Wednesday, 2 October 2019


I love cook books and prefer reading them over fiction, I have a stack by the side of my bed. I wouldn't however consider myself a 'foodie' and often stray from a recipe, using them as guidance and inspiration rather than gospel. I guess after watching the stage adaptation of Nigel Slater's Toast last night, it's something I have in common with his mother. 

“It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you.” Says Nigel Slater in his memoir, and as we walked into the Malvern Festival Theatre, the smell of nearly-burned toast made us feel quite fuzzy and nostalgic, although in my house that aroma is usually accompanied by the sound of the over zealous fire alarm!

Toast is the most beautifully written memoir, and I must admit to being somewhat sceptical about it being brought to life on the stage, especially with an adult playing young Nigel, complete with short trousers as I'm really not keen on an adult playing a child on stage as it always feels quite weird to me but Giles Cooper led the narrative with a mixture of wit, pathos and absurdity on occasion too!

Of course the thread that weaves the story together is food - preparing, eating it, enjoying it - and director Jonnie Riordan has done the most wonderful job of adding an interactive element to the production which acts as a device to make the audience feel like part of the show, even mischievous when sweets are passed around the stalls and the ensuing 'naughty' rustling of wrappers as they are scoffed. I had a rhubarb and custard boiled sweet and was instantly transported back to my childhood. 

The character of Joan, played by Samantha Hopkins, was for me the best, with a cracking Wolverhampton dialect, sixties fashion and chain smoking, she had something of a Joan Holloway from Mad Men feel about her. She is, however, the baddy of the play, competing with Nigel for the affections of his widowed father, which culminated in the ultimate bake off. 

Having sons, it felt close to home, uncomfortably at times, especially with the passing of Nigel's mother. The mother we all aspire to be, adored by your children. I thought of the times I cook with the boys and I hope that I have given the same fond memories to my children as Nigel had of his mother. 

I would give Toast ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ perfect entertainment for an autumn evening and as nostalgic as home made apple pie and bird's custard. 

Thank you to the Malvern Theatre who gifted me two tickets to their beautiful theatre. All thoughts and opinions in this review are entirely my own. 


Saturday, 24 August 2019


We spent the most gorgeous week in Cornwall this summer in the bell tent. It's our favourite place in the world, but we haven't been for a few years for a variety of reasons. We choose to camp at Trevedra Farm, near Sennen, a family run campsite, quite exposed on the top of Escalls Cliff, you can see the Scilly Isles on a clear day, and it's within walking distance of Gwynver and Sennen beaches. 

We pitched the bell tent for our week stay behind a Cornish hedge which is traditionally made of stone. 

We took only the bare necesseities for our holiday, but I managed to squeeze in a few sheepskin rugs to make it more homely. I take all the kitchen pots and plates in a crate which then doubles as storage in the tent. We have an inner tent for the bell that creates two bedrooms and a bit of privacy for the teenagers. 

Board games come too in case of bad weather, but we only got the monopoly on the first night as the boys quickly made friends. We visited our favourite beaches, stopped at roadside stalls to buy fresh fruit and veg and drove down our favourite road, the B3306, which now has a pop-up Moomaid ice cream stall in a container by the roadside!

We celebrated a birthday whilst we were there, sixteen already! *sobs* Although it would be fair to say he'd have rather spent it at home with his friends than camping with us.

I love this part of Cornwall, so rugged, with granite boulders strewn across the countryside and tiny field systems that haven't changed since neolithic times. It's hard living here, farmers diversify by turning their fields into campsites for the hoards of tourists that make their annual pilgrimage here each summer. I allowed myself to daydream about living here, pressing my nose against estate agents windows and wishing I had bought an old wooden beach hut twenty years ago before they were snapped up by developers and turned into huge New England style mansions. 

The wooden chalet (above) was built by an artist as her studio and sits perched above Sennen beach and accessed only by a footpath. I believe it remains owned by her family and I hope it always does. I would love to stay in it in winter, watching the storms roll in from those windows. 

Until next time Cornwall, we won't leave it so long next time.

Friday, 23 August 2019


As a parent, I am eternally wracked with parenting guilt about not being able to afford to do things with the boys. They have never been abroad for example - passport costs for five people alone makes it difficult to justify. I try to make up for it with as many camping trips and naturey adventures that I can, which are not only free but essential when raising three quite active boys! We have occasional trips to London to a museum, but cinema and theatre isn't something we dabble in as a family, especially the latter which if you look at the prices of the West End theatre, it really is quite crazy prices unless you sit in the gods.

Anyway, I'll get to the point. We were invited by the Bristol Old Vic to see The Three Musketeers last night a family comedy for all ages, to their press night. A perfect opportunity to inject a bit of culture into our lives and a great summer holiday outing! We drove an hour from home and managed to find road parking a street away for only £3.60. Bristol was buzzing, hundreds of people spilling onto the pavements enjoying a drink on a summer evening, I'd forgotten quite how lively big cities were and the boys stared wide eyed taking it all in.

We arrived at the theatre and it really is the most magnificent building having been recently renovated and restored, the foyer was heaving with people enjoying a drink pre-show and there was a real mix of young trendy Bristolians, theatre darlings and regular families too with young children.

Our seats were in the pit (or stalls) and we sat wondering at the set, a deconstructed treehouse, with stairs and platforms if you will. My youngest, aged seven, asked quite seriously if there would be real swords and if anyone would be killed - there were swords on the posters so I guess this is a quite reasonable presumption. As I sat waiting with the boys, my mind was racing "oh my goodness how is a seven year old going to sit through this!" and "the 13 year old is used to Giffords Circus, his standards are ridiculously high!"

The production began with the four members of the theatre company Le Navet Bete (which means four daft turnips) introducing themselves on stage and setting the scene. This was a great thing to do, they shared their ambitions for the production - four actors playing a lot of characters (I lost count - 40 maybe?), their friendship and this brought us into their world and part of the production. They were telling a tale of The Three Musketeers that most of us knew or had watched in our childhoods on TV on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The production was physical and fast, no pauses, and scene rolled easily into scene, their costume changes alone totalled 112 (this was in the programme I wasn't counting!)

There were slapstick moments, up to date language woven in, 'WTF', and an occasional fluffed line - which had the audience in stitches and I think added to the experience as the boys turned to me in absolute delight. There was audience participation, as soft toy ducks were thrown to the audience for a shooting scene and everyone had to throw them onto the stage when 'duck' was shouted! There was something for all ages - some saucy moments and such a pure 'in the moment' humour that the cast expertly played to their advantage - especially when D'Artagnan jumped onto a platform and rolls precariously towards the edge of the stage - his face was a picture and had the audience in stitches for a good few minutes, although maybe not the people in the front row on whose laps he would of landed!

There were stand out performers from each of the four main actors; Dan Bianchi, Nick Bunt, Al Dunn and Matt Freeman and they obviously knew each others traits so well that the characters they played were brilliant. Milady de Winter was a cross between Michelle from Allo, Allo, Cruella de'vil and Millicent Clyde in Paddington, an audience favourite as the villain of the piece. The design and costumes also played a huge part with capes fashioned from 1970's flowery curtains and the horses were 70's chopper bikes - I loved when they all rode them along to 'crazy horses' music blaring out!

We all thought the production was brilliant and both boys really enjoyed it and commented on how good the performers were - how rare and special is that moment of walking out of a theatre smiling having shared such an amazing experience and all in agreement? It has certainly given me the confidence to seek out other shows.

The only downside for the whole experience is the main bar, you have to queue for ages, there wasn't enough staff to serve everyone very quickly pre-show and in the interval and I hated the 'jostling' to be served - see I told you we didn't go out much! The staff they had were great but I guess it's difficult to staff for such a short and intense amount of time, my tip would be to seek our the kiosks on the other floors for children's drinks and ice cream and just use the main bar if you want an alcoholic drink.

We would give the production, location and whole experience 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟and will certainly seek out Le Navet Bete productions in the future.

Disclosure: We were invited to review The Three Musketeers at Bristol Old Vic in return for this review. The review is based entirely on our own experience and opinion. Photography supplied. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2019


Tomorrow this one will get his GCSE results, in fact there will be a flood of gushing parents on Facebook praising their children’s accomplishments and newspapers covering ‘record numbers’ of top grades. But I wanted to come on and gush on here first because I don’t care what grades you get as I am so proud of the man that you are becoming, a few numbers aren’t going to change how I feel and I am proud to be your mum. Whether you get grade 1’s or grade 9’s I want you to go into your adult life with a sense of adventure and determination to work hard and do well, whether you are a brain surgeon or a refuse collector. You can be and do whatever you choose my darling boy just do whatever you choose with passion and be happy x 

Sunday, 14 July 2019


Work and home life has been full-on the last few months not leaving me much time to blog! It's such a unique job with so many challenges in an extremely niche market but it's definitely the most interesting, fun and rewarding job I've ever done. Things change at a rapid pace, the circus moves from town to town and you have to be on your toes and adaptable at all times, which isn't always the easiest thing to do when you have three children. 

My employers are extremely accommodating and I work flexibly to be able to meet the demands of both my job and family life. I have always been blessed to work for people who respect the need to be able to work flexibly and in by supporting my ability to work in this way, have always got the best out of me as an employee. It doesn't mean I don't still feel guilty when I leave at 3pm to do the school run, but they know later on I'll be on line answering DM's, emails and posting on social media. 

I met the lovely Anna Whitehouse a few years back whilst in a queue for the loo at the Cheltenham Literature Festival (apart from there wasn't a queue she was just taking a moment to check messages and I didn't turn the doorknob enough so stood there like a fool!) I have followed and admired her 'Flex Appeal' campaign for years and find it incredulous that employers in this day and age don't embrace flexible working, not just for women with families but just as importantly for men too who want to be present to raise their families. 

I did have a horrible moment a few years back when our whole pub adventure came to an end and I was faced with having to find a job. To find anything part-time or flexible is nigh-on impossible and I feel it's often something afforded to loyal employees rather than new ones. I believe the key to any businesses success is finding the right people, the one's who fit into an organisation's ethos and amibitions and are prepared to show up and work hard. So don't be put off by going for full-time jobs or jobs that don't mention flexible working, find out if they are interested in you as if they are they will listen to you and I hope would accommodate your needs. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...