Weekend Review: Sophie Murray

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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?

Saturday:
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!
Sunday:
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) 

 

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Happy Friday!

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Happy Friday!

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

Elle:

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:

Becca:

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!


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Recipe: Beetroot and feta rosti

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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.


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Brunch Club: Delilah's

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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.


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Happy Friday!

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Happy Friday!

Elle:

 I was pretty sceptical  about instagram stories at first, being a fan of a well curated insta feed and all. I've certainly never felt the draw of snap chat and a break away from the delightful square format felt messy and unstructured. Then I stumbled across a few fellow instagramers who were using stories as an opportunity for fresh creativity and ideas, one such lady is 5ft inf and i'm a big fan of her 'Animated stills'. Over on the 5ft inf blog Phillipa has given some insight into the process she uses and I've been inspired to create a few of my own, available for viewing now on the TWC instagram feed plus a few silly ones will be popping up sporadically via my own personal IG in stories.

My current favourite food blog is Lady & Pups 'an angry food blog' combining beautiful photography with great recipes and storytelling. Recipes are also offered in gram measurements which always pleases me. 

TWC friend Kenton Hall's movie 'A dozen summers' was released on DVD this week, you can order your copy here

To mark the launch of the City Festival this weekend there is an outdoor screening of The Jungle Book this evening (Fingers crossed the weather will brighten up!) You can find out more about the city festival and the events over the next week here

Becca:

I'm spending a good portion of my time working in Reading at the moment, which is conveniently located for popping on a train to London for an evening. And I've been lucky enough to see two top class theatre productions as a result, in the past fortnight - one at the Old Vic and the other at the Young! 

Unfortunately I think Yerma, starring Billie Piper, is now sold out - but there's always the chance of returned tickets on the day. It's one of the most powerful productions I've ever seen on stage, and the reviews are spot-on: Billie really is fantastic as the lead character desperately chasing her desire to have a baby.

The good news is, there still seems to be seats available for Tim Minchin's re-imagining of the film Groundhog Day, as a stage musical. Very funny, very clever staging, hugely recommended. I'd happily see it again, and again, and... you get the joke.

 

 

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A beginners guide to... Antiquing

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A beginners guide to... Antiquing

I must confess to being a bit of a hoarder, if I haven't done so already. So any activity that involves hunting for treasure and rifling through rails of vintage clobber is right up my street. Back in June I had my first experience of Newark International Antiques & collectors Fair. I arrived at the Newark show ground to meet up with TWC friend and Contributor Matthew Cook who had offered to tutor me in the ways of antiquing. Matthew has an incredible eye for vintage bargains and is friends with many of the collectors so I was in good hands and certain not to be swindled.

Things I learnt from my first day antiquing...

  • Start early if you want to catch the best bargains.
  • Cash is the only currency, set a spending budget and only take as much as you want to spend (Sound, solid advice from Matthew, it would be quite easy to get carried away!)
  • Go with a clear idea of what items you would like to purchase, with so much to see one can easily veer off track.
  • The fair is enormous, the largest in Europe, it took us around two and a half hours to stroll round.
  • Larger items can be purchased then left with the dealer for collection later,  just be sure to remember which stand you purchased from!
  • Bartering is acceptable, most dealers will be prepared to cut you a deal if you wish to purchase a couple of items from their stand.
  • That being said, try not to fall in love with the most expensive product at the fair, some items really are unique, rare and special. 
  • Beware of impostor products- a week before my visit to Newark I'd taken a trip to The Range and purchased a large glass vase for a very reasonable price. I saw the same product on one of the stands being sold at a tremendous uplift.
  • Look for signs of authenticity- hallmarks on silver, branding on ceramics, it's all about the finer details.
  • Don't be put off by years of grime- tremendous beauty can be revealed through a bit of scrubbing and you're giving products a new lease of life.
  • However, do avoid rust, cracks and scratches.

Needles to say, i'm clearly a natural when it comes to antiquing (Or adding to my hoard, depending on which way you look at it.) by the end of our trip my treasure included three cake knives, one vintage mirror, five cake stands and one vintage Hovis loaf tin. Not bad for a morning's work!

Newark antiques fair is on this week, Thursday 18th to Friday 19th August at the Newark showground. Do let us know if you have any antiquing tips to share!


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