Monday, 15 August 2016

Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace

Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace

The weekend before last, mum and I made a trip to the beautiful estate of Blenheim Palace for the first ever Countryfile Live.

I sort of got into Countryfile by accident. It just happened to be what was on TV in the evenings when I was making dinner. I still don't go out of my way to watch it, but I usually find it's a good choice for some light evening television while I'm cooking.

I love a day out, especially if it gets me out of the city, so I was really pleased to find that mum had a couple of free tickets thanks to her Sparks card.

We headed up to Blenheim Palace for the Saturday of the show - a gloriously sunny day! The event covered a huge area and was full of activities, displays, exhibitions and stalls, all with a countryside theme. In fact, there was so much going on that we didn't manage to see everything - it was as I was reading the show guide afterwards that I realised just how much we'd missed!

Countryfile Presenters Signs

We started off in the craft area, admiring some of the amazing work on display. If I had a big enough house and garden, I could happily buy all kinds of art and sculptures to fill them!

Woodwork display at Countryfile Live

Craft Tent

There were displays of tractors, from vintage machines to the gigantic modern day vehicles, all being brought to life in a demonstration of haymaking.

Vintage tractor
vintage farm potato sorter
 Blenheim was a beautiful setting for the event and it looked absolutely wonderful in the sunshine, with crowds of happy people of all ages wandering around. I'd love to be going back for the International Horse Trials later this year, but sadly I'm working that weekend :(

Blenheim Palace Countryfile Live
The Waterside at Countryfile Live
 My favourite parts of the event are all the animal features! With a dog ring, an equine ring and Adam's Farm, there were plenty of animals about. I came away from Adam's Farm with a long list of animals I'd like to have in future - better keep working those weekends in order to afford them (and somewhere to keep them)! There were all kinds of cute farm animals, from chicks and sheep to rabbits, pigs, goats and cows. It was possible to go in and pet them all, but that would have involved shoving little kids out of the way and I decided that was probably not a great move! I've had plenty of experience of petting farms as a child so I thought I'd let the children have their turn while I admired the animals from a distance.

Goats at Adams Farm
Bull Display at Adam's Farm Countryfile Live

Adam's Farm Suffolk Punch and donkeys

In the main arena was the 'Countryfile Calendar' performance, a show taking the audience through the seasons and life in the country. With circus performers, a herd of sheep and an enthusiastic group of young farmers, it was an action-packed display! Countryfile presenters Rani and Tom also made an appearance.

Cirque Bijou at Countryfile Live
Countryfile LiveRunning sheep

Countryfile Live BMX Display

Countryfile Live BMX Display

Anita Rani and Tom Heap
Countryfile Live Anita Rani and Oxford Young Farmers
 With dogs and horses being my favourite animals, the dog and equine arenas were always going to go down well! We watched a thrilling semi-final of the trials and scurry driving, with some very speedy ponies dashing around.

Scurry drivving

British Scurry and Trials Driving
Shetland Pony Scurry DrivingScurry Driving at countryfile live

Scurry Driving
Scurry Driving The  highlight of the show though for me? Being asked to volunteer with a dog in the Essex Dog Display Team! I was just about to sit down at the side of the ring when one of the handlers came and asked if I'd like to have a go. Luckily I've had a little bit of practice with Saffy at taking a dog round an agility course. They paired me up with a gorgeous little dog called Bella who was utterly perfect as she whizzed round the course not missing a single obstacle! We were the only pair to have a clear round which I was delighted with. Then the professionals took over and showed just how incredibly well trained their dogs are; jumping through fire, chasing down 'bad guys' and leaping over one another.

Essex Dog Display Team
Dog Agility at Countryfile Live

Essex Dog Display Team at Countryfile Live
Overall, it was a fantastic day and I really hope it's on the calendar again next year!


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #34

This has been a rather exciting week - my first week working as a doctor! It's been really enjoyable and I've had to learn quickly, but the rest of the team are so supportive that I haven't felt out of my depth. Now I normally try to have this post published in the morning each Sunday, but I made a spontaneous trip home last night and was without laptop until this evening. So a few hours later than normal, here are the little things I've loved this week...

Forgetting to be nervous about taking bloods for the first time in months! The last time I took bloods before starting on the ward this week was way back in March. It's something I'm quite comfortable doing, but normally I'm a bit anxious about it if I feel out of practice. Happily though I pretty much did it without thinking about it - I was chatting away to the patient and it was only as I was sending the bottle off to the lab that I realised this would once have been something I really worried about! Maybe I will be fine at this doctoring thing after all...

Finishing on time on Friday afternoon. I'm pretty sure this is something I should learn to appreciate when it happens, because the ward is a very busy one!

Listening to a Mary Berry audiobook. Turns out the Audible account I thought I'd cancelled revived itself. I'm trying to save money at the moment, so I've cancelled any monthly subscriptions like this. Seeing as I'd paid one more month though, I decided I might as well use the credit and bought Mary Berry's autobiography. I've got back into the habit of listening to an audiobook before bed - I like reading, but I find it even more relaxing to be able to lie in the dark, eyes closed and just listen!

 Taking part in a dog agility demonstration at Countryfile Live. I plan to do a whole post on this fantastic day out, however, first I need to sort out the 400 or so photos! But one of my favourite moments was being asked to volunteer in the Essex Dog Display Team's demonstration of agility with their fabulous dogs. I was paired with a gorgeous little dog called Bella, and although it wasn't really competitive we definitely had the most successful round!

Watching William Fox-Pitt in the Olympic eventing dressage. Actually, I'm really enjoying watching the Olympics full-stop - but it was especially great to watch William Fox-Pitt competing despite having been in an induced coma less than a year ago.

Actually this has been such a great week that I could have had a very long list of happy moments - but I'll leave it here for now! What have you been up to this week and what's made you smile?



Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Twist Recipe Book GIVEAWAY!

Twist by Martha Collison Book

Told you I'd be celebrating my two years of blogging!

As I said on my 'two years of blogging' post, I've learned so much from working on this little space of the internet and I've enjoyed it immensely. 

I definitely wouldn't have kept it going though if it wasn't for the people on the other end, the wonderful people who read everything I write!

And not just for reading the posts, but for commenting, following, chatting on Twitter and generally just making blogging so much more fun for me.

In order to celebrate this blogging milestone, I've decided to host a little giveaway - with a chance for someone to win a copy of Twist by Great British Bake Off contestant Martha Collison. It's a wonderful book and I've already given it a good review and testing on the blog so I know that whoever gets it will be very happy!

Twist recipe book by Martha Collison

(By the way, the prize is a brand new copy of the book - not the same one that I reviewed, I'm hanging on to my own copy thank you very much!)

I'd like to thank Ellie from This Country Girl's Journal for the inspiration behind the prize too! I knew I wanted to do a giveaway, but I couldn't decide on what would be a good thing to offer. Ellie tweeted me with this suggestion and I couldn't think of anything better suited! I had such a great reaction to the review post that I knew people would be really pleased to win a copy of Twist.

(While I know I have plenty of lovely international readers, unfortunately this is a UK-only giveaway due to funding the postage costs! Honestly, if it was cheaper to post across the world I'd happily open it up!)

So, how to enter? Simply follow the steps on the Rafflecopter giveaway! Good luck!

Terms & Conditions:
Prize will be one copy of Twist by Martha Collison
Giveaway will run from 03/08/2016 until 07/08/2016
Winner will be notified within 24 hours of the draw closing. The winner will have 7 days from notification in which to reply, otherwise a new winner will be drawn.
Entries via Rafflecopter
All entries will be verified
UK entries only
No purchase necessary for entry
Prize paid for by me, this is not a sponsored giveaway



Monday, 1 August 2016

Fruity Banana Flapjacks

Fruity banana flapjacks

These banana flapjacks are sweet, squidy and utterly delicious!

Shortly after moving into the new flat, I decided it was important to test out the kitchen and have a little baking trial run before the Great British Bake Off is back on telly.

I wanted something quick, simple and perfect for taking to work with me for a little energy boost - or as a home-time pick me up after a long day.

The millionaire's flapjacks I made the other week were lovely, but possibly a bit too rich for what I had in mind. So I decided on trying a rather lighter variation...

These are by no means 'super-healthy' flapjacks, but they are tasty and more naturally sweet with honey, bananas and dried fruit rather than a tonne of sugar. And because I haven't used sugar or syrup, they're much squidgier and don't crisp and burn quite so easily. (A tip I learned years ago trying to recreate Konditor & Cooks flapjacks is to always swap syrup for honey).

Stack of homemade banana flapjacks with seeds and fruits

Recipe for 12 to 16 flapjacks

270g oats
2 ripe bananas
6tbsp honey
125g butter
100g mixed dried fruits and seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
20x20cm tin 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c (170°c fan) and line a tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the oats, dried fruit and seeds into a mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the bananas to a fairly smooth consistency (although you don't have to worry too much about getting every last lump).
  4. Put the bananas into a saucepan, along with the butter and honey. Melt over a medium heat and simmer until you have a well mixed liquid.
  5. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix together.
  6. Tip the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press down so that it is tightly packed. Use a spoon or spatula to smooth.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is starting to turn golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Then turn out and slice into rectangles.
How to make homemade banana flapjacks

Flapjack with fruits and seeds
Four homemade flapjacks on a plate And it's really just as simple as that! Let me know if you try them out - or if you have any other tasty recipes that make good snacks :)

Homemade fruity banana flapjacks recipe

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