Bluebell Railway, East Sussex

The Bear is a fan of choo-choo trains and has been asking for weeks if we could take her to see Thomas the Tank Engine.  Drayton Manor is a good drive away, so it wasn’t going to be a day trip.  We read about the Bluebell Railway on one of the guidebooks we have at home which was in East Sussex.  Definitely do-able as a day trip and we’ve been thinking of heading down to the coast as well.

The M25 was a car park which tripled the travel time, unfortunately.  We ended up driving on country roads and found ourselves in Surrey Hills.  The views were stunning which prompted us to stop for a cuppa when we spotted a cafe en route.

The Bear brought home a teddy from nursery for the weekend.


The break was much needed.  The Bear had a run-around whilst we enjoyed our drinks and scones.

We decided to make tracks but stopped shortly thereafter when we spotted a sign for a farm shop.  I had wanted to stock up on some free-range eggs.  They even had a little bee garden.


After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at the Bluebell Railway in time for the last steam train ride for the day.  It was free for the Bear, and £17 per adult for a return journey to East Grinstead and back.  The station was really quaint, and staff dressed in proper ye olde uniforms.  We found an empty compartment on the train and made ourselves right at home.  The return journey took just under 2 hours and we passed through very pretty countryside.  The Bear spotted many cows, pigs, horses, birds and even deers.


The dining room on the train was all set for another wedding party.


What a fabulous trip.  The Bear thoroughly enjoyed herself as did we.


Peach cobbler

We’re a big fan of baked fruit desserts.  When I stumbled upon this recipe for a peach cobbler, I knew it was a keeper.  A stroke of luck, ripe peaches were on sale in the shops. It was as if the dessert stars were alligned!

It is imperative that you place the baking dish on top of a lined tray to catch spillage.  And there will be some, depending on the shape of your baking tray!

We love our cream, but didn’t see the necessity to drizzle some over the cobbler.  The fruits were sweet with a touch of tang from the lemon juice.  Just delicious on their own.


Splish Splash Sunday!

After a rather breezy Saturday, the forecast for Sunday was fine and sunny.  We bought a paddling pool from Homebase months ago and it was the perfect day to put it to use.  We had a foot-pump from yonks ago which came in handy.  Once inflated, we set it up on the lawn, filled it up with a bit of water and invited rubber duckie to join the Bear for a splash.


When we were in France last year, I bought the Bear some Hello Kitty floats which we inflated for use as well.


We were apprehensive about how the Bear would take to the water as she wasn’t too fond of the pool when we were in France last summer.  Fortunately, she took to it like a fish to water and splashed around all afternoon.


We bought her swimming cosie from the Aqualud shop in Le Touquet last year which now fits her well.


What’s a pool party without some treats?  We stocked up on lovely cakes – vanilla slice, black forest gateaux and mille feuille from a local bakery.  They went really well with a pot of Barry’s tea.


Followed by a delicious glass of Pimms and lemonade with mint from the garden.


A view of the house taken from the back of the garden.


It was a really relaxing Sunday afternoon. Here’s to a warm summer and plenty more splish splash Sundays!

Blink and it’s over – May

May, a month of two bank holidays, came and went by in a blink.

We went to Canterbury for the first bank holiday weekend, a much needed break for all of us.  We naively promised the bear that we’d play on the beach and build sandcastles. However, the beaches we found were pebbly and the weather didn’t permit much beach-time anyway.


It wasn’t a good month health-wise.  I battled a chest infection, that lasted weeks and I had to resort to antibiotics and an inhaler to get me back on track.

Things haven’t been great at work for the past few months and some decisions had to be made.  I read several books to help me get to grips with impending changes.  The following were very helpful reads:

  • Who moved my cheese – recommended to me by my chiropractor whose ears I’d been chewing for the past few months over my predicament at work
  • The Happiness Project – i put to test several hints and tips from the book which worked wonders, both at work and in my personal life

I also read the latest book from one of my favourite authors, Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement.  The story really tugged at my heartstrings.

I went to an art exhibition, Art of a Nation to view AIB’s private art collection at the Mall Galleries.  It was a lovely, warm evening in London.   I also received complimentary tickets for Paul McCartney’s gig at the O2 which coincided with the second bank holiday weekend.  I went without any expectations and was simply bowled over by Macca’s showmanship.


One the lurgies had passed, we all pitched in and tidied up the garden, the Bear included.


May came to an end with good news on the job front, with a new chapter starting in July.

Linguine with lamb mince, pesto and broccoli

I’ve been stuck in a food rut for a while now.  Whilst I do enjoy eating out, the limited choice of restaurants in our local area has left me feeling rather jaded.  A friend recommended this simple pasta recipe – one perfect for a mid-week, or at the end of a tiring day just as you are contemplating ordering a pizza.


Serves: 2 adults (and one toddler)


  • a pot of boiling water (2.5 litres)
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (cut into thumb size)
  • dried linguine (enough for two persons)
  • 300g lamb mince, marinated in 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried thyme/oregano, salt and pepper for 5 minutes
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (add more/less or omit as preferred)
  • 3 tbsp green pesto ( I used ready made – quick dinner, remember)
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • freshly grated parmesan


  1. Bring 2.5 litres to boil in a pot
  2. Blanch the broccoli for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain using a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid
  3. Place the linguine into the boiling water and leave to cook for 10-12 minutes (or as instructed on the pack)
  4. Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan and brown the lamb mince for 2 to 3 minutes
  5. You may wish to drain some of the cooking fat/liquid from the mince (I did)
  6. Toss in the broccoli and the dried chilli and leave to cook for a minute
  7. Once the pasta is cooked, add 3 to 4 tbsp of the cooking water into the mince
  8. Add the pesto to the mince
  9. Drain the pasta and toss the linguine into the mince
  10. Season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste
  11. Add freshly grated parmesan before serving with a crisp salad on the side

The bear loved it!


Canterbury – a mini break – Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

A holiday in England isn’t complete without some wet weather.  We woke up on the Sunday morning of our break in Canterbury to a downpour which lasted until lunchtime.  However, when the last of the rain disappeared, the clouds parted and we were treated to a warm afternoon.

We fancied cream tea and I suggested Perry Court Farm, which has a lovely little tea shop and farm shop.  We underestimated the drive and got there 30 minutes before closing time! Still, it was worth the drive, as we feasted on delicious scones topped with jam and clotted cream and freshly brewed tea.


Look at this delicious carrot cake.  The staff were very friendly and encouraged us to take our time finishing our tea as they tidied up around us.


The bear washed down her scone with a big glass of milk.


Look at this lovely row of apple trees on the farm.


We drove back to Canterbury and we had to stop and admire the tulips in full bloom.


Just before nightfall, we drove to Dover to see the Dover Castle.


Fog had rolled in by the time we drove into Dover town to catch a glimpse of the White Cliffs.


The bear loved the boats and the harbour.


We all slept well that night and felt refreshed for the drive back home to London.  A lovely mini-break had.  Thank you Canterbury, we’ll be back someday soon.

Toddler update – Happy 2.5 years old

Dear little bear

They say the days are long, but the years are short and this certainly resonates with us where you’re concerned.  Happy 2.5 years, baby girl.

Here you are at 1.5 years old – a photo taken in May last year.


A few months ago, you referred to yourself as Ibobol.  We remind you about it from time to time.  One recent afternoon, I said ‘Ibobol, come here please’, and you were quick to correct me ‘Mama, not Ibobol, it’s Isbel (your current pronunciation of your name)! Yesterday when I was undressing you, I said ‘take off your shoes please’ and again I was corrected ‘It’s slippers Mama, not shoes’. Well, excuse me bossy boots :-)


Little bear, you are as sensitive as ever. Even the slightest telling off sends you into floods of tears.  You are ever so contrary – headstrong one minute, loving the next, assertive of your independence and yet seek and cling to us if we are out of your sight for too long.

You do say the funniest things … we were in the garden a few weekends ago and you came running to us shouting ‘Mama, Papa, what are you doing, come inside!’ You are constantly telling us you like ‘dogs, rabbits, camping, cheese, strawberries…’ One evening, Papa picked you up from nursery. Once you arrived home, Papa did something which didn’t meet your approval and you apparently said ‘I will tell Mama’. Haha, atta girl!


You still have a good appetite and are happy to eat what we eat.  I credit baby-led-weaning for your adventurous palette, though you still prefer a vegetarian meal over meat.  However, despite Mama waxing lyrical here, if asked about your favourite food? Your response never fails to be ‘Cake, chips, beans, pizza and ketchup!’ *face palm*


You are a very active child.  Meals out are kept short as once you are done with your food, you’d rather run around and explore.  We’ve had two mini breaks this year and both times we opted to drive.  I’m not sure we’ll fly anywhere this year. Well, until you lose the ants in your pants at least…

Your favourite tv shows are Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly, Thomas the Tank Engine and In the Night Garden.  I’m pleased to say that you still love books, enjoy reading and being read to.

You are afraid of loud noises – cue tears when the hoover/hairdryer/floor steamer/blender/mixer is turned on.  We have let your hair go uncut as I’m not sure how you’d react to a visit to the hairdresser! We’ll make a Rapunzel out of you, sans the solitary confinement in a castle (though Papa might change his mind in your teens).


We love you very much and you’ll always be our little bear.