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24 October 2014

A weekend in the Cotswolds

Having friends spread all around the country can feel a little lonely sometimes, especially when you long for a few friends close by that you can pop over and have a natter and eat cake with.  But as much as I'd love to have my best friends live that little bit closer, it comes a close second being able to plan wonderful weekends away where you load up the car with wellies, coats, an excited dog and a boyfriend who can't decide quite how many bottles of Badger ales to take with him, and hit the road.

My lovely friend Becki currently lives in the Cotswolds with her fiancĂ© Joe, and kindly invited Tom and I to stay with them last weekend.  They only moved there fairly recently, so we hadn't actually been to stay at that house before, and I was not prepared for quite how much I'd fall in love with where they live.

The sat nav took us through winding country roads, past farms and open fields, when we finally arrived at their front door in Gloucestershire.  Rolling up to their driveaway, we were greeted by their dog, Bu (a whippet), who Bodhi enjoyed a very excitable reunion with whilst we unloaded our bags.

Heart

We were welcomed into their cosy kitchen - their Aga making the whole room indescribably toasty. Bodhi immediately climbed into Bu's dog bed next to the Aga whilst we gossiped over tea and planned our weekend. We spent the afternoon drinking ciders and ales in a lovely little pub in Cricklade and then headed back to their house for dinner.  The evening was similarly relaxing - spent eating good food, drinking margheritas and scoffing chocolate by the fire.  Perfection.  That night we slept soundly in their spare room, the windows open, listening to the sound of pheasants crowing outside.

Open fire

The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely brunch of poached eggs, spinach and sourdough bread, before pulling on wellies and coats for a bracing dog walk.

Muddy wellies

This is their dog, Bu, waiting excitedly by the front gate.  Bu is short for Mbuzi, which is swahili for goat.

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We set off through the muddy fields, the dogs galloping through the dirt and us following closely behind. Checked shirts were clearly the outfit du jour for the boys! I bought Tom's from Primark a couple of weeks ago, it is fleece lined and looks so cosy.

Muddy fields

I discovered on this trip that I have a bit of a thing for gates.  Rusty old gates, rustic wooden gates, gates that open into expanses of field, or that hold the promise of a winding footpath beyond...

Gate

Tom spent some time collecting conkers.  I adore conkers - the smell, the texture, the way the Autumn light glints off them.  They're like hidden treasures tucked under leaves and in the undergrowth, waiting to be found.

Conkers
Branch

My wellies got stuck in a bog, which Tom found very amusing.  We strode down, and up, hills, and found another rather charming gate...

Gate

... which led down another rather boggy and muddy path...

Rosie Rosie
Tom

Bodhi didn't mind a bit getting absolutely caked in mud however, or having a roll around in the cool grass whilst the humans were taking their time climbing the hill.

Bodhi Bodhi

We headed back up to the road with thoughts of a roast dinner filling our minds.  We had to climb over - guess what... another gate - to find our way back.


Gate

When we got back to the house, Becki showed off her little vegetable patch and picked a courgette whilst the chickens clucked around the garden and I secretly wished for a life full of open fires, chickens and vegetable patches!

Chickens

But after all that walking, there was one thing, and one thing on the agenda - a roast dinner in a country pub. With an open fire.  And an impressive cider menu.  Okay, okay, there were three things on the agenda.  But luckily we managed to find them all in The Wild Duck at Ewen.

It was very busy when we entered the bar, with lots of people crowding around and waiting for tables.  Despite this, this little pup had an armchair all to himself...

Wild Duck

The pub was the perfect, cosy little countryside bolthole, with hops hanging on the wall, the fire crackling away, dogs snoozing under tables and the smell of roast dinners wafting round every corner.

Wild Duck

We ordered four roast beefs, and they didn't disappoint.

Roast dinner

Crispy roast potatoes that required extensive sawing to access the fluffy potato within, humougous Yorkshire puddings, tender beef and a good slosh of gravy.

With full bellies, Tom and I headed home to Dorset, with a sleepy Bodhi at our feet, and our own dreams of wood burning stoves and planting vegetables.  Sadly the Cotswolds are too far from the sea for Tom to consider living there but it truly was the perfect weekend away, and I can't wait to go back.

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22 October 2014

10 favourite finds

Just a quick post today - a little round up of some things I've been loving on the interweb and elsewhere....

001. Victoria's engagement story is so cute - a ring box on a pug, could you get any more perfect?

002. Sarah's blog post on '50 simple steps for cultivating self-love' is a must-read.

003. If you have little people, and like adventures, check out my good pals Emma and Nick's new 'toddler travel blog' - Curious Wolves.  They also have a rather swoon-worthy Pinterest account full of lots of adventure inspiration!


004. I really loved reading this blog post 'From Google to God' about one woman's adventure in search of spirituality.

005. I've been majorly stalking the recipes section of Deliciously Ella lately - I've just bought some puffed quinoa so I can make these quinoa and cacao crispy treats, they look amazing!

006. Talking of cacao, I made Tess Chef's 'Filthy sexy healthy chocolate shake' last night and it was incredible - highly recommended! I am currently a bit obsessed with That Protein's Raw Cacao Brown Rice protein powder - review to follow!

007. Someone asked me yesterday if it was too early for mulled cider and mulled wine - I answered with a resounding NO!  I can't wait to try this Henry Weston's Mulled Cider, though I'm afraid that once I open a box I won't be able to stop - best save it for the weekend...

Mulled cider

008. I want to buy everything on La La Land at the moment - I've just bought myself some Twin Peaks pencils and this Badger Head necklace is definitely going on my Christmas list...

009. We sent out our wedding Save the Dates a few weeks ago, I was so excited to get them in the post, it made it all feel very real.  We sent out some cute magnets and some postcards to go with them, I'm definitely going to share a few photos as they're too pretty not to (if I do say so myself!) It's so easy to go overboard when buying the fun little things for a wedding, I got very tempted to buy custom made stamps and pretty envelopes but I didn't want to go too stationery crazy (there are some rather pretty envelopes here - maybe I'll save them for the invites!)

010. I've just been watching a short film I was sent to take a peek at called 'The Vauxhalls', which is a rather sexy collaboration between Vauxhall and James Brown (it's his directorial debut).  Watching Abbey Clancy prance around semi-naked is definitely motivation for me to get myself down the gym - why don't I look that good getting ready in my messy bedroom? The film was shot to promote the new Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air, their rather snazzy new 'crossover' car, and features music from The Kills. (I have just watched it back again for another peek at the amazing sequin jacket Abbey is wearing in the film - NEED!)


What are your favourite internet finds this week?

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17 October 2014

My Autumn bucket list

Autumn has somehow ended up well in the realm of 'blogger loves' - along with the obligatory cupcakes, fresh flowers and macarons, my instagram and twitter feeds are currently full of bloggers getting wistful about the arrival of Autumn.  But definitely for good reason I believe - living on the edge of the New Forest, I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy when I see the leaves change colour, and have an excuse to get out in the woods and stomp around in my wellies.

I've made a little list of all of the things that are a must do for me during my favourite season.  I've also become a little bit obsessed with creating the ultimate Autumn Pinterest board.  I love using Pinterest for inspiration, I can get lost for hours just finding recipes, DIYs and pretty photos!


Here's what's on my must-do list this Autumn....

Have a movie night with homemade popcorn.
Go for a roast dinner in a pub in the forest - roaring open fire is a must
Collect conkers and create an Autumnal centerpiece for the dining table
Go for a bike ride in the forest and take a flask of hot chocolate
Stock up on Christmas Yankee candles
Go to Burley Cider Pantry and try their home-brewed draught cider
Go for a run in the forest and try out my new trail running shoes
Make the ultimate Autumn Spotify playlist
Make at least three recipes from Jamie's Comfort Food - the Insanity Burger is already bookmarked!
Master some more slow cooker recipes
Buy a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch
Go to a Fireworks Display (there's one at a local pub with a hogroast and bands playing in the barn - I'm in!)
Make an 'Autumn Berry Pavlova' - there was a recipe in last week's Grazia from Ruby Tandoh (GBBO lady and author of Crumb) that sounded amazing!
Raid Lush for their Halloween and Christmas bath bombs and soaps
Spend a rainy day doing some scrapbooking
Find the perfect pair of Chelsea boots
Make a batch of warming soup for a week at work
Spend as many evenings as possible snuggled under a blanket with a good book
Make mulled wine
Get up early one weekend and photograph sunrise in the forest
Have a fire in the garden and toast marshmallows
Make some more sourdough bread to eat warm with cheese from the deli (perfect Sunday tea)
Start planning homemade Christmas presents
Treat myself to some new slippers

img credit: weheartit

What's on your Autumn bucket list? Send me your ideas so that I can add them to my list!

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