16 Jun 2022

An Anniversary Dinner @ The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

Our first wedding anniversary, we were in lockdown. Our second wedding anniversary, we were just emerging from another lockdown and I was secretly pregnant, my morning sickness only just beginning to fade.


So third time’s a charm eh? 


I was determined that this year, we would be able to properly celebrate but whilst we might not have lockdowns and pregnancies to contend with, we do have a five month old so whatever the celebrations entailed, it would have to be local. 


A mile or so from Ely is The Old Hall, a luxury wedding venue that offers a dinner service on some weekdays and it just so happened that they were doing one on the Wednesday that was our anniversary. My parents agreed to officially babysit A for the first time (as opposed to an hour here and there) and Gary and I got dressed up for the first time in god knows how long. 


First things first - The Old Hall is stunning. If you happen to be getting married there and fancy inviting a random stranger - hi! The moment we arrived - despite very much looking forward to our meal - we both commented on how we kinda wanted to be arriving for a wedding and spend the whole day there. The building itself is gorgeous but personally, it felt like the grounds and the view really made it special. There was something about the terrace, lake (complete with swans and - because of course - actual swan hedges) and that flat land and big skies of The Fens in the evening sunshine that reminded me of the south of France. And to top it off, the cathedral sits majestically in the distant. It must make an excellent wedding photo backdrop. 


The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely


We started with drinks in the library bar (yes, absolutely had something bubbly) before moving for dinner in the newly-built orangery which really made the most of the excellent views. The atmosphere was highly civilised, with gentle music in the background and the tables spaced apart. There were peonies in a glass jar on the table and warm bread with olive oil & balsamic vinegar was brought out to us. 


The food was delicious. I started with the goats cheese croute with a tomato, red onion and basil salsa and Gary had the smoked salmon & beetroot tartlet with a feta & beetroot salad. We were both trying to eat as slow as possible because we didn’t want to finish! We then both had the lamb rump with rosemary polenta, tender stem broccoli and harrisa sauce for main and then Gary had the steamed date sponge with caramel sauce and rum & raisin ice cream for pudding, whilst I had the salted caramel chocolate tart with peanut butter ice cream. That tart - so good. And peanut butter ice cream is always a dream in my opinion. 


The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely


We were then brought out a surprise plate of fruit and brownies with ‘happy anniversary’ written in chocolate which was such a lovely touch. Also, why is food even more appealing when decorated in gold? We couldn’t quite manage the brownies as well but they were boxed up for us so we could take home and enjoy the next day. 


It had been raining when we arrived which we’d been disappointed about but very soon after sitting down for dinner, the sun began to shine and by the time we were finished, it had turned into the most gorgeous sunset view. The cathedral, grounds and fields were bathed in that golden light and we finished off a special evening by standing on the terrace and simply marvelling at the view. 


The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely

The Old Hall, Ely


13 Jun 2022

Strawberries & Cream Vegan Cake (Plus Birthdays & Boat Trips)

Strawberries and cream vegan cake


This was the cake that I made for my sister’s birthday. We had a really lovely weekend full of birthday celebrations where family came to stay and the sun shone down. We did a little boat trip in Ely which was very pretty on a sunny day, had ice cream from the fudge shop (they add fudge crumb to the bottom of the cone/pot and it is delicious) and then we had a meal and wine at the bottom of my mum’s garden during that golden hour of sunlight. We stuck candles in this cake, did the usual butchering of ‘happy birthday’ and then granted my dad the task of cutting it up without the three layers sliding apart. I also drank wine with ice cubes in and got excited about the roses blooming in my garden because I am fully embracing being in my thirties. The next day, Gary and I headed to Harpenden to celebrate my best friend’s 30th birthday and I forced the leftover half of the cake on them because thou must not waste cake. 

This cake is both vegan and gluten free and pulled together from browsing several cakes recipes on the Deliciously Ella app (which is brilliant by the way - I’d highly recommend). Happy baking!  

Strawberries and cream vegan cake

Strawberries and cream vegan cake



For the cake 

In a large bowl, mix together 600g buckwheat flour, 300g coconut sugar, 75g cacao powder, 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda and 3 teaspoons of baking powder. Melt 150g coconut oil over a low heat and then add to the bowl along with 150g date syrup and 900ml almond milk. Whisk until you have a smooth batter. Bake in 3 lined cake tins for 35 minutes at 180c. 

For the ‘cream’ 

Whisk 400g of good quality coconut yoghurt (of the thicker variety) for 10 minutes, until it is really thick and holds its shape. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and whisk for another minute. Spread a layer of strawberry jam and a layer of coconut cream over two of the cakes and assemble together so you have a three tiered cake. You may need to slice the tops of the cakes to make them more level. Don’t worry about everything being too neat or the cakes not being identical; this is not bake off lads. 

For the chocolate sauce 

Heat 7 tablespoons of cacao powder, 6 tablespoons of date syrup, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and a dash of almond milk over the hob on a low heat until you have a smooth sauce. Spread over the top of the cake and decorate with strawberries. 

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

Birthdays & boat trips

29 May 2022

Recent Happy Things | A Big Ol' Catch-Up


A Big Catch Up

In an unexpected turn of events, I am sat at my desk for the first time in five months. Last time I was here, I was logging off from work for the final time before maternity leave. I am not back at work but given a rare bit of time to write, I had an urge to be sat at a proper desk again. I’m not going to lie, I kind of miss working. A year off sounds great (not that any sane person would call looking after a newborn baby ‘time off’) and I’m very lucky to be able to do it but I’ve been surprised as to how much I miss the structure and purpose of work. It’s been an adjustment; this slower, and yet somehow more relentless, way of life but I’m trying to embrace it all the same. I’m learning it’s okay to feel a whole array of conflicting emotions; I’m outrageously sleep deprived (munchkin is currently treating us to wake up calls every one-two hours during the night and minimal naps during the day), sometimes to the point of tears, and I’m desperately craving a bit of order and time to myself, and yet there is such delight in parenting this energetic little boy and I feel privileged to be able to give him my full attention for the first year of his life. 

Let’s catch up with some of the recent good stuff: 


A weekend in Faversham, Kent – in April, we headed to Kent to stay with Gary’s dad and give A some quality time with his Grandad (which he loved; we think they are kindred spirits). We took him out for dinner at the pub, to the churchyard to meet his Nanny and Great-Nan and for a walk along the sea wall as well as wandering around some of the local food spots because, well, it’s us isn’t it? We had a delicious lunch at The Yard, a little cafe/restaurant/bar tucked down the mews and filled with fairy lights, local artwork, friendly staff and really good food. We both opted for the homemade falafel on a flatbread, topped with tzatziki, salad, feta and sweet & unami chilli sauce, plus some of their rosemary chunky wedges as a side and the whole thing was absolutely delicious. I’d highly recommend this place should you ever be in the area. 


Easter lunch – for Easter Sunday, my mum decided we should fashion a table out of plywood & trestles in their fairytale garden and we ate our roast dinner out on the grass overlooking the countryside in the sunshine. It was pretty darn lovely. 


Family party – the whole extended family came together at the end of April for a big gathering which mostly seemed to involve sitting in the garden eating the outrageous amount of baked goods we all made and that is my kind of party. 


A Big Catch Up

A Big Catch Up

A Big Catch Up

A Big Catch Up


Rendezvousing around Kings Cross, London - A and I have got an easy trip into London mastered. Off peak train in, meet lovely friends around Kings Cross, explore Granary Square/Coal Drop’s Yard, eat delicious food, off peak train home. No tube, no busyness, no stress. Am loving it. 


They see me rolling… A has mastered rolling from back to front and front to back and now rolls at any given opportunity. Laying him on the bed is now fraught with peril but his look of excitement does not get old. He has also just discovered his own feet and is fascinated by them which is adorable


Baby yoga – this class (plus coffee with NCT friends afterwards!) is super cute and gives my week some structure. Still not used to waking up on a Monday and having a whole week to fill! 


Mocktails by the river - we had lunch at the new South American restaurant that has opened nearby and for a moment, eating delicious food and drinking mocktails by the river in the sunshine felt like we were on holiday. Naturally, A kicked off just after we said the words 'this is nice isn't it?' 


A Big Catch Up

A Big Catch Up


Babies being friends - I've spent a couple of days with my gal Beth recently and her toddler playing with my baby is my new favourite thing. A two year old playing peekaboo with a five month old will never ever get old! 


Picnics in the park - in this unseasonably warm May, we have had a couple of very impromptu picnics in the park. We’ve grabbed a blanket, quickly picked up a few ‘bits’ from the supermarket and then spent a lovely afternoon/evening in the sunshine.


The garden - absolutely loving having a finished garden this year; it makes such a difference in the warmer temperatures - almost like an extra room for the house! 


Baking - just bloody loving it at the moment. Finding it excellent for my mental health and it’s just about feasible to squeeze in around baby demands. 


Peony season is upon us lads. That is all. 


Hope you are well dear reader. 


A Big Catch Up

A Big Catch Up

A Big Catch Up


2 May 2022

Our First Trip As A Family: A City Break In Norwich

Norwich


At the beginning of April, we headed off on our first trip away as a family - a city break in Norwich. Travel always felt like an unknown when we thought about what life might look like with a baby. We knew we wanted to do be able to do it but equally, I’ve never really bought the whole ‘the baby will just fit in with you’ thing (which is a good job really, I’d have been seriously disappointed) so it was hard to know exactly what any potential getaways might look like. We’ve made a very loose don’t-hold-us-to-this decision to do a handful of local breaks this year, as opposed to a longer trip abroad and as we didn’t want to be too far from home for our first trip with a three-month-old in case it all went tits up, we settled on a weekend in Norwich. We fancied exploring a new city and it’s only an hour’s drive away from us. 


We stayed along the quayside; in the row of pastel-coloured cottages (the pink one) you see above and it was the perfect central location for being able to explore and nip back easily enough should there be a poo explosion; a new requirement when booking trips these days.


Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich


We’d probably only been there for a few minutes before I realised that I really, really liked Norwich. I felt like someone had been keeping it a secret from me; how did I not know what a great city it is? It’s full of pastel houses, gorgeous nooks and crannies, cute coffee and craft beer places galore, independent shops and an excellent cathedral (which we all know I am inexplicably drawn to). It is the perfect place for a bit of gentle wandering for two sleep-deprived new parents who are happy to just flit between photogenic corners and the next coffee shop. 

Our little fella likes constant (and I do mean constant) entertainment which can be quite tricky given he’s only a handful of months old and can’t actually do very much, so being able to strap him in the carrier facing outwards whilst wandering around a city turned out to be a bloody brilliant way of keeping him stimulated. He genuinely seemed to be having a ball which was great for all involved. We found Norwich to be very baby-friendly in general, although some of the cobbled streets aren’t great for a pram just FYI in case you are also planning a trip with a baby. 


Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich


Food highlight was undeniably Bread Source; an artisan bakery we accidentally stumbled across. The cafe was so chilled and the pastries so delicious that we ended up there three times in two days, including just before we left so we could take a goodie bag of baked treats home with us. Big shout out to the raspberry and pistachio danish in particular. As well as plenty of cafe hopping, our wanders took us to the castle, which was actually closed for renovations but it was still worth going up the hill for the views of the city, along the river for walks and impromptu stops in pub gardens, into the lanes which was full to the brim of independent homeware stores, foodie places and - should this be your vibe - a board game cafe, and to the beautiful cathedral. I hadn’t been there long before my Harry Potter senses started tingling and I realised it was one of the filming locations; a pleasant surprise for this longtime fan-girl. 

Norwich is easily doable as a day-trip but I’m glad our first trip was for a whole weekend; it really gave us the opportunity to soak in the city and not feel rushed (not that we do anything in rush these days). It’s not a big city so very walkable and I felt like two days was the perfect amount of time to see everything. Without a doubt, a big success for our first trip away. 

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich