A little catch up with HodgePodgeDays – Spring 2018

Hello there. I don’t feel like I’ve been writing much about the things we’ve been doing and what we’ve been up to lately, so I thought it might be about time for a little catch up.

The last month has been a bit of a whirlwind really. We went away for a week in Devon with some friends for February half term. That seems like it was a million years ago now, but in reality it was just over a fortnight ago. We had a brilliant time. It was so good for my son, an only child, to share some space with other children. To have the more lively companionship of people his own age, rather than just his boring parents who want to sit down with a brew every hour or so.

A little catch up - Spring 2018 Devon cottage

We were incredibly lucky with the weather too. It wasn’t wet or miserable, it certainly wasn’t warm, but for the most part it was clear blue skies and sunshine. We returned home just before the “Beast from the East” made itself known and we were treated to a week of snow. We didn’t have drifts of it, but enough for the boy to go to school on his sledge on a couple of days. I don’t like snow, so I spent most of that week looking out of the window wanting it to go away so I could go out again.

I always worry a little more about some of my neighbours when the weather is bad. So I did force myself out to visit a neighbour who I am very fond of. I took her a cake I’d baked, had a chat with her and fussed her dog for a bit. It was nice to get out and I felt a bit better about seeing her. It put my mind at rest that she wasn’t starving or shivering to death and that she wasn’t too lonely.

A little catch up - Spring 2018 snow

Then I had some bad news from my husband. He’d broken my favourite chair. This really is bad news, because of my ruined spine (I have constant pain and my legs are always a bit numb and prone to going completely numb) this is the only chair I can sit it comfortably. The problem is, it’s a vintage g-plan saddleback armchair made in the 1960s. They don’t make them anymore and they’re very hard to come by. I’m hoping my original chair can be repaired, but in the meantime we’ve managed to find a replacement in Glasgow and hopefully that should arrive this week.

I was a bit cross about it, but if my chair can be repaired and my new one reupholstered, then I will have two good chairs in the house which I can sit on in comfort. I work in my favourite chair, with a plank of wood resting across the arms with my laptop on. It sounds weird, but ergonomically it’s the best set up for my back. In the meantime (and as I type this) I’m working for my bed. Three days into this working arrangement and I can’t feel the soles of my feet anymore. Hurry up new chair, hurry up!

And then it was Mother’s Day. I don’t want anyone in my life to feel like they need to make grand gestures to make me happy; so Mother’s Day is always a low key affair. I was woken with a card and a cuddle. He toasted me a hot cross bun which slid off the plate several times on its way to me before dog ate it. It’s the thought that counts!

A little catch up - Spring 2018 Devon

We hung out together for the day, none of us were feeling particularly amazing. I think we are about to simultaneously come down with colds. I even managed an early night. I’d like to say I woke up feeling refreshed and wonderful, but I woke up with a sore throat and a snuffle. And now we find ourselves in mid March.

Shall I do a little catch up post on a more regular basis? What do you think?

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

Earlier this week my husband and son went rockpooling in North Devon with the National Trust. They returned rosy-cheeked and brimming with enthusiasm for what they’d found and experienced. In a rare guest post, my husband shares their wonderful morning in Woolacombe. Over to Matthew…

A few weeks before we came down to Devon on holiday, I was beginning to keep an eye out for things to do. I saw a link somebody had shared on Facebook about guided rockpooling with the National Trust in Woolacombe. The “Rockpool Rambles” looked quite interesting and I thought that both me and the lad could learn something.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

We holiday in Devon quite a lot and we tend to plan ahead a little bit, but also take each day as it comes especially with the weather. On one of the days the rockpooling was scheduled it was going to be mixed weather, so we decided to hop in the car, head to Woolacombe and take our chances.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

When we arrived, the heavens opened. Undeterred, the lad and I put on our waterproofs and sandals and headed down to the Combesgate part of the beach. Here, our guides, Ed and Dave met us and our fellow rockpoolers and gave us our nets and buckets and a short briefing about what to look for and a couple of things not to do such as climbing on the rocks covered with barnacles as they’re very rough and feel like a cheese grater if you happen to slip on them.

Off exploring we went and we quickly came across some sea lettuce, followed by our first starfish of the day. Ed and Dave pointed out that the barnacles make a snap, crackle and pop noise, so we listened out for that too. Around the corner there were starfish aplenty; along with beadlet anemones and small hermit crabs, as well as limpets and mussels.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

There were excited cries from the group as small fish were seen darting for cover in the pools. Rockpool prawns were seen, captured and temporarily put in buckets while we examined them. The lad did very well to find a secluded rockpool and a snakelocks anemone in the water. We lifted a stone and out popped a five bearded rockling. By the end of the session, the clouds parted and the sun came out. The best was saved till last when a little red octopus was spotted swimming across one of the larger pools. It was a wonderful sight and one we will remember for a long time.

The guided rock pooling is a fantastic way to spend an hour and half. It costs just £1 per person, and it probably can’t be bettered.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

The little red thing you can see in the photo above is a little octopus. What a find!

For more information about Rockpooling in North Devon and the Rockpool Rambles run by the National Trust, visit the NT website.

My Four Favourite Foodie Experiences of 2016

When I look back over 2016 there are very low points and very high points. Inevitably for a greedy person like me, many of my highlights involve exceptionally good plates of food, very good gin and some very special bottles of wine. I’ve picked out four of my favourite foodie experiences of 2016 for no other reason than to remember them makes me smile.

This year I turned 40 and as a very special birthday present my husband booked us into The Midland Hotel in Manchester. He treated me to an exquisite meal at The French. The French is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a couple of years and our amazing 9 course taster menu did not disappoint.

Foodie Experiences - The French The Midland Hotel Manchester

One of my favourite courses was the “salad” which was a beautiful (in every sense) plate of potato, ramson caper, black garlic & chestnut. The meal, the night, the weekend, it was all perfect. We’re looking forward to winning the lottery and going again some day.

In November a giddy gang of food bloggers descended on River Cottage HQ for a River Cottage style evening of fine dining. It was fresh, seasonal, local, beautifully cooked and expertly presented. River Cottage is by far (by far, even including the other amazing places I’ve dined this year) my favourite place to eat. If you can go, you really should.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

Every plate was a delight, the prettiest was my starter of ravioli with celeriac purée, wild mushrooms and sage. This was a deceptively filling dish, perfectly autumnal and as pretty as a picture.

The next day we couldn’t resist swinging by the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster for a spot of lunch before heading home. We were not disappointed. I ordered a couple of small plates – a casual lunch of soup and a simple but incredibly memorable plate of roast celeriac, cauliflower and pickled ewes cheese with salsa verde.

River Cottage Canteen

Every mouthful was perfectly balanced. I can’t believe I only paid £6 for something which somewhere swisher would charge four times that at least. Amazing food at incredibly accessible prices – a rare thing indeed.

Back home in Manchester, I’ve eaten in a hundred different restaurants. Whenever I’m in town in need of a quick bite I almost always end up in the same place eating the same thing. It’s a favourite haunt of my North West blogger chums, it’s Wagamama.

Wagamama Spinningfields

Every time I visit I order a steaming bowl of yasai itame. It’s a big fragrant bowl of rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup with tofu and vegetables, stir-fried beansprouts, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers, mushrooms and chillies, garnished with coriander and lime.

It’s fresh, hearty, delicious and it feels healthy. I usually team it with one of their fresh juices so by the time I leave I’ve had about 800 of my five a day. It’s probably lucky I live a 45 minute bus journey away or I’d turn into a bowl of yasai itame.

I’ve spent a little bit of time scrolling through my Instagram feed and looking at some of the amazing dishes I’ve eaten this year. I’ve eaten in some really wonderful and memorable places, but these are probably four of my favourite plates, all for different reasons. All have stuck with me and have my mouth watering again just thinking about them.

Where I’ll eat and what I’ll eat in 2017 is yet to be seen, but in terms of good food, 2016 will be a hard one to beat. What were your most memorable dishes of 2016?

My Four Favourite Foodie Experiences of 2016

Lunch at the River Cottage Canteen, Axminster

River Cottage HQ on the Devon-Dorset border is a fantastic place to visit and dine. I went there recently with some friends (you can read about that here), but it is a bit of an occasion venue and not so much for every day. But we couldn’t pass up the chance to pop to the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster for a spot of lunch while we were down Devonshire way and experience a more casual River Cottage dining experience. 

River Cottage Canteen

The River Cottage Canteen in Axminster is a large cafe and deli. When we arrived on a drizzly Wednesday lunchtime it was pretty quiet, but it did get much busier whilst we were there. The canteen itself is closely aligned to the principles of River Cottage and everything on the menu is farmed, foraged, caught or grown locally.

We sat by the window in a cosy corner, we ordered drinks whilst we checked out the menu. The menu is written from scratch each day. The chefs come up with new dishes depending on what is available and what is good at that time of the year. The menu is split into small plates (around the £6 mark) and large plates (priced around £15). We opted for two small plates each and a portion of chips to share between us.

River Cottage Canteen

Whilst our lunch was being prepared we had a good look around the canteen and deli. There is good sized deli counter with a decent selection of local cheese and homemade pies and pasties. While we were there lots of locals came in for a sandwich or pie to take away for their lunch.

There was also a good selection of jam, chutney and other jarred goods, as well as biscuits and other goodies. By the open kitchen there was a display of River Cottage gift boxes, hampers and other products which would make great Christmas presents, they were well priced too and I thought they were good value.

River Cottage Canteen

We took the opportunity to chat to the River Cottage Canteen chefs who were very lovely and seemed remarkably unfazed by having three giddy food bloggers interrupting their day.

River Cottage Canteen

I opted for butternut squash soup with canteen bread (£5.50). I almost always order soup these days if I know it’s going to be fresh and not from a tin. This was a big hearty bowl of thick soup, perfectly seasoned and served with a big slice of good bread. I couldn’t fault it. I know it’s “just” soup and lots of people would think it a boring thing to choose, but for lunch on a cold November day, it was exactly the right choice to make.

River Cottage Canteen

My second small plate was roast celeriac, cauliflower and pickled ewes cheese with salsa verde (£6). The night before I’d had an incredible celeriac dish at River Cottage HQ, so I ordered this with a head full of high expectations. It may look like a casually thrown together plate of vegetables, but the celeriac was beautifully tender, roasted so the sweet celeriac was shown off to the fullest. The pickled ewes cheese was a new one for me, I was expecting a more vinegary, pickled onion taste, but what I got was a cheese with a hit of astringency which balanced the sweet celeriac. A seemingly simple dish which was so well put together it sang on the plate.

River Cottage Canteen

The chips? I’d like to say I managed to get some nice photos of the chips, but they were thoroughly snaffled before I got my camera out. My only regret was not ordering two portions. The chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy potatoey potato on the inside. Often chips just taste of the fat they were fried in, or of nothing much really. The River Cottage Canteen chips were how chips should be.

River Cottage Canteen

My bill came to a little under £20 for a two course lunch, drinks and a portion of chips. Because I’d had lunch at the River Cottage Canteen I got 10% off at the deli counter, so I did buy quite a lot of lovely things to bring home.

I loved the River Cottage Canteen. I know that it’s the kind of place we will pop into for lunch next time we’re in Devon. It’s casual dining with River Cottage flair, doing its bit to show off fantastic local produce. If you’re down that way, it is well worth a visit. I am so glad we stopped off to try it out for ourselves.

River Cottage Canteen & Deli, Trinity Square, Axminster, Devon, EX13 5AN 

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

I’ve been a huge fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall since the first series of River Cottage in 1997. I’ve fully bought into his snout-to-tail grow-your-own ethos and I love his enthusiasm for good food, be it farmed, foraged or from the high street. This month I had the good fortune to make my third pilgrimage to River Cottage HQ, near Axminster on the Devon-Dorset border.

The River Cottage dining experiences are not a budget affair, though they do represent good value for money, especially if you’re a bit of a foodie.

My first visit to River Cottage HQ was in 2008, it was a gloriously boozy meal, where strangers became friends, bonding over their shared love of Hugh and everything he stands for. It was a wonderful summers evening, we toured the garden, snaffled a few pea pods straight from the plant, ate canapés in the yurt and had the best meal I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

This November I visited River Cottage HQ with my friends Claire (She-Eats) and Rachel (Marvellous Mrs P), we were there to experience a River Cottage HQ Dining Event for ourselves.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

As a River Cottage veteran (I must be now, surely?) I knew the drill, the tractor would meet us at the top and bump us down the hill to the farm, I knew we’d need sensible shoes and that glamming up too much might result in muddy sequins by the end of the night. I knew the drinks would be local and well chosen, I knew the food would have been grown, born or raised on the farm, and if not foraged or farmed nearby. I knew it would be excellent, and it was.

However, we messed up and arrived late. The gathering darkness brought with it a storm and we missed the tractor. We had to make our way down the muddy hillside track on foot; but we were warmly greeted, given a hot cuppa and a little canapé to nibble on. Once we’d thawed out we explored River Cottage HQ as much as we could in the dark and the wet. Thankfully I have two warm summer visits worth of memories, but the roaring fire in the cottage was enough to brighten the darkest and coldest winter night.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

Before long we were summoned for dinner, I’m a vegetarian so I enjoyed a slightly different menu to my friends, but I wager it was just as good as theirs. The canapés were plentiful, imaginative and delicious. We began with whipped goats cheese with thin slithers of beetroot in cider vinegar with fennel fronds, little cheese on toast bites with piccalilli; blue cheese, mushroom and leek croquettes with date and green tomato dip and several slices of excellent treacle and seed bread.

Another canapé, and for my money one of the highlights of my meal, was the merguez spiced romanesco cauliflower with silky smooth cauliflower purée. An unassuming dish which packed in so much flavour, it was a real joy.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

My first course (though after all those canapés, it felt like my fourth course already) was ravioli with celeriac purée, wild mushrooms and sage. This was a deceptively filling plate, perfectly autumnal and as pretty as a picture. There was perhaps a touch too much oil for my liking, but it didn’t detract from the dish.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

My veggie main course was a crispy parsnip and potato rosti with a poached egg, carrot purée and a chunk of charred savoy cabbage. Every single aspect of this course was perfectly cooked and delicious, but I did feel it needed something to pull it together into a dish, rather than the sum of its parts. My poached egg was a double-yolker though, so I can’t complain really.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

At my last meal at River Cottage HQ I had been utterly wowed by the pudding, so I had high hopes and I’m pleased to say they weren’t dashed. Dessert was a celebration of all things apple – an apple crisp, apple purée, a chunky apple crumble with a topping made from treacle and rye flour; but the showstopper on the plate was the honeycomb (or Hokey-Pokey if you’re Cornish) crème brûlée. That crème brûlée will live a long, long time in my memory. It was perfect and the honeycomb topping lent a deliciously different note to the crunchy topping.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

Dinner was followed by coffee and petits fours; the hurried purchasing of a couple of Christmas gifts from the shop and a bumpy tractor ride up the hill to the car park.

It was as close to a perfect foodie evening as you can imagine. The meal was virtually faultless, so good I want to book in again next year with my husband. For River Cottage fans and devotees, lovers of good food, or people who are just Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall curious, a dining experience at River Cottage HQ is a very special way to spend an evening and would make for a rather excellent Christmas present.

For more information about a River Cottage HQ Dining Experience, visit their website.

We were invited guests of River Cottage HQ and Foodies100, all images and opinions are our own.

Perfect Postal Presents from Devon Heaven Hampers

Every year we go for at least one holiday in Devon. To us Devon is a heaven on earth. With breathtaking scenery, gorgeous beaches, excellent country pubs, lovely walks and much, much more to be had, we struggle to find anywhere else to compare.

Two things have to happen when we visit Devon, firstly we have to have a cream tea (himself has it the Devonshire way, cream first, then jam. I have it Cornish style, jam first, then cream), and secondly we do a big Devon food shop, filling our car with local treats we can’t get at home.

When we first started visiting Devon 15 years ago, that would mainly be clotted cream, but that’s more available now. Hubs stocks up on local beers he can’t find in Manchester and top of my list is the best chilli jam in the world which you can only get in one tiny shop in Devon. Also on our list is fudge from Ilfracombe, Devonshire tea, homemade flapjacks, hard to find local cheeses and huge homemade scones. 

I’ve often lamented during the lean months in between our visits to Devon that it would be good to have some kind of food parcel service for people who yearn for some Westcountry fayre. I was thrilled to discover Devon Heaven Hampers who have a huge range of hampers filled with Devonshire goodies, many of which have won Taste of the West Great Taste awards for quality and general deliciousness! 

I’ve picked out three of my favourites from Devon Heaven Hampers

Devon Heaven Hampers
Classic Devon Food Basket

The Classic Devon Food Basket from Devon Heaven Hampers would make a fabulous Christmas gift. It’s a basket full gourmet food all locally sourced in Devon. The basket contains Georgie Porgie’s Puddings – Westcountry Cider and Apple Pudding and an Orange & Cointreau Pudding. Bags of Portlebay Popcorn and Burts Crisps, a bottle of Luscombe Organic Hot Ginger Beer, a jar of Onion & Pineapple flavour Devon Chutney from Otter Vale Products, Devonshire Clotted Cream Vanilla Fudge and some Willie’s Cacao – Milk of the Gods, all presented in a wicker basket. Priced at just £25 this would make an excellent present for someone.

Devon Heaven Hampers
Devon Cider Selection

For cider and scrumpy lovers, the Devon Cider Selection would be a treat. It costs just £28 and comes with free delivery. Cider lovers can enjoy a bottle of Jack Ratt Scrumpy in a traditional style flagon, a lovely bottle of Luscombe Organic Devon Cider, some Lyme Bay Sparkling Cider, and both Sandford Orchard Devon Red and Sandford Orchard Devon Mist. Cheers!

Devon Heaven Hampers
Devon vs Cornish Cream Tea by Post

Last, but by absolutely no means least – the Devon vs Cornish Cream Tea by Post. Decide for yourself and settle the long standing debate between Devon and Cornwall – are cream teas better with jam or cream on top? Not only can you decide which is best, but you can also taste the difference between Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream and Langage Farm Devonshire clotted cream!

This fantastic hamper contains 4 Devon scones, Langage Farm Devonshire clotted cream, Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream, a jar of strawberry jam and Devonshire Tea and Cornish Tea Sachets, all presented in a wicker gift basket and delivered free of charge. The Devon vs Cornish Cream Tea by Post hamper is £23 and is the perfect gift for those who can’t resist a cream tea or three!

I know what I’ll be asking Santa for this year!

For more information and to see their range of gift hampers, visit the Devon Heaven Hampers website.

Holiday Snaps – from Devon 2016

I’ve got this fancy newish camera which I’ve been trying to use and get used to. I had planned on taking it on holiday to Devon for a week to try and spend some time getting to know it a bit better, but I ended up with a fairly epic chest infection a couple of days before we went and I wasn’t really in the mood.

I decided instead to take my “old” camera, a Nikon Coolpix L820. It’s a bridge camera and whilst it really struggles indoors, outdoors it comes into its own.

Before we headed down the M6 towards the South West one of my friends challenged me to take 5 decent photos of Devon. I don’t think I’ve managed that, but I have chosen some pictures which will make me smile.

It wasn’t a particularly great holiday, we’d booked an especially skanky cottage and ended up having to leave after three days and go and stay elsewhere. It was a shame, after everything we’ve been through these past few months I just really needed a rest, a break from the norm and some time to reflect and recover. But maybe that’s something for another blog post. Back to the photos….

Day one of our holiday we got in the car and went for a drive to get our bearings. I’ve no idea where this place is, it’s somewhere in Exmoor, somewhere where we stopped for some air. There was purple heather everywhere, gorse in flower and the air was as clear as a bell. I love the colour and texture in this picture.


The first cottage we stayed in didn’t have much to recommend it, but it did have a huge buddleia outside the front door. It was teeming with butterflies and bees, so I snapped this little fella. Isn’t he lovely?


Day two, in an attempt to cheer ourselves up we headed to the familiar territory of Westward Ho! It was worth the drive of nearly an hour for the fresh air and the lift in our spirits. 


Although he will kill me for sharing this, I adore this photo of my boy running towards his Dad who had just been for a swim in the sea. Again this is Westward Ho!


It’s not an especially lovely photo, but this is the view from the cottage we stay at in Welcombe in North Devon. Waking up to see the church, the sky and a tiny handkerchief of the sea always makes me happy, rain or shine.


On our last night we drove to Bude and had dinner at Life’s a Beach, which by day is a beach cafe and by night a popular bistro. We had a delicious meal and then walked some of it off on the beach afterwards. Here’s the small boy at his cheeky best.


The last night again, this time the beach at Bude, a harbour of sorts. It’s not a great photo, but it is a photo of one of my happy places.


And lastly, on our way home we stopped at Westward Ho! (are you sensing a theme here?) and had fish and chips on the beach for tea. Whilst we waited for dad to come back I took this panorama and the boy played with his new sword and shield. The result is this rather moody shot of a knight which will probably always make me smile. 


A mixed holiday for us, some lovely moments, some disappointment, but lots of lovely cuddles with the boys. Looking back I didn’t take any or many decent photos, it’s probably reflective of our mood at the time. We did have fun, we did stick brave smiley faces on for the boy and we did our best to make the best of our holiday. I think he had a good time and that’s all that matters right now.

My Sunday Photo 17.4.16


I promise hand on heart that this photo hasn’t been edited or messed about with in any way. We’ve been on holiday in North Devon all week and this was taken on Westward Ho! beach. The tide was just going out and the spring sunshine was dancing on the wet sand and creating a beautiful sky-sand mirror. This photo was taken with my Nokia Lumia phone and I think it’s rather beautiful and a little like a watercolour painting. 

The photo shows a silhouette of my husband as he approached an ancient shipwreck sticking out from the sand. We’d visited last year and had a good look at the wrecks and I was keen to see if they were still visible, which they are. You can read more about the history of the wrecks and see close up photos in this blog post from last year.

My Sunday Photo 10.4.16

A last minute break in what we think is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Smack bang on the North Devon and Cornwall border this is Welcombe Mouth, with gorse and heather covered cliffs, it’s own waterfall, jagged rocks and great surfing. What’s not to love?

It is cold though. So very cold. Brrrrr.

Disabled on holiday


An unforgettable day at River Cottage

I remember watching the first ever series of River Cottage and being really inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Over the years we’ve followed him on TV, watched the move from the original River Cottage to its new base near Axminster and continued to be inspired by the River Cottage way of life. Hardly a week goes by without me making a HFW recipe, and when we went to River Cottage for a meal in 2008 it was beyond a shadow of a doubt THE best foodie experience of my life. It could never be topped. Or could it?

In late September nearly 50 lovely food bloggers made the journey to River Cottage, convening in the car park at 9am, ready for the very bumpy tractor ride down the hill. Since my last visit to River Cottage the original barn/dining room had burnt down and been rebuilt, and a shiny new cookery school building had been added. It was bigger, slicker, but still as beautiful.

river cottage

We were greeted by the team, ushered into a yurt and briefed about our day. We were split into three groups and we could each have a turn having a farm and garden tour, make some bread and butter and have a go at some food styling and photography with the ever lovely Lucy (aka Capture by Lucy). But first, breakfast canapes and coffee, all with a Devonshire view to die for.

river cottage

Jim, the affable assistant gardener took us first round the kitchen garden, and then around to the farm area where the chickens, pigs and polytunnels are kept. The kitchen garden is at the back of the cottage and is beautifully maintained. Jim explained the principles of crop rotation and showed us all the crops and flowers growing there. 

river cottage

The garden was coming to the end of the summer season, and every space is filled with lovely produce and flowers. 

river cottage

After our outdoor tour, we gathered in the cookery school kitchen with Head Chef Gill Mellor, who talked us through making butter from scratch as well as baking a fruity, herby soda bread – all done and dusted in an hour and a half. I was particularly taken with the butter, which we filled with herbs gathered from the kitchen garden. It was messy and fun and I was determined to have another go once I got home.

river cottage
My cheesy, herby, fruity soda bread.

With our bread cooling, we headed to the dining room for a much needed sit down and a bite to eat. When I last visited in 2008 I’d eaten the best meal I could ever imagine, so I had fairly high expectations.

I’m a vegetarian so I was presented with a wonderfully rich, delicious garden ragu, full of amazing herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden, nestled on top was a wholemeal ravioli with a cheese and spinach rarebit filling and it was incredible (I’m drooling at the memory). On the side were some corn on the cob pieces which had been tossed in garlic and herbs and griddled to perfection. 

river cottage

I didn’t think things could get any better than the plate of food I’d just polished off, but I was wrong. The fennel flower meringue, coffee infused ice cream with salted caramel, honey drizzled roasted foraged damsons with molasses crumble was a triumph and a pudding experience I will never forget and I suspect one which will never be surpassed.

Lunch was also a great opportunity to chat and get to know a few other people. It was also I suspect the most photographed meal in the history of River Cottage!

river cottage

Post lunch we convened for a food photography session with Lucy. I’ve been to one of Lucy’s workshops before and everyone always leaves feeling incredibly inspired and with a few more tips, skills and props in their armoury. This was no exception. Though my photographs during her session we nothing to write home about, I have since taken on board a lot of her suggestions and I’m making some improvements – step one – buy a proper DLSR!

It was by far the highlight of my blogging career so far. Getting the chance to spend a day in such a wonderful place with wonderful people. I learned a huge amount about food and blogging and food blogging. I was a very, very special day. Thank you to Foodies100 and to the team at River Cottage for organising it. Next time I won’t leave it so long before I visit again.

If you’d like to read more about Blog Camp River Cottage, you can find out more on the Foodies100 website.