Monday, June 30, 2014

the secret allotment

my dad watering in the distance
the raspberries that are hidden in the brambles at the end of the plot
sun setting on the wall with the manor just in sight
the flowers on the potato plants

It's not a secret, really, but it makes me feel like I'm in The Secret Garden, which you might know is my absolute favourite film, and my favourite book as a child. The last time I went, I was sat in the long-grass by the side of my dad's plots and there was a deer, just casually eating someones old plants that have been long forgotten, and there are rabbits everywhere and it's in the old, walled, kitchen-garden of a beautiful Victorian chateau-stye manor in the Surrey countryside. It's beyond lovely. Sadly, though, it's old army-land, and the army are trying to sell it on, so we won't have the allotment after the 31st August, which makes me so sad. However, I've been trying to make the most of it this last summer, and if you follow me on Instagram, you'll see so many photos of the things I happen upon, like the abandoned greenhouses and the overgrown walk-way down to the orchard..
I could talk about it for hours, but with a warm week coming up, I know I will be there quite a bit..
Have you tried growing any of your own food? As well as it being really rewarding, I find it it pretty relaxing, too. Also, you know exactly how good your food is, exactly where its been and that it's only travelled the 2 miles from the allotment to my dinner plate.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

weekend wanderings #21

(images from,, and

Saturday, June 28, 2014

a love letter to cow parsley

In between being back at work this week, trying to find another job, several doctors appointments, gym sessions and sewing sessions and lunch with a friend.. I have been spending warm, lazy evenings down at the allotment. It usually involves me throwing myself down in the long grass under the steadily growing apple trees, with a handful of not-quite-ripe-enough raspberries, lazily watering my dad's potatoes whilst the sun goes down and trying not to scare away the deer and woodpeckers - it's sort of perfect. 
A few of the allotments have been abandoned over the year, and in their place all sorts of wild-flowers have grown. My favourite being the wild poppies and the cow parsley. I could probably write an essay about how much I love these little white flowers, but I'll save you from that. I'll just tell you how I used to collect them in big bunches every June, and still cannot refrain from snatches up bouquets of them even now. 
Oh, and I just had to share this song I found on Gillian's June playlist - I can see it being the soundtrack to my summer..

Friday, June 27, 2014

Q #9

I thought this would be a good quote to post this week as I've just picked up another Donna Tartt book - the Goldfinch. Also, I think sometimes I need reminders that there are bigger things outside of my silly thoughts.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

what i ate wednesday

greek yoghurt
orange blossom honey
tesco granola (in place of fresh berries)

waitrose butterhead salad mix
pomme dei moro tomatoes
romano peppers
grilled low-fat halloumi
with a chilli and soy sauce dressing

mid-afternoon snack:
cherries from the tree we planted in the garden last year

baby corn
red peppers
sugar snap peas
stir-fried in soy sauce, ginger, garlic and honey
(with rice, duh)

after dinner snack:
blended with some greek yoghurt

After a weekend of eating a lot of junk food, a lot of cake, crisps, and drinking (for my dad's birthday, not just binging!) I thought I would try and be much healthier this week and last, so I thought I'd task myself to photograph what I ate, in the hopes it would force me to be a bit stricter with my eating. It really did - except for the only thing I didn't photograph: a giant 99 ice-cream I chased after the ice-cream van on my way to the allotment that evening.. I couldn't help myself, really. 
Just a note before I tell you a bit more about what I'm eating - I think you should generally consume more calories than I have today, but I am trying to lose weight, and I have also recently been diagnosed with some stomach problems, so am taking things easy.

For breakfast, I usually have a good amount of Greek yoghurt with about 15g of honey to take the edge of. Usually when I first wake up in the morning, I find the Greek kind to be a tiny bit sharp, so the honey helps. I also usually have it with some fresh berries or other fruit, but I hadn't been to the shops yet, so I found some dry granola to mix in. 
For my late lunch I made myself a really big, amazing salad. I don't know why it was so good, but it was really good. I don't know if it was because I treated myself to a slightly nicer bag of salad, peppers and tomatoes as opposed to the usual little gem, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers, but it was super refreshing and filling, too. 
I always get peckish in the afternoon so had some strawberries and and cherries from the plants in the garden. There were more that photographed, but I ate most of them before I remembered..
And for dinner me and my mum made her standard stir-fry, it's nothing special really, I've listed all the ingredients above but it really hits the spot when you're hungry.
After dinner (apart from the 99 I mentioned..) I made myself a smoothie, being careful to use some non-acidic fruits that wouldn't upset my stomach. It tasted really good, and didn't upset my stomach at all, so that is perfect in my book.

What healthy recipes do you recommend? I really loved doing this, I think it's a great exercise to think about what you're eating - particularly the snacks I always sneak between meals..

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

blue racoon summer shirt

At Christmas, my mother bought me a metre of this beautiful Tula Pink fabric from John Lewis - from the Acacia collection. For six months I uhm-ed and aah-ed over what to make with it that wouldn't cut up the racoons too much - then my mum bought me another metre for my birthday, and we came across an article in an old magazine about how to draft a "boxy tee" pattern for yourself.. and, amazingly, it worked! I can knit things from patterns but I never thought I'd be able to sew myself a shirt. Admittedly, it did involve a lot of help from my mother (like one of the instructions just said "sew a bias tape" and I had no clue how to do that from the fabric I had...). 

The pattern tells you to measure your bust, shoulders, arms, the length you want the shirt and the circumference of where it will sit, and the drop of the neckline, and it told me exactly how to cut it out.. We made a trial from an old sheet, adjusted sleeves, lengths, necklines etc, and then made the real thing! It was so cool to try it on for the first time. 

I went with a high neck in front, with a dipped neckline in back to keep it cool for summer, long enough to cover the top of my jeans (something I find permanently frustrating in store-bought t-shirts, I'm forever tugging them down because I'm too tall!) and with sleeves that are currently just rolled up, but I am planning on making a little tab and button for them... once I can figure out how to do a button hole (mum will probably have to help there, too!). But, basically, I am in love with it. It's cotton, which makes it really cool for the summer, and I've been wearing it everywhere, with my cut off jeans, faux-Birkenstock sandals and sunglasses - I feel like a kid who won't take off their favourite dress, because I want to wear it all the time.

My next step is to try and make a shift dress from the same pattern - I'm going to go look for some fabric today. There is a foxy print one that I've had my eye on at a local quilt shop for a while.. I never thought I'd be into dressmaking, thinking I wouldn't be able to find nice patterns for my size/height, but making your own pattern seems like the perfect solution.

Have you ever made your own clothes?

(PS - how bright does my hair look in these pictures? I had it re-dyed the other week and I didn't realise it had gone so red in the sun..)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

weekend wanderings #20

(images from, and

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

of polar-bears and walruses: tring museum

I don't know why, or when it happened, but I apparently became obsessed with museums full of taxidermy, sometime recently. I think it started when I visited Florence, and found the most amazing museum full of stuffed animals, crystals, birds and wax mannequins - which I really must show you guys sometimes, I went during one of my blogging-breaks.
Anyway, the weekend before last I visited Tring museum - it is part of the Natural History Museum which means that entry is free (amazing) and it's filled with some great taxidermy, with a polar bear right as you walk in. 
It's not a huge museum, but it has got some cool things, like the walrus and lots of pet dogs, which is pretty weird. I don't think it is worth going all the way there for it - but it's a good place to visit if you're in the area.

(PS: Sorry I've been a bad blogger this week, I haven't been very well, and have been away for the weekend! Normal posts will resume this week!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

of red kites and elderflowers

I mentioned it briefly on Sunday, but I had a really nice day out on Sunday with my parents - it involved a little walk around some towns near Hambleden, particularly to this amazing spot my dad found the other week where there are so many Red Kites flying around - they come really low so you can really see their size and just how beautiful there.. my photography really doesn't do them justice.. they're one of my favourite creatures, they really are. I think because where I live, you don't see many birds of prey - the odd buzzard if you're out in the fields or on the common - but in the last ten years or so of my life (maybe less?) they have become more widespread and I really do love seeing them overhead. Anyway, we had a little wander through some country lanes, had lunch and I even did a spot of knitting. I also decided I really want an elderflower tree..

Sunday, June 08, 2014

my birthday week

me and my papa  -  my mum and my dad  -  a bird managed to get inside the feeder  -  dinner with dad
a new aloe vera plant from lidl  -  blue araucana eggs  -  birthday moon and a cat on a roof  -  birthday makeup in b&w
casting on new knitting projects  -  knitting in the garden  -  our pak choi flowering by mistake  -  finishing my yellow hat
my mum fashioned a shirt/dress from a scarf with a leopard on  -  strawberry birthday cake  -  a church in buckinghamshire  -  my dad taking me to the best field ever (more on that tomorrow..) 

I've had a really relaxing week this week - I turned twenty-four yesterday, which feels really weird. I feel like I've had a lot of mental stuff to deal with this year, and its made me feel a lot older, but after getting over a cold and finishing a horrible week of shifts at work, I've enjoyed doing homey things, like going to the allotment with my dad, organising his party with my mum, managing to get to the gym every day this week (oh yes) and then having a very relaxing weekend, with a little excursion today that was lovely lovely. I honestly couldn't be bothered to get all the stuff together for a weekend wandering today because I've had such a chill day, so you'll probably get a bumper edition next week! 
Right then, hope you've all had a great weekend and got a little bit of sunshine wherever you are - I'm off to eat dinner, a saffron and lemon chicken recipe from my new cookbook - Persiana!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Q #8

A much longer quote, today, and I have had it saved on my tumblr for quite some time, now, but it's something G.R.R Martin (the author of the Game of Thrones books, for anyone hiding under rocks) posted on his website. I have been fed fantasy novels all my life by my mother, a huge fan of all things fantastical and science-fictiony, and whilst I have a love of 'serious' literature, of existential writing and the more philosophical, I felt that at university, it was practically an embarrassing thing to admit to liking such things. And whilst sometimes I love a 'serious' novel into the depth of the human condition, (or some other such trite phrase you might find on a dust-jacket), part of me thinks that if you can write anything, why not write about beautiful, luxurious, colourful places.

It's my birthday tomorrow, and my fathers today, so any posts you might see from me this weekend will probably be scheduled in advance, and there may or may not be a Weekend Wanderings this week, I'm not sure, either way, have a lovely weekend! 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

breakfast rituals

I really love a good cup of coffee, however I am not the biggest fan of instant coffee, and my family aren't really big coffee drinkers: so until I recently purchased a one-cup Bodum cafetiere I've not really known the joy of drinking freshly brewed ground coffee. Now, I absolutely love it. It's not just the taste, which I think is better, and richer than instant, but it's the time it takes to make, which gives me enough time to fetch the paper, make myself a bowl of Greek yoghurt and orange-blossom honey (my current favourite, it's perfect) and settle down at the table.. I'm really enjoying this little morning ritual that I have. Even if I don't manage it every day, or when I'm working, I really enjoy taking the time to have my yoghurt and coffee in peace and quiet, flicking through the papers.
(Also, can I point out how cute my mums bowls and mugs are? They were from M&S in the sale, and they're so lovely.)

Monday, June 02, 2014

week(day) wanderings #19

(photographs from, and
  • I think it's the slow approach of the summer, and I know that brings with it blackberries, apples, pears and plums - but I am craving all sorts of jams. As if the internet knew this - I stumbled over this old post with beautiful photographs of rich, fruity blackberry jam this week, and got me craving it all over again.
  • Defining what your blog stands for is such an amazing tip and I found this article over on Nubby Twiglet very helpful - I've recently had such a love for blogging - other peoples, and my own, and think this is such a great tip, for bigger bloggers or those just starting out.
  • I was looking for something in my mum's sewing room this week, which is my little brothers old bedroom, and came across his amazing old Gameboy Colour. It reminded me of this article I found a while back, and hunted it down - such a cool thing to look at how they've evolved. I even played a bit of Pokemon Yellow, it was such a throwback, but so cool.
  • I spoke about my love of all things blended, blitzed, food processed in last weeks edition of this post, but this week I have been making hummus/houmous/humous, etc. My go-to recipe is an unmeasured healthier version: a can of Napolina chickpeas, a tablespoon of tahini, a few tablespoons of low-fat yoghurt, and salt, pepper, lemon/lime juice, cumin and coriander to taste. Basically I just throw it all in until it tastes good, and think that by adding more flavourings it makes tastier hummus that I eat less of, but that is for another post. My mum emailed me this recipe on Monday and I've been wanting to try it out ever since: a spicy sweet potato hummus is so up there on my list.
  • Also food related - this post by Terri Lowe made me realllly want to go out somewhere new for dinner. Since being all healthy this year, I've only eaten out maybe two or three times since January? It's my birthday in a week, and my dad's the day before, so I know I'm going to be eating out like four times, so I probably shouldn't be eating anything this week..
  • So I know that I'm not even in a relationship, yet these wedding photographs are so beautiful - they're everything I would want in a wedding. The flowers, the dress, the colour of the bridesmaids dresses, the fog and the location.. perfect.
  • Discovering the most perfect blue tiled bathroom last week, and realising that is my life goal to have that in my future. Couldn't you see it being the most tranquil place? Like a Roman bathhouse or something equally beautiful.

I'm sorry I'm a day late today with this, I had an early last night because I was unwell and forgot all about posting - bad blogger!