Last weekend a group of my blog friends and I went to Oxford to spend the day chatting, browsing, wandering and photographing.
When it comes to eye-candy Oxford has it in old fashioned spades. We probably only covered a small distance because when you stop every five yards to take a photo progress is slow.
We spent quite a bit of time investigating the shops in and around the Covered Market with a couple of real gems tempting me into spending. I definitely feel more trips on the horizon to explore the indie shops further out from the centre.
We managed to pick the date of Folk Weekend Oxford for our visit and the town was awash with morris dancers. I have to apologise to my friend Karen for dragging her into the centre of the dancers despite knowing she has a childhood fear of them. But I couldn’t resist – they are so fantastic to photograph I could have followed them all day.
Karen snuck us into her daughter’s college, Balliol, for a peek into the oldest college in the English speaking world. Being over 75o years old the college boasts some incredible architecture. While Harry Potter wasn’t filmed here, (Christ Church, New College and the Bodleian are the places to head) it certainly had the Hogwarts air of grandeur.
I failed to get a picture of the dining hall without people and despite great temptation to peek we didn’t open the doors to the Master’s room. The woodwork of the tables and benches is deliciously worn and the top table is splattered with wax from spent candles.
I came to a study camp in Oxford when I was a teenager and stepping inside the colleges did give me a minor pang of regret that I didn’t push myself to get to one of the big universities. Obviously I gave the children a nudge that this is a good place to study.
April is a lovely time to bimble around with friends. It was a day of great weather, interesting conversation and plenty to look at. Karen organised such a perfect day out for Lottie, Heather and I and we were lucky enough to be joined by Natasha after a chat on twitter – yay internets!
Milla, Monty and Betsy are back with another cooking video. When I suggested we make fish fingers with the fish we bought this weekend they decided it would make a great recipe.
Fish fingers have a pretty bad rep when it comes to feeding children but making them yourself cuts down on the processes and unnecessary ingredients.
They’re a quick and easy bake – despite adding in filming, these went from fridge to table in under 40 minutes. You could do it in 25 without the camera!
We added a Minty Pea sauce and salad to serve. The sauce goes down very well even with Milla who doesn’t like peas. I am a fan of Greek yoghurt with food but you could easily use natural yoghurt and extra peas to thicken it.
Fish fingers freeze really well. Batch cooking makes these a quick and easy after school supper. Simply cook, cool and freeze then reheat when ready.
Thank you to everyone who commented, liked and sent messages about their last video. You wouldn’t believe how happy they were to know you’d watched and enjoyed. One step closer to their dream of being as good as Jamie Oliver.
As soon as Solstice passes I begin to fill the house with Spring flowers. First the Paperwhites and Hyacinths then the Daffodils and as the sun returns to strength the Tulips lead the charge of colourful Spring blooms.
I’m lucky enough to have a wholesaler a couple of miles away from my house so I tend to make a trip there a couple of times a month to stock up on what’s in season.
A few weeks ago I was feeling miffed that I couldn’t buy all of the flowers which had caught my eye – wholesale means great prices but bulk stems. I put a shout out on my facebook asking if any friends wanted to club together and exercise some bulk purchase power.
In the end thirteen of us clubbed together meaning I could buy more ambitiously than I normally would. I took an early morning trip to Dutch Masters and filled my boot with colourful, fragrant flowers.
I was a little daunted by the task of bunching them all. I laid them out on the table, did some maths to determine how many stems should be in each and it only took about half an hour to complete.
I put them all in my basket and walked them down to the school to hand out. A side note – I found this basket tossed out with rubbish bags while on a hen night in London, so glad I carted it around all evening as it’s so useful!
My posy brightened up our kitchen for a week, resplendent in my celery jug.
I thing sharing the flower love with friends left me as uplifted as the flowers themselves and I’m already planning another foray before the seasons change. I might even make another Spring Wreath!
For the last five weeks I’ve been heading to Jennie Maizels‘ studio for Sketchbook Club. Each week Jennie leads the gang of sketchers in a new layout in our sketchbooks.
Jennie’s holiday sketchbooks are legendary (check them out on Instagram) I totally wanted to join in with her group holiday diary project last year except we didn’t go on holiday and ‘I worked as fast as I could before the children wrecked the joint’ wears thin after the first couple of days.
Sketchbook Club was perfect for me and as soon as Jennie announced it I knew I wanted to join.
I’ve found the evenings’ work therapeutic and while I may not log off completely (I got the wifi password week one – addict) taking time away from the computer adds to my enjoyment.
Each week we work on a loose theme and bring our own flare to the sketch. I’ve found some challenging and others just flowed on to the page.
Having barely drawn since school I did wonder if I was going to be able to keep up with the class but Jennie has this way of putting you at ease. Once I got out of my own way and relaxed I found that drawing was a really comfortable state to spend time in.
My favourite weeks have been the houses and leaves. I really struggle with the lettering (despite being a font geek!) so I have something to work on over Easter. I am looking to my friend Lisa for some hand lettering inspiration!
The best part of Sketchbook Club (and yes, it’s totally cool to talk about Sketchbook Club) is seeing my sketchbook fill up week after week. Don’t they all look amazing together?
Do you want to come along too? I know there are a couple of spaces in the class for next term and also a class coming after Easter for children aged 11+ so if you’re near Winchester get in touch with Jennie.
Have you taken an art class since school? I’d love to know what you have been creating.