Monday, 31 August 2015


At the weekend we visited a nearby village, San Mariano to attend 'Cantacastello', (singing in the castle) an open air play set around the streets of the village. 

We were guided around the streets which were lit by hundreds of candles in glass jars as musicians played and actors dressed in medieval costume acted out various scenes. 

There was such a magical and romantic atmosphere and it really felt like we had stepped back in time. 

The grand finale of the show was a sword fight by the walls of the castle. 

Just 2 more sleeps until we leave for Scotland! We'll be gone for 2 months but I have great intentions of posting regularly while we're away. We'll see! 

Lots of love, 

Sarah Elizabeth 


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Last Days of Summer

Here in Umbria the warm weather can continue into November but since we're leaving for Scotland in 10 days this is the last of the summer for us. We're trying to make the most of it by spending as much time out of doors as we can, soaking up the sun to see us through the winter. After last weekend's storms the air is fresher and cooler meaning we can enjoy plenty of walks in the countryside around the village. 

 We discovered loads of blackthorn bushes on our walk today. I didn't have anything with me to collect the sloes in so I'll have to return another day to pick some for making sloe gin.

 Figs, one of my favourite fruits, are in season now too. 

 Near the village live two old bachelor brothers. I'm always in awe of their perfectly kept garden, everything neatly planted in precise rows like these tomato plants. 

I'll never tire of this view of our village.

How did you spend your weekend?


Sarah Elizabeth


Monday, 17 August 2015


The 15th August in Italy is 'Ferragosto', a holiday dating back to Roman times when they would celebrate the 'Feriae Augusti' in the middle of August, days of rest after a period of intense agricultural labour. In our village it is celebrated with a big dinner in the village square followed by music and dancing then a bonfire and fireworks. People stay up all night to welcome in the day of Ferragosto and then everyone enjoys cappucini and cornetti for breakfast at dawn. We didn't make it to dawn and so missed the breakfast but we made up for it by having another huge meal with family later in the day. Then we spent the afternoon at the nearby lake, visiting the little island, Isola Polvese, in the middle. That night there was a huge storm and so now the weather is finally cooler and there is the first hint of autumn in the air. The next few weeks we're going to be preparing for a 2 month long trip to Scotland and enjoying the last of the summer sun. 

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend


Sarah Elizabeth


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Liberty Skirt

It's a long time since I had my sewing machine out. Too long. More than a year I think. I'm not an experienced seamstress and really would prefer to sew by hand. Machines scare me a little. I'd love to be able to sew more of our own clothes but I don't have the patience to learn. 

I found this pretty Liberty print fabric in a vintage shop last summer and thought I could use it to make a simple skirt for Alba. Finally today I decided to dust off the sewing machine and get started. 

I got as far as measuring and cutting the fabric before this monkey woke from her afternoon nap. 

We abandoned the sewing and headed out to the park to enjoy the late afternoon sun. 

And Alba's skirt will have to wait for another day...........


Sarah Elizabeth


PS. If anyone has good tips or websites to help novice dressmakers please share them in the comments below.  

Monday, 10 August 2015

Summer Storms

After a week of soaring temperatures today the heavens opened and finally we've had some relief from the stifling heat. We spent the day mostly indoors while a storm raged outside. Alba was busy again practising her scissor skills by making clothes for all of her teddies. I love to simply observe her as she works. I'm careful not to intervene so everything she makes is completely her own idea, her own work. With all the pretty craft ideas on Pinterest it's tempting to suggest some of them to her but it's so much more interesting seeing her follow her own inspiration. She is always so proud of the finished article, satisfied in the knowledge that it is completely hers.  

One of the things I love about summer is not having to spend so much time cooking! Our lunches these days mostly consist of cold pasta salad, prosciutto and melon, fresh fruit. I'm very lucky that my father-in-law grows plenty of vegetables for the whole family so we have a great supply of fresh tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines. In the winter I enjoy making soups and stews but it's so nice in the summer just to be able to pull a few things out of the fridge and eat them, no cooking involved. 

By the end of the afternoon the rain had stopped and we managed to escape for a quick walk. It was so refreshing to be out and enoy the cooler air after everything had had a good soaking of rain. Mirryn looked confused as I dressed her in a light cardigan. She's not worn much more than a nappy for weeks! Alba picked this nice posy of flowers during our walk, perfect to brighten the place up on a grey afternoon. 

Happy Monday everyone,


Sarah Elizabeth


Friday, 7 August 2015


Five years ago today I married my lovely husband Matteo. In his words "5 anni sono pochi ma sembra che ci vogliamo bene da una vita" (5 years are short but it seems that we've loved each other for a life time)Doesn't it sound so much more romantic in Italian! 

McBeth Photography

Wishing you all a love filled Friday.


Sarah Elizabeth


Thursday, 6 August 2015

No Plum 'Plum Cake'

Today Alba and I made our very first 'Plum Cake'. 

Now this is a cake that really confuses me. It's a common cake here, eaten often by kids for 'merenda' (snack). The strange thing is is that it doesn't actually contain any plums. I'm not sure either why they use an English name for a cake that, as far as I know, doesn't exist in the English speaking world. We have a glut of plums here so it would have made sense to make an actual cake with plums. Instead we had a yummy afternoon snack of 'plum' cake with plums on the side. 

Does anyone know why plum cake is called plum cake? And any ideas of what I can do with all these plums?!


Sarah Elizabeth


Garden Inspiration

The one part of our new home we haven't given much attention to is our garden. We don't have a big space and I can't decide really what to do with it. Currently it looks untidy and is full of kids things, a large paddling pool, a playhouse, a sandpit. My father-in-law is making us a table but until it's ready we don't have anywhere to sit or eat outside. For me, coming from Scotland where al fresco dining is a rarity due to weather or midgies, there is no greater luxury than being able to eat outside. Even just taking my morning coffee into the garden on a sunny day is such a treat. At the moment I have to carry chairs out from the kitchen which is annoying. I can't make up my mind though what kind of garden furniture I'd like. I thought I'd put together some of the pictures I've collected for inspiration in the hopes that I can get a clearer idea of how I'd like our garden to eventually look. 

I'd like to create a pergola to provide a shady spot in summer. Something like this.......

Image from here

or this...............

Image from here

I'd love to have a relaxed summer's lunch at either of these pretty tables...........

Image frome here
Image from here

We don't have much space at the moment for planting a vegetable plot but perhaps a planter like this for growing herbs............

Image from here

And what I'd really love would be to have a pretty chicken coop like this..............

Image from here

Have you any ideas for creating perfect gardens in small spaces? 


Sarah Elizabeth


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Lazy Summer Days

It's really really hot here at the moment. The countryside is so dry and burned out, in desperate need of rain. Our days are slow and lazy. We spend the hottest part of the day indoors. Alba spends her time creating either drawing and cutting out paper dinosaurs, painting or making clothes for her teddies. 

In the late afternoon when it's cooler we finally escape outdoors to the pool............

 for a leisurely stroll.................

or to find a shady spot in the park.......

How are you spending your summer days?


Sarah Elizabeth

Monday, 20 July 2015

Kitchen: before, during and after

I finally managed to get a couple of photos of our finished kitchen to share with you. It's not often in a tidy enough state to photograph! First of all, here is a photo of how the kitchen looked in February 2010 before we started any work on the house. It's such a huge transformation you can hardly believe it's the same house! 

The beautiful arch was bricked up.

Work begins finally in the summer of 2012........

The beautiful arch is finally exposed. This picture is from Spring 2013.

The kitchen goes in in July 2014....

The kitchen as it is today, July 2015.........

This is my absolute favourite room of the house. It's turned out even better than I could have imagined and was definitely worth the wait. I'm planning to do another post showing more details of the kitchen when it's next tidy enough to photograph! 

Lots of love from my lovely kitchen!

Sarah Elizabeth x x