Enjoying Christmas

I was going to call this Surviving Christmas but that felt too miserable and Scrooge-like. I’ve just read Jay Rayner’s account in Observer Food Monthly of his family Christmases, past and present (the story of his mother un-stuffing the turkey is priceless). He says people expect something magnificent of him, being a food writer, but in fact he has simplified the festive meal. My family goes one further. Continue reading

Mrs Portly’s Kitchen Classes Are Here!

It’s official! Mrs Portly’s Kitchen Classes are up and running! Well, they’re up, in that the website has gone live. They start running in January, just in time to put a gift voucher on your Christmas list. 🙂  Continue reading

North Norfolk

It’s funny what you take on holiday. I packed less for a month in India a few decades ago than I did for last week’s break in north Norfolk. Maybe it’s an age thing, maybe it was because we were taking a car and had no luggage restrictions. Continue reading

Mrs Portly Is Unwell

Actually, she’s fine, but I’ve always rather liked the Jeffrey Bernard reference. Bernard, for those who don’t know of him, was a famously louche journalist who wrote a column called Low Life for The Spectator and who habitually hung around Soho drinking dens with the likes of Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon. Continue reading

Audley End and Mrs Crocombe

Image of Audley EndHave you met Avis Crocombe? You really should. In the 1880s she was head cook to Lord and Lady Braybrooke at Audley End, a lovely old house near Saffron Walden in Essex. But 180 years after her birth she’s come roaring back to life as an internet sensation. Continue reading

Remembering Matthew Locricchio

My friend – our friend – Matthew Locricchio was the loveliest, warmest, funniest and most generous and talented man. You’ll probably have gathered from the past tense that Matthew is no longer with us. You’d be right but in another way you couldn’t be more wrong.  Continue reading

Country Life

I hadn’t realised quite how much I’d come to hate my job until I lost it. Rather than plunging deep into ‘how do we pay the mortgage’ anxieties I found myself literally dancing round the garden. It took me a full week to come down from that euphoric high. Continue reading