Archive, July 2019, Lifestyle

The Last Podcast on the Left: Bonnie and Clyde

So this week I have slowly been reading my way through my current YA book, but due to having other things going on (such as making and finalising my DnD character for Friday coming) meaning I have ended up spending most of my free time listening to podcasts instead.

One which stood out for me was The Last Podcast on the Lefts Bonnie and Clyde series. Why? Well, I always thought I knew who Bonnie and Clyde were, but it turns out I was wrong. So very wrong.

I always assumed Bonnie and Clyde were two bank robbers who traveled through the US during the great depression avoiding capture by the police until their fatal standoff which resulted in their death. End of. But their story goes SO much deeper then I could ever imagine and this podcast has really got me wanting to find out more about their lives. For example, Bonnie and Clyde were only 19 / 20 when they met. Bonnie was madly in love with Clyde (despite being married to someone else) and refused to leave his side, she also ended up badly injured in a car accident where battery acid ate through her skin and exposed the bone in her leg but being on the run meant she couldn’t go to hospital for treatment so instead ended up with at best a severe limp or often needing to be carried around as she was unable to walk!

The Last Podcast on the Left has to be one of my favourites at the moment as well, it is hosted by three close friends who cover all the horrors of the world, both real and imagined. It is cleverly put together and it is always light hearted despite sometimes being quite heavy or horrific topic wise AND always leaves me wanting more, not in a ‘ugh I’ve learned nothing’ way but in a I end up so engrossed in the subject that I am listening to that I want to know every fact I can about it, and I think that is great journalism where you end up inspired to learn more, especially when it comes to more gory topics like serial killers / cults. Basically if I had teachers like Ben, Marcus or Henry in school I wouldn’t have gotten a D in history GCSE, that’s all I’m saying.

Word of warning though, TLPotL has quite dark humour so if you are easily offended I would probably give this podcast a miss, however if not then I seriously recommend you check out their Bonnie and Clyde series first as it is mind blowingly good!

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July 2019, Lifestyle

July 2019

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As if we are officially half way through 2019 already! Where has the time gone?

July is when we finally have summer up north, and thankfully the sun has decided to appear at last! Hip hip hooray!

Runner beans are meant to be in glut this season but we put ours in very late meaning they have yet to come, but the raspberry bushes are keeping me well fed and the strawberries are plentiful, we just need them to turn from green to juicy red and pray the birds keep away!

I’m also hoping to make Summer Vegetable and Feta Pie this month and some homemade lemonade to wash it all down with!

What do you have planned for July?

 

 

April 2019, Archive, Lifestyle

April

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This is busiest of all the months I find as there are many, many birthdays in my family throughout April, as well as it being the month we lost my wonderful Nanna three years ago. Add to this Easter as well as half term holidays and it is a month packed full of wonderful activities, lots of cake and celebration of life.

Did you know:

  • The month April is named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.
  • The Romans also referred to April as Aprilis which is derived from Aperio meaning ‘to open’ which fits the month well seeing as in the Northern Hemisphere April is the month were many of the trees and flowers buds begin ‘to open’ and bloom.
  • Nobody seems to know where April’s Fools day originates from, but records dating back to 1500 appear in France where it is known as April Fish day. It is still tradition in France and other areas of Europe to attach a paper fish to somebody’s back on April 1st, as well as give chocolate fish as a gift.
  • At the end of April the Earth’s orbit will pass through dust particles left behind from Comet Thatcher which passed us by in 1861! The shower runs from April 16th-25th but peaks around 22nd / 23rd of the month.
  • The first lot of butterflies and bees begin to appear at this time of year.
  • Bluebells appear during the April and May months where they take full advantage of the period between winter ending and the canopy of the spring / summer trees re-growing and blocking out the light. Bluebells are also apparently a ‘indicator species for ancient woodland, so their presence suggests that a wood can date back to at least the 1600s’. It is also illegal to remove Bluebells from woodland areas!

 

Archive, Lifestyle, March 2019

Ostara

Happy Ostara!

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Did you know that today is the first day of spring? Not only that but it is also a time where both day and night are in complete balance with one another! Yup, that’s right, as of tomorrow the lighter nights start, which means one thing! Summer is coming!

But for now, Spring.

I hope you have had a wonderful day celebrating the spring equinox, I’m off to home to drink some honey tea and make Welsh Rarebit (and maybe to polish off the rest of the beer that will be left over from the recipe).

Archive, Lifestyle, March 2019

How I’m finding 2019 so far!

Hello, Hello, Hello.

I’m back at last from my mini hiatus. I seem to always become very uninspired during the winter months content wise, possibly due to the lack of sunshine, flowers and the daily slog of going to work and leaving work in the dark. But spring is almost upon us, the flowers are pushing their way out of the ground and the inspiration has began to slowly flow back into my finger tips.

So I thought I’d jump back in with a mini update of what I’ve been up to, which if truth be told isn’t an awful lot but here we go.

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I entered 2019 all ‘this is the year I will travel’ but it turns out this is the year I am going to explore my creative side instead. I’ve picked up knitting during my lunch break at work (when I’m not stuffing my chunky face with food that is) as well as being sucked into the world of Warhammer with little legs and my god is it addictive! I love painting my mini’s and watching as they come to life with each and every layer of paint.

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I hate being active. Like actually hate it. My body aches during exercise and after for DAYS. It is truly awful. However, I’m getting older which means I’m getting fatter so it is now becoming a must. I started (and failed) the couch to 5K straight after new year, but the awful weather and being full of cold made me feel really unwell so I’ve put that idea to one side and decided I will accomplish it once the light nights come in so I can go running more than twice a week. I have however picked up my hula hoop again! Last year I lost A LOT of weight just from playing with this outside for half an hour everyday during the summer so I am back on it! Granted not as much as I would like as it’s still cold and miserable outside and my house isn’t big enough to hula hoop indoors, but on the nights were the rain doesn’t fall I am straight outside with my music and a wooly jumper on hooping away.

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During the half term break we went away with my wonderful friends to Scotland for a few days and it was beautiful. We stayed near Galloway’s national park  in a small wooden barn that had been renovated into a fantastic but very back to basics lodge located on a working farm. It basically look’s very posh and swanky and we had a wonderful wood burning stove to keep us warm but my god when it wasn’t on it was bloody freezing and impossible to cook on. I think the only things we managed to eat from it was some sausages I prayed I had cooked properly and some giant marshmallows we had toasted in the flames. Thankfully there was lots of wonderful pubs around so we managed to keep our feet warm and our stomachs full.

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I have become more confident going out and about on my own which is fantastic, and I am very content just sitting on my own for an hour or two in a coffee shop with a good book to keep me company, as well as managing to go to the cinema alone for the first time in my life back in January. I have also started meeting up with friends once a month for food and a natter which is fantastic seeing as 2018 was the year I became a hermit. So yes! Out the house events! Lots of them, and hopefully lots more to come over the next few months.

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So far this year I have been trying to find more time to read as I find a good book will help you escape the realities of the world and your mind, even if just for a few hours. One of my worst traits I think is that I always have multiple books on the go at once, and I never ever end up finishing any of them. Yes, I am that person. Half read books litter my room and I am slowly trying to work my way to the end of every single one (before I add more to the pile).

And that’s that! What have you been up to so far in 2019 and what do you want to do in the next few months ahead? I am really excited to be back blogging and finding the time to bake again for the Lavender and Black bakes series, though I will admit topic wise will probably become a hell of a lot more scattered then normal, so let me know what post’s you would like to see.

Archive, January 2019, Lifestyle

my top 9 of 2018 & my mental health

So the end of 2018 and the start of 2019 seems to have everybody uploading their Top 9 posts and re-caps about their year. So here we go, below you will find my personal top 9 images linked to some but not all of my happy memories that happened last year.

But first a brief description of my year. 2018 was the year I had a breakdown, not my first and not my most spectacular but definitely the hardest one to bounce back from as leaving the house became a very, very hard task. It was also the year I discovered I suffer from Sensorimotor Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. I won’t go on too much about it but basically Sensory OCD is ‘obsessions which include a heightened awareness and focus on involuntary bodily activities and processes… Common examples include hyper awareness of swallowing, breathing or blinking’. It is also said that these types of obsessions can be particularly brutal as they involve everyday bodily processes that you need to do to survive which means there is no escape.

It is brutal, and hard to bounce back from. But I am, slowly. Happy Dance.

 

 

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So first up! July, after a few weeks of going to therapy I took on head first the challenge of walking down to the Quayside from Newcastle City Centre to get some Halloumi Fries from The Little Fishy pop up bar next to the NE1 Quayside beach. I think this was my first and furthest solo outing, other than the trip to M&S a week earlier which had seen me fight through two panic attacks as I refused to turn back to work (aka my ‘safe space’). I remember the Summer sun had vanished and it was really dark and gloomy but it didn’t dampen my spirits or stop me from taking a photo to record my achievement.

 

 

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I text my friend as we were traveling to Brockbrushes saying how scared I was to be going but also so happy I had left the house and was going on an outing. It was also so warm which did not help my fuzzy brain issues but I didn’t die! Horray! I did however help pick enough raspberries and strawberries to keep us going for weeks.

 

 

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Holiday time! I was so lucky that after the most heartbreaking news I was able to escape reality for a week and hang out in such a peaceful setting. Ironically I was at my most anxious here, but also in the most safest and calmest space with my favourite people and I returned home feeling motivated to change my life and live everyday to the full.

 

 

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 Jam! I made my first batch of blackberry jam (or just my first batch of jam full stop) and it was hella tasty too. My family is probably going to hate me this year as come the Summer / Autumn months I am going to be making jams and pickles like it’s going out of fashion.

 

 

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The day I decided I wasn’t going to sit in the house and be a hermit alone, no I was going to go sit in the pub and be a hermit alone with a gin, and some nice warm food. The weather was also crazy this day as well, I went out in my wellies and jumped in every puddle on the way to the pub and when I left it was lashing it down with rain! I was absolutely soaking by the time I got home. Well worth it though.

 

 

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My first night out in over a year! Where I was able to dress up nice and my god, I was SO nervous heading out alone as I was worried I had forgotten how to talk to people or that people would wonder why the hell I was there but I was overwhelmed by the amount of wonderful friends who took their time to talk to me like a normal person, which to them they would be thinking well why the hell wouldn’t we but to me it meant the absolute world. My skin was also so clear that night as I had been dairy free for a month and lost a crazy amount of weight due to hula hooping. I need to invest in contact lenses though as my dorky glasses ruined that outfit. Ha!

 

 

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Cake! My last bake of 2018 which was disgustingly only bake number 11 from my Mary Berry / Lavender and Black Bakes challenge I had set myself on halfway through last year. This one is here as it was the first thing I have ever baked where I have ever given it to anyone other than my poor family who get lumbered with my baking 24/7. It seemed to receive good comments back as well so it certainly boosted my confidence slightly. And as wonderful as the festive period has been I can not wait to get back into baking and catching up on this challenge.

 

 

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Aghhh! Fireball tour! This one made me feel sick for months on the lead up. It was my second night out in 2018 / since I became unwell and I was so nervous about being in such a crowded and busy environment but honestly I had nothing to fear. A few times I felt a bit uneasy but I just took myself off, calmed down and came back in and by the time the last band came on stage I was a lot more at ease with my nerves and ended up in the pub afterwards for a pint.

 

 

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I know, I know! All my top 9s are nights out. Sorry. But also not sorry! This one was amazing, my wonderful friend text me an hour before my crazy busy shift ended and asked if I fancied going for a pint. Well, we’ve all seen the meme. One pint means you wake up four days later missing a shoe and probably some of your dignity, I woke up the next morning massively hungover but absolutely over the moon that I had gone out for a spontaneous night out! No planning, no panicking and not a single sign of my anxiety when I was shit faced, just an embarrassing IG story of me screaming along to meatloaf and a memory of telling my brother I brought him some chicken nuggets home, when eating the last of said chicken nuggets.

 

 

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And finally, the last and most beautiful sunset of 2018. I was awe-struck at how beautiful the sky looked on the way home from work that I decided to sit on my doorstep and watch it play out. I thought of the year that had passed, the loved ones I had lost and what I want to have accomplished within the next 12 months. I probably also looked mental to my neighbour sitting on the cold, damp floor in the dark with a bottle of beer in my hand staring at the night sky, but whatever.

 

 

I think I’ve written 10 not 9. Oops… Oh well, have the last one for luck.

If you got this far through my post then well done! Please let me know your highlight of  2018 or what you hope 2019 brings you. I’m hoping to just keep continuing taking those little steps forwards, and to see my loved ones more often, because if 2018 taught me anything it is that life is far, far too short.

 

Archive, Lifestyle, October 2018

50 things to do before you turn 11 3/4s pt1

Lists. Lists have helped me a lot these past few months, they’ve helped me keep sane or sometimes even find my sanity during the dark days when anxiety had full control of my brain. I bought myself a wonderful book and it contains multiple lists, all positive and full of things I have achieved week in week out.

One day when scrolling my way through Pinterest I stumbled upon:

50 things to do before you turn 11 3/4.

Well, upon reading the different sub categories I realised that at 28 and 1/4 there was things on this list I had never even achieved never mind little legs who had only just turned 11! I have never skimmed a stone, nor have I ever ate an apple straight from a tree. Plenty of blackberries, cucumbers and tomatoes have been demolished straight from their vines but never an apple. No, this was not on. So off I went dead set that we would complete this list from scratch which means nothing can be crossed off until we complete it after the list has been written. I thought this might be a nice bonding session between me and LL’s who if truth be told is growing more and more into a teenager as the hours go by. Ever seen the BBC comedy Kevin becomes a teenager? Yeah that is currently LL’s.

So here is what we have currently completed, photos and all!

 

Climb a Tree

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This one I thought would be fairly simple but if truth be told I have to take my hat off to LL’s for getting so far up that slippery branch with nothing to hold onto for support! With every photo I took to document his achievement he seemed to climb further and further up the branch. What was lovely to see was the look of absolute terror from when he first attempted the climb melt away with every step / shuffle as he made his way up the tree branch.

Roll down a really big hill

This one was so funny. When on holiday we decided to go for a spontaneous walk to get charcoal for the marshmallow toasting that was going to occur later that evening which is when we stumbled upon a steep hill right in the middle of three cabins on the site. It hadn’t even occurred to me that this could be the hill we had been looking for as I had walked past it a few times, however LL’s ran right to the top of the said hill and rolled all the way back down again, as the name of the task suggests much to the bemusement of our fellow holiday neighbours.

Run around in the rain

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We didn’t so much run around in the rain, but instead we went on a long walk on the weekend the weather had changed from glorious sunshine to torrential downpours. Something I have learned this year is that I quite enjoy being outside in the rain, it makes me feel as if all my worries are being washed away, even if it is just temporary. I convinced LL’s to go for a walk with the promise of puddle jumping, and by god did he puddle jump! Regardless of the rain, he was drenched from head to toe in muddy puddle water to the point that it took us 5 minute’s to peel his jeans off him at the front door which had absolutely nothing at all to do with us falling about giggling as we realised he was stuck in said jeans. Off he went for a wonderful warm clean bath, and by the front door I stayed to pour out the puddle of water he tried to sneak home with him in his walking boots.

 

Play Pooh Sticks

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This has always been our favourite game to play when we go on walks to our local park, to the point that we have named the bridges , ‘the first bridge’ , ‘bridge two’ and ‘pooh stick bridge’ which probably doesn’t sound right if you don’t know what we are referring too. On the day we completed this task it seemed like a HUGE achievement as unfortunately my anxiety at the time meant (and still often means) I fear leaving the house, on this day we left just with the attitude of ‘we will see’ when it came to how far into the park we could get. The goal was bridge two, but I had barely managed to get to past the ‘first bridge’ on our last visit a month earlier. This time however, we managed to get all the way up to ‘Pooh stick bridge’, play pooh sticks AND go even further into the woods to play in the stream! All in all a fantastic day!

 

Go Star Gazing

Again, this was one of the many achievement we crossed off our list on holiday. Due to being in the middle of nowhere and the removal of all street lights, we discovered that when you sat outside on the decking late at night you could see what seemed like hundreds of tiny stars in the wonderfully dark night sky. It felt magical sitting and pointing the stars out and listening to the bats and other wildlife that were waking up for their night-time activities. LL’s thought he had seen a shooting star, but it turned out to be a plane.

 

Cook on a campfire

Okay, so I am classing this as cooking on a campfire, even if it was just roasting some marshmallows on a disposable BBQ tray. And oh my it was delicious! 10 out of 10 would do again and also I fully recommend you try it for yourself, in fact I may even do this again in the back garden on bonfire night when watching the fireworks.

 

Pick Blackberries in the wild

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What is better than going out into the wild with a Tupperware box and coming home with it filled to the brim with freshly picked fruit? This summer we have picked Strawberries, Raspberries and now Blackberries too. This is definitely something I’m going to keep doing year on year as it was so much fun. You can read more about our blackberry picking adventures here.

 

 

 

 

Archive, Lifestyle, October 2018

Olive & Bean Breakfast

If truth be told I have never been a morning person.
I am unable to wake up and be ready and out the house early, though granted I seem to be getting better at accepting the 7am screams of my alarm clock. So going out for breakfast, or brunch is not something me or little legs have really done over the years, however this summer we set out to change this and made it one of our many tasks to go out and have breakfast together.

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Our chosen venue was Olive and Bean which is located in Newcastle city centre on Clayton Street as we had heard many a good thing about their incredible breakfast menu. Little Legs being an incredibly fussy eater (even fussier then me!) hummed and harred at the breakfast offerings but settled on waffles with bacon and maple syrup, I on the other hand instantly chose the Eggs Benedict though it was a close call and Eggs Royale almost stole the show.

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Our drinks arrived quickly after we placed our order, and the food followed soon after. At first I was slightly jealous of what lay on LLs plate however the Eggs Benedict was delicious and left me both full but greedily wanting more as it tasted so good. The eggs were poached perfectly and the bacon was exactly as I like it!

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LLs actually surprised me as well, his usual distaste for bacon left us with the idea that he could put the bacon to one side and just eat the waffles drizzled with maple syrup but he actually thoroughly enjoyed and ate the majority of the bacon on his plate, even asking if we could from now on get our bacon from Olive and Bean as it was his favourite.

All in all I would fully recommend trying out Olive and Beans breakfast menu, but be warned it gets incredibly busy so I would get down early so to secure yourself a table.

 

Archive, Lifestyle, September 2018

10 things that have made me happy this week

As if it is this time of the week again! I can’t be the only one who feels like these past two weeks have whizzed past ridiculously fast, even more so with the return to school chaos. Anyway! Here are the top 10 things that have made me feel happy over the past 7 days and please don’t forget to let me know what made you happy this past week as well.

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  1. Reading – There is nothing better than getting lost in a good book and that is what I have been doing these past two weeks. I am currently reading two cute little books, first up is the one I mentioned last week (The Little Book of Hygge) and the other is The Danish way of Parenting, both of which I wish I had found years earlier if truth be told and I fully recommend them both.
  2. Podcasts – These aren’t something I usually listen to, but this week whilst getting ready for work I felt I needed some background noise and my usual music playlist just wasn’t cutting it.  I stumbled upon Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast and I am absolutely in love with the entire idea of breaking down the Harry Potter texts chapter by chapter under a different theme each time. It is safe to say that I am obsessed!IMG_20180907_193145_895
  3. Pub Lunches – Last Friday I managed to toddle up to my local pub on my own and I really enjoyed just being out of the house and being in my own company for a change. Not only that but I also got to eat the best fish and chips I have ever had on a wonderful rainy autumn day in the cutest pub ever, accompanied with a gin and tonic of course.
  4. Bake off – I know I mentioned this last week, but it is obvious that an adorable baking show set in a tent is going to make everyone happy, so it was clearly going to appear here more than once. I think my favourite this year is Rahul, Kim-Joy also amuses me with her little cat creations. Who is your current favourite?IMG_20180914_174634_716
  5. Lush hair care – This time last week my hair was knackered. I don’t mean looking bit dull and lifeless I mean a full-blown frizzy dead mess! I ended up in Lush and picked up the H’suan wen hua hair treatment and that alongside a tiny sample of avocado co-wash seems to have brought my hair back into the land of the living thank god!
  6. Walking – Sounds a bit daft, I mean who likes walking? Me I must admit. I always feel a lot happier and more content after I have been out and about for a stroll, especially now the weather is cooling down. On the way to the pub last week it was fun to jump in all the puddles in the park in my wellies and I have walked part way home from work this week to. I will admit being in a Fitbit challenge with my bestie is the main source of inspiration when it comes to the after-work walks, especially after the long days we have had this week.IMG_20180914_174318_116
  7. Apple Pie – Is there anything better on a chilly Sunday night then a warm apple pie and some vanilla ice cream? The answer is no, no there is not. This week’s bake was just that, and it was magical.
  8. Stew – I know food appears a lot, but that is because food truly makes me happy, due to me being a little pig. The first of the official slow cook meals started this week with my mam making us beef stew with carrots, potatoes and green beans. I brought home some crusty bread from the Grainger market which went down a treat with mopping up the gravy in our bowls afterwards.
  9.  Infinity war!! Oh my god I almost forgot about this one. Sounds silly but I haven’t been to the cinema since before I got a bit fuzzy, and during that time Infinity war was released and I was devastated that I didn’t have the courage to go out and see it. But on Saturday night we had family movie night and after months of avoiding ALL spoilers I finally got to see the movie in all its glory with a G&T in my hand.
  10. Summer house – Our little summer-house is coming along nicely in the garden and even though it is only 40% complete I love toddling down and sitting in the doorway with my cup of tea and just watching the world go by. It will be amazing once it is finished.
Archive, Lifestyle, September 2018

BlackBerries: Picking and Jam

Did you know that it is currently the most wonderful time of year? No? Well it is true you see. Yes, we are quickly edging towards the end of summer however the beginning of the much longed after Autumn months are just around the corner. The weather isn’t too warm, nor is it too cold, the much wished for rain has returned in fits and starts and you will have seen all the trees, bushes and hedgerows bursting with ripe, juicy ready to be picked treats.

The one indicator that my favourite time of year is slowly approaching is the arrival of the blackberries. I see the little green fruits appear on the bushes everywhere, in my garden, at my local park, on the roads as I walk home, and I wait and wait until the little green berries start to change to a slight blushing red colour to the most juiciest dark purple / black colouring. And then I pounce.

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The reason I love them so much is mainly due to the childhood memories that they hold. I remember picking them in our garden as a small child from the cutting my grandad had given us from his own garden in London and eating the berries before twisting my face at how sour they were! I would then run back up towards the house with my bowl full of treasure for my mam to bake alongside apples in a pie. I also remember being sent to the back of my nannas garden when we were small as we could fit our little hands through the gaps in the fence and forage for berries from her neighbour’s garden, and again our haul was often added to some homemade bake.

So, a few weeks back in the scorching sunshine I decided that I would add to those memories by taking Little Legs to our local park where we stumbled upon the biggest blackberry gold mine I have ever come across! We spent a good hour wandering through the park looking for the biggest, the best and the juiciest looking blackberries we could find. We were also hot and itchy from the nettles and exhausted from our climb up the blackberry covered hill but excited, for our Tupperware box full of blackberries would soon be in a pan being turned into homemade jam!

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Now I have never made jam before in my life. I have watched my mam make strawberry jam on occasions where we have gone strawberry picking and got a little carried away with filling the little basket they give you, but that is the extent of my jam knowledge.

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I crazily decided that I would turn my hand towards my first attempt of jam making on the Saturday night after a long, tiring day at work. I put on a playlist inspired by The Four Seasons (I had just seen the show based about them at the theatre royal) and danced around the kitchen, Heineken in hand waiting for our little haul to boil down in the pan I had placed them in. They quickly did, and after deciding to make seedless jam I poured the contents of the pan into a muslin cloth over a bowl and squeezed all of the hot blackberry juice goodness out and after making the kitchen worktops, floor and my hands look like they wouldn’t be out of  place in a murder scene, I returned the blackberry juice back to the pan and added the sugar and lemon juice and brought the pan to a boil, and continued to follow the recipes instructions.

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I managed to get two good-sized jars of seedless jam from our blackberry pick, one which has almost already been devoured in the space of three weeks! So much for the two jars lasting me until next year’s haul. However! I have caught the jam making bug and I think rhubarb and ginger jam may be the next on my list to make seeing as we have two large rhubarb plants taking over the garden now! Let me know what jams your currently making or what ones I should add to my list to make.