Brandied Fruit Day

In the throes of the current pandemic where there’s confusion and constant change, we all need cheering up. So, we did a bit of research on the ‘net and found out that 20th October is National Brandied Fruit Day.

Who knew?

According to our research no-one really knows how this national day started but it’s here, so let’s enjoy. Basically, National Brandied Fruit Day is a celebration of preserved summer fruits.

If you’re not so keen on brandy, you could try the German alternative – a Rumtopf – preserving fruit in rum instead.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, how about making your own sloe gin? You can usually find sloes in hedgerows along country lanes and along canal banks. Do be careful and check to make sure you are a) not trespassing and b) you can identify sloes. If you’re not 100% sure about the berries, don’t pick them!

Summer fruits have become so readily available over the years preserving skills, usually passed down to the next generation, are being lost because in the 21st century we can buy most fruit 365 days of the year.

It’s never too late to learn something new though.

Here’s how to get started.

Step One: If you don’t grow your own, check out local supermarkets and greengrocers. They may have a glut of cheap summer fruits on sale at this time of year. Buy the best quality as damaged fruit will go mushy.

Step Two: Do your research. Have a look for videos on YouTube and recipes online. Or if you’re anything like me and prefer the paper version, you’ll probably find an easy recipe in one of your cookbooks.

Step Three: Find something to store your fruits in. You don’t need to buy special jars. You could sterilise empty jam and pickle jars. If the lids are not re-useable, they are easy to buy online.

Step Four: Leave it to preserve based on the time frame given in your chosen recipe.

Step Five: Enjoy!

Preserved fruit makes a fantastic and unusual Christmas present too. Wrap some red ribbon around the top of the jar and add a Christmas tag made from a recycled Christmas card.

We’d love to see a photo of your end product. Send it to

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Easy Holiday Cooking

#travel #travelfood #recipe

So, you’ve booked your holiday cottage. You’ve planned your excursions.  You know what you need to pack.

So, who’s going to do the cooking?

Someone has to, right?

There’s no reason why all the cooking should be left down to one person.

If you’re travelling with members of your ‘bubble’, why not ask your ‘bubble’ buddies to choose a recipe (and bring along the ingredients) so they can cook it over the holiday period. That way everyone brings something to the table (literally).

The next thing to consider is what type of food makes great holiday food?

Well, you don’t want to make it too complicated. Being chained to the kitchen for most of the day is no fun.

Something that can be chucked in the oven after simple preparation is the best type of meal to conjure up.

And you could even cheat a bit, without every meal being processed food.  For example, you could buy pizza bases then get the kids to put on the toppings made from fresh vegetables and cheeses and anything else they like.

Or you could buy some fresh bread from the local bakers to accompany a one-pot stew.

By putting in a little bit of thought and doing a bit of pre-holiday preparation, no-one needs to be left sweating in a hot kitchen.

If you want to find some easy holiday recipes, check out the BBC Good Food website.

Have fun and enjoy your break!

Have any favourite holiday recipes you fancy sharing? Send them to and we’ll pop them on our blog.



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15 Clever Travel Hacks

#travel #travelhacks #holidaypacking

We all look forward to a well-deserved holiday.  And this year, we all DEFINITELY need to get out of the house if we can, even if it’s for a short break or weekend away.

Instead of looking at the same four walls, it will give you a chance to explore somewhere new, have some downtime from a world that seems to be a l-i-t-t-l-e crazy right now and possibly a chance to spend some time with your ‘bubble’ buddies.

But, let’s be honest, getting ready for the great escape can be a bit of a nightmare.  What should you pack? Can you get everything you want into a weekend suitcase?

I have to admit packing is not one of my favourite things to do when getting ready for my getaway.  However, with a few clever hacks, packing can become less of a chore, you can pack more than you thought, and it can actually be fun to do.

Here’s a great video we found online which covers 15 hacks, plus a few other clever ideas, for your trip.

15 Clever Travel Hacks

If you have any fun packing tips send them to and we’ll share them on our blog.



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Afternoon Tea

Summer holidays are a great time to make memories for the family which will be talked about for years to come. Why not organise a special afternoon tea for your immediate family?

To make it super special, if the sun is shining and you have a garden, set up a tea table outside to enjoy the day.

Here are some ideas for afternoon tea.

Homemade bunting: Cut out large triangles of the same size out of stiff paper or old wallpaper and get the children to colour in each triangle. String the triangles together with a length of string and tie around the garden or room where you will be having tea.

Make hats: Why not have a theme and ask everyone you invite to make a hat to wear to the tea party. You could have a small prize for the best hat.

Homemade cakes: Get the children involved in making and icing some cakes for the tea party. Add some sprinkles to make them extra special

Homemade doyleys: Get the kids to cut out some doyleys to display their cakes. Here’s how 

Cake plates: Check out charity shops for serving plates and cheap teas sets if you don’t already have one. You can mix and match one of tea cups and saucers to give your tea party a quirky look.

Bake homemade bread: This is a fabulous way to make your tea party special. Let the children have a go at making bread. You don’t need fancy bread maker and it can be great fun kneading the dough! Here’s an easy recipe

Invitations to the party: Get the children to design and make some tea party invitations. This is great hand writing practice and they won’t even know it! They can cut out pictures from old magazines or draw their own designs. Remember to put the day, date and time of the tea party and it’s always nice to put the name of the person you are inviting.

Arrange some outdoor games: here are some super-fun ideas you can adapt for your tea party

Lastly, have fun and enjoy yourselves! Send us some photos of your afternoon tea party. We’d love to see them –

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You Rock!

The weather this year has been fantastic for most of the UK, with long hot summer days. Sadly, we haven’t been able to make the most of the great outdoors this year, but there’s still plenty of summer days left. So, fingers crossed the sunny weather stays with us.

If you’re wondering how you can keep the family entertained throughout the holiday season, here’s a fabulous idea that kids of all ages will enjoy.

Rock Painting

Rock painting is a craze that has been sweeping the country for a many years and is still gathering momentum. The principle behind it is you paint a rock and hide it somewhere in the local community for someone else to find and re-hide. Some rocks have been known to travel the world!

Lots of local communities have their own Facebook pages so you can take a photo of the rock you create or find, post it to the Facebook group and let people know you are going to hide it somewhere else.

Getting Started

Here’s a list of what you need to get started.

• Rocks of different sizes (usually ones that can fit into your hand)
• Acrylic paints of various colours (either tubes of paints or paint pens)
• Paint brushes
• Container to rinse your brushes
• Water
• Plasti-Kote sealer

Paints: You can find acrylic paint suppliers online or try your local craft shop. Acrylic paint pens are a bit more expensive but much easier and less messy to use if you have tots or you want to try drawing fine lines. You could also try using felt tip pens but be aware that the colour may run if you spray this type of ink with a sealer.

Rocks: Collecting rocks can be great down by the river or from the beach. Get the children to look out for weird shaped rocks like the kite and heart shaped ones in the photos below. Take a hessian or canvas bag to put your finds.

Do be aware of the dangers of being by a river and the beach with young children, and also only take a few rocks you are going to use, without disturbing the natural environment.

Painting Rocks: Wash the rock and allow to dry thoroughly (best overnight) before painting otherwise the paint won’t sit well. Adding a base colour to the rock will make it much smoother to use paint pens or brushes for your designs. If you are not sure how the designs will look, use chalk to draw out your design on the rock first as it can easily be washed off. If you are struggling with a particular design you wish to copy from a book, trace it out on tracing paper then turn the pencil side over onto the rock and rub the other side of the tracing paper using a pencil. This should give you a faint outline to work with.

Allow each colour to dry before adding another colour next to it or on top of it, otherwise the paints will run into each other.

Once you have finished your rock, allow it to dry and then spray it with a clear sealant. This will keep the paint new looking for a much longer time.

If you have found your local Rock Painting Facebook group, post an image of your rock on their page, and let everyone know you have hidden it. Beware! Rock painting can become addictive!

We’d love to see your rock art. Send us a photo to and we’ll pop it up on the blog. Happy painting!

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