Blog Camp at River Cottage

When Tots100 announced they were running a Blog Camp close to home at River Cottage I knew I had to apply to go, but not being a “Foodie” blogger I didn’t think there was much chance of being picked. You can imagine how excited I was when that email to say I was on the list came in and I hurriedly marked it on the calendar to make sure hubby got the day off work.

On the morning of the event I set off on the hour and a half drive through the beautiful Dorset countryside. I don’t think I have ever driven that way so early and the skies were clear meaning the views were quite simply spectacular. I almost stopped to take photos, but River Cottage was waiting for me.

My satnav took me down a quiet country lane and proudly announced “You have arrived at your destination” – it has a tendency to do this and then I have to drive a few hundred yards up the road to actually find it. On this occasion I couldn’t see any sign of River Cottage so I turned round in a farm and headed back the way I came. I started getting worried as I couldn’t find it when I spotted a small sign in the hedgerow. I was here!!

I pulled in and parked my car and headed over to the bloggers who had already arrived and we mingled and chatted before a bright blue tractor appeared to take us down to the farm. It was a rather bumpy 5 minute journey down hill but it broke the ice and there were genuine gasps when we saw our venue for the day.

River Cottage HQ

With fires burning as we arrived we headed into a Yurt for instructions for the day. The bloggers were split into three groups, with three different sessions to attend during the day, but first it was time for breakfast.

The food did not disappoint and we were treated to a mini omelette with fermented salsa and spring onions and mini chocolate croissants washed down with a cup of tea or coffee, whilst we all had time for a catch-up.

I was in the green team and our first session was exploring the River Cottage Farm and Kitchen Garden with Jim Budden, the assistant gardener. What he didn’t know about plants could be written on a pinhead – he was extraordinarily knowledgeable about every aspect of the farm and passionate about the organic produce that they grow. The main kitchen garden is split into four main beds which are rotated every year to balance the soil and reduce the pests – Brassica’s, Legumes, Roots and Onions and Miscellaneous. They also add edible flowers and mulberry not only for a bit of colour, but it stops the pests getting to the vegetables.

River Cottage HQ

The River Cottage Farm is set in 100 acres of rolling Devon countryside and the views are beautiful. They keep livestock in the form of chickens, pigs and cows and after befriending some pigs were we sad to know they were heading off to slaughter that afternoon, but not before Jim gave them their last juicy apple treat.

River Cottage HQ

We also got to explore the poly tunnels which were full of unusual salads, herbs, beans and peppers.

River Cottage HQ

Our tour complete it was then time to head back to the main building and learn to bake Soda Bread and make our own butter. We started by heading back outside to pick some blackberries before Gill Mellar showed us the ropes and set us off on our challenge. I am very grateful to have been sharing a workstation with Jenny from MummyMishaps, Kelly from Domestic Goddesque and Jo from Jo’s Kitchen who put me at ease and helped when I had a question.

River Cottage HQ

Baking complete, it was time for lunch. There was a seating plan to stick to which got us chatting to bloggers we had not met before and I was sat with Lindy from Tots100 and SquidgyBoo and Candace from Usthreebythesea. We then heard from Gelf Alderson, the Head Chef at River Cottage who told us all about our lunch that they had been preparing all morning.

Our lunch consisted of two courses – the first was slices of beef in a ravioli casing, served on a bed of seasonal ratatouille and accompanied by pesto sauce and separately we had some freshly baked bread and some wonderfully seasoned sweetcorn. It was delicious but the best was yet to come for dessert. Fennel meringue with coffee bean and vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and damsons which added a little sharpness to the dish. To wash it all down we had water infused with lemon verbena.

River Cottage HQ

Lunch over, our final session was photography styling with Lucy Heath from Captured by Lucy, who is a photographer I really admire. I have to admit that I am not really a lifestyle or food blogger and photographing food isn’t something I do, but I still picked up some fabulous tips to help improve my photography and have come away keen to improve my pictures and with some fab apps to try.

River Cottage HQ

We were so busy chatting after she had finished her session that I missed the coffee and petit fours that had been served in the main dining hall, but I did arrive after and finished off the day speaking to some of my favourite bloggers including Annie from Mammasaurus, Victoria from Vevious, Erica from 92three30 and Chris from ThinlySpread.

Thank you Tots100, my first Blog Camp was awesome and I hope to do another cookery course at River Cottage soon.

 

14 thoughts on “Blog Camp at River Cottage

  1. Ninjacat says:

    I would love to go to river cottage , looks magical
    Ninjacat recently posted…Ways My Cat is Rubbish At Hide And SeekMy Profile

  2. vi says:

    Looks like you had an amazing day! Such a wonderful venue and stunning (and hopefully equally tasty!) food!
    vi recently posted…Autumn Style from Long Tall Sally – ReviewMy Profile

  3. Michelle says:

    I totally bypassed the entrance to River Cottage HQ too – fortunately, I was able to stop and back up to drive in. This is why I always arrive early – the panic of not finding a place – especially down country lanes that I’m not used to driving in! A great write up of the day Kara! xx
    Michelle recently posted…A Dream Day at River Cottage HQMy Profile

  4. This looks like an amazing day. Mich x
    Michelle Twin Mum recently posted…Dear So and So – Body, I’m sorry you’re falling apart!My Profile

  5. looks like such a brilliant day! I was following on IG, you all had such an amazing time! x
    Fritha Strickland recently posted…The Snug SeasonMy Profile

  6. Becky says:

    OMG it just looks amazing
    Becky recently posted…The Queen of Hearts Cookie CompanyMy Profile

  7. It looked like an amazing day – lucky you x x
    Cass@frugalfamily recently posted…Days Out: Why it’s good to love where you live….My Profile

  8. Gemma says:

    I love the look of this place! I quite fancy the one day cookery school!
    Gemma recently posted…Lexie’s 8 month updateMy Profile

  9. Jen says:

    I saw all the pictures on Instagram and they looked amazing. What an experience
    Jen recently posted…Encouraging your child to drink more waterMy Profile

  10. Renna says:

    That looks amazing. What a great opportunity for you. Great photos!
    Renna recently posted…My Favourite Beauty Products at the Moment – September – Argan OilMy Profile

  11. Stephen says:

    Now this is my idea of heaven, I would love to live somewhere like this, never mind visit!
    Stephen recently posted…Protect your phone with Lux BoxMy Profile

  12. Sonia says:

    This looked so much fun! 🙂 I bet you will cherish these memories forever!! Lucky lady.

    Your lunch looked amazing…. 🙂 x
    Sonia recently posted…Who’s the person behind the blog? Tips to increase blog satisfaction!My Profile

  13. Ness says:

    I so wanted to go on this! I was following everyone’s posts last week and it looked fantastic.
    Ness recently posted…Sunday Snap – The Peak District HouseMy Profile

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