Travel: Hermanus

Travel: Hermanus

This weekend I'm getting increasingly excited about my upcoming trip to Amsterdam - for our annual mother/daughter getaway - while praying for my cold to go away. Perhaps three years is a bit premature to deem an event "a tradition", but I think these things can be as much about intention as they are past evidence!

It started in September 2014, when mum won a holiday of her choosing through her work (yes, I know!) and decided this was the opportunity to go on her dream holiday. Being hugely interested in all things nature, and a David Attenborough worshipper, she'd always fancied a safari - so that was the starting point for what turned out to be an amazing 10 days in South Africa.

I've never fully written about our trip online, so thought I'd take the opportunity now (as I sit under a blanket feeling a bit grotty) to share some of our experiences on what is one of the best holidays of my life, so far.

To start... Hermanus

After the 11 hour flight from London to Cape Town we were picked up by car and travelled another 90 minutes to the seaside town of Hermanus.

Why here you say? Because during springtime in SA it’s where you can stand on the coast and clearly see Southern Right Whales frolicking in the waves. We also thought it would be a calm location to relax into the holiday before we tackled the more touristically-demanding streets of Cape Town.

We weren't disappointed. Not only did we see the whales almost immediately after arriving - helped by the whale caller, a man who blows a huge pipe whenever a whale is spotted - but we continued to see them from the comfort of our hotel balcony.

And when we weren't looking at the whales, there was plenty of other nature to wonder at - from the dassies (who the locals consider a nuisance but we thought were quite cute!) to the absolutely stunning flora and fauna, set against the sea.

Hermanus also offers lots of lovely boutique shops, with a few surprises - including an antiques shop with it's own retro cinema (sadly there was nothing being screened during our visit). In one shop I bought some locally-made, brightly coloured pottery as a memento.

Where we ate

When travelling I generally use two methods to find the best places to eat - search Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews and/or ask a friendly local where to eat. These proved very successful for us in Hermanus...

  • The Eatery: This lunch spot was recommended to us by the owner of a beautiful shop selling regional crafts. We both had vegetable and beef soup, with a thick slice of toast - delicious! Add in two coffees and a bottle of water, and it came to just R95 (around £2.50 each!) - it was a this point we realised just how favourable the exchange rate was for us.

  • The Cuckoo Tree: Run by a mother and daughter, this restaurant has only a handful of tables - including out in their lovely courtyard, which is also frequented by lots of garden birds. We had a delicious two-course lunch - I opted for toast topped with roasted veg, goats cheese, salad and nuts, followed by an almond and fruit tart with homemade orange ice-cream (see above) - delicious!

  • Bergundy: Only 30 seconds from our hotel, this is where we ticked off two SA specialities - malva pudding (like a light sticky toffee pudding) and bobotie (spiced mince meat and dried fruit topped with a layer of egg - very tasty but also very rich - we only managed to half a portion!)

Next, we travelled on to Cape Town...

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!


This weekend is a big one for Leicester - the Diwali lights switch-on! Tens of thousands of people will descend on the Belgrave area of the city on Sunday to see The Golden Mile lit up - if you've never been before, it's well worth a visit!

First let me wish you a belated happy National Poetry Day! Last Thursday was a particularly significant day for me, as I'd been working on a special project with the BBC to commission 41 poets to write 41 new poems, from the POV of a landmark local to them. The result was wonderfully eclectic - in subject and style. I've posted Birmingham's poet Spoz above, but you can hear/see the others HERE!

On Monday, I saw Louis Theroux's new documentary film at the cinema, which was followed by a live streaming of him and the director being interviewed by Adam Buxton. The film is largely a mix of Louis interviewing former top Scientologists, and then him auditioning and rehearsing actors who are recreating reported incidents. I'm a big Louis fan anyway, but I thoroughly recommend this - it's both fascinating and entertaining in equal measure!


I am a fan of a sensible winter coat. This year any of these High Street offerings will do nicely Dorothy Perkins, New look, Asos

For Local Leicester readers, Carlton and I will be taking part in the Nine bar bake off competition on Sunday, We are very much hoping to gain local star baker glory, hope to see you there!

I suffer from Sciatica, which is a pain in the bum, quite literally! It's currently the worst it's ever been which causes much hinderance to a busy lifestyle, resulting in sleepless nights and me hobbling around like an elderly lady. I'm not sure if it's the sudden plummet in temperature, constantly being on the go or the fact that I have skipped yoga for the past few days but I can't wait to have a rest and get back to my yoga. If you suffer from the same struggle, I highly recommend Adriene, she's just lovely. Also if you have any tips for dealing with this problem please let me know...

Weekend Review: Sophie Murray

Weekend Review: Sophie Murray

The weekend is what you make of it - there's endless opportunities whether you're at work or play. Today we speak to Sophie Murray. We love Sophie's beautiful documentation of family life over on Instagram and were keen to find out what inspires the lady behind these beautiful photographs...

What do you do for work?

I'm a part time teaching assistant at our local primary school. I recently left a career at a bank to explore the possibility of going into teaching. It was important to my husband and I that I work part time while the children are young and I feel very fortunate to be able to do this. I cherish my afternoons with my two boys.

What is your passion outside of work?

There are a few actually! For the past 2 years we've been renovating a 300 year old cottage in North West Leicestershire. Having just found out I was pregnant with my second child, we decided to move back to Leicestershire from South Wales where we'd been living for almost 9 years. We viewed a derelict cottage and, DIY being an alien concept to us, lost our minds and bought the place. We learnt on the job and just two weeks before the baby arrived we finally moved in. We had to gut the entire cottage. It had damp, woodworm and dry rot. It needed a full re-wire, new central heating system and a new kitchen and bathroom. We literally started from scratch. Getting creative with the interior has been a dream. Occasionally a nightmare, but mostly a dream! I love trawling antique shops, car boots and eBay for bargains. We're far from finished but things are coming together slowly.
I've been attending a sewing class for a year now and am really starting to get to grips with my machine. I love the sense of satisfaction you get as you see a project come together. I studied fine art at university and I've always painted but having children and renovating the cottage hasn't allowed me the time to do this as much as I would like so it feels great to be doing something creative again. I've enjoyed having to be disciplined enough to see a project through to completion and sewing has given me the determination to find time to paint more. 
We are National Trust members and over the last year and a half we've explored 26 different properties around the country (some multiple times). We love being outdoors, watching the boys exploring and getting dirty. Being a member has enriched our lives so much.

We adore your beautiful photos on Instagram, what inspires your photography?

Thank you! I see my Instagram account as a photographic journal. I'm not the most technically minded person and the lure of the dark room never really appealed to me. As a painter, I do however, understand composition. I try to capture the warmth I feel as I hang out with my family, I like to share funny moments with the boys and of course, my passion for interiors, specifically the cottage. 


When is your weekend?

We're standard Saturday and Sunday folk. My weekend starts when we finish school on Friday and usually ends with a slob on the sofa on Sunday night. 

How did you spend this weekend?

I met my brother for lunch and a Camp coffee at 1940s themed The Larder in Ashby de la Zouch. I had bubble and squeak with a poached egg which was delicious.
We recently bought a DVD version of the 90s board game Atmosfear. I spent the afternoon baking and cooking dinner for friends who came over for a game in the evening. It was a late one!
We had a slow morning and after a late breakfast we drove to a garden centre and picked up some bulbs to plant ready for spring. We stayed for coffee and cake and I spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa planning next year's garden with a film on in the background. 

How typical was it for you?

It wasn't! We rarely have a slow day. We are constantly on the go, often driving an hour or more to different National Trust properties so it was a welcome treat putting my pyjamas on at 4pm. 

What was your highlight of last week?

It was my youngest son, Luc's second birthday on Tuesday. Although I worked in the day, we had family over in the evening and a little dinner party. He was beaming all evening, we had a lovely time. 

Your ideal Sunday menu... 

Breakfast: I'd go continental. I'd be sat outside a Parisian cafe alone, people watching with a croissant, a sketchbook and a cup of good coffee. 
Lunch: My favourite lunches are the picnics we share when we venture out at the weekend. Even with a million pounds sitting ready on my America Express card, I would still be sat on my bottom eating sandwiches in the open air with my family. I may treat us to a new picnic blanket though!
Dinner: my husband and I would have a child-free meal at Jamie Oliver's restaurant in London. We love his cookbooks and Italian chain of restaurants so this would be such a treat. I'm vegetarian but my husband loves his meat and Jamie always finds a way to cater for the both of us. 

What's in your fridge?

The fridge drawer is full to the brim with veg which we have delivered by super ethical, Leicestershire-based 'Wonky Veg' on a Friday. This week we received leeks, carrots, onions, potatoes, sweetcorn, lettuce, pak choi and mushrooms along with some sweet recipe cards (which we don't keep in the fridge). Our delivery of vegetables dictates our weekly menu, which is mostly vegetarian although I do cook meat for the boys. 
The staples... Butter, milk, yogurts for the boys, cheese (white Stilton, cheddar, halloumi, feta and paneer), tomorrow's lunch (couscous salad) and a tub of leftover couscous. Oh and yogurt which I eat with homemade granola and figs. We're fairly well stocked today! 
QUICK FIRE - without too much thought, name your absolute favourite...
Book: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. This was my first Vonnegut book and I fell in love with his writing after reading this.
Film: Breakfast at Tiffany's (I'm all about the breakfast!)
Album: This is too hard! Scarlett's Walk by Tori Amos
Holiday destination: Paris
Museum: I definitely prefer an art gallery. The Pompidou Centre in Paris. 

How can people follow you?

Over on Instagram... littledollydaydream (my great uncle used to sing this song to me as a little girl) 


Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

Weekend musings and inspirations from the pair of us -  happy Friday!


If I had an iPhone 10 I would definitely be downloading these amazing, slightly hipster/foodie emojis via Food 52 - avocado emoji anyone?! 

Shock news this week as the Bake Off moves from the BBC to Channel 4. I've mixed feelings about this as I do think the Bake Off was due a change. However no Mel & Sue and the fact that viewing will now be interrupted by adverts means the future looks bleak. If the opening credits are updated (that goddamn raspberry cake irritates me every time, to the point where C now requests I close my eyes when it comes on - its in the WRONG PLACE) then I'll consider giving it a chance.

I adore everything about this video:


Wow. I've never even noticed the cake in the Bake Off credits...!

Meanwhile I've been enjoying another BBC offering - I say enjoying, when I really mean trying-not-to-shout-out-in-public. Even if you're not a Radio 4 listeners, you'll know that major stuff has been going down on The Archers - even if you've never tuned in before, it's so worth listening back to the Rob/Helen court drama in the last couple of weeks...

I've also started following the well-worded tweets of Twitter poet Brian Bilston, after reading this article about his rise to online fame.

Finally... if you're a Leicestershire local, be quick! You only have one weekend left to visit Wistow Maize Maze - which this year is in the shape of the BFG! I went there for the first time over the Bank Holiday weekend and it was such a great afternoon out.

Have a wonderful weekend, whatever you get up to!

Recipe: Beetroot and feta rosti

Recipe: Beetroot and feta rosti

I always have mixed feelings about the end of summer, sad to bid farewell to the sunshine which has at last made a timely appearance but delighted to great the new ingredients that Autumn brings, the cooler weather is the perfect excuse to get creative with comfort food in the kitchen.  Most excitingly root veg, I know i'm a complete geek getting excited about vegetables but really, I do love them. Beetroot has always been one of my favourites, I sometimes forget about it and am then delighted to re-discover it and dream up new ways to prepare it, swap carrots for beets in your carrot cake, roast beetroot instead of potatoes for your Sunday roast or, make a low maintenance lunch with this beetroot and feta rosti.

I love dishes you can just pop into the oven and leave to their own devices. This is a lazy dish and should be treated as such, don't get to caught up in the measuring of grated vegetables or worry too much about presentation, eat it straight out of the pan and forget the airs and graces.

I've further plans to create this dish with various other root veg over the next few months, parsnip, butternut squash, celeriac... anything goes.

You will need...

  • 3-4 beetroots, around 250g grated weight
  • 1 medium potato, around 125g grated weight
  • 1 medium onion, around 40g grated weight
  • 1 Tablespoon cornflour
  • Thyme - a couple of sprigs of
  • olive oil
  • Feta cheese, around 50g
  • A couple of large eggs

Pre-heat oven to 180°C/165°C fan/Gas mark 4.

Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin or liberally oil an ovenable pan of equal size. (A small note on this, I like to serve this straight out of the pan but it does stick, so if you want a clean sliceable finish go for the lined cake tin option.)

Grate the beets, onion and potato, either in a food processor or by hand. mix together with the cornflour, thyme along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the mix to your chosen bakeware and press the mix into the tin.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to the top and place into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes then crack the eggs directly onto the rosti and crumble over the feta. Bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through and the feta just a little golden in colour.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so before removing from the cake tin/diving into the rosti straight out of the pan. Serve with obligatory greens.

This serves 2 as a brunch/light lunch or 1 very greedy person, like myself, as a main meal anytime of the day.

Brunch Club: Delilah's

Brunch Club: Delilah's

A couple of months ago we featured the manifesto of John Helps, who planned to start up a new quarterly magazine called Great Central, previewing arts and culture events in and around Leicester. 

Well, we're pleased to say the first issue of the paper magazine is officially out today - if you're local to Leicester you should be able to pick it up in venues, eateries and bars across the city - and the website has gone live.

And we're even more chuffed to say we've written a column - which you can read below, with some added photos. Can you guess the subject of our contribution...?

It will probably come as no surprise that we, The Weekend Collective, love brunch. It is, after all, a cultural activity which has no place in Monday to Friday life. So in honour of the most leisurely of meals, we've founded our own Brunch Club - to make a real monthly effort to appreciate good food and good friends.

For our last date, our venue was the newly opened Delilah Fine Foods, an import from across the border in Nottingham. Our company was a couple of adventure loving friends, who we've connected with through blogging - Janet Blogs at Someone, Somewhere and Laura is the face behind Make, Do and Mend. Laura is a Nottingham dweller, so a visit to Delilah's seemed particularly appropriate.  

Set in a lovingly restored building in the heart of St Martins, Delilah's boasts an array of delightful deli items. The menu format is simple and effective - a selection of sandwiches, salads, and tapas showcasing the very best of Delilah's impeccably sourced produce. 

So with such a wide range of foodie finery on offer and four hungry mouths to feed, what did we opt for? The same sandwich. All of us. But what a sandwich it was! Grilled halloumi on a bed of roasted vegetables with homemade harissa yoghurt. Delicious. (To be honest, there was one small difference in our orders -  three of us opted for sourdough bread while Janet bravely branched out with ciabatta - a real rebel).

We ate outside, grasping at the few glimmers of sunshine our terrible English Summer had to offer. And what do blogger talk about when out to lunch? Blogging, obviously. But we're also all fans of good books, creative pursuits and vintage shopping - so there was plenty of swapping stories and ideas of places to visit, things to do and stuff to read.

One of the joys of blogging is the community it builds - friendships can be forged without even meeting a person "in real life". We have made connections all over the world with people we've never met, but we're very lucky Laura and Janet just happen to live nearby.

Brunch was, needless to say, followed by an obligatory rummage through the nearby charity shops, and more chatter. An excellent way to spend a Sunday.