Monday, 30 September 2013

crunchy chunky apple cake

I unearthed an old recipe for an apple cake the other day and decided to make it today to leave for the hungry work force to nibble on throughout this week. When I was at university I frequently made cakes for my house. I memorably made an apple cake late one night when some of my housemates had gone to a house party. I left it to cool over night and when I came down I the morning I soon found that in their drunken and hungry state they decided to eat the majority of it. What made it more funny though was the fact they try to cover this up by cutting slices of panettone and sticking it to the sides of the cake, thinking I wouldn't notice! Clearly apple cake is the munchy of choice for my drunkie monkey housemates! So this post is for you, Aisling and Isabella. Enjoy.

We are lucky and have a little orchard at the bottom of our garden. Nothing beats picking the apples in the morning and cooking them up in the afternoon. Crumbles, pies, sauces, juices, ciders- the possibilities are endless. I settled on a good hearty cake though. Here are the wee beauties. 




Here are the ingredients.


And here are the instructions.



       I couldn't help myself, sorry. Just a little bit naughty. 


                     Tadaaaaa! Couldn't be any easier. 



Oh and if any of you were wondering, the jelly is in jars now. It's looking a liiiittle too sloppy but I'm hoping when it cools down it will be nice and sticky and spreadable..!

Beware: if you're making this yourself, the boiling part is quite terrifying!     


Back to school later... I'm almost as reluctant to go back as the girls.


Sunday, 29 September 2013

a weekend at home

After an intense lacrosse tournament (the girls are only 11 but certainly know how to lob a ball across a pitch) they all packed up their weekend bags and left for a jolly away with mummy and daddy. I too sought the comfort of home and caught the first train possible. Listening to Fleetwood Mac all the way home I was getting ever more excited to soak up the Worcestershire rays and countryside. My first port of call was to give mum the low down on how the job was going and find dad out on the farm with the dogs.

After a good nights sleep the dogs and I went for a walk this morning. Armed with a container I picked some plump blackberries and sloes. I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with them but just look at how beautiful they were in today's sun! 


        That's Callie, not a berry- she's almost as delicious though! 




Having gone off the idea of a crumble and not entirely sure how to make sloe gin, I settled for a blackberry and sloe jelly. It's in the process of dribbling through a preserving cloth at the moment, and it is very possible I have done it wrong, but it has been good fun to make- pictures of the final product will follow. That's if it's worked of course... But here are a few to whet your appetite in the mean time.



After a hearty lunch (Mum cooked up a storm and produced a roast) we went on a mother-daughter trip to a cute little garden centre to replace a fig tree that got caught during the snowy winter. I realize this sounds very boring and middle aged but this is the nicest garden centre ever! Perhaps it was just the glorious sunshine that put me in this mood though...




It's basically an old farmyard site (naturally the farmer girl side of me loves this) and it still uses the big old barn as a shed for some of the plants. It also has a potting shed which was presumably an old dairy, if my eyes read correctly. 



Mum found her fig and a few other plants. We umm-ed and arr-ed over a lemon tree however we decided the very un-Mediterraneanness of England was probably not ideal for our little citrus friend. Perhaps when I have my own house I'll keep one in my orangery (yes, that's now on the property criteria too..). 

The garden centre can be found in Guarlford, just south of the picturesque Malvern Hills. It's a family run nursery and almost definitely doesn't 'do' technology, let alone Facebook or Twitter. So I suggest you pop in the car one day and have a little drive and discover this hidden gem for yourself! 


My weekend is nearly over but I still have plenty planned for tomorrow before my train departs. Keep an eye out for a delicious Autumn Apple Cake and to see if my Blackberry and Sloe jelly actually becomes jelatinous over night.. I'm not holding my breath. Oops.



Friday, 27 September 2013

escape to Henley

Henley on Thames is a short drive away from work and so on my day off I headed for the river bank with my friend Lauren from university. Having found myself making a paper aeroplane in order to save one of the girls from spider oblivion the night before, I was craving a bit of adult conversation and an escape from the daily chit chat of ponies and lost socks. 



I have been to Henley before, albeit it a very long time ago, but Lauren has recently become an expert of the quaint little town having bagged herself a rower boyfriend. We arrived in the sun and headed straight to a coffee shop for a catch up. I'm currently trying to be healthy having found myself confronted with school meals three times a day- lemon and ginger tea is my current (non alcoholic) tipple of choice. I'm slowly getting over the taste of it being simply "smelly hot water", as my colleague so kindly coined it one day. 

Coffee and catch up inevitably lead to an explore of the streets and its shops. Largely, Henley is a full of chains but we did stumble across some great little boutiques and an interior shop to fill your every design desire. This was obviously my favourite shop. I really can't wait for the day I have my own house- currently weighing up which would be better- a mews house or a converted warehouse...hmmm it's a tough one.

By the time we had wend our way along the street we decided it was time to sample one of the new eateries. With tummies growling we headed to 'The Henley Brew House'. This is clearly a place which thrives during the evening as the atmosphere at lunch time purely consisted of us and the bearded owner. Nonetheless we fancied it and the menu looked good. We ordered great hunks of buttery bread filled with smoked pork for Lauren and good English cheddar with a smokey relish for me. Both plates came with perhaps some of the best triple cooked chips in skins- crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, coated with a good sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Deeeelish. 



If I was being overly fussy the sandwich was a little too oily and could have done with a little more lettuce if I was trying to be health conscious. 

The building itself is very cool- exposed wood with a very rustic feel. What's really exciting about it though is that the brewery is actually in the heart of the restaurant, right next to the bar. The great copper vats are certainly eye catching and I'm sure in the evenings they provide a great talking point.



I'm sure I'll be popping over again soon so I'll endeveadour to sample, what I can only assume, a potentially raucous evening of smoked goodness and hearty pints. 


Keep reading, 


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

a dewy morning


There's something about it which instantly provides me with comfort. Crisp mornings and balmy afternoons (if you're lucky), the smell of bonfire smoke and and the prospect of a good homemade soup to warm you from the inside out. 

This morning is a particularly lovely autumnal morning. On my walk down to school I had a little explore- the grounds were too beautiful to ignore.  



I love the lamp posts. At night they twinkle, illuminating the walk way up to house guiding the girls to bed. It was particularly foggy this morning and where I can normally see the horses in the field, today they were little more than mysterious dark patched against the hazy sky. 


This one was a bit more talkative though....


The sky is set to clear by lunchtime and we will soon be confronted by our late "Indian Summer". The ground will have dried out and our view across the fields will become visible once more. There is something rather secretive about Autumn- one moment you spy the remnants of a dewy spider's web, the next it's gone forever, waiting to be re-spun overnight and glisten in the next morning's sun. 


I can't wait for the first bonfire to be lit, to hear it crackle whilst being wrapped up in woolen jumpers and biting on sticky toffee apples. In the mean time I am quite content meandering through the orchard, smelling the dewy air and taking in the sights and delights of a very British autumn. 



When my friends turned twenty they were all horrified. Apparently their twenties marked the end of their youth, that they were forever tied to 9 to 5 and anti-wrinkle creams. I, on the other hand, was oh so terribly excited. I couldn't wait to swan around London, with a fabulously chic job as a columnist, drifting from one cocktail bar to the other. Reality soon caught up with me and I quickly came to the realisation that that wasn't going to happen straight away. 

Fast forward two years. I am sitting on my sofa having just eaten a "Delicious and Nutritious" Marks and Spencer's take away (which for the record, really is delicious) sipping on a gin and tonic. It is my evening off from work- I am too exhausted to be swanning around cocktails bars in London. Reality has caught up with me. 

I am calling this year a sandwich year. My job has nothing to do with what I want to become- I work at a girls boarding school- but I love it nonetheless. When holidays and exeats come around I intend to travel from place to place finding hidden gems to share with you. I might even throw in a few delicious, but definitely not nutritious, recipes too. We all like a bit of naughtiness once in a while..

So as I settle down with my G&T and the obligatory Colin Firth film, I drink to an exciting year and an exciting decade too.

Keep reading... 

Monday, 23 September 2013


It is the sad reality that I am no longer a student, rather I am now an adult, full of responsibility and wisdom- supposedly. I celebrated my last summer, as it were, seeing friends and growing increasingly jealous of those who still had a year of university ahead of them. 

However the time has come to get over this. And after the initial grumbles of exhaustion and the realistion that I am unable to turn back time, I find myself rather enjoying adulthood. 

Since September I have moved out of my family home, started my new job and left behind the student days. Now I find myself waking up when the birds do, working a some what longer than average day and looking forward to the occasional glass of wine on an off day. 

And yet I find this does not bore me. How very grown up of me. 

In my idealistic mind this blog is also a sign of my transition into the world of adults. I hope to provide you with an insight into things I like, what inspires me and what makes me feel at ease. Call it a lifestyle blog if you will. 

So, hello there and welcome.