Lunch in the Woods

The Blackwood Arms

Get lost in Burnham Beeches and discover The Blackwood Arms

IMG_2531It was another bitterly cold and windy March day and to get out of the wind we headed to Burnham Beeches. Although cold and very muddy, we managed to stay shielded from the wind and the dogs had a great time running around, noses to the ground discovering new scents, tails wagging non-stop.

So the dogs were happy, but what the humans needed was a decent cup of coffee as a reward for heading out early on a Sunday morning. We came across this little pub and were greeted with open arms by the landlord. “Come on in and get warm,” he urged. “Don’t worry about the muddy boots, just close the door quickly.”

I knew as soon as I spied the logs strung with fairy lights in the recess and the roaring fire that we had discovered a cosy haven. Although all the tables displayed a dry log painted with a reserved sign, we were urged to sit down with our coffees right next to the fire at a table which would be needed later. We also managed to squeeze in a couple of glasses of wine, a Guinness and some hearty open beef sandwiches as soon as we’d gulped the coffee.

They can only seat 30 in the little space, but it was the kind of place you always hope to discover; friendly, efficient, and good pub food. We left our doggies in the car, but it is a very dog friendly pub, and when we can come and sit in the little garden at the back, the dogs can come and sit with us.

Do check this place out if you live nearby and like to combine lunch or supper with a walk. This is a proper country pub and perfect for walkers and dog walkers alike. If only all places could be like this. The staff managed to combine being welcoming with being efficient, so we were able to enjoy a bite to eat and a drink before the table was needed again without feeling rushed.

Thanks everyone at The Blackwood; we’ll be back very soon. This is a fine example of how a pub should be run.

Vintage Birthday Party

Vintage Inspired 50th Birthday Party

– a very nice menu

Today I am cooking party food for a friend who is having her first party since she was 17 and she wanted to make it very special. She had collected lots of vintage china and wanted to serve tea inspired cocktails in her teacups and serve a selection of canapes with these, before serving bowls of hot food fragrant with spices and herbs. A great option for a large number of people is finger food pudding, which is handed around by our lovely waiters and then left displayed on pretty plates for guests to come and help themselves.

Canapes with tea flavoured cocktails:

  • Tiny cheese scones with red onion relish
  • Miniature sesame savoury cornets filled with oak roast tomatoes and soft cheese
  • Nests of peeled quail eggs with celery salt skewed on to white crystal skewers
  • Lime and coconut marinaded chicken retro black and red bobble skewers
  • Baby Basil and roasted red pepper tartlets
  • Mini silver forks with sweet chilli marinaded prawns
  • Baby smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels presented in silver caskets


  • Lime and coconut chicken with jasmine rice &
  • Butternut and mint veggie tagine with cinnamon couscous


  • Miniature cakes presented on vintage china –
  • Baby meringues with redcurrant ripple cream
  • Sticky orange and pomegranate cake
  • Chocolate cases with mango and mascarpone filling
  • Tea scented baby mini cup cakes


Cut these into little rounds with a small pastry cutter Orange and almond cake recipe & How to make perfect meringues

Bloody Mary Cherry Tomatoes

Here is a surprising little canape, which is quick and easy (which we like) and one which packs a tasty punch. Next time you have some friends over try giving them these as a treat. Find some black crystal skewers to spear them with and you have an elegant, unusual mouthful.

I like to serve a couple of homemade snacks in place of a starter when I have friends over. You just have to watch that latecomers don’t miss out.

These are usually on the menu when I do canape workshops or hen parties at The Medicine Garden in Cobham.

Canape Workshop
Canape Workshop
The Medicine Garden
The Medicine Garden


To serve approx 6


  • 250g punnet of baby plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 200ml vodka
  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • few drops of Tabasco
  • salt and pepper


  1. Wash the tomatoes and remove the stalks
  2. With a skewer prick small holes all over the tomatoes and place in a small bowl or container
  3. Mix the other ingredients together in a jam jar, give them a good shake and pour over the tomatoes
  4. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours, then drain off marinade and arrange on a serving plate with skewers ready to serve