Blackberry chutney time is here and looking at a row of jars on the shelf there is so much Christmas promise in those jars. On my allotment this year we have been blessed with an abundant harvest of wild blackberries. Although these berries grow wild […]
Bill’s Restaurant in St Albans had a complete makeover at the beginning of this year (2018) and Mr R and I attended the re-launch and a few days later reviewed their new menu (read the review by clicking here). Last week they unveiled their Secret […]
As part of my blogging journey I sometimes have the opportunity to attend events designed to improve my knowledge of the process of blogging. Occasionally, such as a recent weekend, the venue requires a stay away from home for one night or two. FleaEnterprises put on an event called The Retreat based in the Somerset countryside at Croydon Hall near Minehead.
Upon arrival at Croydon Hall we settled in before a group relaxation/simple yoga session out on the lawn in the lovely late afternoon sunshine (unusual for the UK).
We had pre-selected the group masterclasses we wanted to take over the weekend and the first hurdle being that there were so many I wanted to do but only one weekend to do them all in! From the workshops on offer here is what I attended:-
Friday evening was a Golden Hour Photography session. Tom, a professional photographer, took the group outside pointing out the different types of light available at that time of evening and encouraging us to walk around and take some photos. I initially considered doing the sunrise session at 05:30 Saturday morning with Tom however my need for sleep took over the authority and I stayed in my comfy warm bed!
My first session after breakfast was Creating Short Travel Stories on Video with Alistair Campbell of Somerset Film. The aim was to have a quick indoor session then head outside to practice our video skills. Alistair had a range of camera gadgets on the table when we arrived which took everyone’s attention and the session was mostly us asking questions about the equipment. We then headed out into the unseasonably warm day to try out the equipment and see how individual items would help us with our video taking.
I really liked the hand-held gimble for iPhones, making taking a video on your phone a smooth operation without the shaking and moving that usually occurs. My husband had a birthday coming up the following week so I decided to order him the gimble for his birthday present knowing he would be happy to share it with me!!
Alistair’s main tip was: CREATE YOUR OWN STYLE and GET MOVING! I plan to put loads of his other tips into practice as well.
After lunch I attended the Filming a Recipe Video session led by Dan Atkins. The station was set up to film a two tone cocktail. After watching the original film of the cocktail creation we set about as a group to recreate the film. Dan was very patient answering all of our questions as we went along and offered loads of insider tips on turning our home videos into top quality.
After lunch it was Confidence on Camera with Darren Simons of Aspire Presenting. After a very animated and funny introduction we all felt comfortable enough to do a short piece to camera.
The atmosphere of the group deteriorated into hysteria after one of the girls recognised Sean (one of the presenters) from over twenty years ago appearing at Butlins Minehead!! Any dignity left the room when due to the heat of the day Sally (the organiser of our weekend) brought in ice lollies!
Our dinner on Saturday was a catered, sit down meal and everyone tried to sit near new friends and others who hadn’t yet become ones. Off to bed to ensure I was ready for the rest of the event in the morning.
After breakfast Sunday morning I went to the session called Portraits that Tell a Story with Sarah Mason from Sarah Mason Photography and her partner Suzi. I am fairly new to DSLR photography and have been concentrating on food photography – the thought of portraits had never really crossed my mind. Sarah and Suzi helped allay my fears with beautiful examples of their work and armed with plenty of support and encouragement I tried taking portrait photos of my fellow classmates.
I was really, really surprised with the results. I had taken a portrait photo!!! The feeling of achievement was immense! I went home full of excitement for my new found skill!
Finishing off with a Positivity Workshop we then headed home, exhausted from all the learning, coffee drinking, cake eating and new friends.
Sitting on the train back to London my head was swimming with all the new gadgets I want to buy, how to take those stunning portraits, start videoing my recipes and editing them and of course trying to be more confident on camera. No wonder I was exhausted by the time I reached home!
After learning so much on this weekend I am thrilled to hear that The Retreat is planned for next year!! What fantastic workshops will there be for all of us to enhance our skills!
Thanks to all the staff of Tots100 for organising The Retreat and keeping us fed and watered. I was not required to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photographs are my own. No photographs may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.
Do you want to win two beautiful tins filled with Chocolate and Love’s Mini Bars? I am very much in favour of good, unadulterated chocolate. Chocolate that melts in your mouth with your eyes closed and your thoughts drifting away to cocoa plantations in far […]
Visiting Grenada makes me feel like I am coming home!
The country of Grenada is a small island but crammed full of experiences, food, spices and amazing places to stay. This year will be my 4th visit to the island. We will be staying in new resorts and re-visiting ones we have stayed in before. Let me tell you about a couple of my favourites:-
Laluna Resort is the height of understated luxury. Set on the side of the hill leading to the beach, each cabin is private, not overlooked and an easy walk down to the beach, pool, reception and bar. If you don’t fancy the ride back up or have any mobility issues the reception will organise the golf cart to take you back to your chalet. One of the highlights of my stay was the outside shower with views of the bay below and beyond! Mr R really loved Laluna Resort and he has put his account below:-
“A Visit To Laluna Hotel, Grenada
Last year, my wife and I visited the island of Grenada. This was our 3rd successive year holidaying
on the island and had heard a number of people referring to Laluna as a place to stay.
Most of the main holiday resorts are based close to Grand Anse Beach but as you drive beyond
these locations and the next bay you reach the secluded bay where Laluna is located. The
splendour of the location should not be underestimated and it is enhanced by the fact this is a
place to relax and enjoy the luxury.
All guests stay in their own chalet. Instead of immediately stepping into your room, you walk
across your private covered decking, furnished with lounger, coffee table and relaxing chairs.
Entering the bedroom through large double doors, you are greeted by a double queen 4 poster
that leads into a bathroom that is partially open air and this leads onto you own personal
We were lucky to have a chalet offering a view of the sea and horizon from a high vantage point.
Others have lesser views but are closer to the sea.
Laluna’s dining has a mainly Italian theme and you dine under a thatched roof which is only a few
paces from the beach as are the pool, bar and lounge area.
A stroll along the beach in the Caribbean is always pleasant but the secluded bay and safe
bathing within the picture postcard setting should always be an enduring memory of your stay at
Spa facilities are also available but we did not use these facilities last year. However I hope to
correct this and we visit the resort in May this year.
Another option for the romantics is a candlelit dinner on the beach. A nice extra but you need to
book this in advance.
Thank you Laluna”
True Blue Bay Boutique Resort is a family run resort where the staff and guests are all treated as family! The breakfasts are delicious featuring local ingredients where ever possible and you can have your own omelette cooked for you by the famous Ester and Omega each morning.
The views are awesome inviting you to sit awhile and ponder.
True Blue Bay Boutique Resort is perfect for families as well as couples wanting a quiet place to re-charge after a day finding waterfalls or buying spices in the capital St Georges.
Once you have been a guest of True Blue Bay you will want to come back again and again each time being welcomed like you have come home!
True Blue Bay Resort is also the home of the Grenada Chocolate Festival every May. I will be attending for the fourth time this year and love it so much – you will come away with a new appreciation of cacao and chocolate!
We usually spend some of our time in Grenada staying at Blue Horizons Garden Resort which is equipped with its own pool but is also just a quick stroll from one of the best stretches of beach in the world, the 2 miles of Grand Anse Beach.
We feel like family when we arrive at Blue Horizons Garden Resort, greeted by staff and the owner Mr Arnold Hopkin.
There is a restaurant on site which serves outstanding food based on local cuisine and family recipes.
Not long now until we make our next visit to this paradise island. I am really looking forward to it – it is ‘like coming home’.
I was not required to write a positive review of any of the properties. All opinions and photography are my own or Mr R’s. No photographs may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.
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Scroll down for a unique recipe from Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Farm for their chocolate cake.
The first time I visited Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Farm on the north western side of the the island of Grenada I absolutely fell in love with it. I felt a connection with the sense of peace and tranquility, the abstract way the cacao trees grow with the banana trees in between and the nutmeg trees appearing out of nowhere at the slightest turn.
I brought home some Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Rolls and their recipe for a gorgeous chocolate cake. I first tasted it sitting outside on a warm Grenadian afternoon after finishing a simple and totally delicious lunch of home made dishes made with local produce. You will find the recipe below.
Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Balls are used to make a rich chocolate cake.
- 7 cocoa rolls Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Rolls
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 med-large eggs
Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.
Melt the cocoa rolls and coconut oil together in a pan on the hob.
In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
Add the water and beaten egg to the dry mixtre.
Add the melted cocoa rolls and coconut oil to the mixture.
Pour the mixture into a greased and floured baking pan.
Bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes.
The cake is done when a skewer or sharp knife tip inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Cool for approximately 5 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan.
Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting into squares to serve.
Click here to read more about the Grenada Chocolate Festival. I will be attending the Grenada Chocolate Festival again this year – Why don’t you come too!!
I used the recipe given to me by Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa farm. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions and photography are my own. No photographs may be reproduced in any manner without my written permission.
Easy-peasy guide to making preserved lemons at home. Scroll down for the recipe to make these easy preserved lemons at home. For the longest time I have wanted to make preserved lemons. Somehow I thought it would be messy and time consuming. It was actually […]