Tag: oxford

Review – Companion, Natural Bread Co cafe

Every now and then, you stumble across a cafe that just ticks all the boxes. Not too busy but there’s enough of a bustle that there’s a good vibe. Great food. Attentive staff, but not overwhelming. Good location. For me, The Natural Bread Company cafe, Companion, on Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, is pretty much my ideal cafe right now.

cakes and pastries

They sell an amazing selection of cakes, to eat in or take away.

fresh bread

They also have one of the best and most unusual ranges of bread I have ever seen. I could quite happily eat them all!

veggie breakfast

I was quite looking forward to having some toast but when we arrived, I saw that they were serving a veggie breakfast, with the option of adding a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for a bit extra. I decided to give it a go. I was not disappointed, especially as I’m on a bit of a health kick. Check out all that veg and healthy goodness! There was plenty of mushrooms, cherry toms, bread, beans, two fried eggs (my favourite) and some manchego cheese. I have never thought of having cherry tomatoes with a cooked breakfast, but they were such a great addition. I love freshly squeezed orange juice and this was worth paying extra for. (Forgive me, but I was in such a blissful state that I can’t remember how much extra the juice was!)

fresh oj

The cafe had such a lovely atmosphere, with a variety of people enjoying their Sunday morning breakfasts, people popping in getting their coffee & pastries to go, friends catching up. Lovely. We also got a sandwich and a cake to go for later, which, of course, was completely delicious. If you’re out and about in Jericho, then do pop in. You won’t be disappointed.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Blenheim Palace

I don’t know about where you live, but last Sunday, Oxfordshire was bathed in sun. What a gorgeous treat, after so much rain. We took the opportunity to head out with Poppy. So many of our favourite haunts are/have been under water so they’re either inaccessible or incredibly muddy. Therefore, we decided to head to the beautiful Blenheim Palace. Despite living close to it, we don’t go very often and I’m not sure why, because it’s a great place for walking.

From the bridge

We were quite late in getting there on Sunday so we had to park quite a distance from the Palace, which is where we were starting our walk from. We parked on grass, which was quite muddy due to the recent downpours we’ve enjoyed, but didn’t have any problem getting out! Blenheim Palace is incredibly popular and there were plenty of dogs, families and runners out enjoying the sun.

Duke of Marlborough

We headed straight over the bridge away from the Palace and veered left that meant we could do a circular walk around the palace grounds (though we didn’t know this at the time!) The benefit of this is that it meant we could stick to the tarmac and avoid the mud, though Poppy wanted to walk on the grass, as that was where all the best smells were!

sunny woods

Unfortunately for Poppy, we only saw one squirrel, but there were plenty of pheasants, which Poppy couldn’t really see, but boy could she smell them! There were also a few pheasant carcasses lying around, but we were pretty quick at enticing Poppy away from them. Blenheim Palace is also home to grazing sheep, so dogs need to be kept on leads at all times and be aware that the sheep are fenced in with electric fencing. The sheep are well used to visitors and dogs and I’m pleased to report that Poppy behaved very well among them!

in the sun

Dogs are allowed all throughout the parklands around the Palace, but they aren’t allowed in the Formal Gardens, Courtyards or Pleasure Gardens. Our walk was a bit of a mission, but that’s because we didn’t pick up a map and plan it. We did plan to have tea and cake from the Pantry, but the queue was huge and Poppy was getting cold so we abandoned that idea. The Pantry is well worth a visit though, as the cakes are lush! If you’d prefer, you can always take a picnic to enjoy.

The back of Blenheim

We wanted to upgrade our park and gardens ticket so we could get an Annual Pass. However, the queue on Sunday was massive and can’t seem to be able to do this online. We’ll end up getting an Annual Pass next time we go though, as it’s a great place for dog walking, with so many different routes available. Can’t wait to go back!

The Walk: One of the best things about Blenheim Palace is the vastness of the grounds. There are so many different routes to take that you could go a different way every time you visit, making it great value for money. They also provide you with a handy map so you can figure out where you’re going!
Cost: As we went out of season, we only paid £4 each, however, it is a bit more when everything is open. Here’s a link to the prices in full.
Car Park: As Blenheim Palace is used to hosting major events, there’s plenty of free car parking available. If you arrive late on a busy day, you might be quite far from the main building, but that just means you can eat more cake in the Pantry!
Refreshments: Depending what type of refreshments you’re after, there’s something to suit everyone. We usually just get something from the Oxfordshire Pantry and head outside with Poppy.
Toilets: There are toilets inside the East Courtyard Shop, which is well worth a visit in itself.

Cath Kidston Bloggers Craft Night

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a bloggers craft night at the Cath Kidston shop in Oxford. I was joined by Natasha, Catherine, Victoria, Zoë, Dina & Rosalind. We were invited along to an evening of crafting in aid of Crisis. Cath Kidston are selling decoration kits, as well as giving the profits from the sale of the charity Christmas cards to raise money for Crisis.

There’s something pretty awesome about being in a shop after opening hours! We were able to have a good look around and start our Christmas shopping/buy some treats for ourselves! I bought these lovely charity Christmas cards & a pair of penguin pyjama bottoms. To be honest, I could have spent way more money! There are so many lovely things in Cath Kidston. They keep on bringing out gorgeous prints and great products!

crocodile santa stanley christmas decs tea towels scarves

We were given kits of Christmas decorations to make, complete with all the tools necessary to make them. After a quick mooch about, we all got started cutting out our shapes. Before long we got chatting, eating & drinking (hello mulled wine!). Progress was varied and I have to admit I didn’t finish mine during the evening, especially as I got distracted with some out of hours shopping! But I did sew my bricks on one side of the chimney. I finally finished it this week and have to say I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. I took the opportunity to have a go at different stitches. It’s not very often my hand sewing is as neat as this!

Cath Kidston Santa decoration

Not only that, but we were also given a few treats, including a second decoration to make. I can’t wait to finish this one too so that they are ready to go on the tree! Are you making any Christmas decorations this year? It does add a nice touch doesn’t it?

Make your own stanley cath kidston sewing kit

Handmade Cosy Pyjama Bottoms

Last Saturday found me getting my sew on. I signed up to a class at Darn It & Stitch to make a cosy pair of pyjama bottoms. I love pj bottoms, the cosier the better and I’m pleased to say that the ones I made do not disappoint! Let it be known that I can be a bit of a haphazard sewer. Sometimes my creations are great, sometimes they are only fit for the bin. But the help of Anna from Custom Made, I was able to make something wonderful!

dreamy cloud fabricThe first thing we had to do was pick out our fabric. I picked this dreamy flannel cloud fabric & I love it! I can remember my Mum making me flannel nighties way back when so I really wanted something flannel, plus the clouds! How cute are they?! Then it was back upstairs to cut our patterns down to size, though I could skip this step, thanks to my generous thighs! Next came the scary step of pinning the pattern to the fabric and cutting it out. I picked up quite a few tips like how to pin correctly, so the fabric doesn’t pucker. This is just one of the reasons why I wanted to do a sewing class – the little tips that no one ever tells you online or in books.

The next step was to start sewing. This bit terrified me, as it’s when things start to go haywire. But I had no problems stitching the legs together. The only problem I had was that my sewing machine hated doing the zig zag stitch, which was a slight issue as I had to do this on every seam to stop the fabric fraying. At first it was just me, but then it did for Anna too. It was quite frustrating. I felt as if everyone was miles ahead of me and I wasn’t going to be able to finish them. Fortunately, with a bit of luck, Anna was able to talk the machine into it & it succombed to our will! I was finally able to move on to the waistband and threading the elastic through. While sewing the waistband, the machine let us know that it didn’t like the thickness of the materical & decided to bend the needle. After a prompt needle change, and hemming the legs, my pyjamas were complete. I was so relieved – mainly because I didn’t want to have to finish them off at home. And I didn’t. I was able to pop them on as soon as I walked through the door. (and I’ve barely taken them off since!)

cloud pyjama bottoms

I really, really want to be able to sew well & now I feel much more confident, especially as I’m currently wearing my little creation! Plus, I came away with something useful and wearable & I learnt loads, which is awesome. The only downside was the dodgy sewing machine. It made what should’ve been a lovely peaceful afternoon into an inwardly stressful one. (Had I been at home on my own, there would have been tears & swears!) Despite that, I had great time & I love my new pjs! Great class, great value for money, happy, warm & cosy me 🙂