Gingham Tulips

Pattern: Named Clothing’s Florence tulip dress

Fabric: Black and white gingham cotton from Minerva Crafts

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I did press the dress, promise! Also the hem is straight – I apparently don’t stand straight causing one side to slightly rise up…

It’s been a busy old few weeks haring and tearing all over the countryside. I begin training at the Police College at Tulliallan on Monday so  a good bit of time has been spent preparing for that, gathering the many (and varied) items on the kit list, and trying to kid myself that I actually enjoy running very much indeed (failed at this one). I’ve been posted to Edinburgh so will be moving there after training finishes in September (all being well and I actually pass…) so this past wednesday was spent flat hunting with a good friend Jenni, who happens to be from Edinburgh and knows it very well. Plus she shares my general love of decorating and creating lovely living spaces so together we were the dream flat hunting team. So it’s all change change change here.

My boyfirend, Ed, was up staying last week (we’re doing the whole long distance thing..) which was lovely and, as well as a rather lovely (if not slightly rainy) picnic day at the beach he accompanied me on several trips to Edinburgh to help with putting up a group exhibition which I am a part of at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh. Alongside Jenni and two other friends, Emily and Gemma, I am exhibiting a series of paintings under the theme of ‘home.’ Entitles ‘In Good Taste’ our show runs until the 2nd of July and if you’re in or around Edinburgh you should go see it (it;s free…). Anyway, enough of the shameless plug. It was altogether a lovely lovely week and despite a few last minute panics and stresses, the show came together well and the opening night was a success. So successful we celebrated with many cocktails and all the dancing.

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So yes, busy. I have however, finally managed to finish this dress (which was only needing hemmed) having started it a few weeks ago now. I am so pleased with it – it’s the first dressy dress which I’ve made in ages, although as per I’m casually-ing it up with converse. I did have a few fit issues in that it was initially too snug a fit, but I remedied this by letting the zip out a bit. This in turn has had a knock on effect on how the checks lie so that they are no longer straight… but you know what? I’m over it. Life is too short for such silly concerns. I do not notice it (admittedly this is without my glasses on) and unless someone is really staring at me in all the jumble of checks they really shouldn’t either. In fact, this fabric probably wasn’t the best choice for this pattern in that it is virtually impossible to get every line matching up and/or lying straight. But you live and learn and I still love it – I do still think that this style of dress is perfect for summery gingham. All in all this is definitely a pattern I will be making again – as with all Named patterns I am yet to find one which I don’t like.

Anyway, that is all from me for now. Have a lovely weekend!

Hannah x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foxes by Moonlight Dress

Pattern: Named Clothing Inari Tee dress

Fabric: An almost light weight denim weight cotton; it was bought ages ago and, as such, I can’t remember where from or the exact fabric details.

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The Inari cropped tee pattern is one of my most used patterns; they tend to be my staple go to ‘what will I wear today’ garment as they go so well with everything – over a skinny dress, with jeans, under dungarees… However, to date I have only made two Inari tee dresses (see here) which I have worn to the point of it beginning to fall apart (blame constant wear combined with my early skills (or lack of) in finishing seams).

I’ve had this fabric stashed away for an age now. As is my usual habit I bought it on a whim with absolutely no clue what to do with it. Usually after a while of sitting in my stash pile inspiration will strike: not so with this fabric and it sat for ages. Until that is I needed a mindless sewing project which I could quickly get into without requiring too much concentration. Having used the Inari pattern a ridiculous amount of times I pretty much have it sussed off by heart and so, feeling guilty about not having used the fabric, this dress came into being.

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On reflection, this is the perfect style of dress for this fabric. The weight of the fabric really suits a style with a looser, boxier shape, whilst the print needs a simple design in order to really make the most of it. I really love the fabric – that gorgeous print of full moons and foxes is so lovely and absolutely had to be the focal point of whatever garment I made. I generally try and steer away from heavily, jazzily printed fabrics for dressmaking simply because, despite being drawn to them, I know on a practical level they do not work as everyday pieces in my wardrobe: I prefer wearing simpler prints and colours. This however is the exception to my jazzy print rule and, having built up a good stock of solid wardrobe staples, I may introduce a few more brightly patterned pieces over the summer.

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A lovely friend, Jenni, took these photos for me at the same time as she took the photos for the last post. (We were very much on a lets get blog photos role.) Edinburgh was in full on happy sunshine mode and looking really very lovely.

Life this past few weeks has been very busy in the best possible way. I spent last week in Krakow with some friends, and then the weekend in London at another friends hen party, so all very lovely.

I have also, after months and months of the longest application process signed the contract and can officially announce that, as of the 26th June, I will begin training for the Police. I’ve joined the police!!! So it’s all big life changes going on here, but too much to fit into one post – that may have to be a future post on it’s own.

Hope you all have lovely weekends,

Hannah x

My New Favourite Dress

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress

Fabric: Essex yarn dyed linen in chambray from M is for Make 

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus so far this year. I just haven’t felt the need nor the inclination to write about what I’ve been making. For one thing the first half of the year hasn’t been hugely productive in terms of sewing; it is only in the last couple of months that I’ve had a bit of making boost. It has, as ever, been a busy few months between work, general life and exciting new starts and changes. I’ve made what has perhaps been one of the biggest decisions of my life so far and decided to give up working as a freelance chef, beginning in January a long and thorough application process for a brand new totally different career path (more details to follow). I am equally excited and terrified about what the next few months may hold but it feels oh so right and – for once – I feel settled and content with where I am in life. I’ve been venturing south of the border for the first time in years, having out of the blue and in the happiest and best of unexpected ways, found myself in a long distance relationship. Life is looking good. Besides from that my news isn’t hugely exciting, life as ever goes on, with lots of little bursts of happiness and worry all rolled in together.

So anyway, the dress. One of my closest friends Jenni sent me a message the other week informing me that it was about time I got going with the blog again and that, to force me into it, she would take photos. Who was I to argue?

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Along with another friend, Emily, we are holding a joint exhibition in Edinburgh in June and, on a trip down to formalise plans with the gallery we took the chance to have not only a massssssiiiivvvvveee catch up but also a wee photo shoot in the glorious sunshine. Princes Street gardens in the sunshine is such a happy place!

I’ve had this pattern kicking about for a good long while now and, needing a new challenge, I finally decided to get cracking with it. I love the button down shirt dress look but, as I’ve never been overly fussed by collars, I’ve always avoided wearing them. This pattern however, without a collar, is perfect. The fabric has been in my stash a while now and (I think) goes perfectly with the dress.

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I had originally made the fabric into another dress which had long gone unworn so was returned to the fabric pile. Chopping it up and squeezing this dress out of it was a bit of  challenge and so contrast fabric pockets had to be introduced as well as a overall shortening of the dress.

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The dress itself came together very quickly over the course of a few evenings. As my first foray into Megan Nielsen’s patterns I found them totally clear and accessible. I can see this dress as both a summer and winter piece – ideal as it is or layered with woolly jumpers and cardis. The most time consuming aspect was definitely the buttons, but only fractionally.

 

Starting out as a ‘lets squeeze in a day of catching up and go to this meeting at the same time’ it was the most perfect of perfect days. Sometimes you just need to take a break from everyday life, ignore the hum drum and go and catch up with the people who make it all ok and who always have the right thing to say. I’m not a sappy person generally, but you know, just this once since she did motivate my blogging/sewing get go, huge love and hugs to Jenni. We all need a friend like Jenni, right?

 

(We even squeezed in tea and cake at the best coffee shop in all of Edinburgh – Love Crumbs. Go go go!!)

Anyway, before I exhaust all my new found blogging energy, that is all for now. Hope you’ve all had happy weeks so far!

Hannah x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Forgiving Inari Tee Dress

Pattern: Named Clothings Inari Tee Dress

Fabric: Stripy lightweight denim from John Lewis 

The days between Christmas and New Year are long and lazy, with nothing too much to be hurrying on with, the most pressing part of the day being tackling yet another cheese board and having another crack at the Christmas cake. Whilst much of my working life does revolve around food, at this time of year it is almost completely dedicated to it – in this case eating more than cooking, something which I’m more than happy with. I’ve had just over a week off and am back working on Friday, cooking for a big family party over New Year at an estate not too far from home. The weather for much of this time has been awful, something which I am secretly rather pleased about as it further justifies days spent cosy inside sewing whilst working my way through a box set (currently imagining being somewhere hot with ‘Indian Summers’).

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Kitchen window views last week…

It’s been great to have this time to work away at a couple of sewing projects, including finishing off a pretty dressy dress in a pale yellow cotton and a brocade pencil skirt. I’ve also altered a skirt which I made going on two years ago now – one of my first ever projects – and which was far too big; it now fits perfectly (I’ll get around to blogging about it soon..).imageAs perhaps my most made pattern this year, I couldn’t round off the year without squeezing out anther Inari tee dress. I think I made 5 Inari crop tees in total this year (most unblogged) and so felt it was time to go full dress with it. As a proper stash busting project I used up some stripy super light weight denim which I got from John Lewis a good 2 years ago now.

* I’ve only managed evening photos for this make, snapped quickly on my phone so the light wasn’t great and they’re not the greatest *

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This pattern is already a very relaxed style, using this sort of fabric simply adding to that easy wearing feel. The actual construction of this pattern is so straight forward, the only variation which I took in adding pockets at the side seams. I say it every time I write about one of Named Clothing’s patterns but their instructions are so clear and easy to follow it makes the whole process so straight forward.

I’ve piggy backed one of my favourite Inari crop tees – made in the Autumn – into this post as I love the fabric so much (but didn’t feel it warranted a whole post to itself). I got a metre from M is for Make back in the summer and simply love the colour and pattern – I think it works perfectly with a boxy style top.

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Anyway, that’s all for now – the fire’s been lit, Laurel and Hardy are on and that cake isn’t going to eat itself.

Hannah x

Slouchy Tartan Coat

Pattern: IAM Patterns Artemis Coat

Fabric: Tartan wool from Croftmill, bought last Christmas

This coat was meant to be finished at least a good month ago. I have however been on top procrastinator form and as such have been picking it up and putting it down for ages now. I don’t know if it’s just with the general busyness of this time of year, or just having a lot on my mind lateky, but I’ve been struggling to focus for long on anything, resulting in lots of started and stopped projects, or else almost there but not quite projects. All this coat has needed done for weeks was the sleeves hemmed and bias binding attached to the inside seams. Not big jobs but somehow I never quite got around to them until last week when I forced myself to.

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I really really love this pattern. I love the style of the coat, the shape, the fit, the feel – everything. As my first foray into coat making it’s a very gentle introduction and I couldn’t be more happy with it. The only thing I think I would change is, next time – depending on the fabric – I will line it. The pattern doesn’t call for lining and I’m happy with this one unlined, instead finishing the inside seams with bias binding.

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I’m really pleased with the pattern matching along the centre back seam

The fabric is pretty heavyweight so a lining may be too much – but, for a future lighter weight version, I think I’ll try popping a lining in.

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I’ve been after a jacket like this for a good while now; the fit, shape, style and fabric are completely up my street. Whilst I can appreciate a super sleek fitted tailored ‘hacking’ jacket they’re just not for me; I feel all wrong in them, too held together and formal. And whilst they are undoubtedly very smart and stylish I just feel a bit frumpy/mannish. No, for me is a looser fitting, ideal layering, less formal style. The Artemis coat ticks every box.  Made from six simple pieces – four front and two back – with the sleeves cut as one continuous bit from the main body (hence the slouchy fit at the shoulders) it is a very straightforward make. The most fiddly bit was the two buttonholes, which really weren’t that fiddly at all. I’ve already got another one planned in a beautifully soft grey/black wool from Guthrie and Ghani.

I’ve got a few projects waiting to be finished and blogged – an Elisalex dress, an upcycled skirt, and a top – hopefully before the New Year. Right now I’m cutting out fabric squares and piecing together a quilt in an attempt to get back into the swing of sewing.

Anyway, that’s all for now,

Hannah x

Upcycled Flambards Pencil Skirt

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I must have been about 11 when I first read the Flambards series by K.M. Peyton. I say first, the series has since been read on an almost yearly basis. This was followed by the 1979 TV drama, watched on repeat with my brothers and the children of one of mum’s close friends. I was obsessed; we even had an elaborate game based on Flambards, the point of which I can’t quite remember, but which involved much crawling around the next door hay fields. I won’t bore you with the plot details but think horses, crumbling country houses, pre and post WW1 rural England, family drama, heiresses, a touch of romance, more horses.. and you should have the basic gist of it. Basically my idea of heaven in a book (and in 12 years my taste really hasn’t changed all that much).
There is a sewing related point to this rambling nostalgia. The fabric for this skirt is, in short, Flambards in fabric form, and for this I love it completely and utterly.
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Strictly speaking this skirt isn’t entirely me-made. It started out life as a Joules dress I bought years ago in one of their sales. It was a navy close fitting knee length style with long sleeves and an exposed central back zip, the pattern running around the hemline alone. I loved it immediately and bought it, despite the dress not being in a style I generally wear. As such I wore it all of 2 or 3 times and it has sat in my wardrobe ever since. I do like this style and, when the occasion requires, am more than happy to wear a dress with a simple, close fitting shape. However, as it’s not a style I wear a lot and, as I love the fabric so much, it seemed a shame not to get more use out of it. And so, in a fit of wardrobe blitzing and before I could give myself time to change my mind, I pulled the dress out and chopped it in half.
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Adding front and back darts following the dart placements from the By Hand London Charlotte skirt, I interfaced around the top and created a simple rolled waistband. Using the same central back opening where the dress’ zip had been I added an 8” exposed zip and, voila the skirt was done.
1 evening + 1 under-worn dress = a very wearable short pencil skirt.
And so there we have it; my ode to one of my favourite series of books all wrapped up in a good dose of nostalgia, in the form of a skirt.
Hannah x

Chilly Days Tartan Tunic and some thoughts on the making process

Pattern: Sew Liberated Esme Tunic

Fabric: Tartan Brushed Cotton from
Backstitch (bought ages ago)

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I’ve been on a bit of a stash busting mission lately, using up fabric I’ve had piled up for ages rather than always buying more. (Read:- this is in reality a money saving drive more than anything..) I bought this fabric last year with several makes in mind – a classic shirt, a slouchy cardi-coat, my stand by style boxy tee, a shirt dress… and eventually, last weekend settled on pairing it up with the Sew Liberated Esme Tunic. Despite this being one of the first patterns I ever bought well over two years ago, and despite loving the style of the top, it had never jumped out at me as something which I simply must make right now. I guess that happens sometimes, you buy a pattern, love it completely, but don’t actually want to make it. Well, in this patterns case, it’s position in my pattern pile has risen. I really really love it. So naturally I really really love this top.

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Excuse my dreadful tangly hair – my only excuse is the wind..

It was a breeze to sew up – one of those makes which I got a huge amount of satisfaction out of finishing the seams perfectly, making the innards as beautiful as the outer. And of course the fabric, as can only be expected with brushed cotton, was a delight to work with; soft, smooth, very little fraying… perfect.

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I love the placket detail on this top. The button detail is just that: a detail, with no real buttonholes.
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The sleeve and cuff detail also makes this top the perfect style in my eyes.

However, do you ever find – and this happens with virtually every make I complete – that there is a period, shortly after finishing a piece, when you’re just a bit ‘meh’ about the whole thing. I tend to follow the same pattern with my projects; initial flurry of planning excitement, concentration phase with the cutting and fitting, initial ‘I really love this’ phase as it starts to come together, and then the final it’s finished and I love it but… I’m not so excited about it anymore. Maybe that’s just normal? This top was no different but this sequence of feelings towards a project seemed somehow sharper, more distinct. My feelings towards my paintings are exactly the same – it is in fact an important part of my creative process; being able to look at something with a hyper critical eye helps to give perspective. This I guess is no different with sewing.
I’d be really interested to hear if any fellow sewers feel this way about their makes.

Anyway, I do love this top now and, as the months draw in, getting colder, it’s going to get a lot of wear. I’m not generally big into wearing shirts, but this style is definitely the exception to the rule – perfect for wearing with jeans as a cosy layer when working in my very cold studio.

That’s all for now – I’m off to have a properly cosy Sunday night – bath, pjs and a lit fire = perfection.

Hannah x

Plummy Trousers and another Inari Crop Tee

Pattern: Papercut Pattern’s Guise Trousers // Named Pattern”s Inari Crop Tee

Fabric: Plum coloured suiting fabric from Clothspot (bought ages ago so I can’t remember the details) // Cotton linen mix from Backstitch (again bought ages ago)

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I’ve been planning these trousers for ages now. I even bought the fabric – well over a year ago – with the specific intention of using it for these trousers. It has however, until a rainy day a few weeks ago, languished in my stash waiting for me to pluck up the courage to actually begin making said trousers. I’ve had trousers placed on a bit of a pedestal ever since I began making my own clothes. They always seemed to have an air of complication about them, of tricky fit issues (baggy crotch, saggy bum, too tight legs, too loose legs…), resulting in a garment which would look decidedly homemade. My fears were totally unfounded – I couldn’t have been more wrong and, for a newbie to trouser making, the Guise pattern was the perfect starting place.

I don’t think I have ever made anything paying such close attention to the instructions. I followed them meticulously to the letter. This is also my first foray into Papercut Patterns and their instructions are great – very clear with the illustrations super helpful in steering me through the steps. Such attention has paid off and I love my finished trousers – it is definitely my proudest make to date. (My favourite feature is probably the pockets – the contrast fabric is from a chopped up old top.)

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I love the fabric I’ve used for the pockets – it comes from an old top from Ness which no longer fitted very well.

As someone who generally only wears trousers when I’mworking I’m completely sold on this style. I have already ordered some black fabric to make another pair, and have my eye on a few more trousers patterns. Trousers may no longer just be a practical necessity for me.

I’m wearing another Inari crop tee (definitely one of my favourite patterns), made from a cotton linen mix from Backstitch. I embroidered a very simple design onto the neckline and sleeve cuffs to jazz it up a bit and am very pleased with the result. I think I’ll definitely be making a few more like this!

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It’s been a busy month with cooking work – October is always a month with weeks booked back to back as there are so many people up visiting the Highlands at this time of year, for the last of the fishing, the stalking and school holidays. November is a quieter month as I contemplate what my next steps should be. I’ve reached a bit of a bend in the road, at the last minute changing the
plans for work and the future I had in place just a few weeks ago. And so I’m going to take the next wee while out – to sew and paint and create. To read and think and plan.
And to blog – I’ve a whole lot of makes queued up for posting on here.

Anyway, that’s all for now!
Hannah x

Drop Waist, Funnel Neck Dress

Pattern: Pattern X from the Japanese book ‘Clothing for Everyday Wear’ by Yoshiko Tsukiori

Fabric: Silver Crossweave Irish Linen in icy grey chambray from Merchant and Mills.

I’m finally getting back into a good rhythm with sewing, finding time in the evenings and at weekends to settle down with my sewing machine. As usual I have several projects on the go at once (I like being able to zip between projects (although it does tend to end up with the odd pile up of ideas…)) and am currently working on a pair of plum coloured Guise trousers and a tartan Artemis coat. Besides from a few Inari crop tees and finishing off my dungarees and Lumme pleat skirt, this dress – finished a few weeks ago – is the first thing I’ve made from scratch since getting home from Ballymaloe in July. And I’m so pleased with it!

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I have three of Yoshiko Tsukiori’s pattern books and love them. The photography and styling is lovely and, despite not being hugely into frills and bows (which features in a lot of the styling), I want to make everything. However – despite many evenings spent flicking through the books, planning future makes – I’ve only actually made two smock dress patterns to date.

This particular pattern was top of the to do list and, having traced the pattern out (the faffiest job with these pattern books) ages ago, the actual making of the dress was super simple. Sometimes you just need to make something which involves no fiddly fastenings or zips and no major fitting issues – a simple over the head, pull it on number, made with minimal pattern pieces. This dress fits that bill perfectly.

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It’s exactly my preferred everyday style. There’s a time and a place for super fitted garments but, for me, pottering about in day to day life, my go to clothes tend to be looser fitting, lighter weight pieces – effortless to wear but not scruffy. It’s a fine line I know.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m working at an estate up north at the moment – Autumn has well and truly hit, the trees turning golden and the stags roaring in the hills. It’s all very beautiful. I’m off for a quick walk, then dinner needs prepped – I’m cooking a seasonal plum and marzipan Tarte Tatin for pudding tonight. It’s getting to that time of year when everyone just wants cosy, comforting foods – thick casseroles, flasks of soup and fruity puddings with custard. All the best types of food.

Hope you all have lovely week,
Hannah x

Life After Ballymaloe

This post would more accurately be titled ‘the mad busyness which has been life after Ballymaloe.’ I really didn’t think things through before launching myself back into the real world, becoming some sort of crazed yes lady – ‘shifts in the shop? Sure. A fortnights cooking out west? Yes please. Another 3 weeks in the middle of nowhere? Yes yes yes.’ I feel like I’ve been firing on all cylinders for the past wee while and, as a friend accurately pointed out, I’m not very good at doing nothing; I thrive on busyness. I often wish this wasn’t the case. I fear an inevitable burnout, which generally emerges towards the end of a busy spell, turning me into an emotional, teary wreck. For a short time only, but still. This happened frequently during 3rd and 4th year of University, resulting in messy, semi deranged ‘everything is awful’ bawling.

Anyway, life, if you hadn’t gathered, has been busy. Hence not a lot of sewing is getting done, but on the flip side a lot of cooking is (cooking being my job after all…).

Life post Ballymaloe has seen me return to my private cooking work, cooking for many of my existing clients but also for some new ones. This time of year especially sees a good mix of clients holidaying in Scotland for a variety of reasons, namely fishing, stalking (deer, just to be clear) and shooting. The food they want is varied, making menu planning for each group interesting. A big cooked breakfast everyday is a must – sausages and bacon from the local butcher, eggs – scrambled, poached or fried – black pudding, homemade granola, yoghurt and fresh fruit. Then for lunch maybe a picnic by the river of homemade onion, bacon and blue cheese quiche, cold roast chicken and salad. Or else a filled roll for on the hill, with a flapjack for energy and lots of fruit. Dinner varies from season to season and from group to group – those out on the hill all day want hearty fare; casseroles and soups, big roasts with lots of sides, roulades and tarts for pudding. Others prefer lighter options; salmon with salsa verde, roasted peach and Parma ham salad for starters, little meringues with a raspberry coulis for pudding. It’s always varied, always interesting. I have a stack of cookbooks I carry everywhere with me, the current selection being; Darina Allens ‘Ballymaloe Cookery Course’ (naturally), Claire Ptak’s ‘Violet Bakery Cookbook’ (cinnamon bun recipe to die for in here), Nigel Slater’s ‘A Year of Good Eating’ and Amber Rose’s ‘Love Bake Nourish.’

It’s a good job for now – I enjoy being on the move, but have, of late being feeling restless with it. It can be wearing always working on your own – I miss the buzz and energy that comes from working as part of a team.

And so, booked up until the end of October with cooking work, from November I will be making a few changes (learning to say no and plan ahead better) and settling into more of a balanced rhythm with a new job (which I will talk more about in a future post – it’s still all too new and exciting to write about yet). So still busy, but balanced.

Anyway, that’s more than enough of ramble for now – I’m off to cook dinner.

Hannah x