Monday, 22 May 2017

Country Lifestyle Fair in Uckfield - Review by Bex

I first discovered Country Lifestyle Fairs last November when they had a beautiful Christmas Fair in Uckfield (where I met the lovely Anna from Tired Bear) and they were back at East Sussex National again today with their handpicked exhibitors.  I loved browsing all of the amazing goodies on offer, there's so much variety with so many beautiful items.  Often at fairs I find a few stalls with things I like but there are plenty of things at the Country Lifestyle fairs which are right up my street, I struggle not to go mad spending my cash on everything!  The majority of stallholders are small local businesses often with homemade wares.  I did of course indulge in a couple of things and may have some new collaborations coming up too so I'm sure you'll be hearing more in the future but in the meantime, here are a few of my favourite sellers from the fair today.

I found so many brightly coloured things, I was in heaven!  You know I'm partial to rainbow colours so I was snapping away at my favourite items around the venue.  You couldn't fail to spot The Crow Kitchen's delightful macarons on the way in or out of the big hall, I had a few tasters and Oh. My. Gosh.  They are good!  She has a great range of flavours with some more unusual ones too.  I loved the Passionfruit & Lemon and the Bailey's Irish Cream!



Of course I was also drawn to all of the beautiful necklaces on show!  I love these ones by Mousie Murray Jewellery, made out of spoons and forks!  Carolyn who makes them knows all the stories behind them, how old they are and what kind of spoons they were.  They're so unusual and quirky.


Another jewellery stall I was immediately drawn to was The Silkworm with various silk items for sale, I love the brightly coloured bracelets and they had matching necklaces in all of these beautiful colours as well.  Not only that but they are in aid of the Tabitha Foundation, made by women in Cambodia.  They're made from silk wrapped around beads in different designs and are such a good price, I bought 3 in different designs and colours to mix and match which will be featuring in my #necklace365 project very soon!


I really loved this stall by Roost with a gorgeous display of glittery pouches and cute tassel and pom pom scarves.



And Lucy Bradshaw was there again with her lovely fine jewellery designs which have since been featured in Vogue.



There were also plenty of stationery stalls with many different designs.  I love these birds made of fabric stitched to card with layers of more stitching adding detail to the designs by Sarah Becvar.  She also has some beautiful illustrations of flowers and embroidered purses.


Another illustrator with beautiful stationery and artwork was Gabrielle Izen:


I also loved these cute children's clothes and accessories from Suri Mae, the rainbow blankets make me wish I had small babies again!


One of my favourite clothing stalls was actually for men, these fab block printed shirts by Indigo Island!  I love the colours and light cotton, ideal for summer, they're designed in England and hand block printed in Jaipur, check out their Instagram for some gorgeous tropical photography and videos of the printing process.  My favourite is "Lamu", the aqua pineapple print but I love the pink print, "Friday Island" too and the "Ithaca" leaves too for that matter!  If Nik got one I would totally steal it as a holiday cover-up!  It's about time I got some more fashion back on these pages!



There was also a wonderful bespoke home wares stand called Berry & Grouse with hand made lampshades, upholstery and pin boards. Cherry had some lovely fabrics with country style patterns including lots of cute animals. 


There were some lovely handbags from Posh Stuff.  I was SO tempted by the green handbag - they're reversible with metallic silver on the other side and a little clutch inside too (if it had been gold inside I definitely would have bought it)!  I loved the sparkly grey canvas star bag too.


And finally a few items from other stands which caught my eye...

  
Clockwise from the dress: I love the daisy dress from SW19London, more bright and colourful handbags from The Branding House, cute little seaside themed ornaments from Ammonite Coastal Interiors, the budgie postcards from Phoenix Trading, colourful toys from hazelbou and locally made artisan chocolate by Rowdy & Fancy's Chocolate Ltd. in delicious flavours and gorgeous vintage style packaging.

The fair is back at East Sussex National again on 23rd & 24th November for their Christmas event, I'll definitely be heading there for some Christmas shopping!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Wild Garlic Pesto - Recipe by Bex

I already gave my tips for foraging for wild garlic and shared a few photos of the fun morning we had collecting leaves to make pesto but here is the recipe.  It was delicious served simply by stirring through spaghetti - the twins LOVED it and both asked for more which is pretty unusual as they normally just ask for fruit after dinner!




Ingredients:
100g wild garlic leaves, well washed
50g parmesan, grated
50g pine nuts, toasted
1-2 tbsp olive oil, (I didn't measure - I just drizzled it in while processing until it was the texture I wanted)
lemon juice, to taste (I used a whole lemon)
salt & pepper, to taste

Method:
Thoroughly wash and drain the garlic leaves (I whizzed them in the salad spinner) and place into food processor.  Blitz to break them up a bit then add the parmesan and blitz again.  Add the pine nuts and juice of 1/2 lemon and blitz again, drizzling olive oil in until you reach your desired consistency.  Stir in more lemon juice and seasoning to taste.


To serve, just stir through desired pasta, I also added some extra toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan and it would be lovely with some chicken.  It's great with spaghetti and Zoe also recommends smearing it on roast lamb or in a risotto.  It can also be used as a dip on its own and freezes well, Suz recommended using ice cube trays and then you can just take one or two cubes each time you need it.


Ours wasn't around long enough to freeze but next time I hope to make more and I really want to try recreating The Warren's Wild Garlic Soup too!


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Foraging for Wild Garlic amongst the Bluebells - Foodie Fun by Bex

Last weekend we finally made it along to a bluebell wood with the twins for me to try to take a few photos of them having fun wondering amongst the flowers and trees.  We were unlucky with the light as it was a very dull day so the photos are a bit flat but we had a lovely morning and the woods looked stunning with the carpet of blue going on for as far as we could see!  The photos definitely do not do it justice!  Thank you to Zoe for her directions to this wood as well as a few foraging tips which I've included in with the tips below.




En route to the bluebells, we followed a path through a couple of fields and along the way we could smell the wild garlic from across the stream.  It was abundant but out of reach.  Luckily as we entered the woods and found our glorious carpet of blue, we also smelled the garlic again and spotted a huge patch down a little path to the left by another stream.  On our way back we stopped there to gather the leaves and a few flowers for making pesto.  (I'd seen wild garlic pesto for sale at our favourite cafe, Oast Farm and fancied trying to make it myself.)


We really enjoyed foraging and the kids loved it too, we taught them to pick from the stem and to be careful not to trample anything.  Wild garlic is an easy one to start with (I'm a bit nervous about foraging for anything else although hope to learn more when The Warren start foraging courses!) as it's easy to find due to the smell and you can confirm it by crushing the leaves in your hand to get an even more obvious garlicky smell.  The flowers are also edible and make salads look really pretty.




My own (and Zoe's) tips are to pick the full leaf from the stem, leaving the bulb undisturbed.  Pick bright, young leaves (look for flowers still in bud) and try to avoid areas which may have been trampled.  They like damp areas so are often found near streams and rivers in ancient woodland.  And remember never to pick bluebells, it's illegal!

Here are links to some top tips from the Woodland Trust about foraging sustainably and some more information about Ramsons (wild garlic).


I'll be posting my Wild Garlic Pesto recipe tomorrow if you fancy trying it yourself!

Friday, 5 May 2017

First Haircuts - Buxted Barber review by Bex

We finally took the twins for their first haircuts in February!  I've been reluctant until now as I love playing with K's little curls at the back of his neck but they were starting to just get frizzy and look more like a mullet!  Plus we were getting asked often whether we were going to get their hair cut.

I insisted that he keep his lovely curls on top though (although it was all pretty straight on the day due to winter hat wearing!) and just have the back and sides smartened up.  Priya just needed a trim as her fine hair is easier to handle when long and can be tied/pushed back from her face (I'm tempted to get her a fringe but it just means more upkeep and 2:2 twin:parent ratio time is rare and I don't fancy taking them on my own just yet!)

We took them to Buxted Village Barber after a couple of recommendations from friends in the village and I was very impressed!  It was quiet when we went in at around 10am on Saturday and I asked the owner if she minded me taking photos as it was their first haircut, luckily she didn't mind.  I was glad we were the only customers so I wasn't embarrassed to snap away and Priya was very good while she waited her turn.

We started with K as we thought he was most likely to kick off although he has been much better with strangers lately, plus it was his hair we most wanted trimmed.  Again, we were lucky and although he was initially a bit unsure and didn't want to sit in the chair himself, he settled on Daddy's knee (extra lucky he was happy with Daddy leaving me free to take plenty of photos) and was soon looking very content and seemed to really enjoy the feeling of the water spray and the combing!  He just gazed off into the distance with a hazy, relaxed look on his face while clutching his beloved red spikey ball.





He did get a bit unsure again when it came to trimming around his ears though and cuddled into Daddy but he was very good and let Denise carry on.  She was excellent, very patient and good with them both while getting the job done.






Then it was Priya's turn and she was as expected - super keen and nosey!  In fact it was difficult to get her to keep her head still as she wanted to see what was happening.  Denise had a great trick to get her to look down, giving her the mirror to look into.  She does love a mirror!


Look how long it had become when those curls are stretched out!




I would highly recommend Buxted Village Barber and Nik will be heading there next time he needs a cut.  It was £8 in total for the twins' cuts.  Priya just had a little off the ends so hers didn't take long.  They both behaved so well and look fab with their new hair-dos!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Cuckoo, new bar in Uckfield - Review by Bex

There's a brand new bar in town called Cuckoo and I was invited along to check it out and take some pictures.




The bar has a very eclectic mix of decor with graffiti murals and a modern industrial style bar with cork, rough bare wood and copper fittings and fairy lights galore!


They offer a range of drinks including ciders, wines, various beers and lagers and spirits of course as well as crisps if you get Hangry and coffees if you need a caffeine boost.  I believe they plan to start doing bar snacks and lunches soon too.



Prices are pretty reasonable, I tried an ice cold pint of Heineken after WI last week for just £3 and they have bottles of cider, also £3.  I loved the cloudy draught cider and Nik enjoyed the IPA, both £4.  The spirits are priced according to which shelf they're on, with the premium labels at the top.  The chairs are comfy and the staff friendly, there's a jukebox on the wall and the clientele seem to have pretty good taste in music, it's definitely a cool place to hang out in Uckfield.



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