The B&W Photography Project Week 56 #bwphotoproject

The B&W Photography Project Week 56 with PODCast and this week I’m taking you to Cambridge and one of my favourite subjects – stonework.

The B&W Photography Project Week 56

Monkey and I had gone for a walk around the city of Cambridge and were off to see some dinosaurs at the Sedgewick Museum when I spotted this doorway into one of the College’s. I was immediately taken with the frieze that runs around the archway.  The intricate detailing is stunning.  I nearly cropped everything else out, but actually I love the differences in texture and design.  The column and the doorway, it all works well together but I feel each sector of the photograph also stands apart.  Do you agree?

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg

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Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 020815

Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 020815


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Project 365 2015 Week 31

I’ve been joining in with Project 365 since the start of 2014, and been inspired by The Boy and Me to make sure I take a Photo A Day, Every Day, For A Year!  Project 365 2015 Week 31 Days 206-212.

Sunday 26th July – Day 206

Project 365 2015 Week 31

What a wash out.  I’d planned on us going to Portsmouth for the day, but the forecast was dire so we stayed at home and Monkey played pirate ships instead!

Monday 27th July – Day 207

Project 365 2015 Week 31

Monkey and I were in need of some free air, he was back to his old self again and we headed over to Blenheim Palace.  After visiting the Butterfly House I persuaded Monkey that it would be lovely to explore the formal gardens for a change as I really wanted to see the Rose Garden.  He happily agreed and off we went, stick in hand naturally.  We both love our visits to the Palace, every trip is slightly different to the last.

Tuesday 28th July – Day 208

Project 365 2015 Week 31

We’d been invited to Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings for the day and met up with Redpeffer and her children to explore.  We had a great day, the weather behaved itself, the kids could run around freely and we all learnt something.  I snapped this photo on my phone, it’s not the sharpest shot but I love it, mid run, grin from ear to ear.  It just says – Mummy I’m having a ball.  Can’t ask for more than that.

Wednesday 29th July – Day 209

Project 365 2015 Week 31

My friend popped over in the morning to cut and colour my hair and she also got to bring Monkey’s mop under control too.  It always amazes me how much older Monkey looks as soon as his hair is shorter.

In the afternoon we had friends over who were visiting from Spain.  It was lovely to catch up.

Thursday 30th July – Day 210

Project 365 2015 Week 31

My car really needed a good clean, so we headed to the car wash, Monkey thought it was excellent.  Then headed home for a bit of den building using his Pl-ug it set which we’ve had for ages and not made use of.

The sun actually came out (woop!) so out came our Rocket for an afternoon of space exploration.  I’d been sent a colouring book, so I settled myself down with that and some colouring pencils in between visits to the Moon and Mars.

Friday 31st July – Day 211

Project 365 2015 Week 31

The day started at the doctors with a follow-up appointment to check on Monkey’s perforated ear drum.  Thankfully he’s healing nicely and there should be no long-term issues.  No swimming for another two weeks, which will be interesting, and we need to keep his hearing in check, just in case he needs assessing.

The sun came out to play! Finally, we could spend a whole day out in the garden.  Football, castles and tents, and sand pit fun have all been in order.  We are getting lots of cheesy grins these days.

Saturday 1st August – Day 212

Project 365 2015 Week 31

The day that didn’t quite go to plan.  We headed off to Blenheim Palace this morning to watch the Jousting.  Monkey was in good spirits and all seemed well.  We were watching the Falconry display when Monkey suddenly nose-dived – full of screaming due to ear ache, right ear this time.  He was as white as a sheet, with bright red cheeks.  Bless him, here we go again I thought.  He was obviously upset.  Time to pack up, go home, dose him up with Calprofen and call 111.  Another out of hours trip, but at least we were on home turf this time.  He now has problems with both ears and is on different medication.  It’s going to be a long night again I fear :(

Project 365 2015 Week 31

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IWM Duxford

As you all know we’re big fans of transport here and do love our aeroplanes!  Monkey and I were spending a few days in Cambridge last week and decided we really should explore IWM Duxford whilst we were so close.

IWM Duxford

IWM Duxford is about a 20 minute drive from Cambridge city centre and stretches over an area of a mile with both indoor and outdoor exhibits.  We were guests of the site for the day so parked away from the main car park – I could see though, that were was plenty of parking available, all free too.

We arrived on a lovely sunny Tuesday so decided to explore the outdoor exhibits first. Unfortunately we couldn’t see inside any of the airliners on our visit, I’m not sure if they are only open at weekends but it was a bit of a shame.  Each plane has an information board which is useful, especially when visiting with children.

It was interesting to see the Bristol Type 175 Britannia 312 in the Monarch livery, my son was amused as we use the same airline to fly to see his grandparents.

As we walked along the display we realised that there were some smaller planes taking off from the grass beside us, these continued all day, and added that extra bit of entertainment as we watched them whizz around the sky above us.

You can’t help but notice the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber as you walk past the row of civil aviation planes.  It’s huge.  The American Air Museum is currently closed until Spring 2016, and the various aircraft have been re-housed across the IWM Duxford site. Although I have to say I prefer the B-17 Flying Fortress, Sally B personally.

As well as the outside displays there are 7 very different internal exhibition spaces with lots of displays (8 once the American Air Museum reopens).  You really can’t fail to be impressed by the amount of aircraft on display. IWM Duxford is somewhere that will keep children entertained as well as aviation enthusiasts.

The whole site is well signed and I was impressed with the abundance of toilet facilities –

The Land Warfare exhibition was an unexpected treat.  Housed at the far end of IWM Duxford and a must for tank enthusiasts.  I would have liked to wander around the exhibits more thoroughly but something spooked my son as we entered and sadly he wasn’t keen to spend much time inside.  The exhibition charts land warfare from 1914 and ends with the Normandy landings.

The 1940 Operation Room was fascinating, with the sound recording playing in the background you really get a feel for what life was like during an incoming German air raid.

IWM Duxford

For us it was also a great follow on from our trip to Dover Castle and the underground WWII tour we visited.

We got to see planes currently under restoration in the Conservation in Action hangar, we both really enjoyed the Battle of Britain display and the crashed Messerschmitt, complete with bent propellers fascinated my 5 year old.  We saw planes, helicopters and even lifeboats in the Air and Sea display too.

The Historic Duxford exhibition is also well worth a visit, there are a number of interactive displays as you walk through the lives of the people who worked at IWM Duxford over the years.

The whole site is very walkable, it’s flat and there’s plenty of space for families with prams and strollers to access all areas.  There are a couple of eateries offering hot and cold food with children’s portions and there was even an ice cream van when we visited.  Should you bring a picnic there are a number of picnic tables and wooden benches dotted around the site, so everyone is well catered for.  There’s even a play ground to keep the youngsters amused.

The AirSpace exhibition area is the first section you come to when you arrive and it’s fab, especially for children.  There are lots of interactive displays where children can learn all about aviation and how various parts of the plane works.  As well as the static displays on the ground floor (including a Vulcan, Concorde and a Lancaster bomber) there are a number of aircraft suspended from the ceiling.  This was another big hit with my son.  He got to go on his second Concorde, this boy is so well-travelled!

I was really impressed with IWM Duxford and I can thoroughly recommend it as a great family day out.  For opening times, prices and direction please pop over to the website.  I know we’ll be returning as Daddy P missed out on our trip.

disclaimer: we were given free entry into IWM Duxford in exchange for an honest review

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Boy’s Costume Ideas for Birthday Parties

This is a collaborative post.

Do you have a child’s birthday looming on the horizon, with a bit of party planning to do? Has your son been invited to a friend’s party? In either case, you may be thinking about fancy dress party themes. From pirates to superheroes, parties can be taken to the next level with costumes, games, and festive themes that let little boys use all of that energy bundled inside of them. And if it’s a general costume party, here are a few fun ideas to help you get started with picking an outfit for your little boy.

Boy’s Costume Ideas for Birthday Parties

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  1. Children’s Book Characters

One of the first resources for mums trying to find a costume idea is the bookshelf. Does your son have a favourite book that he asks you to read every night? Or does he already like to play dress-up or make-believe as a particular book character? If you’ve participated in World Book Day in the past you may already have a few of these costumes lying about, whether it’s Harry Potter or the Gruffalo.

  1. Comic Book or Cartoon Characters

Another source of inspiration is the fantasy world of children’s cartoons and comics. Superhero costumes like Batman and Spiderman are always in hot demand with boys young and old, or you could select a teenage mutant ninja turtle costume at Funidelia to help him explore his sillier side.

  1. Pirates

Does your house often reverberate with the fierce cry of “shiver me timbers” and “ahoy matey?” If so, a pirate costume will be a natural fit for your wee one. Take it to the next level of cool realism with a stuffed parrot for his shoulder, an eye patch, and a fake pegleg or hook.

  1. Robots, Aliens, and Monsters

Little boys don’t always want to be superheroes or cuddly cartoon characters; they also love to play the villain or explore their dark sides with a scarier costume. And monsters can be cute as well as scary, just look at Monsters Inc. for inspiration! Robots are always a popular theme with boys and girls alike. A bonus to wearing a robot costume is that it’s extremely easy to make yourself; even a foil-covered cardboard box, vacuum nozzles, and other oddities sitting around the house can be combined in fun and futuristic ways.

  1. Woodland Creatures

Younger boys in particular may wish to dress up as their favourite animals. Garden and animal parties are a frequent theme at parties. Go for the cute and cuddly with a bunny, fox, or dog costume, choose an intricate insect costume, or let your boy explore his fiercer side dressed up as a wolf or bear. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can find a variety of patterns online to make basic animal costumes, or these can readily be purchased pre-made at any costume shop online.

If you’re the one planning a costume party, try selecting a costume first and then using this as the basis for a wider theme. And if you’re in doubt, just ask; chances are that your son will have plenty of ideas of his own!


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Fossil Fuel bars

As Monkey and I are often going off on a new adventure I need to think of different things to pack in my bag to keep my energy levels up.  I was recently sent some Fossil Fuel bars and I was looking forward to giving them a taste test.

Fossil Fuel bars

Fossil Fuel produce paleo/primal Macadamia & Cacao and Coconut & Cashew bars which contain only natural ingredients.  The bars contain no refined sugar, additives, preservatives or sulphites and are also gluten free.

I have to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of coconut, but I love cashew nuts, so I had mixed feelings about trying the Fossil Fuel Coconut & Cashew bar.  Would I like it at all?

Fossil Fuel bars

The bars consist of 53% dates, 25% cashew nuts, 19% dried coconut and 3% coconut oil.  I was pleasantly surprised, I didn’t find the coconut taste too over powering at all.  I’m not sure they’d be my first choice of snack bar, but Daddy P really does like this version a lot.

Next up – the Fossil Fuel Macadamia & Cacao.  Now this is where the family started to squabble.  These really are lush, and we have all been fighting over them!

Fossil Fuel bars

Made up of 60% dates, 20% cashew nuts, 11.6% macadamia nuts, 5% raw  cacao and I’m presuming 3.4% coconut oil (it doesn’t give the % of this on the package/website).  These really are delicious and as I’ve already mentioned, they are a big hit here.

These bars are available from the Fossil Fuel website, either in separate 12 x 50g packs or in a 12 x 50/50 split for £18.99.  I think £1.58 for this sort of paleo bar is good value for money and we give them the thumbs up here.



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It’s in the bag with Moonpig

It's in the bag with Moonpig

You may remember that I went to a wonderful event with Moonpig earlier in the year.  It certainly opened my eyes to the various ranges that the online retailer has to offer.  Well this range has just got bigger, with the introduction of their Kids Range.  Monkey has an ever increasing amount of Lego and I’d been looking for a storage solution for him, well it’s in the bag with Moonpig now.  Look what I discovered!

It's in the bag with Moonpig

Isn’t this Marvel Heroes Tool Box just fab.  My search for a funky storage solution for some of our Lego was at an end.

It's in the bag with Moonpig

I knew this would go down well with Monkey.  He’ll be 6 in December, still very much loves pre-school programmes and characters but is beginning to show an interest in superheroes and the like.  So this is an idea present for him, something that he won’t lose interest in any time soon.

It's in the bag with Moonpig

Priced at £15 I think this makes a great alternative present idea and Monkey loves it as you can see.  It has a removable upper storage section and the box is large enough to be a really good-sized storage box.

The Kids Range at Moonpig has a whole host of lovely ideas, from Mr Happy Grow Your Own Sunflowers, Frozen 3 piece Dining set with Cutlery through to a Table Tennis set.  All at affordable prices too.  Definitely worth investigating in my opinion.

disclaimer:  we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review


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If I could …….

I was recently tagged by The Reading Residence to join in with If I Could …..

If I could live anywhere:

That’s an easy one – Thailand.  I love everything about the country, the people, the culture, the food, temples, beaches, even the chaos that is Bangkok.  I fell in love with the country many years ago and yes, if I could live anywhere, that’s where I’d be.

If I could .......

If I could have any home:

I love history, so I’d love to live in a house with a past, I’d love to be able to trace the inhabitants of my home back through the centuries.  But that would be just for me.  For Monkey, I would love to have a house big enough for him to have a play room, somewhere big enough for him to make his own, his little kingdom.  I’d love somewhere with a proper dining room, god how I miss a dining room.  I’d love somewhere with a double driveway so I didn’t have to stress everyday about parking outside my own home, I miss that too.

If I could have any garden:

I’d love a garden big enough for Monkey to kick a football in, large enough to play a proper game of badminton, the garden of my own childhood.  I’d like a south-facing garden with a lovely patio area, somewhere to entertain family and friends.  Somewhere with established flower beds with soil you can actually grow things in!  Somewhere with a nature pond area, some shade for Brewster and somewhere in the countryside, somewhere quiet that doesn’t back onto a main road.

If I could be on holiday right now:

I won’t pick Thailand again, although I’d love to.  Is Europe to big a destination?  I was talking to Monkey about travelling yesterday and I told him I’d love to just get on the train and travel round Europe with him, take the whole of the school holidays and just go.  But for now, I’ll settle on anywhere in Italy.  Monkey would be in pizza heaven and it’s a country I would dearly love to explore more.


If I could have any job:

I’d be a historical archivist.  I would be in my element and if I could talk to a 16-year-old me I would tell her to change her A Level options, go to a different 6th form and get her butt to Uni. I’d tell her not to lose faith in something she loved and look at her skills and go for it.

If I could have any talent:

I wish I was musical like my brother, I’m not.  But I’ve always wished I could paint, properly paint.  I’d love to be able translate beautiful landscapes and architecture onto paper.  I’m sadly not artistic in any way, shape or form.  Apparently as I’m an Aries I should be – sadly it’s not the case.

If I could live any day again?

Umm, tricky one, there are a few I’d like to live differently! But I think, family stuff aside, I’d love to relive my first day in Luxor in 1990.  I had fallen in love with Ancient Egypt when I was 10 years old, and had always wanted to visit the country.  I got the chance through work and grabbed it with both hands.  All I had to do was get flights to Cairo and any internal flights I wanted.  Luxor was top of my list of must see places.  To walk around the temple at Karnak left me speechless.  To see traces of coloured paints on hyroglifics was just amazing.  I was in heaven and actually it was all too much for me to take in really, yes I’d love to relive that day again and really soak it all up.

If I could have any superpower:

I’d like to speak to relatives who have passed away.  Not sure this can be classed as a superpower, but I’m making it one!  I’d love to be able to have a conversation with a Granny I never met and know what her voice sounded like.  I’d love to talk to my Papa as an adult, I’d love to tell my Granny that I’m a Mum!  I’d love to talk to my Great Uncle and tell him that I uncovered his story, that his nephew knows his real name and where his widow and her children lived.  I’d love to talk to all the Mary’s in the family who came before me and hear their stories, and I guess if I’m totally honest I’d like to be able to talk to Monkey when I’m gone. He might not appreciate that as much as me!

Thanks Jocelyn for prompting me to write this post.  Now I’m tagging a few bloggers to ask them to share their ‘If I Coulds’, too. To join in just link back to me here, post about it, and tag another few bloggers to share, too. No pressure, but I’d love to know more!

Tracey from Mummyshire

Merlinda from Glimmer of Hope

Charley from PODcast

Erica from 92three30

Ting from My Travel Monkey

Stephanie from A Cornish Mum


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Travelodge Cambridge – Newmarket Road

If you want somewhere offering cheap but friendly service, conveniently placed close to the city centre of Cambridge then Travelodge Cambridge – Newmarket Road is certainly worth considering.

Travelodge Cambridge - Newmarket Road

Travelodge Cambridge – Newmarket Road is literally a 15 minute walk (at a 5 and half year old’s walking pace) from the centre of Cambridge, and is close to the Grafton Shopping Centre.

The hotel does have a free underground car park, but it’s worth noting that there are considerably fewer spaces than hotel rooms. There is a pay and display car park at the Grafton Shopping Centre, but this would involve a little walk, which could be an issue with smaller children. If the car park is full, you can park outside the Harvest Way entrance for 10 minutes to drop off luggage etc.

We had arranged an early check in (£10 with check in at 12 rather than 3pm) and at that time there were a number of empty spaces in the hotel car park. You can access the hotel directly from the car park by lifts and stairs, which is really useful when you have cases etc. We had a 2 hour drive to get to Cambridge, so I wanted an early check in so we could really maximise on our time in Cambridge.  We literally checked in and walked straight into the city for lunch and to explore for the afternoon.

Travelodge Cambridge - Newmarket Road

The receptionist was really helpful when I asked for directions and provided us with a map of the city and it soon became clear it would be difficult to get lost.  The location really works well for a short city break.

My son and I shared a double room and arranged to have breakfast included (£90.65 per night or £83 without breakfast); always easier with little ones in tow I find.  The bedroom was on the fourth floor of the hotel, easily accessed by a lift, with a credit card style key system.  Our room was at the back of the hotel which backs on to a quiet residential area. The front of the hotel does sit right on Newmarket Road which is a main road into the city.

The room was clean, bright and airy.  We were provided with an electric fan which at first I thought was a bit odd.  Then I realised there was no air conditioning, not an issue for me as I’m not a ‘fan’ (forget the pun).  But even with the window ajar, curtains closed and fan on, my son and I both found the room rather on the hot side when we went to bed.  We even set aside the 10.5 tog duvet, which is rare indeed for me.

We had a comfy bed with side shelves – large enough for a pair of glasses or a cup of tea. There was hanging space for clothing including 5 hangers and a shelf for everything else. Some drawer space would have been nice, but then I’m not known for travelling light!

Our room had a desk area and 2 chairs, a large wall mirror, electric fan, electric heater and a wall mounted TV with a few standard channels including CBeebies.  There were tea and coffee-making facilities and plastic cups for water. A bottle opener is mounted on the side of the desk.

The bathroom had a wall mounted shower with shower curtain and support rail, sink and toilet. Wall pumps provide foam hand wash by the sink and hair and body wash in the shower cubicle. 2 bath towels and 1 hand towel are provided and there was a large wall mounted mirror with 2 shaver points.  Everything was spotlessly clean.

Irons/ironing boards and hair dryers are available to borrow from reception too if needed.

Our room was more than adequate for the two of us and the kingsize bed was lovely.  It was higher off the ground than our beds at home, but my son managed to not fall out of it.

Breakfast is available from 7am to 10am at a cost of £7.65 per adult, children aged 15 and under eat free (2 per adult).

Breakfast and evening meals are provided on the ground floor in an open plan area, which is really light and again, spotless.  A number of cereal options are available (not Cheerios though, phew, I bought an emergency supply with me for my fussy son!) along with orange and apple juices, tea and a variety of coffee choices.  Everything is buffet style.  The cooked breakfast option included scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages (we both thought these were very good), and baked beans.  There was also a toasting machine to toast your bread.

Evening meal packages are available from 5pm. We had planned to try this out on our second night but sadly we had to cut our trip short.  I also noticed vending machines in the reception area should you require a quick snack fix.

30 minutes of free wifi per 24 hours is provided and you can buy additional time at £3 per day, a weekly package is also available.

When you have children with you, there is always the chance that things won’t go quite as planned, and this was the case with our trip.  My son wasn’t 100% when we arrived on the Monday and by the Tuesday afternoon he was really rather poorly.  An ear ache progressed to something worse and one mother was left panicking when blood appeared in his ear.  It was only at that point it occurred to me that the hotel room didn’t have a phone in it.  I needed to contact reception to ask for a list of local doctors surgery’s.  I was on the fourth floor, with a little boy I really didn’t want to move.  How to contact reception?  Luckily the map the receptionist had given me the previous day had the hotel’s direct line number on it.  I don’t know if these maps are given out to everyone, I’m pretty sure the couple checking-in before me didn’t receive one.  In my opinion it would be a really good idea for the number to be shown in each room somewhere obvious.  If I hadn’t had that map I’d have had to google the company website and call via the main group customer service line – not ideal in this particular scenario.

I do have to say that the receptionist I got through to was fab.  I’m pretty sure I was rather incoherent at the time and she was really helpful.  Once we’d finally got to see an out of hours doctor we were dealing with a perforated ear drum, penicillin was prescribed. Worth noting that there is a Boots pharmacy literally 2 minutes drive from the hotel.  My son really wanted to go home and see his Daddy, and I decided we’d check out that evening. We were both really sad as we’d enjoyed our stay and would have liked to stay longer.

I can recommend the Travelodge Cambridge – Newmarket Road, it was our first experience of a Travelodge, and I think we’d certainly look at staying in one again.  It’s ideal if you are looking for a convenient location, and just want a base to explore from.

disclaimer:  we were given free accommodation, early check-in and breakfast in exchange for an honest review

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Ritz Crisp & Thin

I do like savoury snacks, it’s a bit of a weakness and I was certainly interested in putting the new Ritz Crisp & Thin range to the test.

Ritz Crisp & Thin

The Ritz Crisp & Thin  range comes in 4 flavours: – Cream Cheese & Onion (Daddy P had lain claim to these before I could even photograph the package!, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, and Sweet Red Chilli.

Ritz Crisp & Thin

The Ritz Crisp & Thin are an oven baked potato snack, they are not at all greasy, are only 134 calories (kcal) per serving, and are very moreish!  Let’s just say that the 4 x 100g packets we received recently didn’t last long at all.

Ritz Crisp & Thin

They really are tasty, my personal favourite are the Sweet Red Chilli flavour, whilst Daddy P and Monkey both really enjoyed the Cream Cheese & Onion.  The 100g packs have an RRP of £2.19 and they are also available in 30g bags for 79p each.  They are bound to be making into my shopping trolley!  You can find the Ritz Crisp & Thin in Tesco, ASDA, Ocado,, NISA, Budgens, Londis, Spar and Superdrug.

Now for a bit of fun, Radio One DJ Alice Levine and Duck and Waffle Mixologist Richard Woods have teamed up with Ritz Crisp & Thin to create some cocktails to go with these tasty snacks.  Being a bit of a G&T fan, I think I might be trying this one out myself!

Ritz – Pea & Dill GnT. ‘No Big Dill’

Goes perfectly with Sea Salt & Vinegar Ritz Crisp & Thins

50ml Gin *Bombay Sapphire works best. Infused with sugar snap peas and dill
75ml Tonic water


Fill your desired glass with cube ice. Add infused gin to the glass and top with tonic water. Garnish


Large mint sprig, slapped prior to adding to the glass to release more aroma.
NB: at the point of serving you should inform your guests that this drink is based on aroma and thus not served with a straw. They should drink from the glass whilst nosing the mint

Glass – highball works will but any glass is ok

Pea & Dill Gin

The unusual additions of pea and dill really blend well with the botanicals in the gin, to make this an epic and yet so simple twist on a G&T:

  • 225g Sugar snap peas
  • 10g Mint leaves
  • 20g Dill
  • 700 ml (1 Bottle) Gin *Bombay Sapphire works well as it is a lighter style of gin

You will need…

  • 1x non-reactive container, with lid suitable for mixing (such as an old ice cream container)
  • 1x funnel, large sieve or colander
  • 1x two-fold muslin (a coffee filter or tea cloth works just as well)


  • Into a non-reactive sealable container, pour the Bombay Sapphire
  • Add the sugar snap peas once you have broken the shells, as well as the mint and dill
  • Secure the lid and place in the fridge for a min of 24hrs (rolling or gently aggravating the mix every so often
  • Remove from the fridge and strain through your home-made filter
  • Bottle and reserve. Mix will keep for 2 weeks if kept refrigerated

disclaimer:  we were sent the items mentioned in exchange for an honest review


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