This week, we had a very special delivery. I’m one of those really sad people who always gets excited when the postie knocks, and this week it was completely justified as we got cake in the post! I know! Meg Rivers is an artisan bakery from the Cotswolds who send all sorts of delicious goodies by post, and they very kindly sent me one of their fabulously retro cherry cakes. It’s deliciously moist, studded with glistening red glacé cherries and a lovely texture too. It’s one of the cakes that they send out as part of the Meg Rivers Cake Club (I mean, forget beauty boxes, I’d much rather get a monthly cake, wouldn’t you?), the perfect pressie and just in time for Mother’s Day too.
I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for pork crackling: one crunch takes me right back to sitting on the steps of the cricket pavilion on endless summer evenings, bottle of Coke in one hand and bag of ‘pork scratchings’ in the other. Of course, things have moved on a tad since then: apparently The Snaffling Pig Co’s unique tasting crackling is double cooked to produce a softer product that retains its bite without the teeth-breaking qualities of traditional scratching. They use the finest ingredients and add some pretty bold flavours too. This week I’m playing with The Snaffling Pig Co’s new Crackling Crumb and as my boys would happily live on mac and cheese, I created this extra special bacon mac and cheese with a herby crunch topping just for them. This version contains delicious, smoky bacon pieces, plus mozzarella for extra gooeyness, and the crunchy, herby, crumb topping gives that all important texture.
You know me – any excuse to get into the kitchen and have a fiddle with a new product, so imagine my delight when the lovely chaps at The Snaffling Pig Co, makers of high quality, deliciously flavoured pork crackling products, got in touch about a great new product called Crackling Crumb. Essentially, it’s exactly what it says on the tin: delicious Snaffling Pig pork crackling, minus the seasoning, ground into a crumb so that it can be used to add a scrummy crunch to all sorts of meals and it recently won a Great Taste Award 2017 too. I’m devoting this week to all things crunchy and crumby, starting with my delicious crunchy brunchy breakfast burger. Plus I’ve got a range of The Snaffling Pig Co products to give away!
Did you keep a diary when you were younger? I kept one for a few years when I was in my early teens, and me and my best friend also wrote to each other all the time (this was before the internet, people!) and I kept those letters for years and years too. I’d love to read them again now and get to know my teenage self again. I wonder what happened to them? Think of the positive life plan as the grown up equivalent of those teenage ramblings: a constructive and uplifting way to keep track of all aspects of your life and maybe even make a few changes along the way too. Here, we’ve listed five reasons why you should start the positive life plan. Plus, a chance to win a gorgeous personalised TOAD notebook to do it in!
So last week I asked you all what you would be doing with your extra hour in bed. The lovely people at Elizabeth Shaw wanted to encourage us all to do something really thoughtful when the clocks went back on 30th. I hope you had a lovely day and managed to embrace your extra hour. We had a cosy day at home – they boys had friends round and did college work together while I baked more of my maple leaf biscuits, and later I made pizza for everyone. It was so nice to spend some family time together and it was extra lovely to be in our new kitchen/diner space, being able to talk and chat while I cook rather than being banished alone to the kitchen!
I’ve got a new obsession (which admittedly tends to happen quite often). I do flit between different products as I find them, but I’m currently completely in love with a cream that’s made me shove everything else on my bathroom shelf out the way. L’Occitane’s Divine Cream is just so glorious, so rich, so velvety, so luxurious and delicious that I’m completely smitten. And obviously I need you to try it too, so I’ve got news of a fabulous competition in which you can win a luxury L’Occitane Hamper, worth £300, for yourself!
How are your summer holidays going? Apparently there’s going to be a little mini heatwave next week. Got anything planned? Want to win a family day trip to Paris with Eurostar? Or how about a day trip to Brussels? The lovely chaps at Eurostar are encouraging us Brits to head off and explore Europe. I’ve challenged Sam to spend a day in Paris next week doing as many free things as he possibly can – update coming very soon, but until then, fancy doing the same? Throughout August, you can jump on board Eurostar for a day trip to Paris and Brussels for just £58 return, spend 8 hours exploring and then hop back on the train and be home before bedtime. Kids under 4 even travel for free! To celebrate, I’ve got a family ticket to give away!
Happy Friday! For me, it’s a proper Feel Good Friday as English Mum is a whole ten years old this weekend! I can hardly believe it’s been ten years since we moved to Ireland and, feeling lonely and homesick, I started recording my thoughts and feelings on this, my little corner of the internet. Since then, English Mum has grown so much, creating a fabulous career for me (I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d end up writing for Cruise International and The Guardian, speaking at World Travel Market and appearing in Sainsbury’s adverts!) and picking up quite a few loyal readers along the way.
Win Coco Bay vouchers for you and a friend
All these years later, I still hope the mix of news and updates from our home here at English Towers, gorgeous clothes and lifestyle bits, travel tales, family recipes and all the other little simple pleasures that I love continue to resonate with you guys. I always aim to make it a place where you can grab a cuppa, sit back, relax and catch up from time to time. To celebrate English Mum’s big day, I wanted to do something really special, and team up with a brand that I believe genuinely reflects the same feel and lovely laid back luxe lifestyle/travel vibe that I aim to achieve with English Mum. Take a bow, Coco Bay! I love that Coco Bay was created in 2003 by twin sisters, Anna and Belinda from the spark of an idea for creating a customer-friendly site where women can find sophisticated, flattering, mix and match beachwear and buy it from the comfort of their living room (I’ve long mentioned the hideousness of trying on swimwear in changing room mirrors), supported by great customer service with a really personal touch.
Regular readers will know that I absolutely love cruise holidays. Whether it’s discovering the Caribbean with the delightful and beautiful Disney Dream (and being featured on Disney’s Facebook page, that was a massive highlight), or cruising around the coast of Europe whilst simultaneously stuffing my face on dazzling Britannia, the sheer diversity of cruise holidays draws me in. What other holiday can you take where you can explore several different destinations in one hit without having to pack and unpack your suitcase. You don’t even have to fly!
Isn’t it just gorgeous to see some glimpses of sunshine? While you’re out basking in the rays in between those April showers, though, remember that the sun is the single biggest skin ager, so I’ve teamed up with @ultrasunUK and @hushhomewear to provide one lucky follower with the most stylish start to summer with a fantastic giveaway worth £275, featuring everything you can possibly need to protect your skin and look gorgeous too.
Calling all Disney fans! English Mum has teamed up with London Designer Outlet (LDO), London’s only outlet centre located in Wembley Park, to offer the chance to win family tickets (for two adults, and two children) to Disney on Ice at The SSE Arena, Wembley, on Saturday 16thApril at 7pm. Enter below for a chance to join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse commemorate 25 years of Disney on Ice along with everyone’s favourite Disney characters!
As you might have read, back in April, Mr E and I were lucky enough to visit Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Raymond Blanc’s deliciously decadent hotel in Oxfordshire. I’ve also visited before and been lucky enough to be shown around the gorgeous gardens, too. If you watched Kew on a Plate you’ll know that Raymond Blanc is really keen on gardening and cooking with his own produce. It obviously runs in the family, because his son, Olivier, along with Charlotte Salt, has created a lovely little character, Henri le Worm to show children where food actually comes from and encourage them to learn more about nature and the important role it plays in our food.
Summer is coming! Hurrah for bare feet and sunny breakfasts al fresco, dog walks without wellies and massive coat, pottering in the garden and – hopefully- a bit of beach and pool time too.
I don’t know what I’d do without my friends. They’ve been with me through thick and thin. We’ve shared wonderful experiences, including amazing holidays, and some pretty rough times too. Even though we live miles away from each other and are spread across counties and countries, we’re always in contact, and when we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart. I know I can always rely on them and I love them all to bits.
I love a holiday snap. As you know, my own philosophy is ‘snapshots not stuff’ – I’d rather spend my money creating a lovely memory than spend it on more stuff to clutter up our already busy lives. This is my favourite one of ours – on the beach at Val André in Brittany stuffing our faces with ice creams:
This summer, Disneyland Paris is going to be sprinkled with snow! From 1st June to 13th September 2015, guests can experience the magic of the hit film Frozen, joining Anna, Elsa and Olaf in live, interactive Frozen sing-alongs, and catching a glimpse of the sisters as they ride around the park in a twinkling carriage.
- Come shopping with me: swim and beachwear from M&S June 16, 2018
- Coconut chilli prawn noodles June 14, 2018
- Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris June 12, 2018
- Haddock and cheddar tart: pescatarian perfection June 9, 2018
- Balayage at The Hair Secret, Berkhamsted and new Oway organic hair products June 7, 2018