I can’t remember the last time I published a post that didn’t include a recipe, but I really felt the need to have a little coffee break and catch up with you guys and let you know what’s happening in the Kitchen Sanctuary household, including some news which is still making me feel rather giddy!

Nicky and family at the big feastival

We’re about a week away from the end of the Summer holidays, and I think the kids are ready to go back to school. I usually envisage the summer holidays being balmy days, where Chris and I do a little work, then relax in the garden with a cold beer whilst the kids are splashing around in the paddling pool, or racing around our street on their bikes.

And do you know what? That NEVER happens. We’ve been so busy, that we’ve not even taken the paddling pool out of the shed.

Of the few days we’ve all been at home, Chris and I have been frantically trying to keep up with work (you may have noticed I’ve been posting a lot less these past few weeks), whilst the kids have been flaked out, recovering from whatever trip or event they’ve just got back from.

We opted for a staycation this year. The idea was staying in the UK would be a little more laid back and less expensive, but it didn’t really work out that way.

Is it just me, or are staycations WAY more expensive than you think they’re going to be?

Some of our highlights for August were:

Alton Towers – we spent a fortune on front-of-line passes, and got our brains knocked around on the many rollercoasters (Thirteen was my favourite, Rita made me scream until I ran out of scream, and the fear of Oblivion was way more scary in my mind than in reality). A fun but exhausting day.

A few days in York – the ghost walk was one of my favourite parts, but the Viking centre was a little disappointing for the price and queues. We enjoyed walking along the city walls:

My daughter standing on the city walls in York

We also stopped off a Billy Bob’s Ice Cream parlour in Skipton. They do THE BEST birthday cake flavour ice cream, and they also have a play barn that the kids love (yes, I had a go on the rope swings after a little persuasion too!!). Kids on the rope swings in the barn at billy bob's

We visited Ironbridge gorge for the first time (even though it’s only 90 minutes away from us) and absolutely LOVED the Victorian town at Blists Hill.

The shops and houses were brilliant – with lots of Victorian-dressed staff teaching candle dipping, brick making and typesetting, plus authentic cottages, pubs (loved the singalong with the piano) and shops to wander around (you could even swap your modern money for shillings!).

No word of a lie, we had the best chips we’ve ever tasted there – fried in beef dripping.
They were so good, we drove all the way back there for another visit a couple of weeks later, and the chip shop was our first stop – ever the greedy foodie….Kids showing their candles after candle dipping

and yes, we couldn’t resist dressing up ourselves in the dressing up area there:

Dressing up in Victorian clothes at Ironbridge gorge (Darby Houses)

We visited the Yorkshire Wildlife Park on our way home, which was fantastic. The enclosures were huge and the animals looked happy, playful and content. One of the highlights was seeing the lions – who had been rescued from terribly poor conditions in a zoo in Romania, and now have a gorgeous 7-acre enclosure. They’ve also recently re-homed 4 brown bears in the park, rescuing them from cramped enclosures in a museum in Japan.

The day after we got home, the kids went off to Wales with their grandparents, and Chris and I redecorated and renovated their bedrooms. Four x 16-hour days of painting, sanding, plastering, building and carpet laying, fuelled by lots of coffee. The kids arrived home literally 4 minutes after we sat down on the sofa to relax.

A quick peak of Lewis’s room before and after:

Before and after decoration of son's room

Chris turned 36 a few weeks ago, and one of his favourite pressies was the joke present of a soda stream that I got him. I thought it would be a bit of retro fun that would soon end up in the back of the cupboard, but actually we’ve used it loads (even making our own ginger beer for Dark n’ Stormy cocktails).

Gracey had a birthday too – which involved a sleepover with 5 of her friends, and a hot tub we hired for the occasion. They giggled for 12 hours straight, enjoyed mixing their own mocktails and pretty much covered the house in popcorn. We sent them all home these t-shirts – which I felt was very apt for a bunch of 12 year olds after only a couple of hours sleep.

Chris managed to injure his Achilles last week – to the point that he can hardly walk. That made it really difficult for him when we went to The Big Feastival this past weekend.

Nicky and family at the big feastival
The kids with blue sparkle glitter on their faces at the Big Feastival

I tried to make him stay at home, but he batted my arguments away with his crutches and hobbled through the whole day (love that man!).

I was cooking in the main stage – A cook-off between myself as the first Neff Cookaholic winner, and Jane from The Hedgecombers, who won last year. We battled it out with our own bread pudding recipes (I made a spiced apple bread pudding with browned butter crumble and easy salted caramel, and Jane made a dairy-free bread pudding with coconut and cardamom). The audience voted, and I won! Jane’s was bloomin tasty though – I think it was a close call.

Nicky on stage at the Big Kitchen at the Big Feastival

The audience at the Big Kitchen for the live cook-off

A fantastically fun day, and I went home on a total high! The kid’s loved sitting in the front row, and were so good – shouting for mummy to win. We got to meet Gennaro Contaldo too!

Nicky and Jane meeting Gennaro Contaldo

And finally, my last bit of news to finish off our little coffee break (where, let’s face it, I’ve literally just talked at you for the past 15 minutes), is that I got a book deal!!

Page Street publishing approached my a while ago now, and we’ve just signed the contract. Squeeeee!!

I’ll be creating lots of new recipes, and I’ll also be doing the photography for the book.

I’m so excited that I keep breaking out into little jiggle dances in inappropriate places like coffee queues and supermarkets.

I love that they’re letting me do the photography, as it gives me so much more control over how I want the book to look. Lots and lots of work, but I’m not complaining one bit (I’ll try to remain this optimistic on my tenth consecutive day of shooting!).

More to come on the book soon. I’ll keep you updated as things progress.

In the meantime, I’ve got a few more days before the kids go back to school to fit on a bit of picnicing at Rudyard lake on Friday, and some indoor skydiving on Saturday.

Who needs sleep. It’s overrated anyway….

Nicky looking sleepy


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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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  1. Janis says:

    From little things, big things grow. I so enjoyed reading your coffee break news and so proud of you getting this book deal. Exciting things ahead for all! The staycation sounds wonderful, I love York. Best of luck to a great future.

  2. Natasha @ Salt & Lavender says:

    What an exciting summer!! I was following along on your IG stories so saw some of it haha. I can’t believe you renovated the kids’ rooms by yourselves… crazy. I would have paid someone. 😛 Congratulations on the cookbook deal! How exciting!! And do try to get some sleep. 😉

  3. Cynthia says:

    Recipe for the spiced apple bread pudding???! And caramel sauce of course … 😉 or will it be in the book!

  4. Sharon Woolaghan says:

    Loved reading your end of summer coffee break, wish I’d put the kettle on before I started. Congratulations on winning the bake off, and also to the book. I’m quite new to your blog, but I’m loving the recipes and promised my husband to try a new one every week. Maybe I’ll get him to try a few too 😉

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks Sharon, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes. One a week? wow that’s awesome 😀

  5. SIMONE Plaut says:

    Soda stream. I’ve had one for years. Best thing ever. I buy food flavourings from www. Foodie flavours.com and add custard plus a tsp of stevia drops and hey presto! Custard soda! Awesome or what!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Custard soda! Now that’s something I’ve got to try!

  6. Martin Harrison says:

    Book deal today… TV deal soon!!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Tee hee thanks Martin. I’d probably burn everything in a panic on TV 😀

  7. Emma Lander says:

    Oh that is just the best news. I seriously cannot wait for that. I hope you get a tv series too

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Awww Emma you’re too kind. I think i’d be way too scared for TV ha ha!

  8. Steph says:

    What a fun summer you’ve had! AND amazing about the book deal!!!! Well done

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks Steph – we’ve had a great time and I can’t wait to get started on the book 😀

  9. Caroline says:

    That’s fantastic news Nicky! I love your recipes, even I can make them look good! Really looking forward to your book x

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks so much Caroline!

  10. Janice says:

    That’s fantastic news! I’m so pleased for you, your recipes are so good. Congratulations on winning the bread & Butter Pudding comp too. Staycations are always more expensive but it’s fun to see things in the UK too.

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks Janice 😀
      Yes, it seems a shame not to go and visit places right on your doorstep. I think the cats appreciated us not going away for a week or more too!!