Getting back to normality… 3/7/2021

I am not quite sure where the last couple of months have gone but after a bit of a quite period, keeping our heads down and getting some work done we have been back out and about doing a little bit of travelling….

There has been alot of work to do on property which has kept us busy…. it is strange though how you decide to completely renovate something and then think – why didn’t we do this when we were living here?? … admittedly, it was eight years ago…. but wow, that new kitchen looks amazing!!

Anyway, enough of boring day to day life and onto the enjoyment of food, drink and travelling… our three main passions!

Whilst at the farm and since things have started to open up again they have started a local farmers market in Holyport on Saturday mornings… very dangerous! To be fair, there are about 3 stalls that sell brownies, sourdough and other artesanial baked goods – all of which we can also do at home so we tend to avoid… but there are also stalls selling local beer, cider, gin, apple cider vinegar, organic refill bits including tea and nuts etc… and a very varied cheese stall… and on a whim we decided to buy some Vegan cheese. If you thought artisanial cheese was expensive, well think again…. vegan cheese is gold dust! To be fair, the one we bought was delicious. It was pretty much pure cashew nut with some spices thrown in but still, for roughly £50 a kilo its not something you’d buy very often and although good, I don’t think worth the money when there are so many other alternatives that we make. I do think I could make it myself though, I just need to dedicate a little time to it!

We have had a couple of trips away in the last couple of months, firstly an 8 day tour taking in Lutterworth, Stenson and Melton Mowbray back in May, where it rained so much for the first 4 days the campsite at Stenson actually had to cancel bookings and we had to park up on the road. It did clear up though and the last 4 days in Melton Mowbray were a lot dryer… albeit that the walking was still very soggy under foot.

We had stopped in Lutterworth to catch up with Gail and the kids, Stenson to see Kevin and Petra on their lovely narrow boat and then finally Melton Mowbray was a reckie with Pete and Liz as we had booked the Eye Kettleby Lakes Campsite for the Concorde Meet last November which was cancelled due to Covid…. all in all quite a full on week for us bearing in mind we hadn’t really seen anyone for months!! It was lovely to see everyone though and lots of lovely food was eaten and good wine drank…. so we shouldn’t really complain. It also enabled us to get into the habit and start doing our COVID rapid tests to ensure that we weren’t passing anything on.

Following on from a few weeks back at the farm, we then set off down to Bath for ten nights – once again a tale of two halves, the first half of the week was absolutely glorious weather and the second a little wet and grey. Nothing stopped us though and we still managed to catch up with everyone we had planned to see – just a couple of evenings that needed to be catered for inside rather than out… but it all worked.

Whilst making the most of our time in Bath we took a quick trip over to Bristol to sample a little bistro that we had seen on ‘Remarkable Places to Eat’ called ‘Little French’. It was our first trip on public transport for nearly two years – having been abroad over the winter 2019/20 and not arriving back in the UK until the end of May 2020 during lockdown… very odd but it was a little too far to walk…. even for us! The food was exceptional – as was the wine – and we were really lucky to have been able to get a table, definately one to visit again in the winter so we can go full out for the Cote du boeuf and Angolot (French cheesy mashed potato that you cut with scissors…. its amazing… or at least it was when we had it in Central Massif in France!!)

It was lovely to have ten days to catch up with everyone as it definately felt more relaxed than the four nights we normally plan in Bath… although it just meant that we saw more people and a few people twice – just not enough time in the day!

As part of our weird and wonderful way of living and love of food we have been talking about how we could cook if we went gas free in the motorhome. We had come accross the Remoska Tria which is a large casserole dish that you can use on a hob (both induction or gas), as a soft pressure cooker, or by plugging into the electricity – as an oven. It didn’t take much convincing, we popped into Lakeland whilst in Bath and came home with a rather large box …..

and haven’t stopped using it since – it’s very versitile and although we won’t be able to use it off grid all year round, it is fairly low energy therefore during the summer months – even on grey days – we should be able to use it the majority of the time.

So far, we have baked bread and rolls, baked sweet potatoes, cooked up black beans, butter beans and chickpeas from dry, made a biryiani, baked jamaican patties, a pie, vegan chilli, buffalo cauliflower wings and falafels…. all with great success.

Apart from just using the Remoska Tria to make some of our ‘known’ recipes we have tried out a few new dishes…. although to be fair not quite so many as normal

Tahini, Date and Oat Cookies – really tasty little bites full of natural sweetness and energy
Fennel and Bean Casserole – hearty and full of flavour but really quick and easy
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings – quick and easy tasty one pot dish

It’s been a busy few weeks of entertaining and it has been great to catch up with so many people and naturally share some lovely food…. we even managed to get back to Sindhu this week with some close friends and enjoy a seven course taster and pairing menu – a true treat, still can’t recommend it highly enough. This was the first time that we had opted for the wine pairing at Sindhu and were introduced to two different varieties of Indian wine – both light and fresh and very impressive, I do think – and hope – that we will be seeing more indian wine on the market going forwards.

Celebrating Spring – 24/4/2021

Not only is the sun making quite an impressive appearance, the birds are making the most of the light mornings to wake us up and the flowers have been incredibly beautiful … I don’t think I ever appreciated how many different varieties of daffodil – or at least what I, the complete novice and most definately not a botanist would call a daffodil – there are.

As most would expect we have been continuing our ‘normal’ life of exercise in the morning, getting out and walking as much as possible and experimenting a bit whilst cooking up what we think are pretty tasty plant based food (mostly tasty at least!!). Recently we have even managed to abandon the wellies – I’d like to say long may it last, although fear that the farm really needs some rain to get some crop grown this year.

We had been doing a little bit of a research project which was taking up a fair bit of our time as implied in my last blog. We were seriously contemplating the move across to a narrow boat from the motorhome but for those who were aware, I can confirm that we have now parked the idea – never say never as we both love the idea but we just aren’t ready for the change yet as we love our life and freedom to travel in the motorhome too much to give it up yet.

….. so maybe I will now get back to doing a little bit more sketching – it is coming along, I just haven’t done very much recently as there has been quite a lot going on. I have decided that to incentivise myself I should say my gin & tonic time is my sketch time… i.e. I can’t have a gin & tonic unless I sketch – alas I have a lovely gin & tonic in front of me that is almost finished and I am still on the computer!!. I have one to share though…. my last sketch of the boxing hares isn’t too bad, if I don’t say so myself… still lots too learn about shading though!

Until this week, there had been little movement for us apart from a quick trip out for a bit of refueling with LPG as we figured that the days are longer and there is so much sunshine we should be making the most of the electricity we are producing instead of sucking it off of the grid!!

We have expanded our social interaction slightly further than the two mums and have had two garden catch ups…. we were slightly luckier with the weather with my brother and family as the sun was shining but unfortunately visiting Keiths’ sister was definately a slightly breezier experience…albeit great to see everyone… and it was dry!!

And last Monday we headed down to the New Forest for three nights in search of wild animals and lovely walking – of which we found both!

We found a lovely, basic CL which is just towards the bottom of the M27 called Amberwood (£10 per night no electric) just inside the New Forest cattle grids. It was home from home as it was just a simple field with calves in the adjacent field… although these calves had very sharp horns – thankfully we didn’t need to go into the field to empty the waste!!

It was a lovely little site with its own small fishing lake and very friendly owners. We had two really good days walking … although had to do a little bit of errr… trespassing due to Pepper Pig – there was a footpath on the map… honest! Thankfully all uneventful but it would have been another 4 or 5 miles if we had had to backtrack by that point…

A lovely short break but amazing to see the different muscles that ached after walking and running with slightly more undulating hills… just highlights how flat the area is where we are in Berkshire that we have got used to over the last year!

Back to the food – as always appears to be the way in our lives – we have tried a few new additions to our box of tricks as follows:-

Falafels – I have been on a quest to find the best baked falafel and I think I have finally found two recipes that I really like…. and may actually combine going forwards. The Indian spiced falafels have an amazing flavour but the Baked Falafel appear to cook really well… something to do with not cooking the chickpeas first!
Aubergine dahl with flatbreads – the most amazingly comforting curry that I could eat every night!
Banana Crepes – A great pancake receipe not using any egg to bind
Indian Savoury Oats – Although it may seem odd for breakfast – amazingly full of flavour and very tasty
Shakshuka – great change for breakfast or lunch at the weekend
Moussaka – A great vegan version. I had been a little unsure but it is really hearty and full of flavour

One Year on… 13/03/2021

Who’d have thought that we were one year on from ‘That‘ weekend…the one when we had flown back to the UK to celebrate Keiths’ 50th birthday with family whilst all was looking pretty peachy before take off – well, it is all relative, we thought we would have a couple of weeks before lockdown took hold – yet by the time we arrived in the UK, Spain announced that it was shutting its borders…. where has the time gone?

We have swapped walking round the motorhome in the Aire in Spain for walking round our field in Holyport….and life is good! We have our health, we are happy and we are surrounded by the natural beauty of the British counrtyside … which is second to none. It is so refreshing to wake up each morning and hear the birds sing and no matter whether the sun is shining or the snow is falling – you can’t deny that we are lucky to live in such a beautiful country… can you tell that we don’t miss Spain!

Where has that year gone though… every time I think about what we are doing or what we have done it is time for a gin and tonic and its the weekend again…. ok, to be fair, I do have a couple of gin tonics during the week too so I possibly shouldn’t base timescales on my alcohol consumption!

The days are getting longer, the weather is definately brightening up and the flowers are certainly starting to spread out in the fields and gardens…. although I am a bit disappointed as we don’t appear to have any wild garlic growing near us!

We haven’t been anywhere though, just lots of walking (well…. once a day) in the beautiful Berkshire countryside, generally along the river during the week when there are less people and then across the fields and polo countryside over the weekend.. but both routes are equally beautiful and tranquil really, we are very lucky.

After the snow in my last blog I can’t say that the weather has warmed up hugely but it appears to go in cycles…. a couple of weeks of very cold, dry weather, then a week of wetter, warmer weather…. not sure which is better but we have learnt that we need to dry the door seal on the colder drier nights after waking to it being frozen shut one night, taking a little while for us to ease it open again!! One of the issues when you only have one door in and out!!

Although it isn’t much of an update, I thought it was about time I did a blog to let you know that we are still here…in our little field and give you a few new photos and recipes……

We have still enjoy our Oddbox, although fear that we are coming to the end of ‘Sprout’ season!! In the last 6 weeks we have celebrated my mums birthday…. mexican style as well as tried out a handful of new recipes as follows:-

And although I haven’t been doing a huge amount of sketching at the moment – there is a lot of research going on (more on that next time) – I am getting more confident with the flowers… just don’t ask about the attempt at the hare!!

Happy New Year….. snow and all – 24/01/2021

This morning brought us our first day of proper snow of 2021… so I thought I would have a little walk round our field and share some photos with you. Anyone would have thought I had taken them in black and white, but no – these are filter free and un-adjusted… just beautiful with the contrast and light.

We have been lucky so far this winter as althought it has been cold, we have only had a handful of days when it has been really wet which has made us change plans or restricted our outdoor morning exercise routine…. this morning though was a rest day…. although the next few mornings are going to be interesting!

Not much has changed since my last blog as we have been in national lockdown – not a huge change to our plans apart from not being able to see as much of the family and friends as we had hoped. Christmas was celebrated with a walk in the morning with Keith’s mum, Liz and Molly the golden doodle, then we headed over to my mums, Andy, to do another dog walk with Dudley and cook the turkey for dinner. The weather was cold but crisp and dry – exactly what you want to blow the cobwebs away and work up an appetitie before a good meal …. and that it was – Turkey with all the trimmings and a home made Christmas pud – courtesy of Keiths sister, Shaz – with custard for dessert… perfect! Even a bit of turkey for left over sandwiches and a pie!

Although we aren’t going anywhere at the moment my passport was due to expire in June 2021 which meant with the new rules, come January 1st – we couldn’t travel, even if we wanted to do. I had been putting the renewal off simply because they said they were inundated with requests and that unless it was urgent, you shouldn’t apply. However, when I finally submitted it mid-December, I received my lovely new blue passport back within 7 days… at least I can travel abroad now when we are ready to do so!…. just before anyone says it – yes, I like the blue but I would still prefer to be in Europe…

I have taken up a new hobby – something I have been thinking of doing for a while but never really got round to it with the ‘busy’ lives that we have! So now in addition to food and wine experimentation and appreciation, outdoorsy stuff and photography…. I sketch! Not very well at the moment but I am trying to teach myself.

Apparently you should start with circles, then move onto simple shapes – so that is roughly where I am, although I have jumped a few stages and moved on to sunflowers and tulips… I think I have a long way to go but I hadn’t ever intended to draw ‘real things’ as they can be recognised…. I was going to be a little more abstract!! Watch this space and I’ll share how I get on.

And finally, as always we have been experimenting with more cooking…. and have even cracked the BBQ out to do some sourdough pizzas – who said you need to be in the sunshine to enjoy outdoor cooking?

  • Turkey and squash pie with sprouts – no recipe …. just chucked in all the leftovers with a lovely bechamel sauce and it was a delicious way to enjoy the turkey for a bit longer
  • Parsnip and porcini pie – with a lovely sweet potato topping – really tasty and flavoursom
  • Moroccan stew – nice and quick and full of flavour
  • Vegan Vindaloo / Madras – proper hot…. Keith even got hiccups and we cut the curry powder in the original recipe by half …. hence the downgrade to madras but it isn’t for the faint hearted!!
  • Vegan Brussel Sprout and Ricotta Ravioli – really easy but does take time to make the pasta from scratch. Well worthwhile though – so tasty.

Keep smiling and enjoying the outdoor space as and when you can!

Living with lockdown and making the most of it….. 20/12/2020

No idea where the last month has gone as one thing is for sure, apart from going out to fill up with LPG Hattie hasn’t moved much. I have tried to land her in a slightly different spot each time I have got her back into the field … so far successfully roughly a foot further over, trying to swing her backside out a bit more to get an extra few minutes out of those solar panels on these short, sun deficient days.

We have been doing well though, despite using a fair bit of gas for the heating as the temperature has dropped to zero a few nights and has hovered in the low single digits, we have managed to make it off the field when we needed to and have even borrowed a generator from our ‘field-mates’ to try it out a couple of times. The additional solar panel which is portable has been great, although even with it – which gives us 530 watts of solar in total – over the past month we have had a few of days where we have only managed to suck up a total of 60 watts….. with the worst day so far being only 40 watts. They are few and far between but it just shows how difficult it is to stay completely off grid in the UK at this time of year… and we aren’t huge electricity users.

I think we have pretty much adapted our wardrobe now to reflect the British winter…. lots of layers, new hats and gloves – both for exercise as well as during the day when we are out and about. The wellies have been a godsend, as have the exercise matts – just means that we can carry on doing what we want to do, when we want to do it without having to think about it – jumping in big, muddy puddles has become my new sport!

We have been walking mostly locally and I have fallen even more in love with trees and the change at this time of year and have been taking a few more photos as we have been wandering through the beautiful Berkshire countryside.

I also managed to finally visit Clivedon with my mum, somewhere I have wanted to go to for ages but just hadn’t got round to visiting it. Unfortunately it wasn’t a clear day so the photos aren’t as good as I would have hoped, but it was clear to see what a beautiful place it is and I will plan to go back at some point when it is a little more accessible as currently, like most National Trust gardens, they are booked up a fair bit ahead of time as they are restricting numbers.

With huge pressure on the hospitality industry we felt that we needed to get out and try and support our local pubs and restaurants and opted for a sneaky trip back to Sindhu in Marlow as their Christmas menu looked really interesting. It delivered on all levels as always, the dishes were a wonderful combination of flavours, using traditional seasonal products like Venison and Turkey with a Southern Indian twist. The athmosphere was just right and the service – impeccable. We left happily full of deliciousness to waddle along the burst banks of the Thames to help the food go down.

As always we have playing around in the kitchen – but this month we have introduced a new factor… The Oddbox. Well, we aren’t going very far at the moment so we thought we would try and find a farm to get seasonal fruit and vegetables from but then had oddbox recommended to us by my mum. Oddbox is an organisation that tries to reduce waste, either being fruit or veg that are the wrong size or shape, or simply surplus to requirements and the farm has to dispose of them before they even get to the supermarket. Despite the fact that we are only two people, we opted for a large veg box the first week and were so impressed we decided to add the fruit from then on.

We are now just about to get our third box and so far, each week the contents are mostly different. You get to hear what produce you are ‘rescue-ing’ a few days ahead of delivery so can still plan ahead…. a large box is a fair amount of fruit and veg for 2 people but, as you know we do eat our weight in food!

We have also had a bit of a play with pastry…. well, someone challenged me as we eat mostly vegan but our pastry used butter…. so, I have been playing with Trex. It started with one pie with Trex, the next with butter, then for the mincepies too… but as we weren’t sure that we could ensure the controls were consistent between pies, I ended up doing half the pastry with Trex and the other with butter on the same pie…. it made us smile anyway!

The final outcome was that they were pretty much of a muchness. Both were light and flakey and gave a good crust, unfortunately I struggle to get my head round eating Palm oil and we aren’t going to keep both in the fridge as we just don’t have the space – so for now, we are still sticking to butter… but if we were vegan, wouldn’t have an issue with switching as the flavour and flakiness is pretty comparible.

This months new recipes / succesful experiments have been the following:-

As we are now in Tier 4 there isn’t any planned movement for the foreseable future so for now we wish you all a very merry Christmas (and Channukah, although it has now finished) and of course a happy and healthy new year. Lets hope 2021 brings Covid vaccines, good health and happiness.

Autumnal bliss – making the most of lockdown – 18/11/2020

It may be cold …. but you can’t deny that it is beautiful when there are clear blue skies and just a touch of frost on the grass …. makes the squidyness worth it on the other days I guess!

We were lucky enough to do one final trip out at the end of October just before lockdown hit and make the most of a couple of nights at Hurley Campsite again. We had planned to go to the Hand and Flowers with Jo, Mike and Ella but with all the lockdown noise we decided that it was best to postpone although we had already paid for the campsite so thought we shouldn’t waste it!

Our field at the farm was saturated and we had thought that we may need some help getting off as another motorhome was tractored off a couple of days before. Thankfully with a little bit of welly, good traction control and naturally good driving, we escaped without causing too much damage to the field although we were concerned about coming back.

The campsite at Hurley was fairly empty and as we knew that the likliehood would be that the field would be pretty wet when we booked it back in September, we had booked an all singing, all dancing RV pitch… large, easy access and most importantly – hard standing…. just as well considering the torrential rain that fell that afternoon – there is a reason why the site shuts at the end October – it is only a stones throw from the river Thames!

We were fine though and managed to get a couple of lovely walks in, bumping into the television crew for Midsummers Murders who were filming in Hurley Village and taking advantage of a sneaky 7 course tasting menu at Sindhu – Atul Kotchars restaurant at the Compleat Angler in Marlow – delicious!

The meal was excellent and the setting is absolutely stunning looking out over the weir – well in normal times it would be a weir but at the moment it is a slight bump in the river as the levels as so high. The heavens opened whilst we were eating but thankfully it dried off for our walk back to the campsite, enabling the food to go down.

We only planned to stay at Hurley for the couple of nights to meet up with Jo and Mike so on the Thursday we were due to go back to our squidgy field. Uncertain of our ability to get out again we called the farm and offered to go elsewhere for a week as we were due to head off up to Melton Mowbray the following week, however they persuaded us to come back with the promise of a discussion around hard standing!

Then lockdown hit…. Melton Mowbray was cancelled, although we will book ourselves back in again hopefully in the new year as the campsites (and other British businesses) need our support more than ever.

Life isn’t too different for us really apart from not being to meet family and friends but we can still get out and walk, run and enjoy the beautiful autumnal colours and the amazing funghi that are popping up all over the place.

We are embracing the UK weather and have invested in new exercise matts that enable us to continue to do our HIIT training the wet field or inside and are suffiently grippy (obviously we wouldn’t be outside if it is pouring it down) and most importantly…. wellies! Not just any wellies but Mud Boots…. so warm and comfy – even I haven’t had any blisters!

We managed to get a few people over before lockdown for meals which was good and naturally, we have been playing with more new recipes …. including a new creation ‘pumpkin gingernut pots’ which I did for halloween – thankfully we had a back up chocolate brownie for Steve!!

It is fair to say that we have been making a fair few pies recently…. very autumnal! New recipes since my last blog are as follows:-
Steak and Kidney Pie – no steak and the only kidney were beans but it was pretty tasty and full of flavour
Chocolate Chilli Pie – a bit like having a vegan chilli in a pie, quite rich and full of flavour
Pumpkin Gingernut Pots – a concuction involving a gingernut base with a pumpkin pie on top. If you don’t like egg custard tarts its not for you but otherwise pretty tasty!
Mushroom and Parsnip Rosti – Deliciously flavoursom but may be an overdose on fibre for some!
Mushroom, Squash and Chestnut Pie – A lovely well balanced pie full of flavour as it has a bit of goats cheese and apricots as well
Sweet Mincemeat – My first attempt at making it but it tasted good when it went into the jars… we need the pie test though!
Creamy Brocolli Pie – light and creamy mix, really tasty.
Fishless Pie – why it is called this, I don’t know but a lovely mix of mushrooms, leak, spinach and seaweed.
Cannelini and Beetroot Pate – a really nice, flavoursom pate to go in sandwiches or to just have as a dip

So we plan to stay put for now … well we can’t move far and getting out the field is pretty difficult. We are hopefull that they will start on the hard standing soon but we have another 9 days or so until we have to get out to refill the gas so we aren’t in a hurry (and they can’t build it under us!!)
We have had an additional solar panel fitted which we can move around to make the most of the sun – all we need is a bit more of it it!

Chasing the rainbows… 20th October 2020

Leaving our enormous campsite on the cliff edge near Scarborough we drove another 30 minutes further south towards Bridlington where we had booked ourselves into a little CS in Flamborough (Beacon House CS £15 per night) – quite a change from the last few campsites!

After settling in and a bit of lunch we headed out along the coast to Flamborough Head being blown most of the way. It was a lovely walk – although a little fresh – taking in the views out to sea as well as the farmland around us. It was nice to see both the current and original lighthouse …. the latter is about 500m inland and a little crumbly but still standing proud and beautiful!

Despite it raining overnight we set off into Bridlington…. or ’Brid’ as they say locally on Sunday, again along the coastal path. Slightly soggy under foot but equally as exposed and ‘fresh’! The outlook wasn’t quite as beautiful as Bridlington isn’t what you’d call an attractive town but the beaches go on for miles.

It was really busy in along the promenade but we managed to keep a good distance and once we got to the South Beach it was pretty open and quiet and you could walk for miles and miles. Amazingly we found a spot to sit and eat our sandwiches as the clouds closed in on us… fair to say that it was a quick pit stop, although the sun poked its head back out again as soon as we started walking back. We found a lovely quiet little coffee shop in the back streets and warmed up before heading home and getting absolutely soaked en route!

After a quick run in the morning we hit the road again and headed to Beverley, just north of Hull (Willow Lane CS £15 a night inc.) Our last stop before heading back home as things are heating up in the news re lockdown and Covid levels in the North East. We were only in Beverley for a couple of nights and it was a little moist to say the least but what a lovely place. Lots of lovely looking deli’s and coffee shops and alot of open countryside to walk and cycle in… albeit a little flat!

As you can imagine there has been a lot of home cooking going on – we do like our food, just in case you had forgotten and we have been enjoying revisiting a few dishes we haven’t had in a while. The most recent sucessful experiments are as follows:-

We got back to our little farm last Wednesday and are now just going to take things as they come over the next few months. We have a few trips away planned but will wait and see how things pan out. We are lucky to have lots of lovely countryside to walk in and be self sufficent apart from needing to pop out to fill up with gas occasionaly. So despite it being a little colder and wetter, we will survive… and we have some new additions to the farm to keep us amused – sheep!

The years adventures have been a bit all over the place as you can see on the map below – it’ll be interesting to see what the next twelve months look like!

It’s not all grim up North…9th Oct 2020

After a lovely fresh morning run through the wind farms just outside Lutterworth we showered, breakfasted, packed up and headed up to SAP in Doncaster where we were booked in to get our jacks and air suspension serviced on the Tuesday morning. We arrived just after lunch and as they were crazy busy, they actually decided to squeeze us in on Monday afternoon instead of waiting until Tuesday. Happy, we left them the keys and headed off to the supermarket to do some shopping and only when we were back chatting to one of the guys about adding another LPG tank did we think about trying to extend our booking up in Harrogate for an extra night as there are nicer places to stay overnight than an industrial estate!

Tania at The Cud Life (£20 a night inc. Elec) was quick to respond so at 5pm we were on the road again and we finally parked up just as it was starting to rain and get dark – hadn’t thought about the evenings closing in so early but I guess we are in Autumn now!

We woke to blue skies and beautiful sunshine so having seen the forecast for the next week, decided to get some washing done before we headed into Harrogate to explore… boring stuff, but it has to be done.

Harrogate is a beautiful city with lots of green spaces, it reminds me of a large Clifton in Bristol – elegant and refined, yet a bit quirky. We found some lovely deli’s, glared through the window at Aunt Betty’s tea rooms – I am sure there are better ones – and ate our sandwiches on a park bench taking in a bit of autumn sun after stopping for a coffee. It was lovely to see the huge quantities of people, both young and old, eating ice creams in the Valley Gardens whilst sitting on benches or walking around….definately a lovely feel to the place…when the sun is shining at least!

Wednesday had been forecast for rain but we managed to get a run (me) and exercise (Keith) in as well as a lovely walk to Ripley before lunch and the heavens opening…. always a bonus but we had loads of work to catch up on anyway so can’t really complain I guess!

Ripley is a strange little village with only 221 habitants. Everything revolves around the castle which, along with the pub, store and who knows what else is owned by Sir Thomas Ingiliby – it is an immaculate village and apparently in the top 20 places to live in England… if you could afford it! Lovely to visit though and beautiful to see how well kept it is… they even have a gin distillery, although I am over my quota at the moment as I already have two in the motorhome ….

On Thursday the rain cleared and we ventured over to Knaresborough – slightly further but a lovely walk all the same through the Yorkshire countryside with beautiful views out over the rolling hills. Knaresborough is quite a bit smaller than Harrogate and not quite as plush or ‘village-y’ but pretty all the same, especially the parks and river. It is the home of Mother Shiptons Cave – Mother Shipton being the prophetess who apparently spoke of the Great Fire of London and the Plague before they actually happened – among other prophesies. It is however also apparently famous for its bed race…. yep, teams run 2.4 miles around the town and into the river in fancy dress costume once a year…. been going since 1966 – not a bad claim to fame! In addition to the above however, the remains of a castle look out over River Nidd and there is a beautiful viaduct as well.

Finally having decided what we were going to do after Harrogate – nothing like planning ahead – we did a shop at the farm for fruit and veg before heading into Waitrose for the rest and hitting the road, direction Whitby…

We had booked ourselves into the York House Hotel and Caravan Park (£17 a night) which is about 3 miles outside Whitby and 2 miles from Robin Hood Bay, just off the Cinder trail. It would not be somewhere we would have chosen normally as it is quite a large site, mostly made up of static homes but we got a pitch right at the top, from which, on a clear day you could see the sea… it was also very quiet and close to a really good pub!

We had booked four nights to explore the area a bit more whilst also acknowledging the fact that it was going to be pretty grim on Saturday so decided to right it off as a pub day. We actually got lucky and managed to walk over to Robin Hood Bay on Saturday morning whilst we could actually still see more than 10m in front of us – the way back was something else but at least we got a taste of what was there. Our hearts went out for the runners who were doing a 55 mile ultra though as by about 11:30am visibility was really poor.

Lunch was amazing, although it lacked an open fire. We had booked into The Hare and Hounds in Hawsker as the reviews were good and we both fancied some local fish and chips – well apparently whilst in Whitby … however contraversially, Keith went for pie… possibly one of the best pies he has had apparently – along with the whole meal. I don’t think I have had fish that good for a long time either.

Needless to say we needed to walk the meal off in the rain in the afternoon.

The sun came out on Sunday and after a rather hilly and puddly run we set off into Whitby along the Cinder trail to explore a bit further.

Whitby is a beautiful fishing town with an Abbey up on the hill looking down over it. It has lots of cobbled streets and due to its setting – and possibly its fame for fish and chips – it is pretty touristy. We were lucky as it was a beautiful – albeit fresh – day, although that meant that it was busy.

We stopped and had a coffee, ate our sandwiches looking out onto the estuary and explored a bit more before as the clouds came in, heading back to the motorhome, arriving just before the heavens opened again.

Obviously Robin Hood Bay had no desire for us to visit it whilst dry as on Monday the clouds came in again and although we had a lovely walk we still don’t have any photos to show of the real beauty that it held.

A quick hop down the coast on Tuesday – we are just happy to be able to be close to the sea again – and we arrived at our next stop, Crowsnest Campsite (£30 a night inc.) which is half way between Scarborough and Filey. I had only booked the previous day but when we arrived no-one was around apart from a groundsman who told us to just go park up and check in later as everyone was at a meeting. I had cheakily asked for sea views on my booking form and as the spot was free we parked up on the best possible pitch…. unbeknown to us it had been allocated to us – happy days!

The campsite is another that is majority static homes but thankfully they kept the seaview pitches for us nomads – I can’t say that the views were like the above for the whole stay but we did at least get a good few hours of sunshine … just enough to get our washing done – although we are grateful that none of it blew away as it was forceful to say the least!

We ventured south on the coastal path both on Tuesday, just for a short walk to Filey Brigg (2 hours round trip) and Wednesday – washing day – into Filey itself. Filey is a small seaside town with a beautiful long beach – a little like Woolacombe in Devon – with an excellent beach, lots of cafes, restaurants and promenade but the town itself is a little run down unfortunately…. all the same a lovely place to eat fish and chips and ice cream!

It started to rain and blow a hooley on Wednesday night and was still at it on Thursday morning. I said I’d go for a run and leave Keith to do exercise inside but that if I wasn’t back in an hour to send out the search parties… it sounded that bad from inside the motorhome. When I actually got out it was fine but the last 900m from the road back up to the motorhome – yes, I do mean UP – I was pretty much running on the spot… I think that the people in the cars that passed me by must have thought I was absolutely nuts… ok, fair point! Despite the rain clearing we stayed local on Thursday, only venturing to the local farm shop and cafe and then North to Cayton Bay on the coastal path so as not to get too wet.

With the winds still fairly high and grey clouds we bit the bullet this morning and headed into Scarborough along the coastal path. Keith hadn’t ever been before and I think I was here with my parents when I was really young but have very few memories – it’s a well maintained, pretty seaside town.. I just had to try and capture the victorian picturesqueness…. I did say try!

Possible because we were here mid-week, possibly because it’s larger than Whitby, but it had a very different feeling to it. Apart from the sea front itself which is full of rock shops, arcades and fish and chips – the espanade and above is elegant and well kept, worth a visit if you are close by.

and despite the heavens opening on us on the way home we found our little pot of gold…. unfortunately Keith didn’t fancy swimming out to get it though… not sure why??

Only a couple of new recipes this week I am afraid … well we have to eat some of the other delicious ones occassionally too…

Traditional Goan Korma – Vegan – another delicious curry which has loads of flavour but not too much spice

Lentil Ratatouille – not my normal ratatouille, but very good all the same.

Foraging and exploring the beautiful British countryside…. 27/9/20

We had been lying low, buying a few presents for Hattie – lots of cleaning products, storm straps, a new kettle – I broke the last one – a new loo – including a ‘refresher kit’ and most importantly, the most amazing flyswat. I have to be honest when we first took delivery I thought that the animal protection were going to be on us like a lead balloon – I have never seen or heard anything that sounds so brutal…. although to be fair it is quick! 4000 volts of electricity passing through a little flies body and it is fair to say that it doesn’t know much about it…. my favourite purchase of the year so far!!

To help contain our excitement – we live sheltered lives – we took a short trip over to see Liz and Pete who very kindly invited us (and Hattie) to stay on their driveway in a beautiful little village in Northamptonshire. What a lovely part of the country, so close to everything, yet beautifully tranquil. Whilst visiting, we were taken to visit Castle Ashby’s gardens which were beautiful and for the first time, saw real Meerkats …. and not just the ones on the ‘Go Compare’ advert. Yes, I know that is a very sad fact to admit but wierdly, neither Keith nor I had ever seen one before…. they are very cute!

It was a lovely couple of days, enabling us to have a good catch up and see their garden, along with the unused swimming pool before the reforms take place….. looking forward to seeing the new veg garden and raised beds!

As the pool started to be taken apart, we headed back to Holyport for a few days to catch up with the family before heading off again back down to Bath. We were last in Bath right at the beginning of the summer holidays and then this time, back the first week the kids were back at school – it has changed a lot over the six week period! So many more people out and about, shopping, eating and drinking and just generally walking or cycling… confidence is definately up.

As always, it was good to catch up with everyone and get some walking in and this time we even asked the Bath Marina Campsite whether we could possibly stay longer term over the winter… just to give us some options should we want to.

Leaving Bath we headed South again, this time to Taunton to have Hattie’s alarm and immobiliser switched over. For a while we have been looking at the Vanbitz Growler – which is the loudest alarm legally possible I think, both inside and out of the van – along with a complete engine immobiliser which not only stops anyone from starting the vehicle if it is turned on but also, should someone manage to drive off with it whilst the immobiliser is off, enable you to engage the immobiliser the next time they turn the engine off. Prevention is the best option – Hattie is our home after all and I can assure you that you wouldn’t want to be inside her when the alarm goes off now!

Once the works were complete we tried to get a campsite near Devizes for a couple of nights as we weren’t booked into the Swiss Farm at Henley until Friday but everywhere we tried – small and large – were fully booked, the world and his dog is on holiday taking advantage of the beautiful British countryside!

We therefore we ended up coming almost all the way back to Henley and stopping at Hurley Riverside Park, where we came two years ago. It’s a lovely Campsite (£24 per night fully serviced pitch) right on the river bank roughly 4 miles walk into Marlow along the river and 6 miles to Henley. Needless to say that we still haven’t made the full distance to Henley as its just that little bit too far to go there and back in an afternoon! We did however walk into Marlow and both went for a lovely morning run into Marlow too – albeit on different days…. you just have to be careful of the Swans who are incredibly territorial, especially when they have their signets with them.

After a couple of nights in Hurley we had a very short hop to Henley, where we had booked ourselves in for three nights way back in February when we had planned Steve and Sharons 30th wedding anniversary present… well after 30 years, we took the risk and thought they wouldn’t mind us tagging along! To be fair they were staying in a bed and breakfast…. we wouldn’t inflict the motorhome on them, I think that may have been taking it a step too far!

We were amazingly lucky with the weather as it was an absolute corker – we had a couple of lovely walks along the river, some drinks and then dinner at Anthony Worrall Thompson’s Greyhound Pub and Restaurant. They describe it as AWT’s playground and I can kind of understand that as it had interesting and unusual artefacts hanging from the beams and walls along with giant teddy bears…. definitely a bit unusual but very nice at the same time. The place was spacious, the gardens were beautiful from what we saw and the service and food was second to none. The only criticism is that it is in the middle of nowhere – a 15 minute taxi ride from Henley or a T-total driver is required. We will be back though hopefully as it was definitely worth repeating. All in all a lovely weekend to finish off a couple of weeks away.

As it has been quite a while since the last blog – I have been distracted with worky-type stuff – not on really – but also really struggling with the new WordPress editor which has set me back a good two to three weeks in publishing this.

We have even set off again on another trip – which wasn’t my intention before publishing the blog but what can one do if you can’t get the tools to work! We set off on Thursday, heading up to just ourside a little town called Stone in Staffordshire where we had booked into a CL at the back of The Greyhound Inn (£7.50 a night no elec). Arriving mid afternoon, the sun was shining and we were welcomed by the four beautiful donkeys, a few ducks and a really large pig – oh, and the staff at the pub were lovely too!!

Unfortunately, we were also welcomed by a rather steeper ascent into the carpark than we expected. If we had thought it would have been quite so bad we would have raised the suspension but as they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing…. so we now have a slightly grazed bottom that we need to get fixed.

We were meeting Kevin and Petra (and Molly, the dog) who were parked up with their barge in the Marina a couple of miles up the road and grazed bottoms aside, we had a lovely couple of days. We ate in the Greyhound the first night and the food, beer and ambience was great… all the classics including bread and butter pudding and pecan pie – although I went a bit off piste for dessert with a rather nice licorice ice cream to go with scoops of an equally delicious rum and raison and vanilla…just to cleanse the palate!

After a cold night – yes, the heating has now officially been turned on – I set off on a run – annoying the hell out of the local ducks who didn’t want to be disturbed at what was obviously an ungodly hour (not)- and Keith did his exercise in the pub car park before Kevin and Petra came and picked us up for a trip to Trentham Gardens where there was a craft fayre and and exceptional selection of fairy sculptures which were absolutely amazing.

We then tried to find lunch in a local pub which was closed so weirdly ended up in Neil Morrisey’s pub which was actually excellent and not over priced. We only wanted a sandwich but Keith got swayed by fish and chips and Kevin by a Burger…. I’d like to say Petra and I were sensible but we still probably ate too much considering what we were cooking later… heho!

Dinner was in fact on the boat, Petra had fancied trying the Butter Chicken that I made a while back so Keith and I rustled it up on the barge along with some nan, rice and pickles and just to finish off the lovely day Petra had made a beautiful tarte with creme pate and fruit – we were truly spoilt.

We moved on again on Saturday, taking extra care not to scrape our bottom again on the way out of the car park, doubling back on ourselves to get back to Lutterworth for a couple of days to meet up with Gail and the kids. We have stayed at the CL (Orchard Farm, £14 a night inc.) before and it is lovely and tranquil – this time we were welcomed by the cows and calves who were clearing out the apple trees in the field in front of us before the donkeys could move back in.

We have been cooking and entertaining a fair bit and we have even started to go out to eat a few times… really pushing the boundary! We have both always loved cooking so it has been a bit of a struggle to force ourselves to go out again when it doesn’t feel necessary to take the additional risk of mixing with others. That said, we do want to support the local businesses so bit by bit we are spreading the love and it is fair to say that The George on the Green in Holyport appears to be getting a bit more than its fair share recently!

Since the last blog ‘Pip‘ has been born. Pip is our Sourdough Starter, very kindly nursed into this world by Carly, our sister in law (Keith’s brothers’ wife). Pip has been with us now for about 8 weeks and amazingly, she is still alive. We have made lots of different things with her discard but so far, we still haven’t actually found the right moment to make sourdough bread…. it takes a bit of planning! So far our Sourdough experimentation has included
– Sourdough Drop Scones – which is literally just the discard!
Sourdough Flat breads
Sourdough discard Pizza

The Happy Pear vegan cookbook is also playing a big part in our life at the moment as all the recipes are not only really tasty, slightly different from the norm but also fairly easy to make.

Relaxing into a Covid Summer….1/8/2020


Covid and the ‘new normal’ are part of our life now so we are just adapting and making the most of it.  We have been lying low for a couple of months hence why there hasn’t been much of an update on the blog over the last six weeks but we are heading back to ‘our’ normality now and looking forward to the rest of the year in the UK!

After thankfully a reasonably easy – Keith did most (sorry, all) of it – clean up of the meringues which had seeped down through the oven and fridge, I had vowed to never make meringues again in the motorhome. Keith managed to get the front off of the fridge unit…knobs and all, so we were able to clean everything thoroughly but I won’t be living that mistake down for a while yet…and had said that I will be sticking to simpler desserts for a while… although Annie mentioned that she cooks a pavlova in her oven at the weekend… hmm!

We have been staying at the farm and slowly but surely integrating ourselves back into society and catching up with lots of friends and family which has been lovely… even managed to get a quick game of croquet in on the lawn before a BBQ at Penny and Richards which was the first time in about 30 years… lockdown has been good!

When things started to open up, we formed a bubble with my mum which enabled us to join her for dinner inside rather than having coffee on the bench, as well as doing a couple of DIY bits around the house.  We have also spent many an evening sitting at 2m distance on seperate tables outside the motorhome with friends and family enjoying a social drink or a BBQ in layers, thankfully we haven’t quite got to the point where we need to add a wooley hat yet! We have even now ventured to a couple of friends‘ houses and gardens…. it sounds a bit ridiculous but we are actually feeling quite adventurous!

During lockdown my mum has been finding new places to go walking with the dog which is great as she has introduced us to a little bit more of the beautiful countryside in Buckinghamshire.

We have obviously also been cooking a reasonable amount but most of the dishes are repeat recipes unfortunately so I won’t bore you too much with photos although this Butter Chicken is definately a keeper….

The recipe is apparently the original Butter Chicken recipe that came to the UK – if you ask Jamie Oliver anyway – but believe it or not there isn’t too much ghee and butter and it is reasonably easy to make – a lovely dish!

…..and just to prove that I can still make them, I had another go at the meringues but at my mums and they worked, looks like I just need to get the quantities right in the van then…..

After being at the farm for two months we headed down to Bath for eight nights to catch up with some of our friends down there.  As we have for the last couple of years since we got Hattie, we stayed at the Bath Marina Campsite which is right next to the cycle path to Bristol, the canal and the river …. so lots of great walking and running and despite over indulging ourselves throughout our stay, I managed to get several really good runs in – possibly something to do with lack of turns/hills/etc…. bliss!

Our friends are very accomodating and we managed to keep a reasonable social distance throughout all of our visits having had food cooked for us almost every night.  We did however have a take away Wagamamas one evening and and visited a couple of cafe’s …. really pushing the boat out now! We definately made the most of the beautiful weather with a few BBQ’s and lots of walking.

Whilst in Bath, Jo and Mike very kindly gave us two great belated Birthday presents… a bottle of Sipsmiths gin (yum) and The Happy Pear Vegan cookbook…. not actually sure who is going to benefit from these presents more but heh ho… not going to complain! Unfortunately we hadn’t had the chance to try any of the recipes until today and oddly, we chose to cook the Indian Golden Lentil and Carrot soup – only 24 degrees outside in comparison to the 35 yesterday! – the first time we had cooked with Celeriac but it was delicious… spicy and full of flavour!

The week flew by and before we knew it, the rain was coming and it was time for us to head down to Devon for our next little adventure.  We were lucky enough to have been invited down to a fellow Concorde owners’ ‘garden’ for the weekend for an informal mini ‘Concorde meet’.


Despite the weather being against us, we had a fantastic time.  John and Lyn (helped by Nick and Debs) had set up a couple of big marquees which kept us warm and dry and thankfully there wasn’t even a need for any assistance from a tractor to rescue anyone!

Friday night saw lots of wonderful homecooked curries, Saturday morning welcomed the bacon butties and Saturday afternoon saw a great blind wine tasting competition followed by a team BBQ effort…. not to mention the delicious salads and incredible puddings that everyone provided….couldn’t have asked for more!


On Sunday morning we woke to a beautiful rainbow but once again, thankfully the wind blew the rain clouds away in time for us to enjoy a fantastic Sunday Roast delivered by the local pub and a bit of light entertainment from Matt and Clive!

All in all a fantastic weekend with everyone pitching in and I even managed to get out on Monday morning to do a hilly run to help sweat off some of the alcohol and food that had been consumed… definately a weekend to be repeated!

We had planned to come back to Holyport on Monday but instead headed to Stover in Devon for a couple of nights at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site (£16 a night inc. Elec). as we were distracted by a possible motorhome change.  However, as beautiful as it was, we simply couldn’t tear ourselves away from Hattie – just not the right time for us.

The area around Stover is beautiful though with lots of lovely walking and cycling and we may well be back to spend a bit more time exploring it.

Now back at the farm we also have been experimenting a bit more on the BBQ and tried out a few new marinades last night…. unfortunately all of which were a bit too delicious and I forgot to take photos!

Although our friendly little owl appears to have disappeared for now we are enjoying the lovely weather and the beautiful clear skies…. long may they last!