Blow away the cobwebs

Spring is well and truly here, even on the grayest of days, daffodils and a kaleidoscope of other spring flowers seem to adorn the world, the trees are full of blossom and the contents of my veg box are slowly starting to change. For some of March Mother Nature dangled the start of summer in front of us: 20°C weekends when I went walking without a jumper (let alone a coat), had lunch al fresco and read many a report of people’s first barbecues of 2014 all over Facebook.

spring blossoms 2

Now though, Mother Nature is laughing at us, reminding us that we are actually only  in April; the at first stifled chuckle followed by full, unstoppable laughter like that of a mother trying to keep a straight face when telling her child off for something that is funny however naughty it might have been (yes, I am speaking from experience). Dotted amidst the pretty decent amount of spring sunshine we have been lucky enough to have had recently, have been a few days that have been bracing to say the least. I have lost count of how many days I have left the house in a mac, and then run back in for a scarf or something warmer, and today it just hasn’t stopped raining; I might, once, have felt cheated, only I have enjoyed the last few weekends so much I realise I haven’t been.

Gruffalo hunting Gruffalo hunting Gruffalo hunting Gruffalo hunting

Yesterday we went on a Gruffalo Hunt “in the deep dark [Hick’s] wood” in Derbyshire, and we recently had my husband’s parents come to stay, and gone for a family stroll with them to one of our favourite places: Bradgate Park. We live in the city, but you only have to drive for 15 minutes and you get to Bradgate Park, nearly 1000 acres in which you really can escape city life, and I love it there. Harry, our little boy loves it too; he can roam, he can climb trees (well, over their roots anyway) and he can spot deer (and, in the summer, the very noisy yet solitary peacock), as well as explore the ruins of Bradgate House, go rockclimbing and even paddling in the river Lin. Despite nearly turning purple it was so cold (he was very well wrapped up in Gramps’s hat), he really did enjoy his time there, especially as Nanna and Gramps came too; and when we got home we needed something to warm the cockles as they say.

rocky crag at Bradgate Park

These atmospheric pictures are one of the reasons I love Bradgate Park, some of the best photos I have have been taken there. The amazing landscape is another joy of the area.

Bradgate Park Bradgate Park

Having had breakfast and plenty of chocolate beetroot cake, we just had two courses, which were:


Jamie Oliver’s venison and mushroom stroganoff


Blood orange and juniper dark chocolate mousse

I chose these recipes because I had the right ingredients to make them in my veg box. In their raw states the mushrooms and oranges looked so fresh, but here they work with the other ingredients to become the warm woolly jumpers that we so needed that day.


Juniper BerriesBlood orangeBlood orange

I’m not going to give you the recipe for dessert because, however yummy it was, I didn’t add the right amount of juniper, so it tasted pretty much of just a chocolate orange. I know, that is still a pretty good dessert, but I want to meddle and see if I can get it right. Keep your eyes peeled.


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