Travel planning is one of my favourite things to do in the evening (other than watching The Mummy Diaries. I know. Kill me). Allllll the anticipation of looking at the best countries to visit when, top hotels, adventurous spots, looking for bargainous flights – the works. Many an hour has been lost to it.
Foraging is a just a fancy word to describe searching for wild food. But if you don’t know what you are doing, going on a foraging course is the ideal way to learn about the wild foods that are safe to eat in the UK, and where to find them.
What a weekend. I feel like I’ve just come back from a week abroad. We took a spontaneous trip over to the Isle of Wight on Bank Holiday Saturday as the weather was so perfect. We found the perfect Isle of Wight campsite, went orienteering (aka ‘mountain climbing’ according to my son), splashed at the beach, ate ice cream, and went for a bike ride in the New Forest on the way home. I am now completely in love with the Isle of Wight. Why haven’t I been before?
Festival season is a-coming and there is plenty of choice for all ages. If you don’t fancy camping, many festivals offer day tickets, or try a midway option and go luxe in a yurt. Many large name festivals now cater for families, such as Camp Bestival and Latitude, and some smaller indie festivals have been set up solely to cater for families, such as the lovely Elderflower Fields. Here is our list of the best family-friendly festivals.
Purple sprouting broccoli is a straggly but attractive sister to the round broccoli, and is in season over Easter. Broccoli is packed with nutrients including vitamin C, caretenoids, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre and vitamin A, and it is thought to have anti-cancer agents too. This recipe is a good one to hide vegetables for small people that might be a bit fussy (who’s isn’t?!) and it’s also a good alternative to a lunch on the move. Move over sandwiches.
To make the pastry, put the flour, ground walnuts and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the lemon zest and egg yolk, then pulse, gradually adding the water until the mixture just comes together. Tip out on to a lightly floured surface, bring together with your hands, then knead briefly. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film, then chill for 15 minutes. Or if you don’t have time for this, use pre-rolled shortcrust pastry.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin and use to line 20cm quiche dish, pressing the pastry right down into the tins and into the sides. Chill for 10 minutes.
Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice, then blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans/rice, then bake for 5-10 minutes more until golden. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas
Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli spears in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and refresh in ice-cold water. Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion and mushrooms for 10-12 minutes until very soft and golden.
Whisk the eggs, yolks, cream, wensleydale and cream cheese in a jug, then season. Add the mushrooms and onion. Spread the broccoli florets over the base, then pour over the egg mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and just set.
Take out of the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tins and cool to room temperature. Serve with a few green salad leaves. And follow with some easter eggs.
Recipe adapted from Delicious magazine.
The March hare is hopping mad right about now, as it’s breeding season. You might be lucky enough to see them boxing too. This is actually the females fending off unwanted male advances.
Hares are larger and rangier than rabbits, and can be found in open fields or flat grassland in early mornings or at dusk. They are super fast, so you may need some binocular practice beforehand.
Frogs and toads come out of hibernation in spring to lay frogspawn, so March is a good month to spot them (with April being the best time to hunt for tadpoles).
Greenwich Ecology Peninsula Park hold an annual frogs day every March (20th March in 2018), where families can get up close to frogspawn, have a go at pond dipping, see some newts and get all crafty making amphibian-related pictures and paintings.
Don’t foget to tick off a #50things if you see frogspawn, as it is on the National Trust’s list of 50 things kids should do before they are 11 3/4. The National Trust also list many places where you may be able to see frogspawn.
One of our favourite birds, the comical puffin arrives back at breeding colonies from March, until mid August. Puffins are actually teeny tiny at under 30cm long, but they are super hardy seabirds.
Most puffins breed on islands –
1 Hermaness and Sumburgh Head, Shetland
2 Lunga, off Isle of Mull
3 Fowlsheugh RSPB, Aberdeenshire
4 Isle of May and Craigleith Island, Fife
5 Farne Islands, Northumberland
6 Bempton Cliffs RSPB, Yorkshire
7 South Stack Cliffs RSPB, Anglesey
8 Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
9 Rathlin Island, County Antrim
10 Great Saltee, County Wexford
Going on a boat trip to see pint-sized puffins is an adventure in itself, though Bullers of Buchan north of Aberdeen and Bempton cliffs in Yorkshire are two mainland places where you may see them too.