The beautiful garden at our dream house

My week in food: doughnuts, chocolate pudding and dhal

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?).

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Babybel packed lunch

Interesting stuff about cheese

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).

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Flapjack and builders' tea

The house update. And flapjacks.

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.

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Kin by John Lewis Bronte distressed leather tote bag in silver

Smartening up: my autumn fashion wishlist

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):

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Boden Johnnie B

Happy Friday! 20% off code at Boden plus free delivery and returns

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?

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Brotherly love

For Sam. Sniggering, silly voices and new beginnings

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’.

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20140909_145118_Android

Say hello to the Best Cruise Blogger 2014 (hint: it’s me)

So after all the begging and pleading, yesterday I finally got to slip on my new favourite LBD (thank you, Mint Velvet) and my gorgeous sparkly new necklace from Alice’s Wonders, lash a load of concealer over my hideous jetlaggy eye bags, and head off to London for the Cruise International Cruise Awards 2014.

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Prezzo

Waving goodbye to my baby, and a hot flush.

So after a 27 hour delay in Orlando (more of this later), I’m finally home to the awful realisation that my biggest boy is off to university very shortly – Sam’s about to leave home.   Amidst all the excitement of exam results (and writing stuff), and sorting out that trip to Orlando (and writing stuff) and getting geared up for the House of Bodily Fluids and that that entails (and did I mention writing stuff?) I realised I’d not entirely come to terms with Sam not being around on a full time basis.

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Hush autumn winter 2014

NEW autumn/winter 2014 from Hush Homewear

So this morning, I trudged around the field with the dog in the rain wearing a fleece, a waterproof jacket, and a hat.  What on earth happened to the summer?  Usually,  I resist even looking at anything remotely knitted or warm until at least September, but the emails are starting to arrive, and I have to say, I’m loving what I’m seeing.  The new autumn/winter preview from Hush Homewear definitely got my attention, with loads of gorgeous autumnal casual wear really catching my eye (I tend to live in jeans and jumpers):

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Jam doughnut muffins

Sugar dusted jam doughnut muffins

You love doughnuts, right? Everyone loves doughnuts.  But wait, you love muffins don’t you?  Soft, fluffy and perfect breakfast fodder.  So why not put them together?  I’ve been fiddling about with this recipe for ages, and the boys are pretty sure that I’ve perfected the whole doughnut/muffin scenario, but the jammy bit had beaten me.

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The Honda Civic Tourer

On test: the Honda Civic Tourer 1.8i-VTEC SR

We’ve tested a few cars in the past, most notably the Honda CR-V that we drove around France, and really love doing it (basically, a lovely man appears on your doorstep with a brand new car and gives you the keys, leaving the car with you for a week – what’s not to love?).  This time, Honda asked if we’d like to try their new Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR manual and, being a big car loving family, we jumped at the chance…

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Chilli chicken noodles

Chilli chicken noodle soup

Yesterday, we were wondering what to have for dinner – it never seems right to have a roast on a hot day – when Sam mentioned that we used to have chicken noodle soup all the time, but we hadn’t had it for ages.

Just so happens that I had a chilli, a lime, and some ginger (I keep the ginger in the freezer anyway) and half a pack of noodles, and it seemed the perfect, fresh alternative to full on Sunday dinner, so it was game on.

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Bicester Village

A splash of orange at Bicester Village

This week, Mr English and I decided to head to Bicester Village for a spot of shopping.  I like Bicester – we have a bit of lunch or a coffee in Pret or in the little Jamie Oliver place, then pootle around around looking for bargains.  There were still plenty of summer brights available in the sales and I discovered that I’m still totally in love with everything orange.

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Habitat 'Radius' oak bed and 'Mauzy' bedding

Champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget…

So with news that the House of Bodily Fluids could soon be ours (I guess we shouldn’t totally get our hopes up until we’ve actually exchanged contracts), we’ve started doing that nesting thing where you go out window shopping for things you’ll never really be able to afford but you’d buy if you had unlimited funds (known as ‘champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget’ in our house).

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SCANDAL LOGO

5 mad things about the Scandal, Series 3 event in London

So recently I got invited to a very swish private screening of the third series of Sky Living’s drama, Scandal.  If you’re not already hooked (bet you are), it stars the gorgeous Kerry Washington (who we all remember most as the blind lady who dated The Thing in the Fantastic Four, but who was also amazing in Django Unchained), as White House fixer Olivia Pope. It’s full of intrigue, secrets and cover-ups and is seriously good.

So how did the evening pan out?  I’m not sure you’ll believe it…

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summer fun

5 tips for surviving the school summer holidays

So the kids are breaking up (or have broken up) from school and now the loooong summer stretches ahead.  My two seem to have been off for weeks already (both have done exams and have been on study leave since May – happily they both have part time jobs which at least keep them occupied some of the time).  So whether you’re embracing this time with your children, or dreading it, you’ll still have between a month and six weeks of time to fill and there’s nothing worse than bored kids. So how can you keep the kids entertained?  Here are my top 5 tips for surviving the school summer holidays:

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Yumi dress cropped

Dresses for people who really don’t suit dresses

So recently me and the Mr were out shopping.  He’s actually one of those men that’s really good at shopping.  He’s not a ‘stand outside the shop looking awkward’ kind of man, he’s a ‘get stuck in and have a rummage’ one.  He has an opinion.  He’ll tell you if he thinks something suits me (not that I always take his advice, obviously) and he’ll also be honest if something doesn’t (brutally, occasionally – he’s been known to make me cry, but that was years ago, he’s learned to be a bit more tactful these days).

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SP68 Arianna Occhipinti

A secret wine tasting and some fab new wine discoveries

My brother is really into his wine.  He’s a serious collector and really knows his stuff. He’s introduced me to some amazing wines and we’re always telling each other about our new wine discoveries.

We decided to get together for a bit of a ‘wine-off’ with Big Bro and his wife picking some wines, then me and Mr English picking some wines, and decided to make it a bit more tricky by agreeing to cover the labels.

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