In search of sun, sand and sea

London is beautiful when the sun in shining in the summer.   Whilst we were blessed with higher than average temperatures in the city this summer which made for lovely picnics, dinners al fresco and impromptu barbecues, we did crave sea breeze and a day on the beach.

We made a day trip over to Hayling Island and West Wittering one warm Sunday.   Hayling Island was pretty and calm.  The beach was pebbly, which wasn’t great for the little bear, but she did have fun skimming pebbles with Papa.   We enjoyed the fresh air and the bear got very excited meeting cute little puppies.

Lovely beach huts

Lovely beach huts

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The bears outfit: Pintuck blouse, bloomers, hat – all from baby Gap.  Snoopy sandals – Zulily.

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We drove to West Wittering beach without having done much research.  We followed the signs for the beach and found ourselves trailing lots of cars heading for the same direction.   We ended up in a queue, and at the top of it was a ticket booth charging £8 for parking, cash only.

Having driven so far, we paid the fee, and drove to what appeared to be a massive field converted into a car park.   The place was heaving with cars, caravans and lots and lots of people.   There was no food stall in sight.  Everyone seemed to have brought a picnic or their own portable barbecue.   We walked to the beach and parked ourselves on the porch of someone’s beach hut for a few minutes.   This was no secluded beach.

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The bear had fun playing in the sand, but the atmosphere was just to chaotic for us.   We left the revellers to enjoy the beach, and left West Wittering soon after in search of food and quiet contemplation!

 

What we ate this summer

Our glorious summer seems to have come to an abrupt end.  Only a week ago were we basking in glorious sunshine, replaced in a blink by wet and breezy conditions.   Warm days call for very light, but still tasty, food.   Here is some of the meals we ate this summer, a mixture of home-cooked and store-bought food.

Omelette with roasted peppers and rocket

Omelette with roasted peppers and rocket

I made the above omelette for breakfast on a rather lazy Saturday morning.   Hubby and I enjoyed it with a dash of sweet chilli sauce!

Chicken kebabs, curried cauliflowers and spinach-tomato salad

Chicken kebabs, curried cauliflowers and spinach-tomato salad

Our local butcher sells a variety of pre-marinated meats during summer.   Their garlic and butter chicken kebabs were a hit in our household, cooked over the barbecue.

Spicy Jersey potatoes

Spicy Jersey potatoes

We went to Hayling Island on a day trip one Sunday.  I bought the above terracotta pot in a local shop and served spicy Jersey potatoes (ala patatas bravas) in it.

Store-bought avocado sushi

Store-bought avocado sushi

On another warm Sunday, we had a picnic on Primrose Hill.   We stopped by at a Japanese grocer on Finchley Road and bought packed fried rice, noodles and the above avocado sushi which was absolutely delicious.

Grilled Tiger Prawns with mixed salad

Grilled Tiger Prawns with mixed salad

I bought meaty tiger prawns from Ocado and marinated them in chilli powder and dark soy.   They only needed a few minutes on the griddle pan on either side.  I served them here with a mixed salad.   Simple and yet very satisfying.

Pimms and lemon

Pimms and lemon

 

Pimms, the drink synonymous with summer.    I mixed mine with lemonade, mint leaves, strawberries and lemon.  Fab.

Last night was cold.   I made a big pot of squash and carrot soup.  Not pictured here.  Perhaps one reserved for next season’s post.

Toddler update – 19 months

Dear little girl, happy 19 months! I ask this all the time, but where does the time go?  Look how little you were, this time last year!

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You are absolutely loving nursery.   You are still in the baby room, but it won’t be long before you move on to the next class.

You know your mind, what you like, what you don’t like and get very upset when you don’t get your own way! That said, tantrums pass in a matter of minutes and you’re full of fun and mischief again.

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We’re having a lovely summer and spend pretty much every evening after nursery playing in the garden.  You see us water the plants with the garden hose, and you insist on helping.  You are fascinated with the solar lamps Papa bought for the garden.   Needless to say, some of them end up in your toy basket.

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You are still very affectionate, offering us hugs and kisses and calling us Mama and Papa which never fail to melt our hearts.

You now say bye bye, night night, in addition to Mama, Papa, up, hat, yes, no and your keyworker’s name.

The biggest development in the last week is you’ve started singing, and in tune too.  You hum to wheels on the bus and twinkle twinkle little star.  In fact you replaced all the words to wheels on the bus with Mama (Mama mama mama ma, mama ma…) and Papa (Papa papa papa pa….)

You have a healthy appetite, and still enjoy vegetarian food which is what you are served in nursery.  You do eat chicken and fish with us at home.   Your favourite fruit is strawberry.   You also like cream crackers and Rich tea biscuits!

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These are your key points at 19 months:

  • Sleep – 8pm to 7am
  • Milk – full fat, around 450ml a day
  • Pearly whites – 2 bottom, 4 up, plus a further 4 growing (2 up, 2 down)
  • Nappy size – 4+
  • Mobility, walk, run and at speed

We love you very much, little girl.  Stay well and happy always xxx

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Toddler update – 18 months

Dear Sydney Bear, you are 1.5 years old now.   You have well and truly outgrown your baby-ness, which propelled Mama to rename your posts to Toddler updates.

We had a very busy month in May.   You and Mama stayed home whilst Papa was away on trips.   We bonded really well – we read books, watched your favourite DVD countless times,  tidied up the garden and you also ‘helped’ Mama cook.

A few weeks ago, Mama bought you a little car to play out in the deck.   You laugh in glee when we push you round and round the deck.   The car has a little storage compartment, where you stow away your worldly belongings – Lego blocks, spoons and half eaten breadsticks.

IMG_6154One recent Sunday, we went to the 100 Aker Wood to visit Pooh’s playground.

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We saw Pooh Bridge, but didn’t throw any Pooh sticks.

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We had a lovely picnic – baguette, salads, strawberries, trifle and jelly.

Speaking of strawberries,  this is now your favourite fruit.   We have some growing in our garden, and you help yourself to the very ripe ones.

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You continue to have a good appetite, and are happy to share our plate when we dine out, which we don’t do often these days, preferring to cook and eat in the comfort of our own home.

Papa taught you to give high-fives, and recently you’ve started becoming very affectionate with us, lavishing us with endless hugs and kisses.

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May and June spelt sleep regression for you.   We don’t know what it is, but you’re unable to settle down until past 8pm and waking up several times during the night.   Perhaps it is too warm, or you’re teething, but hopefully this is just a phase, and you’ll revert to your 7pm to 7am sleep routine soon.

We think we’ve heard you utter Mama and Papa.   Your vocabulary is still very limited – up, hat, ouch, uh-oh, yeh (yes), neh (no), shoes (shssss), but you continue to sign well – milk, eat, up, hat, shoes, more, please, thank you, bye…

These are your key development points at 18 months:

  • Appetite – fantastic
  • Milk – around 16 oz a day
  • Pampers – size 4+
  • Pearly whites – 2 bottom, 4 up, another two molars growing, albeit slowly
  • Sleep – 8pm to 7am, with a few interruptions
  • Mobility – steady on your feet, you love running away from us!

Happy 18 months, little bear.   We love you so much. xxx

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Meatless Monday – mushroom risotto

This evening, we enjoyed a lovely home-cooked mushroom risotto.  Whilst the theme was Meatless Monday, I wanted a degree of ‘meatiness’ to the dish, and topped it with enoki mushrooms I bought via Ocado last week.  I can’t believe we waited this long to have asparagus this year, which I served as a side to the risotto.   I’ve posted variations of this recipe previously.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes (retain soaking liquid)
  • two knob of butter
  • Fry lite spray
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 to 3 springs of fresh thyme
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 500ml to 750ml water (you can use stock)
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • a bunch of mixed mushrooms, cleaned and prepped (chopped, halved – as you wish)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved

Method:

  1. Heat a medium pot on the stove
  2. Add a knob of butter, spray the pan with Fry Lite
  3. Once the butter starts to foam, add the onion, celery, garlic and leaves from 1 spring of thyme
  4. Sprinkle some salt onto the pan, and on a low heat, sweat the ingredients for 2 to 3 minutes
  5. Then add the rice to the pot, stir around for a minute
  6. Add a ladle of water to the pot, stir once or twice and leave the water to evaporate
  7. Continue adding water, one or two ladles at a time, stir and leave water to evaporate.  Repeat until rice is almost cooked (about 20 minutes), then add the porcini mushrooms and soaking liquid
  8. Stir and leave to cook until the cooking liquid is all but gone
  9. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper
  10. Put the lid on and turn off the stove
  11. Heat a gridle pan, add a knob of butter and cook the mushrooms and remaining sprigs of thyme for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked.  Season well with salt and pepper and remove the pan from the heat
  12. Serve the risotto with the grilled mushrooms, with a good squeeze of lemon juice

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