All posts by hellosam

Hey y'all! I'm Sam, a writer, teacher, and general life enthusiast. This here blog is about my life as an expat Aussie living in the South East of England.

A Walk by the Medway :: Visiting Temple Marsh

Temple Marsh 5 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Temple Marsh 4 - - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Last weekend I got a major case of cabin fever, and so Mr H proposed a little jaunt out of the house to visit a piece of land that had piqued his interest over the last few weeks.

Temple Marsh 3 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Temple Marsh is, funnily enough, an old landfill site, which is now safe to walk on but not yet ready to be built on. It’s directly over the River Medway from Rochester, and often on our walks we’ve noticed it and wondered what in the world it was. Temple Marsh Map - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

It was a bit of a soggy stomp to get there, and we had to be kindly redirected by an interesting chap who lived on one of the houseboats moored nearby.

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It was a really pretty walk, and we even got to meet a very neat little fox, who actually looked rather surprised to see a human in what I expect is their playground! We walked with no real plan in mind, just soaking up the atmosphere and the opportunity to be out in the fresh air before the heavens opened once again.

Anyone who lives in Kent will attest to the fact that the weather recently has been absolutely diabolical!

Sam at Temple Marsh 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Sam at Temple Marsh - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I’ve pulled together a short film of the walk. Take a look:

I’m pretty new to vlogging and video editing, and this is the first time I’ve worked up the courage to post something I’ve pulled together. Lots to learn, but let’s not let the fear of looking a fool get in the way….never stopped me before!

Temple Marsh Flowers - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

As we began to make our way back we noticed the tiniest apple tree bursting with fruit!

Temple Marsh Berries - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The route back is not what I’d call particularly peaceful, as Temple Marsh more or less backs on to a somewhat grotty industrial estate, however, this little gem is also nearby:

Temple Manor 3 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Temple Manor is a 12th Century building that was once owned by the Knights Templar. The fact that I have 12th Century buildings virtually blows the mind of this here colonial, so Mr Hello and I simply had to pop in and have a look around.

Temple Manor 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

While the building is essentially empty now, once upon a time it was an important Manor House on the side of the River, supporting many farming tenants on its land and monitoring the comings and goings of the bridge crossings.

After WWII it fell into terrible disrepair, but was thankfully restored by English Heritage in the 1970s, I believe. It’s a real little treat amongst the fading industry of the area, and relatively under appreciated I think! There’s definitely something lonesome about it, rising up proudly from its now-modest surroundings.

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Another interesting day out for the Hello Family. More to come soon!

A Very Easy and Delicious Salad Dressing

Salad Dressing Recipe - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaMy father is the all time greatest salad maker.  I know that sounds extreme, but I have never met anyone with such a talent for salad combinations. His methods may be…unorthodox (baked beans in potato salad, anyone?) but are always delicious. As a result, you will often find me hunched over the counter picking at the remains of a huge salad. It seems my inheritance is my fondness for polka ogorki… and salad.

Having said that, it’s only recently that I have started to dress my salads. I’m usually an enjoy-them-as-they-are kind of a gal, apart from a slug of olive oil and more balsamic vinegar than is truly necessary. I have now, however, really cracked a dead simple salad dressing and I thought I would share it here with you.

I love a good bit of antipasto and this is the heart of my (extremely loosely called) recipe.

You will need:

  • A jar of some kind of antipasto – sundried tomatoes, or my particular favourite, chargrilled artichokes.

Method:

  • Gobble up most of the artichokes in a moderately unattractive fashion, leaving a few for the salad. Reserve the oil in the jar and put to one side.
  • Peel 2 garlic cloves, and gently crush using the flat of a knife. Add to the jar.
  • Bruise 2 stalks of rosemary – dried or fresh, it doesn’t matter.
  • Add in a few good glugs of balsamic vinegar – I like a roughly 50/50 ratio, but after a few goes, you’ll work out a combination that rocks your socks.
  • Reseal the lid, shake it like a polaroid picture, and pour, trying not to let the garlic cloves or rosemary escape.
  • Reseal and store in the fridge – it should last at least a week, and you can top up with olive oil, fresh garlic and balsamic vinegar as you go.

It should take you approximately 2 minutes to prepare, using mostly what I assume to be store cupboard ingredients – forgive me if not – and if you’re anything like me, this time includes the time to eat 3/4 of a jar of artichokes!

Enjoy!

 

This Week I am Grateful For #9

Gratitude Series No 9 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Some weeks gratitude is a little bit harder to come by than others. There appears to be no reason for me to feel like this at the moment…and yet….

I’m really pleased to say I’ve been offered a permanent contract at work, which really is wonderful, and is also something I know I am very grateful for. It has just also coincided with a spectacularly busy and changeable period at work, which has left me on the back foot, big time.

As a teacher, you’re constantly assessing. Assessing your students’ understanding, their work, your displays, your colleagues’ work and displays, your class’s behaviour. You assess so much, and so frequently that it’s virtually impossible to not be constantly comparing yourself.

And I currently am in a ‘compare thyself’ frame of mind, and frankly, I feel I’m coming up a bit short.

When I was in Primary school, my Mum, for one reason or another, was given a silver necklace with a silver circle pendant. Engraved on it was the saying ‘This too shall pass’.

“Even the good stuff, Mum? But what if you don’t want it to pass?”

Even the good stuff passes, it seems.  But if the good stuff passes, then so does the bad. So I can take comfort in knowing that a spell of time at work where I’m not particularly enjoying myself will pass. And for that, I am very grateful indeed.

HSGS Does Half Term

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On Friday afternoon I skipped out the door of work and said a jaunty ‘HELLO’ to a whole week off.  I say a week, but in fact today I headed back in to prepare for next term and write about 3,000 school reports. But that fact paled into insignificance in the face of what is officially known as ‘Half Term Holiday’ in the HSGS household.

Mr Hello also booked a week off, and we kicked off the break by getting into the garden. BIG TIME. I’m talking allotment, I’m talking back garden and then we headed to the Kent Garden Show to pick up a few treasures.

Over the weekend we had a few friends over who brought their little girl over. This meant a couple of hours of delicious food, great conversation and an excellent round of the game ‘Off The Pudd’, for which no-one seemed to know the rules apart from a three year old. What a delight.

Mr H and I then journeyed forth to Suffolk, to hang out with his sister and her delightful son, and the only thing to somewhat spoil the day was that our clutch failed on the motorway as we headed home, so instead of an evening on the couch we spent an evening sitting in the carpark of a motorway hotel scoffing chocolate while we waited for a tow!

With a couple of days left before TERM 6 (I repeat TERM 6)  starts,  I plan on pottering around the house a little bit, finishing off some report writing and faffing around with my camera settings! I’ve also got some more seeds to plant out, and am looking forward to seeing all my new plants in the garden.

How’s your week been, pals?

This Week I am Grateful For #8

Loki Gratitude - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Well my Gratitude Series has undoubtedly proven itself to be a huge success, with a grand total of 7 posts so far. Still, I remain determined to continue on, despite the growing sensation that no one actually remotely cares. Never stopped me before!

This week has verged slightly on the ‘Oh my god, HOW is it only TUESDAY’ side of things. Work has been insane, with a variety of disruptions that have cause my class to become shouty and unfocussed. Myself even more so.

And yet. This week I have become even more grateful for my relatively tranquil home life. Mr Hello and I have managed to carve out a delightfully hum-drum routine of quiet Friday nights and long days at our allotment. We’re clearing the wood from our garden and having the odd bonfire.

Quiet home life seems to be just what I need right now. And I am thankful for it.

We <3 Ashford :: Happy & Glorious Blogger Day

Long time no blog, hey? I shall spare you all the mundane excuses bar one – life simply got in the way. I am now returned to the internet for fun times. Praise.

Swift segue into today’s post. Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha has long been a place where I have championed the offerings of Medway, if not Kent. I love Kent, and feel it has so much to offer. We’ve got beaches, wineries, historical sites aplenty, as well as a fair few rather good farmer’s markets. What’s not to like (I had myself at wineries, let’s be honest).

There remains, however, a vague sense of Kent being slightly down at heel, and while I can certainly attest to that, many more parts of Kent are now up-and-coming. I give you Medway, I give you Margate, and now, I give you Ashford.

I was recently invited down to Ashford to celebrate a Blogger’s Day, organised by the delightful Happy & Glorious. Truth be told, I’ve never actually been to Ashford before, save for one swift transition through the train station. It was half term, and I can now drive, so I thought, why not! Off I went.

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You will find Happy & Glorious in the Park Mall, in central Ashford. It’s an older style open air shopping mall, but there seem to be lots of lovely little independent shops popping up throughout. I popped in and was greeted by Kate, who is the mastermind behind the whole event. I picked up my fabulous little goody bag with products from all of the vendors and had a nose about!

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Those of you who remember my bunting days will not be surprised that one of my favourite stores was Emporia Fabrics and Craft. Oh how I wish we had this shop in Rochester! The perfect place to pick up a birthday gift, with enough space for craft classes! Dreamy.

I picked up some gold leather earrings. Yes, you did read that correctly. Note:

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Made in Ashford is a collective of local craftspeople who, supported by the council, run this little shop! It was full to the brim of fab little crafts, and I happily bought a tote bag with a great linocut print on it from here.

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From my little chat here, I gathered that the local council in Ashford have been extremely supportive of artists and craftspeople throughout Ashford and even further beyond, and I was greeted with nothing bud positivity. They’ve got a great thing going on down there, and it speaks volumes about the forward thinking nature of Ashford folk.

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I rounded off the afternoon with a spot of lunch in a new cafe, Stag Coffee. Hipster vibe? Check. Beards aplenty? Check. Delicious felafel panini? Check mate. It was fab.

As I packed up to head home, I pulled out of the carpark and heard a stomach wrenching crunch. Was my delightful stay in Ashford about to be ruined by my poor spatial awareness? Had I just smacked into the car next to me?

No. Turns out I just drove over a Capri Sun. PHEW.

Allot’a Love

Allota Love - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

See what I did there? Almost like a play on words, hey? Almost.

Now this image would strike fear into the hearts of a lot of people, and I don’t think I’m being presumptuous when I say particularly a lot of lifestyle bloggers.

But to some, granted, this is an image of possibility. This is a photo of the entrance to our local allotments, and it’s one of my favourite places. I could be imagining it, but the air just smells fresher and cleaner here, despite what I imagine to be the huge concentration of manure within the fences.

Allotments do tend to look a bit scabby, often with greenhouses cobbled together from scraps. But I think they’re utterly charming, and the sight of people pottering around and being occupied but not busy makes me feel so gosh darn happy.

We’ve got so much to do on our plot, namely because it’s a) huge and b) steep and c) overgrown. I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed by it though, and am taking a ‘little and often’ approach to going. Last night I only stayed for 20 minutes, but got a bit more digging done and met my lovely neighbouring allotmenteer.

I’ve got my gloves, got my wellies and I’ve even got green bits poking up already! It’s almost as if I knew what I was doing!! HAHAHA.

A Very Bon Soir Indeed

Bon Soir - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Mr Hello knows I love a good fire. I adore this time of the year, when now that the clocks have changed, we have lovely longer evenings before the dreaded darkness sets in.

My idea of the perfect fire, however, involves sitting in the garden chair with a glass of wine, occasionally throwing a log in the chiminea.

Mr H’s idea of the perfect fire, is getting the incinerator out and ploughing his way through the vast pile of logs we’ve accumulated since cutting down a few trees in our garden.

This mismatch of expectations has long been a source of discontent between us, and the odd teary strop thrown on *ahem* somebody’s behalf. Does it make me a crim to not want to spend every evening doing something to improve the house? No. No it does not.

However, we appear to have reached a perfect compromise. Mr H runs around like a loon, brandishing loppers and waving dry branches around, and I sit down in the garden seat with a glass of wine and watch. And throw the odd log in the incinerator.

Perfick.

Wandering/Wondering

Since getting the car at the start of January, I’ve been getting a whole lot less exercise, and so last week I decided to remedy it by going for a long post-work walk.

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Gosh the motivation to get out of the house after 5:30pm is hard to come by! I did, however, rather enjoy my lone walk – I wandered past a house I used to live in, walked my old work route, then up a bloody great hill which made me get my sweat on, but rewarded me with a magnificent view.

I spotted the sign commemorating the Short Brothers on my travels, the very same chaps who were the inspiration behind The Seaplane Works.

On my way home I trotted through the woods near our allotment plot, smiling at all the dogs and their walkers, before getting a sneak peek of our allotment. It makes me so happy to see – there are actual garden beds guys, and they have things growing  in them. Crazy talk.

Now I’m on half term the plan is to get out and about a little bit more – I have plenty of seeds I can be potting up to germinate and a lot more of Rochester that could do with being walked through. But I suspect an afternoon (who am I kidding, a day) on the sofa, reading blogs and watching YouTube clips is definitely in order first.

 

Goat’s Cheese and Asparagus Tart

Goat's Cheese and Asparagus Tart - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I thought I’d try something a little different on the blog this week, and share with you a rather tasty little recipe I whipped up over the Easter weekend.

Now, several years ago I was a rather intense cook, teaching myself quite a lot from cookbooks. Jamie Oliver and Nigella were particular favourites, although I also learnt (and continue to learn!) a huge amount from both Master The Art of French Cooking (Julia Childs) and the Larousse Gastronomique. I learned the basics of cooking, namely that almost every savoury recipe starts with olive oil, onion and garlic.

In recent years, and particularly since I’ve begun to work longer hours, I’ve slacked off in the cooking department and leant heavily on the repertoire of meals for I’d built up a relative degree of expertise. I still muck up, actually quite often, but it’s usually a result of being lazy or rushing, due to my famed appetite.

To cut a long story short, both Mr H and I were a little bit bored of our usual fare, and so the idea of an asparagus tart popped into my mind whilst we absent-mindedly wandered around Sainsbury’s. It’s been a long time since I indulged my penchant for goat’s cheese, and what is the Easter Bank Holiday weekend if not a perfect opportunity to indulge?

You Will Need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 100ml cream (although any milk will do, we just happened to have some that needed using up)
  • 1 bunch of baby asparagus
  • 3 spring onions
  • 100g soft goat’s cheese
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry
  • salt and pepper to taste

What To Do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Grease a flan tray (preferably with a removable base). Lay your sheets of pastry one at a time, spiralling out so that there are no gaps. I sprayed each layer with Fry-Light, but that’s optional. Set to one side.
  3. Finely slice the spring onions and put to one side.
  4. Crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl. Add the cream (or milk) and whisk.
  5. Add the spring onions and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pour the mixture carefully into your prepared dish.
  7. Gently dot the goat’s cheese around the egg mixture in generous blobs.
  8. Arrange the asparagus on top in any pattern of your choosing. Due to inherent sloppiness, my asparagus was too long and so I didn’t get the perfect wheel effect – was I bothered? Not in the least.
  9. Scrunch any excess filo around the sides.
  10. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

This is perfect with a nice vinegary salad  – lots of onion to cut through the richness of the egg and cream! In the summer months, a nice cold glass of white wine wouldn’t go amiss either. Obviously.

 

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