46. Village survival, don’t hide your light under a (blackberry) bush(el).

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I love a blackberry and apple crumble and in early Autumn the county of Devon offers up a veritable bounty of  blackberry super fruits. And blimmin’ soooooper they are too – packed rigid with antioxidants and all conveniently plucked from the local hedgerows. Always a good idea to give them a good wash though – important to remove the  sparrow piss and spider spittle!

I like to be fully prepared for the blackberry season so I always make ready my car in early Autumn. Most people keep essentials in their vehicle such as a torch, a reflective triangle thingy, and water but my emergency supplies are jettisoned for numerous blackberry collecting receptacles – freezer bags, lidded tupperware and baskets which fill up my boot. A high vis jacket and spare tyre are just for wimps anyway.

So, over the last month I have stopped in many country lanes in order to dash out of the car and grab handfuls of these luscious fruits thus smugly utilizing my multitudinous blackberry gathering tubs. In addition, all our recent family walks or bike rides have been unceremoniously bastardised for my blackberry picking preoccupation.  I make *Mummy Pig look like a complete amateur, and unlike *Mummy Pig and **Hugh Hefner I’ve never stumbled into a bush – rookie mistake!Screen Shot 2017-10-07 at 10.13.45.pngMummy Pig found herself in the bush…..Daddy Pig wished it was him. Photo on Youtube.com where you can watch the episode in full. So welcome.

Anyhoo, last weekend we enjoyed the fruits of my labours quite literally in the form of one of my seasonal blackberry and apple crumbles. But on this occasion I found I had surplus ingredients. So what would you suggest I do with the left over blackberries, apples, crumble mix and even custard….. err, make another crumble you cretin – right?

Wrong! – that would be both too sensible and boring and you’re better than that. So I decided to challenge myself – no, not by scaling Ben Nevis, swimming the channel or getting through a Monday afternoon without Pinot Grigio but by coming up with my own recipe using the aforementioned ingredients….so…..ta dah…here is the (catchily titled) Devon Blackberry and Apple Crumble and Custard Muffins. Yeah yeah, I know this *may* have been done before so some humouring on your part *may* be required.


3 Large eggs

200g of cooking marg or butter

150g of sugar

300g of self raising flour

175g blackberries or thereabouts. Top Tip alert: I like to fill up the tupperware containing the blackberries with water for a while. You’ll find that any hidden creepy crawlies will conveniently bob up to the surface and you can simply drain them off. Enjoy.

1 small apple – diced into tiny pieces

14 generous teaspoons of custard.

50g or so of crumble mix for sprinkling on top. Top Tip alert: this can be homemade or shop bought, I’m not here to judge.

The cake mix: never pretty, but I don’t feel I needed to hide the truth from you.

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Cream the marg and sugar, add the eggs then the flour. Mix in the apple and then gently fold in the blackberries otherwise they’ll break down into an perplexing purple pulp.

Alert: remember when you put the custard in to flob a bit of the cake mix over it before the crumble topping bit.

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Alert: Go easy with the crumble topping – a nice, light, even sprinkling will suffice or the muffins wont be able to rise up and as ***Mary Berry will explain, you’ll get a soggy bottom which was a problem for her until she found Tena Lady pants because of course her baking has always been exemplary.

Alert: Makes 14 muffins which is super annoyingly – one muffin tray plus 2 more cake cases in another muffin tray…..and then they wont all fit in a standard sized cake tin….so you have to eat two………sorrynotsorry.

Alert: Bake on 180 for about 25 mins – but keep faffing about opening the oven door letting all the heat out every 5 minutes because you aren’t sure if the black bits are blackberries or burnt bits.

Alert: Calories? Probably. Potentially offsetted by traipsing around the countryside finding the blackberries. However if no traisping was undertaken and you did indeed buy your blackberries I would have to suggest a full 20 mins on the cross trainer per muffin!

Alert: Below is a muffin straight out of the oven. The custard does in fact solidify in a cold muffin…sorryamsorry.

Perhaps use an old glass bowl which you have inherited from a kind elderly relative which may or may not make the muffin look slightly more attractive.

muffin cust.png

Other attractive bowl reinforcements might need to be busted out.

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Lottie (aged 8): “Did you make any plain muffins?”

Toby (aged 10): “Can I just have the custardy bit?”

My visiting Mother:  “Ooh a bit pippy…I’ll be picking those out of my fillings for days! Why didn’t you just make another crumble?…..I could have taken it home for your father.”

Ted (husband): “Hmmmmm….delicious!” (and no, he wasn’t taking the piss.)

Of all the testimonials, I’ve decided to go with *delicious*.

So there we have it, Devon Blackberry and Apple and Custard Crumble Muffins like Blackberry and Apple Crumble but more cakey, more calories and more work! Enjoy.

Have you totally made up or made over a recipe recently? Go on, don’t hide your light under a (blackberry) bush(el), share it with a link in comments!

As you were!


** really allegedly

*** very allegedly

YAY! I’m a featured blogger on #dreamteam with this post! 17/10/2017 Huge thanks to 3littlebuttons.com rhymingwithwine.com and bridiebythesea.com

3 Little Buttons


Rhyming with Wine


45. Village survival, acceptable Autumness?

I’m not one of those people who embraces Autumn, in fact I’m not generally speaking  buying it…..coffee

Right! You’ve hardly cremated your last banger on the barbeque or peeled off that stubborn bit of flaky tanned skin when the ‘new season’ is trotted in by the official harbingers of Autumn! Errr that’ll be TV’s *Tess Daly and **Claudia Winkleman then and no! – a few choice sparkly and heavily sequinned dresses do not compensate for killing summer stone dead like an overly optimistic badger on the M5. Simon Cowell is also guilty of passing a chilly shadow over the warmth of the last summer rays with his insipid singing talent show which is now tackier than a Nutella stained furry onesie. Paul Hollywood is another one shafting late summer as he tempts us with stodgy carbed baked foods and cosy patronising patter for the bakers. All the while pretty golden leaves are barely even swirlin’ outside the tent.

And so just like that, the media tosses us unceremoniously into those tricky transitional days between summer and what I call real Autumn. In particular, the unpredicatable weather will joyfully find us invariably dressed inappropriately. We’ll choose woolly tights on what turns out to be a freakily warm sunny day. We’ll leave the house with a mere cardy against the elements just as storm (insert stupid twee name like) Doris arrives! Doris sounds like she’d bake you a Great British Bake Off standard Victoria Sponge not flood the high street, blow the bins over and bash your bastard garden fence down!


The supermarkets and shops are also in on this abrupt seasonal shift.

August 31st: Disposable BBQs, burgers and a wide selection of marinated meats!

September 1st: Pumpkin and butternut squash everybloodything! 

Soup! How retailers are just conning you into buying even more bread – namely crusty loaves/baguettes/rolls. Ever enjoyed a bowl of soup without bread? Thought not.

Tights! No sooner have we been cajoled into stocking up on warm tights (pun very much intended) then we are abusing the toe gusset by wearing said tights out to the bins in flips flops!! What do you deem acceptable to wear on your feet out to the bins – surely  there’s a tug boat full of subject matter for another blog post here? 

Stationery! I love a bit of new stationery – I’m not going to pretend otherwise. A couple of choice pieces please such as a handy sized notebook for blog ideas and a lovely large lined jotter pad! But it’s owls and foxes on everybloodything! It’s albloodyways woodland creatures for Autumn, and albloodyways safari animals for Summer. Is this not a little seasonist! Can’t we change it up a bit? The answer is ‘no’, followed by a short sharp slap around the face and a ‘pull yourself together’. Owls and foxes are going nowhere!

A final note regarding the shopsMarks and Spencers, Sparks, Markses or good old Marks&Sparks! (whatever your pet name for this shopping emporium) the fact of the matter is that Marks and Spencers is on one from now until Christmas. Seriously. Its stock is double dipped in glitter and sparkles then thrice cooked in duck fat and that’s not just Twiggy’s new range! We’ll have to sit through weeks nay months of multitudinous jazz handed and fake snow infested advertisements as their xmas campaign snowballs from now (not really Autumn) towards 24th December. Yes, you’re a well loved British high street stalwart and I personally love you but….have a calm Marks and Spencers……have a calm. 

Don’t mess with my (Autumnal) toot toot!

By toot toot I actually mean….err coffee! 

I’ve happily drunk plain old, common or garden mochas, lattes and hot chocolates all year long. I don’t suddenly need a Snow White Chocolate and Peppermint Mocha. Equally my much loved long milky coffee does not need to be vegetable inspired, spiced, frothed and pimped into a Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I also don’t require my hot chocolate to be unashamedly turned into a brash and seedy version of itself with an extra large bouffant of cream, a vertiginous tower of marshmallows and a flake the size of The Shard! I’m just after a chocolatey drink is all, not arse implants which is basically where this calorific concoction would end up! There’s no need for the bastardising of all the hot beverages!

Just about acceptable Autumness!


Blackberry and apple crumble is in many circumstances acceptable (unless sticky toffee pudding is in the offing) and this fruity desert gets an Autumn free pass. That’s right, I’m not mad at these seasonal fruits combined with that tasty crumbly topping and super sweet custard!……mind you, afterwards the pips-in-teeth sitch is a total fecking arse!

Ok, ok, having a log fire is delectable with that organic, smokey aroma and warmth…….mind you, going out in tights and flip flops to get the logs in during Storm Twee Name is also a total fecking arse!

But there is just one thing I’ll hold my hands up to (strap in)…….if the weather is clement, if I’m adequately dressed and if I’m palming a hot beverage in a travel mug…. I’ll admit to maybe slightly enjoying (imagine I’m saying this really quickly right into your ear in a furtive breathy whisper) ……a walk in the woods through crunchy leaves……….sssshhhhh.



Do you feel romantically lulled into Autumn or downright conned?  What do you love and hate about this transitional period into what I call real Autumn?

As you were!

*and **, look Tess and Claudia, I’ve got no beef with you. In fact I love that you are two talented women presenting on a hugely successful show, it’s just your timing – is all. 

Marks and Spencers, you know  I love you, send me a voucher! Go on!



44. Village survival, getting emosh about emojis!

Emojis are sooooo useful and particularly helpful at the end of a text to – that arsy school mum or your mother in law when you really don’t want to put X.  They punctuate and embellish our messages and are on hand when you can’t be arsed to type actual words. Hell – emojis are so damn cool they’ve made a movie about them and a whole load of oversized and repellent polyester cushions found at fairgrounds the length and breadth of this country.

However do you ever find yourself thinking ‘I need a certain emoji but it just doesn’t exist – dang it!’ Super frustrating right?

Only the other day I was having a text convo with a local friend and felt somewhat anguished by the lack of a ‘scone’ emoji. Yes, I could make do and use a cake emoji or sell out with a chocolate chip cookie – I agree, they would both loosely convey baked goods but frankly I couldn’t evade a sinking feeling that they simply weren’t good enough. We were, after all discussing the important and venerated subject that is Devonshire Cream Teas. 

Now, I know I bang on a lot about scones and it borders on a obsessive compulsive disorder but surely you agree with me that an emoji should be able to accurately describe the subject matter to render it fit for purpose? How many of us are sending messages on a daily basis with potentially inadequate and inappropriate emojis? I say again – It’s not good enough – and may well be causing unnecessary messaging misery.

So, I decided to meet this on the front line and blimmin’ come up with some of my own emojis. After all – Necessity is the mother of invention!

A scone: an all purpose emoji, appropriate for any general scone related subject matter.

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A smiley scone: this may be used in context to articulate a positive encounter with a scone. For example, baking a successful batch or indeed chowing down on a memorable cream tea.

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An unsmiley scone: this is helpful for expressing displeasure with a scone. For example, a stale one. Or perhaps a scone which crumbles up when attempting to spread it with jam and clotted cream – thus leaving you disappointed and disillusioned.

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I ask you, do you have a hole in your emoji collection? Do you suffer systematically from inadequate emojis which stifle your typing creativity?  Perhaps there is a regional or personal emoji that you would like to see on your phone slash device? Pop any ideas in comments so that we can open up a platform of discussion and start taking a serious  investigative look at this worrying tech deficit.

As you were!

PS, if you like this post, you might like this one too! which also happens to be about err… scones but hold back the river (leave it James Bay!) I am capable of writing about other subjects such as this one and also this one! If you like what you read – do give me a mention on social media so that I can spread a bit more of the Devon word. Ta, xx




43. Village survival, going going…scone!

Baking Bad: a recipe for disaster – how to make 50 scones when you’re really not that into baking and also have a horrendous hangover! 

Last Saturday I was *volunteered* to bake 50 scones for the Cream Tea Afternoon on the Village Green. Most of the inhabitants of Vertonbridge village would be there. We’d play a game of family cricket, listen to a local band play 80’s covers and generally slouch about on the duck poo covered green drinking tea and chowing down on high fat, gluten and dairy based food products all afternoon. Local baker Marjorie Middlethwaite was also batch baking scones for the event which alleviated the refreshments presh a little. Is it scones as in scons’ or scones as in scowns’? I personally favour ‘scons’. Struggling to care? Fair enough.


After much deliberation, I decided to make my scones based loosely on a Delia Smith recipe because it was the most simples and didn’t involve me hunting down any soda of baking powder or any other highfalutin baking gubbins.

The night before the saturday morning of the scone baking (keep up) Ted and I enjoyed a meal with friends in the village pub – and so after a few Martini Rossos too many or was it that last Creme de Menthe? – I had woken up feeling like my brain had been replaced by a clusterf*ck of woodpeckers and then to compound my misery I had to bring it with with some seriousass Mary Berry scone skillz…..


Going going…..scone!

It’s a fact universally known that you have to bake scones and then like just bloody eat themit’s a thing. You can’t go making them in advance because they go stale in a matter of minutes/hours. Literally from the moment they come out of the oven it’s a race against time to get them to your cakehole or someone else’s before they turn into rock cakes.

Stuff that went in it

225g self raising flour

40g butter (make sure you forget to take it out of the fridge so it’s a complete bastard to work with).

5oz of milk

1 1/2 tablespoons of castor sugar

A pinch of salt

How I cobbled it together 

  • Put oven on at 220 – you need a nice hot oven or in my case just a nice oven!
  • At this point in proceedings I located the cooking sherry and took several furtive swigs for hair of the dog purposes. This cheeky culinary tipple does not go into the scones. However –  gap in the market alert, we’ve had cherry scones, perhaps now it’s time for sherry scones. You heard it here first – err…my idea – so jog on Heston Blumenthal. I don’t want to see alcohol enfused scones in Waitrose any time soon without some serious royalties!
  • Sieve the flour into a bowl and throw in the butter. Mix it in together by hand and get loads of gunk stuck to your fingers and rings which you’ve forgotten to take off. Feel mildly concerned when you can’t remember if you have washed your hands either.
  • Add sugar and salt.
  • Stir in milk slowly so you make a gloopy dough which looks really sloppy. In a panic throw in more flour and then wonder if it’s now a bit stodgy? Add a dash more milk and then in a panic throw in more flour and then wonder if it’s now a bit stodgy?
  • Attempt to roll out the sticky stodgy dough to 2.5cm thick. Scrape large chunks off the rolling pin with a litany of your favourite expletives. Cobble it all together again so it looks like a large slab of white thigh cellulite.
  • Use a middle sized fluted cutter to press down sharply for a clean but attractively circular and wavey edge. Enjoy wringing sensation in wrist and possible future RSI at the exersion.
  • Hunt about for the greaseproof paper, freak the hell out when you can’t find any. Send husband or other responsible adult out to buy some.
  • Panic that scones need to go into the oven NOW as they start to fester and melt into  the work surface.
  • Seize greaseproof paper from returning husband or responsible adult in overly dramatic Bake Off style panic and place scones on the greaseproof paper. I managed about 10 scones per mix – not 12 like the recipe said – Delia, I’m not angry- just disappointed.
  • Bake on 220 for about 12 mins or until, much like yourself, they are completely browned off.
  • Begin ball ache clean up operation when you notice there is a snow-like dusting of flour everybloodywhere…..
  • Realise that you haven’t got enough tins (for scone transportation). Brave the Tupperware cupboard for further scone receptacles and adopt the brace position for inevitable plastic avalanche.


Deirdre Snellon (head of the Village Horticultural Club who puts a haughty into everything! See what I did there)  “Ahh Hillie, you can take ‘those’ home and err?………freeze them? Everyone seems to have gone for Marjorie’s scones………..”

Ted from devon…..anything tastes nice with cream and jam on….”

Lottie from Devon “I want a chocolate brownie.”

A random judgy local “….did you have one of Hillie’s scones? Marjorie is handing out Gaviscon tablets for anyone affected!…” Hopefully she and Marjorie both stepped in a large pile of Village Green duck poo’ – which then squelched into their Hush Puppy sandals! 

I took a moment to enjoy the warm inner glow and sense of community that comes from living in a small rural village……….

As you were!

If you liked this recipe anecdote you might like this one too?

*Although I would heartily relish a trolley dash around Waitrose accompanied by Heston Blumenthal wearing a fetching pair of Hush Puppies whilst relieving heartburn symptons with Gaviscon – sadly this post was not sponsored by any of these well known and popular brands.


42. Village survival, Sofa King Comfy!

This week I’m talking design! I’m talking fashion but more specifically I’m talking Loungewear or what I like to call Sofawear, because the sofa is king right? Luckily I’m not really talking because that would be a vlog or a podcast or something with actual  noise and I don’t think you’re ready for that………

Ok people, get on board. It’s that time of the day (anything after midday will do) when you can legitimately slip into something a little more comfy and those of you who don’t fancy your negligee and feather boa will know that I mean Sofawear. This fashion trend has seen a huge rise in popularity in recent years – do you know what I  blame? – skinnie jeans! Yes, those bloomin’ lady-garden suffocaters, those huge-arse unforgivers, those calf skin exfoliators denims. These tourniquet tight jeans need to come off as soon as you get your constricted arse through the front door. But the blame doesn’t just lie with skinnies! No! Other fashions are putting trend before comfort such as the off the shoulder tops – Gypsy, Bardot and peep hole shoulder trends that are sweeping the global fashion scene. But just take a moment to think through the consequencescold shoulders – which leads to neck pain and before you know it a tension headache! Equally that tight pencil skirt and those natty high heels that you’ve worked in all day need to be sacked off and left on the floordrobe asap. Have you ever even considered what fashion is doing for your muscular skeletal health?

A comfy pair of trews, in case you were wondering!


 Sofa(r), sofa(r) good!

So Sofawear is here to stay. Gone are the days of a slinging on a pair of old frayed Tracky B’s and an ancient jumper/sweater. We now have a huge choice of loungewear, we may even own an attractive pair of loose fitting trousers and cachmere socks and with our hair worn in an effortless loose bun we look Instagram worthy in our own homes fo sho’.  socks.pngBut what does the future hold for sofawear, what can we expect to see next? Do you even care? Well, here are my unresearched and shoddy predictions for your delectation:

  • There will be shops/stores just for loungewear. I heard recently that a new store will be opening soon on a high streeet in my nearest city called Sofa King Comfy! I’ll be there.
  • Normal clothes made of less comfy fabrics will only be worn outside of the home.
  • Cashmere socks will become so popular that the world will smell like a goat’s arse in a bid to keep up with demand for wool.
  • Furry onesies will become a criminal offence (punishable with community service) on all persons older than 10 years.
  • Men’s romper suits will indeed take off and men the world over will find these versatile and comfortable even if they do look like Prince George when he was two.
  • The romper will lead to a rise in popularity in the boiler suit too. Yes, I’m nodding in recognition at you B A Barracus for being the founding father of this khaki camo staple. But I’m predicting that t-shirt material will be the break out fabric for this unisex trend. You heard it hear first. Probably*.
  • Wardrobes will consist of 70% sofawear with workwear/uniform/sports clothing/occasionalwear constituting just 30% of your wardrobes. You slobby bunch.

Here comes the sciencey bit (I knew that Groupon online beginners psychotherapy course priced £9.99 was £325 would come in handy at some point). So why else are we turning to sofawear or loungewear? Why has it become such a phenomenon? – and other open ended inane questions? Let’s look at the evidence:

  • Soft, loose fitted clothing is comfortable. I know. I’m good, right.
  • Loungewear gives us punctuation in our day. When we’ve finished our shift, our work day or put the kids to bed, changing into something comfortable moves us seemlessly into downtime. And also means you don’t have to hold your stomach in anymore. Win.
  • We’re simply staying in more – in a word(s) Box Sets! Marketing everywhere is retraining us to love our homes and we’re taking our gardens/yards seriously. We’ve decided our patch of grass is now an outside room.  Imagine twenty years ago –  if you referred to your garden as an outside room, someone would have told you to stop being such a nobhead and rightly so. And when we’re staying in (thanks Netflix) then we’re certainly sofa surfing in sofawear.

Sofawear that is unexceptable

Anyone else sick of leggings? It’s fair to say I king can’t stand them. They had their place like 10 years ago…if Idina Menzel has tried to teach us anything during her extensive musical career – it’s to ‘let it go’. Air grabbing here is optional. I suggest a sacrificial leggings based bonfire in your outside room.

Velour, anything velour is not allowed. No exceptions. Don’t even give it eye contact in Primark or Walmart (for my North American readers).

The aforementioned furry onesie (on adults) – before these are formally abolished  please stop wearing them. They are not ok – not even when worn ironically.

The slanket, if you’re wearing a slanket – then you have given up. This is the equivalent of prehistoric couchwear and should be shunned by persons everywhere!

Hair up. bra off, sweats on.

Now it’s over to you. How important is sofawear to you? What time do you put yours on? What do you buy for sofawear or for your down time at home?? Are you staying in more and calling your garden/yard – an outside room? – is that even ok?

Pop your comments in errr…comments because I can’t read your minds.

This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader Click on the link to enter with a design post!

*Probably not


41. Village survival, Sports Day – the mum’s race!


Lucy, assistant editor at Execellent (Devon’s Capital Magazine) contacted me last month to write a piece on Sports Day: how it has changed in the last 40 years! If you’ve read either of my other pieces for this magazine you’ll know that Lucy is about 23 and horribly…………well, young. I think I’m her go-to 40 something – I’m ideal if she needs to know how sh*t happened before 1996.

I knew I’d be in Exeter shopping last week so I arranged to pop in to discuss the article with her. I chose the hottest day thus far this year. The offices (all sour lemon and greys) were air-conditioned and crisply cool – as was Lucy in her patterned jumpsuit which in no way at all made her arse look huge (an inhuman feat). I, on the other hand was so hot and sweaty that I was glowing more than a glow worm’s arse at a glow worm’s arse glowing championships.

Lucy sat me down on the slidey glaringly canary yellow coloured couch with an ice cold San Pellegrino which I would have happily squirted into my own face.

“There’s wet wipes in the ladies loo……” Lucy offered helpfully with a barely disguised wrinkle of her nose as she watched a drip slide down the side of my chin. Nice. I found some gnarly looking old tissues in the bowels of my handbag and retrieved my olde world notebook with bits of loose paper, lists and post-it notes spilling out of it. Lucy looked perplexed at this. What is this strange thing you call paper? She reached for her iPad and swiped the screen a few times snappily. What she was doing looked highly professional to me and very media luvvie but she was probably just sacking someone off on Tinder before we got down to business. She looked up after a few moment’s distraction. Her contouring was perfect I noted too. I tried not to hate her. Too much.

“So Hillie – I’m thinking Sports Day! I’m thinking let’s compare modern sports day to sports day in your day…like….you were a child of the 70’s right? Like how has the event changed? How have the races changed? Like, have we taken health and safety too far today?”

She didn’t require me to like interject.

“I mean, there must be some vintage stuff you can throw into this piece, some nostalgia. Was it all bunting, orange quarters and like sack races? What was that totally weird race-thing you did with your legs tied together? Again no interjection required. Let’s compare it to today’s sports day – is it a more sterile affair…I mean, like, do they like even have the mum’s race anymore?”

Ahhh the mum’s race……………….

In my Mum’s day all the mothers seemed to kick off their espadrilles, tuck their kaftans into their massive knickers and bloody go for it but nowadays the mum’s race mums at sports day are a more varied bunch and so in the name of research for my article I’ve compiled a list:-

The ‘actually sporty’ Mum  this mum will be wearing trainers and sports leggings but may have thrown on an old t-shirt so she doesn’t look too keen – don’t be fooled. She’s been spotted out and about running like usual but just recently she has added sprint interval training……..

The ‘Converse or unbranded equivalent wearing’ Mum this mum’s choice of footwear is premeditated. She’s gone casual. She knows she’ll run way better in Converse or the unbranded equivalent and no one will bat an eyelid at her everyday summery daps……..



The ‘very competitive’ Mum she was probably the lacrosse captain at university. She undoubtably swam at county level in school and was also inordinately good at badminton when she was in her 20s. What she lacks in running prowess she’ll make up for in gritted determination, competitive elbowing and intimidating Haka style stares.

The ‘got a right face ‘on Mum this mum has an academic slash musical child. She spends much of sports day glowering from under her sunglasses giving off ‘yeah but my son’s got grade 6 Clarinet’ or ‘Yeah but my daughter has the reading age of a 14 year old’ vibes. There will be no mothers race action from this mum. The only sprinting she’ll do is to run down the sporty kids mums at the next PTFA meeting.

The ‘hasn’t thought it through’ Mum, as the name suggests this mum is liable to loose a boob out of the side of her strapless maxi dress. This will occur half way through the race and two seconds before she realises!

The ‘wedgey’ Mum  this mum will spend the entire sports day sitting in either a too small school chair or camping seat (with drinks holder). She’d like to get up for the awards at the end but in fact she’s totally wedged into it. Her arse has got stuck in the heat and the plastic seating has welded to the backs of her thighs. On the bright side she might get a free leg wax when she finally gets peeled out of it.

The ‘barefooted and boisterous’ Mum she is wearing a floaty dress which will flap up in the wind to reveal more information than she’d like.  She’ll kick off her red Birkenstocks with a giggle and say coyly “The mum’s race?….oh go on then, you twisted my arm,” before she frog marches up first to the starting line.



The ‘hustler’ Mum  this mum might be new or have a child in reception. This is her first sports day, she’s got no form, the bookies (other parents) haven’t even given odds on her. She’s going to blast up the field from nowhere in her Sainsburys plimpsolls and whip those hackneyed old mares. Fo sho.

Of course as the mothers race finishes in a screechy sweaty blur you’ll always get the faller, the one who jettisons a shoe/sandal, the one who loses a left bosom, the one who shrieks like a howler monkey when she hits the finishing line and not forgetting the winning and therefore champion Mum who’s photo will be all over social media gurning grotesquely as she hurls herself across the line like an overzealous olympian.

If you’re up for running the mother’s day or indeed the father’s race this year do let me know how you get on? Think of my comments as a safe place………….

As you were!

My actual piece on Sports Day: how it has changed in the last 40 years! will be in next months Execellent Magazine for all you subscribers out there, for those of you who don’t live in the Exeter catchment area don’t worry because you can see it online if  you can be at all arsed.



40. Village survival, a guaranteed muffin top!


Now I’m not a recipe type of a person. I do attempt recipes occasionally and think to myself that’s nice but I’ll just tweak it, or add this and leave out that because fundamentally I don’t think I like being told what to do! Anyway recently I had two limp left-over parsnips and an abundant crop of strawberries from the garden (about 8 actually which were fairly manky and half chewed by a band of bastard slugs). Anyway, I decided to make some Parsnip, Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes and like todally make it up as I went along.

So here’s the recipe (if you like being told what to do) which Lottie and I haphazardly cobbled together. We measured stuff and everything so I’m hopefuls that if you try this at home you’ll get the same mediocre and decidedly soggy arsed muffins too. You’re so welcome.

Now – many children like raisins and this is an ideal way to add a sweet taste to cakes and muffins but of course Lottie will have no truck whatsoever with dehydrated fruits. Undaunted (ok, slightly daunted) I wanted to make our muffins sweet but without too much sugar which I was (first world) worried would negate the use of fruit/veg. I thought rather over-zealously and some would say quite naively that perhaps the natural sweet taste of the parsnips and strawberries would add to the over all sweetness value. Did they hell as like. Parsnips everywhere – you have let me down.

Parsnip, Strawberry and Chocolate Muffins.

Stuff that went in it.

2 average sized parsnips – limp and bendy is fine by me. Relax, no need to be too judgey about your root veg on this occasion.

150g of strawberries – or 8 slightly rank and gnarly ones from your veggie patch. This is  perfectly acceptable and includes guaranteed self satisfied strawberry growing smugness or your money back.

3 large eggs (we get ours from our neighbour down the road and love playing rancid egg roulette – enjoying the frisson of tension at never knowing if we’re going to crack a manky one). Spoiler Alert – always use a separate container to avoid – a rotten egg straight into your cake mix sitch.

150g butter (you can try a healthier alternative here but you do so at your own risk, I’ll have no part in it).

250g self raising flour.

50g castor sugar (or if you’ve run out – the last of the granulated from the sugar bowl complete with brown stained clumpy bits from making tea and coffee).

50ml of honey (we used the last of the spreading honey which was full of toast crumbs which we may not have scraped off).

3 heaped desert spoons of cocoa (I would advise here – not a crap brand otherwise the quality of the finished product will be chocolatively compromised).


When you use stock photography because your own strawberries look like sh*t.

How we cobbled it together.

  • Put oven onto 180 degrees to pre-heat. I couldn’t be arsed to look up what regulo that is if you’ve got a gas oven. Not even sorry.
  • Start by peeling and chopping parsnips then steam or boil until really soft. I always find the smell of boiling parsnips quite gag worthy – enjoy!
  • While they are cooking: cream together the butter, sugar and honey, add the eggs individually with a small amount of flour each time. Combine the rest of the flour and the cocoa. If it looks like cat-sick you’re doing it right – keep going.
  • Chop up the strawberries into small chunks. Drain and cool parsnips with running cold water then mash them up, if they are rank and fibrous you may want to whiz them up with your hand held blender or in a food mixer. Yes – some more sodding washing up. Again, not even sorry.
  • Fold in strawberries and pulped parsnips. Love fold in – it sounds so proffesh and like I have half a bollocking clue what I’m going on about.
  • Hunt for the muffin tin which is right in the bottom of the cupboard, have a little eff and jeff as you pull out the contents of the bastard baking shelf to locate the darn thing. Spoon the cake batter into muffin cases – the mixture will make 24 stingy ones or 18 fat-knacker ones – s’up to you.

Baking time.

I’m still not friends with my newish oven which likes to over complicate my life. It’s a touch screen jobby that beeps at me in an accusatorially way like it’s swearing at me in Ovenese. Hopefully your oven is far more amiable and your relationship with it is at least companionable.

15 mins on 180 degrees in the middle of the oven. Avoid a nasty bout of food poisoning by popping a knife in one just to make sure it comes out clean and gunk free and sh*t.

Before decorating.

cakes copy.png

Decoration, if you can be arsed.

For a guaranteed muffin top – A drizzle – in our case it was more of a dismal of icing. We used homemade pink icing with shop bought chocolate sprinkles (from Sainsburys). You could use butter icing and chocolate shavings for a more indulgent and indeed lavish finish.

Store in a cutesy not really vintage tin (may I recommend – Emma Bridgwater or Kath Kidston here) but not for very long because they go proper rank after a day or so.


Pop a cake fork in it for a trying-too-hard recipe book style photo!


Ted from Devon (my husband): “Remind me again why there’s parsnip in it?”

Lottie from Devon: “Yum, I really like this Mummy…….err actually I don’t.”

Toby from Devon: “Yuck, that’s really gross.”

Me from Devon:  “Hmmm yummy and nice texture too!”

Julie from Devon (neighbour who happened to be watering her hanging baskets and then attempted to hide in the shed when I approached with a muffin): “You’re breaching the terms of the restraining order.”

As you were!

If you try this at home I’ll be amazed frankly but do let me know your results in comments! Or perhaps you have a vegetable based cake that you would like to share from your blog – just pop the link in comments. Thanking you.

A big yay! I’m a featured blogger on #fridayfrolics with this post. Big thanks to Claire, Emma and Lucy xx

Island Living 365