Stocking up for winter…. 25/11/19

Like gerbils, bears and all sensible animals we have been doing our best to pile on the pounds over the last few weeks to get us through the winter…. both physically and also by stocking Hattie up for our trip south…. she can hold a few more kilos on her frame!

Once again we have been on a bit of a gastronomic journey over the last few weeks, squeezing in another visit to Dishoom and the Hand and Flowers – the venison was particularly good – however, we have also tried three new places which were all exceptional.

My mum had been talking about a local pop up restaurant project which was run occasionally near Marlow in benefit of Syrian Refugees.  The chef – Imad Alarnab – was in fact a refugee himself and now that he has been lucky enough to set up a business, he is putting back into the community by running pop up events.  The food was delicious, the venue was great – it is a fantastic looking coffee shop by day so I need to pop back when we are back – and the atmosphere was lively – all in all a great evening for an excellent cause…. highly recommend it if you happen to be in the area at the right time, or fall upon one of his pop up restaurants or Falafel stalls in London as his Falafel are second to none!  Unfortunately as we were sharing a table with another couple – which incidentally was a lovely mix – we got distracted talking too much – no surprises then – and I only managed to take photos of the falafel and Babaganoush …..

Our second new restaurant was found as it was Keiths sisters’ birthday just over a week ago. Not that we needed an excuse but we took the opportunity to do an Anderson night out, meeting for cocktails and then on for a meal at the ‘Buen Asado’ in Reading …. lots of lovely Argentinian Steak!  We hadn’t been before but would definitely go back as the food and service were both excellent… no photos as I had obviously had one too many cocktails by that point …. I really am failing this week!!


We then did a little trip that we have been trying to do for a good three years now -finally making it to visit Shri Swaminarayan Mandriva – the Hindu Temple in Neasden, the largest Hindu temple outside India.  The detail in the marble both externally and internally was incredible and a visit is highly recommended if you are close by.  As you aren’t able to take photos inside I have copied the link to some of the most beautiful carvings so you can see more here.

We took both mums to have a look round the temple itself and then met my brother and a friend (who is Hindu) for lunch afterwards in the restaurant where we enjoyed lots of vegan delicacies. We opted for the buffet this time to try a selection of flavours, although the a la carte menu looked pretty good …. this was round one and included dhal, okra, pea fritters, paneer and naan – we were spoilt for choice and flavours and ended up contentedly full!


With it being our last week in the UK before we travelled south for a couple of months, we spent it catching up with friends and family and stocking up the cupboards with those weirdly important things you struggle to get – or really aren’t quite the same – whilst away…..marmite, decent bread flour, yeast, coconut cream, black beans, decent oats, bacon…. oh and a couple of jars of Waitrose mincemeat so I can make some mince pies !!

Not quite having eaten enough,  we went to my brothers for dinner on Thursday night and my sister in law had just taken delivery of the Dishoom cookbook….. I can confirm that we don’t need to go back to Dishoom again!  Although the recipes are pretty complex and involve a lot of spices (and time) the Chicken Ruby curry and Black Lentil Dhal that Farah cooked were spot on…. restaurant standard!  Very happy to have had that as our penultimate supper in the UK – a fantastic curry and we will happily help Farah test any recipes she wishes to try going forwards!…..  Although I am not sure that we are going to be making any of the recipes in the motorhome unfortunately….. that’s a lot of different spice to carry!

Fat and happy – I am not running or doing anything aerobic at the moment due to a foot injury going back nearly seven weeks now – we set off from what had become a rather muddy field on Saturday morning.  I love the farm but it is fair to say that I won’t miss the quantity of mud we have been bringing into the motorhome for the last couple of weeks!

The journey south has been pretty good so far considering the time of year with our first stop being at St Valery sur Somme as usual.  A beautiful little town with a great Aire,  lots of lovely walking and cycling – although we didn’t do any this time – close to a supermarket where I think we confused the checkout lady with our very unbalanced diet…..stocking up with a large caulifour, a couple of Camembert, goats cheese and some Pont d’eveque to go with 15 litres of red wine…. ahem!

Day two saw us travel to Vendome where we have also stayed before.  It is also a beautiful town with a free Aire just outside the campsite which is closed at this time of year.  This year we arrived on the first day of its Christmas market which was small but all artisanal and quite nice.  The SatNav had tried to direct us through the town center right next to the market but thankfully memory kicked in on the previous route we followed…. although we have since found a better route in and out so we won’t annoy any more locals than we need to going forwards!!

Although the rain threatened this morning we woke to almost darkness (at 7:45am….) and managed to get our exercise done, showered and breakfasted before it started to rain again which was quite nice.  The days journey was grey and wet for the most but without issue so we have to be happy.

We switched our stopover location from February to a little village called Cavignac where there is a Super U with a fuel station that we could fill up at and reverse out – large vehicles are a bit of an issue in France – and a nice little free Aire (without services) overlooking the vinyards  – GPS n 45.100399 w 0.39111.


The weather is supposed to be getting better as of tomorrow but we just had a downpour so we will keep an open mind to see how the next few days play out …. although we are feeling hopeful that we won’t hit any snow!



Catching up with ourselves…. 4/11/19

I can’t believe that it has been six weeks since my last blog…. not sure where the time has gone so apologies for the silence.  It has been an interesting time and although we are pretty used to sorting out the odd leak or a spot of damp in  the flats, we have now learnt how much damage water can do in a very short period of time.20190923_114324

What was a lovely two bedroom flat turned into an open plan room when we had to take it back to the bare basics as the water had penetrated all the floors and walls….. I am however quite excited about seeing the end product. We are now over half way through and are taking advantage of making some changes to the layout whilst rebuilding it from the ground upwards ….. the stressful bit is over and photos will follow next time.

Following on from last years sucess, September 27th brought with it a lot of cake, biscuits and tart for the Macmillan Coffee morning/day at my mums. Even more people came and stayed for lunch than last time which was nice – god forbid how much cake we would have had left if they hadn’t!  We managed to raise £430 in total which was fantastic, so thank you to everyone who contributed it means alot to us as I know it does to many of you.  Some of the deliciousness cooked up by the Anderson- Becker team are included below…. although my first attempt at the Coffee and Walnut Cake is definately open for improvement so let me know if you fancy being a guinea pig!

The dreaded on going saga of the batteries meant another trip down to Hailsham and this time we fell upon a beautiful place called Lachetts campsite which was in Highlands Ln, Lewes BN8 6HE (£15 without elec.)  It was an absolutely stunning location looking out over rolling fields and a little pub 5 minutes walk away… just a shame we were only there fore one night and didn’t have the time to explore more as there is apparently alot of beautiful walking in the area. It did go down to 3 degrees overnight…. proper chilly!


We are pretty much there though with the batteries and now the days are getting shorter and the sun appears to be spending less time warming the solar panels we are hopefully going to start to see the advantage of the lithium.  So far, as I write this all has gone well and despite the grey, wet days that we have had over the last couple of weeks we are managing to stay off grid but the next three weeks will be the true test.

As 50th birthdays are starting to become a popular thing in our world, we kicked off the season with a surprise girls weekend away for Jo’s birthday in a beautiful cottage in a little village outside Bourton on the water before heading back to Bath with Hattie the following weekend to celebrate it again with a wider group of friends. Good food, lovely wine and great company….. I just hope we don’t have to leave it another ten years before the beef wellington shows its presence again as it was yet again to die for…

It had to turn to food at some point so I best get the key new dishes out of the way …. I have been Inspired by James (Claire’s husband) who apparently has taken up pie making – and is pretty good at it.  I decided to take on winter and get into the mood with a Squash, spinach, goats cheese and blackbean pie.  It turns out to be a really easy winter warmer that you can cook in the motorhome.  The layers look pretty impressive as well as it tasting delicious… although perhaps I need to work on my presentation skills!

There has also been a fair quantity of soup making going on.  Trying to be seasonal, this one was Pumpkin soup with fresh focaccia – just what you need for halloween!


For our last trip out with Hattie before we head to Europe, we ventured down to just outside Chichester last weekend to meet up with a number of other Concorde owners at Concierge Camping…. probably the poshest campsite that we have ever been too!

The campsite was lovely with big fully serviced pitches, luxurious showers (which we didn’t end up using) and orange toilet paper…. yes really – anyone would have thought they were Dutch with the amount of Orange going on.

It was a shame as the weather on Saturday was pretty vile but it is fair to say that the company and the food and drink laid on for the weekend was second to none.  A second Macmillan morning was organised by two of the other Concorde owners which was a huge success raising just over £400 with an incredible amount of lovely cake. Three different types of Paella were served up on Friday night and a lovely hog roast on Saturday accompanied by cocktails – thankfully there was ample cake left for a quick alcohol soak up session on Sunday morning as I for one was struggling…..

Less than three weeks to go until we head off now…. or at least that is the plan as we still haven’t actually booked anything but we are officially on countdown!