Sunday, 10 September 2017

station mill antiques & interiors

Last weekend saw us heading back to the Cotswolds to celebrate Tim and Jo's wedding. The American was an usher so we decided to take an extra-long weekend so the greatest amount of revelry could be enjoyed without the fear of returning to work on the Monday morning with a sore head. Monday was somewhat drearier than Saturday but despite this we headed west to Chipping Norton to an antique treasure trove that my mum can't stop talking about. I think she has been 3 times this summer alone, always coming back with a little trinket or two. 

Station Mill Antiques and Interiors lies just on the outskirts of Chipping Norton and is a haven of furniture, jewellery and curiosities from every era. We were in heaven! Although our flat is mostly all furnished now (2 years later!) we are still on the look out for little bits and bobs to make our house a home. 

We rummaged through endless blue Delftware, depression glass vases and bundles of silver cutlery. There were enough antlers and whole racks to dress a Scottish castle, velvet armchairs in dashing prints and patterns and some exquisite walnut dressers and side tables. We were somewhat limited to what we could buy seeing as we were catching the train back down to London at the end of the day so we came away happy with a sweet little posy vase and silver tray, perfect for our home cocktail-making station. 

I may sound middle aged already but I am very happy to admit that a weekend antiquing in the Cotswolds is my idea of heaven! We took the scenic route back to home and stopped off for lunch in Broadway, one of my most favourite towns. 

Summer seems to have left us behind but I am quite content with how we left it - a long weekend surrounded by the sun-drenched Cotswolds. 


Friday, 11 August 2017

cafe tamra

Sundays are made for brunch with girlfriends. Whether it's a homemade brunch or taste testing the latest Instagram-friendly location, brunch is the perfect excuse to catch up over delicious food and great coffee. I took Sophie to a new spot on the Northcote Road this week which I was really excited about having visited a few weeks earlier. 

Café Tamra is a newbie to SW’s Toast Rack and although the branding is very misjudged (a Chihuahua adorns the sign and inside there are more paintings of the mut), the food is excellent. The menu has flairs of Lebanese food and hints of Mexican; Sophie ordered the avocado, chorizo and fried egg on sourdough whilst I went for the special of cinnamon and orange French toast with banana, maple syrup and a good dollop of mascarpone. Sophie’s eggs ran beautifully and my French toast was a real treat, not too sweet or soggy.

We gossiped on with our coffees before leaving the café in peace and heading on for a little interiors shopping (Sophie is redoing a large part of her boyfriend’s flat and I am only too happy to help!). A perfect start to a sunny Sunday. 


Tuesday, 18 July 2017


On one of the mildly cooler days we headed further along the coast to a pretty little harbor town called Collioure. About 10 miles from the Spanish border it has a real Spanish vibe with lots of tapas restaurants and stalls selling freshly caught and preserved anchovies. It's also a town known for its artistic links, with many of the Impressionists visiting during the summer months to capture the crystal clear light and views out to the Med. 

Behind the town are the Pyrenees, looming down and looking particularly impressive in the morning clouds. 

We arrived at lunchtime and made the mistake of not going for lunch straight away. I had forgotten the French tend to close shop after 2pm and so by the time we were hungry for fish nowhere was open so a spontaneous picnic of bread, meat and peaches on the shore was done. Still delicious and at least the little tavern was open for a post-picnic drink. 

After exploring the coast line and paddling our feet into the cool sea we decided to explore the back streets where artists stayed during their painting trips. The town still holds onto these artistic ties and many studios can still be stumbled upon. I loved the brightly coloured houses and cobbled streets, not to mention the bubbling bougainvillea spilling down onto the paths. It would have been rude not to take advantage of the setting!

Again, this area is relatively un-touristy which is an absolute treat nowadays so we relished in the peaceful atmosphere, all except for the school art trip with a gaggle of excitable children! We noticed there is a coastal train route which goes from Lyon all the way down to Barcelona which we thought would be a wonderful adventure to try one day. The landscape changes from lush green hills to dusty mountains within miles and of course the azure blue sea will dazzle you the whole way.

Just one more adventure to share with you!


Monday, 10 July 2017

pezenac saturday market

A few weeks ago we found ourselves escaping to the South of France. Last year my aunt bought part of a chateau in the Languedoc region and has spent much of her time doing it up and filling it with beautiful provencal-style furniture and decor. Under the guise of cat-sitting we found ourselves in this French idyll for a week and it was one of the most relaxing weeks ever. In between reading, eating and jumping into the pool we found some time to pop to the local town for a spot of shopping. 

We'd been told the market on Saturday was legendary in the town of Pezenac so we woke up early and made the short trip to town, basket in tow.

We weren't disappointed, in fact we were spoilt for choice! From fresh fruit and vegetables, to cheese, meat, fish, tapenades, baskets and clothes, Pezenac market really is a treasure trove for the locals and the small amount of tourists who have discovered the region.

We filled our boots with delicious flat peaches, nectarines, a melon and some huge salmon fillets to grill on the BBQ back at the chateau.

With the temperature soaring (it was an incredibly hot week and I will forever be thankful for the pool), we escaped the town and headed back to our retreat for some PPR (pale, pale rose) and more bread and cheese before spending the rest of the day by the pool.

More adventures to follow!


Saturday, 8 July 2017

raspberry & lemon frangipane tart

We’ve all been in that situation before where you’re going to a friend’s for dinner and you promise to bring a pud but the evening comes around and you completely forget. Fear not, I have the perfect recipe for you which has saved me on many an occasion. It’s become a bit of a party piece with many asking for the recipe after, so I thought I’d share it with you all so you’re prepared next time you promise sweet goods.

The recipe is so simple and you’re likely going to have the ingredients in your pantry already. The only other addition is some fresh raspberries. You could make the tart base from hand or use pre-made pastry however I like to keep my life as simple as possible so use a pre-made case; still delicious and shaves off an extra 30 minutes of time!


1 short crust pastry base
100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g ground almonds
10g plain flour
1tsp vanilla paste/extract
Fresh raspberries
Handful of flaked almonds

Start by smearing your jam of choice on the base. I used raspberry this time around but have also used lemon curd which is delicious and adds another dimension to the tart.

Next you need to combine the sugar and butter, adding in your teaspoon of vanilla pasta and eggs. Finally fold in your ground almonds and flour until thick all mixed together. Pour into the pastry case.

Poke in your fresh raspberries.

And finally top with flakes almonds.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees until golden brown. If the tart still wobbles in the middle give it another 5 minutes until a little firmer. I think the tart is best served cold and with a side of crème fraiche though if you can’t wait, served warm and with an espresso is just as nice!  

A perfect summer pudding which is guaranteed to impress.

Bon appetit!


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

the quarter century club

I'm a spring baby and last week was my 25th birthday. 25 years is an awfully long time to be around for, let's face it. The years fly by faster the older you get and whilst I still feel like a spring baby it must be very strange for my parents and granny to see me reach a quarter century. No wonder they say they feel even older. 

On Saturday we headed out west for a long weekend at home. Having taken Friday off (my actual birthday), I was already feeling relaxed, excited to spend some time with mum and dad and belatedly celebrate my brother's birthday, which was only a few weeks ago too. 

Saturday mum drove us over to Stratford for a little shopping. The American visited Stratford a very long time ago so it proved a nice opportunity to explore. We snooped antique shops, interior dens and enjoyed lunch at a favorite of ours; Huffkins.

Mum decided to take us the scenic route home which ended up with us getting lost but seeing a lot of lovely countryside. I love how Warwickshire spills over into the Cotswolds so easily, it really is such a small area. My brother joined us for dinner at The Bell in Eckington, another family favourite.  

Sunday was a quieter day, with walks in the sunshine (it was a beautiful day) and a visit into town to see some school friends for tea, cake an a gossip. On our way back to the carpark we popped over to my school to have a snoop of the old place. Evensong had just finished and the choristers were out on the green playing whilst mothers chatted away in the golden light. Coming back to school 7 years later really made me appreciate what a beautiful place i spent so much of my life. It's funny how time does that for you. 

Monday - isn't it just the best feeling knowing you don't have to go into work on a Monday?! - I drove us over to Cirencester as the American has been dying to visit for as long as I can remember. The weather was less pleasant but we still managed to find some antique shops to rustle in, a wonderful stationery and art shop and the sweetest coffee shops around. Cirencester is currently top of our lists for towns to move to after our London days are over. 

The drive home was bittersweet; relaxed and happy after our day away from desks but with a sense of impending doom as we realized we'd be back in the smoke by bedtime. It's getting harder to leave home after a weekend away now but we love London and would miss all it's glory should we move out now.

Perhaps in another 5 years time we'll be ex Londoners and fully-fledges Cotswold dwellers. One can only dream.