Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben - Book Review by Bex

It's been months since I read a book!  Life's been so hectic lately I just haven't had the time or inclination to sit down to read but when I saw a new book by Harlan Coben (one of my favourite authors) come up on NetGalley, I decided I had to make time for Don't Let Go and was immediately sucked in as is usual with Harlan's books! 


There are twists and turns, tension and likeable characters which just made me want to keep reading. The kind of book that makes you want to go to bed early to read! I was constantly trying to think of conspiracies and work out who did what, I was suspicious of various characters, it's a great fast-paced read.
  It's out in Hardback and on Kindle on 26th September.


The floodgates have opened and I'm loving reading again so watch out for some more book reviews coming up, Amy has a few recommendations for you next week too!  AND, even more exciting news, she's sharing her kitchen transformation tomorrow!!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Rainbow Dress from Honest Miracle - Toddler Fashion

I absolutely adore Priya's new rainbow dress!  You may have already seen me raving about it on Instagram, it's from Honest Miracle, an ethical family company with organic and environmentally friendly products.  The long-sleeved rainbow dress is made from 100% organic cotton which is lovely and soft and just £14.97, we love the bright colours.  If you like it as much as we do, the lovely Kim has given Olive Dragonfly readers a discount code for 20% off so keep reading...


Friday, 18 August 2017

Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival - review

Sadly due to continued high winds, we didn't actually see any hot air balloons at the Air Balloon Festival on the Sunday but there was still plenty of entertainment.  They had a fun fair and a few stalls, pony rides, dog show, live music, a Harvey's bar with their beautiful and ever popular Dray horses and The Brighton Kite Flyers were there displaying some of their epic kites (at least they were glad of the wind).


Wakehurst's Kew Science Festival - day two review

I already wrote about our first impressions of Kew Science Festival at Wakehurst but we also went back the following day for more educational fun.


On the Sunday, Kalyan's first thought was for the duck in the puddle we'd seen on our way out the day before.  He was so excited to see it and luckily the same duck was in the same puddle again!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Ringmer Steam & Country Show - review

A couple of weeks ago we planned to go to Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival but we'd heard due to high winds the balloons probably wouldn't be flying so we decided to check out the Ringmer Steam & Country Show instead.  We thought Kalyan would enjoy seeing all the steam engines and tractors and we weren't wrong!  There were loads of engines to see and the kids loved watching them all moving and chugging, especially the big steam rollers driving around every so often.  Kalyan found a row of tractors and made sure to touch every one and the vintage big red bus was super exciting, they ran right across the field for that one!


Beachy Head

After Eastbourne's Hot Air Balloon Festival a couple of weeks ago, we decided to try a local place for a Sunday Roast.  A friend recommended The Ship Inn in Meads and our review will be featuring soon as the first in my Sunday Lunch review series.  When we got to Meads we noticed signs for Beachy Head very close by so after lunch we drove up there for a walk.



Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Thai Terre Uckfield - review

Uckfield is buzzing with news of a Thai restaurant opening in the High Street.  Thai Terre already has a restaurant in Eastbourne but we heard they were coming to Uckfield in the recently closed down Pepper Dining.  People have been waiting for weeks for news of its opening and we were excited at the thought of more variety in Uckfield's food scene too.  Tonight was opening night and we booked a table, it was perfect timing since the twins are enjoying a rare sleepover at their grandparents!

As soon as we arrived at 7:45pm, we noticed the place was busy but there were still tables free.  We went along with open minds, expecting there may be a few teething problems on the first night and we may have a wait for food so we were relieved it wasn't completely full and hoped all would go well.  It did, we loved the food and the staff were very friendly.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Firle Vintage Fair - Review

We went along to explore Firle Vintage Fair at Firle Place today.  It was a flying visit as we're now in London for a family get together but we had a great time and I wanted to share a few photos this evening in case anyone is thinking about whether to go along tomorrow.

The venue is stunning with the big manor house and epic grounds providing the backdrop to so many stands selling beautiful and varied vintage or vintage style goods.


Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare review - Adventures with Toddlers

On Thursday we met up with friends for a play date at Raystede near Halland.  If you don't know it, Raystede is an animal rescue centre with animals ranging from bunnies to horses and it's a lovely place to visit with the kids.  Entry is free but you can make a donation or become a sponsor to give continued help to one specific animal section if you wish or become a Friend of Raystede for just £3/month and as well as helping the animals you also get perks like Friends Only events and discounts.  It's good to have some free activities available in the holidays as it all adds up with various trips out but even if you can't afford to make a big donation, I'm sure everything helps and if you visit the cafe, you're also helping to support the centre.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Toothy Tips - Brushing Toddlers' Teeth

One of the requests thrown in by a reader in my feedback survey was regarding teeth.  This astute reader who remained anonymous had picked up on my occasional alludings to my profession and commented "Would love a feature on children and teeth - tips, funny stuff, how to tell you're at a good dentist (my experience has been dreadful with my little one), what you should do, products to use - I think you work in dentistry?! ??"


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Survey results - a personal post ;)

Thank you SO much to everyone who's taken my survey so far!  I wasn't sure how many people would actually take the time to do it but I have found it so interesting and definitely helpful, I'm so grateful.  (It's still open so if you fancy adding your tuppence worth, here's the link!)

The information I've received so far has been along the lines I expected but there have been some surprising and lovely comments.  There's only been one slight negative so far and that was something I had expected might be an issue anyway (hence including it in the ticky boxes to make it easy for people to confirm any thoughts), the fact I use too many photos and some posts are too long as a result.  Something I've been trying to work on as I'm my own worst editor!  Clare has helped me with that along with my general photography skills which I've also been working on recently over at Bexphoto.  I'm hoping it will make the blog look even better too as I think I am taking better photos now and thinking more about what I choose to include.  Downloading BlogStomp has certainly helped in being more strict on which photos to use and presenting them better but I will continue to try being stricter and keep more photos for albums on the Olive Dragonfly Facebook Page instead.  So if you are a fan of lots of photos, I suggest liking the page ;)

Before and after coffee faces (it was hot milk not coffee don't worry!)

My Sunday Photo

A super quick Sunday Photo link-up with Photalife today as I'm busy analysing the responses to my survey (please take it here) but I wanted to share a few of my favourite photos of Granny & Grampy's recent visit.  I'll be sharing the full photo sessions soon over on my currently neglected Bexphoto blog.






Photalife

Saturday, 5 August 2017

England's Medieval Festival Winner Announced!

I'm delighted to announce the winner of our giveaway with England's Medieval Festival!  It's less than 3 weeks now until the festival and I can't wait!  So who will also be going along to join in?

Entry no.96, Amy M from Brighton!  Congratulations!!

England's Medieval Festival ticket giveaway with Olive Dragonfly Blog

Please get in touch with Sarah at England's Medieval Festival to claim your family day ticket and I hope you have a fantastic day out!

If you missed out, you can still get discounted advance tickets via the England's Medieval Festival website.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Feedback Survey

You may have noticed I've been back to blogging more regularly lately and I'm working on improving the blog.  I've been wondering about lots of things and have a few ideas for features and further ways to improve the blog overall.  It would be massively helpful if you could please fill in this short survey I've made, I'm hoping it will give me a bit of insight into what people like about Olive Dragonfly and how you came to be readers.

I love this blog, being able to write about everything I love, share my photos and connect with people.  I hope it inspires you, be it through using my recipes, visiting somewhere I've recommended or just enjoying my photos.  Blogging has led to me making friends, trying new experiences and some wonderful opportunities along the way and I've made a few tweaks here and there as I learn more.  I'm hoping to keep tweaking and working on it to make it even better, hopefully with your help!

Image Source - Amy Tangerine's gorgeous watercolour quote, via Pinterest

So tell me, what do/don't you like, what would you like to see more/less of...?  There are just 10 simple questions, mostly multiple choice and you can remain anonymous so please be honest.  I'd love to know what you think.

Click here to take the survey.

THANK YOU!

It's come a long way already...


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Sneak Peek of Into Mills - Home Wares

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking photos and helping to style products for a new website launching soon.  Sally Ashen runs a home wares business, INto Mills, from her home in Lewes and after we met at Joy Festival in June, she asked me to take some photos of her beautiful products.


Sally has such great taste and this is one kind of photography I wanted to gain more experience in so I gladly accepted.  As well as the benefits of gaining experience and building a more commercial style portfolio, Sally also agreed to a collaboration on the blog too so we will be running a little giveaway promotion when she is ready to launch her new website so watch this space!


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Bear & Boo Photography - Family Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago we had a family photo shoot with Bear & Boo Photography, the new family photography business of wedding photographer Eliza Claire.  Eliza asked for families via Instagram to help build her portfolio so we of course volunteered and were lucky enough to be selected as one of the first entries (thanks for the heads up Lucy Stendall)!

We had a fun morning with Eliza down at Rottingdean, we had intended to investigate the rock pools that Laura had recommended to me ages ago but we'd never managed to get a weekend with the right tide times.  This weekend had seemed like a good bet with the time we were due to meet being close to the tide being out but it turned out not close enough with the tide already being much further in than I anticipated!

Love this one of us in front of the white cliffs with the vast blue sky.

Monday, 31 July 2017

CAU - Buenos Heroes menu - review by Bex

We were invited along to try out the new menu at CAU in Tunbridge Wells while they're running their #BuenosHeroes promotion which offers diners the chance to win the trip of a lifetime to Buenos Aires.  (See below for more details about the promotion.)


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Outside The Box Clothes Winners & Discount Code

Thank you so much to everyone who entered our competition to win one of Holly's awesome unisex items of clothing.  We had 70 entries and I'm very pleased to announce our winners below!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Anything Goes Sale in aid of Our Gambia Project

I had the pleasure of meeting Tanya recently in the lovely Chapter Three shop in town and she told me all about her project to help raise £12,000 to buy land and build a pre-school in Gambia.  She's clearly very passionate about it and is holding an "Anything Goes" sale at the Cinque Ports in Uckfield today (Saturday 29th July) from 11am - 3pm.


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Fruit Picking at Oast Farm Buxted - review by Bex

You all know how much we love Oast Farm, it's so handy for us and the ladies who run it are just lovely, it feels like visiting friends when we head down there.  I've been meaning to have a go at fruit picking with the twins and have finally managed it!

I recently discovered a fellow local blogger from Uckfield and we arranged to meet up at Oast Farm for a coffee and have a go at PYO while we were there.  Zoe from Juggling on Rollerskates is also a Mum who blogs about her adventures with her kids, one of whom is just a few months younger than Kalyan & Priya.  We all had a great time playing at the cafe followed by some breakfast and then went off to explore the farm and pick some raspberries.


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Kew Science Festival at Wakehurst - review by Bex

We were invited along to Wakehurst this weekend to check out the Kew Science Festival in the gardens this weekend and I wanted to get a post up on the blog tonight to show you all how much is going on, we'd definitely recommend it if you're at a loose end tomorrow!  Although it's aimed at older kids, there's still plenty for toddlers to do and keep entertained.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Outside The Box Clothes - review & GIVEAWAY by Bex

To celebrate my first column for Uckfield News today and with the launch of OTB Clothes' unisex shorts, I'm delighted to be running a giveaway with Outside The Box Clothes!  Priya was wearing her dress at the Uckfield Festival Big Day and we went back to Luxford park for a photo shoot to show off the clothes against the slightly roughened bright colours of the play equipment so you may have noticed it in my column today and now you have a chance to win one for your child!


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Brighton Kite Festival - review by Bex


We went along to the Brighton Kite Festival for the first time this year and loved it!  It was definitely the highlight of Kalyan's year - he adores all flying things and was yelling constantly about the "flags" - "Look!"  "Look!"  He didn't have enough arms to point in all directions, it was so funny!  We actually had a great time too, helped by the fact it was a gorgeous day.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Uckfield Festival 2017

We went along to Luxford Field for the Big Day of Uckfield Festival (the first proper big day of the week long festival) to check out all of the stalls and entertainment.  It was basically like a giant village fete with lots of local businesses and charities all in attendance with activities, stalls and games to play as well as a stage area for local dance troops to show us their moves and bands to play music throughout the day.  

The kids looked a bit bored on the Teacups after being super excited to go on!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Lemon & Lime Cake with Lemon Buttercream - recipe by Bex

I've made a version of this cake a few times now and it's always a winner!  It's light, moist and super tasty - sort of a cross between a lemon drizzle and a normal sponge cake with buttercream (I use my own buttercream recipe which isn't too sweet).  The original version includes lemon curd which I'm not a fan of but if you want it to be sweeter and even more lemony then by all means add a layer between the slices and mix some in to the icing.  I added the lime when I ran out of lemons and it worked well so here's my version of this delicious cake.


Cafe Rust, Brighton - review by Bex

Last week I took the twins to Brighton to visit Laura and her daughter, Arla.  We went to a soft play first so the toddlers could burn off a bit of energy before we decided it was time for lunch.  The original cafe Laura had planned to take us too was already full so we went to Cafe Rust on Preston Road which she'd planned on trying and we're so glad we did!  It was absolutely gorgeous!  As soon as we walked in and saw the door at the back opening out onto a garden we headed straight through and walked out into a beautiful little walled garden full of flowers and blue chairs and wheelbarrows.  It was lovely!


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Freddie's Flowers - review by Bex

While at Foodie's Festival I was taking photos of the Freddie's Flower's bicycle with the beautiful rose lilies in the basket and got talking to Kieran.  I had thought about signing up to regular flower deliveries before but had thought when I looked at the website, that you had to get a delivery every week and at £22 a pop that adds up pretty quickly!  Not having £88 to spare a month, I left it but I've since discovered that you can choose entirely how often you receive your flowers.  You can set it to fortnightly deliveries and even then can edit so you only get them once a month if you prefer and you can un-tick all deliveries for the next 6 weeks if you'll be away for a while too.


They're supposed to last well and £22 a month is much more manageable so I signed up.  I love having flowers in the house although I'm a sucker for a £3 bunch of Alstromerias (which last forever!), they're not the same as having a delivery of a proper big bunch of varied and well chosen flowers.  A properly designed bouquet every few weeks will be lovely and I can still get my Alstromerias in between deliveries.  Also, with a referral code from my in-laws, I got my first bouquet free!

(Read on for my code which can also get you a free bunch if you decide to try them out!)


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Columnist for Uckfield News

If you haven't already seen, I have some super exciting news to report!  Following a meeting on Tuesday morning with Cathy, I can confirm that I will be writing a monthly column for Uckfield News!


For those of you who might not know, Uckfield News is our local news website.  Run by Cathy who

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Blackheath Foodies Festival - Days Out by Bex

I was invited to attend the Foodies Festival in Blackheath over the weekend but we had so much going on in and around Uckfield on Saturday and Sunday that I could only make it on the Friday.  I drove the twins there on Thursday evening and we had a lovely al fresco dinner with Ma in her beautiful garden and a nice lazy (if a bit too early) morning eating plums from the tree before we all headed out to the Festival.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Jam-packed July weekends - Days Out by Bex!


Well July has been off to an amazingly busy start, I can barely keep up with life never mind the blog but I just have SO many awesome things I want to share!  There's so much going on in July, I'm struggling to fit them all in/choose where to go.  This weekend alone I've been to Foodies Festival in Blackheath with the twins and Ma, Uckfield Festival Big Saturday, The Hurstwood Artisan Market and Brighton Kite Festival with Nik and the twins!  

Priya getting her serious "Paint Face" at Foodies Festival

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

England's Medieval Festival Ticket Giveaway - competition by Bex

I am thrilled to be attending England's Medieval Festival in August this year!  Following the success of taking the twins to Elderflower Fields Festival, we're super excited to be camping at the Medieval Festival over the bank holiday weekend at the end of August.  It's sure to be amazing since it's also the festival's 25th anniversary!  And I'm even more excited to be able to give away a family day ticket to one of my lovely readers!  Keep reading to find out how to enter...


Sunday, 2 July 2017

Necklace Storage Cabinet of Dreams!

I am utterly in love with my new jewellery cabinet.  I waited 2 years for it.  After we moved here from Glasgow, I left the majority of my necklace collection packed between sheets of bubble wrap in a small suitcase until I found somewhere to hang them.

As I have so many, I prefer to hang them so they don't get tangled and I can see them all more easily.  I used to store them hanging on the back of a built in cupboard door in our bedroom.  That wasn't an option here so I had to come up with something else.  I have always wanted a specially designed cabinet to store them but I wasn't sure where I could fit one in.


Saturday, 1 July 2017

Elderflower Fields family festival - review by Bex


I cannot be more excited to tell you about Elderflower Fields family festival!  This blog post has taken me many hours to put together because of the sheer awesomeness of the event and the number of photos I just had to share to show you all how pretty and fun and exciting and varied and colourful it was!  I mean we really, really loved it!  We were so lucky with the weather, it was

Friday, 30 June 2017

Cooking with Children Course - review by Bex


Last week we started a 4 week course at a Children's Centre nearby.  It's free (government funded surprisingly since our old twin group there had to close due to lack of government funding!) and teaches us simple recipes using healthy foods and is a great way to get the young ones involved in food preparation early.  Our teacher, Hayley, runs a local forest school, Natural Connection Sussex, which I'll be checking out too!  She has a background working with children and various educational activities.  The recipes are

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Pig & Butcher - Review by Bex

One of our local village pubs, The Pig & Butcher, has changed hands a few times since we moved here 3 years ago.  I've mentioned it before but I don't think I've written a proper review.  Over the last 18 months we've noticed a significant improvement in both the decor and food since the latest landlord took over.  The restaurant is much brighter since being re-painted and although it still has that old pub carpet, it's generally more modern and I've since learned they have plans to continue updating it and get rid of the dingy carpet.


Last night we tried some more food from the main menu and it did not disappoint!  We shared the

Friday, 26 May 2017

Bexphoto

I've been spending most of my free time (read: nap time and evenings) on my photography lately.  Since I got my new camera, I've been practising more than ever to try to improve my photos and I'm loving it.  I thought I'd share a few photos here since I haven't done a twin update for a while.  Of course, they are still my models and I'm loving capturing more arty photos of them rather than just close up portraits.  I'm hoping to do more storytelling with my photos too.  If you do want to see more, I post on my Bexphoto Instagram more often now and am trying to update the Bexphoto blog more too.


Monday, 22 May 2017

Country Lifestyle Fair in Uckfield - Review by Bex

I first discovered Country Lifestyle Fairs last November when they had a beautiful Christmas Fair in Uckfield (where I met the lovely Anna from Tired Bear) and they were back at East Sussex National again today with their handpicked exhibitors.  I loved browsing all of the amazing goodies on offer, there's so much variety with so many beautiful items.  Often at fairs I find a few stalls with things I like but there are plenty of things at the Country Lifestyle fairs which are right up my street, I struggle not to go mad spending my cash on everything!  The majority of stallholders are small local businesses often with homemade wares.  I did of course indulge in a couple of things and may have some new collaborations coming up too so I'm sure you'll be hearing more in the future but in the meantime, here are a few of my favourite sellers from the fair today.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Wild Garlic Pesto - Recipe by Bex

I already gave my tips for foraging for wild garlic and shared a few photos of the fun morning we had collecting leaves to make pesto but here is the recipe.  It was delicious served simply by stirring through spaghetti - the twins LOVED it and both asked for more which is pretty unusual as they normally just ask for fruit after dinner!


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Foraging for Wild Garlic amongst the Bluebells - Foodie Fun by Bex

Last weekend we finally made it along to a bluebell wood with the twins for me to try to take a few photos of them having fun wondering amongst the flowers and trees.  We were unlucky with the light as it was a very dull day so the photos are a bit flat but we had a lovely morning and the woods looked stunning with the carpet of blue going on for as far as we could see!  The photos definitely do not do it justice!  Thank you to Zoe for her directions to this wood as well as a few foraging tips which I've included in with the tips below.




En route to the bluebells, we followed a path through a couple of fields and along the way we could smell the wild garlic from across the stream.  It was abundant but out of reach.  Luckily as we entered the woods and found our glorious carpet of blue, we also smelled the garlic again and spotted a huge patch down a little path to the left by another stream.  On our way back we stopped there to gather the leaves and a few flowers for making pesto.  (I'd seen wild garlic pesto for sale at our favourite cafe, Oast Farm and fancied trying to make it myself.)


We really enjoyed foraging and the kids loved it too, we taught them to pick from the stem and to be careful not to trample anything.  Wild garlic is an easy one to start with (I'm a bit nervous about foraging for anything else although hope to learn more when The Warren start foraging courses!) as it's easy to find due to the smell and you can confirm it by crushing the leaves in your hand to get an even more obvious garlicky smell.  The flowers are also edible and make salads look really pretty.




My own (and Zoe's) tips are to pick the full leaf from the stem, leaving the bulb undisturbed.  Pick bright, young leaves (look for flowers still in bud) and try to avoid areas which may have been trampled.  They like damp areas so are often found near streams and rivers in ancient woodland.  And remember never to pick bluebells, it's illegal!

Here are links to some top tips from the Woodland Trust about foraging sustainably and some more information about Ramsons (wild garlic).


I'll be posting my Wild Garlic Pesto recipe tomorrow if you fancy trying it yourself!

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