Posts filed under ‘in the kitchen’

foraging elderflowers to make cordial (with a little help from my friends)

elderflower cordial making - nipitinthebud.co.ukI love foraging and I love making cordials but since having children little of either has happened. My last attempt to make elderflower cordial was with a 1.5 year old Euan and it took all of his nap time just to prepare everything. My resounding memory was how time consuming it was between the car journey to forage, de-bugging the flower heads, chopping lemons and sterilising bottles. I had over-picked last time which meant doubling up quantities and I reached a new realisation that making in bulk is not always the best option!
elderflower heads - nipitinthebud.co.uk
When my friend Sonia said she’d like to make cordial for the first time and offered the use of her kitchen if I wanted to join her I was so excited. Luca and I foraged the elderflower from our local park next to Euan’s school and we picked just the specified quantity for the recipe Sonia was going to follow. It felt like no effort at all, just a lovely outdoor pastime and we were even able to use foraging as one of our #30dayswild nature activities.
Toddler picking elderflower - nipitinthebud.co.uk
It was so simple to turn our foraging and preserving into a play date and social activity. It was a gorgeous sunny morning when Luca and I went out foraging and we played in the park for 45 minutes before picking so our flowers would be as fresh as possible when we arrived at Sonia’s. Luca was such a willing helper and the flowers were beautifully pungent. Folklore suggests picking on a dry, sunny day results in more flavourful flowers and this certainly seemed to be true for our resulting cordial. We also didn’t see a single bug on our flower heads so the timing was just right.
Toddler picking elderflower for cordial - nipitinthebud.co.uk
The preparation of the elderflower heads for infusing this time round was as simple as giving them a little shake to check for bugs before sitting them upside down on top of slices of lemons. Sonia had a beautiful glass dish and her careful layering of lemons and positioning of flower heads was like watching an artist at work. I was inspired by her diligent approach and resolved to take more care next time I prepare food as I’m rather slap dash, focusing more on the speed and convenience of getting it done than giving due care and attention to the task in hand.
elderflower cordial sliced lemons - nipitinthebud.co.uk
elderflower cordial making_flower heads - nipitinthebud.co.uk
When I’ve made cordial before I’ve followed the method from the River Cottage preserves handbook where you soak the flowers in water with lemon zest overnight and then add the sugar and lemons the next day. This suited me when I made it as I wasn’t keen on having a sticky mixture infusing on a hot day and with 3 cats in the house. Sonia’s recipe involved using her Thermomix to make a hot syrup and then pouring this over the lemon slices and flower heads. She left it on the counter top overnight and Luca and I returned the next day for bottling and tasting. The flavour was much more intense and finely balanced from all of the ingredients soaking together. Some recipes recommend leaving the infusion for up to 3 days but I think there’s a danger of the lemons going bitter when left that long.
elderflower cordial soaking - nipitinthebud.co.uk
Elderflower cordial bottled - nipitinthebud.co.uk
Our elderflower cordial was so delicious to drink. It’s going down well with the boys today who are both home with coughs and colds. Both the elderflower and the lemons with their vitamin C content will be giving their immune systems a boost. Sonia plans to use her cordial in cooking too starting with a favourite cake recipe which includes home made gooseberry curd (she’s quite the foody and a real inspiration for re-kindling my love of preserving and trying out different recipes).

Sonia’s Thermomix elderflower cordial recipe
25 elderflower heads (we had about 40)
1.5 litres water
1750g sugar
4 lemons thinly sliced
50g citric acid

  • Make a syrup with 1 litre of water and the sugar.
  • Slice the lemons and layer in the bottom of a glass or stainless steel container.
  • Place the elderflower heads stalks upwards on top of the lemons.
  • Sprinkle the citric acid over the top and pour in half the syrup.
  • Add the remaining 0.5 litre of water to the syrup and mix.  Pour over the flower heads and lemons, cover and leave at room temperature for at least 10 hours or overnight.
  • Strain the cordial through a fine sieve (we used a muslin) and pour into sterilised bottles or jars.  Once cool store in the fridge.

preserved elderflower lemons - nipitinthebud.co.uk
A happy outcome of making the cordial this way was that we ended up with beautiful preserved lemons. I always feel a bit wasteful when making cordials or jellies involves throwing away pulp I wish I could dream up a use for. My initial idea was to keep the lemons to simply add to a glass of water but I love them so much I’ve just been eating them straight from the jar. I’m never going to make elderflower cordial any other way from now on and Sonia and I have decided to instigate seasonal foraging play dates ever after. Perhaps we might even try some of these other elderflower recipes.
preserved lemons - nipitinthebud.co.uk

June 18, 2018 at 12:17 pm 3 comments

Five ways with … a ton of carrots

CANVA - 5 ways with Carrots for Pinterest

The last time I completed a ‘Five ways with .. ‘ post was a few months ago but it had actually stalled in my drafts folder for over 5 years. Five ways with … a ton of rhubarb was finally completed when a blogging friend accepted my request to include a couple of her recipes. Choclette’s gorgeous blog was one of the first I came across when I started blogging in 2009. At that time it was entirely devoted to chocolate recipes, now I don’t think there’s a fruit or vegetable that hasn’t been experimented with in Choclette’s kitchen. Choclette’s willingness to share her recipes inspired me to approach my next ‘Five ways with ..’ post as a curator of recipes from some of my favourite bloggers and a chance to highlight some interesting ways with carrots you might not have previously considered.  In researching this post I came across more than five ways of course so I’ll include five more ways with carrots at the end.  With thanks to Choclette, Shaheen, Jacqui and Camilla for the inclusion of their recipes (click Twitter links for regular inspiration and recipes).  So here are my For now here are my current favourite recipe ideas for using a ton of carrots.  Happy peeling!

Carrot, lentil and spinach souprecipe posted by Jacqui at Tinned Tomatoes

Carrot, Lentil and Spinach Soup - Tinnedtomatoes

Roasted Carrot Hummusrecipe posted by Camilla on Powerhungrycamilla

Roasted carrot hummus - Powerhungry Camilla

Vegan Smoked Carrot Salmonrecipe posted by Shaheen at Allotment2Kitchen

Smoked carrot salmon - Allotment2Kitchen

Carrot picklesrecipe posted on Choclette’s Tin and Thyme blog

Carrot pickles - TinandThyme.uk

Curried apple and carrot chutney recipe posted here on my blog

curried-apple-and-carrot-chutney_spices.jpg

5 more ways with carrots that piqued my interest on Pinterest:

4 ingredient high protein carrot star biscuits

Healthy baked carrot crisps

Carrot, sweet potato and feta fritters

Carrot cake flapjacks

Parmesan roasted carrots

If you enjoyed this carrot roundup post you might find something you like in my other posts ..

Five ways with .. a ton of apples

Five ways with .. a ton of beetroot

Five ways with .. a ton of damsons

Five ways with .. a ton of rhubarb

June 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm 5 comments

making chocolate courgette cake

If you’ve still got whopping great marrows knocking around (they store for weeks afterall so it’s quite possible) then reach for your grater and make a simple, delicious chocolate courgette cake.  Super easy, moist and tasty this is a great recipe for making do with what you have in the cupboard as it uses oil instead of butter and cocoa powder instead of chocolate (although on this baking day I found G’s dark chocolate in the cupboard and the cocoa powder pot empty).  It works just as well for making cupcakes (made another day when cocoa powder supplies had been replenished).16-8-13 - chocolate courgette cake_slice 4B

I was so sure I’d already posted this recipe but it seems I imagined that.  E’s hair, or rather the lack of it, is the measure of the passing of time since taking the photos with the intention to share it!  Woops, well over a year ago I’d say.
Collage - Chocolate Courgette cake 4BTo make Chocolate Courgette cake

350g self-raising flour
50g cocoa powder (I used 100g dark chocolate in this cake)
1tsp mixed spice
175ml olive oil
375g sugar
1tsp salt
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
500ml grated courgette
140g toasted hazelnuts roughly chopped

      • mix flour, spice, salt, cocoa powder
      • mix oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, grated courgette
      • combine the dry and wet mixtures and fold in chopped hazelnuts
      • line a 24cm cake tin and pour the mixture in (or spoon into cup cake cases)
      • bake for 40-50 minutes (reduce to 25 mins for cup cakes) before turning out
      • place 2 squares of dark chocolate on top of the warm cake and move around the cake with the back of the spoon to create a thin melted topping.
      • Alternatively cool for 10 mins and see original BBC Good Food recipe for making a gooey chocolate frosting topping

I sandwiched my cake with butter cream and jam and decorated with blueberries.  Who knew melting chocolate squares on top of a fresh-from-the-oven cake could be so satisfying?  My topping was a bit meagre (I only saved 2 squares for it) but once it hardened properly a few hours later it created a lovely thin crispy topping (very satisfying to cut into!)
16-8-13 - chocolate courgette cake 4B
The inspiration for the melted chocolate topping came from Conner Middelmann-Whitney’s video post for Chocolate Beetroot cake (fast forward to 6 minutes if you just want to see the icing stage).  It’s next on my list of recipes to try as unlike this recipe it’s packed with nutrients, gluten-free, dairy free and sweetened only with a smidgen of acacia honey. Conner is the author of Zest for Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet and her YouTube channel is well worth checking out for other video recipes.

First published in 2014.  If you like this recipe you may also be interested in Making beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

April 15, 2018 at 12:46 pm 1 comment

making Delia Smith’s one pot Basque Chicken

18-03-20_BLOG chicken basque 4

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If there’s one thing I love about Delia’s recipes it’s the satisfaction of creating a dish that looks just like the photo from her Delia On-line recipe archive! We were first introduced to Delia’s one pot Basque Chicken by our friend Alice who seemingly whipped it up out of nowhere when we visited one Saturday. While the kids played and we chatted in the kitchen she browned off some chicken thighs and chopped some peppers. After a brief interruption from Euan I returned to the kitchen to find Alice popping her full casserole dish in the oven. An hour later she pulled it out again and 4 adults and 4 children were soon tucking in to this lovely spanish blend of chicken, chorizo, peppers, and olives soaked brown rice. Delia’s original recipe uses a whole jointed chicken but we like to use skinless, boneless chicken thighs which are not only cheaper but suit the flavours and texture of this dish and require no preparation. I also omit the hot paprika and wine find this makes it more agreeable as a family dinner with small children. I did include wine for the making and photographing of the dish for this post but couldn’t honestly say it made all that difference that I could notice so will continue to omit it in future.

18-03-20_BLOG chicken basque

What you need to make Delia’s one pot Basque Chicken (with slight variations)

Salt and pepper seasoning
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
225ml brown basmati rice (measure using a jug)
275ml vegetable or chicken stock
170ml white wine (optional, increase stock quantity above if not using wine)
half a large orange cut into wedges
50g pitted black olives
2 large red peppers
1 large or 2 medium onions
2-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
150g skinned and sliced chorizo sausage
50g sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 large cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste

18-03-20_BLOG chicken basque-2

How to make Delia’s chicken basque

  • Season your chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in an ovenproof casserole dish and brown off the chicken thighs. Remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  • Slice the red peppers in half, remove the seeds and pith, then slice each half into six strips. Likewise, peel the onion and slice into strips of approximately the same size.
  • Drain the dried tomatoes, wipe dry with kitchen paper and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) pieces.
  • Add a little more oil to the casserole dish, at a medium heat and when the oil is hot, add the onion and peppers. Allow them to brown a little at the edges, moving them around from time to time, for about 5 minutes.
  • After that, add the chorizo, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and toss these around for a minute or two until the garlic is pale golden and the chorizo has taken on some colour. Next, stir in the rice and, when the grains have a good coating of oil, add the sun-dried tomato paste, paprika and chopped thyme.
  • Pour in the stock and wine, and add some seasoning. As soon as everything has reached simmering point, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Add a little more seasoning, then place the chicken gently on top of everything (it’s important to keep the rice down in the liquid).
  • Finally, place the wedges of orange in among the chicken and scatter with the olives.
  • Cook in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C), for 1 hour. (I have also cooked this on the hob before I invested in a casserole dish and it works well that way too, just make sure it’s on a low heat and gently stir from time to time so it doesn’t stick)

18-03-20_BLOG chicken basque-3
We enjoy this dish with some steamed greens or broccoli but it’s just as good as a stand alone dish.

April 10, 2018 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

beetroot and chocolate cupcakes (using less sugar)

20-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-6The first time I made these beetroot and chocolate cupcakes was long before I had small boys to bake them for.  I’ve only made them a couple of times since then as I now realise as a health conscious parent that they’ve got more sugar in than you might want to give your baby/toddler.  On the plus side though they have a portion of veg in and good fats not just a dose of sugar/carbohydrate so if you feel the urge to eat cake it’s not all bad.

OXO Good grips measuring cups_beetroot and chocolate cupcake ingredients - nipitinthebud.co.uk

beetroot and chocolate cupcake ingredients in OXO Good Grips measuring cups

I struggle with sugar cravings at certain times of the month and often eat healthily by day then lose all will power by the evening and reach for sugary snacks.  This week I decided to embrace the idea of a sweet elvenses after a slow walk home from school drop-off with Luca.  I had everything I needed to make these beetroot and chocolate cupcakes, a willing helper and my list of favourite podcasts ready to play on Stitcher.  When I reviewed the recipe I felt confident reducing the amount of sugar would make them more tooth kind without compromising the flavour.  At nearly 2 years old Luca is such a lover of cake and all things sweet so this reduced sugar version is definitely the one I shall return to now (please note I didn’t say ‘low sugar’ as they’re not! – I’ve included the nutritional information at the end of the ingredients list)

I think this recipe could work with even less sugar with the addition of a banana.  I reduced the sugar content by more than half that of the original recipe and switched out castor sugar for a 5:1 blend of coconut sugar and stevia.  The quantities below made a tray of 12 cupcakes the perfect size for toddler hands (they look small in the picture below because I optimistically used muffin cases forgetting I’d halved the ingredients!)

20-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-8

Ingredients to make 12 cupcakes or 6 large size cupcakes

185g beetroot (one large beet)
150ml oil (I use rapeseed oil or coconut oil)
150g self-raising flour
50g dark chocolate melted or cocoa powder
55g raisins
2 eggs
50g sugar (I used coconut sugar this time)
10g stevia

Nutritional value per cupcake (calculated using the free app Myfitness pal):

213 calories, 17.6g carbs, 14.9g fat, 2.9g protein

To make beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

  • Pre heat oven to 185°c
  • Cook raw beetroot until soft or use pre-cooked shop bought beetroot and blend (I used the Magimix this time but have used a hand mixer before as well)
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs into the oil.  Add to the cooked beetroot and mix well.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add the melted chocolate to the egg/oil/beetroot mixture.
  • If using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate add it to your sifted flour in a separate bowl.  Add the sugar and raisins.  Mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix everything together lightly.
  • Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases bake for 20-25 minutes until brown and risen or a fork comes out of it clean.

20-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-720-03-20_BLOG Beetroot and Chocolate muffins-10

March 23, 2018 at 2:03 pm 5 comments

easy peasy lemon cake

This is the easiest cake in the world to make and while I’ve blogged about it as a bundt ring cake here and a birthday cake here a few people have asked for details so I’m happy to re-share. I promise you’ll never need another cake recipe again. The 4 egg quantity shown below will make an 8 inch sponge sandwich or you could half the quantity if you want to just enjoy cake for one day and not 3! I used an 8 inch square sandwich tin with a 2 egg batter, cut the cake in half and stuck it together with butter frosting. It made about 6 chunky slices.

You will need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 250g each of unsalted butter, sugar and self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp good quality lemon curd

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs and gradually mix in the flour. Add the spoonfuls of lemon curd. Spoon into 2 cake tins (or one if halving the recipe). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree C for approx 25-40 mins depending on how deep your cake tin is. I mostly guess the time but you’ll know it’s ready when a fork poked into the cake comes out clean. Turn your cake out onto a wire rack and while it cools mix up some butter spread and icing sugar for the filling. Mixing in some lemon juice or a teaspoon of lemon curd will make it lovely and zesty. Drizzle a little lemon icing on top and enjoy with your favourite cup of tea.
If you need to cater for a gluten free friend have no fear I have that covered too in my blog post making gluten free lemon cake
22-8-10 - lemon drizzle cake_slice 4B

February 17, 2018 at 7:00 am 2 comments

an OXO stocking fillers gift guide

I’m feeling quite relieved that I’m on top of my Christmas preparations this year. I wanted to spread the cost by starting early and make sure I had time and energy for the 12 days of December when the kindness elves come to stay. So most presents have been purchased and stashed including the bits and pieces for the boys stockings from Santa. I’ve yet to make Luca a Christmas stocking (I’m not that organised!) and thankfully I wrote a blog post about how I made Euan’s Christmas stocking a few years ago so it should be simple enough to fashion a second one. With the extra time on my hands I’ve been able to have a rummage around the OXO elves Christmas sack to bring you a new stocking fillers gift guide for 2017. Some of the OXO items recommended in previous years are still available and some of those items continue to be our favourite kitchen gadgets (see links at the end of this post for a little reminder of further OXO gadgets). The gifts we’ve trialled for you this year are all under £15 and our absolute favourite is less than a tenner. Gift 1 – 9” tongs with heat reisistent silicone heads, £13.00
I’ve been meaning to add a pair of tongs to my utensils pot since attending a ”low carb, high veg” cookery class at the Foodworks Cookery School while pregnant with Luca. We made a vegetarian lasagne with cooked cabbage leaves instead of pasta sheets and the tongs saved scolded finger tips. I recreated the recipe to try out our new tongs and found them easy to use and they lock for convenient storage. Luca enjoyed playing with them too of course so what’s not to love about a kitchen utensil that doubles up as a toy! Gift 2 – Steel angled jigger, £8
This is my number 1 kitchen favourite this year. It’s been designed to measure small pourable amounts accurately and you can see the measurement markings, in ml and tbsp, while looking straight down into it. On the OXO website it’s advertised as a cocktail measure but we’ve found all sorts of other uses for it like making salad dressings or simply to help monitor the nutrient value of the fluids we use. I use an app called MyFitnessPal, a free diet and exercise tracker, to become more aware of the nutrient value of the food I eat. I’ve been reducing carbs and increasing fats and combined with walking more I’ve seen a gradual shedding of the last of my baby weight (google ‘Grain Brain’ or ‘Keto diet’ if interested in the science behind that). It’s great using the steel jigger to measure small amounts of fluids instead of guessing or counting in teaspoons. For example, I’d been estimating a 30ml measure of milk in my tea when in fact I take double that, a difference of 100+ calories across my 3-4 cups a day (that’s equivalent to a couple of biscuits added on or a 30 minute walk to take it off). It’s a really handy tool to have in the cutlery drawer and it even doubles up as the perfect toddler size clutchable snack pot. Gift 3 – Beak ice cream scoop, £13
My boys love ice cream, especially G who’s been instructed to eat it in secret so the little ones don’t develop his insatiable sweet tooth! Thankfully E and L love the novelty of anything yummy frozen and served nicely and happily tuck into whizzed up frozen fruit. Zero added sugar, zero fuss. The only effort comes in the having to remember to put the bananas in the freezer the night before. Our home made fruit ice cream provides the perfect challenge for this tough aluminium beak shaped scoop as being dairy free it’s harder and more icy. The curved side edges and pointed end made it easy and it has a non stick coating for easy release. By the time the kettle had boiled to dip the scoop into E had already served up his own helping, evidence enough that this scoop can handle anything. He liked the novelty of the lever that helps to flick the contents out but to be honest it wasn’t necessary as it slipped off into the bowl easily enough without using it. Gift 4 – 3 in 1 avocado slider, £8.75
”The avocado slider splits, pits, slices and scoops for safe and mess free preparation”. I’ve seen these before and wondered what all the fuss was about! I do get quite messy cutting and peeling my avocados but I figured a gadget wasn’t worth the bother. Turns out I was wrong and it brilliantly removes the stone without any damage or loss of avocado. OXO tried 700 different shaped avocados to perfect their design afterall. All of the avocados I’ve used it on have been a bit too brown and mushy for a nice picture so here’s a video clip of the avocado slicer in action. It really is as simple as it looks.

Gift 5 – Bakers dusting wand, £10. We reviewed the tea ball a few years ago and I find it’s always disappearing from the drawer only to be found in the boys room with jewels or lego treasures in it. OXO have come up with another use for it – as a dusting wand to neatly sprinkle flour, powdered sugar and spices onto drinks and food. The quick open and close twist of the half solid half perforated globe design, prevents clumps, dumps and powdery messes. It’s been sized to fit most flour containers for storage, a tactic I would have had to resort to if we only had one! Our favourite use of it is for sprinkling cinnamon on hot drinks and cocoa powder or cinnamon sugar on our pancakes. I’ve been using gluten free flour lately for baking and these pancakes made with chick pea flour and mashed bananas were topped off beautifully with a little dusting of cocoa. So there you have it, a few ideas to get you started on your Christmas shopping if you’ve not made it to the shops yet. Previous years OXO stocking filler suggestions are shown below and reviewed here and here.
All items are available from the OXO website. Enjoy x
Disclosure: I selected the OXO items in this guide to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

December 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm 3 comments

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About Nip it in the bud


Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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Cheery uppy post sent with love is always good but especially heartwarming when you know someone has sat down with a pen and paper and given minutes of their time to create something for you
I've always quite liked the "family rules" meme boards but never found one that didn't elicit a "yes, yes, nooooo" from me when I read the list of rules. I was in the right place at the right time today when I saw this one and offered it a home with us.
Tea for three. We're eating cashews and wowing at how they are grown and shelled. Worth a Google if you've never really thought about it!
Regrann from @elluminations - . @musicalgeorgemoorey has released the next Spaces track Illuminations (or should that read Elluminations?!) based on the story of a 9th century monk and his cat Pangur Ban (a favourite childhood tale of mine). Here's the original artwork I made in response to the track. Greetings cards available in my etsy shop! #spacesgloucester #pangurban #monk #blackfriars #originalart #artistsofinstagram #etsy #etsysellersofglos - #regrann
Regrann from @musicalgeorgemoorey. Me - piano. On Monday I'm releasing "Illuminations" - a song based on the story of Pangur Ban, a 9th century monk's cat - recorded @GlosBlackfriars. #spacesgloucester #lookcloserlistendeeper
The labyrinth at @gloucestercathedral
Regrann from @musicalgeorgemoorey - Stunning.
We visited @gloucestercathedral today and happened across the @workofheartgarden (click link to find out more). Claire created the garden after losing her husband Ken. You can download the pattern for a heart to donate and raise funds for @suerydercharity. We made a donation to buy two for the boys to hang while thinking of a loved one. Claire's had over 50k hearts sent to her - that's the power of love for you
This may be the best board game ever invented if you like the silliness of Dr Seuss stories! (Horton hears a who game!)
Luca in his happy place @sandfordparkslido - he just doesn't stop smiling when he's there and sings non-stop in the water. He is so super confident because even at just 2 years old he can stand unaided in the kids pool. So all we have to do is Bob about next to him pretending we're at a spa, perfect :0)
The Hawaiian goose whisperer @musicalgeorgemoorey (or as he said "not really, I've got a bag of seed") at @wwtslimbridge
Euan found treasure in the playground at @wwtslimbridge. Thank you Hannah , he loved rehiding them and secretly watching other children find them. #wwtslimbridge #gloucesterlife #loveontherocksuk

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