I was chatting with a friend recently about swimwear. Just about this time of year – when you’re still debating whether to bare your lily white pins in a pair of shorts in case you dazzle a passing driver and cause some sort of accident – is, weirdly, the best time to buy your new swimwear. The shops are still full of all the lovely bits. But, woe betide that you leave it until a couple of weeks before your summer holiday – it will all be sold out and you’ll be left with the choice of a teeny tiny string bikini or a boring black sporty swimsuit left in your size. Happily, I’m here to help and yesterday I took a little sortie to Milton Keynes to check out the swim and beachwear from M&S. There aren’t many places better to buy swimwear – their fit is always good, the prices are reasonable, the fabrics wash well and don’t fade in the sun, and they always have nice matchy matchy bits too. Read on, then, for my best buys:
Wait, where has the sun gone? Was that little flurry of warm days the summer? Did we miss it? We had such a lovely couple of days in the garden and isn’t it wonderful when it’s so balmy that you can actually sit outside in the evening? We went to one of my favourite stores, Homesense, who’ve got lots of lovely bits to transform your garden, all at up to 60% less than the RRP, and got a few things to update our space. What’s nicer than dining outside with the family, and then relaxing into the evening with twinkly lights and a flickering fire? Here are my top buys for al fresco dining with Homesense:
Now you all know I’m a huge Boden fan, and it’s that time of year again when they’re releasing gorgeous pictures of all their beautiful beach and holiday ranges. I love Boden for great quality, bold patterns, awesome design and just a little hint of British quirkiness. As an added bonus, from now until tomorrow, Sunday 11th June, there’s 30% off dresses, (including playsets and rompers), accessories (non-footwear), boys’ trousers and menswear with code: 6T2C. Here’s my pick of Boden’s holiday heroes – get those credit cards at the ready!
Have you ever been in Oliver Bonas before? Oh my god, we came across one in Leeds: I recognised the name because I remember a gorgeous flatlay from one of my faves, lovely Amanda featuring a funky pineapple from there and I thought we should pop in. I literally loved everything in there! As Laura pointed out, all the colours are really me: soft corals, minty greens, denim blues… and the homeware stuff is gorgeous too. Totally off topic for a cutest summer holiday wishlist roundup but look, I bought a pineapple!
It’s a chill out day here at English Towers. We had a fab party last night (more of this very soon!), so today is all about lazing in the garden (isn’t the weather divine? I never want it to end) and easy, tasty food. This summer, Sainsbury’s launch the latest in its Little Twist recipes: each one giving an unexpectedly clever and yummy new twist on classic summer recipes. Since we’re lazing, I decided to give the rice pop chicken tenders a go. Here’s how we got on:
How are you all this morning? I’m pretty happy as the sun is shining and Charlie is back from his holidays! I was woken up at 4.30am with a big squeeze (ow, my sunburn) and can’t wait to hear all about his adventures on his first holiday! And seeing as the sun’s out: is anyone else obsessed with off the shoulder tops and dresses at the moment? They’re so pretty and feminine and – now I’ve got a good strapless bra sorted (very important), I’ve started to seek out a few different styles to see me through the summer. Have you heard of Lyst? It’s a shopping website, but with a clever difference. The more you use it, the more it learns about you and your shopping habits, so you start to see only the things you’ll love!
I think really good basics should be the foundation of everyone’s wardrobe. A well-fitting tee is just so effortless. I love the hush summer sheer crew tee. They’re so soft and drapey (that’s a word, right?) and look fabulous on (I’m about a size 12 and go for the s/m size). The silver is such a lovely colour and seems to go with everything. A great basic (£35):
I’m still mad about everything blue this summer. If you base your wardrobe around one colour when packing for holiday, it makes everything so easy! Here’s a little roundup of all the beautiful summer blues I’ve been adding to my wishlist recently.
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.
So this is my third Lean on Turkey challenge, supporting our fabulous British turkey farmers and showing you just how versatile turkey is. It’s not just for Christmas, y’know (sorry, but it took me three challenges – I resisted in the first two). Last time, as you may recall, it was a healthy, low fat turkey recipe and the result was my sticky sweet chilli turkey kebabs. This time I’m going to wow you with some fabulous crispy sesame coated chicken breast slices, and a delightfully fresh orangey salad. Of course, if you’re feeling like something more substantial, you can stuff the whole lot into a wrap or pitta too (as demonstrated by my gorgeous assistant, son number 2, who dumped his entire plate onto a wrap – see picture below). Yummy, and probably half an hour max to prepare.
I must be honest and say that this plateful was just for show – our actual portion sizes were about triple this. Hey, what can I say? We’re greedy.
You will need:
1 pack turkey breast (I bought escalopes, but breast would be fine too)
2 or 3 tablespoons plain flour
2 or 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Rapeseed oil for drizzling and for the salad dressing
1 navel orange
Squeeze of honey
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees/gas 6. Slice the turkey breasts into strips. Now arrange your eggy wash department: you need three bowls.
Bowl 1: flour, seasoned generously with salt and pepper (pinch of cayenne wouldn’t go amiss either)
Bowl 2: 1 egg, beaten
Bowl 3: breadcrumbs and sesame seeds
Then just start up your little production line. Dip each turkey strip into the flour, pat off the excess, then dip it in the egg, then finally into the breadcrumb and sesame seed mix, then on to the baking tray.
When you’ve done this to all your turkey, just give it a little drizzle of rapeseed oil and pop into the oven.
To make the dressing, squeeze the orange into a jug and add roughly double the amount of rapeseed oil. Season, then add a dash of honey. Mix well.
To assemble, pile the leaves onto the plate (I added some extra pieces of orange, but don’t worry if you haven’t got the patience for segmenting oranges – I completely understand), pop on the pieces of turkey, then finally dribble over the dressing. Yum.
For more information on the Lean on Turkey campaign, head to leanonturkey.co.uk
British summertime means strawberries, and for me, that means making the strawberry scented fairy cakes I remember baking with my Mum. If you’re surprised that this recipe contains sour (or ‘soured’) cream, you’ll soon realise that its fresh flavour is the perfect complement to sweet, summer strawberries. It also has the added benefit of making sponge cakes tender and light.
Lovely Yeo Valley have just added a soured cream to their range and gave me some to play with (check out the funky packaging) and it’s incredibly versatile. It’s fabulous for dips, sauces, baked potatoes and dolloping on a spicy chilli con carne, but it teams equally well with fruit: think hot apple pie with a mountain of cinnamon-laced, slightly tangy soured cream. It also whips quite well. You won’t get the volume of double cream, but the texture is lovely. After whipping, fold through a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar for an almost cheesecake-like flavour. Perfect with berries and crushed meringue for a different take on Eton Mess.
For the fairy cakes, you’ll need:
170g butter, softened
170g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
200g self raising flour
100g strawberries, mashed
4 tbsp sour cream
For the glacé icing:
5 tbsp icing sugar
Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add in the vanilla and lightly mix with a fork. Add it to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time, mixing well.
Stir in half the flour, then add in the mashed strawberries. Stir in the rest of the flour and finally the sour cream.
Bake at 180 degrees/gas 4 for 20 minutes until just golden. Allow to cool, then sift the icing sugar and add just enough water to make a thick paste.
Dribble onto the cakes and finish with a small strawberry.
Is it wrong, when I’m sitting here typing in a pair of shorts and an old t-shirt, the sun beating through the window onto my toes, that I’m already dreaming about the end of summer? It’s because we’ll be moving into our new house tomorrow. My mind has drifted even further, to cosy evenings and even past the first frost.
What’s that all about?
I think it started with this gorgeous beast on the Boden website which I think is really lovely. It’s a wax jacket like a Barbour (but with a slightly less hefty price tag). It made me think of crunching along a footpath on a brisk morning (whippet optional), or wrapping up warm to walk around the farmer’s market:
And of course I’ll be bringing my beloved Uggs out of their tissue wrapping. I’m an indoor-wearer only, but I love them so much. I’ve also got my eye on these nifty ones with added legwarmers – how snuggly are they?:
Then I’ll need gorgeous flickering candles while I’m snuggling. These cute little pine cone ones WILL be mine (from The Travelling Souk – one of my fave websites):
And loooook at John Lewis’ beautiful collection in collaboration with Jars Ceramistes – a gorgeous French brand that I’ve long admired. Imagine those jugs stuffed with the lovely Dahlias that flourish right through the autumn, and the bowl brimming with shiny aubergines…
Autumn starts for me when the butternut squash comes back in season. There’s something about a Sunday, with a nice roasted rib of beef, Yorkshire puddings and gorgeous roast chunks of butternut squash, all washed down with a big glass of red wine (I got some monster ones from T K Maxx that I just can’t wait to use), that makes the passing of summer so bearable… Foodie-wise, so much fabulous stuff happens at the end of August… berries and apples, pears, plums and damsons… the courgettes and tomatoes are still around and then there are fabulous mushrooms tempting you to leave the salad behind, heading for risottos, stews and soups, piles of mussels with scrummy white wine and herb scented broth to dip your bread into, baked potatoes and fruit pies…
I won’t mention the C word (FAR too early), but I’ll leave you with thoughts of Autumn until our move is complete. What does the end of summer mean to you?
I’ll see you very soon xx
- Become a #plasticsaction hero with Sir David Attenborough June 23, 2018
- The hush summer sale is here! June 21, 2018
- Visiting Walt Disney World with toddlers June 19, 2018
- Come shopping with me: swim and beachwear from M&S June 16, 2018
- Coconut chilli prawn noodles June 14, 2018