The Rainy Day Box


What every parent holidaying in the UK should have:


The Rainy Day Box

Britain is unbeatable in terms of beauty. I feel extremely lucky to live in such a gorgeous country, full of contrasting landscapes.

Of course, I love the excitement of foreign travel but I adore Great Britain and so this year we have decided to holiday at home. We’re visiting the stunning Gower peninsula for some gloriously sandy family fun.

This particularly beautiful part of the UK is very special to me as it’s where my grandmother originated from and where I spent many a happy childhood holiday.

BUT with every British holiday,
we need to be prepared.
That includes waterproofs
and wellies and our savour
– the Rainy Day Box.

The Rainy Day Box is essential for keeping the children amused indoors (as there’s only so many times you can endure the beach in the pouring rain). I prepare it in advance of the holiday so it’s ready in case we need it.


To make a Rainy Day Box:

Sturdy cardboard or plastic box (I label mine, but this is not essential)

And some or all of the following (age-appropriate for your child or children):

The Rainy Day Box

  • Colouring or activity books (I get mine when they are on offer in The Works)
  • Crayons, colouring pencils or felt tip pens
  • A board game (charity shops are great places to pick up board games)
  • Loom bands or beads for bracelet making

The Rain Day Box

  • A new DVD (I bought this one cheap from the Supermarket, but you could hire one for a week from your local library)
  • Indoor games such as jacks, dominos or jigsaws
  • Reading books
  • Craft kits (we still have some left from Christmas that we have never got around to making but you could easily make your own. In a zip lock bag put some pieces of card and paper, lollipop sticks or pipe cleaners and stickers, buttons etc. with some glue and scissors. Help your child to cut out a shape of their choice; this could be a mask or wand, or a butterfly or dinosaur. Attach pipe cleaners or lollipop sticks for the handle/antennae or legs and then let your child go wild with decorations.)


If you are self-catering you could also take a ready-made recipe kit.

Buy one or create your own by putting all the dry ingredients in a tub and wet ingredients in a small bottle. Print out the recipe and pack into your Rainy Day Box. This recipe is perfect as it doesn’t use any ingredients that require chilling.


Honey Flapjack Cookies 

Honey Flapjack Cookies

Both wheat and dairy free, these little oaty crunchies are completely irresistible.

Time 25 minutes plus cooling
Calories per cookie 72 Kcal
Fat per cookie 4g of which saturated 0.5g
Makes 30 cookies
Suitable for vegetarians

Porridge oats 125g (4½oz)
Medium oatmeal 50g (2oz)
Light soft brown sugar 110g (4oz)
Heather honey 2 tbsp
Vanilla extract a few drops
Vegetable oil 110ml (3½fl oz)
Egg 1, beaten

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and line two large baking trays with baking parchment.

2 Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then put heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture, well spaced apart, on the baking sheets and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon – you should be able to make 30 cookies.

3 Bake for 12–15 minutes until they are a rich golden brown. Leave them to cool for 10 minutes on the baking trays before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Cook’s Tip
For the best results, choose a stronger tasting variety of honey and add a teaspoon of cinnamon or ground mixed spice for a different flavour.

Good Food Fast recipe.


Have fun everyone. You may even hope for a rainy day so you get to do all these activities!






Top Five Barbecue Favourites


Top Six Barbecue Favourites

Us Brits love a good barbecue don’t we? 

As soon as the sun peeps from behind the clouds we dash off for supplies and the scent of burning charcoal drifts across the land. 

This relaxed, informal way of eating is a great way to unwind and enjoy the company of good friends, but it needn’t be boring beef burgers – jazz up your barbie with these Dairy Diary favourites.


Fish Kebabs

Fish KebabsServes 1
Preparation 25 mins
Cooking 10 mins
Per portion 268 kcals, 4g fat (1.5g saturated)

110g (4oz) white fish fillet, cubed
4 unpeeled prawns
1 pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 small courgette, cut into chunks
1 tsp lemon juice
Cayenne pepper
65g (2½oz) natural yogurt
½ tsp grated lemon rind
½ tsp chopped dill

1 Thread fish, prawns, pepper and courgette on to 2 skewers, brush with lemon juice and sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

2 Place under grill and cook for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked, turning occasionally.

3 Blend together yogurt, lemon rind and chopped dill.

4 Serve kebabs with yogurt dip.

Mixed Fish Kebabs Variation. Follow recipe for Fish Kebabs. Omit prawns and pepper. Use 75g (3oz) white fish fillet and 75g (3oz) smoked fish fillet, cubed. Thread on to 2 skewers with courgette, 4 cherry tomatoes and 4 button mushrooms.


Chicken Satay with Indonesian-style Salad

Succulent, nutty chicken served with a bowl of crunchy finely chopped vegetables.

Chicken SatayTime 25 minutes
Calories per portion 325 Kcal
Fat per portion 13.6g of which saturated 7.5g
Serves 4

Skinless chicken breasts 4 large, cut into strips about
1cm (½in) thick
Peanut or satay cooking sauce 150-200g (5-7oz)
Coconut milk 175ml (6fl oz)
Lime 1, grated zest and juice of ½ and the rest cut into wedges
Mixed vegetable stir-fry 350g pack

1 Toss the chicken strips in half of the peanut cooking sauce in a bowl and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, soak 12 medium-length wooden skewers in hot water. Preheat the grill to hot and line a baking tray with foil.

3 Thread the chicken onto the drained skewers (2–3 strips on each) and lay on the tray. Grill for 8–10 minutes, turning halfway, until lightly charred and cooked through.

4 Meanwhile, put the remaining peanut cooking sauce in a saucepan with the coconut milk and lime zest. Place over a medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Then stir in the lime juice and set aside to cool and thicken slightly.

5 Divide the uncooked mixed vegetable stir-fry between four bowls and serve alongside the chicken satay skewers and lime wedges. Drizzle some warm peanut sauce over each salad and serve the rest in bowls for dipping the satay in.

6 Some supermarkets sell a 165ml mini can of coconut milk, which is ideal for this recipe. Otherwise, use part of a can and use the rest with Thai curry paste for another meal.


Apple Pork Burgers

Pork & Apple BurgerMakes 4 burgers
Time 20 mins
Calories 328 per burger
Fat 23g of which 10.1g is saturated
Suitable for freezing

Butter 25g (1oz)
Eating apple 1 large, peeled and chopped
Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and crushed
Minced pork 450g (1lb)
Chopped sage 2 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried
Mozzarella 75g (3oz), cubed, optional
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Cheese-topped burger buns to serve
Chunky apple sauce to serve
Mixed salad leaves to serve, optional

1 Melt butter in a frying pan and fry apple and garlic for 3–4 minutes, until softened. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

2 Stir in pork, sage and seasoning. Mix together thoroughly.

3 Divide mixture into four and shape into balls. Push mozzarella into centre, if using, then form into patties.

4 Heat olive oil in pan and fry patties for 3–4 minutes on each side over a low heat until golden.

5 Serve in cheese-topped burger buns with apple sauce and salad.


Sweet & Spicy Beef Skewers

Here is an interesting and zesty way to enliven beef kebabs by adding fruity orange and the subtle spiciness of Worcestershire sauce.

Spicy Beef Skewers20 minutes preparation time plus marinating
5 minutes cooking time
187 Kcal per portion
6g fat per portion of which 2.1g is saturated
4 servings

Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp
Orange juice 1 tbsp, freshly squeezed
Sesame oil 1 tsp
Clear honey 1 tsp
Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
Lean sirloin steak 450g (1lb), trimmed and very thinly sliced into ribbon-like shreds
Red pepper 1 small
Yellow pepper 1 small

1 Place eight bamboo skewers in a dish, cover with water, and set aside to soak. In a small bowl, mix together the Worcestershire sauce, orange juice, oil, honey and garlic. Place the steak in a shallow dish and gently turn it in the Worcestershire sauce mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

2 Meanwhile, halve and deseed the peppers and then cut them into even-sized chunks.

3 When ready to barbecue, drain the skewers and thread the pieces of steak on lengthwise – bending each piece to form an ‘S’ shape – along with chunks of pepper. Brush with any remaining marinade and cook, turning frequently, over hot coals for about 5 minutes or until done to your liking. Serve immediately with salad and rice.

Cook’s tip. Alternatively, place under a hot grill for about 3–4 minutes on each side, until tender and cooked to your liking.


And on the side, this fruity coleslaw is just perfect!

Florida Coleslaw

Florida ColeslawServes 4
Time 15 mins
Calories 99 per portion
Fat 3g of which 0.9g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

White cabbage 225g (8oz), finely shredded
Dessert apple 1, peeled, cored and grated
Carrot 1, peeled and grated
Raisins 25g (1oz)
Orange ¼, finely grated rind and juice
Plain yogurt 110g (4oz)
Light mayonnaise 2 tbsp
Lemon juice 1 dsp

1 Combine shredded cabbage with grated apple and carrot, raisins and orange rind and juice.

2 Add yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper and toss well together.


Refreshing and delicious, this grapefruit drink just perfect for a summer’s day in the garden.

Pink Grapefruit Crush

Pink Grapefruit CrushMake 1 litre (1¾ pints)
Preparation 15 mins
Per glass 67 kcals, 0g fat (0g saturated)
Suitable for vegetarians

50g (2oz) caster sugar
Handful of mint leaves
1 litre (1¾ pints) pink grapefruit juice
Crushed ice

1 Place sugar in a saucepan with 200ml (7fl oz) water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3–4 minutes.

2 Add mint to sugar syrup. Cool.

3 Remove and discard mint leaves. Add juice and stir.

4 Divide ice between glasses and pour over juice.


Visit the Dairy Diary recipe collection for more inspiring ideas.




Recipe for Lime & Mint Sugar Scrub

This is a bit of a girlie blog I’m afraid, but men can use it too!

As it’s summer and limbs
are on show, a good shower
scrub is essential.

I am a huge fan of Soap & Glory Products but after a spectacularly horrific garage bill we are tightening our belts quite considerably. So, when my gorgeous sugar scrub ran out, I decided to be uber-sensible and make my own. I (and secretly my other half) love it!



Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients for Lime & Mint Sugar Scrub

  • Coconut oil 110g (4oz) (available from Holland & Barratt)
  • Granulated sugar 110g (4oz)
  • Lime 1, zest and juice
  • Spearmint or peppermint oil 10 drops

In a saucepan, heat coconut oil gently until melted. Stir in sugar, lime zest and juice, and oil.

Decant into a jar and store in the fridge.

Use twice a week for invigorated and super-soft skin.

Tip: You could use olive oil in place of the coconut oil (it doesn’t need to be heated). Simply add enough to the sugar to make a thick paste.







Seasonal Garden Garden


Fabulous Patio in One Weekend

We seem to have inadvertently created a bog in our garden by taking up some horrid old flagstones, so next weekend we plan to tackle this gorgeous project from our Seasonal Garden Ideas book.


I may even paint the bench too.
Doesn’t it look fabulous?


Granite Setts Paving

Make a private little patio corner for yourself – a perfect place to retreat to in the garden for a few quiet moments. A circular area gives a feeling of completeness and repose.
This project can be carried out at any time of year. Allow 1-2 days to complete the work.


What you need


  • A purple/mauve/pink colour theme has been chosen for the planting, with purple-leaved Heuchera, mauve-pink thrift (Armeria maritima), black Mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) and Aeonium ‘Schwarzkopf’.
  • A spot planting of scented pink ‘Stargazer’ lilies makes a bold summer statement.


  • 60-100 granite setts.
  • Builder’s sand to cover the patio area to a depth of at least 15cm (6in).
  • More sand to brush over the complete patio to fill in between setts.
  • Wheelbarrow, spade, rake, piece of batten, mallet, trowel and garden broom.

1 Measure the area you want to cover (total circumference), then plan out how many granite setts you will need. Order these from a garden centre or builder’s merchant.

2 Dig the entire area to a depth of 15cm (6in) PLUS the thickness of the granite setts you are using. Ensure the site is level, firm and solid. Even out any bumps with a spade, then firm the soil by treading.

3 Spread sand over the entire area to a depth of 15cm (6in), then rake it smooth and level.

4 Start laying the outermost rings of setts, butting them up to each other as closely as you can while still maintaining the circular shape. Lay the batten on top as you go and tap the setts into place with the mallet.

5 Continue with the pattern, offsetting each ring of setts slightly for stability and using the same batten and mallet technique. Again, position the setts as close together as you can but not touching.

6 When the pattern is complete, spread a layer of sand on top and brush it into the crevices between the setts with a broom.

7 To complete your secret little corner, make a narrow circular flower bed around the patio – here, garnet-coloured decking has also been installed behind the circular setts area.


Tip An alternative to granite setts would be a pattern of bricks.

Note This isn’t a patio for heavy usage – if you require a firmer base for your granite setts, then lay a footing of ready-mixed concrete.

Aftercare If any of the granite setts settle down unevenly, lever them out, adjust the level of sand underneath, then replace. Remove any weeds that spring up in the sand between the setts.


Seasonal Garden Ideas £3.99You can buy Seasonal Garden Ideas
for just £3.99 (plus P&P).

It’s packed with fabulous and practical
projects that be tackled in less than a day.

    Knickerbocker Glory



Vintage ice cream parlours and

a fab Knickerbocker Glory recipe

 I recently read an article in the Guardian about the demise of British ice cream parlour and it made me feel a little sad.

There’s something delightfully nostalgic about an ice cream parlour. We have a lovely one in our local town but as we’re at least 40 miles from the sea it doesn’t seem quite the same as sitting on the prom indulging in an elaborate concoction of ice cream and syrup.

Last summer we enjoyed a wonderful holiday on the Gower Peninsula in south Wales and had the most fabulous ice cream sundaes at Verdi’s Cafe in Mumbles, near Swansea.


Verdi's 1



Verdis 2







As a huge ice cream fan, I can think of nothing better than gazing out to
sea while enjoying a scoop or two of icey deliciousness.

Verdis 4









Marina O’Loughlin  from the Guardian lists her favourite seaside haunts here http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/26/classic-seaside-cafes-neon-nougat-knickerbocker-glories

The nearest on her list is in Morecambe, so we may have to take a trip up north to sample its delights.


Do you have a favourite classic seaside café which sells fabulous ice cream?

I would love to hear about some other places we can put on our family visit list.

While we await a sunny weekend visit to the seaside I am going to make the classic Knickerbocker Glory. This ice cream extravaganza originated in New York and was named after its original Dutch settlers, the ‘Knickerbockers’. However, its popularity here in Britain is due to an Italian, named Pacitto, who opened on ice cream parlour in Redcar where he introduced the Knickerbocker Glory to the British.


Knickerbocker Glory 

Knickerbocker GloryPreparation time – 45 minutes plus 15 minutes assembling
Calories per portion – 806 Kcal
Fat per portion – 49g of which saturated – 24.1g
Serves – 6
Suitable for vegetarians

For the Melba sauce
Fresh raspberries 250g (9oz)
Caster sugar 75g (3oz)
Grand Marnier 1 tbsp, optional

For the fruit salad
Fresh pineapple 175g (6oz) piece, prepared weight
Pears 2 small, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
Black small seedless grapes 175g (6oz)
Green small seedless grapes 175g (6oz)
Strawberries 175g (6oz), hulled and quartered
Peaches 3 small, halved, stoned and skinned
Cherries 175g (6oz), pitted
Caster sugar 2–3 tbsp
Lemon 1, juice only

For the chocolate sauce
Dark chocolate 150g (5oz)
Unsalted butter 25g (1oz)

For assembling
Vanilla ice cream approximately 2 x 500ml tubs
Ice cream wafers 6
Strawberries 6
Maraschino or fresh cherries 6

1 To make the Melba sauce, put the raspberries, sugar and Grand Marnier (if using) into a bowl and mix together. Cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes, then pass the mixture through a fine nylon or stainless steel sieve to make a purée. Chill until required.

2 To prepare the fruit salad, cut away all the skin and ‘eyes’ from the pineapple, then cut into quarters and cut away the hard and woody centre core. Cut the flesh into small cubes and put into a large bowl.

3 Add all the remaining prepared fruits, sugar and lemon juice to the pineapple and mix well. If not using immediately, refrigerate until required.

4 Just before you are ready to assemble the Knickerbocker Glories, make the chocolate sauce. Put the chocolate, butter and 150ml (¼ pint) cold water into a small saucepan and stir together over a moderate heat until the chocolate is melted and smoothly blended with the butter and water. Allow the sauce to cool until cold, but do not allow it to set.

5 To assemble the knickerbocker glories, spoon a little of the Melba sauce into the bottom of each tall sundae glass (contains about 350ml/12fl oz), then add a little fruit salad, top with a scoop of ice cream and then pour on a little of the chocolate sauce.

6 Insert a wafer into each glass and decorate with strawberries and maraschino cherries. Serve immediately.


This recipe is taken from Around Britain Dairy Cookbook.






Dairy Diary 2014

5 easy ways to manage your busy life

With three children and a busy full-time job spare time is not something I have much of.

Who does though?

Everyone I know seems to run
around like a headless chicken
juggling everything that life
throws at them.

Dairy Diary 2014

So, what’s the best way to manage a busy life?

With planning  and, of course, your trusty Dairy Diary. Here are our top tips for keeping on top of things the Dairy Diary way:

  • Make a note of every family member’s appointments and events.
  • Work out a weekly routine that works for you. First write a list of everything that needs to be done and then write a list of things you would like to do. Choose a suitable day and time for your needs list and then slot in your likes where you can.
  • Before you shop, plan your evening meals in advance (the weekly recipes are fantastic inspiration for this). Write each meal in your diary and then compile your shopping list of ingredients.
  • Use your stickers to remind you of important dates, such as birthdays.
  • Keep any coupons/vouchers you collect in the pocket of your diary and make a note of them on the day you plan to use them. The pocket is also really useful for ideas lists: I have a list of ‘days out’ suggestions plus a ‘holiday ideas’ list (it’s always nice to have something to get excited about when daily life gets you down).

Summer Fête Lemon Cakle

Do you like the look of the recipe on this page?

It’s perfect for baking for community/school fêtes but is equally delicious for sharing with friends and family!


Summer Fête Lemon Cake

Nutritional information
Makes 16 squares
Time 1–11/4 hrs
Calories 246 Fat 10g of which
6.2g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezers

Butter 175g (6oz), softened
Golden caster sugar 175g (6oz)
Lemon 1, finely grated zest and juice
Eggs 3 large
Self-raising flour 225g (8oz)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Fondant icing sugar 225g (8oz)
Jelly oranges and lemons, sliced to decorate

1 Preheat oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Beat together butter, sugar, lemon zest, 1 tbsp juice, eggs, flour and baking powder using an electric mixer. Spoon into an 18cm (7in) square cake tin, greased and lined, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until firm. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

2 Sift icing sugar into a bowl and gradually beat in enough lemon juice (and water, if necessary) to make a smooth thick icing. Spoon on top of cake and spread evenly with a knife.

A Dairy Dairy recipe









Choose your favourite cover and you could win a Dairy Diary 2015

Please help!

My task for this week is to choose a front cover for the Dairy Diary 2016. I would love your help. The more the merrier!

The survey has just three questions and will only take one minute or less to complete.

Click here to start the survey



Dairy Diary 2015

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Dairy Diary 2015 –  hot off the press
and waiting for a new home!

What are you waiting for?

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