Devonshire Woman

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Shin of Beef Stew and Apple Cinnamon Crumble

I love cooking… i especially love cooking, warming, comforting food at this time of year. As soon as the temperature drops outside, i am in the kitchen, dusting off my slow cooker and getting my favourite crumble recipe ready.

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I recently discovered shin of beef, not only is it a cheap cut of meat (i paid £4 for a kg – this made 2 separate meals), it also is the most tender and succulent of meat in the slow cooker. I throw it in the cooker with carrot, potato, onion and a bit later i add pearl barley. This particular stew i served with suede and potato – normally i would make dumplings but ran out of time. It is cooked in water and low salt vegetable stock on low for 9 hours the result…

Wow, just wow. The meat just falls apart, it is a very fatty cut of beef so i try and remove as much as i can before serving. Any leftovers are turned into stew pie the next day… it’s the meal that just keeps giving. This meal actually cost:

  • Shin of beef – (£4 per kg – i used half) – £2
  • Stew pack of veg from local market – £1
  • Pearl barley – 69p (but i used about 1/4) 18p

I already had the stock cubes and a couple of potatoes so this cost £3.18  for a meal for 2 adults and 2 children. I also had enough to make a small pie the next day!

I love tasty and thrifty meals! I followed the stew with an apple and cinnamon crumble. The apples were gifted by a kind person in my town who left them outside the front of their house for anyone to take and make use of – wonderful!

I use the same crumble topping recipe with wonderful success every time – i love these little books, the recipes are easy, short and simple.

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We’re more of a custard with your crumble when the weather is cold and cream when it is warm kinda family.

apple cinnamon crumble

The cinnamon is warming and just tastes so appropriate at this time of year!

What is your favourite crumble combination? I always make apple and cinnamon, i need to branch out more 🙂

Longleat Forest Centre Parcs

Last weekend, we went to Longleat Forest Centre Parcs for a long weekend with all of husband’s family. It was our first time visiting but everyone i told who had already been said i would not be disappointed… and boy was they right!

Firstly, lets start with our wonderful accommodation, we stayed in an exclusive lodge (apologies these photos were taken as we were leaving so may not be as perfect as when we arrived!) We had 6 adults and 3 little ones in our party and the lodge was a perfect size for us all.

The living area had plenty of seating and due to the Indian Summer that we experienced the weekend we went, we did not get to enjoy the wood fire.

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Adjoined to the living room was our dining area, again plenty of seats and room, we had some lovely meals around the table and also some fierce games of the card game ‘cheat’!

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The kitchen was well equipped with everything you would need and plenty of cupboard space, which was good as the Mother In Law bought half of Morrison’s with her!

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The games room was a great addition, the kids loved playing in there in the day and the grown ups enjoyed a few tournaments of pool… competitive us… no!

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The outside area had a lovely hot tub and a separate sauna and steam room, i had planned before arriving at Centre Parcs to spend a lot of time using these facilities as they were for our personal use only… however i only got in the hot tub once, we were just too busy.

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The property contained 2 double rooms and 2 twin rooms, all en suite with either a bath or a shower. With so many people in one house, it was so nice to have our own bathrooms and also a personal balcony. The nicest thing was waking up each morning, opening the door, hearing the birdsong and seeing nothing but beautiful forest.

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One of the en suite bathrooms.

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The accommodation also had another toilet downstairs and a drying room to put wet swimming costumes, they really did think of everything.

As soon as all our party had arrived we headed to the Subtropical Swimming Pool. There were plenty of family changing rooms and lockers.

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We took our own inflatable rocket which the staff very kindly offered to blow up for us. There were also plenty of flotation vests for little ones to hand too. We first had a play in the waves and then went for a few goes around the flowing river.  We went to the pool everyday and also enjoyed the outside pool, flumes and rapids.

We also hired bikes… i think bikes are pretty essential if you have small children who can not walk far as the park is actually quite big! The first day we had a trailer for the boys to sit in but when boy 1 spotted the bikes fitted onto the back of an adult bike, we went back and swapped for one of those and a seat on the back of my bike for boy 2. I actually loved all the cycling, i haven’t cycled in about 6 years but liked that i felt so fit (guess the Insanity workouts are paying off) and could actually cycle up the steep cycle path… and my bike didn’t have any gears!

We spent a lot of time around the lake. The weather was glorious, so we sat on the little beach that they have there, the boys went for a ride on a pedalo.

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The lake was buzzing with so many activities going on, it really did remind me of Kellerman’s in Dirty Dancing 🙂 With all the trees surrounding us, it felt just like being in Canada (without the risk of bears).

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There was also lots and lots of play parks for the boys, they were spoilt for choice.

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Whilst the boys had a play, i had my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte from one of the two Starbucks on the site… happy boys and happy Mum!

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We had a meal at Bella Italia on our last evening, we had a lovely meal and great service. On our final day we had one more play in the pool and then had a bite to eat at Hucks, a burger restaurant on site. The kids had an all you can eat buffet… they got their monies worth. I went for a Texas Burger, it was a nice end to a great break.

I had one more place to check out before i left… the gift shops, which actually were reasonably priced. I bought the boys a Centre Parcs squirel to remember our time at Longleat Forest, we saw so many of the little fellas on our bike rides. The boys had an amazing time and promptly fell asleep holding their new friends as soon as we hit the A303 home!

We had an amazing couple of days at Centre Parcs, the only problem with the place was there were not enough hours in the day. We had purchased gym passes prior to our trip but unfortunately did not get round to using them as ran out of time. Just bike riding and the swimming pool was enough really but there were many bookable activities on offer for all ages. We hope to enjoy Centre Parcs again one day… a week on, i think i have finally got over all that swimming and cycling.

A Fresh Beginning

To leave a blog behind that i have been working on for over 3 years is quite a daunting feeling, but it is quite exhilarating also. My time writing on Fun Being Mum came to end a while ago, i started to feel uncomfortable with the whole ‘parenting blog’ thing because, personally, i didn’t feel right sharing the most intimate details of my children and motherhood on the internet.

This past summer, i took a step back from blogging to discover exactly what i like, because in this technological day and age these things can be lost. I spent the summer making wonderful food for my family and guests, i started a bullet journal, which led to me buying a sketchbook and gouache paints.

I have gone from living vicariously through others in the evening spending hours online watching youtube, to doing the things i really enjoy. I feel more relaxed, i enjoy my free time more and ultimately i am sleeping lots better!! Heck i even read 2 whole books this summer… something i never made time for.

I’m going to share my fitness journey, because i am a woman and am always trying a new fitness schedule! Healthy eating regimes, homemaking tips and tricks, how we plan to turn our new house (which is majorly run down) into a cosy, comfortable home and also… I’m the Devonshire Woman… so there will be lots and lots of posts about beautiful Devon on the blog.

I am very excited about this new blog, my blank page, to fill with colour and life, it’s going to take me a bit of time to find my rhythm, but i feel more comfortable here. I hope you enjoy my new blog 🙂