Spring is sprouting in the Southern Hemisphere, while those in the North say goodbye to to a lingering and well-deserved Indian Summer.

The feeling of renewal as the first warm days appear, along with the reminder of the change that comes with the new season, has really given us a boost here at The Bulb. We’ve been in planning mode for some months now. We have been  getting some new projects up and running, while others are requiring a bit more thought and talk.

I’m very happy to say that last weekend, after five or so hours of intensive brainstorming together, Laura, Sarah and I reached a zenith in terms of decision-making around how we can make The Bulb better for our readers.

Our aim, as you may have gathered, is to refocus the site to concentrate on the most interesting and useful elements of what we do; on the things you told us you liked most. In addition to this, we want to make more of and grow the wonderful community we have, through some exciting ventures; to help people explore their possibilities and expand their horizons. To bring greater fulfilment.

But these projects are going to require time and energy from the three of us, and sometimes, something just has to give. So we’ve decided to give The Bulb’s regular posts a little holiday, to enable us to focus our attention on the new creation.

Yet our big library of posts from the past three years – covering our tips and adventures in eating, design, following your dreams, travel and everything else – will still be here to browse through or revisit whenever you need something.

We will of course keep you posted on our progress and look forward to revealing all our new exciting ventures when the time is right.

In the meantime, enjoy the sunny days and early light – or if you’re in the North, the autumn golds, reds and bronzes. We will be in touch again soon.

(Written by Julia)

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The Star Inn at Harome is one of those ‘foodie’ pubs that you will only find in the English countryside.

The kind where a thatched roof presides over a bar with wooden beams, low-ceilings and tables in nooks and crannies. Where there’s a local sneaking crisps to his dog in the front bar. Where visitors come to taste celebrated cuisine from a well-known chef, served in a modern, but well-matched, dining room. Where the charm of a region’s history creates an atmosphere that warms the heart.

I visited the Star Inn at Harome, in the North Yorkshire Moors, with family in Spring to celebrate my mother’s birthday. This is a place that is special enough, but relaxed enough, to raise a glass to a special occasion in comfort. The whole experience was charming and delicious.

After marvelling at the 14th century bar, we took our seats in the modern restaurant, domain of chef and director Andrew Pern. I unfortunately had to forgo the champagne starter because of early stages of pregnancy, so instead tucked in to a starter of local shot deer roe ‘minestrone’ with venison and juniper meatballs, ‘sweetheart cabbage’, moorland ‘tomme’ cheese shavings and white spring truffles (£8.50).

Local shot deer roe ‘minestrone’ with venison and juniper meatballs, ‘sweetheart cabbage’, moorland ‘tomme’ cheese shavings and white spring truffles

The locally-sourced produce really shone through in the flavours; in particular, the rather large taste I enjoyed of my mother’s rich risotto of handpicked wild village garlic with poached egg and the Star’s own cured pancetta and homegrown nettle pesto (£8.95).

Risotto of handpicked wild village garlic with poached egg and the Star’s own cured pancetta and homegrown nettle pesto.

My family wised up to my ‘sharing’ in the main course, so I can only speak for the pan-roasted haunch of roe deer with a little venison cottage pie, juniper-creamed savoy cabbage, york ham lardons, hand-picked yellow chanterelles and garden thyme juices (£21.50). The flavours all complemented and despite having roe deer for both courses (clearly my baby wanted red meat!) , the combination did not sit heavy in my stomach. Among the meat on the menu, there was also two fish options and four vegetarian treats.

Pan-roasted haunch of roe deer with a little venison cottage pie, juniper-creamed savoy cabbage, york ham lardons, hand-picked yellow chanterelles and garden thyme juices.

For dessert, I went retro. A ‘girigette’ strawberry and elderflower knickerbocker glory with Star Inn sprinkles and lemon balm chantilly (£9.95). I’ve never had a bad knickerbocker in my time, but this was up there as the best.

The service was friendly and helpful. The small touches made the evening memorable, with the chef adding a happy birthday message to my mother’s dessert: a dark chocolate and roast hazelnut parfait with poached pear, homemade cigarellos and chocolate sauce (£9.95).

Dark chocolate and roast hazelnut parfait with poached pear, homemade cigarellos and chocolate sauce.

For post-dinner coffee, we ventured back to the 14th century building, this time upstairs to the coffee loft, which is a former monk’s dormitory, in the eaves of the thatched roof. Finishing the evening in a gem of a historic building, made me reflect on the individual charm of English ‘foodie’ pubs – I don’t think that they get much better than The Star Inn. (There is also accommodation at The Star Inn, over the road in the Cross House Lodge, at about £200 for bed and breakfast.)

For more inspiration

Try one of chef Andrew Pern’s recipes, or try one of his books.

Find out what else Yorkshire has to offer from the lovely people at Squidbeak. Read Jill Turton’s guest post on a foodie journey of the county.

Think about different ways to celebrate a birthday, or special occasion. Read how we have done it here with our favourite birthday bash ideas.

(Written by Laura)

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It’s very easy to get caught up in our own fears and insecurities, to live in our own little bubbles and miss some achingly good opportunities in the process. Every now and then I need an external jolt to tell me to get over them; to have the courage to get on with things. Often this comes in the form of seemingly small encounters, as I was reminded this week.

I’ve been holidaying in New Zealand’s stunning South Island for the past five days, nestled among the snow-capped mountains and mirroring lakes (I’m quite embarrassed, as an Australian, to have never visited these shores before. It’s a piece of heaven and I’ll definitely return.)

Over the course of the trip, which has primarily been a skiing holiday with some family and friends, we’ve been debating the virtues of physical thrills and risks as you get older, and the fear that comes with them. Skiing can be a scary pursuit, even when you know what you’re doing and have done it many times before. I learned to ski as an adult, which was initially quite terrifying and challenging in a completely new way. These days I love it, but often still find it confronting to let myself get a little out of control in order to improve. So as we all tried to push through our physical fears on the mountains in New Zealand – particularly as one of our crew was learning to ski – we chatted about some of the reasons why we avoid those scary situations.

Often, as adults, getting out of our comfort zones is something that can be quite easily avoided, particularly in a physical sense. Unlike when we are younger, no one is pushing us to run or swim or toboggan or physically challenge ourselves. So a lot of the time we don’t. This tendency seems to increase as we get older – according to our group, anyway. There just aren’t that many day-to-day opportunities to feel that fear, so it can become quite foreign.

But maybe this conscious boundary-pushing is something we should think about proactively doing more often? Perhaps intentionally pushing ourselves would lead to personal growth in a new way? Maybe we should view fear like this in a positive light? Perhaps Kate McCormack (a lovely business and marketing guru helping us with our plans for The Bulb) was right when she told us that “sometimes feeling scared is a good sign”?

For some potential answers, I’ll take you back to the slopes. One example of whether it’s worth pushing ourselves through our physical fear barriers to improve, to learn, to feel the thrill and adrenalin, even as we get older, came in the form of an ordinary encounter.

Our friend told us about a man she was talking to on a chair lift about his skiing, having seen him zipping around in impressive form on the mountain. He told her that he was 78 and he’d only taken up skiing when he was 70. Seventy! Here we were – in our early thirties – discussing whether we were too old to be learning new tricks, to be pushing ourselves physically and facing our fears, when this older gentleman was putting us all to shame not only with his form but through his attitude. He was absolutely smashing out there, not letting the natural worries about whether he might get hurt or scared get in the way of trying.

It was such a refreshing story for me to hear. Life’s too short to be stuck in our little fear bubbles.  Mr Ski Senior reminded me that it’s never too late to start something, to challenge yourself, to perfect a new skill, even if it seems scary and pointless at the start. As is often said, you’re more likely to regret the things you didn’t do than those you did. What’s something you’re scared to do but would like to? Go on – get started.

(Written by Sarah)

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No matter how grumpy my 11-month old daughter gets, there is one thing every hour, on the hour, that makes her smile: the theme song for the news on ABC radio.

The look of delight that crosses Orla’s face when “Majestic Fanfare” (understated name, eh?) fills the speakers is hilarious and stupidly gorgeous. I thought her taste was a bit quirky but when I looked up the song on YouTube it would appear she is not alone in loving it: the full version has been viewed 23,000 times. This is it. Doesn’t it make you want to stand up and put a hand over your heart?

It never fails to amaze me how much music can move a mood. Alt J is my current soundtrack to life – Taro is my favourite song of theirs – but over the years we’ve written about our most beloved music many times, so I thought I’d share our best-read posts on the topic. I hope they bring a gap-toothed smile to your face – though ideally you wouldn’t have porridge stuck to  your chin as one little ABC groupie did this morning. Happy Friday!

1. Glen Hansard, The Frames + finding your passion


2. Our favourite cold-weather songs


3. A pre-Olympic pep-up with Mumford & Sons and Birdy


4. Hit me baby one more time: songs we have on repeat


5. Goodbye London, hello Black Cab Sessions


(Written by Julia)

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My day job, like any job based in an office, can be claustrophobic physically and mentally. Sitting close to the same people for hours on end, five days a week, can escalate small irritations and clashes of personalities into emotional avalanches.

Last week, a claustrophobic situation in my office erupted, leaving me doing mental and emotional gymnastics. By Friday, I was exhausted, my body seething with negativity and a focus on my work situation that was out of proportion with what are usually, and should be, the priorities in my life.  I needed some way to get that negativity out of my system.

Come Saturday, there was only one thing for it. I had to clean the kitchen. And when I say clean, I mean scrub every cupboard inside and outside, wash walls and floors, get the grease off every surface and wipe windows. So, for four hours, that is exactly what my husband and I did. Armed with a playlist of dance-floor numbers, we got as much dirt out of our early-noughties-kitchen-in-a-rented-Regency-terrace as humanly possible.

Sitting back at the end of this session and smugly surveying our work, I reflected on how much cleaner I felt mentally and emotionally. I felt like I’d scrubbed out the negativity and made space in my brain for what I should prioritise in my life, namely my husband and the birth of my first child in four months.

It made me think about the mental cleansing power of cleaning and how effective de-cluttering, organising and scrubbing the home environment can be. When going through, or preparing to go through, a difficult situation or big life change, spending time cleaning out the old and giving the mind space for the new is an important part of the transition process.

While the power of physical exercise is held high as a method to stimulate mental happiness, my experience has made me a firm believer that working up a sweat sorting out the roof space, throwing away unused goods and scrubbing surfaces should be held in the same regard. There actually have been studies done on this topic, giving me some scientific back up for my assumptions.

My musings in this post touch on themes that are important to us at The Bulb, and which we have written about in the past: the importance of finding a sense of home where the heart is happy; giving ourselves time to enjoy that home; and where to turn for inspiration in the home (particularly when you HAVE to clean). Hopefully the below posts will help you, as they have helped us.

Finding the heartland, wherever that may be

How to find the most nourishing food for the soul: free time

 

 

Victory in the dirty battle of dishwashing

(Written by Laura)

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