Pad thai from Thailand makes for an exotic final summer


Directly from the country of Thailand came this asian dish, complemented with our garden delights. Here is

Pad thai topped with pak choi


Pad thai on a Tuesday evening

2-3mm wide flat rice sticks
fish sauce
pad thai mix
pinch of chilli powder, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
chopped and fried chicken
2 large eggs, ready cracked
chopped and fried courgettes and red onion

top with grilled pak choi

Pre-boil the rice sticks (only for a couple of min). Add fish sauce + pad thai mix + chilli powder to fried chicken, courgettes and red onion in a pan and then add boiled rice sticks. Mix in beaten eggs until cooked and load on plate with gusto. Top with grilled pak choi and serve with flair.

Eat with a background of BBC 6 o’ clock news and follow with The One Show before selecting a classic movie, preferably featuring Dustin or Al or undoubtedly Bobby De Niro.


The last summer continued… meals fit for a king (Baby King George in particular)


If I had to choose a final dish before I croaked I definitely would have some salad on my plate. But with my sister’s plethora of meals, it would be hard to choose what would cover the rest of the plate. But salad, yes. That is a certainty. Like death and taxes perhaps!?

Baby Sister’s Steak Salad


for the salad
sirloin steak (sliced),
new potatoes (or some from your growbag?),
vine tomatoes (if your greenhouse doesn’t grow them fast enough, Waitrose will absolutely suffice),
frisee salad (supplement with leaves from the garden),
mixed funky mushrooms,
red onions

and for the dressing
wholegrain mustard (1/2 tsp),
generous sprinkling of pepper,
chopped basil,
olive oil,
lemon juice,
hazelnut oil
and red wine vinegar (liquid proportions to taste)

Boil the halved new potatoes. Fry the sirloin steak in a frying pan and then add chopped red onions before compiling the salad.

Mix the frisee salad, boiled new potatoes, special yummy mushrooms, and chopped tomatoes then let it sit while you make the dressing. After adding a little of this and a little of that (she does it by eye so you try that too OK?) pour over salad and shuffle and turn everything around with your hands. As long as they are clean of course.

Separate out into generous helpings for each of your family members and friends and load the top with the sirloin steak/red onion combo.

Serve with a smile. Licking the plate is optional.

The last summer holiday of my 20s


I rightly admit that this is a rather grand title for this blog post. But I have been silent in these parts for a while now and thought I better reintroduce my blog voice with a punchy headline. Catch your waning attention perhaps!?

After a short (OK quite lengthy) repose, I have returned to the blogosphere midway through the FINAL SUMMER OF MY 20s! With old careers ending and new peeking over the horizon, I have been in a bit of flux these past months. Part of the kerfuffle involved relocating back to the UK for the summer before I begin again, with renewed force in the Big Apple. This time mixing with the journalistic glitterati in Renzo Piano’s magnificent skyscraper, the New York Times Building. By Jove am I excited!!

But before I step back into the fray that is the bustling urban chaos of NYC, I must sit and ponder in my village back in the North East of England (read: wait for my visa to start). However, timing wise, everything has worked out quite spectacularly for our family. My wandering sister also returned from her wonderful work in Bangladesh to join me in this pause before our new jobs begin in the cities of New York and London. So what are we doing with ourselves with all this time allocated to pensive activities? Well eating of course. Healthy style.

Not only is my sister a provider of shelter but she is also a self-confessed horticultural genius. And so her budding garden, prepared lovingly during her last trip home, and maintained superbly by the matriarch of the house, is in full bloom upon our return.


A lettuce patch interspersed with chive, lemon balm and salad burnet (a slightly random but nevertheless, endearing herb)


Pots of herby goodness, thriving in our patioed back garden: greek basil, basil basil, parsley and mint

Little Toms

Tomatoes in father’s greenhouse creation. A gift to the mother.


The beginning of a torrent of corn. See later for the continuation of that saga!


Bags of potatoes. These homegrown pots make for magnificent mash.

So with this basis in soil, our family is prepared for a summer of culinary living. So let’s get on with it!

As the money runs out in one of the poorest countries in the world….


fund 1 fund 2

The money is running out. I know we said the last push was final, but you can’t blame a girl for trying. Check out the images above and the website here:

Come on. It’s just like a registry list, except there are no nut bowls or thick fluffy towels. In fact it’s a steal. One very poor family is getting a house designed just for them and how they live. This special Geordie is changing their lives. And you can help her.

And if you can’t afford anything, a simple exploitation of social media could go a long way. So please, pass it on!

Progress – Jo Ashbridge – RIBA Boyd Auger Scholarship


So I have not been around for a while. Mainly because I have been indulging in a little too much Tribeca Film Festival 2013 (reviews to come) and galavanting about on various red carpets in search of film gold. But this Monday morning I wanted to help out the little sister with more gushing publicity.

Miss Jo Ashbridge is nearing the end of her time in Bangladesh and also her funding. So with social media hopefully on her side, we hope this final push for a new home for one lucky family, will be a roaring success. She has already designed some magnificent mahogany windows and doors for detailing and is working painstakingly hard to perfect this new house for the beneficiaries.

Sometimes giving to charity can seem a bit vague. Where is your money going you might ask in one pensive moment? Administration costs? Salaries? Well here is your chance (roll up. roll up people) to give directly to the cause. The cause in this instance being shelter, something I cheekily presume is taken for granted by all you readers. Sterling pounds and US dollars (currencies we are by no means restricted to) go a tremendously long way in Bangladesh’s neck of the woods so please get on it if you feel so inclined.

And if these images of progress don’t get your cash flowing maybe this video update will spark something inside your hearts. (Can you spot the Channel 4 documentary styling along the way? Look how interactive this is)

Progress – Jo Ashbridge – RIBA Boyd Auger Scholarship

Gushing over? Yep (for now!)

Cutting windows and doors_1

Cutting windows and doors

Fishing trip

Fishing Trip

Nobu para children

Nobu para children

Casting concrete

Casting concrete

On site detailing

On site detailing

Site Progress

Site progress

Absolutely Dwellable!


So it is that time of year again. The back end of winter with an occasional, but not too frequent, sunny day. The rest of them are soggy and cold and I HAVE HAD ENOUGH (stomps foot).

Roll on summer I say. Or at least Spring for more than 24 hours at a time?

With a little over 2 months between jobs, I have decided to spend my free summer-planning time (I’ll admit it: time could be more productively spent reading academic papers) working on where to go and when. Two summers ago, my family and I “vacationed” (as the Americans prefer it) up on Cape Cod. Rustic beaches, white picket fences (see post on all things Cape), fresh fish and chips and those pies! So this year we are looking for a more exotic destination. A little less North East coast and a little more grass skirt?

I just thought of Hawaii.


Sold? I am

Yes I did. Just popped into my head. Just like that.

But I am new to this playful search for the perfect family trip and so have employed the use of the new spangly Dwellable app (because ‘all things iPhone’ amuses me).

First of all they got me right in the mood. Who doesn’t enjoy a real live water washing up on sand moving image?

With the rain dribbling down the window pane outside, a beach scene is all I need to get into character. I can just picture myself. Lounging about, upturned coconut beverage in one hand, the other providing shade from the bright sunlight as I watch other holiday goers frolick in the sea. I dont need a woolly scarf with this backdrop. Nor do I need an umbrella, or a Wellington boot (look it up Americans), and not at all would I find a cut off glove, fingers poking out, of any utility. No no no. Grass skirt with bikini for decency is all I need. And Dwellable is here to help. I can almost run through my day on the beach, taxing though it is not, while simultaneously searching for the perfect rental.

Dwellable iphone

Love a snazzy app to make a cool day warmer

Loads of images, easy filters to get straight to the point (budget-wise and more) and all the necessary clicks to discover the holiday destination of my dreams and book with the owner. Really very nice Dwellable. Really VERY nice.

friendly Hawaiian sea turtle at Laniekea, north shore, 2002

My new friend says hey

And now with summer in mind, my ability to match up destination to calendar to price and then sealing the deal all in one swoop, click, swoop and then click, I can get onto the superfluous business of working out a water sport of choice.

Windsurfing anyone?

Hanks and I


Last night, after months of New York City living, meeting many of my screen and stage heroes, I finally got to sit in a Broadway theater and watch my lifelong love Mr Tom Hanks.



From Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle

For a hint to my emotional state, minutes before the curtains went up on Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy, I refer you to an older blog post.

Tom Hanks’ Thumb

Well then. Now you can better picture the smile on my face when that familiar Tom Hanks voice hit me in real life. A smile that remained planted there for nearly 2 hours as I sat marveling at how close I was to someone so strangely valuable from my childhood memories.

The play itself was OK. Based on the true story of 1980s tabloid news journalist Mike McAlary, we were told the tales of his rise to fame and Pulitzer through the anecdotes of his peers. I quite enjoyed that format. The characters were strong, easy with the swearing and played by well established and professional actors (Courtney Vance– brilliant, Christopher McDonald– amused). However, I am not sure I was able to sway from the inherent decency we associate with Hanks, to accept him whole-heartedly into this role of an ambitious, arrogant and at-any-cost tabloid hack.

I wanted to believe him because he plays a good part as always, but a tiny (but oddly loud) voice inside of me screeched,

“NO NO NO. Tom Hanks is a lovely guy. A lucky AND a lovely guy. I will not believe all this swearing business. And I certainly will not believe he is not absolutely dedicated to his marriage and family life. I WILL NOT”

But then I found myself smiling again as his silky voice wins me over. And the giggling scene. Oh how that made me happy.

Thanks Tom. That’s another bucket list tick for me.