With Valentine’s Day coming up next week on the 14th February, I thought I would share some ideas with you for an inexpensive night in with your other half.If you want to avoid the crowds in busy restaurants and don’t fancy filling your home with heart-shaped mugs and pink teddy bears, this could be the solution to both your Valentine’s gifts and evening celebration. Read on to find out more and to enter my Valentine’s giveaway to win a fabulous prize bundle from Dartington Crystal and Bolsius candles. I’m talking about an at-home wine tasting. Or beer tasting. Or simply a mocktail evening, if that’s what you fancy. Pop on some music, light some candles and start sipping! The candles create a relaxed atmosphere and will transform your living room or kitchen into a cosy, intimate space for conversation to flow. Spending time together is the nicest thing about Valentine’s Day, so take this opportunity to have a good old catch-up without the distraction of the TV or internet. Of course, this type of evening in would be lovely whatever the occasion, whether it’s a birthday, your wedding anniversary or just a Friday night. Drinks-wise, you could treat yourselves to a bottle of wine, or go for the mini-bottles (like my tiny Prosecco bottle – just the right amount for two!) if you want to cut costs. This will also help to minimise wastage if you can’t drink a whole bottle on a school night..! Continue reading “Valentine’s gifts & an idea for a romantic evening at home” »
Unlike other TV competitions like Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Sewing Bee, which I have followed from the very first episode, I was a bit late to the GBBO party. Yes, I admit it. I only started watching Bake Off three seasons ago. And that’s quite late in the day really. In 2013 I had no idea who Paul Hollywood was, and only had a passing knowledge of the queen of the kitchen Mary Berry. I hadn’t heard of a technical challenge and my only knowledge of the contestants was that one of them once took something out of the fridge. And that’s just because I heard it reported on the radio. I’m ashamed to say that I was not a Bake Off fan. But in summer 2014 that all changed because I went to Blogstock.There I met lots of lovely bloggers and over the course of a (rather giddy, popcorn-filled, coffee-fuelled) weekend, we got to chatting about what projects we were each working on. My new friends told me about #GBBO. No, not the bake off itself, but the Great Blogger Bake Off. It was a weekly challenge to recreate the recipes from the ‘actual’ Bake Off in our own kitchens, and you KNOW how much I love a blog challenge! Having still not watched a single episode, I actually had to tweet my blogging pals to find out what the theme was that particular week so that I could get started. It was biscuit week, and chocolate chip cookies was the first recipe I baked to take part in the Great Blogger Bake Off.
It was so much fun, I loved being part of the Blogger Bake Off community and it was good to have a focus to my recipe articles for the summer. After that first attempt, I simply had to watch GBBO every Wednesday in order to find out what the theme was, and I diligently cooked along with the contestants every single week. I made an apple strudel for European week, I baked a blackberry tart with home-picked blackberries for pastry week, a giant donut for advanced dough week and apple crumble two-ways for pudding week.I even attempted the most famous technical challenge of all; the schichttorte. I completely surprised myself as this recipe turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever made in my kitchen. It probably helped that I was following the instructions to the letter, whereas I usually mess around with recipes to make them my own. Layer by layer my schichttorte took shape, and an hour of careful cooking later I had something that looked almost exactly like the one on the Great British Bake Off. Even though it turns out that I don’t like the flavour of schichttorte (it’s just like pancakes but without the lemon and sugar!) at least I found out that I CAN make it, woo!
If you like buses, trams, motor bikes, old trucks and fire engines (or lawnmowers, for that matter) this is the museum for you. It’s packed full of vintage vehicles and, while it looks unassuming from the outside, it’s like a tardis inside. There are plenty of additional display that lead off from the main bus station hanger, and you can even see inside the workshops where restoration projects are ongoing. But it’s not just an interesting history exhibit – there are plenty of interactive displays too. With opportunities to hop aboard retro buses and trams, it’s simply fascinating for the little ones. Plus, they can even have a go on the fire engine! Here are some snaps from my visit to the transport museum and my tips for making a visit. Parking – While I didn’t spot a dedicated car park, there’s plenty of parking space available beside the industrial road which runs alongside the museum hangar. And there’s no charge to park.
Food and drink – The Sunbeam Tea Rooms offers food and drink at reasonable prices, or you could take a picnic to enjoy on the grassed area outside the front of the museum. We popped in and out of the museum all day long, so readmission is possible.
If you have to go camping, it might as well be in one of these. I hereby admit that I am a bell tent fan. I feel like I’ve been spotting them everywhere I go and it’s only making me covet them more and more. Yes, glamping is certainly a holiday I can get on-board with, if it’s in one of these canvas beauties. I’ve only stayed in a bell tent once, for a couple of nights at Blogstock, (check out my Blogstock pics here) but it was one of the best camping experiences I’ve ever had. The extra height meant that my husband could stand up without any problems, and I didn’t have to crawl in and out of the tent doorway. There was plenty of room for all our stuff (we don’t really travel light, I blame our car with it’s giant boot for that) and it could even fit a double bed in too, so you can imagine how comfortable we were.
And when it rained, our canvas tent remained pleasingly dry. There was no chance of accidentally bumping the canvas and causing moisture seepage like in a traditional tent; the sides were so far away from us! We could simply lie back and watch the rain pitter-patter down outside out tent, feeling super-cosy tucked under a blanket with a carpeted floor beneath our feet.
Just wanted to share a quick blog post today with some of the photos I took at this year’s Latitude Festival. Some of my personal highlights included watching a breath-taking performance by festival novice Jane Horrocks in the Film & Music arena, and sitting in on the Standard Issue Magazine discussion in the Literature tent, where one of my favourite actresses Helen Monks was on the panel.
As you probably know, I only really go to Latitude festival for the comedy, art and theatre performances so it was great to watch some fantastic performers that I’ve never seen live before, including David O’Doherty (who had me screaming with laughter as soon as he started to play his tiny keyboard, and who I later bumped into and snapped a selfie!) and the MC for the comedy tent David Morgan. The Toy Story trilogy acted out by the Comedians Cinema Club was a surprisingly fun way to spend the afternoon.
Last year’s MC Nish Kumar performed again this year, and I chuckled my way through Mark Watson’s lunchtime set. We decided not to watch the standing-room-only performance by Bill Bailey and went to check out Jane Horrocks’ festival debut with the If You Kiss Me Kiss Me Band. Luckily we got there early and ended up with a front row spot as the tent quickly filled to bursting point. I’m certain that Jane’s performance will go down in Latitude history as one of the best festival music sets ever. What a legend. Food was great, the sun was out, I drank lots of milkshakes and brought home the traditional Latitude cup, so all in all it was a good year at the Suffolk-based festival.
If you’re keen to get out and enjoy the sunshine this summer, I’ve come up with a list of days out and fabulous events that you can enjoy in Suffolk. It’s a great county to visit (with plenty of gorgeous places to stay!) and it doesn’t get too busy on the roads during the summer holidays, so it’s great for a day trip too. I’ve put together a list of my favourite things to do and places to visit in Suffolk and hope that you’ll check out some of these ideas when you’re planning your own school holiday adventure.
- Latitude festival
The highlight of my summer is Latitude Festival. It’s held at Henham Park, near the beautiful Suffolk coast and it’s a really family-friendly event. It’s easy to get to (practically on the A12), there’s plenty of parking and camping space, it’s well-organised, the loos are surprisingly good and it offers a diverse range of entertainment. I’m particularly excited about the dance line-up this year (which I wrote about on my blog when it was announced) because Swing Patrol are performing. Of course there’s all the hottest bands, top comedy performers, national theatre productions and the up-and-coming stars to enjoy too. A kids arena, inspirational art, delicious food, and surprise performances in the woods complete this magical festival. I shared my photos from the 2015 event on my blog last year and will be sure to report back this year too! I always leave with a smile on my face so you should check it out too at LatitudeFestival.com, held on 14th-17th July 2016.
2. Southwold Pier
I’ve written about Southwold Pier on my blog in the past, but it really IS worth mentioning again. It’s actually really close to Latitude Festival, so if you’re visiting for that event you could pop along to the pier one morning before the festival kicks off. The food on the pier is great, the automatons in the ‘Under the Sea Show’ have to be seen to be believed and you can even enjoy a cheesy visit to the arcade to feed some 2ps into the machine and pretend you’re on Tipping Point. It’s also possible to hire beach huts on Southwold beach so you can make a day of it and enjoy paddling in the sea and strolling down the promenade too. Check out my guide to the pier with maps and lots of photos!
3. Snape Proms
I’ve booked my tickets and I’m going to the Proms. The Snape Proms that is. If you love music and comedy but don’t want to pay London prices to see orchestras and performers, then the Proms season at Snape Maltings is for you. Tickets for a Proms seat (sitting on a cushion at the front of the concert hall) start at just £6.50 so it’s a very thrifty way to enjoy some very high quality performances. If the performance you wanted to see has already sold out, have no fear – there are 10 tickets available on the morning of every performance so it’s just a case of getting the box office really early and queuing for your ticket. One thing to remember is that you can’t pick up 4 tickets for your whole family, it’s one per person, so if they all want to go they’ll have to come along on the morning and queue with you! Check out the schedule at Aldeburgh Music to find out what’s on during the Snape Proms this August.
4. Beccles Lido
If you remember outdoor swimming pools, then you’ve got to visit Beccles Lido. It’s a huge outdoor pool, with a very deep deep-end and even a good ol’ fashion diving board. There’s a separate shallow pool for the little ones and a VERY fun giant inflatable obstacle course that floats on the water. Imagine Total Wipeout and you’ve got it! The changing huts are painted in bright seaside colours and you can enjoy a poolside snack or drink at the kiosk. With sunloungers surrounding the pool and a location overlooking the riverside you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on a exotic holiday abroad. It’s really underrated, and there isn’t much information on the website, but the whole venture is run by volunteers who get the pool cleaned, maintain the gardens and staff the kiosk all summer long. Oh, and by the way, the obstacle course isn’t just for the kids, I’ve been on it plenty of times and actually completed it once, go me!
5. Framlingham Castle
Framlingham itself is a rather charming town, with country markets on a Tuesday and Saturday in the market square. There’s lots of cute cafes and traditional pubs so it’s a great destination to while away a sunny day. The castle at Framlingham is a pretty impressive sight. It can be viewed across the mere from New Road and it’s the ideal spot to take a picture-postcard snap of the castle. It’s owned by English Heritage so it’s open to visitors and has a small museum and shop inside, and you can enjoy a very long walk around the top of the castle walls. If you’re into countryside views and photography this is the place for you! The castle wall walk isn’t suitable for buggies but the museum is great for teaching the kids about history. During the summer holiday’s the castle hosts special events for children too so have a look at their website to find out what’s on.
I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for places to visit, things to do and events to attend if you’re planning to visit Suffolk this summer. There’s so much for the kids to do and just as much fun for adults too. I really should be working with the tourist board but I assure you I’m not – I just LOVE this county and am so pleased to be able to enjoy all these fantastic locations regularly. I wouldn’t want you to miss out if you’ve never been to Suffolk before so please do check it out!
The excitement is beginning to build and I’m hearing more and more mentions of the festival on social media. It can only mean one thing; it’s almost time for Latitude festival. Yes we’re only a few weeks away from East Anglia’s biggest music, arts and comedy festival and I can’t wait to go. It’s the highlight of my summer and kick-starts the holidays for me. The festival runs from 14th-17th July this year and I’ve been following the line-up announcements with anticipation all year. I blogged about the dance line up as soon as I heard about it, because my lindy hop heroes Swing Patrol are going to be performing this summer. I. Can’t. Wait.
The headline acts were announced earlier this year and includes The Maccabees and Beirut getting the party started on the Friday night, The National and Chvrches on Saturday, and M83, The Lumineers and New Order rounding off the festival on Sunday. If the star-studded line-up wasn’t enough, there are hundreds (and I mean hundreds) more acts to enjoy on numerous stages throughout the festival. Check out the full line up to find out which of your favourite performers will taking to the Obelisk Arena, the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage, the Sunrise Arena, the Lake Stage, the Alcove Stage, Comedy Tent, Literature Tent, Theatre, Film & Music Arena, Waterfront dance stage, Poetry tent, Cabaret venue, the Faraway Forest, the Woods and SO many more!
Now, you may have realised from my 2015 round-up of Latitude Festival that one of the main reasons I go to the festival is to see the comedy. Where else in the world can you see 50 internationally renowned comedians all in one place? I’m perfectly happy to plonk myself down in the Comedy Arena and not move for 8 hours! The only thing that will tempt me out of the comedy tent is if Nick Helm is performing in the Poetry arena. Or I might consider moving if a group of 5 comedians are putting on an improve show in the Literature marquee. Other than that, I tend to stay put until the last comedian has performed, then I go skipping off (with cheeks that ache from smiling so much) to enjoy the music for the rest of the evening.
With the England game about to kick off in the Euros this afternoon (and almost everyone I know bunking off work to watch it!) I knew I couldn’t let today pass me by without at least a mention of the big game. I think this year’s tournament has been the most anticipated and most exciting that I can remember – like Euro’96, only better! And the other good news of the day is that I’ve got a fabulous giveaway from the lovely folk at www.mywraps.com so read on to find out how you can WIN your own set of unique headphones to stealthily enjoy the Euros this summer..!We’re enjoying the Euros so much that we’ve actually got a wall-chart up at home – and that’s something I’ve not done since I was a teenager. It’s fun to fill in the results and keep track of who is going through to the next round, and who has been knocked out. While I’m not that into football for the rest of the year, it feels right to get a little bit excited about our British teams. Even so, during some of the less-exciting games. I’d still rather be baking – so be sure to check out my ‘Come on England!’ strawberry cheesecake recipe to enjoy during the big games!
Don’t get me wrong, I do follow football. I’ve even taken part in fantasy football leagues in the past (a total fluke that I ended up in the top half of the league – I don’t think I substituted any players all season!), but I wouldn’t call myself a fanatic. Apart from my annual visit to the ITFC terraces to cheer on my local team, I can often go from one month to the next without keeping track of any scores. For my husband, however, things are different.
He’s the type of man that knows who scored a goal in the 92nd minute in an Arsenal v Wolverhampton game in 2002, even though he supports neither team. Of course, I would never know if that game even took place, so that’s just a vague example that I made up. But nonetheless, that’s the type of info he would just know about football, so you can see how keen he is on the sport. And you can imagine how sulky he is to be working today and missing the game. What he needs today is a pair of headphones and 90 minutes of staring at a laptop screen. However, I don’t think that’s going to happen, poor fella.I, however, DO get the watch the game. If I get all my work done this morning, I can take this afternoon for myself and pop on the telly. But for all you folk who can’t get away from your computer screens during Euro 2016, I highly recommend getting yourself a pair of MyWraps headphones and plugging them in to enjoy all the action throughout the tournament from your desk. Just check with your boss first, haha! And the good news is that you can enjoy a 10% discount at MyWraps.com with the voucher code “KickEuro10”, and enter my giveaway to try to win a set below.
From the photos I’m sharing today I think you can see why MyWraps headphones are so cool; they double-up as wrist wrap. This means you’ve always got them to hand (excuse the pun) and they won’t be tangled up in the bottom of your handbag when you need them. They’re available in loads of different colours and styles, and look much more like a bracelet than a pair of earphones! I’ve got a pair myself and today I’m giving away a couple more pairs for my wonderful blog readers.The fabulous folk over at MyWraps.com have offered Cassiefairy.com readers the chance to win a pair of Wraps Classics wearable wristband headphones so that you can enjoy all the action from the Euros. There are two prizes up for grabs, so that means two winners too. And don’t forget that you can get 10% off at MyWraps.com during the Euros with the discount code “KickEuro10”. There are plenty of ways to gain entries via the rafflecopter form below so enter today and keep your fingers crossed!
Giveaway open to UK residents only. Competition runs from 16th June 2016 – 26th June 2016. Good luck everyone!
We’re mid-way through the summer term and that means one thing – a sunny half term break with nothing to do! This is one of my favourite holidays of the school year, because it’s warm enough to get outside and enjoy last days of Spring, yet it’s not the over-priced days of the summer holidays when you’re likely to burn to a crisp if you venture out into the midday sun. I’ve shared a few ideas for fun days out on my blog this year so here’s my round-up of things to do during the half term holiday.1. Go to the coast and enjoy some cheesy fun at the great British seaside. Eat ice-cream while sitting in a deck chair, feed 2ps into arcade machines and enjoy fish ‘n’ chips on the pier. Read my review of Southwold Pier and check out my ideas for a day out with the kids at Blackpool too.2. Stay indoors on rainy days at a museum. Check out photos of my recent visit to the National Railway Museum in York and my tips for surviving a visit to the museum during the school holidays! If you’re planning to visit a museum during the holidays I’d recommend checking the website before setting off as they often plan special workshops for children during the school holidays and it can be a free way to get your kids interested in the exhibition. I visited the new ‘Shaping The Body’ exhibit at York Castle Museum and blogged about it at Easter. It’s a really fun exhibition (I loved the Victorian Street!) and they even having a dressing-up area for children.
If you love entertaining and organising parties, but haven’t currently got the budget to spend on a fancy dinner party or big blow out with drinks, decorations and entertainment, then that’s no reason to put your hosting skills on ice. Bank holiday weekends tend to have a party atmosphere (woo an extra night out!) and bring out a fun, cheeky side in everyone so it’s a great time to get your pals together for an impromptu party. There are lots of ways you can put together a fun gathering for your friends without spending much at all, and can be just as much fun as elaborate parties if you have some lively guests and keep everybody mingling. Here are three thrifty ideas for parties you could hold this bank weekend and beyond…
‘Pot Luck’ BBQ
Summer is coming, and this can only mean barbecues. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a bank holiday without someone dragging a BBQ out of the shed and getting all smoky with the sausages. Of course, buying all the food and other provisions for a good barbecue can quickly become expensive, so why not take the American concept of a ‘pot luck’ party? This is where everyone invited has to prepare and bring along a dish, and as it is a barbecue you can also give them the option to simply bring along some meat to cook. This can be a really nice idea if you have some friends who love to show off their cooking skills as they’ll bring something really delicious, but those who are less interested in the kitchen can just turn up with a pack of burgers or chicken for everyone to enjoy.