Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Big Camp Bestival adventure - Part 1

Sit comfortably, this is going to be long.

As you may know from previous posts, this weekend I attended Camp Bestival in Dorset. This was my first festival experience. I mean, I've been to festivals before but only with a day ticket and have never actually camped at one but having our old friend Clemmie has changed all that.  I wasn't sure what to expect so was a little nervous but needn't have been as everything went swimmingly and a good time was had by all!

It was rather a long trip in Clemmie as we took the slow, scenic route, having not taken her so far yet. Needless to say, it was made longer by the fact that we got lost near Lulworth having thought we were following the signs but clearly got distracted and took a 10mile detour. I think my biggest trepidation as the campsite. I'd been reading on the Camp Bestival forum in the run-up to the event and there were some very unhappy campervanners on there who weren't happy with the location of the field. Yes, the campervan field was rather far away from the main event however it was relatively flat and I don't see how it could have really been positioned anywhere else due to the fact that it's a very (very) hilly site. It was a  bit of hike, but not an unpleasant one and didn't really take longer than 10 minutes. The hills were a killer though.  There were a handful of showers - not really enough for an entire field and some toilets which varied in cleanliness during the weekend, but did require wellies by the end of it.

My first mission was to get my press wristbands. The stewards on duty were particularly unhelpful, verging on rude to be quite honest, wouldn't give me directions to the box office and basically looked the other way when I was talking to them. I found the box office on my own (thanks for nothing!) which was all the way out of the campervan field, down a very steep hill and up a track in the car park. Once wristbands were secured we went into the festival. It's not all open on the Thursday but there's a bit going on in the Magical Meadow and food vans open. We hadn't really eaten all day so snaffled a hog roast and some sausage baps which were of good quality and reasonably priced.  We didn't hang around too long as the children were exhausted from erm, sitting around all day and we wanted to have a good day the next day.

On Friday we woke early although the campsite was surprisingly quiet and walked down to look around the areas we couldn't go to yesterday. I was surprised at how large the festival area was as for some reason I had expected it to be smaller. We made our way to the Little Big Top (which is incidentally where we spent a large part of the weekend) where the children watched The Funky Little Choir doing a rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire's "September". My two little shy things wouldn't join in but did enjoy watching them teach the song to the other children. After this we hung around to watch Mr Balloonie and his balloon-modelling workshop. 

We mooched around for a bit, stopping to watch The Flying Seagulls who were a HUGE hit with my children and who we went to watch time and time again and we also found the famous WI tent which was every bit as good as I'd heard - lovely ladies running it, a good cup of team, fabulous cakes and reasonably priced sandwiches.

The Flying Seagulls
It was incredibly hot on Friday afternoon and we sat in the field by the Castle Stage waiting for Stooshe. I had really wanted to see them but in the end my boy was just too tired and hot and was falling asleep on me, so bearing in mind the long trek back, we headed back to Clemmie for a nap, a cuppa, some nail painting and some general R&R.  We went back out in the evening for some food and stopped by the stall selling candle-powered boats that we'd seen earlier. My son was enthralled with these, as was Mr M so we purchased two. We sat in front of the Castle Stage before facing off a mini-meltdown over animal tales. Everywhere we went children were wearing animal tails. We'd seen them the night before but hadn't bought one and by the time we went back on Friday they'd sold out! I think Tell Tails could have sold a lot more if they'd brought more stock. I had to promise to hunt them down on the internet to buy my son one and thankfully I've found them!   We then headed back to the campervan field to settle down in our van for the night!

WI tea and lemon drizzle cake. Amazing.
Saturday started with breakfast at the van, followed by tea at the WI tent and then more Flying Seagulls whilst waiting for the Castle Stage area to be opened up. It was very busy as Saturday saw The Gruffalo and Mr Tumble on the bill. I felt like The Gruffalo went on a little bit too long and it seemed that a lot of children lost interest. Dick and Dom were very good at getting the crowd going and of course Mr Tumble was a huge hit and one of the highlights of the weekend! There was a bit of a calamity after Mr M went to get me a drink an came back with one of the worlds worst hot chocolates, went back to change it, came back with tea and then proceeded to throw it all over me! My hand was scalded quite badly and it turned out there was no milk in the tea, so back again to the stall! My hand recovered enough to enjoy the hokey-cokey with Mr Tumble thankfully!

One of the giant flowers with the actual ACTUAL sky behind it. We found summer!
We spent time in the Little Big Top again watching some children's comedy - they particularly liked the man who did the routine with the frying pan but I completely missed his name. My daughter was in stitches, never seen her laugh so much. We sat and waited for the panto and had some pasta from the organic pasta stall. Was expecting it to be hot, but it was stone cold and not an entirely pleasant experience. The pantomime was hit though, and it was standing room only.  We missed Earth, Wind and Fire as we went back to the van for the little man to have another nap, however I could hear it from there quite well and enjoyed listening to it with a glass of wine before changing into warmer clothes - despite the days being very hot, the evenings were chilly.

To be continued....

Please note; I was given free passes to attend Camp Bestival in return for this review.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday (30th July 2012)

Hello all. I am coming to you from the past. Yes, I wrote this last week. As you read this I am probably making my way home from Camp Bestival. Hopefully. Or I might be home already, who knows.  All I know for sure is that if I hadn't scheduled this post last week, it wouldn't have happened!

As last week, I haven't got a plan. I have two nights at home this week before I jet off on my hols so the diet will probably be in the liquid and alcoholic form this week! Children are sleeping at my parents one night this week so there may be a cheeky meal out before the holiday.

The Linky is below. I am hoping in my absence that it works properly! Leave me your meal planning posts so I can see what you've got planned this week. 

Lets hope the sunny weather continues!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Rainy Day Ideas from TopToyBox

Today I have a guest post from Sarah, who taking inspiration from the dreadful summer we've had this year, wants to share some inspiration for activities you can do with your children. The sun may be shining (on and off) at the moment, but living in the UK means that unfortunately rain is never far behind... I'll leave Sarah to introduce herself.

Hello, my name is Sarah, former children’s librarian, mum of two little girls and owner of educational toy shop TopToyBox. I am honoured this week to be Mrs M’s guest blogger and, due to the complete rubbishness of the summer weather so far, I thought I’d let you in on some of my family’s favourite things to do on a rainy day.

Five Things To Do On A Rainy Day

1) Ok, it might be obvious, but we can’t have a list of rainy day ideas without saying it. So get your wellies on (yes, you too mum and dad) and go and jump up and down in as many puddles as you can find. Soggy socks and boots full of water just mean really good jumping and are therefore to be encouraged! For added fun add a few drops of washing up liquid to your puddle and jump up and down until you’ve made lots of lovely bubbles appear.

2) Once you’ve got back home and dried off, you might prefer to do something indoors! One of our favourite games for little ones is based on the brilliant Michael Rosen book, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. Gather up all of the teddy bears you can find and then hide them around your home. The children then have to creep around the house singing ‘We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one!’ until all of the bears have been found. We love this game in our house and it’s great because everyone gets to join in. It’s also brilliant in the garden if the sun comes out.

3) Now for a bit of creativity! Grab a piece of paper and draw a nice big bright red bus on it, not forgetting the windows. Now gather up some old catalogues and magazines and help your little ones to cut out lots of different faces and stick them onto the bus to bring it to life. This is lots of fun (in fact one bus is never enough!) and inevitably leads to us all singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ very, very loudly. We do this at Christmas too but stick toys we like on to a cut-out paper stocking.

4) Make a den! All children love having their own den and it doesn’t matter what you have at hand because anything will do - sofa cushions, bed sheets, duvets. Stack them on the floor, drape them over chairs or tables, then allow the children to make believe to their hearts’ content. My children particularly love having a picnic lunch in their secret den.

5) Last but not least, we love to do some baking on a rainy day. There are obviously many things you could make, depending on the age of your children, and you’ll of course find lots of recipes on Mrs M’s blog. Favourites in this house are Cornflake Cakes - just stir cornflakes into melted chocolate (with a good dollop of golden syrup and a knob of butter added) before spooning into cake cases - and also Rocky Road (noticing a chocolate theme here?) because it’s yummy and involves lots of stirring and testing as we go along, plus you need to smash up an entire packet of biscuits (emptied into a large freezer bag) with a rolling pin. What’s not to love?

Have fun in the rain everyone, and do let us know what your family likes to do in a downpour!

Some really great ideas there! I'm especially inspired by the bear hunt and have thought of my own game that I could try with the children. Thanks Sarah!

Friday, 27 July 2012

A trip to the Cotswold Wildlife Park

I always feel I have to start posts like this with a disclaimer...no, this is not sponsored and I didn't get in for free!

After all the rain, we were fed up the other weekend and decided we couldn't put summer on hold anymore and we'd go out for the day with the children. Mr M suggested Cotswold Wildlife Park as somewhere they might like and it was a good call! I first came to the park as a child on a school trip but my memory of it is very vague, and then Mr M and I visited on our own when we were in the throws of new love about 10 years ago whilst on a camping trip to Cirencester. In that time I feel the park has made some big improvements and I'd thoroughly recommend it as somewhere to take the children.

The Cotswold Wildlife Park is just outside the extremely picturesque village of Burford. I love Burford, we visit perhaps once a year to take a meander up it's very large hill and normally combine it with a visit to the superb garden centre.   It's quite reasonably priced at £13 per adult, £9 per child - under 3's are free although I did notice the lack of a family day ticket which is something you normally get offered at places like this.  We paid our £44 and off we went!

The children were very excited as we hadn't told them where we going and they thought we were going shopping. My poor children, how much shopping do I subject them to?! They couldn't wait to run from one animal enclosure to the next and had great fun reading (or attempting to read) about the animals. They had they're favourites - the clear winners of the day were the meerkats, penguins and the bats but there was so much more to see including rhinos, lions (which were quite noisy), wolves, giraffes, zebras, farm animals, varieties of monkeys as well as reptiles and insects and a big walkthrough "Madagascar experience" with lemurs on the loose.  One of the lemurs had twins!

Because it was a spontaneous visit, I hadn't packed the usual picnic which meant we had to buy food and drink. This was always going to be expensive but what I hadn't considered was just how long the queue was going to be! It was out the door and then some but I'm pleased to say it moved quite quickly. There was a good choice of food - a big selection of sandwiches, children's boxes, chips, jacket potatoes and a variety of other hot dinners as well as a selection of homemade-style cakes. It did tot up quite a bit but the food quality was better than I've had at similar places.

We stayed for about 5 hours and everyone had a whale of a time. There's a small children's playground and also a narrow-gauge railway which takes you on a little round-trip, you have to pay separately for this though and it was a £1 each. My son is a train-lover so we went on it and he loved it.

Smiley Monkey!
We managed to avoid any rain, even though dark skies seemed to be following us, managed to bypass the gift shop (result!) and headed home, all tired and worn-out from a fun day out!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Tenderstem Broccoli Stirfry with Sesame Noodles

I was contacted recently and asked if I'd like to take part in the Tenderstem in Ten challenge. A lover of broccoli, how could I refuse? The idea was to make a recipe that could be prepared in under 10 mins with less than 10 ingredients. 

It's quite a tall order however the idea appealed to me as I'm often on the lookout for quick, easy meals I can make after work and what I have created definitely falls into that bracket.  Alas, I don't have a picture of it. I did take some but I can't find them anywhere which is very unlike me as I normally have everything so well filed. If I had time, I would have remade the dish especially so I could pap it but illness and holidays have got in the way so you'll just have to use your imagination!

I think I've just about managed the challenge, well, if you're very speedy with a knife that is! It's not the most creative of ideas but it is quick and I think quite effective.

Tenderstem Broccoli Stirfry with Sesame Noodles


300g egg noodles
200g Tenderstem broccoli, sliced in half
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red chilli, sliced
4 tsbp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil (and extra for drizzling)
1 tsbp toasted sesame seeds (and extra for sprinkling)
1 lime, cut into wedges


Cook the noodles according the packet instructions and drain well. Mix with the sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Add some vegetable oil to a hot wok and gently fry the onion for a couple of minutes.  Next throw in the sliced broccoli, minced garlic, sliced pepper and red chilli and cook for two minutes. The vegetables should still be crisp but heated through.  

Stir in the soy sauce and a splash of water and cook for a further two minutes. Make sure the vegetables are well coated.

Divide the stir-fried vegetables between plates and serve with the sesame noodles. Drizzle a little bit of sesame oil over the vegetables and sprinkle some extra sesame seeds on top.

Okay. I may have cheated slightly but water isn't really an ingredient is it? and oil never counts as an ingredient in my house.

What do you think? Doable in ten minutes? Tasty enough? Did I rise to the challenge?

*image credit: www.tenderstem.co.uk

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Special Packed Lunches with Pippa from A Mothers Ramblings

Howdy. I've been so busy recently I've not had time to blog quite as much as I'd hoped to so I've asked a few friends to help me out.  

Today I am featuring a guest post from fellow blogger Pippa.  PippaD blogs at A Mothers Ramblings and Pippa World and you can find her on Twitter too. Her favourite meal of the week is the Sunday Roast and she says that being kissed by Dick Strawbridge  (The Celebrity Masterchef runner up 2010) after she won the Good Food Show Masterchef Invention Test was tickly but lovely.  

Without further ado, I hand you over to Pippa who is talking about packed lunches. Remember, a packed lunch isn't just for school...

When I started making Special Packed Lunches for Top Ender and blogging about them on A Mothers Ramblings and my Facebook page, I didn't think that they would become as important to us as they have. I envisaged Tops having her Friday and celebration lunches and that being the end of it, but it wasn't as simple as that. I quickly realised that everyday deserved a special lunch and that how I presented the food in the lunch box made a huge difference to what got eaten and in what quantity. My daughter, who was never really picky about food but preferred to eat her favourite foods, suddenly became interested in different tastes, textures and flavours.

The lunches that I make are sometimes packed full of fruit and vegetables

Sandwich Sushi

Or sometimes they look more full of treats than they do of the healthy stuff

Treat Packed Lunch

The thing is that these lunches offer Tops a variety of tastes and flavours and making these different lunches takes no longer than making a so called ordinary packed lunch. I make them when I come home from the gym (Come see me at Pippa World for more about my new Gym membership!) and Tops loves finding out at lunch along with her classmates (and a few teachers) what her lunchtime surprise is. The only downside is that some of the other playground Mums now hate me, as their own children are complaining that they don't get special lunches like Top Ender does...

Ladybird Burger Bun Bento

This September Big Boy will be joining Top Ender at School, so I will be making two lunches in the morning (and annoying twice as many Mums!). I'm really excited about it and I know that whilst the lunches that I make aren't always perfectly balanced, they balance out with the rest of their diets. And that's what I think is important, it's okay to give a little extra treat here and there as long as the good stuff is eaten too. The packed lunches I make are fun, the right size for my children and more importantly they get eaten, I don’t think that is something every parent could say.

What do you think? Are the lunches something that you would make and eat?

I love Pippa's lunches, don't you? I'm a fan of spicing up their lunch-boxes - my two have gone to school today with dinosaur and butterfly shaped ham sandwiches and I have been known to occasionally stick a bunny shaped hard-boiled egg in there too!  Who cares if it is going overboard? They're only little once!

Thanks for sharing your great ideas Pippa!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday (23rd July 2012)

Yes, yes, yes. I am very very late with this weeks Meal Planning Monday post but I have an excuse - I am poorly sick. I know, it's totally unfair to get ill when the weather is this glorious and I can't enjoy it.  I feel thoroughly miserable and am praying that this horrible cold (which is a complete humdinger) clears up before the weekend.  Over the past few weeks, Mr M has been ill, both the children have and now me. On the upside I am hoping this is our bout of illness before the holidays start. Anyway, enough of feeling sorry for myself.

This week THERE IS NO PLAN! In fact, there's probably going to be no plan for the next few weeks due to holidays, but don't let me stop you planning.  Oh no.

Tonight we are having Dominoes pizza, courtesy of Dominoes themselves who have invited me to try out their new Mexican range. Wednesday night I'm going to a friends house for curry and then Thursday we're off to Camp Bestival and I certainly shall not be cooking there, which really only leaves Tuesday to cater for and as yet, I haven't the foggiest what I will do for tea that night.  The no-plan is perfect for this week when all I want to do is wallow in my own self-pity.

What have you got planned? Leave the link to your meal planning blog post below and don't forget to check out the recipe party and join in if you've cooked something great during July!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Tan Rosie Caribbean Supper Club Recipe Book

I was recently sent a copy of the Tan Rosie Supper Club Recipe Book. I'd never heard of Tan Rosie before so did a little bit of research and found out that Tan Rosie Foods was started in 2012 by Monica and Lee who are mother in daughter. They create food inspired by family recipes from Grenada and Carriacou and serve it up at their supper club in Birmingham. It's so local to me, I am actually considering giving it a try!

I've never really cooked much Caribbean food, despite having a few books, and I've probably eaten even less, my only experience being a holiday to Barbados many moons ago and all I remember of that was fried flying fish, macaroni pie and rum cake! However I do find Caribbean food very appealing - fruity and spicy being a great combination.

Some of the standout recipes for me, that I'd like to try include Chicken Roti, Balchi di Pisca (Salt Cod Balls), Tan Rosie's Ginger Cake, Bolo Boracho (Tipsy Rum Cake) and of course, I might have a go at the macaroni pie. I'm wondering if it will taste just like I remember from Barbados, and I'm thinking it would be rude not to make some rum punch to wash it down so will add that to the list of things to make!

The recipes in the book are clearly laid out and simple to follow. One of the stumbling blocks could be that it may be hard to find some of the lesser known ingredients. I wouldn't know where to find "goat fish" or "callaloo" but most of the recipes are made up of readily available ingredients.

As Caribbean cookbooks go, I think this is a great one. The food featured in the book is authentic, traditional and I think it's clear that Monica and Lee are both proud of their heritage and enthusiastic about the food they cook. 

The Tan Rosie Caribbean Supper Club Recipe Book is available from Amazon, where you can buy it in both paperback and Kindle version.

PS If I ever make it to the Supper Club, I will of course report back!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Blue Cheese Pasta

I love a nice big dish of pasta, especially if it is quick and simple to make. I'm going to apologise for the lack of photography on this post but I haven't made this for a while, I'm just sharing one of my favourite easy pasta dishes with you.

I took inspiration for this from a BBC recipe ages ago. The original recipe didn't really have enough substance for me so I thought I would experiment a tiny bit and I was pleased with the outcome, although the first time I made it I used too much cream (if that is possible!) and have adjusted the amounts here to what I think is a better amount! 

I use Gorgonzola cheese but you could use any blue cheese you like.  I also use fusilli but penne, spaghetti etc would obviously go just as well. Recipe serves two.

Blue Cheese Pasta


8 slices unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into thing strips
1 red onion, diced
200g sliced mushrooms
200ml double cream
125g blue cheese 
200g pasta, cooked 


Fry the bacon in a saucepan for two minutes until crisp. Add the onion and saute for two minutes until softening and then add the mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms start to go soft.

Add the double cream and cook for another two minutes before adding the cheese to the sauce to melt. When the cheese is melted, mix in the pasta and serve!

Very simple! It makes a perfect evening meal after a long day a work, especially with a nice chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc! This is lovely served with some rustic garlic bread and a green salad.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The big Camp Bestival checklist

Only 11 days until Camp Bestival and I'm currently at the manic-list-writing part of my schedule.

Wellies? CHECK.
RainMacs? CHECK.
A years supply of glowsticks? CHECK.

I've been trying hard to think of everything that a family of festival-virgins might require for such a weekend and have made a list of everything from baby wipes to fake moustaches, boxes of wine to buckets for peeing in, flowery headbands to catering packs of hot chocolate and yet I still feel totally unprepared. Throw into the mix the fact that we'll all be sleeping in our campervan for the first time EVER. I think I need to relax a bit, or perhaps drink more wine!

I am looking forward to our weekend at Camp Bestival though, honest. It's just the apprehension of not quite knowing what to expect. The children however are more than excited at the mere thought of Mr Tumble, the Gruffalo, Shrek and everything else that is going on. I'm still swayed by the festival food. You know, I'm usually sated with a hot dog on such occasions so just reading about the foods that will be available leave me drooling. For this reason I'm not planning on taking too much food with us, and therefore don't need to stress about how to keep it cool. See? My love of eating out relieves a big stress for me. It's win-win.  I have of course stocked up on cereal bars, Pringles, peanuts, breadsticks, cake, biscuits, cake, teabags and more cake. The essentials in life.

Are you going to Camp Bestival? If you haven't bought tickets yet, there are still some available and I hear the weather is going to pick up too, so we could be in for some sunshine. (Naturally since I will have filled the campervan with wet weather gear it will be tropical...). Visit www.campbestival.net for more information about how t buy tickets and hopefully we will see you there. (I'll be the one cowering with a vat of wine).

Monday, 16 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday (16th July 2012)

Hello everyone. I'm sitting here writing this in-between trying to do a million household chores, and guess what? Yes, it's raining again (or should that be it's still raining...as it never seems to stop!).  I'm so busy at the moment I've barely had time to think about food and cooking, and there's no end in sight to my business for a few weeks yet!

This week instead of meetings and socialising, I will actually have tome to do some proper cooking, however I've just not thought about it yet.  I know that tonight is curry, because I bought one from Waitrose the other day and it's still sitting in my fridge. Other than that, who knows. They'll definitely be a Chinese inspired meal or two, maybe some Tex Mex and perhaps a salad. I've kind of lost my mojo with pasta at the moment for some reason - it's just not tickling my taste buds. I'd like to cook a dessert or cake this week too if I can find time, but it will have to be confined to the evenings as my daytimes are choc-a-bloc.

What have you got cooking this week? I'm sorry to be so vague and not inspiration AT ALL! Busy schedules and this weather is totally putting me off.

The Linky is below so please do join in by adding your blogpost and spreading the word about #mealplanningmonday.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Look - my very own cookbook!

No, I am afraid I have not had some amazing book deal offer but I have made my own cookbook.  I was asked recently if I would like to make my own Blurb book. I say recently, in fact it was a good couple of months ago and I'll be honest, it's taken me this long to sort it out as I'm such a perfectionist. I must take this opportunity to apologise to the good people at Blurb for dragging my heels!

If you've never heard of Blurb, they make books. Beautiful books. The main concept is photo books but you can add text and lots of it which make it the perfect solution of making your own cookbook! There are a couple of different ways you can go about putting your book together. You can use Bookify online, or do as I did and download the BookSmart application to your computer. There's even software for the professionals amongst us.  I found the BookSmart software incredibly easy to navigate and use. It guides you through setting up your book and is very user-friendly.

There were fully customisable page layouts and designs and if you're familiar with any kind of word processing software, you'd easily be able to find your way around the software to do all the basics like changing font types and sizes.  Adding photos was easy - a simple drag and drop motion and each category style has different layouts available. For example, there is a section for recipes and within that you can select a layout that has a big picture and small text box, just text, small picture and big text box and so on.  You can go deeper and fiddle with the layouts to move text boxes around but I didn't really feel the need to do so as I was happy with how they were.

The whole process of designing the book was easy, and could be very quick if you'e not me and very particular. When you're happy with your book and you have previewed it, you can upload it to Blurb to order it. Uploading took a minute or two and the order process was easy, allowing you to upgrade covers and papers if you so wish. There are also other things you can do, like make copies for your iPad - how handy is that? Well it would be if I had an iPad...I decided on a hardcover with premium paper in a matte finish a cost of £31.84 which seemed pretty reasonably considering it had 60 pages in it.

I anxiously awaited the arrival of my book and I have to say, it blew me away. I had always expected it to be good but I had never expected it to be as good as it was! The quality was outstanding and it looked like a proper professional book, more so than other photo books I have seen. The text and photos were crystal clear and Mr M even asked if they were my photos in the book as they made the food look so good. (I'm taking that as a compliment on my photography rather than a slight on my food!). It looks and feels like a real cookbook, I just wish you could all feel it for yourself.

I'm just chuffed to bits with it, and am contemplating ordering a second one because these are our favourite family recipes and I'd like to be able to give one to each of my children one day. I cunningly put in lots of blank pages at the end so I could write/stick further recipes in over time. Ha, future-proofing, no flies on me!  

Whilst browsing the Blurb website I discovered that you can also use your Facebook account and Instagram to make a book which is pretty cool. I'm intrigued about that so I may have to take a closer look!

I am a big fan of photo books, I make and buy several every year and I'm going to have to say that the Blurb ones are much better quality than the other ones I have made, as well as actually working out a fair bit cheaper. I'm a convert to Blurb, they have totally convinced me. I've had all kinds of ideas of books I want to make now...a wedding one and I'd like to put a book together for each of the children, talking a bit about the first few years of life. Hmm, this could turn out to be quite costly actually!

Big thank you to Blurb for sending me a voucher to make this book. I truly love it.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A trip to Sudbury Hall (or Ooh Mr Darcy!)

Recently when we were a bit fed up of the weather and being stuck at home we decided to use our National Trust membership and visit Sudbury Hall and the National Trust Museum of Childhood.  I have to say it was a lovely place to visit. The Museum of Childhood was a great nostalgic trip down memory lane, showcasing a lot of long-forgotten toys and games and Sudbury Hall itself is a lovely building. (They also have a good tearoom with some pretty fantastic cakes).

If you didn't know, Sudbury Hall was used in the filming of the amazing BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. All of the interior shots of Pemberley (Mr Darcy's house) were filmed here and if you've watched it you may remember the long gallery where Elizabeth Bennett looked the large portrait of Mr Darcy. Right before he jumped into that lake. 

The gallery is awesome. There aren't really any other words for it. It stretches the entire length of the house and I don't think I've ever seen a room quite like it.

Psst. She's in the long gallery here, and I bet she is thinking
"darn it, I could have been mistress of Pemberley!"
Sudbury Hall is one of the finest Restoration houses in the country and was built in the 17th century by the Vernon family who owned it right up until 1967.  We were also treated to seeing Mr Darcy's bedroom or if we're going to be historically accurate, Queen Adelaide's bedroom. As a widow, Queen Adelaide rented the house for three years. She wrote out her wishes for what she wanted to happen on the event of her death whilst she was at Sudbury and these are on display in this room.

But my favourite room in the entire house has to be the library. I'd probably sell a kidney or a small child to have a room like this in the house. My photo doesn't do it justice (National Trust don't allow flash) and you may not be able to see it very clearly but there's a little staircase that goes to an upper level balcony.  I nearly fainted with joy when I came into this room. 

Visiting Sudbury Hall has reignited my love for Pride and Prejudice, not least because Mr M had neither read the book nor seen any adaptation of it which clearly needed rectifying immediately. We just finished watching the 1995 BBC adaptation and one question comes to mind.  Just how did that make Mr Collins so repulsive?

I know he's meant to be pretty ghastly, but the actor did it so well, he makes my skin crawl!  I'm also rewatching Lost in Austen which was on TV a few years back and well worth a watch if you've not seen it.

If you're nearby, a visit to Sudbury Hall is a good way to spend a few hours of your time. 

PS Next on my hitlist is Lyme Park.  That was used for the outdoor shots of Pemberley and of course that is where you find THE lake.