we 4 in BrownsA short walk further along brings us to Monmouth Street.  Many of my colleagues have raved about Rossopomodoro but I had never been before so this was the perfect opportunity, particularly since at least 2 of my sisters love Italian food.
RossopomodoroOpposite Timber Yard so I felt quite at home.Timber Yard SundayEveryone should go to Rossopomodoro to enjoy one of their pizzas – they are AMAZING!
Rosopomodoro pizza I had the burrata and it was so divine I could hardly bear to chat as I just wanted to eat.Burrata pizza We had wild broccoli tops and a salad of rocket, tomato and parmesan.  All absolutely stunning.  I can not recommend this place enough.  http://www.rossopomodoro.co.uk/restaurant/covent-garden/Rosso Pomodoro salad Over the road is another favourite place of mine which we just had time to visit – Gudrun Sjoden.In GS 1 Who would have thought buying a tablecloth could be so much fun :-)GS But it was.  The only thing we didn’t manage on Monmouth Street was a coffee.in GS We decided to walk over to Waterloo and catch the tube to the O2.walking over to Embankment Respect.Mandela statue LondonThis was the venue for the last ever (allegedly) Monty Python show.  It was excellent.
The O2

I did have some good photos from inside the arena but managed to delete them instead of upload them but never mind, I have the memories of a wonderful day and most enjoyable evening.  As the Pythons would say, “always look on the bright side of life”.

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Oppressive Heat

Oh my goodness it is hot hot hot.  Humid, hot and sticky.

On Friday morning I was up very early as the upstairs of my house is particularly hot so I went downstairs and opened doors and windows, seeking an elusive draught.  I also wanted to start work early so I could finish early as I had a tennis match planned for 5pm.

I enjoyed a breakfast of muesli with yogurt, banana and strawberries.museli and yogurt

Despite the heat lunch involved some cooking as a lot of the produce ready in my garden needs to be cooked.  The rocket has gone a bit woody and been attacked by black fly so I added it to a stir fry with beans and courgettes I picked.veg in white bowl This was absolutely delicious and I will make it again.  Veggies stir fried with wholewheat noodles and chicken in a mildly spiced satay sauce.stir fry 18-7-14 Garnished with basil which goes really well with it.lunch 18-7-14 I was so hot in the afternoon I had to bail on my tennis match and hopefully we can reschedule or we are out of the local club tournament.

In the evening I went over the road to Marion and Colin’s for an impromptu BBQ which was technically not a BBQ due the wasps who have made a nest in the BBQ!At M and C's garden The men and children played tennis.playing tennis on grass We girlies chatted.Marion and Sarah We had to eat inside due to a splendid storm.  The clouds were fascinating to watch and when the rain came it brought lightning which was extraordinary as it seemed to be all around us.  We had a really good view of it all as we ate our supper.

I completely over ate and drank.  Crisps, cheese and chocolate were devoured along with a Magnum ice -cream and far too much wine and whisky.  I felt very rotten this morning when I woke up!BBQ at M and CsI didn’t manage to eat anything for a very long time.muesli and fruit For lunch I made another stir fry with this lot from the garden; the familiar broad, green and purple beans, courgette and Swiss Chard.veg 19-7-14 I parboiled the beans.beans for parboiling Cooked up with red pepper, onions and Thai basil and served with egg and soy sauce.  Very tasty.stir fried veg and egg Supper was a very simple affair, eaten from the tray in front of the telly with the Little Fella.supper 19-7-14

Another glass of water, an early night and I should be back to normal tomorrow.  Now if the humidity and heat could just reduce slightly, I would be ever so grateful.

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Work and Beach

I worked from home today which I always enjoy as it saves me 3 hours commuting time.  Mind you, on the hottest day of the year so far, there are advantages to an air conditioned office but the huge disadvantage of commuting in this heat completely outweigh that.

After a late night last night I was tired this morning so had a smoothie full of goodies; banana, blackcurrants, coconut water, tahini, chia seeds, spirulina and a blend of protein powders and other superfoods.
smoothie ing 17-7-14 Very acceptable.Smoothie 17-7-14 Check out these awesome French beans.  I think they are worthy of a competition as they are long and nearly straight.  They taste really good too.long beans Green and purple, all from the garden.green and purple veg in steamer I regretted cooking lunch and wished I was just preparing a salad as it was so hot but after missing dinner last night and doing a dog walk before lunch  I was really hungry so I enjoyed this.lunch 17-7-14 Today was hot, hot, hot.  I made myself shut down the computer at 5:30, the little fella and I hopped in the car and headed off to the beach.car and surf board We arrived just after 6pm and I thought there would be more people there as it was still very warm.Camber at 6pm We both enjoyed a swim which was very refreshing.  We were both bitten though and on the way out of the water I saw a jellyfish so wonder if that was what stung us.H at Camber Sands Someone enjoyed that!H at Camber We sat and enjoyed a drink and a snack before heading home.tea and Eat Natural Falafels, humous, boiled potatoes and a mixed salad for dinner.Dinner 17-7-14

A very healthy day with lots of nutritious food and plenty of exercise.  Lots of work too so a well rounded day.

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Vegtastic Again

Going away at the weekend has helped me remember how much I enjoy eating lots of vegetables.  Since I came back, I have eaten very little else, most of which was home grown which is immensely satisfying.

Sunday night; a salad of home grown lettuce, nasturtium flowers, broad beans and peas with new potatoes.  All from the garden except the potatoes.salad Sunday Monday was a day off for me and a last minute change of plan found me in Epsom, location of the famous racecourse.Epsom Grandstand 14-7 But mainly well known for being the hometown of Sally :-).  Sally in EpsomIt is a very long time since I have visited Epsom, a town I visited many times in my youth and it was great to see a traditional market stall in the town centre, selling very reasonably priced fruits, veggies and flowers.Epsom High St I had not had time for breakfast so I enjoyed this salad for lunch.M&S Fuller Longer salad This kept me going until supper time.salad ingredients 14-7 Cauliflower from BJ’s garden.  Lots and lots and lots of cauliflower so I made a cauliflower cheese, took the dogs for a walk and enjoyed it very much when I got back.cauliflower Today I was at work in London.  I had planned to have a juice for breakfast but had so many meetings I couldn’t get out until lunch time.

I met Zoe and Owen for a coffee which we enjoyed sitting on Monmouth Street, outside Scoff and Banter.  I did eat the 2 little biscuits but at least I had an Espresso rather than my usual Latte.Scoff and Banter Espresso Takeaway salad from Pure for lunch.Pure Summer Detox Salad I didn’t like the dressing so will leave that next time.Pure Summer Detox The salad was ok though.Summer Detox As soon as I got home I was out in the garden, enjoying the last of the evening sunshine.  I decided to only eat home grown vegetables for supper so I picked lots of peas.

peas 15-7 This little part of the garden is growing so well.  I collected some nasturtium flowers.garden 15-7 3 the garden 15-7 First picking of the green French beans.green beans 15-7 I have eaten these purple beans before this year.  There are so many growing I picked loads.purple beans 15-7 Lots of broad beans too.broad beans 15-7 The peas and beans have grown so well I am delighted.garden 15-7 2 Note to self – the broad beans need to grow with supports as they have all collapsed.garden 15-7 1 I picked all these; lettuce, nasturtiums, broad beans, green and purple French beans, lots of peas and my first courgette.veg from garden 15-7-14 Having gathered supper, Lara and I took the dogs over the road for a walk.  My target is 5 walks a week.dog walk 15-7-14We have been walking in these woods for years so were very surprised to see this part, which was a free range chicken farm, has been opened up and the chicken sheds dismantled.clearance Lovely evening for ballooning.hot air balloon The sun was so pretty, illuminating parts of the trees.summer sun in trees I did enjoy the walk and London suddenly seemed a very long way away.shhep on sumer evening Back at home we added BJ’s potatoes and cucumber to our supper, cooked the potatoes and beans and ate the rest raw.  One completely 100% home grown dinner, 100 % vegetables/plants.  Well, actually I did add some butter, salt and salad cream but in the main, it was a home grown dinner and it tasted amazing.  Eating home grown and just picked is so fresh and full of flavour, it is definitely worth the time and effort.dinner 15-7-14

This is so much more satisfying than the high fat and high sugar food I have been eating too much of lately.  I hope I continue to remember how much better it tastes and how much better it makes me feel.

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Sarah Raven’s First Perch Hill Summer Feast

Wow, wow and wow !  What an incredible weekend I have just had at Sarah Raven’s first (and hopefully not last) summer feast at her beautiful home and gardens, Perch Hill, near Burwash in Sussex.  I went with my dear friend Michelle and we have spent the last 48 hours eating and drinking, learning how to eat and drink and how to grow veggies with 158 other people who were all passionate about food and gardens.

We stayed in a yurt aka a large bell tent.

Tents in garden Which was comfortably furnished with 2 air beds and duvets, fairy lights up the pole and a vase of fresh flowers.flowers in tentWhat more could we need?
inside our tent This is the view from the greenhouse looking towards the camping fields.  When we arrived the weather was drizzly and it seemed a long way up to the tents with our bags but there was a group of extremely helpful people to carry our bags for us, including Adam Nicholson himself who proved to be very proficient with a wheelbarrow laden down with lots of luggage.Tents in the Meadow

Having dropped off our bags we headed down to the main marquee for the evenings feast.  We sat at tables of 10  and enjoyed getting to know other people with similar interests.Our table We were greeted by our hosts, Sarah Raven and Adam Nicholson, who had managed to hit himself in the head with a sledgehammer while helping get everything ready !AN and SR Friday night’s dinner was selected by none other then Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my very favourite chefs ever.  He is Israeli born and his cooking style is influenced by the countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Armenia, Iran and Syria.  He chatted about the food we were about to eat and then it was time to get stuck in.Yotam Ottolenghi YO menu The roasted aubergines with Feta and preserved lemons were just divine.  Eaten with crusty bread I could have just eaten that for the rest of the evening.  The beetroot puree was much nicer than I expected and I will be looking up the recipe as I have quite a few beetroots my garden to use up.YO starter The main meal is one of the most delicious meals I have had for a long time.  The lamb was so good I think I had at least 3 helpings, I couldn’t stop myself.  Perfectly cooked, it was pink, tender and moist if you chose a middle bit and very well cooked on the outside and full of spicy flavours.  There was also a Tahini dressing which is not in the picture but it was just amazing.  The three salads were excellent too; tomatoes with pomegranate, new potatoes with peas and little eggs (quails?) and mung  and French beans.  It was perfection on a plate.YO dinner Dessert was pureed blackcurrant with cardamom cream, topped with walnut crumble.  Again, the flavours were all quite strong but they worked brilliantly together.  There is no doubt, the man is a culinary genius.Yotam's pud Having eaten plenty we headed off to the large barn where there was a bar and an excellent live band, The South Downs Way, playing country music which fitted the mood and ambience very well indeed.  The two of us were very happy (and full and inebriated) by the time we tottered off to our tent up the hill for the night.

Apologies for the fuzzy picture but it gives an idea of how lovely it was.  Yotam (we all felt we were on first name terms by then) is standing on the far right; he stayed for almost the entire weekend with his partner and baby.Perch Hill barn Friday eve Saturday morning dawned very hazy but not raining.  Due to the miracle of the digestive process, I was able to eat again in the morning and tucked in to some granola with yogurt and cherries, bacon with chilli jam, delicious raspberry jam and a very treacley brown and  delicious roll with butter.  I was clearly not on a diet this weekend!Perch Hill breakfast 2 The main marquee was festooned with colourful lights, bunting and tablecloths and was a very pleasant place to sit, eat, drink and make new friends.perch hil breakfast 1

I enjoyed a little potter about this beautiful place after breakfast.

seed heads on chair I have greenhouse envy!SR's greenhouse This is the other end of the greenhouse, where people sat, chatting and reading.  Yotam is on the right with his family.YO in greenhouse

There was a choice of activities for the morning and we chose to go on Adam’s guided walk around the farm.  We are so glad we did as we discovered what a very lovely man he is.  Such an intelligent man with a real passion for and understanding of the land and the history of this area.  He is a natural raconteur with a brilliant sense of humour.  An absolute pleasure to spend time with.Adam on the walkTime to gather together again in the main marquee.  Look at this extraordinary vase of flowers which is absolutely HUGE. huge vase of flowers There’s our Shelley Belles, chatting away.M chatting We were then treated to a cookery demonstration by Yotam.YO 3 Did I ever tell you that he is one of my favourite chefs?YO 2 He was great.YO 1 He had a very proficient assistant too.Lucinda and YOLucinda from Cocolicious :-)
Lucinda prepping After showing us how to cook 3 dishes Yotam signed books but I already have the ones I wanted so didn’t buy any more.YO book signing Lunch time.  I had a quiche with roasted onions, goat’s cheese and anchovies, with a carrot salad and a green salad.lunch at Perch Hill Absolutely delicious.  Followed by meringue, strawberries and cream which I don’t seem to have a photo of so here’s another one of the yummy lunch.lunch at Perch hill 12-7-14

Now I do confess dear reader, that by now I did need a snooze so I missed Sarah’s talk on growing and making salad’s but sometimes, needs must!

I was awake and in the barn in time for a lesson on making cocktails and I certainly tried a few!

cocktail lesson Sitting in the garden in the early evening with a good cocktail and many interesting people to chat to is a splendid way to pass time.in the garden Big thumbs up for the Negroni.Negroni cocktail

Dinner on Saturday was chosen by Hugh F-W who also gave a cookery demo.Hugh F-W He then went for a stroll while Gill cooked for us.  I bumped in to Hugh and he said hello and that he remembered me.  I suspect he was thinking of someone else but I enjoyed my brief encounter with another of my favourite chefs.Hugh walking in garden Gill is Hugh’s assistant.Gill I wonder if these two learnt anything new!

YO and Adam

dinner menu 12-7-14 The lamb’s liver was delicious.liver on flatbread I think this was roasted onions and nuts on courgette slices.onion and nuts on courgetteLabneh (cream cheese) with raspberries and watercress was pleasant.raspberries and cheese New potatoes and roasted beetroot was ok.potato and beetroot saladStrawberry panzanella was disgusting.  It was just wrong and no one liked it on our table or indeed elsewhere, so far as I could determine.  A huge thumbs down and a big yuck.
strawberry panzanella Served with mackerel and gooseberries which was really good.  The mackerel was cooked very well and went well with the gooseberries.dinner 12-7-14 Hugh did make up for what we considered to be, mediocre meal with dessert which was outstanding and better than Yotam’s.  It was a gooseberry posset (like a thick custard with gooseberries underneath) and lemon verbena shortbread.Possett and shortbread Despite all that food and drink, I made it through the night and woke up to a cloudy last day at Perch Hill.Towards perch Hill I wandered through the vegetable gardens.Perch Hill garden 2 The plants are packed so densely.Perch Hill garden

Through the greenhouse where I admired this lovely display.display in greenhouse Breakfast was similar to yesterdays and we then had question time which was very interesting and entertaining.  Sarah joined too but I took the photo before she took her seat.  This morning our chefs were joined by Valentine Warner.question time Adam remained interesting and amusing.  Michelle and I both wanted to take him home as he made us laugh so much but we thought it may seem a bit rude to Sarah :-)Adam Hugh Yotam Val Warner After a really good Q and A session we went in to the greenhouse to learn how to make headdresses.  We could have learnt how to make bread with the Lighthouse Bakery but opted for some fun with the Flower Appreciation Society instead.Flower Appreciation Society This may be a greenhouse but it has all kinds of interesting things in it.aged terracotta I made quite a simple headdress – they are actually really easy to make.headress This was a frivolous, pretty and fun activity.making head dresses We posed for photos outside amongst the lavendar.Perch Hill lavendar Then back to the main marquee for a cookery demo by Valentine who got in to the headdress spirit :-)Valentine Warner in head dress I sat here, with the summer sunshine on my back, a breeze and a delightful view, feeling very blessed to be part of such an amazing event.Summer breeze in marquee I hope Sarah was happy with it as it truly was superb.Sarah and Curly The final lunch was delicious; lemon chicken, green salad, beansprout salad, couscous and potato and lentil salad.lunch 13-7-14 Followed by a surprising and totally delicious pudding of jelly and ice cream which was paraded in to a round of very well deserved applause.jellies on a plate Have you ever seen such a pretty jelly?jellies and berries Strawberry and rhubarb jelly with basil ice-cream, summer fruits and a biscuit. Fresh and quite sensational.jelly and ice cream Then it was time for good-byes and thank yous to Sarah’s incredible team of workers.Thanks 2 Everyone worked so hard to create a truly magical and very memorable weekend.Thanks 1

Thank you very much to Sarah and Adam for such an amazing weekend.  We are so happy to have been part of it and definitely felt very blissed.




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