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 fish mezze to start £7 for the starter or £14 for a main version) and wished we got the bigger option since the twins were also loving it and ate most of the "pink fish"!  We had smoked trout, smoked salmon, crayfish tails in a beautiful summery dressing, pickled anchovies, mackerel pate, trout and lumpfish caviar, all served with salad and warm crusty bread & butter and a wedge of lemon.  Yum!

We ordered the twins fish & chips and macaroni cheese with mushrooms (you could also choose bacon) from the kids/senior citizen's menu and both portions were huge!  The fish & chips came with tartare sauce and peas and the pasta came with garlic bread and salad, such great value for £6.  Kalyan didn't eat much fish but he loved the pasta and ate plenty of chips of course.  Priya liked everything but again, seemed to prefer the pasta.  I tasted it too and it was lovely with a rich garlicky, cheesy flavour.  (The sauce was much more cheesy and thicker than the last time we tried it, a big hit!)

I ordered one of the specials, slow braised beef short rib with a bourbon sauce and rosemary seasoned fries.  OMG, it was so good!  The rib was moist and tender, falling off the bone and a massive portion too.  I was so pleased the sauce came in a separate bowl as I often don't like BBQ style sauces as they're too sweet or smokey or you get too much smothered on the meat and it's overly rich so this was perfect.  I actually really liked the sauce but was able to just add a little.  The coleslaw was a perfect addition too, also rich it went very well with the beef and the fries had that lovely hint of rosemary to make them more interesting.  I was absolutely stuffed afterwards!

Nik had the BBQ pork ribs which did come with the sauce on but he loved them.  As expected, this sauce wasn't to my taste but Nik polished it all off!  His was served with the same fries as well as proper onion rings and a side salad.  Both mains were £12 each.

We were so full afterwards and the kids were starting to become more difficult to keep quiet as they got more tired yet more hyper so we didn't stay for dessert.

Our total bill came to £50.50 including a couple of beers and a soda.

They also have an amazing carvery on a Sunday with a choice of 3 meats (you can also mix them) cut fresh by the chef at the counter and loads of veg including cauliflower cheese and roasties of course as well as Yorkshire puddings and all the usual sauces and gravy which you help yourself to.  I'm always really impressed by the meat, it's never dry and is always delicious, I've tried the beef, lamb, chicken and gammon, I'm hoping they'll do a roast pork with crackling one day too (my Mum would love that)!

They're child friendly with high chairs available and a changing mat in the disabled toilet.  I do wish they were able to add a wall unit though as it's not very nice having to kneel on the floor next to the loo.  (Update: they also have plans to sort this out.)  They've recently updated the beer garden too, making it more open with the removal of thorny bushes so it's safer for kids and the front looks lovely with lots of colourful flowers and they have yet more plans to upgrade the outside areas.  I'll need to take some photos of the pub next time and not just the food!

Overall, we love our local nowadays and will definitely be regulars.  The service is efficient and friendly with a lovely atmosphere as it got quite busy not long after we arrived at 6pm.  The food is quick but fresh and tasty with a good range of options.  I love the new mezzes and will be trying the meat one next time!

Olive Dragonfly Rating - The Pig & Butcher
Food & Drink - 8/10
Atmosphere - 7/10
Service - 9/10
Value - 9/10
Overall - 8/10

Friday, 26 May 2017


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.




Have a lovely weekend, we're off to Elderflower Fields festival!

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.

I found so many brightly coloured things, I was in heaven!  You know I'm partial to rainbow colours so I was snapping away at my favourite items around the venue.  You couldn't fail to spot The Crow Kitchen's delightful macarons on the way in or out of the big hall, I had a few tasters and Oh. My. Gosh.  They are good!  She has a great range of flavours with some more unusual ones too.  I loved the Passionfruit & Lemon and the Bailey's Irish Cream!

Of course I was also drawn to all of the beautiful necklaces on show!  I love these ones by Mousie Murray Jewellery, made out of spoons and forks!  Carolyn who makes them knows all the stories behind them, how old they are and what kind of spoons they were.  They're so unusual and quirky.

Another jewellery stall I was immediately drawn to was The Silkworm with various silk items for sale, I love the brightly coloured bracelets and they had matching necklaces in all of these beautiful colours as well.  Not only that but they are in aid of the Tabitha Foundation, made by women in Cambodia.  They're made from silk wrapped around beads in different designs and are such a good price, I bought 3 in different designs and colours to mix and match which will be featuring in my #necklace365 project very soon!

I really loved this stall by Roost with a gorgeous display of glittery pouches and cute tassel and pom pom scarves.

And Lucy Bradshaw was there again with her lovely fine jewellery designs which have since been featured in Vogue.

There were also plenty of stationery stalls with many different designs.  I love these birds made of fabric stitched to card with layers of more stitching adding detail to the designs by Sarah Becvar.  She also has some beautiful illustrations of flowers and embroidered purses.

Another illustrator with beautiful stationery and artwork was Gabrielle Izen:

I also loved these cute children's clothes and accessories from Suri Mae, the rainbow blankets make me wish I had small babies again!

One of my favourite clothing stalls was actually for men, these fab block printed shirts by Indigo Island!  I love the colours and light cotton, ideal for summer, they're designed in England and hand block printed in Jaipur, check out their Instagram for some gorgeous tropical photography and videos of the printing process.  My favourite is "Lamu", the aqua pineapple print but I love the pink print, "Friday Island" too and the "Ithaca" leaves too for that matter!  If Nik got one I would totally steal it as a holiday cover-up!  It's about time I got some more fashion back on these pages!

There was also a wonderful bespoke home wares stand called Berry & Grouse with hand made lampshades, upholstery and pin boards. Cherry had some lovely fabrics with country style patterns including lots of cute animals. 

There were some lovely handbags from Posh Stuff.  I was SO tempted by the green handbag - they're reversible with metallic silver on the other side and a little clutch inside too (if it had been gold inside I definitely would have bought it)!  I loved the sparkly grey canvas star bag too.

And finally a few items from other stands which caught my eye...

Clockwise from the dress: I love the daisy dress from SW19London, more bright and colourful handbags from The Branding House, cute little seaside themed ornaments from Ammonite Coastal Interiors, the budgie postcards from Phoenix Trading, colourful toys from hazelbou and locally made artisan chocolate by Rowdy & Fancy's Chocolate Ltd. in delicious flavours and gorgeous vintage style packaging.

The fair is back at East Sussex National again on 23rd & 24th November for their Christmas event, I'll definitely be heading there for some Christmas shopping!

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!

100g wild garlic leaves, well washed
50g parmesan, grated
50g pine nuts, toasted
1-2 tbsp olive oil, (I didn't measure - I just drizzled it in while processing until it was the texture I wanted)
lemon juice, to taste (I used a whole lemon)
salt & pepper, to taste

Thoroughly wash and drain the garlic leaves (I whizzed them in the salad spinner) and place into food processor.  Blitz to break them up a bit then add the parmesan and blitz again.  Add the pine nuts and juice of 1/2 lemon and blitz again, drizzling olive oil in until you reach your desired consistency.  Stir in more lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

To serve, just stir through desired pasta, I also added some extra toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan and it would be lovely with some chicken.  It's great with spaghetti and Zoe also recommends smearing it on roast lamb or in a risotto.  It can also be used as a dip on its own and freezes well, Suz recommended using ice cube trays and then you can just take one or two cubes each time you need it.

Ours wasn't around long enough to freeze but next time I hope to make more and I really want to try recreating The Warren's Wild Garlic Soup too!

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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