Almond and Mixed Seed Granola Recipe

This granola is the base for almost every breakfast I eat during the week throughout the year (weekend breakfasts are usually a more indulgent affair!). Of course in the winter I love porridge, but in-between getting ready for work, feeding the pets and then preparing my own breakfast, time is limited and I refuse to make porridge in the microwave (nothing compares to the slow and methodical stirring on a stove top). If you like granola as much as I do, but you are growing tired of shop bought varieties, try making this quick and easy recipe and I am certain you will never buy another from the supermarket again! 
This is a very customisable base recipe that can be easily modified according to taste and seasons. This is the typical one that I eat during the spring and summer to let the fresh berries shine. In the autumn and winter I often add cinnamon, ginger, dried apple, cranberries, vanilla extract and swap the almonds for pecans, honey for maple syrup etc. Feel free to swap or add anything, just add dried fruit once the tray has been removed from the oven, otherwise they tend to become bitter and puffy from the heat. 
Almond and Mixed Seed Granola 
Recipe yields approximately 560g/6 Cups 
200g/2 cups Jumbo rolled oats
100g/1 cup Flaked Almonds
150g/1 cup Mixed Seeds (I like a mixture of Sunflower, Pumpkin, Linseed and Sesame)
50ml/1/4 cup Vegetable Oil 
85ml/1/4 cup Runny Honey 

Preheat oven to:
Conventional oven - Preheat to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 
Fan oven - Preheat to 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 3
Line baking sheet/sheet pan with Silpat or baking parchment

· In a large bowl whisk together the oil and honey until combined
· Add the oats, seeds and nuts and mix until all ingredients are thoroughly coated and combined
· Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet 
· Bake for 22-25 minutes until lightly golden, stirring halfway through to ensure even baking
· Store granola in an airtight container to remain crisp and crunchy for weeks 

My favourite weekday breakfast is to serve the granola with plain Greek yogurt and fresh summer berries. 

Summer Evening on the Riverbank

Summer has been on a temporary (I sincerely hope!) break these past few weeks. The weather has been temperamental and has had me yearning for some more sunshine before Autumn makes an appearance. This seemed to coincide with Nathan being ever so busy with work and not having an evening off for a while. 
Last week the stars aligned bringing sunshine and an evening to spend with my love. We seized the moment and headed to one of our favourite spots for supper on the riverbank.
It was beautifully warm with golden light and a gentle breeze.
Our tummies were rumbling, so it was time to sit back and relax with some splendid wine and homemade locally sourced food from The Boat House 
and hers!
I am definitely going to recreate this divine brownie with a passion fruit and chocolate ganache.

Our perfect evening isn't complete without darling Poppy!
 There is something so peaceful about looking up and watching the leaves ripple in the wind.

It was a blissful evening filled with simple pleasures and the best company I could wish for. Here is to having lots of fun in the summer sun! 

Beach days are the best days

We live in the New Forest on the south coast of England and we are blessed to be surrounded by the forest, farmland and the sea. We are extremely lucky to have such a picturesque landscape at our disposal, yet we find that we don’t spend much time in the forest. 
I spent some of my formative years playing in the forest amongst the cool and shady trees hunting for pine cones and slow worms. Even though I have fond memories of the the fun I had, the forest just doesn't have the same charm and appeal as our other neighbouring landscapes. 
We have bucolic farmland directly behind our house and we couldn’t imagine waking up to anything else. It is a privilege to see it transform throughout the year and guess what the new summer crop might be (this year it is beautiful golden wheat). 
However, it is the coast that we are completely and utterly besotted with. It puts a spell on us like nothing else. We are lucky enough to live just half a mile away from the beach (albeit a shingle one with a minuscule amount of sand), and we like to spend almost every moment we have there and at the beaches (much less shingle and lots more sand!) of our neighbouring villages and towns. 
Whenever we have a day off together we will always find ourselves drawn to the coast and last week was no exception. 
As usual we went to our favourite beach side bistro for lunch. 
Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on this popular stretch of beach in the summer months. So after the delicious luncheon we headed a few miles east to Hengistbury Head, which is dog friendly all year round. 

This little love bug also happens to be completely and utterly smitten with the beach,
and the oyster shells! 

It was a happy day enjoying life’s simple pleasures with my loves, and nothing could be better than that! 

Exbury Gardens

During our week off we spent a day at the beautiful Exbury Gardens. It was our first time visiting, despite it only being a few miles from home. Sometimes it is all too easy to forget about these local treasures and we thought was about time we remedied this. They are also dog friendly, so it was the perfect destination for a relaxing day out

The first dose of loveliness was from the nursery, which was crammed full of peonies, so my heart was all a flutter! 
Especially when we found the one and only remaining Sarah Bernhardt peony which is the same variety that was used for my wedding bouquet. Needless to say, we snapped it up immediately! 
Poppy getting to know her namesake 
The grand house transported me to Agatha Christie's novels. Can't you just imagine a party gone awry and the inimitable Miss. Marple or Hercule Poirot finding out all of the secrets and lies?! 
Our intrepid adventurer taking a peek at the little waterfall

I found this Wisteria Alba completely and utterly enchanting. The fragrance was divine and the unusual white flowers were so delicate and pretty 

Exbury are famous for their vast collection of Rhododendrons and this was one of my favourites 

Walking downhill through a woodland brought us to this stunning view of Beaulieu river
The gardens also have the most adorable miniature steam railway 
I have always wanted to be a passenger on a steam train, and even though it wasn't quite the luxurious steam travel I wanderlust after, it was very good fun! 

Poppy raring to go

Then we were on our way back to the sweetest train station, ready to pick up our Peony from the nursery
We had such a lovely day walking around the gardens admiring the beauty and then the adorable miniature steam train was the icing on the cake! We will definitely visit again, perhaps in the autumn for those vibrant colours or in spring for the bluebells!