Some things we learned from living in a tent for 5 weeks

bell tent living

Hannah here: “Are you mad?” was the response we got when we told our friends and family that we were planning on camping for 5 weeks with our toddler. Chuck into the mix unexpectedly having to move house at the last minute and the answer to that question was almost a frightening affirmative. 

But it worked. And it shocked and humbled us in more ways than one. 

Some things we learned:

bell tent living

1) Kids don’t need toys.

Given some dirt, rocks or sand, and left to her own devices, Frankie played happily for hours. I just started reading Simplicity Parenting following a recommendation from Davina so this whole less-is-more philosophy is making a whole lotta sense to me at the mo.  It can be difficult to not get swept up in toy mania, back in ‘real life’ though. (Currently having a major new house purge so wish me luck!)

2) Reading is ace.

Being stripped of the telly for 5 weeks was completely amazing. We hardly watch it anyway (we’ve been cutting down on it every year as part of our NY resolutions.) But we slipped into replacing evenings in front of the telly with evenings in front of our computers, working. Productive, yes, but relaxing, nope. To have night after night of sitting in front of the fire wrapped in blankets, in comfortable silence with my mister, reading until our eyes blurred; was blissful. And restoring. And relaxing. My previously book-avoiding husband has become a complete bibliophile (and consequently 100x sexier. ResULT.)

bell tent living

3) Campfire cooking is DA BOMB.

Eagerly awaiting foil ensconced sweet potatoes sizzling away on the coals, and slow cooked tomato and chorizo sauce, was one of the holidays most delicious memories. I love the wood-smoke flavour that permeates everything cooked on the fire. 

4) Kids thrive in the extended company of their parents.

Frankie’s language leapt forwards, her story telling became more complex and imaginative and she faced quite a few of her fears with aplomb. For example, she normally has an obsession/totally terrified thing going on with horses but she rode on one, loved it, and tells anyone within ear shot that she did so. She figured out forward rolls, became ever bolder with introducing herself to the kids she met (language is no barrier to the kids) and we witnessed her taking ever more daring climbs. The realisation that it was time with us that spurred those changes on is kind of sobering. 

bell tent living
untitled-9703.jpg

5) The importance of Fatherhood.

Dave and Frankie’s time together was particularly special. He is normally around quite a bit, but it is rather ad hoc, depending on what freelance jobs he has on at the time. But after this trip he is going to be with her more formally for one day a week. Awesome!

6) A break from vanity is GOOD.

My wardrobe was extremely limited (although grew slightly with purchases as we travelled) but I found I just didn’t really care what I wore. I didn’t have a mirror and became accustomed to not looking in one when getting ready in the morning. Refreshing. Freeing. I started a no shampoo (or “no poo")  thing whilst I was out there too (i’m so pleased with the results- much thicker, less greasy hair) and ended up with greasy hair in a head scarf most days. And didn’t care. 

Bell tent life with a toddler
bell tent living

7) Simple living with very few ‘things’  and in a very small space, can be very satisfying.

Other than a bit of washing up and some clothes washing every now and then, there was no ‘housework’ to speak of. It was actually rather lovely to be close together for all that time. This experience of super-small-space living helped us to decide to move to a much smaller house which will require us to chuck out a whole lot of stuff. I’m excited at the prospect of simpler living and hope I can be brave enough to see it through properly!

8) Down with “man jobs”.

Although Dave is most definitely stronger than me, I am more than capable of dragging the heavy tent bag, doing my share in putting it up, lugging suitcases, looking for logs, chopping them, building fires, taking heavy bin bags to the rubbish spot, navigating foreign roads and other,  some might say typically “man”, jobs. And I knew all that but it was good to enact it more intentionally.

bell tent living
bell tent living

9) Fires are awesome.

I know, we’re talking about the fire again . But i’m convinced that if everyone had an open fire in their sitting rooms then we’d all watch less telly (and have lower heating bills). There is something so mesmerising about watching the flames flash and lick and slowly consume logs. Our new house also has an open fire and again, having absolutely loved being in front of the fire almost every night, the fact that the new house has a fire cinched the deal. 

10) That sometimes, being together in labour is good for a marriage

e.g. navigating strange roads together, collecting and chopping wood and erecting our tent. But sometimes doing those things together made us want to scratch each others eye balls out. We also learned that the amount of sleep we’ve had directly affects that heady pendulum of marital sanity.

bell tent living

In other news we are now in our new house! But we have downsized massively so are utterly drowning in boxes. I'll be selling and giving away tons and tons of stuff in the next few weeks, so watch this space if you fancy some vintage bargains. 

Happy Thursday! 

October Bake: Easy to Make Spicy Apple Muffins

Davina here - Before the apple season is over I had to share this recipe again (I shared it once on The Making Home). These apple muffins are the best ones I have ever baked and even friends who don't normally like 'fruit' muffins love them. I found the recipe on the baking website Bakingmad.com. The granulated sugar gives them a really nice crumble style crunch - don't forget to sprinkle them with some before you bake them. The recipe quoted it would make 10 large muffins but I made 15 large muffins so bare that in mind if you decide to try the recipe out. Also the sugar quantity is quite high so I used about two thirds/ four fifths so consider this too. 

Ingredients

  • 250g Unrefined golden granulated sugar
  • 150g Butter (unsalted)diced, softened
  • 3 Apples finely chopped
  • 400g Self-raising white flour
  • 2tsp Baking powder
  • Salt
  • 2 Eggs (free range) beaten
  • 100ml  Milk (whole)
  • 100ml Sunflower oil
  • 1tbsp Unrefined golden granulated sugar for sprinkling
  • 1tsp Cinnamon for sprinkling

 

Instructions: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c (170c fan - gas mark 4). Line the muffin tin with muffin papers or grease and flour each hole.
  2. Take a tablespoon each of sugar and butter and melt over medium heat in a small pan. Add the apples and stir over for 2 minutes until slightly soft. Remove from heat.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Rub in the remaining butter.
  4. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs, milk and oil. Stir all together until blended. Stir in apple. 
  5. Spoon the mix into the muffin tin and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days. 

I hope you like the recipe and if you have any delicious apple recipes please do share. I can't do any baking right now since we are in the middle of a kitchen renovation - I am so missing baking!

About Us / Follow & Subscribe to our Newsletter / Press / Events Contact

A Beautiful, Traditional Danish Farmhouse on the Island of Mon.

untitled-0032.jpg

Hannah here - with the next instalment of our trip posts: Møn is a beautiful chalk cliff encircled peninsula jutting out into the Baltic sea on the south east coast of Denmark. The island is spliced by horse trails and covered in dense forest that reaches all the way to the edges of the white cliffs that plunge into the small rocky beaches and the sea beyond. Here we first felt the tug of our heart strings about this amazing, wild country, a feeling that would be reciprocated at many points in the remainder of the trip.

We stayed on a wonderful, amazingly well equipped, site called Camping Møns Klint which has its own large tent field (thumbs up) and borders a forest (double thumbs up- fire wood!) The weather for this part of our trip was rather wild, shall we say, but we did manage a couple of memorable walks. On one morning, we walked from the campsite down country lanes and through cow fields (shudder) and traversed hundreds of wooden steps to get down to the rocky beach. We drank a tin cup of wine (because why not) as we watched a huge storm blow in from the sea, then beat a hasty retreat up the steps. We didn’t make it back to the tent in time before we got drenched, but it was sort of exhilarating, trudging through fields in the storm, taking turns wrapping Frankie in our coats and laughing wildly at our soggy locks and squelching boots. On another afternoon we walked along the tips of the cliffs, goggling at the epic scenery and trying our best not to be blown off the cliffs. 

A friend of Dave’s who’s family live in the area arranged for us to meet her parents in their traditional Danish farm house. The weather was still turbulent, but indoors the heat from the blazing log burner flushed our faces, and two shaggy dogs bounded to meet us. Allette had baked muffins and made fresh tea, and so we sheltered in the warmth of their wonderful farmhouse until it was probably too rude to stay any longer. 

Oh Møn, Island of storms and beaches and forest and farmhouses, we loved you so. 

Some pics. 

Mon, Denmark
A beautiful, traditional Danish farmhouse on the beautiful island of Mon.
Traditional farmhouse in Mon, Denmark
untitled-9933.jpg
Traditional Danish farmhouse, Mon
Traditional Danish farmhouse, Mon
Mon, Denmark
Mon, Denmark
untitled-0034.jpg
untitled-0027.jpg
Mon, Denmark
untitled-0056.jpg
Mon, Denmark
photo 1.JPG
Camping in Mon, Denmark

2 Easy Halloween Bakes for Kids to Enjoy

Bat Biscuit Game:

Davina here - I posted this last year but wanted to share it again on the new blog as its one of my favourite annual bake traditions. Elfie and I love baking together and so a couple of years ago I tried to think of things we could bake together for halloween. As a child I loved the party ring biscuit game (where you hang ring biscuits on string and children try to eat them off without using their hands). I thought it would be fun to play on halloween but with halloween biscuits instead. Bats seemed the best idea as they fly and therefore it would make more sense to have them hanging in the air - as if flying. We just used a simple shortbread recipe as quick and easy and everyone loves shortbread! 

Black Cat Cookie Halloween Goodie Bags

Elfie is a bit young for sweets  - we do allow her to have a little treat most days (like good quality chocolate or biscuits etc) but no sweets so I don't like the idea of buying lots of sweets to give to trick or treaters on Halloween so instead last year we made lots of chocolate cookies to give out. We made them chocolate so they would be darker and look more black cat like. I also made a rubber stamp the same shape as the cookie cutter and Elfie stamped it onto paper bags to put the cookies in. Here is my tutorial to make your own rubber stamp incase you decide to do the same. 

What are your plans for Halloween? I normally host a party but this year we are in the middle of a kitchen renovation so no party here. We'd love to hear any ideas for things you are making for Halloween. 

About Us / Follow & Subscribe to our Newsletter / Press / Events Contact

A Truly Delicious Meal Out at Lyles' Restaurant with a Romantic Surprise

Davina here - Last weekend Nick's parents had Elfie for a night to give us a rest before baby number 2 arrives and they also gave us some money to go out for a meal as a gift for Nick's birthday so we took full advantage! Nick really enjoys researching good interesting new places to eat and booked us a table at Lyles's Restaurant in Shoreditch, which serves contemporary british food. It was perfect location for us as we can get to Shoreditch High Street station in under 20 minutes on the Overground train from Brockley. 

To be honest I hadn't given the meal much thought as we have been so busy prepping the house for building work on our kitchen and bathroom that started this Monday but I must say Nick had and was very excited. I gave myself my usual 10 minutes to get ready, which normally involves changing clothes and whacking some lipstick and clogs on and left the house with no expectations at all. However, when we arrived at Lyle's Restaurant I got excited straight away and had a good feeling immediately about the place.

The restaurant is super close to Shoredicth High Street Station being located in the Tea Building. The decor is minimal but elegant and there is a very generous amount of space between tables, which makes it intimate and not too noisy! (one of my pet hates about eating out in East London).

The evening menu is a set 5 small course seasonal menu, which Nick and I both love as there is an element of surprise (the menu changes every day) and of course it makes your life easy when you don't have to choose. Also it makes the meal more fun as you can share your impressions of the food together. It costs £39 for the set menu, which for a Saturday night and five courses seemed quite reasonable to me. The wine menu is also well priced with glasses of wine starting at £3.50 (in Shoreditch!!!!). 

But of course what really matters is the food. And let me tell you it was delicious - beyond delicious - it was exceptional. The ingredients were simple and few but the flavours complimented each other perfectly - as if almost meant to be together! There was a lot of play with sweet and salt, which I always love and everything was so well cooked and tender.  

Here are some pictures of what we ate:

Scallops on a bed of sea salt

Scallops on a bed of sea salt

Duck with honey roasted sweet corn

Duck with honey roasted sweet corn

Lamb and pumpkin 

Lamb and pumpkin 

Plum and homemade vanilla ice cream with crumbs 

Plum and homemade vanilla ice cream with crumbs 

And the Romantic Bit...

Nick and I have been struggling to choose a name for baby number 2 for months now - literary 8 months! I have one name that I have always loved and it was on my list from day one but Nick didn't seem that keen and I didn't really like any of the names he was suggesting - I just didn't connect with them. Anyway during the meal I went to the toilet and came back and on my plate there was a beautiful acrylic (mirror effect) name necklace with the name that I have loved from day one. I was so surprised and overwhelmed by the gesture that I did shed a little tear (sucker). I was and am so happy that Nick does like the name and wants to go for it but even more happy that he still makes romantic gestures after 11 years of being together. Thank you Mr Marsh for your endless wooing and thank you Jeni for making the necklace and keeping it a secret (although you did almost give it almost now I think about it!)

Have you been out for any amazing meals lately? if so please do share and also I'd love to hear about how you and your partner decided on names for your children - it is such a big decision. 

About Us / Follow & Subscribe to our Newsletter / Press / Events Contact