Why I am proud to be a Comper!

I have been planning on writing a post on why I enter competitions for a long time. I believe that people are not just lucky (or unlucky), you make your own luck. I have always entered a few competitions but about 11 years ago I started to take things a little more seriously and since 2013 I have been comping avidly. We have our own business and that brings in enough funds for us to live comfortably, but the extras from winning give us our days and nights out, holidays and luxuries. It is my hobby but also makes a big contribution to funding our lifestyle.

The fact is that most people will not bother to enter. Those of us that do will have as much chance as the next person of being picked as a winner. There are no set rules to how you go about it, you do what suits you. I spend about 2 hours a day entering comps and win between 12 and 24 prizes each month.  There is a great online community of compers and if you are lucky there may even be a real life group in your area. This year I have joined The Bristol Compers Club who meet every month to talk wins, competitions and motivate each other.

There is lots of info on winning competitions online which I don’t want to duplicate here. I highly recommend Superlucky Di as a place to start.

The main sites I use are MSE Forums Competition Time and Competition database .

Here are a few of my best wins:

£4320 cash Dickensons Real Deal

Leith’s Cookery Course (1 week) plus travel and accommodation

Cooking with Jamie Oliver

Holiday to Iceland/New York (£1000 Groupon travel voucher)

Weekend in Dublin and VIP tour of Guinness Storehouse

ipad Air and ipad Air 2

Kitchenaid foodmixer

Front door and back door

25 kg of cheese!

Harvey’s furniture voucher for new sofa

£500 lulu guinness spend plus lots of benefit goodies and makeover

£500 Karen Millen voucher

2 nights in Sloane Club apartment London plus show tickets

1 night in Ampersand Hotel London

1 night in Bovey Castle Hotel Devon

1 night in Oakley Court Hotel Windsor

Port Elliot Festival tickets

Bridget Jones Baby world premiere tickets

Lots of my wins are tickets for events and meals out. I never have to spend money on make-up or perfume, Christmas or birthday pressies and I am able to really treat my friends and family. In just over 4 years my prize fund has totalled over 50k.

It is such a buzz when you get a win. Entering competitions is now a way of life for me.

Be lucky xxx





Little Kitchen Cookery School

This is a find for my local readers. I was lucky to win an evening course with The Little Kitchen Cookery School back in May 2015. The school is at 153 Wick Road, Brislington, Bristol BS4 4HH.

I went on one of their increasingly popular Street Food evening courses, which costs £40 and runs from 7.30- 9.30 pm.I did the Moroccan night and this is what we cooked- Turkey and courgette kofta, taboon flatbread, jewelled salad and tahini dressing.

Madeleine and Claire have a passion for cooking and teaching that is really apparent in these small, friendly classes. You feel like you are cooking around a friends house. They also run some great sessions for children. I am seriously tempted by the upcoming Scotch Egg Masterclass

The flatbread is now a regular on our home menu.


If you fancy learning something new and don’t want to commit to evening classes, book yourself into The Little Kitchen Cookery School and don’t forget to let me know what you cook!

Waitrose Cookery School

Back in October I was very lucky to get an invitation to an exclusive Steve’s Leaves cookery event at Waitrose Cookery School King’s Cross, London.

It was a bit of a trek for me but luckily the course didn’t start until 10.30 am so I could travel up and back in one day. This did mean getting the first National Express coach from Bath at silly o’clock in the morning. I am fairly sure of the 20 of us that attended I was the furthest travelled.

Waitrose have 3 schools, King’s Cross and Finchley Road in London and Salisbury school in Wiltshire. Please, please, please can we have one in Bath or Bristol?

The first thing I want to tell you is that they have the most amazing coffee machine! Fresh and piping hot we were able to grab as much caffeine as we needed throughout the day and after my early start that was a fair amount.

We had two chefs demonstrating and supervising us as we made Compressed Watermelon, Padron Peppers & Almonds as a starter.

Then mains was a Warm Salad of Confit Duck with crispy fried egg and puy lentil dressing. Followed by dessert of Poached Pear and Almond Tart.

We started poaching the pears, using a cartouche. This was the first time I had done it like this. Then we made our starter where I discovered pomegranate molasses. We stopped to eat this and out came the wine, for a glass or two.

Then we went back to work on our main course and finished the tart. With these in the oven we sat down to a very leisurely lunch, with more wine. I wrapped my tart to take home and was one of the first to go at 3 pm. We also had a goody bag with bags of salad and a great cookbook.salad

The chef’s were great and very enthusiastic. I finally learned how to poach eggs properly (and then coat them in breadcrumbs and deep fry). This did lead to one very “waitrose” moment when my hand went up as I announced “We don’t keep a deep fryer, can I use a wok?”

My favourite tip was the best way to dress a salad of great leaves is just a tablespoon each of olive oil and lemon juice, with a good amount of sea salt flakes.

I really was impressed by the way that Waitrose wasn’t pushing it’s own products. Looking at the courses on offer they are good value too. At £50 for a two hour evening course, you are also getting your evening meal and a drink. If you are in London, well you have to eat, why not learn something new too?

Leith’s School of Food and Wine

So now it is the end of December and I have not blogged for a year. Shame on me!

Back in July I was really lucky to win a competition that was run by The Food Standards Agency and Chicken Tonight. My prize was a weeks course at Leiths which I did earlier this month. So I travelled to London on a packed train (thank you Bath Christmas markets) and stayed in a guest house 10 mins walk from the school.

The course I attended was Key Cooking Skills – Part 1 and according to the brochure is ” is ideal for those who are new to cooking or have limited experience and want learn the fundamental skills for cooking success.”

My official cooking education consists of 2 years at secondary school, when we still called it “cookery” and 4 part day sessions at at various events, which I will tell you about in another post. Everything else I have learned through either watching my Mum or trying myself. I do cook a lot at home and really wanted to improve my skills in the kitchen. This course really helped me to cook the things I already do, but so much better.


My first impression of the school was how many students there were. There were 2 week long courses running with 40 students on each. That’s a lot of people to check in and send to the right place! Leiths have got this very well organised and we were all ready to learn by 9.30 am. We had half the day, all 40 of us in the demonstration room and the other half working on the kitchens, where we were then split into groups of 8 per chef. Lunch was either the food that had been demo’d or what we had cooked ourselves.

This is how the week panned out:

Monday morning demo we were shown how the make proper stocks, soup, cooking with eggs (custard, scrambled and omelettes), rich shortcrust pastry and lining a flan case, baking blind then filling to make a quiche.

Monday afternoon kitchen we made our own pastry case and cooked it blind, then learned knife skills and practised by making crudites and hummus to dip them in. We also chopped our leeks ready for the flan.

Tuesday morning kitchen we sweated our leeks using a cartouche, then finished off our Leek and Gruyere tart.

leek tart

We then made an orange and passion fruit jelly and more knife skills with segmenting oranges.

Next we made a BLT salad with soft boiled eggs and eat it for our lunch.

BLT salad

Tuesday afternoon demo was roasts and accompaniments, vegetables, sauces,timings and carving.

Wednesday we did fish and this was the best day for me. The morning demo was prep and cooking whole fish and flat fish. We learned how to cook whole mackerel with gooseberry sauce, fillet and cook lemon sole and steam sea bass with garlic and ginger. Then we had a demo on breadmaking.

Wednesday afternoon we were back in the kitchen and made our own rosemary focaccia, filleted and cooked a lemon sole with a lime and parsley crust and crushed new potatoes. This was followed by our jellies and oranges from Tuesday.

sole cooked

Thursday morning kitchen so we roasted pork, with apple sauce, roast potatoes and green beans. Our apple sauce went pink as the class before us had made a blackberry sauce and that had stained the wooden spoons! We learned how to cook, then chill the beans and refresh for serving. For dessert we made a peach and raspberry crumble with thick vanilla custard.

Thursday demo was tricky to stay awake as we were all stuffed from a massive lunch. We covered using egg whites in meringues, pavlova and chocolate mousse. Then we were shown scones and cookies. Finally pasta sauces.

Friday morning demo was a buffet, including a rare beef,beetroot and horseradish salad, smoked chicken and noodle salad, green bean and cherry tomato salad, grilled goats cheese and warm lentil salad, sweet dill slaw, herbed couscous and a roast salmon with orange and ginger. Deserts were Chocolate roulade and Treacle tart.

Friday afternoon, with lots of exchanging of e-mails and numbers, we made chocolate brownies and a fab rare thai beef salad. We were presented with our course certificates and a Leiths spatula.


We had our own Leiths How To Cook book, which we were encourage to scribble notes in throughout the week and got to keep our Leiths apron.

I learned so many things on this course and I made the beef stock for our Christmas dinner gravy and the gooseberry sauce to go with our goose. I have also made focaccia bread at home, the chocolate brownies and been practising my knife skills. I am confident I can handle any fish and cook it perfectly. I was also really pleased we were cooking on gas and the ovens/hobs were the same as mine at home. We used lots of ginger which is something I will be trying to continue and I am warning you now Leiths, I will be back!

I loved the whole experience and would recommend this for anyone with an interest in food/cooking. It would make a wonderful present for a big birthday or anniversary.  I would like to thank Sheila Benjamin at Food Standards Agency for organising everything and everyone at Leiths Cookery School