23 July 2015

Birthday Fun and Frolics

Monday was my birthday, I'm now the mature age of 34 - although there are days I just don't feel very grown up. Anyway, like most people I like to milk my birthday a bit and drag out the celebrations. This year was no different!

Saturday I dragged poor Dan along with me to go SUP'ing at Weymouth Watersports. He's a die hard surfer and SUP'ing isn't very cool in a surfers eyes. We paddled from Ferrybridge over towards OTC at Portland Sailing Academy to catch up with the gang, there was a bit of a cross wind and on our bouncy inflatable boards we didn't quite make it all across. So, we quickly turned around and paddled over to Castle Cove Sailing Academy and back to shore. It was actually more tiring than I remember, but fun to be on the water and in the fresh air. Plus, we had fun with the Go Pro! We rewarded ourselves with a drink at Billy Winters which is a very funky café/restaurant right beside Weymouth Watersports. If you like Café Oasis you'll love Billy Winters even more. They're open to 10pm, perfect for sundowners!

Sup'ing across to Portland - ahoy there!
Hot Choc at Billy Winters

Sunday we headed back down to Weymouth to watch some bands at the Tea on the Quay event outside Rendezvous. It was a perfect afternoon soaking up the rays in the sunshine and listening to one of my fave local bands - Stereoironics.

 Mama Feel Good
 Southern Sinners
Soaking up the sunshine
When we returned home the strawberry Pimm's jelly pots had set and were yummy!
Click here for the recipe - they're easy peasy to make.

Monday was my birthday and I'd booked the day off. No one want's to work on their birthday - right?! Dan and I did a bit of road tripping around the west country. Once we had birthday cake and I'd opened some presents from my folks we headed off to Molly's Den just outside Bridport. There are now four Molly's Den emporium's across the west country. They're filled with vintage knick knacks and treasures. Sadly I didn't find what I was looking for, although I did discover that throughout the summer on a Friday night they're running Howl Open Mic hosted my musician Elijah Wolf which I'm hoping to pop along too.

Pretty knobs!

After Molly's Den we checked out the Antique Bazarr in Crewkerne before heading to the picturesque village of Hinton St George for lunch at the Lord Poulett Arms. We had a gorgeous lunch chilling out in the garden by ourselves, drinking cider and beer and hanging in a hammock. I didn't want to leave!!
Cider in the sunshine - perfect
The Somerset Burger”
 Grilled Beef Burger in a Homemade Brioche Bun, Smoked Bacon, Wookey Hole Cheddar, Pickled Cucumber and Chips
Fish of the day - Megrim Sole
Our little friend joined us for lunch
Feeling very relaxed in the hammock!
After lunch we headed over to Lyme Regis driving through some pretty country lanes in Somerset, Devon and Dorset - a proper west country road trip. The aim was to find some waves so I could take my new board out for our first surf, what we discovered was lots of grockles waiting in hope for the red arrows to show, thick fog, and flat seas. So, we got out pretty sharpish and drove to nearby Charmouth, again there was no decent surf, so we made do with a proper Dorset cream tea!

I was very lucky to receive some gorgeous presents from my friends and some from the other side of the world!!
Necklace from Stacey Miller - Feather & Oak in Oz!
Gorgeous flowers from Stems Florist in Dorchester
 My folks bought me 12 new glasses for the kitchen - these are the very cool Denby tumblers
 From left to right: 1. Bird necklace from Fat Face, 2. Cath Kidston travel wallet, 3. Sticky 9 - Instagram magnets, 4. Honey and soap from  local Kenya women.
My favourite present from my love - turquoise and pearl drop earrings x
So the birthday shenanigans continue as Dan and I are off to Jersey today for a long weekend and to celebrate the wedding of my friends Clancy and Oliver. 
Have a good few days Country Bumpkins and if you have any tips on what to see and do in Jersey - drop me some ideas in the comments box.

18 July 2015

Plumber Manor - Sturminster Newton

Last Saturday was my parents wedding anniversary and up until the Thursday before they were under the impressions that it was just another year clocked up. That was until my Nan reminded my Dad that it was a special anniversary – their 40th or Ruby. Wowsers, pretty incredible. There was panic stations in the Wren household. My Dad frantically wanted to book a meal somewhere ‘special’ to celebrate and my Mum wished she was on holiday somewhere ‘special’. Don’t we all!
Anyhow, my Dad managed to pull it out of the bag in real style. He sent my Mum some gorgeous flowers, and made sure he wasn’t at home so she’d have to open the door to this beautiful flower arrangement.
Ruby red flowers
He also bought her some champagne, fudge and to top it off some exquisite ruby earrings from Allum & Sidaway. My mum was suitably impressed. 
I topped off the presents with a red rose plant for the back garden and another pretty red plant which I can’t remember the name of from Palmer’s Garden Centre in Yeovil. The thought was that planting the red rose would celebrate their 40 years of marriage and every time they looked at the roses they’d feel all sentimental. And then the mischievous pup Alfie promptly ate the buds off the red plant I can’t remember the name of. Typical!
Dad ended up booking a table at the Plumber Manor in Sturminster Newton for dinner on Sunday evening, they were fully booked on Saturday and after our visit I can see why.
As designated driver, I picked the parents up who’d already been on the bubbly and off we went across the Dorset countryside. The Plumber Manor is nestled just off a country lane on the outskirts of Sturminster Newton set at the end of a long drive - a perfect setting for the Jacobean country house. Built in the early 17th Century it’s remained the family home for the Prideaux-Brunes. Even on arrival the Plumber Manor has a real British country feel to it. You’d feel very at home if you’d just ended the day at a shoot or been hunting with the Portman.
On entering we were shown to the lounge for drinks and made to feel at home whilst we looked through the menus and devoured are canapés!
Yummy canapés!
Dinner menu
Family crest
The folks - 40 years & going strong!

When popping to the toilet I took advantage of taking a few photos around the hotel, which had a real old school country house feel almost regal, and I’ve since found out one of the paintings in the gallery was Charles I!
Of course I found a mirror!

After about 30 minutes we were shown into the dining room, where there was about 10 tables – very cosy. We had a lovely view out over the lawn and could see the converted barn.

I went with the Crab Mousseline with a Light Curry Sauce for starters. It was mousse like, with little shards of crab holding it together. It was divine! I love crab and would often have Portland crab at Café Oasis in Weymouth, but this took it to a whole new level. The mix of flavours between the crab and the curry sauce sent my taste buds wild. I did revert to school girl behaviour and mopped up the remaining curry sauce with my bread without gaining too many looks!

 Crab Mousseline with a Light Curry Sauce
For mains I chose the Confit of Duck with Chorizo and Apricot Cassoulet, which came with veg on the side to share between the table. The dauphinoise potatoes and carrot/swede mash was perfect cosy Sunday evening veg to accompany my duck and parents fillet steak. The duck was really tender and just fell apart. I wasn’t so sure about the bed of lentils the duck sat on, so made the most of the veg.

Confit of Duck with Chorizo and Apricot Cassoulet

Pudding came out on a trolley and the waitress talked us through the delights from roulade, meringue, to fresh fruits, and lime cheesecake. I was truly stuffed and only had room for coffee – which came with about 8 chocolates on the side. I managed 2 and we took the rest home - classy!
Price wise you could have two courses for £30 or three for £38, whichever way it’s very reasonably priced.
If you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate a special occasion with a laid back British country feel, good succulent food and great hosts then I’d recommend Plumber Manor. My parents even preferred the experience to Summer Lodge!

To find out more about Plumber Manor head to www.plumbermanor.com
Twilight at Plumber Manor

Look for me in Rainbows

Yesterday was my Granddad Ernie’s funeral in Weymouth, it was a sad day, but he’s now at peace.

I was privileged to be allowed to read a poem at the service. My parents helped me choose the wonderful poem Look for me in Rainbows, written by Conn Bernard in 1990.

The words are very poignant and were apt for yesterday surrounded by family. I’m not sure how I managed to find the strength to hold it together to read through and add emotion to the poem. Thank goodness those years of LAMDA lessons paid off!

Anyway I thought it was a lovely poem worth sharing as quite a few people were asking about it afterwards as it really did touch a chord with so many people.

Sadly as you go through life you have to say goodbye to many loved ones, but one thing is for sure I’ll be looking at rainbows differently from now on – not with sadness, but with a smile.

Look for me in Rainbows
Time for me to go now, I won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, way up in the sky.
In the morning sunrise when all the world is new,
Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.
Time for me to leave you, I won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, high up in the sky.
In the evening sunset, when all the world is through,
Just look for me and love me, and I'll be close to you.
It won't be forever, the day will come and then
My loving arms will hold you, when we meet again.
Time for us to part now, we won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, shining in the sky.
Every waking moment, and all your whole life through
Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.
Just wish me to be near you,
And I'll be there with you.
Words: Conn Bernard (1990)
k* Image courtesy of Shutterstock

13 July 2015

Sani Resort Top Tips from PR/Press Manager Georgia Dodou

During my stay at the Sani Resort I got in touch with the PR/Press Manager for the resort – Georgia Dodou @GEORGIAOLGA  to interview her for my blog. Sadly, we didn’t get to meet face to face, but in true online/social media style we pulled it together and Georgia provided me with some fabulous inside tips about the resort. Enjoy!

What’s your favourite restaurant at Sani Resort?

I actually have two!

Tomata, which I simply love and Sea You Up. I love the creative Mediterranean approach of Tomata and its chef Chrysanthos Karamolegos. You have to try the risotto with the asparagus and the mussels, the sea bass and of course all the desserts.

Sea You Up Restaurant
Tomata Restaurant

And a tip for Sea You Up - book a table during the sunset. The view from the balcony is just amazing. And the food, oh the food, you cannot have enough of the divine sushi from Head Sushi Chef of Nobu Matsuhisa, Chef Katsu Hanamure, who is now our executive consultant chef. 

Where is the best place to sample a cocktail at Sani Resort and what is would be your cocktail recommendation?

Tough question again! Well, as I’m a Japanese lover, I simply adored the Nippon cocktail series at Sea You Bar that I had accompany my dinner at the new sushi bar just around the corner from the bar. 

 Sea You Up Bar

What’s your favourite shop in Sani?

Country Bumpkin Chic - I love Apoella, the pop up shop on the beach, and bought a beautiful evil eye necklace!

Apoella pop up shop at Bousoulas Beach
Photo credit: Rebecca Wren

Georgia - You must have bought the ‘evil eye’ by Lito, a very talented Greek jewellery designer which I just LOVE. I’ve bought the same from Apoella which again is my favourite shop located both in the Sani Marina and on the Bousoulas Beach. 

Apoella was launched a year ago, its name refers to the phrase «Από Ελλάδα» from the Greek, Apo-Ella-da and its been a real success with visitors who've enthusiastically embraced its offerings. I also love the aesthetic perfection, inspiration and Greek designer labels on clothes and accessories which epitomise the Greece we all love.

Other top tips would be jewellery from the House of Zolotas and from Iliana Makri, multi-coloured creations with an international aura from Mary Katrantzou. Futuristic clothing collections by Yiorgos Eleftheriades, hand-made sandals by Valia Gabriel, stylish swimwear from Stefania Frangista, and ethereal clothes by Athena Prokopiou are just a few of the collections housed in the functional and elegant spaces of Apoella, which bring to life summer in Greece with an international jet set aura.

What would be your top 3 things to see and do whilst staying at the Sani Resort? 

1. If you’ve booked your holiday during the period of the Sani Festival, you’re in for a treat! Every evening under the stars, great singers and performers take to the stage on Sani Hill. Concerts are followed by parties where artists and guests mingle in a festive mood.

2. An evening walk is a must do - wait until dusk and make your way down the steps from the lobby of the Sani Beach Club to the water’s edge. Choose your spot and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Sani by night, with the Sani Hill illuminated in the distance. Pure magic!

Sunset over Sani Marina and Sani Hill illuminated in the distance

3. Swimming off Bousoulas beach. The longest beach and the bluest sea imaginable. 7 kilometres of sand! And after a swim, I would go to the Spa Suite at Porto Sani Village to have the best body soothing massage ever with Anne Semonin essential oils. Relaxation with an incredible view is an unbeatable combination!

Bousoulas Beach
Spa Suite

4. And if I may have a 4th, I strongly recommend a visit to the Sani wetland, home to some of the world’s rarest bird species. There is hardly anyone there, and you can enjoy the peace and quiet your soul craves in the summertime.

Any hidden gems that we might not know about from the promotional material? 

When people ask me about Sani – whether it’s friends, acquaintances or strangers – I always tell them they have to visit for themselves to experience what I feel when I’m here - pure happiness.

I don’t know if it’s the place itself, or if it’s the fact that I love it so much, it’s a special energy the place has. The fact is when people come here to stay, they are always so captivated that they invariably return again and again, like lovers who can’t stay away from the object of their love!

And it’s the atmosphere and the energy. When I'm in Sani I’m breathing freely. You realize what it means to breathe fresh air, a gift of nature we forget when we’re away in the city. I feel that finally I can fill my blood with oxygen again – rejuvenated and revived. And the feeling of instant relaxation. I feel positive energy surging up inside me again. Liberated from all the worries and anxieties that poison our lives in the city.

Describe the Sani Resort in 3 words.

Living happily ever after - 4 words!

To find out more about the Sani Resort visit - www.sani-resort.com

Photos courtesy of the Sani Resort.