The Handmade Fair @ Bowood House.

bowood x

The weather has been absolutely glorious in England this weekend and it looks like the sunshine will be staying put for a little while yet which makes me and I’m sure the rest of the UK want to stand up and rejoice!! I was lucky enough to have been invited by Rewired PR to an event at Bowood House in Wiltshire at the weekend called The Handmade Fair. The event was over three days from the Friday to the Sunday and was blessed with the most fantastic, sunny weather. As soon as I heard about this I really liked the idea of this fair. Created by Kirstie Allsopp as a great way to get more people into arts and crafts as well as uniting art, craft and handmade lovers far and wide which I really like. This is the ultimate creative day out whether you want to brush up on your skills from experts or if you want to dabble at something new and uncover a hidden crocheting talent there really is something for everyone. There’s plenty of things going on at The Handmade Fair whether, like me, you’re happy ambling round The Shopping Villages. They’re all bursting at the seams with handmade products and full of people  are full to the brim with handmade products of the highest quality by the talented makers and creators. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle you can always head over to The Super Theatre, Skills Workshops and Grand Makes marquee’s where you can learn a new skill or two hosted by the UK’s most renowned experts. Oh and did I mention they had some magnificent street food vans dotted around too? I could have gone around twice collecting my £200 for passing GO everytime. I really loved how inclusive this event was. Since going vegetarian back in November it has been somewhat tricky for me to find foods when out and about that I really like and get excited by. But there was so much choice here from homemade ravioli, to a specific vegetarian/vegan food truck called Eats Shoots and Leaves (I LOVE a good pun, especially a panda related one).

DSCF2923

Nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, not too far from Chippenham, sits a Grade I listed Georgian country house also known as Bowood House and Gardens. The Fair was held in the Gardens and you have to give The Handmade Fair team their credit for picking some of the most stunning locations. From Ragley Hall in Warwickshire in May to their later dates of being in Hampton Court Palace in September. Such an ideal way to make a weekend of it by visiting the Fair and spending another day having a nose around the house and gardens!

DSCF2921

My sister and I set off on the Saturday morning just before 10. It was a gorgeously sunny and only took about an hour from my house despite getting a tiny bit lost as I thought I knew better than the directions on my phone. Apple 1 – Abbie 0.  As soon as we parked up and got our wristbands from the desk we practically bounced on inside. The staff on the gates and checking tickets were all so friendly, happy and welcoming, asking us if we needed any help or wanted to know where to start and gladly pointed me in the direction of the RewiredPR tent so I could say a quick hello to the lovely team that made this possible. This was my first ever blog related event and I was feeling a bit anxious/nervous about it all. My sister helped me put my mind at ease and so did the PR team. They were so lovely and I found it really nice to meet the people or the person behind the emails and put a face to a name. So with that I went to go for a wander around the site armed with my phone and my camera as I was worried all my storage would be gone in a matter of five photos and a boomerang.

DSCF2943

My sister and I are both big foodies so were naturally drawn to the Artisan Marketplace marquee. It was like someone knew I was coming as it was filled with delectable sweet treats, cakes and several different gins. Naturally I had to sample them all and I was actually surprisingly taken with a coffee infused dark rum from Cornwall.

DSCF2940

As a lover of gin I can safely say how happy I am that it appears to be really having a ‘moment’ and is the ‘in’ spirit of choice. I know a few people who don’t really like it or find the scent of it quite woody or ‘piney’ in their words. But I think with so many different tonics available, flavoured gins and even flavour pairings you could add different herbs and spices, fruits or even a slither or cucumber to give it a rounded, cleaner taste if the taste of juniper isn’t for you!

From the same stand my sister and I purchased some savoury biscuits which were so incredible. We bought three boxes and they didn’t even last as long as 24 hours from unboxing as soon as we got them home. They were from the same company as seen above called Popti and they may be the most delicious biscuits I’ve tried. I love the packaging it’s so simple yet the choice of bold colours makes them really stand out on a shelf. They have a good variety of different flavours which you could snack on, on their own or even as an accompaniment to cheeses. If you ever come across this brand I urge you to try them they were so moreish and buttery. They honestly tasted like a savoury shortbread or something. INCRED. Also the lady we spoke to was so kind and lovely!!

bowoodd

DSCF2953

I even tried a small sample of moonshine. I did read the leaflet and the gentleman selling these did explain what moonshine *actually* is but other than a delicious and smooth alcohol they made in the prohibition era I still can’t quite remember. I tried one that tasted just like ameretto and could have easily drunk that neat all day long.

DSCF2950

A variety of different cheeses were also on offer and I tried a charcoal cheese which was mild, creamy albeit being rich and black in colour. If you had your eyes closes and weren’t any the wiser you wouldn’t have had any idea I don’t think as it didn’t have that overpowering smokiness sometimes charcoal can give. This type of thing would look great on a cheeseboard. BTW this chap is totally caught off guard but I’m living for the pose I might make that my go to pose in photos…White gloves optional.

DSCF2939

These marshmallows were incredible from a company called Grown Up Marshmallows.  I’ve loved marshallows since I was a child and I love seeing the different flavours or the gourmet ones you can get now. I tried the dark chocolate and raspberry one and it was amazing, it was soft and gooey but still had some chewiness to it. To me it tasted just like a normal, regular marshmallow if it wasn’t for the fact the sign and the lady talking to me said it didn’t contain any gluten, fats or egg I wouldn’t have been any the wiser.

DSCF2938

I’ve never in my life seen so many different ways with garlic as I did on this stall. Garlic butters, different types of garlic mayo, whole garlic bulbs, pureed garlic, garlic oil even to garlic beer?! All freshly grown from their Isle of Wight farms.

bow ood

I love these Mighty Fine nuggets of joy so much. My sister got me a peanut butter flavoured pouch for my birthday but my one true love is dark chocolate and it goes so nicely with their honeycomb I had to get this one especially as it was a £1 cheaper than usual shop price. Mighty fine you really are mighty fine.

Around midday we decided to take a bit of respite and get something to eat. You’re spoilt for choice for things to eat whether you want fish and chips, sheeps milk ice cream, gourmet cheese on toast to vegan nachos. You could easily spend all day trying some of each food stall until you burst. Eventually my sister and I decided on a food truck called RaviOllie. I love a good pun me. RaviOllie was born when the chef, Ollie, had spent many years working in top restaurants in London learning every inch of the kitchen including perfecting the art of making fresh and incredible pasta. Taking this love of food and pasta he decided on putting his own stamp on things, specifically ravioli. And I’m blimmin’ glad he did. We had spinach and ricotta filled ravioli topped with Parmesan, cracked black pepper and a choice of different oils.  The pasta was like nothing I’ve ever tried before. It was absolutely sensational. The pasta itself was gorgeous and nothing at all like ones I’ve had in restaurants or shop bought. You could just tell the ingredients were fresh and of good, high quality as it looked and smelt so fresh and vibrant.  The filling was so creamy but not too rich, it was cheesy and delicious and I wish I could have an endless supply for the rest of my life because it is legit the most perfect comfort food.

DSCF2948

bowood x x

Feeling a bit peckish we found somewhere selling a pot of strawberries and cream. But this pot was like a Nigella Lawson style levelled up treat. Like Wimbledon hasn’t got a patch on this. Sweet strawbs topped with a lavender cream, vanilla mini meringues, a homemade gin and tonic jelly and mint leaves. HEAVEN. It was the perfect summery snack on a hot afternoon.

After a leisurely bite to eat and soaking up some of the rays we headed into the Shopping Village tent filled to the brim of everything and anything you can think of when it comes to the world of arts and crafts.

DSCF2954DSCF2955

The first stand right by the door took my fancy. You could buy little wooden shapes and paint and decorate them onto to things to make them look so much more decorative and ornate like this little wooden wreath as seen above. This would lovely if you wanted to design a little photoframe for someone as a gift or put a nice picture or even leave it how it is as a wall hanging. These types of things are so versatile if you wanted to make a scrapbook for someone you could make their name out of letter shapes or if you wanted to make a memory box you could decorate it with their products too. The possibilities are endless.

DSCF2980

I love, love, LOVE these quills that were on offer on one stand. You could learn the basics of calligraphy too as their was a workshop on that too! These would make me feel so fancy and like I was in Harry Potter.

DSCF2959DSCF2957

If fabric working or upcycling is much more up your alley there were several different stands selling beautiful prints and fabrics. I’m a magpie for pretty things, bold colours and prints and this whole section really stood out to me. As someone who would love to be able to make their own clothing I looked on at this like a kid in a candy shop. There was another stand that was teaching people to make their own pom poms which I thought was really cute. They would make such good keyrings or decorative pieces.

DSCF2960

This gentleman was showing an older method of weaving wool and attracted quite a crowd. It was really nice to be involved in a day and an event where people with different crafts, hobbies and skill levels came together to celebrate all things homemade. There is something special in having something that you can say I made this. Or I took the time and actually completed this and look how fab it looks!

Other than blogging I’ve never really had a long term hobby that I’ve actually loved, enjoyed and stuck with (maybe playing the recorder at primary school but didn’t everyone do that?!) So I was hoping when I went along to this I would find something that would take my eye and I would develop a new hobby, skill or love away from technology for a little bit of time per day or week.

bowood xx

I stumbled across this stand selling cross stitch kits and naturally the gin related one jumped right out at me. Seeing as I got this on Saturday and today is now Wednesday and I’ve already taken it out of the box to have a go I think that’s a good start compared to other things I’ve bought with good intentions of doing and never quite getting round to doing.

If you’re a literal magpie for all things shiny and pretty just like me there were these gorgeous rings on display that look so glamorous and elegant. I love the sea themes in the first picture, in particular the rose gold seashell earrings.

DSCF2966

There was so much going on at The Handmade Fair it would be an enjoyable day out for people of all ages. You can book tickets in advance for places in their workshops and talks from the experts and having just had a look on their website for the Hampton Court Palace timetable (here) they have got some amazing workshops lined up from learning to do brushwork lettering to making your own beading hoop earrings. Whether you’ve always had a dream to make your own funky willow bird feeder, sew your own kimono or learn to make butterly origami, along with the help of The Handmade Fair’s exceptional team of experts it could make these dreams possible. If you get the opportunity I would definitely recommend going to their next Fair. I really enjoyed my time here and I’m sure you would do too!!

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at RewiredPR for asking me along to this event I’m really appreciative of it and I really enjoyed my day. Thank you so much to all the kind people working at The Handmade Fair whether that be all the staff I met, the staff behind the scenes who made this event come together so well or all the kind creators, makers and bakers I met too. I know I’m not the only one who would say I had such a lovely time! I hope this event gets better and better upon each year with even more people going along to their next one!

bowwood

*What I wrote in this post is all 100% genuine from me and my thoughts on it all. I don’t want to mislead readers into thinking I only wrote positive things as I had been invited to attend. 🙂

Lucky Beach – Brighton.

image_6483441 (13)This little beach side treasure is nestled in one of the arches on Brighton Seafront. We stumbled upon Lucky Beach on a gloriously sunny Tuesday morning whilst visiting the area and I am so glad we did. Check out the view we had across the beach as well!? For the most of the time we eat with our eyes, so if it looks good we like to believe it’ll taste great too. Pretty food is delicious food am I right?! NOT only does their food look like the type of thing foodie dreams are made of but they have an accolade of awards to boot. They are proud to serve only sustainable, organic and locally grown produce and on top of all that they’ve been voted UK People’s favourite restaurant 2017/18. I can vouch for that too, it was blimmin’ great.

After browsing their brunch menu I decided I really wanted pretty much one of everything however I settled on having the Vege breakfast. Having been a vegetarian since mid November 2017 I’ve come to the realisation that not all veggie breakfasts are quite as enjoyable as a standard breakfast plate. I suppose that is a bit of a generalisation really but that’s what I’ve come across at least. So I was really excited to see this menu had really exciting, fresh foods and flavours incorporated into all their dishes.

image_6483441 (15)

This was the most colourful breakfast plate I think I’ve ever had and it was absolutely amazing. The Vege breakfast consisted of two slices of grilled focaccia, a poached egg, caramelised onions topped with a sprinkling of roasted chickpeas, homemade hummus, beetroot tahini, parsley and mint, grilled slices of courgette are just hidden underneath the toast. Then finished off with a dusting of black sesame seeds. It was divine. Look how beautiful it looks and you could taste the freshness of all the ingredients too. In my mind this is the type of healthy style breakfast they eat in California, and I definitely felt quite boujiee listening to the waves crash as I scoffed down on this. Who needs Venice Beach eh?!

image_6483441 (14)

They have a really extensive drinks menu that I kinda wanted to order one of everything. Their coffees sounded fantastic and I usually always have a tea or latte with breakfast if dining out, but they also had so many wellness teas, herbal teas, soft drinks and juices I opted for a raspberry lemonade. Which was refreshing, tangy and was perfectly sharp on a warm spring day.

I’d definitely return to Lucky Beach if I was in the area again. The food was really delicious, fairly priced considering it was all locally sourced, fresh ingredients too. The atmosphere was really chilled, laidback, friendly and had a nice, fun vibe too. The staff were all so nice as well which can really make or break a dining experience in my opinion. I can wholeheartedly see why this restaurant has such glowing reviews. FOOD WIN.

Coffee Counter – Brighton.

OMG BREAKFAST NAAN NEED I SAY MORE???? FOR A BLOG POST APPARANTLY I NEED TO SAY MORE THAN THIS THO. Ok so sorry for shouting but omG Breakfast Naan?!!?! Ok so now i’ve got that mad scramble out of the way, I visited Coffee Counter on my last day of my trip to Brighton on Jimmy’s recommendation. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a website or social media page for this place but I was honestly so blown away by the great food and simplicity of it all. It’s a small ish location with a handful of tabled and benches for a quick pit stop for a coffee, a breakfast plate or a great brunch and light lunch spot with friends. I found their Tripadvisor just here and judging by the fact they’ve got 5 star reviews I think means they’ve tapped into something very special indeed!

IMG_6687

The inside decor was eclectic with cool graffiti covered walls and mismatched seating. The windows bi-fold so you can get the warm breeze from the outside as you can watch the world go by. I ordered  an Iced latte and the breakfast naan as I had never heard of anything like it before.

breakfast naan

It was a warm plain naan bread filled with halloumi in bombay spices in a mild curry sauce, spinach, cucumber and mint in greek yoghurt, mango chutney, a perfectly poached egg topped with crispy onions. I know it doesn’t sound like usual breakfast fare but this was actually incredible and would make for incredible street food too. I told the owner of Coffee Counter just how much I adored this and he explained where the dish he came from. His Grandmother was indian and he really didn’t like spicy or indian foods so in an effort to get him to like it more she would make him these naan bread wraps. Shoutout to this fella’s granny because this was an actual dream.

Would I go back? 100000% I’m not just saying that cos he told me their secret family recipe for this but also because the staff were so friendly and gave Jimmy and I each a loyalty card for a free coffee on return! Little things like this really go a long way I think in terms of building customer relations. Even though that I live in deepest darkest Dorset and they’re Brighton based if I was ever back that I really would pop back in.

I MADE A GIANT JAFFA CAKE.

I’ve conjured up a sure fire way to put end to the age old debate as to whether the humble Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake, by making my own version larger than my own blimmin’ face! No seriously this is huge and delicious. Just like me amirite? I found this recipe through UniLad would you actually believe it. No offence you absolute lads buuuuut I never had this site synonymous with baking cakes especially chuffing good caked bakes at that! Not only is a gigantic Jaffa Cake totally heavenly to gorge on but it’s also super pretty to look at too PLUS the recipe and method is really easy to follow too! win win eh!

I haven’t done any fun bakes in a while and as soon as I found this I couldn’t wait to put it into practice and share it with you all! I’ve tweaked it a little bit here and there to make it more suitable for how I wanted it but as you can see on the link above you can follow that straight through to the UniLad version.

giant jaffa cake

So, before I get too into this recipe post, a word to the wise this cake can take a little while to fully create so if you’re hoping for a quick and easy bake to show off to your friends, frenemies and exes on IG maybe give yourself a a good few hours!

You will need:

  • A frying pan lined with baking paper.
  • A round cake tin smaller than your saucepan lined with cling film.
  • 135g packet of orange jelly cubes.
  • 250ml boiling water.
  • 200g unsalted butter.
  • 200g caster sugar.
  • 3 medium eggs.
  • 200g self raising flour.
  • 1 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Zest and juice of half an orange.
  • 200g dark chocolate.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

To give the sponge that bouncy, half spherical shape a lot of websites/recipes suggest baking the cake itself in a frying pan. Sounds weird I know but it works so go with me on that.  I covered the base of the pan with a circle of baking parchment and sprayed the sides with some coconut oil frylite spray to make it easier to get out of the pan.

Cutting the jelly into cubes (who else used to just eat the cubes as a kid??No me neither that would be weird…) I line a round cake tin with some cling film at the same time putting the kettle on to boil. Multitasking check me out eh!? Pouring the boiling water over the top of the jelly cubes and stirring til all the jelly lumps have melted away. I add the zest and the juice of half an orange into the jelly giving it a super orangey kick. One of your five a day right??? I then pour into the cake tin to set up and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

THE SPONGE

This recipe was a standard sponge. Cream the butter and the sugar together til light and smooth. Slowly add the eggs and the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and baking powder and once its all delightfully mixed to perfection pour into the frying pan. Sounds proper mental and to be honest I was a bit nervous I was going to catch fire to my Mum’s fancy pants frying pan but all is well in team What Abbie Says camp. They recommended the baking time of about 30-40 minutes. I’d keep checking on it from that time onwards, as mine actually took somewhere up to 45 minutes altogether as it was still uncooked in the centre.

Once done, transfer the cake on to a wire, cooling rack and leave til its cooled completely. Making sure the jelly is chilled like Snoop Dogg on a day between the 19th and 21st April I melted the dark chocolate over a pan of water. Also known as a bain marie if you will. Wait til the chocolate has fully melted and leave to cool; if it’s too warm it’ll melt the jelly when you pour it over and you’ll either have to eat it on your own VERY QUICKLY or serve a sad jaffa pud. Placing the jelly circle in the middle on top of the cake I poured the melted chocolate over the top, making sure the entirety of the top was covered and that it didn’t drip down onto the edge. Dipping the knife into the top  drawing lines both horizontally and vertically. Quickly putting back into the fridge to set up for the fiiiiiinal time and once it’s cool you can serve it. YOU’RE WELCOME. Jaffa cakes are fab, bigger jaffa cakes are extra fabulous.

If you fancy making this recipe, I would totally recommend. It was super fun, totally easy to do and looks really impressive as well. To give this recipe a little twist how about using a dark chocolate and lime jelly or even raspberry. Equally you could use something like a tropical or pineapple flavour jelly with a white chocolate coating and coconut sponge like a pina colada without the hangover!

 

Lunch at The Ritz, London.

image_6483441

Your birthday is the one day of the year for the good majority of people when you will be completely and utterly doted on and treated like an absolute QUEEN. So imagine my joy when I was lucky enough to be able to spend my birthday this year in London having a lavish three course lunch date with my family in the very beautiful and the very palatial The Ritz, London. I can only imagine I’d never been before and was so excited at just the sheer thought. The grandeur building standing as elegant and tall as ever, peering over the rest of Mayfair is an iconic London landmark. It opened in 1906 and was known as the ultimate stay for opulence and luxury. The whole experience was utterly divine and completely faultless. From the outside every doorway is adorned with one of their impeccably dressed doormen greeting you on arrival, holding the door or hailing a taxi to help you on your journey. I wish I took more pictures of decor inside but believe me when I say it is all absolutely stunning. With the smell of gorgeous fresh flowers, the sound of beautiful harp music and chatter filling the air, The Ritz has such a decadent feel and ambience to the whole place.

image_6483441 (3)

image_6483441 (2)

Having placed our coats in their cloakroom we made our way to their dining room to be seated.  The waiters, just like every other employee couldn’t be faulted and waited on you hand and foot. The attention to detail was incredulous. My sister and Mum were given their usual menu whereas I had a seperate, vegetarian one. The menu wasn’t extensive offering three choices for all three courses with every single option sounding as luxurious and decadent as the next. The ever attentive waiting team came to our table and treated us like royalty, pouring glasses of water, wine, homemade breads, melba toast and a selection of canapes.  Savoury macarons filled with cream cheese and smoked salmon, chicken cigarellos and a gorgeous creamed goats cheese biscuit sandwich.

the ritz

As I said the attention to detail was absolutely stunning, the food was just as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. For my starter as seen above I opted for the artichoke royale. It was crowned with coils of carrots, truffle and pear nibs and then adorned with edible flower petals. The artichoke royale was so smooth and creamy accompanied with the tang of the pear it really went down a treat.

theritz

For my main course I chose the cauliflower dish. With the menu they didn’t really give a lot away about what was what. The other options were a pasta dish and another one with wild mushrooms and as a self confessed mushroom hater that one didn’t appeal to me at all. Plus as I was dining in one of the finest restaurants in the country with a Michelin star I wanted to try something a little bit different. My main dish was a slice of cauliflower steak, with seperate cauliflower florets. Romanesco florets dotted around the plate like little trees, toasted hazelnuts and toasted yeast with a mini potato croquette and then finished off in a rich white sauce. Divine.

IMG_4951

For dessert, already feeling pleasantly sated I chose the blueberry souffle with a tart buttermilk sorbet. The souffle was light, fluffy and flavourful. It was so beautifully rich in colour; perfectly purple inside. The sharp, piquant flavours of the sorbet cut through the sweetness of the sorbet. It was blimmin’ well glorious. Can I eat you again please Mr Souffle?

IMG_4953

Finishing off the meal was some petit fours from top to bottom they consisted of, some creme anglaise filled macaroons with a slight coconut flavour. Orange and passionfruit jellies, a brown sugar biscuit topped with a citrus and mango cream finished with some gold leaf and finally a handmade chocolate filled with salted caramel. Careful I might get used to this extravagant lifestyle!

IMG_4958

As this very luxurious and special occasion was to celebrate mine and my Mum’s birthday we had a fancy Ritz birthday cake of a genoise sponge, filled with fresh cream and raspberries.

cake cake cake

Considering I can barely write in a straight line with a pen I was completely blown away how anyone can do this in chocolate. Perfect!

image_6483441 (1)

I had such a tremendous time and feel well and truly spoilt rotten by it all. The whole experience simply cannot be faulted and was absolutely perfect from start to finish.