Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sunday evening

What an incredible weekend! We have had really bad weather all week, but thankfully this weekend has been warm, dry and really sunny :) By Friday evening I was absolutely exhausted from a whole week of dance teaching and was ready for bed ridiculously early (after a take away dinner of pizza of course!) Saturday we spent walking around the food festival which was in town - I love food festivals, getting to sample lots of different sauces, cheeses, wines, ciders and then indulging in chocolate kebabs - what's not to enjoy?! The pictures below are of the food festival and the various stalls that were around. We tried some incredible wine and had every intention of going back to buy some but time ran away with us in the end :( We also managed to buy our nephews first birthday present but no pictures of that until the end of the month!
Apples, with the name of the apple written on them.

Morris dancers!
Hand painted glasses - loved these!
Cheese - lots and lots of cheese.
Stuart enjoying a chocolate doughnut kebab!
Sauces, Chutneys and Mustards.

Yummy fudge.

Today has been spent experimenting - I have successfully made a yummy brown bread ice cream without the need for an ice cream maker! Stuart was really unsure about it but after sampling it has declared it a success, I'm going to blog the recipe sometime this week and I would definitely recommend you give it a go.

In other news, feeling much much better about the forthcoming week and less worked up/panicky about being home alone, got to learn to strike the right balance between being busy and having some down time. I am going to try and research different ways to help me sleep at night as I am sure that the majority of my issues are coming from having next to no sleep at night.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday Letters

YAY Its finally Friday, the sun is out and the hubby will shortly be on his way home :)

Dear Weather - I love autumn, don't get me wrong, but it would be great if we could have just one form of weather a day, getting dressed in the rain, leaving the house in the sunshine and then enduring a huge storm is not my idea of a great day out!

Dear F - Thank you for becoming one of my closest friends, for being at the end of the phone whenever I need you and for encouraging me to get out the house on my nights off. xx

Dear Head - Please snap out of whatever place you are in at the minute, the noises you hear at night are not anything to be scared of and I could really do with the sleep :)

Dear Stuart - Thank you for the constant reassuring this week, for checking I am ok and for generally ok at night, it means so much to me. xxx


Hoping that this weekend will be a fun one, fully intending to spend Sunday catching up on sleep and doing lots of baking, I have found a ice cream recipe which doesn't require a fancy ice cream maker so I am keen to try that before it gets too cold to eat it!

Happy Weekend Guys!

Thursday, 27 September 2012


The past few days have been exceptionally hard, I have done everything possible to try and keep myself entertained - the house is sparkling, the washing basket is empty and i've baked more than I ever thought possible, but that doesn't stop the overwhelming feeling of loneliness which consumes me come evening. I am lucky that I love my own company over the past few weeks I have read books, figured out ideas for Christmas presents, organised the kitchen cupboards and cancelled outstanding subscriptions, all this has been done which means that come sun set I have nothing to do at all, there is only so much medial television a girl can watch before she goes stir crazy! 

I'm lucky that I am able to speak to Stuart every evening, thanks to the joys of FaceTime, and I know that there are many many people in the world who don't have that luxury, speaking however doesn't fill the gap that is getting bigger and bigger. There is no one here when I got home late at night, if I want dinner I have to make sure it is all prepared before leaving for work and then heat it all up when I get home, there is no one here to make sure that the neighbourhood cats aren't successful in their attempts to break into the house (!!) and there is no one here to fill the endless silence with talk.

The most surprising thing I have found is that the people who I thought were friends apparently aren't. Stuart has been away for 4 weeks, yet the people I thought were my closest friends have yet to text me, are yet to call and make sure I am ok and seem to be ignoring messages until such time I can do something to help them. Then there are the friends who have been a part of my life for a long time but who have always been on the peripheral, these are the friends that I will forever be externally grateful for  - they've texted, called, arranged nights out and have generally been a shoulder to cry/shout/talk on.

Whilst I don't want to indulge these feelings sometimes it is hard to not be totally overwhelmed by them. Yesterday for example I left the house at 11.30 and didn't get home until close to midnight, the house was cold, empty and dark, all I wanted to do was flop into bed and go to sleep before repeating it all again, however there was food to be prepared and a house to be tidied before bed was a remote possibility.

I realise that I am probably going through a period of adapting I am used to Stuart being in the house and making noise, I am sure that in a few more weeks I will be more settled into a routine which doesn't leave the evenings achingly bare, until then I will always be grateful for my friends who have made the effort and those people on twitter who have kept me entertained. Until then I always have this little man to keep me company on a cold, dark, wet evening:

Listening to - The rain.
Feeling - Sleepy, we had a huge storm last night which stopped me from sleeping.
To do - Relearn the dance for the tapathon - 3 weeks later and i've completely forgotten it!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Spicy butternut squash soup

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” Laurie Colwin

I love soup, it is one of my favourite things about Autumn, to me there is nothing better then a lunch of homemade soup and thick crusty bread to chase away the coldness that the changing weather brings. This recipe is one I tried this weekend and is one that I will definitely be making again.

1 Butternut squash peeled and deseeded
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Butter
2 Onions - diced
1 Garlic clove - thinly sliced
2 red chillies - deseeded and finely chopped. Add more or less depending on spice preference
850ml Hot vegetable stock

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas mark 6.
Cut the squash into large cubes, then toss in a large roasting tin with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once during cooking.
Melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large saucepan.
Add the onions, garlic and chilli.
Cover and cook on a super low heat for 15 minutes until the onions are completely soft - be careful not to burn the onions as this gives a bitter taste, not nice!
Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and stir.
Pour the mixture into a liquidiser and blitz in batches (you can also use a stick blender).
Return to the saucepan to gently reheat ready to eat.


There is no picture of this soup (other than the one on Sundays post) as I never got a photo in a good light where the soup looked as nice as it tasted, you'll just have to trust me on this one guys!

Anyone else have any good soup recipes I can try?

Listening to - The Big Bang Theory
Feeling - a bit meh, bad weather means staying at home
To do - get ready for work tomorrow - a whole day of tap, jazz and pointe work!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Chocolate Tart

I love chocolate but i've never found a chocolate tart that i've really enjoyed. This one hit all the right spots though, it was sweet without being sickly and was incredibly tempting - neither Stuart nor I could resist going back to the fridge over the weekend to have another small slice, which makes this tart a winner in my books!!

This recipe doesn't use home made pastry - i'm yet to completely master that skill, it's on my to do list and I am determined that by Christmas all the pastry around my mince pies will be home made!

375g Sheet of ready-rolled sweet dessert pastry, any you can but in the shop will do!
300g Milk chocolate (you can use dark chocolate if you prefer)
300ml Double cream
3 Large eggs

Line a 23cm round, loose-bottomed tin with the pastry, leaving any extra hanging over the edges and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
Line the pastry case with baking paper, fill with rice or baking beans and bake for 15 mins.
Remove the baking beans/rice and paper and bake for another 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 140C/120C fan/Gas 1.
Put the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Leave to melt.
Put the cream in a small pan and bring to the boil.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl, pour over the cream mixing the whole time.
Add the chocolate to the cream mixture and mix well to combine it all together.
Pour the mixture into the tart case, place it in the oven and switch it off.
20 minutes later take it out the oven and chill to let it set (I left it over night in the fridge but i'm sure it would set in about 3 hours)

Serve - I served mine with the honeycomb from yesterdays recipe, but it also tasted delicious with some fresh berries. I'd also recommend serving with a spoonful (or 2!) of Ice cream - Ice cream recipe coming soon!!

Listening to - Lucy Spraggan, Love her and her music, although I worry that she might not do well on the x factor, i'd prefer to listen to her sing her own stuff rather than other people's!
Feeling - Full, Just eaten a yummy pasta bake followed by a baked banana.
To Do - Have an early night!

Monday, 24 September 2012


For a long time i've shied away from recipes which require honeycomb as so many people had told me how hard it was too make. Saturday I bit the bullet and gave it a go and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how easy and straight forward it was too make - plus it made the whole kitchen smell like Crunchies, never a bad thing in my book!

The honeycomb is pictured below when it was cooling and also on top of a chocolate tart (recipe coming tomorrow!) My husband was the taste tester and he gave it a thumbs up and has taken a tupperware pot full of honeycomb back up to Norfolk for the week!

4 Tablespoons of Golden Syrup
200g Caster Sugar
1 Tablespoon Bicarbonate of Soda

(Thats right just 3 ingredients!!)

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and leave to one side for later.
In a saucepan heat the golden syrup and caster sugar until the sugar has melted. I found that the mixture went from being crystallised to a runny consistency fairly quickly so make sure you keep a watchful eye on it!
Increase the heat and boil the mixture until it becomes a dark caramel colour, then remove it from the heat and leave to cool for 2 minutes.
Add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk/stir like crazy. The mixture will be extremely hot so take care to not splash any on to you.
Pour the mixture onto the baking tray and leave to cool and set.


I am sure there are many ways to use the honeycomb you will have made - on top of a tart, dipped in chocolate, as a decoration for any dessert you have made, the choice is endless! Let me know what you use the honeycomb for.

Listening to - Last nights Downton Abbey
Feeling - Cold!! Autumn has definitely arrived in Canterbury.
To Do - Brave the weather and head into town to pick up a few essentials.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sunday night

Wow this weekend has disappeared so quickly, I always find that's the way when you look forward to something so much. Had a lovely quiet weekend with Stuart before he heads back to Norfolk in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Lots of baking done this weekend: Garlic and Rosemary bread, Butternut Squash soup, Chocolate tart and Honeycomb - all the recipes will be appearing this week and they all tasted delicious - yay!!

Last week was an exceptionally tough week, lots seemed to happen over such a short period of time that left me feeling really down. Friends who I used to be really close to seem to have become really distant and i'm not entirely sure how I feel about that at the minute. I ended up spending Wednesday in bed feeling unbelievably poorly and sorry for myself, then to top it all off I overslept Friday morning and ended up rushing around to get ready for work which resulted in me hitting my funny bone on the wall - really not so funny!

All in all feeling very ready for the new week to start, teaching all through the latter part of the week so will spend tomorrow and Tuesday baking, cleaning, blogging, filling in application forms and trying not to miss the husband too much!

Listening to - X Factor is on in the background but i've kind of zoned it out!
Feeling - Tired, lack of sleep last night thanks to a cat that wanted lots of fuss.
To Do - Decide what to have for dinner before Downton Abbey starts :)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Friday Letters

Yay it's nearly the weekend! Although my weekend doesn't start officially until I finish work at 11 tomorrow morning.
Was back teaching proper classes this week and my legs, arms and stomach are absolutely killing me this morning, not sure how I'm going to get through an afternoon of jazz and tap yet!

Dear Mom - Thank you for being at the end of the phone this past week and for offering much needed words of advice and wisdom. xxx
Dear Body - I'm sorry that you haven't done RAD ballet for so long, but if you could please recover quickly that would be amazing. x
Dear People who are reading this - THANK YOU!! Thank you for all the advice, friendly words and essentially just for reading, happy weekend! xxx
Dear S - You may be far away but it's lovely having a friend who knows exactly what to say and when, you may not be actual family but I think of you as a sister anyway :) xxx
Dear C -  Thank you for the the friendship and advice, but most of all thank you for giving me the opportunity to get teaching ballet again! xxx

Click the link above to see what everyone else to saying this week.

Next week i'll be blogging recipes :)

To Do - write a shopping list (my least favourite part of the week!)
Listening to - Last nights Eastenders.
Feeling - Excited - It's Friday which means the hubby is back later. eeeekkk!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

30 things to do before i'm 30 - Part 2

11 - Attend the last night of the proms.
When I was a little girl my big treat of the year was being allowed to stay up with my dad to watch the last night of the proms, from the first time we watched it together I have always wanted to go and watch, however life seems to have gotten in the way. In the next 4 years I have every intention of going with my dad and one of my brothers - probably to Hyde Park as i'm not sure we can commit to attending the whole of the prom season.

12 - Visit Japan during cherry blossom season
A friend of the family once visiting Japan and came home with incredible photographs and stories, I remember sitting listening to them all fascinated and then trying to recreate the photographs with my colouring pencils (completely unsuccessful). Now I am older i'd love to go and experience the magic for myself.

13 - Run a marathon
This has been on my to do list for a long time, in fact I once started training for a marathon and then got injured so I had to stop. I used to love running, at school I couldn't get enough, and I ran all through college and university and then something changed, I appear to have fallen out of love with the idea of running. Once i'm out I love it, its the getting out that I am currently having problems with, i'll have to get out of this rut i'm in if i'm ever going to cross this one off the list.

14 - Make something - pottery/ceramics
In my future house (number 7) I want to be able to point at something and say 'I made that'. I'm under no illusions about how hard this will be, we had to use clay at school and I ended up with a sort of clay blob which was of no use to anyone at all! I might have to try and find evening classes to go to so that I can be taught exactly what to do :)

15 - Pose nude for an art class
This was suggested to me by a friend of mine and I thought it was so crazy I just had to do it. I have a really negative body image so seeing myself through the eyes of others might just be the push I need to start feeling more positive about myself, of all the things on the list this is the one that I am most terrified about!

16 - Volunteer
I have always had every intention to volunteer, be it in a local charity shop or something further afield, life just seems to get in the way. I am now determined that one summer before I am 30 I will have spent 6 weeks doing something good just because.

17 - Dye my hair a crazy colour 
I naturally have really dark hair which until recently has always been its natural colour. There was a crazy couple of months when I was 13 that I had blonde streaks put through it, this resulted in me looking like i'd had a terrible accident with a passing bird! I've previously had a bright red flash on one side of my hair which I loved, especially as it was so low maintenance. I'd love to go pillow box red but i'm not sure i'd be dedicated enough to keep on top of the colour, all I know is that sometime in the next 4 years my hair will be a colour other than brown/black.

18 - Be able to fix one thing in every room in my house, single handedly
I saw this idea on someone else's list and thought it was a great idea. It doesn't have to be anything huge, but I would like to know that I have the knowledge to fix something and fix it well. My father in law has a reputation at being a 'bodger' when it comes to fixing things so he might have to be the person to teach me!!

19 - Learn to change a tire
This has been added to the list after following a conversation on Facebook between two friends of mine who had been stuck on the side of a road waiting for the AA to come and change a tire on their way for a night out, I never want to be in that situation. Before my grandfather died he told me that it was important for a girl to know her way around a car so in his memory I am going to learn.

20 - Write more letters
I adore receiving letters in the post I just wish it would happen more often. When I was at university the highlight of my week was getting a letter in the post from my parents and grandma. I used to write letter to everyone - friends, family and pen pals in Carlisle, France and Germany. From now on I am going to endeavour to write letters on a much more regular basis, even if it is only to say 'hello' to a friend.

Listening to - Hollyoaks
Feeling - Poorly, spent the day on the sofa :(
To do - Eat dinner!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Back to School

Currently suffering from first day nerves! I go back to work today at a completely new dance school, whilst I know that I am a good teacher the day before I start work I alway suffer from a case of nerves, once i'm there i'll be absolutely fine it's just the getting there that leaves me panicked. I guess its the fear of the unknown, I have met the children but only briefly and in my experience it is normally the parents who cause the most fuss about changes to how the classes run.

Feeling - Nervous
Listening to - Dance with me Tonight (Olly Murrs) we are taking part in the tapathon and that is our music
To do - Tidy up so I come home to a tidy house.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

30 things to do before i'm 30 - Part 1

I've been thinking for a while about having a list of all the things I would like to accomplish before turning 30 in 4 years, these are a mixture of things some of which can be done fairly quickly and others that will take a bit more time to accomplish, however having them written down somewhere means I am far more likely to actually try and get everything crossed off!

1 - Learn to drive
I've never had any real reason to learn to drive - I moved to London at 18 to study for my degree and then lived in Manchester city centre for 2 years before moving to Canterbury which has a train line which links to London in under an hour, however with the very real possibility of a move to Norfolk next year i'm definitely going to have to get behind the wheel. 

2 - Go in a hot air balloon
When I was very young a hot air balloon landed in the fields of my grandparents farm and ever since then I have wanted to go in one, there is something so magical about the idea of silently flying across the sky watching everything that is happening below. My family actually had a balloon ride booked a few years ago but we had to cancel as my dad got sick, definitely can't wait to achieve this one!  

3 - Learn to scuba dive
This year I overcame my fear of the sea and gave snorkelling ago, much to my surprise I absolutely loved every minute of it, I spent as much time as possible under the sea looking at fish and coral and just generally exploring the reef around the Maldivian Island we were on. Now I want to go one step further and scuba dive - I love the idea of being able to really explore the sea bed, it also appeals to my fascination with history as I would love to be able to explore a ship wreak. 

4 - Get a tattoo
There has always been something I love about tattoos. I love the fact that they are there for life and will serve as a constant reminder of where I was at a certain point in my life. I actually have an idea of what I want as a tattoo, I just have to decide where to have it done as I want it to be something for me rather than for other people to look at!

5 - Learn how not to take criticism to heart
I could receive 9 compliments and only 1 criticism and yet it is the criticism that I cary around with me. I remember pretty much every negative thing that has ever been said to me, and yet I would struggle to recite 5 compliments. I want to change this - it's not good to carry other people's negativity around. I think the best way to start is by writing down the compliments so that I have something to look over when I start to dwell on the negative comments.

6 - Do something so completely unexpected of me that people need photographic evidence to believe it happened
 Ever since I went to dance school I have always toed the line, I was desperate to get my belly button pierced but this wasn't allowed so I never had it done. I spent my teens taking ballet classes on a Saturday so I vey rarely went out. I actually have done something like this once before - on a school trip I was the only girl who successfully managed to climb and abseil a cliff face, my granddad was so proud I had done it and I have never forgotten the look on his face when I showed him the photographs. I'm not sure what the unexpected thing will be yet but        
i'll be sure to tell you when i've done it!

7 - Buy a real, grown up house
This is actually a joint project with Stuart. We would love to own our own house and have decided to make a conscientious decision to start saving. I am lucky that we both have pretty similar ideas of what we would like - either a new house we can put our own stamp on or an old house which has a history.

8 - Visit 30 countries before i'm 30
I love to travel, the thrill of experiencing new countries never bores me. I love everything about going away from the booking, planning where to visit and finally arriving at the destination. So far I have 7 countries crossed off - France, Wales, Spain, Dubai, Germany, Switzerland and the Maldives, living in Kent means I am going to start taking advantage of cheap ferry travel to do some more exploring.

9 - Speak my mind
I have an absurd desire to always please people, this means that no matter how I am feeling. Even when people have upset me I always want them to feel ok, I am the first to apologise in an argument and because of this I do genuinely believe that some of my friends believe me to be a bit of a push over, i'm not, I have opinions and I think I need to start letting people know if they have upset me, let me down or just made me feel lousy.

10 - Own a designer handbag
This is a totally gratuitous point, but I have ALWAYS wanted to have a designer handbag so this is why it has made the list! I want to be the person to buy the bag to reward myself for a job well done - at 26 I have my own dance school and I think this is something to be celebrated, hence the treat.

the next 10 will be coming soon...

Listening to - Ludovico Einaudi, adore him.
Feeling - Sleepy, I was up at 4.30 this morning and am vey much ready for a mid morning nap.
To do - Finalise my dance routines for this week and get an online food shop done so that I can eat!!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Chalk and Cheese -- a review

Last Thursday I went up to Norfolk to spend a few days with my husband, we wanted to eat out but couldn't decide where to go, Stuart asked some of the people at work and Chalk and Cheese came out tops, so a table was booked and off we went!

Chalk and Cheese is located in a tiny little village called Shouldham, I love villages and as we drove through this one I completely and utterly fell in love and immediately added it to my 'to view' list if we do end up moving up this way. As we drove into the car park we were greeted by this:
                               (from the website)

Chalk and Cheese used to be a Victorian School which was converted into a home in 2001 before being expanded into a farm shop, bar, restaurant and accommodation. As I walked through the front door it felt like I was walking into a friends house, from the warm welcome by the chef to the adorable dog keeping guard on the rug, I was in love! We were invited to take a seat in the bar - which was exactly how I would love my future lounge to be.

the view from our table.

the bar.

our coasters - adore them!

Our table.

The seating area.

I normally feel uncomfortable in bars, never knowing where to sit, how to act, what to order etc... however this bar was incredible, it felt like I was in a friends lounge where I was free to look around and order in my own time. Our orders were taken and they were extremely accommodating, there was so much on the menu that I wanted that I couldn't decide what to order. They offer a pizza which you can watch being made in the wood fired pizza oven. Whilst we were waiting we were given some calamari which is easily some of the best calamari I have ever eaten. I have to admit I was a bit confused about what was going on, I wasn't sure if the bar was also the restaurant or if there was somewhere else to go - all became clear though when we were escorted to our table in a beautiful conservatory.

There were 4 tables set up which I loved - it meant that Stuart and I could have a conversation with each other without competing with other people. There was a small system providing music, which provided a lovely background noise without being too much (I hate when you go out for food and are having to talk above the music in order to have a conversation). Almost immediately we were brought our starters, mine a particularly delicious Bruschetta (£4.95) and Stuart ordered Cheesy potato wedges, minus the cheese (£2.75).

(yes I took a bite before taking a picture!)

After devouring the starters there was only about a 5 minute wait for our main courses, amazing! I had ordered the Spaghetti Bolognaise (10.95) whilst Stuart had Roast leg of lamb with swede, roast parsnips and garlic and rosemary potatoes (£12.95).

I am a huge hater of lamb, the smell, the texture, everything - however, for the first time in my life I was tempted to try some, I didn't but the intent was there! This was easily the best dinner I have ever eaten in a restaurant in my life. Everything about the service was fantastic and we were left to enjoy our dinner without being asked every 5 minutes if everything was ok!

When we had finished dinner and regretfully had to turn down dessert as we were just too full, we were invited to go back into the bar area to relax and let our dinner go down. This time we took full advantage of the huge sofas which were unbelievably comfy, I could've just curled up and gone to sleep in fact! 

I adored this restaurant and would highly recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area, even if you aren't near by it is well worth a visit, maybe stay over and take advantage of the beautiful looking rooms (yes I checked them out on the website!) Chalk and Cheese was less restaurant and more eating dinner at a friends house - it is definitely one of the better things about Stuart working up in Norfolk, i'll definitely be suggesting we go back the next time I am able to visit him!

The Gents toilet :)

The sign on leaving - love!

The restaurant at night - taken as we left.

Website -
Telephone - 01366 348039

Listening to - Desperate Housewives on TV catch up, waiting for hubby to come back from work
Feeling - Hungry (i'm sat opposite the specials board in the hotel!)
To do - Print off photos for my nans 90th birthday present.