Author: Emma Hetherington-Royle

Light up the night. Don’t miss out!

Drive past Chiswick House in south-west London at night and you may be surprised by the eerie glow coming from the grounds right now. It’s actually the light from hundreds of amazing, giant Chinese lanterns – part of the first festival of its kind in the UK celebrating Chinese New Year. This event offers a magical, illuminated experience as you wander through the gardens of Chiswick House in the dark. Find your astrological sign as a lantern  – Tiger for me, Pig for our friend Gary and Rat for John and Gary’s wife, Jackie. The event is on until 3rd March 2016 so there is still time to get along if you live nearby or are visiting London soon. We got our tickets slightly cheaper buying ahead from the Time Out website. DO wear warm clothing when you go. The walk around the grounds is quite a long one and it can get chilly round the nether regions if you haven’t come prepared. We missed our hats and were thankful for our gloves!   Small children might struggle unless …

Caponata from Sicily

A Taste of Sicily in Summer

While cold and stormy weather batters us right now, I thought it would be great to share a recipe that brings with it a taste of warm weather, summer days and Sicily. John and I grabbed a week on this wonderful Italian island last Autumn and discovered a vibrant, welcoming place rich with history, fabulous food and amazing scenery, topped off with the imposing Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest, most active volcano. Wherever we went on the island you could almost always guarantee that local cafes and restaurants would serve up Caponata. It’s a delicious stew of aubergine and celery that every place seemed to add its own twist to. So here is my version.  It’s really easy to make, full of healthy vegetables and provides a really interesting change from its French cousin, ratatouille. Emma’s Caponata Recipe Ingredients: 1 large onion, diced 2 large aubergine, roughly chopped into bite-size chunks 4 sticks of celery, chopped as above 2 cloves garlic, diced 2 green or red peppers, sliced and diced 2 tomatoes, chopped into bite-size chunks 2 courgettes, …

Kitchen kettle melt-down

    Fingers crossed this little beauty, our new kettle purchase, is going to be our last for a while. So far we’ve had kettle lid/spout combinations that spew boiling water all over the worktop and miss the teapot; plastic kettles that just silently seep water from underneath them and clear kettles that fur up and fill our teacups with scaly matter! This time I’ve pushed the boat out and spent a bit more money on a KitchenAid model. Let’s see if this dinky specimen, that surprisingly holds enough water for our family teapot, can live up to its brand reputation for quality and allow us to make a cup of tea without tears.  

Emma Pepys into the past

I admit it, I am a self-confessed Samuel Pepys groupie. Ever since I picked up the ‘Shorter’ version of his Diary about 25 years ago, I’ve been hooked. His lifestyle, his opinions, his experiences are rooted in the 17th century but the voice in this extraordinary diary feels so very contemporary too. Humour, hubris, dalliances, affairs, gossip, greed and jealousy spill from his entries, as well as the every-day, down in the dirt detail of Stuart London. So I was really excited when I heard about the opening of the Samuel Pepys exhibition: Plague, Fire, Revolution. These days without the kids in tow John and I can please ourselves when it comes to indulging our interests. So we booked our tickets and headed off to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. For me, Samuel Pepys diary is the next best thing to a time-machine. It lands you in a London recovering from the turmoil of the English Civil War and the rule of Oliver Cromwell, opening with the triumphant return of Charles II from exile. …