The Polar Pack

Little Miss C and I review a huge number of children’s books together and it’s a job we very much enjoy. Finding a book that stands out though can be tough, but The Polar Pack has managed just that – literally!

The Polar Pack

As well as being a beautifully illustrated book about polar animals, The Polar Pack also has an envelope at the back containing push out card pieces that you can use to make all the animals featured in the book. You just need a bit of glue to hold them together and then you have your own set of polar animals.

The Polar Pack

As well as turning the book into a craft activity it really helps to bring the animals to life and LMC really enjoyed seeing that happen. There was lots of putting the card creations next to the book and seeing how they compared.

The card animals also then became toys in their own right – with LMC acting out several stories with them and then also introducing more animals from her toy box as the stories became a bit stranger. Have you ever seen a panda and a reindeer together?

The Polar Pack

Some of the card shapes were a bit fiddly to get out of the sheets and they did require a fair amount of dexterity to build them, but it really didn’t take long to do so, and they do turn the book into so much more than it would have been without them. The card that the animals are made from is good quality and thick, meaning that they can withstand a fair amount of play too.

I’ve reviewed books before that have one card character in the back, but The Polar Pack was somewhat different, having several animals, and also having to build them yourself. We really liked it though and it turned the book into a whole afternoon craft activity and role play session – fantastic! And LMC got to learn about the polar animals at the same time. Even better.

The series also contains The Jungle Crew and The Safari Set which would be perfect for children who love these other animals. I’ll certainly be considering all three titles when I’m on the look out for birthday gifts for children over the next year.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Polar Pack for the purposes of this review. This post contains affiliate links.

There was a time, before children, when Mr C and I had a bit of a gadget thing going on. New bits of technology would come into our home regularly, after crazy amounts of online research by Mr C to make sure he understood exactly what it did and how it did them. When we needed a new car he just considered it like buying a new gadget, albeit a big one. These days our crazy gadget buying days are somewhat behind us, but Mr C still likes to daydream and many a time I find him doing some online fantasy car shopping. Here he has a bit to say about electric cars which are now a real option for many in the market for a new car.

This is an exciting time in the car industry, and for the average car-buying person the choices are more diverse than they have been in decades. Small displacement turbo and super-charged petrol engines with variable valve timing and waste heat capture are miracles of power and efficiency compared to what was available only ten years ago. Diesel engines are ever more refined and efficient. But most excitingly of all, the age of the electric vehicle has truly arrived and offers a tantalising proposition.

There are many big wins to be had from using a battery and motors rather than an internal combustion engine:

  • Refilling is very cheap – just plug in at home and use a few pounds worth of electricity.
  • Power is immediate and smoothly delivered without any gear changes.
  • The momentum lost when braking can be recaptured then used again.
  • Driving is much quieter – just an electric woosh and the sound of the tire on the road.

Driving a small electric car for one mile is approximately equivalent to running your hairdryer for 10 minutes, if that helps to appreciate the energy used. Of course that energy has to come from somewhere, and usually that means a power station, which may be burning fossil fuels, depending on where you live in the world. Still, the power station is optimised for efficiency, and doesn’t spit out pollutants into the heart of our cities. Personally I very much look forward to having clean air to breathe in London, and I won’t miss the roar of traffic.

Another great result arising from the advent of mainstream electric cars, is that it gives the designers a chance to skip a few years and aim for ‘futuristic’ as seems befitting of this new technology, and of course in the name of marketplace differentiation!

BMWi


BMW is a great case in point, with their incredibly distinctive BMWi cars. The BMW i8 looks like a wild concept sports car, perhaps envisioning what a BMW might look like in 20 years. But it’s here now and as a hybrid it mixes electric motors driving the front wheels, with a 231 hp 1.5 litre 3 cylinder petrol engine (tiny by BMW standards) driving the rear wheels. It’s not just the drivetrain and bonkers exterior that are notable however. BMW are using carbon fibre reinforced plastic throughout the structure and body to reduce the weight of the whole car, further improving efficiency and driving pleasure. They are the first manufacturer to use this material in volume production.

Perhaps of even more interest is the i3, which bundles the same technological feats, including the carbon fibre reinforced plastic construction, into a compact 5 door car. Powered by batteries alone it has a up to 100 mile range, though there is a “range extender” (REx) option which adds a very small petrol engine purely to charge the battery on the go when needed. That increases the range to about 180 miles.



This is a very exciting time to be buying a new car!

Disclaimer: This featured post was brought to you in association with BMW.

Manchester

When I was a lass growing up in Yorkshire the first thing that sprang to mind when anyone mentioned Manchester was Coronation Street. Eastenders was never a big thing up north you see. We watched Emmerdale, as it was from Yorkshire, and Coronation Street so we could keep track of what was going on on t’other side of the Pennines. We were always wary of them over there – after all, look at any map and it’s clear to see that there’s only one “right” side of the Pennines. So in my mind Manchester was this large city of small cobbled streets, local boozers like the Rovers Return and people with extraordinarily complicated lives. It almost felt like a shock when I finally went over there with my family and discovered it to be completely different!

When I recently booked a trip to Manchester for a conference I spotted a good deal on Hotel Direct and instead decided to turn it into a whole family weekend away. I’ve done my research into what we could all do whilst there and I was actually amazed at just how much there is going on – even in the Autumn time when you might expect things to be quieter after the summer. So here goes with my top Ten things to do in Manchester in the Autumn.

1. Walking Tour

From my time living in London as a student I’ve always been a firm believer that the best way to get to know a place is to walk its streets, and Manchester is no different. There are walking tours available to suit all interests and they range from pub walks, to ones about the spies and spooks of Manchester, through to the history of Manchester during the war. You don’t need to pre-book for most of these so you can easily take a last minute call based on the weather.

2. MOSI – Museum of Science and Industry

It’s only in the north it seems that science museums add the word “industry” to their names, but us Northerners are understandably proud of our industrial history. MOSI is part of a group of museums, including the Science Museum in London, the National Railway Museum in York and the National Media Museum in Bradford, and it really has become a bit of a destination museum over the last few years. The museum is free to visit (although there may be charges for some special exhibitions) and it’s easy to spend a whole day there are you’re taken on a journey through Manchester’s history from the cotton mills through to it becoming a 24-hour party capital.

Manchester United Old Trafford

3. Football

Mention Manchester to many people, especially overseas, and their first response will probably be to talk of one of the city’s two football teams. Although one of the teams’ fortunes so far this season aren’t exactly what they would have hoped for there’s no doubt that a game at either Old Trafford or the Etihad Stadium will show you some top football – even if the scoreline doesn’t go the way you want. At Old Trafford you’ve also got the Manchester United Museum and at the Etihad Stadium their Legends Tours are re-starting this October. Whether you’re red or blue, Manchester’s footballing history and pedigree is a must for all fans.

4. The Hallé Orchestra

Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall is home to the legendary Hallé orchestra and seeing them perform live is said to be one of the most incredible spectacles in the classical music world. Their season starts in September and throughout the autumn and the Hallé perform a huge number of concerts as well as working alongside their award winning education programme which reaches out to 44,000 children and young people.

If you still need convincing why not watch their one minute overview.

5. Manchester Sea Life Centre

Manchester being somewhat landlocked meant that I would never have expected it to be somewhere to visit a Sea Life Centre, but that’s exactly what fellow blogger Boo Roo and Tigger Too did on their visit last autumn. Located at the famous Trafford Centre this is a newer Sea Life Centre and one of the highlights is their Turtle Beach experience. All children love turtles and this takes you through the turtles’ life as they return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs, and how the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the baby turtle. Not something I knew before!

6. Legoland Discovery Centre

As if the Manchester Sea Life Centre isn’t enough fun at the Trafford Centre it’s also home to the Legoland Discovery Centre. Now, I think you’d struggle to find a child, young or old, that doesn’t love Lego so the Legoland Discovery Centre is a perfect attraction for kids of all ages.  Being indoors it’s also perfect for those autumn or winter days when the weather outside isn’t too good.

Visitors are given a demonstration as to how Lego bricks are made, as well as a Miniland featuring some well known northern sights and the famous Lego cars to drive. There’s definitely no shortage of things to do there and it’s become a northern must-visit for Lego fans.

7. Manchester Museum

So many people overlook museums in universities, but you certainly shouldn’t as they’re often fantastic places, with some great exhibits and the Manchester Museum certainly falls into that category. As well as one of the largest collections of Egyptian artefacts in the UK, there are also dinosaurs and live animals in their vivarium. They’ve even won and been shortlisted for several awards for being a family friendly museum.

8. Manchester Literature Festival

2014 sees the first St Albans Literary Festival (which I’m even going to be speaking at – more about that soon!) so I’m particularly interested to see how other cities approach their book festivals. The main part of the Manchester Literature Festival runs from the 6th to the 19th October, and features over 80 events, making it somewhat bigger than what’s planned here in St Albans. There are a few events that also slip into November so even if you miss the main part of the festival, it may still be worth checking their brochure to see what else is on.

9. Manchester Science Festival

The geek in my loves a science festival so I was delighted to find out that the Manchester Science Festival runs from the 23rd October to the 2nd November this year. This is the festival’s 8th year, and although it is produced by MOSI (see above) it takes place at venues across the city, Greater Manchester, Salford and Bolton. As well as there being a great family programme there are also threads aimed at teenagers – an age group that so often is missed out in my opinion.

10. Coronation Street

Manchester Coronation Street

Come on – you can’t be any sort of a soap fan and not visit those famous cobbles can you? Coronation Street The Tour takes you behind the scenes on the Manchester’s most famous street, and during September and October this year there are even some special evening tours where you could be lucky enough to have Richard Hillman, Maureen Naylor or legend Reg Holdsworth showing you around.

So, that’s my plans for Manchester this autumn. What would be on your must do list?

Disclaimer: This featured post was brought to you in association with Hotel Direct.

Pictures credits: Manchester - Richard Hayes, www.tecmark.co.uk, Old Trafford Manchester United – Paul, Coronation Street – Rach. All photos used under the Creative Commons licence.

My Ladybird collecting obsession is now at the stage where I have to carry round in my handbag two little notebooks containing a list of all the Ladybird titles in my collection, arranged by series. Otherwise it seems I can no longer remember which ones I have or which ones I just dream of having. Against each series I also have a tally number so that I know just how many there are out there in the series. Ladybird were a bit strange in that they had several series where there was only one or two titles, yet other series that had many more.

Ladybird Scouts

One series that is exactly the right size is series 706 which consists of books covering the Scouting and Guide movements. Looking at the listings on the rear covers it seems that the two books on Cub Scouts and Scouts were published first and then later joined by the Brownie Guides and Guides titles. For over a year now, three of these titles have sat on my shelf, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I managed to get my hands on a copy of Scouts in one of my local charity shops.

Ladybird Scouts

First published in 1971 Scouts covers everything from the history of the Scouting and Guiding movements through to world Scouting and the badges that boys could work towards.

Ladybird Scouts

Over the years there’s no doubt that the Scouting movement has changed significantly. Just the fact that girls are now allowed to become Scouts and Cubs is a huge difference from what it used to be like. I also had to laugh when I read all about the role of Chief Scout. Up until 1971 all chief Scouts of the UK and Commonwealth were Lord someone or other (Lord Baden-Powell 1908 – 1941, Lord Somers 1941 – 1944, Lord Rowallan 1945 – 1959 and Lord Maclean 1959 – 1971) and Lord Maclean only stood down from the role when the Queen made him Lord Chamberlain. His successor was Sir William Gladstone, great grandson of the former Prime Minister. They’re all a long way away from the likes of Peter Duncan and Bear Grylls, but I bet I know which ones can relate better to young Scouts of today!

Ladybird Scouts

The world of Scouting is something of a mystery to me. When I was a girl they were just the boys that you sometimes saw when away at Guide camp but otherwise had no real interaction with. Their badges always seemed somewhat exotic and they always appeared to have more fun on their camps and trips than Guides ever did, and do far more exciting stuff. Both Little Miss C and Master C are already on the Beavers waiting list locally (yet another thing that didn’t exist when this Scouts book was written!) and I’m therefore expecting that I may have to swot up somewhat on how Scouting works. This book may end up being more useful than I’d initially realised!

Ladybird Scouts

If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!

Before having children I had a dream about how I wanted to bring them up. Inspired greatly by SouleMama I dreamed of long days with them playing outside in all weathers, ignoring anything with an electronic screen in favour of spending hours and hours lost in games of their own imaginations. The reality is a little bit different, but I do still try to take things back to the simpler way of doing things and to encourage Little Miss C in particular to just let her imagination lead her play whenever it can.

Fafu Wings and cone hat

I’m always on the look out for products and brands that work in this way – especially looking for toys that are created to really support a child’s learning and play, whilst also being environmentally friendly. When I was introduced to Fafu I found myself sat at my computer screen shouting “Yes, yes. This is what I want!” The kids thought I was bonkers, but hey what’s new?

Take a look at this and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Fafu are a small company who really do take the business of play seriously whilst also injecting loads of fun. The team behind Fafu sound fascinating, and with Tom’s 40 years’  experience of working with children, and his work on early brain development, it makes sense as to why their product are so completely spot on. And if you just look at his profile photo of him on a swing you just know that this guy is serious fun to play with.

So what do Fafu produce? Firstly there is the most amazing range of costumes for children. Rather than being prescriptive fairy, princess or superhero costumes though these brightly coloured items are designed for children to decide what they want them to be. They can easily create skirts, cloaks, tails, tents, hats, trumpets, wings and so much more. And the bold colours mean that they work perfectly for families where you have boys and girls.

We were sent the Iminda Leikur Creative Play Costume set to review and from the second LMC opened the bag with it in (it all comes in a handy zip up bag for easy storage – a genius idea in itself) she loved it. Possibly the only slight problem we had is that she instantly insisted on taking off all her clothes to put the costume on. Maybe it’s all the natural materials (organic cotton, silk and wool made by Fafu’s fair trade producer in Nepal) but she just seems to need it all next to her skin rather than on top of her normal clothes. Needless to say whilst this is wonderful, and is a sure sign of her totally embracing her imagination in play, it’s not very helpful when you’re trying to take photographs for a review blog post!  So, apologies for the lack of photos in this post – including a semi-naked four year old didn’t exactly seem like the right thing to do.

Fafu cloak poncho

This costume set includes silk wings, a cape/poncho, a cone hat, two silk scarves and a pair of ribbon bracelets and LMC has worn it in so many different combinations over the last month or so. She’s been a queen, a superhero, a frog and a pixie to name but a few. At first she was puzzled and confused and kept asking me how she was supposed to wear or use things and what they were supposed to be. It was almost as if she couldn’t quite get her head around the idea of it not being a costume to dress up a a prescribed thing or role. Once she’d relaxed into this idea of it being what she wanted it to be she was much happier.

As if the costumes aren’t marvellous enough there is also a Fafunian Wood range which I am quite simply lusting after right now.

Fafu Adventure Castle Fafu Outdoor Kitchen

The outdoor kitchen and adventure castle are brilliant for the kids, but my favourite has to be the Arts and Crafts Centre.

Fafu Arts and Crafts Centre

I need this in my life! How brilliant would it be to have all the kids arts and crafts materials in one place and accessible to them so easily. I may have to get saving for this one. And then possibly redesign the whole house around fitting it in!

Disclaimer: We were sent the Fafu Iminda Leikur Creative Play Costume to review. All views are our own. We were not asked to write about the Fafunia Wood range, but wanted to as it looks so fantastic.

Fafunia Wood images used from the Fafu website.

PowerOfSoft

I can’t pretend it isn’t happening any more. Little Miss C’s pre-school days are well and truly over. She’s been in Reception now for over a week and, although they’re not up to doing full days yet, there’s no doubt that she’s very ready for it. Rather than having a pre-schooler and a baby at home I have a school girl and a nearly pre-schooler. Master C will turn two in a couple of weeks time. How on earth did that happen so fast? In my head I still think of myself as a new parent, yet actually we’ve had over four years experience at this parenting lark now.

With two children I find that time has just speeded up even more and sometimes it feels like you blink and the kids have just grown up and changed within seconds. With digital cameras and camera phones I do take lots of photographs to try to keep track of what they were like at different stages, but it’s also important to make sure you make the most of now, rather than just spending all the time trying to capture it digitally.

Fairy Non Bio have launched their #PowerOfSoft campaign to encourage parents to make the most of those super soft and special moments with your little ones, as they grow up so quickly.

I’m lucky that LMC still loves snuggling up on the sofa for a cuddle and Master C has recently learnt how to say “cuggle” and it’s lovely to watch him embracing his cuddly dog as he shouts “cuggle cuggle!” If I’m really fortunate he even runs over to me and requests one. I realise these days won’t last forever though and I’m determined to make the most of every precious moment.

There are three more years before Master C heads to school (he’s a September baby so will be nearly 5 by the time she goes to school) and whilst I will admit that there are some days that I wish school would come along sooner, I think it’ll be most strange when I don’t have that cheeky little fellow following me around all day and making me smile. Between now and then I really want to make the most of that time we have together and make sure that I don’t just watch it all from behind a camera.

Make sure you make the most of those little ones being little. Those days may be difficult at times, but they certainly don’t last for ever.

Disclaimer: This featured post was brought to you in association with Fairy Non Bio.

Robin Hood Outlawed

Oh my – there are some varied Ladybird books joining my collection right now. I have to admit that there are some that I am more fond of than others, but it’s still fascinating to see how my collection is growing, and what is available when in local charity shops.

Robin Hood Outlawed

This week on Ladybird Tuesday I’m looking at Robin Hood Outlawed. Now, these Robin Hood books were part of series 740, called Classics, and were a sub-series of 4 titles which came under the Robin Hood Adventures banner. Whilst this book has a copyright date in it of 1978, I think this is actually a later version, possibly 1981, with a different cover design. I found some older versions of this title in a charity shop once, but unfortunately they were wanting over £12 for them and my budget just doesn’t stretch that far right now. I’m also not totally sure what overlap there was, if any, with series 549, which was entitled Robin Hood. More research is definitely required here.

Robin Hood Outlawed

Robin Hood holds a certain amount of fascination for me – mainly because as I child I often went to Sherwood Forest with my parents, and my mum still lives locally. No one seems entirely sure as to whether Robin really existed or not, but there’s no doubt that the story of his has remained popular through the ages, and many children are still familiar with it.

Robin Hood Outlawed

In Outlawed there are actually three short stories about Robin: Robin is Outlawed, Robin meets Little John and Robin meets Friar Tuck. Each tells the story that the title suggests.

Robin Hood Outlawed

As is the case with some of these Classics books, this is actually a very text heavy Ladybird title. Whilst there is an illustration (by Bernard Brett) on each double page spread they are sometimes quite small ones, just there to break up all the text.

Robin Hood Outlawed

If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!

Speech and Language Therapy

I did warn you that our summer got a bit more boring once we were back from Cornwall and day 19 was a fine example of that. Mr C returned to work after a week off and I headed out with the kids to a local drop in Speech and Language Therapy session. Today was the day that I needed to tackle one of the first of the contradictions that came out on the first day of the summer, when I met with Master C’s nursery to discuss the problems we’re having.

They felt that there may be a need for him to have some speech and language therapy, something which really surprised me. Master C’s language is, I think, about 9 months behind where Little Miss C was at the same age. I’d put much of that down to him being a boy, a second child, having an older sister who talks a lot and them just being different people. It certainly hadn’t concerned me at all. Until now.

LMC started talking and walking, confidently, just a few days after her first birthday. Master C started walking at pretty much the same time, but his speech has been much much slower and I frequently wonder whether much of his frustrations come from not having language to explain himself or get what he wants. We talk and read to him loads, but I’d just assumed it would come in time. What I hadn’t really paid much attention to was the way that he doesn’t always complete or start words fully. So “bus” had become “bu”. LMC had never done that, but Master C certainly does. Nursery felt this was a concern, along with the fact that he just didn’t seem to say much at all whilst here, so they recommended I take him along to a new local drop in Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) session which our NHS has set up in conjunction with the local children’s centres.

The idea of these sessions is that if you have any concerns you just take your little one along, the team assess him quickly and then decide if he needs a referral or not, and if so they take it from there. So much more convenient than getting to see a HV or GP first, getting a referral even if it might not be needed and taking up a slot that another child could have needed more.

What was good was that Master C completely engaged with the SALT team and showed off exactly what I know he is capable of. Along with his sister he played nicely, said lots and repeated back words that were said to him. They acknowledged that he doesn’t always start or complete words fully, but the sounds that he is missing are ones that not all children have until they are 3 – 4 years old, so I didn’t need to worry right now. A huge relief.

It was really useful to be able to talk to the team there though and explore with them other areas associated with his refusal to eat, and they gave me some other good pointers of things to explore further which I’m still following up now. There are times when you just want to say a huge thank you to the NHS and local children’s centres for having drop in sessions like this which are not only convenient to go to, but make the services that they have so much more accessible than they often seem.

So, after coming away from there feeling very relieved and somewhat clearer headed too the rest of the day passed rather simply. A trip to a local playground, stopping to pick up some milk and then home to a mountain of laundry that we were still working our way through and for the kids to reacquaint themselves with all the toys that they’d forgotten we owned whilst away. Sometimes simple days really are the best.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

Little Miss C loves watching Ben and Holly on TV and since buying a magazine with free Ben and Holly toys on a while back has regularly been acting out Ben and Holly stories. When I received an email about the new Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playsets that were being released I just knew that she’d love to help me review them.

There are three Magical Playground Playsets, a slide, a roundabout and a swing, and we were sent the roundabout and swing ones to review. Each playset comes with a Holly figure, which appears to be fine, but LMC’s first questions was “Where’s Ben?” When I explained that the set only came with a Holly character she then proceeded to tell me that Holly would be lonely on her own and needed someone to play with. Fair point I guess. As we were reviewing two of the playsets she actually had two (slightly different) Holly toys so she declared that they could play with each other – but she added that they would have preferred to have Ben to play with.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

The roundabout playset consists of a spinning pond which contains three separately spinning plants which the Holly figure can stand inside. Inside the plants are two tiny pins which fit into Holly’s feet. It’s not completely necessary that they connect, but it does help with stability.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

In the swing playset there are two swings for the Holly characters to sit in. The slight problem with these is that to fit Holly in, you actually need to turn her head, as otherwise her hair is simply too wide to fit. The other problems LMC found with the swing is that unless you get Holly seated in it quite right then it tips over and she falls out. It was actually quite difficult for me to get Holly in right and LMC really struggled at times.

Both the playsets clip together to form a bigger playground – and the slide also joins in the same way. They also feature a toadstool which LMC insisted was actually a trampoline (one of her favourite things in our local playground) and the Holly dolls spent a considerable amount of time bouncing on them.

Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset Ben and Holly Magical Playground Playset

To say that LMC loved these playsets would be an understatement. The weekend they arrived myself and Mr C were going away and left the kids with my sister and her husband. Poor Uncle R was forced to spend hours and hours (literally) playing with the playsets with her. Since then they’ve stayed out on the kids’ play table and she frequently goes back and plays with them, acting out stories. She’s got used to how she needs to put Holly in the swing for it to work properly, and how to make her stand in the roundabout properly. In that usual child-like manner she’s learnt to overlook what we as adults saw as problems with the design, and they’ve certainly not reduced the play-factor for her.

These Ben and Holly magical playground playsets would make a lovely toy for any Ben and Holly fan. They’ve provided hours and hours of fun for LMC and she genuinely loves them. The way the Holly figures fit in is a bit frustrating, but the big improvement that could be made in my opinion is to include a Ben character as well as Holly. After all, as LMC said when we first opened the playsets, Holly would want Ben to play at the playground with.

Disclaimer: We were sent the Ben and Holly Magical Swing and Roundabout Playsets for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Blackberry Muffins

Blackberries seemed to come really early here this year – back before the schools broke up for summer – so I’ve actually been sitting on this recipe for a while.

One day after school the kids and I went foraging on the local heath and came home with a large bag full of blackberries. Neither of the kids are huge fans of crumble which is what I like to make most with blackberries – combining them with apples from our apple tree – so I went in search of a cake recipe or similar and actually failed to find anything that wasn’t too complicated. I pulled together the following from several different cupcake recipes that I found online.

Blackberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 200g blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs

Blackberry Muffins

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Set out 12 muffin cases in a tray.
  • Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl.
  • Add the eggs and mix.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt).
  • In a third bowl place the blackberries and then crush them with a fork or potato masher until all mashed up.
  • Add the milk and vanilla extract to the blackberries.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar and mix.
  • Add the blackberry mixture and continue to stir.
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and cook for approximately 15 minutes (time may vary with different ovens)

Blackberry Muffins

The colour of these muffins is quite simply pretty damn weird, but they taste really nice and they’re a fab way to use up foraged blackberries.