Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

AD/Gifted. Throughout the year I collect books, games, puzzles and all kinds of things to keep my boy occupied and entertained during the school holidays. He had two weeks off over Easter, so it was time to deploy some of the fun things I’d squirreled away. One of the things was a Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey from Milly & Flynn.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

Craft kits are great little portable packets of fun. This Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey contains everything you need, except a pair of scissors. The pop up monkey is exactly that, a cardboard monkey you make, squash down, drop on the floor and he pops up again. It’s tremendous fun, especially if you’re 8!

The craft kit included a page of instructions, and most helpfully the link to a YouTube video of someone putting the kit together. We read the instructions and popped out all the parts, read the instructions again and then began building the monkey.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

There were a few moments where we needed to watch the video to see what needed to be done, but it was a straightforward and clever build. It took around 45 minutes to put together, then it was time to test it out. We found the monkey wouldn’t pop up on a carpet and was better if he dropped it onto the slate kitchen floor while he was stood on a chair.

It brought him enormous fun. I was really very proud that we had managed to make up the monkey by ourselves (without asking my slightly more technically proficient husband). We did find that although the pop up monkey is pretty sturdy, if an 8 year old repeatedly hurls it at the floor some of the sections start to come apart, but this is easily fixed with a bit of sellotape.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

We really liked the Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey. I liked that everything we needed was in the pack, which made it really portable and great for taking away on our little holiday. The kit costs £10, which on the surface might seem a little pricey, but the quality of the craft is superb and the monkey will last for ages. It’s a brilliant design and we would absolutely try other Milly & Flynn craft kits in the range.

You can find the Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey here on Amazon and you can find out more about Milly & Flynn on their website.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

To be in with a chance to win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 22nd May 2019.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be shared only with Carlton Books who will send the prize to the winner.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Disclosure: I was sent this craft kit for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Win a copy of the activity book – Dare you to Doodle!

AD/Gifted. I love a good activity book. I always have at least one in my bag for my son to pull out and entertain him himself with whenever we need to fend off the boredom. Over Easter we were out and about a lot, having lunch with friends, travelling and generally having periods of time to fill. The activity book I’d shoved in my bag for duration was a new one, Dare you to Doodle it’s a special kind of activity book, and one which really sparks the imagination.

Dare you to Doodle is a super creative doodle activity book. You can make your own comic strip story; find buried treasure, design some cool robots, create a flip book, design your favourite pizza or complete a moon mission. Dare you to Doodle encourages you to think outside of the box and be creative.

Created by Caroline Rowlands, this activity book is aimed at children aged 8+; but it’s definitely the kind of book I could enjoy for a quiet half hour with a cup of coffee.

Win a copy of the activity book - Dare you to Doodle!

Inside the pages are black, white and green, with plenty of space for creativity. It was brilliant for my boy over Easter. We went out for lunch a few times and he just doodled away, sometimes we would doodle away together. It was lovely to do something creative with him. He really enjoyed just doodling instead of working on activity sheets or something overtly educational which is as it should be when you’re on holiday.

Dare you to Doodle has 144 pages of doodles to do and is just the thing for sparking creativity or to doodle do if you need to wind down after a hard day. Dare you to Doodle is published on 2nd May 2019 by Carlton Kids. It costs £8.99 and is available from a wide range of retailers.

Win a copy of the activity book – Dare you to Doodle!

To be in with a chance to win a copy of the activity book – Dare you to Doodle!, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a copy of Dare you to Doodle!
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 19th May 2019.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be shared only with Carlton Books who will send the prize to the winner.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Dare you to Doodle for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

AD/Gifted. Over the weekend we were looking back at pictures of my son as a toddler and there were a few pictures of him playing with some of the dinosaur figures we’d got him. He’s still playing with them now and every few months we add another dinosaur or two to his collection. Over Easter we’ve added the new 2019 Schleich Dinosaur Figurines to his dino box and he’s thrilled!

The new collection of Schleich Dinosaur Figurines includes the Spinosaurus (£19.99), Giganotosaurus (£19.99), Dimetrodon (£9.99), Dimorphodon (£7.99) and Animantarx (£7.99).

What I really like about the new dinosaurs in the range is that they’re not just the usual, popular dinosaurs. I really like that they’re slightly more unusual, and that’s really great for dinosaur enthusiasts to explore and play with.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Spinosaurus was one of the most dangerous dinosaurs. It is considered the biggest carnivore because it was even bigger than the T-rex and the Giganotosaurus! It can be easily distinguished from the other two dinosaurs by the spiny sail on its back and its crocodile-like snout. It’s a bigger figurine, really detailed and has a movable lower jaw for extra ferociousness!

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Giganotosaurus is quite similar to the T-rex. Both were hunters with short arms, walked on two legs and had a large skull. However, the Giganotosaurus lived much earlier and was from North America, whereas the Tyrannosaurus rex lived in South America. This large sized figure had a movable lower jaw and is a fearsome as his T-rex cousin!

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Dimetrodon is often referred to as a dinosaur. However, it is a primeval reptile, a so-called Pelycosaurus. It has a sail on its back was made of skin and bones, helping it to warm itself quicker in the sun. If it wanted to cool down, it positioned the sail parallel to the sun’s rays. This colourful reptile also has a movable lower jaw and makes a colourful addition to any dino collection.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The Animantarx was an approximately 3-metre-long dinosaur with bone plate armour. Only one skeleton of the dinosaur has ever been found, so scientists don’t really know much about it. It lived during the Upper Cretaceous period, at the time of Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus, and fed on plants. It has a squat body and looks like it would be a dangerous enemy to have!

My favourite dino from the collection is the Dimorphodon. It was a small flying dinosaur with a large skull and a long beak. It hunted fish, insects, lizards and other vertebrates, which it held with its claws and then ripped apart with its fangs. With its short wings it could probably only fly short distances, for example from tree to tree. They styling of the figure is really sweet and I can really picture it swooping down to hunt.

Review: New Schleich Dinosaur Figurines for 2019

The new Schleich Dinosaur Figurines are aimed at children and collectors aged 5+, though the figures are suitable for ages 3+. The new collection also includes a newly re-styled Plesiosaurus, a Dracorex and a Diabloceratops.

As with anything made by Schleich, everything has been beautifully hand-painted and the modelling and attention to detail is excellent. They are really great collectors pieces and the quality is fantastic. The Schleich Dinosaurs my son has been playing with since he was three are still in perfect condition and still played with on a very regular basis. I’ve decided to keep them once he (if he) grows out of them to pass on to any grandchildren I might have.

If you’re building a dino collection of your own, or if you’re starting a collection, these Schleich dinosaur figures are a great place to start. The full range of dinosaurs is extensive, so whatever dino is your favourite, it’s bound to be available.

You can buy Schleich dinosaurs from a wide range of retailers including Smyths Toys and directly from Schleich.

Disclosure: We were sent some of the Schleich Dinosaurs range for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

AD/Complimentary stay. The Park Royal Hotel in Cheshire is a 4 star hotel and spa. It’s set in 2.5 acres of grounds at the edge of Stretton village, a short drive away from a whole host of family attractions. Over the Easter holidays we took the chance to have a night away as a family, to chill out and have a bit of fun together.

We had just returned from a self catering break; but as the person responsible for most of the catering, packing and organising, by the time we got back I needed a little break to get over the first one. The answer was a night at The Park Royal Hotel. Hotel stays are almost always a massive treat; having someone else cook dinner, do the washing up, make the beds and lay on a really good breakfast in the morning is just blissful.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We arrived mid-afternoon and as we checked, in the boy was given a treasure trail sheet to do while we were there. There are clues hidden throughout the hotel, find them all and you get a prize. It’s a small but brilliant thing and my son loved exploring.

We spotted two of the clues on our way to our family room –  a lovely comfortable room with everything we needed and really comfortable beds. The room had free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, cable TV and 24-hour room service.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We had a quick coffee in the room, but didn’t stay long as the pool has family swim times and we were all very keen to dive in. The Park Royal Hotel has a modern health club and spa with a high-tech gym. There is a 22-metre indoor swimming pool, with a sauna, steam room and hot tub. They also have a number of spa and beauty treatments available to book. 

My son was desperate to get in the pool and show off his swimming skills. There are family swim times every day, which is great if you’re staying with kids; or if you’re not and you want to avoid children you know when not to go for a swim.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

The pool is great. It’s big and there’s plenty of room for everyone. My husband and I both wanted to spend some quality time using the sauna and steam room, so we took it in turns to swim with the boy. We both loved the herbal steam room which was incredibly relaxing. We all had a brilliant couple of hours by the pool, so brilliant that we decided to go back in again the next day before we checked out.

After our swim we went back to our room to get ready for dinner. The Park Royal Hotel has a formal restaurant and a casual bar and grill; we had plans to go for dinner and then meet friends who live nearby for drinks afterwards.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We had a delicious meal, I was really pleased that the restaurant had a children’s menu which had a good range of meals to choose from. The boy picked his favourite – fish and chips, which was a really good sized portion which he said was dee-licious. You could tell by his almost empty plate that it was good!

We  both had starters; I had curried vegetable soup which really hit the spot and my husband chose the ham hock terrine, both were beautifully presented and delicious. For our main courses, I chose the veggie butternut squash tart with a side of triple cooked chips; he had the braised beef which fell apart as soon as you touched it.

After a seriously good meal, we retired to the bar to meet our friends. The bar was pretty busy as there was football on, but as soon as the game finished the bar emptied pretty quickly. In an act of impeccable timing we managed to finish the kids treasure trail; so we went to reception and he was given his prize – a really good activity pack and some chocolate. This kept him happy and occupied while we chatted with friends, but he’d had a long and busy day, so I took him back to our room to go to sleep.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

When we got back to our room there was a plate of milk and cookies waiting for him. What a treat! It was so lovely to have a little something for him to nibble on once he’d got his PJs on. We got tucked up in bed and we all had a really long and restful sleep.

Morning came all too soon, but we were ready for breakfast. Despite my husbands determination to just have a light breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, the boy’s breakfast of sausages, eggs and bacon tempted him over to the dark side. I love a good hotel breakfast, there’s something for everyone, whatever they’re in the mood for. From the full English, to continental style pasties, fruit and yoghurt or cheese and salami. Breakfast was a real highlight for me.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

Sadly our time at The Park Royal Hotel was coming to an end. We did have just enough time to pack our bags and grab a quick hour in the pool before we had to check out.

We’d had a fantastic stay. We all left feeling really chilled out. I felt so pampered because I’d had 24 hours of someone else doing the work. We’d all benefited from a good nights sleep and it was a really family friendly place to stay. The staff were all friendly and helpful and they were really engaging and chatty with the boy.

The Park Royal Hotel is a great base to explore Cheshire. It is just 11 miles from Tatton Park and about 15 miles from Chester Zoo. It’s near the Blue Planet Aquarium, Cheshire Oaks, Applejacks Farm and many, many more family attractions. It’s a great choice for families; close enough to all the fun things to do, but not in a noisy city centre where it’s hard to park.

We loved the little touches; like the milk and cookies at bedtime and the treasure trail. His most favourite things were his big breakfast and swimming in the pool. They might also have been my favourite things too. We were sad to leave, but really happy we’d taken some time out as a family to just hang out and have fun together. I wonder where we will end up next?

The Park Royal Hotel is a 4 star hotel and spa in Stretton near Warrington. It’s a great choice for families and you can find out more about the hotel by visiting their website.

Disclosure: We were given dinner, bed and breakfast in exchange for this blog post. All images and opinions are our own.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Last year I treated myself to a bundt tin and I’ve been baking the prettiest cakes in the world in it ever since. My current favourite bake is a Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt and it’s one I take along as an offering whenever a cake is required. It’s really easy, looks as pretty as a picture and it tastes fantastic. This cake also gives people the impression I’m a much better baker than I really am, it’s just a foolproof recipe and a fancy tin.

Lemon drizzle is an absolute classic and one which has been a staple of mine for a few years now. Everyone loves a lemon drizzle, but this version with blueberries really takes it up a notch.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Ingredients

250g caster sugar
250g softened butter
4 eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
250g fresh blueberries

For the icing –

150g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half of the lemon

How to make your Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt:

Pre-heat the oven to 190° and liberally grease your bundt tin with melted butter.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and juice and give them a really good mix. Add the fresh blueberries and stir in gently.

Pour the mixture into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Once baked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and make up the drizzle icing. Do not even attempt to drizzle the icing on until the cake is fully cooled.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest. I like a thicker drizzle, so add the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

Prick your cake all over with a skewer and carefully spoon your icing over, try to get some of it down the little holes in your cake. Leave it in a cool place for the icing to set a little, then serve with a pot of tea.

It’s as light as a feather and an absolutely fabulous spring bake. If you don’t have a bunt tin, you can always bake it in a regular cake tin, just adjust the cooking time as you see fit.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try this lemon and ginger drizzle cake.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

April is famous for its showers, so we decided to make our own weather based craft. We went for this fun cloud mobile which you can decorate however you want really. We went for paint, pom poms and a silver lining and we were pretty happy with the result.

To make life easier I created a simple cloud template which we could use to decorate. I’ve made the template available to download, so you can recreate the cloud mobile easily at home. This is a really lovely craft, we are so pleased with how it turned out.

Download your FREE cloud template here.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Make your own Cloud Mobile

You will need:

A printout of the cloud template
Paint
String or twine
Sellotape
Scissors
A glue gun
Pom Poms
A yellow foam circle

How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Print out a copy of the cloud template on card. Decorate each cloud, we painted ours different shades of blue with silver linings. I thought they might be quite nice with glued on wisps of cotton wool, but the boy had other ideas.

Leave the paint, or whatever you’ve glued to your clouds to dry and then carefully cut them out.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Using a length of twine (I used a really lovely blue striped twine I found in a nice shop in Gloucester) sellotape the  twine to the back of the clouds so they will hang evenly. Make sure there’s a decent loop of twine at the top so you can hang the cloud mobile on a hook when you’re done.

The cloud mobile looked lovely, but I wanted to embellish it with hanging pom poms and a bright sunny sun.

I selected five little pom poms and using the glue gun, glued them onto five inch long pieces of twine I’d cut. I then sellotaped them to the back of the bottom cloud. Again using the glue gun I dolloped some glue onto the yellow foam circle and stuck it so it was peeping out form behind the top cloud.

The cloud mobile was done. We did think about adding some sequins or glitter, but decided it looked great as it was. Really, you can decorate your clouds however you want, let your imagination run wild!

If you enjoyed this post, you can find all kinds of other crafts and activities here.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Six Really Great Books About Geology

One of my son’s latest obsessions is geology. Last week we went to Cornwall for a short break; while we were there he went on a geology walk which fuelled his obsession no end. We already had a few books about rocks and geology on our shelves; but the geology walk meant we needed to visit a bookshop and expand our selection of books about geology a little more. After consulting with the boy, we’ve chosen six of his favourite books about geology.

Six Really Great Books About Geology

Usborne Naturetrails: Rocks and Fossils by Struan Reid – this is an absolutely brilliant book. It’s got bags of full of colour pictures, and easy to understand information all about rocks. There are fantastic facts boxes and short experiments to enhance understanding. The end section contains a field spotters guide listing the main rocks, minerals and fossils to be seen; plus tips and advice on collecting rocks. It’s a great all round book for junior geologists!

Everything: Rocks and Minerals by National Geographic KidsPacked with facts and anecdotes from experts and bursting with colour photographs, learn all about rocks, minerals, fossils, types of rock, tectonics and gems in this informative and fun educational book from National Geographic Kids.

Six Really Great Books About Geology

Rock & Fossil Hunter (DK Eyewitness) by Ben Morgan – this books explains everything you never knew about rocks, fossils, minerals, gems, and shells. There are more than 30 hands-on practical projects to try out at home; start your own rock collection, grow your own gemstones, make a fossil bone, build a sandstone castle, or even create an erupting volcano! Each activity comes with easy step-by-step instructions to help you. This is a great book for learning about the geology of rocks, Earth’s changing landscape, and much more.

My Book of Rocks and Minerals: Things to Find, Collect, and Treasure by Dr Devin Dennie – For children aged 5+, this guide is the ideal starter companion for any child interested in starting their own rock and mineral collection. This is a fantastic introduction to the world of rocks, gems, and minerals. Children will learn all about where rocks and minerals come from, what a fossil is, and how they can go about starting their own rock collection, as well as how to identify any rocks they find.

Rocks and Minerals Sticker Book by Natural History Museum – For children who love activity books, this is full of fun stuff; with colourful stickers, fantastic facts and fun learning pages, this activity book is a great introduction to 100 rocks and minerals from around the world. Written and designed for younger readers, it contains 100 re-useable stickers. There are lots of bite-size facts about what rocks and minerals look like and where they come from; plus exciting puzzles and games, including a colouring in activity and spot the mineral quiz. You can build your own rock world by adding stickers to a colourful double page landscape. This book is ideal for children who want to know more about rocks and minerals.

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillian is something a little bit different than the rock spotter books listed above. This double-sided foldout book takes you on a fascinating journey deep underground. One side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the city and the reverse side shows the ground beneath the countryside. The underground scenes include tunnels and pipes, creatures’ burrows, layers of rock and the planet’s molten core. Covering subjects such as geology, archaeology and natural history; this expansive concertina book opens out to an impressive 2.5 metres long; perfect for spreading out on the floor to pore over for hours.

Geology is a fascinating science; whether you’re interested in rocks, minerals, fossils or gems, there’s a really great book on this list that can help you learn more. What’s your favourite book about geology?

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these five books about science or these six books about space.

Six Really Great Books About Geology

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co – healthy kids cooking kits

AD/Gifted. The boy and I are keen cooks. We love baking cakes and treats together and he’s started helping out with the occasional evening meal. It can sometimes be hard to come up with something new, exciting and within his skill-set to make or bake. So this week we’ve been trying the Little Cooks Co – healthy kids cooking kits.

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co - healthy kids cooking kits

The Little Cooks Co healthy kids cooking kits are monthly subscription boxes delivered to your door. Each one contains an easy to follow baking recipe created by a registered nutritionist; plus all the dry organic ingredients you need to make the recipe, perfectly measured out. Each box also contains an additional recipe for a family meal that kids would love to cook and eat.

The box we received contained the recipe and the ingredients to make Lemon and Poppy Seed Balls. The recipe is described as “zingy energy balls to put a spring in your step”. The box contained all of the dry ingredients, we just had to add lemons, vanilla essence, butter and honey.

The recipe was really easy to follow, though with all recipes, it’s a good idea to read it through at least once before you begin and to get everything you need together. My son is pretty impatient, so I like to be organised before I start any baking or craft with him. The recipe card helpfully lists all the equipment you will need too, so getting organised is a piece of cake.

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co - healthy kids cooking kits

The recipe was very easy to follow, I read out the instructions and he did everything he was asked to do. The one thing he wasn’t keen on was shaping the balls by hand, so that’s something I did, but he enjoyed everything else, especially using the food processor.

For me, the Lemon and Poppy Seed Balls were a bit dense for my tastes, but he really enjoyed them and ate three in one go. They’re packed full of good, healthy stuff including walnuts, cashew nuts, dates and poppy seeds – I would never have got him to eat any of those things otherwise!

Previous recipes include strawberry bombs, cinnamon swirls and homemade snickers bars made with natural ingredients. I feel the boxes are good value at £8.99 each. They contain just the right amount of ingredients you need for the recipe, this is great because having to buy a bag of dates, a bag of walnuts and a bag of cashews, as well as all the rest of the ingredients would cost much more than the cost of the box.

Subscription Box Review: Little Cooks Co - healthy kids cooking kits

We have definitely been inspired to make something similar in future. I think The Little Cooks Co subscription boxes are a great way to expand our culinary horizons! The boxes cost £8.99 per month including postage (though you can get your first box for just £6.99 using code BOX1 at checkout). For more information, take a look at their website.

Disclosure: We were given a Little Cooks Co subscription box for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

Despite the name, The Castle isn’t actually a castle, but a fine building located close to the beach in Bude, Cornwall. It’s more of a heritage centre than anything else; but one worth visiting if you’re interested in the history of the area.

The Castle was built by and was the home of noted Cornishman, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who was a pioneering engineer and inventor; surgeon, chemist, lecturer, consultant, architect and builder in the Victorian era. In 1830 he set about building a new house in the sand hills of Summerleaze Beach. The house was built on an innovative concrete raft foundation; making it the first building of its kind in the UK. The house still stands today, though it has been extended and converted into the art gallery and heritage centre.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

The Castle is free to enter and contains displays and information about Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, shipwrecks and the history of lifesaving in the area. Battles and the English Civil War, the Bude Canal and Railway and the geology of the area. There is a really interesting display bout the second world war too. I really like that the building is packed full of history, right up to the present day. There’s a lot packed in and it’s a fine way to spend an hour or two.

Downstairs there is a large room dedicated to the history of Bude. I especially liked the display which showed how long it takes for litter and plastics to biodegrade. There are also examples of the geology of North Cornwall and my favourite bit, a selection of artefacts from boats which were wrecked in Bude. There’s also a fascinating display about the life of Archie Jewell who was a local boy who worked as a look-out on the Titanic.

Upstairs is the Cafe Limelight; a lovely cafe with panoramic views from its conservatory towards Bude Canal, the harbour and Summerleaze beach. There’s also a good gift shop and two galleries which host an ever-changing exhibition programme showcasing the talents of local artists and craftspeople.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

It’s a fine place to stop off for a while if you’re visiting Bude. I like to pop in each time I’m in the area for a look around and a cup of coffee in the cafe. It’s obviously a popular hub for local people and the galleries are always worth visiting.

It’s not a castle, so don’t visit with expectations of medieval stonework and tales of kings and queens. What you will find is a good heritage centre full of interesting pieces of local history; a great cafe and a real hub for local artists.

The Castle, Bude is open daily between 10am – 5pm and it’s free to visit. It’s located at The Wharf, Bude, EX23 8LG. For more information, visit their website.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with blackberry sauce

Last year Brockmans Gin asked me to come up with a recipe using gin. Now I’m the kind of girl who will happily slosh a glug of gin into almost any recipe which demands a bit of white wine, so this was an assignment I was very happy to try. After some serious consideration, I decided that a whole Camembert baked with gin, garlic and herbs, served with crusty bread and a fruity sauce which matched the gin would be the way to go, and boy was I right!

The recipe is really simple, and if you don’t fancy making the sauce, then maybe try a dollop or two of cranberry sauce instead.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Ingredients:

1 whole Camembert in a wooden box
Sprig of thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ tablespoon of Gin, I used Brockmans
Pepper, freshly ground
For the sauce
1 tablespoon of water
100g fresh blackberries
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
Pepper, freshly ground

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Unwrap your Camembert and put back in the wooden box. Carefully cut a circle out of the top of the cheese rind and scatter a crushed clove of garlic, a good amount of thyme leaves and a grind or two of black pepper on top of the cheese. Carefully add your gin and replace the lid. Loosely cover the Camembert in foil and put in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s gone wobbly in the middle.

While your Camembert is baking, put 100g of fresh juicy blackberries in a saucepan. Add the water and sugar and cook on a low heat, stirring regularly until the blackberries have softened and are starting to collapse. At this point, add the balsamic vinegar and the black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning or sugar if you need to depending on how sweet your blackberries are. Once cooked, pour into a small dish and leave to cool a little.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Once your Camembert is cooked, carefully take it out of the oven and place the cheese in its wooden box on a platter; garnish with a couple of sprigs of thyme and serve with your warm blackberry sauce and crusty bread. A gin and tonic on the side is entirely optional!

A whole baked Camembert makes for a lovely lunch to share with friends. This gin soaked version is a real treat for a gin lover. Don’t skimp on the crusty bread, it is just what this melty dish of cheese and fruity sauce needs.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this Baked Russet Squire Crusty Bread Bowl I made.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce