We do love to live beside the seaside

Blogger by the sea

Blogger by the sea

We do love to live beside the seaside

Recent Posts

Chilli sausage pot

Chilli sausage pot

A change from bland stews and casseroles, this is a spiced-up version. The sticky, caramelised onion and sausages make for a lovely variation on classic chilli. Very versatile; I find it equally yummy served with rice, mash, pasta or crusty bread. Great for kids, too […]

Bah humbug! I love Christmas, but…

Bah humbug! I love Christmas, but…

…there are three new things that I think are signs that the commercialism of Christmas is just getting a little bit too much. I’m not religious, I’m agnostic, so perhaps I shouldn’t celebrate Christmas at all. I do, though. What’s not to love? Gifts, lovely […]

Swarovski Christmas tree earrings

Swarovski Christmas tree earrings

I’ve made these Christmas tree earrings for years now, for myself and for others – they make great festive gifts. They are very simple to make – far easier than they look – with sparkly Swarovski crystals.

You could buy the crystal beads and findings separately, but I never have yet, as Jillybeads stock kits which contain all you need to make one pair, in various colour combinations.

All you do is thread, onto a headpin: a cube bead, then three decreasing sizes of daisy spacers/Marguerites (the name varies depending where sold), then a xilion/bicone (ditto re the naming thing). Then you just trim the headpin, form a loop, add the earlier, and close the loop.

It takes me about ten minutes to make a pair, and each kit currently costs just £3.25. So effective, so simple, so pretty!

Polly x


Gingerbread trifle

Gingerbread trifle

This was inspired by ‘Lebkuchen’ – those German Christmas treats consisting of chocolate coated gingerbread hearts with an apricot filling. So addictive – every time I shop at the supermarket I seem to end up with a bag – or three – of these. I […]

Dan Brown’s ‘Origin’ – a review

Dan Brown’s ‘Origin’ – a review

I’ve read most of Dan Brown’s novels. They’re a little different to other books that I read, which makes a refreshing change. They are such crowd-pleasers, The Da Vinci Code having spawned a succession of adventures starring that unlikely hero – tweed-clad, Mickey-Mouse-watch-wearing Harvard professor […]

How to make a Christmas hamper

How to make a Christmas hamper

It’s easy to make your own Christmas hamper, & it’s so much cheaper – not to mention nicer – than shop bought. All you need is a hamper kit, like this one from T K Maxx. I also saw some very similar ones in Aldi.

Then you just need the contents – whatever you like, as long as it will all fit snugly inside. I went for a ‘Tea and Treats’ theme. I got the food from supermarkets and the tea from T K Maxx.

Next, I laid out the first ‘layer’ of the hamper, like this:

I then added a second layer on top, as so:

I though the chocolate coins were a nice festive – and decorative – touch.

Next, you need to wrap the cellophane (provided with most kits, or get some from a florist or craft shop) around it, as per the main picture.

Finally, wrap it prettily, and it’s ready for the big day!

Beef Chilli

Beef Chilli

I’ve been honing this recipe since my student days, when I very first learned to cook. I hadn’t done any cooking before I left home, really, so I was very much self-taught when, after a year of living on tins and packets (or rather the […]

A special place for Sunday lunch – The Manor, Christchurch

A special place for Sunday lunch – The Manor, Christchurch

We are lucky enough have lots of great, and very affordable, places to eat locally, that we go to on a regular basis for tasty, good value food. We sometimes go to these for birthdays and other occasions, too, but Mister fancied a change, and […]

The 2017 Liebster Blog Award

The 2017 Liebster Blog Award

About the award

The Liebster Award is a way of promoting brand new bloggers. Bloggers nominate others to receive the award. The nominees then answer questions and share some facts about themselves, before sharing the love and nominating some of their own favourite bloggers. See my picks at the bottom of this post.
I’ve only been blogging for around 7 weeks, so I’m delighted that Louise English of ‘cooking with kids’ blog nominated me. Thank you so much, Louise! Her blog title says it all, really; she states that cooking with her children is indeed her favourite thing about blogging. For some lovely recipes to make with the little people in your life, have look around her blog:

https://cookingwithkids.blog  @cookwithkids1


My questions and answers:

1. Why did you start blogging?
Honestly? I’m taking this really seriously and want to make a career of it. For various reasons, I need to work from home, and I LOVE writing, so it’s got to be worth my best shot.

2. What is your favourite post from your own blog? Why?
“Missing George Michael: Can you mourn someone you’ve never met?”, without a doubt. I rushed to launch my blog in time to tie in with the recently aired “George Michael: Freedom” documentary, and I’m so glad I did. The response has been so great, and I got my first guest blogging gig on myfirstrecord.com on the back of it.

3. If you could time travel where would you go, and why?
Back to the swinging sixties, to see what my parents made all the fuss about!

4. Who is someone who greatly inspires you? Why?
J K Rowling. I LOVE Harry Potter (check out my post on “Why I wish I was going to Hogwarts”). She inspires me because she was single mum, claiming benefits, and come so far. Jo Rowling has achieved so much – for literature, British film-making and tourism, – as well as for herself. She’s also a benefactor of many charities – a very generous soul.

5. Do you have any pets? Share a picture if you can.
My ageing cat, Charly – he’s 14. A pain in the bum, for much of the time (he’s very vocal) but he’s our pet and he’s one of the family. To see my daughter grow to love him so much, is simply lovely.

6. Where is your favourite place in the world?
Where I live (near Bournemouth). We moved here because it has everything that we wanted in a place to call home. See my post on “Relocation” for more on that…

7. What is your favourite food? And your least favourite?
The former – I can’t pick just one! Prawns, mushrooms and chocolate if I can pick just three. The latter – the only thing I truly detest is horseradish sauce.

8. Share one of your guilty pleasures.
Too many! I know I eat too much sugar, but I do cycle a LOT, so at least I burn it off…

9. What are you most proud of in your life?
I was a very shy child (see my post on that, too), yet I went to Australia for a year all by myself after graduating. I’m so proud of doing that, and it changed my life, for the better, in so many ways.

10. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
Pay off the mortgages of my close family and friends, or buy them a place if they were renting, meanwhile looking out for our own dream house, very near to where we already live.

11. Describe yourself in three words.
A fair, but fussy, perfectionist!


11 random facts about me:

1. I have Lexical-gustatory synesthesia, which means I ‘taste’ words, and particularly, names…

2. I met my husband on the other side of the world, in Australia (even though he’s British, too).

3. My high school had a ski slope, even though I never went on it once. (No, it wasn’t a private school!)

4. My mother suffered from anorexia & bulimia; I was a medical miracle, as she as supposed to be infertile as a result.

5. I studied in Manchester during ‘The ‘MADchester” years’ and a piece on that was written as my first guest post for another blog.

6. I was also at the same uni, at the same time as, Peter Kay – alas, I didn’t know him!

7. I’m from Northumberland, which has more castles than any other county in the country.

8. I have had spinal surgery twice, and have titanium metalwork in place of one of my discs.

9. I’m terrified of wasps. I cannot control my reaction when I see one; much, at times, to the amusement of others…

10. I’m not keen on spiders, either, but lived in an old Australian farmhouse for several months, and it was riddled with fist-sized huntsman spiders. You really can get used to anything!

11. I’ve always hated smoking, as my parents did and I grew up detesting the smell. However, I became a smoker for about a fortnight when I was in Bali, as they sold these clove cigarettes that simply smelled too good to resist. The fact that they were about 30p a packet helped, too…


For my nominees, please read on and keep the Lester Award going…

The rules are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog. I’ve used it as the header image for this post.
3. Answer 11 questions provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 to 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers (I’ve gone on Twitter followers).
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Here are your questions:

Did you do much preparation before you started your blog, such as research, writing & taking photos?
2. What has surprised you most, so far, about blogging?
3. What are you aiming to achieve with your blog?
4. What was the most memorable meal you’ve ever had? Where, and why?
5. Where on the planet would you live, if money was no object?
6. What’s your number one moneysaving tip?
7. What’s your favourite book, and why?
8. What would be number one on your bucket list?
9. What would be your personal motto, and why?
10. Do you live near your family?
11. If you could interview anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?


I’m nominating: 

http://startbloggingsimplesteps.com @easyblogsteps
http://kjerstensbloglsc.weebly.com @klassickjblog
https://unilifetravel.wordpress.com @whataboutaimee
https://mimosas-and-manicures.blog @mimosasandmanis
https://lauras-look.blogspot.co.uk @lauraballamy

Why not follow them on Twitter and see what they’re up to?

Thanks for reading my blog!

Polly x

7 Sparkling alternatives to Champagne or Prosecco

7 Sparkling alternatives to Champagne or Prosecco

It’s all about Prosecco these days, and why not? Everyone loves a glass of fizz. The Italian sparkler’s dominance of the market is such that when the UK voted to leave the EU, people started to panic about what that might mean for the price […]


Missing George Michael – can you mourn someone you’ve never met?

Missing George Michael – can you mourn someone you’ve never met?

I recently went to see a George Michael tribute act, and doing so really got me thinking – about the artist we’d lost, and about death in general. More specifically – can we truly mourn someone we’ve never met?

2016 was a vintage year – I can’t remember a year quite like it. Just ten days into the new year we lost David Bowie. A huge loss and a big shock, yet we’d never have imagined then just how many famous folk the Grim Reaper was to cull before December was done. Within 4 days of Bowie’s demise, we’d also lost Alan Rickman (who to me will forever be Severus Snape.)

Over twelve months we said goodbye to Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Caroline Aherne, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn and Andrew Sachs to name just thirteen.

Four months into the year, news articles were musing on the loss of so many celebrities, yet the year was far from over.

By Boxing Day, when we heard that George Michael had passed away on Christmas Day, we thought surely that must be it. Jokes circulated on social media about locking up David Attenborough, but we didn’t really think we could lose any more. The force was strong, though – we lost Carrie Fisher on 27th, and still Grim wasn’t finished; Carrie was tragically followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds the very next day.

Debbie will forever be remembered as dying of grief, the loss of her daughter simply too much to bear. Which made me think about the frequent news footage of mass outpourings of grief, particularly for David Bowie, Prince and George Michael, whose fans seemed inconsolable. Was this ‘normal’ behaviour, I wondered; why did people feel so keenly the loss of someone they’d never met?

Then the Brits were on. I didn’t even watch them, the TV was tuned to the awards for a few minutes before we switched over to whatever we’d put the TV on for. I came into the room and Andrew Ridgeley, Pepsi and Shirlie were on stage, giving a tribute to their clearly very real friend George Michael, before Chris Martin sang “A Different Corner’. I was transfixed – and felt, for the first time, the stirrings of real emotion.

Something in the power of George’s voice has the power to make me feel very strong and genuine emotion, but I’m not sure why. Is it a quality inherent in the late singer’s voice, or more personal than that? Is it because I grew up with him?

I remembered playing ‘Wham: The Final’ on vinyl, singing along whilst admiring (or rather, drooling over) the glam cover shots of George and Andrew. The album was released in 1986, and I hadn’t even clocked up my first snog by then. Slow-dancing with George, aka ‘every little hungry schoolgirl’s pride and joy’ would have been more than enough for me.

I Googled the word ‘Mourn’, and found that it is described as feeling, or expressing, sadness or sorrow over someone’s death. If it’s as simple as that, then yes I was sorry, and sad, about George Michael’s demise, thus I could be described as mourning him.

It felt a bit of a stretch, though. I mean, I’d never met the guy, I’d never been in the same room as him, I’d not even been to one or his Wham or solo concerts. I was only twelve when the band spilt up, and was yet to go to my first gig. Which, incidentally, turned out to be Bros in 1988 – one of Wham’s successors in the ‘pretty-boy-pop’ category.

That got me thinking, though, about how deeply we feel things as teenagers. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I felt, then, that if I didn’t meet, marry and live happily ever after with Matt Goss, I might as well die. To my eternal embarrassment now, I do – really clearly – remember thinking that (*hangs head in shame*).

Our teenage years are when we grow, when our strongest memories are formed, and arguably, when we feel things the deepest. As yet unencumbered by adult worries such as bills and school catchments, we were free of dilemmas such as Center Parcs or All-Inclusive to Gran Canaria, one child, two, or three? More? None? Pasta for dinner again or pub?

We had the luxury of time, a veritable surplus of it, in fact, to casually squander on being a hormonal layabout, lazing on the bed and trying to work out who ‘Careless Whisper’ might be written for. Time to stare into the unseeing, glossy eyes of our latest poster-boy crush and daydream.

These days, I don’t have the time or grey cells (or perhaps, neither) to remember what I left the room for, let alone to spin endless fantasies about some blond, blue-eyed young gun. No wonder our teenage memories are so many and so clear in comparison.

It wasn’t all rosy then though. Ah, teenage angst. I wouldn’t want to be there again, back when no-one mattered but myself and my adolescent peers, when all I wanted was to fit in, just by being myself, as long as I was prettier, cleverer and wittier than everyone else. Is it any wonder that we found solace in song lyrics and the soulful eyes of the latest pop sensation?

The bottom line is, we can’t help the way that we feel. Music soothes the soul so supremely, and musical preference is probably one of the most personal thing about us, marking us out as individuals. I’ve been married for nearly fifteen years, and Mister and I can still surprise each other with our song choices.

Whether we met them or not, our pop idols in some way smoothed our transition through our teens. They were the harmless objects of our first all-consuming crushes, and spoke to us through their music when we felt like no-one else was listening.

Is it any wonder that we feel so deeply for those we lose, particularly who were such a huge part of our formative years? We may never have been less than hundreds or thousands of miles apart, but we were singing from the same song-sheet. Those that came with every album you bought, way back when. How I miss those, how I mourn their loss in the age of digital downloads.

Polly x