Last week, I, along with 50 other bloggers, had the pleasure of attending a bloggers camp at River Cottage HQ. A beautiful cottage, outbuildings and over 50 acres of land, which now hosts famous cookery classes, an amazing chef school, and many other events. I have seen many of the River Cottage shows over the past few years, and love Hugh’s books.
I set off early to pick up Kate from Veggie Desserts at Bath train station. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and we had a good natter on the two-hour drive to Axminster. After a slight detour (thanks Google Maps!) we arrived at the beautiful setting that was to play host to our fun-filled day. We had to leave the car at the top of the drive, and jump on a trailer towed by a tractor. What ensued next was a crazy bumpy ride down a dirt track to the cottage. I pretty much landed on someones lap, but hey, way to break the ice right?!
We were welcomed with some nibbles and coffee, and a quick chat about the days plan in a cosy yurt (accompanied by lots of comfy hay bales, and a large wood burning stove). We had a chance to say hi to fellow bloggers before breaking off into our groups. It was so lovely to finally meet lots of the blogging community who have been so supportive since I started Rough Measures.
Our first session was a tour of their organic gardens. We we’re shown around the large vegetable garden, and also got to meet their pigs and chickens. The gardener was really knowledgeable and had a clear passion for horticulture. He explained how they crop rotate to get the most of the soil, the composting cycle, and how the kitchen never like receiving cabbage! All the talk of growing veg reminded me that I need to make a veg box for the roof of the boat, something I’ve been meaning to do since we moved on.
Next up, we moved into the large kitchen, where we were going to make soda bread and our own butter. We met with the Group Head Chef – Gill Mellor, who talked us through the main ingredients in soda bread, before leading us outside to forage for blackberries. Once we’d picked a large handful, we headed back into the kitchen to get baking. Before we started with the soda bread, we got to work making our own butter. We whipped the cream and watched it turn to butter (with the help of a bit of squeezing to get the last little drops of liquid out). I chose to add goats cheese, thyme and sage into my bread. While the bread was baking, I headed out into the gardens to pick some herbs to roll into my butter. All too quickly, the hour was up, but I had some gorgeous soda bread and butter to take home.
The lovely Kevin from The Crafty Larder showing us his dusting skills
We headed into the hall for lunch, where we were welcomed by Head Chef – Gelf Alderson. He talked us through the menu, explaining the vegetarian option was spelt ravioli, stuffed with cheddar and leeks, on a bed of vegetable ragu. All veg from their gardens of course. Accompanying the main were some gorgeous herby corn on the cob. It all sounded good. It was absolutely mind-blowing. Never did I imagine that pasta could taste SO GOOD. The silence that came over the hall confirmed that it wasn’t just me who was enjoying it. In between courses I had a good natter with other bloggers. Up next, was the pudding; fennel meringue, honey-roasted foraged damsons, coffee ice cream with salted caramel chunks, and an oat crumble. I seriously thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I’m not a huge meringue fan, but these beauties, ohmygod. They were insane. So good, I ate two (thanks Vicki!) I have been raving about that creation all week.
After lunch, we rolled ourselves over to our food styling and photography workshop. Lucy from capturebyLucy ran through some of her favourite books, stylists and photographers. We headed outside, where she showed us some useful tips for shooting food, talked about texture and light, and some of the best angles for food. We then got to play around with some props and test out her tips. We all had so many questions, it soon turned into a big natter and time slipped away.
All too soon it was time to say our goodbyes. It was a fantastic day, with wonderful company and fabulous food. I left with a grin from ear to ear, and my head overflowing with information (note to self, take a notebook next time Sus!) The day was organised by Foodies100, so a big thank you to them, and all at River Cottage.
Here’s some of my fellow foodies take on the day!