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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
One of the huge perks of my job is all the travel. I get to visit some wonderful places and cruise on amazing ships. I’m always pinching myself at how lucky I am. One of the bits that I enjoy the least, though, is getting to the airport. We actually only live about half an hour from Heathrow, but depending on how things are on the M25, that half hour can magically change into an hour or even longer.
We’ve been enjoying the very last of the summer evenings here at English Towers, knowing that it’s the final summer we’ll spend in this house before moving on to our new house (which requires total refurbishment – eek!). One of the things I’m really looking forward to in our new house, though, is using the lovely wood burner which is there. I’m picturing a fireplace dotted with scented candles, filling the house with gorgeous scents.
Every parent of teenagers knows that feeling when you start to wonder exactly how long your children will keep wanting to come on holiday with you. As they grow up, they naturally develop their own tastes, likes and dislikes (and even more naturally, these will tend to be the exact opposite to yours), so agreeing on a holiday destination (and indeed, persuading them to dump their mates and come on holiday with you) is never easy.
Enter, the Caribbean cruise. Here’s why:
Finances have been a frequent topic of conversation at English Towers recently. Sam did really well in his A level results and is OFF TO UNIVERSITY! Woohoo! Of course we’re delighted, but it’s also a worry financially.
Has anyone noticed how all of a sudden it seems like summer is over? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? For Sunday lunch, we had slow braised brisket and dumplings, for goodness’ sake. It’s all wrong!
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…
The Great British Bake Off has returned to our screens once again! It will have been a whole ten months since cake heroes Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have entertained us with their witty remarks, cake puns and disapproving looks.
Home interiors, much like fashion, continually change and evolve. New seasons bring new styles and keeping up-to-date with the show homes seen in decor magazines can sometimes seem like a Herculean task.
I know what you’re thinking: Christmas? Really? But now is the time of year where all the retailers are showcasing their Christmas stock to the trade (in fact, loads of retailers are already showing their Christmas ideas to the public too – have a look at the ‘New for Christmas 2014‘ range at John Lewis).
This year, I’m determined not to be panicking at the last minute. I have a Christmas book (just a hard-backed notebook) and every year I make a few notes (and write down what people send to us so that I can write thank you notes) – it’s become a bit of a habit. This time I’ll be going more in depth. Here’s a few ideas I’ve got so far:
I’ve recently bought a new laptop and before I did, I had a good look around online for voucher codes or discount codes, but one thing I hadn’t really considered was cashback. Too late, sadly, I received an email from Wowcher’s new cashback website, Wowcherching last week so thought I’d have a look to see exactly how it works and how much I could earn. If you’re not familiar with how cashback works, you visit their site and search for the retailer you are about to buy from, click through to the retailer via the link and once you’ve made your purchase the retailer then pays a referral commission back to Wowcherching, that they give to you as cashback. Read more
People, especially ‘foodies’, are often a bit snobby about microwaves. I’ve got one and we use it quite a lot, whether it’s to heat up a quick bowl of soup or baked beans, melt butter to add to my favourite gooey iced bun recipe, or to reheat someone’s meal when they’re late to dinner AGAIN.
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:
I love a cute little infographic and this one all about summer at Center Parcs really caught my eye. Everybody knows that when the sun is shining, there’s no nicer place to be than right here at home and there’s a lot to be said for missing out all the queues at security and that airport parking to enjoy a summer holiday here in the UK.
- 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