Goodbye January

For once I’m not actually glad to see the back of January, I am sure many will disagree with me, but I will argue my case!

January for me has supplied an endless amount of beautiful countryside scenery. It has been cold, so very cold, some nights reaching temperatures of -8°C. As a result there has been a velvety, sparkling carpet laid delicately across the South Oxfordshire and Berkshire countryside. For me the ultimate bonus of this weather has meant that dog walks have been clean, yes that’s right, there has been no mud for me in January. I detest coming home with a Dalmatian looking more like a chocolate Lab, sporting the ‘eau de wet dog aroma’, wellies caked in mud (yes I know this is what they are for, but still), my hair forever looking like I crawled through a bush backwards and specks of mud splodged onto my face trying its hardest to blend in with my freckles!

So I fully embraced the cold albeit with my thermals, gloves, hat and 2 pairs of socks and just have to share with you all some of the photographs I captured.

 

I have to post the below separately, as I am a little bit proud of this particular image winning a photography competition with The English Garden Magazine via Instagram. Thank you once again for picking me, I am still over the moon.

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How was January for you?

View more from fortheloveofpeas and follow on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/fortheloveofpeas_/

All images owned by fortheloveofpeas

 

Pub lunch at The Pack Saddle

I love a pub lunch at the weekend, especially in the autumn, when its nice to settle down in a cosy pub with the fire roaring whilst you tuck into a hearty lunch.

We recently paid a visit to The Pack Saddle in Mapledurham, a privately owned pub fairly local to us but one we haven’t been to before.

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We enjoyed starters of the grilled halloumi and selection of bread. The bread came with garlic, basil and chilli flavoured butters which were just the most delicious accompaniment.

For mains we picked the Pack Saddle beef burger and minute steak saltimbocca, both were outstanding. Presentation of all dishes was high, I am afraid I am one of those that can be easily won over by chips turning up in baskets and food presented on slates! All dishes were packed with flavour and the only thing I was disappointed in, was the fact I was too full for dessert!

Last but not least I must also commend The Pack Saddle staff, they were all so friendly and attentive. The food arrived quickly and I cannot wait to return.

Read more about The Pack Saddle on their website here: http://www.thepacksaddle.com/

10 things I love about autumn

Yes, it’s true, with the weather taking a chillier turn over the past week I now feel it is time to wave goodbye to the summer months and readily welcome autumn with open arms. For any of you that know me will know that I have a full membership as a sun worshipper and my most hated weather is rain, but this year I am looking at autumn with optimism and trying to see the positives of a less favoured time of year, so here goes my top ten…

  1. Number one has got to be the change of colours. Before we embrace the bleak look of winter and the trees look depressingly bare, autumn throws us a medley of warm tones from bright sun yellow to deep gold to burnt orange to berry red!
  2. As much as I do love my summer wardrobe, there is something comforting and homely about wearing jumpers, boots and woolly hats.
  3. Going from comfortable clothing to comfort food! Autumn food is wholesome and hearty, its the season to eat things like pies, sausages and mash and casseroles!
  4. Make use of the evenings drawing in, now that we are unable to spend long evenings in the garden with Pimms, it is perhaps time to be a little bit more productive! I have some great ideas for crafting projects so make sure you check back on the blog to see what I have been up to!
  5. Leaves, yes leaves! Country walks in the woods with the crisp leaves underneath your welly boots.
  6. Bonfires and fireworks. Remember remember the 5th of November! This year bonfire night falls on a Saturday, which makes it more practical for attending local displays. Also hoping that it means the displays will be condensed into 2/3 days as our beautiful Dalmatian is NOT a fan!
  7. Mulled wine, as soon as it turns cold it is acceptable to drink mulled wine and red wine (white for the summer, red for the winter in my book). Every pub that has a fire should have a plentiful stock of mulled wine all autumn/winter long.
  8. TV, there’s no denying it the programme options get much better at this time of year.
  9. The cooler weather does make it easier to go running with the dog and means that I am not entering the gym already looking hot and bothered!
  10. Apologies to any Bah Humbugs but I have to add this as number ten, the countdown to Christmas and the festive season is on!

 

I hope you have enjoyed the read, I’d love to know what makes you love the autumn season, comments below 🙂

Monday Night Indulgence!

So on Monday night it was girls date night which we try to do once a month, normally we are after the savoury option of Sushi but this Monday called for something different.

With two of the group having been to Treatz before and wanting to show the other two the new and exciting world of dessert parlours, we put our trust in their hands and arranged an evening of sweet indulgence.

We visited Treatz in Reading and basically you can create your very own whopper of a dessert, mixing and matching toppings and ice cream flavours. The menu is extensive to say the least! Following good guidance from our more experienced dessertiers we opted for the large waffle topped with Nutella (my favourite thing in the entire world), banana slices, crushed nuts and snickers ice cream – highly recommended!!!

 

All photos belong to fortheloveofpeas, all comments and opinions are my own.

Binfield Heath Flower and Dog Show

On Saturday we spent the afternoon at the Binfield Heath Flower and Dog Show. This is an annual event held on the August Bank Holiday weekend and we have been a few times before. However on this occasion we were putting our dignity on the line and gearing up for full on red faced embarrassment, for we had made the incredibly brave decision to enter Murray into some of the dog show classes!

Now for any of you that know us, you can definitely liken Murray and me to the famous story of Marley and Me! Murray being a Dalmatian has not been easy to train especially as once off a lead everything in the world is way more interesting than me! Having said that we have made great improvement recently on the listening front and recall. So with our brave faces on and having given Murray a strict ‘pep talk’ about behaviour, we were off!

I’m not sure weather it was the ‘pep talk’,  the new surroundings or whether it was all his four legged peers around which made Murray behave absolutely impeccably. The visions of me being dragged around the arena were long forgotten and we really enjoyed ourselves. We entered four classes and came 2nd in one (dog the judge wanted to take home) and 4th for non sporting breed. I think Murray was just as pleased as us with how the day turned out and now he can be trusted to not make a mockery of us, I think we’ll be doing this again!

A huge thank you to all involved in organising the dog show, the judges and the sponsors for the most fantastic winners bags.

We spent most of the afternoon by the side of the showing arena but managed to have a quick wander round before hand and a peak in the show tent afterwards, of course there was the compulsory hot dog break too! Here are some photos from the show tent:

The most stunning selection of bouquets.

One of my favourites, the Dahlia. I really fell in love with the white tipped gently with lilac, so unusual and pretty. I will be looking out for these for my planting schemes next year.

A true village/country fair must have the compulsory show off vegetables and just look at these! First and second prize featured above, the carrots almost look like they have been moulded from plasticine and the onions are perfectly spherical! Too good to eat!

Did you visit the Binfield Show too? Comment below would love to hear your experience.

Mapledurham Love Food Festival

Mapledurham House and Watermill is a short drive out of Reading (towards Cane End and the stunning surroundings of the Oxfordshire countryside) and this weekend they are playing host to the annual Love Food Festival. This morning we ventured out early to go and have a good mooch around all the stalls. The backdrop of the house and grounds is beautiful, tranquil and located just on the edge of the Thames.

The food stalls offered a fantastic variety from cheese to churros to champagne! We worked our way round and sampled scrumptious cheese, juicy olives and tasty sausages. I can highly recommend Blacks Cheese http://www.blackscheese.co.uk we opted for the ‘Old Smokey Redwood’, ‘Little Winker Ale and Mustard’ and ‘Smoky Peppadew and Garlic’. I am so looking forward to getting creative in the kitchen and including them in some salads and pasta dishes, if they aren’t gobbled up on crackers beforehand! We also took home some sausages from Natural Game http://www.naturalgame.co.uk who stock the most exotic range of meats I have ever come across. We choose the ‘BBQ Jack Daniels’, ‘Venison’ and ‘Stilton and Spring Onion’.

The sweet treats available were also outstanding with macaroons, cupcakes and ice cream available.

Inside the tents are also a variety of craft stalls including an enchanting company who offer silver jewellery made from antique items. I fell in love with the bangle made from a silver fork, so unusual and so beautiful.

The Mapledurham Love Food Festival is running tomorrow from 10am-5pm, would highly recommend a trip. Enjoy!

 

Read and see more about The Mapledurham Food Festival here: http://www.mapledurhamfestival.co.uk

The Loseley Park Garden Show

Last weekend we headed out to Loseley Park near Guildford for their Garden Show. It was a bit of an impromptu decision, but hey that’s what weekends are for!

The long sweeping driveway up to the house and grounds was enchanting, it is such a beautiful property and I would love to visit again to look around the house. We were blessed with the weather also, beautiful sunshine and blue sky with the odd fluffy white candy floss cloud.

There were lots and lots of stalls and I would liken it to a mini Berkshire Country Show. We had a go at Archery, which requires a surprising amount of strength in the upper arms! I did manage to get one of the arrows fairly close to bullseye though! We also watched the birds of prey show which was spectacular.

 

Next we hit the food stalls and I came across THE BEST fudge company yet Mini Mouthfuls http://www.minimouthfuls.com so many wonderful and more unusual flavours and so fresh. I love fudge when it is slightly squidgy and moist, I was quite disappointed with some that I bought at a show last year which was very crumbly and dry and I must say at least double the price as to what Mini Mouthfuls charge. I took their card and will certainly be ordering…quite possibly next week!

 

We also were introduced to Giggly Pig sausages, have you tried them? Again so many different flavours and they had samples of every one of them to try. It was hard making a decision as they were all so scrumptious, but we settled on three packs and chose Caribbean, Spicy Cumberland and Honey and Mustard. You can read more about Giggly Pig and their products here; http://www.gigglypig.co.uk

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So many beautiful flowers were on display and available to buy. It was hard not to take a whole garden home with us! Here are a few of my favourites especially the Gazania and Echinacea.

So a big thank you to Loseley Park and everyone involved for such a wonderful day filled with so much to see and do. I can’t wait to come back next year.

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