Oxford Instameet

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Last weekend I joined a group of local bloggers, Instagrammers and photographers to meet up in Oxford for an Instameet. A great opportunity to enjoy the city in the sunshine, taking photos and meeting new people. The Instameet was organised by lovely local bloggers, Natasha (of Candy Pop), Rosie (Kinship of Oxford) and Anna (Independent Oxford). It was so nice to finally get to meet some Twitter and Instagram online friends in person, chat photography and explore some of Oxford’s prettiest streets.

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We met up at the Jam Factory in central Oxford, for coffee and introductions before walking along the canal path and through Jericho’s peaceful streets with their dreamy pastel colour houses. Taking time to explore whilst focusing on the surroudings and photography was blissful. And I really noticed so much more; colourful doors, and pretty front gardens, cats sunbathing in windows and so much spring blossom. On any other day I’m sure I would have missed most of these things, caught up in the rush of daily life.

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The weather was really kind to us too, and the sun shone all morning as we walked through the city, showing Oxford at it’s very best.

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There was definitely a spring flowers and bicycle theme to my photos from the day, not intentionally, but I find it impossible to walk past either without taking a quick photo!

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We stopped by 2 North Parade for some cakes and pastries, kindly provided by Pete who runs the store. I really wish I lived close enough to North Parade for this to be my local corner shop. Such great local seasonal produce, plus bread, charcuterie and cheeses!

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One from the start of the day; I love how everyone is chatting and laughing whilst using their phones to share photos and tweets. A great thing about hanging out with other Instagrammers is that playing on your phone is totally alright, and not frowned upon at all!

To see more pictures from the Instameet, take a look at the #Oxfordinstameet tag on Instagram and Twitter.

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Make Pesto From Your Garden

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Yes really! Making your own fresh pesto from stuff that’s already growing in your garden is not as crazy an idea as it may sound. Most gardens have a patch of nettles growing somewhere, or possibly wild garlic or the very similar three-cornered leek. All of these make great pesto in place of the more traditional basil leaves. They all grow wild, as weeds and are pretty invasive, so they are easy to find. If you are looking for wild garlic it seems to like shaded areas, particularly near water, and can be identified by its garlicy smell.

As quite a laid back (lazy) gardener, a part of my front garden has become fairly wild over the last few years and has been taken over by three-cornered leek. I love this, and have let it spread naturally around, so that at this time of year the garden is a beautiful green and white garlic-scented meadow. It has the most beautiful latin name too, allium triquetrum, how could you not let it thrive!

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To make the pesto you need 250g (around 4 cups) of wild garlic, or three cornered leek or nettles, plus the following ingredients:

50g almonds/pine nuts/hazelnuts, lightly toasted

50g parmesan, grated

1 lemon, zest and juice

olive oil

salt & pepper

Method:

– Wash the garlic/leek/nettles and chop into smaller pieces before adding into a food processor

– Add the nuts and parmesan and blend again

– Then add the lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning

– Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary

– Store in a sterlised jar in the fridge

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The pesto is great with pasta, and has a lovely light, fresh taste. I love a spoonful on top of a bowl of minestrone, or drizzled over homemade pizzas. I have also added it to mayo before, which makes a really nice sauce to have with fishcakes or barbequed fish and chicken.

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If you’re making nettle pesto, Hugh F-W has some good suggestions on choosing and prepping the nettles here.

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Hope you get to have a go at making some! It’s a great way to make the most of all this wonderful springtime greenery we have around us at the moment.

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