A Visit to the Peak District

Normally for us a holiday starts early in the morning, after not nearly enough sleep. I will repack my clothes last minute and then we're off, to start a long long day.
But not this time, we were travelling with P&O's overnight ferry from Zeebrugge to Hull. We left the house at 4, which left me enough time to change my mind about my chosen wardrobe for our holiday and leave without the usual rush. 
Our plan was to travel to the Peak District, a beautiful national park in the North of England. The ferryboat brought us conveniently to an hour away from where we needed to be and gave us ideas for other trips in the future. Last year we stood still fro 6 hours on our way to the West country, then again a six hour delay when we were heading to the Cotswolds and again when we drove back to Dover.
Needless to say, we were so looking for a way to avoid the dreadful M25, M4 and other M's that get major delays. The Ferry to Hull brings you not only to the gateway of the North and Scotland, it's great when you need to travel to Wales and even the Midland towns like Birmingham. Anything to avoid the traffic around London sounds like music to my ears.

My partner in crime

Our holiday well and truly started when we boarded the ferry and got us a nice spot on deck to watch the sunset while we were sipping a glass of wine and gazing over the wide and peaceful seascape.
When we retired to our hut we turned into our bunk beds and closed our eyes with the knowledge that we were being brought to England without having to drive, or take trains, in the morning after breakfast, we would just suddenly arrive where we needed to be. It was fantastic for B, who is stuck in traffic every day to get to the office, when you're on holiday, you really don't want to spend it driving for yours again.

After a hearty brekkie we left the Ferry and drove into the rainy North of England. We made a two hour stop in Sheffield as it was on the road and we needed a cup of tea and our English magazines. Then we drove on to our final destination, Castleton a quaint little village in the Hope Valley. 

Castleton is an old mining village, first for lead an then when a young boy decided to go and search for lead in Treak Cliff hill, a new site in Castleton that he leased, he excavated an entrance for years but discovered not lead, but a vein of blue stone with yellow streaks. The stone was baptised Blue John, probably an interpretation in the local dialect from the French 'bleu et jaune'. The stone started to be mined and was even used in the first world war as a fuel for furnaces which unfortunately resulted in a lot of precious stone being lost forever. 

What to do with a glut of summer fruit

Hello you lovely lot, I am sorry for not posting as frequently as I did before. Life just has been terribly busy and choices have to be made. It is wonderful, it is glorious but I do need to find a balance so I can find the time again to share stories with you.
I had a lovely few weeks, I spoke at Europe's largest Food Blogger Conference, Food Blogger Connect in London and a week later I was the main speaker at a blogger event in Brussels, for those who I have met there, welcome to the blog!
I am getting ready to leave for London again, where I will be living out of my suitcase while shooting an exciting upcoming cookery book. (not mine, haven't had time for mine!) The week after that I am traveling to Dorset to be a judge in the Great Taste Awards again. Lots of beautiful food and drink to judge and after that some more lovely food at the glorious Great Taste dinner at Brett Sutton's new place.
After that, it is back to London for a week to shoot a book.
So it is fair to say, the next time you hear from me on here will be august... I hope!

To answer some questions I have had from you guys on social media and via email when I posted my cherry brandy picture on facebook, this is what you can do with your summer fruit! I like to preserve mine, to keep for the cold winter and autumn days, to bring a little sunshine on your table. It is sun in a jar, it is happiness. So when you have a glut of fruit, get your jars out and drain them in alcohol or sugar to keep them for when you most need it, when it is chilly and rainy. Here below are some of my recipes for preserves, and at the end I've added some links to other recipes on other websites. Enjoy the summer fruits!

My favourite: Drunken Cherries, or Cherry Brandy. 
We call it Kriekenborrel in Belgium and I have been making it since I was a little girl. In fact my oldest jar is from 1998, which is when I started making them myself. I now have a jar most years, sometimes more than one to give as gifts for christmas (oh yes, I used the 'C' word in summer)
It's just a wonderful way to preserve a cherry, you can use them served with vanilla ice, baked in cakes or puddings and just as they are in tiny little delicate glasses.

Cherry Brandy Find the recipe here
Next up is Raspberry vinegar.
The colour of this vinegar stays lovely and red even a year later, it looks the part on your larder and even more pretty drizzled over a green salad.
The vinegar is also okay to drink, but only by the thimble full as it is quite strong and pungent. As you can guess, this is also a great gift to give someone who will appreciate it.

Raspberry Vinegar Find the recipe here