Monday, 29 July 2013

Hi Cool Cats!

I spent the last few days with some amazing friends in Wiltshire. It was a slightly scary weekend, as I was introducing them to my new fella Henry for the first time... (You've already met him though, we've known each other for yonks and he was my little helper when I made my Raspberry & Basil Sorbet.) I'm pleased to report it went very well and we all left firm friends. The weather was determined to ruin all of our plans, but we made the best of it; a little indoor picnic never hurt anybody, did it?

As there were a few hours of sunshine yesterday, Henry and I decided to make a detour on the way home, and found ourselves at Lotmead Farm for a spot of strawberry picking. 

I think that strawberry picking is the best idea ever. It's a really fun, lovely, and peaceful afternoon, and you're left with a ton of goodies to take home. I love fresh fruit, and this is a much cheaper way of getting it than the supermarket.

Flower-crown - Topshop; T Shirt - ASOS; Dungarees - Topshop; Handbag - Topshop; Boots - Russell & Bromley

We spent about an hour foraging for the ripest, reddest strawberries, stopping occasionally for a taste. I had a strawberry patch in the garden when I was little, and was told to find the slightly manky berries that had been nibbled by insects, as they know which ones are sweetest. It's completely true, if you chop of the nasty bits they're perfect (also you don't have to feel guilty about eating them while you're there, as they'd only go to waste otherwise).

The strawberries at Lotmead are delicious - far superior to anything I've bought this year.

In the strawberry fields, we bumped into the owner, who told us a bit about the farm (they've planted over sixty thousand strawberry plants this year - enough to satiate even the most fanatic picker!).

He very kindly showed us where the best, unplundered plants were, and told us to check the strawberries the whole way around before picking them, as some haven't ripened totally yet.

Eventually, having filed our punnet and our tummies, we headed to the farm shop, to pay up, and grab some locally baked cookies and shortbread, for sustenance on the return journey. 

The farm shop also sold jam sugar, so let's just say I've got big plans for my spoils of the day.

We found Lotmead Farm through pickyourown.org, which is a perfect little website if you fancy grabbing some fresh, local produce. You can find everything from your berries to your vegetables (but I don't like vegetables - I think they're boring). 

How was your weekend?



Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hi Cool Cats,

I'm not sure if I've ever really mentioned this before, but I'm an Islander, born-and-raised. These days I'm just as likely to be found wandering around London or Berkshire, but the Isle of Wight is still (and probably always will be) where I consider to be my real home. 

Not too shabby, huh?

I've been hiding out down here quite a lot this summer (I don't think I'd be able to survive this heat without being able to dip my head in the sea at regular intervals!) and Baloo agrees; much as he loves the hustle and bustle as what we bumpkins refer to as 'the Mainland', he's a beach bum at heart.

Whenever I come down here, I find myself irresistibly drawn to my old childhood pursuits. These include (but are not limited to):

(1) Tree-climbing: like a (red) squirrel.

(2) Country drives - I say "drives", but I'm actually being driven. At the grand old age of 23, that pesky pink license still alludes me.

(3) Playing in the Sea - My favourite game is one called Pirates, where you jump on to other peoples vessels and capsize them, leaping back to your own without getting wet (if you're a very skilled pirate),  and infuriating friends, siblings, and the occasional unsuspecting stranger as you make your escape, calling back "TAKE THAT, YE SCAR FACED MANGEY CURRRRR!!!!".

Ahem. It is possibly best to avoid any kind of water-based activities with me.

(4) Treasure Hunting - There are few things that give me more pleasure than wandering through little village stalls and shops on a sunny afternoon. My room is stuffed full of knick-knacks appropriated on such meanderings.

(5) Cream Teas - no explanation necessary, right?

(6) Fancy Dress - here is a fetching picture of me dressed as a unicorn, for your pleasure. 

Anyway, I was wondering if you'd be interested in a few posts which detail (slightly more thoroughly) my favourite places and activities down here? Either just for funsies, or if you've been considering a visit? A sort of Mona's Guide to the Isle of Wight style thing? 

I have a feeling that Baloo and I could write a pretty comprehensive guide, and it is the year of the Staycation, apparently!
Please let me know what you think!
Enjoy the sunshine,



Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My beautiful cousin Louise tied the knot on Saturday. She was the most stunning bride...

It's actually a really sweet story. She met her husband on holiday in New Zealand, and they had a long-distance relationship for three years, when he asked her to move to Australia to be with him! She upped and left for a new life full of love and sunshine, and they came back to Scotland to get married.

Obviously this wasn't an occasion to pass up on, so my family packed into the car and made the (long) journey up to Pitlochry.

It was exciting for lots of reasons. My big brother needs little excuse to don a kilt, we were all excited for the ceilidh, and it was the first time that my cousins have all been together since my littlest brother (the baby of the whole family) was born!

We had a big cousin's breakfast in the hotel, and then after a big girly getting ready session, wandered down to the church, chattering our heads off and carrying our heels until it was time for photos, when our flatties were left to sunbathe...

After a beautiful ceremony, we all crowded around Lou in the church yard to offer our congratulations (and to sneak a better look at her dress and her beautiful orchids). 

We were given bubble wands instead of confetti... It took me right back to my childhood, blowing bubbles in the sunshine with my massive family!

I wore a flower crown and dress from Topshop, a Tiffany bracelet, a vintage handbag, and very old Urban Outfitters shoes.

I wasn't the only one dressed up to the nines... I lost my heart to this dapper Scotsman!

The reception was a total blast.

It began as quite a civilised affair, giggling with my cousins in the sunshine, and getting to know the latest addition to the clan (the Groom, James - you'll be pleased to hear we all thoroughly approve!)...

... Before we were invited to sit down for the speeches. Yes, we all laughed lots and a few tears were shed!

Our place settings included little boxes of chocolates (mine may or may have disappeared before the starter...)

After an amazing meal, we all kicked off our heels and tore up the dance floor to the fantastic band, Ceilidh Monogue. I love a good plan, and apparently so does Louise; she booked them on the name alone! Luckily though, the gamble paid off, they really got everybody moving! 

We only took two breaks from dancing. One for cake (of course!)...

... And one to get a snap of all the cousins!

Apparently a love for silly photos is deeply engrained in our shared DNA. That's one for the photo-album, I think!

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