Thursday, 17 June 2010

Summer Living


Summer is here!! I know this because there are plump and juicy little apricots in the grocers shop, with that beautiful rosy blush on them. It is little things like these (and donut peaches which I'm still on the lookout for this season) which bring a deep sense of delight and peace for me...these little fruits mean the weather is warm, its a succulent time of relaxed pleasure and exquisite flavours...its time to enjoy raspberries and strawberries at their best with heaps of glorious vanilla ice-cream - or better - with clotted cream, all piled generously on top of a freshly baked scone!

Mouth watering yet? Thought so!

Our little allotment patch in our tiny garden is beginning to show fruits of our labour, which began way back in January when there was snow on the ground and we eagerly looked through seed cataglogs deciding which tasty treats to try and grow this year.

We chose quite a few different things but planted only a few of each (due to space being small) and we are happily watching our crystal lemon cucumbers grow from struggling seedlings into strong little plants, alongside dwarf courgettes which are already showing off their trumpety yellow flowers. Runner beans are making an appearance amid the Love in a Mist, and the broad beans are full of flowers which we hope will make for a good crop!

There it is, our little patch behind the bench there - and already we have been enjoying the salad leaves and radish...oh my goodness, I've never eaten a radish like it!! Nothing like those watery and tasteless specimens in the supermarket - my goodness, these are crunchy and peppery and utterly delicious!!

Of course, this sudden spell of nice weather (after the appalling torrential downpours here) means we can eat outside!! Oh how I love eating outside!! There is something very relaxing about sitting and eating a meal to the sound of birds singing and the river gurgling away down the garden. It also means I can indulge myself with my napkin obsession (I seem to collect pretty packs of them when I'm out and about) and I love to bring out the brightest ones to enjoy! Does anyone else do this? Get excited about napkins I mean? I know, I'm probably ever so slightly mad for doing this, but putting pretty napkins in the basket for al-fresco dining just makes me so happy!

Anyway, that's enough waffling on about food and the like - I was really hoping to share some new crochet work with you today folks. Yes, the other evening I spent a couple of hours making a pot stand from one of my Japanese crochet books. I know a few of you have these books yourself, and will know that despite the instructions being in the Japanese language, the patterns with the crochet symbols are really quite easy to follow...sort of... :D

So I started...and a bit later on I realised my pot stand was getting a little bit TOO BIG.

Oh dear...I checked the pattern, and after a bit of investigation discovered that the Japanese hook number 4 is in fact a UK 2.5 (this took some trawling on the internet and a blessed discovery of a gorgeous blog called One Pink Plum which helped a lot)...and so, I had to undo the lot as it was starting to resemble a table cloth rather than a pot stand. I haven't had chance to redo it but now I have a bit of good Japanese hooky size info under my belt I am now ready to give it another whirl.

So I'm very sorry, but no crafty pics this week.

However, something else that has got me demented with excitement as you will perhaps know from last weeks post, is this camping lark.

Well, a pitch has been booked with some good friends from Devon in the heart of the Cotswolds!! WOooHooo!
We haven't actually bought our tent...yet...but we will! We have found it, its a beauty and we cannot wait to go and get it next week all being well. In the meantime to quench our appetite we have invested in a camping lantern, a good comfy blow up mattress and this:

...which is utter drool fodder it has to be said, and at this rate i'll be camping every week if the pictures are anything to go by!

Now, I have to say thank you to the ones of you who were most forthcoming with advice and stories of your own experiences - if anyone else would like to share any camping wisdom I would love, love, LOVE to hear from you!! I like that you all mostly think that camping in comfort and yes, even in luxury is necessary these days, and I have to confess to absolutely not being a Bear Grylls type of camper - no way. Its not me, I like to be warm, cosy, comfy and that's not a lot to ask. I want to roll off my humongous mattress from under my lovely duvet and eat a croissant of a morning with a pot of nice fresh coffee - I'm not going to be arguing with a camp fire and picking slugs out of my mess tin...hang on...mess tin? Oh my goodness, not on your nelly...we will be dining in style my friends, and somehow after a jaunt to John Lewis this week, this little lot came home with me:

I fell in love with it - there is something faintly retro and reminiscent of something we had like this in our childhood - can't quite think exactly what but it just screamed CAMPING at me, so I had to get it!!
There is now a small pile of Camping Stuff mounting up in the corner of our dining room. I get such a marvellous feeling each time I see it and to think that we will soon be road testing it on our first ever jaunt, which takes place mid July and I'm just hoping that the weather is kind to us, but this being England, who can possibly tell?!

Anyway - it's almost teatime in our little house! I had no idea of the time but the Small Person has just told me in no uncertain terms that she is beside herself with hunger, so I'm off to cook something that we can eat outdoors, listening to the birds and the gurgling river....

Have a gorgeous weekend!

Much love
Julia x


  1. I use the Cool Camping guide to pick our sites too - we went to one in Norfolk last year that is in the guide and it was perfect. If you get the weather, you will just love camping - eating and sleeping outdoors - just perfect. Just remember though - it all has to fit into your car. xxxx

  2. Hi Julia! Oooohhhh what a fab post! It got me all smiley and happy! I keep on at Mr H to get all camping bits bought so we can do a spot (I promised the boys last year we would do it and still havn't sorted anything out). The picnic thing seems to have taken over me at the moment! I Love the JL bits and pieces. They have such great bits in at the moment! I love your vegetable patch. I bought some hanging baskets for my dad today for fathers day......peas! They look sooooo good I think I will have to go back and get some for myself. I got some hanging baskets of strawberries and biggest bear is trying his hardest to grow peppers and tomatoes. That's the extent of it for us! I hope you have a lovely alfresco dining experience tonight! Much love Vanessa xxxxx

  3. That was a very tasty post in more ways than one. Thank you for a bit of summer flavoured reading. Ax

  4. Ah Julia I am so there with you, we got our hand-me-down tent last week, put it up to see how she was doing after ten years in a loft, she's a beauty! A grown up wendy house in colours which remind me of humpty dumpty from Playschool even though they are totally different, gorgeous dark blue and russet,the feels the same. I named her WendyHump immediately. We also got a 70's stove and grill, an ickle metal and enamel kitchen to put it on and some serious retro melamine dishes......I am in heaven. It was lovely to see my Hybby's face light up in the memory of using it all when he was wee!
    We plan to go in two weeks for a weekend, think we have found a fabby campsite and we're soooooooo excited! I agree 100% about the home comforts though!
    By the way I should take a photo of my napkin box just to show you you are not alone!! I cannot help myself, it is an affliction!

  5. 'ooohhhh' eating al fresco - it's still a bit too nippy down here, well I say nippy, more like windy (very!!)

    Our little allotment is looking okay'ish' but as you say with all the bad weather everything seems so far behind. We're keeping our fingers crossed that all will plump up soon.

    take care,

    Nina xx

  6. what a lovely post..I SO get the napkin thing, I LOVE to have pretty napkins to hand.
    I am also about to order exact same picnic gear from JL, isn't it lovely.
    Enjoying your camping excitement v much xxxxxxxx

  7. We've just had our tea outside and you're right it's lovely to eat out of doors.
    You're not alone with the napkins, I've a drawer full of them!! :)
    Vivienne x

  8. Donut peaches are in tesco now! Run and buy some before they all go :)

  9. Those apricots on a blue plate look so stunning.Your veg patch is also super impressive !!
    Great you have an exciting adventure to look forward to ,sounds like you are making the most of summer :0)
    Jacquie x

  10. How much fun to be thinking about camping - our weather has just chilled down all of a sudden so I am now dreaming vicariously of warm blue skys through you. I love your blue bowl with the peaches so much - my Granny was a potter and she used to use a glaze just like it.

  11. Hello Julia, you have made sooooo jealous with your garden! We only have a backyard and although I have a few veggies growing in pots it is nothing compared to what you have. It's lovely.
    I love the camping stuff, so bright and cheerful.

  12. Lovely camping utensils!
    And donut peaches! My son asked if they had jam in the middle - now wouldn't that be brilliant!

  13. Ooh I hope you enjoy your stay in the Cotswolds (I live here and it's lovely for camping!). We're planning some camping trips for later in the year, you can't beat sleeping outdoors in an English Summer :)

  14. Me again!! Top Tips:
    Assume it will be cold at night - it often is. If its warm in the night its easier to strip off than go searching in the dark for "layers". Wear thick wooly socks to bed, and take a hot water bottle. One blanket underneath you (on top of your matress)is worth 4 on top - the cold seems to rise from the ground. xxxx

  15. I do so agree about the radishes, anything from the supermarket is rubbery and tasteless when compared to one picked, rinsed and bitten into... so peppery, so crunchy. And you grew it yourself, which is the icing on the cake really. We have a large garden, but divided into many different areas, and the newly created veg one is full of small, metre square raised beds for different crops. All in all, not a massive area probably, but it is amazing the variety of crops you can grow, if like us, you only grow them in small amounts, and/or in succession. In our case, there are only the two of us anyway and a small freezer, so huge amounts not needed. Just wish I had your gurgling river.....

  16. A super post again Julia. I bet you are so looking forward to the camping trip. Lovely bet you have bought.
    Great veg patch. We had home grown rocket salad last night, Yum.
    Have a great weekend,
    Rachael xx

  17. I love camping! All my childhood hols were in tents and we have been taking our children since they were small. Have fun, hope you get some sunshine.

  18. summer food is just so special especially if eaten out of doors!

  19. You are so lucky to have your own vegetable patch!
    In my little garden, all I have is strawberries and herbs!
    Enjoy the lovely weather that we are having!


  20. The photo of the apricots against the blue bowl is lovely - the colours look stunning.

    With you on the napkins! & love the picnicware. John Lewis is fab. Love going there to shop when I get to Sheffield.

    No camping advice from me - the last time I went, I was a Girl Guide.

    Love Lydia x

  21. Such a lovely post Julia. I loved all of it. We have been eating outdoors lots too. Can't get enough of the sunshine. Great to be eating stuff you've grown too isn't it? Have a good week x

  22. The apricots are so vibrant and sunny, such an uplifting photo. Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog! Hope you have a great time when you go camping. Love the John Lewis goodies.

  23. Such a lovely post Julia, so much summer loveliness. I am glad I was able to help with the Japanese pattern problem. Look forward to seeing your completed potholders and projects to come! Anna


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