So Halloween’s coming up. Sadly, I’ll be missing all the fun (not too sadly as I’ll be joining the inaugural voyage of Royal Caribbean’s new beauty, Quantum of the Seas). Here are a few ideas if you’re staying at home this weekend.
Happy half term! We’ve been really busy planning a trip to Florida next week (it’s Mr English’s 50th while we’re over there too), and I spent the weekend in London with my friend Erica (more of this very soon). There’s also been more work on The Secret Special Thing that Cannot be Mentioned. All will be revealed soon, I promise.
As a nation, we’ve never really embraced candy corn have we? I love the look (and taste) of them, and when I was in America I tracked down these mixed fruit ones (probably terribly untraditional) and knew exactly what to do with them. What’s the best thing about Halloween? All the trick or treat sweets mixed up in a big bowl of course!
It’s no secret that I love my wine. And although I’m no expert, I’ve got to the stage where I’m interested enough to start recording my thoughts about wine that we’ve tried and liked, and want to know what other people think about wines.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Raymond Blanc’s beautiful Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire. I’ve wanted to visit for ages, so I was beside myself with excitement. As I drove up, I dithered outside the front gate in my car, not really knowing what to do, and instantly, a friendly gentleman in an immaculate suit rushed out to help, escorting me to the reception and driving my car off to park it for me. First impressions? Pretty darned good.
When Mr English is home, one of our favourite things to do is pop to No 2 Pound Street in Wendover. It’s a lovely little place – part wine shop/part deli. They sell an amazing selection of cheese and other lovely bits, and an equally fab selection of wines. They concentrate on the slightly more unusual, organic, small-producer type wines, so you’ll always find something a bit different in there. They usually have four or five different wines on offer by the glass, so we pop in for a glass or two and one of their delicious deli platters:
So if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I headed over to Orlando last month to check out the fantastic dining options at Walt Disney World. Here’s my video report from my trip. Remember, you’ve only got one week left to book your 2015 holiday and take advantage of the free dining offer. Read all about it here!
There’s something extra lovely about a pre-Christmas day out at a beautiful, wintery venue. This year, Taste of Christmas has been renamed Taste of London Winter and will be taking over gorgeous Tobacco Dock in East London from 20th – 23rd November 2014.
I’ve been aware of James Ramsden for a while – I’ve heard about his uber cool supper club, the Secret Larder and I’ve read and liked stuff he’s written in the Guardian, but he didn’t really come into his own, in my eyes until I started following him on Twitter (@JTERamsden). His tweets about the Great British Bake Off were wickedly witty, and through that, I discovered his Instagram feed and discovered that he’s also a dog lover. BONUS!
Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a lovely chill-out day wherever you are. I’ve had a such a lovely week this week, with some AMAZING career news (that sadly I can’t tell you about yet – I know, I hate it when people do that too), and a visit from Sam, home from university for a couple of days (he’s loving it, by the way – London/uni life really seems to suit him). I also had an incredible time at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons – more of this later on in the week. We’ve also put an offer in on the HOUSE OF OUR DREAMS, but I’m really trying not to get too excited as it’s very early days and we’re still waiting on a mortgage too (but check out the garden – above – how pretty is that?).
Is everyone else in mourning now the Great British Bake Off is finished? What on earth are we going to watch now?! I’ve got to be honest, I prefer the early stages when the baking is more like something you might make at home, rather than the big, lavish showstopper thingies.
Happily, if you’re eager to get your Paul Hollywood fix, I happen to know that the Telegraph have just teamed up with the ol’ silver fox to bring you more than 40 brilliant British recipes this weekend!
Our lovely visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando seems such a long time ago now. I’m already pining for the sunshine, for Anna and Elsa, and, more importantly, all that amazing food.
Once upon a time (see what I did there?) I think most people thought that all you could probably eat while you were at Walt Disney World parks and resorts was junk food, or maybe Mickey-shaped ice creams. Now, people are starting to realise that Walt Disney World features some of the best dining in the world, whether you’re after a snack, quick-service, grab and go option, or proper fine dining with table service.
So what can you expect?
Last week I was invited to talk with Bel UK about cheese. You’ve probably heard of them, not just for Babybel (a staple in most fridges and lunchboxes) but also Boursin, The Laughing Cow, Leerdammer and other cheesy treats. The Nutrition Advisory Board meets every so often to discuss everything cheese related. There are nutrition experts, public relations experts, executives from Bel UK, and, erm… me. I think I’m there as the token ‘normal’ person. I’ve done this a couple of times now and it’s really, really interesting (and not just because I really, really like cheese).
So since our original offer on the House of Bodily Fluids back in July, we really haven’t heard very much. We didn’t really chase it as I guess we’re not in a massive hurry, but all of a sudden it kind of dawned on us that we hadn’t had any paperwork, and started to chase a bit harder. Our solicitors, worryingly, had heard nothing at all from their solicitors. I drove past the house and they hadn’t even STARTED clearing it, and you can imagine what a job that’s going to be. Then we started to hear rumour that the probate wasn’t going smoothly and there were issues with the man’s business that had to be sorted before the house could be sold… Ugh.
We’re a bit divided on coffee in this house: Charlie and Mr English are hard-core coffee NUTS. As far as they’re concerned coffee should be strong and black (and preferably served on demand throughout the day). This contrasts completely with Sam and I, who like milky lattes. I’ve even been known to add in a bit of cinnamon sugar for good measure. In coffee shops, the hard-core boys will go for Americano with an extra shot and I’ll ask for a latte with just half a shot of coffee, which makes them roll their eyes, so we’re proper chalk and cheese.
I’m really lucky because I get sent quite a few cookbooks. I’ll be honest though – a lot of them are a bit, well, samey. Every now and again one takes me by surprise because it’s just SO exciting and SO different.
Birthdays, celebrations, special events, parties, even the ‘C word’ (it’s okay, I didn’t say it)… there are so many occasions to uncork a bottle or two. But before you can begin to pour, you have to choose your poison – an onerous task if you are venturing into unknown territory.
Now as I’ve told you before, I’m a jeans and jumpers girl (shorts and t-shirts in the summer). I’ve got a few lovely events coming up, though, that are going to require poshing up a bit, so whilst lusting after all the new snuggly autumn stuff, I’ve got my eye out for a few smart bits and bobs too. John Lewis have just launched their autumn fashion magazine too – so here’s the top five things on my wishlist (when I’ve finally started stocking the EU pasta mountain and buying things like Oyster Cards for Sam):
What have you got planned this autumn? It’s the perfect time to get out and about, I always think – crunching through piles of golden leaves and wrapping up, getting out and discovering new places, all looking beautiful in their glowy autumn colours. To give you a bit of inspiration, I’ve teamed up with English Heritage to give two lucky winners a fabulous 12 month English Heritage family membership.
You know I’m a HUGE Boden fan right? I love their great quality basics, I’m more than a little taken with their beautiful leather handbags and shoes, plus their dresses are lush. So, yeah, just obsessed really. If you’re already a convert, then this code will fill you with a happy, Friday feeling. And if you’re not? Pop over and have a look – what better time to experiment than when there’s 20% off and free delivery AND returns?
One of my absolute favourite adventures while we were in Walt Disney World was a special, money can’t buy visit to Chef Jeff, Executive Chef at Disney’s beautiful Contemporary Resort, one of my top five Walt Disney World resort hotels. Chef Jeff and his team are responsible for all the patisserie for the resort, from gorgeous special occasion cakes, to the wonderful cupcakes available in the café.
We’ve all been there at the airport: screaming, crying and throwing all our toys out of the pram…not to mention what the kids are up to. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. You can plan for a much smoother operation whether it’s chilling out on the beach or pottering around the countryside together, all with your kids on side. Here’s a round-up of tips and essentials for family fun away from home.
So this is our last week living as a proper family unit I suppose (although let’s face it, with Mr English’s weird job, we’re only ever a family unit two weeks out of four). Sam’s off to university next week and we’ll miss him loads. This became apparent as we watched the NFL tonight and sniggered, en famille, when the commentator said ‘bush’, and then a bit more when he said something about ‘coming in from behind’.
Every time we’ve been out for a walk recently, we’ve been laughing at the dog, carefully picking off the choicest blackberries off the brambles along the way.
I love Halloween. What’s not to love about dressing up, socialising and eating loads of sweets? It’s like it was made for me. It’s also brilliant that it coincides with half term too, which means it’s a fab time to get away for a little ‘staycation’ with the family.
- The creepy Halloween roundup October 31, 2014
- TWO teenagers driving? Give me strength! October 30, 2014
- Trick or treat! Candy corn cookies for Halloween October 27, 2014
- Win £125 Berry Bros & Rudd wine vouchers with Vivino October 22, 2014
- The Raymond Blanc Cookery School at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons with Kenwood Chef Sense October 19, 2014