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Magical Epping Forest. The smalls were on another planet of joy just exploring, running through the undergrowth, picking blackberries and discovering dens. Pablo threw himself into tree climbing and scaling, and Indy pottered across logs and tottered down hills grinning. So amazing what a bit of freedom in the wild can do, even the not-so-wilds of Essex...so lucky to have this on our doorstep.

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Scorcher Sunday - 27 degrees, which is about as hot as we can hope for on this grey little island - and a rare day without plans, so we decided to hit the nearest beach. Left it too late to go anywhere famously lovely like Southwold or Whitstable, but felt brave enough for a trip to Southend-on-Sea, and despite the horror movie traffic on arrival it was worth the hot car journey. The beach down by Thorpe Bay was lined with a pretty rainbow of beach huts which provided convenient shade, and not at all crowded with big sunburned bodies. Pablo quickly made friends and found an impressive haul of big crabs and little jellyfish to net and bucket. After we'd had all the sun, sea & strawberries we needed, a scuttle back up the coast brought the pier and it's impressive funfair (Pablo's first roller coaster, which he loved), plus some compulsory fresh fish and chips. 

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I made it out on Saturday night for the first time in about a month (I've been too sleep deprived to contemplate having any fun after dark) so classically overdid it and spent Sunday in a bit of a haze. We still have a slightly crazy amount of turkey leftover from Thanksgiving, and I made a damn good pie with leftover cream, leftover thyme, bacon and other fine stuff. Then we topped it off with leftover s'more pie and a slump on the sofa watching movies and having indulgent naps. Yummy Sunday....

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Lovely family brunch - buttermilk pancakes, fruit salad, eggs benedict, bacon, bucks fizz, coffee galore. Pablo was showered in Halloween goodies by his Grandpa & Grandma, and Uncle Xander & Auntie Zara. Brunches are also the best because the whole afternoon still exists for lying around watching films.

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Transient

We have made a vague family decision to try and have a *proper* lunch or brunch together every Sunday over the autumn and winter, and even though it was technically still September it was dreary enough outside to kick things off. Lovely Jo, a friend for three whole decades as both our dads were journos based in Brussels together back in the VERY early 80s, came over to see us (especially Pablo, who has a bit of a crush on her) which was a great excuse for feasting. Konch made Jamie Oliver's pot roast pork with fennel, our first goose-fat parsnips of the season, buttered leeks and peas, and some little roasted salad potatoes. I decided to attempt Mary Berry's Queen of Puddings - have been lusting after it since the Great British Bake Off technical challenge a couple of weeks ago. My jam may have been a tiny bit runny but otherwise it was impressive and easy and a lovely hot winter pud. We ate it ALL, and the super super sweetness was a hit with Pablo until he decided he needed to take his top off to show Jo his muscles, then promptly dropped a spoon full of hot-ish custard onto his tummy. Whoops.  After pudding it was compulsory to spend the rest of the day sipping wine and soaking up the dregs of fennel sauce with fat slices of ciabatta, grabbing little kips and watching cartoons.