Monday, September 30, 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When the drinks eventually arrived (after a tantalising preview which was rapidly withdrawn when a fourth drink on the tray could not be explained) we received a piping hot Bebeccino for Theo and something coffee based that was supposed to be Jim's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.

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hatley raincoat review

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

Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, September 27, 2013

Winners!! (Please check to see if you are one)

I did the draw for our GoBowWow competition on Wednesday and congratulations to our winners Blake, Laura & Sam! You've all been sent two emails to the address you provided on the Rafflecopter and a message to your facebook account, so please check your spam mail and reply to the email to confirm you want to take up your prize.

Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday, September 26, 2013

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...


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?

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's been inspiring me on Flickr this month...

1. East Head, West Wittering, 2. Making progress on my pp project next to the pool this afternoon. ❤ #yesitstakingawhile #familycampingtrip, 3. pillow improv curves, 4. Wannabe Feathers mini (2), 5. the sfgirlbybay home office., 6. doors of Yogya, 7. triangles table runner, 8. Stitch Floral plus quilt, 9. Denim Jacket & Printed Joggers, 10. Red Dragonfly top done!, 11. Japanese Maple, 12. Bognor Regis Pier, 13. Turquoise & Aqua tones, 14. Parsley PJs - pattern from Made by Rae, 15. engagement portraits west wittering-22, 16. in progress

It's funny how the strong warm colours of autumn crept into my photo choices this month without me noticing. There's some local beaches in this month's selection, kids trousers (more of those tomorrow) patchwork (of course) and photo mosaics (a subject which was discussed a lot in my photo course in Brighton.) Click on the links to see the original images.
Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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!

Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, September 23, 2013

Free space to promote your blog or business...

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 200x200 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...

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Little Adventures in cricket...

We were recently invited to take part on the BritMums Little Adventures Linky challenge. We were sent some samples of Barny, a new bear-shaped snack and told to let our child lose on a new adventure.

Our chosen adventure was the annual Chidbrook cricket cup challenge which takes place every year with a team from our village taking on a team from the next village. This was Theo's first cricket match and his dad was also playing for the village team! Along with the cricket, there was also a Pimms tent, a bouncy castle, a raffle, kids games and afternoon tea.... plenty to keep a two year-old entertained for the day and gloriously it was (apart from the Pimms) all free!

We had all been up late the previous night at a neighbour's party and I did wonder if any of us would have the stamina to make it through the afternoon, but it's remarkable what a few stimulating activities and some food can do for a small child!

Theo loved his first experience of a bouncy castle, had great fun watching his first cricket match (whilst occasionally wandering on to the pitch... ooops!) and he got to try out a cricket bat that was nearly as tall as he was!

After 4 hours of stimulating play (both the cricket kind and the toddler kind) there were reasons for both parties to feel pretty cheerful! Our village team emerged victorious retaining the cup for another year... And after an afternoon of adventures, Theo had found himself a new little friend...

This post is an entry for BritMums 'Little Adventures Challenge' in partnership with Barny, the bear-shaped snack providing a little discovery in every bite. Find out more about Barny here

Follow on Bloglovin

Blog business cards (and a few hints if your planning on making some of your own)

I am attending two blogger conferences over the next few months and so I realised the time had come to get some blog business cards made (sounds serious, I know!) I've had a few business cards made over the years and I've always tended to buy them from This time I decided to take a gamble and try somewhere cheaper and see if their product was as good, so I went with Vistaprint and paid extra for a "premium matte" upgrade and the double sided option. With an offer they were doing at the time, they worked out at less than 2/3rds of the price of Moo and I have to say the finished product is every bit as good (though also every bit as slow on the delivery!)

I did the design myself and when they arrived I played around with rounding the corners on a few with a punch. I might do the rest, I might not... 

During my research I picked up a few bits of info about designing blog business cards which is worth sharing if you're considering doing your own...

(1) Include a photo of yourself so that the person you give the card to can relate the blog address to the face of the person they spoke with. The picture I used is also the same image I use on all my social media.

(2) Include your social media information, but not all of it. Twitter is a must I think, beyond that pick a couple of others that you are most active on, but don't overwhelm people or overwhelm the design of the card.

(3) Don't include your postal address, anyone who needs it can call or email you.

(4) Include a line describing your blog niche. Fashion, beauty, craft, parenting, whatever you do spell it out and help brands (and other bloggers) know where you fit.

(5) Stick with "normal" size cards. Most people have a business card holder to store their blogger cards in, anything bigger than normal or too quirky risks getting lost

(6) QR Codes - Yes I forgot to include mine, it wasn't intentional! You can get yours here for free.

(7) Don't scrimp. Hand out cards that make people excited to see your blog content, not something limp and home-printed.

(8) If you're outside of south-east England, include your location, or else chances are that's where everyone will just assume you are. (I know it's not right, but it's the way the world works)

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brit Thursday Sewing Linky

Hear that deafening silence? That's the sound of a house with no sewing machine! It's been 9 days since I took my Pfaff in for repair, the only information I've had out of the repair man is that he's "waiting for a part."

The novelty of extra spare time has now passed and the other night I found myself wandering round the house at 8pm looking for things to do! So yes it's sending me a bit loopy - Here's hoping for better news next week!

Follow on Bloglovin

GoBowWow dog collar giveaway!

Today I'm excited to be able to introduce you to one of this blog's sponsors and to host a giveaway. is the home of fun colourful dog collars, pencil cases and cosmetic bags and it's owned and run by my sister Jane!

Jane has kindly offered three dog collars in a size and fabric of your choice to give away on this blog and if there's a particular type of fabric you'd love to have made into a dog collar (for instance musical notes, army fabric or your football team colours) she will do her best to source the fabric at no extra cost.

morninglight (1 of 1)-2
Pink and flowery dog collar

Our own two dogs have been wearing GoBowWow collars for a while (of course!) and I can testify they look great and wash very well. Prices for the collars start at £9.50 and as with everything at, P&P is free!

To enter the giveaway use the rafflecopter below. There will be three winners each of whom will receive a collar in the size and fabric of their choice. The giveaway runs until midnight on Tuesday 24th September. Three winners will each receive a dog collar of their choice, no cash alternative is available. UK entries only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A weekend in Brighton on LomoKev's Hot Shots course

So I'm back from my photography course and I've had a chance to catch up on the housework, so I thought I'd tell you a bit about the weekend and show you some of the pictures. On Saturday we shot exclusively on film using cameras that were almost entirely automatic. Switching up my rather large DSLR for a compact film camera was both liberating and disconcerting.

The first big difference is that you can get a lot closer to the action with a compact camera without people noticing you, but of course the flip side is people don't take you seriously, which can be a little bruising for the ego! In the morning we explored the sea front with a list of things to photograph, the object being to get us to think creatively and to some degree to think a little more about the decisive moment to take a picture (it is way to easy to take six pictures on digital, when one would do!)  The results were very mixed. The Lomo camera I used in the morning didn't expose all the images and over and under exposed others (beyond my control as it was automatic!) but others created an interesting result which won't be to everyone's taste, but has a certain artistic appeal...

Hot Shots Course - Lomo LCA
Hot Shots Course - Lomo LCA
Hot Shots Course - Lomo LCA
Hot Shots Course - Lomo LCA
Hot Shots Course - Lomo LCA

At lunchtime we stopped for a fried breakfast and in the afternoon we switched to the Muji ii a 1990s compact camera. I liked this camera less and with a fried breakfast slowly digesting inside me, my photography stalled and I found myself shooting random objects to try and use up my film before the deadline. It was however very noticeable that film gives a distinct look to images and is more flattering on skin tones...

Hot Shots Course - Olympus mju ii
Hot Shots Course - Olympus mju ii
Hot Shots Course - Olympus mju ii

On Sunday we had an hour or so to wander Brighton with our DSLRs. It was freezing and down by the pier where I went, the wind was whipping in off the sea and cutting right to the bone - not the weather I like shooting in, but I got a couple of shots I liked before it was time for lunch and a debrief...


As I often find with these kind of events, it was the intangable stuff that was the greatest value. As part of a presentation, we were shown the work of a photographer who assembles beautiful mosaics of similar images (something I now plan to do with Theo's abstract toddler paintings) and there were enlightening insights into the work of the photographer who ran the course, hearing how he achieved images and about his failures too. It's also got Brighton out of my system for a while, I have rushed through the town so many times in the last few years and I always wanted to stop, amble a bit and take pictures, well I ambled a lot over the weekend and my aching legs bore the evidence, so I'm quite happy to be back home, away from the holidaymakers and close to the countryside...

PS - Neville's Island in Chichester on Friday was brilliant! It was performed in the "temporary" theatre (the main one is being refurbished) with an incredible set which involved a river round the stage and water pouring in from the ceiling. That incredible physicalness is just never repeated on screen.
Follow on Bloglovin
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...