Reading Time: 4 minutes


The Edinburgh Fringe has grown in stature beyond recognition since I used to hang out there as a jobbing Actor back in the day.  It was a place to see new writers, converse with the like-minded and indeed revel in the party festivities of which there were many.

One friend I had spent time with on my first evening at one of the festival parties, saw me the following day commenting on how long it had been – years in fact since he had seen me.  Temporary memory loss from the inevitable drinking spree that was a given in those days.  We still comment on that hilarious exchange when we see each other!

The Edinburgh Festival today is far more respectable and widely attended from visitors from all over the Globe.    It still showcases new writers and shows, but is far more contained and deftly organised than in the past heady days of raw experimental theatre.

There is however a positive side to every evolution, and The Edinburgh Fringe is no exception.  Rather than rubbing shoulders with young hopefuls and drama students, if you are thinking of attending, you will be in the company of the rich and famous as well as curious corporates and the numerous visitors who want to experience new plays and entertainment.   Plus there are thousands of new shows and performances to see.

Edinburgh itself is also a joy to visit, and you will find something that will appeal to every taste, from the extraordinary architecture and surrounding landmarks like Arthur’s Seat which towers over the City, to the fabulous restaurants and bars.

There is still time to attend this year if you hurry, or you could really plan ahead and book accommodation for next year.

If you are still baffled by the concept of the Edinburgh Fringe but want to experience it for yourself, head over to their website and start with the ‘Fringe Inspiration Machine’ to see whats to see and to be ,well, inspired….

check out all the latest info on the EdFringe website.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes


How many times recently have you heard the words ‘don’t beat yourself up’ or ‘don’t put yourself down’.  I can bet it has been said to you a number of times in recent years.  I know I am guilty of doing both, and it is now time to stand up to the ‘inner bully’ and show it who is boss.

It is hardly surprising as we are constantly ‘bullied’ by the media, ordering us to look more attractive, younger, thinner, smarter – unrealistic goals when juggling any sort of descent lifestyle.

As a woman of a certain age, I now feel compelled to fight back at this tough tyrant within, and have begun to congratulate myself on bringing up a family – no easy feat, being a great friend and partner, my own skills and talents, and doing a list of my assets.  I don’t mean in monetary terms, but my own attributes, and if you search you will find there are many that you can write down about yourself.

If you have this list by your bed, or in a prominent place where you can read it daily, I guarantee the negative feelings relating to yourself will begin to disappear.

Since I instigated this exercise into my own regime, as advised by a renowned life coach, ‘miracles’ started to happen, I was advised that they would.  I was sceptical at first, but seeing a close friend successfully turn her life around, I was urged to try it, after all what did I have to lose.

So this, along with daily meditation, my life began to turn around for the good.  I can’t explain how things began to improve, but can certainly pinpoint when, and that was the moment I stood up to the inner ‘bully’ and resolved to overturn the negative feelings I had for myself and stop setting myself unrealistic goals.

Small things started to happen at first, like a Yoga class appearing, practically on my doorstep and a part time job opportunity mysteriously coming up that would not eat too much into my time.  I have even been given affordable beauty products and treatments at the local spa, and a multitude of benefits I hadn’t previously been made aware of.

Perhaps it is the Universe rewarding me for taking action against the ‘bully’, or maybe I am now freed up to notice my own good fortune, but I recommend taking charge, as it can only be for the greater good, and certainly in these circumstances, it will be for your own inner strength and future.

So, the rule of thumb is that bullies are actually cowards, and if confronted will always back off.  So if you have done any sort of meditation, now is the time to have a serious talk with your inner ‘bully’ and tell them their voice is no longer effective in your World.

When the pressure is off you can then decide what is best for you, and you will be surprised at how liberating it will be to make your own decisions, based upon what you really need to make you happy.

If you would like more information on the above subject or any sort of holistic help, please contact us at, where we can recommend related reading and life coach options.

Also check out the following for inspiration

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Parmigiano Reggiano Nests with Goat’s Cheese and Walnut Bites and a Balsamic Glaze Drizzle

Parmigiano Reggiano Nests with Goat’s Cheese and Walnut Bites and a Balsamic Glaze Drizzle

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Hors d’oeuvres are the epitome of fancy party food. A little dish typically served before a meal or between courses at a dinner party, they involve no fuss with cutlery as they are usually designed to eat by hand. First and foremost, appetizers are supposed to be pleasing for the eyes. This recipe for Italian-style hors d’oeuvres combines fresh goat’s cheese with tangy Parmigiano-Reggiano, sweet sundried tomatoes and buttery walnuts that will also satisfy your taste buds. What a perfect mouthful!



For 5 pieces


100g Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded

50g soft goat’s cheese

3-4 pieces of sundried tomato (dry, not preserved in oil)

Handful walnuts, finely chopped

5-6 fresh basil leaves

A pinch of black pepper

Balsamic glaze

Rocket garnish


What you’ll need:


Chopping board

Large kitchen knife

Small mixing bowl

Kitchen scales



Grater (for producing long, thin cheese shreds)

Silicon mould for mini muffins or cake pops (ø3.5-4cm)

Alternatively: 5 shot glasses (ø3.5-4cm, measured at the bottom) and a flat baking tray with non-stick paper




  1. For the Parmigiano nests, take a cheese grater that produces long, thin cheese shreds and grate the parmesan into a mini muffin or cake pop baking mould. Alternatively, prepare a flat baking tray with non-stick baking paper, and grate the parmesan on the surface. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 2-3 minutes at 160°C (fan) or gas mark 4 until the cheese is melted and bubbles but is not crisp yet. Cut the cheese apart into five pieces and quickly drape them over the upturned shot glasses and bake for several more minutes until crisp golden brown. If you have a mini muffin tray at hand, keep the cheese in the tray until crispy and most of the moisture from the cheese has evaporated. After the baking process, take them aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl, mix soft goat’s cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes and finely chopped fresh basil. Add a pinch of black pepper and stir well. Take a teaspoonful of cheese mix and roll into a ball. The mixture should make five balls altogether. Finely chop a handful of walnuts, and then roll each ball over the walnut crumbs until fully covered.
  3. Prepare a serving plate and place the Parmigiano nests on a few rocket leaves. Place a cheese and walnut bite in each nest. Drip some balsamic glaze on the plate for decoration. Serve immediately.

(Credit to: Castelli/Parmigiano for these beautiful recipes)

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Reading Time: 3 minutes


Olive and Sage is a fabulous new discovery in the World of eclectic home furnishings and garden ornaments.  You may not be partial to garden gnomes, in fact my neighbour has just hidden her husband’s more ‘kitch’ garden decorations.  But you will find a variety of inventive designs and quirky pieces, to inspire you in your home and garden.

To add some colour to you garden, or to encourage your kids or grandchildren to grow plants and flowers outdoors, these vibrant planters are just what you need.  Only £25 each or £63 for three.

Pandora the Pig is a great way to celebrate this much loved animal without the toil that goes with keeping such a creature, and there are a variety of carefully crafted animals to choose from.  Pandora the Pig is just £38.

If you a lover of shabby chic, then this lantern is for you and has been skilfully designed and reasonably priced.  Large Shabby Chic Lantern – £59.

For those of you who value a little ‘you’ time, this fun wall frame is a great ‘tongue in cheek’ statement to relish those moments alone.  Now just £13.

Bring out the designer in you with their industrial range, these Pipe coat hooks are both stylish and reasonably priced at £53.

This Company actually offers something for everybody in their ‘Pandora’s Box’ of goodies.   So whether you want to perk up your garden or enhance your home, Olive and Sage have a treasure trove of items in store for you.

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Reading Time: 10 minutes


The Netherlands really cares about green living, being eco-friendly, sustainability and conservation. Just think about how the windmill (and therefore wind power) is basically considered the unofficial mascot of the Dutch!

There are more zoos/wildlife parks here than I ever imagined, and all of them I visited are in superb condition. They all have some connection with wildlife conservation and education.

I was truly impressed with the habitats for the animals in each of the zoos we went to. My favorite was Burgers’ Zoo, south of the Hoge Veluwe National Park. I commented that it seemed like we were in the animal’s natural habitat with every site we visited.

It really feels as though you’re walking in different climate zones and just happened to come across the animals in the wild. They’ve done such a good job. The animals there are the happiest I’ve ever seen in captivity, and animals in “bad” zoos don’t have enough space to exercise (I hate seeing what I call “dead eyes” on animals in zoos), and Burgers solves both problems by giving them a lot of space to move in an environment that feels authentic, but without having to worry about survival. The combination makes for some very happy animals.

Another fantastic zoo, is the Apenhuel Primate Park, just to the east of the Hoge Veluwe. This was a wonderful experience, with capuchin monkeys greeting us upon arrival. And when I say greeting us, I mean crawling on my head, my husband’s arm and all over our pram Lemurs were also free roaming, and other primates had amazing enclosures/open air habitats.

It is set in a beautiful park that would be lovely to take a day and picnic, or ride a bike, have a romantic date and finish off at the restaurant. Speaking of food, if you want to eat while in the zoo, you need not worry about finding healthy fare. Most of the zoos in The Netherlands offered organic meals! In fact, Apenheul only offered organic ice cream! Quite a contrast to zoos in the United States, for instance, where you’re basically going to solely find the worst kind of fast foods, and inevitably leave feeling a little sick.

Exploring the National Park took us to Kootwijk, a small village that lies in the middle of the park, and is filled with farms that house gorgeous horses, ponies, sheep, goats, cows, llamas and even a few wallabies (which we spotted from our car as we zoomed by, then turned around to make sure we weren’t hallucinating). We hiked a bit, finding our way to the famous and beautiful sand dunes along the coast (who knew The Netherlands had sand dunes?!).

I can’t forget about our trip to Efteling, the oldest amusement park in Europe, which predates Disneyland by 3 years. You can see that Walt Disney got lots of inspiration from this park, which is far less commercialized than any Disney park… as well as less crowded, cheaper and way more magical. Despite not being able to do the big roller coasters (thanks to having our toddler with us), we still immensely enjoyed every moment of it – especially the Enchanted Forest and carousels.

Before our visit to the amusement park, we stayed in Tilburg, a small university city located just a stone’s throw from Efteling, as well as the Safari Park Beekse Bergen, which had African animals, as well as all sorts of ungulates, walking around. I recommend doing the drive-through section on a weekday, not at a peak time. We learned this the hard way, getting stuck in traffic, with no room to pull over at a whim to admire an animal for more than a few seconds. Our experience here was not ideal, but I imagine if you go when it’s not packed, it could be lovely. If you must go at peak time, opt for the walk-through or boat tour instead of the drive through safari.

We then traveled to Drachten and stayed onboard a yacht for a few nights. Odd as it sounds, this is Airbnb-able. It was great fun, and my daughter decided she wants to live on a boat after that experience. We even found fantastic food in the city center there, enjoying the best mustard soup (a Dutch favorite) of our entire trip.

Not too far away is the charming town of Giethoorn, which is inaccessible by car, so you need a boat and/or bicycle to get around. We rented a small boat and took a couple of hours sailing through the canals, admiring the beautiful thatched roof homes, perfectly manicured with fragrant flowers on the lawns and lily pads in the water. Giethoorn is a busy touristy town, but it’s easy to find your way into your own bubble, if you just exit the main area and venture off in your boat or bike or on foot for 20 minutes or so. Idyllic. In fact, I imagine that Giethoorn is where the word “quaint” originated. It should have been, anyway, because that’s what it feels like when you’re there. Quaint in the best way possible.

Driving west, we stopped to visit the Castle De Haar, a fantastical castle, complete with moat and drawbridge, perfectly manicured lawns, and the best kept castle I’ve ever seen. The Dutch do take pride in their country, maintaining their historic buildings and manicuring the landscape in ways that many countries don’t. Everything is taken care of and maintained so well. Even the neighborhoods we were told were lower income still looked beautiful, and were exceedingly well kept, including the roads, buildings and sidewalks. Visit this castle and be blown away by its grandeur.

Of course, we had to visit Gouda on our trip. We did, and we learned that Gouda is not only known for cheese, but also candles and ceramic pipes. I learned all about the Gouda cheese making process, and the different types, based on age. We had one of our best meals in the town, and left with a suitcase full of cheese, vacuum sealed and ready for our flight. You likely think I’m exaggerating. I am most certainly not.

Finally, we stayed in a farmhouse just twenty minutes drive from Schipol Airport, and our toddler enjoyed the chickens while we enjoyed the fresh eggs each morning.

We left The Netherlands after experiencing so much, yet feeling like we only skimmed the surface of what the country has to offer. We need to go back, especially during springtime to see the tulips, and also during winter to skate on the canals in Amsterdam when the water freezes over. It sounds like a dream – but in reality, it is already calling us back.

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Home-made Ravioli with a Parmigiano Reggiano, Wild Garlic, Ricotta and Pine Nut Filling

Home-made Ravioli with a Parmigiano Reggiano, Wild Garlic, Ricotta and Pine Nut Filling

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Cooking pasta is for most people an everyday occurrence and usually entails using a packet of dry pasta and a jar of ready-made sauce. Whatever delicious dish you may be able to whip up with these labour-saving foods, how satisfying would it be though to do it from scratch, starting with the pasta dough. Quite honestly, making your own pasta is an ambitious and time-consuming project. Nevertheless, making fresh pasta with simple but good ingredients can be both an incredibly satisfying experience, albeit frustrating at times.

In this recipe, the pasta dough is not simply rolled out and cut, but filled to make ravioli. This type of pasta leaves creative freedom to an abundance of flavour combinations, both meat based and vegetarian. Here, soft and milky ricotta cheese and nutty Parmigiano Reggiano are paired with fragrant and tasty wild garlic, a popular herb to use in dips, sauces and salads. Available in spring and summer at farmer’s markets or in whole food stores, wild garlic can also be foraged for in woodlands where it grows in abundance during the springtime. However, as it can be very easily mistaken for the poisonous lily of the valley, I would recommend safety first and to opt for purchasing it from an experienced grocer.

Ravioli can be combined with a variety of pasta sauces, whether it be cream or tomato based. The proposed sauce for this pasta dish features Parmigiano Reggiano in combination with cream, white wine, sharp gorgonzola and buttery walnuts. Buon appetito!



For 3-4 portions (approx. 30 pieces à 4.5x5cm)


For the dough:

400g strong white flour

2 eggs

4 additional egg yolks (1 for gluing the dough sheets together)

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt


Extra flour for dusting the work surface


For the filling:

50g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

50g pine nuts, lightly roasted

350g ricotta

7 large wild garlic leaves (remove the stalks)

½ tsp. lemon peel

Salt, pepper and olive oil to taste


For the sauce:

350ml single cream

150ml white wine

75g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

50g gorgonzola dolce

60g walnuts, chopped

2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt, pepper to taste


What you’ll need:

Mixing bowl




Measuring cup

Kitchen scales

Large rolling pin

Chopping board

Large Kitchen knife


Long ruler (30cm length)

Large pot

Frying pan or casserole

Flat surface for working the dough or very large, flat chopping board and non-stick baking paper

Clean cotton kitchen towel (for covering the dough)

Small pastry brush

Slotted spoon

Pastry cutter (optional)



  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, eggs, extra egg yolks (spare one for gluing the dough sheets together later), olive oil, salt and water. Knead the dough well and let it rest for one hour covered with a clean and moistened cotton towel.
  2. For the filling, first roast the pine nuts in a frying pan until golden brown. Then, finely chop them as well as the wild garlic leaves. In a mixing bowl, combine grated Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, wild garlic, pine nuts and lemon peel. Stir well and add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.
  3. Roll out the dough on a flat, floured surface. Use a ruler to cut out two rectangles of 30x24cm each to produce 30 top and bottom pieces of 4.5x5cm in size.
  4. Place half to three quarters of a teaspoonful of filling in the middle of each of 15 small rectangles. Take a small pastry brush, dip it in the egg yolk and brush the edges of the dough sheets with it. Then cover the filling with another dough sheet. Use your fingers to press out the air around the filling. Then take a fork and press the dough sheets together to seal them and create a nice pattern. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter to trim the edges and shape them. Place the prepared ravioli on a floured surface, again cover them with a cotton towel and let them dry slightly.
  5. Prepare a large pot with water and bring to the boil. Then add about three teaspoons of salt to it. Place several uncooked ravioli on a slotted spoon and gently place in the bubbling water. Repeat the process until all ravioli are in the pot. Let them cook for 8-10 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. In a large frying pan or casserole, combine single cream and white wine and gently heat the mixture. Add grated Parmigiano Reggiano, gorgonzola dolce and chopped garlic. Cook for a few minutes for the sauce to reduce and get thicker. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in the chopped walnuts and turn off the heat.
  7. Once the ravioli are swimming on the surface, remove them from the pot by using the slotted spoon and then place them in the sauce. Carefully stir until all the pasta is covered in sauce. Serve immediately.


(Credit to: Castelli/Parmigiano for these beautiful recipes)

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