Oct 232014


I am documenting the year with monthly photographs of my kitchen table. Capturing the jumble that accumulates here, at the heart of the kitchen, is also a way to record some of the domestic stories of our family life.

Outside the kitchen window, the mornings are misty up on the distant hill. The days grow ever shorter and the nights grow ever cooler. Here on the table are gathered a collection of autumnal pleasures. It may be a cliche, but the natural element on the October table is not the usual flowers, but emphatically seasonal pumpkins, or squash, to be precise. These two beauties arrived in our weekly vegetable box, which is delivered from the local farm. I do love to cook with squash (squash risotto, squash and sage pesto and roasted squash and tomato soup are all favourites that spring to mind). In the short term, however, I cannot resist their chalky colours and decorative charms. These grace the table, whilst another sits on the mantelpiece with last year’s needle-felted pumpkins. Inevitably, at least one of them will wind up in a batch of Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes- a seasonal must in this house!

On these darkening days, a candle is always a comfort. At this time of year, I rediscover my love of scented candles, particularly those with festive flavours. I shall also be making a batch of my pinecone firelighters, which add spicy, peppery, fruity notes to the woodsmoke aroma of our open fire.

After the ritual of my morning coffee, I drink cup after cup of tea throughout the day, particularly when I am at home. This little cup I recently re-discovered at the back of a cupboard. I gave it to my  husband for his birthday fifteen years ago, shortly before we became a couple. At the time, he lived in a shared flat, and the cups of tea that he made for me came in a succession of rather suspect mugs, which was something of a joke between us. Sitting now, at our kitchen table in the home which we share with three sons, warming my hands on that same little cup, those intervening fifteen years seem both an eternity and a heartbeat.

Once again, my knitting has found its way onto the table. The yarn that I shared last month has been wound into a ball and, coupled with a skein of teal, it is on its way to becoming a soft and chunky cowl, to warm my neck on the winter days that are fast approaching. Next up on the needles is a cowl for my Mister, of which more is to come. Whilst I knit throughout the year, during the autumn and winter months, my thoughts constantly turn to my current project, and my fingers itch to pick it up and knit just one more row…

Finally, a magazine to curl up with and enjoy. I love elegant lifestyle magazines, taking huge pleasure in turning their thick, crisp pages. Oh Comely is a particular favourite, and one for which I happily have a current subscription. A moment’s pause, in a mercilessly chaotic week, to sip my tea, read a few pages and perhaps knit a row or two? The stuff of sweet October dreams.

Teal, green and yellow : the October table.

The kitchen story so far:

{the January table}

{the February table}

{the March table}

{the April table}

{the May table}

{the June table}

{the July table}

{the August table}

{the September table}

 October 23, 2014  out & about Tagged with:  4 Responses »
Oct 202014

conker collectors

conker collectors-2

conker collectors-4

conker collectors-5

conker collectors-3

conker collectors-7

conker collector

Three small boys set off for a walk on an October weekend, welly-footed and grubby-fingered. Their destination was an avenue of tall Horse Chestnut trees, bronzed leaves falling onto the grass below. Amongst the leaves, the shiny brown treasure trove of a thousand conkers.

Little fingers winkled them out of their spiky shells, smoothing them gleefully. Every pocket was stuffed to bursting with this autumnal bounty, the scent of leaf-mould spilling out with them over the kitchen floor when we returned home.

The wild boys have gone, for the moment, in playground lines of crisp school uniform. The conkers remain, appearing in the laundry basket, falling out of coat pockets, resting in piles halfway up the stairs. Waiting for the return of the small hands that warm them. In my brief moments of pause, I wait too.



 October 20, 2014  out & about, weekending Tagged with: ,  9 Responses »
Oct 122014

FEAST Veg prep

Since starting the #growforagecook project with Sabrina, it’s been so exciting to to connect with others who share our enthusiasm for growing, foraging and cooking! Over on Instagram, I got chatting to Rachel, who works by the coast in Dorset for Fore/Adventure. She posts the most fabulous images of foraged goodness. I discovered that Fore/Adventure provide all sorts of adventuring opportunities, from kayaking to coasteering, bushcraft to beach school, all of which look amazing. I was particularly interested, however, to learn more about their thoughts on and experiences of wild food and foraging. When Rachel invited me to their Foraged Feast at the end of the summer, I was thrilled and disappointed in equal measure, because I just couldn’t make it to Dorset on a school night, however much I would have loved to! I was desperate to hear all about it, though, so I invited Rachel to answer a few questions and to share with us a little about herself and Fore/Adventure.

Over to you, Rachel…

Tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do

I’m a country girl; wellies and the Wurzels, fishing and getting muddy- all of that good stuff. Returning to Dorset after a stint away I, in a glorious chance encounter, came across Fore/Adventure after sharing a local foraging find on Twitter and promptly joined the family team behind this adventuring venture. In a nutshell, the essence of Fore is to connect people with nature through positive adventures and stimulating environments, to enable you to learn and develop your relationship with the outdoors, and with each other. We just love getting outside and wholeheartedly believe in Life Through Adventure, whether it’s through foraging, feasting or fishing , kayaking or coasteering , bushcraft or beach school, wild food or wild camping.

FEAST Rachel

Can you tell us about how the initial idea for Fore/Adventure came about?

Fore/Adventure was born from a lifestyle choice that echos a somewhat English version of the American dream. After a decision by Jade and Dan, the brains, brawns and founders of Fore, to get out of the city and relocate to rural Dorset with their small humans Fore/Adventure was forged, following Dan’s background in the outdoor industry. Starting with four kayaks it has evolved to include sea, shore, and solid ground adventures to get both big and small humans in the great outdoors.

Where is Fore/Adventure based, and how does your environment shape what you do?

Our playground just so happens to be on Dorset’s Jurassic Coastline. We have a varied environment on our doorstep that allows us to get up to all sorts. On Studland’s beach is where our hutquarters lie and from here we explore the sea, shore, cliff line and iconic stacks of Old Harry’s; checking out the sea from the surface, underneath it and the creatures that inhabit it. As well as this we have an abundance of woodland and heath sitting behind the beach that provides a base for a host of more bushcrafty based antics.

Foraging, and wild food, are at the heart of what you do. What makes them so important?

We all love to eat. It’s the way to the heart, isn’t it? This, married with adventure, getting outside and in the elements, which we know to be good for us, is a winning combination. It’s important to connect with our food and with where it comes from- this connection leads to a better understanding of our environment which means we tend to treat and love it better. Plus, there is always a cheeky and overwhelming satisfaction with getting something for free…


Can you tell us a little about where, and what you forage for?

Beyond the bits and bobs that are found most places, berries, edible flowers and herbs, we get to make the yummy most out of our seaside location. This means sea vegetables from glass wort (Samphire) to sea blite, sea purslane to sea beet as well as sea weeds. Dan happens to be a bit of a seaweed pro which means mackerel sashimi wrapped in seaweed is often made up at Old Harry’s Rocks if we have been lucky with our catch!

What’s the most popular food that you forage for? And the most unusual?

Certainly the most unusual and interesting food we forage for are the seaweeds. We Brits tend to see seaweed as a beachside inconvenience and don’t really know that there is some tasty grub right there. All you need is a trip to the beach and a seaweed identification book and you are away. Adding hand foraged, dried and ground kelp flakes to season your food is a great, and tasty, party trick.

How do you find that people react to their first experiences of foraging?

Bewilderment! Foraging is something people assume to be a specialist subject, and while there will be a spectrum of edible knowledge, it’s brilliantly easy to get foraging. Knowing that you can walk out your door, whether in an urban or rural environment, and find free food is a welcome and yummy realisation.


You recently hosted a foraged feast. Can you tell us about what you served?

We did! And it was an absolute night and a half (you can check it out on the Fore blog). We wanted to celebrate our environment with a foraged feast as the end of the summer drew near and the new season began. Like Kings we feasted on local lobster, hand caught and sea cured mackerel, sea vegetables, handmade local berry juices and a seaweed panna cotta to finish us off. Is your mouth watering?!

What is your favourite time of year for foraging?

For me it is now- the end of summer and beginning of autumn. Crab apples, rosehips, lingering and hardy berries, chestnuts, plums and such. It’s those lovely warm flavours that are perfect for these increasingly crisp days.

What advice would you have for anyone who’s interested in having a go at foraging?

Get outside! Honestly, honestly, all you need are some scissors, a plastic bag (or basket if you are feeling snazzy), and a little guide to what’s about. I really enjoy John Wright as an author of foraging guides but if you don’t want to invest too soon then the internet will have everything you need to know.

What does the future hold for Fore/Adventure?

We really love what we do and want to see others getting the same deep-rooted buzz for being outside, having a smattering of adventure intercepting their day to day. For us ,that means getting on the sea in whatever shape or form, getting out in the woods and more feasting! (Not a bad job eh?! ; )

FEAST Basket

Thanks so much, Rachel, it’s been fantastic to find out more about you, and what you do at Fore/Adventure. I’m now pining for the ocean and a foraged barbeque on the beach! I can’t wait to head down to Dorset at some point and visit you guys. Thanks for sharing all your foraging adventures using #growforagecook.

You can find Fore/Adventure here:  website | blog | instagram | twitter | facebook

and connect with Rachel here:  instagram | twitter

{all images by Justin Glynn, courtesy of Fore/Adventure}

 October 12, 2014  Grow Forage Cook Tagged with: ,  5 Responses »
Oct 032014


Now that autumn is here and the evenings draw in, curling up on the sofa with a book and a blanket is a rather lovely thing to do. I’ve found myself with a little stack of books on the go. I’ve been reading the devastating but brilliant A Monster Calls, flicking through the gorgeous cookbook A Modern Way to Eat, and imbibing advice and humour from Sali Hughes’ Pretty Honest.

My September choice was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (Some Instructions on Writing and Life), which has proved both entertaining and thought-provoking. With a combination of autobiography and practical advice, Anne Lamott is by turns irreverent and wise, anecdotal and philosophical. This was the first book that I’ve read about the writing process itself, and it was both educational and inspiring. I’ve also been dipping in and out of The Photographers Playbook, a cornucopia of ideas including assignments, essays, advice, tricks and games, it’s a resource that will prove endlessly fascinating.

For October, I’ve selected The Fairy Tales of Hermnn Hesse which was given to me recently by a dear friend with a penchant for the literary. For some reason, fairy tales seem appropriately autumnal reading to me, and I’m looking forward to settling down under that blanket, book in hand. I have yet to select my November choice, but no doubt something will present itself in the meantime.

So, onwards to the October link up. Here’s a reminder of how it all works:

The aim is to read (at least) a book a month during 2014. At the start of the month, we blog the book that we are planning to read in the month ahead. If we feel inspired to, we could also write a little about the previous month’s book. Not a review, as such, just some thoughts: a recommendation (or otherwise!) for others who might be thinking of reading it. It’s not a traditional book club, so we don’t have to all read the same book. This is just about trying to ensure that we make space for reading in our busy lives, and hopefully a way to discover more lovely books (and lovely bibliophiles).

If you would prefer to share your book choices over on Instagram, that would also be great, please use the hashtag #theyearinbooks so that we can find your posts. The same hashtag is also active on Twitter. There is a Year in Books Pinterest board, so do let me know in the comments if you would like me to add you as a pinner. If I should have added you, and haven’t, do nudge me. Pinterest is a little problematic on the issue and it sometimes takes a couple of attempts. There’s also a Goodreads group for this project, and you are welcome to join, whether or not you have a blog of your own.

If you would like to add a badge to your blog, you can grab the code over in the sidebar. I am compiling a reading list of book suggestions which people have left in the comments here, or via Instagram. Please feel free to continue to recommend books in this way and I will add them to the list.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have linked up before- everyone is welcome and it’s never too late to get involved. I would be grateful if you could link back to here in your post. Do add your link below – click on the blue button at the bottom of the post.

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 October 3, 2014  the year in books 7 Responses »