Return to River Cottage

At the start of September, I returned to one of my favourite places: River Cottage.

This time round, my sister and I were there for the River Cottage 10th Anniversary Bash and Book Launch – Phew! What a long name, but what a fantastic day. This particular event at River Cottage HQ was to celebrate 10 brilliant years of River Cottage, and to launch the latest cook book that brings together all those years of hard work and culinary expertise.



One of the greatest draws to this event had to have been the attendance of the fabulous man himself, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. After an hour or so of exploring the Cottage, nibbling on tasty treats and nursing an almost palpable excitement, he appeared.

It was fantastic to watch and listen as he introduced each member of the team who had also contributed to the production of the enormous River Cottage A-Z Guide. He spoke about the book, their hard work and continual efforts.

While we waited for our chance to speak to the team directly, we explored the grounds and tasted the treats. Everywhere we went, we were shown such beauty from the West Country.


Admiring the freshly picked flowers.


The Cottage cat, snoozing amidst the excitement.

I was ecstatic to see my jam-making idol again, Pam “The Jam” Corbin. And to meet the gentlemanly head chef, Gill Meller, was also a treat. It was a fantastic opportunity to pick up tips, share excitement and celebrate the years of River Cottage.


Meeting my culinary idol, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.



My sister and I nabbing a quick selfie with Gill Meller.

We had so much delicious and freshly cooked foods to eat, of course. As we continued to explore the Cottage grounds, stations were set up in different corners and enticed you in with such heavenly smells. The chefs themselves stood and prepared a feast before your eyes!


Divine foods.

Staying until the very last moments, we caught the tractor back up and out of River Cottage. With us in the tractor sat John, Pam and Hugh – I was so nervous with excitement I could barely remember how to form a serious sentence. Everyone was so lovely, so welcoming and I was very sad but content to watch the lights of River Cottage fade away.


Taking with me my signed copies of their books, and renewed enthusiasm for exploring recipes, I knew I would absolutely be returning again next year.




To a commuter, from a commuter

The Monday morning commute is something I, amongst most others, will always dread and despise. The day in itself is a reason to don a frown, the time almost unhealthy. I make this journey each week to volunteer at a London hospital, and then when term time arrives I will become again a frequent face on the city bound line. Though it may not be a very long journey, under one hour, it can seem like a major task to endure – twice.

I confess, I am in part responsible for the tense silence befalling my carriage. Not being extraverted, and minimally sociable, I don’t break the rule of No Conversation between commuters – aside from the occasionally mumbled apology for squashing another passenger as I shuffle into my seat. This makes me part of the problem.

The problem being that when passengers – on a mainline train, a tube, a bus – abide by their travelling rule we become disconnected from each other. If you avoid eye contact, purse your lips together, park your luggage in the adjacent seat, stare at your phone, plug in those headphones… anything to pretend its just you on the train. What does the person across from you even look like?

It may be difficult to break a smile when you have to stand for hours, being thrown about from the train’s momentum, and sweating profusely in the cloud of commuter stench. Or when nobody will offer up their seat, or allow you to leave the carriage before they board.

Perhaps these are the excuses commuters hold onto to pardon themselves of rudeness, aggression, irritability and a general aura of icy silence. I think it would be nice to try and break that silence, and perhaps get to know the strangers I travel with each day.