Happy Sunday everyone! I’m still recovering from an treat-packed mini-break my brother and I organised to celebrate my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary last weekend. We stayed in a lovely cottage in the New Forest (not through Airbnb for once…), and the weather was so glorious we managed to do lots of hearty outdoors activities like cycling and horse-fondling – the ponies are just everywhere, casually stopping traffic by sauntering into the middle of the road, or sidling up to the edge of your property to organically cut your grass.
I’d had an – ahem – ‘gem’ of an idea a few months ago to cook a ruby-themed meal in honour of this milestone anniversary, so I spent the whole week in the run-up to our mini-break preparing food for the Saturday night. It actually all worked out really well – especially because I had deliberately chosen dishes that were low-stress, make-ahead options: Champagne and Chambord cocktails; a Persian-style tomato salad; a Ruby Murray courtesy of Nigella; and a rosewater and raspberry meringue layer cake (see picture below) that was meant to be a roulade but which I ended up sort of making up as I went along. I have never seen all of my family enjoy food I’ve cooked as much as at that meal – they can sometimes be a tough (read: picky) audience, but they wolfed it all down.
There were two reasons I was keen to steer my family in the direction of the New Forest for our get-together. One was a chance to return to The Pig – which we did, for a final dinner on the Sunday night, even though it meant bundling Oscar into his buggy and hoping that he would sleep through the meal (thankfully, he did just that). It was worth the stress of getting him to sleep – The Pig was just as charming as the last time we were there, and the cocktails and food were spot-on.
Oscar’s reward for such good behaviour came the following day, with a visit to Peppa Pig World – my other motive for our Hampshire location. Unfortunately, this was the only day when it poured with rain, but in true Peppa style, we could think only of the joyous muddy puddles the rain would bring (there is a special ‘muddy puddles’ section of the park, FYI, for those of you who love Peppa Pig as much as we do). We arrived at the theme park with Oscar none the wiser, but as soon as we squelched past the Peppa Pig sign, he recognised the music, the characters and most of the scenarios and had a whale of a time. I had been wondering whether it would all go over his head, what with him being just 22 months old and all, but it is actually all perfectly pitched for kids of that age and above, with steep-sided grassy bumps dotted around to give the illusion of Peppa-style hills, ultra-gentle rides, and fairly restrained merchandising when you consider what might have been.
It’s hard to decide who loved Peppa Pig World more – Oscar, me, or my mum. When the characters came out of their house to do a meet and greet, my mum screamed like she hadn’t done since Beatlemania gripped that generation. When our turn came to actually meeting Peppa and George, it was me who INEXPLICABLY got a lump in my throat. Oscar was the one who took it most in his stride, giving George a chaste kiss on the cheek, stroking Peppa’s nose, and then turning his attention to George’s Dinosaur Adventure ride (one great advantage to visiting on a rainy day in low season: there are barely any queues :)).
Quite aside from all this porcine activity, I’ve been living it up more than usual in London too, catching up with one of my besties over afternoon tea, enjoying more dinners out than are strictly necessary, and actually having fun at another good friend’s hen do (hen parties are not usually my strong suit but this one was a hoot). So my new autumn wardrobe has been earning its keep. I also treated myself to a facial at the Elemis ‘spa-salon’ just off Bond Street – my first ever (I’ll always plump for a massage over anything else). Although it was lovely to be pampered and I thought my skin looked healthier after the treatment, it has been out of control ever since, with huge spots returning to problem areas that I thought I’d conquered using this cream. Is this normal? Does your skin go feral when you spend 50 quid on it?
Here on the blog, Rose ditched dark nail polish for a hot coral hue (my go-to shade for summer toes – I never paint my fingernails), while Rachel took the week off (did we mention she’s just had a baby? Plus, it was her birthday on Friday, a year on from our awesome trip to Le Gavroche.)
Have you been to Peppa Pig World? I’d love to hear your recommendations for other family-friendly mini-breaks and activities. Also, please share your facial experiences!