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September 2013

South-coast breakfasts : Cafe Rouge at Gunwharf Quays

I started our south-coast breakfasts series in order to shout about the many great independent eateries we have in this area, but this week we found ourselves at a chain restaurant and the experience was so utterly underwhelming that I very nearly didn’t bother to blog about it, but then I realised that if I didn’t, it would do all the independent cafes an injustice.

Cafe Rogue have 120 restaurants across the UK. The last time I went in one of them was probably at least 10 years ago, but I have fond memories of eating their toasted gruyere and salmon sandwiches on a pavement in a town somewhere in southern England and as they seem to be giving their breakfast menu a push at the moment, we thought we’d try it.

Their spot at Gunwharf Quays is alongside the canal with great views of the Spinnaker Tower. Outside they have a lovely Parisian style cafe area, but inside was tired and a little grubby. Though it was only half full, the staff were languid and disinterested. We ordered a Petit dejeuner and Bebeccino for Theo, Eggs Benedict with mushrooms for Jim and the mystical sounding Pain Perdu for me.

When the drinks eventually arrived (after a tantalising preview which was rapidly withdrawn when a fourth drink on the tray could not be explained) we received a piping hot Bebeccino for Theo and something coffee based that was supposed to be Jim’s cappuccino, but wasn’t.

Sometime after we had drained the last dregs of our drinks and Theo had told us he wanted to go, the food eventually arrived and here is the absolute tragedy. It was delicious! Lazily presented, languidly served and slow to leave the kitchen but magnificent tasting.

My Pain Perdu was a combination of perfectly ripe banana and blueberries served on brioche french toast with honey and tasted of heaven! Jim’s Eggs Benedict (he thinks himself a conosuier) was a delight and the petit dejeuner perfectly proportioned with excellent tasting sausages.

And so as we ate, we discussed other things on the menu we’d like to order (an orange juice, an extra croissant) but no one came to serve us and as the empty dishes piled up on the table, the moment first came… and then went. Eventually we paid and left and I’m afraid, no matter how good that Pain Perdu was, we won’t be going back.

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Hatley raincoat review

Hatley raincoat review

by Clare Mansell
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks looking for a new winter coat, something waterproof and warm that is practical for walking the dogs, but smart enough to wear on other occasions… and you know what I found one, but for Theo!
Apparently if you are 2 years-old you are spoiled for choice with winter gear (but not so much when you are 37!) This fantastic Hatley raincoat came from the folks at Wellies & Worms who are a husband and wife team with an online shop based in Bristol which is packed full of practical and fun outdoor gear for kids.
Maybe it’s because it’s my first winter looking for this kind of gear, but Hatley were a new name to me and I am a little bit in love with their slightly bonkers kid friendly designs. This jacket is covered in bears driving diggers, a pretty crazy combination, but you can tell from the smile on Theo’s face that it definitely appeals to a toddler!
The jacket is lined with black and white terry fabric and it has two big pockets, perfect for carrying trains or a hanky if you have a runny nose! Wellies & Worms dispatch was fast with free next day delivery (if you spend over £30) and an allocated time slot. Thanks Graham & Zoe for a great raincoat and excellent service!
¬†Disclosure : I received Theo’s jacket free of charge for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are my own

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Brit Sewing Thursday Linky (26th September 2013)

My sewing machine is back and normal service has resumed – woohoo! Just in case you are remotely curious, the problem was 5 years of (over)use which had resulted in lint building up in inaccessible parts of the machine. I had told the repair man that sewing with it was like wading through treacle and it turned out my analogy was pretty spot on. The lint had apparently become so densely packed that the machine parts were moving through something that had the texture of felt. It explains a lot, everything in fact except why the repair man in Scotland didn’t spot it two years ago… Grrr!

So with the sewing machine returned, this week I finally got a chance to make Moira’s block for the FQR Quilt Bee. This is my first bee and I am indebted to Liz for introducing me to the group. The fabric is Glimma and the pattern is a paper pieced tippencanoe block.

FQR Bee Sept
I also made Theo a pair of yellow cords. If you’ve been paying attention you may remember that yellow cords were on my autumn clothing wish list for me, but having not found any for myself I have inflicted them on him instead! The pattern is not the same one I used for his shorts, as I found the results from that too flared for trousers, so I used Dana’s free Kids Pants pattern instead…
theosyellowcords
Now I’ve tried two trouser patterns I’m considering trying a couple more so I can review them all side by side. Has anyone seen or tried any I should add to the list?


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Fat balls & mealworms – Getting ready for autumn

The unseasonably warm weather this week has brought us out into the garden once again to carry out a few tasks before autumn settles in for good. High up on our list was a refresh and clean our bird feeders. Our house is surrounded by woodland and fields, areas that are attractive habitat for several endangered bird species. In the summer we had turtle doves in the Poplar trees opposite our house and many birds visit the woods to feast on the teasels and thistles which are left to grow wild.

I am trying a variety of feeders and food in our garden to see what we can attract over the coming months. Peanuts are apparently popular with greenfinches and woodpeckers, fat balls attract long tailed tits and are good as we enter the colder months and mealworms are favoured by robins and blue tits. We also have a seed feeder which (in theory) is good for attracting most wild bird species. We’ve had it up all summer in one location, but it hasn’t been overly popular, so I’m trying it in a new spot over the winter months. I’m hoping if any, or all of the feeders prove successful I will have some pictures of our local birdlife to share with you over the winter.

Theo has been very keen to get involved with helping this week, showing the typical enthusiasm of most 2 year-olds for any new task, I just hope it’s something he maintains. A respect and understanding of nature is no bad thing and (if it doesn’t sound too calculated) the environment is also predicted to be one of the growing employment sectors over the next couple of decades – start ’em young I say!

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Free space to promote your blog or business…

Free space to promote your blog or business…

by Clare Mansell

UPDATE >> All the spots for October have now gone, thank you everyone for your interest!

It’s the beginning of October next week, so I wanted to give a fresh group of people the chance to take part in my badge/ad swap for the month.

It’s incredibly easy to do. All you need to do is supply a badge up to a maximum of 200×200 pixels which I will then display on my sidebar of this blog beneath GFC. In return you host my badge on your blog/website in a similar position (visible on the front page)

The swap is open to blogs of all sizes (though preference will be given to those of similar content) and to small businesses. If you are in a situation where you cannot host my badge in return (for instance you run an Etsy store) I am happy to negotiate swapping ad space for product.

Next week I will put the badges live and introduce you to Octobers swappers, which will be a great way of raising their profile and hopefully a great way for you to discover new blogs and websites.

A couple of slots have already gone for October, so be quick! Your slot is not confirmed until you have supplied me with your badge.

If you’re interested leave a comment or email via the link top right…

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