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Summer breeze

June 7, 2013

Saunton SandsAs a Brit I am genetically programmed to talk about the weather. This makes living in a place where it’s warm, hot or hotter, a little challenging, but believe me, where two or more British people are gathered together it’s 10 to 1 odds that the climatic variations of the day open the conversation. So bear with me when I say that the weather in Dubai this year has been the best I’ve ever remembered. From about mid-October it’s been like a beautiful summer’s day in England (remember those?) every day; we’ve had some rain (always exciting), a freshness in the air, and week after week of balmy days and evenings perfect for sitting out in the garden. All good things come to an end eventually and the rise in temperature always comes as a blow; I scurry out with the dogs at 6am and I’m glad to reach the air-conditioned sanctuary of my house an hour later. My summer planning assumes a focus and urgency when previously it limped along.

English Countryside

Clockwise from top left: Bathtub gin, sunset from my Mum’s garden, real ale in pub garden, decoration at Giffords, finale at Giffords Circus, lavender. Centre: field in Devon

I’m dreaming of walking in the Cotswolds and on Dartmoor. We’re revisiting Switzerland and tickets for the Paleo festival are booked (for music not caveman’s food), another trip to the beautiful vineyards in Lavaux is in my mind and perhaps another jaunt to the Jura. Back in the Gloucestershire, there is the Stroud Farmers’ Market to browse, Hobbs House Bakery in Nailsworth to drop in on and a summer’s evening (or Sunday lunch) at The Horse and Groom at Bourton on the Hill a ‘must-do’. We’ll picnic on the green at Frampton on Severn before going to Giffords Circus.

The start of July takes me to London to Food Blogger Connect and as well as meeting many dear friends, the lure of the street food stalls is strong.

While Dubai supermarket shelves are lined with most ingredients, my first meal on English soil will include Jersey Royal potatoes and English watercress. I’ll be seeking out really good sausages (like the ones made of Gloucester Old Spot grilled in the open air and stuffed hot into a roll at Stroud Farmers’ Market), perusing cheese shops (The Fine Cheese Co in Bath) and relishing British strawberries and raspberries.


Clockwise from top left: pasty eating, boats in Rock, North Devon beach, mussels at No !, North Devon beach, flower in Devon garden Centre: barbecuing on balcony in Exmouth

The Tavistock Real Cheese Fair is at the hub of our South-West foodie plans (read why here and here). Another visit to Riverford is on the cards, I’ll be seeking out the best crab sandwich I can find (the crab hut in Cadgwith remains unbeaten) and KP will continue his search for the perfect pasty. Lunch at the River Cottage Canteen overlooking the estuary in The Royal William Yard in Plymouth is a must, the River Exe cafe is begging to be explored and there’s a voucher for Manna from Devon Cooking School to be redeemed.

Our National Trust membership card will be flexed, for the tea rooms and restaurants which use local produce as much as the stately homes and landscapes. There is nothing nicer than a cream tea with proper clotted cream after a long walk in the countryside. A long term dream is to walk the entire South-West coast path (in stages of course as it is 630 miles long). The stretch between Polzeath and Rock is one I already know well, made more attractive by lunch at No 1 Rock Road.


Clockwise from top left: creeper in Devon garden, cream tea at Cothele, tea shop in Padstow, beach in Devon, Bertinet Bakery in Bath, Severn cider Centre: pies at Stroud farmers market

The vineyards of England and Wales are top of my ‘to drink at’ lists (Sharpham was a joy), with half a pint of locally brewed ale sipped at a country pub close second. Camel Valley and Three Choirs are two places I’d like to explore. On my shopping/tasting list are wines from Portugal including, hopefully, a couple from the top 50 as selected by Julia Harding, and gin (keen to taste Sipsmith, The Botanist and revisit Bathtub).

And of course, there’s the joy of seeing family and friends who we miss so much for most of the year.


Clockwise from top left: Hidcote, pie at Horse and Groom, Wheel Betsy on Dartmoor, Lavaux vineyards, Cotswold Farm Park, Hidcote

So I’ve dragged my bag from the under-the-stairs cupboard and started getting things ready to take with me. For summer in the UK this includes  rain coats, walking boots, thick socks and a fleece. Fingers crossed I’ll need my sun hat too.

What are you looking forward to this summer? Any recommendations for places we should visit (especially in Devon, Cornwall, Gloucestershire or near Geneva)?

Wet weather

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing

All pictures were taken during our summer break in 2012. This lovely site has many ‘to visit’ ideas in UK  – This is Your Kingdom

  1. June 7, 2013 7:04 am

    Just stunning! Both your writing and photography

  2. June 7, 2013 7:39 am

    Exciting! can I be packed in your bag too? Bookmarking for when I get there. This summer I am hopefully doing US tour, however looking out for Slow USA instead of the other regulars and looking forward to Napa tasting tour 🙂 Enjoy and will be looking out to reading your post-vacation posts.

    • June 7, 2013 11:47 am

      Yes of course if I can come in your bag to Napa 🙂

  3. June 7, 2013 10:01 am

    Have a wonderful summer – you seem very well prepared:)

  4. June 7, 2013 10:25 am

    We also talk a lot about the weather here in Switzerland… Lovely clicks and holidays. I’d love to visit Devon.



    • June 7, 2013 11:48 am

      When we were in Switzerland last year everyone was complaining that the summer wasn’t as beautiful as usual!

  5. June 7, 2013 10:37 am

    Loving all of your images but the last one made me laugh! Your plans sound fantastic and have given me ideas for further trips south: we plan with our stomachs too 😉 And I agree about the crab sandwich in Cadgwith – divine. See you at FBC

    • June 7, 2013 11:49 am

      Glad you liked that one. My Mother has been trying to foist that poncho off on us for years – it kept my back pack dry in torrential rain but did make me look like a big yellow hunch back!

  6. glamorous glutton permalink
    June 7, 2013 11:31 am

    You make me want to visit England for a very long holiday and since I already live here perhaps I should start exploring again rather than looking further afield. Daylesford Organics is a must in Gloucestershire, you’d love it. If you’ve got time in London, Brixton market, really growing in the foodie stakes, villagey in the centre of town. GG

    • June 7, 2013 11:52 am

      At the risk of being struck down by hoards of Daylesford fans, I have to admit I didn’t like it at all. Rolls Royces in the car park, menu supposed to be seasonal but where were the lovely vegetables? (mixed leaves) and very over salty. Impossible just to stop for a drink. Expensive. Eeek!

    • June 7, 2013 11:52 am

      But Brixton market sounds like a good detour…

  7. June 7, 2013 1:52 pm

    What a glorious summer, I love your plans. Camel valley sparkling wine so lovely. So many of your Gloucestershire choices are my favourites too, we went to the Horse & Groom a few weeks ago, food still fab & they now have chickens in the garden. Love that you’ve included Hidcote gardens, just across the fields from us.
    If you haven’t already been, Chastleton (near Stow on the Wold) is another NT treasure, not overly restored, fascinating place & the garden/surroundings has a real stepping back in time rural feel. For food in Devon, have you been to the Hive beach café (Devon/Dorset border) great seafood, very relaxed, overlooking very English pebby beach?

  8. June 7, 2013 2:29 pm

    Fantastic pictures & memories & plans for the future! I am a real anglofile & so are my parents!
    I have been to Devon, Dartmoor, The Cotswolds many times & love, love all that you love too! I love your cool pics & they bring back to me so many memories from our Holidays in England, Wales, etc! Lucky you!!! xxxx Lif is good & beautiful, hey?!!

  9. June 7, 2013 3:02 pm

    The weather has defiantly been kind to us this year in the UAE! Enjoy your summer plans 🙂

  10. June 7, 2013 3:05 pm

    I hope you have the most amazing summer weather in the UK this year 🙂

  11. June 7, 2013 10:28 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post, and agree with you that there’s nothing nicer than cream tea after a walk in the country side 🙂 I went to England once, and long very much to return, especially after reading all of these wonderful descriptions. You have quite the summer planned, and it’s so nice to see someone doing so much and experiencing life to the fullest! Thanks for sharing such beautiful pictures and words 🙂

  12. June 8, 2013 12:58 am

    Such beautiful pictures. Have a lovely summer… the way you have planned and also with some unexpected great surprises! I’ve never been to the UK, so all your posts does build up my desire to visit UK!

    This new side bar is looking very nice… I’m probably going to be a bit ‘inspired’ with the Instagram with me part.

  13. June 10, 2013 10:02 am

    Beer in Devon is good – I mean the small fishing town, though Otter Ale is quite quaffable. It a windy drive down to an interesting little place, still focused on the small fishing boats that are winched up onto the steep pebbly beach. There’s a small shack selling fresh seafood on the slipway and a pleasant little pub garden on the small headland above. Not too much of a diversion. Dartmoor mid-summer will be packed but if you’re nearby then Chagford is worth a detour also (also where the small house I inherited is). Great deli, small dairy for good local cheeses, organic shop, tiny pepperpot fruit and veg stall in the town square, a decent restaurant (, great old pub by the church and the most insanely cramped and mazelike hardware store (James Bowden) where you can buy anything from one nail to a new Barnour…

  14. June 10, 2013 11:34 am

    makes me want to crawl out of the German under the stairs closet and join you!
    beautiful and thoughtful post and a great program ahead. enjoy your trip and see you in London soon! xox

  15. June 10, 2013 2:52 pm

    Oh I know what you mean about talking about the weather, now that I’m here in Singapore! I was even thankful for the rain in London a couple of weeks back. Enjoy your trip!! 🙂

  16. June 12, 2013 1:41 am

    I agree with Dima – I want to come along in your suitcase! Hope we get to catch up x

  17. MissMangue permalink
    June 16, 2013 8:14 pm

    I just love your blog. Thank you for sharing your recipe with me

  18. June 18, 2013 1:04 pm

    The perfect temperature for everyone is hard to find. I think as soon as you find it there is a little of the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome and you crave for something a bit different. As soon as it gets warm here people moan and want it to cool down. We are chasing our perfect climate this year by heading to Tenerife (The Island of Eternal Spring) as our ideal temperature is a late Spring day – about 22 degrees.

    I can just imagine the anticipation and excitement for you planning all the places you are going to visit on your UK visit this year.

    • June 18, 2013 1:28 pm

      We’ve been lucky to have that temperature for many months now so I can’t complain. Have a wonderful time in Tenerife – I visited on a girls holiday many moons ago – but really saw very little of the island.

  19. June 18, 2013 10:23 pm

    Thanks for the like. Your summer plans sound so idyllic! Don’t know much about the South West but if you’re looking for gins to try then Sacred gin (made in Highgate) is worth a go!

  20. June 27, 2013 2:31 pm

    Have a wonderful trip! I love that you take us on your annual trip home with you – I’m already a bit excited about the cheeses you’ll be trying (having just read your cheese post!).. 🙂

  21. June 28, 2013 11:23 pm

    Home again! Wonderful plans – and the weather talk? Par for the course. I’m back again in the Netherlands after 2 years, and since we moved ‘home’. I totally feel you….have a great time Sally!

  22. June 28, 2013 11:24 pm

    Love your May food diary too!

  23. July 19, 2013 6:36 pm

    What a gllorious summer to look forward to 🙂 I must say, the novelty of having a REAL SUMMER this year in England has not yet worn off. Yes, the Tubes are hellish and sleeping at night is interesting to say the least, in houses resigned to retained every degree of Celsius that they can. But after the ghastly winter we’ve had – we deserve it!

    • July 20, 2013 1:33 pm

      You certainly do – and I’m loving every moment of it. Glorious.


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