Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Back Again

Well hello again, readers. We're back after our little break away, the Bernina has already been dusted off, the rotary cutter is hard at work but the happy memories of last week are still with us.

Never mind all that, I hear you cry, isn't there the not-so-small matter of the second blogaversary giveaway? Indeed there is. A great big heartfelt thank you to the dozens of you who kindly took the time to leave a message, the answers were really interesting and on occasion, even amusing! So, Mr Random has done his best and the winner is... drum roll maestro please ...

...comment no 7, Gillian.

Congratulations, Gillian, please furnish me with your postal details via henpinn@hotmail.co.uk.

Now might we rewind to ooh about ten days ago. We packed up and headed westwards in the sunshine to our little country bolthole for a spot of R&R. Actually, we were rather busy, at least the adults were, but the Munchkin could not be prised from his den...

There was definitely a lot of chilling out going on in the teepee!

Sunday was a day to which the boys had been looking forward. I was quite thrilled to find that we were to be transported from the car park a few miles to our destination aboard this...

If only all park and rides were like this!

Ah yes, it was a case of beware of...

Sunday was a special open day to celebrate 150 years of Yeovil Railway Centre and a mighty fine display they put on, too. The Munchkin was entranced by the model railway. I can only imagine it shall not be too long before we sacrifice a bedroom to this sort of thing...

Daddy was more interested in the real thing!

I was mainly interested in the cider tent!

But my turn for jollity would come on Monday when I was booked to attend a course (a birthday present from Mr HH) here...

Yes, at the wonderful River Cottage in Axminster, Devon.

It was an absolutely fab day weather wise and no hardship to wind along the stunning country lanes for half an hour to attend a course to make and learn all about ... bread.

Here's Dan, baker supremo, who was to teach us all he knows about bread and who has written the River Cottage Bread handbook.

The course took place in the renovated barn and was well attended by about 20 people.

We made all sorts of bread: focaccia, ciabatta, white and malted brown loaves and rolls, donuts and we even went out into the courtyard to make pizza.

It was cooked in the wood fired oven, we made the bases ultra thin so they cooked in double quick time (one and a half minutes!) and I can say that without a shadow of a doubt, they were the best pizzas I've ever tasted.

There was plenty of time throughout the day, whilst waiting for the dough to rise, to wander around River Cottage's grounds. Pretty spectacular they are too, situated in a lovely valley.

To the front of the farmhouse, is a great walled kitchen garden, the stuff of my dreams.

Everything here was so well cared for, not a weed in sight, and all beautifully planned and laid out.

The hens have a pretty fabby henhouse, too!

After a long, hot day, we were rewarded with a late lunch on the deck with views over that beautiful valley.

The River Cottage team did a great job of setting up a lovely table and providing a fantastic, delicious spread of food. Hmm, but I was regretting all that pizza!

The highlight was the bread we had baked, of course!

I really enjoyed the day and our teacher was informative and very personable but my main gripe is that there were too many people on the course. I have attended a fair few of these types of courses now (this being the first one at River Cottage) and there has never been more than about 12 students maximum with several teachers/assistants to go round. This course had about 20 students and one teacher and I felt I didn't have enough time to get to grips with everything myself as we were split into groups to concentrate on certain types of bread which meant we didn't get to try making everything. We were given a copy of the River Cottage Bread Handbook which looks great but this really should have been sent ahead of time so that we could read and take it in before the course. The number of students has enabled River Cottage to keep the price of the course down but I'd rather pay a bit more and come out of the course feeling more confident of bread making at home. I guess there's going to be some trial and error around here whilst we wade our way through many loaves!

On Tuesday, we set sail for the rest of our holiday. Oooh, I'm so excited to share that with you as it was really a bit special and out of the norm. Pop back soon to read along, won't you...


  1. What a wonderful adventure! Looks like everyone had a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Looks like you all had a really great time
    Julie xxxxx

  3. Lucky you, beautiful day, lovely place to bake bread, and of course all that bread! Yum!

  4. I love the faraway look in the Munchkin's eyes as he stands by that model railway.
    A friend of Mr Boo's has one that takes up the whole of his attic space.He is totally obsessed with railways though!
    The bread making course looks really good fun!

    Bellaboo ;o)

  5. What a nice start to your holiday. Can't wait to hear more of your adventures. Sorry to hear it was rather too busy at the River Cottage course. I've recently done two courses with two different companies and both have been packed out to the point where it descends into chaos and you can't follow the tutor. I guess that's what happens when you want to make the most out of being in demand, but it didn't make me want to go back in a hurry. x

  6. I can almost smell that lovely bread, any sign of the lovely Hugh ?
    Sue x

  7. Can't wait for the next installment!

  8. What a fabulous holiday, how wonderful, it's what all holidays should be like.

  9. Hi
    I loved munchkin's tent! I agree with you about the course, so difficult with so many people. We have been to the cafe in Axminster and was a little disappointed for various reasons. So looking forward to seeing what else you have been up to!!

  10. What a co-incidence Hen that we both did breadmaking courses recently!
    Fortunately at Hobbs they only have 8 students so we got to try making all the different breads & had a lot of time for questions etc.


  11. looks like another good Jolly!

  12. Looks like you had a great time.
    I love Munchkins den!!
    And he looks like he really NEEDS a room for his own railway!!!
    Bread course sounds good, shame there were so many people on it though, the food looks very tasty!!
    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your holidays.
    Linda O xx

  13. My goodness I just want one of your holidays. You get to go and do such fun things. My hubs has been working on a model railroad for a couple of years now he loves building all the little scenes. Your munchkin sure is growing up!

  14. Sounds like a lovely chill out holiday, sorry to hear the bread making course was not up to expectations.

    I have just seen your dogs on your side bar - I have their brothers and have just blogged about them yesterday. What a coincidence.

  15. Hen, I do agree with Bellaboo about loving that photo of the handsome Munchkin gazing at those trains. I remember envying my brothers Lionel electric trains, and am old enough to have grown up memories of Euro/UK train travels to strengthen those childhood views of crossroads, etc.

    Your lovely Mr H is so generous in his gifts to you, as you are to him. Let me thank both of you for giving me vicarious virtual views of this River Farm visit.

    You are a fine reporter, Hen, and had I been there with you, I think I would have written just as you have done.

    All the same, what a marvelous gentleman is Mr H.

    Best wishes.

  16. Looks like a great weekend. Can't wait to see what you do next :) x

  17. What a lovely holiday!!!
    I love the CK tent! Don't blame munchkin for wanting to stay there!!!!

  18. Happy to see you back again! Looking forward to seeing where you went next!

  19. Isabelle (from France)28 July 2010 at 11:06

    Welcome back! My girls would love Munchkin's den! It does look crowded on your bread-making course photos, I understand the problem. Did you get to meet Hugh? He's a bit of a hero for my husband and I :o).
    Isabelle xx

  20. What a lovely place RC looks like..you lucky thing, although I can understand that 20:1 is a bit much to fully absorb the information. we have the same teepee...its fab and keeps the children amused for hours!

  21. What an interesting day at RC - thanks for sharing it. It looks like it was an amazing setting. I love the look on Munchkin's face as he is snuggling up on that gorgeous patchwork cushion - sooooo sweet!!

  22. Oh Wow! So delighted to win your giveaway! Apologies for not commenting sooner - I'm on hols in Connemara with terrible broadband connection! Will email details to you! Thanks again G

  23. 22 people does sound like a lot, with only one teacher, but it sounds like a wonderful day, and more of an experience than a class where you learn intensively. To have lunch cooked by the river cottage team, what a dream! Looking forward to seeing your next adventure. Love Vanessa xxx

  24. What a cool day this looks like! I bet there's been lots of fun in that kitchen.
    Loving your blog, by the way, so I'm adding you to my list of favourites.


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