Tuesday, 27 August 2019

a kitchen garden

Perhaps one of the only things I've managed to juggle alongside preparing for our wedding was keeping on top of my fledging kitchen garden. We're lucky to have a small patio at our London flat and the farmer's daughter in me was keen to really give vegetable gardening a go this year. Back in January I invested in two lovely woven wicker vegetable planters and prepared the soil before deciding what I'd like to grow. We're trying to reduce our plastic consumption so alongside signing up to our local milkman (who is a bit hit and miss with deliveries..) I thought growing some of our own vegetables would be a nice and easy way to support the cause. 

We've started small this year as there is only so much I can do in our small space so this year we have grown spring onions, cherry tomatoes, courgettes, runner beans, carrots and herbs. My lettuces were all picked out by birds, which is a shame as we eat lettuce like it's going out of style. Everything has been grown from seed, which has proved a little stressful at times as I have been so desperate for them to germinate and it takes a while for some of them to do this - the runner beans took WEEKS for this to happen and I was so worried they wouldn't come through. However, with a lot of love, determination and will power, this is what it looked like in June.

After lovely sunshine in June and early July, this is what the plants looked like just before we left London for our wedding. 

And thankfully, we had friends to stay in the flat whilst we were away so we came back to an abundance of runner bean flowers and the courgettes overflowing. Ian had also set up an elaborate sprinkler system which seems to have saved the day this year. 

Our runner beans are probably the hero of the year. Our courgettes are huge but only seem to produce baby courgettes and tend to rot at the ends very quickly. So I think next year we need to give them a lot more space and perhaps keep them away from a  raised tub. I'm not sure they like their little homes. The carrots are coming along nicely, having thinned them out a few weeks ago. I'm looking forward to eating those later on when they're fat and sweet. 

My little tomatoes are in desperate need of sun. There's plenty of little green tomatoes on there but we need some sun if I am to have anything red. I've never made green tomato chutney before and in all honesty, I'd rather eat red tomatoes in a salad or puttanesca pasta! 

The garden has brought me so much joy and I'm already thinking about how we can do things differently next year and that I should have thought ahead for growing autumn and winter vegetables. But I suppose this is only the first year and surely we'll only go from strength to strength?!

If you're looking for me, you're likely to find me crouched over the planters tidying things up and wistfully hoping everything comes to fruition. 


Sunday, 18 August 2019


Hello again, it's been a while. It turns out weddings take up a lot of your time and most weekends are spent frantically making decorations, doing admin and writing lists. It doesn't leave a lot of time for doing nice things, like visiting markets or trying out new restaurants, so my apologies for leaving you in the lurch for a little while. It was all worth it though! Four weeks ago yesterday I married my best friend, surrounded by family and friends. It was the best day and we just wish we could do it all again. 

Now that the wedding and honeymoon whirlwind has left us behind, we've been able to get back to normal - the first time in many months! And yesterday, to celebrate four weeks of marriage, we went to Whitstable to spend the day by the sea. 

I'm not very well acquainted with the east of England having grown up in the west and more towards Wales however, from London we're only a short train journey away from exploring a new area. I'm a water baby and love the sea so after a friend told me about her weekend in Whitstable I bought us a day return ticket. Pulling up just before 10am we made a bee-line for coffee and cakes. The local bakery served us very well with fat bread pudding and apple doughnuts whilst Garage Coffee armed us with the perfect morning fuel. The weather was a little unsettled to begin with so we whiled away the time taking a good walk along the beach, chatting away about moving to the country and perhaps a holiday home by the sea might be a nice idea too! I loved all the beach huts dotting the beach - I'd have loved one as a teenager, I think I would have spent hours painting it and making curtains for the windows and finding knick-knacks. 

With the skies clearing and the sun peeping through we stopped off at The Old Neptune for a local beer on the beach. I'm currently watching Poldark and I couldn't help but let my imagination run away with me and imagine what this seaside town was like in the 18th century, with its very busy fishing and oyster business. Anyway, I digress.. On our walk we had spotted where we'd go for lunch and oysters were on the cards. It would have been rude not to when the beaches are covered in discarded oyster shells! 

I've only had oysters once before now. This is how it panned out...

The pro ^^

Not so pro ^^

Despite appearances, I actually really enjoyed them. But they must be joined by red wine vinegar and shallots and a quick glug of tabasco! 

We rewarded ourselves with fresh lobster and chips, which was deliciously sweet and a real treat! 

Whitstable is such a pretty spot which I wasn't expecting since you do go past a lot of very industrial areas on the train out from London Victoria. But we were pleasantly surprised and have vowed to return to Whitstable again soon. Perhaps a nice crisp winter's day where a longer walk is on the cards followed by a cosy lunch in a pub. 


Sunday, 28 April 2019

glorious gloria

Sarah and I finally made it to Gloria, after trying to get a table a month ago! Having learnt from our previous experience, we got to Gloria as soon as our day at work had finished and got our names down for a table. I wouldn't normally do this for a London restaurant, however, we both had been so excited to try it out and see whether the buzz was worth it. With our names down, we had an hour and a half to kill so found out way to the nearest cocktail bar for some pre-dinner drinks. Bone Daddies had our name on it and we made the most of their happy hour whilst munching of freshly grilled patron peppers, doused in big, juicy sea salt flakes. 

Receiving our text message to say our table at Gloria was ready we hot footed it across the streets of Shoreditch and quickly found ourselves sinking into a corner banquette with views across the restaurant floor. For me, the interiors have been a reason to visit. My company did the interiors for the original restaurant in Paris a few years ago, as well as two other spaces from the Big Mamma Group, so I was keen to see how Gloria would measure up, without the help of MBDS. It's really beautiful, with lovely upholstered seating, marble-topped tables, moody lighting and fresh planting everywhere. Little details like the hand-painted plates and serving platters fool you into thinking you're in Positano and the buzzy, Italian ambience makes for a fantastic evening with friends. 

We ordered drinks and sharing plates for a starter; focaccia and oil; burrata bresaola and fennel salumi. After a slight mix up with our drinks order we were brought some complimentary prosecco (!) and we settled in for our Friday feast. Wedding diet was certainly off the cards for the night. 

For our mains we ordered big bowls of steaming pasta. Tartuffo for Sarah- frilly ribbons of pasta bathing in rich truffle sauce with extra truffle shaved on top and Black Mamba for me - a cuttle fish ink spaghetti with candied tomatoes and tender chunks of cuttle fish to mop up the sauce. The portions are hearty, which we loved, as so often you order pasta and you get a measly amount when all you really want is a steamy bowl of the stuff that won't leave you hungry for more. We both agreed that whilst the pasta was delicious (it really was; al dente and interesting flavor wise), we preferred Trullo or Padella. Gloria, on the other hand, has a fantastic ambience that's perfect for celebratory birthdays or just an evening with friends.

Despite my bulging tummy, we ordered pudding to share. We'd seen portions of lemon meringue pie being delivered to neighboring tables and we knew we needed a bite of the action! The pie is enormous; a huge, billowing pile of soft, whipped Italian meringue, caramelised on the sides and sitting on a crisp biscuit base with a tangy lemon curd blanket. If you come to Gloria, please order this even if you're fit to bursting! Our waiter was charming and brought us complimentary shots of limoncello to finish off our evening. Saluti! 

^^ The look of love

A perfect start to our weekend, I'm so glad we peservered in getting a table. It's worth the trek across to Shoreditch and the wait for your table to be ready. Bring friends, Gloria is perfect for large groups - and don't forget to leave space for the pie!


Friday, 12 April 2019

april showers

Oh dear. It's April and the blog has taken yet another back burner. I really enjoy having this little online creative outlet but I often wonder whether it's worth keeping it going. I started it as a way to keep up with writing whilst working at a girls' boarding school and it has grown with me; moving to London and starting work, visiting restaurants, parks and cities with the occasional recipe thrown in for good measure. With work getting busier and my life settling down (I'm getting married in July and I literally spend most weekends at home, pottering around, cleaning, cooking and organising wedmin), I struggle to find interesting content that you (whoever you are!) would like. Often I think when we move out of London and into the countryside my blog with have a new lease of life, working as a place to document my life in the country. But that is a while off yet so I'm going to try my hardest to write more often than every two months! 

Since my last entry I have enjoyed a trip to Devon with The American, Mum and Dad. A nearly distant memory now, it was a glorious long weekend right on the coast. We walked the coastline, made the most of the hotel spa, read books in the drawing room and dined in style. We've had a few trips home too, usually with a few wedmin tasks to tick off, and have even found the time to enjoy a few things in London. The Dior exhibition at the V&A was sheer heaven. I left googling the price of Dior dresses but swiftly put that to the back of my mind once I'd seen they average about £1,500. A girl can dream. 

The Wine Shop in Balham is now my favourite spot for relaxed drinks having visited twice in the last month; once for a wine tasting with the gang and a second time for a cool bottle of fizz with pals before a spontaneous supper. We have all booked for another wine tasting in May to belatedly celebrate mine and Sam's birthdays. Sarah, Mel and I tried to get to Gloria at the end of March but were told there was a 2 hour wait for a table so we skipped over to Pizza East instead and ordered up a smorgasbord of goodies instead. Sarah and I are trying again at the end of this month. Wish us luck! 

Anyway, I thought I'd share some snaps of my recent potterings, including a recent trip to Sotheby's to see the interiors sale (heaven, I now want a bath tub with striped linen shower curtain. Yes, I know, terribly impractical...). 

Here's hoping I find the time to do and write about some more interesting things before June! I promise to be better. Promise. 


Thursday, 14 February 2019

the good egg

Hello there, it's been a while. I've found myself hibernating a little since Christmas. I survived January, which seemed like the longest month ever, spending my time beavering away at work, enjoying barre and yoga classes and eating all the vegetables I could find. It seems, January was a bit of a detox month following the excesses of Christmas.

And now we are half way through February and the ground is getting warmer and the days longer so what better thing to do than start exploring London restaurant's again with Sarah, my long-term food assistant. She needs no persuading when it comes to trying out a new restaurant, we used to do it all the time when we worked together way back in the beginning! 

The Good Egg is not a new restaurant but one we had both not been to. I saw it on Instagram and sent Sarah a picture saying we needed to go and before we knew it we'd booked a table at the Soho joint (there is another one in Finsbury Park, but that is a bit too far away for this SW London-dweller).

With it being Friday night we started with cocktails. I went for The Good Egg's spin on the classic negroni and Sarah opted for the bush fizz. We ordered some garlic-butter flat breads and pumpkin hummus to start before digging into the main event: burnt aubergine, labneh and zoug with tahini on a fluffy pitta bread with fiery pickles and slaw; grilled octopus and fennel with preserved lemon yoghurt also served on fluffy pitta with pickles and slaw. 

A feast for the eyes! 

She's back! 

Evenings like this remind me of London's excitement and whilst I may be constantly looking for that elusive Georgian rectory in the countryside, I know deep down London has my heart for a few more years. Next on my list is Gloria, Lina Stores and Viet Town in Wandsworth.

Must stop thinking of food now, I'm dribbling at my desk...


Friday, 28 December 2018

the in-between days

How is it that we have got to the end of the year already? It barely seems that long ago that we were welcoming in 2018 and yet here we are, looking to 2019 - a very big year, in particular. You see, The American and I are getting married in the summer and therefore have some amount of organising to do! Whilst we've been hyper-efficient and organised all the big things, I'm sure there is plenty to do that we have yet to think about.

So before the onslaught truly begins I'm indulging in this in-between time; that often feels quite sacred as you barely leave the house, save to pick up some more milk or take the dog for a walk. Mum has a puzzle on the go which really has got us scratching our heads, and dad is pottering around the farm making sure all the animals are fed and watered as well as welcoming the occasional new calf into the fold. Work doesn't start for a few more days so I'm drinking in every quiet moment before heading back to London for NYE with pals and then them, BAM!, we're back to the daily grind. 

Here are a few pictures I've taken over the last few days, which should give a taste of our current state of being; slow moving and sated. 

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2019!